Saturday, August 31, 2013

What Is and Has Been Happening in Syria

Iowa Democrat Prayer: Thank God for Abortionists!

This is what happens when people subscribe to a cultural norm in which words have no real meanings and Christianity has no true doctrine. El Cid

They made the unusual decision, for Democrats, to begin the event with a prayer. This was likely in response to a prayer vigil being conducted by pro-life activists at the same time nearby.

Des Moines activist, Midge Slater, took the podium and spent five and a half minutes thanking God for abortion rights, abortion doctors and taxpayer funding for abortions. She also referred to the decision to have an abortion as “a blessing”.

During the entire prayer, State Senator Jack Hatch and Rep. Tyler Olson, both of whom are running for governor, kept their heads bowed and eyes closed, joining in the group prayer.

“We give thanks, oh Lord, for the doctors, both current and future, who provide quality abortion care.”

“We pray for increased financial support for low-income women to access contraception, abortion and childcare.”

“Today, we pray for women in developing nations, that they may know the power of self-determination. May they have access to employment, education, birth control and abortion.”

“Today we pray for the families who have chosen. May they know the blessing of choice.”

“We pray for women who have been made afraid by their paternalistic religion.”

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Cities In Dust - Siouxsie and the Banshees [HD]

Water was running; children were running
You were running out of time
Under the mountain, a golden fountain
Were you praying at the Lares shrine?
But ohh oh your city lies in dust, my friend
ohh oh your city lies in dust, my friend

We found you hiding, we found you lying
Choking on the dirt and sand
Your former glories and all the stories
Dragged and washed with eager hands

But ohh oh your city lies in dust, my friend
ohh oh your city lies in dust, my friend
your city lies in dust

Water was running; children were running
We found you hiding, we found you lying
Water was running; children were running
We found you hiding, we found you lying
your city lies in dust
ohh oh your city lies in dust, my friend

Hot and burning in your nostrils
Pouring down your gaping mouth
Your molten bodies blanket of cinders
Caught in the throes .......

Ohh oh your city lies in dust, my friend
Ohh oh your city lies in dust, my friend
Ohh oh your city lies in dust, my friend
Ohh oh your city lies in dust, my friend

Your city lies in dust

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

California Assaults Religious Freedom For Christians And Jews
There's a new bill pending in the California legislature that directly targets religious freedom for Christians and Jews.

It's SB 323, which passed the California Senate and sailed through Assembly committees to a floor vote, possibly this week.

The bill targets the tax exempt status of groups like the Boy Scouts, Little League, Future Farmers of America and 19 other organizations if they discriminate in any way based on gender identity, sexual orientation, nationality, race, religion or religious affiliation.

The measure is also aimed tax-exempt status for public and private schools found to sponsor any of these 'discriminatory' youth groups..including exemption status held by a religious school or church.

“Traditional values regarding heterosexuality are being branded as the legal equivalent of racism, and so there’s the quite genuine fear that the tax code really is the battleground against the traditional churches,” said Alan Reinach, executive director of Church State Council, which opposes SB 323.

“It’s not about ‘live and let live.’ If the churches do not conform to the values of homosexuality, then we will lose our standing in society,” he said. [...}

They say SB 323 discriminates against organizations that have faith-based convictions and forces them to adopt the government’s viewpoint on sexual orientation and gender identity in their hiring, practices, membership, objectives or activities.

Many youth groups do not even hold their own tax-exempt status, but operate under the exemption of their church conference, said Mr. Reinach, whose public policy organization focuses on religious-freedom issues.

So if a youth group is found to be discriminatory, “what are you going to do — revoke the tax exemption for two dozen schools and 150 churches or at least all of their youth groups?” he asked.

Interestingly enough, only churches, synagogues and groups affiliated with them are n=being mentioned. Not a word is being said about the Nation of Islam, which is avowedly anti-homosexuality or Muslim mosques or groups,which hold similar views based on the Qu'ran.

Other groups named in the bill are Bobby Sox, Little League, Campfire Inc., 4-H Clubs, Future Farmers of America, Future Homemakers of America, Boys’ Clubs, Girls’ Clubs, Pop Warner football and AYSO as well as several other soccer organizations.

Brian McClintock, a spokesman for the Little League, said his group already has policies not to discriminate on the “basis of race, creed, color, national origin, marital status, gender, sexual orientation or disability.” And two people associated with Future Farmers of America said they couldn’t imagine why their organization was named in the bill.

Perhaps I can answer their question.

Homosexuals have become a new 'protected group' for democrats and a major fundraising target, as no less then Rahm Emmanuel himself recently let us know. They normally tend to have decent incomes and usually have no expenses or time constraints associated with child rearing and thus have ample disposable income and leisure time that can be tapped politically.

Additionally, since California enacted de facto legal same sex marriage even though a measure passed by a majority of the state's voters amended the state's constitution to prevent that, this is seen as just another political payoff to the very powerful and well funded homosexual lobby.

We will see a time soon in California when a church is going to be sued for not hiring a gay clergyman, and will lose its tax exempt status as a result.

As Mr. Reinach presciently observed, the end game is to eliminate a huge source of tax exempt giving and to destroy the standing in society of churches and least those that refuse to leave their religious principles behind and go along to get along.

First Amendment...wha? Who?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Germany to Forge Ahead with Merkel Policy

MUNICH – Less than a month before Germans head to the polls, Chancellor Angela Merkel remains the country’s most popular politician and her conservative Christian Democratic Union holds a significant lead among voters in a campaign that could set the tone for the next decade of the eurozone and trans-Atlantic relations.

Whether a third term for Mrs. Merkel, who has rejected U.S. calls for more stimulative economic policies and taken a tough line with Europe’s debt-saddled southern nations, will be as welcome for the Obama administration and Germany’s European Union partners is another question.

