Thursday, October 8, 2015

Major oil find reported on Golan Heights

As reported by The Times of Israel, October 7, 2015:

A company drilling for oil on the Golan Heights claims to have found “significant amounts” in the plateau.

“We’re talking about a layer 350 meters thick,” Yuval Bartov, chief geologist of Afek Oil and Gas, a subsidiary of the American company Genie Energy, told Channel 2.

The layer is ten times larger than the average oil find worldwide, Bartov said, “and that’s why we’re talking about significant amounts. What’s important is to know that there’s oil in the rock, and this we know.”

Three drilling sites on the Golan have uncovered what is potentially billions of barrels of oil, enough to fulfill the Israeli market’s 270,000-barrel-per-day consumption for a very long time, the report claimed.

Exploratory drilling began in December 2014. In recent weeks, Afek requested permission to drill an additional 10 wells.

While it says the oil find is confirmed, the firm says the quality, more precise measures of quantity and cost-effectiveness of extracting the oil won’t be known until the extraction is begun.

Afek has faced numerous challenges from environmental groups concerned about the impact of drilling, some of which reached the High Court of Justice.

Since Israel’s founding, companies searching for oil across Israel have drilled 530 exploratory wells, and none of them has turned up commercially viable oil, Genie CEO Geoff Rochwarger said in September.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

50 years ago: The death of Father Divine

For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. Matthew 24:5 (also Mark 13:6)

For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Matthew 24:24 (also Mark 13:

On September 10, 1965, George Baker, better known as Father Divine, died; his age was uncertain, but he was believed to be in his late 80s. He founded the International Peace Mission Movement in the early 20th century.

A Negro, Father Divine promoted racial equality, and attracted many white, as well as black, followers. He was heavily influenced by the positive-thinking movement known as New Thought, and was thus an early figure in the New Age Movement. Father Divine's main doctrine was that he was God, and the only true expression of God's spirit. He wasn't. For further reading, see Robert Weisbrot's biography Father Divine (1983) (originally published as Father Divine and the Struggle for Racial Equality).

Saturday, August 29, 2015

25 years ago: The death of occultist Manly P. Hall

On August 29, 1990, Manly P. Hall died at the age of 89. Mr. Hall, a native of Peterborough, Ontario, moved to Los Angeles at the age of 19, and quickly became immersed in mysiticism and esoteric philosophies. He began preaching at Church of the People in 1919, and became permanent pastor in 1923. Mr. Hall founded the Philosophical Research Society in 1934, which continues today.

Mr. Hall is perhaps best known as the author of books such as The Lost Keys of Freemasonry (1923) and The Secret Teachings of All Ages (1928). Oddly, despite Mr. Hall's many years of interest in Freemasonry, he wasn't actually initiated into the order until 1954; he was awarded the 33rd degree--Scottish Rite Freemasonry's highest honour--in 1973. Anyone reading about the history of the New Age Movement is likely to come across the name Manly P. Hall; his dubious spiritual descendants include Marianne Williamson, the most prominent promoter of the demonic A Course in Miracles. Ms. Williamson's career as a lecturer began in 1983 when she went to work with the Philosophical Research Society.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

25 years ago: The death of B.F. Skinner

The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Psalms 14:1a (also Psalms 53:1a)

Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, Romans 1:22

On August 18, 1990, Dr. Skinner, one of the 20th century's most prominent psychologists, went to his own place. He became an atheist in the typical way--as the result of an emotional reaction in his youth, and not as a result of a rigorous intellectual pursuit of truth. In Dr. Skinner's case, he reportedly became an atheist after receiving conflicting views on hell. His atheistic views influenced Dr. Skinner to become a "radical behaviourist," believing that human will was an illusion and that people behaved on the basis of reinforcement, which he called operant conditioning. His best known books were the utopian novel Walden Two (1948) and Beyond Freedom and Dignity (1971).

I won't go into detail about Dr. Skinner's theories; the reader may use his Wikipedia entry as a starting point, and his name can be found in almost any psychology textbook. Herbert Schlossberg, in his book Idols for Destruction (1983), makes mention of Dr. Skinner a few times, and offers an excellent critique:

B.F. Skinner advocates a science of human behavior as the means of solving social problems that otherwise remain intractable and says that it must adopt the strategies of physics and biology. This is consistent with his view, and that of many other psychologists, that psychology is a biological science. Human beings are simply a part of nature, in that conception, and a science of human behavior must study them in that light. Such a science produces the technology that will enable people to control human behavior and therefore permit humanity to survive...

...When Skinner says that the science of human behavior must follow the strategies of natural science, he means that it must be wholly materialist. He sees no hope of ever solving the old philosophical problem of how mind and matter interact and follows the common practice of assuming that one of them does not exist, the monist position. For behaviorists, everything is material, and therefore qualities we have been accustomed to attribute to mind or spirit are merely epiphenomena of material origin. They are successions of mental events that find coherence only in their identification with the nervous tissue of a particular organism...That is why Skinner insists that to speak of human behavior in terms of aims, purposes, intuitions, or goals is to betray an understanding of man which is "prescientific..."

...There can be no free choice in the world of behaviorism because there is no human faculty that may be said to "choose." The organism simply acts as the prior contingencies have programmed it (him) to act. Moral categories, therefore, are superfluous in understanding human behavior...The moral life, in short, is a delusion, and it often functions only as a hindrance to the survival of the human race...If man cannot be distinguished ontologically from other forms of matter, then materialist determinisms are logical inferences from the observed facts of nature. But empirical observations alone yield no information about ontology. Skinner tells us repeatedly that human beings may not survive if they do not accept behavioral engineering, but nowhere does he explain why that should bother us. Human survival--the sanctity of human life--is a value, and there is no way he or anyone else can derive value from material facts. Materialists almost invariably use language that is value-laden, even though their avowed epistemology does not allow for values. Mystification covers the logical gaps. The only ethical framework compatible with materialism is nihilism, defined as living without values. (Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction, pp. 146-147, 149-150).
A 2002 survey revealed Dr. Skinner as the most influential psychologist of the 20th century, which speaks volumes about psychology (and the 20th century). Dr. Skinner is presumably no longer an atheist. The best comment on the death of an atheist--if one is to look at it from a purely materialistic point of view--that I've seen is from blogger Vox Day, on the death of "New Atheist" Christopher Hitchens on December 16, 2011:

The conglomeration of atoms that were, for a very brief moment in history, collectively known by the name Christopher Hitchens, have begun to disperse.

The universe continues as before, uncaring and unaware.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

10 years ago: The death of Islamic apologist Ahmed Deedat

There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. Proverbs 14:12 (also Proverbs 16:25)

On August 8, 2005, Indian-born South African Islamic missionary and apologist Ahmed Deedat died at the age of 87. Mr. Deedat began his missionary work in 1942 and co-founded the Islamic Propaganda Centre International (IPCI) in 1957. He became known for debating Christians in South Africa and throughout the world. A prominent example was his debate before 4,000 people at West Ridge Park Stadium in Durban, South Africa in August 1981 with Campus Crusade for Christ apologist Josh McDowell on the topic Was Christ Crucified? Click on the link for a free download of the book The Islam Debate (1983) by Mr. McDowell and John Gilchrist, which includes the entire text of the debate. Click on the link for a free download of the book Mr. Deedat wrote in response, Crucifixion or Cruci-fiction. It hardly needs to be said (but I'll say it, anyway) that the issue of whether or not Jesus Christ was crucified isn't a minor point of contention between Christianity and Islam, but a life-or-death difference:

But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; I Corinthians 1:23

For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. I Corinthians 2:2

That they said (in boast), "We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah"; - but they did not kill him, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they did not kill him: - The Qur'an, Surah 4:157

Mr. Deedat was awarded the King Faisal International Prize in 1986 for his 50 years of missionary work, but began to attract increasing criticism when he increased his own criticism of other religions. It was said that Christians in South Africa warned Mr. Deedat that if he didn't stop his attacks on Christianity, God would strike him down. I don't know if South Afircan Christians issued such warnings--that may be an urban legend--but Mr. Deedat was indeed struck down by a severe stroke on May 3, 1996, leaving him with "locked-in" syndrome, bedridden and unable to communicate except through moving his eyes. This may very well have been the Lord's way of getting Mr. Deedat's attention in order to encourage him to repent; tragically, Mr. Deedat continued to promote the false gospel of Islam during the remaining nine years of his life.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

75 years ago: The death of Ze'ev Jabotinsky

On August 4, 1940, Russian-born Zionist activist Ze'ev Jabotinsky died at the age of 59. Born Vladimir Yevgenyevich Zhabotinsky, he co-founded the Zion Mule Corps in Egypt during World War I, and moved to England, where his efforts resulted in the creation of the Jewish Legion. In the 1920s, Mr. Jabotinsky became the key figure in a movement known as Revisionist Zionism and began advocating for a liberal, democratic Jewish state on both banks of the Jordan River. He supported moving Arab populations if necessary to accomodate the influx of Jews, but he didn't want Arabs ejected from Palestine, and supported the rights of minorities in the proposed Jewish state.

