Aug 18

Iraq: Bishop’s call for action

Dr Nicholas Baines, Bishop of Leeds

Dr Nicholas Baines, Bishop of Leeds

A Church of England bishop has called on the British Government to do more for Christians in Iraq.

The bishop of Leeds, Nicholas Baines, has written to David Cameron with the support of the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, according to The Observer.

The letter describes the government’s Middle East policy as incoherent, ill-thought-out and determined by “the loudest media voice at any particular time”.

The Observer says it describes the UK’s foreign policy as so muddled and reactive that it is “difficult to discern the strategic intentions” of the government’s approach to the region.

Mr Cameron is accused of turning his back on the suffering of Christians. The letter asks why the plight of religious minorities in Iraq, such as the Yazidis, seems to have taken precedence. It notes that, though the government responded promptly to reports of at least 30,000 Yazidis trapped on Mount Sinjar, the fate of tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians fleeing jihadists from Mosul, Iraq’s second city, and elsewhere appears to have “fallen from consciousness”.

Dr Baines also takes the Prime Minister to task for failing to develop an effective plan to tackle the spread of violent Islamist extremism in Nigeria, where the militant group Boko Haram has terrorised the north of the country. “We do not seem to have a coherent or comprehensive approach to Islamic extremism as it is developing across the globe,” the bishop writes.

Canon Andrew White

Canon Andrew White

Meanwhile, Canon Andrew White, the vicar of St George’s Church, Baghdad, the only Anglican church in Iraq, is calling for military intervention.  Canon White writes of a secret visit to Qaraqosh (also known as Bakhdida – see MAP) the largest Christian town in Iraq until it was over-run by ISIS two weeks ago, causing a mass evacuation of Christians to Irbil in the Kurdish sector.

Some 30,000 refugees are packed into the Kurdish capital, forming a new Christian suburb at Ankawa, near Irbil airport.

Canon White said, ‘I spoke to one woman who had survived the massacres in Qaraqosh. She had a bandaged left hand. When IS soldiers could not remove her gold wedding ring, they had simply hacked off her finger. She wept as she told me.’

Dr White has been at the forefront of practical action.  ‘These people need mattresses, clothes, blankets and food,’ he says. But he is also now calling for military intervention  ‘I now believe that military action of some sort is necessary, if only to reduce the movement of IS tanks, their soldiers, and their power and authority on the ground,’ he says.

There is some indication that the British Government may be moving in that direction.  David Cameron has spoken of the need for a “firm security response.”

Kurdish Peshmerga troops have at this time of writing retaken villages to the east of the Mosul Dam and are close to taking the dam itself.  They have achieved this military success with the help of American air cover.

But the Kurds and the Christian Qaraqosh Protection Committee now need to move closer to Mosul itself first retaking the area between Irbil and Mosul which includes Qaraqosh.  The people will only be able to return to Qaraqosh when the Tigris river, from where the town pipes its water supply, is retaken.  For this to happen, the US will need to take out as many ISIS military assets as possible, including the tanks and artillery it supplied to the Iraqi Northern Division, now in ISIS hands.

READ: Ex 15:1-3; Psalm 10:1-18, 44:22-26, 62:1-8, 116:15; Prov 24:11-12; Lam 1:12; Matt 10:23; Luke 21:12; Rev 12:11

PRAY: That God would protect the Christians throughout Iraq from violence. That there would be a halt to the progress of ISIS and cities would be freed from their law. That there would be enough resources to take care of the hundreds of thousands of refugees and that they might be able to return home soon. That the persecution of Christians would not be ignored by the West, but that effective action would be taken by those in power to protect our brothers and sisters.

WRITE: (Or Email) your MP at House of Commons, LONDON, SW1A 0AA. Ask him/her to urge Her Majesty’s Government to support efforts to retake Qaraqosh and Mosul and to protect Christians in Iraq. Ask what they are pressing the Iraqi government to do. Ask if they will be offering asylum to Iraqi Christians. Ask if they are still supporting the rebels in Syria or if they have at last decided it’s time to switch sides. Stress that it was Her Majesty’s Government who got Iraq into this mess and funded what has become ISIS in Syria.

WITNESS: Outside the Iraqi Embassy, 21, Queen’s Gate, London SW7 5JE, on Friday 22nd August from 2pm to 4pm. Nearest tube: Gloucester Road.

 

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Aug 14

No right to ‘Gay Marriage’

GayWeddingThere is no right to ‘gay marriage’, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled.

The highest human rights court in Europe assuaged fears that it would judicially impose same-sex marriage when it told a male to female transsexual and his wife that a civil union should be good enough for them.

European human rights law does not require countries to “grant access to marriage to same-sex couples,” according to the judgment last month.

The judgment has a devastating effect on gay rights in Europe, dashing the hopes of homosexual activists that same-sex “marriage” can become a reality across the continent.

The United Kingdom is one of only fifteen countries in the world to have changed its definition of marriage.  Five are outside Europe.  The list of shame is: Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, France, UK, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Argentina and Uruguay.

The European Court ruling will help supporters of real marriage in the United States, where the Supreme Court ruled last year that individual states may decide whether or not to allow individuals of the same sex to marry each other.  Nineteen States and the District of Columbia have legalised ‘gay marriage’, and there are law suits current in the other thirty-one.

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg

Italy, Finland and Australia are among the nations whose parliaments have rejected the redefinition.

The European Court not only said that European human rights law does not contemplate same-sex marriage, it said that civil unions are good enough for same-sex couples.

The court confirmed that the protection of the traditional institution of marriage is a valid state interest, supporting the view that relations between persons of the same sex are not identical to marriage between a man and a woman, and may be treated differently in law.

