Sunday, July 31, 2011

Thousands of babies aborted in U.K. because of "suspected disability"

In the United Kingdom, as in many other Western--formerly known as "civilized"--nations, the most dangerous place to be is in the womb. The reader will notice the outrage by the pro-abortionists at merely wanting the figures to be released. "Hellman asked just one question: 'Why are Adolf Hitler and the Nazis still regarded as villains by nations that are increasingly implementing his policies?'"

As reported by Hilary White of LifeSiteNews, July 21, 2011:

After a five-year legal battle, a pro-life group in the United Kingdom has succeeded in obtaining detailed statistics about eugenic abortions from the UK’s Department of Health (DoH).

26 unborn babies in the last nine years have been killed for having cleft lip or palate.The statistics reveal that thousands of babies have been killed for eugenic reasons, some of them (26 in the last nine years) for as minor a condition as cleft lip or palate, seven of them in 2010. These abortions were conducted under “Ground E,” the rule that allows any child at any gestational age to be killed whom doctors believe have a “substantial risk” of having a “serious” disability.

The UK’s Department of Health has refused since 2003 to reveal details about the eugenic abortions that are being committed in the country, arguing that the women involved could possibly be identified. However, the campaign group ProLife Alliance went to court in 2005 demanding that the figures be released. The High Court ruled against the department in April this year, but the figures were only released earlier this month.

In total, nearly 18,000 babies were aborted between 2002 and 2010 on the grounds of suspected disability. 1,189 were killed after the upper legal gestational age limit of 24 weeks. The figures show that these include 482 killed for Down’s syndrome in 2010 alone. In the same year, 181 abortions were attributed to musculoskeletal problems such as club foot, while 189 unborn children killed for anencephaly and 128 for spina bifida...

...Under current law, abortion is legal for any reason or none up to 24 weeks gestation. A recent legislative attempt to amend the Abortion Act 1967 to lower the gestational age limit for early term abortions resulted in a backlash in which age-limit restrictions were lifted for eugenic abortion.

Ann Furedi, the head of one of the UK’s most lucrative abortionist groups, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, has called the campaign to release the statistics an example of the “vindictiveness” of pro-life activists.

“Abortion for foetal anomaly is legal. Behind every one of these figures are doctors and nurses who deserve our admiration and support, and a couple who have often lost a much-wanted pregnancy.”

However, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children pointed out that the figures show that between 2001 and 2010, the number of abortions on the ground of disability rose by one-third, 10 times the increase in abortions generally.

SPUC’s Anthony Ozimic said, “It is clear that legal abortion is a system which discriminates, fatally, against the disabled.”

Responding to Furedi, Ozimic said it is misleading to refer to eugenic abortion as “losing” a pregnancy.

“It is grossly misleading of Furedi to imply that aborted babies are merely ‘lost’, as one might describe a miscarriage.” He called Furedi’s comment “extremist” and said that no abortion is ever medically necessary.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

And atheists wonder why they're so disliked

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

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

Blogger and columnist Vox Day, author of the recent book The Irrational Atheist, likes to use the phrase "socially autistic" to describe atheists. They're so wrapped up in a world of fantasy that they can't understand why their words and actions might be regarded as offensive by outsiders. Mr. Day has referred to atheism as a juvenile psychological disorder, remarking on how many of the "New Atheists" (Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens are excellent examples) adopted their beliefs in late childhood or early adolescence. They've carefully avoided acknowledging any evidence that might upset these childhood beliefs, so anyone wanting to debate against them should keep in mind that the debate will be against a petulant child or adolescent.

An example of this is a comment I just received (from a courageous atheist who chose to remain anonymous) regarding my post on atheists in Manitoba. On reading it, I couldn't help but be reminded of Letter to the Boss, one of my favourite Honeymooners' episodes from The Jackie Gleason Show (click the links to see Parts 1, 2, and 3). As Ralph Kramden's boss, Mr. Marshall, says, "Can you imagine the mentality of a man who'd write a letter like this?":

Believe that 2,000 year old, desert nomad guidelines are the inerrant word of a magical, invisible sky-fairy. Just don't think I'm stupid enough to grovel in the same dirt in which you proclaim your own worthlessness to your sky-fairy. I'll bathe, and not grovel in the first place, you emotionally weak, illogical, astoundingly stupid religious-bum-fuck. 30 July, 2011 2:52 AM

August 2, 2011 update: For more evidence of the childishness of atheists' beliefs, go to Vox Popoli and the August 2, 2011 post titled Mailvox: A Poem by Little Dick. Note that the author of the poem admits that he became an atheist in childhood--a stage of life which he apparently has yet to outgrow.

Friday, July 29, 2011

More debate over the classification of Archaeopteryx

Remember, evolution is proven science! As reported by Bob Unruh of WorldNet Daily, July 28, 2011 (links in original):

A fossil touted since the time of Charles Darwin as the "missing link" between dinosaurs and birds is likely just a dinosaur, scientists have admitted in a new report in the journal Nature..

The proposal to reclassify the specimen Archaeopteryx, which has been presented since its discovery in 1861 as a key transitional link, highlights the shifting sands on which much of evolutionary theory is based, according to one expert in the field.

David Menton of Answers in Genesis has a Ph.D. in cell biology from Brown University, taught anatomy at Washington University School of Medicine, lectured in anatomy, was a consulting editor for "Stedman's Medical Dictionary" and has been profiled in "American Men and Women of Science – a Biographical Directory of Today's Leaders in Physical, Biological and Related Sciences."

He told WND the developments reported by Nature directly undercut the assumptions of Darwinian evolutionary theory.

"Just how many papers have we had talking about this being a bird?" he asked.

A summary of the scientific paper in naturenews explains that Xing Xu, a paleontologist at the Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeoanthropology in Beijing, is suggesting Archaeopteryx is "not a bird at all."

The report says the latest discovery suggests the assumption that Archaeopteryx is "the evolutionary link between the two [birds and dinosaurs]" may need reconsideration.

The discovery, called Xiaotingia zhengi, was found in western Liaoning, China, in rocks dating to the Jurassic time frame, an assumed 161 million to 145 million years ago.

This one, like others, the report said, has feather impressions in the rock, but it also has claws on its forelimbs and sharp teeth.

"Xu reports that it also has extremely long middle and last finger bones and a wishbone with an L-shaped cross-section at one end. These characteristics, Xu argues, identity Xiaotingia as very closely related to Archaeopteryx and another feathery relative, Anchiornis."

However, Menton told WND that such assumptions are built on unstable foundations, since the report author himself, Xu, wrote, "It should be noted that our philogenetic hypothesis is only weakly supported by the available data."

Further, Menton noted the "specimen" was purchased and not found in situ, raising an entire line of questions about authenticity, provenance and origin.

Xu's conclusion after looking at the specimen was that such creatures resemble more closely dinosaurs than early birds, "and so belong in the dinosaur group Deinonychosauria rather than in the bird group, Avialae."

But what about the century-plus that Archaeopteryx was considered "the ideal 'missing link' with which to demonstrate evolution from non-avian dinosaurs to birds"?

According to the report, Xu explained, "I think Archaeopteryx's placement was the result of both history and relatively poor sampling at the dinosaur-bird transition..."

...The AP commented on the Nature report that the effect of Xu's writing could be to move Archaeopteryx from the "bird" branch of evolutionary teachings to another branch containing "birdlike dinosaurs."

Prominent professor Lawrence Witmer at Ohio University told AP that any reclassifications wouldn't matter much, but it might push scientists to reevaluate evolution of birds themselves.

"Archaeopteryx has been the touchstone," he said. But now, that "centerpiece" may not even be part of the "lineage."

Oliver Knevitt on the Science2.0 blog tried to make the problem clear: "Birds are a group of therapod dinosaurs, and as such are the only group of dinosaurs still to roam the Earth. … [But] at what point does a maniraptoran dinosaur become a bird?

