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David Alton: Now is the time to deliver on Johnson’s commitments to persecuted Christians

Lord Alton of Liverpool is a Crossbench Peer and a member of the House of Lords Committee on International Relations and Defence.

On Boxing Day last year, Jeremy Hunt, then Foreign Secretary, announced that he had asked Philip Mounstephen, Bishop of Truro, to establish an independent review into the global persecution of Christians.

On July 4th, during the Conservative leadership election, the Bishop published his findings – including the estimate that almost 250 million Christians live in countries where they are subjected to high levels of persecution.

Eighty four per cent of the world’s population has a faith; a third are Christian. But, according to Pew Research Centre, 74 per cent of the world’s population live in the countries where there are violations at the hands of Islamists or Marxists.

Every day, an average of eleven Christians lose their lives. Hunt and Boris Johnson welcomed the Truro Review’s 22 recommendations and committed themselves to implement them in their entirety.

This subsequently became a Tory manifesto commitment. The Prime Minister has declared:

“We will do everything possible to champion these freedoms…. We are determined to use the tools of British diplomacy in this cause, including our permanent seat on the UN Security Council.In light of mounting evidence that Christians suffer the most widespread persecution…we have accepted, and will implement, all of the review’s challenging recommendations. We will use the UK’s global reach and programme funding to improve the lives of persecuted people.”

The Truro Review’s recommendations go to the heart of Foreign Office and DFID culture – which is why it speaks directly to the Prime Minister’s decision to see how those departments and their priorities relate to one another.

For example, DFID can spend £2.6 billion over ten years in Pakistan, but effectively ignore the persecution which leads to a mob burning alive a Christian couple and forcing their children to watch.

In Pakistan, no one has been brought to justice for the murder of Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s Christian Minister for Minorities; indifference greets the 1,000 Hindu and Christian girls forcibly married and converted; or the apartheid-style ghettoisation of minorities into squalid colonies.

Yet we refuse specifically to direct any of the aid we give to Pakistan for the alleviation of the suffering of these desperate minorities. Over Christmas, I wrote to Foreign Office Ministers about the case of an illiterate Pakistani Christian woman, Shagufta Kauser. She is in the prison cell in Multan previously occupied by Asia Bibi – freed after nine years on death row for alleged blasphemy.

Shagufta and her disabled husband, Shafqat Emmanuel, spent their fifth Christmas separated from their four children, aged between nine and 15 – sentenced to death. Held in separate prisons for nearly six years, both Shagufta and her husband are reported to be experiencing severe depression.

A doctor reports that Shafqat’s back is almost destroyed from bed sores, since he is confined to a prison bed from which he is unable to move. Although they cannot read or write, they were sentenced to death in 2014 for allegedly sending blasphemous text messages in English – a language that neither or them speak; nor do they have any knowledge of alphanumeric symbols.

At the time, Shafqat said that he had been tortured, forcing him to confess to something he did not do (and in the hope that his wife might then be freed). Prosecutors have been unable to produce any evidence linking the couple to the phone from which the alleged texts were sent.

Last May, in response to a parliamentary question, Ministers told me that the Government is monitoring the case. But is really “everything possible to champion these freedoms” or using our phenomenal aid programme to insist on the upholding of Article 18?

It is disturbing how unaddressed persecution rapidly morphs into crimes against humanity and genocide. In Recommendation Seven of the Truro’ Review, the Government is required to ensure that there are:

“mechanisms in place to facilitate an immediate response to atrocity crimes, including genocide through activities such as setting up early warning mechanisms to identify countries at risk of atrocities, diplomacy to help de-escalate tensions and resolve disputes, and developing support to help with upstream prevention work…the FCO should determine its policy in accordance with the legal framework and should be willing to make public statements condemning such atrocities.”

Recommendation 21(b) requires the Government to “champion the prosecution of ISIS perpetrators of sex crimes against Yazidi and Christian women, not only as terrorists”.

Yet, during a visit that I undertook to Northern Iraq and Kurdistan last month, I took first-hand accounts from survivors who told me that no one has even spoken to them about what befell them and their families – let alone the establishment of a Nuremburg-style Regional Tribunal to bring the perpetrators to justice.

The Government deserves credit for initiating the Investigative Team established by the UN Security Council Resolution 2379. But it has subsequently taken its eye off the ball: in suggesting that Iraqi Courts can competently deal with these matters, it has shown wanton indifference.

The Truro Review’s final recommendation is a ‘sunset clause’ which will lead to an assessment of how the report’s recommendations have been implemented. The Truro Review requires the Foreign Office to demonstrate that it has introduced new mechanisms identifying situations likely to escalate into mass atrocities like genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes – and how they have co-ordinated inter-departmental responses.

The Foreign Office is also required to review its long-standing and flawed policy of leaving the question of genocide determination to international judicial systems.

In responding to Recommendation 21(b), the Government will have to champion the ISIS fighters’ prosecutions domestically and internationally. A new Treason Act and Magnitsky powers will be perfect tools for prosecuting terror related offences, and also in ensuring prosecutions for murder, torture, rape and sexual violence and enslavement, as well as genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.

The Truro Review recommends a complete culture shift affecting “strategy and structures”, making “freedom of religion or belief central to the FCO’s culture, policies and international operations” Truro calls for “consistency and co-ordination: strengthening joined-up thinking: education and engagement” and the development of “a religiously-literate local operational approach” the training and equipping of local embassy staff with in-depth knowledge of religious history, religious persecution and religious culture of the country in which they work.

It is no secret that some senior civil servants in the Foreign Office do not share the Prime Minister’s commitment to implementing the Truro Recommendations.

On their watch, diplomats around the world (as Freedom of Information Requests have revealed) have not been asked for, or given, details of any action taken to “use the UK’s global reach and programme funding to improve the lives of persecuted people.”