While visiting South Africa in 1930, the British Colonial Office informed Mr. Jabotinsky that he would not be allowed to return to Palestine. During the 1930s he warned of increasing violence against Jews in Europe. When the British government enacted the McDonald White Paper, restricting Jewish immigration to Palestine under the British Mandate for the next five years, Mr. Jabotinsky protested by supporting an armed Jewish revolt in Palestine, involving the Irgun terrorist organization. He died of a heart attack in New York City while attempting to raise financial support for a Jewish army.

Although he didn't live to see the establishment of the state of Israel, Mr. Jabotinsky played a key role in events that led to the nation's founding. The Likud party--the party of current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhu--can trace its history back to the activities of Ze'ev Jabotinsky.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Flashback--1934: Fortune teller who almost drowned didn't foresee the danger

And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: Luke 4:23a

As reported by Chris Zdeb of the Edmonton Journal, July 31, 2015:

EDMONTON - The fortune teller never saw it coming.

Price Brown, known professionally as Professor Cosmo the fortune teller, would have drowned in the North Saskatchewan River if not for two city boys who dragged him to safety.

Brown was making his way to Queen Elizabeth Pool on the south side when he noticed a group of boys swimming in the river near the Low Level Bridge. Deciding to save himself a walk to the pool, he joined the boys, who warned him of the presence of a deep hole in the river bottom near where they were swimming.

“Brown had not been in the water long when he encountered the hole and sank beneath the river surface,” the Journal reported. Two of the boys, James Thompson and Daniel Peden, “noticing the man was in trouble, went to his assistance and after a battle with the river current, dragged him to the bank.”

The youths, both 15, left the scene without telling Brown their names, but he tracked them down through the other boys.

“The boys were modest about it all, and shy,” the story said.

“It wasn’t much,” said Thompson. “We just saw him struggling in the water and we knew there was a hole there, so we went and got him,” he explained.

“Sure, we didn’t have very far to take him,” echoed Peden.

The fortune teller, the son of a British distiller “who objects to his son toying with spirits of the less tangible sort, has been in Canada nine years,” and performed on the stages of various Canadian cities, the story said.

He claimed to have the gift of clairvoyance, which he discovered when he was 12.

So how come he didn’t know he would almost drown if he went into the river?

Brown explained that the gift of clairvoyance does not permit its holders to peer into their own futures.

The next day, he presented Thompson, a technical school student, and Peden, who attended Bennett School, with engraved gold watches for saving his life.
"The gift of clairvoyance does not permit its holders to peer into their own futures." Yeah--right. I don't know how Professor Cosmo's rescuers kept from laughing when they saw him doing an excellent impression of Oliver Hardy finding a deep hole in a puddle.

30 years ago: The death of Eugene Carson Blake

On July 31, 1985, Dr. Eugene Carson Blake died at the age of 78. Dr. Blake was Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. from 1951-1958; President of the National Council of Churches from 1954-1957; and General Secretary of the World Council of Churches in 1966. He was known for his liberal theological, social, and political views and helped to organize Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s March on Washington in 1963, but is perhaps best remembered for delivering a speech in 1960 that was credited with beginning the Consultation on Church Union (COCU) (see my previous post on the beginning of COCU).

Dr. Blake was typical of the liberal Protestant clergyman of the 1960s and '70s who got his name in the paper for participating in demonstrations regarding trendy causes such as opposition to the Vietnam War, and getting hauled off in a paddy wagon to the police station for violating prohibitions on unlawful assembly. Bible-believing Christians at the time rejected Dr. Blake and his activities.

Typical also of the results of the activities of Mr. Blake is an example cited by Dr. Carl McIntire, then President of the International Council of Christian Churches. Billy Graham had scheduled a visit to Poland from September 28-October 5, 1966, under the sponsorship of the Baptist, Lutheran, Reformed, and Evangelical churches of Poland, all of which were controlled by Poland's Communist government of that time (yes, even as far back as 1966, Billy Graham was quite willing to be used by government-controlled churches in Communist countries), but his application for a visa was, surprisingly, rejected by the Polish government. From Dr. McIntire's book Outside the Gate (1967), p. 154:

Dr. Graham is now beginning to follow in the footsteps of Dr. Eugene Carson Blake. He was the leader and president of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. who went to Moscow in 1956, spoke in the Baptist Church, visited the theological seminaries, and was received by Metropolitan Nicolai. He returned with this pronouncement on behalf of peace and understanding, which the Communist spokesmen had also agreed to. It took the [United States] Senate's Internal Security Subcommittee to receive the testimony of Yuri Rastvorov and Petr Deriabian, which revealed that these men with whom Dr. Blake was dealing and whom he later brought to the United States as his guests were all spies and that Metropolitan Nicolai was an agent of the KGB, the secret police. But the pictures of Dr. Blake and his party in Moscow were used by the Communists in their slick publications all over the world; and in the propaganda for peace, which the Communist government is promoting. Dr. Blake became a very useful tool and propaganda piece.

Canada's "Conservative" government legalizes RU-486 abortion pill

I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: Deuteronomy 30:19

Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people. Proverbs 14:34

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Isaiah 5:20

As reported by Helen Branswell of Canadian Press, July 30, 2015:

TORONTO — A quarter century after women in France were first given access to it, the abortion drug known as RU-486 is finally going to be available in Canada.

Health Canada confirmed late Wednesday that it had approved the drug for use here, 2 1/2 years after the manufacturer’s application was submitted. Women will need to obtain a prescription from a doctor to purchase the drug.

“The application has been before Health Canada since December 2012, so it is long overdue that they approve this very safe and effective method of early abortion care that millions of women around the world have been able to access since 1988,” said Vicki Saporta, president and CEO of the National Abortion Federation and its Canadian offshoot, NAF Canada.

“No one can claim that they fast-tracked the approval process and didn’t very thoroughly and completely review the application.”

NAF Canada represents the health-care professionals who provide most of the abortion care in this country. The group spearheaded efforts to bring the drug to Canada.

The drug has been available since 1988 in France and nearly as long in Britain. The drug was approved for use in the United States in 2000. Saporta said women in 60 countries have access to the drug, which is used to safely terminate a pregnancy.

Federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose had little to say Wednesday night about her department’s decision.

“Drug approval decisions are arms-length decisions made by Health Canada officials based on analysis by Health Canada scientists,” a spokesperson for Ambrose said in an email.

The drug will be sold under the brand name Mifegymiso in Canada. It is made by Linepharma International Limited.

It is often called mifepristone. But in fact Mifegymiso is two drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol. The former blocks production of the hormone progesterone, needed to sustain a pregnancy. The latter prompts the uterus to contract and expel the placenta and the fetus.

Studies have shown the drug can be used safely as late as 70 days into a pregnancy, although it is thought Health Canada may have set an earlier limit on the use of the drug.

Reproductive medicine experts have called the drug the best known option for abortion and have been advocating for its approval in Canada.

While some countries allow the drug to be dispensed by pharmacists, Health Canada has opted not to go that route.

Saporta said initially the drug will probably only be available through health-care professionals who already provide abortion services. But she said it’s hoped that over time more doctors will agree to prescribe the drug — especially those serving remote communities or working in areas where women have to travel long distances to see a doctor who will perform an abortion.

“Mifepristone holds the promise of improving access to abortion care for women in more rural communities where there isn’t a current abortion provider,” she said.

Saporta said it is likely the drug will only become available in Canada in early 2016.
And as reported by John Cotter of Canadian Press, July 30, 2015:

Conservative cabinet ministers shied away Thursday from questions about Health Canada's decision to approve the abortion drug known as RU-486.

Justice Minister Peter MacKay declined to comment on the decision during a stop in Calgary to make an unrelated announcement.

"Oh gosh. I think that would best be directed to (Health) Minister (Rona) Ambrose," he said.

"It is an issue of course for women, families, Canadians everywhere, but I think your question would best be directed to Health Canada.

"Personal opinions are best kept personal."

Health Canada confirmed late Wednesday that it has approved the drug for use here, a decision that comes 2 1/2 years after the manufacturer's application was submitted.

Women will need to obtain a prescription from a doctor to purchase the pill.

Defence Minister Jason Kenney and Michelle Rempel, minister of state for western economic diversification, were also in Calgary on Thursday and declined to comment.

Ambrose told reporters in St. Albert, Alta., that the decision did not rest with her.

"It's out of my hands and the decision is final," she said.

"Any of those details you would have to speak to the officials at Health Canada and the scientists that actually manage the regulatory approval process. I'm not involved in it."

Ambrose cancelled two events scheduled for Thursday afternoon and Friday in Edmonton and area. No reason was given.

A Conservative MP from Saskatchewan strongly condemned the government for approving the drug.

"It is a dangerous combination of drugs that destroys a woman's tissues in the womb in order to kill her preborn child," David Anderson, the member for Cypress Hills-Grasslands, said in a release.

"I am extremely disappointed that Health Canada would see this as acceptable to Canadians."

Anderson declined an interview request.

The RU-486 drug has been available since 1988 in France and was approved for use in the United States in 2000.

Prof. Ashley Waddington, a family planning expert at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., praised Health Canada's decision to approve the abortion pill.