The main challenge to the chancellor’s party comes from the center-left Social Democrats, whose leader, Peer Steinbruck, has tried to use as an election issue the German government’s links to the National Security Agency eavesdropping scandal in the U.S., the one topic that has managed to put Mrs. Merkel on the defensive at times.

Mrs. Merkel, however, has kept her focus on the positive moves she has made for Germany over the past eight years. She takes credit for shielding the country from the worst of a financial crisis that hit its European neighbors hard. Her campaign got a boost Friday with figures showing Germany’s economy grew by 0.7 percent in the second quarter — strong by EU standards — while exports were up and the government reported a $11.9 billion surplus for the first half of the year.

This track record goes a long way with German voters, who have come to know Mrs. Merkel as “Mutti” — an old-fashioned term equivalent to “Mommy” — because she is portrayed as someone who takes care of Germany as if it were one of her own children. Opinion polls consistently find that she is far more popular personally than the party she heads.

“She’s the mother of the nation,” said Andreas Sperling, the CEO of the German division at online polling firm YouGov. “She makes decisions that are not emotional, that are not driven by testosterone or ego, but that are good for the country.”

Ahead in the polls

In a TNS Emnid poll released Sunday, the Christian Democratic Union received 40 percent of support, and the Social Democratic Party trailed with 25 percent. This is on par with most other polls, which give the Christian Democratic Union 42 percent to 40 percent, ahead of the Social Democratic Party at about 24 percent to 25 percent.

But a Forsa poll released Wednesday gave the Social Democratic Party 22 percent, suggesting its numbers may be inflated.

Under Germany’s parliamentary system, voters choose a party, which then picks its own candidate, but most polls suggest Mrs. Merkel would get about two-thirds of a popular vote — far more than President Obama received in his re-election victory over Mitt Romney.

The bigger question for the chancellor may come after the Sept. 22 parliamentary elections: which of the smaller parties the Christian Democrats will choose as partners for the next government.

The outcome also could affect Germany’s response to the eurozone crisis. Mrs. Merkel has responded to struggling countries such as Greece by demanding a strict line of austerity, including tax hikes and spending cuts, in return for aid, a policy course that has caused deep resentment abroad but has strong support at home.

“The public opinion is traditionally conservative when it comes to finances: Don’t spend money that you don’t have,” Mr. Sperling said.

An upset win by the Social Democrats, alone or in combination with smaller leftist parties, could bring a change to that approach, but analysts generally predict a steady-as-she-goes course for Europe’s largest economy.

Michael Wohlgemuth, an economist and director of the think tank Open Europe, said in a recent op-ed piece that the candidates and the electorate have been playing it safe: “Voters appear to have no appetite for excitement or change.”

An upset win by the Social Democrats, alone or in combination with smaller leftist parties, could bring a change to that approach, but analysts generally predict a steady-as-she-goes course for Europe’s largest economy.

Michael Wohlgemuth, an economist and director of the think tank Open Europe, said in a recent op-ed piece that the candidates and the electorate have been playing it safe: “Voters appear to have no appetite for excitement or change.”

“They don’t know how Steinbruck would manage the crisis, but they feel safe the way Merkel is doing it now and they don’t have a reason to change,” said another political analyst, Yvonne Schroth, a board member at Forschungsgruppe Wahlen, a top German polling firm.

U.S. spy scandal fallout

The NSA spying scandal is the one major blemish on Mrs. Merkel’s otherwise impressive campaign resume, with privacy a major concern for German voters. But many say past Social Democrat governments cooperated in U.S. surveillance programs and Mrs. Merkel appears to be weathering the storm.

“The NSA issue, so far, is not influencing the elections,” Mr. Sperling said. “They think it is a very, very important topic, but if you blame both sides, there is no winner, no loser.”

The opposition last week also seized on comments by Mrs. Merkel’s finance minister, Wolfgang Schauble, acknowledging that a third EU bailout package for Greece — with Germany footing much of the tab — will soon be necessary. Mrs. Merkel has tried to temper the acknowledgment.

Mr. Steinbruck, who was finance minister during Mrs. Merkel’s first term, has his own problems. He has committed several damaging gaffes, the biggest of which has political analysts here calling him the “Mitt Romney candidate.”

Shortly after the media revealed he took in a substantial side income giving speeches while serving in parliament, he made a snide remark in a newspaper interview that the chancellor’s salary is too low.

Mrs. Merkel may be the clear favorite, Mr. Sperling said, but it is not so easy to figure out who will win in an election system where various postelection coalitions are possible.

The German government traditionally is made up of two parties that form a coalition and control the majority of the government. A handful of smaller parties that compete for the role of junior coalition partner have made the face of the next German government hard to handicap.

The TNS Emnid poll found that the leftist Greens, an environmental party, received 12 percent of support, while the Left Party, which has communist roots, came in at 8 percent and the business-friendly Free Democrats got 5 percent.

Coalition options

One option is another “grand coalition” between the Christian Democrats and Social Democrats, reviving the shotgun marriage that lasted from 2005 to 2009. Another is an alliance of Mrs. Merkel’s and smaller parties to form a government based on election returns. As in past races, the election may hinge on the Free Democrats, who have served as Mrs. Merkel’s junior coalition partner for the past four years.

Mrs. Merkel would prefer to continue ruling with the Free Democrats, but the party once again faces the hurdle of securing at least 5 percent of the vote needed to win representation in the Bundestag. Analysts agree that the Free Democratic Party tends to perform better on election day than in polls, which would indicate it will stay above the 5 percent threshold.

“The FDP is a really old party, so there are a lot of people who don’t want them out,” Ms. Schroth said.

Conservatives may resort to strategic measures to keep the smaller party in office. In fact, some Christian Democrat voters may cast their ballots for the Free Democrats simply to keep them in the government — a practice known as “loaning votes.”

“There will be a lot of CDU voters that want to avoid a grand coalition, and therefore swing over and vote for the Free Democrats,” Ms. Schroth said. “The FDP will benefit from the danger that it might not make the government.”