The judgment says that European human rights law recognizes the “fundamental right of a man and woman to marry and to found a family” and “enshrines the traditional concept of marriage as being between a man and a woman.” It explains how no European consensus on same-sex marriages exists, as only 10 of the 47 countries bound by the treaty allow such designations.

 

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Aug 14

The Persecuted Church: IRAQ

By Robin Phillips:

Since America’s invasion of Iraq in 2003, Christians there have faced increasing persecution. The instabilities in the government have led to the growth of extremist Muslim groups whose attacks on Christians have been largely ignored. Most recently, a jihadist offshoot of Al Queda, known as ISIS, has been marching through Syria and Iraq, taking towns and villages, imposing Sharia law and expelling Christians.

HISTORY OF IRAQ

The land of modern-day Iraq, in the heart of the Middle East, has been home to some of the oldest and greatest civilizations the world has known. Sometimes called “the cradle of civilization” it has seen the rise and fall of Sumerian, Chaldeans, Assyrian, Babylonian and Persian and Ottoman empires.

iraq2003

This land has also been intertwined with the story of God’s people. In Genesis 10 we are told that the descendants of Nimrod built the great city of Nineveh (modern-day Mosul, Iraq). A few chapters later, Genesis describes how Abraham was called by God to leave Ur in the land of the Chaldeans (modern-day Tell el-Muqayyar, Iraq) and travel by faith to God’s promised land.

As the empire of the Assyrians grew in modern day Iraq, God increasingly used them in dealing with his people. At times God miraculously saved his people from the clutches of this great empire, while at other times He used them as instruments of His judgment.

God also extended His grace and salvation to the people of Nineveh through the prophet Jonah. In a remarkable conversion, 120,000 persons and much cattle were saved from God’s judgment, as they turned to the Lord in sackcloth and ashes.

GROWTH OF CHRISTIANITY

In the first-century, not long after Christ’s ascension, St Thomas and St Thaddeus brought the gospel to Mesopotamia and the Parthian and Persian empires. The church grew rapidly, leading to the founding of the Assyrian Church of the East. St Peter even mentions this Church in his first letter: “The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you.” (1 Peter 5: 13).

The Assyrian Church of the East continued to spread and at its height took the gospel all the way to India, China and Central Asia.

ISLAM TAKES OVER

However, in the seventh-century, the Muslim conquest took over much of the Middle East and modern-day Iraq began to be ruled by Muslim Caliphs. The current capital of Iraq, Baghdad, was founded under the Muslim Caliph Al-Mansur in 762. His intention was to make it a reflection of Paradise as described in the Qur’an.

The Ottoman Empire conquered the region in the 1500s and ruled until its dissolution after the First World War. After a short period under the British Empire, Iraq was granted independence in 1932. The country has been unstable since the 1980s, with the Iraq-Iran War under Saddam Hussein, the Gulf war in the early 1990s and constant tensions between the Sunni and Shia Muslims.

Throughout the history of Iraq, Christians have experienced persecution from the majority Muslim population. At times Christians have been subject to paying the Jizya tax imposed upon Christians by Muslim leaders. They have also experienced bouts of extreme persecution and massacres, as in the late 14th century when a Mongol warlord conquered Mesopotamia and had 70,000 Assyrian Christians beheaded in Tikrit, and 90,000 more in Baghdad. Nevertheless, there has always remained a Christian presence in the land of Iraq.

THE LEGACY OF BUSH AND BLAIR

When President Bush led the invasion into Iraq in 2003, there was much concern from various Christian communities around the world that Western intervention in Iraq would lead to greater instability and provide opportunities for much more vicious persecution of Christians by Islamic extremists. These fears have been more than realised. In 2003 it was estimated that there were around 1.5million Christians in Iraq; now the estimates are optimistically around 400,000, not taking into account the recent exodus.

In the past few years the Church in Iraq has faced unprecedented persecution at the hands of Islamic extremists, and in recent months thousands of Christians have been forced to flee by the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS.)

ISIS AND THE CALIPHATE

In May 2006 Nouri Al-Maliki was elected as Prime Minister of Iraq.  Al-Maliki is now coming to the end of his second term, but his 8 years in office have provided little stability and have increasingly alienated the Sunni Muslims. Some argue that the rise of ISIS is due to the weakness of the Iraq state and the lack of unity in community and society.

ISIS troops have swept through Iraq butchering and raping Christians in the name of Jihad.

ISIS troops have swept through Iraq butchering and raping Christians in the name of Jihad.

The group ISIS was formed in April 2013 amongst the Syrian rebels encouraged by Britain to the tune of £32.5m. It grew out of Al Qaeda but has since been disowned by them for being too radical, which is some feat. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is the current leader of ISIS and is seen as more of a tactician and battlefield commander than a theologian. This emphasis makes the group even more attractive to young jihadists. The group is one of the wealthiest militant groups in the world with income from oil fields in Eastern Syria, and reportedly from selling looted antiquities. They are also reported to have an extremely high level of bureaucracy and tight central control of operations that are locally implemented.

Throughout 2013, ISIS conducted around 10,000 operations in Syria and Iraq and made huge advances in taking towns and cities in both countries. ISIS currently holds territory spanning 415 miles , from Al-Bab in Syria all the way to Suleiman Bek in Iraq. The borders of the countries seem to matter little, and the goal is to create a united Islamic State or “Caliphate” ruled according to Islamic law. On 29th June, the first day of the Muslim fast of Ramadan, ISIS declared the restoration of the “Caliphate” and their aim to grow the “Islamic State.”

In the towns controlled by ISIS, women are forced to wear the hijab and only go outside “if necessary.” Female Genital Mutilation is mandated. Drugs, alcohol and cigarettes are banned. Monuments, shrines and graveyards, seen as idolatrous in Sunni Islam, are to be destroyed.

