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):

CHURCH LOSES VEGAS GAMBLE

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 starofthenorth.ca

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 edmonton@interculturaldialog.com 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: allbeingsconfluence.wordpress.com

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 stonecirclecoaching.com

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 providencerenewal.ca

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, gadensamtenling.org, 780-479-0014, or visit gasamling.ca

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 sonja@hosannalutheran.ab.ca, 780-484-3932, or visit hosannalutheran.ab.ca

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.

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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...

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Elisabeth Elliot goes to be with the Lord

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. Psalms 116:15

Elisabeth Elliot Gren, whose example of a godly life and biblically-based writings were an inspiration to many, including this blogger, has went to be with the Lord on June 15, 2015 at the age of 88. She died after a long period of dementia, and the difficulties that resulted from that are now over. She can rejoice that she's now in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, and can become reacquainted with Jim Elliot and Addison Leitch, her first two husbands, who predeceased her by several decades.

I was privileged to hear Elisabeth Elliot speak in person at the Campus Crusade for Christ KC '83 Christmas Conference in Kansas City, Missouri on December 30, 1983. Pre-release copies of her book Passion and Purity were available there, and she spoke on the subject of that book. The title of her address was The Path of Endurance, and you can hear it here. Elisabeth Elliot's advice is worth following because she lived what she was talking about. I've read a few of her books, and the ones I particularly recommend are Passion and Purity (1984) and The Mark of a Man (1981). They can be be ordered from her site, if you can't find them elsewhere.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Part of ancient Jerusalem’s Lower Aqueduct is exposed during sewer construction

As reported by Israel Antiquities Authority, May 2015:

A section of Jerusalem’s Lower Aqueduct, which conveyed water to the city more than 2,000 years ago, was exposed in the Umm Tuba quarter (near Har Homa) during the construction of a sewer line in the neighborhood by the Gihon Company. This line is just part of an extensive project directed by Zohar Yinon, CEO of the Gihon Company Ltd, to install a modern sewer system for the benefit of the residents of Umm Tuba and Sur Bahar.

The Israel Antiquities Authority conducted an archaeological excavation there following the discovery of the aqueduct. According to Ya’akov Billig, the excavation director, “The Lower Aqueduct to Jerusalem, which the Hasmonean kings constructed more than two thousand years ago in order to provide water to Jerusalem, operated intermittently until about one hundred years ago. The aqueduct begins at the ‘En ‘Eitam spring, near Solomon’s Pools south of Bethlehem, and is approximately 21 kilometers long. Despite its length, it flows along a very gentle downward slope whereby the water level falls just one meter per kilometer of distance. At first, the water was conveyed inside an open channel and about 500 years ago, during the Ottoman period, a terra cotta pipe was installed inside the channel in order to better protect the water”.

The aqueduct’s route was built in open areas in the past, but with the expansion of Jerusalem in the modern era, it now runs through a number of neighborhoods: Umm Tuba, Sur Bahar, East Talpiot and Abu Tor. Since this is one of Jerusalem’s principal sources of water, the city’s rulers took care to preserve it for some two thousand years, until it was replaced about a century ago by a modern electrically operated system. Due to its historical and archaeological importance, the Israel Antiquities Authority is taking steps to prevent any damage to the aqueduct, and is working to expose sections of its remains, study them and make them accessible to the general public.

The Umm Tuba section of the aqueduct was documented, studied, and covered up again for the sake of future generations. Other sections of the long aqueduct have been conserved for the public in the Armon Ha-Natziv tunnels, on the Sherover promenade, around the Sultan's Pool and additional projects are planned whose themes include the Lower Aqueduct.

The Israel Antiquities Authority noted favorably the professional attitude and thorough efforts on the part of the Gihon Company regarding the excavation and discovery of antiquities.