She called it a step in the right direction for the government and Canadian women.

Waddington noted the move comes 10 years after the World Health Organization endorsed the drug on its list of essential medicines that all countries should have available.

"To be clear, medical abortion has been available in Canada for decades. However, Canadian women have had to rely on less effective, less safe medications for this purpose," she said.

"This is a step in the right direction towards ensuring Canadian women have access to legal first trimester abortion care that is as safe and accessible as it is in other parts of the world."

Vicki Saporta, CEO of the National Abortion Federation and its Canadian offshoot, NAF Canada, has said the drug probably won't be available in Canada until early next year.

The federal election campaign is expected to begin as early as this weekend.
Ladies and gentlemen, your "Conservative" government under the dictatorship leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper! Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, fearmongers on the "left" of the political spectrum (for those who prefer to use the increasingly irrelevant terms such as "left" and "right") insist that Mr. Harper wants to impose a Christian theocracy upon the country that's still officially known as Canada (see, for example, this article from 2012).

The reader of the articles above will note the typical cowardice of the cabinet ministers. I'm especially impressed by the reaction of Rona "Big Hair" Ambrose in refusing to take responsibility for a decision made by her department. If the decision didn't rest with Ms. Ambrose, and she doesn't approve of the policy, then she should resign from the cabinet. If the decision wasn't made by Ms. Ambrose, then it must have been made at a higher level, such as the Prime Minister's Office. The implication that civil servants are initiating government policy on their own without government approval is absurd; it doesn't work that way. If Ms. Ambrose isn't directly lying, she's certainly creating a false impression; either is typical behaviour from Harperites.

I have news for you, Ms. Ambrose: what goes on in your department is your responsibility, and any cabinet minister who refuses to take responsibility for her department should be fired. Not that this is anything new--in the late 1980s, when I first heard of RU-486, I wrote the Health Minister at the time, Jake Epp--who's allegedly a Christian--to express my opposition to it ever being legalized in Canada, and I couldn't believe the wimpy response I got from him. Somewhere I still have the letter, and it said something to the effect that he operated under the constraints of the Canada Health Act and couldn't do anything about it. Apparently Mr. Epp didn't think it was his job as a cabinet minister (in a "Progressive Conservative" government) to influence policy, which made me wonder why he was in the cabinet. It's a matter of record that in 1991 Mr. Epp voted in favour of abortion--a vote that didn't escape the notice and criticism of his fellow Mennonites in Steinbach, Manitoba.

The reader will also note that the Member of Parliament who is quoted as expressing disapproval of the decision is a backbencher. That's not a coincidence; any member of Mr. Harper's caucus who dares to bring up the subject of abortion--especially to express disapproval--can expect to remain in the back benches (to quote a former political science instructor of mine, "so far back in the benches, his head is touching the curtain"). Spineless Stephen has made it clear that abortion is a subject that's not open to discussion (one of these days--or years--I may do a long-overdue post on this).

Monday, July 27, 2015

Flashback--1978: Serbian Orthodox church in California gambles in Las Vegas--and loses

Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong; Jeremiah 22:13a

This was my favourite news item of its year. I don't know if the church pursued litigation afterward, but they got what they deserved, and whether they learned a lesson seems debatable. As reported by Jim Nichols of the San Diego Evening Tribune, July 27, 1978 (bold and capitals in original):


LAS VEGAS--Like many another visitor who's risked his chips in a Glitter City gambling game, a small San Diego-area religious congregation took a financial beating here last night.

Hoping to raise $250,000 to help build a church by sponsoring a high-stakes bingo evening in the Las Vegas Convention Center, the Serbian Orthodox Monastery of St. Petka instead lost nearly $40,000 on the deal.

Toay chursh trustees were bandaging their financial wounds, considering a lawsuit, and wondering how four parishioners would repay the money they borrowed on their homes to provide $35,000 in prizes for the affair.

"We are all sick over it," said Danny Marshall of Escondido, a trustee of the San Marcos church, who was awake until 4 a.m. today looking over the figures and compiling the bad news.

The game went on as scheduled after a hectic day that featured a newspaper attack against it, a threat by the city to cancel it, and a last-minute court order that canceld the cancellation.

Despite it all, Marshall said proudly, "We paid our prizes. We stood there and took the beating like a gentleman, as we advertised."

"It was," he added, "a very expensive lesson."

First, Marshall said, a Las Vegas newspaper ran a front-page attack on the plans of the California congregation, noting that any money raised would be shipped out of state, lost to Las Vegas and its own worthy charities.

Then, he added, city officials announced that the complex rules for getting permits hadn't been followed to the letter. About noon, the church group was told the game was off.

Marshall found a local attorney and went to court. Two hours before the 8 p.m. start of the game, St. Petka's won a restraining order that allowed the affair to go on. The lawyer charged $3,000, Marshall said.

The game started on schedule, though the furor had left no time for rehearsal. Then, although organizers and publicists had prayed for 10,000 players, only about 500 showed up.

They spent about $13,000, Marshall said--considerably less than the $35,000 they won or the $16,000 St. Petka's had invested to arrange the game.

The unkindest cut of all, he said, was that none of the 80 or so Californians who had journeyed to Vegas to play in the bingo game was among the winners.

Marshall figures the newspaper story was partly responsible for the disappointing turnout. He said church trustees will discuss a suit against the paper, and maybe against the city as well.

Marshall is one of four parishioners who took out 90-day loans, using their own property as security, to put up the prize money. He says he doubts anyone will lose his home because of last night's disaster.

"It's a temporary economical setback for the next six months or so," he said, "but we'll just do the best we can to repair the damage."

St. Petka's owns nine acres in San Marcos. It opened a social hall with a temporary chapel in 1975, and hopes to build a church--estimated cost, $750,000 to $1 million--and eventually a home for the aged.

If last night's affair had succeeded, the trustees were considering a series of similar games, the next one probably in November.

Friday, July 24, 2015

27 pilgrims killed in stampede during Hindu festival in India

Submitted for your approval, another exciting episode in the wonderful world of Hinduism, as reported by Omer Farooq of Associated Press, July 15, 2015:

HYDERABAD, India — Tens of thousands of pilgrims taking part in a Hindu religious bathing festival surged forward and triggered a massive stampede on a riverbank in southern India, leaving at least 27 dead and dozens injured in chaotic scenes in which rescuers struggled to respond quickly.

The stampede Tuesday along the Godavari River in Andhra Pradesh stampede was triggered by some pilgrims who were trying to retrieve their shoes, which had fallen off in the rush to the riverbank, police said.

Festival participants believe a bath in the river can rid them of their sins, and many believe it is more auspicious to bathe on the first day of the 12-day festival, called Pushkaralu.

"It was a frightening situation, with women and children crying for help," said pilgrim V. Satyanarayana, adding the mayhem lasted nearly 20 minutes. "The policemen on duty were helpless and it took more than an hour to bring the situation under control."

With the bodies of victims lying around, relatives wailed and cried for help. At least 34 people were hospitalized, said Andhra Pradesh's chief minister, Chandrababu Naidu.

Some pilgrims said ambulances took time to reach the site because the roads were overcrowded with people. Officials said that a small place like Rajahmundry, the disaster scene 450 kilometers (280 miles) east of Hyderabad, could not cope with the rush of hundreds of thousands of people, and that the situation became almost unmanageable.

Thousands of pilgrims, riding in buses, trains and other vehicles, started reaching the pilgrimage center two days ahead of the start of the festival.

"There is a false belief that taking a holy dip in the river on the first day of the festival will be more auspicious," said Swamy Swaroopanand, a Hindu holy man. "It's the same as taking dip on any other day."

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief over the tragedy, tweeting that he was "deeply pained" by it.

About 24 million people are expected to take part in the festival at varying points along the Godavari River, which flows through Andhra Pradesh and newly created Telangana state.

Deadly stampedes are fairly common during Indian religious festivals, where large crowds gather in small areas with few safety or crowd control measures.

In October 2013, a stampede in Madhya Pradesh state in central India killed more than 110 people, mostly women and children.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Nova Scotia government encourages perverts and freaks to become foster parents

Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people. Proverbs 14:34

Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
Romans 1:24-32

Yet another item to be filed under "More evidence that the country still officially known as Canada is an unrecognizable rotting corpse whose judgment by God is already well under way." Nova Scotia has a Liberal government led by Premier Stephen McNeil--not that it matters who's in charge these days, since there are so few differences among politicians anymore. As reported by Metro News, July 22, 2015:

The province says they are reaching out to the LGBTQI community through a social media campaign to encourage them to become foster parents.

The campaign is called “Foster Parents: It Takes All Kinds,” and according to a provincial release, it’s the first of its kind in Nova Scotia.

The campaign will run during this month’s Pride celebrations and ends on July 26.

“Our hope is to encourage responsible adults in non-traditional families to consider becoming a foster parent,” Community Services minister Joanne Bernard said in a statement.

“We hope that same-sex couples and others will be encouraged by this campaign to find out more.”

The Community Services department says Nova Scotia has about 800 children living with foster families, and like other parts of North America, have experienced a decline in the number of foster families in the past five years.