The destruction of monuments and shrines has led to many ancient Christian and some rival Muslim landmarks being defaced. Ten ancient Shia mosques have been destroyed across Iraq, along with countless Christian Churches, the Shrine of Jonah in Mosul, and a fourth-century monastery in Quaraqosh.

“NOTHING BUT THE SWORD”

Having gained smaller territories throughout Syria and Iraq, ISIS attacked the town of Mosul in early June. Mosul is situated beside the ancient city of Nineveh, and has been the traditional heartland of Iraq’s Christian community. As the militant ISIS troops advanced, police advised Christian leaders to flee and thousands left the city. But this was just the beginning. Once ISIS gained control over the city of Mosul they looted and torched Churches, hung black jihadist flags and declared that they had “come to liberate the city.”

A few weeks later on 18th July, ISIS issued an ultimatum to be read in all the mosques, that all Christians must convert to Islam, pay the tax for non-Muslims or die. “We offer them three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract – involving payment of jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword.” The Christians were given 24 hours to convert, pay or leave.

Thousands of Iraqi Christians have fled to the Khazer refugee camp after the ISIS ultimatum.

Thousands of Iraqi Christians have fled to the Khazer refugee camp after the ISIS ultimatum.

A local news source reports that on 21st July, ISIS soldiers barged into the house of Christians in Mosul and demanded that they pay the jizya tax. When the father explained that they did not have the money to pay, the three soldiers proceeded to rape his wife and daughter in front of him. The husband and father was so distraught that he later took his own life.

In the face of such brutality, thousands more Christians fled north to Kurdistan where the Kurdish Regional Government is providing food, water and shelter. As the Christians fled they were not allowed to take anything with them. All of their money, belongings and property was seized by the ISIS soldiers. Wadie Salim, a Christian refugee from Mosul, told CNN “They told us, ‘You to leave all of your money, gold, jewellery, and go out with only the clothes on you.’”

More than 300,000 refugees have fled to Kurdish refugee camps, which are increasingly overwhelmed. There seems to be no hope of returning home in the near future. The Archbishop of Mosul Amel Nona said “We have received threats…now all the faithful have fled the city. I wonder if they will ever return there.” The Chaldean Archbishop of Kirkuk, Yousif Mirkis, says that he “quite definitely” fears the end of Christianity in Iraq.

IRAQ ‘FAILING TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY’

There has been little response by world leaders to the crisis for Christians in Iraq. The Prime Minister of Iraq, al-Maliki, issued a statement on 19th July saying “What is being done by the Daesh (ISIS) terrorist gang against our Christian citizens in Ninevah province, and their aggression against the churches and houses of worship in the areas under their control reveals beyond any doubt the extremist criminal and terrorist nature of this group.” But there is not much evidence of action being taken by the Iraqi government to aid the thousands of refugees.

The Kurdish Prime Minister, Nechirvan Barzani, spoke against the Iraqi government, complaining that “The number of refugees is on the increase while the Iraqi government has so far failed to take responsibility and help these refugees who have sought asylum in Kurdistan.” He also called for international aid to help provide for basic needs. Christian communities themselves have been contacting the UN, the United States and international NGOs for help.

In an outspoken article in the Telegraph, Dr Tim Stanley condemned the lack of interest given by westerners to the suffering of Christians in Iraq. He observed “it would indeed be awful to think that the West might remain silent as violence rages purely out of a failure to recognise that Christians can be victimised, or out of a reluctance to cast aspersions on certain brands of Islam. It would make this the first genocide in history to be tolerated out of social awkwardness.”

ISIS continues to advance, with hopes of enlarging their “Islamic State.” They have been closing in on cities located near Baghdad, and have made small scale attacks on Baghdad. On 19th and 20th July there were 4 bombings in the city, killing at least 27 people. The main website used by ISIS claimed responsibility for these bombings.

On 17th July, Louis Raphael Sako, Patriarch of Baghdad for the Chaldean Catholic Church, wrote a letter “to all who have a living conscience in Iraq and all the world”. He explained that “in recent days there has been written the letter ‘N’ in Arabic on the front wall of Christian homes, signifying ‘Nazara’ (Christian), and on the front wall of Shiite homes, the letter ‘R’ signifying ‘Rwafidh’ (Protestants or rejecters).” He spoke of the dangers and power of sharia law, and appealed to those around the world to take notice:

“We call with all the force available to us; we call to you fraternally, in a spirit of human brotherhood; we call to you urgently; we call to you impelled by risk and in spite of the risk. We implore in particular our Iraqi brothers asking them to reconsider and reflect upon the strategy they have adopted and demanding that they must respect innocent and weaponless people of all nationalities, religions, and sects.

“We call Christians in the region to act with reason and prudence and to consider and to plan everything in the best way possible. Let them understand what is planned for this region, to practice solidarity in love, to examine the realities together and so be able together to find the paths to build trust in themselves and in their neighbours. Let them stay close to their own Church and surround it; endure the time of trial and pray until the storm will be over.”

READ: Ex 15:1-3; Psalm 10:1-18, 44:22-26, 62:1-8, 116:15; Prov 24:11-12; Lam 1:12; Matt 10:23; Luke 21:12; Rev 12:11

PRAY: That God would protect the Christians throughout Iraq from violence. That there would be a halt to the progress of ISIS and cities would be freed from their law. That there would be enough resources to take care of the hundreds of thousands of refugees and that they might be able to return home soon. That the persecution of Christians would not be ignored by the West, but that effective action would be taken by those in power to protect our brothers and sisters.

