Saturday, March 23, 2013

Taiwanese man is arrested while wearing t-shirt reading "Wanted"--he actually was wanted

...and be sure your sin will find you out. Numbers 32:23b

Don't wear t-shirts bearing messages in languages you don't understand. As reported by Agence France-Presse, March 21, 2013:

A Taiwanese fugitive who knew no English has been arrested because police were curious about the word "Wanted" on his T-shirt.

The man, identified only by his surname Wu and wanted on drug abuse charges, was arrested last week at Huwei, a town in the southern country of Yunlin, a police spokesman told AFP.

A patrolling police officer who had passed an elementary-level nationwide English proficiency test approached Wu because of his T-shirt, the spokesman said.

Further questioning of Wu and a check on his status on the police computer system led to the arrest.

Wu told police the T-shirt was a gift from his son and he would not have worn it had he known what "Wanted" meant.


HT: Beth Greenfield, Yahoo Canada Shine

80 years ago: German Reichstag passes the Enabling Act

On March 23, 1933, the German Reichstag passed Gesetz zur Behebung der Not von Volk und Reich (Law to Remedy the Distress of the People and the State), popularly known as the Enabling Act, handing over its legislative powers, including the approval of treaties with foreign nations and the initiation of constitutional amendments, to Adolf Hitler's cabinet for four years.

According to William L. Shirer in The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (1960), "...the act stipulated that the laws enacted by the cabinet were to be drafted by the Chancellor and "might deviate from the constitution." No laws were to "affect the position of the Reichstag"--surely the cruelest joke of all--and the powers of the President remained "undisturbed."" Under the act's terms, Mr. Hitler and the Nazis could ignore the civil liberties provisions in the German constitution and issue decrees without having them passed by parliament.

Only the Social Democratic delegates voted against the act, the Communists having been imprisoned. Centrist and moderate rightist parties voted in favour of the act as a "lesser of evils." Some may notice a similarity between the Enabling Act and the Patriot Act in the United States--a terrorist act of dubious origin leads to legislative approval for dictatorial powers for the executive branch of government, and the abolition of civil liberties. There is one significant difference between the two: The Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 is 132 pages long, whereas Germany's Enabling Act of 1933 consisted of just five paragraphs, implying that the German legislators had actually read the bill they were voting on.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Growing in Grace International is yet another pseudo-Christian cult

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

Creciendo en Gracia (Growing in Grace International) is a pseudo-Christian cult founded in Puerto Rico in 1986 by JosΓ© Luis de JesΓΊs Miranda, who describes himself as the second coming of Jesus Christ and also as the Antichrist. The organization's Canadian headquarters are in Kitchener, Ontario. Go here to for their English language site, here for their Spanish site. If you check their sites, you'll see that Cresciendo en Gracia celebrates "Christmas" on April 22, which just happens to be the birthday of Mr. de JesΓΊs.

Like many cults, Growing in Grace International has made at least one apolalyptic prediction with a date attached. June 30, 2012 was to be the date of "The Transformation." As reported by Armina Ligaya of the Toronto-based National Post, May 2, 2012:

ST. CATHARINES, ONT. — Doris Rosado watches her teenage daughters, Ninette and Kiara Mongrut, get the numbers “666” tattooed on their wrists, beaming with pride. The number typically conjures up biblical symbolism tied to the Antichrist, but this St. Catharines, Ont., family belongs to a obscure Christian sect for which “666” is a positive symbol of their group’s messianic leader...

...The group, which they say has branches in five Canadian cities and members in more than 130 countries, believes that on June 30 (or July 1 across the international dateline), their Texas-based leader and his followers will be transformed, said Alex Poessy, the group’s bishop in Canada...

...“That day, the body of Jose de Luis de Jesus, who is a human like you and me, his flesh is going to be immortal…. He’s going to be living forever. And that will happen to him, but also his followers.”

But, said Mr. Poessy: “All those that are not believers are going to be destroyed...”

...Mr. de Jesus also predicts that the “transformation” will endow him, and his loyal followers, with superpowers, such as the ability to fly and walk through walls, said Axel Cooley, the bishop’s daughter.

