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Updated: 7 hours 13 min ago

Don’t You Dare Get Used to This Madness

Sun, 08/19/2018 - 23:00

The world has gone mad. At least in America and most of the West, we're seeing insanity growing day by day. Don't you dare get used to it.

Don't sigh and tell yourself, "Yeah, yeah, another article on madness. We see them all the time." Granted, you don't have to react in despair to every article you see -- in fact despair is the wrong response anyway, as I'll share in a moment. But don't let that lull you. Don't hide from the insanity. Don't treat it as a problem "out there somewhere."

Consider: Some American politicians (Maxine Waters, for one) are openly calling for violence against our own people. Other, more prominent, politicians are tacitly doing the same by remaining silent while violence increases (Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, for two). A man who says he's a woman is running for governor of his state. My statement there makes me (supposedly) an intolerant, disrespectful person; for I'm not allowing them intolerantly, disrespectfully to force me into calling him a woman instead. Medical and education professionals are telling parents they must comply with their pre-school and grade-school children's desire to be the other sex. An openly admitted pedophile is running for Congress. The Freedom from Religion Foundation wants an American Army general arrested for having what they call "weaponized ... Christianity." (He prays for people and has a Christian website.) California is on the verge of passing a law making it illegal to sell products or services that encourage homosexuals to change. It's not the least bit clear that the Bible would be exempted from this prohibition. Responsible Christian ministries are labeled "hate groups," and large corporations, including important media and social media groups, take it seriously. American college students are willing to agree that if an average American man says he's a 6'5" Chinese woman, then that's what he is. Gay “pride” has become a stronger moral “good” than both heterosexuality and chastity. Don’t Get Used to It!

Are you getting used to all that? Don't!

It's madness. It's a country gone crazy. This is not metaphor, it's not hyperbole, it's not over-stated. It's real.

You dare not get used to it. Sure, there's a sense in which it's becoming "normal," meaning, it's not unusual anymore; it's the way things commonly are these days. When we let that "normality" seem normal in any other way, though, that's when we're in danger of sliding into the insanity ourselves.

So face it for what it is. Let the craziness of it all burn into your mind. Then take action.

Take the Right Action

What kind of action? Here's the other time you must reflect very deeply. Too often, people react to insanity of one kind by practicing their own madness of another kind. They kick. They scream. They call names. They mount protests that turn violent. Or (conversely) they hide from it all, pretending it's not there, or it doesn't affect them or their loved ones.

I've been reading Jeremiah lately. He's the prophet who saw Judah fall to pieces, in manner disturbingly parallel to America's madness today. And he's a great example for us. 

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He knew the destruction that was coming, yet he remained hopeful in God. He trusted in God's redemptive purposes even in the worst of times. He preached God's love and his promises. He stayed the course -- 23 years as of the middle of the book (Jer. 25:3).

Don't you dare get used to the madness. But don't let it knock your eyes off God, either. Keep your eyes open to the whole reality, including the visible world and God’s invisible workings.

The world isn't done getting as crazy as it's likely to become. Be clear-headed, be godly, be aware and be a force for sanity in a world gone mad.

Catholics Consider Withholding Donations Amid Scandals

Sun, 08/19/2018 - 21:28

For decades, Michael Drweiga has opened his wallet whenever the donation basket comes around at church, but the latest revelations of priests sexually abusing children brought him to the conclusion that he can no longer justify giving.

Brice Sokolowski helps small Catholic nonprofits and churches raise money, but he too supports the recent calls to withhold donations.

And Georgene Sorensen has felt enough anger and “just total sadness” over the past few weeks that she’s reconsidering her weekly offering at her parish.

Across the U.S., Catholics once faithful with their financial support to their churches are searching for ways to respond to the constant sex-abuse scandals that have tarnished the institution in which they believe, with back-to-back scandals in the past two months.

The most recent came Tuesday when a grand jury report revealed that hundreds of Roman Catholic priests in Pennsylvania molested more than 1,000 children in six dioceses since the 1940s -- crimes that church leaders are accused of covering up. The report came two months after Pope Francis ordered disgraced ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick removed from public ministry amid allegations the 88-year-old retired archbishop sexually abused a teenage altar boy and engaged in sexual misconduct with adult seminarians decades ago. Last month, Francis accepted McCarrick’s resignation as cardinal and ordered him to a “life of prayer and penance.”

The most recent “whopper of a report” from Pennsylvania, Drweiga said, was enough to make him wonder where his money was going and whether it was being used to cover up abuses.

“In an organization that spans the whole world like the Catholic Church, you don’t know where your money is going. And when you read about these priest-abuse scandals it just raises that question to the highest power. What is this money going for?” said Drweiga, 63, who lives in Wilmette, Illinois.

Sokolowski, an Austin, Texas, resident who founded Catholicfundraiser.net to provide advice to Catholic nonprofits and churches, said he’s heard from many who are “really sick and tired” of hearing about priests abusing children.

“So the big thing that people are saying is, ‘We just need to stop funding their crap,'” said Sokolowski, 36. He said he encourages people to stop giving money to their diocese, which oversees the network of churches in an area, but to keep supporting their local parish and tell their priest and bishop what they’re doing.

Calls to financially boycott the Catholic Church are not new. Five years ago, after sex-abuse scandals rocked the archdiocese in St. Paul, Minnesota, parishioners talked about withholding their donations in protest.

But Catholics face a delicate balance because some of the money dioceses raise are shared with parishes, cautioned Dr. Edward Peters, the Edmund Cardinal Szoka Chair at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit.

“I’m just saying, be careful about punishing the Spouse of Christ and her dependent children because some priests and even bishops, men presumably wedded to her as Jesus was wedded to her, abandoned her so shamelessly,” Peters wrote in a blog post Thursday, referring to the Catholic Church.

Sorensen, who lives near Tucson, Arizona, said after the McCarrick story broke, her prayer group sent a letter to her bishop voicing their concerns.

“Then came the Pennsylvania scandal and we thought, ‘Oh my God, this isn’t over. We thought it was over,'” the 72-yearold Sorensen said. “We thought we were building the new church again.”

Sorensen said she doesn’t plan to withhold money that she has pledged, including her diocese’s Annual Catholic Appeal, but she has spoken with others about the possibility of not giving a regular weekly contribution or only offering money to specific projects.

As for future major giving, she said, “we are definitely waiting to see where all the chips are going to fall.”

“It comes down to one thing: It’s the message, not the messenger,” she said. “I’m a faithful Catholic. … I will never leave the church. I will fight to save it.”

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For Eddie Shih, however, the scandal has shaken his faith -- one to which he converted about a decade ago and has intensely studied through three years of night school to earn a master’s degree in theology.

“I am struggling with it -- it’s not easy for me,” said Shih, a Taiwanese immigrant who lives in New York City and attends several Catholic churches. “I don’t think I’ll leave the church but I can imagine a lot of people … will just drop out of the church.”

Tim Lennon, the president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said his organization has fielded calls from Catholics who have pledged to stop giving to their church.

“It’s an action as opposed to just sitting here doing nothing,” he said, but added that it’s a symbolic gesture.

“That in itself will not protect children. That in itself will not support survivors. That in itself will not compel … an attorney general to take action,” he said. “It’s just a message to the church that it’s not just survivors knocking at their door as we have been for the last 30 years.”

Ilene Kennedy, a San Antonio resident who attended Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City on Sunday, said she doesn’t know “what the fix would be” aside from “holding the higher-ups accountable.” Still, she doesn’t think withholding her money from the collection basket is the answer.

“I don’t think that we should punish all churches just for that,” she said. “I don’t think that’s right.”

___

Associated Press video producer Robert Bumsted in New York contributed to this report.

 

Copyright 2018 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Securing the Border is the Most Humane Policy

Sun, 08/19/2018 - 21:00

Each month, as many as tens of thousands stream across our southern border from Central American countries without obtaining legal status. Thousands are unaccompanied alien children who have completed a perilous journey before even having reached the Rio Grande.

All Americans can agree that this is a problem. Our immigration system is broken.

From the numbers, we know that America is the most generous country in the world. Through our nation's legal immigration process, we welcome well over a million immigrant -- people who follow the correct immigration process and abide by our laws -- into America each year.

Despite this generosity, we have a severe problem with illegal immigration. As we consider the ongoing crisis on our southern border, it is fair to ask how we got to this point.

From recent media coverage, many Americans have criticized President Donald Trump's pursuit of a "zero-tolerance" immigration policy. Yet throughout American history, there is significant evidence that this kind of "enforcement-first" policy deters people from attempting dangerous journeys to reach American borders.

Let's look back at the path that has brought us to today's crisis.