"Back in the day, when we had a lot less fossils, it was a lot easier. Birds have feathers and wishbones. Simple. But slowly, we've found more and more examples of what were thought were bird-only [characteristics] turning up in theropod dinosaurs – so much so, that what we now think of as unique to birds is very different."

He continued, "I will say this, though: don't expect this to be the last you've heard of this. I think it is probably quite likely that there may be another reclassification, and Archaeopteryx may find itself being reclassified as a bird again."

Thursday, July 28, 2011

50 years ago: Soviet Communist party promises utopia--by 1980

On July 30, 1961, the Soviet Union made public, in the party newspaper Pravda, its third party program, the first since 1919. It predicted that in the period of 1961-1970 the U.S.S.R. would surpass the U.S.A. in per capita production; the Soviet people's standard of living and technical and cultural standards would improve substantially; everyone would live in easy circumstances; all collective and state farms would become highly productive and profitable enterprises; the demand of Soviet people for well-appointed housing would mainly be satisfied; hard physical work would disappear; and the U.S.S.R. would have the world's shortest working day.

From 1971-1980 the material and technical basis of Communism would be created; there would be an abundance of material benefits for the whole population; Soviet society would come close to the stage where it could introduce the principle of distribution according to need; and there would be a gradual transition to one form of ownership--public ownership. It would be possible to provide, at public expense: free medical services; free maintenance and education of children in schools; free maintenance of disabled people; rent-free housing; free public transport; free lunches by public catering; and free water, gas, and heating.

As Maxwell Smart would say: "Missed it by that much!"

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

"Immortalist" Robert Ettinger, "Father of Cryonics," falls a little short of immortality in this life

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: Hebrews 9:27

I have no doubt that Robert Ettinger is now surprised to find that Hebrews 9:27 is correct. As reported in the Daily Telegraph, July 24, 2011:

Robert Ettinger, who died on July 23 aged 92, was the intellectual father of the cryonics movement, whose members have themselves frozen at death pending scientific resurrection.

Ettinger preferred to style himself an "immortalist", since he argued that whole body or head-only freezing ("neurological suspension") was only one means of achieving indefinite life. His rationale for pursuing this goal was contained in his book The Prospect Of Immortality (1964), which revealed him as an unquenchable optimist about mankind's technological future.

He drew on his experience as a physics teacher and his interest in science fiction to predict the evolution of machines which would manufacture from raw atoms all that man needed. He foresaw intergalactic settlement, and argued that science would produce medical machines which would cure all diseases.

What now seemed to be a fatal illness would be no more than a twinge by 2050. From this it followed that the dead might be "cured" by the doctors of the future.

Ettinger proposed that governments immediately initiate a mass-freezing programme. He suggested that this might have huge social benefits. To pay the premiums on their frozen families, people would need steady work and would be compelled to live responsible lives. He predicted that when immortality was achieved, crime would become extinct, since criminals would be afraid of justice pursuing them beyond the grave. Immortality would secure for man a higher, nobler nature.

The authorities remained unmoved. But his book proved popular and did inspire a number of cryonics organisations. In 1967 the first man was drained of blood and permeated with cryoprotectant (a sort of human antifreeze) and placed in a vat of liquid nitrogen at -196 degrees.

Despite Ettinger's lofty aims, there were also opportunists, who imagined that cryonics would become big business, and outright ghouls. In the 1970s one Californian cryonics society went bust without informing the relatives of its dozen "patients", who found their loved ones decomposing in wooden packing cases in a suburban crypt. The head of that particular business had found alternative work repairing television sets.

The movement is hated by orthodox scientists, who hold that resurrecting a frozen body would be like "trying to turn a hamburger back into a cow". But by the mid-1990s there were some 65 or so people in suspension and half-a-dozen organisations dedicated to the philosophy of the deep-freeze, and catering to a growing band of immortalists.

Perhaps 1,000 people have taken out insurance policies to cover the cost of storage, which ranges between $28,0000 and $150,000. There are cryonics representatives in Britain and at least one family undertaker has added cryoprotectant perfusion to its more traditional services.

The son of Russian immigrants of Jewish stock, Robert Chester Wilson Ettinger was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on December 4 1918. The family later moved to Detroit and young Robert was educated locally and at Wayne State University where he studied Physics and Maths. Despite his Jewish roots, he grew up a determined atheist...

...He had begun brooding on the possibilities of cryonics in the 1930s, and was later inspired by The Jameson Satellite, a science-fiction short story by Neil Jones, about a man who has his corpse placed into orbit in the belief that the cold of outer space would preserve him.

Millions of years passed, and the human race died out. Then a race of advanced aliens came along with mechanical bodies; they took the man's frozen brain, and put it in a mechanical body.

"It was immediately obvious to me," recalled Ettinger, "that the author had missed the main point of his own story – namely that if there was any sense at all in expecting a frozen person to be revived someday, there was no point in waiting for aliens to do it in millions of years. We could do it ourselves in a very short time, and not just for a few eccentrics, but for everybody."

"We have to wait for the technology of revival. But we have to see to the arrangements of freezing ourselves, because most of us are going to die long before the technology of revival is there."

In 1947 Ettinger wrote a short story on the theme, fully expecting that other more influential people would pick up on his idea. When, by 1960, no mass freezing programme had been initiated, Ettinger wrote an essay on the subject, dealing mainly with "the insurance aspect", which he sent to some 200 people selected at random from Who's Who In America.

There was "virtually zero response", and he therefore wrote The Prospect of Immortality, which was first published privately. The sequel, Man Into Superman, appeared in 1968.

Ettinger retired from teaching in 1972, but to the end remained convinced that cryonics would catch on.

"Someday there will be some sort of psychological trigger that will move all these people to take the practical steps they have not yet taken. When people realise that their children and grandchildren will enjoy indefinite life," he said, "that they may well be the last generation to die."

Ettinger took particular encouragement from advances in nano-technology, the manipulation of computers at a microscopic level, which he thought would provide the machinery to successfully repair frozen corpses.

Robert Ettinger will be shipped back to Michigan to join his two wives and his mother in cold storage...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

50 years ago: Pope John XXIII poses as an economist

On July 14, 1961, the English translation of a 25,000-word encyclical originally issued in Italian on May 15 by Pope John XXIII (heretofore regarded as a religious leader, but now coming out as an economist) titled Mater et Magistra (Mother and Teacher) was published, calling on productive nations to aid backward nations without attaching political strings which would create "a new form of colonialism." The pope noted "the immeasurably sorrowful spectacle of vast numbers of workers in many lands and entire continents who are paid wages which condemn them and their families to subhuman conditions of life," and said that wages must "be determined according to justice and equity." He also restated the Roman Catholic opposition to birth control. Then as now, there were some (including this blogger) who mourned the passing of the old form of colonialism.

On taxation the pope wrote: "The fundamental principle in a system of taxation based on justice and equity is that burdens be proportioned to the capacity of people to contribute." He advocated social and actions, including price protection, to improve farm conditions and halt the exodus from agriculture.

Lest anyone suspect that the pope was about to give away any of the Roman Catholic Church's land or wealth, John XXIII defended the ownership of private property as "a natural right which the state cannot suppress," and said, "History and experience testify that in those political regimes which do not recognize the rights of private ownership of goods, the fundamental manifestations of freedom are suppressed or stifled."

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Parliamentary inquiry finds increasing anti-semitism on Canadian university campuses

An increase in anti-Israel and anti-Jewish attitudes and opinions couldn't have anything to do with an increasing Islamic presence in the country and on university campuses, could it? The University of Alberta is one of those that permits an annual Israeli Apartheid Week. This event has been held at the university only since 2009; there was no such week, needless to say, from 1979-1989, when Myer Horowitz was president of the U of A. As for the coalition's recommendations, an obvious one seems to have been overlooked: a crackdown on the number of Muslims allowed into the country.

As reported by Beatrice Fantoni in the Ottawa Citizen, July 8, 2011:

OTTAWA — Anti-Semitism on Canadian university campuses is a growing threat and the Canadian government needs to do more to tackle hate crimes against Jews, a parliamentary inquiry has found.

The Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism released its report on Thursday following two years of hearings.

According to the report, anti-Semitism is on the rise in Canada, especially in universities. The report makes several recommendations to the government, including working with police services across Canada to clearly define what constitutes an anti-Semitic crime and looking at rising international anti-Semitism when designating source countries for immigration...

...The coalition was formed in late 2009, following an international conference on anti-Semitism in the U.K. Its aim was to find out more about how anti-Semitism is playing out in Canada and suggest ways to deal with it.

A total of 74 witnesses testified at 10 hearings, and more than 150 written submissions were made between November 2009 and February 2010.

The coalition was composed of more than 20 MPs and senators, both Jewish and non-Jewish, from all political parties. Bloc Quebecois members dropped out in 2010, claiming the coalition was biased.

Former Liberal MP Mario Silva, who chaired the hearings, said he was especially disturbed to hear how many Jewish university students felt intimidated or unsafe on campus in light of events such as Israeli Apartheid Week, which the coalition considers to be anti-Semitic. The annual event, held across Canada, opposes Israel's treatment of Palestinians and calls for boycotts of and sanctions against Israel.

The coalition's report recommends the federal government sponsor conferences at universities to counter these types of events.

"We can't have a situation of fear and intimidation on our campuses," Silva said. "We agree with free speech — it's not an issue of shutting down free speech — but administrators have a responsibility for the security and safety of their students."

Critics of the coalition said the process did not include dissenting voices. Interest groups, such as the Canadian Islamic Congress and Independent Jewish Voices were not invited to make statements.

On Thursday, Silva responded by saying that those dissenting groups and individuals were not prepared to make a positive contribution.

"They would rather just focus on attacking the work we were doing," he said. "Just speaking for myself, I didn't want to give a platform to individuals who had no time for us, so why should we have time for them?"

Wahida Valiante, national president of the Canadian Islamic Congress, told Postmedia News on Thursday that the process should have been more inclusive and not focused exclusively on anti-Semitism since any policy outcomes could benefit other groups in Canada who face racism...

...In 2010, the Jewish group B'nai Brith reported 1,306 anti-Semitic incidents in Canada, up from 1,264 in 2009.

Anita Bromberg, national director of legal affairs for B'nai Brith, said the coalition's findings are "bang on" with what her organization has been studying for more than 25 years...

...The report's recommendations will be useful if the government establishes the office of religious freedom, Silva said. The office, which would monitor religious persecution worldwide, was proposed by the Conservative party as part of its election platform in April.

To see the full report, go here.

May 15, 2012 update: As reported by Gabe Kahn of Arutz Sheva, May 14, 2012:

Canada's government may be pro-Israel, but its universities aren't according to the Parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism (CPCCA) report on anti-Semitism in Canada released last week.

Mario Silva, Chairman of the Committee of Inquiry appointed by the CPCCA, said his two year investigation concluded anti-Semitism is alive and well in Canada, especially in the universities.

The report cited the anti-Semitic atmosphere on campus is reflected both in expressions of traditional anti-Semitism and Israel bashing, which denies the right of the Jewish people to self-determination and a homeland.

Frequently applied tactics by anti-Israel activists, he said, including the use of symbols and tactics employed by the Nazi regime and the Israeli government, and conferring on all Jews culpability in Israel's policy decisions.

The report noted these tactics go far beyond legitimate criticism of Israel and present a new expression of anti-Semitic discourse.

The Commission of Inquiry heard testimony from of students and professors about the pervasive hostile atmosphere in Canada's universities.

Jewish students who expressed open support for Israel were subjected to harassment by both fellow students and lecturers, and offensive slurs.

Lecturers who identified with the Jewish students told the Committee they were afraid to speak out openly for fear of endangering their academic careers.

Monday, July 18, 2011

New Jersey rabbi and his wife are charged with kidnapping an Israeli man who refused to grant his wife a religious divorce

As reported by Josh Lederman of Associated Press on July 18, 2011:

TRENTON, N.J. - A rabbi and his wife surrendered to the FBI on Monday on charges that they abducted an Israeli man, beat him and threatened to bury him alive if he didn't give his wife a religious divorce.

The case against David Wax and his wife in U.S. federal court marks a strange twist in a chain of events that started with a divorce dispute in Israel's Rabbinical Court over the victim's refusal to give his wife a "get," an Orthodox Jewish divorce document permitting a wife to remarry.

It also entangles a prominent religious figure and publisher of Jewish texts, described as a "pillar of the community" of Lakewood, New Jersey, a large Orthodox enclave and centre of Jewish learning.

David Wax, 49, and Judy Wax, 47, made a brief appearance in federal court Monday before being released on $500,000 bond each. A grand jury will decide whether to indict them on kidnapping charges, which could result in a life sentence if they are convicted.

"We're confident that when all the facts are made public, he'll be cleared of these charges and his good and honourable name will be restored," Mitchell Ansell, David Wax's attorney, told The Associated Press.

Absent from U.S. court documents is the name of the victim, Yisrael Briskman, who apparently fled Israel after refusing to grant a divorce. But his name shows up in a 2008 public notice from the High Rabbinical Court of Jerusalem, placed in religious publications in Israel and abroad announcing a ruling against Briskman in the divorce case.

The notice forbids community members from doing business with Briskman, allowing him to study in a Jewish seminary or giving him a place to stay. Under the headline "Wanted," it calls upon the public to notify the court of Briskman's whereabouts.

"It is not permitted to extend to him a kindness or favour in any form," the notice reads.

Two years later, according to the FBI complaint, Briskman was lured to the Wax's Lakewood home on Oct. 16, 2010, to discuss opportunities for Briskman to work on a book the rabbi was writing about the Talmud, a central Jewish text. Once in the home, two men allegedly pounced on Briskman from behind before handcuffing, blindfolding and robbing him.

The complaint says the blindfold was adjusted so Briskman could see a cowboy hat-clad David Wax as he started kicking him in the ribs. Wax allegedly told Briskman he'd be buried alive in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains if he didn't relent to the divorce, and hauled a dark body bag into the room.

"For you to get used to the size," the complaint quotes Wax as saying.

David Wax is also charged with making a phone threat to Briskman's father in Israel, telling him he would be killed in Israel if he didn't pay Briskman's wife $100,000.

"For you there's a special gift. It's called a bullet," Wax allegedly said in an international phone call recorded by Briskman's father.

A conviction on that charge could mean an additional sentence of up to five years.

Court documents show that Briskman was escorted by taxi to a Lakewood ATM and told to withdraw $800. When the transaction was unsuccessful, Briskman was driven back to Brooklyn, where he was staying. Soon after, he reported the incident and local police started investigating. The FBI became involved.

Attorneys for both defendants said they would plead not guilty if indicted on the federal charges...

...Under Israeli law, religious officials have full authority over personal status. That gives Israel's rabbinate control over Jewish marriages and divorces. Without a proper rabbinical divorce, Jewish men and women cannot remarry.

Briskman's former wife may also have been in the area during the alleged abduction. An FBI review of travel records revealed that she flew from Israel to Newark Liberty International Airport the day before the incident, and flew back three days later.

The relationship between the Wax family and Briskman's former wife remains unclear, and the FBI declined to elaborate. Ansell said his client did know Briskman's wife but would not say how, while Judy Wax's attorney, Steven Secare, raised doubts there was any connection.

"There's no real indication that my client knew anybody," Secare said.

Briskman's current whereabouts and marital status are also unclear, although court documents list him as residing in the United States and refer to the woman as his former wife.

Roman Catholic splinter group insists that Galileo was wrong about Earth's place in the universe

I suspect that the geocentrists' main complaint is that the Roman Catholic Church is no longer at the centre of things. And the incident recorded in Joshua where the sun stood still for an entire day in no way proves that Earth is the centre of the universe.

As reported by Manya A. Brachear in the Chicago Tribune, July 4, 2011:

Some people believe the world literally revolves around them. It's a belief born not of selfishness but faith.