“[We can] run and not get tired. Go through fire and not get burned…. I could be talking to you right now, and then I could go through that wall. So, you’ll know there is a difference,” Cooley said...

...“The world’s not going to end. What is going to end is the system…. All the governments and the currencies will fall. The new government of the 666 will take over,” she said...

...Mr. de Jesus, whom followers lovingly call “Dad,” had a vision in 1973 while living in Massachusetts of two angels coming to him. “The body of Christ manifested in Jose de Luis de Jesus, and all of a sudden, that’s when he knew,” Ms. Cooley said...

...The church had been paying $144,000 a year in alimony to de Jesus’ first wife, considering it part of his salary, according to a 2007 article in the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. Also, donations from followers in Colombia went to a Colombian bank account in Jose Luis de Jesus’ name, the Sun-Sentinel reported. De Jesus said the Colombian bishop controlled the money earmarked for churches there. However, he also said some of the money went to de Jesus’ wife, including about $60,000 for a condominium.

The group has roughly 200 members in Canada, including branches in Toronto, St. Catharines, Montreal and Calgary. Its newest branch is in Vancouver, which officially opened in March, Mr. Poessy said...

...Usually, Mr. de Jesus addresses his followers during the tracings. But on April 22, his 66th birthday, he gave his last speech before retreating from public view.

In a video posted on YouTube and on their website, cegenglish.com, Mr. de Jesus called for his followers to enter into the final countdown until, he says, their government will come into power. “A government where we will govern everything with a perfect order. This is my last farewell for you. The time is finished… We will see each other soon in Armageddon...”
It comes as no surprise to this blogger to find that "The Transformation" didn't come to pass as scheduled. As reported by Ms. Ligaya on July 3, 2012:

Growing in Grace, also known as Creciendo en Gracia, predicted that its Texas-based leader Jose Luis de Jesus, would “transform” into an immortal being, while non-believers and roughly two-thirds of the world’s population would be destroyed on June 30 (or July 1, depending on the time zone)...

...But Monday, the global economy continued churning, the Holy See appeared intact and there was no sign of a major global disaster.

When reached in Kitchener on Sunday afternoon, the group’s Canadian bishop Alex Poessy would not answer many questions, but said their transformation had not yet come to pass.

“Well, we are still waiting for that,” he said.

However, Mr. Poessy said he believed their leader, Mr. de Jesus, had transformed — but he didn’t see it. “He did transform, that is my understanding,” he said, adding that the group was “really happy.”

His wife, Ileana Poessy, said the followers’ transformation and world devastation would come, eventually.

“We don’t know when…. He’s the boss,” she said, pointing upward.

“[Transformation] is going to come for us for sure,” she added, warning it was too late for others to be saved...

...Still, even when prophecies fail, these groups continue to exist and even thrive, said Lorne Dawson, a University of Waterloo sociologist and religious studies professor who specializes in new religious movements.

Setting a date energizes a religious movement and helps recruit new members, he said in a May interview. When the evidence clearly contradicts their prophecy, members will change the way they interpret the world “as to not face the reality of the defeat,” Mr. Dawson said.

“The leader will quickly come up with an explanation, rationalize, and that rationalization will be spread quickly to all of the membership … and gear them up for another prophecy down the line,” Mr. Dawson said.
HT: Faith and Freedom, June-July 2012

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

200 years ago: The birth of David Livingstone

Dr. David Livingstone, of "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?" fame, was born in Blantyre, Scotland on March 19, 1813. A Congregationalist, he went to Africa as a medical missionary in the mid-19th century under the auspices of the London Missionary Society. He became famous because of his exploration of Africa (including the discovery and naming of Victoria Falls) and his opposition to slavery. Dr. Livingstone died of malaria and dysentery in what is now Zambia on May 1, 1873 at the age of 60,and was greatly mourned in Britain.