In 1986, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill granting legal status to 2.7 million illegal immigrants in the United States. His signing of the bill was well-intentioned -- it contained a provision that was meant to strengthen immigration enforcement. Yet that never amounted to much.

The amnesty actually had the reverse effect: It encouraged millions more illegal aliens to come to the U.S. in the years that followed.

Meanwhile in the '80s, the people of Haiti suffered oppression under the dictatorship of Jean-Claude Duvalier. His regime collapsed in the late '80s, leading to a period of economic hardship that eventually spurred many Haitians to attempt boat journeys to the United States in 1992.

During that year's presidential election, then-Gov. Bill Clinton all but promised the Haitian people that he would stop the Bush administration's "cruel" practice of intercepting Haitian refugees at sea and returning them home.

However, after winning the election in November, Clinton changed his mind. In a Voice of America radio address to the people of Haiti on Jan. 14, 1993, he reversed course:

For Haitians who do seek to leave Haiti, boat departure is a terrible and dangerous choice. I've been deeply concerned by reports that many of you are preparing to travel by boat to the United States. And, I fear that boat departures in the near future would result in further tragic losses of life. For this reason, the practice of returning those who flee Haiti by boat will continue for the time being after I become president. Those who do leave Haiti for the United States by boat will be stopped and directly returned by the United States Coast Guard.

This recently-recovered radio address makes clear that Clinton had reversed his original position on migrants. As the Chicago Tribune's Stephen Chapman wrote at the time, "A lot of Haitians are disappointed to find [Clinton is] something less than a man of his word. They're not the only ones."

More recently, President Barack Obama's administration faced a crisis in 2014 when a flood of unaccompanied alien minors came across our southern border from the same countries we are discussing today -- Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico. Particularly for those of us who traveled to the border at the time, there is no question that Obama's dangerous "catch-and-release" policies helped to bring us to this point.

Presidents Reagan, Clinton, and Obama all learned the same lesson, albeit too late: Lax border security only leads to more illegal immigration.

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As we consider the implications of American immigration policy on those who desire to come to this great country, we know that our rhetoric matters.

The traffickers and coyotes in Central America and Mexico use our words to prey on the disadvantaged. They encourage families to put their children on top of a freight train -- the train called "La Bestia" -- from southern Mexico to the Rio Grande, subjecting children to a treacherous journey that often results in traumatic amputations, robberies, sexual assaults, and some even falling to their deaths.

When we say, or even suggest, that children might receive amnesty at the border, we put innocent lives at risk. We encourage more children to take this dangerous journey.

Yet when people believe they will be blocked by border security, backed up by a robust immigration policy, they are less likely to lead themselves or their children into danger, whether it be by land or by sea.

We can be compassionate and provide a secure border at the same time. These two concepts are not mutually exclusive.

The president has said that his highest sovereign duty is to defend this nation, which includes the defense of our borders. I believe that America is a country worth defending.

During my time in Congress, I have learned that aid can be a powerful motivator for our international neighbors. As Congress determines appropriations for fiscal year 2019, I encourage all members of Congress to consider the foreign aid we will agree to send to Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and even Mexico -- the countries whose children are fleeing to the United States for their safety. Should we reward these countries for not taking care of their children and placing the burden on the American taxpayer?

It is simply irresponsible -- it is inhumane -- for the American government to incentivize anyone to subject themselves or their children to the perilous journey to our border.

Now is the time to end this broken pattern. Congress must find a solution. We must secure our borders, and we must do it soon.

 

Copyright 2018 The Daily Signal

A Birth Mother’s Sacrifice: An Example for the Church

Sun, 08/19/2018 - 21:00

“I cannot let my selfishness stand in the way of your whole well-being.”

I wasn’t very far into a series of letters shared with me from a birth mother to her son, when this sentence jumped off the page. This was a mother who knew she couldn’t give her unborn son what he needed and made what really is the ultimate sacrifice for a parent -- giving up her child for adoption. For the rest of her life, this birth mother will live with an ache for the child she gave up. But she will also live as a model of love -- the kind puts another’s happiness before your own.

A Birth Mother’s Letters

“It no longer matters what your father and I want, but what we should do so that you have the best opportunities in this life,” she wrote in a letter just one month before her son was born.

I was thinking of these letters in the wake of reading through the grand jury report about allegations against Catholic priests in Pennsylvania dioceses. Most of them involved incidents decades ago, but the rot and the leadership crisis continues. I was watching the anger, betrayal and disgust that people were feeling all around reading the headlines and the words of the victims. I was thinking of the birth mother’s letters in part because of a prayer I recently heard in church. Namely: “Almighty ever-living God, whom, taught by the Holy Spirit, we dare to call our Father, bring, we pray, to perfection in our hearts the spirit of adoption as your sons and daughters, that we may merit to enter into the inheritance which you have promised.”

Christians believe themselves to be adopted sons and daughters of God. He’s a good and generous God, who gives us so much more than we could ever deserve or earn on our own. Christians believe that our lives in this world are gifts that we should use to lovingly serve God.

Joy in Suffering

This birth mother whose letters I was blessed to read is a Catholic. Again, just before her son was born, she wrote: “I often stop in a chapel dedicated to our Lady of Providence to say a prayer that I will make the right decision concerning this new life that I will soon be bringing into the world. In the front, there is beautiful statue of Mary holding the child Jesus (who is reaching out to her). In the back of the church is a statue of the Pieta. It seems like there is so much contrast between the two. Yet some joy can be found in the suffering that Mary went through. I think of all the suffering that I have gone through, and that which is still to come when I must say goodbye to you -- It seems so great.”

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In another letter written after her son’s birth, she explains “I have thought about you every waking moment.”

She began her first letter with “My Most Precious Child.”

Precious Children

In the Catholic Church, we call priests “Father.” We believe that priests have devoted their lives to God, to act as a representative and exemplar of Christ. It’s not Father So-and-So you go to for Confession, it’s Christ who hears it through his ministry. And so, a priest is expected to gaze into the eyes of the faithful as God would, as those children He so loves. When a child is harmed in the most intimate and heinous ways by a priest, it is an incestuous evil. In the case of the man formally known as Cardinal McCarrick, he allegedly preyed on the first child who was ever baptized by his hand. And that does not even begin to touch on the despicable sacrileges described in the grand jury report.

Heroic Sacrifice Needed

There are no words that can make that better. There is no reform platform that will heal such wounds. It will take a lot of rigorous sacrifice. The Church is meant to be a loving mother. I cried going through the grand-jury report. Bishops are going to have to adopt the same kind of heroic sacrifice of the birth mother who gave up her son so he could have a better life. For the love of God and children. Nothing less -- and there are miles to go -- will even begin to restore any semblance of trust and credibility.

 

Kathryn Jean Lopez is senior fellow at the National Review Institute, editor-at-large of National Review Online and founding director of Catholic Voices USA. She can be contacted at klopez@nationalreview.com.

Stream Splashes: August 12-18 in Review

Sun, 08/19/2018 - 16:00

Every week, The Stream rounds up some highlights from the recent news. We call these our "splashes": everything from insightful commentary on the week's big events to small inspiring stories you may have missed.

 

For Catholics, A Clarifying Scandal

Jennifer Hartline For Catholics, A Clarifying Scandal

Scandal has a way of clarifying things.

It cuts right through both the fluff and the dross and reduces things down to their essence.

The Catholic Church is currently mired in the most revolting filth. It's hard to find words to express how much grief, discouragement and rage this is causing among the faithful. I know I've never felt such sorrow in my heart for my Church.

Continue Reading...

The Alt-Right, Antifa, and the Dawn of American Weimar

John Zmirak The Alt-Right, Antifa, and the Dawn of American Weimar

Last year, the violent clash at Charlottesville, Virginia, saw two sides using violence. An alt-right racist plowed a car into a crowd, killing one. Thuggish Antifa militants included one who used a home-made flamethrower against his opponents. Almost as culpable? The mayor of the city. He ordered police to stand down. To let the two armed mobs clash. Instead, of you know, keeping the peace.

President Trump courageously condemned the violence on both sides. For that, he reaped a firestorm. Jason Jones and I came out and agreed with him. Please read what we wrote back then. It stands up remarkably well, if I do say so myself. Though I wish, I really wish, we'd been wrong.

Continue Reading...

Former KKK Member, Nazi Baptized by Those He Used to Hate

Nancy Flory Former KKK Member, Nazi Baptized by Those He Used to Hate

"The Klan wasn't hateful enough for me, which is why I became a Nazi."

Ken Parker recently spoke to NBC News about his life before Christ. The former neo-Nazi and Grand Dragon of the KKK attended last year's white nationalist Unite the Right gathering at Charlottesville, Virginia.