A small group of conservative Roman Catholics is pointing to a dozen biblical verses and the Church's original teaching as proof that the Earth is the center of the universe, the view that prompted Galileo Galilei's clash with the Church four centuries ago.

The relatively obscure movement has gained a following among a few Chicago-area Catholics who find comfort in knowing there are still staunch defenders of original Church doctrine.

"This subject is, as far as I can see, an embarrassment to the modern church because the world more or less looks upon geocentrism or someone who believes it in the same boat as the flat Earth," said James Phillips, of Cicero.

Phillips attends Our Lady Immaculate Catholic Church in Oak Park, a parish run by the Society of St. Pius X, a group that rejects most of the modernizing reforms the Vatican II council made from 1962 to 1965.

But by challenging modern science, the proponents of a geocentric universe are challenging the very church they seek to serve and protect.

"I have no idea who these people are. Are they sincere, or is this a clever bit of theater?" said Brother Guy Consolmagno, the curator of meteorites and spokesman for the Vatican Observatory.

Indeed, those promoting geocentrism argue that heliocentrism, or the centuries-old consensus among scientists that the Earth revolves around the sun, is nothing more than a conspiracy theory to squelch the church's influence.

"Heliocentrism becomes 'dangerous' if it is being propped up as the true system when, in fact, it is a false system," said Robert Sungenis, leader of a budding movement to get scientists to reconsider. "False information leads to false ideas, and false ideas lead to illicit and immoral actions — thus the state of the world today. … Prior to Galileo, the church was in full command of the world; and governments and academia were subservient to her."

Sungenis is no lone Don Quixote, as illustrated by the hundreds of curiosity seekers, skeptics and supporters at a conference last fall titled "Galileo Was Wrong. The Church Was Right" just off the University of Notre Dame campus in South Bend, Ind.

Astrophysicists at Notre Dame didn't appreciate the group hitching its wagon to the prestige of America's flagship Catholic university and resurrecting a concept that's extinct for a reason.

"It's an idea whose time has come and gone," astrophysics professor Peter Garnavich said. "There are some people who want to move the world back to the 1950s when it seemed like a better time. These are people who want to move the world back to the 1250s. I don't really understand it at all."

Garnavich said the theory of geocentrism violates what he believes should be a strict separation of church and science. One answers why, the other answers how, and never the twain should meet, he said.

But supporters of the theory contend that there is scientific evidence to support geocentrism, just as there is evidence to support the six-day story of creation in Genesis.

There is proof in Scripture that the Earth is the center of the universe, Sungenis said. Among many verses, he cites Joshua 10:12-14 as definitive proof: "And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, while the nation took vengeance on its foe. … The sun halted in the middle of the sky; not for a whole day did it resume its swift course."

But Ken Ham, founder of the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky., said the Bible is silent on geocentrism.

"There's a big difference between looking at the origin of the planets, the solar system and the universe and looking at presently how they move and how they are interrelated," Ham said. "The Bible is neither geocentric or heliocentric. It does not give any specific information about the structure of the solar system."

Just as Ham challenges the foundation of natural history museums, Sungenis challenges planetariums, most notably the Vatican Observatory...

...Sungenis said the renewed interest in geocentrism is due, in part, to the efforts of Christians entering the scientific domain previously dominated by secularists. These Christian scientists, he said, showed modern science is without scientific foundation or even good evidence.

Dalai Lama accepts the Theosophical Society's invitation to bring his fortune cookie "wisdom" to Chicago

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. Proverbs 9:10

In general terms, Tenzin Gyatso, the Dalai Lama, is said to be the 14th rebirth in a long line of spiritual masters, each of whom is believed to be a human emanation of the bodhisattva (enlightened being, or "wisdom-being") Avalokiteśvara (a bodhisattva embodying the compassion of all Buddhas--those awakened to the natural law, or dharma). As I've said before, I’m sick and tired of hearing about and from the Dalai Lama and his alleged wisdom. According to the Scriptures cited above, he doesn’t have even the beginning of wisdom, since he doesn’t fear the Lord.

On July 17, 2011, "His Holiness" was in Chicago, charging people $75-$125 per ticket to hear him speak on the topic Bridging the Faith Divide: Compassion in Action, inspired by his recent book Toward a True Kinship of Faiths: How the World's Religions Can Come Together. It seems the occasion was indeed being used to further the agenda of uniting the world's religions. As reported by Manya A. Brachear in the Chicago Tribune, July 16, 2011:

...This weekend, Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th dalai lama and spiritual leader of troubled Tibet, will bring tidings to Chicago that address religious tensions head on and prescribe what it takes to ease them.

The anticipation of his arrival inspired a dozen religious communities to undertake an unusual artistic endeavor that will provide the backdrop to the Dalai Lama's appearance Sunday on the campus of the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Framing the Dalai Lama on stage will be a dozen towering religious icons created by artists of other traditions. Roman Catholics decorated a star and crescent of Islam. Native Americans created the nine-pointed star of the Baha'i faith. An African-American Protestant congregation on the South Side incorporated the design of the 4,000-year-old symbol of Zoroastrianism, a tradition some didn't know existed before the project.

"It's an amazing show of support and unity that different people of different faiths actually came together," said Nina Norris, a member of St. Matthias Catholic Church in Chicago's Lincoln Square neighborhood. "The fact that it's guided under the Dalai Lama is maybe the only way it could happen."

Invited by the Theosophical Society in America, the group that hosted the monk's first visit to the Chicago area in 1981, the Dalai Lama will present a public talk Sunday at the UIC Pavilion.

On Monday morning at downtown's Harris Theater for Music and Dance, he will join a rabbi, a pastor and a Muslim scholar for a panel discussion titled "Building Bridges: Religious Leaders in Conversation with the Dalai Lama." The panel will be moderated by Eboo Patel, founder and executive director of the Chicago-based Interfaith Youth Core.

Tim Boyd, president of the Theosophical Society in America, which is based in Wheaton, said the Dalai Lama thought for three seconds before he accepted his invitation during a private audience last year. After all, it was his introduction to the Theosophical Society in India 55 years ago that opened his eyes to the plethora of world religions beyond his own, Boyd said.

"It was the first time he had met people who believed there was value in the religions of the world and there was a certain essence they all shared," Boyd said. "At that time, he was a 21-year-old monk. To him, Buddhism was all that he knew and all that he thought was appropriate. After that meeting, he left there a changed man."

While the Dalai Lama since has championed common ground, compassion and conversation among people of different religious traditions, he has sharpened that focus in recent years on easing religious tensions. He released a book last year titled "Toward a True Kinship of Faiths," in which he explores how to avoid viewing religious differences as sources of conflict...

...Dirk Ficca, executive director of the Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions, said it's the Dalai Lama's example of balancing a contemplative Buddhist discipline with his rock star persona that has inspired such a broad fan base. Since he appeared at the first modern-day Parliament of the World's Religions in 1993 in Chicago, the Dalai Lama has become a mainstay at the international interfaith gatherings, held every five to six years since. In fact, Ficca said, once a location is chosen for each parliament, the next question is, "Can the Dalai Lama be there?"

"For billions of people who might not be interested in organized religion, nevertheless the Dalai Lama is a symbol that spirituality is important," Ficca said. "He carries enormous weight, and he's a source of energy and inspiration for folks in that camp."

He has no interest in converting everyone to Buddhism, Ficca said. On the contrary, he prefers to see everyone acting out their respective faiths. His message goes beyond Buddhism to a much broader audience.

"He stands on the juncture between the inner life and engagement in the world," Ficca said. "He calls anyone of good will to be engaged in the world and make a difference..."

...Organizers reached out to a dozen faith communities including Jains, Zoroastrians, Christians, Jews, Buddhists and Muslims to add their own creative flourishes to blank slates in the shape of religious symbols built to occupy the stage with the Dalai Lama.

"What's amazing is a group of Jains (followers of an Indian faith that espouses pacifism) got together and thought about the Buddhist icon and … blessed that faith with their own labor and contemplation," Lasko said. "It's come to pass in this incredible way. A project like this is amazing in that it exposes you to a whole lot of good will in the world."