The bicentenary of Dr. Livingstone's birth is being celebrated in Africa as well as in Scotland and London. Go here to read about Dr. Livingstone's legacy and here for the Wikipedia biography (no guarantee of accuracy, of course). Other sites of interest include Livingstone Online and The David Livingstone Spectral Imaging Project. Several works by Dr. Livingstone are available at Project Gutenberg. Visitors to Scotland may want to visit the David Livingstone Centre in Blantyre.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Sodomite chosen to lead Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association

Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination...
...Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you:
And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants.
Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you:
(For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled;)
That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you.
For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people.
Leviticus 18:22, 24-29

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;
Romans 1:24-28

As reported by Jewish Telegraphic Agency, March 14, 2013:

The Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association has elected an openly gay rabbi to lead the national rabbinic organization.

Rabbi Jason Klein, the executive director of Hillel at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, since 2006, was elected to lead the RRA during its 39th annual convention in New Orleans, which ended on Wednesday. It is the first national rabbinic association of one of the major Jewish denominations in the United States to be led by a gay man, according to the group.

Klein was ordained by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Council in 2002 and graduated from Columbia University in 1997. He grew up in Montclair, N.J. Klein spent four years as a congregational rabbi at Congregation Beth Emeth on the South Shore of Long Island, N.Y.

"Coming out and growing into my adult Jewish identity would not be the same were it not for affirming teachers, rabbis and other mentors along the way,” Klein said after his election, j. weekly reported. “I am honored to be able to give back by supporting colleagues who are creating welcoming communities in hundreds of settings across North America and beyond.”

The rabbinical association also honored Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, who in 1974 became the first woman to be ordained by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. Sasso was honored in advance of her stepping down after 36 years as rabbi of Congregation Beth-El Zedeck in Indianapolis.

Usual religious suspects support sodomite/lesbian "marriage" in Rhode Island

Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination...
...Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you:
And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants.
Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you:
(For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled;)
That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you.
For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people.
Leviticus 18:22, 24-29

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;
Romans 1:24-28

As reported by Associated Press, March 6, 2013:

A Rhode Island Jewish organization has come out in support of gay marriage in the state.

The Community Relations Council of the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island on Thursday announced its endorsement of a bill pending in the General Assembly that would allow gay and lesbian couples to marry.

Director Marty Cooper says the group’s support is grounded in the biblical idea that all humans were created in the image of God and are worthy of respect.

The group joins the Board of Rabbis of Greater Rhode Island, the Episcopal bishop and the Rhode Island State Council of Churches in supporting the legislation.

The Roman Catholic church stands opposed the bill, which has passed the House but has not yet been scheduled for a vote in the Senate.

Israeli rapist assumes position as ultra-Orthodox rebbe immediately upon his release from prison after serving 16-year sentence

As reported by Kobi Nahshoni of Ynet News, March 18, 2013:

Ex-convicts are usually sent to post-imprisonment rehabilitation programs, but in Israel such a person has immediately attained a high position – without any cooling-off period.

Yaakov Yitzhak Rata, who was convicted of rape and sentenced to 16 years at the Maasiyahu Prison's religious wing, was released from jail last week only to become a rebbe – a position he inherited from his father, who died during his imprisonment.

The ultra-Orthodox public is now divided over whether he will gain any followers.

The father of the rapist rabbi was Rabbi Avraham Chaim Rata, who was known as the "Shomrei Emumim Rebbe" and died last summer. He led a small congregation of 200 followers based in Jerusalem.

In order to prevent any succession disputes, the rabbi wrote in his will that all his sons and sons-in-law would take his place in the congregation's leadership, each in a different concentration of followers. So now his son, ex-convict Yaakov Yitzhak, who is in his 50s, has come out of prison straight into the leadership of one of the Shomeri Emumim communities scattered across the country.

Missed opportunity to gain followers?

Haredi website Kikar Hashabat reported about "great joy in the Hasidic movement" when "the righteous rabbi, Yaakov Yitzhak Rata, was released from a 16-year imprisonment."

The report added that Rata was expected to serve as a rebbe in the haredi city of Beitar Illit, where the leader of the Shomrei Emunin community had yet to be appointed.

"The rabbi denied the offenses attributed to him and refused to confess to the acts, and as a result even avoided signing a plea bargain, which worsened his legal situation," reporter Israel Cohen explained in his merciful report. "His father, the Rebbe of blessed memory, had expressed his silent support for him too and believed that he was innocent."