They are also specifically focussing efforts on members of the African Nova Scotian and Mi’kmaq communities, which they’ve done in the past.

25 years ago: St. John's Roman Catholic Archbishop offers his resignation as a result of priest sex abuse scandal

On July 18, 1990, Alphonsus Penney, Roman Catholic Archbishop of St. John's, announced that he had offered his resignation to Pope John Paul II following the release of a report that blamed church officials for ignoring and covering up sexual abuse by priests. "We are a sinful church," said Archbishop Penney, who had initiated the report by a five-member commission headed by former Newfoundland Lieutenant-Governor Gordon Winter. The report found that high-ranking clergy were more concerned about the offenders than the victims, and attempted to cover up allegations that priests were sexually abusing boys. Among its 55 recommendations, the commission suggested that the Canadian Council of Catholic Bishops examine such issues as compensation for abuse victims and the tradition of celibacy for priests.

Archbishop Penney's offer of resignation was accepted, and he stepped down in 1991 after 12 years in office. The Newfoundland scandals were among the first accounts of sexual abuse of boys by priests to receive widespread publicity in North America, and there have been so many since then that I won't even guess the number.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Newspaper "Religion Calendar" items offer an interesting snapshot of the current scene

From the Edmonton Journal 's Religion Calendar, July 11, 2015 (bold in original, links inserted by blogger):

Summer Silent Directed Retreat: Sunday, 5 p.m. to July 16, 1 p.m., at Star of the North Retreat Centre, 3A St. Vital Ave., St. Albert. Refresh your spirit and renew your relationship with God on this summer retreat. Spiritual directors: Patricia MacDonald, Fr. Mike McCaffrey, archbishop emeritus Sylvain Lavoie, and Pat Jamison. Call 780-459-5511 or visit

Ramadan Iftar Dinner: Tuesday, 8:30 p.m. at the legislature grounds. Cultural exhibition, live music performances, pocorn and complimentary sundown Iftar dinner, the traditional meal that celebrates the end of daylight fasting during the Muslim month of Ramadan. RSVP to by Monday.

All Beings Confluence: July 19, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., at Southminster Steinhauer United Church, 10740 19th Ave. A community-based interactive project inspired by Carolyn McDade, a composer, social activist and environmentalist whose music has sustained and nourished many over the decades. It is an ever-expanding installation of more than 250 sheer fabrics created by many different individuals. Walk among them to experience being a part of a vast, complex and interconnected whole. For information:

Mindfulness Meditation Circle: July 22, 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., at Star of the North Retreat Centre, 3A St. Vital Ave., St. Albert. Mindfulness practice helps to reduce stress, improve attention, boost the immune system, reduce emotional reactivity, and promote a general sense of health and well-being. All are welcome: beginners, newcomers as well as seasoned practitioners. For information, contact Laurel Vespi, or visit events at

Christian Weekend Retreat Yoga: July 24, 7 p.m. to July 26, 1 p.m., at Providence Renewal Centre, 3005 119th St. Practise yoga postures and breathing techniques that will calm the busyness of your mind, open your heart to God, and help your body build flexibility, strength, and balance. Bring a yoga mat and blanket. Contact Kathy, 780-701-1854, or visit

Meditation Retreat: July 25, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at Providence Renewal Centre, 3005 119th St. Instruction in meditation with Kushok Lobsang Dhamchoe, a Buddhist monk who is a knowledgeable teacher and lifelong practitioner. Contact the Gaden Samten Ling Tibetan Buddhist Meditation Society office,, 780-479-0014, or visit

Gilligan's Island Vacation Bible School: July 27 to 30, 6:30 p.m. to 8:15 p.m., at Hosanna Lutheran Church, 9009 163rd St. Join Gilligan and his mates for an enriching week as we discover the hidden treasures of the Bible. Crafts, science, music, drama and more. Free event. For information, contact, 780-484-3932, or visit

Vacation Bible School: Aug. 17, 6 p.m. to Aug. 21, 9:30 a.m., at Millwoods Presbyterian Church, 6607 31st Ave. Vacation Bible School for stories and songs, games, crafts and snacks. Join us for all the fun.

See also my previous posts:

Today's "Vacation Bible School" offers more "vacation" than "Bible"

More evidence that today's yesterday's evangelicals are tomorrow's today's liberals

Thursday, July 16, 2015

100 years ago: The death of Ellen G. White

A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Matthew 7:18

On July 16, 1915, Ellen G. White died at the age of 87. Mrs. White, born Ellen Harmon, co-founded the Seventh-day Adventist Church and remains its most influential individual. The church originated from William Miller's false prophecy that Jesus Christ would return in 1843. When that didn't happen, the date was revised to 1844, and when He still didn't return, some of the Millerites, including Mrs. White and her husband James, founded the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

The SDA Church teaches many biblical truths, but unfortunately, also teaches some things that have the effect of undoing some of those truths. The Seventh-day Adventist Church summarizes its doctrines in a statement of 28 Fundamental Beliefs. According to the Beliefs page of the SDA web site:

Seventh-day Adventists accept the Bible as the only source of our beliefs. We consider our movement to be the result of the Protestant conviction Sola Scriptura—the Bible as the only standard of faith and practice for Christians.

According to Fundamental Belief 17: The Gift of Prophecy, Ellen G. White's "writings are a continuing and authoritative source of truth which provide for the church comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction. They also make clear that the Bible is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested." The Seventh-day Adventist Church seems to be talking out of both sides of its mouth here, claiming that the Bible is the only standard of faith and practice, while upholding Ellen G. White's writings as a "continuing and authoritative source of truth." To me, that says that the SDA's standard is the Bible plus the writings of Ellen G. White. The big problem I have with views such as those of the SDAs is that if the Bible is "the only standard of faith and practice," then further revelation from God is unnecessary. To allow any extrabiblical sources of revelation as coming from God is to contradict the principle of Sola Scriptura. Mrs. White's visionary experiences, which resulted in over 40 books, led Seventh-day Adventists to regard Mrs. White as possessing the biblical gift of prophecy--a view not shared by this blogger. The physical phenomena that accompanied Mrs. White's "visions" indicate control by a seducing spirit rather than by the Holy Spirit.

I disagree with the Seventh-day Adventist Church's emphasis on the Sabbath. According to Fundamental Belief 20, "The beneficent Creator...instituted the Sabbath for all people as a memorial of Creation. The fourth commandment of God's unchangeable law requires the observance of this seventh-day Sabbath..." In fact, the Sabbath was not instituted for all people, but only for Israel. Only Israel was required to observe the Sabbath, and only Israel was judged by God for failing to keep the Sabbath (e.g., Ezekiel 20:12-24). Gentile nations were never required to keep the Sabbath, and weren't judged by God for failing to keep it; they were judged for the way they treated Israel (e.g., Obadiah 10-20). When Jewish church leaders assembled in Jerusalem to decide on whether Gentile converts had to keep the law of Moses, the only requirements that were imposed on them were to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood; from animals that had been strangled; and from sexual immorality (Acts 15:19-29). Keeping the Sabbath wasn't a requirement (nor, for that matter, was tithing). The SDAs and others of similar views like to ask where in the New Testament the Sabbath was changed from Sunday to Saturday. The answer is--nowhere. The Sabbath and the Lord's Day are different observances. The Sabbath was mandatory and only for Israel, while the Lord's Day is voluntary and observed by Jewish and Gentile Christians within the church.

I disagree with the part in Fundamental Belief 22: Christian Behavior that states that we are to "abstain from the unclean foods identified in the Scriptures." When Jesus declared that it was the things that came out of a man and not what went into him that made him unclean, he was declaring all foods clean (Mark 7:15-23).

I have a big problem with Fundamental Belief 24: Christ's Ministry in the Heavenly Sanctuary, where it says: "In 1844, at the end of the prophetic period of 2300 days, He entered the second and last phase of His atoning ministry. It is a work of investigative judgment which is part of the ultimate disposition of all sin, typified by the cleansing of the ancient Hebrew sanctuary on the Day of Atonement...The Investigative judgment reveals to heavenly intelligences who among the dead are asleep in Christ and therefore, in Him, are deemed worthy to have part in the first resurrection." On the contrary, when Jesus said, "It is finished" (John 19:30)--an accounting term meaning "paid in full"--He was on the cross, not in Heaven. Jesus fully paid the penalty for sin on the cross, and didn't need to complete the work of atonement in Heaven. The SDA doctrine of "Investigative Judgment" is a serious error based on the false prophecy concerning 1844, and isn't found in Scripture--which again shows that the Bible is not in fact the only rule of faith and practice for the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

While the Seventh-day Adventist Church upholds many sound biblical teachings, the errors that the SDA Church upholds, and the origins of the SDA Church indicate that the tree that produced the Seventh-day Adventist Church is corrupt rather than good.