April Tsosie, 34, a member of the Navajo tribe, said the project not only allowed them to bridge the faith divide, but also a generational divide in her own community. Youth and senior citizens from the American Indian Center ventured from their Uptown facility to the Baha'i Temple in Wilmette, where symbols from many traditions adorn the architecture and now adorn the icon.

"The best thing about the journey was having people realize similarities between tribal beliefs and Baha'i. That was really enlightening," Tsosie said.

Elder Rita Rupert-Hester of Progressive Community Center the People's Church in Bronzeville said members of her group researched the depiction of a winged guardian spirit representing the human soul, which Zoroastrians call the Faravahar.

Church members learned that the three layers of feathers on the wings, represent the core of Zoroastrian ethics: good thoughts, good words and good deeds.

As associate minister of the South Side church, Rupert-Hester said she plans to incorporate that ethic into a future sermon.

She also hopes to invite the Zoroastrians to break bread with her congregation and see the cross in their church designed by their pastor. She hopes the Zoroastrian community recognizes that they depicted the Faravahar with just as much care as they would have given that cross.

"When they see it, we want it to represent the spirit of how they feel about their symbol as we feel about ours — that it's beautiful and that it ought to be represented beautifully and spiritually."

And what did this spiritual master say when he addressed the audience at UIC Pavilion? According to Ms. Brachear on July 17, 2011:

The Dalai Lama was in a jolly-good mood on Sunday, and so was his audience.

More than 8,000 spectators lined up in the heat and patiently waited to pack the pavilion at the University of Illinois in Chicago. The Tibetan spiritual leader had come to give a lesson about overcoming religious strife.

But for many in the crowd, it was much more than a lecture by His Holiness, Tenzin Gyatso, the world-renowned Buddhist monk and 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet. It was an intimate conversation with an avuncular old friend who doesn't take himself too seriously, but came to share a few wise words about overcoming the conflicts that keep us from enjoying life.

“If you're not in a hurry, I'm quite free,” he said checking his watch when the master of ceremonies suggested time was running out.

But his message was short and sweet: it all comes down to happiness.

“More and more people are showing spiritual interest in what I call inner values,” said the Dalai Lama, 76, who in March gave up political authority over the Tibetan government-in-exile to focus on his spiritual role. “We all come from a mother's womb … everyone wants (a) happy life … everyone has a right to further that desire.”

Happiness begins with honesty, which creates trust, which leads to friendship, which means happiness, he said.

Religion has nothing to do with it, he said, adding that moral principles are not rooted in religious doctrine, but the pursuit of happiness. Even people who identify as secular share that goal with people of faith, he said.

“When I say secular, I don't mean negative feelings toward religion,” he said.

The Dalai Lama also explained that science and faith can co-exist and, in fact, work in concert to teach the world about interdependence.

“Faith and reason must go together,” he said. “You must investigate reality. Nobody can say I know everything.”

Matt MacGregor, 29, of Indianapolis appreciated the Dalai Lama's point that respect extends to non-believers.

“That's a word that's incredibly inclusive,” said MacGregor who runs a global health care foundation.

Phillip Sylvester, 45, who splits his time between Chicago's Gold Coast and Miami, said he suspected the Dalai Lama would have an open mind about religion, but still wanted to hear it firsthand.

“We are all bound by the same things. The truth is all religions are instilled with the same meaning,” said Sylvester, a self-acclaimed globetrotter. “You can travel around the world and learn that or come here...”

...After his remarks, the Dalai Lama and event organizers watered a dozen Aspen saplings on stage that later will be planted near Foster Beach. While the saplings will be planted individually, their roots will become intertwined, symbolizing the Dalai Lama's belief that the world's religions can co-exist.

And as reported in the same newspaper by Michael Tarm on July 17, 2011:

The only politics the 76-year-old touched on was the decision earlier this year by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn to sign legislation banning capital punishment. He praised Quinn, who briefly joined the Dalai Lama on stage.

"This state abolished the death sentence," the Tibetan Buddhist monk said. "When I heard that, I immediately shook hands with the governor (before the event started) and said congratulations. ... I really appreciated it."

Once on stage, dressed in crimson-red and gold robes, he gave Quinn a traditional blessing by placing a simple white silk scarf around the governor's neck. In response, Quinn bowed slightly and tapped his hand on his heart.

A law ending the death penalty took effect July 1. Quinn signed it after years of stories of men sentenced to die for crimes they didn't commit. Illinois had executed 12 men since 1977, but none since 1999.

Sitting in a chair at the edge of a stage, the Dalai Lama, who fled Chinese-occupied Tibet in 1959, focused his talk on bridging the divide between religions. A giant cross, a crescent moon, a menorah and other religious symbols were set around him -- a large red and blue Tibetan flag off to one side.

"When I was in Tibet, I thought our religion was best and other religions were -- so so," he said with his trademark giggle, the large crowd laughing in response.

But after settling in India as an exile and becoming familiar with those of other faiths in that country, including Hindus and Muslims, he said he it quickly struck home that they all had similarities at their core.

"All religious traditions carry the same message ... of love, tolerance, compassion ... self-discipline, justice, truth," he said.

He implored people not to become so closely attached to their own religions that they block out all they could learn from other faiths.

I don't know about you, but from someone who's the 14th rebirth of a long line of spiritual masters supposedly possessing centuries of wisdom that the rest of us don't have, I expect something more profound than "everyone wants a happy life...faith and reason must go together...all religious traditions carry the same message..." He says nothing that any other New Ager or religious syncretist hasn't said--and people pay $75-$125 to hear this!? His pronouncements remind me of those of Chauncey Gardner in Being There, the simple-minded character whose aphorisms on gardening, and comments such as "China--full of Chinese!" were taken as great pearls of wisdom by political and cultural leaders. Compare the bland utterances of the Dalai Lama with some of the statements from the Lord Jesus Christ (for which He charged no price):

But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.
Matthew 10:33-36

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.
Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous,
And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.
Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.
Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.
Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
Matthew 23:27-33

I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins...
...And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him...
...I know that ye are Abraham's seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.
I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father.
They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham.
But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham.
Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.
Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.
Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.
Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.
John 8:24, 29, 37-45

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6

His audiences reacted with comments such as:

And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine:
For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
Matthew 7:28-29

The officers answered, Never man spake like this man. John 7:46

On July 18 the Dalai Lama furthered the agenda of religious syncretism when he shared a platform with a liberal female "pastor," a rabbi, and a Muslim scholar. The female "pastor" is president of the National Council of Churches, which, of course, represents apostate mainline Protestant churches. If the name Michael Lerner sounds familiar, he's been credited as a "guru" for U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

As reported by Manya A. Brachear of the Chicago Tribune, July 19, 2011:

Three religious scholars reflected upon oneness, humanity and compassion with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama on Monday, capping the Tibetan spiritual leader's fifth visit to Chicago.

The rabbi, pastor and Muslim scholar shared their thoughts with the Dalai Lama before a sold-out crowd at Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Millennium Park. Eboo Patel, who founded the Interfaith Youth Core after an encounter with the Dalai Lama 13 years ago, moderated the panel.

Each religious leader shared how values of other religious traditions, namely Buddhism, had enriched their own spiritual journey. For example, Rabbi Michael Lerner, activist and editor of Tikkun magazine, talked about not letting attachment to reality discourage him from seeking ideals.

Ingrid Mattson, professor of Islamic studies at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut, and the Rev. Peg Chemberlin, president of the National Council of Churches, shared similar experiences.

"This is how people from different religions ought to talk to one another," Patel said after the event. "You ought to focus on what you're committed to, what you admire about other people's religions and how to apply that value in the world in a way that serves other people."

During the course of the conversation, the Dalai Lama issued a call to action for individuals to build bridges in their communities, families and nations.

"These different philosophies (are) simply a different way to approach, but same goal," the Dalai Lama said of the world's religions. "I've found more and more friends."

