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Wisconsin Children’s Hospital Is Stacking Its Bench of Chaplains with Trans Activists


BY: KYLEE GRISWOLD | NOVEMBER 28, 2022

Read more at https://www.conservativereview.com/wisconsin-childrens-hospital-is-stacking-its-bench-of-chaplains-with-trans-activists-2658789720.html/

chaplain holding an open bible with hospitals and doctors in the background
Children’s Wisconsin’s recent chaplain hires are full-fledged left-wing activists who twist religion to advance their preferred social Marxist policies.

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Wisconsin’s premier children’s hospital has had its fair share of scandal, particularly with regard to religious liberty and leadership, but the bar just keeps getting lower: Children’s Wisconsin is now hiring trans activists as chaplains and “spiritual care interns.”

Children’s staff members were first notified of such new hires when fliers were posted around the inpatient units advertising, “Meet Your New Chaplain: Kate Newendorp.” The first tip-off to Newendorp’s beliefs about the sexes was featured prominently on the posters, with a proclamation of her pronouns as “she/her/hers” and those of her fiance, a female who goes by “they/he.”

Working in a pediatric hospital is a dream come true!!” Newendorp is quoted on the flier. “I am so excited to be working alongside everyone and am pumped to be part of the team. Think of me as your friendly next-door neighbor!

The poster is just your garden-variety job announcement, but a deeper dive shows that Newendorp’s social Marxist views aren’t confined to a push for preferred pronouns. The new chaplain is all-in for transgender surgeries, abortion, and a rejection of religious teaching when it cuts against her personal comfort.

Despite biblical Christian doctrine affirming the sanctity and humanity of life in the womb, the existence of only two distinct sexes, and the immorality of same-sex relations in both the Old and New Testaments, the new “chaplain” proudly rejects all of this.

Love Jesus. Be gay. Get ordained,” she wrote on Facebook in June, with pictures of herself in rainbow garb. “What better way to celebrate Pride than being ordained?! Many thanks to my church and classis for being willing to stand for queer folks being included in ministry and for allowing me to follow God’s call.”

Several months later, on Oct. 17, 2022, after announcing her engagement to her female fiance who identifies as transgender, the Children’s Wisconsin “chaplain” spouted off about her church online. “Also, your casual reminder that my validity as an ordained minister is currently under review by my denomination because of the love I feel for my fiancé. Do better Church, because I’m not going anywhere. I was called,” she wrote.

Newendorp doesn’t just reject biblical relationships in her own life; she’s a full-fledged left-wing activist who twists religion to advance her preferred leftist policies. Her Twitter bio announces that she’s a “Chaplain desiring to shake things up” and says she’s “Daydreaming about … a time where God isn’t referred to with male pronouns.” On Facebook, she shared a blasphemous poem called “Jesus at the Gay Bar”:

But she’s also used her religion card to proclaim that loving your neighbor looks like “getting vaccinated and masking up” and voting for Democrats, and that “Abortion is a religious freedom.”

People of all genders and sexualities have and need abortions. Abortion is healthcare,” Newendorp wrote with misinformation about maternal deaths. “I am an ordained minister who supports a person’s right to choose what is right for their life and their body. I am pastor [sic] who is pro-choice.”

In January, Newendorp started a GoFundMe “on behalf of Jennifer London” to help her fiance “Jensen” undergo a double mastectomy, known in the transgender-activist world by the euphemism “top surgery.”

Since moving to Wisconsin for her role at the children’s hospital, Newendorp appears to have become friendly with the other chaplains, posting pictures of herself going wedding dress shopping with fellow Children’s chaplain Ian Butts. This indicates Newendorp is not the only anti-Christian person installed in a religious role at the hospital to help families deal with life-and-death medical situations.

If Butts’ name sounds familiar, that’s because he was the chaplain who interrogated Children’s staff members who submitted religious exemption requests over the disastrous Covid shot mandate that left many hospitals dangerously understaffed. As part of the invasive vetting process, Butts grilled employees about their religious beliefs to determine whether their theology met his standards for being allowed their First Amendment rights and freedom to make their own medical decisions.

[READ: In Wisconsin, Hospital Shortages Aren’t From Covid, They’re From Vaccine Mandates]

As I reported in these pages at the time, “The questions included the specifics of the employees’ personal religious convictions and their vaccination record, with Butts pressing on what he considered to be contradictions. Two particularly leading questions regarded the specifics of how the employees would keep their patients safe without being vaccinated, implying a moral implication of refusing a vaccine, as well as how they could square working for a hospital that mandated something so contrary to their personal convictions as a condition of employment.”

“We have already seen that Children’s holds little value for respecting deeply held religious beliefs, given their recent COVID Religious Waiver Committee. But this feels like a step too far. This feels like they have actively recruited activists into this field to further their progressive agenda,” one former Children’s Wisconsin employee told The Federalist of the trans activist chaplains. “I think this situation really calls into question who do we want guiding the spiritual development of our children — especially children who are stuck in a hospital, isolated, sometimes alone, and extremely vulnerable and easily impressionable.

Children’s also recently posted a flier for a “Spiritual Care Intern” named Meg Trimm, who demanded to be referred to by the third-person plural pronouns “They” and “Them.” This chaplain intern was “an LGBTQ+ community educator and LGBTQ+ teen safe space facilitator” who believes “a professional chaplain’s job is not to convert anyone or preach religion, but to empower each person to find and use the hope and resilience systems they already have.”

Like Newendorp, Trimm rejects biblical teaching such as the concurrent depravity and creation in God’s image of people of all skin colors to instead espouse the most radical of left-wing political and theological views. Trimm has shared numerous TikToks of herself “deconstructing my white supremacy,” explaining that “gender is infinite,” proclaiming, “God is TRANSGENDER!!!” and saying, “God has a purpose for your life, and it might be fricken queer!”

“I am deeply concerned with this new infiltration of trans activists into our chaplain and faith-based services,” the former Children’s employee told The Federalist. “We have already witnessed the erosion and lost of public trust in fields of psychology, psychiatry, social work and general mental health counselors due to the rise of activists in these areas. Now parents have to worry about this as well?”

TRANSFORMING

Like other pediatric hospitals that have recently come under fire for mutilative transgender interventions, the “Gender Health Clinic” at Children’s Wisconsin advertises medical interventions and surgeries for children up to age 16, with no specified age the hospital deems too young. It advertises that its services include “top surgery” (meaning a mastectomy that mutilates a child’s healthy and developing breasts), wrong-sex hormones, and allegedly “reversible” puberty-blocking hormones, although that isn’t what the experts and “science” say.

While the National Health Service used to claim such gender-bending interventions were “reversible,” it has since backpedaled, admitting:

Little is known about the long-term side effects of hormone or puberty blockers in children with gender dysphoria. … It’s also not known whether hormone blockers affect the development of the teenage brain or children’s bones. Side effects may also include hot flushes, fatigue and mood alterations. … [Gender-affirming] hormones cause some irreversible changes, such as: breast development (caused by taking oestrogen), breaking or deepening of the voice (caused by taking testosterone). Long-term cross-sex hormone treatment may cause temporary or even permanent infertility.

If health-care workers in the “Gender Health Clinic” at Children’s Wisconsin decide it’s “appropriate,” they prescribe puberty blockers to children at their first visit, even if they’ve never been evaluated by a mental health professional. And while the hospital says it doesn’t pump kids full of wrong-sex hormones on the first visit, it “can work to quickly start hormones at a follow-up clinic visit, usually within a few weeks.”

Furthermore, the pediatric hospital states on its “gender health history” form: “We offer gender-affirming Spiritual Support to all our patients.” Andy Brodzeller, an external communication director for Children’s, failed to explain what “gender affirming Spiritual Support” means despite being asked repeatedly.

Our chaplains are trained to support and engage families of various faith and personal backgrounds in a health care setting,” Brodzeller said in response to a Federalist inquiry. “They only interact with patients if specifically requested by a family. Families are also always free to seek the services of their own personal faith leader. Regarding your question about parental involvement related to care for gender diverse kids, parents and guardians are essential to all care decisions. Clear, informed consent of all parents/guardians is required before proceeding with all treatments.”

But with trans activist “chaplains” like Newendorp and Trimm stacking the pediatric hospital’s spiritual support bench, and a promise from Children’s to “offer gender-affirming Spiritual Support to all our patients” (emphasis mine), people in the Children’s community are rightly concerned.

“We have many parents and families at Children’s who are deeply religious and hold traditional Judeo-Christian values. Will these new chaplains be able to serve the need of these families objectively?” the former Children’s employee added. “How will they properly support a grieving parent who is dealing with a child’s traumatic injury? How will they properly counsel a child who may be alone in the hospital due to a single parent working to make ends meet and maintain insurance?”

How indeed.


Kylee Griswold is the editorial director of The Federalist. She previously worked as the copy editor for the Washington Examiner magazine and as an editor and producer at National Geographic. She holds a B.S. in Communication Arts/Speech and an A.S. in Criminal Justice and writes on topics including feminism and gender issues, religion, and the media. Follow her on Twitter @kyleezempel.

COMMENTARY: Walmart Mass Shooter Left Behind Suicide Note – Includes 4 Words Media Doesn’t Want to Talk About


 By C. Douglas Golden | November 26, 2022

Read more at https://www.westernjournal.com/walmart-mass-shooter-left-behind-suicide-note-includes-4-words-media-doesnt-want-talk/?utm_source=Email&utm_medium=aa-breaking&utm_campaign=can&utm_content=firefly

The way you can tell the media is going to move on from the shooting at a Chesapeake, Virginia, Walmart that claimed the lives of six people is that there’s absolutely no handle for them.

Race? Not a factor — accused shooter Andre Bing, who later killed himself, was black. The gun? Not an AR-15 or an associated long rifle — the handgun he used was legally purchased. His victims weren’t chosen for any other reason than that they were his coworkers at the store.

And there are four words you definitely won’t hear them talk about from the alleged shooter’s suicide note: “led by the Satan.”

The note, which Chesapeake police say they found on the phone of the 31-year-old Bing, was released in a series of tweets on Friday.

In the rambling screed, Bing said he was offended because his coworkers compared him to serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer.

Trending: Watch: CNN Anchor Watches Narrative Collapse, Left Stunned When She Finds out Colorado Shooting Suspect is ‘Non-Binary’

“I would never have killed anyone that entered my home,” he said, calling his fellow employees “idiots with low intelligence” who tormented him with what he described as “evil twisted grins.”

“Sorry God I’ve failed you, this was not your fault but my own,” he wrote. “I failed to listen to the groans of the holy spirit which made me a poor representation of You.”

“My only wish would have been to start over from scratch and that my parents would have paid closer attention to my social deficits,” he continued.

“Sorry everyone but I did not plan this, I promise things just fell in place like I was led by the Satan.”

So, guess how many times Satan was mentioned in CNN’s write-up of the suicide note? Zero.

Instead, we got this: “The note — found on his phone — talks about God, the holy spirit, and how the author felt his ‘associates’ were mocking him.”

Nowhere in the article is it mentioned how he was addressing God or talking about the Holy Spirit. One is left with the distinct impression he was inspired by God, not by the embodiment of sin and evil.

Related: Watch: CNN Anchor Watches Narrative Collapse, Left Stunned When She Finds out Colorado Shooting Suspect is ‘Non-Binary’

By ignoring Satan, the media ignores the fact very real spiritual evil exists. “We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one,” 1 John 5:19 reads. Even a CNN reporter can look at the outlet’s own homepage and realize how true the last part of that equation is.

Focusing on that, however, would lead too many readers to ruminate on the state of our fallen world and to blame individuals — not guns, politicians or religion — for the shooting.

With the shooting at a Colorado Springs, Colorado, gay nightclub, those scapegoats were too easy. It was the fault of religion. Of Tucker Carlson and Lauren Boebert. Of the so-called “assault weapon.”

This time, four disgusting words spell out what motivated this and so many other mass murderers: “led by the Satan.”

Expect the media to do everything to avoid talking about the inconvenient fact that good and evil are real, objective things. They’re going to avoid it because they want to exist in a godless bubble where good and evil are determined by manmade standards.

Tragically, shootings like the one in Chesapeake show exactly what happens when those concepts are left to human arbiters.

C. Douglas Golden

Contributor, Commentary

C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he’s written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.

@CillianZeal

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Michael Brown Op-ed: The Left is also guilty of marrying politics with the Gospel


By Michael Brown, CP Op-Ed Contributor| Thursday, October 27, 2022

Read more at https://www.christianpost.com/voices/the-left-is-also-guilty-of-marrying-politics-with-the-gospel.html/

Senator Raphael G. Warnock attends the 2022 King Holiday Observance Beloved Community Commemorative Service at Ebenezer Baptist Church on Jan. 17, 2022, in Atlanta, Georgia. | Getty Images/Paras Griffin

As we approach the 2022 midterms, and even more as we approach the 2024 presidential elections, Christian conservatives who are politically active will be accused of marrying the Gospel with politics. “Have you not heard of the separation of Church and State?” our critics will ask.

But that sword cuts both ways. the Left is also guilty of this very thing, to the point of celebrating the marriage of politics with the Gospel.

To be clear, I believe that it is very dangerous to conflate the Gospel with politics as if the goals of both were identical.

I have addressed this concern in many relevant articles as well as in my recent book The Political Seduction of the Church.

Of course, I believe that our faith should inform our politics and we should be politically involved. I consider this part of our sacred stewardship in a country like America, as long as we don’t confuse the Gospel with politics.

But, to repeat, it is just not the Right that is guilty of blurring these lines. The Left most certainly is, and even more blatantly.

Here’s an example from the past and an example from the present that underscores my point.

In 1988, both Pat Robertson and Jesse Jackson ran for president.

Speaking about Robertson, the Britannica.com website noted that in the 1980s he “became increasingly involved in politics, and he subsequently resigned as minister in order to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 1988.”

So, he was no longer “Rev. Pat Robertson,” but just Pat Robertson. This way, there would be no blurring of the lines between his beliefs as a minister of the Gospel and his political agenda. He was here to serve all Americans as a potential president, not simply preach the Gospel as a minister.

In stark contrast, to this day, Jesse Jackson is known as “the Rev. Jesse Jackson.” The Left has no problem with blurring the lines between Church and State, as long as it’s for their causes. Being a reverend and a politician is great, as long as you are on the Left.

Consequently, when a Republican candidate who is also a Christian speaks up for the unborn or points back to some of our founding, Christian values, he or she is accused of being a dangerous Christian nationalist. “You are a Christian dominionistic trying to take over our country! How dare you try to impose a theocracy on us.”

But when a gay clergyman supports a Democratic candidate or cause, he or she is hailed as a pioneer, a reformer, someone who exemplifies the true American spirit.

The double standard is glaring.

If you think I’m exaggerating, consider the current Senate race in Georgia.

The Republican candidate is Herschel Walker, a football legend and a Christian conservative.

As stated on the TeamHerschel.com website,

“As a Christian, a father, and a husband, Herschel knows that strong families are the bedrock of our country. Herschel’s upbringing in rural Georgia instilled a personal faith in God, which he carries with him to this day. He prays every day for this country, and with God’s help will bring those values with him to Washington. Herschel is a compassionate conservative who is pro-life and pro-family.”

Not surprisingly, critics group Walker with dangerous Christian nationalists.

Walker is running to unseat Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock, whose Twitter handle is @ReverendWarnock. (His full name is listed on Twitter as Reverend Raphael Warnock.)

Yet Rev. Warnock is proudly pro-abortion to the point of claiming that his pro-choice views are “consistent with my view as a minister.”

And Rev. Warnock, who is the senior pastor of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, said this in an editorial posted on the flagship gay website Advocate.com in October 2020: 

“Some might find it strange that a pastor would submit himself to the business of politics, and I would agree. But this fight, this campaign, is a continuation of my lifelong commitment to service. Our votes are sacred, living prayers of action for the kind of world we want to live in. In November, it’s on all of us to make it known that we support the protection of LGBTQ people and to help build a better nation where all Americans can without fear of retribution be themselves authentically.”

So, not only does Warnock link together his calling to be a pastor and his calling to be a politician, but he also champions LGBTQ+ causes in the name of being a pastor.

Yet it is Walker who is maligned by the Left as blurring the lines between Church and State and Warnock who is hailed as both a political and spiritual hero.

To drive the point home a little more, can you imagine how hysterical the reaction from the Left would be if a conservative Christian pastor ran for national office, as a pastor? He would be branded as one of the most dangerous men in the country, surely an insurrectionist and white supremacist (whatever the color of his own skin) with plans to establish a theocracy.

But a “progressive,” left-leaning pastor? He should be celebrated.

This looks like a classic example of “rules for thee but not for me.”

In this case, the Left says to the Right, “Keep your religion out of your politics!”

Then the Left says to its own, “We celebrate the union of religion and politics, as long as it’s our kind of religion.”

Jesus addressed this long ago, telling His disciples, “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” (John 15:19)

No wonder the world is threatened by our faith but embraces the faith of the Left.

That’s because it is only a biblically based Gospel that poses a threat to the world system. A compromised Gospel is warmly welcomed by the world for the very reason that it is no longer the Gospel at all.

Dr. Michael Brown(www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Revival Or We Die: A Great Awakening Is Our Only Hope. Connect with him on FacebookTwitter, or YouTube.

‘We are done tolerating the … sexualization of our children’: Armed protests arise outside ‘all ages’ drag bingo event hosted by Texas church


By CORTNEY WEIL | September 27, 2022

Read more at https://www.conservativereview.com/we-are-done-tolerating-the-sexualization-of-our-children-armed-protests-arise-outside-all-ages-drag-bingo-event-hosted-by-texas-church-2658349262.html/

Over the weekend, a church in Texas became a lightning rod for protesters and counter-protesters alike when it invited members of “all ages” to a drag event to support so-called “trans and exploring” minors.

On Saturday evening, the First Christian Church of Katy, Texas, an affiliate of the Disciples of Christ denomination, held a bingo event featuring drag queens that was billed as fun for the whole family.

“We create a place for people to feel welcomed and understand that there will always be people who disagree with us,” said Reverend Heather Tolleson, the pastor of the church.

The purpose of the bingo event — and the adults-only drag show later that night — was to raise funds for the church’s “Transparent Closet,” a resource where “trans and exploring teens, youth and young adults” can find cross-sex clothing, shoes, and accessories such as makeup.

The church itself claims to be “a place where all are welcome,” and nearly all of the events and ministries listed on its website refer to LGBTQ issues in some way.

However, the all-ages drag event outraged many others in the community, including parents and members of other churches, who claim that drag queens and those who sponsor them have no business marketing such entertainment to children.

Rebecca Clark, a member of the Fort Bend-based County Citizens Defending Freedom, denounced the drag bingo event.

“We are done tolerating the exploitation and sexualization of our children in this country,” Clark told the Epoch Times.

“Drag queens and children don’t mix,” added Sarah Feigleson of CCDF. “These events are happening in your back yard. Stand up and raise a respectful ruckus.”

Along with CCDF, members of the Proud Boys protested the event, as did other churches. Several Catholics prayed the rosary.

On the other side of the street stood supporters of the family drag bingo day. Members of Antifa wore all black and obscured their faces. Others who were not associated with Antifa proudly showed their identities and their support for exposing kids to LGBTQ-themed entertainment.

“Drag in itself is just a costume,” said one unnamed man wearing a face mask and holding a pride flag. “It’s no different than someone dressed up like a superhero at a comic convention or someone who puts on a Halloween costume.”

Both sides were heavily armed, and a steady police presence remained in the middle of the road to help keep the peace during drag bingo night. There were no reports of violence or arrests, and only church members were allowed to enter the property.

Though the event itself was controversial, there was yet another aspect of it that drew further ire from critics. The event was originally supposed to feature drag queen Tisha Flowers, aka Jaysen Kettl. Not only does Kettl now don a macabre persona when dressed as Flowers, but he also has a troubling past. Back in 2004, Kettl, then 17, pled guilty to conspiracy to commit capital murder after administrators at his school learned that he and at least one other student had plotted to commit a mass school shooting. Thankfully, the plot was foiled before anyone could carry it out.

However, once Kettl’s criminal history was made known, the church quietly removed him from event promotions. It is unclear whether Kettl attended the event.

Despite the controversy, the event sold out and was deemed a success, Rev. Tolleson claimed.

The Left’s War On History Is Really A War On The God Of The Bible


BY: JOSH HAWLEY | SEPTEMBER 15, 2022

Read more at https://thefederalist.com/2022/09/15/the-lefts-war-on-history-is-really-a-war-on-the-god-of-the-bible/

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The following remarks were given at the National Conservative Conference on Sept. 12, 2022.

It is a pleasure to be with you once again.

At the first National Conservatism conference, I spoke about the left’s goal of unmaking American culture and community. Last year, I spoke about their goal of unmaking manhood.

This year, I want to talk about their efforts to unmake history. Specifically, the history of our country and our founding — and the revolution on which both were based.

I take as my point of departure the words of John F. Kennedy at his inaugural address in 1961, when he famously reminded his generation: “We dare not forget that we are the heirs of that first revolution.” He meant, of course, the Revolution of 1776, which he described as grounded in the “the belief – that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.”

Now, that is an interesting contention. And Kennedy was not alone in making it. But where did it come from? Where did the idea that the rights of man come from God, not the generosity of the state, originate?

The answer is clear, if often and deliberately overlooked in our day: that idea came from the Bible. And that brings me to my contention to you today. We are a revolutionary nation precisely because we are the heirs of the revolution of the Bible.

This was a revolution that began with the founding of the nation of Israel at Sinai; that gathered pace with the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth in the days of ancient Rome. This was a revolution of ideas and culture, of society and government and faith – it was truly, to quote the Bible itself, a revolution that turned the world upside down.

Let me be more specific. To a world composed of clans and tribes, the Bible introduced the very idea of the individual. To a world that valued the wealthy and well-born before all others, the Bible taught the dignity of the common man. To a world that prized order and control, the Bible spoke of liberty.

Without the Bible, there is no modernity. Without the Bible, there is no America. And now our biblical inheritance is again at the center of our politics. It is the question of the age. 

The woke left that controls today’s Democrat Party is on a campaign to remake this nation. They want us to believe this country is irredeemably racist and oppressive. They tell us our true founding came with the advent of the slave trade on this continent.

They reject our history and our traditions. They say sex is merely a social construct. That men can get pregnant. That women can be men. That the nuclear family is a repressive institution.

And their real target in all this is the inheritance of the Bible. What they particularly dislike about America is our dependence on biblical teaching and tradition. What they particularly dislike about our culture is the Bible’s influence on it. And now they want to break that influence for good. 

My argument is simple: They’re wrong.

Whatever your own beliefs, whatever your background, the revolution of the Bible is worth defending. It is worth preserving. It is the true source of the rights of man and the liberties we cherish. It has taught us what we know of dignity and equality.

The Bible has made us who we are. And it is critical to our future.

Individual Agents of God’s Purpose

Let me start with what is perhaps our most cherished ideal as Americans, the ideal of the individual.

There is a myth long loved by certain leftists that the ancient world was a free, secular place where people believed as they wanted and lived lives of their own making. We know from historians that nothing could be further from the truth. In the ancient world, the individual as such hardly existed. There was no such thing as individualism.

The ancient world was a place of hierarchy. Every thing, every person, had a place, fixed and unchanging, bound to where it was by the order of the cosmos. Some were born to rule, most were born to follow, many were born to be slaves — that was the belief.

Every family had its ancestral gods, and the family head alone had the right to rule the household in the gods’ name. Every city had its patron deity, which every citizen was bound to worship. In fact, to be a citizen was to be a member of a particular city and a worshiper of a particular god or gods.

There was no such thing as freedom of conscience in this world, no such thing as individual decision. As the nineteenth-century historian Fustel de Coulanges put it, “The human person counted for very little against that holy and almost divine authority which was called country or state.”

As for history — well, history was made by those few the “order of nature” designated to rule. Always men of social standing. Usually wealthy. The natural elite.

The Bible challenged all of this, and right from the very beginning. In Genesis 12, God calls Abraham, a nobody from nowhere — no social standing, no claim to power or rule — God calls this man to leave his father’s house and his father’s gods, to leave the markers of meaning and identity in the ancient world, and to serve him — the one true God, Scripture claims.

God calls Abraham to stand before him as an individual. God’s gaze rests on him personally.

Or as Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik writes, Abraham “could not find solace in the silent companionship of God whose image was reflected in the boundless stretches of the cosmos. Only when he met God … as Father, Brother, and Friend … did he feel redeemed.”

God tells Abraham that as an individual he — he personally — will be God’s agent of blessing and renewal for all the world. We see the same pattern repeated in the New Testament. Jesus says salvation is available to all who will come to him, and that those who follow him will be called “sons of God.”

Meaning: shapers of history. World changers. People through whom God himself will act.

And with this, the idea of the individual is born. One need not be a member of this family or that to be significant. One need not have wealth or social standing. One need only heed the call of God.

In the words of historian Larry Siedentop, “Christ reveals a God who is potentially present in every believer…. Through an act of faith in Christ, human agency can become the medium for God’s love.” Or to say it another way, every person can become an agent of God’s purpose—as an individual.

Where does this leave the old idea of fate and controlling destiny? Done away with. Where does leave the notion that one’s place in the world is fixed and cannot be changed? Abolished.

Now the individual person becomes an agent of change. Now he or she becomes a maker of history.

The Bible invents this kind of individual. And the Bible reveals the dignity of the common man.

Read the Bible through and you will find across its pages a decided preference for the common, the ordinary, the overlooked—as opposed to the elite, the wealthy, and the socially powerful. God chooses Abraham from nowhere. He famously prioritizes Jacob, who was the second son. King David, before he was king, was the least of his brothers and the least likely to rule.

This same theme finds equally pointed expression in the New Testament. The Apostle Peter preaches in his first sermon that God’s spirit — his very presence — is now available for all people, as the ancient prophets had foretold — men and women, old and young.

Then there is the Apostle Paul, who said, “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”

To a society that privileged wealth and status, a society that disdained workers and mothers and children and common folk, the Bible says: each has dignity. The common things of life have dignity. Motherhood. Home. Labor.

It has hard to overstate the disdain the world of Greece and Rome held for common laborers, people who worked with their hands. Not in the Bible. The patriarchs raised livestock. Jesus was a carpenter and his disciples fishermen. Paul made tents.

And the Bible emphasizes over and again the power of labor that is offered to God. Work unto God, Scripture says, and God will use that work to further his good purposes in the world. He will make the work matter. He will make it last, however common or mundane.

The ancient world honored the high and mighty. The Bible, to paraphrase the Canadian theorist Charles Taylor, affirmed the significance of ordinary life.

I have two small boys at home and I love to read to them. Among their favorites is Tolkien, who captures this theme beautifully in “The Lord of the Rings.” “Such is oft the course of deeds that move the wheels of the world: small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great are elsewhere.”

There is no ideal more central to American life than the dignity of the common man. And it is an ideal given to us by the Bible. The biblical tradition also gave us a new concept of liberty.

It’s interesting: in the ancient near east, Mesopotamia, the creation stories often involved the gods founding primordial cities, and then when humans came along designating human kings to rule the cities on the gods’ behalf.

Not in the Bible. Oh God does indeed designate someone to exercise his authority and carry forward his purposes. Genesis makes much of that. But it’s not a king. It’s Adam and Eve, on behalf of all humanity. From the first, the Bible pictures individuals as capable of self-rule.

For the early Christian philosopher Tertullian, Jesus’s maxim to “render to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” had clear political implications: offer to Caesar your money, Tertullian said, but offer “to God your self.”

The point was, individuals, as God’s image-bearers, belonged to God and to him alone, not to the emperor or some far-away king. God and God alone had the right to claim the individual’s obedience: no one else. No government. No king.

The individual deserved liberty to respond to God’s call on his or her life. It’s right there in the Exodus, the story of God calling a people to follow him by liberating them from oppression. It’s there in the Apostle Paul, who wrote that it is for liberty that we have been set free.

This is a concept of liberty virtually unknown to the ancient world. The Greeks spoke of liberty from time to time, but for them and their philosophers, liberty meant mainly life in accordance with the order of nature. Which meant hierarchy.

Plato and Aristotle, for example, both assumed “freedom” for most individuals meant obeying their moral and social betters. The Romans famously valued self-government, at least for part of their history. But they too saw the right to self-rule as confined to the small class of individuals fit by nature to be citizens. Everybody else was a dependent.

And neither Romans nor Greek recognized significant limits on government power.

But if God’s spirit can be poured out on all people, if God has called each person to be his delegate and exercise his authority, surely that has political implications. Surely that means citizenship cannot be confined to the elite. Surely it means even the common man has the right to self-rule. Surely it says even the common man has the right to liberty.

And as I once heard the late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks say, surely God’s call to the individual sets a limit on the state. It draws a boundary on the exercise of government power and says, “No further.” And there we have it: Individualism, the dignity of the common person, liberty. This is our biblical inheritance.

I could go on. The Bible gave us also the idea of a state ruled by men, not by gods. It gave us the distinction between church and state. It gave us equality between men and women. And more, much more. But you get the idea.

These were revolutionary notions that upended the ancient world. And they found their purest political expression in the United States of America.

The biblical revolution is right there in the Declaration of Independence, which proclaims that “all men are created equal,” that we are endowed by our Creator with “unalienable” rights. These confessions would take centuries to realize in this country, but we recognized them as true from the first.

The biblical revolution is there in our Constitution, which separates powers among offices and stations to ensure the common person can rule, and no clique or elite.

It is there in the Bill of Rights that guarantees freedom to worship, to speak, to assemble, and to exercise one’s faith free from government interference.

The biblical tradition echoes in the great tent revivals of the frontier, where hardscrabble folks with little to their name heard from the itinerant preachers that they too were called by God. They too could be God’s servants. You didn’t need a fancy education or a landed estate to be God’s child. And those revivals helped spawn a populist political movement that reverberates to this day.

America as we know it, America as we love it, is the product of the revolution of the Bible. But now that biblical inheritance is under siege.

A Cultural Revolution

Today’s woke left is frantically engaged in a campaign of political nihilism. This is the sum and substance of their program. They want to level the institutions of American society—the family, schools, church and synagogue, our judicial system. They say the country is structurally warped and must be remade top to bottom. But what they reject, at bottom, is our biblical inheritance.

I mentioned in my remarks last year the mid-century thinker Herbert Marcuse. Marcuse was a great advocate of the `60s-era student radicalism and of the nihilist attitude toward American society that dominates the left today. In a word, he was woke.

He was also honest. Marcuse was an atheist and a Marxist and he spent a good deal of time wondering why Marx’s long-looked-for end of history had never arrived. He decided one major reason was Christianity.

Like Marx, Marcuse believed biblical faith was an opiate, a form of false consciousness. And he worried that it saturated American society. So in a break with Marx’s economic determinism, Marcuse decided culture was king. And America’s Christian culture was preventing the Marxist revolution the world needed.