What a difference one year can make. Last month, Parker was baptized by a black pastor.

Continue Reading...

A Father, an Atheist Son, and a Darwin Heretic

Jonathan Witt A Father, an Atheist Son, and a Darwin Heretic

After reading Heretic: One Scientist's Journey from Darwin to Design, a father emailed the co-authors, bioengineer Matti Leisola and me. He wrote to ask for advice about his adult atheist son. The father had sent his son a copy of the book and urged him to read it so they could discuss it. The son, a scientist, declined. Leisola and I exchanged a few emails with the father. Later he gave us permission to publish a summary of our correspondence, provided we kept the identity of him and his son private.

Continue Reading...

 

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DCNF Exclusive: Illegal Arrested While Driving Wife to Hospital is Wanted in Mexico for Murder

Sun, 08/19/2018 - 12:48

An illegal alien who was arrested in southern California while taking his pregnant wife to the hospital is wanted for murder in Mexico, immigration authorities said Saturday.

Joel Arrona Lara, 36, was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers on Wednesday at a gas station in San Bernardino, California. At the time, Arrona was taking his wife, Maria del Carmen Venegas, to the hospital for a scheduled cesarean section, CBS 2 Los Angeles reported.

News of Arrona Lara's arrest quickly spread nationally, with several media outlets characterizing it as an example of the Trump administration's heavy-handed crackdown on illegal immigration. Venegas told CBS 2 in Spanish that Arrona Lara had never been stopped by police and didn't have a criminal record of any kind, including traffic violations.

But immigration authorities say Arrona Lara is not just an otherwise law-abiding illegal immigrant. He is also wanted by Mexican authorities for murder.

"Mr. Arrona-Lara was brought to ICE's attention due to an outstanding warrant for his arrest in Mexico on homicide charges," ICE spokeswoman Lori Haley told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

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Security footage from the gas station shows Arrona Lara getting out of his car and being intercepted by ICE officers. A visibly distraught Venegas is then seen using a phone shortly after Arrona Lara is taken away.

Arrona Lara's lawyer, Emilio Amaya Garcia, accused ICE officers of endangering Venegas and her unborn baby.

"In this case, not only did they put the life of the mother in danger, but also that of the child, who is a citizen of this country," he told Univision on Thursday.

Arrona Lara has reportedly been living illegally in the U.S. for 12 years. ICE released the following statement about his arrest on Friday:

"Mr. Arrona-Lara, a citizen of Mexico illegally residing in the United States, was taken into custody Wednesday by ICE Fugitive Operations Team officers in San Bernardino, Calif. Mr. Arrona-Lara is currently in ICE custody pending removal proceedings with the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR)."

"ICE continues to focus its enforcement resources on individuals who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security. ICE conducts targeted immigration enforcement in compliance with federal law and agency policy. However, ICE will no longer exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement. All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States."

 

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Church Group’s Opposition Stuns Advocates of ‘Tort Reform’

Sun, 08/19/2018 - 12:32

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -- So-called tort reform has been an easy sell in states controlled by Republicans, and backers of a lawsuit-limiting proposal on the ballot in Arkansas this fall expected little trouble winning passage until they ran into a surprising obstacle from a reliable conservative ally.

A Christian group has begun rallying churches and abortion opponents against the measure, saying that limiting damage awards in lawsuits sets an arbitrary value on human life, contrary to anti-abortion beliefs, and conflicts with biblical principles of justice and helping the poor.

Proponents of the measure are stunned by the opposition and worried that it could stir dissension among conservatives who must work together on numerous issues.

“The biggest problem is not the damage” to the tort reform proposal, said Republican Rep. Bob Ballinger, a sponsor of that measure. “The biggest hurdle is the damage to the pro-life cause.”

The religious argument also could offer tort reform opponents in other states a new weapon for fighting limits. The legal restrictions have been making headway in recent years as the GOP has won control of roughly two-thirds of state legislatures.

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Arkansas’ measure is an effort by an array of pro-business groups, including the state Chamber of Commerce, to reinstate legal caps that have been chipped away over the years by court rulings.

The amendment would cap damages for noneconomic losses, such as pain and psychological distress, to $500,000 and punitive damages to $500,000 or three times the amount of compensatory damages awarded, whichever is higher. It also would cap attorneys’ contingency fees at one third of the net amount recovered.

The proposal doesn’t cap economic damages, which go toward verifiable losses such as medical expenses as well as past and future wages. But the conservative Family Council Action Committee argues that putting a cap on other damages devalues the lives of those with no income, such as the elderly and stay-at-home parents, who would receive little compensation for pain and suffering.

The Family Council, which championed Arkansas’ ban on gay marriages, is organizing meetings with church leaders to call for the measure’s rejection.

“The Bible is full of references to justice, and (the proposal) creates an environment where the powerful can tip the scales of justice against everybody else, but especially the poor,” Jerry Cox, the Family Council’s head, said at a recent breakfast meeting with pastors.

Pastors were handed informational booklets emblazoned with the words “Don’t Put A Price Tag On Human Life.” Flyers left on each table offered attendees inserts for their church bulletins.

Rose Mimms, the head of Arkansas Right to Life, also spoke out against the measure, writing in a column on the conservative website townhall.com that it “erodes our own pro-life efforts” in the state. The organization has not taken an official position on the measure.

Industry groups backing the tort reform amendment questioned whether the Family Council’s actions were motivated by $150,000 in donations the group received from a Little Rock law firm. Trial lawyers are the leading opponents of the tort reform movement.

“They have sold their brand to trial lawyers to be able to promote this issue,” said Carl Vogelpohl, the campaign manager for Arkansans for Jobs and Justice, which is backing the tort reform proposal. Cox said the donation wasn’t a factor and that his group announced its position before receiving the money.

Using church meetings to rally opposition especially angered the measure’s supporters.

“When you go to church and you hear somebody speak up against something, generally, you’re thinking, ‘Well, I’m getting a 100 percent clear picture,'” said Republican Rep. Marcus Richmond, the House majority leader.

The nearly hourlong presentation to pastors by Cox and two other officials from his group alternated between a seminar and sermon, as they described the types of claims that could be constrained by the measure.

“Can I get an ‘amen?'” Cox asked at one point.

“Amen,” the audience repeated back in approval.

Stephen Harrison, a pastor who attended the breakfast, said later he wanted to research the proposal before taking a stance.

However, Harrison, who pastors the nondenominational Family Church in Pine Bluff, said, “I don’t want to vote for something that will devalue human life or put a price tag on what a life is worth.”

Vogelpohl said an equally compelling argument could be made to anti-abortion groups and other Christian conservatives that limiting damages could improve medical care in the state and help attract more doctors.

The spending on the effort to rally churches pales in comparison to the more than $3 million both sides of the issue have raised. The measure still faces a lawsuit from a former judge who argues it should be disqualified from the ballot.

___

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Copyright 2018 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed

Court Refuses to Release Bishops’ Emails Subpoenaed by Abortion Group

Sun, 08/19/2018 - 12:16

The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the privacy rights of Texas bishops Thursday, affirming a ruling that an abortion group does not have a right to the bishops' internal communications.

The court rejected the pro-abortion group Whole Woman's Health's July 30 request for a rehearing Thursday, upholding its previous decision that the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops is under no obligation to turn over its internal communications on topics of abortion.

The court pointed to "constitutional protection of religious belief" in its ruling and noted that the abortion group's effort to obtain full access to the bishops' internal affairs "looks like an act of intimidation."

Thursday's ruling comes after Whole Woman's Health sued the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops in December 2016 over its support for a Texas law requiring abortion facilities to cremate or bury aborted babies. A federal court blocked the law from taking effect.

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The bishops supported the Texas law and offered to provide free burials and cremations, The Catholic News Agency first reported Thursday. Whole Women's Health filed a subpoena in March 2018 requesting access to all of the bishops' communications about abortion.

The conference provided more than 4,000 pages of communications with outside parties, but refused to disclose its internal communications.

"The Fifth Circuit correctly protected the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops, a non-party, from an overly broad demand by an abortion group for internal communications," Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement, applauding the court's initial ruling. "In making such an erroneous demand, abortion advocates succeeded only in demonstrating that they are willing to violate the Constitution to further their pro-abortion agenda."

 

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Walking in God’s Wisdom: Proverbs 8:17

Sun, 08/19/2018 - 09:00

“I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.” – Proverbs 8:17

His walk may be slow, but it is sure. He that hasteth to be rich shall not be innocent nor sure; but steady perseverance in integrity, if it does not bring riches, will certainly bring peace. In doing that which is just and right, we are like one walking upon a rock, for we have confidence that every step we take is upon solid and safe ground. On the other hand, the utmost success through questionable transactions must always be hollow and treacherous, and the man who has gained it must always be afraid that a day of reckoning will come, and then his gains will condemn him.