But even if they disagree with the Prime Minister and the Truro Review, let them consider this: a 2014 report examined economic growth in 173 countries, and considered 24 different factors that could impact economic growth. It found that that “religious freedom contributes to better economic and business outcomes and that advances in religious freedom”, contribute to “successful and sustainable enterprises that benefit societies and individuals.”

And let reluctant officials look at the way religious persecution can so easily become a key driver for the mass movements of refugees. One in five of all countries have suffered religiously provoked attacks since 2014 and consequently many of the 68 million refugees worldwide have been forced to flee their homes– with all the attendant loss of human dignity which that number conceals. Persecution is not a marginal, or fringe concern.

The Truro Report has rightly put it centre stage.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Baghdadi Raid Was Dedicated to Kayla Mueller, Her Family Praised Trump, Troops

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-10-27-at-11.02.18-PM Baghdadi Raid Was Dedicated to Kayla Mueller, Her Family Praised Trump, Troops Terrorism religion Middle East Kayla Mueller James Foley ISIS Front Page Stories Front Page Featured Story Featured Post donald trump death of al-Baghdadi Culture & Faith Allow Media Exception

Screenshot from this video

Americans today are cheering the killing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

But there’s a group of Americans to whom the operation has special meaning and maybe a small measure of justice.

That’s the families whose loved ones were taken from them by the terrorist group.

One of those families was the family of Kayla Mueller.

Kayla Mueller was an aid worker, trying to help dispossessed families in the region when she was kidnapped by ISIS in 2013. She was tortured, kept as a slave and raped repeatedly by Baghdadi himself. But despite the horrible things she endured, she helped and inspired other captives, even refusing to give up her Christian faith and defending it to the infamous ISIS executioner, Jihadi John, according to ABC.

One fellow captive described how the ISIS execution claimed that Mueller had converted to try to break their will. But she defied him to his face in front of the other captives, saying no, she had not given up her faith.

When one of her fellow captives was planning to escape, a young teenaged Yazidi girl, she begged Kayla to go with her. But Kayla knew that if she did, ISIS would bring all forces to bear to find her and decrease the young girl’s chance of escaping. So she sacrificed her chance to escape to better the girl’s odds of getting away.

She is believed to have been killed during U.S. airstrikes on the terrorist lair in 2015. But her body has never been recovered and her parents are still seeking details.

Mueller’s parents have said they believe the Obama administration blocked their efforts to ransom their daughter, as other captives had been freed. They even reported being threatened by the Obama administration with criminal prosecution if they tried to raise ransom money. Obama also promised to donate to the foundation they set up in the name of their daughter, a promise he had not kept more than a year later, according to them.

Mueller’s father told the Daily Caller earlier this year he believed that had Trump been president when his daughter was taken, that she would be home.

White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien said the operation to get Baghdadi had been named after Kayla Mueller. “The chairman of the joint chiefs of staff named the operation that took down al-Baghdadi after Kayla Mueller, after what she had suffered,” he said, “That was something that people should know.”

On Sunday, the Muellers said they were deeply touched by the mention of their daughter and praised President Donald Trump and the soldiers who pulled off the mission.

From Arizona Central:

“We are so grateful for them … we are so grateful,” Marsha Mueller said. They were glad there was no loss of life on our side. They are grateful their daughter and the others who were tortured and killed by ISIS have not been forgotten.

“I still say Kayla should be here, and if Obama had been as decisive as President Trump, maybe she would have been,” Marsha Mueller said.

“For me what matters most I’m hoping now we will finally get the answers we have been asking for all along,” Marsha Mueller said. “I think this administration truly might help us. I don’t think they are as closed about what happened.”

Carl Mueller said he was comforted when Trump mentioned his daughter twice in his morning press conference.

“He knows her story. He’s been briefed on it, and he knows, and that’s important to me,” Carl Mueller said. “I don’t think anything would have stopped him from getting this guy.”

The post Baghdadi Raid Was Dedicated to Kayla Mueller, Her Family Praised Trump, Troops appeared first on RedState.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-10-27-at-11.02.18-PM-300x180 Baghdadi Raid Was Dedicated to Kayla Mueller, Her Family Praised Trump, Troops Terrorism religion Middle East Kayla Mueller James Foley ISIS Front Page Stories Front Page Featured Story Featured Post donald trump death of al-Baghdadi Culture & Faith Allow Media Exception   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Absolute Miracle: At the Last Second, a Couple and Their Baby are Saved from a Drunk Driver by an Angel in a Chevrolet

Westlake Legal Group phoenix-intersection-couple-angel-drunk-driver-edited-SCREENSHOT-620x342 Absolute Miracle: At the Last Second, a Couple and Their Baby are Saved from a Drunk Driver by an Angel in a Chevrolet Uncategorized traffic accident religion PHOENIX miracle law Front Page Stories Featured Story Family ernesto oveso DUI drunk driving crime baby Arizona Allow Media Exception

[Screenshot from Phoenix Police Department via Twitter, https://twitter.com/phoenixpolice/status/1187096824491806721?]

 

In Arizona Wednesday, October 14th, the lives of a couple and their baby were astonishingly saved by an angel in a Chevrolet.

Were it not for her, they would likely have been violently killed by a drunk driver.

While the pair was pushing a stroller along the crosswalk of a 6-lane Phoenix highway, intoxicated 23-year-old Ernesto Oveso — accompanied by a female passenger — came barreling through.

Speeding beneath the red light.

The racing Jeep was headed straight for the family.

Death seem imminent.

But something happened: a 27-year-old woman cut across the intersection in a Chevy Cruz.

At the exact moment Ernesto was to destroy a family of three.

The Jeep plowed into the Cruz instead of the baby and parents.

Tragedy, averted.

Incredible.

A miracle.

As reported by Fox10, Ernesto and his passenger attempted to flee the scene in their vehicle.

A witness chased after.