But she said it is “not clever,” because if too many Christian Democrat voters swing over to the Free Democrats, it would weaken Mrs. Merkel’s re-election chances. The plan backfired in a state election earlier this year, so her party will be wary of this.

“They don’t want them loaning votes anymore,” Ms. Schroth said.

Regardless of whether the Free Democrats stay in the government, it doesn’t necessarily mean Mrs. Merkel will continue working with them, said Mujtaba Rahman, head of the Eurasia Group’s European division.

In order to rule effectively, Mrs. Merkel needs to form a majority government of 50 percent or more, but that looks unlikely if she teams with the Free Democrats. In the TNS Emnid poll, they combined for just 45 percent.

This was not a problem in the latest election, when the Free Democratic Party received 14 percent of the vote, but support for the party has since dropped and it is polling only at 4 percent to 6 percent.

Instead, Mr. Rahman expects Mrs. Merkel to form a grand coalition with the Social Democrats, which means the two largest parties would work together in government, even though they have opposite political ideologies.

“The Free Democrats will probably get into the parliament,” he said, “but they won’t get a majority, in which case Merkel will turn to the Social Democrats.”

Despite the prospect of more years on the outside looking in, the Social Democrats are divided over the prospect of a grand coalition with Mrs. Merkel.

The party was part of the government during her first term, but many top officials are uneasy about playing second fiddle again to the dominant conservatives. Mr. Steinbruck has even said publicly that he would sooner leave the party than support this coalition.

That said, the Social Democrats could move on without Mr. Steinbruck after the elections. Many are betting that the Social Democrats will change their minds because the party would rather share power than be on the sidelines for another four years.

“I find it hard to believe that they would be unwilling to get in bed with Merkel,” Mr. Rahman said. “If they have a chance to be in government and in power, they will do that.”

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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Rodeo Clowns- Then and Now


The Shame Of Ft. Hood Killer's Trial Comes To An End

Nidal Hasan

The trial of Major Nidal Hassan, who murdered of 13 of his fellow soldiers and wounded more than 30 others while they were disarmed at a dispensary inside the military base at Fort Hood has finally come to an end with a guilty verdict. One of them was a pregnant private who lay wounded on the floor and pleaded with Hasan for her baby's life before he finished her off.

 In the next phase of the trial, which will begin Monday, the military officer jurors have to  all agree to give Hasan the death penalty. If they do not agree, the 42-year-old could spend the rest of his life in prison.

I have never been more ashamed of my country.

The entire saga of Nidal Hassan, an Arab American who identified himself as a Palestinian tells much about how deeply our country has been infected by dhimmitude and appeasement - even in our military.

During Major Hassan's entire career, he made no secret of his radical Islamist beliefs and his hatred for America.At a presentation he made at Walter Reed Hospital in 2009 entitled "The Quranic World View As It Relates to Muslims in the U.S. Military" Hassan gave his views that the Qu'ran condones fighting to establish an Islamic state, that Muslim soldiers were prohibited from engaging in any actions that might result in the death of Muslims, and that all Muslims in the military should be released as conscientious objectors.

Retired Colonel Terry Lee, who worked with Hasan, surfaced after the Fort Hood shootings to say that Hasan had made remarks approving of the actions of the Muslim murderers who shot down two U.S. soldiers in Little Rock, Arkansas He told FOX News that that Hasan made "outlandish" statements against our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other things saying that "the Muslims should stand up and fight against the aggressor", referring to the United States.

He carried a business card that identified him as a 'soldier of Allah', carried on an open and extensive correspondence with al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, and made numerous comments espousing jihad against the United States he had sworn an oath to protect and defend.

Yet he was promoted through the ranks and received excellent fitness reports.Not one of his commanding officers or fellow soldiers were willing to go out on a limb and out him as the jihadist he was because they were afraid it would mark them as 'Islamophobes' and ruin their careers, something they'd seen happen to others.

At least six months before the Ft. Hood murders, Hasan had come to the attention of federal authorities because of internet postings he made discussing suicide bombings and jihad. The postings, made in the name "NidalHasan", compared a suicide bomber to a soldier who dies to save others and sacrifices his life for a "more noble cause." Again, in spite of this blazing red flag, no official investigation was opened. No one wanted to risk harming their careers by pushing the issue. Everything was buried.

This man was an open enemy of America and lay coiled like a rattlesnake in the midst of our warriors. Like a rattler, he gave off an open warning of his presence, but he remained protected by the willingness of our government to appease Islamist fascism.

So when Hasan brought two handguns into the dispensary at Fort Hood and started murdering his fellow soldiers while screaming Allahu Akbar, it should have surprised no one.

Horrible as that was,  worse was yet to come.

The Obama Administration refused to label what happened at Fort Hood a terrorist attack, instead dubbing it 'workplace violence.' This had the effect of denying combat medals and the accompanying increased survivor benefits to the families of the murder victims as well as the wounded. And incidentally, lessening the exposure of the Army to civil suits.

Our Dear Leader as commander in chief could easily have designated the Fort Hood attacks as jihadist terrorism at the cost to the government of a fraction of what's been spent on one of his luxury vacations or perhaps canceling a couple of his White House parties. He didn't.

Weeks went by as Major Hasan toyed with the military court about representing himself and even shaving or not shaving his beard as per military regulations because yes, he remains a U.S. soldier with full pay and benefits to this day. Rather than simply forcibly shaving him as was done with Saddam Hussein, the judge, Colonel Tara Osborn allowed him to keep his facial foliage.

Major Hasan finally won the right to represent himself, with a couple of lawyers from the judge advocate's corps as advisers. He made no pretense of denying that he was the killer, admitting to the murders in his opening statement.