The Dalai Lama arrived in the U.S. this month to perform an ancient Tibetan Buddhist rite called a Kalachakra — 11 days of prayers, blessings, teachings and meditation in Washington.

He also delivered a public talk on the National Mall and met with President Barack Obama before flying to Chicago for a lecture Sunday at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the event at Harris Theater...

...Patel said one doesn't have to meditate or be a monk to host productive conversations.

"Everybody can choose to focus conversations between different religions on matters of shared values rather than matters of deep disagreement," he said.

Members of the audience said they felt empowered to follow his example.

Wheaton College alumni create support group for sodomites and lesbians

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.
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 1:24-27, 32

Wheaton College still has a reputation as "evangelical," but, like evangelicalism generally, has been going in a liberal direction for many years. Although the college's president seems to support the official position of prohibiting homosexual behaviour, he expresses agreement with the overall desire of the sodomite/lesbian support group OneWheaton--a typical example of an evangelical leader talking out of both sides of his mouth at the same time. It comes as no surprise to this blogger to see the following news item, as reported by Jenn Zimmerman in the Chicago Tribune, May 3, 2011:

Alumni from Wheaton College have formed an organization to provide support for the gay community on the conservative Christian campus.

OneWheaton seeks to offer "a safe space" for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning community, said group spokeswoman Kristin Winn. The LGBTQ community, according to Winn, is not widely accepted on campus because of the school's official position against "homosexual behavior."

Organizers began reaching out to students last week by passing out informational fliers outside a chapel service.

Soon after, Wheaton College President Philip Ryken sent an internal email to all students, faculty and staff that cited passages in the Bible that condemned homosexual behavior.

Ryken also wrote, "We stand with LGBTQ persons before God as persons created in God's own image, and also as sinful persons in need of God's forgiveness and love."

Ryken added that the overall desire of OneWheaton to "affirm the full humanity and dignity of every human being, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity" is something the college agrees with.

Winn, a 2007 graduate, said the idea for the group began last year as media coverage focused on the rise in teen suicide in the gay community. As someone who struggled with her own sexual orientation at Wheaton, she often feared losing her support system if she came out.

She said OneWheaton has more than 300 alumni and students who have publicly pledged their support.

Friday, July 15, 2011

"Pastafarian" wins religious freedom case in Austria

Today's satire is tomorrow's reality. As reported by Matthew Day in the Daily Telegraph, July 13, 2011:

An Austrian has won the right to be photographed wearing a pasta strainer for his driving licence on grounds of religious freedom.

Niko Alm announced the decision on his blog saying that after three years of struggle a psychologist had passed him fit drive (sic) and so he could wear the kitchen implement for the official picture.

A self-styled "pastafarian", Mr Alm said he belonged to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which lampooned religion. "Today I was able to get my new driving licence, and in it you can clearly see that I'm wearing a colander on my head to demonstrate my allegiance to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster," Mr Alm wrote in his blog.

"My headwear has now been recognised by the Republic of Austria."

The spaghetti church was founded in 2005 in opposition to pressure on the Kansas school board in the United States to teach the theory of intelligent design in biology class as an alternative to evolution, and since then it has engaged in a light-hearted campaign against religion.

Key to the beliefs of pastafarians is that the world was created by the Flying Spaghetti Monster, but, owing to the monster being inebriated at the time of creation, it has a flawed design.

Irish leader Enda Kenny blasts Vatican's reponse to allegations of child abuse on the part of priests

As reported in the Irish Times, July 14, 2011:

The Vatican’s approach to clerical abuse inquiries in Ireland has been branded a disgrace by the Taoiseach today.

In the wake of the report into the Catholic Church’s response to allegations of abuse in the diocese of Cloyne, Enda Kenny warned new laws would not be stopped by canon rules.

The Taoiseach said the Government’s concerns must now be dealt with. “I think this is absolutely disgraceful that the Vatican took the view that it did in respect of something that’s as sensitive and as personal with such long-lasting difficulties for persons involved,” he said.

"The law of the land should not be stopped by a collar or a crozier," Mr Kenny said.

Tough new laws to force the disclosure of information on child sexual abuse are to be introduced in response to the Cloyne report. The withholding of information about serious offences against a child will be made a criminal offence, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter announced yesterday following the publication of the report on the handling of sex abuse claims in the diocese of Cloyne.

Further measures, including a statutory child protection code, are to be announced by Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald tomorrow.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore met papal nuncio Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza over the findings of the report today.

Speaking after the meeting, Dr Leanza said he was "very grateful" to Mr Gilmore for the meeting. "I think it has been a useful meeting . . . he has given me a copy of the report, and I will bring it immediately to the attention of the Holy See.

He reiterated the Catholic Church's "total commitment" to take "all necessary measures" to ensure the protection of children.

Mr Gilmore said the Vatican’s intervention in Irish affairs was “absolutely unacceptable” and “inappropriate”. He said he had told Dr Leanza that an explanation and response was required as to why the Vatican had told priests and bishops they could undermine Irish rules.

“I want to know why this state, with which we have diplomatic relations, issued a communication, the effect of which was that very serious matter of the abuse of children in this country was not reported to the authorities,” he said.

Mr Gilmore said the Vatican had conveyed a message that somehow it was “all right to evade responsibility” for reporting these matters to the Irish authorities.

Fine Gael chairman Charlie Flanagan called for Dr Leanza to be expelled from Ireland.

Elsewhere, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said Bishop John Magee should not be excluded from the prospect of a jail term if he is prosecuted as a result of investigations into the Cloyne report...

...The report found that the Bishop of Cloyne, John Magee, misled the minister for children by claiming the church’s guidelines for handling abuse cases were being fully complied with. It also found he falsely told the Health Service Executive (HSE) that allegations of abuse were being reported to gardaí.

In fact, two-thirds of complaints made between 1996 and 2008 were not reported to the Garda and no complaint was passed to the HSE during this period.

Senior Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi issued an emphatic “no comment” when asked about the Cloyne report. He did not rule out making a comment at a later date, by which time the Holy See would have had a chance to assess the report fully.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Another example of today's "conservatives" just conserving what liberals have done

I've been predicting for some time that it was only a matter of time before sodomite and lesbian "marriage" would be promoted as a "conservative value," so it comes as no surprise to this blogger to see alleged conservative David Frum saying that he had been wrong to oppose this abomination:

Washington (CNN) -- I was a strong opponent of same-sex marriage. Fourteen years ago, Andrew Sullivan and I forcefully debated the issue at length online (at a time when online debate was a brand new thing).

Yet I find myself strangely untroubled by New York state's vote to authorize same-sex marriage -- a vote that probably signals that most of "blue" states will follow within the next 10 years.

I don't think I'm alone in my reaction either. Most conservatives have reacted with calm -- if not outright approval -- to New York's dramatic decision.

It wasn't too many years ago that support for sodomite and lesbian "marriage" wasn't even a liberal value. As recently as the 1997 federal election campaign, the governing Liberal Party of Canada promised that they would never legalize sodomite and lesbian "marriage." Of course, they did, and the current Conservative Harper government has gone right along with this. Unfortunately, the United States continues to adopt bad Canadian Trudeaupian policies. As the saying goes, the acceptance and promotion of homosexuality isn't a sign that God's judgement on a society is coming--it's a sign that His judgement is already under way.

For a related post concerning "conservatives" becoming liberals, see this 1983 warning from Dr. Samuel Tow.

HT: Vox Popoli, The inevitable drift left, posted July 8, 2011

Thursday, July 7, 2011

More British women in their 40s are having abortions

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

More evidence of the suicidal madness of a once-great nation, as reported by Laura Donnelly of the Daily Telegraph on May 28, 2011:

The number of women having abortions in their 40s has risen by almost one third in a decade, according to new figures.

Experts said the dramatic rise reflects increased sexual activity among older women, and higher numbers of single women and divorcees – who are far more likely than previous generations to have casual sex or short-term relationships...