Talking to Ynet, Cohen said it was unclear whether the released sex offender would turn into a real spiritual leader.

"On the one hand, he and his brothers are not the type of figures that attract believers like the Rebbe was, and he specifically was in jail when the father's followers were divided between the sons and missed the opportunity to gain some of them. On the other hand, it's possible that because of his story some will see him as a martyr persecuted by the authorities and follow him."

'Inconceivable'

Ex-convicts who served with Rata in prison were surprised to learn about the position waiting for him outside.

"How can it be that a person who served a prison sentence for sex offenses is now appointed as a rebbe?" one of them wondered. "It's amazing to discover how cheap this job can be."

The former inmates said that Rata did not maintain good behavior while in prison. "Many prisoners did not like him because he was aggressive toward his friends," one of them said.

"How can a community of religious believers follow a person who was convicted of serious offenses which put him to shame?" asked another former prisoner. "It's inconceivable that he will now become a rebbe."

New York ultra-Orthodox Jewish counsellor sentenced to 103 years in prison for molesting Hasidic girl

As reported by Associated Press, January 23, 2013:

A religious counselor in New York City's ultra-orthodox Jewish community was sentenced Tuesday to 103 years in prison for molesting a girl who came to him with questions about her faith.

Nechemya Weberman was convicted in December of 59 counts, including sustained sexual abuse of a child, endangering the welfare of a child and sexual abuse.

The trial put a spotlight on the city's ultra-orthodox community and its strict rules that govern interaction with the outside world. The city is home to the largest community of ultra-orthodox Jews outside Israel, more than 250,000.

Both Weberman, 54, and the girl belonged to the Satmar Hasidic sect, which has its own ambulances, volunteer police and rabbinical courts. Followers are discouraged from going to secular authorities.

During the trial, men were arrested on charges they tried to bribe the girl and her now-husband to drop the case. Others were accused of taking photos of her on the witness stand and posting them online.

The accuser, now 18, testified that Weberman abused her repeatedly behind his locked office door from the time she was 12 until she was 15.

Her school had ordered her to see Weberman because she had been asking questions about her religion and was dressing immodestly in violation of the sect's customs. Weberman wasn't a licensed counselor but spent decades working with couples and families.

There was no physical evidence of abuse.

The defense argued that the girl was angry that Weberman had told her parents she had a boyfriend at age 15, which is forbidden in the community. Attorney Stacey Richman said the case came down to a simple "he said, she said."

"She's making things up in front of you as they occur," Richman told jurors.

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes said he hoped the case would persuade other victims to come forward. Hynes has been accused of overlooking crimes in the ultra-orthodox Jewish community because he was too cozy with powerful rabbis, a charge he vehemently denies.

Weberman said "no thank you" when asked if he wished to speak. He had no visible reaction to the sentence. The top charge carried a sentence of 25 years; he got consecutive terms for some of the other charges.

U.S. State Department denies bias in not inviting Ariel University students to Barack Obama's speech in Jerusalem

According to Jewish Telegraphic Agency editor-in-chief Ami Eden, March 14, 2013:

We have a denial from the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv in response to claims that the State Department was boycotting Ariel University by not invitng any of its students to President Obama's planned speech in Jerusalem.

["}An official at the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv told JTA, however, that only students from academic institutions with partnerships or joint programs with the embassy were invited to the speech. The official would not comment on whether other institutions fell in the same category.["]

Of course, the explanation begs the question: Why doesn't the embassy have a partnership or joint program with the embassy? Is there a policy against such relationships with Israeli institutions in the West Bank? We're working on getting an answer. But before you jump to any conclusions, remember that Israel only granted the school its university status a few months ago.

Gallup poll of Americans shows highest level of support for Israel in 22 years

As reported by Jewish Telegraphic Agency, March 17, 2013:

Americans' sympathies lean heavily toward Israel over the Palestinians in the highest level of support seen in 22 years.

According to data gleaned from Gallup's 2013 World Affairs poll, 64 percent of Americans support Israel over the Palestinians, with 12 percent backing the Palestinians over Israel. The last time Israel garnered as much support from Americans was in 1991 during the Gulf War.