In an absolutely outrageous ruling that underlined our government's attitude towards Islamist fascism as well as those who volunteer to fight it, Colonel Osborn disallowed any evidence that pointed towards jihad or Islamism as Major Hasan's motive for the murders, a decision deliberately calculated to sharply reduce the awards in a number of civil suits that have been filed by the victim's families by making sure the farcical designation of 'workplace violence' remains rather than calling this what it is, or , heaven forbid , casting any aspersions on the Religion of Peace.

At one point, Judge Osborn actually tried to help Hasan,  suggesting that the murders were the result of a sudden spontaneous flash of rage,,,which would have meant murder two instead of murder one and probably life imprisonment instead of the death penalty.

Hasan would have no part of that. He wants his martyrdom as a soldier of Allah.  "It wasn't done under the heat of sudden passion," Hasan said before jurors began deliberating. "There was adequate provocation — that these were deploying soldiers that were going to engage in an illegal war."

Not only that, but the evidence clearly showed that Hasan made thorough preparations for the killings, even going to the extent of  putting  paper towels in the pockets of his cargo pants to muffle the rattling of the extra ammo he was carrying to  avoid arousing suspicion.

Major Hasan's defense, if it can be called that,  consisted of examining just 3 of the 89 witnesses to establish that he was indeed the killer.

As a soldier of Allah, he's proud of killing the infidels.After all, doesn't the Qu'ran say they're enemies of Islam who will all burn in hell anyway?

Hasan will be almost certainly convicted of murder. In the military system during sentencing, the defendant can make an unsworn statement, which means he can’t be cross-examined and Hasan will take the opportunity he's been provided with to preach jihad and justify what he did as a holy act.

Unlike his victims, Nidal Hasan will get a painless death by lethal injections, as well as an opportunity to preach a final dawa to the world. He will be looking forward to frolicking with the 72 virgins as a Holy Martyr.The Obama Administration will see to it that he gets a full Islamic funeral just like Osama bin-Laden's, which involves cursing Christians and Jews as part of the rites.

Real justice would involve a hanging with a piece of pork stuffed into Hasan's mouth and then simply tossing his body into the sea. Then it might actually serve as something of a deterrent instead of an encouragement to future jihadis seeking martyrdom. Instead, Hasan will be seen and lionized as a role model and hero by our enemies.

The Obama Administration and the Army establishment will be able to sweep this under the rug as workplace violence thanks to the compliant Major Osborn, rather than admitting that this was a terrorist attack by an Islamist fascist. Not one military officer who saw what was going on with Major Hasan and failed to speak out will be punished or demoted in any way. Major Osborn will undoubtedly receive a promotion. And  the Obama Administration, the Army establishment and most of all Major Hasan, who will have achieved what he undoubtedly feels is the perfect jihad,  will all end up getting what they wanted.

The ones who will pay the price are the victims dead and living, their families, and the military rank and file. They will be left with the knowledge that their pain and the deaths of their loved ones count for nothing, and that the nation they selflessly volunteered to risk their lives to protect will simply go along with this obscenity rather than exploding in outrage.

Major Hasan was an honest rattlesnake, who made no attempt to hide whom he was.

It is America that bears the guilt and the shame. I wonder how we can stand it.

How long, oh Lord, how long?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Egyptian Military Orders Christian Churches Rebuilt

by AWR Hawkins 20 Aug 2013, 9:35 PM PDT at

Egyptian military General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has "ordered the engineering department of the armed forces to swiftly repair" the Coptic Christian churches burned down or otherwise attacked by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Islamists torched at least 25 churches were torched while the Egyptian military clashed with the Muslim Brotherhood in the past few weeks.

According to Fox News, Sisi released a statement in which he ordered these churches rebuilt "in recognition of the historical and national role played by our Coptic brothers."

The Coptic church's Bishop Mousa responded to Sisi's order with gratitude: "We thank... Gen. Sisi for commissioning the brave Egyptian armed forces to rebuild the places of worship damaged during recent events."

On Sunday, Breitbart News reported the Muslim Brotherhood had been using the clashes with the Egyptian military as cover to carry out violence against Christians. This included violence against individual Christians as well as violence against the churches in which they gather for worship.

Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter @AWRHawkins

ELCA 2012 Statitistics

The 2012 numbers show that there are now 9,533 ELCA congregations. (this includes “155 congregations under development”) In 2011, the ELCA had 9,638 congregations.  That means there has been a loss of 105 ELCA congregations (happening for a variety of reasons) in one year.

The total number of baptized members in the ELCA as of 2012 is 3,950,924. This is significant in that the ELCA is no longer a denomination of 4 million members.

In 2011, the membership total was 4,059,785. That equals a loss of 108,861 members or -2.68% in one year.

Only 2,515,205 ELCA members are classified as “Active Participants.”

The total ELCA church attendance at worship each week for 2012 is 1,092,279, compared to 2011 which was 1,123,071. That is a year's loss of 30,792.

Analyzing this further, when we look at the years 2009 (the year of the ELCA's homosexuality decisions) through 2012, the ELCA has lost 682,963 members (14.7%) and 863 congregations.

Consider also that when the ELCA was formed in 1987 they had: 5,288,048 members and 11,133 congregations.

 “The statistics below are through the end of 2012 and reflect disaffiliations since the Churchwide Assembly in 2009.

• 947 congregations have taken a total of 1026 first votes to disaffiliate

• 713 first votes passed

• 313 first votes failed (33 percent)

• 689 second votes have been taken

• 654 second votes passed

• 35 second votes failed (5 percent)

• 643 congregations have been officially removed from the roster of congregations in the ELCA”

“The settings of disaffiliating congregations also vary widely. More than 67 percent are in rural settings or communities of less than 10,000. At the same time, the ELCA has lost 21 percent of its congregations worshipping 800 or more.”