3,000-year-old inscription with the name of King Saul's son is found in Israel

And Ner begat Kish; and Kish begat Saul; and Saul begat Jonathan, and Malchishua, and Abinadab, and Eshbaal. I Chronicles 9:39

Ish-bosheth Saul's son was forty years old when he began to reign over Israel, and reigned two years. But the house of Judah followed David. II Samuel 2:10

And the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, Rechab and Baanah, went, and came about the heat of the day to the house of Ishbosheth, who lay on a bed at noon.
And they came thither into the midst of the house, as though they would have fetched wheat; and they smote him under the fifth rib: and Rechab and Baanah his brother escaped.
For when they came into the house, he lay on his bed in his bedchamber, and they smote him, and slew him, and beheaded him, and took his head, and gat them away through the plain all night.
And they brought the head of Ishbosheth unto David to Hebron, and said to the king, Behold the head of Ishbosheth the son of Saul thine enemy, which sought thy life; and the Lord hath avenged my lord the king this day of Saul, and of his seed.
And David answered Rechab and Baanah his brother, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, and said unto them, As the Lord liveth, who hath redeemed my soul out of all adversity,
When one told me, saying, Behold, Saul is dead, thinking to have brought good tidings, I took hold of him, and slew him in Ziklag, who thought that I would have given him a reward for his tidings:
How much more, when wicked men have slain a righteous person in his own house upon his bed? shall I not therefore now require his blood of your hand, and take you away from the earth?
And David commanded his young men, and they slew them, and cut off their hands and their feet, and hanged them up over the pool in Hebron. But they took the head of Ishbosheth, and buried it in the sepulchre of Abner in Hebron.
II Samuel 4:5-12

Eshbaal is referred to as Ish-bosheth in II Samuel. As reported by Israel Antiquities Authority, June 16, 2015:

A rare inscription from the time of King David was discovered at Khirbet Qeiyafain the Valley of Elah. A ceramic jar c. 3,000 years old that was broken into numerous sherds was discovered in 2012 in excavations carried out there by Prof. Yosef Garfinkel of the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University and Saar Ganor of the Israel Antiquities Authority. Letters written in ancient Canaanite script could be discerned on several of the sherds, sparking the curiosity of researchers.

Intensive restoration work conducted in the laboratories of the Israel Antiquities Authority Artifacts Treatment Department, during which hundreds of pottery sherds were glued together to form a whole jar, solved the riddle – the jar was incised with the inscription: Eshbaʽal Ben Badaʽ. Dr. Mitka Golub and Dr. Haggai Misgav were among the team of researchers involved in deciphering the text.

According to Professor Yosef Garfinkel of the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University and Saar Ganor of the IAA, "This is the first time that the name Eshbaʽal has appeared on an ancient inscription in the country. Eshbaʽal Ben Shaul, who ruled over Israel at the same time as David, is known from the Bible. Eshbaʽal was murdered by assassins and decapitated and his head was brought to David in Hebron (II Samuel, Chaps. 3-4). It is interesting to note that the name Eshbaʽal appears in the Bible, and now also in the archaeological record, only during the reign of King David, in the first half of the tenth century BCE. This name was not used later in the First Temple period.The correlation between the biblical tradition and the archaeological finds indicates this was a common name only during that period. The name Bedaʽ is unique and does not occur in ancient inscriptions or in the biblical tradition."

According to the researchers, the fact that the name Eshbaʽal was incised on a jar suggests that he was an important person. He was apparently the owner of a large agricultural estate and the produce collected there was packed and transported in jars that bore his name. This is clear evidence of social stratification and the creation of an established economic class that occurred at the time of the formation of the Kingdom of Judah.

Garfinkel and Ganor add, "In II Samuel there was apparently reluctance to use the name Eshbaʽal, which was reminiscent of the Canaanite storm god Baʽal, and the original name was therefore changed to Ish-Bashat, but the original name of Eshbaʽal was preserved in the Book of Chronicles. Thus, for example, the name of the warlord Gideon Ben Joash was also changed from Jerrubaal to Jerubesheth."

Khirbet Qeiyafais identified with the biblical city Shaʽarayim. During several seasons of excavations directed by Prof. Yosef Garfinkel and Saar Ganor, a fortified city, two gates, a palace and storerooms, dwellings and cultic rooms were exposed there. The city dates from the time of David, that is, the late eleventh and early tenth centuries BCE. Unique artifacts that were previously unknown were discovered at the site. For example, in 2008 the world’s earliest Hebrew inscription was uncovered there. Now, another inscription from the same period is being published from the site.