Friday, July 10, 2015

90 years ago: Meher Baba enters into silence

Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.
For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
Matthew 24:23-24 (also Mark 13:21-22)

Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.
I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.
Isaiah 45:22-23

That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:10-11

On July 10, 1925, Indian mystic, guru, and self-proclaimed avatar Meher Baba (born Merwan Sheriar Irani), 31, who had been in contact with those he regarded as the five "Perfect Masters" since 1913 and had begun attracting his own following in 1921, began a practice of silence, communicating at first by writing, after 1927 only by means of an alphabet board, and from 1954 on, only by hand gestures.

Meher Baba claimed that he had entered into silence because man had been deaf to God. On a number of occasions, Meher Baba predicted that he would break his silence, and that that event would lay the foundation for that which would take place over the next 700 years. He became popular in Hollywood in the 1930s (Scientology not having been invented yet), and promised in 1934 that he would break his silence at the Hollywood Bowl, but suddenly changed his plans and sailed to England, ostensibly postponing the breaking of his silence because "conditions are not yet ripe." A similar thing had happened in 1926 when theosophist Annie Besant had brought Jiddu Krishnamurti to the United States: when his ship arrived in New York, the "chosen vessel" suddenly seemed to lose all his spiritual power, cancelled his American tour, and went into seclusion.1 Could it be that these things happened because Christians were praying to the true God that He would confound the enemy's plans and words and that the true God delivered immediate results?

Meher Baba never did break his silence, to the moment of his death on January 31, 1969 at the age of 74. His last hand gestures reportedly conveyed the words, "Do not forget that I am God"--he was deceived to the end. During his lifetime, Meher Baba asked his devotees to observe July 10 as Silence Day, and that practice continues today. The Avatar Meher Baba Trust continues his work. Meher Baba never broke his silence during this life, but he will when, with everyone else, he bows his knees and confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord.


1. McCandlish Phillips, The Spirit World (1970), pp. 21-24, cited in Dave Hunt, Peace, Prosperity and the Coming Holocaust (1983), pp. 125-127.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

50 years ago: The death of William Dudley Pelley

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; I Timothy 4:1

On June 30, 1965, U.S. author and political activist William Dudley Pelley died at the age of 75. Mr. Pelley was a journalist and writer of novels, short stories, and screenplays, who claimed to have a near-death experience in 1928 in which he saw God and Jesus Christ, and received a commission to undertake the spiritual transformation of America. His travels in Russia as a correspondent during the Russian Civil War had left him with a hatred of Communism, and the beginning of the Depression in 1929 and Adolf Hitler's rise to power in Germany in 1933 led Mr. Pelley to create the Silver Legion of America, also known as "Silver Shirts," an extremist organization whose ideology included anti-Semitism, isolationism, pyramidology, and British Israelism. Although he claimed to have seen Jesus Christ, the Christ he saw was obviously a false one; Mr. Pelley's spirituality was occultic rather than Christian, and some of the original believers in the Ascended Master teachings in the "I AM" Activity in the 1930s were reportedly recruited from the Silver Legion.

Mr. Pelley founded the Christian Party and ran as its candidate for President of the United States in 1936. His criticism of the U.S. administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, especially in the aftermath of the December 7, 1941 attack by Japanese forces on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, led to charges of high treason and sedition against Mr. Pelley. The Silver Legion disappeared into obscurity as Mr. Pelley was imprisoned until being granted parole in 1952. Mr. Pelley became increasingly obscure himself as the years went on, and was almost completely forgotten by the time of his death.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Leading Israeli ultra-Orthodox rabbi claims to have received messages that the arrival of the Messiah is imminent

And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
Matthew 24:3-5

And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you:
For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
Mark 13:5-6

And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them. Luke 21:8

And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.
And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.
Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.
I receive not honour from men.
But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you.
I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.
John 5:37-43

As reported by Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz of Breaking Israel News, July 3, 2015:

Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, a leading authority in mainstream Ultra-Orthodox Judaism, has been giving clear and unequivocal messages recently that the coming of the Messiah is imminent. He is urging Jews to make Aliyah as soon as possible. Aliyah, the Hebrew verb for “going up”, refers to immigrating to Israel, which is seen as higher spiritual action that can help herald in the coming of the Messiah.

It was reported that the Rabbi Kanievsky was presented with a pamphlet, written by Rabbi Yitzchak Ben Tzvi from the city of Bnei Brak, dealing with the End of Days and many other related prophecies. Rabbi Kanievsky, who is a pillar of the Jewish community and known for his authoritative books on Torah law, read the pamphlet carefully. After a short consideration, he told those around him that the pamphlet needed to be distributed and that Jews living outside Israel should return to their ancestral land.

In yet another instance of Rabbi Kanievsky’s call for aliyah, author Rabbi Yekutiel Fisch revealed advice that was given to his cousin, a teacher at a prominent Lakewood Yeshiva who visited Israel recently and went to Rabbi Kanievsky to receive a blessing at the end of his visit.

The Rabbi told him that he should not leave Israel because the Messiah would be arriving very soon. The teacher responded that he had 700 students waiting for him in Lakewood. Rabbi Kanievsky told him that he must bring all of the students to Israel. Upon his arrival in Lakewood, the story spread quickly, creating quite an impression on the students who all revere Rabbi Kanievsky.

After a lifetime of immersing himself in classical Jewish texts, Rabbi Kanievsky’s study partner informed various media sites that the Rabbi is talking about the messiah “all the time.” Since last summer’s war in Gaza, the Rabbi has been spreading this message of imminent return. In one instance, Rabbi Kanievsky instructed a Jew from Argentina who asked for a blessing that he should “gather your family and come to Israel. Otherwise, there won’t be enough room for you on the airplanes.”

When asked about the timing of the Messiah’s arrival, Rabbi Kanievsky answered, “At the end of the Sabbatical year.” Several people have asked the Rabbi to verify this and he has given the same answer each time. This year is the Sabbatical year and it will be ending on the 29th day of Elul, which, by the Gregorian calendar falls on Saturday, September 12, 2015.

In answer to Rabbi Kanievsky’s call, the Jews of France have begun to arrive in Israel in blessed droves. The impetus is certainly a reaction to increasing anti-Semitic and Islamic fueled violence across Europe.

After the horrific terror attack at a Kosher market in Paris six months ago, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu urged French Jews to come home to Israel. His remarks drew criticism from some, however last week, in the wake of Ramadan violence in several countries including France, Zeev Elkin, the Israeli Minister of Immigration and Absorption, called on French Jews to make Aliyah, echoing his leader’s words.

“Come home! Anti-Semitism is growing, terrorism is on the rise and the sickly ISIS activists carry out murders in the light of day. We are prepared to accept the Jews of France with open arms,” he said.

Last year, 7,000 French Jews made aliyah to Israel, making it the number one country of origin for new immigrants. The Jewish Agency and the Ministry for Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption are expecting more than 3,000 French Jews to immigrate to Israel this summer alone, many of them families with children who want to arrive and integrate before the beginning of the school year.

It should be noted that it is considered a positive trait to always be anticipating the Messiah. The Chofetz Chaim, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan, a great Torah sage, is told to have said that any time he heard a loud noise, he would say, “Perhaps the Messiah has arrived?” Similar stories have also been told of the leading Moroccan Kabbalist, the Baba Sali, Rabbi Israel Abuhaseira.

Israeli Sanhedrin to put Pope Francis on trial for signing treaty with "State of Palestine"

The Sanhedrin of the 1st century put the true Christ on trial (Matthew 26:57-68, 27:1-2; Mark 14:53-66, 15:1-3) while the reconstituted Sanhedrin of the 21st century intends to put a false christ on trial. As reported by Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz of Breaking Israel News, July 7, 2015:

A re-established and self declared Israeli Sanhedrin, the religious High Court composed of 71 sages, has declared that it is putting Pope Francis on trial unless he retracts his statement that the Jews have no right to the land of Israel or to Jerusalem.

In February 2013, the Vatican officially recognized the “State of Palestine” but more significantly, the Vatican signed a treaty in June with “Palestine” in which the Holy See switched its diplomatic relations from the Palestinian Liberation Organization to the “State of Palestine”. This treaty is the first legal document negotiated between the Holy See and the Palestinian state and as such, constitutes an official recognition.

The trial and judgment will be on September 20th, 2015. If Pope Francis chooses to ignore the summons, he will be judged in absentia.

The Sanhedrin sent a letter to Pope Francis in reaction to the Vatican’s recent support of the Palestinian Authority’s unilateral moves to declare themselves a nation, reported the Hebrew magazine Matzav Haruach on June 24.

The letter stated:

“Because the Vatican recognized the organization known as the Palestinian Authority as a nation, and has begun to refer to it as a nation in its documents. His honor has named the head of said authority as an ‘Angel of Peace’, as was explained by a spokesman for the Vatican, that his intention was to encourage Abu Mazen to advance towards peace. These actions, to our great dismay, are consistent with a long series of actions and stances that are as in the days of the Roman Catholic Religion, that swore to persecute Israel because we refused to accept their Messiah as the Messiah of Israel, and to renounce our faith. The recent announcements and actions of the Vatican are a rebuke to the Jewish Nation and to the Bible, which you use to interpret the prophecies, as if God has abandoned his original Nation of Israel. Reality has proven the opposite to be true.”