Even worse, the working class, the proletariat, embraced that culture more than anyone. 

For that reason, Marcuse concluded revolution wouldn’t come from working people. The Christian hold was too strong. Instead, he placed his faith elsewhere—and this is key. He placed his faith in the educated elite.

America needed a cultural revolution to rid itself of the Bible’s taint. And the elite were just the people to deliver it. Sound familiar? That’s today’s politics in a nutshell.

Today’s woke left is carrying out a Marcuse-style kulturkampf. They increasingly insist that individuals don’t matter. They say society isn’t composed of equal individuals standing before a sovereign God, but of warring racial and economic groups vying for power.

The woke theorists at the Smithsonian tell us that “individualism” itself is racist, nothing more than an artifact of “white culture.” In the last few years, two separate woke theorists have argued—in The Nation and The Washington Post—that Americans’ votes should be weighted on the basis of race. In the name of democracy, “one person, one vote” is out.

The woke left dislikes the notion of the common man. They reject the biblical idea that all men and women are equally valuable and equally worthy of participating in political life. They call working people “deplorables,” and they regard working culture as uncouth and backward—characterized by the sort of people who cling to “guns and religion,” as someone once said.

No, the woke think the educated elite know best. By which they mean, naturally, themselves. And they are not afraid to use power.

If the Big Tech oligarchs decide that reporting on Hunter Biden is too dangerous to their interests, they simply erase the story from the public square. If they decide questioning Anthony Fauci is too threatening to their priorities, they prevent it by their own fiat.

That’s only the beginning.

If the reigning political class decides a former president poses too much trouble to their plans, they order a raid on his house and threaten to jail him. If they conclude too many Americans are complaining online, they create a Disinformation Board to shut them down. Any disagreement is called “violence” and any dissent “insurrection.”

Marcuse pioneered the concept of “repressive tolerance”—that is, free speech for me but not for thee. He would be proud of today’s liberals.

Finally, the left rejects the biblical idea of conscience and the liberty that comes with it. Attacks on religious freedom and intellectual inquiry are commonplace now. The woke insist on targeting citizens engaged in works of mercy, like the Little Sisters of the Poor, because they have the audacity to disregard elite preferences and serve a God beyond the state.

The woke insist that nobody, and especially not parents, may ask questions about what children are being taught in schools. To do otherwise is to be a “domestic terrorist.”

To them, liberty means falling in line with the norms they prescribe. It means following the social rules they had down.

They will decide what speech is acceptable.

They will decide which religious beliefs may be acted upon, and how.

They will determine what is true and what is not, what is fact and what is “disinformation.”

They will run the country.

The left say they want to lead us to a new era. But where they would take us is no age of enlightenment. It is not someplace new at all. It is backwards, to an old age of darkness and hierarchy and repression.

And that brings us to the task before us.

The Truth Is Their Stumbling Block

The woke left now controls the commanding heights of American culture: the media, the entertainment industry, the corporations, academia, and government. They seek to marshal their combined cultural power against those who disagree.

They seek to shame us, to isolate us—to silence us, if they can. They seek to protect their power. And they can succeed—but only if we allow them.

In truth, their vision is bleak and their ideology is brittle. They do not understand the deep strength of the American people, because they do not understand the deep goodness of their character. They see only deplorables who must be re-educated.

They do not understand our history and our ideals because they do not appreciate the truths on which this nation is based. They do not realize these truths have made us good and made us strong. And truth is their problem. The woke ideology, this warmed-over cultural Marxism, is not true.

Race and class do not define all that we are. Society is not an unending struggle for power and domination. And America is not structurally defective. America is the best and freest nation in the history of the world. And it is so largely because of the biblical revolution that made us what we are.

And now we need that inheritance again. In this time of fear and despair, we need to hear again that our lives matter—that we are loved by God—that we are called by God to great purpose—and that eternity beckons. What we do now can last. What we do here can matter.

We need to hear again of the dignity of ordinary life, of work and hearth and home, of the joys of marriage and family, and the power of these things to shape the future.

I slightly misspoke earlier, in this connection, when I said God called Abraham as an individual. That much is true, but God said it was Abraham’s family he would use to change the world. Abraham became a blessing to mankind when he became a husband and father. The same is true for us and true for today. 

In the final analysis, the woke ideology has more in common with the ancient world than it does with America. And it will not prevail in the end.

Whether it prevails in our time is up to us. That will depend on our courage.

To Strike a Blow for Truth

I close with this.

In A.D. 390, a crowd of Christians gathered at a pagan temple known as the Serapeum, in the city of Alexandria. It was a shrine to the god Serapis.

A few years before, the virulently anti-Christian emperor Julian had attempted to throttle Christianity and purge Rome of Christian influence. Among other measures, he seized control of the education system and barred Christians from teaching. He demanded all students study in ways he approved. He commanded worship of the Roman gods. 

One of those gods was Serapis. And now on this day in 390, in the shadow of the state’s recent persecution, a group of Christians gathered at the temple to take a stand.

In the center of the temple was a statue of the god, clutching in his hands a three-headed serpent. The legend went that “if any impious hand should dare to violate the majesty of the god, the heavens and earth would instantly return to their original chaos.”

One soldier stepped forward, carrying an axe. His name is lost to history. All we know of him is what the historian Rufinus tells us, that he was “better protected by faith than by his weapon.”

And there, in that moment, this one man made a choice. He made a choice to live free from the powers and principalities of his age. A choice to reject the dictates of emperors. A choice to strike a blow for truth. 

The lone soldier climbed a ladder to the top of the statue and raised his battle-axe. Then, with all his might, he drove it home.

Onlookers reported that as the blow fell, the god’s jaw broke away. And as it did, thousands of rats came surging out of its rotten inside.

The woke left may seem powerful. And indeed they are.

Opposing them may cost us much. But the truth is worth any cost. And that’s what courage is, in the end. It is paying the cost, no matter how high, for the truth.

And remember the teaching of scripture, the one that runs from first to end: that though the God of the universe could have accomplished his purposes entirely on his own, he chose instead to call us. He invites us to do his work and to follow him.

And so let us count the cost, and take our stand. For when we do, we shall turn the tide.


Josh Hawley is a U.S. senator from Missouri and former Missouri attorney general.

    Christians could lose majority status in America by 2045: study


    By Leonardo Blair, Senior Features Reporter | Thursday, September 15, 2022

    Read more at https://www.christianpost.com/news/christians-could-no-longer-be-the-majority-in-america-by-2045.html/

    Getty Images

    Barring any limiting event such as war or economic depression, if the pace at which Christians abandon their faith before the age of 30 were to accelerate beyond its current pace, America could no longer be a majority Christian nation by as early as 2045. And Christians wouldn’t just lose their majority status in America in this scenario. They would also be outnumbered by the religiously unaffiliated, also known as “nones,” according to the findings of a new analysis by the Pew Research Center. The findings are based on work from the Pew Research Center which projects religious composition in the United States under multiple switching scenarios for the first time, as part of the Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures project. The project analyzes religious change and its impact on societies around the world.

    In the study, Pew highlights four hypothetical scenarios out of several possibilities to demonstrate how the U.S. religious landscape might change over the next half century. The impact of younger Christian adults abandoning their faith without limitation was modeled in one of those scenarios. While the other three scenarios reflect varying degrees of religious disaffiliation, “they all show Christians continuing to shrink as a share of the U.S. population, even under the counterfactual assumption that all switching came to a complete stop in 2020.” The ranks of the unaffiliated, however, are projected to grow under all four scenarios.

    “Of course, it is possible that events outside the study’s model — such as war, economic depression, climate crisis, changing immigration patterns or religious innovations — could reverse current religious switching trends, leading to a revival of Christianity in the United States,” the researchers noted. “But there are no current switching patterns in the U.S. that can be factored into the mathematical models to project such a result.”

    Data highlighted in the research show that while Christianity remains the “stickier” religious affiliation for older Americans, among younger adults it is the religiously unaffiliated identity that is enduring. If that trend is sped up with nothing to stop it, according to projections of the third of the four main models, the number of Christian adherents in the U.S. is likely to decline at a much faster rate.

    “If the pace of switching before the age of 30 were to speed up throughout the projection period without any brakes, Christians would no longer be a majority by 2045,” Pew researchers said.

    In this model, the religiously unaffiliated would be America’s most dominant faith expression by 2055, with about 46% of the population claiming that identify. Christians would represent just a 43% share of the population. By 2070, 52% of Americans would be unaffiliated, while only 35% would be Christian.

    In 2020, the Pew Research Center estimated that about 64% of Americans, including children, were Christian. The religiously unaffiliated accounted for 30% of the U.S. population, while all other religions — including Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists — totaled about 6%.

    While rising disaffiliation among younger adults “assumes there is a kind of ever-increasing momentum behind religious switching” among that cohort under 30, researchers suggested that trend isn’t plausible as “highly religious parents tend to raise highly religious children who are less likely than children of less religious parents to disaffiliate in young adulthood.”

    “As a result, there may continue to be a self-perpetuating core of committed Christians who retain their religion and raise new generations of Christians,” researchers said.

    Of the four models presented, researchers selected the second which projects that rising disaffiliation from Christianity with limits could lead to “nones” becoming the largest religious identity in America by 2070 but not the majority identity.

    The projected outcome for that model suggests that if the pace of disaffiliation before the age of 30 were to speed up initially but then hold steady, Christians would lose their majority status by 2050, when they would be 47% of the U.S. population compared to 42% for the unaffiliated. In 2070, “nones” would constitute a plurality of 48%, in this scenario while Christians would account for 39% of Americans.

    Contact: leonardo.blair@christianpost.com Follow Leonardo Blair on Twitter: @leoblair Follow Leonardo Blair on Facebook: LeoBlairChristianPost

    ‘Raw, horrific evil’: Journalist sounds alarm on ‘one of the most grotesque medical scandals the world has ever seen’


    By Billy Hallowell, Op-ed Contributor | Wednesday, September 14, 2022

    Read more at https://www.christianpost.com/news/journalist-sounds-alarm-on-grotesque-medical-scandal.html/

    A hand holds up a small transgender pride flag. The blue and pink stripes represent the colors for a boy and girl, while the white stripe represents self-declared gender identities, such as transitioning, intersex, neutral and undefined gender. | Getty Images

    A journalist who has extensively covered the transgender debate recently revealed why the topic has so resonated, explaining “something inside … snapped” when he learned about what was happening to children, and the “horror” immediately motivated him to action.

    READ ALSO: ‘Functional Atheism’: Popular Pastor Delivers Gut-Check on Worry, Breaks Down Biblical Moment That Could Transform How We Tackle It

    Brandon Showalter, a reporter for The Christian Post, is among the most well-versed and unrelenting journalists to tackle the transgender movement, exploring the impact of puberty blockers, “disfiguring surgeries,” and the moral chaos he believes is shielding so many from the truth.

    “Something inside me snapped, and I just thought, ‘Well, I’ve just got to dig into this and scrutinize this more deeply, because this is absolutely insane,'” Showalter said ona recent episode of “The Inside Story” podcast. “I just remember thinking to myself, ‘They’re doing what to children?!'”

    He continued, “I just realized the extent of the horror, and I realized someone needed to step up and tell the truth about it.”

    Listen to Showalter share his story on “The Inside Story” (subscribe to the show here):

    https://player.edifi.app/embed/index.html#/episodes/’Something-Inside-Me-Just-Kind-of-Snapped’:-Journalist-Reveals-Moment-He-Was-Compelled-to-Investigate-Trans-‘Cult-of-Confusion’/5305562

    Showalter believes the happenings surrounding the transgender movement constitute “one of the most grotesque health scenarios” in America, which is why he continues to lend his voice to the discussion.

    He’s just one of the voices in Tucker Carlson’s new, two-part Fox Nation series, “Transgressive: The Cult of Confusion.”

    For Showalter, covering the transgender movement began after he started exploring the issue and realized many journalists simply weren’t covering it from a place of truth.

    Watch him join CBN’s Faithwire to explain:

    “I realized that within journalism … mainstream legacy publications were using false pronouns to refer to people as the opposite sex and it was so confusing even reading news articles that I couldn’t even keep the story straight,” he said. “But then … I realized that children were being given puberty-blocking drugs.”

    With the reality of what was unfolding — including the prescribing of drugs to kids he believes have no basis for being prescribed — Showalter was stunned.

    “I just realized the extent of the horror, and I knew that someone had to stand up and tell the truth about it because very few people in the legacy media were,” he said. “It’s crazy.”

    Showalter also began to explore stories of detransitioners — people who started or fully underwent attempts to change their sex but who came to regret their life-altering decisions. The media often shield or ignore these stories, but Showalter hasn’t backed away from delving into the tragic details.

    READ ALSO: ‘Only Jesus Can Save America’: Michael Brown’s Pressing Message to Christians Across the Nation

    “Theologically, I just see it as we need to stand up for the integrity of the human body. This is so horrible,” he said. “You just don’t do this to the human person … this is a medical scandal. This is one of the most grotesque, horrible medical scandals the world has ever seen.”

    Showalter said even non-Christians are beginning to read his investigative reports as they deal with these issues in their own lives and families.

    “The truth is true, no matter who says it,” he said.

    Showalter hopes his work — and, in particular, his appearance in “Transgressive: The Cult of Confusion” — helps people see the truth.

    “I hope that it pulls back the curtain. I hope that people see that this is some of the most wretched, sadistic, monstrously terrible child abuse and that it’s one of the worst medical scandals that the world has ever seen,” he said. “I hope that people are punched in the gut — that they are confronted with the raw, horrific evil that this is.”

    Beyond knowledge, Showalter said he hopes people are encouraged to stand up against what’s unfolding.

    “Once you see this, you can’t unsee it,” he said.

    Chinese Christians hunted internationally by communist regime


    By JOSEPH MACKINNON | September 07, 2022

    Read more at https://www.theblaze.com/news/chinese-christians-internationally-stalked-by-communist-regime/

    Throughout its history, but with renewed vigor in recent years, the atheistic communist Chinese regime has sought to crush or at the very least control Christianity within Chinese borders. Christianity is regarded by the communist leadership as a foreign threat to its control and well-being — one that Mao Zedong endeavored to eliminate altogether. Although Chinese Christians of all denominations have routinely been subject to harassment, torturedetentions, and executions inside China’s borders, the CCP has recently taken more brazenly to hounding those who have fled abroad.

    Exodus

    Pastor Pan Yongguang and 61 congregants belonging to the Shenzhen Holy Reformed Church fled China to the South Korean island of Jeju in 2019, seeking asylum. The CCP required that the SHRC and its members should join a registered church, one strictly regulated by the regime, or otherwise be disbanded and barred from assembling.

    Registered churches are required to display images of Chinese dictator Xi Jinping and communist propaganda alongside or in lieu of religious images. Homilies are censored. Surveillance cameras installed on altars record all church happenings. Additionally, to ensure state atheism takes, people under the age of 18 are barred from participating in religious ceremonies.

    Pastor Pan had no intention of registering.

    Pressure mounted when the regime, responding to the 2019 pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, sought to everywhere re-exert its dominance. Pastor Pan said that “quasi-martial law” was consequently imposed on Shenzhen and upon his parish. The SHRC mulled over what to do. The church put the matter to a vote, and the majority elected to leave.

    Though they successfully made it to South Korea, it was made abundantly clear both by local authorities and U.S. officials that Pastor Pan’s congregation would be unable to stay. Less than 1% of asylum seekers were permitted to stay in 2019.

    Bob Fu of the non-governmental Christian nonprofit China Aid warned, “If they get deported back to China by Korean officials, every member of this church will face extreme punishment.” Fu was not speaking hyperbolically.

    Within months of the SHRC’s exodus, Pastor Wang Yi, the founder of one of China’s largest unregistered churches, was sentenced to nine years in prison, denied all political rights, and fined. Yi’s fate is commonplace for Christians in the region.

    Spanish journalist Pablo M. Diez has elsewhere noted how Catholic Bishop James Su Zhimin, like others who refused to subordinate themselves to CCP religious regulators, was “disappeared” after “having spent most of his life deprived of his freedom.”

    Cardinal Joseph Zen of Hong Kong was similarly arrested May 11, 2022, for his religiosity, support of freedom, and criticism of the CCP.

    For fear of being returned by South Korea to China to suffer the kind of fate met by Zhimin, Yi, and Zen, the SHRC congregants migrated instead to Thailand, where they believe CCP agents are still stalking them.

    Repercussions

    Despite escaping China, Pastor Pan and his parish have nevertheless been subject to continued harassments, threats, and surveillance by the CCP. Those they left behind in China have also paid the price for their families’ Christianity, in the way of intimidation, interrogation, and other statist abuses, including the prohibition of a newborn child’s legal status.

    The pastor, whom CCP agents have accused of “treason,” “collusion with foreign forces,” and “subversion of state power,” learned that his siblings and mother have been penalized as a result of his actions.

    Another congregant’s relative in the mainland was told by communist officers, “Your descendants may suffer.”

    The presumed objective of the CCP’s mistreatment of the expat Christians’ relatives is to coerce Pastor Pan and his parish back to China, where if not executed, they may be placed in reeducation camps and forced to renounce their faith.

    China is home to tens of millions of Christians. Although the communist Chinese regime stated in 2018 that there were only 44 million Christians within its borders, this is regarded by many to be a gross undercount, as official figures only factor in members of registered Christian groups (in which the SHRC, house Christians, and the underground Catholic Church are not numbered).

    2011 Pew Forum report indicated the number of Christians, including Protestants and Catholics, exceeded 67 million. The Economist similarly indicated in 2020 that official numbers aren’t reflective of the reality; that Chinese Christians and Muslims together outnumber the membership of the communist party (92 million).

    A broader problem

    The CCP does not only send its agents abroad to stalk Christians who have fled. Freedom House issued a report last year indicating that China “conducts the most sophisticated, global, and comprehensive campaign of transnational repression in the world.” It targets religious and ethnic minorities (e.g., Christians, Uyghurs, Tibetans, Falun Gong practitioners), political dissidents, human rights activists, and others.

    For instance, over 1,500 ethnic Muslim Uyghurs have been detained in the Middle East and North Africa, many of whom have been extradited back to China. Thousands more have been targeted, hit with cyber attacks, or have had their families back in China threatened.

    The CCP has also activated agents in the United States. Earlier this year, five CCP spies were charged with stalking, harassing, and spying on Chinese nationals in New York.

    In October 2020, eight illegal agents of the CCP were charged for surveilling, locating, and intimidating targets of the communist regime. These agents intended to coerce their targets back to China, where “they would face certain imprisonment or worse following illegitimate trials.”

    Is Christian nationalism dangerous?


    By Michael Brown, CP Op-Ed Contributor | Wednesday, August 17, 2022

    Read more at https://www.christianpost.com/voices/is-christian-nationalism-dangerous.html/

    Christian flag and American flag flying together | GettyImages/ sdgamez

    Is Christian nationalism dangerous? That all depends on what you mean by the term. On the one hand, there is no shortage of warnings today from the left about the alleged danger of Christian nationalism.

    As expressed by conservative author Jason Mattera: 

    “Over the last few years, we’ve been subjected to a barrage of ‘alarming’ stories in left-stream media outlets about the rise of this scary, menacing boogeyman. Christian Nationalism, as the hyperventilating goes, poses a danger to the well-being of the United States and is a betrayal of genuine Christianity.”

    In stark contrast, John Zmirak, a conservative Catholic scholar and cultural commentator, views the term as positive, referring it “to American civic religion circa 1960, where broadly Christian ideas about human nature, marriage, and life prevailed.” In his view, the more the left reviles the term “Christian nationalism,” the more we should embrace it.

    What about the perception of the general public? How do most Americans view the concept of Christian nationalism?

    I’m not aware of any scientific polls that have asked that question, but I did my own, totally unscientific, quite limited poll on my Twitter account, asking

    “How do you define ‘Christian nationalism,’ and in your view, is this a positive or negative term? (You can answer the first part of the question in the comments and the second part in the poll.)”

    Bear in mind that most of my Twitter followers are fellow conservatives and fellow believers, and a strong majority of them voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020. Still, of the 1,085 respondents to the poll, 66.3% viewed the term as negative, 18.9% as positive, 11.1% were not sure, and just 3.8% had not heard of the term.

    That poll reflects my sentiments as well: I do not like the term or see it as positive or helpful since, for many, it reflects the unhealthy marriage of the Gospel and politics, blurring the distinction between the kingdom of God and patriotism. As one Twitter user put it (quoting from another source), “Christian nationalism can be reasonably understood as a movement that seeks to preserve or promote a Christian national identity.”

    This definition also suggests that America has a special covenant with God, and so being a Christian nationalist means helping America fulfill its God-appointed, covenantal destiny. Consequently, it is no problem to wrap the gospel in the American flag, since America is a Christian nation with a Christian calling.

    In that same spirit, I have seen preachers standing behind pulpits with the American flag draped over their shoulders as they called for Christians to rise up in force and “stop the steal” (referring to the 2020 elections). The kingdom of God and the nation of America were now merged together as one.

    Again, there are solid Christians for whom “Christian nationalism” simply means, “I love Jesus, I love my country, and I honor our Christian foundations.” That is hardly a dangerous position, and there is nothing ominous about it.

    As I wrote in December 2020 in response to a controversial Beth Moore tweet,

    Are you a Christian nationalist simply because you love and appreciate America? No.

    Are you a Christian nationalist simply because you are patriotic and serve in the military? No.

    Are you a Christian nationalist simply because you believe Trump was better for America than Biden? No.

    Are you a Christian nationalist simply because you believe there was electoral fraud and are doing your best to fight for a free and fair election? No.

    Are you a Christian nationalist simply because you believe that America must protect our religious liberties? No.

    Are you a Christian nationalist simply because you believe that God raised up America for special purposes in order to bless and help the world? No.

    But you are a Christian nationalist if you confuse loyalty to your country with loyalty to the kingdom of God.

    You are a Christian nationalist if you wrap the gospel in an American flag.

    You are a Christian nationalist if you “merge Christian and American identities.”

    That’s why recent comments by GAB CEO Andrew Torba have raised eyebrows and confirmed the worst suspicions about Christian nationalism, being quoted by outlets such as the Jerusalem Post and further fueling the fires of far-left websites such as Right Wing Watch. As Torba said with reference to a Republican candidate he backed, 

    “We are going to build a coalition of Christian nationalists, of Christians, of Christian candidates, at the state, local and federal levels and we’re going to take this country back for the glory of God.”

    And, what exactly, will this look like? What will it mean to “take the country back for the glory of God,” a sentiment that, in itself, can sound very positive to many Christians?

    Torba explained, 

    “We don’t want people who are atheists. We don’t want people who are Jewish. We don’t want people who are, you know, nonbelievers, agnostic, whatever. This is an explicitly Christian movement because this is an explicitly Christian country. We’re not saying we’re going to deport all these people or whatever. You’re free to stay here. You’re not going to be forced to convert or anything like this because that’s not biblical whatsoever. But you’re going to enjoy the fruits of living in a Christian society under Christian laws and under a Christian culture and you can thank us later.”

    He also said

    “You degenerate pagans and atheists and non-believers went way too far with the COVID nonsense, with shutting down our churches and forcing our kids to be masked, and forcing us to get vaccinated with some mystery goop in order to keep our jobs and provide for our families. You pushed us too far, and now we’re going to take dominion of this country, of our culture, of news, of entertainment, of technology, of education, of everything for the glory of Jesus Christ, our king. It’s just that simple.”

    In short, “Me loving my neighbor is wanting my neighbor to be ruled by wise biblical Christian men. Look at the fruits of what happens when we allow pagans, Jews, non-believers, atheists to run our country.”

    Note carefully those words “take dominion” and “rule.” Christian nationalists will literally take over.

    In Torba’s view, this will happen by winning elections and then making Christian values the law of the land. This, in turn, will benefit the whole society, as if Christians could change society by coercion rather than by sacrificial love and service and example.

    Some even take this one step further, telling Christians to prepare for battle by getting their guns and ammunition ready, in the name of Jesus at that. Get ready for holy war!

    This is irresponsible as it is dangerous, especially in today’s highly volatile, hyper-politicized, powder keg climate.

    In my new book, The Political Seduction of the Church: How Millions of American Christians Confused Politics with the Gospel, I get into these subjects in much more depth, documenting every position in detail, and doing my best to be fair in my presentation. (But let the reader beware: some of what I document in the book is quite shocking.)

    I believe those of you who are interested in delving deeper into the relationship between Church and State and who want to understand the Church’s calling to change the world will find The Political Seduction of the Church helpful. In fact, I wrote it for you.

    For the moment, though, let me say this plainly: Jesus alone deserves our total loyalty and absolute, undivided devotion. Whether it be our careers, reputations, or our patriotism, anything or anyone that seeks to share the throne of our hearts and lives with Him, is an idol that must be smashed.

    https://cdn.videpress.com/video/release/the-political-seduction-of-the-church.html

    Dr. Michael Brown(www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Revival Or We Die: A Great Awakening Is Our Only Hope. Connect with him on FacebookTwitter, or YouTube.

    Rachel Campos-Duffy the Left’s Latest Attack on Catholicism and the Rosary: “The First Thing the Communists Do Is Destroy and Attack Religion – They Have to Get Rid of It” (VIDEO)


    By Jim Hoft | Published August 15, 2022

    Read more at https://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2022/08/rachel-campos-duffy-lefts-latest-attack-catholicism-rosary-first-thing-communists-destroy-attack-religion-get-rid-video/


    As reported earlier today, Atlantic contributor Daniel Panneton has published an op-ed in which he claimed that the rosary is now a symbol of extremism. The rosary, of course, is a string of beads or knots that are used by Catholics as they do a series of prayers.

    In the article titled, “How the Rosary Became an Extremist Symbol,” Panneton claimed that “just as the AR-15 rifle has become a sacred object for Christian nationalists in general, the rosary has acquired a militaristic meaning for radical-traditional (or ‘rad trad’) Catholics.”

    Panneton claimed that “on this extremist fringe, rosary beads have been woven into a conspiratorial politics and absolutist gun culture. These armed radical traditionalists have taken up a spiritual notion that the rosary can be a weapon in the fight against evil and turned it into something dangerously literal.”

    The writer claimed that the “the rosary—in these hands—is anything but holy.”

    This is just the latest shameless attack on Christianity and Catholicism by the radical left.

    TRENDING: This is Why Democrats Are Not Worried about 2020 — The Fix Is In… Postal Service Institutionalizes Ballot Interference Scheme with New Mail-in Ballot Division

    On Monday night FOX News host Rachel Campos-Duffy took on Panneton and the left. Campos-Duffy knows this is open communism.

    Rachel Campos-Duffy: There is a long history of this. So the first thing that the Marxists, communists do is they attack religion they have to get rid of it. And by extension they want to get rid of family bond. It’s all because the family and religion are threats to the authoritarian state… Bishop Sheen said if you make it – outlaw believing in God then we should all stand up as criminals.

    Jim Hoft

    Jim Hoft is the founder and editor of The Gateway Pundit, one of the top conservative news outlets in America. Jim was awarded the Reed Irvine Accuracy in Media Award in 2013 and is the proud recipient of the Breitbart Award for Excellence in Online Journalism from the Americans for Prosperity Foundation in May 2016.

    Prosecuting Paivi Rasanen for Quoting the Bible Is Making Her an International Star


    BY: JOY PULLMANN | AUGUST 15, 2022

    Read more at https://thefederalist.com/2022/08/15/prosecuting-paivi-rasanen-for-quoting-the-bible-is-making-her-an-international-star/

    Paivi Rasanen speaking at the Issues Etc. conference

    Author Joy Pullmann profile

    JOY PULLMANN

    VISIT ON TWITTER@JOYPULLMANN

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    Paivi Rasanen must make God laugh. The 27-year member of Finland’s Parliament on trial for tweeting a Bible verse confounds so many pagan slogans.

    She’s a mother of five children and grandmother of 10 who didn’t need abortion to simultaneously pull off two demanding careers: medicine and politics. An empathetic woman who eagerly shows pictures of grandbabies on her phone and expresses concern for strangers’ travel plans, Paivi (pie-EE-vee) also refuses to subjugate her reason to emotional manipulation.

    She holds fast to Christian teachings about sex as reserved exclusively for lifelong marriage between one man and one woman, for which she’s been prosecuted and investigated now for three years and will be in court again this November. Her case could affect international law and is a foreboding example of where identity politics policies are quickly heading across the world.

    “If we break the gender system and if we break the natural marriage system between one man and one woman, then we have dangerous consequences, especially to children,” Paivi told The Federalist in person this summer in Chicago.

    This woman of science also firmly believes in supernatural revelation. In her pamphlet on Christian marriage that Finland’s top prosecutor is seeking to ban as “hate speech,” Paivi writes that “Jesus’s death and resurrection is the core of the entire Christian faith. On this the Bible stands or falls. If one does not believe it, there is nothing left of Christianity. And … if I believe this, it follows logically that I must believe everything else Christ teaches in the Bible through the Apostles and Prophets.”

    Paivi speaking to a sold-out audience of Christians in Chicago, Illinois, this summer. (Joy Pullmann / The Federalist)

    Persecution Spreads the Gospel

    As it has often in history, persecution has created global opportunities for Paivi to spread Christian theology: about sex, its design for lasting human happiness, and Christianity’s warm welcome to those struggling with every kind of sin from the God “who hates nothing He has made.” The 2004 booklet “Male and Female He Created Them,” which prosecutors want to ban entirely and fine Paivi for writing, has gone from a few copies in a few conservative Lutheran churches to translated into half a dozen languages and read all over the world.

    Rasanen’s 2004 booklet, printed from the online PDF and in its new second edition distributed worldwide.

    Paivi and her husband Niilo (nee-loh) spoke this June in Budapest alongside megastar Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson and his wife. Paivi said she’s seen especially strong support from Eastern European countries because many there still remember the Communists interrogating people about the Bible, as Finnish police did to Paivi three times for a total of 13 hours.

    The Rasanens flew to Chicago right after Budapest so Paivi could speak at the sold-out Christian “Issues, Etc.” conference on June 25. In pearls, a flowered dress, and silvered golden hair, the petite 62-year-old asked the American crowd to pray that her case would “allow for more chances to preach the gospel in public.”

    Rasanen’s case is on appeal in Finland and may end up in the European Court of Human Rights, developing precedents that could affect the world. If she loses in court, Paivi told a Christian outlet last year, “It will also affect religious freedom in other Western countries. LGBT groups have a very good network across national borders. They will try to achieve the same in other countries in Europe.”

    In Q&A after her talk, Paivi said Finnish Prosecutor General Raija Toiviainen is expected to push the case as far as possible because Toiviainen has said identity politics is her top priority. Paivi’s legal help from Alliance Defending Freedom International has told The Federalist they are also prepared to appeal her case as far as possible should she lose.