The woman eventually got away, but Ernesto was caught and arrested.

He was charged with a DUI and aggravated assault.

A gun was found inside the Jeep.

The driver in the car hit by Ernesto wasn’t harmed.

As I wrote Thursday, “We never know if today is a bridge to tomorrow or the end of yesterday’s road.”

We also never know when the hand of providence might reach down and snatch us from the jaws of death.

Such was the case for a couple and their baby.

Such may be the case for any of us, at any time.

May we all live lives worthy of that miracle.

-ALEX

 

See 3 more pieces from me:

Christmas Miracle: Dad Murders Baby, But There Was ‘Someone Watching Over’ Her

Miracle In China: 3-Year-Old Falls 60 Feet From A High Rise Balcony, But Neighbors Catch Him (Video)

Incredible: Man Saves His Children From A Carjacker, But The Shocking Ending Is Harrowing

Find all my RedState work here.

And please follow Alex Parker on Twitter and Facebook.

Thank you for reading! Please sound off in the Comments section below. 

The post Absolute Miracle: At the Last Second, a Couple and Their Baby are Saved from a Drunk Driver by an Angel in a Chevrolet appeared first on RedState.

Westlake Legal Group phoenix-intersection-couple-angel-drunk-driver-edited-SCREENSHOT-300x166 Absolute Miracle: At the Last Second, a Couple and Their Baby are Saved from a Drunk Driver by an Angel in a Chevrolet Uncategorized traffic accident religion PHOENIX miracle law Front Page Stories Featured Story Family ernesto oveso DUI drunk driving crime baby Arizona Allow Media Exception   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Tragedy Strikes the Close-Knit Christian Community: a Music Icon’s 21-Year-Old Son Passes Away at Home

Westlake Legal Group bible-1948778_1280-620x413 Tragedy Strikes the Close-Knit Christian Community: a Music Icon’s 21-Year-Old Son Passes Away at Home Uncategorized tobymac religion Music Front Page Stories Featured Story dc talk Culture & Faith Culture Christianity Allow Media Exception

 

 

Those of you familiar with Contemporary Christian Music are no doubt aware of TobyMac.

Toby McKeehan began his music career as leader of the rap/rock/soul juggernaut DC Talk in the late 80’s.

The group peaked with a #12 spot on Casey’s Top 40 — courtesy of 1996’s “Between You and Me” — and a mammoth deal with Virgin.

Following their next studio album, Supernatural, each of the group’s three members embarked on a solo career.

Toby’s been flying high ever since — he’s released 7 studio albums, sold millions of records, and won multiple Grammys.

But Tuesday night — or, perhaps, Wednesday morning — brought an all-time low.

The singer’s first-born son — 21-year-old Truett — passed away at home.

As per a statement to the USA Today network by a family representative:

Truett did pass away at home in the Nashville area sometime Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. Cause of death has not been determined.

Reps from the Medical Examiner’s Office also offered information to The Tennessean:

Toby was traveling back from Canada and did not get home to be with his family until after midnight last night so there is no statement. We just ask that everyone please be respectful of their privacy during this time and allow them to grieve their loss.

Truett was himself an aspiring rapper, having released music on multiple platforms under the names Shiloh, TRU, and Truett Foster. He’d also appeared with his famous dad on several tracks over the years.

As relayed by People, “[Toby] recently penned ‘Scars’ after his eldest son left home to pursue his dreams.”

From the song:

“When life cuts so deep try and remember, you are not alone, we’ve all been there, scars come with livin’. You are not alone, we’ve all been there. So lift your head, lift your head, lift your head to where your help comes from.”

Toby explained the pain of change to The Tennessean last October:

“[Truett] moved to L.A. and he’s making music and he’s doing his thing. But to watch him go through that, and watch him get bruised, it’s not easy. So that’s one of the ways life has changed. In that song, I just want him to know he’s not alone.”

See Toby’s moving tribute to Truett as he shares his last moment with his son:

View this post on Instagram

Truett Foster Mckeehan had joy that took the room when he entered. He was a magnetic son and brother and friend. If you met him, you knew him, you remembered him. His smile, his laugh, the encouragement he offered with words or even without. He had an untamable grand personality and dreams to match. And he hated being put in a box. He expressed himself through the music he made. And by made I mean, written, recorded, produced, mixed, and designed the art. All of it. A true artist. His first show was a week ago, and it was nothing short of electric. Everyone felt it, everyone knew it. He could’ve easily taken the easy route and put music out when he was 12, 14, 16, even 18, but he always said he wanted to live some life and have something to say before he did it. He didn’t want to be a child star, he wanted to be a man with scars and a story to tell. I always admired, respected and encouraged that stand. Truett always had a soft spot for God. The Bible moved him. His heart was warm to the things of his King. He was by no means a cookie cutter Christian but give me a believer who fights to keep believing. Give me a broken man who recognizes his need for a Savior every time. That’s who Truett was and how he should be remembered. My last moment with Truett in person was at his first show this past Thursday at the Factory in Franklin, Tennessee. I had to leave the next morning very early to fly and start our Canadian tour. As I stood in the audience and watched my son bring joy to a room, I was as proud as a “pop” (as tru called me) could be. It was the culminating moment of a dream that he had since he was 12. It couldn’t have been sweeter. Our music, and what we say lyrically couldn’t be more different, but the outcome was much the same… offering a room full of people a few minutes of joy in a crazy world. Our last text exchange is shared above (swipe). My wife and I would want the world to know this… We don’t follow God because we have some sort of under-the-table deal with Him, like, we’ll follow you if you bless us. We follow God because we love Him. It’s our honor. He is the God of the hills and the valleys. And He is beautiful above all things.