Sources for the information and quotes in this blog originate from


It should also be noted that the ELCA budget continues to reflect the exodus of Bible-believing Christians from the denomination:    

The ELCA churchwide organization budget for fiscal years 2014-2016. The budget includes current fund spending of $70,541,740 for 2014, $68,552,280 for 2015, and $67,920,675 for 2016.” (see

Monday, August 19, 2013

Islamist Mob Parades Nuns as Prisoners of War

Islamist mob parades nuns in Cairo as prisoners of war after six hours looting church school and replacing cross with banner resembling Al Qaeda flag

Franciscan School looted and classrooms burned to the ground

Nuns subjected to abuse as they were paraded through the streets

Two Christians killed since government moved against protesters

Dozens of churches, homes and businesses owned by Christians attacked

By Mail Foreign Service PUBLISHED: 17:29 EST, 18 August 2013 | UPDATED: 05:38 EST, 19 August 2013

A mob marched nuns through the battle-torn streets of Cairo ‘like prisoners of war’ in the latest outrage against Egypt’s Christian minority.

Sister Manal, principal of a Franciscan school in suburban Cairo, watched for six hours as a mob looted the building, knocked the cross off the gate and replaced it with a black banner resembling the flag of Al Qaeda.

The classrooms were then burned to the ground and the women taken away, attracting a crowd of abusive onlookers.

An Egyptian army officer raises his gun at the crowd outside a mosque in Cairo. Elsewhere nuns were paraded like 'prisoners of war' after Franciscan School attacked by Islamists

Almost 900 have died during four days of extreme violence between police and activists supporting ousted President Morsi

Police told Sister Manal that the nuns had been targeted by hardline Islamists, convinced that they had given Muslim children an inappropriate education.

‘We are nuns. We rely on God and the angels to protect us,’ she said. ‘At the end, they paraded us like prisoners of war and hurled abuse at us as they led us from one alley to another without telling us where they were taking us.’

Siblings Wardah and Bedour, two Christian women employed by the school, also found themselves having to fight their way through the mob while being groped, hit and insulted by the extremists.

So far two Christians have been killed since the military-backed government moved against protesters calling for former president Mohamed Morsi’s reinstatement.

And dozens of churches, homes and businesses owned by Christians have been attacked and razed to the ground.

Armoured vehicles are pictured stationed in front of the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square

‘I am terrified and unable to focus,’ said Boulos Fahmy, the pastor of a Catholic church a short distance away from Manal’s school. ‘I am expecting an attack on my church any time now.’

And Bishop Ibram, head of the local Coptic Orthodox church, said he had instructed Christians and clerics not to resist the mobs of Islamists to try and avoid any loss of life.

‘The looters were so diligent that they came back to one of the five churches they had already ransacked to see if they could get more,’ he said.

‘They were loading our chairs and our benches on trucks and when they had no space for more, they just destroyed them.’

Christians have long suffered from discrimination and violence in Egypt, where they make up 10 per cent of the population of 90million.

Women supporting President Morsi take to the streets during continued protests in Cairo

The number of anti-Christian attacks increased after the Arab Spring uprising that drove Hosni Mubarak from power in 2011 and saw the rise of extremists.

But Christians have faced increasing violence ever since Morsi was ousted on July 3, sparking a wave of Islamist anger led by his Muslim Brotherhood party.

Clashes on Saturday between police and supporters of the country’s ousted president killed 79 people, according to Egypt’s interim government.

This brings the death toll after four days of extreme violence in the country to 888 people.
A total of 36 people were killed when Muslim Brotherhood detainees tried to escape from a prison truck convoy in northern Cairo.

Gunmen fired on trucks carrying more than 600 prisoners rounded up in earlier street violence between Egyptian security forces and Muslim Brotherhood supporters.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Con Te Partiro - Step Brothers

Coptic Pope Blasts Muslim Brotherhood, US, EU

by Mary Abdelmassih

(AINA) — Since ex-president Morsy’s ouster on July 3, attacks on Egyptian Christians by members of the Muslim Brotherhood have taken place in most governorates across Egypt. These attacks have escalated since security forces ended the pro-Morsy protests in central Cairo on August 14th. During their 6-weeks of protests, Muslim Brotherhood leaders explicitly threatened to harm the Copts should they be forced to end their protests, which they vowed to prolong until Morsy is restored to power.

“Over the past weeks we have witnessed an increasing trend of anti-Christian rhetoric calling for ‘the attack upon and eradication of Christians and churches’ in Egypt,” said Coptic Bishop Anba in the United Kingdom. “The result of such incitement, at least in part, has been the unprecedented attack on fifty two churches and numerous Christian homes and businesses across eight governorates in Egypt, within the space of twenty four hours.”

Yesterday Dr. Naguib Gabriel, President of Egyptian Union of Human Rights Organization, said “82 churches, many of which were from the 5th century, were attacked by pro-Morsy supporters in just two days.”

Coptic Pope Tawadros II issued a statement yesterday expressing his views on the violence which engulfed Egypt, accusing the Muslim Brotherhood of fomenting sectarian clashes.

The Pope said the Church is on “the side of Egyptian law, the armed forces and all the Egyptian civil institutions when it comes to confronting violent armed organizations and terrorizing forces, either within the country or from abroad.” The Pope pointed out that one should look beyond the squares where the Muslim Brotherhood have been holding their protests, in order to gain a general overview of what has been happening for weeks in Egypt. “The attacks on government buildings and peaceful churches terrorize everyone, whether they be Copts or Muslims. These actions go against any religion, any moral code and any sense of humanity.”

The Coptic Church also criticized the way in which the crisis is reported outside of Egypt. It expressly speaks of “false broadcast by Western media,” and urges for an “objective” revision to be made of the descriptions given to the actions of those “blood-thirsty radical organizations.” The Coptic Orthodox Church says that “instead of legitimizing them with global support and political coverage while they are trying to wreak havoc and destruction upon our beloved land, report all events truthfully and accurately.”

Pope Tawadros reaffirmed his support for “national unity” and rejected any form of “international interference in our internal affairs.”

The Pope is at the top of the Islamists’ assassination list.