“We require from you an apology for your recognizing as a nation those who stole the land, those who are known as the Palestinian Authority, and we are informing the Vatican that the sole God given right to the land of Israel is to the Nation of Israel. If His Honor the Pope, and the Vatican, do not apologize within two weeks of receiving this letter, and if he does not change his ways, we shall judge these actions in the Court of Mount Zion, in a court of 71 Jewish elders of Zion, and enact the prophecy of ‘The liberators will rise up upon Mount Zion, to judge the Mountain of Esau and the kingdom shall be God’s’ (Obadiah 1:21). The court shall judge the Vatican in its presence or in absentia, and it is possible that the Vatican will be found guilty of anti-Semitism, as has been known to be done several times throughout history, and to place responsibility upon the Vatican for all of the outcomes of its actions.”

The letter was signed, “The Secretariat of the Court of Mount Zion”. The authorized representatives of the High Court are Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, Rabbi Yoel Schwartz, Rabbi Dov Levanoni, Rabbi Israel Ariel, Rabbi Daniel Stavsky, Rabbi Yehuda Edri, and Rabbi Dov Meir Shtein.

The Sanhedrin has no political or legal status, and clearly has no authority over the Vatican. However, it is comprised of some of the greatest rabbis of the modern Jewish nation, men who have dedicated themselves to Torah, serving God and Israel. One of the main leaders behind the revival of the Sanhedrin is Rabbi Yoel Schwartz, well known for his advocacy in strengthening non-Jewish support for Israel.

The court’s rulings have the highest spiritual significance. The commandment to appoint judges is learned directly from the Bible (Exodus 18:13) and the present Sanhedrin is an effort to reestablish a tradition dating back to Moses.

Pope Francis’ recent visit to Israel and many of his actions caused disturbing waves in the difficult situation in the region.

His controversial description of Abbas as an “angel of peace” led to the Vatican backtracking and attempts to placate Israel. The Pope’s much-publicized meditation at a section of the security barrier prominently displaying pro-boycott graffiti was used by the Palestinians in an appeal to remove the much-needed security measure. That section of the wall also showed graffiti comparing the wall around Bethlehem to the Warsaw Ghetto. Pictures of the Pope’s visit to the wall went viral and became a symbol for anti-Israel sentiment.

While in Israel, Pope Francis attended Sunday mass at the Church of the Nativity. In his sermon, Latin Patriarch Fuoad Twal accused Israelis of being the present-day version of Christ killers by referring to the Palestinians as walking “in the footsteps of the Divine Child,” and likening the Israelis to King Herod. Shockingly, Pope Francis echoed his remarks in a later speech.

Pope Francis embraced the Palestinian mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Muhammed Hussein calling him “dear brother” in a show of great affection. In 2012, Hussein said it was the destiny of Muslims to kill Jews, who he claims are “subhuman beasts and the enemies of Allah.” Sheikh Hussein has also praised suicide bombers and said their souls “tell us to follow in their path,” remarks the Pope has never condemned.

Most significant, perhaps was a story of the Pope’s visit Caroline Glick told The Jerusalem Post. In a conversation with the Pope, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu mentioned that Jesus spoke Hebrew. Pope Francis corrected him, saying that Jesus spoke Aramaic. A flustered Netanyahu agreed that educated Jews at the time spoke Aramaic, but the language of the common people and the language Jesus preached in was Hebrew.

Reuters wrote of the exchange, noting that, “Modern-day discourse about Jesus is complicated and often political.” The report went on to explain, “Palestinians sometimes describe Jesus as a Palestinian. Israelis object to that.”

Pope Francis embraced Arab leaders, but more significantly, he accepted Palestinian national status, precluding any negotiated peace process, and voiding the validity of Israel’s claim to their God-given homeland.
See also Vatican Breaks Faith with Israel with Recognition of “State of Palestine” and Vatican Signs First Official Treaty with “State of Palestine” .

Monday, July 6, 2015

Israeli cabinet caves in to ultra-Orthodox pressure and quashes conversion reform bill

There's no separation of synagogue and state in Israel. As reported by Yair Ettinger of the Israeli news agency Haaretz, July 5, 2015:

The cabinet Sunday threw out a bill that sought to liberalize conversion procedures, tightening the monopoly of the Chief Rabbinate and ultra-Orthodox parties on Israel’s religious bureaucracy.

The conversion reform was crafted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s previous government, which contained centrist party Yesh Atid. It was designed to let municipal rabbis run conversion courts.

The bill was supposed to unleash competition with the conversion courts and ease the process for hundreds of thousands of people, but the quashing Sunday had been promised to ultra-Orthodox party Shas in its coalition agreement with Netanyahu’s Likud.

Also Sunday, the cabinet decided that the rabbinical courts — which handle about 100,000 cases a year — would be transferred from the Justice Ministry to the Religious Services Ministry, their home until 2004.

Also, the conversion administration will be restored to the Prime Minister’s Office after being run by the Religious Services Ministry for two years, when the ministry was controlled by Naftali Bennett’s Habayit Hayehudi party.

Itim, a group that helps Israelis navigate the religious bureaucracy, crafted the conversion bill with MK Elazar Stern (then of Hatnuah, now of Yesh Atid) and the Israel Democracy Institute. Itim harshly criticized Sunday’s move.

“The new government has deposited the keys enabling entry to the Jewish people into the hands of a group that sees value only in exilic and isolationist Judaism, not in Israel’s Jewish identity. In doing so, the government is spitting in the faces of hundreds of thousands of people without a religion who need conversion,” Itim said in a statement.

“The government is basically giving up on completing the vision of ingathering the exiles ... while setting us back 100 years. Anyone who cares about the country’s Jewish identity should address the public’s interests rather than the interests of a specific group in the Rabbinate.”

Itim said it would continue to fight for a conversion process that addressed the people’s needs. For its part, the Religious Services Ministry pledged to improve and streamline the rabbinical courts.

“There is great importance in combining all the religious services under one umbrella,” said the ministry’s director general, Oded Fluss. “It will make things easier both for marriage registrars at the religious councils and for rabbinical court judges. We understand the importance and magnitude of this responsibility.”

Though the rabbinical courts have been returned to the Religious Services Ministry, the Muslim Sharia religious courts and the Christian courts will remain with the Justice Ministry.

Last week the High Court of Justice rejected a petition by the Emunah religious women’s organization to prevent the government from transferring the religious courts from the Justice Ministry. The petition had been filed by Prof. Aviad Hacohen, the dean of private law school Sha’arei Mishpat...

...The Jewish Agency today expressed “deep regrets” over the cabinet decision to roll back the reforms that would have made conversions more accessible.

"The establishment of the local courts sought to address the needs of tens of thousands of immigrants and their children who require conversion due to their desire to join the Jewish people in a more complete and recognized manner,” said Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky.

"We cannot accept the fact that a matter so vital to the future of the Jewish people and to Israel's existence as a Jewish state is subject entirely to the configuration of the coalition at any given time and to government decisions adopted and then canceled after each election cycle."

In a bold challenge to the Chief Rabbinate, the Jewish Agency recently announced plans to create its own rabbinical courts, which would dispatch emissaries to Jewish communities abroad that are either unable or unwilling to perform their own Orthodox conversions.

The Chief Rabbinate has already announced that it will not cooperate with this initiative.

Sharansky said on Sunday that "in light of the apparent difficulty in promoting a solution to this problem though political channels, we must act through other means in order to preserve the state of Israel's Jewish character and continue the historic process of ingathering the exiles."

Rabbi Gilad Kariv, the executive director of the Reform movement in Israel said in response: “The government of Israel today awarded a prize to the Orthodox monopoly, even though it’s biggest achievement, quote unquote, has been to distance the Israeli public from Jewish tradition, while constantly violating the rights of Israeli citizen for freedom of religion and equality”

Transferring control of the rabbinical conversion courts from the justice ministry to the Orthodox-controlled religious affairs ministry, he added, “gives young Israeli couples another reason to turn their back on marriages sanctioned by the Chief Rabbinate and to vote with their feet and hearts against the Orthodox monopoly.”

Hiddush, a non-profit organization that advocates for religious freedom in Israel responded to the cabinet decision by calling for the elimination of the Chief Rabbinate’s office.
For an earlier article on this bill, see Cabinet approves controversial Jewish conversion law making system more accessible, by Jeremy Sharon and Lahav Hrkov in the Jerusalem Post, November 2, 2014.

600 years ago: The martyrdom of Jan Hus

On July 6, 1415, Jan Hus entered into the presence of his Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ at the age of 45 or 46. Mr. Hus was a Roman Catholic priest who criticized the immorality of Roman Catholic clergy and corrupt practices such as the sale of indulgences. He was condemned as a heretic by the Council of Constance and was burned at the stake.

Mr. Hus was a key predecessor to the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century, and the Moravian Church traces its roots to him, while July 6 is observed as the public holiday Jan Hus Day in the Czech Republic. The Roman Catholic Church is still at large, and the doctrines that Mr. Hus opposed are still in place.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

75 years ago: The Mahatma offers his advice to the United Kingdom on peace

On July 2, 1940, Indian independence activist Mohandas Gandhi appealed to all Britons to cease hostilities with Germany and settle their differences using non-violent methods. Apparently the "Great Soul" hadn't been paying attention in September 1938 when the British government, represented by Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, had used non-violent negotiation to achieve "peace for our time" with German Fuehrer Adolf Hitler at the summit in Munich. Less than a year later, that peace was shattered when Mr. Hitler sent his forces into Poland.