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Let us stick to truth and righteousness. By God’s grace let us imitate our LORD and Master, in whose mouth no deceit was ever found. Let us not be afraid of being poor, nor of being treated with contempt. Never, on any account whatever, let us do that which our conscience cannot justify. If we lose inward peace, we lose more than a fortune can buy. If we keep in the LORD’s own way and never sin against our conscience, our way is sure against all comers.

Who is he that can harm us if we be followers of that which is good? We may be thought fools by fools if we are firm in our integrity; but in the place where judgment is infallible we shall be approved.

Charles Spurgeon

English Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon (1834 – 1892)

Military Photo of the Day: Retirement Fly-By

Sun, 08/19/2018 - 07:00

UH-34 Fly-By, August 1969 “Retirement Fly-By: UH-34s of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 362 [HMM-362], the last Leatherneck UH-34D squadron in Vietnam, make a final fly-by before the squadron's decommissioning ceremonies at Phu Bai August 18. The helicopter in the foreground later had its blades folded during the ceremonies, symbolically retiring it after seven years of service with Marines in the Republic of Vietnam. The squadron will be recommissioned a heavy helicopter squadron at Marine Corps Air Station, New River North Carolina (official USMC photo by Corporal R. G. Musolf).” From the Jonathan Abel Collection (COLL/3611), Marine Corps Archives & Special Collections.

How Don Richardson Led Warring Cannibal Villages to Christ, and Changed Christian Missions Forever

Sat, 08/18/2018 - 23:00

Do you have one of those friends who:

(a) Writes best-selling books?

(b) Paints beautiful scenes of primitive life?

(c) Lived among cannibals, headhunters, snakes and crocodiles, then helped transform human savages into productive and peaceful members of modern society?

(d) Has discovered startling truths which transform how you see God’s work in the world and lent Christian thinkers formidable weapons in contemporary debates with skeptics?

AND

(e) Has won the “Life-Time of Service Award” from an association of North American churches and organizations promoting Christian missions around the world?

Too much for one person? Not if you know about my friend Don Richardson.

Don is a great story-teller, too, and he’s been sharing his adventures and insights with audiences around the world for more than forty years. Having met many of his his friends during travels of my own, I wouldn’t be surprised to find some of among The Stream's readership as well.

If you haven’t read Richardson’s books or heard him speak, you’ve been missing out. Don shares some fascinating and profoundly important truths about how God works in a world in which almost every neighborhood, classroom, and lab has become a miniature Noah’s Ark of multi-cultural humanity.

Richardson and the Sawi Culture of War

It was in the early 1960s when Don and his young wife Carol left their homes -- hers in Oklahoma, and his from islands that bookend Canada (Prince Edward and Vancouver) to start their life in missions. They went to the Sawi tribe in coastal New Guinea, bringing the Gospel of Peace. Harmony proved a tough sell. The Sawi were an anti-social and cruel people. They held a custom called “fattening like a pig for the slaughter.” A man would pretend to befriend someone from a rival village, then betray, murder, butcher and consume him. They honored betrayal, in other words. So when they heard the gospel, they honored Judas as the hero.

So the two missionaries wondered how could they possibly convert such savages to faith in a teacher who told his disciples to “turn the other cheek”? And they also had wonder if they themselves were being “fattened for the slaughter.”

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But they had something the Sawi valued: hatchets, machetes and other modern conveniences. Eager to work for those wages,  three villages of Sawi merged into one around the Richardsons’ home. Battles between two of those villages flared up constantly -- fourteen in the first two months alone. The Richardons mended their wounds. But they feared that the first fatality would plunge the tribesmen into endless cycles of vengeance. So they announced that if village leaders failed to make peace, they would pack up and leave.

But would peace even be possible? Did a people so poor in social capital have what it took to forge a lasting peace? Richardson fretted, “When treachery is philosophically justified, true peace is impossible. Long, long ago the ancestors of the Sawi had locked the entire culture into a ceaseless treadmill of war.”

Then a key to that lock fell into Richardson’s hands.

Jesus, the Greatest Sawi Hero

He learned that the Sawi had one way to make peace and escape the risk of betrayal. A father might dare to give his son to a man in an enemy village, and that village would give a child in return. So long as both “peace children” lived, fighting would cease. 

Richardson watched the two warring villages swap children. At first he was confused; it took time to sort out what was going on. But then  he realized that in one way, these Stone Age headhunters already knew something about the gospel -- something very rich.

What was Jesus, Richardson thought, but the “peace child” (“Tarop”) of God? There was a key to the gospel already hidden at the core of this savage culture, pointing Sawi to Christ and preparing them for a great transformation.

Thrown in among some of the cruelest savages on the planet, Don and Carol found that God got there first.

Richardson climbed into a meeting house, on stilts above rainy-season floods, and spoke to the men of one village:

“‘When you, Kaiyo, gave [your son] Biakadon, it was to sprinkle cool water on just one village -- Haenam. Mahaen gave you [his son] Mani to make peace with just one village -- your own. But Yesus is not a Tarop for one village only, but for all mankind …”

Betrayal may have been a a value to the Sawi, but never the betrayal of a peace child. So just like that, Judas became the greatest scoundrel of the gospel, and Jesus the greatest hero. On that day, one of the world’s most savage tribes came to understand one aspect of the Gospel as few have ever known it. They embraced Christ. And this new life formed the basis for a social revolution that improved life in the swamps of New Guinea incalculably.

God Has Prepared the World for Christ

Don tells the story of the Sawi rebirth beautifully in his best-selling Peace Child. But the general lesson he learned in New Guinea proved of wider relevance. Thrown in among some of the cruelest savages on the planet, Don and Carol found that God got there first, through what he called “cultural keys” and “redemptive analogies.

Richardson’s second book applied that lesson to peoples around the world. In Eternity in Their Hearts, Don pointed out that missionaries and anthropologists have often found awareness of One All-Powerful Creator God in many nations. It’s just as the Bible predicts, he argued. Paul appealed to redemptive analogies when he preached to Epicureans and Stoics in Athens (Acts 17). Richardson illustrates this with series of remarkable stories about tribes around the world who were likewise prepared by their own prophets for the Good News of Jesus.

Richardson was not the first to suggest that God had prepared the world for Christ. Arguably this perspective goes back to Jesus himself and his first followers: “Abraham rejoiced to see my day.” Other modern scholars have found awareness of a “High God” much like the Christian God in cultures around the world. From Justin Martyr to C.S. Lewis, many Christians have recognized that great Gentile thinkers were also seeking someone suspiciously like Jesus, too. Scholars have traced similar phenomena in Africa (also here and here), and India.

After reading Richardson’s stories and traveling to Asia as a missionary myself, I found astounding redemptive analogies pointing to Christ at the heart of Chinese culture. I defended this perspective in my doctoral dissertation, finding it key to understanding the powerful impact of Christianity on Asia.

Pointing Humanity Towards Redemption

Don Richardson was recently honored by Mission Nexus for what he did for the Sawi people, as well as for inspiring others to further Christ’s call to bring the Good News of Jesus to other peoples.

Don Richardson’s stories are riveting and inspiring, Acts of the Apostles in an Apocalypto world. But Don helps answer some of the most pressing questions that our globalized secular civilization asks as well.

“Isn’t God just the product of western culture?”

“Are cultures all equally valid?” (Don also wrote a critique of Islam.)

“How should Christians respond to the rich tapestry of cruelty and wisdom, folly and stunning insights, which constitutes human traditions?”

Don Richardson helps many find Christ, not only on the cross, but at the crossroads of culture and history, pointing humanity towards redemption and wholeness.

Hypocrisy and Dishonesty: Richard Dawkins’ New Book Science in the Soul

Sat, 08/18/2018 - 20:00

I happened across an interesting passage in a book I picked up at Barnes and Noble today. The author was reacting to a certain false view of God:

There really is a profound difference between an intelligent designer who is the product of a long period of evolution ... and an intelligent designer who just happened, without any evolutionary history. ... Hypothetical 'designers' jumped up from nothing cannot explain anything, because they cannot explain themselves.

He got pretty testy:

It is remarkable how common is this travesty of Christian theology. Any idiot can see that, if God really had 'just happened,' He couldn't be the God Christians say He is; He couldn’t be any kind of monotheistic God at all. It is no surprise, therefore, that propagandists with their own reasons for wishing to discredit Christianity would put it about that God was just 'jumped up from nothing.'