According to Garfinkel and Ganor,"Until about five years ago we knew of no inscriptions dating to the tenth century BCE from the Kingdom of Judah. In recent years four inscriptions have been published: two from Khirbet Qeiyafa, one from Jerusalem and one from Bet Shemesh. This completely changes our understanding of the distribution of writing in the Kingdom of Judah and it is now clear that writing was far more widespread than previously thought. It seems that the organization of the kingdom required a cadre of clerks and writers and their activity is also manifested in the appearance of inscriptions."

Monday, June 15, 2015

International Day of Yoga event in Vancouver is cancelled after protests

You tell me just how I can take this Yoga serious
When all it ever gives to me is a pain in my posterious.

Yoga is as Yoga Does, as performed by Elvis Presley (with Elsa Lanchester) in the movie Easy Come, Easy Go (1967).

The definition of yoga--a Sanskrit word literally meaning yoking, from yunakti, he yokes--from Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary (1965):
1 cap: a Hindu theistic philosophy teaching the suppression of all activity of body, mind, and will in order that the self may realize its distinction from them and attain liberation 2: a system of exercises for attaining bodily or mental control and well-being
I wasn't aware until a few hours ago that June 21 is International Day of Yoga; I find it interesting that this has been set by the United Nations for the first day of summer, which is also a day widely celebrated by pagans. British Columbia Premier Christy Clark invited yogis to participate in a celebration to be held in Vancouver, as reported by Brian Morton of the Vancouver Sun, June 5, 2015:

Premier Christy Clark on Friday invited yogis from around the province to roll out their mats and strike a pose on the Burrard Bridge for the International Day of Yoga on June 21.

Lululemon Athletica, YYoga and AltaGas are partnering with the province for the celebration, which organizers hope will be the largest International Day of Yoga event outside of India.

Yogis are invited to arrive at the bridge by 8 a.m. on June 21 for an 8:30 a.m. start. The bridge will be closed between 4 a.m. and 11 a.m. to vehicular traffic in both directions.

Instructors from the Vancouver yoga community will lead participants through an hour-long yoga session.

"India has given the world a great gift in yoga, with dedicated followers around the world," Clark said. "It's become part of the cultural fabric in B.C., and particularly so in the Lower Mainland. That's why we're inviting beginners and yogi masters alike from across the province to Vancouver — to come together to celebrate yoga in record numbers, and most importantly, have fun."

The official slogan of the event is "Om the Bridge," and people are encouraged to use the hashtag #Omthebridge leading up to the big day.

The cities of Vancouver and Surrey are also supporting the event.
And as reported by Mr. Morton in the Vancouver Sun, June 6, 2015:

Vancouver yogis take note: you’ll have two large yoga sessions to choose from for the inaugural International Day of Yoga June 21 — the Plaza of Nations and the Burrard Bridge.

Just don’t call it a competition.

“We believe at least 1,500 people (will be) at this event,” said Nirmala Raniga, organizer of the Plaza of Nations event, announced Tuesday.

“We want to set it up in such a way that people can register and show up and embrace the day because the schedule is a full day,” added Ramiga, whose session is presented by the International Day of Yoga, Vancouver Committee, and endorsed by the Consulate General of India.

On Friday, Premier Christy Clark also invited yogis to roll out their mats and strike a pose on the Burrard Bridge for the International Day of Yoga. Lululemon Athletica, YYoga and AltaGas are partnering with the province with the shared goal of hosting the largest celebration outside of India...

...Raniga said that she had originally booked her all-day session at Robson Square, but was subsequently told she could only have it for two hours, so she had to book the Plaza of Nations.

Asked if she believed the hours were cut back because of the province’s yoga session on Burrard Bridge, Raniga said she didn’t know.

“I was approached by the consul-general of India months ago asking if we could put an event together for yoga day. So we’ve been working very closely with the consulate on this,” she said.