A post shared by TobyMac (@tobymac) on Oct 24, 2019 at 2:26pm PDT

Their last text exchange, as shared by Toby:

Westlake Legal Group tobymac-text-with-truett-instagram-SCREENSHOT-620x986 Tragedy Strikes the Close-Knit Christian Community: a Music Icon’s 21-Year-Old Son Passes Away at Home Uncategorized tobymac religion Music Front Page Stories Featured Story dc talk Culture & Faith Culture Christianity Allow Media Exception

[Screenshot from TobyMac via Instagram, https://www.instagram.com/p/B4BBfFcBeMg/?utm_source=ig_embed]

We never know if today is a bridge to tomorrow or the end of yesterday’s road. Let us all remember to tell those we love how we feel, while they can feel our gratitude.

I’m sure the McKeehan family will be grateful for your prayers.

“We don’t follow God because we have some sort of under-the-table deal with Him, like, we’ll follow you if you bless us. We follow God because we love Him. It’s our honor.
He is the God of the hills and the valleys.
And He is beautiful above all things.”

-ALEX

 

See 3 more pieces from me:

A Powerful Tribute: Through Tears, Gene Simmons Tells The Pentagon His Late Mother’s Greatest Lesson About America

A Cinematic Tribute Reminds Us How Tough We Were – America’s Liberty Was Won & Preserved Amid The Ugliness Of War

Admirable: Actors Chris Pratt & John Krasinski Thank Our Veterans And Issue A Memorial Day Challenge

Find all my RedState work here.

And please follow Alex Parker on Twitter and Facebook.

Thank you for reading! Please sound off in the Comments section below. 

The post Tragedy Strikes the Close-Knit Christian Community: a Music Icon’s 21-Year-Old Son Passes Away at Home appeared first on RedState.

Westlake Legal Group bible-1948778_1280-300x200 Tragedy Strikes the Close-Knit Christian Community: a Music Icon’s 21-Year-Old Son Passes Away at Home Uncategorized tobymac religion Music Front Page Stories Featured Story dc talk Culture & Faith Culture Christianity Allow Media Exception   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Embrace Our Beliefs or Be Canceled

Westlake Legal Group mountain-church-3611548_1280-620x413 Embrace Our Beliefs or Be Canceled transgender Social Justice religion Missouri LGBT Gender Issues gay rights Front Page Stories Front Page Culture & Faith cancel culture Allow Media Exception

church from Pixabay, https://pixabay.com/photos/mountain-church-kaiserstuhl-church-3611548/

This is a rather mindboggling story:  A mid-Missouri church has taken issue with a local LGBT group for promoting homosexuality and transgenderism and has demanded local businesses cut ties with these sinners immediately. Though the group, which meets weekly at the Main Street Coffeehouse, has been involved in community outreach, volunteering at the nearby food pantry and homeless shelter, and providing transportation for elderly neighborhood residents to doctors’ appointments, the church, through its leadership team, has called and written multiple letters — both to the businesses in question and the local paper — and launched a petition calling for them to sever ties with the group or “pay the eternal consequences.”

Wait. I got that backwards.

According to the Daily Signal, The Crossing, a church in Columbia, Missouri, finds itself in the cross-hairs of activists from the LGBT community due to a recent sermon delivered by its Pastor, Keith Simon, addressing sexuality and transgenderism.

But despite Simon’s efforts to discuss the topic from a loving, biblically informed perspective, local LGBT activists immediately cried foul, launching a petition and demanding local businesses cut ties with the church.

Last Thursday, Sager Braudis Gallery, a local art gallery, was the first to cave to activist pressure. Although the church had financially sponsored the gallery for five years, the gallery said it was severing ties to show “solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community” and to register its protest “against institutions who perpetuate and use their powerful platforms for content of this nature.”

That’s right. There’s a change.org petition exhorting others not to participate in/accept donations from a church because it follows biblical teaching.  From the petition itself:

Hate has no home in Columbia, MO. We reject all who preach or practice hate by taking an active role in rebuking it.

The Crossing Church contributes millions of dollars to businesses and organizations. When they give money to and sponsor local businesses and organizations, they receive promotion in exchange. This promotion implies that the businesses support, or at least approve of, The Crossing’s policies and beliefs.

By continuing a partnership with The Crossing, even after it published an incredibly transphobic sermon, T/F and Ragtag continue to lend legitimacy to this organization and its message. Furthermore, by releasing a statement touting the partnership as “creating a dialog,” it also tells people that this message of hate is one worth hearing. It’s not. It’s hate speech, and it’s harmful.

….

This is a call for them to stay true to their values and mission statement by taking the following actions:

1. End their partnership with The Crossing church

2. Release a public statement condemning The Crossing’s intolerance of LGBTQ+  and Non-Binary people, and reaffirming their own support and dedication for inclusion and protections of all people. 

Until they do these things, they will be boycotted.

As the Signal’s post notes,

Just last month, the church garnered national attention when it helped members of its community pay off unpaid medical bills. Through partnership with RIP Medical Debt, a nonprofit organization that helps people pay off outstanding medical debt, church members donated more than $430,000, which was used to pay off more than $43 million of medical debt by negotiating with debt collectors.

At the time, Pastor Keith Simon explained the motivation behind his congregation’s generosity: “We do this because we feel like God has been incredibly gracious to us. He’s paid our debts. We think those who follow Jesus should be radically generous with their time, their talent, their treasure.”

But whatever you do, do not partner with that church in any way. Condemn it!

Okay, time for some frank talk from me: I’m a Christian. A Bible-believing Christian. I’m also a sinner. Because…duh – human. I am, of course, familiar with biblical teaching on this — and many other — thorny subjects, though this one seems to be one of the thorniest.  It’s an issue I genuinely wrestle with and I know I’m not alone in that. And I totally understand why members of the LGBT community would take issue with the stance and not want to belong to or associate with the church. I also understand that this isn’t about government suppression or a First Amendment question. I believe in free markets and adore capitalism; I fully support the notion of voting with your pocketbook.