WRITE: To your MP at House of Commons, LONDON, SW1A 0AA. Ask what Her Majesty’s Government are doing to protect Christians in Iraq. Ask what they are asking the Iraqi government to do. Ask if they will be offering asylum to Iraqi Christians. Ask if they are still supporting the rebels in Syria or if they have at last decided it’s time to switch sides. Stress that it was Her Majesty’s Government who got Iraq into this mess and funded what has become ISIS in Syria.

WITNESS: Outside the Iraqi Embassy, 21, Queen’s Gate, London SW7 5JE, on Friday 22nd August from 2pm to 4pm. Nearest tube: Gloucester Road.

 

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Aug 05

Baroness Warsi resigns over Gaza

Baroness Warsi

Baroness Warsi

David Cameron’s Muslim poster-girl, Baroness Warsi, has resigned from the Government over its policy on Gaza.

She wrote on Twitter earlier today: “With deep regret I have this morning written to the Prime Minister & tendered my resignation. I can no longer support Govt policy on #Gaza.”

Baroness Warsi represented the Government in putting out a candle at the Great War ‘lights out’ remembrance service in Westminster Abbey only last night.

Overnight also, Israeli forces honoured a cease-fire by pulling troops out of Gaza, their mission to destroy the tunnels which Hamas used to carry the rockets it fires into Israel accomplished.

So Sayeeda Warsi’s inability to continue to support the Government has arisen in the early hours when the engagement is over.

Israel launched Operation Protective Edge on 8th July with the stated aim of ending rocket attacks and destroying the tunnels.  Gaza officials say the four-week conflict has killed 1,800 Palestinians. They refuse to distinguish between combatants and civilians.  Some 67 Israelis have also died, mostly soldiers.

Lady Warsi had previously called on Twitter for more ‘international action’ to end the crisis.

On 21 July, she wrote: “The killing of innocent civilians must stop. Need immediate ceasefire in #Gaza. Leadership required on both sides to stop this suffering.”

Three days later she added: “Can people stop trying to justify the killing of children. Whatever our politics there can never be justification, surely only regret #Gaza.”

NO CONDEMNATION OF HAMAS HUMAN SHIELDS

Colonel Richard Kemp

Colonel Richard Kemp

What is absent in her simplistic tweets is any condemnation of the Hamas policy of human shields which deliberately puts women and children in the front line. Despite saying that Israel has a right to exist and to be secure, she is now calling for an arms embargo against Israel.  She has also, in her resignation letter to David Cameron, said that the UK’s ‘approach and language’ during the Gaza campaign … ‘is not in Britain’s national interest’, a curious phrase which looks suspiciously like a veiled threat of domestic Muslim retaliation.

Colonel Richard Kemp has extensive conflict and peace-keeping experience.  In 2009 he testified before the United Nations on a previous Israeli ‘Cast Lead’ operation that Hamas was using human shields and that they were ‘expert at driving the media agenda’.  Although acknowledging that mistakes can be made, the Israeli Defence Force, he said, ‘did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare’ while Hamas ‘deliberately tried to sacrifice its own civililians’.

Two days ago Col Kemp wrote that ‘Hamas make great efforts to segregate their military casualties to preserve the fiction that Israel is killing civilians only‘, that ‘Hamas has a track record of lying about casualties’, of ‘Hamas forcing civilians back in once buildings have been evacuated’ and of ‘secondary explosions resulting from Hamas’s own munitions’.

POLITICAL FLIP-FLOPS

Baroness Warsi was also Minister for Faith and Communities.  In 2012 she spoke against militant secularism said that Europe needs to be “more confident and more comfortable in its Christianity.”  At the same time she has been an advocate for Islamic banking in the UK.

In the only time she ran for office, for the seat of Dewsbury in 2005, she distributed leaflets arguing that Labour’s lowering of the homosexual age of consent from 18 to 16 (under the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000) was “allowing schoolchildren to be propositioned for homosexual relationships”, and that homosexuality was being “peddled” to children as young as seven in schools.  She backtracked by apologising for her leaflets last year, and said she was ‘on the wrong side of history’ and ‘on a journey’ on gay rights.  Baroness Warsi abstained on ‘gay marriage’.

She has shown she can flip-flop as well as the historical Vicar of Bray ( - sung here), but on Gaza Sayeeda Warsi has returned to her Muslim roots.

Please pray for a Godly appointment to be made in Baroness Warsi’s place.

 

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Aug 02

Christians in Iraq Forced to Flee Mosul

Christians flee the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

Christians flee the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

Christians in Iraq have been forced to flee Mosul with nothing but the clothes they wore after the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) issued this statement to Christians: convert to Islam, pay a tax, or die.

Zaid Qreqosh Ishaq, 27, fled from Mosul with his family after receiving ISIS’ ultimatum.

“We had to go through an area where they had set up a checkpoint,” he said. ISIS militants “asked us to get out of the car. We got out. They took…our things, our bags, our money, everything we had on us.”

They took refuge at the St. Joseph Church in the Kurdish city of Irbil, but they may be forced to move on as the violence follows them.

Nawzad Hadi, Irbil’s governor, pledged to protect Christians and other minority groups fleeing Isis. Around two million refugees from Iraq and Syria call Irbil home.

France offered refuge to Christians fleeing from Iraq and ISIS.

“We are providing aid to displaced people fleeing from the threats,” France’s foreign and interior ministers said in a joint statement. “We are ready, if they wish, to facilitate their asylum on our soil.”

Another Christian from Mosul, Noel Ibrahim, said that while he was fleeing with his family a group of ISIS members stopped them and stole cash and gold from the women.

“One of the gunmen told us, ‘You can leave now, but do not ever dream of returning to Mosul again,” Ibrahim said.