    Paivi Rasanen speaking at the Issues Etc. conference
    Image courtesy Issues, Etc.

    Persecution Amplifies Word of God’s Mercy for Sinners

    Toiviainen claims agreeing with the Bible that sodomy is a sin is a criminal expression of hatred toward homosexuals. Paivi and her legal team have pointed out that if the court interprets the law this way, it will effectively outlaw Christianity and free speech in Finland.

    Rather than rejecting homosexuals, as she’s been accused in court, Paivi glows with happiness when relating that gay people have disclosed her “Bible trial” has brought them to faith. In speeches and court testimony, Paivi has emphasized she not only bears no animosity toward homosexuals or transsexuals, she earnestly desires them to join her Christian family by receiving the eternal life that Jesus Christ offers freely to every person.

    Paivi has been dragged into European courts and smeared in the press for years as a spewer of “hate speech.” Yet while battling severe jet lag that her husband said often gives her migraines, Paivi expressed not even a flicker of animosity toward her persecutors in Chicago.

    Instead, when The Federalist asked if her three-year-and-counting prosecution might be orchestrated by political enemies, she seemed stumped. She conferred with her husband and finally suggested she was simply an easy target as a well-known figure in Finland.

    “In all my career I have been known as a Christian and as a biblical Christian who doesn’t accept abortion and homosexual acts and so on,” Paivi told The Federalist. “And that’s why I think that perhaps it is the reason why the prosecutor has targeted just me.”

    Family Unites to Fight for Other Families

    Acknowledging the Biblical directive that only men serve as pastors has never tied Paivi to the kitchen — although perhaps she’d like to retire there given the suffering her political career has inflicted. Niilo prodded Paivi into running for office nearly three decades ago to try to stop Finland from forcing doctors like her to perform abortions, they told The Federalist.

    Niilo Rasanen is a pastor and theology professor at a Lutheran Bible college. Niilo’s widowed mother lived with the couple while their children were young, and Paivi’s parents moved nearby and “helped a lot,” Paivi said. That, with Niilo’s flexibility while earning his doctorate, allowed Paivi to enter public service without sacrificing their children’s needs, they said.

    During the five years when Niilo was writing his dissertation, “he was always at home when the children came home” from school, Paivi noted. Paivi and Niilo occasionally pulled out their phones to translate Finnish words into English or check they were using the right words, but Finns learn at least two foreign languages in school, Swedish and English.

    Niilo and Paivi Rasanen in Chicago, Illinois, in June 2022. (Joy Pullmann / The Federalist)

    In response to a question from the Chicago audience, Paivi revealed threats against her family. When she campaigned against child pornography, she said, a convicted pedophile entered their front yard and threatened their children: “It was quite a difficult time because we had to keep safe our children and they were a little bit afraid many years after that.” The most violent of the recent threats include a rape threat against her son, she said.

    These external threats may have helped strengthen family bonds. Paivi and Niilo’s faces light up when they talk about their now-grown children, whom the Rasanens say are a great joy and regularly text their parents Bible verses and prayers.

    “The task is communal, we do it together,” Niilo said of their marriage and family. “It has been so busy and hard time in this politic area — very, very busy, very long days. If you are not doing it together, it will not work.”

    “I think what has been a great power in our life is that we have felt that these callings and tasks that we have, that they are common,” Paivi added.

    From Church Only at Christmas to Global Witness

    Born in 1959, Paivi grew up in a remote area near Finland’s border with Sweden, in the village of Konnunsuo. Her father was the agricultural director for a prison there. He oversaw the prisoners raising vegetables and animals to feed and support themselves. Paivi remembers as a girl watching piglets being born.

    Her parents went to church only at Christmas, she said, but she learned the Bible from Sunday School and at prison church services. Her family also hosted missionaries to the prison, and they explained Christianity to Paivi and her two younger siblings.

    A skilled student, especially in mathematics, young Paivi read all the books in her tiny village library that was open only two hours per week, she said. An adult biography of Nobel Prize-winning Polish scientist Marie Curie particularly inspired Paivi: “I admired her. I thought that I would like to be like her, to do something great.”

    At the University of Helsinki, she studied both mathematics and medicine for a half year, but it was too much. So Paivi decided to focus on medicine because “I wanted to work with people.”

    Organizing up to 70 Christian students for five years of weekly door-to-door evangelism in university deepened her faith, Paivi told The Federalist: “It was a very important time for me because there were students from different faculties and I had to defend my views, and I had to know [the] Bible because they asked difficult questions.”

    She met Niilo doing summer missionary work among immigrants in London, and they married in February 1985, a year after Paivi started working as a doctor. They welcomed their children in 1988, 1990, 1992, 1994, and 1996.

    Because Paivi kept organizing debates and speakers about abortion among fellow medical students and doctors, the Christian Democrat political party asked her to run for office. The Christian Democrats are a small party that focuses on faith and family. From 2011 to 2015, Paivi served as Finland’s Minister of the Interior as part of a coalition government.

    She Fights Like a Woman

    Paivi has fought steadfastly not by disposition, but by compunction. She and Niilo chuckled quietly when noting that in university, she flatly refused all public speaking offers and leadership positions.

    In person, the two Finns are true to type and their “Minnesota nice” American cousins: polite, soft-spoken, and deferential. In Chicago, Paivi and Niilo attempted for some 15 minutes to get the Uber app to work on their Finnish cell phones before they could be prevailed upon by this journalist to accept a ride.

    She would have walked the mile to the conference, Paivi assured, as they had the day before, but that morning’s rain would bedraggle her hair and dress right before her speech. After a bit of emotional discomfort at allegedly imposing, followed by a quick, rain-unaffected arrival, Paivi laughed softly, expressed thanks, and commented that this would be a good anecdote for The Federalist profile.

    Paivi Rasanen during audience Q&A in Chicago. Because English is a second language for Paivi, she was given the written questions in advance.

    Although she’s a public figure who regularly appears on TV, including a variety show that dressed her in a bear costume to sing to her grandchildren (she showed photographic evidence), Paivi habitually asks for others’ thoughts rather than discussing her own. It’s yet another contradiction to women’s mag-celebrated attributes: expressing her femininity not only doesn’t abrade Paivi’s character, it complements it.

    Paivi doesn’t assert herself as a “girl boss” who assumes masculine prosthetics, despite years of public leadership that could have taught her to do so. Her apparent emotional security in being the woman God made her bestows its own authority and charm.

    Only Men and Women Fit Perfectly Together

    That acceptance of one’s sex as a gift from God is also a foundation of the theological booklet that helped land Paivi in court indefinitely. Cultural Marxism foments a war between the sexes, but the Bible teaches that love means total self-giving: Husbands sacrifice everything to love their wives, and wives submit to their husbands as they do to God. The true war is not between the sexes, but against them, and in war clear chains of command are necessary to protect everyone.

    The 1960s feminist war fomented between the sexes has now expanded into a war on sex itself. Now even recognizing the differences between men and women and the exclusive fertility of natural marriage is heading toward being criminalized across the West, and with it the Christianity that protects and celebrates these natural realities.

    When she wrote the booklet, Paivi was already well-known as a Christian member of Parliament representing Hame, a rural Finnish province about an hour north of Helsinki. Pastor Juhana Pohjola, elected bishop of Finland’s non-state Lutheran church in 2021, had asked Rasanen to respond to proposals for government licensing of homosexual relationships. Here was a government endorsement of severing natural biological bonds between parents and children that raised both political and theological concerns.

    Rasanen’s resulting 24-page booklet is a succinct summary of Christian sexual ethics. “People who submit themselves to God’s guidance in the Bible are repeatedly amazed at how the very Bible teachings hardest to understand contain God’s deep wisdoms,” Rasanen writes in the English translation.

    “No choice of policies is ethically neutral,” she notes. “…In actuality, the acceptance of homosexual partnerships meant a more profound change in values than was willingly acknowledged at the time.” For example, she notes, in Finland, those proposing a homosexual partnerships act promised it would affect adults only. Yet immediately after the act passed, the proponents moved to make taxpayers pay for lesbians to be artificially inseminated and for homosexual couples to adopt children who could never know either a father or mother.

    The act’s proponents also promised that Finland’s state church could maintain Christianity’s historic teachings if state recognition of homosexual couples passed. Paivi’s trial today, under a law passed seven years after the booklet was published, directly refutes that claim. It also highlights how impossible it is to reconcile the hard-won natural law framework that protects everyone equally with the identity politics that provides special rights to only government-favored groups.

    Seeking an Internet Interdiction

    Writing the booklet is one of three charges Toiviainen has filed against Paivi. It forms the sole count against Pohjola, the pastor who published the booklet. The two other counts against Paivi relate to her tweet of a Bible verse at the nominally Lutheran state church for sponsoring a homosexual pride parade and comments in a public radio debate she participated in years ago.

    How can the #church ’s doctrinal foundation, the #bible, be compatible with the lifting up of shame and sin as a subject of #pride ?” #lgbt #helsinkipride2019
    Finnish Christian MP under hate crime investigation for quoting scripture – Premier

    In 2019, several Finns lodged complaints against Paivi’s tweet. Police investigated, interrogating Paivi about her beliefs three times. Although the police ultimately recommended against prosecuting Paivi, prosecutors sifted through her three-decade public record. They dug up the three alleged hate crimes and charged her.

    The charges against Paivi fall under the legal category of “war crimes and crimes against humanity.” The prosecutors have asked for Paivi’s writings and audio clips to be completely banned from the internet and for her, Pohjola, and his church to be fined up to a third of their annual incomes, but courts could put Paivi in prison for up to six years if she’s found guilty. Pohjola could be imprisoned for up to two years.

    During Paivi and Pohjola’s trial in early 2022, thousands of Finnish supporters gathered in Helsinki outside the court. Free speech supporters in other countries rallied at Finnish embassies. The American Family Research Council sent Pastor Andrew Brunson, whom Turkey detained for two years for preaching Christianity, to give Paivi a pledge of prayers from Christians around the world. U.S. members of Congress, international human rights groups, and coalitions of religious believers have also petitioned the Finnish government to stop prosecuting Rasanen and Pohjola’s human rights to free speech and religious exercise.

    “It is important that we have the freedom of speech and freedom of religion,” Paivi told The Federalist in Chicago. “Freedom of speech because it is important for everyone. It is important for every minority and majority. For Christians, it is crucial because we have the commandments of Jesus to tell the good gospel to all people…”

    “Also I think that it is important to respect in society also everyone’s right to speak and argue and oppose you,” she continued. “So this is [a] fundamental issue.”

    For more on this case, read this profile of Bishop Pohjola, who spoke to The Federalist in person in November 2021.


    Joy Pullmann is executive editor of The Federalist, a happy wife, and the mother of six children. Sign up here to get early access to her next ebook, “101 Strategies For Living Well Amid Inflation.” Her bestselling ebook is “Classic Books for Young Children.” Mrs. Pullmann identifies as native American and gender natural. She is also the author of “The Education Invasion: How Common Core Fights Parents for Control of American Kids,” from Encounter Books. In 2013-14 she won a Robert Novak journalism fellowship for in-depth reporting on Common Core national education mandates. Joy is a grateful graduate of the Hillsdale College honors and journalism programs.

    Christian Nationalism Is Biblical and America-First, But It’s Not White


    BY: CARINA BENTON | AUGUST 11, 2022

    Read more at https://thefederalist.com/2022/08/11/christian-nationalism-is-biblical-and-america-first-but-its-not-white/

    God bless America hay bales

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    If you want to know what the establishment’s all-seeing eye is maniacally fixated on, the amount of energy the corporate media orcs spend bludgeoning “Christian nationalists” provides a clue. Over the past 48 months, there have been dozens of hit jobs on the terror of “Christian nationalism”; there have been about a score of these smear pieces just this past month alone.

    Their Pavlovian function is to condition Americans to associate the term with a bunch of extremists and racists who pose a Hitleresque threat to this country’s democratic institutions so that they will dutifully freak out. These articles rely on the same tactics: straw man arguments that misrepresent both Christianity and nationalism, and phony attempts to depict the movement as white.

    “Christian Nationalism is an un-Christian concept,” opines the New York Times. The Christian right “is beginning to part with democratic norms,” laments NPR. “Christian nationalism has a long dark history … of white supremacy, bigotry and ties to the Nazi party,” warns MSNBC. “The movement uses Christian language to cloak sexism and hostility to Black people and non-White immigrants in its quest to create a White Christian America,” explains CNN.

    The trusted media sources who sold you Russiagate, the Hunter Biden laptop Russian disinformation hoax, and “transitory” inflation, are at least this time right about one thing: Christian nationalism is real, and it’s gaining traction. It’s biblical, it’s America First, but it’s not “white.” It’s not about a white supremacist “Christian Taliban” installing a theocracy, idolizing the nation, or in any way rewriting this country’s great Republican constitutional model.

    In fact, Christian nationalism is entirely consistent with that model. The Declaration of Independence vests the sovereign power with the people, on loan to the government, and entrusts the state with the responsibility of safeguarding the individual’s Creator-endowed rights. In asserting that “the United Colonies are and ought to be Free and Independent States,” the signers appealed to the “Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of [their] intentions” and committed themselves to “the protection of Divine Providence.” If nationalists believe that government should prioritize the interests of the country and the people, Christian nationalists believe, as did the Founders, they should do so under the banner of God.

    The United States isn’t special because it’s a nation chosen by God; it’s special because it’s a nation that chose God. The implications are entirely biblical. Holy Scripture invites individuals from every race, tribe, nation, and language to freely enter into a personal relationship with the Savior, to live by His commandments, and worship Him as King.

    It also envisages, from Genesis to Isaiah, from the Gospels to the Book of Revelation, the conversion of whole nations or peoples, and warns of the inevitable harm of instead embracing a culture of idolatry, depravity, and deceit. Hence, we read in Proverbs that “a nation without God’s guidance is a nation without order.”

    The biblical message of rightly ordered praise, an objective standard of morality, and free will is a steadying hand, tempering the self-interest of nationalism and the reactionary tendencies of its close cousin populism. When, on the other hand, generic nationalism is shaped by the coercive and unobstructed power of a godless, behemoth administrative state, grave problems arise.

    This was the story of early 20th-century Germany. Hitler was not a Christian nationalist but an illiberal, anti-capitalist, anti-religious national socialist. Hitler’s New Order was the culmination of a decades-long counter-Renaissance revolution in Germany. The enemy — one they shared with communists — was the essence of Western civilization: liberal democracy, the individual man qua man, and the majesty of God.

    In his 1944 book “Road to Serfdom,” the Viennese Nobel Prize-winner Friedrich von Hayek warned not to repeat Germany’s fate by implementing the same policies of big government, central planning, collectivism, social engineering, and the subjugation of the individual to the will of the omnipotent state. Hayek’s concern was not Hitler’s nationalism per se, but his socialism.

    Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Walter Lippman similarly warned about the “cult of the Providential state.” He wrote that a generation no longer looking confidently to God for the regulation of human affairs is now realizing what happens “when men retreat from freedom to a coercive organization of their affairs.”

    Today, Americans are reaching the same conclusion, with evidence indicating a collapse in support for the Democrats’ socialist, America-last agenda. Economically, Americans recognize that the manipulation of the energy sector in the name of the bogus Green New Deal is driving up gas prices. They’re also blaming Biden’s economic mismanagement for record high inflation, a crisis the administration is now exploiting to expand the IRS by more than six times its current annual budget. Voters are losing interest in spending billions to protect Ukraine’s sovereignty when the U.S.’s own southern border is being overrun by human and drug traffickerssex offenders, and violent criminals.

    Socially, Americans are trending toward family policies that reflect a conservative, Judeo-Christian worldview: honoring the nuclear family and parental rights, ensuring medical freedom, and fiercely protecting the innocence of children.

    As much as the left fetishizes skin color, none of this is about race, although different racial groups are feeling the pain in various ways. The Biden administration’s war on fossil fuels is affecting both the Native Americans whose resource-rich tribal lands bring wealth and employment to Native communities, and the predominately white Americans employed in mining, oil, and gas extraction.

    Hispanics, more than any other ethnic or racial group, want the southern border closed and are registering their disapproval by flipping former Democrat strongholds on the southern border red. And with an exponential increase in business ownership to approximately 12 percent of the 27.6 million total U.S. businesses, they’re understandably not impressed by Biden’s economic performance, an assessment 60 percent of black voters agree with. Parents across all racial groups overwhelmingly favor initiatives such as school vouchers and education savings accounts.

    Not surprisingly then, elections in North CarolinaVirginiaPennsylvaniaMarylandArizona, and Michigan, reveal a gravitation toward populist candidates united not by their race or gender but by their Christian, America First principles. The message is one of decency, not degeneracy, prosperity, not pauperdom, and self-determination, not serfdom.

    It’s this love of God, country, and freedom trifecta that has the enemy screeching like there’s no tomorrow. But it’s a winning formula, and the establishment fears it, which is why its hordes in the press keep militantly pounding away at those racist white supremacists every chance they get.


    Carina Benton is a dual citizen of Australia and Italy and a permanent resident of the United States. A recent West Coast émigré, she is now helping to repopulate the country’s interior. She holds a master’s degree in education and has taught languages, literature, and writing for many years in Catholic and Christian, as well as secular institutions. She is a practicing Catholic and a mother of two young children.

    Oklahoma man allowed to sue local school board members for cutting his mic because he spoke about God: ‘Mr. Chaffin was removed because he was predicating his comments on a Biblical worldview’


    By CORTNEY WEIL | August 04, 2022

    Read more at https://www.conservativereview.com/oklahoma-man-allowed-to-sue-local-school-board-members-for-cutting-his-mic-because-he-spoke-about-god-mr-chaffin-was-removed-because-he-was-predicating-his-comments-on-a-biblical-worldview-2657809434.html/

    A state judge in Oklahoma has refused to dismiss a lawsuit which alleges that a local school board turned off a public microphone because a man used “a Biblical worldview” to frame his comments.

    Back in April, Brice Chaffin spoke at a public school board meeting in Stillwater, Oklahoma, about 65 miles north of Oklahoma City and the home of Oklahoma State University. Though the board had not planned to discuss rules related to bathroom use at schools, many in the audience, including Chaffin, elected to speak about the topic nonetheless.

    Many residents wanted to weigh in on the issue since the board had recently updated its anti-discrimination policy to include “gender identity,” which meant that students could use the bathroom which corresponds to their “gender [identities],” rather than their biological sexes.

    Chaffin began his comments by arguing for the reality of God and the necessity of accepting Jesus. When board members then asked Chaffin to speak about the bathroom topic at hand, Chaffin hinted at his opposition to “gender identity” as a concept and the related bathroom issue by referencing the Bible.

    “So, I talked about physical laws,” Chaffin said. “We have spiritual laws. We also have natural laws. Natural law, for instance, one natural law is that on the day God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female. So, we have males and females.”

    Chaffin then began to quote from the first chapter of the New Testament book Romans, a chapter often cited to denounce homosexuality.

    At that point, school board members interjected once again and asked Chaffin to stay on topic. When he continued to read from Romans, the board silenced the microphone, and Chaffin’s words became inaudible. Security then removed Chaffin from the meeting.

    After the meeting, Chaffin, with the help of attorney Maria Seidler, filed a lawsuit against Stillwater Public Schools, members of the Stillwater school board, and Gay Washington, who was acting superintendent at the time.

    Jenni White, president of the group Reclaim Oklahoma Parent Empowerment (ROPE), which is also listed as a plaintiff, issued a statement in support of the suit.

    “Any member of the taxpaying community has the right to speak at a school board meeting,” White wrote. “If you watch the video, it was clear that Mr. Chaffin was removed because he was predicating his comments on a Biblical worldview. According to the First Amendment our speech is protected from interference by the government and a school board is a governmental entity.”

    “I’d just like the school boards to uphold the Constitution as they’re required to pledge upon taking office. Free speech must include religious speech,” White added.

    Though the judge dismissed the charges against the school board as a whole, the judge upheld the suit against the district and each individual board member. A pretrial hearing has been scheduled for November. Chaffin and Seidler are not seeking monetary damages from the defendants, but a public apology and remittance for attorney’s fees.

    State legislators have since changed state law to restrict students to using the bathroom which is in accords with their biological sex.

    Video unavailable.

    Most Americans believe religious freedom is in decline; a third says Christians complain too much: poll


    Reported By Ian M. Giatti, Christian Post Reporter | Friday, July 15, 2022

    Read more at https://www.christianpost.com/news/most-americans-believe-religious-freedom-is-in-decline-survey.html/

    Religious freedom supporters hold a rally to praise the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case on June 30, 2014, in Chicago, Illinois. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

    More than half of all Americans say religious tolerance for Christians is on the decline, even as more than a third also believes Christians complain too much about how they are treated in society, a newly released Lifeway Research survey suggests.

    In a study of just over 1,000 Americans conducted last September, 54% said religious liberty in the United States is in decline, including around a quarter (24%) who strongly agree with that statement. Almost a third (32%) of respondents disagreed, while 14% said they weren’t sure.

    An even greater percentage of Americans believe religious tolerance for Christians in America is in decline, with 59% agreeing that “Christians increasingly are confronted by intolerance in America today.” Less than a quarter (24%) disagreed, and another 18% said they were unsure if intolerance for Christians is increasing in America. African Americans (68%) and white Americans (59%) were more likely to agree than people of other ethnicities (47%).

    Protestants (69%) and Catholics (59%) were most likely to agree that Christians are facing increasing intolerance. Fifty-three percent of respondents of other religions and 41% of religiously unaffiliated respondents said the same. Those who attend a worship service at least four times a month (64%) are more likely to believe religious liberty is on the decline in America than those who attend less than once a month (53%).

    The religiously unaffiliated, or “nones,” were the least likely (40%) to agree religious liberty is on the decline. 

    “Freedoms are not limitless,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research. “As some groups seek more freedom, it often encroaches on another’s freedom. It’s not surprising those who are more religiously active are the ones noticing reductions in religious freedom compared to those who don’t practice religion.” 

    The survey also found an interesting corollary to the perceived decline in religious liberty: more than a third (36%) of all Americans say Christians in the U.S. “complain too much about how they are treated,” including 14% who strongly agree. Nearly half (49%) of respondents disagreed, while another 15% weren’t sure. Males (40%) were more likely to agree than women (32%) that Christians complain too much about how they are treated. Respondents over 65 were the most likely to disagree that Christians complain too much (64%). The survey found that those who hold Evangelical beliefs are more likely to disagree that Christians complain too much (61%) than those who don’t have Evangelical beliefs (45%). 

    The religiously unaffiliated (53%) were more likely to agree than either Protestants (27%) or Catholics (34%) that Christians complain too much. 

    “Intolerance is about cultural pushback,” McConnell said. “In the American marketplace of ideas, not all systems of thought are welcomed. The majority of all religions notice this pushback against Christians today.”

    The survey was conducted online with over 1,005 respondents and has an error margin of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points, with error margins being higher among subgroups. Quotas and slight weights were used to balance gender, age, region, ethnicity, education and religion to more accurately reflect the U.S. population.

    Christian football coach wins Supreme Court case over being fired for praying on field after games


    Reported By Michael Gryboski, Mainline Church Editor 

    Read more at https://www.christianpost.com/news/supreme-court-sides-with-christian-coach-punished-for-praying-after-football-games.html/

    Coach Joe Kennedy at the Bremerton High School football field. | Courtesy of First Liberty Institute

    The United States Supreme Court has ruled that a Washington school district was wrong to punish a high school football coach for praying on the field after games. In a decision released Monday morning, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the Bremerton School District discriminated against Coach Joe Kennedy. 

    Justice Neil Gorsuch delivered the court’s opinion, being joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh. 

    “Kennedy prayed during a period when school employees were free to speak with a friend, call for a reservation at a restaurant, check email, or attend to other personal matters. He offered his prayers quietly while his students were otherwise occupied. Still, the Bremerton School District disciplined him anyway,” wrote Gorsuch. 

    “Both the Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment protect expressions like Mr. Kennedy’s … The Constitution and the best of our traditions counsel mutual respect and tolerance, not censorship and suppression, for religious and nonreligious views alike.”

    In response to today’s opinion, Kennedy said, “This is just so awesome. All I’ve ever wanted was to be back on the field with my guys. I am incredibly grateful to the Supreme Court, my fantastic legal team, and everyone who has supported us. I thank God for answering our prayers and sustaining my family through this long battle.”

    Kelly Shackelford, president, CEO and chief counsel for First Liberty, a religious liberty law firm based in Plano, Texas, which represented Kennedy, hailed the court’s decision as a “tremendous victory for Coach Kennedy and religious liberty for all Americans.”  

    “Our Constitution protects the right of every American to engage in private religious expression, including praying in public, without fear of getting fired,” she added. “We are grateful that the Supreme Court recognized what the Constitution and law have always said — Americans are free to live out their faith in public.”

    Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a dissent, joined by Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan, in which she argued that “this Court consistently has recognized that school officials leading prayer is constitutionally impermissible.”

    “Official-led prayer strikes at the core of our constitutional protections for the religious liberty of students and their parents, as embodied in both the Establishment Clause and the Free
    Exercise Clause of the First Amendment,”
    she wrote. 

    “This decision does a disservice to schools and the young citizens they serve, as well as to our Nation’s longstanding commitment to the separation of church and state.”

    Paul Cement, former U.S. Solicitor General and First Liberty network attorney who argued Kennedy’s case before the Justices, said, “After seven long years, Coach Kennedy can finally return to the place he belongs — coaching football and quietly praying by himself after the game. This is a great victory for Coach Kennedy and the First Amendment.”

    A devout Christian, Kennedy had a practice of going to the 50-yard line after high school football games and praying, often with fans and students joining him. In 2015, the school district suspended Kennedy for praying on the field after games and later decided not to renew his contract because of his refusal to stop praying on the field. Kennedy sued the school district in 2016, accusing them of violating his religious freedom. 

    Earlier this year, Shackelford said First Liberty was representing Kennedy because “No teacher or coach should lose their job for simply expressing their faith while in public.”

    A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled against the coach in 2017, while the Supreme Court initially refused to hear his case in 2019. In March of last year, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit again ruled against Kennedy, with Judge Milan D. Smith Jr. authoring the unanimous opinion.

    “[T]here is no doubt that an objective observer, familiar with the history of Kennedy’s practice, would view his demonstrations as BSD’s endorsement of a particular faith. For that reason, BSD had adequate justification for its treatment of Kennedy,” wrote Smith.

    “BSD had a compelling state interest to avoid violating the Establishment Clause, and it tried repeatedly to work with Kennedy to develop an accommodation for him that would avoid violating the Establishment Clause while nevertheless offering him options that were narrowly tailored to protect his rights …”

    In January, the Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal in the case and heard oral arguments in late April, with the justices debating whether Kennedy’s prayer practice was coercive.

    Follow Michael Gryboski on Twitter or Facebook

    Pride Month: Things I’m proud of and things I’m not


    Reported By Jay Lowder, Op-Ed Contributor | Friday, June 10, 2022

    Read more at https://www.christianpost.com/voices/pride-month-things-im-proud-of-and-things-im-not.html/

    File photo shows men kissing each other during a gay protest in front at Nossa Senhora da Paz church in Rio de Janeiro, August 3, 2003. | (Photo: REUTERS/Bruno Domingos)

    This month, the Church is confronted with a great opportunity as individuals, companies and the LGBTQ community celebrate “Pride Month.”

    I was 18 when it was revealed to me that a family member had come out as gay. Shocked, embarrassed, and more concerned with how it might make “me” look, I responded out of anger that looked like hate more than anything else. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I viciously lashed out and actually told this individual I was ashamed of her, that she was no longer my family, and that I never wanted to speak to her again.

    Sure, it was a different day and time, but that is no excuse. At the time, same-sex relationships were mostly covert and culturally viewed in a completely different light than they are today. Those who “came out,” at least in the South where I lived, were usually met with a dump truck of condemnation and at the very most a thimble of love and compassion, especially from people like me who were legalistic, judgmental, and filled with self-righteousness.

    My actions erected a barrier between us as big as the great wall of China, and I kept it intact for the worse part of the next two years. It lasted until something major happened in my life; I went from a religious person who knew about Christ to a person who had received Him and had Him living in my life. Only then, did I realize how wrong I had been.

    I reached out and expressed my regret, apology, and unconditional love. That simple act instantly restored a severed relationship. Of course, we had different opinions and convictions but never again was there any division or separation. I am proud to say we both began to genuinely love and respect one another, and it has continued this way in the decades since.

    Regrettably, my original response is often the same that many other professing believers continue to serve on plates of false superiority.

    For believers, the non-negotiable template has been given to love others…regardless! We must not forget the example of Christ who commonly showed love, concern, and compassion to people who had fallen into an array of transgressions. Jesus never categorized wrongs but made it clear that each of us has fallen extremely short and are in need of forgiveness and grace.

    Why are we so eager to receive mercy yet so unwilling to dispense it to others?

    Jesus made it clear it is not our duty to “change” anyone. This alone is the work of God. Our job is to pray for people and recognize EVERY person on earth has worth in the sight of God. It is an undeniable truth that Christ did not come to save “some,” and we would do well to remember the well-known verse that states “God so loved the world.”  He did not select a few or the religious, righteous, or untainted but the entire world. 

    We as believers need to stop categorizing the failings of others. Have we dismissed the admonition to first take the plank from our own eyes? Jesus did not treat the thieving tax collector any different than the demon-possessed man or the adulteress woman. He did not berate, condemn or belittle anyone except an occasional religious phony. It is quite possible, maybe even likely, if He were on earth today, that the group He would chastise the most would not be those who had fallen into adultery, same-sex relationships, or fornication, but rather those of us who are busy quoting His words but not living them.

    Our call is certainly to speak the truth but NEVER, absolutely never, without love or the recognition that we are also severely stained and not without fault. Jesus said love covers a multitude of faults and is the greatest gift of all. Speaking love alone is not enough; it must be shown through words and deeds, or otherwise it is nothing more than an annoying, empty sound.

    During not only this month but every day of the year, this is what I hope we can remember most.

    I just hung up the phone with the family member I wrongly judged and mistreated. I wanted to ask her permission to write about the incredible relationship we have shared for countless years. She gladly agreed and told me she couldn’t wait for me to meet her new boyfriend this July – the first guy she has dated in over three decades.

    God’s love always wins!   

    Jay Lowder is an evangelist and founder of Jay Lowder Harvest Ministries. He is also the producer of “The Darkest Hour” television program and author of “Midnight in Aisle 7.”

    Shane Idleman Op-ed: America — weak and woke. We need more prophets, not puppets.