She noted that, unlike the Burrard Bridge session, the Plaza of Nations event is booked for the whole day. “They’re doing it on a bridge. We picked a venue that allows people to come out and be in yoga and not just do the practice of yoga, but really embrace the whole aspect of yoga. Also, we’ll have some discussion on lifestyle.”

Raniga doesn’t like to think of the two events as a competition. “I don’t take it in that way. I think it’s for everyone. If they want to go to the Burrard Bridge and hang out, that’s great for them. We invite everybody who wants to come out to our venue.

“I have also set one up (a session) in Victoria and a second event in Squamish. It’s meant to bring everybody together.”
However, the announcement of the event prompted protests, and a response from Premier Clark, as reported by Tiffany Crawford in the Vancouver Sun, June 12, 2015:

Some of the critics opposed to the closure of a major Vancouver bridge for International Yoga Day are "haters" of the practice, B.C. Premier Christy Clark says.

The premier announced last week that the Burrard Street Bridge would close for several hours on June 21 for the international event.

Criticism quickly followed in local media and social media - her plan even drew the ire of children's entertainer Raffi Cavoukian.

Clark has posted a photo on Twitter of her standing outside a Taoist Tai Chi office accompanied by text that says: "Hey, Yoga Haters - bet you can't wait for international Tai Chi day."

She has also told reporters that similar events are taking place in New York's Times Square, at the Washington Monument and across India.

Clark is questioning whether her critics would be complaining if the bridge were shut down for a ballhockey tournament or marathon. "There are thousands of people, many of them women, who find peace in their day by doing yoga, and I think it's a little puzzling to see so many people criticizing something that people do, that thousands of British Columbians do every day to find a little bit of peace in their lives," she said.

"I think that's something in a province, where we care about good health and well-being, that we should be celebrating."

But First Nations groups are planning to crash the yoga party.

The Om The Bridge event coincides with National Aboriginal Day, and groups unhappy with that are asking people to protest the event.

Several pages have been set up on social media calling for a peaceful disruption of the mass yoga class with signs, singing and drumming.

"Be an ally on National Aboriginal Day. Hold space for indigenous people, who continue to be systematically ignored, by crashing (Premier) Christy Clark's yoga party," one organizer wrote on Facebook.

Responding to questions about her tweet in Victoria, Clark said it was a joke.

"That was a bit of self deprecating humour," she said. "We are celebrating National Aboriginal Day, absolutely we are. We're also celebrating Father's Day in my household and we're also celebrating the United Nations day that was designated for International Yoga Day," she said. "Yoga is a huge part of people's lives here."
The protests have been effective, because the event has been cancelled, as reported by Ms. Crawford in the Vancouver Sun, June 13, 2015:

VANCOUVER - Vancouver’s Om the Bridge yoga event has been cancelled following a week of controversy and organizers say they will look for another venue.

Sponsors Lululemon, YYoga and Altagas announced Friday they were pulling out after backlash ensued over costs and the bridge closure among other issues.

Christy Clark also announced Friday she would not participate in the event, scheduled for June 21.

“Unfortunately, the focus of the proposed Burrard Street Bridge event has drifted towards politics, getting in the way of the spirit of community and inner reflection,” Clark said in a statement. “It was for that reason I decided not to participate.”

Jill Batie, a spokeswoman for Lululemon, confirmed the yoga wear company had decided not to participate in the Om the Bridge event, scheduled for June 21 on Burrard Bridge.

“Downward dogs with a few thousand of our closest friends seemed like the perfect way to celebrate International Day of Yoga. Until it didn’t,” an emailed statement from Batie read.

“We’ve read your posts and the media reports, and heard the disappointment in the voices of our community frustrated by the location, cost and date. We had the best intentions. And so we’re taking a deep cleansing breath and over the next several days, we’ll be reimagining a celebration that honours the spirit and tradition of yoga and serves our communities in a more meaningful way. Because ultimately, yoga is about connecting us to ourselves, each other, our environment, and eventually, our truth. Look for more information on our social channels coming soon. Thanks for your understanding. Namaste.”