You don't usually see Christians writing that kind of strong language in books. Maybe online, or maybe --

Wait! No!

But wait! No! I read that wrong! I'm so very, very sorry ... I need to tell you the truth; what the book actually said. Yes, the opening quote on the “profound difference” is real. I took it straight from pages 201 and 202 of Richard Dawkins's new book Science in the Soul.

The second quote, though, is my re-writing of something he said on page 227. There he was answering the claim, "Evolution also refers to the unproven belief that random, undirected forces produced a world of living beings.” And he wrote:

It is remarkable how common is this travesty of the Darwinian theory. Any idiot can see that, if Darwinism really were a random force, it could not possibly generate the elegantly adapted complexity of life. It is no surprise, therefore, that propagandists with their own reasons for wishing to discredit the theory would put it about that Darwinism is nothing more than random chance.

I hope you see my point already, but just in case, I'll spell it out.

Dawkins’ Intellectual Hypocrisy

Dawkins thinks it's wrong for opponents to misrepresent evolutionary theory, yet he persistently misrepresents Christian belief. No Christian has ever said God "just happened." No Christian has ever wandered within a galaxy's width of saying God was "jumped up from nowhere." (Nor have they said God was the result of a “long period of evolution.”)

There is a well-thought-through view of God, going back in one branch of intellectual history as far as Aristotle, that says God is a necessary being, the one and only necessary being, and therefore never began. He didn't come from anywhere; God just is, necessarily. He always has been, even "before" words like "before" had meaning.

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From the biblical side of things, God is clearly self-existent, which is a near-synonym to his being necessary. His name spoken to Moses,"I AM WHO I AM," presents that self-existence as clearly as one could imagine, for the day and the culture in which it was first spoken. On a related point, as I've argued previously, the first four words of Genesis point in a similar direction: "In the beginning God."

So when Dawkins writes off Christianity because it can't explain where God came from, he makes the same kind of mistake he objects to from the other side. He’s a hypocrite.

Dawkins’ Intellectual Dishonesty

And as mistakes go, it's just as bad as the one he's objecting to. Dawkins knows that any idiot can see that the false view of evolution he quoted is impossible. He doesn't realize that any idiot can see his own distorted view of God is impossible.

Dawkins is willing to call people "idiots" if they don't see this plain fact about evolution. He doesn't seem to notice that words like that can double back on himself, when he fails to see a very plain fact about the God of Christian belief.

Not only that, but Christians have told him this over and over again for at least 10 years, up to when his book The God Delusion came out. He's ignored it over and over again, for at least 10 years. To me this sounds less like idiocy and more like dishonesty.

Dawkins’ “passion” has overcome his rationality. And his integrity.

But then it is no surprise that propagandists with their own reasons for wishing to discredit Christianity would claim that God just “jumped up from nothing.”

The whole title of his book is Science in the Soul: Selected Writings of a Passionate Rationalist. I don’t know all Dawkins’ reasons for propagandizing this way, but any idiot can see his “passion” has overcome his rationality. And his integrity.

P.S. to Christians: Be Ready, Be Honest!

I must close with an urgent plea to fellow Christians. It’s part of the spiritual readiness we’re all responsible for. We need to know how to answer attacks like Dawkins’ -- and we need to answer them well.

Dawkins’ complaint, that creationists distort evolution, is too often true. The best arguments against evolution come from those who know evolutionary theory the best, like the folks at Discovery Institute, for example. Arguments from people who don’t know what they’re talking about sound like, well, arguments from people who don’t know what they’re talking about.

So let’s refuse to be intellectually lazy. Let’s refuse to be dishonest. Refuse to be hypocritical. Accept correction when it lands properly on us. Let’s study so we know what we’re talking about. We have nothing to fear and everything to gain from a deeper knowledge of what’s true -- including the truth of what evolutionary theory really says.

 

 

Tom Gilson is a senior editor with The Stream, and the author of A Christian Mind: Thoughts on Life and Truth in Jesus Christ. Follow him on Twitter: @TomGilsonAuthor.

 

Originally published at Thinking Christian

David and Goliath: The Center for Medical Progress’ David Daleiden Keeps Fighting the Abortion Giant

Sat, 08/18/2018 - 17:00

David Daleiden is up against abortion giants in a lawsuit designed to silence him and keep “damning” videos from us. Yet, he’s still picking up stones.

As an investigative journalist, The Center for Medical Progress’ Daleiden has brought us video proof of Planned Parenthood’s illegal selling of baby body parts. We’ve watched as Planned Parenthood abortionists and their affiliates haggled over the prices of hearts, livers and kidneys of precious, tiny babies.

Important Facts:

David Daleiden and CMP filed three motions Wednesday: an anti-SLAPP Motion to Strike, a Motion to Dismiss, and a Motion to Dissolve the preliminary injunction against the unseen undercover videos.

The anti-SLAPP motion means NAF cannot use a lawsuit to keep Daleiden from using his First Amendment rights. A matter of public interest must be established and NAF must show probability of prevailing in court.

The Motion to Dismiss is for lack of jurisdiction and failure to state a claim. Daleiden points out that the case has no more diversity and must be handed over to a California state court. (A case has diversity when the parties are from different states. In this case, the remaining parties are from the same state -- California.) As such, the federal court doesn’t have jurisdiction any longer. 

In addition, he says that the claims are not properly stated. For example, the Simple Conspiracy charge fails because a defendant cannot conspire with himself, as NAF has incorrectly claimed.

The Motion to Dissolve the preliminary injunction is to get rid of the gag order on the remaining CMP undercover videos. During the course of the federal case, the NAF tried to secure a criminal prosecution against Daleiden for illegal taping. The gag order was issued in federal court but the criminal court necessarily demands that the videos are shown. Daleiden is currently bound by contradictory orders.

The next hearing for the criminal case is September 14 in California’s 9th Circuit Court. It is open to the public.

He’s thrown back the covers on the abortion giant’s seedy business of making a profit off of pieces of children. His brilliant investigative journalism has led to the successful prosecution of some of Planned Parenthood’s cronies. And yet he’s being charged with illegal taping of the atrocities by California’s District Attorney.

Daleiden has recently filed three motions to throw out the federal lawsuit and preliminary gag order on remaining video footage. He says it’s the most damning footage yet.

Silencing the Press

You want to talk about silencing the press? Just look at this case. This investigative journalist has video proof -- proof! -- of Planned Parenthood’s most heinous acts ever. But California politicians, the abortion industry and even the judge in the federal case are withholding them from us. 

Not to mention the media. While the media salivates over the Omarosa tapes, here’s one guy who has proof positive that Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation kill babies for profit -- and not one person from the mainstream media will talk about it. 

Not only does the federal judge -- Judge Orrick III -- want to silence Daleiden by a preliminary gag order prohibiting the release of the damning videos, he’s actually a pro-abortion judge who helped found an abortion clinic in San Francisco. His roots in the abortion industry run deep. Daleiden has filed a motion for his recusal. It’s only right.

Daleiden and CMP released a statement about the lawsuits Thursday:

“Three years ago, Planned Parenthood’s abortion doctors with the National Abortion Federation stormed into federal court demanding a gag order over the most damning undercover footage. Now they have largely retreated, dropping all of their federal claims and allegations of unlawful video recording, leaving only a simple contract dispute between fellow Californians. Since the gag order was issued, two Congressional investigations, a successful case against Planned Parenthood’s business partners in southern California, and the ongoing U.S. Department of Justice investigation prove that CMP’s videos are accurate and Judge Orrick’s reasons for placing the gag order were false. This case should be thrown out of federal court, and the censored undercover videos must be released.”

Optimistic Moving Forward

Attorney Chuck LiMandri from Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund is one of the attorneys representing Daleiden and CMP. He said they’re “optimistic” moving forward in the case. “We know that we’re right on the law. ... Ultimately, we know that this is a case where, if it proceeds, it should go before a jury and we feel confident that if we get this lawsuit put before a jury, with all of the underlying facts regarding the barbaric practices of Planned Parenthood and their cronies with NAF, that the jury will see what great service that David has done in bringing these videos to light. So, in that sense, we’re optimistic.”

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If the gag order is removed, the video footage will be released. According to Daleiden, we can expect a “solid dozen” videos of evidence against Planned Parenthood and their affiliates participating in atrocious acts against babies. The baby body part trafficking has got to stop. One way to do that is to educate the public about what is really happening in abortion clinics across the U.S. 

Release the videos!