But this goes a step further — a step too far, in my view. These activists are demanding that others not partner with the church (or, presumably, any biblically-based church) for any event/in any way. The price for disregarding? A boycott of your business/event. Don’t you dare associate with them or we will make you pay! And why? Because the church espouses traditional Christian, Bible-based beliefs.

At the close of his sermon, Simon explained that the issue of transgenderism boils down to a question of authority. Who has authority when it comes to our bodies and how we use them? Is it contemporary culture or Jesus? Ultimately, Simon explained, “Jesus is Lord over us, culture, and our bodies.” He finished by exhorting his congregation to show love and compassion to those struggling with gender dysphoria. “Speak the truth in love,” he exhorted.

The church could not have been clearer that the Bible affirms that all people are made in God’s image. Speaking of people who identify with different sexual lifestyles, it stated: “[w]e affirm their full personhood, dignity, and worth. We believe that our government bears a responsibility to protect their lives, dignity, welfare, and all other rights afforded to every other person in this country.”

Per the activists, that is hateful. And it must be condemned. Canceled.

What’s the end game here?


Follow me on Twitter @SmoosieQ

Find my RedState archive here.

 

 

The post Embrace Our Beliefs or Be Canceled appeared first on RedState.

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Are we there yet? Are we there yet at the Sunday reflection?

Westlake Legal Group judge-widow Are we there yet? Are we there yet at the Sunday reflection? The Blog Sunday reflection religion Christianity

This morning’s Gospel reading is Luke 18:1–8:

Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. He said, “There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor respected any human being. And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, ‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’ For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, ‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.’” The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says. Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

At what point does persistence become a vice rather than a virtue? It depends on the context — and the object of that persistence, of course. We have all had experiences with persistence that tipped over into something else entirely.

The classic example, for both parents and former children on family trips, is the constant refrain of “are we there yet?” Children have very little sense of distance, time, patience, or the limits of their parents’ tolerance, for that matter. They keep asking because they’re not driving and have no idea where they are at in relation to the start or finish of their journey. At some point, what parent hasn’t wanted to strangle their child after the nth repetition of that question or some form of it in complaint?

Even as adults, we worry that we fall from persistence into annoyance and perhaps worse by pressing our interests with others. We wonder whether our friends really want to hear from us as often as we like to engage them. How often should one ask for a date before “getting the hint”? Do we keep applying for a job at the same company when new positions come up, or will that ruin future prospects by making us look impatient and passive-aggressively scolding?

All of these suffer from similar roots, which is the limits of our own experience and knowledge of these situations. We do not know whether the employer even considered us for the earlier jobs or remember us now. We can’t know the internal assessments of others — only those signals we see, or think we see. We don’t know the roadmap or even grasp the concept of the distances involved. We suffer from knowledge so incomplete that we cannot possibly see the whole truth, and therefore cannot calculate our potential for changing anything about it.

This specific parable only appears in Luke, and is similar to another parable told by Jesus in Luke 11, the parable of the importunate neighbor. In neither case does Luke explain the catalyst for telling this parable, but it seems apparent that the question of persistence in prayer must have come up, perhaps in a manner that it has been debated ever since. Since the Lord hears all prayer, and since the Lord’s will prevails over ours, is it an insult to keep bothering the Lord with the same prayer over and over again? Is it not an attempt to demand that the Lord follow our will rather than His?

In both instances, Jesus uses the parables to insist that persistence in prayer is a virtue, as long as one is praying for justice and mercy. The earlier parable makes the same specific point, which is that mere persistence itself pays off. In Luke 11:8, one can almost hear the smile on Jesus’ face when he teaches, “I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.”

That leaves us with two key questions: what are we praying for, and why pray at all? Both parables show the value of the petitions, as long as they acknowledge God’s will. The persistent widow pleads for justice and mercy, which the Lord Himself promises and which all legitimate authority should recognize. She pleads for a return of a right relationship between authority and those whom it governs, to which the Lord wishes for all of us to conform. The earlier parable, the one that gives us The Lord’s Prayer, exalts the Lord and asks for only our portion each day of God’s bounty along with His protection. It is a prayer of both justice and mercy.

On the second question, let’s look at what happens in both parables when the petitions are made. In today’s Gospel, the corrupt judge gets forced to conform to God’s will through the persistence of the widow. If she had not persisted in her petitions, the judge would have continued in his corruption; instead, the judge has become an instrument of the Lord in ensuring justice and mercy. In the parable of the importunate neighbor, a similar if less dramatic change is also seen. The “shameless audacity” of the petitioner changes the heart of the neighbor and forces him into an act of selflessness, albeit begrudgingly.

The outcomes in either case are less important than the process, however. We are not promised outcomes from prayer, but are encouraged to pray nonetheless. The neighbor is not promised the food, nor is the widow promised justice and mercy from a corrupt judge.

So why pray at all? Prayer reminds us of our own misaligned perception of God and ourselves. It reminds us that we are all riding in the backseat on this journey, with no real sense of the endpoint or of the scale of the road. We are all children bleating at God, “Are we there yet? When are we going to get there? Why aren’t we going any faster?” The more we recognize that we are not in control and that we don’t know what the itinerary really is, the more likely we are to put our faith and trust in a loving God rather than rely on ourselves alone on the journey. That forms us to recognize others as brothers and sisters on the same journey and to have hearts more open to love and mercy for them.

That’s the moment we will have truly arrived.

The front-page image is a detail from “The Unjust Judge and the Importunate Widow,” a wood engraving by John Everett Millais in 1864. Currently on display in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Via Wikimedia Commons.

“Sunday Reflection” is a regular feature, looking at the specific readings used in today’s Mass in Catholic parishes around the world. The reflection represents only my own point of view, intended to help prepare myself for the Lord’s day and perhaps spark a meaningful discussion. Previous Sunday Reflections from the main page can be found here.  For previous Green Room entries, click here.