    Commentary By Shane Idleman, CP Guest Contributor | Tuesday, June 07, 2022

    Read more at https://www.christianpost.com/voices/america-weak-and-woke-we-need-more-prophets-not-puppets.html/

    Repentance from sin plus faith in Christ equals a new life. | Pixabay

    In a recent documentary, I discussed the rapid decline of America and the desperate need for serious prayer and fasting. To say that we are at a crossroads is an understatement — we are in the crosshairs.

    This is an urgent call to the pulpits of America. America’s lukewarm temperature is caused by a lack of fire in the pulpit and apathy in the pew. Leonard Ravenhill once lamented, “We need more prophets in our pulpits and less puppets.” That same cry goes out today. We simply cannot remain silent.   

    Is saving America the mission of the Church? 

    CNN recently released an article quoting pastor Andy Stanley who said, “saving America is not the mission of the church.” 

    I don’t know Pastor Stanley, nor do I know his heart, but he highlights a real dilemma in our nation — prophetic voices who lack humilityIn short, many bold preachers don’t weep before they whip (cf. John 2:13-16). But balancing love with anger over the condition of our nation, families, and churches is a hard balance to find. 

    People who say things such as, “Saving America is not the mission of the Church,” often use this phrase to justify their silence on important issues. Biblically speaking, it’s impossible to be non-confrontational to a culture hell-bent on rejecting God. We can’t be “unhitched” from God’s Word. 

    But Shane, can you answer the question? 

    Back to the question, “is saving America the mission of the Church?” Of course not, but shouldn’t we desire godly leaders and laws that align with God’s Word and not be shamed for it? Shouldn’t we want to protect our borders and our children without being chastised? Shouldn’t we be a voice to those who have no voice and stop the slaughtering of the innocent? 

    The dilemma Pastor Stanley and others face is that they can’t have their cake and eat it, too. They can’t avoid controversial topics in the hopes of not offending. Watering down difficult topics is exactly why America is drowning in a cesspool of moral relativism.  

    CNN quotes Stanley because, in their eyes, he supports their narrative. You won’t find secular news outlets quoting and supporting bold preachers. Why? Because bold, Christ-centered, truth elevating preaching exposes and dismantles their agenda. If secular news outlets are on your side, are you sure that you’re on the right side?

    Weak and woke won’t awaken 

    My goal isn’t to divide the Body of Christ, but to convict it. I don’t have a beef against Pastor Stanley (I’m sure he’s a great guy), but if a Christian leader says controversial things, can’t we lovingly challenge their words? This isn’t dividing the Body, rather it’s sharpening our iron (Proverbs 27:17). 

    Many of us are becoming weary of the silent pulpit that seems more comfortable slamming bold saints than confronting blatant sinners. Weak sermons from woke pastors won’t convict the sinners who need redemption. 

    A person who is considered “woke” prides themselves on being extra sensitive and aware of racial and social discrimination and injustice. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It all depends on the motive of the person using the phrase. 

    If we repent of our skin color, dislike policemen, disdain America, and support sexual perversion by our silence (all under the banner of “wokeness”), we are in deep trouble. If we won’t preach the truth because some in our audience are on the other side of the political spectrum, we aren’t pastors, we are appeasers. 

    Love of country over love of people 

    Love of country shouldn’t take precedence over love of people, but doesn’t loving people also mean loving the country in which they live? 

    What many are really saying is: If you vote for a mean-tweeting president, care about God-given freedoms, and talk about hot-button issues, you don’t love people. With all due respect, that simply is not true!

    Is it even possible for Christians to embrace a political party without hurting the feelings of the other party? No, it’s not. This is the dilemma of Pastor Stanley and other leaders. Instead of asking, “How can we not offend others?” they should be asking, “Are we offending God?” 

    There must appear a new type of preacher

    A.W. Tozer hit the nail on the head decades ago: “If Christianity is to receive a rejuvenation, it must be by other means than any now being used … there must appear a new type of preacher.”

    Tozer continues, “The proper, ruler-of-the-synagogue type will never do. Neither will the priestly type of man who carries out his duties, takes his pay and asks no questions, nor the smooth-talking pastoral type who knows how to make the Christian religion acceptable to everyone. All these have been tried and found wanting.”

    He concludes, “Such a man is likely to be lean, rugged, blunt-spoken and a little bit angry with the world. He will love Christ and the souls of men to the point of willingness to die for the glory of the One and the salvation of the other. But he will fear nothing that breathes with mortal breath.” God, give us more prophets and less puppets! 

    Appeasement — an exercise in futility 

    Those who have been called to preach will confront compromise, condemn moral digression, and powerfully denounce sin in the hope of reconciling man to God. The world despises them because they challenge the sin the world enjoys. Trying to please a Christ-rejecting world is an exercise in futility.

    Although ruffling feathers is not our goal, we will step on toes from time to time when we speak the truth. This can’t always be avoided, nor should it be. 

    Weak and woke won’t turn America around, but neither will pride and arrogance. Speaking the heart of God flows from a reservoir of brokenness and time spent with Him. How are you doing in this area? 

    Whether you’re on the Right or the Left, you must be on the right side of God’s Word. 

    We need more men like the Old Testament prophet Micaiah, who said, “As surely as the Lord lives, I will speak whatever the Lord tells me” (1 Kings 22:14).

    Shane Idleman is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Lancaster, California, just North of Los Angeles. Shane’s sermons, articles, books, and radio program can all be found at shaneidleman.com or wcfav.org. He is the author of Feasting & FastingIf My PeopleDesperate for More of God, and Help! I’m Addicted. Follow him on Facebook at: facebook.com/confusedchurch. You can also follow Pastor Shane on the new free speech platform Parler https://parler.com/profile/ShaneIdleman/posts

    Activists claim police shot unarmed pregnant woman with her hands up. Then body cam footage is released.


    Reported by CHRIS ENLOE | June 02, 2022

    Read more at https://www.theblaze.com/news/police-charge-leonna-hale-body-cam-footage-shows-firearm/

    Prosecutors have filed charges against a Kansas City woman who activists claim was the victim of excessive police force. Leonna Hale, 26, was approached by police officers last Friday after she was spotted inside a car that police say matched the description of one involved in an armed carjacking. According to police, the driver of the vehicle jumped out and ran when police approached. They claim Hale also exited the vehicle, went to the rear of the car, and drew a firearm. Police told Hale to drop the firearm, but she allegedly pointed it at police. Law enforcement responded by firing three shots. Hale was wounded in the incident, but she did not die.

    The incident generated significant attention online. Activists claimed police had shot an unarmed pregnant woman five times. Even worse, they claimed she had her hands up.

    • Activist Leslie Mac: “#LeonnaHale is a 26 year old unarmed pregnant Black Woman who was shot five time by Kansas City police on Friday. She had her hands up and told police she could not follow their directions to get on her stomach b/c she was pregnant. There is no reforming this. #AbolitionNow.”
    • CRT scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw: “Please send prayers and support to Leonna Hale, unarmed, shot 5 times in a traffic staff. If mass murderers of Black people can be apprehended alive, why must Black people in traffic stops constantly fear for their lives?”
    • The Kansas City Defender: “Kansas City Police Department shot an unarmed Black woman 5 times. Eyewitnesses say the woman had her hands up. The police handcuffed her while she was bleeding out on the pavement.”
    • Linda Sarsour: “Cops can apprehend white mass murderers without a scratch but will shoot unarmed Black people that pose no threat to them. Leonna Hale. Kansas City, MO.”
    • Occupy Democrats: “BREAKING: A witness reveals that Kansas City police shot Leonna Hale, a pregnant unarmed Black woman, five times as she was running away from them — she has been hospitalized with serious injuries but remains stable.”

    Prosecutors are now charging Hale after they say body cam footage shows that Hale was, in fact, in possession of a firearm and that she pointed her weapon at police.

    Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Baker explained in a statement:

    Some false narratives about what happened last Friday night at 6th and Prospect Avenue, unfortunately, were relied upon by some media and other sources. Our job, as prosecutors, is to remain neutral and review all evidence. Our review of body cam videos provided the actual accounting of events that night.

    Our review of the investigation revealed the defendant, although she denied having a weapon at the time of the encounter with law enforcement officers, continually displayed a weapon during her encounter with police officers and also appeared to be attempting to flee. The two officers stated that she was armed with what they believed to be a handgun. Body camera footage confirms the officers’ statements that Hale was holding a handgun. Still photos, taken from body cam footage, of this encounter also demonstrate a weapon was present and in the hands of the defendant.

    Hale has been charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, unlawful use of a weapon, and a misdemeanor resisting a lawful detention. Local activists, however, do not believe police are being truthful, the Kansas City Star reported.

    Hale remains in the hospital. The driver of the vehicle who fled from police has also since been apprehended. Neither the police nor the media have confirmed that Hale is pregnant, WDAF-TV reported.

    Supporters of woman shot by KC police shocked of image, charges of her pointing weapon at officers www.youtube.com

    Virginia passes law defining religion as including ‘outward expression,’ not just ‘belief’


    Reported By Michael Gryboski | Mainline Church Editor | June 1, 2022

    Read more at https://www.christianpost.com/news/virginia-passes-law-protecting-outward-religious-expression.html/

    OWEN li | Unsplash/Owen li

    Virginia’s Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin has signed a law that legally defines religion as including actions and expressions, not just personal belief, which is viewed as a win by religious liberty advocates. Known as House Bill 1063, the legislation defines the word “religion” as meaning “any outward expression of religious faith, including adherence to religious dressing and grooming practices and the carrying or display of religious items or symbols.” Youngkin spokesperson Macaulay Porter told The Christian Post in a statement Tuesday that the legislation is a “modest step” to advance religious liberty in Virginia.

    “Governor Youngkin has a firm spiritual foundation that guides his entire life and will use every ounce of his authority to protect Virginians’ First Amendment right to freely live out their faith,” Porter said. “HB 1063 is a modest step toward preserving religious freedom in the Commonwealth and the Governor hopes to continue to build on that in the future.”

    Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal group that has argued religious liberty cases before the United States Supreme Court, applauded the passage of HB 1063. ADF Senior Counsel Gregory S. Baylor said that the measure “provides a necessary and helpful clarification in the law to help ensure Virginians won’t face discrimination simply for outwardly expressing their religious beliefs.”

    “Virginia law forbids discrimination on the basis of religion in multiple contexts yet fails to define the actual term ‘religion,’ which can leave Virginians vulnerable to hostile reactions to expressions of their faith,” said Baylor in a statement.  

    “We commend Gov. Youngkin and the Virginia General Assembly for resolving this ambiguity so that Virginians can freely live out their faith without fear of government punishment.”

    The bill was introduced by Del. Irene Shin, a Democrat representing northern Virginia, with the aim of protecting individuals with an outward religious expression like wearing a yarmulke or cross from being discriminated against.

    In April, after the legislation passed both houses of the General Assembly in unanimous votes, Youngkin offered an amendment to HB 1063 that would have instead defined religion as “all aspects of religious observance, practice, or belief.”

    Shin denounced this change of language, claiming in a statement posted to Twitter that it “perverts the intention of this legislation and the legislative body.” After maintaining that Youngkin “hijacked my bill to push his own insidious, right-wing agenda,” Shin unveiled the hashtag #GetYourOwnDamnBill to highlight her disapproval of the amendment. 

    Last week Gov Youngkin aka Wolf in Fleece Clothing™ amended my bill HB1063.

    I’m furious he hijacked my bill to push his own insidious, right-wing agenda. Maybe I should be used to it by now but nah I’m still appalled by his recklessly divisive policies.#GetYourOwnDamnBillpic.twitter.com/f41xQgV5Ah— irene shin ???????? (@ireneshintweets) April 21, 2022

    “The practical implications of the Governor’s amendment would be to create legal protections for discriminatory and bigoted policies, acts and beliefs under the guise of religion,” she continued.

    “The fact that this Administration would co-opt a universally approved bipartisan measure designed to ensure equal protections and weaponize it to advance their agenda of discrimination and division, while sadly unsurprising, is still appalling.”

    Although the governor’s amended version of HB 1063 passed the Republican-controlled House of Delegates in a vote of 52-48 last month, it was not taken up by the Democrat-controlled Senate in time for the governor’s action deadline.   

    HB 1063 was one of 23 bills Youngkin signed into law Friday, as the regular session of the 162nd Virginia General Assembly came to a close. He acknowledged that “while most of these bills were returned to me in an imperfect form, I firmly believe they offer a bipartisan path forward.”  The governor vetoed an additional seven bills sent to him by the legislature.


    BREAKING: San Francisco archbishop bars Speaker Nancy Pelosi from Holy Communion

    CHRIS PANDOLFO | May 20, 2022

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has been barred from receiving Holy Communion in the Archdiocese of San Francisco because of her increasingly “extreme” position on abortion, Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone announced Friday.

    In a “letter to the faithful,” the archbishop wrote that after repeated attempts to speak with Pelosi and persuade her to adhere to the Catholic Church’s teaching that life begins at conception and abortion is a sin, he has determined to place her under public church discipline.

    “Unfortunately, Speaker Pelosi’s position on abortion has become only more extreme over the years, especially in the last few months,” Cordileone wrote. “Just earlier this month she once again, as she has many times before, explicitly cited her Catholic faith while justifying abortion as a ‘choice,’ this time setting herself in direct opposition to Pope Francis.”

    He quoted a statement Pelosi made to the Seattle Times earlier this month in which she fumed over the leaked draft Supreme Court majority opinion that would uphold Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban and overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

    “The very idea that they would be telling women the size, timing or whatever of their family, the personal nature of this is so appalling, and I say that as a devout Catholic,” Pelosi said. “They say to me, ‘Nancy Pelosi thinks she knows more about having babies than the Pope.’ Yes, I do. Are you stupid?”

    “After numerous attempts to speak with her to help her understand the grave evil she is perpetrating, the scandal she is causing, and the danger to her own soul she is risking, I have determined that the point has come in which I must make a public declaration that she is not to be admitted to Holy Communion unless and until she publicly repudiate her support for abortion ‘rights’ and confess and receive absolution for her cooperation in this evil in the sacrament of Penance,” the archbishop announced.

    “Please know that I find no pleasure whatsoever in fulfilling my pastoral duty here. Speaker Pelosi remains our sister in Christ. Her advocacy for the care of the poor and vulnerable elicits my admiration. I assure you that my action here is purely pastoral, not political,” he said, asking faithful Christians to continue to pray for her.

    The announcement that Pelosi would be denied communion is the culmination of a years-long conflict between the speaker, a self-described devout Catholic, and her archbishop on the abortion issue. Last year, Cordileone issued a missive condemning “the evil of abortion” and suggesting that an “erring Catholic” who continues to support abortion rights after being confronted by their pastor must be temporarily excluded from communion.

    Pelosi has said that overturning Roe would be an “abomination” and that should the Supreme Court do so, it would be “one of the worst and most damaging decisions in modern history.” She and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) have led Democrats in support of a radical abortion bill that would wipe out state pro-life laws and dramatically expand abortion access by codifying Roe into federal law.

    Islamic cleric reportedly defends killing of Nigerian Christian woman: ‘Here we kill’


    Reported By Ian M. Giatti, Christian Post Reporter | Wednesday, May 18, 2022

    Read more at https://www.christianpost.com/news/islamic-cleric-defends-murder-of-christian-woman-report.html/

    College student Deborah Emmanuel Yakubu was stoned to death in Sokoto, Nigeria on May 12, 2022. | Facebook via Morning Star News

    A Muslim cleric in northern Nigeria reportedly defended the murder of a Christian woman over false accusations that she committed blasphemy, which is punishable by death under Islamic law.

    Deborah Emmanuel Yakubu was fatally beaten and burned on May 12. She was accused of sending blasphemous messages to a group chat after refusing to date a Muslim boy.

    A purported video of her killing showed an angry mob vandalizing cars and other targets while shouting “Allah akbar” as Yakubu’s apparent body is burned underneath a pile of objects.

    In response to Yakubu’s murder, Bello Yabo, an Islamic cleric in the Nigerian state of Sokoto, is alleged to have called on Muslims to kill anyone who “insults the prophet,” according to global persecution watchdog International Christian Concern (ICC). 

    ICC’s report didn’t name the cleric, however, an ICC spokesperson told CP that the group’s field staff stated that Yabo is the cleric who made the comments.

    ICC’s translation of Yabo’s comments quotes him as saying: 

    “A young person in Sokoto insulted Allah’s prophet yesterday. In Sokoto we kill such. We don’t tolerate such idiocy in Sokoto. This is not Kano, which is a commercial center, where someone called the prophet names, including being an adulterer. They have been dragging about it.

    “Here we kill. When you touch the prophet we become mad people. No talk of a person being out of his mind. Kill him!

    “Anyone who touches the prophet, no punishment. Just kill! Even if the person repents or recants, forgiveness is God’s business. We must kill such. Out of his mind, but buys a device, data, opens social media and insults the prophet? Kill him! Don’t report as a grievance to any authority. Kill him! Even if he is an Islamic teacher, much less a useless rascal.

    “Like Shehu Usman Dan Fodio, we are Mujahedeen (holy warriors) and Jihadists.

    “No compromise.

    “Allah curse whoever touches the prophet. Those of you who displayed your wrath, Allah bless you. Kill and disperse!”

    Yakubu was a student at Shehu Shagari College of Education and a member of the Evangelical Church Winning All denomination. She was accused of sending a message to a school WhatsApp group that her classmates interpreted as blasphemous. 

    “Deborah Emmanuel was complaining in a class WhatsApp group chat, kicking against how they discriminate against Christians in the school in areas of assignments and test in favor of the Muslims,” a local pastor told Morning Star News. “This is what they used as a yardstick to say she insulted Muhammad. She didn’t insult prophet Muhammad, but it was discovered that she turned down a Muslim proposal to date her. That led to him accusing her of insulting prophet Muhammad.”

    Yakubu’s father, Emmanuel Garba, told local media outlets his daughter’s violent death was “an act of God.”

    Garba said the family is looking for answers after the tragedy.

    “We can’t say or do anything, except to take it easy as an act of God. We have left all to God, we have decided to take it like that,” Garba was quoted as saying in an interview with the Nigerian newspaper Daily Post

    He also said he paid the equivalent of nearly $300 to transport his daughter’s corpse back home to the Tungan Magajiya in Rijau local government area of the Niger State so he could bury his daughter.

    Her mother, Alheri Emmanuel, told reporters none of the family’s seven surviving children would attend school again to prevent further tragedy.

    “What has happened to me is my cross, and I will surely carry it, but none of my seven surviving children will go to school again,” she was quoted as telling Vanguard newspaper.

    Police arrested two Muslim men in Yakubu’s death, which sparked riots in Nigeria’s Sokoto state, where a mob of Muslims have vandalized three church buildings and damaged and looted Christian-owned shops.

    Holy Family Catholic Cathedral, St. Kevin’s Catholic Church and an Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) building were attacked on May 14, according to ICC. 

    “Hundreds of Muslims here in Sokoto this morning converged at various points in the city to protest the arrest of two Muslims who were involved in the killing of Deborah,” area resident Angela Anthony was quoted as telling Morning Star News. “In spite of efforts by the police and other security agencies to prevent them from becoming violent in their protest, these Muslims still succeeded in attacking and destroying.”

    The Rev. Christopher Omotosho, the spokesman for Sokoto Diocese, said the protestors also shattered the windows of the diocese’s Bishop Lawton Secretariat and vandalized a bus parked on the premises. Additionally, vandals attacked the diocese’s Bakhita Centre and set a bus on fire. 

    Residents of Sokoto told Morning Star News that they’re asking for prayer even as church leaders of the ECWA and the Christian Association of Nigeria are demanding justice from the government.  

    Reverend Joseph Daramola, a leader in the Christian Association of Nigeria, responded to the violence in a statement last Friday. 

    “It is the failure of the security agencies and the government to rise to such criminalities in the past that gave birth to terrorists and bandits,” he said. “As long as the state fails to bring these beasts and criminals amidst us to book, so also the society will continue to be their killing fields.”

    Islamic militants, including radical Fulani herdsmen and the terror groups Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province, routinely target Nigeria’s Christians for kidnapping and even murder. 

    In 2021, ICC designated Nigeria as one of the world’s “Persecutors of the Year,” calling the African country “one of the deadliest places on Earth for Christians.”

    Anywhere from 50,000 to 70,000 Christians have been killed in Nigeria since 2000, according to the ICC report.

    Open Doors USA, which monitors persecution in over 60 countries, reported that at least 4,650 Christians were killed between Oct. 1, 2020, and Sept. 30, 2021, an increase from 3,530 the previous year. Additionally, more than 2,500 Christians were kidnapped, up from 990 just one year earlier.

    Hedieh Mirahmadi Op-ed: Be very wary of the US thought police


    Commentary By Hedieh Mirahmadi, Exclusive Columnist | Thursday, May 12, 2022

    Read more at https://www.christianpost.com/voices/be-very-wary-of-the-us-thought-police.html/

    It was astonishing when I first read about the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Disinformation Governance Board.

    In my 20 years of government service fighting terrorism, the most complicated element of our work was protecting the sanctity of free speech while preventing radicalization. We watched young Americans leave their families to either marry a stranger or die in a foreign war but could do nothing about it because they had not committed a crime. They believed the persuasive pleas of the recruiters and wanted to be part of something bigger than themselves.

    Civil rights groups, free speech activists, and others were very wary of our efforts. They claimed we were infringing on religious freedom and free speech by monitoring the recruiters’ activity. Back then, the social media giants wanted no part in censoring online profiles unless they advocated the violent overthrow of the U.S. or encouraged acts of violence. We understood it as Americans; we are not in the business of policing ideas, however unpopular they may be.

    The Supreme Court even established “an imminent threat” standard to ensure we did not regulate grossly unpopular or hateful speech. So, it was not until groups like ISIS and Al-Shabab were officially designated as foreign terrorist organizations that criminal charges could be imposed for recruitment and/or material support. 

    Fast forward to today, and this new board is tasked with addressing the threat of disinformation. The repeated use of the word “threat” by DHS Secretary Mayorkas should be a cause for concern. It purposely creates connectivity between disinformation and the potential for physical harm, so there is a crime that can be investigated and eventually prosecuted.

    We already have laws to address any potential harm stemming from intentionally providing false information. There are civil penalties in defamation and slander cases and criminal charges for perjury or obstruction of justice against government officials. However, the Constitution does not allow the government to punish the exaggeration of a story or having a different opinion from the cultural norm.

    Look, for example, at all the controversy surrounding the Hunter Biden laptop. What was commonly touted as a wacky MAGA conspiracy was eventually demonstrated to be fact. Same with the research about the utility of masks in fighting off COVID infections and the risks associated with vaccines. Just because something may sound outlandish to some does not mean it’s false. The power of free speech is that the marketplace of ideas allows our opinions to evolve and change with new data. Isn’t that how we defeated slavery and gave women equal rights?

    This recent push to criminalize “unpopular” speech started with the backlash against the parental rights movement. Passionate and angry parents at school board meetings triggered the Justice Department to issue a memo about prosecuting the “threat” to school officials. Soon after, DHS issued a National Terrorism Advisory, warning of a heightened terrorism threat caused by disinformation introduced by foreign or domestic actors. Consider the language of the bulletin very carefully:

    “These threat actors seek to exacerbate societal friction to sow discord and undermine public trust in government institutions to encourage unrest, which could potentially inspire acts of violence.”

    The alarming conclusion is this: Our leading national security agency says the most significant domestic terrorism threat today is from people who share unpopular ideas with others, which could make them angry enough to commit a crime. To address this apparent threat, they create a Disinformation Governance Board to advise the operational departments of DHS on who to investigate and possibly prosecute for these alleged crimes.

    I am shocked and dismayed this is happening in the public service sector, where I dedicated most of my professional career. How is the U.S. government suddenly the arbiter of “truth?” And why is lack of public trust defined now as a potential terrorism threat?

    As if the unconstitutionality of regulating truth in the public square was not bad enough, the choice to govern the Disinformation Board makes it obvious who is the intended target of this effort. Nina Jankowicz, a clearly left-leaning social activist, has already labeled opponents of CRT “disinformers” and considers gender-based harassment online to be a national security threat, equal to terrorism. 

    U.S. law enforcement power should never be partisan. We saw how damaging that was during the Russian collusion debacle when corruption in senior leadership tarnished the stellar reputation of the FBI. DHS and FBI officials are also never meant to be the thought police. We pride ourselves on that as Americans. Thankfully, many legislators are voicing their objections to this partisan attempt to silence opposition.

    Marsha Blackburn from Tennessee wrote to DHS that the “federal government has no place interfering with the rights of all Americans to speak publicly about their political views … In fact, the Supreme Court has made it abundantly clear that this kind of ‘core political speech’ is the primary object of First Amendment protection.” Ranking Senator Rob Portman said, “I do not believe that the United States government should turn the tools that we have used to assist our allies counter foreign adversaries onto the American people.”

    It is no secret that the U.S. has directly engaged in “disinformation” campaigns in countries worldwide to defeat communism, totalitarianism, and in many cases, terrorist recruitment. The American people should not tolerate its government now turning around to tell us what truth we can or should believe.

    As Christians, even those who try to remain “apolitical” must realize we will be the greatest casualty of this effort. Our truth about who Jesus Christ is as God incarnate and that life begins with conception can easily be weaponized against us when the arbiter does not believe in God’s word. Look at the underwhelming response by law enforcement as the radical’s torch Christian nonprofits and harass conservative Supreme Court judges at their homes. Nothing is being done to stop those crimes as if their truths or legal rights do not matter.

    There are dark days ahead of us, “For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18). 

    Hedieh Mirahmadi was a devout Muslim for two decades working in the field of national security before she experienced the redemptive power of Jesus Christ and has a new passion for sharing the Gospel.  She dedicates herself full-time to Resurrect Ministry, an online resource that harnesses the power of the Internet to make salvation through Christ available to people of all nations, and her daily podcast LivingFearlessDevotional.com.

    Pennsylvania school board votes down parent’s request to launch After School Satan Club


    Reported By Ryan Foley, Christian Post Reporter | Thursday, April 21, 2022

    Read more at https://www.christianpost.com/news/pennsylvania-school-board-votes-down-launch-of-after-school-satan-club.html/

    A Pennsylvania school district has voted against a parent’s request to launch a satanic group’s After School Satan Club at an elementary school for students who want to participate in an extracurricular program that is non-religious. In an 8-1 vote Tuesday, the Northern York County School Board based in Dillsburg, Pennsylvania, rejected the request to establish an “After School Satan Club” at the district’s Northern Elementary School.

    The agenda for Tuesday’s meeting indicates that Samantha Groome sought to establish the club on a “probationary basis.”video clip of the school board meeting, obtained by the York Daily Record, shows parents and others gathered in the crowd standing up and erupting into applause after the effort to create the satanic club was defeated.

    Groome said she wanted her children to be able to participate in extracurricular activities, but sought a secular alternative to the Joy El Christian club, which operates at nine of the 16 school districts in the county and offers off-campus activities. 

    While an After School Satan Club will not come to fruition in Northern York County, Pennsylvania, other school districts in the country have embraced the extracurricular programs sponsored by the Satanic Temple. Earlier this year, Jane Addams Elementary School in Moline, Illinois, received criticism for handing out flyers promoting the After School Satan Club. 

    A logo for the After School Satan program. | Satanic Temple of Seattle

    The Moline-Coal Valley School District defended its decision to allow the club to operate at one of its elementary schools. Noting that it “does not discriminate against any groups who wish to rent our facilities, including religious-affiliated groups,” the district explained that “religiously affiliated groups are among those allowed to rent our facilities for a fee.” 

    The district pointed to the Good News Club, which it described as “an after-school child evangelism fellowship group,” as an example of a religious organization that it allows to use its facilities even though it doesn’t endorse its message. 

    According to the Satanic Temple’s website, “the After School Satan Clubs meet at select public schools where Good News Clubs also operate.” Other school districts that host After School Satan Clubs include Lebanon City School District in Lebanon, Ohio, which also faced intense pushback for allowing the Satanic Temple to host an after-school activity for elementary school children. 

    June Everett, who serves as a minister of Satan at the Satanic Temple and is the campaign director of the After School Satan Club, announced that the club would begin meeting at William Bruce Elementary School in Eaton, Ohio, in February. Everett stressed that “ASSC is ONLY in schools that have a Good News Club or other religious club operating after hours.” 

    Everett listed the presence of the extracurricular program LifeWise Academy, a “released time religious instruction program focused on Bible-based character education,” at the school as justification for seeking to launch an After School Satan Club there. She also posted a flyer advertising the After School Satan Club at William Bruce Elementary School.  

    The flyer touted some of the activities participants would engage in, including “science projects,” “puzzles games,” and “arts and crafts projects,” and listed “benevolence and empathy,” “critical thinking,” “problem solving,” “creative expression” and “personal sovereignty” as concepts children will learn there. It also asserted that the United States Constitution protects the After School Satan Club’s right to distribute flyers on public school grounds.

    “The United States Constitution requires schools to respect the right of all external organizations to distribute flyers to students at school if the school permits any such organization to distribute flyers. Accordingly, the school cannot discriminate among groups wishing to distribute flyers at school and does not endorse the content of any flyer distributed at school.”

    The After School Satan Club contends that the U.S. Supreme Court precedent gives it the right to hold meetings on public school grounds after hours: “The Supreme Court ruled in 2001 in the case of Good News Club v. Milford Central School that schools operate a ‘limited public forum’ and that, as such, they may not discriminate against religious speech should a religious organization choose to operate an After School Club on their premises.” 

    The After School Satan Club Handbook insists that the group is “not offering any materials or lectures to your child about satanism.” The handbook cites “free inquiry and rationalism” as the focus of the club, adding: “While the classes are designed to promote intellectual and emotional development in accordance with TST’s tenets, no proselytization or religious instruction takes place.”

    A video on the After School Satan Club’s website features a song titled “My Pal Satan,” which includes lyrics declaring, “Satan’s not an evil guy, he wants you to learn and question why, he wants you to have fun and be yourself and by the way, there is no Hell.” Additionally, the song maintains that “Satan’s not a scary guy, he wants you to share and to be kind.”

    “When all is said and done, Satan doesn’t actually exist,” the song continues. “He’s an imaginary friend who can teach us how to live.” 

    Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com

    ‘Fasting from Whiteness’: Woke church in Illinois says during Lent it is avoiding music and liturgy created by whites


    Reported by ALEX NITZBERG | April 05, 2022

    Read more at https://www.conservativereview.com/fasting-from-whiteness-woke-church-in-illinois-says-during-lent-it-is-avoiding-music-and-liturgy-created-by-non-whites-2657103238.html/

    The website of a woke church in Illinois says that during Lent the church will not utilize any music or liturgy created by white individuals. A section on the home page of the website of the First United Church of Oak Park bears the headline, “Lent 2022: Fasting From Whiteness.”