...The government statistics disclose that the number of abortions for women aged 40 and over has risen by more than 30 per cent since 2000. In total, 8,179 women aged 40 and over terminated pregnancies last year – including more than 650 women above the age of 45, and 21 women aged 50 and over.

Ann Furedi, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said: "I think women are generally remaining sexually active for longer, and women in their 40s increasingly see themselves as sexual players – whether or not they are in relationships – in a way that they didn't even a decade ago."

Many older women, especially those who came off the contraceptive pill because of their age, were inclined to take chances with contraception, only to be "stunned" when they found themselves pregnant, she said.

The figures include women who had tried to get pregnant in their 40s, only to opt for termination when screening disclosed a high chance of abnormalities such as Down's syndrome – the risk of which rises with age, said Mrs Furedi.

However, most abortions among older women took place before 12 weeks, which is when the first antenatal screening takes place. Among women aged 35 and over [there aren't figures for 40+ on this], just 2,200 abortions occurred after that point.

Josephine Quintavalle, from the Pro-Life Alliance, said: "These figures are extraordinarily depressing – when we see high rates of teen pregnancy we often end up debating whether ignorance is to blame, but you would think that by the age of 40 women would have some idea how things work. It seems incredible that at that age, any woman would take such reckless chances."

The figures reflect large-scale social changes in recent years.

The percentage of single women in Britain has more than doubled in the past three decades, with 43 per cent of women under 50 never having married in 2009...

...Separately, studies have established that men and women in their 30s and 40s are less likely than teenagers to practise safe sex.

While almost 70 per cent of those aged between 16 and 19 use a condom when having sex with a new partner, the figure is less than 35 per cent among those aged between 35 and 44, according to a study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

And in 2008, an international study suggested British men and women were the most promiscuous western industrial nation.

The academic study, which examined the numbers of one-night stands, sexual partners and attitudes to casual sex among 14,000 people in 48 countries, found Britons were the most promiscuous – ahead of Australia, the US, France, the Netherlands, Italy and Germany.

At the same time, women are having babies past the age of 40 in dramatically increasing numbers – echoing the increase in abortions.

Figures published earlier this year showed that some 27,000 babies were born to women over 40 last year in Britain, a number which has doubled over the past two decades.

Many are having their first baby at 40 or above, something which was exceptionally rare in previous generations.

A report last year by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development concluded that women in Britain are among the latest to start having families.

The average age for a women having her first child in this country is almost 30, compared with 25 in the United States, and 28 and a half in France.

Fertility treatments have partly fuelled the increase in births over 40, but some of those treatments end in termination.

Last year, statistics disclosed than an average of 80 abortions a year are carried out in England and Wales following IVF treatment – many likely to be because of the higher rates of abnormalities associated with late motherhood, particularly Down's syndrome.

And many women do not have children at all: a study of women in their late 40s found that some 19 per cent arrive at the menopause childless – a figure exceeded by only three countries in Europe: Germany, Finland and Italy, was there a higher percentage of women who ended their reproductive lives childless.

David Willetts, now minister for universities and science, sparked controversy in opposition when he said that a "Bridget Jones generation" of well-educated young women who cannot find a suitable match was fuelling the collapse of the family.

Because more women than men were gaining degrees, women struggled to find a partner with good career prospects, and men were no longer given the opportunity to "bring home the bacon", which was bad for families, he said.

A simple faith is all that's needed for salvation--if the faith has the correct object

And there were also two other, malefactors, led with him to be put to death.
And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left...
...And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.
But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?
And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.
And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.
Luke 23:32-33, 39-43

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Hebrews 11:6

Yesterday I attended the funeral of a man whose son has been a good friend and brother in the Lord. The deceased was the son of a pastor and the twin brother of a pastor, and although he didn't pursue the vocation of a pastor, he nevertheless was a good and faithful servant. He didn't have a university degree, just enough education to be qualified for a livelihood as a plumber (at which he was very successful).

This man was described as having a simple faith; he didn't know many passages of Scripture by heart, but he lived out the ones he did know. In thinking about this man and his "simple faith," it makes me glad that all that is required for salvation is to have faith in the right object, and enough knowledge to know that Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour. I'm glad that Hebrews 11:6 says "without faith it is impossible to please him," not "without a degree or advanced knowledge in theology it is impossible to please him."

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

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

And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
Deuteronomy 6:6-7

As reported by Jessamy Brown of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on June 19, 2011:

Call it vacation Bible school on steroids.

At The Hills Church of Christ in North Richland Hills, more than 6,300 people attended last week's "Summer Spectacular" event designed to bring the story of Noah's ark to life, complete with a petting zoo and a Broadway-style musical that recounted the tale over three nights.

It's a stark contrast to the VBS days of the past, when kids made praying hands out of plaster and listened to Bible stories before nap time.

Today's summer-based schools are more akin to day camp than Sunday school, with churches using elaborate props, electronics and themed curricula that can be bought from church denominations or publishers.

The materials make it easier for church officials to plan the events and provide lessons that connect to the religious concepts they want to emphasize, church youth directors say.

"I like to say it's not your mom and dad's VBS," said Patty Weaver, children's minister at The Hills. "We believe that God's word is so powerful that if we make it culturally relevant then it will really penetrate the heart of the child. It just needs to speak to their world today. We need to make sure we're telling it in a way that connects with children."

Today, Travis Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Worth launches its VBS program, which is advertised on a billboard on Interstate 35W.

Children in kindergarten through sixth grade will participate in the "Big Apple Adventure." They'll do games and activities to help them learn a concept each day, all based on landmarks they would see on a New York City trip.

The church sanctuary is being decorated in a 15-foot backdrop of Times Square. Officials rented a Statue of Liberty prop from the Tarrant Baptist Association that it made for a training session, said Scott Eudaley, children's minister.

Theme programs

Travis Avenue Baptist started using themes in the late 1990s to help make the program more engaging to today's youth, Eudaley said.

First United Methodist Church of Mansfield is also using the "Big Apple" theme at its vacation Bible school this week...

...The "Big Apple" program is produced by Nashville-based LifeWay Christian Resources. A basic sampler kit costs $69.99 and includes clip-art decorations, Bible study cards, leader guides and a music CD, according to LifeWay's website.

The Hills created its own curriculum for the Summer Spectacular, enlisting an army of volunteers to decorate the church with huge rainbows, life-size stuffed animals and a paper cutout of an ark in each classroom.

The lesson for junior high students included a PowerPoint presentation.

At the end of each night, families crowded pews in the auditorium to watch a 42-member cast in Noah: God Keeps His Promises, a musical written by a church member with lyrics set to songs by contemporary artists such as Lady Gaga.
As the old saying goes, "What you win them with is what you win them to," or put another way, "what wins them is what keeps them." If all you're providing to children in church is entertainment, that's the only thing that will keep them there. What does a "Big Apple" theme have to do with the Bible? And wouldn't an old hymn or two provide better Christian instruction for children than lyrics to songs by Lady Gaga?
This nonsense isn't just found in Fort Worth. From the religion Calendar of the Edmonton Journal on July 2, 2011:

Wii Love Pizza, July 9, at 5: 30 p.m., Zion Baptist Church, 11908 132nd Ave. Games night for 12-to 20-year-olds. For more information, call 780-454-1347 or visit zionbaptist.net

Vacation Bible School, July 18 to July 22, 9: 30-11: 30 a.m., Callingwood Road Presbyterian Church, 6015 184th St. Fun, crafts, songs, stories and snacks for kids ages four to 12. To register, call 780-487-8531 or e-mail crpc-pas@telus. net....

...PandaMania Vacation Bible School, Aug. 8 to 12, from 9 a.m. to noon each day, Zion Baptist Church, 11908 132nd Ave. Kindergarten to Grade 6. Register at 780-454-1347 or zionbaptist.net

Canada's Conservative Harper government quizzes Chinese Christian on theology before denying his refugee claim

As reported by Douglas Quan of The Vancouver Sun on June 8, 2011:

A Chinese migrant seeking refugee status in Canada on the grounds that he faced persecution at home for his Christian beliefs was repeatedly asked by the Immigration and Refugee Board last year to describe what Jesus was "like as a person."