In a statement posted online, YYoga CEO Terry McBride said they have been listening to the community, and that they would be looking at other ways to celebrate International Day of Yoga.

“The importance of celebrating the tradition of yoga still rings true for us. We are working with our partners from the community to deliver something that serves them in a more meaningful way,” he said.

“Please stay tuned for something that will reflect the tradition of yoga, and the wishes of our community ... in a park.”

The move follows Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson saying he won’t take part in the event, option instead to celebrate National Aboriginal Day, and a tweet earlier Friday from Premier Clark saying she won’t participate.

Premier Clark’s office said it was always her plan to attend the yoga event, but she has since felt it has become too political to make a personal appearance. Clark’s office would not say what she intends to do instead, saying the premier’s schedule will be revealed closer to the actual day.

Since last Friday’s announcement there has been a significant backlash over the $150,000 cost to taxpayers, the bridge closure, the LNG sponsor and that it’s being held on the same day as National Aboriginal Day.

“On the face of it, I found Premier Clark’s idea to host an international yoga event on the Burrard Street Bridge to be completely flakey,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, head of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs. “But at the same time, I also felt it was a blatant political opportunism.”

Phillip said he was particularly concerned about Clark’s decision to promote International Yoga Day over national Aboriginal Day because of the recent release of a report by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which called on Canadians to change their relationship with First Nations.

Opposition NDP Leader John Horgan said that while Clark has said she didn’t want to mix yoga and politics, she did just that.

“Where this event went sideways was that it was an expense of public dollars that seemed wasteful,” Horgan said. “Millionaires get tax breaks and the premier shuts down a road so she can have a yoga class. I think that offended people.”
I side with the protesters, but for a reason in addition to those mentioned above. My objection is to the Premier using her position as the province's highest official to promote and spend public money on a Hindu religious event. Such behaviour would probably be considered unacceptable and would result in a court case if it were a Christian event being promoted. I have no doubt that Ms. Clark is correct when she says that Yoga is "part of the cultural fabric of B.C." and a "huge part of people's lives here;" I take that as more evidence that the increasingly unrecognizable country that still officially goes by the name of Canada is a whited sepulchre full of dead men's bones (Matthew 23:27).

You can count this blogger among the "Yoga Haters." My opinion of Yoga was well expressed by Elvis Presley in the words quoted at the top of this post. Submitted for your approval, the following item in recognition of International Day of Yoga:

Friday, June 12, 2015

75 years ago: Liberal clergy gather for Interfaith Conference on Unemployment

For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
II Corinthians 11:13-15

Ecumenism in the name of "social justice" is nothing new. As reported by Jewish Telegraphic Agency, April 11, 1940:

WASHINGTON (Apr. 10)

A national interfaith conference on unemployment will be convened in Washington June 4 to 6 under the direction of the industrial division of the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America, the Social Action Department of the National Catholic Welfare Conference and the Social Justice Commission of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, it was announced here today by the Rev. James Myers, Monsignor John A. Ryan and Rabbi Edward L. Israel, leaders of the religious groups planning the conference.

"Unemployment," the clergymen declared, "is the basic problem before the nation and vitally affects all other problems of national well being. It must be approached and solved in a determined spirit of cooperation and national unity. It must not be allowed to become a political football but must be the common concern of all political parties, of all economic groups, of employers, organized labor, farmers, consumers and government."

The purpose of the proposed conference, the clergymen pointed out, is to "define impartially the issue and to lay upon the conscience of the nation the paramount necessity of its solution."

"The first thing which is needed," they said, "is a united will to abolish unemployment. The three faiths are glad to join in a united appeal to abolish unemployment."

Whatever findings the forthcoming conference may adopt will be the responsibility of the conference itself rather than of the convening organizations, the three social action leaders stated. "Such findings," they added, will in turn become recommendations to the various religious bodies for further study and action."

An interfaith committee of 30 to be appointed by the convening organizations will assist in the organization and operation of the conference, it was announced.
And as reported by Jewish Telegraphic Agency, June 5, 1940:

WASHINGTON (Jun. 4)

Dedicated to the solution of the unemployment problem as a basic factor in making democracy work, Jewish, Catholic and Protestant leaders convened in Washington today in the Interfaith Conference on Unemployment and heard outstanding leaders in Government and religion call for a “united will” to put men back to work.