The post Are we there yet? Are we there yet at the Sunday reflection? appeared first on Hot Air.

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Ideological Pandemonium Breaks Out as Ben ‘Nazi’ Shapiro Prepares to Speak at Stanford, and I Have Questions

Westlake Legal Group ben-shapiro-turning-point-AP-620x317 Ideological Pandemonium Breaks Out as Ben ‘Nazi’ Shapiro Prepares to Speak at Stanford, and I Have Questions Uncategorized religion Politics LGBT Guns gun control Front Page Stories Featured Story eugene gu eli valley Education democrats Culture & Faith Culture Conservatives Cartoons Ben Shapiro anti-semitism Allow Media Exception

Controversial conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, editor-in-chief of the Daily Wire and former editor-at-large of Breitbart News, addresses the student group Young Americans for Freedom at the University of Utah’s Social and Behavioral Sciences Lecture Hall, Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017. Shapiro uses his web-based talk show and online columns to support President Donald Trump’s policies and criticize the “self-righteous media.” (Leah Hogsten/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP, Pool)

 

 

If you’ve watched much of Ben Shapiro’s podcasts, you’re sure to have walked away with some characterizations — “fast talker” being among the possibilities.

One not likely to make your Top 10: Nazi.

Yet, in a world with more information at our fingertips than ever before, there are young people protesting his appearances with signs and language that make obvious they’ve not thought to find out who or what he actually is — they just heard some Satan guy was comin’, and they were down for some outrage.

If I may…

Unsolicited advice to protestors, in general: Only protest things you know about.

Better.

They’ve got plenty of time to put that into practice ahead of Ben’s speech at Stanford University — he’ll be talking fast in a big room on November 7th.

Some people are already decrying the event, including cartoonist Eli Valley, who believes Jewish Ben is Jewish hater (?) Ben (?).

Let’s look, for a moment, at some defining characteristics of Nazis:

  • Anti-Jew
  • Opposed to an armed citizenry
  • Socialist
  • Fond of banning things which don’t adhere to a particular viewpoint

Moving on, here’s Eli’s new ‘toon:

So college Republicans (AKA Hitler Youth) = hate group.

And hate group = opposing Jewish people.

But Eli Valley ≠ opposing Jewish person Ben being able to show up and speak somewhere.

It’s hard to imagine the Hitler Youth inviting a man with a yarmulke to school them on how to be smart.

It seems to me we’re at a place in society where a whole lot of things are said just because they seem like they’d sound good to say.

Don’t like someone? Call ’em a Nazi — those guys are supposed to be jerks. Think someone’s got wrong ideas? Label ’em a fascist ’cause you heard that’s bad. Then black their eye and ignite their car.

Hate who won the election? Say they’re ending the system of democracy forever and ever amen (here, here, and lots of other places, too). Impeach!

But in Eli’s defense, he did take time to explain why the YAF should be wearing Michael Jordan mustaches:

You’re right, Arsenio.

Sorry — here we go:

And they’re not just Nazis; they’re also terrorists:

“They should’ve been thrown off campus” — I’m not in any way suggesting Eli’s of the Third Reich persuasion, but isn’t that kind of a Nazi thing to say?



Another guy speaking out against Ben being allowed to talk on campus is Dr. Eugene Gu, who believes the prodigious violinist (here playing “Schindler’s List”) should be straitjacketed:

If you aren’t familiar with the reference, here’s Beto’s expressed plan to pull tax exemption from any institution which doesn’t endorse gay marriage, followed by Ben’s response:

Eugene’s absolutely anti-Ben-speaking because Shapiro has “zero…critical thinking skills”:

This was the doctor in July:

This is where I end the article abruptly like a bad SNL sketch, because I believe there’s nothing left to say. And I think it’s your turn — I look forward to hearing your thoughts on all this. Was Ben’s gun message wrong? Can you make sense of Eli’s Nazi deduction? Are you familiar with the propagandistic weekly German tabloid-format newspaper, Der Stürmer, or to what incident the cartoonish refers? Are you a man who’s had an abortion? Was Michael Jordan insane? Let us all know, in the Comments section.

-ALEX

 

Relevant RedState links in this article: here and here.

See 3 more pieces from me:

University Of Kansas Apologizes For Launching Its Family-Friendly Basketball Season With Stripper Poles And An R-Rated Rap Star

Where We Are: Gen Z Vegan Claims Sausage Roll Has Left Her ‘Traumatized For Life’ And Possibly Cancer-Stricken

New Video Shows Male Track Runners Absolutely Blow Away A Woman At The World Athletic Championships

Find all my RedState work here.

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The Anti-Religion Left Goes Nuts Over Bill Barr’s Warning About the Fatal Results of Militant Secularism

Westlake Legal Group bill-barr-620x317 The Anti-Religion Left Goes Nuts Over Bill Barr’s Warning About the Fatal Results of Militant Secularism Secularism republicans religious freedom religion Politics Indiana Front Page Stories Featured Story Culture & Faith bill barr attorney general bill barr Allow Media Exception

U.S. Attorney General William Barr listens to concerns raised about public safety in rural Alaska during at a roundtable discussion at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium on Wednesday, May 29, 2019, in Anchorage, Alaska. Barr did not take questions from reporters in his first public appearance after former special prosecutor Robert Mueller spoke to reporters after resigning at the completion of his report into Russian interference into the 2016 election. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

On Friday, Attorney General Bill Barr delivered a speech at Notre Dame University. It was, in my experience, much different fare than I’ve come to expect of attorneys general. It wasn’t a plea for more cops or more laws or more money. Rather it was a jeremiad about what happens when the state assumes the role of that religious institutions have previously played in the our public life. In particular, Barr notes that religion is under active attack.

[Full speech here]

The challenge we face is precisely what the Founding Fathers foresaw would be our supreme test as a free society.