ISIS told Christians in a statement: “We offer them three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract—involving payment of the jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword.”

The dhimma is a historic contract that says any non-Muslims living in a Muslim country who refuse to convert to Islam must pay the jizya tax if they wish to ensure their safety.

ISIS believes they have the right to make this demand because in June they declared a caliphate, an Islamic state ruled by one leader.

The Muslim jihadists have since converted churches into mosques and confiscated the homes and properties of Christians.

In order to know which properties they are confiscating, the jihadists have been marking Christians’ homes with the letter N for “Nassarah,” the term used for Christians in the Koran.

Muslims spray paint the houses of Christians in order to know which houses to confiscate.

Muslims spray paint the houses of Christians in order to know which houses to confiscate.

Patriarch Louis Soko, one of the most senior Christian clerics in Iraq, said that “for the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians.” Approximately 10,000 Christians have fled Mosul after Isis took control in early June.

Once home to a thriving Christian population, Iraq now has around 35,000 Christians as compared to the 60,000 that lived there before 2003. This number began to decline in 2003 when the U.S. invaded Iraq.

Pope Francis, along with the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, have pleaded for help from the U.S. for these Christians, but President Barack Obama and other Western leaders have remained silent on the issue.

Among other travesties, ISIS destroyed the Biblical prophet Jonah’s tomb, which is located in Mosul. They allegedly put dynamite around the tomb and detonated it by remote control.

By destroying Jonah’s tomb, one of the last physical traces of Iraq’s Christian heritage, the members of ISIS are directly attacking the Christian faith.

Mosul is the second-largest city in Iraq and partially rests on the site for the ancient city of Ninevah, the ancient capital of Assyria and the setting of Jonah’s story.

Isis issued a similar statement in February to the city of Raqqa in Syria. They told Christians to pay half an ounce (14g) of pure gold in order to secure their safety.

The Islamic State group says it will continue its offensive until it reaches Baghdad, although its progress seems to have slowed after taking over Iraq’s Sunni areas.

To learn more about ISIS, watch the brief video below

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Aug 01

Independent schools must promote sodomy

The Government wants to compel all schools in England to ‘actively promote’ homosexual and transsexual rights, even in schools with a religious ethos.

The Proposed New Independent School Standards are a politically-correct response to the recent ‘Trojan Horse’ scandal.  Officials at the Department for Education have taken the opportunity provided by extremism in some Birmingham schools to insist that sodomy and transgender rights should be actively promoted.

As the Proposal says: ‘independent schools are subject to the Equality Act 2010, the only remedy directly provided by that Act is through the Courts; the new standards would allow the Department to take regulatory action against the school for failing to meet them.’

The consultation on The Proposed New Independent School Standards, which would apply to private schools, academies and free schools, closes on Monday 4th August.

For schools run by local education authorities the Government say they will change OFSTED inspection standards to reflect the same position.

The Proposal (at paragraph 1.1c, speaks of ‘fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance for those with different faiths and beliefs; and encourage students to respect other people, with particular regard to the protected characteristics set out in the Equality Act 2010;’

But of course the Equality Act 2010 includes ‘gender reassignment’ and ‘sexual orientation’ alongside age, sex, disability, race, religion or belief.  A better way of encouraging extremism than forcing Muslim schools to promote transsexuality, sodomy and lesbianism can hardly be imagined.

The Proposal states, at paragraph 3.2.2::

‘The proposed changes to Part 2 are aimed at making it clear to independent schools that the proprietor must actively promote the fundamental British values that are set out in section 1.1(c) above and that schools must actively promote the specified principles, including furthering tolerance and harmony between different cultural traditions and encouraging respect for democracy. A minimum approach, for example putting up posters on a notice board and organising an occasional visit to places of worship would fall short of ‘actively promoting’. Schools will be expected to focus on, and be able to show how their work with pupils is effective in embedding fundamental British values. ‘Actively promote’ also means challenging pupils, staff or parents expressing opinions contrary to fundamental British values.’

It goes on to say

‘The new requirement for schools to actively promote principles which encourage respect for persons with protected characteristics (as set out in the Equality Act 2010) is intended to allow the Secretary of State to take regulatory action in various situations: for example … failure to address homophobia…’

Schools will be obliged  to challenge the views of parents if they are against “British values” as defined to include the promotion of politically correct groups.

There are stringent new rules on religious tolerance which will mean Christian children being forced to visit mosques, Muslim children to visit Hindu temples, and so on.

Independent schools will have to show Stonewall propaganda videos.

The Proposed New Independent School Standards is an outrageous intrusion into a school’s ethos and family life.

 

Jul 29

Bishops Denounce Executive Order

U.S. President Barack Obama signed an executive order last week preventing all federal contractors from discriminating against employees based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

U.S. President Barack Obama signed an executive order last week preventing all federal contractors from discriminating against employees based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

Two chairman from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have denounced an executive order from President Barack Obama, saying that the order “is unprecedented and should be opposed.”

President Obama’s 21 July executive order prevents federal government contractors from discriminating against people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. This order offers no exemption for religious organizations, despite many religious groups asking Obama to include one in the order.

Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, Chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, said the following in an official statement:

“In the name of forbidding discrimination, this order implements discrimination. With the stroke of a pen, it lends the economic power of the federal government to a deeply flawed understanding of human sexuality, to which faithful Catholics and many other people of faith will not assent. As a result, the order will exclude federal contractors precisely on the basis of their religious beliefs.”

The bishops’ concern is that this order “ignores the inclination/conduct distinction in the undefined term ‘sexual orientation.’” Because of this, employers could be turned away from receiving a federal contract if their religious beliefs object to any extra-marital sexual activity.