The views of the Coptic church are also held by Copts in general, who are angry with the US and EU powers, “who almost daily issue statements threatening to take further actions against our interim government and army, portraying the Muslim Brotherhood as victims while not even mentioning the destruction of over 80 churches, as well monasteries, orphanages, businesses and Coptic schools by the Muslim Brotherhood,” says Coptic activist Wagih Yacoub who believes that this western attitude emboldens them to carry out further violence. “To add insult to injury the Muslim Brotherhood this week hoisted the black Al-Qaida flag on top of St. George’s church in Sohag. Three churches were turned into mosques in Minya and Friday prayers were held inside them.”

Churches are burning in Egypt as fast as Muslim Brotherhood supporters can pour the gasoline and light the fires. Of those spared from the flames, some are being used as mosques, hosting Islamic prayers this past Friday. And al-raya — the black flag of Jihad — has been raised over St. George’s church in Sohag.

Hating Cowboy Hats

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Elizabeth Eaton unseats Hanson as ELCA Presiding Bishop

A surprise answer... A surprise election in the ELCA

Over in Pittsburgh where the ELCA is having a church wide assembly, an election for Presiding Bishop is taking place in which it seems the current incumbent, Pr Mark Hanson, is having some trouble.  He has served in this capacity for 12 years and the voting seems to imply some are re-thinking his future, once considered rather secure.

What I found completely surprising is one answer by one of the other candidates for the office.  They were given time to respond on a couple of questions and one question pointedly asked about the ELCA's drift and troubles.

Next question: What do you see as the major challenges in the ELCA and what gifts would you bring to this role?Elizabeth Eaton, Bp. of NE Ohio synod (College of Wooster, Harvard Divinity. Ordained 1981): My fear is that lately we've been sliding into being generic Protestant denomination. Our challenge is to regain our distinctive Lutheran voice. My gift right now is that I'm clueless and I'm in God's hands.

Now that is unusual... a candidate for Presiding  Bishop of the ELCA suggesting that their slide into generic Protestantism is a real problem and that the church body needs to regain its distinctive Lutheran voice...

I would hesitate to call this a sign of confessional rebirth in the ELCA but I do appreciate hearing words like that, even if they don't quite mean what I hope they would and even when they come from sources still a great deal of distance from a credible Lutheran confessional identity.

FWIW  Most of the other answers were typical fluff about listening more, about the gifts the ELCA has to offer, and the other drivel that is the stuff of Miss America style questions.  At least no one answered "World Peace" as their goal, hope, and desire for the future.  That said, the Presiding Bishop's job in the ELCA pays well and has a good title but ELCA is sinking fast.  Those who pay less attention to Higgins Road are doing better than those who mirror the national office's themes of diversity, social justice, and the gospel of nebulous love but they are only a little bit removed from silly stuff that masquerades as church.  With the election of a gay Bishop (who, surprisingly, did not get votes for Presiding Bishop), the ELCA has more and more institutionalized its stands on gays and lesbians and distanced itself further and further from honoring the bound consciences of those who disagree.  I do not see how those not on this band wagon can stay in this denomination but then the impetus is always with the mass at rest.  Inertia is hardly good for a church body but it seems the only thing keeping many within the ELCA.
Update... Hanson is now second in balloting... behind... are you ready... behind Eaton?!?!

Update... Elizabeth Eaton has been elected Presiding Bishop... the first woman, the first non-Minnesotan, and the first non-Scandinavian...  And she wants the ELCA to grieve over those who left... And she wants the ELCA to be more "distinctively Lutheran".... what might this mean?  I am not under any illusions about the ELCA turning back from its progressive movement into the mainline liberal Protestant camp but it may slow the slide away from Lutheranism...

BTW I believe her husband is an Episcopal priest... right?
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Saturday, August 10, 2013

I Would Do Anything for Love - Sparty

Pittsburgh Hosts Gatherings of Split Lutherans

By Ann Rodgers / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Bring on the lutefisk and sauerkraut: two Lutheran denominations are about to hold national gatherings in Pittsburgh.

Don't expect members of the 4 million-member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the 130,000-member North American Lutheran Church to share those church-supper favorites. The NALC is one of two splinter bodies created by theological conservatives unhappy with the ELCA's 2009 decision to permit partnered gay clergy.

There are diplomatic exchanges between their leaders, who will have representatives at each other's meetings. But it's more like a divorced couple striving for civility than a friendship.

The ELCA, which now has its first partnered gay bishop-elect, still has tensions over same-sex marriage and related issues. NALC is struggling with how to educate clergy without its own seminary. But both are concerned with how to attract members in an age when fewer people commit to organizations of any kind.

"We would like to see ways in which [the two churches] can be neighbors ... flowing from the great commandment to love our neighbor," said Bishop Donald McCoid, a former bishop of Pittsburgh and now the chief ecumenical officer of the ELCA.

"Obviously there are differences between the two church bodies or they wouldn't have left and founded another church. But they are a church, and we would hope that some of the comments that have been made, some of the things that have hurt, would stop. When you are hurt you can be angry, but that doesn't serve the Christian church very well."

Bishop McCoid, who attended previous NALC assemblies, is delegating an associate due to preparations for his own meeting. Bishop John Bradosky, who leads the NALC, will attend the ELCA assembly.

The NALC gathering opens with a theological conference Thursday and Friday. The weekend convocation will draw 700 delegates and guests to the Sheraton Station Square. About 3,000 people will attend the ELCA assembly Monday through Aug. 17 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

Despite recent schisms, the ELCA is celebrating 25 years since it was founded as a merger of three earlier Lutheran bodies.

"This is a time of hope, but that's not to say the fight is over. For those for whom the fight is going on it's exceedingly unhelpful to be told the fight is over," said Bishop Kurt Kusserow of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod of the ELCA. After losing 17 churches to the NALC, his nine-county synod has about 70,000 members in 177 congregations.