    “For Lent this year, First United is doing a mix of ‘giving something up’ and ‘taking something on.’ In our worship services throughout Lent, we will not be using any music or liturgy written or composed by white people. Our music will be drawn from the African American spirituals tradition, from South African freedom songs, from Native American traditions, and many, many more,” the website states. “For Lent, it is our prayer that in our spiritual disciplines we may grow as Christians, united in the body of Christ with people of all ages, nations, races, and origins.”

    Turning Point USA posted a photo of a church sign that bears the headline, “Fasting from Whiteness” — the sign includes the message, “This Lent we build our worship life around the voices of Black people, indigenous people, and people of color.”

    The church is unabashedly pro-LGBT, declaring on its website, “We welcome lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people into the full life and ministry of the church, including ordination, expecting and encouraging them to share their talents and gifts in the life, liturgy, leadership, and employment positions of our congregation, as our ministers, teachers, members, visitors, and friends.”

    Editor’s note: The original published version of this story contained a headline that erroneously stated that the church was avoiding liturgy created by “non-whites.” We apologize for the error.

    10 Christian converts forced to take Islamic re-education classes in Iran: report


    Reported By Anugrah Kumar, Christian Post Contributor | Monday, February 07, 2022

    Read more at https://www.christianpost.com/news/10-christian-asked-to-take-islamic-re-education-classes-in-iran.html/

    Iranian flag
    An Iranian flag flutters in front of the United Nations headquarters in Vienna, Austria, June 17, 2014. |  Reuters/Heinz-Peter Bader

    Intelligence agents in Iran’s Khuzestan Province have instructed 10 Christian converts who had been cleared of all charges to participate in “re-education” classes led by Islamic clerics, according to a watchdog report.  Agents of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps told the 10 Christians, including eight who were cleared last November of any crime in a court in Dezful, on Jan. 29 that they will have to attend 10 sessions with Islamic clerics to “guide them back onto the right path,” Article 18, a nonprofit that promotes religious freedom and tolerance for Christians in Iran, reported

    The IRGC had summoned more converts, but they didn’t appear. However, those who didn’t appear were called and asked why they hadn’t appeared.

    The IRGC arrested four converts in the southwestern city of Dezful last April and charged them with “propaganda against the Islamic Republic” because they participated in a house church, according to an earlier report from Article 18. The IRGC also summoned other Christian converts for interrogation at the time. The four arrested had personal property confiscated for nearly six months, including necessary items for their children’s schoolwork, laptops and mobile phones.

    The U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern states that the “mandatory Islamic re-education classes directly conflict with the rulings of the Civil and Revolutionary Court of Dezful that said the group ‘merely converted to a different religion.’”

    “The court noted that this apostasy could be punished under Islamic Sharia law but was ‘not criminalized in the laws of Iran,’” ICC noted in a statement

    In reference to other charges that Iranian Christians often face, the courts also ruled they “didn’t carry out any propaganda against other groups,” ICC added.

    In 2021, Revolutionary Guards were responsible for 12 of the 38 documented incidents of Christians being arrested or their homes and churches being raided, Article 18 noted.

    “So-called ‘re-education’ sessions have become much more common in recent years, even appearing in the list of ‘corrective punishments’ on official court papers,” Article 18 detailed.

    Converts from Islam to Christianity are most at risk of persecution in Iran, especially by the government and to a lesser extent by society and their families, Open Doors USA states in a fact sheet on Iran. 

    “The government sees the growth of the church in Iran as an attempt by Western countries to undermine Islam and the Islamic regime of Iran, the fact sheet states. “House groups made up of converts from Muslim backgrounds are often raided, and both their leaders and members have been arrested, prosecuted and given long prison sentences for ‘crimes against national security.’”

    Iran is an Islamic republic, and Shia Islam is the official religion of the country. It is illegal for Muslim citizens to convert or renounce their religious beliefs. Conversion from Islam is considered a crime punishable by death. It is also unlawful for Christians to share the Gospel with Muslims. Proselytizing is also a criminal offense. Those who convert to Christianity usually practice their faith in secret. However, in 2020, a survey of about 50,000 Iranians over the age of 20 found that 1.5% of respondents identify as Christian. Applied across Iran’s population of more than 80 million, the number of Christians in Iran is “without doubt in the order of magnitude of several hundreds of thousands and growing beyond a million,” the Netherlands-based secular research group GAMAAN, stated after the study.

    Iran ranks as the 9th worst country globally when it comes to Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USA’s 2021 World Watch List. Iran is listed by the U.S. State Department as a “country of particular concern” for engaging in severe violations of religious freedom. 

    North Korea no longer the worst persecutor of Christians on Open Doors’ World Watch List


    Reported By Ryan Foley, Christian Post Reporter | Wednesday, January 19, 2022

    Read more at https://www.christianpost.com/news/north-korea-no-longer-worst-persecutor-of-christians-open-doors.html/

    Taliban
    Taliban fighters atop vehicles with Taliban flags parade along a road to celebrate after the US pulled all its troops out of Afghanistan, in Kandahar on September 1, 2021 following the Taliban’s military takeover of the country. | JAVED TANVEER/AFP via Getty Images

    For the first time in over 20 years, North Korea is not listed as the worst country in the world when it comes to Christian persecution on watchdog Open Doors USA’s influential World Watch List.

    Afghanistan has replaced North Korea as “the most dangerous place on the planet to be a Christian” on Open Doors USA’s 2022 World Watch List, released at a virtual press conference Wednesday morning. 

    Open Doors CEO David Curry said that his organization, which monitors persecution in over 60 countries, takes into account “on-the-ground expert consensus about what’s happening around the world to Christians who are targeted simply for their faith.”

    The World Watch List measures “pressure, intolerance and violence against the Christian faith worldwide.”

    “The 2022 World Watch List reveals the most seismic changes in the history of our research,” Curry said. “For the first time ever, Afghanistan is the most dangerous place on the planet to be a Christian, coming in at No. 1 on the World Watch List. It has supplanted North Korea, which is now No. 2, for the first time in 20 years.”

    Curry clarified that “North Korea has not gotten better” but rather that “Afghanistan has gotten worse.”

    The ranking comes months after the Taliban Islamic radical insurgency retook control of the Central Asian country after the United States withdrew its military presence.  Curry shared the personal story of a young Afghan woman who “fled for her life and went into hiding” after the Taliban took control of the country. The woman finds herself in particular danger because she is both a female and a Christian. Curry recalled a conversation Open Doors had with her and retold it from her perspective. 

    “A few years ago, the Taliban came, and they took my father away because he was a Christian. They tortured him for months and then killed him. A few months later, my brother also disappeared, and we’ve never heard from [him] again.”

    “It’s no doubt that she knows where her fate is, and thus she and her mother are now on the run,” Curry said. 

    The human rights advocate maintained that the Taliban’s recapturing of Afghanistan led to a global rise in Islamic extremism that extends beyond its borders.

    “In September, shortly after the Taliban seized control, a list was circulated with the names of prominent Christians. Somehow, this list fell into the hands of the Taliban,” he said.

    “Those listed were among the first to be hunted,” he continued. “The Taliban’s interpretation of Islam considers Christians to be traitors, enemies of the state, enemies of the tribe and community. They are infidels from Islam, and in their mind, the punishment is death.”

    Curry declared that every Christian who remains in Afghanistan “is either on the run or in hiding.”

    He shared testimony from another Afghan Christian Open Doors USA spoke with, asserting that “the Taliban are going door-to-door and snatching young girls and destroying … families.” 

    Assessing the state of religious freedom worldwide, Curry said Open Doors’ data shows that “free societies” that protect freedom of conscience, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are “facing a war against hatred and discrimination on two separate fronts.”

    “The one battle is against tribal, religious and nationalistic extremists that’s sweeping the globe,” he described. “And there’s a second battle against authoritarian regimes who are deploying sophisticated systems of surveillance, censorship and punishment of anyone who believes or worships outside of a strictly enforced boundary.”

    “Today, religious extremists and the governments they control or influence lead the World Watch List for the first time,” he said, adding that “extremism and tribalism are skyrocketing” along with “related incidents of harassment against Christians.”

    “Nine of the top 10 countries on the World Watch List are run or influenced by radical Islamists or Hindu extremists,” Curry stated. 

    The only exception is North Korea, which is run by a “murderous dictator with a communist ideology.”

    In addition to Afghanistan and North Korea, Somalia, Libya, Yemen, Eritrea, Nigeria, Pakistan, Iran and India rounded out the World Watch List’s top 10 “countries where it’s most difficult to follow Jesus.”

    “Our report shows that 360 million Christians globally now suffer high levels of persecution and discrimination. That’s one in seven Christians worldwide,” he lamented.

    Curry emphasized that the World Watch List “also illustrates the challenges … to freedom of conscience and expression for all people, whether they have a religious faith or … consider themselves an atheist or just have different views from the majority of their culture.”

    The list contains a total of 50 countries where persecution of Christians is either “extreme” or “very high.”

    Open Doors USA determined that the top 10 countries on the list, as well as Saudi Arabia, have “extreme” levels of Christian persecution while the remaining 39 have a “very high” amount of persecution. While the countries on the list are primarily located in Asia and Africa, a handful of countries in the Western hemisphere made it on the list.

    Mexico, located directly south of the U.S., is ranked as the 43rd most dangerous country for Christians because of “organized crime and corruption.” Cuba came in as the 37th most challenging country for Christians because of “dictatorial paranoia.”

    The complete report, which contains detailed examples of religious freedom violations in each country on the list, is available on the Open Doors USA website.

    Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com

    Tony Perkins Op-ed: Military works to boot Christian ‘extremists’ from its ranks


    Commentary by Tony Perkins, CP Op-Ed Contributor | Thursday, January 13, 2022

    Read more at https://www.christianpost.com/voices/military-works-to-boot-christian-extremists-from-its-ranks.html/

    Military Chaplains
    Bishops speak with military chaplains in New Orleans in this file photo. | (Photo: ENS / Sarah Bartenstein)

    January 6 was a convenient background for a lot of Democrats, but especially the ones in Joe Biden’s Department of Defense. To them, it was a chance to highlight the dangers of conservatives — and fight to get them out of the ranks, once and for all.

    Gearing up to the riot’s one-year anniversary in December, Press Secretary John Kirby warned that new rules on “extremist activity” were coming. “As Secretary [Lloyd] Austin has emphasized, the department is focused on prohibited activity, not on a particular ideology thought or political orientation. The department has always maintained a distinction between thoughts and actions.” So they say. But behind the camouflage, FRC’s Lt. General (Ret.) Jerry Boykin argues, is a different agenda entirely. And it’s not about weeding out extremism — it’s about weeding out the people of faith and principle.

    “First of all,” he warned, “nobody in the [DOD] can define extremism. And because this is so ill-defined and because there are so many nebulous things associated with [it], what you’re going to see if that they’re going to start adding to it. And even though they say that they’re not after ideology — they’re not after people’s ideas or people’s faith or people’s leanings politically — that’s just simply not true. [They’re] going to start adding groups like ours — the Family Research Council — as an ‘extremist group,’ telling our troops, ‘You cannot be associated with them, because we stand [things like] biblical marriage.”

    How does he know? Because it’s happened before. Remember, Joe Biden served under Barack Obama for eight years — and in that time, the duo turned America’s government into one of the most vicious, anti-faith institutions the country had ever seen. During the wave of “diversity training” in Obama’s second term, organizations like the American Family Association were on a hit list of “hate groups” that service members were ordered not to follow or engage. If they did, there would be consequences. If you’re associated with them, the military said, you’re risking a court-martial and dishonorable discharge.

    So, this isn’t an empty threat. It’s not hypothetical. It’s already happened. Only now, unfortunately, it’s starting to progress. Thanks to radical groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), who’ve partnered with the Biden administration in this extremist witch hunt, it’s not going to stop with organizations like American Family Association, Family Research Council, or Alliance Defending Freedom. Under the Defense Department’s new regulation, just released before Christmas, anyone with a natural view of “gender identity or sexual orientation” or any other biblical truth that is politically incorrect could be labeled as an extremist.

    Consider what these new regulations will eventually do to chaplains who are endorsed by religious denominations that actually believe the Bible. These chaplains will silence themselves on a growing list of “untouchable” issues or they will be silenced by the military for these teaching, which they’ve labeled “extreme.”

    General Boykin has seen a lot of things, but he says he’s “more concerned about our military today” than he’s ever been in his life. He points to the vaccine mandates and the good people our country is losing. “We’re recruiting the wrong people, and we’re [kicking] out the right people. We’re upside-down in the military today, and this is going to destroy our [force] if somebody doesn’t step in and turn this around. And I hope that will be Congress in 2022, when [Republicans] retake the House and Senate.”

    Until then, he agrees, there’s an intentional effort to purge conservatives from the ranks, and we need to stop it. Without a viable military, we live in a vulnerable America. And obviously, if Democrats can’t succeed in abolishing our force, like the Marxist squad wants, then they’ll settle for the next best thing: hallowing it out until it’s nothing but an empty shell.

    We can’t sit on the sidelines and watch. We’ve got to be engaged — and even more so now, when things aren’t going the direction we want. When we see these threats against our freedoms, it’s all the more reason to be active, informed, and hopeful — because we’re anchored in the truth. And that hope doesn’t change. It doesn’t come around every four years. It’s new every morning as we see the glory and goodness of the Lord.


    Originally published at the Family Research Council. 

    Tony Perkins is president of the Family Research Council.

    Over 400 million Christians live in ‘lands of persecution’: human rights activist


    Reported By Michael Gryboski, Christian Post Reporter | Thursday, January 06, 2022

    Read more at https://www.christianpost.com/news/over-400-million-christians-in-lands-of-persecution-activist.html/

    Iraqi Christians
    Reuters/Thomas Peter

    More than 400 million Christians live in countries that persecute churches — and that persecution is only worsening, according to the leader of a Roman Catholic human rights organization based in Italy.

    Alessandro Monteduro, director of ACS-Italia, the Italian chapter of Aid to the Church in Need, told Vatican News in an interview published last week that there were around 416 million Christians who live “in lands of persecution.”

    “I want to clarify that ‘living in lands of persecution’ does not mean ‘persecuted,’ but living in a land of persecution, however, exposes you daily to risks that may arise due to the behavior of the persecutors,” explained Monteduro, as rendered by Google translate.

    “Unfortunately, all the reports of the charity agencies, but also those reports that involve the states most willing to do so, such as the United States and Great Britain, tell of a tightening of their conditions.”

    Monteduro also told Vatican News that in “certain areas of the planet,” such as the continent of Africa, “the suffering of Christian communities is worsening” due to religious intolerance.  

    “Across Africa, from sub-Saharan Africa to East Africa, there are at least a couple of dozen terrorist organizations that have the ambition, from their point of view, to install caliphates in their territories,” he continued.

    He also spoke of violent persecution in India due to local fears that Christian groups are trying to convert Hindus to Christianity, adding that there was “too much indifference to these tragedies.”

    Monteduro’s concerns over the rising intolerance of Christianity in Africa were echoed by the ecumenical Christian group Release International and its Persecution Trends 2022 report.

    Release International cited multiple African countries, as well as the nations of India and North Korea, as regions that were “of growing concern” for local Christian communities.

    In 2021 in Burkina Faso, for example, local Islamic terrorists engaged in a host of attacks on churches, including bombings, school burnings, assaulting places of worship and murders.

    Release International also expressed concern about Afghanistan, which was recently taken over by the Taliban shortly after the U.S. pulled its troops out but left its military equipment.

    “In 2022, there is a very real threat of higher levels of violent persecution in Afghanistan,” stated Release International CEO Paul Robinson, as part of the report.

    “Our partners tell us that Christians who are unable to follow the outward forms of Islam, such as praying at the mosque and saying the shahada, the Islamic profession of faith, will stand out more clearly.”

    Follow Michael Gryboski on Twitter or Facebook

    A 2021-Wearied World Can Still Rejoice Over The Same Old ‘Thrill Of Hope’


    Posted BY: KYLEE ZEMPEL | DECEMBER 20, 2021

    Read more at https://thefederalist.com/2021/12/20/a-2021-wearied-world-can-still-rejoice-over-the-same-old-thrill-of-hope/

    thrill of hope at Jesus' birth, nativity scene

    In your despair and weariness this tired Christmas, embrace the thrill of hope and the glorious morn it brings.

    KYLEE ZEMPELVISIT ON TWITTER@KYLEEZEMPELMORE ARTICLES

    Less than a week out from Christmas, we’re once again steeped in the season that compels us to marvel at the incarnation, bustle to and fro with family and friends, and radiate all the levity our hearts can muster. Yet if there’s one word that best encapsulates many dispositions as 2021 comes to a close, it’s “weary.” Although we’re closing the chapter on another year, it doesn’t feel like any of the tiring stories are ending.

    Covid-19 is still with us after two grueling years, and it’s poised to be the forever pandemic. Many churches and schoolchildren remain masked and socially distant. Gas and grocery prices are up, and wallets are lighter. Afghanistan and our borders are still in shambles. Small businesses in cities such as Kenosha are still trying to rebuild in the absence of justice for senseless destruction. Family activities are less light-hearted after traumas like the Waukesha Christmas parade replaced euphoria with fear. Broken families in Middle America are picking up the pieces after tornados leveled their homes and took loved ones. Others lost their livelihoods for having a different opinion on vaccines than the president and the other people in charge.

    Around every corner lurks another obstacle, driving even optimists to wonder when the next shoe will drop. Just when parents got their kids back into classrooms, they were tasked with rising up against propaganda and exposing districts that concealed sexual assault allegations. Churches were finally gathering again as God intended, yet Christians have been stuck combatting divisive and anti-gospel racial ideologies within their own ranks.

    And work is exhausting — for noble educators, needlessly understaffed nurses and doctors, business owners who can’t get people to work, truck drivers, firefighters and increasingly imperiled police officers, and medically coerced airline employees, just to name a few.

    Meanwhile, the news cycle is endlessly mired in woke absurdity, corruption, death, lies, elitist hubris, and soul-sucking diktats, and every time you start to think you can catch your breath, the bad news begins all over again. This is our reality, and it hangs heavily over us even when daily responsibilities or moments of leisure temporarily distract us.

    But there’s another reality — a reality that’s more real than any of the multitude of concerns we shoulder and wounds we nurse — and that’s the reality of eternal joys. As Christmas calls us to remember, those eternal joys were actually embodied in a holy babe, fully God yet fully man, who arrived humbly to rescue broken people from their curse of sinfulness. He arrived to live the life we could not live and die the death we no longer have to.

    The reason for this season can feel far away. The miraculous birth was in another age in a faraway place, after all. And our current struggles can make it seem inaccessible, like the realities of Christmas aren’t compatible with the realities of our troubles. How can a historical event outshine our acute despair and uncertainty?

    These dual realities bring to mind the masterful imagery of C.S. Lewis, who described heavenly things with a kind of concreteness and unfading quality that mortals can hardly fathom. In 2021, as in “The Great Divorce,” everything temporal and hellbound is gossamer — it is passing vapor and fleeting ghosts — when compared to the lasting actuality of all we find in Christ, which though now is often hidden, is as real and concrete as diamonds.

    Thus, although COVID despair and riot violence may seem far more tangible than the Christmas story, for instance, those things are not worth comparingwith the future glory that began with the birth of Jesus.

    It’s here we stand, gazing upon the swaddled Savior of the world, who was sent to a sin-stained Earth to teach his followers about their own brokenness, about the hard-to-swallow truth that their lives and their problems are like a mist, which “appears for a little time and then vanishes.”

    His path too would include temptation, loss, and eventually death. But it would also include resurrection, enabling him as the conqueror of death to pluck our helpless lives out of the pit of despair and sin, onto the Solid Rock, and into a Living Hope.

    This season and these truths recall a familiar tune:

    O Holy Night!

    The stars are brightly shining

    It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!

    Long lay the world in sin and error pining

    Till he appear’d and the soul felt its worth.

    A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices

    For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!

    This winter season as we’ve endured Thanksgiving and anticipated Christmas, it’s often been difficult to overcome this weariness and embrace joy.

    But deliverance is here. It came in a dark and dirty stable, amid government decrees, weary travels, first-time parenting, and stressful logistics of acquiring basic necessities such as shelter. Thousands of years later, our new birth is still secured by the same Messiah that was born of humble beginnings and hope still emerges in the dark and dismal places. In your despair and weariness, embrace the thrill of hope and the glorious morn it brings.

    Repent and believe. Trade your burdens and despair for hope. This is the gospel, and it is for you.


    Kylee Zempel is an assistant editor at The Federalist. She previously worked as the copy editor for the Washington Examiner magazine and as an editor and producer at National Geographic. She holds a B.S. in Communication Arts/Speech and an A.S. in Criminal Justice and writes on topics including feminism and gender issues, religious liberty, and criminal justice. Follow her on Twitter @kyleezempel.

    Democrats’ Massive Entitlement Plans Include Banning Christians From Government Childcare


    Reported By Joy Pullmann | DECEMBER 13, 2021

    Read more at https://thefederalist.com/2021/12/13/democrats-massive-entitlement-plans-include-banning-christians-from-government-childcare/

    Democrats’ current proposed $3.5 trillion welfare expansion would effectively ban faithful Christians from profiting from federal subsidies for separating infants and toddlers from their families. The current text of Democrats’ massive “Build Back Better” entitlement bill contains provisions that would require religious child-care providers to disavow longstanding theology about sex in order to receive federal child-care funds under a massive new early childhood program.

    “The Democrats went out of their way to make sure and prohibit religious care providers from receiving any of these funds, and unanimously rejected an amendment to allow all child-care providers to be eligible for grants, including religious providers,” said Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Indiana, the ranking member on the House’s subcommittee on Worker and Family Support.

    Democrats’ legislation would create a new federally controlled child-care entitlement available to the majority of families in the nation. The legislation authorizes up to $20 billion in the program’s first year, $30 billion in its second, $40 billion in its third, and an unlimited amount after that. The estimated cost of this program over the next ten years is $400 billion.

    “Making faith-based providers of child-care and pre-kindergarten into recipients of federal financial assistance triggers federal compliance obligations and non-discrimination provisions,” note the leaders of several religious organizations in an opposition letter to Senate Democrats last week.

    This means potentially forcing religious organizations to deny all theology that acknowledges basic truths about human biology and reproduction. Given the state of federal “nondiscrimination” law, this could include forcing religious organizations to allow males into female bathrooms, hire transgender babysitters, and teach small children that men can turn themselves into women and that theologically condemned sex acts are in fact morally good.

    Just one-third of American children younger than five are placed in center-based care, according to federal statistics. Sixty-three percent of American kids ages five and younger are cared for by family, and 11 percent by a babysitter or nanny. Most American kids ages 0 to 5 who do have regular childcare are away from their parents only part-time. Among the minority of American families who enroll young children in full-time care, 53 percent currently choose a religious facility, according to a January 2021 survey of parents from the Bipartisan Policy Center. Family care was parents’ top preference for their children, with religious-based care the second-most preferred option in the BPC poll.

    Democrats’ bill would also likely dramatically increase the costs of childcare by increasing the licensing requirements for people the government pays to babysit tiny children. Most child care workers have low education levels, but states usually don’t raise their licensing requirements because that would reduce the availability of government-controlled child care.

    Numerous studies have found that the quality of language and interaction available to a child in infancy and early childhood is extremely important to that child’s intellectual and social development. Studies have also found that frequent one-on-one interaction between a small child and his parents benefits early language development even if the child’s parents are poorly educated. This effect disappears, however, if that poorly educated mother is employed to care for many tiny children at once instead of one of her own to whom she can fully dedicate her attention and conversation time.

    Research also resoundingly finds that living with married parents provides far bigger positive benefits to children for their entire lives than does attending an early childhood program.

    Large early childhood programs are of notoriously poor quality. The major existing such program, Head Start, has failed to improve attendees’ education and life prospects in all the quality research done on the program that has spent some $250 billion from taxpayers since it began in 1965. In fact, federal research has found that children who participated in Head Start later learned less in math and behaved worse than peers who didn’t participate.

    The research that shows any long-term benefit to children of attending early childhood programs derives such results from small-scale, boutique programs that employed teachers and support staff such as doctors who were much better educated than the typical daycare or preschool employee.

    Research also shows mass programs that separate small children from their parents decrease children’s intellectual abilities and increase their aggression, risky behavior, and later likelihood of committing crimes. They also tend to erode parenting skills. The more time a small child spends away from his mother, the worse such negative effects tend to get.

    “The amount of hours spent in day care each week during the first four years of life was the key child care predictor of behavioral problems,” writes social scientist Dr. Jenet Erickson in a review of several such studies. “In fact, the statistical effect size of the relationship between day care hours and caregiver reports of behavioral problems at age four and a half was so strong that it was comparable to the effect of poverty. Importantly, these statistical effects did not diminish as children aged.”

    High-quality studies found that children who attended Tennessee’s state-run pre-K program had worse behavior and academic outcomes than children who did not. Children who attended Quebec’s universal early childcare program were 22 percent more likely to be convicted of a crime in young adulthood compared to children who did not participate in the program. Children separated from their parents in their youngest years through Quebec’s program also demonstrated greater emotional fragility that lasted into adulthood.

    “The left is at war with religion and family-centered things. They think cradle to grave, government knows best,” Walorski said.

    Walorski has sponsored legislation that would expand tax-free savings accounts families can use to pay for their own child care, tutoring, enrichment activities such as music lessons and summer camp, and more.

    ‘Kill God’: Pennsylvania church vandalized with satanic messages


    Reported By Michael Gryboski, Christian Post Reporter | Tuesday, December 07, 2021

    Read more at https://www.christianpost.com/news/kill-god-pennsylvania-church-vandalized-with-satanic-messages.html/

    pews, church
    Getty Images

    A Pennsylvania church was vandalized by unknown assailants who desecrated the property with graffiti depicting satanic symbols and the words “kill God.” The Lititz Church of the Brethren in Lancaster County was vandalized sometime between Thursday evening and Friday morning, police said, according to The Morning Call. The chalk graffiti displayed the phrases “kill God” and “hail Satan,” as well as the satanic symbol of a star inside a circle. The vandalism also featured the number 666, the biblical number for the Antichrist.

    Eric Landram, the lead pastor of Lititz Church of the Brethren, told The Christian Post on Monday that the “chalk which was used left no permanent damage and clean up was minimal.”

    Landram explained that such vandalism has not occurred on his church’s property in the past, so they are “are treating it as a one-time prank and are not concerned by the antics.” He added that apart from “what has already been reported, we have no additional comments to make at this time.”

    News of the church vandalism grabbed the attention of the editorial board for Lancaster Online, which denounced the actions as “egregiously wrong” and “especially disturbing.”

    “There is something especially disturbing about vandalism directed at a place of worship or a religious symbol. It seems designed to rattle people of faith who regard their sacred spaces as sanctuaries to which they go in times of both grief and joy,” wrote the editors.

    “There was no lasting damage to the church. But memories of the desecration likely will linger. Even if it turns out to be the work of clueless young people. Or the product of a disturbed mind.”

    The editorial board also cited a report by Axios published in October, which concluded that houses of worship of various faiths were “experiencing high amounts of vandalism, arson and other property damage.”

    “2021 is on track to exceed last year’s spike in hate crimes in the U.S., many of them linked to religious bigotry,” Axios reported.

    “The number of hate crimes reported in FY 2020 was the highest since 2001, when a wave of Islamophobia followed the 9/11 attacks, according to updated FBI data.”

    Follow Michael Gryboski on Twitter or Facebook

    In Case With Global Implications, Finland Puts Christians On Trial For Their Faith


    Reported By Joy Pullmann | NOVEMBER 23, 2021

    Read more at https://thefederalist.com/2021/11/23/in-case-with-global-implications-finland-puts-christians-on-trial-for-their-faith/

    In Case With Global Implications, Finland Puts Christians On Trial For Their Faith
    Photo Image courtesy International Lutheran Council

    Meet the man who appears to be the first in the post-Soviet Union West to be brought up on criminal charges for publishing long-held Christian beliefs. Juhana Pohjola wouldn’t be cast to play his own part if Hollywood made a movie about a bishop put on trial for his faith. The Finnish pastor has inherited a place in the church of Martin Luther, but it appears none of Luther’s pugnacity or vitriol. In person, Pohjola, 49, is forthright but unassuming, and gentle. Stereotypically, the Finn is thin and tall. He often pauses while speaking to carefully consider his next words. He listens attentively to others with far less impressive resumes.

    In more than two decades as a pastor, Pohjola has ministered to congregations as small as 30. He has spent his life building a network of faithful churches across Finland, many of which started with a few people gathered for prayer, Bible study, hymn-singing—and communion, if they can get a pastor. In an in-person interview with The Federalist, Pohjola urged fellow Christian leaders to be willing to seek out “one lost sheep” instead of crowds and acclaim.

    This is the man who appears to be the first in the post-Soviet Union West to be brought up on criminal charges for preaching the Christian message as it has been established for thousands of years. Also charged in the case that goes to trial on January 24 is Pohjola’s fellow Lutheran and a Finnish member of Parliament, Paivi Rasanen. Rasanen’s alleged crimes in a country that claims to guarantee freedom of speech and religion include tweeting a picture of a Bible verse. Potential penalties if they are convicted include fines and up to two years in prison.

    Finnish Authorities: The Bible Is Hate Speech

    Rasanen and Pohjola are being charged with “hate speech” for respectively writing and publishing a 24-page 2004 booklet that explains basic Christian theology about sex and marriage, which reserves sex exclusively for within marriage, which can only consist of one man and one woman, for life. The Finnish prosecutor claims centuries-old Christian teachings about sex “incite hatred” and violate legal preferences for government-privileged identity groups.

    Writer Rod Dreher pointed out the witch hunt nature of this prosecution: “Räsänen wrote that pamphlet seven years before LGBT was added to the national hate-speech law as a protected class. She was investigated once before for the pamphlet, and cleared — but now she’s going to undergo another interrogation.”

    Rasanen and Pohjola both have adamantly affirmed “the divinely given dignity, value, and human rights of all, including all who identify with the LGBTQ community.” Christian theology teaches that all human beings are precious, as all are made in God’s image and offered eternal life through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

    In advance of the trial, Rasanen and Pohjola have been interrogated by police for hours about their theology. Pohjola told me in the interrogation police treated Christian beliefs as thought crimes. In a statement, Rasanen noted that the police publicly admitted their interpretation of Finland’s law would make publishing the Bible a hate crime.

    “It is impossible for me to think that the classical Christian views and the doctrine of the majority of denominations would become illegal. The question here is about the core of Christian faith; how a person gets saved into unity with God and into everlasting life though the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus. Therefore, it is crucial to also talk about the nature of sin,” Rasanen told Dreher. “As we are living in a democratic country, we must be able to disagree and express our disagreement. We have to be able to cope with speech that we feel insults our feelings. Many questions are so debatable and contradictory that we have to have the possibility of discussing. Otherwise, the development is towards a totalitarian system, with only one correct view.”