Republicans are much likelier than Democrats to favor the Israelis, at 78 percent to 55 percent, with independents at 63 percent. But since 2001, independents have shown the greatest gain in support, up 21 percent. The support from Republicans has increased 18 percent during that time and Democrats' backing has grown 4 percent.

Older Americans backed Israel in the greatest numbers, with 71 percent among those 55 and older showing sympathy. The figure fell to 65 percent among 35- to 54-year-olds and 55 percent among 18- to 34-year-olds.

Among young adults, the percentage of those answering no opinion or does not favor either side has increased.

Each age group polled 12 percent in favor of the Palestinians.

The poll was conducted Feb. 7-10, with a random sample of 1,015 adults aged 18 and older living in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 points.

Reports of anti-Semitism in Switzerland declined 30% in 2012

While reports of anti-Jewish incidents in 2012 declined 30% in Switzerland, they increased 30% in Belgium. Of course, that doesn't mean that anti-Semites have simply moved from Switzerland to Belgium, but it's interesting to note the contrast. As reported by Jewish Telegraphic Agency, March 18, 2013:

The number of anti-Semitic incidents recorded in Switzerland has dropped from 36 in 2011 to 25 incidents last year.

The figures were reported in the annual analysis on anti-Semitism by the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities. The report states that unlike the previous year, no physical attacks against Jews were recorded in Switzerland in 2012 and that hostilities in Israel did not serve as “trigger events,” as has been observed in previous years.

Most incidents last year were hate mail cases or graffiti, the report said. Online content was not included in the report.

Monitor reports showed a 58 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in France in 2012 and a 30 percent increase in Belgium, which watchdog groups said were linked to a wave of attacks that followed the slaying of four Jews at a school in Toulouse by a radical Muslim.

Algerian immigrant sentenced to 10 years in prison for plotting to blow up New York synagogues

Have you ever noticed that a disproportionate number of anti-Jewish incidents seem to involve people with Islamic-sounding names? Here's another one, as reported by Jewish Telegraphic Agency, March 17, 2013:

An Algerian immigrant who admitted to planning to blow up synagogues in New York City was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Ahmed Ferhani, 28, was the first person convicted under a state terror statute that went into effect following the 9/11 attacks. He was sentenced last Friday.

Ferhani could have been sentenced to up to 25 years in prison, but entered a plea agreement in December. He also will serve five years of probation under the terms of the agreement.

"By targeting a synagogue, which I knew to be a Jewish house of worship, in this manner, I intended to create chaos and send a message of intimidation and coercion to the Jewish population of New York City, warning them to stop mistreating Muslims," he said in December during his plea bargain hearing in state Supreme Court.

Ferhani and his alleged accomplice, Mohamed Mamdouh, whose case is still pending, were arrested after they bought three firearms and what they believed was a live grenade from an undercover police detective. They reportedly had planned to disguise themselves as hasidic Jews in order to get into the synagogues.

Locusts invade southern Israel

He spake, and the locusts came, and caterpillers, and that without number, Psalm 105:34

As reported by Jewish Telegraphic Agency, March 17, 2013:

JERUSALEM (JTA) -- Another swarm of locusts entered Israel, spurring concerns that they will continue to infest the country for several weeks.

A new swarm was discovered in southern Israel on Saturday.

Locusts have been discovered mating and laying eggs throughout Israel's South, Globes reported, citing the Ministry of Agriculture.

The ministry said it will concentrate on the new swarms and spray the other locations later, even after the eggs are hatched, since the newly hatched locusts cannot fly. New swarms could come from several directions.

According to the ministry, the locusts have not caused great damage to crops.

Israel Museum presents exhibit on Herod the Great

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,
And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.
And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.
When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.
And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.
And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.
When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:
And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.
Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying,
In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.
Matthew 2:1-18

The prophecies cited in the above passage are found in Micah 5:2, Hosea 11:1, and Jeremiah 31:15.