Trump Gives Turkey Ultimatum on Imprisoned U.S. Pastor: ‘They Can’t Take Our People’

Sat, 08/18/2018 - 15:00

On Friday, President Donald Trump addressed the plight of American pastor Andrew Brunson who has been detained in Turkey for nearly two years. "Turkey has, in my opinion, acted very, very badly," he told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House. "They have a wonderful Christian [man], Pastor Brunson. They should have given him back a long time ago."

The statement comes as part of an escalating, months-long war of words between the two nations. Recent U.S. sanctions imposed on Turkey have added to an economic crisis for the world's 17th largest economy. “Failure to reverse this trend of unilateralism and disrespect will require us to start looking for new friends and allies," said Turkish President Recep Erdogan in a New York Times op-ed last week.

"Turkey has been a problem for a long time… we are not going to take it sitting down. They can't take our people" the president told reporters of American pastor Andrew Brunson, who Turkey accuses of espionage https://t.co/D4Y89a0D04 pic.twitter.com/9D7kY7q1A2

— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) August 17, 2018

Trump has not been deterred. "They made up this phony charge that he's a spy, and he's not a spy," said Trump on Friday, referring to Brunson. "Turkey has been a problem for a long time. They have not acted as a friend. We are not going to take it sitting down. They can't take our people. So you will see what happens."

The veiled threat reveals how suddenly and significantly the relationship between the U.S. and Turkey has deteriorated. The liberty and well-being of a pastor hangs in the balance.

Two Men On a Collision Course in Turkey

The son of missionary parents, Andrew Brunson was born in South Carolina. He graduated from prominent Christian school Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. His home church, Christ Community Church in Montreat, North Carolina has helped sponsor him for decades.

Brunson has lived in Turkey since 1995 with his wife Norine and their three children. He has served as pastor of Izmir Resurrection Church in the nation's third-largest city. Though recognized as 98 percent Muslim, Turkey's constitution has long upheld religious liberty.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (AP photo)

Emerging parallel to Brunson's ministry during the 1990's, a Turkish leader had designs on resurrecting the Ottoman Empire. He was Recep Tayyip Erdogan (pronounced "air-doh-wan"), then the Mayor of Istanbul. "Democracy is like a streetcar," he said in 1997. "When you come to your stop, you get off."

Author and Middle East expert Joel Richardson has traveled often in and around Turkey. "Erdogan has been projecting his intentions for a long time," says Richardson. "Now that game plan has come to pass. The treatment of Pastor Brunson is a symptom of their hyper-nationalist anti-Western culture, driven by conspiracy theories."

Following a decade as Prime Minister of Turkey, Erdogan was elected as the nation's president in 2014. He signaled his intentions to re-establish a form of Islamist rule. Months into the new regime, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) threatened those two nations bordering Turkey. The Obama administration accused Erdogan of aiding the terrorists. Yet Vice President Joe Biden later apologized, despite the evidence.

Erdogan’s strongest actions would begin in summer 2016. His regime began to silence opposing voices.

Purging Kurds, Christians and Other Dissenters

Leaders concerned about Erdogan's Islamist intentions planned to retake the government with democratic aims. On July 15, 2016, their attempt failed. The Erdogan regime claims religious cleric Fethullah Gulen, living in voluntary exile in the U.S., had planned this attempted coup.

Days later, Erdogan declared a state of emergency across the nation. His regime quickly took control of the military, civil service, education and the media. "What Erdogan is really doing is eradicating the last remnants of the secular Turkish state, as he proceeds to turn Turkey into, instead, an Islamic State," stated professor Glenn Reynolds in USA Today.

Since July 2016 more than 140,000 people have been detained in Turkey, according to the website Turkey Purge. A team of journalists in exile uses the site to track ongoing human rights abuses in Turkey. Their reporting reveals how over 3,000 schools have been shuttered and over 300 journalists arrested, among other dictatorial actions.

The purge has been particularly fierce against the Kurds. For decades, this ethnic minority has sought a degree of autonomy within Turkey, Syria and Iraq to no avail. "In terms of oppression in Turkey, the Kurds are first and foremost," says Richardson. "Look at what happened in Diyarbak?r. The Turkish military basically holed up the whole city, imposed a curfew and killed hundreds of innocent Kurdish people."

In the Crossfire

Pastor Andrew Brunson (AP photo)

American pastor Andrew Brunson welcomed Kurds into his church. This put him right in the crossfire. On October 7, 2016, he and his wife Norine were summoned to a police station in Izmir. Within days, she was released. They held him on charges the pastor didn't even know.

"Because he was ministering to some Kurds, the Turkish government made bogus accusations against him," says Richardson. "They accused him of being a Kurdish collaborator. Is simply loving on Kurdish people a crime in this country?" Specifically, they linked him to religious cleric Gulen, accused of instigating the 2016 coup.

Brunson has now endured over 22 months in custody. Though Erdogan's emergency powers were to expire after three months, he continues to exercise them. On July 8, 2018, Erdogan sacked another 18,000 Turkish officials allegedly linked to Gulen.

Brunson Freed from Prison During Religious Freedom Gathering

Pastor Brunson has had three hearings before a Turkish judge this year. Following hours of testimony from secret witnesses, a new date has been set to reconvene. Two Turkish human rights advocates call Brunson's trial "the most absurd court case in the country's history."

Starting July 24, the U.S. hosted the first-ever Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom. Delegates from 88 nations gathered to commend religious freedom as a central human right. Speaking before officials and nonprofit leaders, Brunson's daughter Jacqueline Furnari pressed for his release. She spoke of the pain of her father missing her wedding.

During the three-day Ministerial, Vice President Mike Pence delivered a pointed message to Turkey. "To President Erdogan and the Turkish government, I have a message on behalf of the President of United States of America," stated Pence. "Release Pastor Andrew Brunson now or be prepared to face the consequences."

If Turkey does not take immediate action to free Pastor Andrew Brunson and send him home to America, the United States will impose significant sanctions on Turkey until this innocent man of faith is free. pic.twitter.com/GM9WohpMRm

— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) July 26, 2018

This pressure seemed to net some results. On July 25, Brunson was released from jail and placed under house arrest.

However, with this move, reports indicate Turkish President Erdogan reneged on a secret deal. A Turkish dissident had been released on July 14 by Israel, a close U.S. ally. Brunson's full release had been assured in exchange. After the betrayal, Trump escalated sanctions.

Turkey has taken advantage of the United States for many years. They are now holding our wonderful Christian Pastor, who I must now ask to represent our Country as a great patriot hostage. We will pay nothing for the release of an innocent man, but we are cutting back on Turkey!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 16, 2018

On August 1, the U.S. froze the assets of two top Turkish government officials. A week later, President Trump announced that tariffs would double on aluminum and steel imported from Turkey to the U.S.

Next Court Hearing Set for October 12

As the cost of living has increased for Turkish citizens, some have questioned the increasing sanctions imposed by the Trump administration.

"With the Turkish economy in decline due to [the] purges and overall mismanagement, American sanctions only reinforce Erdogan's rhetoric," reported Christianity Today on Thursday, citing several sources.

Chris Seiple of the Institute for Global Engagement disparaged the Trump administration for barely mentioning the 20 other Americans imprisoned in Turkey. "The singular focus on Brunson allows the Turkish press, among others, to promote the narrative that America only cares about American Christians, and not all its own citizens," stated Seiple.

Joel Richardson

The Washington Post confirmed Wednesday, however, that State Department officials are working to free all Americans detained over the past two years. Alternately a critic and backer of the Trump administration, Joel Richardson urges Americans to view current issues in context.

"The noose had been tightening for Christians in Turkey long before Trump came into power," says the author, who produces periodic video updates on Mideast issues. "Numerous Christian pastors and workers were driven out of the country during the Obama administration. To lay all blame on President Trump and the sanctions frankly is ignorant."

On Friday, a high court in Izmir, Turkey upheld the lower court ruling that keeps Brunson under house arrest and banned from travel. His next court hearing will be on October 12. He and his family have been represented legally by the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ).

Over the past year, ACLJ has gather over 590,000 signatures calling for the release of Pastor Brunson. They plan to deliver it to the next UN General Assembly meeting which begins on September 18.

Watch a video below from Pastor Brunson's daughter, and learn more about the ACLJ petition.

Trump Rips Social Media Efforts to Censor Conservatives

Sat, 08/18/2018 - 14:12

President Trump took to Twitter Saturday morning, taking social media giants to task for censoring conservative voices. “Too many voices are being silenced, some good some & some bad,” he said. “And that cannot be allowed to happen.”

He did not say what steps he will take to thwart Facebook, Twitter and Instagram censorship and shadow-banning. 

Social Media is totally discriminating against Republican/Conservative voices. Speaking loudly and clearly for the Trump Administration, we won't let that happen. They are closing down the opinions of many people on the RIGHT, while at the same time doing nothing to others…….