They never thought the main danger to the republic came from external foes. The central question was whether, over the long haul, we could handle freedom. The question was whether the citizens in such a free society could maintain the moral discipline and virtue necessary for the survival of free institutions.

By and large, the Founding generation’s view of human nature was drawn from the classical Christian tradition.

These practical statesmen understood that individuals, while having the potential for great good, also had the capacity for great evil.

Men are subject to powerful passions and appetites, and, if unrestrained, are capable of ruthlessly riding roughshod over their neighbors and the community at large.

No society can exist without some means for restraining individual rapacity.

But, if you rely on the coercive power of government to impose restraints, this will inevitably lead to a government that is too controlling, and you will end up with no liberty, just tyranny.

On the other hand, unless you have some effective restraint, you end up with something equally dangerous – licentiousness – the unbridled pursuit of personal appetites at the expense of the common good. This is just another form of tyranny – where the individual is enslaved by his appetites, and the possibility of any healthy community life crumbles.

Edmund Burke summed up this point in his typically colorful language:

“Men are qualified for civil liberty, in exact proportion to their disposition to put chains upon their appetites…. Society cannot exist unless a controlling power be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things that men intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.”

The answer Barr offered was unsurprising to anyone with a passing acquaintance with our history or even with Western Civilization:

Religion helps promote moral discipline within society. Because man is fallen, we don’t automatically conform ourselves to moral rules even when we know they are good for us.

But religion helps teach, train, and habituate people to want what is good. It does not do this primarily by formal laws – that is, through coercion. It does this through moral education and by informing society’s informal rules – its customs and traditions which reflect the wisdom and experience of the ages.

In other words, religion helps frame moral culture within society that instills and reinforces moral discipline.

He presents the secularist critique of religion and goes on to document the failures of secularism.

But today – in the face of all the increasing pathologies – instead of addressing the underlying cause, we have the State in the role of alleviator of bad fconsequences. We call on the State to mitigate the social costs of personal misconduct and irresponsibility.

So the reaction to growing illegitimacy is not sexual responsibility, but abortion.

The reaction to drug addiction is safe injection sites.

The solution to the breakdown of the family is for the State to set itself up as the ersatz husband for single mothers and the ersatz father to their children.

The call comes for more and more social programs to deal with the wreckage. While we think we are solving problems, we are underwriting them.

We start with an untrammeled freedom and we end up as dependents of a coercive state on which we depend.

What really drove the secularist over the edge was his conclusion:

Education is not vocational training. It is leading our children to the recognition that there is truth and helping them develop the faculties to discern and love the truth and the discipline to live by it.

We cannot have a moral renaissance unless we succeed in passing to the next generation our faith and values in full vigor.

The times are hostile to this. Public agencies, including public schools, are becoming secularized and increasingly are actively promoting moral relativism.

Finally, as lawyers, we should be particularly active in the struggle that is being waged against religion on the legal plane.

We must be vigilant to resist efforts by the forces of secularization to drive religious viewpoints from the public square and to impinge upon the free exercise of our faith.

I can assure you that, as long as I am Attorney General, the Department of Justice will be at the forefront of this effort, ready to fight for the most cherished of our liberties: the freedom to live according to our faith.

And there is so much more goodness here that I encourage you to read the whole thing.

The criticism wasn’t long in coming:

That anything Barr said was shocking is shocking. The criticisms betray a blinding ignorance of our national history and traditions and show a willingness to lie in order to aggrandize power to the government. What is striking is that Barr is merely making a 21st Century riff off the 1798 speech by John Adams that included:

We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion . . . Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

Or off Tocqueville:

Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.

Or our first socialist president, FDR:

In teaching this democratic faith to American children, we need the sustaining, buttressing aid of those great ethical religious teachings which are the heritage of our modern civilization. For ‘not upon strength nor upon power, but upon the spirit of God’ shall our democracy be founded.

(h/t to the WSJ for the quotes by Tocqueville and FDR)

Barr is right. I’ve never been able to understand why people on the right who are allegedly conservatives haven’t hesitated to jump aboard virtually every train to crazy town that has pulled out of Tolerance station in the past ten years. The inability to stand up and be counted in opposition to really bad ideas–here I include all manner of pathologies from homosexual marriage to the mainstreaming of transgenderism–has made the right unable to restrain the growth of the militant secularists who are clearly out to eradicate religion.

But just as we can’t rely upon the government to fill the role of religion in society, neither can we rely upon government to protect religious liberty. We can only do that by speaking out and by teaching our children Christian morality and dogma from Day One so that they can resist the pressure of a hostile society.

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A thank you might be nice: Sunday reflection

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This morning’s Gospel reading is Luke 17:11–19:

As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him. They stood at a distance from him and raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” And when he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” As they were going they were cleansed. And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”

A while back, we attended a talk with a young priest, and the conversation discussed gratitude. He suggested that our dinner prayers as Catholics were incomplete. Yes, we asked for God’s grace over the food at the beginning, but did we express any gratitude at the end? Did we thank the Lord for the pleasantness of the experience once it was all over?

I’d like to say that stuck with us, but I’ve yet to take his advice. That occurs to me now, along with the joke about the grandmother and the hat, in today’s Mass readings. Today’s Gospel reading is no parable but a recounting of an event in Jesus’ ministry. Ten lepers got healed by Jesus, but only one had the heart to express gratitude for his healing — and that was a Samaritan rather than a Judean.

This parallels the story of Naaman from 2 Kings in our first reading, at least to some extent. Naaman was a powerful Syrian general, not only an outsider to the Israelites but an enemy. When he developed leprosy, his servant girl — an Israelite — suggested that Naaman seek out the prophet Elisha for healing. In earlier verses from 2 Kings, Naaman wants Elisha himself to perform a magic rite, but Elisha instead sends a messenger to give Naaman a simple task — merely immerse himself seven times in the Jordan. Naaman becomes angry that Elisha didn’t perform a ritual himself, but is talked into doing what Elisha instructed. When it works, Naaman converts to the Lord and tries repeatedly to reward Elisha, who refuses any compensation.