Since February 13, 2013, the Israel Museum has been presenting an exhibit titled Herod the Great: The King’s Final Journey:

The first exhibition entirely dedicated to Herod the Great, Israel’s greatest builder and one of the most controversial figures in Jewish history. Large reconstructions and new finds from Herod’s palaces in Herodium, Jericho, and other sites are on display. Exhibited to the public for the very first time, these artifacts shed new light on the political, architectural, and aesthetic influence of Herod’s rule (37–4 BCE). Herod’s tomb – discovered at Herodium after a 40-year search by the late Prof. Ehud Netzer of the Hebrew University – holds pride of place. The exhibition is held in memory of Prof. Netzer, who fell to his death in 2010 on the site of his discovery.
Go here to see photos of the exhibit.

As reported by Shmuel Browns and Bonna Devora Haberman in The Jerusalem Post, February 10, 2013:

World history has anointed few with the epithet “the Great.” He masterminded and engineered the Jerusalem Temple – among the most magnificent temples in the ancient world; the fortress-complex at Masada – the most-visited site in Israel; Caesarea – in its day, the largest all-weather harbor built in the open sea; imposing cities, aqueducts and, finally, Herodium – the most spacious palace known to us in the Greco-Roman world before the common era.

A giant who moved mountains, Herod was respected, feared and despised. Reckoning with Herod is indispensable to interpreting the historical and material landscape of Israel.

Herod’s passion lives on. Herod proved to be archaeology professor Ehud Netzer’s nemesis.

The Israel Museum staff have been toiling for three years to present Netzer’s discoveries in the first exhibition in the world dedicated to Herod.

Commensurate with his life and work, “Herod the Great: The King’s Final Journey” is unprecedented in grandeur and expense. Displayed in 900 square meters, approximately 250 artifacts related to Herod are exhibited, many for the first time. To show even this tiny sampling of his massive production, Herod fittingly required the museum to reinforce its very foundations and raise its ceilings.

Jewish Roman historian Josephus Flavius records extensive narrative about Herod, nearly a century after the events. Though he describes in detail Herod’s majestic funeral procession to Herodium – performed according to Herod’s own orders – Josephus mysteriously neglects to mention the location of Herod’s tomb.

While working on the excavations at Masada in the 1960s, Yigal Yadin introduced a young architect, Ehud Netzer, to Herod by reading from Josephus Flavius...

...His interest in Herod piqued, Netzer began his own excavations at Lower Herodium in 1972.

Intent on uncovering Herod’s tomb, he continued to dig for the next 35 years. Herod overcame topographic opposition to his designs with engineering wit and sheer force. He leveled bedrock, buttressed a sloping mountain and channeled water from Solomon’s Pools via aqueduct. Herod built a Roman bathhouse equipped with Jewish ritual baths, a large swimming pool and reservoir, transforming a barren site into a luxurious oasis of high Roman culture with Jewish annotations.

Netzer followed his intuition about Herod and began excavating halfway up the mountain.

Beside the staircase that rises to the summit, with a clear view to Jerusalem, Netzer unearthed five pink limestone pieces of an ornate sarcophagus, marred by hammer blows. Based on the excavation layer, the sarcophagus had been smashed in antiquity by Jewish zealots who regarded Herod as a Roman puppet-king, Netzer reasoned. He also revealed the dissembled base of Herod’s mausoleum. In May 2007, Netzer triumphantly announced that he had found King Herod’s tomb and two sarcophagi belonging to members of Herod’s family.

Based on fragments, Netzer drew on his familiarity with Herod’s oeuvre and his expertise as an architect and archaeologist to imagine the mausoleum.

Netzer conceived a colossal three-story monument – 25 meters high. The first level is cube-shaped. The second, a cylinder, is crowned with a conical roof. The carefully ornamented architecture combines Jewish, Roman and Nabatean elements representing Herod’s biography.

A Nabatean funerary urn, for example, honors Herod’s Nabatean mother, Cypros. A model of the mausoleum based on Netzer’s reconstructive drawing is installed at the entrance to the Herodium park.

Continuing to excavate on the other side of the staircase, Netzer uncovered an intimate Roman theater with a loggia where Herod had presided over performances and entertained his royal guests.