Jewish groups represented were the Social Justice Committee of the Rabbinical Assembly of America and the Social Justice Commission of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. Rabbis Edward L. Israel, Baltimore, and Samuel H. Goldenson, New York, participated in the discussion.

American has nine million unemployed, it was estimated by Dr. Leonard Kuvin, of the National Industrial Conference Board. He estimated that business would have to be stepped up 45 per cent above present levels to absorb all the unemployed. He said it could be done under the present system, “which is the basis of tolerance, democracy, liberty and freedom.”

Arthur Dunn, president of the “Realists’ Group,” organized last September as a protest against the Neville Chamberlain type of “wishful thinking,” said of Hitler: “He is the world’s greatest industrialist–the premier manufacturer of death and the most successful butcher of all times.” He said that without “wishful thinkers” mass murder by Hitler could not have been.”

Dunn said: “The majority of those sponsoring the interfaith conference claim to be Christian. They call the United States a Christian country. And almost the last words of Christ were, ‘Go ye unto all nations.’ Christ was no isolationist and if we ever meet him face to face we will have a hard time explaining why, until our own hides were threatened, we fail to give any real help to our unfortunate brothers in other lands.”

Rabbi Goldenson called unemployment the supreme indictment of our intelligence and common sense and said unemployment was “not unrelated” to the tragedies in Europe. “For many the cause of war is certainly the circumstance that vast numbers of men during the last generation or so have been unable to find gainful occupation. The effect of unemployment has been to create in every country large armies of dissatisfied, troubled, discontented, disgruntled men and women. These unhappy persons have naturally become resentful of and rebellious against the status quo.”
The liberal clergy didn't have to wait long to get their way when it came to a "united will" to put men back to work, although perhaps it didn't happen in the way they were expecting. On June 10, 1940, Italian Foreign Minister Count Ciano informed the French and British ambassadors that as of the next day Italy would consider herself at war with both nations. Speaking at the graduation ceremonies of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt denounced Italy's entrance into the European war, declaring, "The hand that held the dagger has stuck it into the back of its neighbor." He called for "full speed ahead" in the U.S. defense effort.

On June 11, the U.S. House of Representatives passed and sent to the Senate a $1.004-billion defense tax bill, which also authorized an increase in the national debt to $49 billion. The bill was approved by the Senate on June 19, and signed into law by President Roosevelt on June 25. On July 31, the House passed and sent to the Senate a $4,963,151,957 national defense appropriations bill for rearmament; the bill was approved by the Senate on August 29. The amount had increased to $5.251 billion by the time the Second Supplemental National Defense Appropriations Act was signed by President Roosevelt on September 9, 1940.

On June 13, Mr. Roosevelt signed a $1.308-billion Navy appropriations bill, providing for construction of 22 warships. Two days later, he signed a bill expanding the United States Navy air corps by 10,000 planes and 16,000 aviators; on June 17, he asked Congress to appropriate $1.2 billion more for naval construction. On July 1, Mr. Roosevelt signed a bill providing for construction of 45 Navy vessels costing $550 million; two days later, he prepared legislation requesting $5 billion more for national defense. On July 20, Mr. Roosevelt signed the "Two-Ocean Navy" Act, calling for a buildup in naval forces to 35 battleships, 20 carriers, and 88 cruisers. On September 9, 1940, the same day that President Roosevelt signed the Second Supplemental National Defense Appropriations Act, the United States Navy Department announced contracts for the building of 201 ships, including 7 battleships. On September 18, President Roosevelt signed a bill authorizing over $23 million for the construction of drydocks in New York, Boston, and the Caribbean.

On June 18, 1940, President Roosevelt said that a bill for universal government service for all young men and women would soon be introduced. The buildup in America's defense effort required manpower; "universal government service" came into play just a year and a half later when Japanese forces attacked the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, bringing the United States into World War II, and settling, at least for the duration of the war, the issue of unemployment in the U.S.A.