Both cases tell actual stories, as opposed to parables, yet both are instructive on the role of faith and of gratitude within it. Leprosy has largely faded from human experience, and medical science has caught up with that which still exists. At that time, though, leprosy was a disease that meant a life sentence of solitude away from everything but other lepers. That meant its sufferers could not worship in the proper manner, as they could never be ritually clean again. It cut them off from family, friends, the entire community out of fear of contagion.

This is how sin works on us as children of God, too. It is a disease that separates us from the Lord and His family, not by His choice but by ours. Jesus came to heal us of our sins in the same manner in which He heals the ten lepers in this tale, to return us to our family forever.

But have we become numbed to this? The only one who understood this to be a gift came from outside of the Judean community. The nine Judeans who simply walked away appear to have had no gratitude for this at all, perhaps because they felt they had a right to the healing. In the same manner, we who have the gift of faith and the sacraments can fall easily into the same trap of arrogance and presumption. Rather than forgiveness and grace being gifts of Christ, we start viewing them as birthrights and obligations, and have no gratitude in our hearts when we do receive them.

Gratitude is necessary for the full grace and forgiveness of Christ, as this Gospel reading shows. Even in the story of Naaman, it took the Syrian general’s frustrated gratitude to direct him to the Lord. When Elisha refused to accept a gift, Naaman converts to the Lord for the rest of his life instead. Had Elisha taken the reward, Naaman’s gratitude would have fallen in the wrong direction — toward Elisha rather than God. Naaman’s perseverance in seeing his healing as a gift is what saves him.

Paul writes about the virtue of perseverance in faith to Timothy in our second reading today. “This saying is trustworthy,” Paul instructs: “If we have died with him we shall also live with him; if we persevere we shall also reign with him.” Perseverance in faith requires us to remember that our faith is a gift, given to us by the Holy Spirit in order to fight the disease of sin. It’s not too much to ask for a thank you now and again when its power rescues us from sin’s deadly effects.

The front page image is “Cleansing of the ten lepers” from the Codex Aureus Epternacensis, c.1035-1040. Currently on display in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg. Via Wikimedia Commons.

“Sunday Reflection” is a regular feature, looking at the specific readings used in today’s Mass in Catholic parishes around the world. The reflection represents only my own point of view, intended to help prepare myself for the Lord’s day and perhaps spark a meaningful discussion. Previous Sunday Reflections from the main page can be found here.  For previous Green Room entries, click here.

The post A thank you might be nice: Sunday reflection appeared first on Hot Air.

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Beto vs Booker, Who Will Drop Out First After Religious Bigotry Statements?

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What a week in truly finding out where some of the Democrats running for President feel about the separation of Church and State.

The topic of the Beto Bomb that was dropped in a CNN forum has been covered extensively all over the interwebs by others and right here at Red State by Bonchie and Joe Cunningham.

However, something that did not garner much attention was that Sen. Corey Booker from New Jersey essentially said the same thing. He just didn’t go all SPARTACUS about it.

The Catholic News Agency picks it up…

On Thursday night, during and Equality Townhall hosted and broadcast on CNN, Robert Francis O’Rourke, a former congressman, was asked by CNN anchor Don Lemon if he thought that “religious institutions like colleges, churches, charities, should they lose their tax exempt status if they oppose same sex marriage?”

O’Rourke answered “yes,” and after applause and cheers from the crowd, added, “there can be no reward, no benefit, no tax break, for anyone or any institution, any organization in America that denies the full human rights and the full civil rights of every single one of us. And so, as president, we’re going to make that a priority, and we are going to stop those who are infringing upon the human rights of our fellow Americans.”

That’s the part we already know. Here is the part most people have not seen.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), another presidential candidate, was asked earlier in the night if he would strip the tax-exempt status of churches who were opposed to same-sex marriage. Booker said that such a move would entail a “long legal battle,” but signaled his sympathy with the idea.

“I’m saying I believe fundamentally that discrimination is discrimination,” he said. “And if you are using your position to try to discriminate others, there must be consequences to that. And I will make sure to hold them accountable using the DOJ or whatever investigatory [body].”

So here we have in the year 2019, two major candidates for President of the United States saying that they want the United States government to FORCE religious institutions to abide by the modern-day #WOKENESS that has gripped the Feelings over Facts crowd.

That should scare you.

Now it is no coincidence that both Beto and Booker are both circling the drain at just around 2% in the latest polling I have read. This is obviously a desperate attempt to shoot up to over 4% and steal the nomination from Biden.

Will it work? No, not for this cycle.

The way these things work though is those two candidates floated an idea and now the top tier candidates will do polling to see if it works with the base. My guess is those churches in the deep south and the mosques in Minnesota will be equally opposed to being singled out for being called bigots and losing any sort of tax-exempt status they have.

The idea though, now having been introduced will be debated among the progressive left and will gain steam. Bernie Sander candidacy in 2016 and this time around has shown that the actual ideas do not matter. Just the feelings that surround those ideas. If it makes you feel warm and fuzzy than roll with it.

We should all be about the discussion of ideas and have vigorous national debates on it. These things usually turn into a discussion on your feelings though and that is just irrelevant and that is just a damn shame.

The only thing left to do for Beto and Booker after agreeing that this horrible idea is worth exploring is to guess which one of these “serious” candidates will be the first to call it quits in their futile race.

My money is on Beto. Anyone who is scared to use their real name that DOESNT work in Hollywood is too timid to be President.

Place your bets.

Check out my other posts here on Red State and my podcast Bourbon On The Rocks plus like Bourbon On The Rocks on Facebook and follow me on the twitters at IRISHDUKE2 

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