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 18, 2018

…..Censorship is a very dangerous thing & absolutely impossible to police. If you are weeding out Fake News, there is nothing so Fake as CNN & MSNBC, & yet I do not ask that their sick behavior be removed. I get used to it and watch with a grain of salt, or don't watch at all..

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 18, 2018

….Too many voices are being destroyed, some good & some bad, and that cannot be allowed to happen. Who is making the choices, because I can already tell you that too many mistakes are being made. Let everybody participate, good & bad, and we will all just have to figure it out!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 18, 2018

The president’s tweets come hours after conservative talk show host Dennis Prager revealed Facebook is blocking his Prager U posts. 

Conservative author and editor Elizabeth Kantor was deplatformed for tweeting against deplatforming. Fortunately the ban was quickly lifted after a public outcry. (Editor’s Note: Kantor edited The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration by Stream writers John Zmirak and Al Perrotta.)

This week also saw Twitter banning conservative gadfly Gavin McInnis and join in the efforts to completely silence conspiracy-minded radio host Alex Jones.

The President and Bill Maher Agree on Something?!

Even liberal cable TV host Bill Maher came out last night against the social media purging of Jones. Said Maher, “Alex Jones gets to speak.” He also blasted the liberals behind the social media bans.

“If you are a liberal, you are supposed to be for free speech,” Maher told his audience on HBO. "That's free speech for the speech you hate. That's what free speech means. We're losing the thread of the concepts that are important to this country,"

President Trump put it this way, “Let everybody participate, good & bad, and we will all just have to figure it out!”

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Atheist Bill Maher ‘Sits in God’s Lap to Slap His Face’

Sat, 08/18/2018 - 14:00

 

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Here’s How a Suspected ISIS Terrorist Ended Up in US as a Refugee

Sat, 08/18/2018 - 13:37
Suspected Islamic State fighter Omar Ameen was arrested in California on Wednesday on charges of murdering an Iraqi police officer. Ameen, 45, obtained refugee status, allowing him to come to the U.S. Ameen met little resistance on his path to the U.S. All he had to do was lie about his links to ISIS, according to the Department of Justice.

The process for Iraqi national Omar Adbulsattar Ameen to enter the U.S. was simple: All the suspected Islamic State fighter had to do was lie on his United Nations applications for refugee status and during interviews with U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) officials, according to the Department of Justice.

Ameen, who was arrested in California on Wednesday on an outstanding murder warrant in Iraq, claimed he was not a member of ISIS or al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). He also denied taking part in any terrorist or criminal activity in Iraq.

In order to meet the physical safety requirement to qualify as a refugee, Ameen, 45, claimed his father had been murdered while helping the American military and that his brother had been kidnapped by a terrorist group affiliated with radical cleric Muqtada al Sadr.

But all of that was a lie, according to the Justice Department.

Ameen was allegedly a member of ISIS. In 2004, before the rise of that brutal terror group, Ameen and his family helped start AQI, according to the DOJ. In addition to allegedly killing an Iraqi police officer, Ameen is suspected of planting IEDs and committing terrorist acts near his hometown of Rawah.

But Ameen appears not to have faced any rigorous questioning from the U.S. government about terror links and his criminal activities. Instead, he simply answered "no" to questions about his alleged ISIS and al-Qaeda links while inventing a false narrative about his father and brother.

"Have you ever interacted with, had involvement with, or known any members of ... Al Qaeda in Iraq ... the Islamic State of Iraq or any other armed group or militia?" was one of the questions USCIS posed to Ameen.

"No," he answered, according to Justice Department documents.

Ameen denied he had ever committed crimes in Iraq.

"In actuality," according to the Justice Department, witnesses told the FBI that Ameen committed "numerous crimes ranging from robbery to placing [improvised explosive devices]."

"Ameen's negative answers cut off a line of questioning relevant to his admissibility to the United States," the Justice Department filing states.

"Based on the written and verbal answers given by Ameen, his refugee application was approved by USCIS on June 5, 2014."

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Ameen, who claimed to work as a truck driver, first applied for refugee status in Turkey in 2012. On June 21, 2014, less than three weeks after obtaining refugee designation, Ameen allegedly murdered Iraqi police officer Ihsan Abdulhafiz Jasim in Rawah, an ISIS stronghold.

Ameen then entered the U.S. on Nov. 4, 2014, settling first in Salt Lake City and then in Sacramento, where he was arrested on Wednesday. He will be extradited to Iraq to face charges of premeditated murder.

Ameen applied for a green card in 2016, which would have allowed him permanent resident status in the U.S. The FBI began investigating Ameen for visa fraud that same year. It is unclear from government filings when the FBI learned of Ameen's alleged terrorist activities.

The ease with which Ameen obtained refugee status and entered the U.S. is "a sad illustration of the inherent problem in our vetting system," Jessica Vaughan, an analyst at the Center for Immigration Studies, which supports policies limiting immigration, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

The U.S. government's refugee vetting process has been a topic of intense debate during President Donald Trump's tenure. Days after taking office, Trump ordered a ban on travel from several predominantly Muslim countries.

Iraq was initially on that list but removed at the request of Secretary of Defense James Mattis. The Supreme Court upheld a revised travel ban in June.

Trump critics accused the administration of discriminating based on religion. Trump supporters argued the ban was necessary to prevent terrorist acts on U.S. soil.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) established a National Vetting Center in February to screen all individuals applying for refugee status, visas and other immigration benefits.

"Last year, at the President's direction, the U.S. Government implemented significant enhancements to the security of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program," DHS spokesman Tyler Q. Houlton said in a statement when asked whether the Trump administration's vetting requirements would have prevented Ameen from entering the U.S.

"Tighter screening and tougher vetting in the refugee program have already started to make Americans safer at home," he continued. "This is just one example of how raising the bar on our security standards has directly increased our ability to protect and secure our nation from terror groups abroad."

Vaughan said the refugee vetting process under the Trump administration has improved, "but it's not foolproof."

"That's why we should assist by sending aid to them instead of visas," she continued. "It shows how we cannot always rely on our own vetting, which is based on other countries' records, which may be in accurate, inauthentic or simply unavailable."

Eight witnesses told the FBI about his family's connections to AQI and ISIS. One FBI witness also provided a death certificate for Ameen's father, which showed that, rather than being murdered, he died on Dec. 25, 2010, from a blood clot.

But Ameen claimed on a refugee application submitted to USCIS that his father was "shot dead" while helping the American military transport portable houses. Ameen repeated the claim verbally under oath during an interview to obtain a green card.

"Not only did Ameen misrepresent the cause of his father's death, but he also falsified the nature of his father's involvement with AQI," the government wrote. "By concealing the true nature of his father's membership in AQI, Ameen misdirected USCIS away from its inquiry into any possible disqualifying ties to terrorism."

Ameen also claimed on his refugee application that his brother's home in Baghdad was raided by a group of "masked, black-clad men" affiliated with the terrorist group Jaish Al Mahdi in March 2012.

"According to Ameen, he feared persecution based on the kidnapping of his brother if he were to remain in Iraq," the government wrote.

But Ameen's brother was not apprehended by a terror group, according to the DOJ. Instead, he was arrested by authorities on terrorism charges. An Iraqi court issued an arrest warrant for Ameen and three of his brothers on Dec. 26, 2010.

"These two claims of past persecution formed the basis of Ameen's acceptance as a refugee. By falsely claiming to be a victim of past persecution, Ameen created a narrative that resulted in approval of his refugee application," the Justice Department said.

The government filing says that Ameen's denials of having ties to ISIS and al-Qaeda "cut off a line of inquiry into his familial ties to terrorism."

For Vaughan, the Ameen case is evidence of how easy it is for terrorists to skirt the vetting process.

"Bad actors can and do lie to get here," she said.

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Cuomo Changes Tune: ‘Of Course America is Great’

Sat, 08/18/2018 - 13:04

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo, running for a third term and a potential candidate for president in 2020, acknowledged Friday that he was “inartful” when he said this week that America “was never that great.”

The Democrat went on to expound on something that few elected officials ever need to spell out.

“I want to be very clear: Of course America is great and of course America has always been great,” Cuomo said on a teleconference with reporters.

Cuomo’s appraisal of the nation was somewhat different Wednesday when, speaking at a Manhattan bill signing, he critiqued Republican President Donald Trump and his slogan, “Make America Great Again.”

“We’re not going to make America great again -- it was never that great,” Cuomo told the audience, which reacted with gasps and laughter. “We have not reached greatness. We will reach greatness when every American is fully engaged.”

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The comment set off a wave of criticism of Cuomo.