The man's inability to attribute human characteristics to Jesus formed part of the board's decision to deny his refugee claim. The details are contained in a recent Federal Court ruling, which dismissed the man's application for a judicial review of the board's decision but did agree that the board's line of questioning about Jesus was "somewhat awkward."

Wu Xin Wang came to Canada in April 2007 on a temporary work permit and made his claim for refugee protection in January 2008.

In documents filed with the immigration board, he claimed that he had received a call from his wife in China, who told him that officials from China's Public Security Bureau had visited their home and were investigating illegal church activities.

Before his move to Canada, Wang said, he had been a member of an underground Christian church and sometimes acted as a lookout during church services.

In assessing Wang's refugee claim, board adjudicator Daniel McSweeney asked Wang: "So tell me about Jesus as a person. What was he like?

"Jesus is son of God," Wang said.

"I am not asking who he was or what he did. I am asking what is he like as a person," McSweeney said.

"Jesus was conceived through the holy ghost and was born in this world," Wang replied.

The answer did not satisfy the board member. "Anybody could memorize a creed and recite the creed. I want to know what you believe and what you know of Jesus as a person."

"In my heart he is my saviour," Wang answered.

"That is not . again, tell me what Jesus is as a person and this is the last time I am going to ask you."

"I am sorry, I really do not know how to answer."

Last August, the board denied Wang's refugee claim after finding that he was not credible and that his professed religious beliefs and practices in China and Canada were merely an attempt to bolster his refugee claim. The board said it came to that conclusion in part of because of Wang's inability to answer the question about Jesus or to describe certain core beliefs of the Pentecostal Church. It also found that Wang had made several inconsistent statements.

Wang applied to the Federal Court to review the board's decision.

In a written ruling May 26, Federal Court Judge David G. Near said he could see no reason to overturn the decision.

It doesn't seem to occur to anyone with the Immigration and Refugee Board that Mr. Wang's difficulty in answering the questions may result from difficulty in understanding the English language. As well, thre are reportedly not enough Bibles in China to meet the demand, so it's possible that Mr. Wang may only know the rudiments of the Christian faith. Fortunately, in order to be saved one only has to possess enough faith to trust in the work of Jesus Christ on the cross as payment of the penalty for one's sins.

Another dissident congregation leaves the Anglican Church of Canada

Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. II Corinthians 6:17

Another example of those who've finally had enough from an apostate church. And once again, a building that was built and paid for by Bible-believers is stolen by liberals.

As reported by Kelly Patterson in the National Post on June 27, 2011:

It was a historic moment in Ottawa as a subdued crowd of about 300 filed out of St. Alban’s Anglican Church on King Edward Avenue on Sunday, leaving behind a place where some have roots going back to Confederation.

Founded in 1865, the church where Sir John A. Macdonald worshipped has been in the spotlight ever since a showdown over same-sex marriage and other issues led the congregation of St. Alban’s to leave the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa, and, after a bitter battle, the building they have called home for 146 years.

“This is kind of historic. We’re in a new era,” said Sheila Lang, 79, as her grandchildren — the seventh generation of her family to attend the church — played in the reception hall of the Ottawa Little Theatre, where the congregation, now called the Church of the Messiah, will meet until it finds a permanent home. Meanwhile, the diocese will establish a new congregation at St. Alban’s, with a relaunch planned for Friday.

The move is historic in a broader sense, Ms. Lang added: “This is a societal shift,” in which traditional Christian values are “eroding and we see the church trying to accommodate the eroding values.

“But we are not deviating…. We stand on the Bible and the Word of God.”

Reverend George Sinclair urged the congregation not to dwell on grief over losing St. Alban’s, but instead to embrace the change as an opportunity for renewal.

“We are entering a time of new dreams and new visions,” he said on the stage of the theatre, flanked by reproductions of three stained-glass windows Macdonald’s wife donated to St. Alban’s after his death. “A church that just has the building, but does not have the dreams and visions that come from God, is on its way to dying,” he warned...

...In an interview after the service, Rev. Sinclair said the move was “an issue of conscience, and for us. Conscience trumps buildings.”

The immediate catalyst for the church’s break with the diocese was the latter’s 2007 decision to allow the blessing of same-sex marriages. But Rev. Sinclair added that his church was also responding to a general sense that the Anglican Church of Canada has been drifting away from Jesus’s teachings.

“If you end up thinking you’re smarter and nicer and wiser than the master, in what way are you still his disciple? The Bible is very clear on certain things, as to what is right or wrong,” he said.

A few months after the diocese gave same-sex marriage the green light, his congregation voted almost unanimously to leave the diocese and the national Anglican body, realigning instead with a breakaway organization called the Anglican Network in Canada. In October 2008, St. George’s Anglican Church on Metcalfe Street in Ottawa followed suit.

Rev. Sinclair said he had hoped to negotiate an amicable settlement, but in May 2010, the diocese filed a lawsuit against the rectors and wardens of both churches for the buildings and property.

“Legally, canonically and morally we believe that we own St. Alban’s,” Rev. Sinclair said, but faced with a time-consuming and expensive legal ordeal, he and the rector of St. George’s opted for mediation, under which his church got cash in return for vacating the building. (St. George’s kept their building, but it is now called St. Peter and St. Paul’s Anglican Church.)

Rev. Sinclair is glad the church has found a temporary home in the urban core, where it can pursue its mission to help the most needy, but concedes that it will be a challenge to find venues for the church’s many activities. For the time being, the church will use community centres and borrowed church halls for events such as potluck dinners, choir practices and youth groups.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Raelians want to reclaim the swastika

As reported by Postmedia News on July 2, 2011:

TORONTO — An extraterrestrial-centric religious sect will attempt to “reclaim: the swastika in Toronto on Sunday.

Members of the International Raelian Movement have chosen the city’s gay pride festivities as their venue to celebrate a second annual event they call World Swastika Rehabilitation Day.

“The goal is to return the swastika’s true meaning of peace and harmony to this ancient symbol regretfully hijacked by the Nazis,” said movement spokeswoman Brigitte Boisselier in a press release.

The Raelians, who believe human scientists from another planet, called Elohim, created all life on Earth, represent themselves with a swastika intertwining with a Star of David.

Their symbol speaks to “the infinity of time,” Boisselier said.

She cited the swastika’s historical use by “many peaceful religious groups, especially in Asia,” as reason to reclaim it.

The Raelian movement was sparked in the early 1970s by sect leader Claude Vorilhon, also known as Rael.

I find it appropriate that the Raelians are using the occasion of a sodomite pride parade to call for the reclamation of the swastika.

Russian astronomers expect to encounter alien civilizations within 20 years

As reported by Interfax on June 27, 2011:

ST. PETERSBURG. June 27 - Russian astronomers hope to find extraterrestrial civilizations in 20 years, Director of the Russian Academy of Sciences' Applied Astronomy Institute Andrei Finkelstein told a Monday press conference.

"The genesis of life is as inevitable as the formation of atoms. There are fundamental laws, which apply to the entire universe. There is life on other planets and we will find it in 20 years," he said.

Finkelstein believes that aliens will look like earthlings: they will have two legs, two arms and a head. "Possibly, they will have a different color skin, but the same happens here. While we have been searching for extraterrestrial civilians, we have been waiting for messages from space, not the other way," he said.

About 1,000 exoplanets, i.e. planets circling around stars like the Sun, have been found, and 10% of them resemble the Earth, researchers said. There will be life on such planets if there is water.

An international symposium on the search for extraterrestrial civilizations opened at the Applied Astronomy Institute on Monday to sum up the results of the 50-year-long search for alien life forms. The Project Passive SETI was started up in 1960 to listen for possible signals from other planets.

There is also the Active SETI program, in which radio signals are being sent for contacting aliens.

According to Alissa de Carbonnel of Reuters:

Finkelstein's institute runs a program launched in the 1960s at the height of the Cold War space race to watch for and beam out radio signals to outer space.