From the precarious ledge where Netzer fulfilled his life-long ambition to unshroud the tomb of Herod the Great, Netzer fell. Overlooking the course of Herod’s own funeral procession, Netzer’s broken body was borne from Herodium on a stretcher. He died on October 28, 2010.

Fulfilling Netzer’s request to display his Herodium tomb-area discoveries, on February 12, 2013, the Israel Museum exhibition in Jerusalem opens. Based on Netzer’s drawings, museum staff constructed a life-size replica of the top level of Herod’s mausoleum – from 30 tons of architectural stone pieces, including half-ton columns. Inside the structure, the three sarcophagi will be on view.

In addition to items from Herodium, artifacts from Herod’s palaces at Cypros, Masada and Jericho, as well as exquisite glass period pieces borrowed from New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art give a taste of Herod’s refined habits. From the pantry at Herod’s palace-fortress at Masada, large clay amphorae attest to the luxury and sophistication of Herod’s palate: apples, honey, fine wine and a savory Roman fish sauce. One amphora bears an inscription of Herod’s name in Latin and Greek, “King of the Jews”.

For an in-depth day with Herod – at Herodium and the Israel Museum and/or tours of Herod's other sites, please contact Shmuel Browns at http://israeltours.
Go here for another article about the exhibit, and here for an article from 2007 about Dr. Netzer's discovery of Herod's tomb.

Body of Bronze Age donkey found intact in temple courtyard grave in Israel

As reported by Megan Gannon of Live Science, March 10, 2013:

Archaeologists in southern Israel say they've uncovered a young donkey that was carefully laid to rest on its side more than 3,500 years ago, complete with a copper bridle bit in its mouth and saddle bags on its back.

Its accessories...lead researchers to believe the venerated pack animal was sacrificed and buried as part of a Bronze Age ritual...
Go here to see the original journal article.

A similar discovery was made in Egypt several years ago, although the Egyptian donkeys seem to have led rougher lives than the one discovered in Israel. As reported by Jeanna Bryner of Live Science, March 9, 2008:

One of the earliest Egyptian kings carried his "beasts of burden" into the afterlife. Paleoscientists discovered the skeletons of 10 donkeys nestled in three mud graves dating back 5,000 years ago when Egypt was just forming a state.

The donkey skeletons were discovered in 2003 lying on their sides in graves at a burial complex of one of the first pharaohs at Abydos, Egypt, which is about 300 miles (480 kilometers) south of Cairo...
Go here for the full text of the original journal article.

France's Jewish sodomites and lesbians celebrate Purim

Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination...
...Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you:
And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants.
Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you:
(For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled;)
That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you.
For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people.
Leviticus 18:22, 24-29

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;
Romans 1:24-28

Sodomites and lesbians are always trying to compare themselves to legitimate minority groups and victims of persecution. A major difference between the real Esther and the fabrication of the evil imaginations of these degenerates is that the real Esther was virtuous. As reported by Jewish News One TV, February 28, 2013:

Drinking, raucous costumes, and wild exuberance. France’s Jewish gay community this week celebrated the festival of Purim, which commemorates the survival of the Jewish people.

Salvation came only after Queen Esther revealed that she was Jewish, a revelation that some gay Jews liken to their own experience of coming out. Her courage helped save the Jews in ancient Persia from near extermination.

In the Book of Esther, the Jewish Persian queen foils the plot of Haman to kill the Jews, by revealing her identity. Esther is a source of inspiration for France's Jewish LGBT community.

In the Purim story, the king’s advisor Haman uses the Jews’ difference as a motive for killing them. After he is snubbed by Mordechai, Esther’s uncle, he vows to massacre all Jews.

The story's tale of persecution rings a familiar bell for the Jewish gay community, also a minority group.

The day of deliverance is celebrated by wearing colorful costumes and drinking lots of wine, as a way of reversing the roles of bad and good...

...In a context where French gays have felt a rise in homophobia, as a result of the recent gay-marriage debate, the festival of Purim seems to have come at just the right time, proving that it is okay to be different...