New York Republicans demanded an apology and purchased Cuomo a one-way bus ticket to Montreal. Trump tweeted that Cuomo was having a “total meltdown.” Cuomo primary challenger and former “Sex and the City” star Cynthia Nixon accused Cuomo of trying to sound like a liberal and failing. CBS late night host Stephen Colbert said the comment was “the dumbest thing you could say as a politician.”

Trump ridiculed Cuomo again Friday in several tweets, comparing the comment from “Hightax Andrew Cuomo” to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of the word “deplorables” to describe many Trump supporters during the 2016 campaign.

“I say Andrew’s was a bigger and more incompetent blunder,” Trump tweeted. “He should easily win his race against a Super Liberal Actress, but his political career is over!”

In response, Cuomo tweeted Friday evening, “We know how tough Trump is: hiding behind tweets & ripping babies from their mothers’ arms. Let’s get something straight: America is great because it rejects your hate-filled agenda of bigotry & sexism.”

Other critics took issue with Cuomo’s use of the word “inartful” when trying to walk back his comment.

“That falls well short of the apology he owes,” said Republican lawmaker Brian Kolb, the minority leader in the state Assembly.

During Friday’s teleconference, Cuomo said he has no plans to run for president but will continue his criticism of Trump, who attended a Long Island fundraiser Friday. Calling the president “vindictive, petty and small,” Cuomo said “Make America Great Again” reflects Trump’s desire to return America to a time of greater intolerance and inequality.

“Everything he does is repugnant to our values,” he said.

 

Copyright 2018 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed

Facebook Censors PragerU Videos and Shadow Bans Posts

Sat, 08/18/2018 - 12:41

Facebook is censoring PragerU videos for violating its speech codes that prohibit so-called "hate speech" and shadow banning its posts, PragerU wrote on Twitter Friday.

"We're being heavily censored on @Facebook. Our last 9 posts are reaching 0 of our 3 million followers. At least two videos were deleted last night for 'hate speech' including our recent video with @ConservativeMillen," PragerU tweeted.

BREAKING: We're being heavily censored on @Facebook.

Our last 9 posts are reaching 0 of our 3 million followers. At least two videos were deleted last night for "hate speech" including our recent video with @conservmillen.

SHARE to spread awareness about big tech censorship! pic.twitter.com/k83HqmlMRc

— PragerU (@prageru) August 17, 2018

The official PragerU Facebook page is still up on Facebook at the time of publication. Its Facebook page reposts the same videos consistently and others can still be found on the page.

However, it appears that one specific PragerU social media administrator -- the one who posted the videos that Facebook considered violated its "hate speech" policies -- is unable to post on behalf of PragerU, resulting in only other PragerU administrators being able to see the post. No one else can see the posts.

One of the deleted videos, titled, "Where Are the Moderate Muslims?" was most likely posted on Facebook on Thursday.

The presenter, Hussein Aboubakr, states that when he was growing up, his teacher and his Imam were happy when they heard about the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11.

Aboubakr points to a Pew Research poll that shows the overwhelming majority of Muslims in Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan and Nigeria believe "any Muslim who chooses to leave Islam should be put to death," women should be stoned for committing adultery, and people should be punished for criticizing Muhammad or Islam.

At end of the video, Aboubakr pleads for moderate Muslims to reform the religion around the world.

Another video, titled "Make Men Masculine Again," was posted Aug. 6 and has also been deleted. The video, presented by conservative YouTube personality Allie Stuckey, presents an argument that making men feminine is both wrong and dangerous.

"Bad men don't become good when they stop being men. They become good when they stop being bad," Stuckey argues.

PragerU's Chief Marketing Officer Craig Strazzeri, in a statement Friday, said the censorship was a first for PragerU.

"While we've experienced blatant discrimination from Google/YouTube, which is why we've filed legal action against them, this represents a whole new level of censorship by Facebook," Strazzeri said. "At this point, Facebook has provided little clarity saying it will get back to us in another two to three business days, which in the world of social media might as well be an eternity."

"This is very troubling behavior from the world's largest social network," Strazzeri added. "Not only are they obviously ratcheting up their algorithms to target mainstream, conservative content and labeling it as hate speech, but they are now completely blocking our posts from public view. This is shocking and it should deeply concern every single American."

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The legal action Strazzeri refers to is the lawsuit PragerU filed against Google in February for what it described as intentionally attacking the nonprofit.

Some of PragerU's videos were demonetized on YouTube. According to PragerU, the videos didn't violate YouTube's terms of service or policies, The Daily Caller News Foundation reported. PragerU alleges YouTube, owned by Google parent company Alphabet, targeted them for their conservative ideology and violated its First Amendment rights.

The presiding judge, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh, tossed out the lawsuit out March 26, citing that Google has no obligation to apply its services equally and that PragerU's First Amendment rights haven't been violated, The Daily Caller News Foundation reported.

PragerU was founded as a nonprofit educational service by conservative pundit Dennis Prager.

The Daily Caller News Foundation reached out to Facebook for comment and will update this article if and when a response is issued.

 

Follow Kyle on Twitter @KylePerisic. Send tips to kyle@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

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Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

Busted, With Benefits

Sat, 08/18/2018 - 11:00

The recent headlines about Willow Creek and the Catholic priests in Pennsylvania are terrible reminders of what happens when men in leadership give themselves permission to indulge what should never even be considered.

But in the midst of our legitimate outrage over all this, I'm reminded of the process God takes a man through when he's exposed, broken, and hopefully repentant.

That's when he experiences the best of times and the worst of times.

It's the worst of times, of course, and there's no point even trying to describe the humiliation -- the agony, really -- knowing you're putting your family, your church, and your name through hell. Add to that the horror of facing the permanent damage you've done to whoever was the object of your indulgence, and the whole thing can seem unbearable.

But there's a benefit to getting busted as well. Finally, when the problem can no longer be covered, denied, or minimized, it gets your full attention. That's the beginning of true repentance, which is the beginning of all true change. That makes it the best of times as well.

You're in Good Company

King David himself learned this in the hardest of ways. When he crossed the line during his notorious adultery with Bathsheba, followed by his heartless murder of her husband, he probably thought he'd gotten away with his secret sin. (II Samuel 11)

Months went by while he kept it hidden. He may have figured it was all behind him, until God jerked him to attention through a rebuke from the prophet Nathan.

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Nathan began by telling David a story about a man who'd done something similar to what the King himself had done. (II Samuel 12:1-4) David, not recognizing himself in the story and hating the sin the man in the story committed, reacted strongly, commanding the guy be put to death. (verses 5-6)

Side note: Ever notice how horrible your sin looks when you see it on someone else, but how minor it looks when you see it on you?

That's when Nathan sledgehammered David with those lethal words: "Thou art the man." (verses 7-12) Then King David, a good man who'd done evil in secret which was now being published openly, crumpled under the weight of the truth. (verse 13)

Blessed Wounding

Truth can produce a wound, a wound with purpose. Many men I've known haven’t been willing to abandon their secret sin until they got a good look at its consequences.

The secret use of porn is a good example. Facing the consequences of the porn habit can mean turning the spotlight on what you've avoided, like the damage your habit has been doing to your wife, your children, yourself. But when you finally face it, you experience one of three things that are, in my opinion, necessary for true repentance: Anger, Fear and Sadness.

I think David experienced all three. He was heartbroken over his behavior, angry with himself, and frightened over the possible consequences. That powerful combination of emotions helped bring him to humility, prayer, repentance, and necessary action.

Shame, outrage, and fear seem like negative emotions, but they also produce enough discomfort and energy to shake a man out of his complacency and into redemptive action.

In other words, his crises of truth was not an end, but the vital beginning of repentance which is, in turn, the beginning of restoration. Consider this -- God didn't send Nathan to rebuke David because his life was over, but because He wanted it to be better.

In his book David: A Man of Passion and Destiny, Charles Swindoll notes: “Why did such a major change take place in David's life and attitude? First, because David hurt enough to admit his need.”

Shame, outrage, and fear seem like negative emotions, but they also produce enough discomfort and energy to shake a man out of his complacency and into redemptive action.

I want that for all the leaders we know of, and all the men and women we'll never hear about, who are dealing with secret sin which is no longer secret. God grant them softened hearts, renewed hope, genuine brokenness, and most of all, healing for everyone impacted by their sin. Including, of course, themselves.

 

If by chance the private use of pornography is an unacknowledged sin in your own life, won't you join me this Saturday August 18 at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time for a 90-minute webinar called "Breaking the Habit." We'll discuss practical, Biblically-based tools you can start using immediately to free yourself once and for all. To register, click here.

Originally appeared at JoeDallas.com. Reprinted with permission.

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