"The largest portion of our church has the sense that we want to move ahead together into the future with hopefulness, and the 25th anniversary is a sign of that. ... But you don't have to look very deep to find folks who are really hurting," he said.

Although there is anger in the ranks, Bishop Kusserow showed Christian grace by nominating NALC for membership in the regional ecumenical body Christian Associates of Southwest Pennsylvania, said the Rev. Eric Riesen, pastor of Zion Lutheran Church in Brentwood and dean of the NALC mission district that includes Southwest Pennsylvania, West Virginia and parts of Maryland and New York.

"I think that there is a real effort to put the best construction on things," he said.

Bishop Kusserow said bishops and executives of other denominations questioned him about whether to admit a church that had gone into schism.

"I don't see preserving division to be in the interest of the church," he said. "We are called to do everything we can to preserve the unity of the church. I said it would be my choice to propose that NALC be admitted to this body as a sign that unity has been our interest all along."

But the losses have hurt, locally and nationally, he said.

"With fewer people, fewer individual congregations are viable, and those that are working with fewer resources," he said.

Lutheranism has traditionally been the largest Protestant tradition in Pennsylvania, though in recent years it slipped behind the United Methodist Church. In Southwestern Pennsylvania, where Presbyterians are strong, it has run third among Protestants. The Catholic Church is by far the largest religious body locally and statewide.

Lutheranism has long been divided into multiple churches. The 2.3 million-member Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod didn't attract many refugees from the ELCA because its theological convictions were to the right of most NALC conservatives. Some prominent conservative ELCA theologians became Catholic or Eastern Orthodox.

The ELCA had typically lost less than one-half of 1 percent of its membership each year in a steady attrition. But since the gay ordination decision, known losses averaged 3.5 percent, totaling 573,000 members.

The NALC started in 2010 with 17 congregations and is now nearing 400. Another splinter group, Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ has twice that many, but none near Pittsburgh.

The theological waters in NALC are calm, but it has large financial decisions to make about whether to start its own seminary. Currently Trinity School for Ministry, an Anglican seminary in Ambridge, has a Lutheran house of studies for NALC students.

"The question of how to train pastors is a big issue and it will be a continuing challenge," Rev. Riesen said.

Multiple tensions over sexuality remain in the ELCA.

Unlike other denominations that also accept partnered gay clergy, the ELCA requires a "publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous" relationship.

Its official policy doesn't permit same-sex weddings or blessings, while it requires ministers in same-sex relationships to receive the job benefits of married couples in states where same-sex marriage is legal.

"I think that those who are working for the full inclusion of all sexual minorities, not just gays and lesbians but transgendered people, believe their work has only begun. They have not nearly accomplished their goals and are very involved in debates about the states providing full legal marriage," Bishop Kusserow said.

"At the same time, others in the church believe that work has probably gone farther than it should when our commitment to scripture and to the confessions is taken into account. That struggle will continue."

He hasn't take a public position, although the local synod has long voiced opposition to gay ordination.

"I try not to lead with my personal convictions one way or the other. I've wanted to be able to pledge that I will honor the convictions of all the members of our synod and our church," he said. "I do believe that there are some matters of ... the way our church organizes itself that don't have to do with the moral right or wrong of how to treat people in same-gender relationships, where we have not been wise. We are confusing people."

Ann Rodgers: or 412-263-1416.

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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Ramadan Bombathon - 2013 Final Scorecard

Screen Shot 2013-08-09 at 12.33.26 AM

When it comes to racking up dead bodies, Islam is number one with
a bullet. The Religion of Peace smoked the competition again this
Ramadan, posting jaw-dropping numbers during its holiest month
that even the most determined multiculturalist would find hard to ignore.

[Note: Much of the killing was claimed by Islamic groups
affiliated with the pro-Sharia organization known as al-Qaeda].

Friday, August 2, 2013

Lutheran Exceptionalism—from Hope to Decline


by Robert Benne

In the Halcyon days of the 1950s, Lutherans were considered by church historians and Lutherans themselves to be importantly different from both mainline Protestants and Evangelicals. They had, Robert Handy remarked in the 1950s, a stronger doctrinal base than Methodists, Episcopalians, and Congregationalists while they were more churchly—both liturgically and in appreciation of the whole scope of church history—than Evangelicals. They were expanding in numbers and influence. They had impressive leadership: Franklin Clark Fry, the President of the United Lutheran Church in America, appeared on the cover of Time magazine with the caption: “Mr. Protestant.” Exceptionally positioned as they were, mainstream Lutherans were expected to provide renewed Protestant vitality in America.

Ah, but it was not to be. While the two most conservative—the Wisconsin and Missouri Synods—bodies remained aloof from other Lutherans and from American life in general, the main body of Lutherans participated in mergers that seemed for a time to make them stronger. Many smaller ethnic churches joined into two new major churches in the early 1960s—the Lutheran Church in America and the American Lutheran Church. Like most American denominations, membership in all the Lutheran churches peaked at about 1965. Optimism about the future of Lutheranism in America abounded. That is, until the last merger produced the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in 1988.

Its foundation was characterized by a strong attempt by radicals to start a “new church.” Slogans such as “This is not the church your parents knew,” or pictures with a Native American—or African-American or Asian—claiming that “I am the ELCA” certainly gave that impression. (Can you imagine a white male asserting that “I am the ELCA?”) Theologians and Bishops—then mostly white males—were marginalized from the formal and informal guidance system of the church. Quotas—very unpopular at the time— were imposed on all working and decision-making bodies. Though the church had at best 2% minority membership, 10% quotas for “people of color and language other than English” were enacted. Likewise, 50% quotas for women and laypeople were legislated. The whole point was to usher “many voices” into the conversation to undercut the authority of the old white male elites. In that the ELCA was inordinately successful, for it mixed things up enough to prevent any authoritative orthodox guidance system from emerging.