By July 1940 the humiliated Mr. Chamberlain had been replaced as British Prime Minister by Winston Churchill, who had a low opinion of both Mr. Hitler and Mr. Gandhi. Eight days after the Mahatma offered his unsolicited advice to the United Kingdom, German planes began a systematic assault on ports in southern England and on British shipping in the English Channel. The bombing campaign inensified through the end of July and after, producing what became known as the Battle of Britain. Fortunately, Mr. Churchill ignored Mr. Gandhi's idiotic and suicidal advice, and instead used Royal Air Force planes to resist the German attacks. On August 20, Mr. Churchill told the House of Commons, "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."

When Mr. Hitler began increasing the persecution of Jews, the Mahatma advised Jews to use non-violent methods in dealing with the situation--and we know how well that turned out. The main lesson that Jews learned from the Holocaust is that when someone is threatening to destroy the Jews, it's prudent to take the threat seriously.

Friday, July 3, 2015

75 years ago: Germany proposes Madagascar as a Jewish homeland

Turn you, and take your journey, and go to the mount of the Amorites, and unto all the places nigh thereunto, in the plain, in the hills, and in the vale, and in the south, and by the sea side, to the land of the Canaanites, and unto Lebanon, unto the great river, the river Euphrates.
Behold, I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them.
Deuteronomy 1:7-8

Every place whereon the soles of your feet shall tread shall be yours: from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the river Euphrates, even unto the uttermost sea shall your coast be. Deuteronomy 11:24

Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.
From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast.
Joshua 1:3-4

And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. Isaiah 11:12

For, lo, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah, saith the Lord: and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it...
... Therefore fear thou not, O my servant Jacob, saith the Lord; neither be dismayed, O Israel: for, lo, I will save thee from afar, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and shall be in rest, and be quiet, and none shall make him afraid.
For I am with thee, saith the Lord, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet I will not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished...
Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I will bring again the captivity of Jacob's tents, and have mercy on his dwellingplaces; and the city shall be builded upon her own heap, and the palace shall remain after the manner thereof.
Jeremiah 30:3, 10-11, 18

For there shall be a day, that the watchmen upon the mount Ephraim shall cry, Arise ye, and let us go up to Zion unto the Lord our God.
For thus saith the Lord; Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations: publish ye, praise ye, and say, O Lord, save thy people, the remnant of Israel.
Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together: a great company shall return thither.
They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.
Hear the word of the Lord, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock...
...If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever.
Jeremiah 31:6-10, 36

On July 3, 1940, Franz Rademacher, head of the Jewish Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the Nazi government of Fuehrer Adolf Hitler, proposed a plan to make Madagascar the "Jewish homeland." German military forces were days away from winning the Battle of France, and Mr. Rademacher's proposal called for Madagascar--then a French colony--to be handed over to Germany as part of the French surrender terms.

When German forces failed to defeat the Royal Air Force the Battle of Britain in the summer of 1940, and the invasion of the British isles was postponed, the British merchant marine was unavailable to Germany for the purposes of transporting Jews, resulting in the postponement of the Madagascar plan. The Nazis then favoured a plan to deport Jews to Siberia via Poland, but when the German invasion of the Soviet Union bogged down at the end of 1941, Mr. Hitler chose to begin exterminating Jews immediately rather than merely deporting them.

The Nazis weren't the first to establishing a Jewish homeland. In the spring of 1799, Napoleon Bonaparte laid siege to the city of Acre (now Akko in present-day Israel) that was being defended by Ottoman and British forces, but after breaching the wall, found that a second wall had been constructed, and withdrew his French forces to Egypt. Napoleon reportedly intended to continue to Jerusalem and rebuild Solomon's Temple, but as Hal Lindsey pointed out, this would have upset the entire prophetic timetable if he's been able to pull it off.

The Sixth Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland in 1903 voted in favour of sending an "investigatory commission" to examine Uganda as a temporary refuge for Russian Jews who were in danger.

Napoleon apparently had the idea to restore the Jews to the right place, but his timing was off. In the case of the proposals to settle Jews in Uganda and Madagascar, the lands in question weren't those prophesied in the Bible. God predicted that the Jews would be restored to their biblical homeland, and He arranged circumstances to make sure that this came to pass, and in accord with the entire prophetice timetable of Scripture.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Canadian Senator and Pentecostal pastor Don Meredith is dumped from the Conservative caucus

Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,
not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.
I Timothy 3:2-3 (NIV)

Those who are tired of hearing about financial scandals involving members of the Canadian Senate might find it refreshing to find that the body of "sober second thought" now has a sex scandal to deal with. Maybe they should call the Canadian Senator "Randy Don," as opposed to his more famous namesake, the late American football quarterback and broadcaster "Dandy Don" Meredith.

As reported by Kevin Donovan of the Toronto Star, June 17, 2015:

A Canadian senator who is under investigation for workplace sexual harassment is facing a new allegation that he had a sexual relationship with a teenager during the past two years.

Don Meredith, 50, has been a senator since 2010 and is also a Pentecostal pastor with the Praise Centre in Toronto.

Soon after the allegations against Meredith were published on the Star website, the Prime Minister’s Office took swift action to oust him from Conservative circles.

“Senator Meredith is no longer a member of the Caucus,” spokesman Stephen Lecce said in an email.

According to the young woman, who is now 18, the relationship began soon after she turned 16. She met Meredith at a church event in Ottawa.

She said it began with sexually explicit chats over Skype and Viber in which Meredith asked her to remove her top and underwear. She said he then masturbated on camera.

The relationship progressed to physical intimacy, kissing and touching before the girl turned 18. Soon after she turned 18, the woman said, they had intercourse twice.

When the senator broke it off earlier this year, he told her in a text message that he did so because “God has spoken to me and am (sic) not happy with me ... I should be leading you not making you.”

The Star has conducted detailed interviews with the woman in person and over the telephone. The Star has also viewed text and email messages the two exchanged.

Meredith, reached by the Star on Tuesday, said he was too busy to answer questions.

“I’m just in a meeting right now; I can’t speak to you,” Meredith said. The senator hung up when the Star began asking questions.

Following the call, the Star sent two sets of written questions to Meredith. The Star left requests for comment on the issue of an alleged inappropriate relationship on Meredith’s cellphone, at his Toronto area church, and his Senate office in Ottawa. Meredith has yet to respond.

In Canada, the age of consent for sexual relations is 16. However, the age of consent is 18 if there is a relationship of authority, trust or dependency.

Meredith was appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2010. He had run unsuccessfully as the Conservative candidate in the 2008 byelection in Toronto Centre. A landscaper by trade — his company is called Donscape Landscaping Services — Meredith had become prominent in Toronto for speaking out against youth violence.

Last week, CTV’s Robert Fife reported that Meredith is under investigation by the Senate for “allegations of workplace sexual harassment and bullying.” According to the CTV report, “four of Meredith’s former female employees and four other Senate staffers allege he made sexual advances, used sexual innuendo, and was often rude and vindictive.”

Senate Speaker Leo Housakos confirmed to media outlets that an investigation he called a “workplace assessment” is underway. The woman the Star interviewed did not work for the senator and has no connection to the workplace harassment allegations.

In an online biography at the Pentecostal Praise Centre in Vaughan, Meredith is described as having a strong commitment to religion and youth. He is also known for his comments on the importance of family values...

...Meredith met the young woman, who was then a girl, at a religious event. The woman is embarrassed and troubled by the relationship. Because of the nature of the allegations and her young age, the Star agreed to protect her anonymity...

...Why is the woman telling her story now?

Last week, CTV, followed by other media, including Canadian Press and CBC, revealed in a story that Meredith was under a Senate review due to a high turnover of staff at his office. CTV stated that the review began in February and that the senator was facing allegations of sexual harassment.

The woman the Star interviewed said she was concerned that the investigators would not believe what the former staff members were alleging and she wanted to add her voice to the story...

...The woman has provided text messages and emails that reveal a relationship dating back to March 2013...

...Following the reports on the sexual harassment investigation, Meredith, his wife and their daughter took to social media to counter any allegations that he has done anything wrong.

Their daughter, who is in her early 20s, tweeted on Tuesday night, “What kind of a person do you have to be to wake up in the morning and decide let me try and steal this person’s happiness?” She also tweeted, “There are way too many cruel individuals out there seeking to ruin people’s lives.”

Late last week, Meredith’s wife, Michelle, tweeted an image of the “Meredith Family crest,” and told her followers, “We stand united.” Another tweet said, “Let your haters be your motivators. Celebrating me.”

Meredith has sent two tweets to his followers, both on June 11, the day after the CTV report on the workplace sexual harassment allegations.

“A lion never loses sleep over the opinions of sheep,” says the first tweet, accompanied by a photo of a male lion.