This order could prevent Christian organizations from applying for federal contracts to fund their charity and relief programs.

“If you hold that certain sexual practices are immoral, there is a good chance you probably will be disqualified from contracts,” said Melissa Swearingen, adviser and spokeswoman for the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

Equally problematic to this executive order is the idea that “gender identity” is nothing more than a social constraint that can be chosen regardless of the person’s biological gender. The practical results of this could be a biological man using the women’s restroom because he identifies himself as a woman. (For problems with this view of gender, see my article ‘Gender Benders: Is My Sexual Identity an Accident Just Waiting to Happen? and ‘Unmaking a Difference: Is Gender Neutrality the New Stereotype?‘)

Swearingen, who said that the President’s lack of religious exemption was “very disappointing and hurtful,” also sees this as evidence of the Obama administration’s lack of regard for the concerns of his religious supporters.

“We definitely think the administration is on the wrong side of history. It seems they are intentionally discriminating against people of religious faith in the name of nondiscrimination.”

This Executive Order, which will go into effect early next year, comes after months of lobbying by homosexual groups.

President Obama called the order “extraordinary progress” for LGBT rights and hailed it as a bringer of fairness to America’s citizens. He told a White House gathering: “Thanks to your passion and advocacy and the irrefutable rightness of your cause, our government – the government of the people, by the people and for the people – will become just a little bit fairer.”

At a White House signing ceremony, Obama told advocates that he believed in the “irrefutable rightness of [their] cause” and declared that “America’s federal contracts should not subsidize discrimination against the American people.”

Vice President Joe Biden essentially said that gay rights override the beliefs of everyone else. In remarks to the Associated Press, Biden declared, “I don’t care what your culture is…Inhumanity is inhumanity. Prejudice is prejudice is prejudice.”

Rev Barry Lynn, Executive Director for American United for Separation of Church and State, said that Obama made the “right call” by not allowing religious exemption to his Executive Order. Lynn said in a statement:

“Faith-based groups that tap the public purse should play by the same rules as everyone else and not expect special treatment…No forms of discrimination should be supported with the taxpayer dime, period.”

Obama might have published this order sooner, but he was waiting to see if Congress would pass the more comprehensive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would have prevented discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity for people that work for private businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies.

ENDA cleared the U. S. Senate in November, but could not get past the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. So Obama took matters into his own hands, saying that it was “time to address this injustice for every American.”

The ENDA legislation contained a religious exemption, but the USCCB declared it too limiting. However, a group of 14 faith leaders asked for a similar provision in the executive order. They said in a letter to Obama that an executive order without a religious exemption could “significantly and substantively hamper the work of some religious organizations that are best equipped to serve in common purpose with the federal government.”

Vice President and Senior Counsel of the Thomas More Society, Peter Breen, believes that Obama’s executive order should have been decided by Congress. While directly applying to federal employers and contractors, this order, according to Breen, could become a “slippery slope.”

“This does appear to be laying the foundation for further regulation on the issue of homosexual employees and on transgendered employees,” Breen said.

Eric Kniffin, an attorney with Lewis Roca Rothgerber LLP who has litigated religious-liberty cases, believes that the recent Hobby Lobby case ruling instigated Obama’s not providing a religious exemption.

“There is a huge blow-back to Hobby Lobby, and I think this was one way of President Obama being able to show his supporters, ‘I’m going to deliver despite the court’s ruling,’” Kniffin said.

Kniffen also said that the Executive Order “continues the Obama administration’s efforts of narrowing religious liberty to internal ecclesial matters: freedom to worship, but not to practice and express ideas in the public square.”

“Basically, if you employ and you serve people of your own faith, then you can preserve your rights,” Kniffin asserted. “But when you engage in the public square, then you have to play by the same rules that govern everyone else. Wherever the administration thinks it can narrow religious liberty, it does so. Obviously, this is a First Amendment right, and people are accustomed to this right.”

Obama’s Executive Order adds to President Lyndon B. Johnson’s 1965 directive that prohibits employers and contractors from discriminating based on “race, color, religion, sex or national origin.” In 2002, George W. Bush made the amendment that allowed religious employers to favor members of their own religion for employment, which Obama’s order retained.

24,000 companies with 28 million workers, or one-fifth of the U.S. workforce, will be affected by this order, despite many federal contractors already having provisions that prohibit anti-gay discrimination.

Approximately 14 million workers will now get protection from employers who currently do not have nondiscrimination policies, according to the Williams Institute at UCLA School.

The fundamental issue in this case is that the Obama administration is equating race, something a person cannot change, to sexual lifestyle choices.

It would appear that the Obama administration wants to tell America’s Christian citizens who they are allowed to hire and how they must run their business. Americans who want to live our lives according to Biblical beliefs now have one more obstacle put in their way.

 

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Jul 25

AIDS: Moral Degeneration in Melbourne Declaration

AIDS2014The terrible Malaysian airline disaster has focused attention on the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia. After reports that over a hundred activists were on the tragic plane bound for the Conference, it turns out that there were just six.

But what of the conference, which is running as we go to press? Is it merely a symposium for good-hearted people who want to develop medicines to combat HIV and AIDS? Well, no, it isn’t. It is also a grindingly right-on campaigning forum advancing special rights for homosexuals, drug abusers and prostitutes.

It issued a declaration, even before it started, supported by Richard Branson, Bob Geldof, fanatical Australian gay agitator Michael Kirby and, depressingly, by Aung San Suu Kyi who endured so many years of house-arrest in Burma.