But there is always some theology that wends its way into such a situation, disguised though it may be. Increasingly the theology of Protestant liberalism crept in in three key areas—the nature of salvation itself; the decisiveness and uniqueness of Christ as Savior; and the familiar sexuality issues. One need do nothing to be saved, for God loves you unconditionally, just as you are, by virtue of your creation. Repentance and amendment of life are beside the point. Christianity and the other great religions are on different tracks to the same destination; evangelism is replaced by dialogue. Christian moral requirements in sexual life are outdated and need sharp revision. Inclusivism, universalism, and revisionism became the leit-motifs of the ELCA at its elite levels. Slowly they have filtered down to the parish level.

The trouble is, such a lax vision hardly inspires one to become a serious member of the church.* If God loves you just the way you are and all will be saved, why bother? Enjoy cultural libertarianism rather than struggle with difficult moral standards. Join the quasi-religious social movements such as militant environmentalism directly rather than filter ones concerns through the church. So the young are drawn to the culture rather than the church. Alarmed intense believers go to other churches or join dissident Lutheran bodies. Many in the local parishes that remain in the ELCA try to seal themselves off from the controversies provoked by the ascendance of liberal theology and ethics.

The results have been devastating. Rather than being exceptional in their promise for renewing American Protestantism, mainstream Lutherans have become exceptional in the rapidity and extensity of their decline. The National Council of Churches reports that the ELCA has “the sharpest rate of membership decline” among all mainline Protestant denominations.

At its inception in 1988 the ELCA it had about 5.3 million members in 11,133 churches. Every year but two has marked decline in membership; every year has marked a loss of congregations. In 2010 and 2011 after the decisions of 2009 in which gay blessings and ordinations were approved, the ELCA lost 710 congregations. Now two break-off churches—Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ and the North American Lutheran Church—account for about 1100 congregations. In 2011 the ELCA listed 4,059,785 members and 9,638 congregations. By 2013 there is little doubt it has fallen below 4,000,000. From 2003-2011 weekly attendance dropped by 26% across the church. There is decline in every demographic, every geographic area.

Liberal Lutherans in Canada have suffered even more losses, if that can be imagined. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada has followed closely in the liberal steps of the ELCA, with similar results. Founded in 1986 it has dropped from 262,000 members to 139,000. Fifty-four congregations have closed with 64 more likely to follow. Thirty-five have departed for other Lutheran bodies, 19 to the new North American Lutheran Church.

*The standard reason offered for the decline of the mainline denominations is that they are diminished by weak demographics. But that just begs the question: there is a strong correlation between religious intensity and higher birth rates. Even among mainstream Protestants weekly observance correlates with higher birth-rates than those of more sporadic attendance.

The number of missionaries—especially ministers of the Gospel—have precipitously declined in both denominations. African churches are breaking fellowship with them over sexuality issues. The ELCA’s most distinguished theologians—Robert Jenson, Carl Braaten, James Nestingen, David Yeago—are all now persona non grata within that church and are speaking writing in different churches and venues. The last mentioned, David Yeago, was released at the height of his career from Southern Lutheran Seminary, presumably for not being compliant enough with ELCA orthodoxy.

In spite of all this, the Presiding Bishops of both churches seem unworried. Speaking of the recent 25th anniversary of the ELCA, Bishop Hanson exulted: “Yet the host of relationships that were formed in 1988 is only a glimmer of the newness that has been arriving in our midst. I absolutely am convinced that this is a great time to give a Lutheran evangelical witness to the gospel.” He has emphasized that the church really knows who it is now that the conflicts have subsided and the pesky orthodox have departed. A wag might agree by suggesting it is now a clearly liberal Protestant church.

The Canadian Presiding Bishop, Susan Johnson, is perhaps a bit worried but clueless. This crisis, she opines, is an opportunity to “define what our core mission is and how we best can accomplish it.” Struggling to define that core mission, she further asserts that “God is calling us, and indeed all the churches in North America and much of Europe, to a new thing. What’s hard is that we don’t know what that new thing is going to be.” Again, seeing how obsessed the bishops are with newness, one could argue that what is new is precipitous decline.

To be fair, it must be admitted that most denominations are in decline; it is a difficult time to be the church. But, with regard to the extent of decline, it can truly be said that mainstream Lutherans in the USA and Canada are exceptional.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Small-Town Police Departments are Getting Billions in Big Military Hardware

swat team police

In Iraq and Afghanistan, you'll find U.S. troops with M16 rifles, Humvee trucks, and high-tech surveillance equipment, but that military hardware is increasingly showing up in small-town police departments.

Part of what's known as the "1033 Program" passed by Congress in 1997 and meant to augment police departments fighting the drug war, military gear is showing up in large numbers, and in some unlikely places, as an Associated Press investigation found.

With little oversight and a "if I don't get it, someone else will" mentality among police chiefs, the AP found some interesting (and somewhat shocking) finds:
-- Morven, Ga.: Despite having an ankle-deep creek as it's deepest body of water, the police chief got his hands on three boats, scuba gear, and rescue rafts.
-- Rising Star, Texas: With a population of 835 residents, and only one full-time police officer, this department netted more than $3.2 million in property over 14 months.
-- Bureau Count, Ill.: The sheriff — who had government-issued M14 rifles — was accused of lending some of them out to friends.
“We have concerns that the lines between the two [police and military] is starting to blur," John Chasnoff, an ACLU spokesman, told CBS St. Louis last March.

We've covered this trend before, writing of more than $34 billion in grants from DHS to local police departments. This in turn, has boosted the rise of heavily armed SWAT teams and their use on otherwise routine drug warrants — but this new report is one of the more in-depth looks at the issue. 

"The harm for me is that it further militarizes American law enforcement," Norm Stamper, a retired Seattle Police chief told the AP. "We make a serious mistake, I'm convinced, in equipping domestic law enforcement, particularly in smaller, rural communities, with this much military equipment."

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