    Major International Implications

    Humans rights lawyer Paul Coleman, who spoke to The Federalist from his Alliance Defending Freedom International office in Vienna, Austria, says Pohjola and Rasanen’s cases are a “canary in the coalmine” for freedom of speech across the West. ADF International is providing legal support for Pohjola and Rasanen’s cases.

    “Although all European countries have these hate speech laws, and these hate speech laws are increasingly being used against citizens for things that they say, this is the first time we’ve really seen Christians face criminal prosecution for explaining their biblical views,” Coleman said. “…It’s unprecedented. We’ve not seen attacks on free speech on this level in Europe, and that’s why they are extremely important cases, not just for the people of Finland and Paivi Rasanen and the bishop themselves, but for all of Europe. If this is upheld in one jurisdiction, we will no doubt see it in other jurisdictions as well.”

    Such “hate speech” laws exist in every European country and Western countries such as Canada and Australia, and descend from Soviet influence. Coleman called them “sleeper laws,” saying that in other countries “they could be used any time just like they are in Finland. People need to mobilize against these laws and overturn them.”

    Legally privileging certain sexual behavior has thus broken western countries’ promises of equality before the law for all citizens, as well as enabling government discrimination against citizens who exercise their free speech and religious liberty, as in the Baronnelle Stutzman and Jack Phillips cases in the United States.

    “Establishing standards of identity” also lets government meddle in theological controversies that are none of its business, said the Rev. Dr. Jonathan Shaw, who directs church relations for the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) and has known Pohjola for decades. Pohjola’s church is an international partner of the LCMS.

    From a natural law and historic Western perspective, “the government isn’t supposed to get into people’s brains and tell them what’s right and wrong to believe and say,” Shaw noted in a phone interview. “That’s not their realm. Their realm is in externals, things like protect people in their bodies, go to war when necessary, and punish criminals… This is really what’s at stake [in the Pohjola case]. Government has lost its moorings and doesn’t know its purpose.”

    From Part-Time Pastor to Bishop

    After theological study in Finland and the United States, Pohjola’s first congregation in Helsinki started with about 30 members, he says. It was only able to support him part-time at first. He remembered his wife accompanying the congregation’s hymn-singing on a piano while their firstborn daughter, a baby at the time, laid on a blanket on the floor nearby.

    Finland’s state church began openly disobeying Christian theology concerning sex differences amid the global sexual revolution of the 1960s. So, Christians alienated by the state church’s embrace of anti-Christian cultural demands sought faithful pastors like Pohjola, who are known as “confessional” for adhering to historic Christian confessions. The resulting growth of his tiny congregation gradually led to establishing a seminary, then dozens of mission churches, which grew as the theologically unfaithful state church shrank. In 2013, 25 of these new confessional congregations formed the Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of Finland. Today, that diocese oversees 45 congregations and missions and is training 64 pastors.

    That growth has been accompanied by suffering, including persecution first from Pohjola’s own church.

    First Persecuted By His Own Church

    In 2009, Pohjola was awarded the theological journal Gottesdienst’s Sabre of Boldness Award, which is granted “for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity on behalf of the Holy Church of Christ, while engaged in the confession of His Pure Gospel in the face of hostile forces, and at the greatest personal risk.” The award honored Pohjola, with other faithful Finnish pastors, for standing firm as Finland’s state church sought civil charges against them for refusing to disobey the Bible’s commands that only men be sent to lead spiritual warfare as pastors.

    Like Luther before him, Pohjola was expelled by his own church body in 2014 for adhering to God’s word on this matter. The notice of his discharge declared Pohjola was “obviously unfit to be a pastor.” At the time, he responded with grief but also by saying that he must obey God rather than men, lamenting: “Instead of the Church being purged with God’s Word, she is being purged from God’s Word.”

    In the interview last week, Pohjola said being defrocked from “his baptismal church” grieves him to this day. On his mother’s side, Pohjola said, his family includes Lutheran pastors in that church going back to the 17th century Reformation. But he could not disobey God’s commands to retain his social status or employment.

    Division or Unity? Yes

    Pohjola’s separation from Finland’s state church also had the consequence of uniting him and his flock with other confessional Christians across the globe. The International Lutheran Council is a global network of theologically unified churches, and like the confessional churches in Finland, that network is growing.

    Mathew Block, the ILC’s communications manager, noted that the heightened contradictions between increasingly unnatural pagan practices and historic Christian teachings are causing a global “confessional realignment.” It’s forcing people to make a real decision about where they stand rather than allowing them to inhabit the increasingly nonexistent, indecisive middle. This is affecting churches all over the world. While it means divisions in some areas, it also is leading to unity in others. For example, despite other important theological differences, all the world’s largest Christian bodies agree with the doctrines for which the Finnish government is persecuting Pohjola. That allows them to speak in chorus to government leaders.

    Already many dozens of top religious leaders across the world have formally raised their concerns with Rasanen and Pohjola’s prosecution to the Finnish government and the United Nations. Several U.S. members of Congress have also asked U.S. agencies to take action against Finland for these human rights abuses.

    “I encourage Roman Catholic ecclesiastical leaders and all those who care for souls to speak up and join hands and lock arms with us as we talk about the absolute necessity of our historic Christian values of one man, one woman, marriage, and the freedom to be able to believe it, to say it, to publish books about it, and find practical ways through hospitality, education, and other social engagement to make society strong that way,” Shaw said. “All churches—one could even say all religions but in particular the Roman Catholic faith—this reflects their historic commitments as well.”

    The Shepherd Faces Wolf Attacks for the Sheep

    In August 2021, the international Lutheran church recognized Pohjola’s steadfast leadership amid persecution by supporting his election to bishop of Finland’s confessional diocese. The ILC hosted Pohjola’s November 2021 speaking tour in the United States, and is raising funds across the world to raise awareness of his case.

    “Our mission has been that, if the shepherd sees that one sheep is missing, he knows,” Pohjola said of the churches he oversees. He noted that many people coming to faithful Finnish churches are seeking love and connection from a church family as the secular world becomes increasingly isolated and family-less, in no small part because of pagan sexual behavior and beliefs.

    “People don’t go to church for social capital now. This is a serious life and they want to be serious with God. So, churches have to build communities that stand on solid Lutheran, biblical doctrine,” Pohjola says.

    While he may not share Luther’s temperament, Pohjola’s response to his own persecution by church and civil authorities does mirror Luther’s simplicity four centuries ago: “Here I stand. I can do no other.” He adds a pastoral message to Christians watching governments turn on them today.

    “We have to learn from the past, Christians who have suffered under persecution, and be prepared,” Pohjola said. “But it’s not something to be worried about, because Christ remains faithful to His church and wherever he is leading us, He will come with us. He will provide everything that is needed for the future of His Christians and His church.”

    You can hear Pohjola talk about his case and its implications during his November visit to the United States here: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=413205860293995

    And watch a Federalist Radio Hour interview with Pohjola here:


    Christian Florist agrees to pay $5K to end lawsuit over refusal to serve gay wedding

    Barronelle Stutzman of Arlene’s Flowers announces retirement

    By Michael Gryboski, Christian Post Reporter | Thursday, November 18, 2021FacebookTwitterEmailPrintMenuComment121

    Barronelle Stutzman
    Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, Washington, speaks as supporters rally around her in November 2016. | (Photo: ADF/Screengrab)

    A Christian florist has agreed to pay $5,000 to end a years long legal battle centered on her refusal to provide floral arrangements for a same-sex wedding ceremony. She has also announced that she will retire so that her flower shop can be run by her employees. 

    Barronelle Stutzman of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, Washington, was sued by Rob Ingersoll, a man she had done business with in the past, because she refused to provide a floral arrangement for his same-sex wedding in 2013. Stutzman was represented by the conservative legal nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom, while Ingersoll was represented by the progressive group the American Civil Liberties Union. ACLU argued that Stutzman’s refusal was a violation of state discrimination law. The florist suffered legal defeats in lower courts before her appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was rejected earlier this year. 

    settlement has been reached in the legal case that allows Stutzman to avoid having to pay crippling fines and legal fees.  As part of the agreement, Stutzman will pay the same-sex couple $5,000 while the ADF will, in return, withdraw a petition to the Supreme Court for reconsideration.

    During a Zoom call organized by ADF Thursday afternoon, the 77-year-old great grandmother announced retirement and plans to sell Arlene’s Flowers to her employees. She also intends to support others dealing with religious liberty legal battles.

    “I’ve never had to compromise my conscience or go against my faith. I’ve met so many, many kind and wonderful people, who’ve generously offered me their prayers and encouragement and support,” she stated in a statement posted online after the Zoom call.

    “There is a great deal of division at work in our country today, but God has shown me again and again that His love is stronger than the anger and the pain so many are feeling. And He’s given me countless opportunities to share His love with others along the way.”

    In 2013, Stutzman refused to make flowers for the wedding of Ingersoll and Curt Freed because of her belief that the Bible describes marriage as exclusively between one man and one woman. In response, Stutzman was sued by the same-sex couple, with a county court issuing a fine of $1,000 and deeming her liable for thousands of dollars in legal fees. Stutzman appealed the ruling, and the Washington Supreme Court ruled in February 2017 that she violated state antidiscrimination law barring discrimination based on sexual orientation when she refused to make the floral arrangement.

    In June 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated the ruling against Stutzman and sent the case back to the state supreme court for further consideration.

    The Supreme Court cited its 7-2 ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The justices ruled that baker Jack Phillips was mistreated by the Colorado commission when he was punished for refusing to design a cake for a same-sex wedding in 2012. Same-sex marriage was not legal in Colorado at that time. However, Washington’s high court reaffirmed its earlier ruling against Stutzman in June 2019, stating that her conduct “constitutes sexual orientation discrimination.”

    In July, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case, with conservative Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch believing the nation’s high court should have accepted the appeal.

    “After Curt and I were turned away from our local flower shop, we cancelled the plans for our dream wedding because we were afraid it would happen again,” said Ingersoll in a July statement.

    “We had a small ceremony at home instead. We hope this decision sends a message to other LGBTQ people that no one should have to experience the hurt that we did.”  

    ADF General Counsel Kristen Waggoner said that the settlement should not be seen as a “surrender of Barronelle’s beliefs.”

    “Over the last eight years, Barronelle stood for the First Amendment freedoms of all Americans, even those who disagree with her about a deeply personal and important issue like marriage,” Waggoner said. “And in so doing, she’s inspired millions of others in their own public and personal battles to live their faith without government interference.”

    Waggoner further stated that Stutzman “laid the groundwork” for the Supreme Court to take on similar religious freedom cases. 

    Stutzman specifically mentioned her support for Christian web designer Lorie Smith and her company, 303 Creative. Smith pushed back on a Colorado law that she felt would require her to make services available to gay couples seeking help in creating wedding websites although same-sex weddings contradict the teachings of her faith.

    This summer, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled against Smith. Smith has appealed her case to the Supreme Court for consideration. 

    “The Supreme Court needs to affirm the right of all Americans to speak and live consistent with their conscience,” Waggoner argued. 

    Follow Michael Gryboski on Twitter or Facebook

    ‘The Gospel of Christ is at stake’: Finnish bishop facing prosecution over Christian values


    Reported By Ryan Foley, Christian Post Reporter| Thursday, November 11, 2021

    Read more at https://www.christianpost.com/news/finnish-bishop-slams-cancel-culture-the-gospel-of-christ-is-at-stake.html/

    Juhana Pohjola
    Bishop Juhana Pohjola of the Evangelical Mission Diocese of Finland, speaks at the Alliance Defending Freedom office in Washington, D.C., to discuss his prosecution for sharing a document expressing support for Christian teachings about marriage and sexuality, Nov. 10, 2021. | The Christian Post

    WASHINGTON — A Finnish religious leader facing prosecution for publishing a booklet promoting Christian teachings about marriage and sexuality is warning that “the Gospel of Christ is at stake” as Western governments liken such beliefs to hate speech. 

    The Rev. Juhana Pohjola, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland, spoke at the Alliance Defending Freedom, a religious liberty law firm, Wednesday to discuss the prosecution he faces for publishing a booklet titled Male and Female He Created Them: Homosexual relationships challenge the Christian concept of humanity.

    Paivi Rasanen, a Finnish member of parliament and medical doctor, wrote the booklet in 2004 when Finland was passing laws treating same-sex relationships as equivalent to heterosexual relationships under the law. The booklet concluded that the recognition of same-sex relationships had a detrimental effect on society. At the time of the booklet’s publication, the Finnish government was considering legislation that would enable same-sex couples to adopt children. 

    In his address at Alliance Defending Freedom, Pohjola warned that his prosecution illustrates that “the Gospel of Christ is at stake” because of postmodernism and its accompanying cancel culture and hate speech laws, which he believes have been unfairly used against him: “When postmodernism first swept over Western countries, its basic core was denial of absolute truth. The only truth was that you must allow everyone to have his or her own subjective truth.”

    “This hyper-individualism continues, but it has now a different tone. If you are against LGBTQ+ ideology, so-called diversity, equality and inclusiveness, you are not only considered to be old-fashioned … but rejected as morally evil. This is what the prosecutor general understands her duty to be, to protect fragile citizens and victims from the intolerant and hateful Christians.” 

    After expressing concern about the development of “cancel culture” in Europe and Finland,” he said he agreed with political commentators in the U.S. about “soft totalitarianism in Western countries when all aspects of life, media, business, education, culture, courts, army and church parties are taken over by the same ideology that suppresses freedom of speech and suffocates differing opinions and viewpoints.” 

    Pohjola devoted most of his speech to detailing the legal challenge he’s embroiled in. He recalled that on April 29, “the prosecutor general of Finland decided to bring charges against me and … a member of parliament, Mrs. Paivi Rasanen.” 

    The indictment accused them of “incitement to hatred against a group which falls under the section of war crimes and crimes against humanity.” Pohjola read aloud the description of his offense, which stated that he “made and maintained available to the public opinions and allegations defaming and insulting homosexuals as a group on the basis of their sexual orientation.” 

    Previously, the Helsinki Police Department “pressed charges against me and Mrs. Rasanen arguing that the pamphlet found on our webpage was discriminatory toward homosexuals” in August 2019. While “the police in charge decided to drop the case,” it ended up on the “table of the general prosecutor’s office.” Pohjola added that on Reformation Day, Oct. 31, 2019, “the prosecutor general of Finland announced that she had ordered a preliminary investigation on the subject matter.” 

    “We were suspected of being guilty of incitement to hatred against a group,” he said. The Helsinki Police Department interrogated Pohjola on Feb. 11, 2020. He noted that “the interrogation took over five hours” and described the questioning as “cordial but tough.” When asked if he was “willing to take the pamphlet away from your website in two weeks,” Pohjola said no. He told the audience that “If I had said yes, the case … probably would have been settled.”

    The booklet was one of several published by Pohjola in conjunction with the Detroit-based Lutheran Heritage Foundation. Other books in the pamphlet series discussed issues such as worship, the Lord’s Supper and sanctification. While the booklet did not generate “any media interest” at the time as “it was just one booklet among the other booklets,” it received renewed attention in recent years as the Evangelical Mission Diocese faced scrutiny for declining to embrace the “ordination of women” and what he described as “other unbiblical practices.” 

    “The series [of pamphlets] was later put on our webpage without any fuss,” Pohjola asserted in his remarks. “We handed out this Christian teaching on marriage even to all the members in the parliament.”

    “When the prosecutor general has … publicly said that she will give special attention to the hate speech cases when she steps into the office, she, of course, wants to maintain classical Western liberal freedoms of speech and religion grounded on our constitution,” he maintained. “But she interprets these rights in the light of [the] Equality and Discrimination Act.”

    Pohjola lamented that “the tendency is to interpret more broadly … vague terms like defaming and insulting speech. And the more broadly you interpret them, you do it at the expense of the freedom of speech.”

    “She will take the case if needed through as many appeals through higher courts, even on European Union level, because at [the] European Union level, European Union legislation affects also the national legislation. So, we are prepared for it as well and the judgment is important due to [the] precedent that it sets for the future free speech cases.’ 

    “Prosecutor general has taken out of the context one line from there and one from here,” he concluded. “In the police investigation … I tried to draw the big picture of the pamphlet, which consists of basic points of Christian teaching, which is clearly all found in this pamphlet.”

    Pohjola emphasized to government officials that the booklet was based on the premises that “We are all created in the image of God, we are all equal and share the inherent equality,” “We are all part of [the] fallen human race and therefore we are all sinners, homosexuals are not greater sinners than all the others, but nevertheless it is sinful to live in a homosexual relationship according to our faith,” and “according to the Christian view, sexual life is made to be in the confines of marriage between one man and woman.”

    While Pohjola stressed that “We have again and again said that we confess the God-given dignity, value and human rights of those who we identify them as homosexuals,” “we also call homosexual acts sinful and in discordance with the created order and the will of God as found in the Bible.” He believed that the prosecutor general did not accept this distinction “since sexuality is so deeply rooted in the identity of a person.”

    According to the prosecutor general’s line of thinking, “If we call the homosexual living style sinful, we deny the dignity of homosexuals. In other words, to reject homosexuality is to deny their human value as human beings and thus degrading their intrinsic worth and thus insulting them and thus defaming them. If you follow this argument to its logical conclusion, the [ramifications] for Christian teaching and religious freedom are severe.”

    Pohjola attributed his prosecution and the widespread acceptance of the aforementioned line of thinking to the rapid decline in religiosity that has come to define his country: “Finland is a modern, safe, clean, wealthy country but on the other hand, it is committing demographical suicide and is under enormous pressure to take more and more immigrants. It is secular and it has lost its Christian and Lutheran roots and families aren’t doing well,” he explained.

    “This case is only a faint echo of the cultural eruption that is taking place in Western countries,” he explained. “Although we still have the blue cross in our flag, Finland is not a Christian nation anymore. Church attendance is about 1% and maybe less. The less people know about the basic Christian teaching, the less they understand it and tolerate Christian teaching in the public square.”

    Pohjola vowed that despite the legal headwinds and consequences he may face, he would “hold on to this truth and publicly teach it no matter what the cost is not because we want to wage a cultural war in the society but to call people to repentance and through faith in Christ, receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life.” 

    When Pohjola finished speaking, Sean Nelson, legal counsel on ADF International’s Global Religious Freedom Team, discussed the legal implications of this case. Nelson reported that in many third-world and authoritarian countries, “We regularly see criminal prosecutions and convictions for blasphemy and so-called religious offense laws in these countries against many different religious minority groups including but not exclusive to Christians.” “What we see in many authoritarian countries [is] the use of blasphemy, apostasy and anti-conversion laws to force religious minorities to hide in the shadows in fear of fully practicing their faith,” Nelson lamented. “Dozens of countries are still regularly enforcing their blasphemy laws in favor of majority beliefs and against minorities.” He highlighted ADF’s mission to “support those charged with blasphemy” and seek “the worldwide repeal of such laws.”

    Nelson characterized “hate speech laws that have gathered steam in Western countries” as “secular versions of blasphemy laws.” According to Nelson, “Both laws are justified by the alleged harm that minority views, very often religious views cause to the majority, that the offense causes emotional and societal harm, even when the speaker is only sharing their genuinely held beliefs. They both work to marginalize certain views and exclude people from government and positions of influence.”

    “They both use broad, ambiguous language and definitions that make it impossible to know precisely what is prohibited and that open the door for arbitrary and biased enforcement and they’re used to coerce others to change their views so that they aren’t punished,” he added. 

    “These are also terrible precedents internationally as they provide cover to dozens of authoritarian governments that say, ‘If the west has no problem criminally prosecuting controversial speech, then what’s wrong with us doing that?’” 

    Pohjola’s speech at the ADF came on the same day that six Republican lawmakers wrote a letter to Nadine Maenza, the chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, urging her to take the Finnish government’s actions “into consideration when recommending which countries should be added to the State Department’s Special Watch List,” which consists of countries that are hostile to religious freedom.

    Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com


    US State Dept. condemns Burmese military over burning of 100 homes, churches in retaliatory attack

    By Anugrah Kumar, Christian Post Contributor| Monday, November 01, 2021FacebookTwitterEmailPrintMenuComment1

    Myanmar, Burmese military
    This aerial photo taken on October 29, 2021, show smokes and fires from Thantlang, in Chin State, where more than 160 buildings have been destroyed caused by shelling from Junta military troops, according to local media. | STR/AFP via Getty Images

    The U.S. State Department released a statement Sunday condemning the “gross violations of human rights” after Burmese security forces fired heavy artillery into a town in the predominantly Christian Chin state, setting at least 100 homes and two churches on fire. The attack was in retaliation after a Chin militia shot and killed a Burmese soldier who was breaking into houses and looting properties, according to a report.

    In its statement, the State Department said the Burmese military must be held accountable: 

    The United States is gravely concerned by reports of gross violations of human rights that Burmese security forces have perpetuated in Chin State, including reports that forces have set fire to and destroyed more than 100 residences as well as Christian churches.  We condemn such brutal actions by the Burmese regime against people, their homes, and places of worship, which lays bare the regime’s complete disregard for the lives and welfare of the people of Burma.  These abhorrent attacks underscore the urgent need for the international community to hold the Burmese military accountable and take action to prevent gross violations and abuses of human rights, including by preventing the transfer of arms to the military. 

    We are also deeply concerned over the Burmese security forces’ intensification of military operations in various parts of the country, including in Chin State and the Sagaing Region.  We call on the regime to immediately cease the violence, release all those unjustly detained, and restore Burma’s path to inclusive democracy.   

    We will continue to promote accountability for the horrific violence that has been and continues to be perpetrated by the regime against the people of Burma.  We will continue to support the people of Burma and all those working toward a restoration of Burma’s democratic path and a peaceful resolution to the crisis. 

    Nearly 10,000 residents of the town of Thantlang fled the area as the fire raged on, the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern reported.

    The Southeast Asian country’s military, locally known as Tatmadaw, started attacking Friday morning after the militia, Chinland Defense Force, killed a Tatmadaw soldier while he was looting properties.

    The presence of the Buddhist nationalist military makes civilians and militias in conflict-ridden states nervous. The military has been accused of vandalizing places of worship and civilians’ homes, raping girls and women, abducting civilians to be used for forced labor and shooting civilians to death.

    ICC quoted the India-based Chin Human Rights Organization as saying that several religious buildings, including Church on the Rock, Presbyterian Church, and a building attached to the Thantlang Baptist Church, the largest congregation in town, have also caught fire.

    “The first rockets to be fired into the town landed at the entrances to the Thantlang Baptist Church,” ICC said.

    Earlier this month, the military, which staged a coup on Feb. 1, attacked Rialti village near the Chin state’s capital of Hakha, Radio Free Asia reported at the time.

    “We see this as a war crime because wherever they go, they focus on wherever there are large numbers of people — it’s a deliberate violation of religious freedom,” Salai Za Op Lin, CHRO’s deputy executive director, said at the time.

    Op Lin noted that other Christian communities in Chin state had also been targeted since the military coup in February. “Now that the military has started a real operation in Chin state, we can expect a lot of such abuses and acts, and we urge the international community to keep a close eye on this.”

    Last month, a beloved youth pastor, Cung Biak Hum of Thantlang Centennial Baptist Church, was shot dead as he tried to help one of his congregants save their burning home after it was set ablaze by the military during an attack on civilians in Chin state.

    Information on his Facebook page showed that he was married with two sons and was pursuing a master’s of divinity degree at MIT Yangon.

    United Nations Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, Tom Andrews, highlighted the pastor’s murder in a tweet at the time, calling on the international community to “pay closer attention” to the “living hell” civilians have been experiencing there since a Feb. 1 coup brought back full military rule following years of quasi-democracy.

    Myanmar’s ethnic minorities, including Christians, live in the various conflict zones across the country’s borders with Thailand, China and India. Hundreds of thousands of civilians, many of them Christians, have been displaced due to the escalation of conflicts in the zones since the coup.

    Militias in those areas have been morally supporting pro-democracy protesters since the coup, which has led to the use of heavy weapons by the Burmese army. Thousands of civilians in the conflict zones have sought shelter in churches when their villages are under attack.

    Christians make up just over 7% of the majority-Buddhist nation. Formerly known as Burma, the country is home to the world’s longest Civil War, which began in 1948. Myanmar is ranked No. 18 on Open Doors USA’s 2021 World Watch List of 50 countries where Christians face the most severe persecution. The persecution level in Myanmar is “very high” due to Buddhist nationalism. Burma is recognized by the U.S. State Department as a “country of particular concern” for egregious violations of religious liberty. 

    “The military is notorious for its relations with the ultranationalist ultra-Buddhist group the Ma Ba Tha,” ICC’s Southeast Asia Regional Manager, Gina Goh, said in a statement earlier this year. “The military together with Ma Ba Tha has targeted the Muslims in the country, but they also go after Christians. Once they get a hold of the power, they might resort to things they were doing before they passed the power to the civilian government. They kill. They rape minority Christians.”

    Amish survived COVID-19 better than most by not locking down, ceasing church gatherings: report


    Reported By Ryan Foley, Christian Post Reporter | Wednesday, October 13, 2021

    Read more at https://www.christianpost.com/news/amish-survived-covid-19-better-than-most-by-not-locking-down.html/

    Amish
    An open Amish Buggy makes its way to town. | Getty Images

    The Amish community in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, has made it through the coronavirus pandemic without experiencing a catastrophic loss of life despite their refusal to adopt many of the safety precautions portrayed as necessary to prevent widespread loss of life, according to a new report. While officials in most U.S. cities ordered businesses and churches to close for several months in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19, the Amish continued working and never stopped worshiping together at church. 

    On her news magazine series “Full Measure” Sunday, investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson reported on the Amish community’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, which differed significantly from the approach taken by the rest of the country.

    She described the Amish as a “Christian group that emphasizes the virtuous over the superficial.” In an effort to live a “virtuous” life, many in the group refrain from driving and using electricity. 

    Attkisson traveled to Lancaster County, well-known for its large Amish population, to talk to locals about how they handled the pandemic. One person she spoke to, an Amish Mennonite named Calvin Lapp, explained: “There are three things the Amish don’t like: And that’s government; they won’t get involved in government. They don’t like the public education system; they won’t send their children to education. And … they also don’t like the health system.” 

    “Those three things are all part of what COVID is,” he said. Attkisson noted that “after a short shutdown last year, the Amish chose a unique path that led to COVID-19 tearing through at warp speed.” The community gathered for a religious celebration in May 2020, where they all took communion. 

    Lapp then described how the Amish take communion: “They dunk their wine into a cup, and they take turns to drink out of the cup. So you go the whole way down the line and everybody drinks out of that cup, so if one person has coronavirus, the rest of the church is going to get coronavirus.” 

    While he acknowledged that “everybody got coronavirus,” Lapp defended the community’s approach: “It’s a worse thing to quit working than dying. But to shut down and say that we can’t go to church, we can’t get together with family, we can’t see our old people in the hospital, we got to quit working … it’s going completely against everything that we believe.”

    About a year after the coronavirus pandemic first broke out in the U.S., national news outlets and The Associated Press wire service reported that the Lancaster County Amish community had reached herd immunity, meaning that “a large part of the population had been infected with COVID-19 and became immune.” However, precise data is difficult to come across because the Amish were hesitant to publicize coronavirus cases in their community. 

    Steve Nolt, a scholar on Amish and Mennonite culture, told Attkisson that in some cases, “Amish people … refused to go to the hospital, even when they were very sick because if they went there, they wouldn’t be able to have visitors, and it was more important to be sick, even very sick, at home and have the ability to have some people around you than to go to the hospital and be isolated.” 

    Nolt added that “even those who … believed that they had COVID tended not to get tested. Their approach tended to be ‘I’m sick, I know I’m sick, I don’t have to have someone else tell me I’m sick,’ or a concern that if they … got a positive test, they would then be asked to really dramatically limit what they were doing in a way that … might be uncomfortable for them.” 

    “There’s no evidence of any more deaths among the Amish than in places that shut down tight. Some claim there were fewer here,” Attkisson maintained. “That’s without masking, staying at home” or taking the coronavirus vaccine. 

    Lapp highlighted that the absence of a prolonged shutdown meant that the Amish “made more money in the last year than we ever did” as the rest of the country experienced economic hardships because of lockdowns. He described 2020 as “our best year ever.” 

    Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com

    Wallace B. Henley Op-ed: Authentic authority and the threat of raw power


    Commentary By Wallace B. Henley, Exclusive Columnist | Wednesday, October 13, 2021

    Read more at https://www.christianpost.com/news/authentic-authority-and-the-threat-of-raw-power.html/

    Biden and UN
    Joseph R. Biden Jr., President of the United States of America, addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventy-sixth session on Sept. 21, 2001. | UN Photo/Manuel Elías

    On Friday, leaders of 136 nations took actions that should send a chill up the spines of their citizens.

    The representatives of those countries acted on a proposal by Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to establish a global business tax.

    After recovering from my shock, questions blasted in my mind: Who gave this organization the right to implement a global business tax? Is this an ominous step toward the establishment of other worldwide regulatory mandates? At what point do other global groups act on the precedent by extending their powers into broad facets of policy that should be the purview of sovereign nations?

    President Joe Biden and Janet Yellen, secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, applauded the move.

    They had both the constitutional authority and the power to do so. However, in the Biden administration, as in others, the balance between authority and power is delicate.

    The big issue here has to do with executive authority and power, and the importance of holding it in balance.

    The Bible and the histories recorded there, reveal the differences between authentic authority and raw power:

    • Authority is granted from the higher to the lower, while raw power is seized

    As Jesus stands before the Roman magistrate, Pontius Pilate, He tells him, “You have no authority over Me at all if it had not been given to you from above.”

    • Authority is granted to those under authority, but raw power is submitted only to itself

    King Saul learns this the hard way. He refuses to honor the commands of Samuel, the High Priest, the representative of God Himself. Saul disobeys, coming out from under Samuel’s authority, and loses his kingdom.

    ·  Authority is accountable to the higher authority; raw power is accountable only to its own interests

    Though Jesus Christ is God Himself, in His incarnate existence, He acknowledges His accountability to God the Father, telling even His earthly parents that He had to give priority to His “Father’s business.”

    • Authority is sustained through healthy relationship; raw power is sustained by intimidation, manipulation, condemnation and domination

    A priority of Jesus was to be “with” His disciples, building and leading them through relationship

    • Authentic authority is in the style of servant leadership; raw power is in the style of tyrannical control

    “The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and give His life for many,” said Jesus.

    All these reveal that true leadership that has the right of power must understand that it can do so only if it respects and yields to the authority granted to it. The leader, be it a president, CEO, senior pastor, head of household — whatever — must not take authority as his or her own possession, but as a trust.

    I have watched and been fascinated by the American presidency since 1952. Both national political conventions were televised for the first time that year. As an 11 year old, I sat transfixed for hours watching the drama on our 12-inch black-white TV screen.