Aung San Suu Kyi has allowed her name to be attached to the amoral Melbourne Declaration

Aung San Suu Kyi has allowed her name to be attached to the amoral Melbourne Declaration

The Declaration opens with a pretentious nod to the Animist Australian Aborigines:

‘We gather in Melbourne, the traditional meeting place of the Wurundjeri, Boonerwrung, Taungurong, Djajawurrung and the Wathaurung people, the original and enduring custodians of the lands that make up the Kulin Nation, to assess progress on the global HIV response and its future direction, at the 20th International AIDS Conference, AIDS 2014.’

The Declaration begins by claiming ‘that non-discrimination is fundamental to an evidence-based, rights-based and gender transformative response to HIV and effective public health programmes’. If it going to be ‘rights-based’ and to mess around with gender roles, one supposes that the elimination of discrimination, or of making any moral judgments at all, must be fundamental.

It then states that ‘nobody should be criminalized or discriminated against because of their gender, age, race, ethnicity, disability, religious or spiritual beliefs, country of origin, national status, sexual orientation, gender identity, status as a sex worker, prisoner or detainee, because they use or have used illicit drugs or because they are living with HIV.’

So Governments should not pass laws against prostitution or using illicit drugs? ‘Illicit’ means ‘forbidden by law, rules, or custom’. Drugs are ‘illicit’ because they are illegal. If you do something illegal you are criminalised.

Dr Joep Lange died in the Malaysian aircraft disaster

Dr Joep Lange died in the Malaysian aircraft disaster.

The Declaration affirms everyone’s right to treatment, but spoils it by clothing it in terms of ‘social justice, equality, human rights’ which can mean anything.

In fact, for the International AIDS Conference, it means a sexual and – taken with the call to decriminalise currently illicit drugs – a drug-crazed free-for-all:

‘In over 80 countries’, it moans, ‘there are unacceptable laws that criminalize people on the basis of sexual orientation. All people, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people are entitled to the same rights as everyone else. All people are born free and equal and are equal members of the human family’.

Uganda's President Museveni recently signed a law to criminlaise homosexual propaganda.

Uganda’s President Museveni recently signed a law to protect young people from homosexual propaganda.

Yes, they are, but if they break the law they need to be brought to justice. Would the Melbourne signatories complain about laws that criminalise people on the basis that they steal, or murder, or bear false witness, or deliberately infect others, or have sexual relations with children? It is hard not to wonder whether they might.

‘Governments must repeal repressive laws and end policies that reinforce discriminatory and stigmatizing practices that increase the vulnerability to HIV, while also passing laws that actively promote equality’, they say. No, they must keep in place and enforce laws which protect children from predatory homosexuals, particularly, in the developing world, from those from rich Western nations on the look-out for exotic children to corrupt for a couple of dollars.

The Melbourne signatories want to shut up politicians like Uganda’s President Museveni and Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan who speak about decency and Biblical morality:

‘Decision makers must not use international health meetings or conferences as a platform to promote discriminatory laws and policies that undermine health and wellbeing.’  Perish the thought that any challenging view should ruffle the feathers of AIDS activists.

Zambia's Youth Alive programme would lose funding for opposing the distribution of condoms.

Zambia’s Youth Alive programme would lose funding for opposing the distribution of condoms.

And they are very keen to keep as much project funding as they can in the hands of politically- correct people like them:

‘The exclusion of organisations that promote intolerance and discrimination including sexism, homophobia, and transphobia against individuals or groups, from donor funding for HIV programmes.’

Church-based programmes may find it difficult in future to offer their care and expertise to those in need because the Melbourne Declaration, so keen on non-discrimination, wants to discriminate against them:

‘All healthcare providers must demonstrate the implementation of non-discriminatory policies as a prerequisite for future HIV programme funding.

‘Restrictions on funding, such as the anti-prostitution pledge and the ban on purchasing needles and syringes, must be removed as they actively impede the struggle to combat HIV, sexually transmitted infections, and hepatitis C among sex workers and people who inject drugs.’

The Melbourne people refuse to concede that those who would crack down on prostitution, refuse to distribute condoms and ban the sale of needles to drug addicts are doing it out of good-hearted concern for society at large and trying to protect those who might get caught up in destructive practices.

There is only one way of looking at the world in the Melbourne Declaration and it is an amoral, Western liberal godless way, with avarice clothed in a veneer of altruism. The Melbourne Declaration is not just a recipe for moral degeneration, it is an anti-Christian, self-righteous, self-serving and self-absorbed recipe for moral degeneration.

It is a pity that it has taken an air disaster and the loss of so many lives to bring it to light.

 

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Jul 24

World Humanist Congress meets in Oxford

Grayling

A C Grayling

The World Humanist Congress is meeting in Oxford from 8-10th August 2014.

The Congress meets every three years, bringing together activists from over forty countries under the auspices of the International Humanist and Ethical Union. Being ‘ethical’ is important to humanists, because they have constantly to repel charges that without God, they only have their own prejudices to base their ‘ethics’ upon.

This year, the British Humanist Association (‘BHA’) is hosting the World Humanist Congress. They are bringing together no fewer than seventy-seven speakers, from as far afield as Switzerland, America, Australia, India, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Uganda and Greece. The speakers are headed by humanist philosopher A C Grayling, writer Taslima Nasrin, Philip Pullman, Author of ‘His Dark Materials’, and Nigerian writer Wole Soyinka.

Other speakers include Jim Al-Khalili OBE, President of the BHA, Labour Party Peer Joan Bakewell DBE, Richard Dawkins, who is Vice-President of BHA, PZ Myers, Associate professor of biology at the University of Minnesota Morris, who describes himself as ‘A godless liberal biologist’, Peter Tatchell, and Prof Peter Atkins, Roy Brown of the pro-abortion International Foundation for Population and Development.