The second is accompanied by a photo of a green-eyed eagle: “When a storm is coming, all other birds seek shelter. The Eagle alone avoids the storm by flying above it. So in the storms of life, may your heart soar like an eagle.”

Meredith has previously been criticized for improperly claiming he had a doctoral degree (he is no longer allowed to call himself “Dr. Meredith” on Senate correspondence), and for expensing to the Senate a Washington trip he and his wife took to attend the National Prayer Breakfast. Meredith repaid the funds.
According to Senator Meredith's biography at the Parliament of Canada website:

Ontario Senator Don Meredith is the fourth person of African descent, and the first ever Jamaican to serve in the Senate of Canada.

A businessman and community advocate, he is an ordained minister and volunteer pastor of Pentecostal Praise Centre Ministries in Vaughan, Ontario.

A passionate champion of youth empowerment, in 2002, he co-founded the Greater Toronto Faith Alliance Centre where he continues to serve as volunteer Executive Director to engage, encourage and empower marginalized youth, adults and newcomers.

Senator Meredith introduced Bill S-213 that was passed to nationally recognize January 21 as Lincoln Alexander Day.

His commitment to youth leadership, led him to create a National Youth Strategy, and in 2014 he organized the first-ever Parliament Hill-based live-streamed on-line youth summit.

His work in Ottawa also includes sitting on the Fisheries and Scrutiny Committees; co-chairing the Canada-CARICOM Parliamentary Friendship Group; spearheading efforts to erect a national monument in honour of the military contributions of Black Canadians; and urging the Government of Canada and the international community to better respond to crisis-laden global hotspots.

He holds a Master’s degree from California State Christian University and a Honourary doctorate in Divinity from the Canadian Christian Clinical Counsellors’ Association. Senator Meredith has commissioned an Ambassador of Peace for the Universal Peace Federation and is also a recipient of various awards including: The Nelson Mandela Humanitarian Award, The Vaughn African Canadian Association Award of Excellence, The University of Toronto Advancement Achievement Award and The 2015 AroniAward for Youth Organization - GTA Faith Alliance.

He is married to Michelle, an educator and youth advocate who has a passion for those identified as special needs and at-risk. They have two young adult children.
The website of the Pentecostal Praise Centre in Vaughan, Ontario provides the following biographical information on "Dr." Don Meredith:

Rev. Dr. Don Meredith is the founder and volunteer pastor of Pentecostal Praise Centre Ministries Inc., providing visionary leadership for the organization, as well as spiritual guidance to the membership and visiting guests.

Rev. Meredith was born in Jamaica and came to Canada when he was 12. He has a heart for people and desires nothing more than to see all people come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and His glorious Kingdom. With a strong passion for Youth and their families, he wants empower them through education. He has dedicated his live to work with other Faith Leaders, Politicians, and Police to bring about change in how we Engage, Encourage and Empower our youth across Canada. He has earned the reputation of been an expert on these issues affecting Youth. His strong desire to empower the church to take their rightful place in society, allowing them to draw others to Christ. Rev. Meredith has gained the reputation of being one of Canada’s most dynamic servant-leaders, promoting spiritual change in Canada, by co-founding GTA Faith Alliance. His recognition as a prominent leader is the result of vision, focus, and the pursuit of Biblical excellence. He is a strong people person with a very positive attitude and compassion for people, has been noticed by world leaders including the Prime Minister of Canada, by appointing him as the fourth African Canadian to hold a seat in the Senate of Canada.

He is an alumnus of the prestigious California State Christian University, where he earned his Bachelor’s, and Masters Degree in Religious Studies. He was granted an Honorary Doctorate for his work with youth and been a voice of change.

Rev. Meredith, his wife Michelle, daughter Dominique, and son David currently reside in York Region.
If the About Us page at Pentecostal Praise Centre's site is any indication, the church's leadership consists of "Dr." Meredith, his wife Michelle, and his son David. Michelle Meredith is listed as "First Lady" and David Meredith as "Brother"--titles I haven't been able to find mentioned in the New Testament for positions of leadership in the church. In fact, this is the first time I've ever seen the title "First Lady" in connection with a church.

The perceptive reader will recognize terminology in "Dr." Meredith's biography such as "visionary leadership;" "bring about change;" "empower the church to take their rightful place in society;" "servant-leaders;" "vision, focus;" and "noticed by world leaders." He sounds like a good example of the cookie-cutter pastors who've imbibed the Kool-Aid of the Peter Drucker/Leadership Network/Willow Creek/Purpose Driven model of church growth and leadership, which increasingly goes in the direction of the "social gospel," a phrase usually used in connection with the mainline churches of the early 20th century--but increasingly characteristic of the "evangelical" churches of the early 21st century. Herescope is currently reposting some of the best and most important material on this topic--it really is must reading.

Whether the accusations against "Dr." Meredith are true or not, the tweets that he's posted, and that have been republished in the Toronto Star article, show that he's not now qualified for leadership in a church, according to the criteria laid down in I Timothy 3:2-3--he's no longer above reproach, and it's questionable how faithful he's been to his wife. I can't resist mentioning that "Dr." Meredith was appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a man widely believed, especially by pastors--and, in my opinion, erroneously--to be an evangelical Christian. When it comes to appointing Senators or recruiting candidates to run for seats in the House of Commons, Mr. Harper seems to have quite an affinity for crooks and thugs.

Another aspect of the case of "Dr." Meredith that's mentioned in the Toronto Star article touches on something in evangelicalism that's always annoyed me, and that's the use of the title "Doctor" to refer to someone on the basis of degrees that are only honourary. This is an area in which the standards of the world are generally higher than in the church. It's not often in the world that people who have only honourary degrees refer to themselves as "Doctor" in everyday use or accept others referring to them as such, but I've seen this in evangelical circles for decades with people such as "Dr." Jerry Falwell, "Dr." Bill Bright, and "Dr." Billy Graham (I'm not, to put it mildly, an admirer of Rick Warren, but I have no objection to his using the title "Doctor," because he earned his degree). Even if "Dr." Meredith's honourary degree is legitimate, for him to use that as a title in everyday use is inappropriate, especially for someone in a position of Christian leadership. As the saying goes, it's like dancing in the mortuary--it's not illegal, but it's just not done--except of course, in evangelical circles, where it's done all the time.

July 27, 2015 update: Another investigation is taking place into allegations against Senator Meredith, as reported by Jordan Press of Canadian Press, July 16, 2015:

OTTAWA -- A one-time Conservative senator is now facing two ethics probes for his conduct inside and outside the Senate -- the first senator to face such investigations since the upper chamber added more teeth to its ethics code last year.

Senate Speaker Leo Housakos said Thursday the Senate ethics officer has been asked to look into Sen. Don Meredith over the results of a workplace investigation that unearthed concerns about his conduct towards staff and his use of Senate resources.

Housakos said he and other top senators on the Senate's internal economy committee felt it was "imperative" the investigation results be referred to ethics officer Lyse Ricard.

The review announced Thursday is in addition to a separate investigation by the Senate's ethics officer after published allegations last month that he had a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old girl.

Depending on the outcome of the latest ethics review, Meredith could face penalties ranging from a forced public apology on the floor of the Senate -- which was the punishment for former Conservative Pierre Hugues Boisvenu when he was found last year to have violated the Senate's ethics code -- to suspension without pay, which is allowed under the new ethics rules.

The investigation report has not been made public, and the allegations it contains remain unproven. None of the staffers who took part, nor any whose stories are included in the report, wanted to file a formal complaint against Meredith, Senate sources said.

Sources told The Canadian Press that six former staffers who spoke with outside investigators made allegations of workplace harassment against Meredith, saying he was a bully, rude and unprofessional towards his staff.

Staffers who spoke with investigators also outlined that they had expressed concerns to Meredith over trips he took to New York and Washington, D.C., because the trips included enough personal business to question whether he should have expensed them to the Senate.

One of those trips, sources confirmed, was last year for Meredith and his wife to attend the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. The annual event draws some 3,000 politicians and diplomats, including the U.S. president and federal MPs. Meredith later repaid the Senate for the trip.

Meredith didn't have any spending problems reported in the auditor general's June report into Senate spending. Ghislain Desjardins, a spokesman for auditor general Michael Ferguson, said the office wouldn't comment on the details of Meredith's audit.

The Senate first ordered the investigation into Meredith's office in February after top senators, including former Speaker Pierre Claude Nolin, witnessed what they felt was a troubling turnover of staff in Meredith's office. The upper chamber hired outside investigators to speak with former staffers and Senate human resources officials as well as Meredith himself.

Six staffers who left Meredith's office in the last four years and spoke with investigators are not identified in the report and only took part on the condition that their names be protected.

Two more staffers who left Meredith's office in the last four years declined to take part, but had their stories told second-hand to investigators by the six staffers who did speak, a Senate source with knowledge of the report told The Canadian Press Wednesday.

Meredith spoke with investigators in May and Senate sources said he denied the allegations against him.

The former Conservative senator who now sits as an independent has not returned multiple requests for comment left for him on his Senate cell phone, Senate email and at his Richmond Hill home...