    Within two decades, I would be standing in the Oval Office as a member of the president’s staff watching the president model the balance between authority and power.

    In 1969, new in office, Richard Nixon had to help school systems in 11 southern states desegregate. He brought together multi-racial citizen groups from each state and authorized them with the power to implement educational equality in their own states.

    In the fall of 1970, the most sweeping desegregation in history occurred peacefully.

    Nixon had the authority, and he shared the power.

    Many still hate Nixon and his predecessor, Lyndon Johnson. However, both men took actions based on the careful balance between authority and power that should earn them respect in history, balancing whatever misdeeds attributed to them.

    Lyndon Johnson, in 1968, was deep in the morass of the Vietnam war. Cities were burning, and destructive rioting would break out during the Democrats’ summer convention in Chicago.

    Johnson, regarded by his opponents as being a thug, nevertheless sacrificed himself for the good of the nation. On March 31, 1968, on national television, Johnson declared, “I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president.”

    Six years later, mired in the Watergate scandal, Richard Nixon told the world, “I have never been a quitter. To leave the office before my term is completed is abhorrent to every instinct in my body. But as president, I must put the interest of America first. … Therefore, I shall resign the presidency.”

    Some still smirk at the very mention of Johnson or Nixon, but they were admirable in their actions. They remembered that constitutional authority is held by the people. When Johnson and Nixon faced the fact that they had lost the authorization of the people they realized they could no longer exert the powers of the Oval Office.

    These were insightful, gallant actions by two men many still hate.

    Is this in America’s future once more?

    Does the action of an international group like the OECD mean that authority and power are gravitating to the global scale?

    One hopes the Biden White House and his administration understand the nature of authentic authority and the threat of raw power.

    Wallace B. Henley’s fifty-year career has spanned newspaper journalism, government in both White House and Congress, the church, and academia. He is author or co-author of more than 20 books. He is a teaching pastor at Grace Church, the Woodlands, Texas.

    For media inquiries, contact:  ChristianPost@pinkston.co

    Canadian tribunal rules that using ‘wrong’ pronouns violates human rights, awards $30K to trans-identified woman


    Reported By Michael Gryboski, Christian Post Reporter | Tuesday, October 05, 2021

    Read more at https://www.christianpost.com/news/canadian-tribunal-using-wrong-pronouns-violates-human-rights.html/

    Pronouns, gender
    Sharon McCutcheon/Unsplash

    A Canadian human rights tribunal has ruled that a restaurant wrongfully fired an employee who demanded that the business use nonbinary pronouns, awarding the ex-employee $30,000. The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal released a ruling last week in favor of Jessie Nelson, a former employee of Buono Osteria who prefers the pronouns of they/them. At issue was the restaurant using female pronouns for Nelson, with the business firing her and claiming that she had become too “militant” in the demand to be identified as nonbinary.

    Tribunal Member Devyn Cousineau authored the opinion, concluding that the refusal to use Nelson’s preferred pronouns “amounted to discrimination.”

    “All employees have the right to a workplace free of discrimination. Trans employees are entitled to recognition of, and respect for, their gender identity and expression. This begins with using their names and pronouns correctly,” wrote Cousineau.

    “Like a name, pronouns are a fundamental part of a person’s identity. They are a primary way that people identify each other. Using correct pronouns communicates that we see and respect a person for who they are.”

    The decision contrasted the actions of someone who uses a correct pronoun at first before accommodating a person by using the individual’s preferred pronoun and someone who intentionally refuses to use the preferred pronouns of an individual who identifies as nonbinary.

    “I order Buono Osteria to include a statement in its employee policies that affirms every employee’s right to be addressed with their correct pronouns,” continued the tribunal. “I also order Buono Osteria to implement mandatory training for all staff and managers about human rights in the workplace. This training should be no less than two hours. I understand that Jessie Nelson has recommended a well‐regarded training provider and I encourage the restaurant to avail itself of this option.”

    Tanner Hnidey, a Christian writer from Alberta, penned a column on his website denouncing the ruling as a rejection of objective truth and a disturbing restriction on free speech.

    “Now it’s one thing for a person to think they are a different gender than they actually are. It’s one thing for a man to believe he’s plural when he’s singular in reality,” wrote Hnidey.

    “It’s quite another thing to force us to believe what another believes; coercing us to say what others want us to say. And that’s precisely what the BC Human Rights Tribunal ruled.”  

    Follow Michael Gryboski on Twitter or Facebook

    Canadian pastor arrested at airport warns Americans: ‘You’re next’


    Reported By Anugrah Kumar, Christian Post Contributor | Sunday, October 03, 2021

    Read more at https://www.christianpost.com/news/canadian-pastor-arrested-at-airport-warns-americans-youre-next.html/

    Artur Pawlowski
    Pastor Artur Pawlowski | Courtesy of Artur Pawlowski

    Canadian Pastor Artur Pawlowski, who was recently arrested on the airport tarmac upon his return home from a trip to the U.S., has issued a warning to Americans: “You’re next.”

    The Canada Border Services Agency arrested the pastor last week for two outstanding warrants — one for not wearing a face mask and another for holding a church service in June. He has an upcoming court hearing on Oct. 13, where a judge will decide whether he’ll be sentenced to 21 days in jail for “contempt of court” for holding worship services in violation of lockdown restrictions. 

    “If they came for me, be sure of it, they’re coming for you as well,” Pawlowski, who serves as pastor of Street Church and Cave of Adullam Church in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, told Fox News in an interview.

    “What they’re doing today is identical to what I remember growing up,” added Pawlowski, comparing the measures taken by law enforcement officials to enforce COVID-19 restrictions to the actions taken by authorities in his native Poland when it was under communist rule.

    “I was handcuffed like a common criminal, like a terrorist,” he said, talking about his previous arrest in May. “They wanted to break me. They wanted to show the whole world, ‘You see what we do to those who dare to speak against our tyranny? If you will follow … you’re next.’”

    Pawlowski was born in Poland and lived under Soviet rule during part of his childhood.

    video posted on YouTube in May showed that Calgary Police Service sent at least five police vehicles to arrest him and his brother, Dawid Pawlowski, from on the street. The brothers knelt on the road and refused to walk on their own during the arrest. A voice can be heard telling the officers, “Shame on you guys, this is not communist China. Don’t you have family and kids? Whatever happened to ‘Canada, God keep our land glorious and free?’”

    Artur Pawlowski previously shared a video documenting police visiting his church in April. In that video, Pawlowski can be seen calmly greeting the officials at the front door. The public health officer presented Pawlowski with a warrant after previously interrupting worship services days earlier during the Holy Week. As he videotaped the encounter, one of the police officers accompanying the public health officer told Pawlowski, “you don’t have to get into her personal space,” as he attempted to zoom his phone in on the paperwork.

    “You’re in my personal space,” Pawlowski responded.

    He referred to the officials as “brown shirts” and “Nazi Gestapo communist fascists.”

    Pawlowski told The Christian Post in June that police frequently monitored his church services to make sure he was abiding by coronavirus restrictions and social distancing guidelines. He said the intrusions weren’t necessary because he streamed the church services online. The livestreams illustrated that “I was not hiding the fact that we are not following those restrictions.”

    As law enforcement repeatedly descended on his church services, “the mosques were fully operational.” He added that “no one harassed them, no one interfered with them.” 

    “Not one Imam was being harassed or intimidated. And to this day, there’s not one Imam or one Muslim that has a ticket, even though we have video evidence and pictures [of] them gathering … through the whole Ramadan by the thousands,” he said.

    Pawlowski’s YouTube channel includes a video of a gathering of thousands of Muslims that took place on the last day of Ramadan, the holiest month in the Muslim calendar, which police allowed without interruption. He estimated that “about 2,000 people, maybe more, were there.” 

    In March of 2020, Pawlowski was informed that his church, which ministers to the homeless and less fortunate in Calgary, would have to “shut down and stop taking care of the poor.” He refused to obey that order, however, concluding that by issuing “orders to stop feeding them [and] giving them necessities of life, they were sentencing them to death. [And] some of them did die,” he said.

    At the time, Pawlowski sent a plea to the ministers in Alberta asking them for an exemption from COVID-19 restrictions, but they refused to grant an exemption and ordered him to shut down. 

    Gov’t restrictions on religion at high levels worldwide even before COVID-19 lockdowns: Pew report


    Reported By Michael Gryboski, Christian Post Reporter | Monday, October 04, 2021

    Read more at https://www.christianpost.com/news/govt-restrictions-on-religion-worldwide-at-high-levels-pew.html/

    Rome Colosseum
    The Colosseum is lit up in red to draw attention to the persecution of Christians around the world in Rome, Italy, February 24, 2018. | Reuters/Remo Casilli

    Government restrictions on religious practice remained high during the year before the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, according to a recent report by the Pew Research Center. Pew released findings from its 12th annual study on global religious persecution Thursday, analyzing 198 countries during 2019, the most recent year with data available.

    When it came to public policy and laws that infringed on religious practices, 2019 had a similar rate of intolerance to 2018, which was noted as a year with a high rate of government-imposed restrictions. Pew found that 57 countries had “high” or “very high” restrictions on religious practice, which was slightly higher than 2018’s 56 countries that reported the same and the highest rate since 2012, which also reported 57 countries. It was also a considerable increase from 2014, when 47 countries were listed as having “high” or “very high” government restrictions on religious belief and practice.

    “The analysis shows that government restrictions involving religion, which in 2018 had reached the highest point since the start of the study, remained at a similar level in 2019,” explained Pew.

    “The global median score on the Government Restrictions Index (GRI), a 10-point index based on 20 indicators, held steady at 2.9. This score has risen markedly since 2007, the first year of the study, when it was 1.8.”

    While government restrictions across the world remained high in 2019, the level of social hostilities toward religion and religious terrorism both saw a decline compared to earlier years. Pew found that 43 countries were found to have “high” or “very high” social hostilities regarding religion, which was lower than the 53 countries reporting the same in 2018 and well below the 65 countries reporting the same in 2012. Additionally, there was a decline reported in the number of countries experiencing “religion-related terrorism,” defined as including “deaths, physical abuse, displacement, detentions, destruction of property, and fundraising and recruitment by terrorist groups.”

    “In 2019, 49 countries experienced at least one of these types of religion-related terrorism, a record low for the study. That was down from 64 countries in 2018, and from a record high of 82 countries in 2014,” continued Pew.

    “Among the reasons for the decline in the study’s terrorism measures is that ISIS subsequently lost control of a large swath of territory in Iraq and Syria,” The report added. 

    In 2017, the Trump administration declared that the U.S.-led coalition had defeated the Islamic State terror group in Iraq and seized the de facto capital of its self-declared caliphate in Raqqa, Syria. On Dec. 9 of that same year, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared that the country is now “fully liberated” from ISIS.  

    Since 2014, it’s believed that over 40,000 people from more than 110 countries had traveled to Iraq and Syria to join ISIS’ caliphate. In the U.K., it was estimated that more British Muslims were fighting for IS than served in its armed forces. Although U.S.-led troops killed tens of thousands of jihadis, insurgents still remain in parts of the country and ISIS terror cells are operating worldwide. 

    The Pew report added that “the number of violent attacks perpetrated by the group declined in Iraq in 2019, according to the Global Terrorism Database.’

    “Still, ISIS’ multinational network of organizations remained active. Groups pledging allegiance to ISIS carried out bombings in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, 2019, killing more than 250 people and injuring approximately 500 others at churches and hotels,” Pew added. 

    Pew noted that the numbers reported in this study came before the 2020 government lockdowns that took place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which often involved controversial measures believed by many to be in violation of civil liberties, including freedom of religion. There has been extensive litigation in the United States aimed at state-level measures that critics claimed unlawfully treated houses of worship worse than comparable non-religious businesses. In the decision Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that pandemic restrictions could not treat churches worse than secular entities.

    “ Members of this Court are not public health experts, and we should respect the judgment of those with special expertise and responsibility in this area. But even in a pandemic, the Constitution cannot be put away and forgotten,” read the majority opinion.

    “The restrictions at issue here, by effectively barring many from attending religious services, strike at the very heart of the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty.”

    Follow Michael Gryboski on Twitter or Facebook

    Churches key to advancing ‘next Great Awakening’ by fixing broken families, marriage experts say


    Reported By Michael Gryboski, Christian Post Reporter | Friday, October 01, 2021

    Read more at https://www.christianpost.com/books/churches-key-to-next-great-awakening-by-fixing-families-book.html/

    THE VIEWS OF THE AUTHOR, AND THOSE OF THE PARTICIPANTS, DO NOT NECESSARILY REPRESENT THOSE OF WHATDIDYOUSAY.ORG.

    Endgame
    The front cover for the book “Endgame: The Church’s Strategic Move to Save Faith and Family in America” by J.P. De Gance and John Van Epp, which was released Sept. 6, 2021. | J.P. De Gance and John Van Epp

    For years, Duval County, Florida, and its biggest city, Jacksonville, were known for having among the highest divorce rates in the state. And then something happened.

    Various faith-based groups, including the Culture of Freedom Initiative, now called Communio, coordinated efforts with dozens of local churches to try and counter the tide of failed marriages.

    The results were telling: From 2015 to 2017, Duval County saw its divorce rate drop by 28% and Jacksonville saw a 24% drop in its divorce rate.

    Now Communio President J.P. De Gance wants to expand the initiative to help kickstart “the next Great Awakening in our country” by joining professional counselor John Van Epp, developer of the Relational Attachment Model series, to champion stable homes and families nationwide.

    De Gance and Van Epp have come together to author the book, Endgame: The Church’s Strategic Move to Save Faith and Family in America (released on Sept. 6).

    According to the authors, the way to save the declining American family is to have churches across the country more actively pursue family and relationship ministries.

    “The message of the book is simply this,” they write. “Churches in America have the opportunity and responsibility to build relationship ministries and outreaches into their congregations and communities — congruent with their faith — that speak to the needs of singles, couples, and families, and, as a result, will grow their churches and transform their communities.”

    The Christian Post interviewed Gance and Van Epp about their new book, including topics regarding how broken families are the leading reason why churches are in decline, why the Church is key to reviving the family unit, and advice to pastors on how to make sure their family ministries are strong. The following is an edited transcript from that interview: 

    CP: Why did you decide to write this book?

    Van Epp: Both of us have a history of working with organizations in the community marriage movement, so nonprofits. Churches were not directly involved, per se.

    A lot of times, faith-based people were working with nonprofits to try to impact their communities to lower divorce rates, improve quality of relationships in general, and almost all were doing it with government funds. And we both had different involvement. 

    Our frustration with all of that was as much good as it could accomplish, it never could change mainstream trends. And we came to believe, independent of each other, that it’s only, truly the Church in America that has the potential, the opportunity, and we believe the responsibility, to truly impact marriage and family trends, and dating trends, especially.

    Not only among their people, but to reach out into the community and to step off the campus and into the community to build a relationship and offer that kind of content that will then warm people up to the Gospel of Jesus, but will also truly impact trends that are ultimately eroding the transmission of faith in America. So we believe the breakdown of the family is breaking down faith in America as well.

    De Gance: My work before connecting with John was a combination of working with nonprofits that were secular and faith-based, but then we also did end up working with churches.

    This is with our work in Jacksonville, Florida, which lowered the divorce rate substantially, and it was through trial and error that we recognized “wow, the church can be a huge change agent for marriage.” Not only because the church can affect its own membership, but we recognize that churches had the power to affect the community in a way that other NGOs can’t.

    We recognized churches have the ability to affect their membership, we also realize that they can go way outside of their membership and affect their community, inviting folks in.

    We need to have a call to action for the church to save the family.

    CP: In the book, you wrote, “I had come to Washington to help save the country. But what if the best way for me to contribute to ‘saving the country’ didn’t involve Washington at all?” Do you believe too many people focus too much on using the federal government to change the country, and not enough on other ways? 

    family, parents, children
    Unsplash/Jude Beck

    De Gance: Yes, absolutely. We have gotten away from our Tocquevillian past where problems were solved by voluntary civil society, by men and women working in their own communities, working through their churches to change real outcomes.

    While politics is very important — I’m not dismissing it as important, and politics can change the culture, there have been examples of that — too many times, people of faith conclude that the best way to do it is “there ought to be a law” or “let’s come to Washington and lobby for changes,” when there’s a lot of work we can do, without getting anybody’s permission, right now, working in our church, working in our community.

    Van Epp: Our government and our Constitution, we believe in separation of church and state, but some of what is happening in relationships, or you might even say a lot of what goes on in relationships, does have a true spiritual dimension.

    The Church needs to speak to both the practical skill side of how to build and maintain relationships in healthy ways. So they need to have that kind of well-rounded understanding, but they bring to it the values, the consistent values of faith and a spiritual dimension that truly brings ultimate fulfillment in whether its romantic dating relationships, or ultimately marriage and family relationships, and that’s something that our government really can’t do.

    If we become too dependent on [the government], which we believe is what has happened and we shirk our responsibility, then ultimately, the trends will not stay consistent with faith values and will head toward unhealthy, which is definitely what has happened in America.

    CP: You argued in the book that the “collapse of the family is the major driver of the decline of Christianity.” Some say that things like the occasional major Church scandal or secular public education curriculums are the major drivers of Christianity declining in America. Why do you believe is the decline of the family instead of those other commonly claimed factors? 

    De Gance: This is a big challenge with polling organizations who try to understand the reason why faith is declining by just simply asking people, “Hey, why don’t you go to church?”

    The way surveys are drawn up, the respondents will give a left brain rationalization as to why they don’t do something. You got to dig deeper to get the underlying emotional cause of it.

    We show that once you control for family structure, if you look at a millennial, and you look at a baby boomer, they go to church at almost the exact same rate. If I know one thing about both people, it’s that if they grew up in a home of continuously married parents, there’s almost no difference whatsoever.

    So what that means is, if family structure was the same for millennials as baby boomers enjoyed, then millennials would be going to church as frequently as baby boomers. And, to me, family of origin just settles any questions on correlation and causation. 

    The data overwhelmingly shows that church attendance varies significantly based on family structure, it’s the family structure that’s changed over the last 60 years and most folks who are trying to solve the problem of faith, are focusing on what we call “the smoke.” The symptom of the fire, the real fire is in the collapse of marriage and the home.

    Van Epp: Look at how much money is spent on youth ministry. Because you think, “Hey, if we really just focus on this generation of young people growing up and really impact them, then we’re going to change the trajectory of their life because we’re going to infuse in them faith and faith values.”

    And yet, with all of the emphasis of anywhere from $2 billion at a minimum, to up to maybe $6 billion a year spent on the youth industrial complex, from Christian college campuses, Cru and Navigators and InterVarsity, all the way down to staffing and churches, and look at that, it didn’t seem to make a dent in the trend line of each generation, from the baby boomers to the present, each generation moving by about a 10 percent increase away from faith, becoming more religious nones.

    So we’re not trying to criticize investment in the youth, but point out that that was not correcting the problem. And what JP just mentioned, by just keeping the family, the parents married, and a young person growing up in an intact family, you have no decrease over the last three generations, you have no decrease in involvement in church. So therefore, that family structure seems to be the transmission belt of faith.

    We have several chapters we call “the decoupling effect.” … Marriage was really viewed as a package deal socially, and what was coupled to marriage was sex, life partnership and parenting.

    Of course, all through history, somebody had sex, a baby or partnership outside of marriage. But socially, it wasn’t until the ’60s decoupled those three things and they became really viewed as not only independent of marriage but personal rights.”

    Fatherlessness also is highly related to the breakdown, the erosion of the transmission of faith.

    De Gance: There’s significant evidence that the inability to attach to a father is a huge ingredient to expressions of agnosticism and atheism.

    So we start to track that those young adults in our research with the right brain people, who said they reported being the most emotionally unattached or uninterested in church, also overwhelmingly reported having something other than a good relationship with their father.

    While we all know there are good single dads or unmarried dads that are out there, on the aggregate, statistically speaking, an unmarried father is generally an uninvolved father and an unattached father. And that might be the secret ingredient as to why the collapse of marriage is destroying fatherhood, which is destroying faith.

    CP: You noted in the book that while most pastors believe their churches have a strong family ministry, few actually do. What are some of the warning signs for pastors that they do not, in fact, have a strong family ministry at their church?

    marriage, rings, couple
    Unsplash/Samantha Gades

    De Gance: First is, do you have a skills-based ministry where people are taught the skills to have a good marriage and good relationship and that those skills are practiced?

    So a lot of times churches and pastors confuse preaching and teaching with practice.

    Is your relationship and marriage ministry exclusively wrapped up in sermons or in just a witness talk or are you giving people the chance to practice the interpersonal skills that make marriages flourish?

    [Often, churches have] the virtue of marriage down. They hold up marriage, they might champion marriage, in basic teaching, but the skills of marriage are non-existent. There’s almost this idea that faithfulness to the Gospel just begets great marriage skills and the reality is, as John noted, the decoupling effect over the last 60 years has created a lot of wounds in our culture and in our hearts and in our families.

    And it’s more important than ever that the Church is teaching the skills to have a great relationship. Helping singles discern a good spouse, a good partner, to have the right cadence of relationship so that they can move into a healthy marriage. It’s so important for them — those who are married — early in their marriage to be taught and to practice the skills to have a good marriage.

    The reality is, is the ingredients for a great marriage and a great relationship are known and knowable and are able for all of us to practice.

    So if I am talking to a pastor, I would ask the question, “how are you helping your people know the skills of relationship health and practice them on a regular basis?”

    Van Epp: Very simply, what JP just said, I would add that I have a relationship series that actually involves sermons. It’s a six-week series. It’s described in the book as called The RAM series, but churches license it, they get it, and they do it, and it has sermons, but it also involves everybody in the church.

    However, I do think a lot of lead pastors lean a little bit toward being what I call “series junkies.” So once you do a really great series, as soon as you’re done, or even before you’re done, the big question is, “OK, what’s the next big series we want to do?” And they just bounce off of one. So a lot of churches do something about relationships, and then leave it.

    So a real warning sign is, is healthy dating, healthy marriage content and skills-based content, part of your ongoing calendar every year?

    Let’s look at the real practical side of things, let’s look at money. Does your budget have any money that is allocated on a consistent basis every year to marriage ministry and to help the singles with their dating relationships?

    Because we’ve got to go upstream and help people long before they actually get married. And we’re not just talking money for the youth, let’s put that aside. We’re talking specifically for adult single dating and marriage family ministry. Is there really money in the budget?

    Your wallet talks.

    De Gance: We need, as a church, to recognize that even before the pandemic, the number of people getting married every single year was down 31% since the year 2000. It’s dropped 61% since the year 1970.

    We can either keep doing what we’ve always been doing. If we do that, the last one out should turn the lights off, because that’s the direction the Church is heading if we don’t wrap our hands around the flight from marriage.

    CP: What do you hope readers take away from you book?

    Van Epp: My hope is that in reading the book or if they do the [RAM series] that it does kick off a real paradigm shift of their priorities going forward into the next 10 to 20 years.

    We’re not talking about something that we think can be fixed in just a couple of years. We could make a huge impact if we get lots of churches involved, in working together in a particular community, like what Jacksonville had, they had over 90 churches working in the city of Jacksonville and over a three-year period, they made a huge dent of over 23 percent drop in divorce rate. If churches really work together.

    My hope for the book is that it’s truly embraced by the Church in America, both Catholic and Protestant alike.

    De Gance: We are not cultural fatalists. Anybody reading the book should be incredibly hopeful that healthy marriage is written into the human heart. And solutions to this are possible, and it’s the church that has the solution.

    I always tell people, the fact that 85 percent of churches are spending nothing in this area is actually really great news. It means family and marriage has been in a free fall over the last 50 years and the church hasn’t yet entered the ring for real battle.

    If churches actually became strategic, applied best practices, and reached out to their communities to renew relationships and marriages, we could see the next Great Awakening in our country in the decades ahead. And that’s what I hope pastors, and church leaders would conclude.

    Follow Michael Gryboski on Twitter or Facebook

    Eric Erickson Op-ed: The Progressive Freakout


    Commentary ByErick Erickson | Sep 18, 2021 | DailyWire.com

    Read more at https://www.dailywire.com/news/erickson-the-progressive-freakout/

    A demonstrator holds up a banner saying "We've Only Just Begun" during the second annual Women's March in the borough of Manhattan in New York City, U.S. on Saturday, January 20, 2018.
    Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images

    Recent data from the Cooperative Election Study shows 20% of atheists have participated in a march or protest, compared with 6% of white evangelicals. Forty percent of atheists have contacted a public official, compared with 24% of white evangelicals. Fifty-two percent of atheists have donated to political candidates, compared with just 26% of white evangelicals. Pull back further, and the divide between progressives and conservative evangelicals shows the former, not the latter, more actively involved in protest and politics.

    As progressivism secularizes, politics becomes religion. Virtue signaling replaces a Christian ichthus fish on the back of a car. Outrage becomes a signal for identifying heretics. If one is not outraged, one just might be a heretic to secular, progressive zealots.

    This past weekend, college students took to stadiums across America to experience the joy of fellowship and football. Across television networks and social media, progressives decried the activity as unsafe. Outdoor festivities again became superspreader events in ways mass protests and ransacking small businesses did not during the riots and protests surrounding George Floyd’s death in summer 2020.

    The Supreme Court let a Texas law stay in place because the plaintiffs in the case sued the wrong people. The Supreme Court refused to halt the law because the Court does not stop laws. The Court only stops people from enforcing the laws. When the wrong people are sued, the Court has no power to stop them. Progressives insisted, despite the dereliction of duty by the plaintiffs, that the Court should stop the law anyway. While four justices would have done so, they would have deviated from legal precedent.

    Undeterred, instead of blaming the plaintiffs for their collective screw-up, progressives assailed the Supreme Court, Texas, former President Donald Trump, conservatives, and babies. They fixated on the worst-case scenario — rape. According to progressives, women who are victims of rape will have to carry their babies to term and face untold psychological trauma. They patently ignored that Texas cannot stop a woman from traveling to another state to terminate her child. Nor did they care to point out that rape accounts for, at most, 1% of abortions. To listen to the commentary on television, one would think rape and pregnancies therefrom happen constantly. Meanwhile, one doctor admitted to killing dozens of children in the run-up to the law taking effect, none because of rape, but rather because of the mothers’ convenience.

    As the remains of a hurricane went up the East Coast, sending flooding with it, progressives freaked out about climate change. Never letting a crisis go to waste, politicians and supposed experts paraded onto television screens across America demanding Americans give up their way of life to stop storms. Storms will not be stopped by a battery-powered car. One would be hard-pressed to realize that from the media coverage.

    Podcaster Joe Rogan received ivermectin from his doctor. The inventors of the drug received a Nobel Prize for ivermectin’s contribution to human progress. The drug has saved billions of people from blindness and parasitic infestation. It is also used in livestock, and a few people have tried to ingest dosages meant for horses. Rogan, however, got it from his doctor. Some doctors believe the well-documented anti-inflammatory properties of ivermectin can help prevent or combat the so-called cytokine storm whereby COVID-19 triggers a release of inflammatory proteins called cytokines into the bloodstream. The Food and Drug Administration has discouraged ivermectin prescriptions pending further study.

    Progressives freaked out about Rogan and his doctor while assailing Texas for getting between a woman and her doctor. All of the freaking out is theater. In the postmodern age, one demonstrates one’s commitment to a particular truth or cause through performance. The screaming and wailing on social media and television is performance designed to both signal one’s commitment to a supposed truth and identify the heretics who choose not to perform.

    As progressives continue making secularism a religion, the ritualistic outrage will get more intense, but this will also help discredit the progressive cause. Most people don’t have time for outrage these days as they struggle to get by thanks to progressives closing schools and causing inflation with massive spending binges.

    The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

    To find out more about Erick Erickson and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at http://www.creators.com.

    The Daily Wire is one of America’s fastest-growing conservative media companies and counter-cultural outlets for news, opinion, and entertainment. Get inside access to The Daily Wire by becoming a member.

    Chicago: 58 shot during bloody holiday weekend, including 8 children; 4-year-old boy killed by stray bullets


    Reported by PAUL SACCA | September 06, 2021

    Read more at https://www.theblaze.com/news/chicago-shootings-boy-shot-mychal-moultry/

    At least 58 people have been shot in Chicago during Labor Day weekend, including eight children, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Five people have been killed in shootings since Friday evening, including a 4-year-old boy who was shot in the head.

    Around 9 p.m. on Friday, stray bullets sprayed through the window of a home in the Woodlawn neighborhood of Chicago. Two bullets struck 4-year-old Mychal Moultry Jr. in the head. He was getting a haircut at the time, according to Rahman Muhammad, deputy chief of the Chicago Police Department’s Detective Division. The boy’s father held him until paramedics arrived to take him to the Comer Children’s hospital.

    “It’s hard enough with this mom and dad sitting in the hospital watching this little fella with tubes all down his body. He is trying to breathe,” community activist Andrew Holmes told WLS-TV about the boy when he was in the hospital.

    The 4-year-old boy, who was visiting Chicago from Alabama, was pronounced dead on Sunday.

    The Chicago Police Department is asking the public for help in the case to find those who committed the crime. Those with information can submit a tip on the Chicago Police Department website. The Saint Sabina Catholic Church and the All Kids Matter organization are offering up to a $9,000 reward to bring the shooter or shooters to justice.

    “We’re sick and tired every day,” an activist with All Kids Matter said. “We’re staking this hospital out night after night. All these children get shot throughout Chicago.”

    There were eight children shot during the bloody weekend in Chicago, including six kids shot in 12 hours from Saturday night into Sunday morning. Two of the wounded minors were recovering at Comer Children’s hospital as of Sunday morning. So far this year, more than 280 children have been shot in Chicago, 35 of whom have died from their injuries, WLS-TV reported.

    Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown gave an explanation why children are often the victims during a press conference on Monday.

    “It’s always some other offender, gang member, criminal network, some beef, and they’re targeting some adult, and young people are nearby and they are shot as innocent bystanders,” Brown said.

    Supt. Brown said the department seized 64 illegally possessed guns over the weekend.

    Last weekend, at least 48 people were shot in Chicago, including six who were killed.

    For the month of August, there were 78 homicides in Chicago, which is 14 more than August 2020. There have been 534 homicides in the city, according to data provided by the Chicago Sun-Times. Chicago had a total of 775 murders in 2020.

    There were 372 shootings in August 2021, down slightly from 372 last year, according to Fox News.

    The worldview of the Taliban


    Reported By John StonestreetTimothy Padget

    Read more at https://www.christianpost.com/voices/the-worldview-of-the-taliban.html/

    Taliban fighters
    File photo of Taliban fighters posing with weapons in an undisclosed location in Afghanistan in this undated photo. | Reuters

    After seeing the images out of Kabul in recent days, Maajid Nawaz, a former radical Muslim, said, “Barefoot Taliban conquered a palace. They believed in something and fought for nothing. I have lived with men like this in prison. It is difficult to describe just how seriously they take their cause. There is a lesson here for us in the West, if we are humble enough to see it.”