Crimewatch presenter Nick Ross

BBC Crimewatch presenter Nick Ross

Also speaking are Professor Ted Cantle, London Assembly member Tom Copley AM, Andrew Copson, who is Chief Executive of BHA, former RC chaplain Catherine Dunphy, Liz Lutgendorff, Chair of the Conway Hall Ethical Society, author Zoe Margolis, Kerry McCarthy, MP for Bristol East, Maryam Namazie, Maajid Nawaz, the highly-paid co-Founder of Quilliam, in receipt of government grants to counter Islamic extremism, Prof Richard Norman, founder-member of the Humanist Philosophers Group and Vice-President of the British Humanist Association, journalist and broadcaster Nick Ross, and Guardian columnist Zoe Williams.

A number of speakers also have links to the National Secular Society, which is slightly more extreme even than BHA. Philip Pullman is a ‘honorary associate’ of NSS as is Professor Cantle, Richard Dawkins, Nick Cohen, Maryam Namazie and Maajid Nawaz.

According to the WHC website, P Z Myers ‘is an outspoken critic of creationism and intelligent design (for which he has “nothing but contempt”, saying that it is “fundamentally dishonest”)’. Prof Myers was featured in Ray Comfort’s video ‘Evolution vs God‘, trying in vain to think of evidence for evolution and claiming that human beings are fish.

See: Teach Children Creation, says report.

 

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Jul 17

Halal stays ‘hors menu’ in French prisons

Saint Quentin

Saint Quentin Fallavier Prison

A plan to serve up halal meals to Muslim inmates in a French prison has been dropped, reports Associated Press.

The council of state said yesterday that providing Halal meat at Saint-Quentin-Fallavier prison in Grenoble, eastern France, was impractical “owing to its financial cost and high needs for organization.”

France’s Justice Minister Christiane Taubira also argued the plan would infringe France’s robust rules on secularism that ban religious expression in public places. France’s highest appeals court will have the final say.

The plan — which could have proved a test case — was being considered after the request of a Muslim inmate last November.

The French decision is in marked contrast to that of the Prison Service in Britain (see below), where Muslims have become so used to halal food, they are suing because pork DNA was found in it.

prisonmuslimsHARASSMENT OF NON-MUSLIMS

France has the largest Muslim population in western Europe, estimated at some 5 million.  An investigation last year found evidence of Islamic oppression and harassment against non-Muslim inmates in French prisons.

The French magazine Valeurs Actuelles obtained a secret French government document about “proselytism in custody”. Written in 2011, it describes how Islam has taken over the French prison system.  Non-converts are subject to pressure, insults, threats and violence. They are marginalised in day-to-day prison life.

BRITAIN SUED OVER PORK IN PRISON HALAL PIES

The situation seems little better in British prisons.  The BBC reported in 2010 that gangs of Muslim prisoners were becoming an increasingly powerful force.

UK – England – Prison“Muslims run the prisons and there’s nothing the screws can do about it. For a Muslim you’d say it’s good but for a non-Muslim, it’s very, very bad,” said a former inmate.

In March 2014 the Guardian reported that the number of Muslims in the prison population had more than doubled to nearly 12,000 in a decade.

The 2011 census showed Muslims represented 4.7 per cent of the population in England and Wales, yet one in seven prisoners (14 per cent) in England and Wales is a Muslim, according to the statistics.

Amongst young offenders, the position is even more striking. The proportion of Muslim offenders is growing year by year. One in five males in young offender institutions identified themselves as Muslim in 2011/12, compared with 16% in 2010/11.

Our Government have bowed to pressure from Muslim inmates to serve them halal food.  In September 2013. it was reported that some 200 Muslims were taking the Prison Service to court because traces of DNA from pork, which is strictly ‘haram’ or ‘forbidden’ in Islam, were found in supposedly ‘halal’ pies from a halal certified supplier.

Professor Anthony Glees

Professor Anthony Glees

EXTREMISM TAKING OVER BRITISH PRISONS

Since Islam is a religion built around observance and not around the repentance demanded by Christianity, it is perfectly possible to be a criminal – to be a terrorist or even to run a drug firm, a prostitution ring or an extortion racket – and still be a good Muslim.

The Government is so concerned that prisons could become breeding grounds for terrorism that it it has has deployed imams to help steer them away from extremist paths.

Yet even this desperate move is set to backfire. An expert has warned that imams with links to extremist Muslim groups are helping to turn Britain’s prisons into ‘state-funded breeding grounds for extremism‘.

Professor Anthony Glees, head of the centre for security and intelligence studies at the University of Buckingham, said: ‘Our prisons have turned into a state-funded breeding ground for extremism. It is completely unacceptable that imams with extremist views are allowed to preach in prisons.’

Burqa-clad women demonstrating in London against the French burqa ban

Burqa-clad women demonstrating in London against the French burqa ban.

BURQA BAN LAWFUL

Earlier this month, Judges at the European court of human rights upheld France’s ban on wearing the burqa, accepting the French governments’ argument that it encouraged citizens to “live together”.

Foirmer president Nicolas Sarkozy told the French parliament when introducing the ban that the burqa was a sign of “servitude” that isn’t “welcome on French soil.”

There is no sign of such a ban being introduced in the United Kingdom, despite concerns that terrorists can use the dress to escape detection.

Somali-born Mohammed Ahmed Mohammed, 27, escaping police by changing into a burqa in the An-Noor Masjid and Community Centre in Acton, west London, last November.  Yassin Omar, now convicted of attempting to blow up a tube train on 21st July 2007, also attempted to evade detection by wearing a burqa.

Latest atrocity from the followers of what Tony Blair described as the ‘Religion of Peace’:  Christians crucified by ISIS in Syria.  Thanks, Mr Hague.

 

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