    We hear the terror from Afghan women who now wonder what the lives of their daughters will be like, worried that 20 years of progress in women’s rights have disappeared overnight. We see the desperation of men so afraid of what might come next that they’re literally clinging to the wheels of American aircraft as they depart. Yet, we struggle to have a category for what they actually fear. Many Westerners don’t have the categories to understand the realities of Islamic fundamentalism.

    Much of the world has long struggled to understand the worldview that is driving the Taliban conquerors today, or the ISIS fanatics from a few years ago, or the al Qaeda terrorists that struck on 9/11. These groups are driven by their own internal logic, their own worldview.

    I’m not going to try to explain the entirety of radical Islam. However, there are a few key points about this worldview that can give us clarity in understanding what’s happening in Afghanistan and what we might expect in the days ahead. 

    First, for radical Islam, this isn’t about this particular American president or the last American president or any particular foreign policy decision. This is seen as part of a war that’s been going on for over 1,000 years. 

    In the wake of 9/11, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, the second in command of al Qaeda, and in many ways the strategic planner for Osama bin Laden, spoke about his group’s goals for this war with the West. In repeated statements to the press, he referred to waging war until all Muslim lands were restored, connecting the conflict in Afghanistan and the battle for Palestine to a worldwide conflict that spans from Iraq to Spain. Yes, Spain. 

    To American ears, it doesn’t make any sense. Iraq, Israel, we can follow. Palestine, sure. Spain? You see, what he knew and what many Westerners have forgotten is that the mostly Catholic country of Spain was once the heartland of the Muslim world. Centuries before the Turks or Indonesians followed Islam, Spain was the base of operations for a potential invasion of Europe. It wasn’t until 1492 that Spain was retaken for the Cross.

    For radical Islam, once lands have come under the sway of Islam, it is vital that good Muslims do whatever it takes to return those regions to the House of Islam; places where Islamic law and teaching is practiced. Whether we’re talking about Catholics in Spain or Israelis in Palestine, these people are merely occupying what’s rightfully a Muslim land.

    This connects to another element of this worldview that we often miss. For Islamists, the West is not the primary enemy. We’re merely in the way of where history’s headed. What they seek is the overthrow of false Muslim rulers who have been corrupted by the wiles of Western influence. These are, as Al-Zawahiri put it, the “near enemy,” and they must be cast down. Only then can true Muslims take control and implement the fullness of Sharia. 

    In other words, what we’ve seen on the ground in Afghanistan and what we’ve seen in the Middle East for a long time is the working out of a worldview. None of the happenings of the last 20 years, or the last 20 days, can be understood without understanding the worldview. 

    Now, every worldview answers questions. Among these questions are those that ask, what is wrong with the world, and what must be done to make it right? For Christians, the problem is sin and all of its myriad manifestations. The solution is conversion: the conversions of individuals, as well as the restoration of culture through the grace and work of Christ, and through His Church, the restoration of the goodness of His creation. 

    For secularists and much of contemporary Western culture, the problem is ignorance. Through education and science, and by becoming aware of the perspectives of others, we can hope to improve the structural failings that have plagued our world. 

    But the problem is seen differently in radical Islam. The problem is seen as the internal corruption of the Islamic states and the unwillingness of the rest of the world to bow to what is ultimately true. 

    Here’s how Islamic scholar Bernard Lewis described it:

    “For Usama bin Laden and those who share in his views, and there are many of them, the object of the struggle is the elimination of the intrusive Western power and corrupting Western influence from all the lands of Islam, and the restoration of Islamic authority in these lands. When this has been accomplished, the stage will be set for the final struggle to bring God’s message to all mankind in all the world.”

    Now, I hope one of the things that you notice is that for a true Muslim, Islam is not a point of personal and private belief. Islam describes the actual condition of the world. It describes what’s happening and where history is going. And for radicals, whatever needs to be done to accomplish that mission is justified. Whatever atrocities are committed along the way will find their purpose in this overriding goal. 

    For this goal, they are willing to sacrifice themselves by the thousands. Radical Islamic leaders are willing to be incredibly patient to see this goal accomplished, because they are fully assured that one day their work will indeed bear fruit. The brutality, the absolutism, and the unyielding determination that we see in radical Islam are driven by a worldview. Without a true and accurate understanding of the world, they’ll continue to pursue their ends by any means necessary. 

    We are right to oppose these ideals because lives are at stake. Ideas have consequences. Bad ideas, like the bad ideas of radical Islam, have victims. How we push back on these forces will take many different forms, sometimes even force, but here’s what’s clear. We will never make headway if we fail to understand the worldview that animates the whole thing in the first place.


    Originally published at BreakPoint

    John Stonestreet serves as president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. He’s a sought-after author and speaker on areas of faith and culture, theology, worldview, education and apologetics.  

    Timothy D. Padgett (PhD) is the Managing Editor of BreakPoint.org with the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. His focus is on cultural engagement, living out the Christian worldview, and the way Christians argue for diverse viewpoints while sharing a common biblical foundation, particularly regarding the relationship between church and state, Christ and culture, and war and peace.

    Antifa throws flash bombs at children, injures pastor at Christian prayer event in Portland


    Reported By Anugrah Kumar, Christian Post Contributor| Monday, August 09, 2021

    Read more at https://www.christianpost.com/news/antifa-assaults-kids-injures-pastor-at-portland-prayer-event.html/

    Antifa
    Antifa members assaulting a prayer and worship event in downtown Portland, Oregon. | YouTube/Mary Todd

    Dozens of black-clad Antifa militants carrying shields and melee weapons on Saturday assaulted Christians, including children, who were attending a prayer and worship event in downtown Portland, Oregon, featuring Canadian Pastor Artur Pawlowski. Portland police looked on as Antifa bear-sprayed Christians and their children, lobbed “flash bombs” into the crowd, and reportedly threw the sound equipment being used for the prayer event into the Willamette River, PJ Media reported.

    In black bloc and riot gear, armed Antifa could be seen in a video physically confronting the Christian attendees. One of the members sprayed a congregant with what appeared to be pepper spray. The attendees stepped back to evade the assault, The Post Millennial reported.

    “Where is your God now?” one of the Antifa members can be heard shouting in the video.

    A woman attending the prayer event described the group as “ruthless.”

    “Antifa just rolled in like an angry mob, started throwing flash bombs at everybody, macing everybody … rotten eggs,” CBN News quoted her as saying. “They threw a flash bomb into a group of kids that were out there from 4 months old to like 10.”

    Pawlowski, who serves as pastor of Street Church and Cave of Adullam Church in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and has been seen in viral videos documenting his encounters with law enforcement over COVID-19 restrictions, was also sprayed in the face with mace.

    An attendee who helped the pastor was quoted as saying, “Walked up to ask them to stop throwing things at the children. There’s kids down there. I mean, they’re toddlers and they sprayed me too.”

    “Welcome to Portland. You won’t like it here, pastor,” tweeted an Antifa member, who identifies herself as Melissa Lewis on Twitter.

    In an earlier interview with The Christian Post, Pawlowski spoke about his interactions with authorities over the past year and doubled down on his characterization of local law enforcement as Nazis and communists. Pawlowski has compared the measures taken by law enforcement officials to enforce novel coronavirus restrictions on churches to the actions taken by authorities in his native Poland when it was under communist rule.

    In March 2020, he was informed that Street Church would have to “shut down and stop taking care of the poor.” Pawlowski refused to obey that order, concluding that by issuing “orders to stop feeding them [and] giving them necessities of life, they were sentencing them to death. [And] some of them did die.”

    “All of those people wandering the streets, if I don’t feed them or someone like me does not feed them … they’re going to attack your house or break into your car,” he added. “You got to provide people with food if they cannot get it on their own for whatever reason. … Addictions or mental illness or whatever it is, those people will eat this way or that way. I prefer to feed them instead of letting them go and hurt other people to get what they need.”

    The Saturday prayer and worship event in Portland was announced a month ago, which gave Antifa enough time to plan the attack.

    Antifa has also attacked several churches in Portland.

    US street preacher arrested in London says speaking truth is now a ‘hate crime’


    Reported By Ryan Foley, Christian Post Reporter| Saturday, August 07, 2021

    Read more at https://www.christianpost.com/news/american-evangelist-jailed-in-uk-its-getting-very-bad-here.html/

    Ryan Schiavo preaching
    Ryan Schiavo, an American street evangelist, preaches in England. | Ryan Schiavo

    After facing arrest and detention for preaching that homosexuality is a sin, an American evangelist is warning that “things are getting very bad” in the United Kingdom and other Western countries, suggesting that the situation has deteriorated to the point where they are “becoming communist.” 

    Ryan Schiavo, who describes himself as an evangelist and missionary,” was arrested in London on July 22 for preaching that homosexuality is a sin. While Schiavo is an American, he spends a considerable amount of time in London and frequently ministers to British youth and others gathered in the public square.

    In an interview with The Christian Post, Schiavo recounted the events leading up to his arrest and warned about its implications for free speech and freedom of religion in the U.K. and Western civilization as a whole. 

    “I was preaching the Gospel on the streets as I frequently do, but it was about a 30-minute message, and in the course of a long message I can touch on many topics that I believe are pertinent,” he said. “At one point, I talked about the issue of homosexuality and transgenderism. I said that homosexuality is a sin; I talk about how it’s destructive, and the damage the transgender agenda is doing to children right now in the schools because it’s being pushed on children at a very young age here.”

    Schiavo told CP that one of the things he said while preaching was that “the churches that have rainbow flags on them” were “not real churches.” His message drew the ire of one young woman, whom he believed was a lesbian. According to Schiavo, she was “very upset at what I had said, and so she called the police and the police came.” 

    Ryan Schiavo
    Ryan Schiavo, an American street preacher, is arrested by Metropolitan Police for asserting that homosexuality is a sin, July 22, 2021. | Courtesy of Ryan Schiavo

    As documented in a video of his arrest, Schiavo was detained for purportedly violating Section 4A of the Public Order Act, which bans people from causing “intentional harassment, alarm, or distress.”

    The law declares that “a person is guilty of an offense if, with intent to cause a person harassment, alarm, or distress, he — (a) uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behavior, or disorderly behavior, or (b) displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting.”

    As Metropolitan Police officers moved in to arrest him, Schiavo declared, “It is an honor to suffer for Jesus Christ.” He predicted that “God is going to judge this country so severely” because of its embrace of LGBT ideology.

    “This is because I am a Christian!” he exclaimed. “That’s why this is happening.” 

    Schiavo told CP that when he was taken to jail, he was “put in a cell for 10 hours and given a mental health evaluation by the National Health Service before being released in the middle of the night.” He lamented that situations like his “egregious” detention were becoming “all too common.” 

    Describing the mental health evaluation to CP, Schiavo maintained that he was asked “personal questions about my family and about my work and how I was doing physically.” Schiavo cited the fact that he had to undergo a mental health evaluation as evidence that “things are getting very bad” in the U.K. regarding freedom of speech and religious expression.

    “All these institutions are working together with each other; they’re anti-Christ,” he added. “It’s time for the church to wake up and to be prepared for persecution. Freedom of speech and expression are very much under attack in the Western world, and I’m concerned that many of these Western countries are becoming communist.”

    Elaborating on his mental health evaluation, Schiavo recounted that he “did talk about the issue of homosexuality and transgenderism” with the man who was questioning him. “I said to him, ‘Would you call a banana a carrot?’ And the point I was making was this is what we do with people now. We call men women and women men.”

    “I didn’t say that to him. I just said, ‘Would you call a banana a carrot?’ And he looked at me and he said, ‘If somebody was offended, I would.’ And I looked at him and I said, ‘I should be the one asking you the questions.’”

    Schiavo contended that his mental health evaluation, which lasted for 30 minutes, was an effort to “convince me not to talk about homosexuality in public anymore.” He told CP that “he (the mental health evaluator) wanted me to affirm him and just say, ‘OK,’ and agree, and I never did.”

    The evangelist attributed his hostile treatment by the police to the fact that British law enforcement officials are “so trained to hear ‘homosexuality’ or ‘Islam’ because those are the two most protected demographics in Britain right now.” He stressed that in the U.K., “you cannot speak against homosexuality or transgenderism and you can’t speak against Islam.” 

    “So if they hear those words, their antennas are up because they go through all of this pro-LGBT training … in their schooling, … at every other level of society people do here, it’s being pushed on them,” he continued. “And so when they hear that word, they’re immediately thinking ‘hate crime,’ ‘hate crime.’” 

    Although he wasn’t formally charged with a crime, Schiavo’s arrest puts him “in the national police records for three years.” He’s now working with the U.K.-based Christian Legal Centre to “get this overturned.” 

    “I did not commit a crime,” Schiavo insisted. “It is not a crime in the U.K. to say homosexuality is a sin in public or to say that churches with rainbow flags on them are not churches. This is protected speech.” 

    In a separate interview with CP, Linda Thacker, who attends church with Schiavo when he’s in the U.K. and videotaped the arrest, explained why she decided to document his interaction with law enforcement officials on camera: “I didn’t like the security guard’s attitude toward Ryan. He seemed very hostile.” 

    “We wanted to make sure that there was no kind of false accusation,” she said.

    Thacker characterized Schiavo’s arrest as “a bit of a wake-up call for me,” expressing concern that “the right to have free speech and to express how we feel personally about … anyone else’s lifestyle … will put you in the position of being called a domestic terrorist or some kind of hater.” Like Schiavo, Thacker fears that the U.K. is “heading toward a communist state.” 

    Before his arrest, Thacker said there had been confrontations between Schiavo, his supporters and LGBT individuals that weren’t captured on camera.

    “The lesbian was very threatening and kicked his drink down the road. [She] also tried to tear my husband’s Bible out of his hands, which she didn’t manage to do, but she got a leaflet out of his Bible … and flung it into the street.” 

    While Schiavo did face hostility following his comments about homosexuality, he also received support, including from an atheist, who was featured in Thacker’s video. Schiavo told CP that while the man “said that he disagreed with 99% of what I said,” he nonetheless argued to the police that ‘This man has not done anything warranting … an arrest, he’s just exercising his freedom of speech.’” 

    In spite of the man’s impassioned defense of Schiavo, the street evangelist lamented that the police “never even took a statement from him.” Instead, Schiavo said, “the police only took one formal statement on the street … and it was from this young girl … [who] was upset with what I said.”

    “From the beginning, they weren’t interested in getting to the truth. … It was just this one girl’s testimony that they listened to.”

    Thacker seconded Schiavo’s accusation that police had conducted a one-sided investigation: “All they were interested in doing was arresting him on the grounds of this lesbian that said that she had been distressed by what was said.”

    Schiavo is not the only street evangelist to face legal consequences for sharing Christian teachings about marriage and homosexuality with the British public. As CP previously reported, British Pastor John Sherwood was arrested by police in April for emphasizing the biblical definition of marriage as he preached from a step ladder in the Northwest London town of Uxbridge.

    Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com

    Commentary: As a former Muslim, I believe in faith in the public square


    Commentary By Hedieh Mirahmadi, Exclusive Columnist| Thursday, July 29, 2021

    Read more at https://www.christianpost.com/news/as-a-former-muslim-i-believe-in-faith-in-the-public-square.html/

    Hedieh Mirahmadi
    Courtesy of Hedieh Mirahmadi

    When I first became a Christian, I looked forward to a quiet life, basking in the love and beauty of having met my Lord and Savior.

    Since I spent most of my adult life deeply engrossed in political battles over one issue or another, and serving my country in ways that were quite dangerous, the prospect of serenity was quite appealing. It was not more than three months that went by before the Lord gave me the vision for my ministry so others could experience the redemptive power of Christ.

    At first, I wanted to ignore the call and pretend I didn’t hear it correctly. Starting a ministry and being public with my Christian faith meant I could be attacked or even physically harmed by Muslims seeking to impose the penalty of apostasy. It meant I was going back into battle. However, the Lord was relentless.

    The inspirations came to me like a flood nearly every day, and then I heard the words, “Hedieh, you are battle-tested, combat-ready.” It made me laugh out loud because it was so true. My whole life and career were preparing me for this new mission to spread the Gospel at a time when being a follower of Christ is increasingly under attack. 

    I have lived and worked in places where I escaped the outbreak of civil war, was shot at in the marketplace, and nearly lost my toes from frostbite because the heating in our compound turned off.  The Lord took all the inner fortitude and discipline of my past and combined it with the courage and strength that comes from being in relationship with Him.

    He was using it all so I can serve the Kingdom. Whether it is writing columns and doing radio interviews, or witnessing to my hairstylist and speaking out at a School Board meeting, my faith in Christ is at the forefront of all that I do.  I often remember the Scripture, “Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops,” (Mathew 10:27).

    Some would say my enthusiasm stems from being a relatively new Christian, but I beg to differ. I had the good fortune of listening to former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at church last week, and he made it so clear why all Americans should think of our faith in this way.

    Mr. Pompeo talked about being an openly devout Christian during his time as Secretary of State, and how it informed all he did.  Though being asked ‘how does being a Christian impact your life?’ often had a negative connotation, that was irrelevant to him.  He responds with conviction and recounts his words that are clearly meant to inspire us:

    “[Our faith] impacts everything you do; it informs every action that you take. It impacts how you think about the world, how you interact with people, and every day in your work life. Our founders believed deeply this was right and that the capacity to exercise our religion freely was important, and it mattered. …My oath was to the nation, I raised my right hand and swore that I would support defend the American Constitution, but I knew that if I did that with the Lord in my heart, I’d be more successful at delivering on that very outcome.”

    Whether it was President Sisi in Egypt or Chairman Kim of North Korea, world leaders respected him for it, and there is nothing un-American or unbiblical about it. In his seminal speech in Cairo, he began the remarks saying, “I’m Mike Pompeo, and I’m an evangelical Christian.” His speechwriters tried to remove it, but he insisted on keeping it in.  He knew it was essential not because he wanted to talk about Christianity in a Muslim nation, but he wanted them to understand that the believers of Christ wanted good things for people everywhere and that it’s our responsibility to be faithful, no matter where we are. There is not one line that gets him more questions or comments about even to this day. Leaders of every faith, Christians, Jews, and Muslims worldwide, say they appreciated his honesty. They appreciated that he kept faith in the public square. They admired the discipline with which he practiced his faith. They appreciated his courage to talk about his values so they could better understand how our nations could work alongside each other to deliver better lives for people across the world.

    Though some US officials criticized his openness, it never deterred him. Unfortunately, many government representatives wrongly interpret that the First Amendment prohibits talking about faith, but it does not. The freedom of religion is meant to protect the rights of people of all faiths to practice their religion without encroachment from the government. In my experience, it is a lack of religious conviction in our government officials that has led to disastrous policy decisions.

    I will never forget being in a closed-door meeting at the White House during the Obama Administration, where a small group of us was invited to address the President on “countering violent extremism.” After nearly an hour of our passionate pleas and recommendations for stricter policies towards state sponsors of terrorism and other stringent measures, the President says he didn’t “get religion” and would not let people drag him into a war over it. Quite frankly, this sentiment explains why he did virtually nothing about the explosion of violence in the Middle East during his tenure. Suppose many of our senior US diplomats cannot appreciate the impact religion has on the way people live their lives and determine their priorities. How then can we properly represent our country as a nation founded on Judeo-Christian values?

    Secretary Pompeo went on to say, “There’s no separation between faith and country because God governs in the affairs of men. Our success depends on virtuous people. Wherever that is— volunteering in the parking lot at church or serving in government. Our faith should form our character and inform our opinions.”

    Being a Christian should be part of whatever we do. It’s not proselytizing; it is a belief that whatever religion someone believes in, they should be allowed to practice it freely. Hopefully, they will find the power of Christ revealed to them.   If our faith is not public and visible, how can we call others to faith in Christ? It is not just about being a good person.

    How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? (Romans 10:14)

    I am eternally grateful for receiving salvation after practicing Islam freely in the US for decades.  I also cherish the freedom to share my new faith with others. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, forit is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes,” (Romans 1:16).

    Hedieh Mirahmadi was a devout Muslim for two decades working in the field of national security before she experienced the redemptive power of Jesus Christ and has a new passion for sharing the Gospel.  She dedicates herself full-time to Resurrect Ministry, an online resource that harnesses the power of the Internet to make salvation through Christ available to people of all nations, and her daily podcast LivingFearlessDevotional.com.

    Judge rejects churches’ challenge to Virginia’s LGBT antidiscrimination law


    Reported by By Michael Gryboski, Christian Post Reporter | Thursday, July 22, 2021

    Read more at https://www.christianpost.com/news/judge-rejects-churches-challenge-to-virginia-lgbt-antidiscrimination-law.html/

    Gay pride parade
    Participants carrying a rainbow flag attend the annual gay pride. | Reuters/Annika Af Klercker/TT News Agency

    A judge has ruled against a group of churches, schools and a pro-life pregnancy center challenging a Virginia law that adds sexual orientation and gender identity to state antidiscrimination law. Judge James E. Plowman Jr. issued a ruling from the bench last week in favor of the Virginia Values Act, which was passed by the Democrat-controlled state government in 2020.

    Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring released a statement last Friday expressing support for the ruling, which will be entered as an order within the next few weeks.  

    “Our landmark civil rights protections will remain in place, and Virginia will remain a place that is open and welcoming to all, no matter what you look like, where you come from, how you worship, or who you love,” stated Herring.

    “I was proud to support passage of the Virginia Values Act and am so proud of our work to successfully defend the law twice against legal attack.”

    In late September of last year, Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit on behalf of two churches, three private schools, and a pregnancy care center against the Virginia Values Act. In the suit, Calvary Road Baptist Church of Fairfax County and its school, Community Fellowship Church of Staunton and its school, Community Christian Academy of Charlottesville, and Care Net of Loudon County claimed that the new law forced them to compromise various hiring and employment practices based on their sincere religious beliefs.

    “[The Act] puts the Ministries in an impossible position: they must either abandon the religious convictions they were founded upon, or be ready to face investigations, an onerous administrative process, fines up to $100,000 for each violation, unlimited compensatory and punitive damages and attorney-fee awards, and court orders forcing them to engage in actions that would violate their consciences,” stated the suit, in part.

    “Even merely posting their religious beliefs on their own websites could subject the Ministries to prosecution and exorbitant fines. These penalties could easily exceed a million dollars, ruin the Ministries financially, and make continuing their Christian missions impossible.”

    In March, U.S. District Court Judge Claude M. Hilton rejected a separate challenge to the Virginia Values Act, another lawsuit filed by the ADF, this time on behalf of Robert Updegrove of Bob Updegrove Photography. In his decision, Hilton argued that the Updegrove lacked the standing to sue since the Act “has never been enforced against” him “or any other person.”

    “In the almost nine months since the statute became effective, no complaint has been filed under the statute,” wrote Hilton in late March. 

    “No case or controversy exists when a person expresses a desire to change his previously compliant conduct to violate a new statute that no person, government or otherwise, has ever sought to enforce.”

    Follow Michael Gryboski on Twitter or Facebook

    California Pastor Che Ahn warns church closures rooted in Marxist ideology


    Reported By Ryan Foley, Christian Post Reporter| Tuesday, July 20, 2021

    Read more at https://www.christianpost.com/news/california-pastor-covid-church-closures-rooted-in-marxism.html/

    Harvest Rock Church, Ché Ahn
    Pastor Ché Ahn speaks at Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena, California, 2019. | Facebook/Harvest Rock Church

    A California pastor who has challenged his state government over worship restrictions and church closures in response to COVID-19 believes such restrictions are rooted in Marxist ideology. 

    In an interview with The Epoch Times published Saturday, Pastor Che Ahn of Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena, California, asserted that “When the pandemic happened, I think a lot of what I would call left-wing governors, you can call Democrat or liberals, but I feel they’re more left-wing, I think they seized the opportunity to really control society and one of the areas that I think they really like to control is the church because historically, the church has been the most outspoken against government control in this country.” 

    While many proponents of limiting the number of people who can attend in-person church services point to public health concerns as the justification for their actions, Ahn attributes the restrictions to a more sinister motive: “Marxism is a religion. Humanism is a religion. It is putting the human at the top instead of God, and so, [socialism] will do everything possible to get people to reject worshiping the true God.” 

    “That’s why we’re having such a battle in our nation against the values of our Founding Fathers who are mostly Christians and you know they had biblical values, Judeo-Christian values. So that’s why I feel there is an assault going on,” he asserted. 

    Over the past year, Ahn has found himself among several pastors clashing with the government over coronavirus worship restrictions. California implemented particularly strict restrictions on worship services during the coronavirus pandemic. The state faced criticism for not imposing similar restrictions on secular businesses, which led to some pastors to designate their churches as “strip clubs” so they could remain open during the pandemic. 

    In addition to limiting the number of people who could gather for in-person worship services, the state prevented people from conducting at-home Bible studies, which prompted Ahn to file a lawsuit against the state. Pastor Ahn took his challenge against the ban on all forms of in-person worship to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and later to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ordered the district court to rehear the case in light of its ruling in Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo that struck down coronavirus worship restrictions in New York state. 

    In April, more than a year after the coronavirus pandemic first began to spread in the U.S., California lifted its mandatory restrictions on religious services, changing the language on capacity limits regarding worship services from “mandatory” to “highly recommended.” In response to this move, Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, who represented Harvest Rock in its legal proceedings, expressed relief that California’s Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom “finally dropped his draconian restrictions on churches.”

    In May, the state of California was ordered to pay Harvest Rock Church $1.35 million in attorneys’ fees and legal costs that the church incurred as a result of its litigation against the state. Last month, a federal judge ordered the state to pay $1.6 million in attorneys’ fees to South Bay United Pentecostal Church and an additional $550,000 to a Catholic priest who also sued the state over its worship restrictions. 

    At the same time, the same federal judge issued an injunction preventing Newsom and other state officials from “issuing or enforcing regulations” against churches and places of worship in response to the pandemic. Although Ahn was threatened with fines and jail time for holding in-person worship services in violation of public health orders, he maintained that he made the right decision by defying the state’s restrictions in his interview with The Epoch Times. 

    “Thank God that we chose to be open, defying [Newsom’s] orders because we feel strongly that the Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land, and no one’s above the Constitution, even our president or governor, and the Constitution protects our right, not only for free speech but for us to assemble, to worship, and they will not interfere with a free exercise thereof, ” he said. 

    Ahn is not the only person warning about the advance of Marxism in the U.S. In a recent interview with The Christian Post, Kevin McGary, the co-founder of Every Black Life Matters, said “Marxism is really what we’re fighting on all fronts at the moment,” specifically noting its prominence in American education.

    Even as churches in California no longer face the strict worship restrictions they were subject to at the beginning of the pandemic, Newsom could still face political consequences for the restrictions he imposed during the height of the pandemic. His private dinner at an upscale French restaurant, which took place as coronavirus restrictions prevented Californians from eating out, resulted in allegations of hypocrisy and accelerated the effort to recall him. 

    The recall campaign gathered enough signatures to force a recall election, which is scheduled to take place Sept. 14. California voters will be asked if they want to remove Newsom from office. If a majority vote to oust him, the votes for replacement candidates will be tallied. In such a scenario, the replacement candidate that receives the most votes would become governor. 

    The most recent poll of the recall election, conducted by Democratic pollster Change Research in June, found that 54% of California voters oppose the recall election compared to 40% who support it. However, a June poll from Republican pollster Moore Information Group found a plurality of likely voters (49%) support the recall effort and 46% oppose it. The most recent nonpartisan poll, conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California in May, found that 57% of Californians oppose the recall while 40% would vote in favor of it. 

    Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com

    DC to pay $220K for restricting Baptist church’s in-person worship during pandemic


    Reported By Michael Gryboski, Christian Post Reporter | Friday, July 09, 2021

    Read more at https://www.christianpost.com/news/dc-to-pay-220k-for-restricting-in-person-worship-of-church.html/

    Capitol Hill Baptist
    Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. | Wikimedia Commons/Farragutful

    The District of Columbia and Mayor Muriel Bowser have agreed to pay $220,000 as part of a legal settlement with a local Baptist church that sued the city over in-person worship restrictions during the pandemic. 

    Last September, Capitol Hill Baptist Church sued the district over the government’s ban on outdoor worship services that had more than 100 people in attendance. In a settlement agreement and release approved on Thursday, the city agreed to pay $220,000 to the counsels representing the church, which broke down to $210,000 for the law firm WilmerHale and $10,000 for the national legal nonprofit First Liberty Institute.

    As explained in the settlement, the district has lifted earlier meeting restrictions so that Capitol Hill Baptist can gather indoors for worship services.

    “The District agrees that it will not enforce any current or future COVID-19 restrictions to prohibit CHBC from gathering as one congregation in the District of Columbia,” explained the settlement.

    “The District further agrees that, should it decide that new restrictions on religious gatherings are necessary during the current, or any future, COVID-19 (or variant thereof) public health emergency, it will not impose restrictions on CHBC that are more restrictive than the restrictions on comparable secular activities, as defined by the Supreme Court.”

    Hiram Sasser, executive general counsel for the First Liberty Institute, said in a statement that Capitol Hill Baptist “is relieved and grateful that this ordeal is behind them.”

    “All Capitol Hill Baptist Church ever asked is for equal treatment under the law so they could meet together safely as a church,” stated Sasser. “Government officials need to know that illegal restrictions on First Amendment rights are intolerable and costly.”

    In March 2020, as part of the effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus, Mayor Bowser issued an executive order restricting the capacity for religious services of 10 or more people. The restriction was eventually expanded to no more than 100 people or 50% of the building capacity.

    The 850-member Capitol Hill Baptist filed its lawsuit last September, arguing that the restrictions unfairly burdened houses of worship compared to comparable secular entities. U.S. District Court Judge Trevor McFadden, a Trump appointee, granted an injunction in favor of the church last October, arguing that the “current restrictions substantially burden the Church’s exercise of religion.”

    “… the District has failed to offer evidence at this stage showing that it has a compelling interest in preventing the Church from meeting outdoors with appropriate precautions, or that this prohibition is the least-restrictive means to achieve its interest,” wrote McFadden.

    Soon after, the church held its first outdoor service since the litigation began, meeting at Anacostia Park in Southeast D.C. on a Sunday morning. The attendees wore face masks and maintained social distancing in keeping with the official public health recommendations at that time.

    “It is absolutely appropriate to take stock, to give thanks, to give honor to whom honor is due, to recognize the many blessings that our government continually secures and provides for us,” Associate Pastor Bobby Jamieson preached at the October 2020 service.

    “The only conditions that justify disobedience to legitimate government authority, legitimate earthly authority are when they either command something God forbids or forbid something God commands.”    Follow Michael Gryboski on Twitter or Facebook

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