Israeli rabbis allow religious Jews to invite secular Jews into their homes on the Sabbath

Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Isaiah 29:13

Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?
He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.
Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
Mark 7:5-7

Another episode in rabbinic Judaism, as reported by Akiva Novick of Ynet News, February 27, 2013:

If you're a secular Jew and have religious friends, you've probably been invited by them occasionally to "do Shabbat in our house."

Up until now, if you accepted the invitation, you would have had to arrive at their home before the start of Shabbat, but a new halachic ruling aims to change that.

The ruling, obtained by Yedioth Ahronoth, was not written by Conservative or Reform rabbis but rather by 170 Orthodox rabbis from the Beit Hillel organization, which fights radicalization among the religious public.

Today, if you're an observant Jew and you invite a secular person to spend Shabbat with you, you must make sure that he arrives before it begins so as not to desecrate the holy day of rest.

Beit Hillel rabbis decided to change this situation in order to allow religious parents whose children have become secular to invite them over on Shabbat, even if they arrive by car.

The organization's director, Rabbi Ronen Neuwirth, explains the logic behind the halachic ruling: "When your intention is for the sake of a mitzvah, for example to introduce your guest to a proper Shabbat, it changes the picture."

According to Beit Hillel Chairman Rabbi Meir Nehorai, "We feel responsible also for torn families which have children who have left religion, or seculars seeking to get closer. We're not looking to violate halachic tools, but to stretch the band as far as the Halacha lets us.

"A Shabbat meal, with the surrounding atmosphere, has great value. I recently heard about a former religious man who would return to his parents' home on weekends, and the kindergarten teacher at the kibbutz said to him, 'Be careful, your child is about to become religious.'"

Dutch appeals court upholds fine for Orthodox Jewish rabbi who refused to carry a national identity card

The Netherlands, Belgium (see post below)--weren't these countries opposed to the Nazis? Here they are 70 years later, increasingly adopting the Nazis' policies. The times they are a'changin', as reported by Associated Press and Kobi Nahshoni of Ynet News, February 28, 2013:

A Dutch appeals court has upheld a €60 ($90) fine against an Orthodox Jew who refused to show police an identity card, citing religious reasons.

The Hague Appeals Court ruled that a law which makes it mandatory for all people older than 14 to carry ID cards and show them to police upon request does not have a religious exemption.

The man, whose name was not released due to privacy laws, had argued it was against his religious beliefs to carry anything but his clothing on the Jewish Sabbath.

The ruling didn't say why police approached the man.

The law was introduced in 2005 amid a wave of anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiment. Carrying ID cards hadn't previously been mandatory in the Netherlands since the Nazi occupation in World War II.

Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, said in response that "the problem of carrying an ID card on Shabbat is not new, and even in Nazi Germany religious authorities discussed whether and how should one go out to the public domain with certificates.

"I hope the Jewish community in Holland reaches an agreement with the authorities on this issue," he concluded.

Reports of anti-Semitism in Belgium increased 30% in 2012

As reported by Jewish One News, February 27, 2013:

A Belgian government agency has confirmed that complaints of anti-Semitic abuse and violence rose by 30% in 2012, with 88 documented complaints compared to 62 in the previous year.

The cases included 11 incidents of vandalism, 15 verbal assaults, 13 Holocaust denials and 28 online attacks, and because many victims do not complain, the actual number of incidents may be far higher.

France faced one of the most serious waves of anti-Semitic incidents last year, after extremist Mohammed Merah killed a rabbi and three Jewish schoolchildren.

The country saw a significant increase in the number of anti-Semitic incidents year-to-year, with 614 attacks in 2012 compared to 389 the previous year.

In another recent attack, Rabbi Daniel Alter was assaulted in Berlin as he walked down the street with his daughter, with the incident being just another example of the growing trend of anti-Semitism across the continent.

Israeli rebbe blames secular Israelis for the country's security dangers

As reported by Kobi Nahshoni of Ynet News, February 25, 2013:

The Rebbe of Peremyshlyany, Rabbi Meir Rosenboim, appealed to secular leaders to understand why haredim had no place in the army as they were actually defending Israel from a great calamity.

By not studying the Torah and following its precepts, the rabbi said, it was actually the secular Israelis who caused the dangerous security issues and so had a greater duty to serve in the army than the haredim.

The Rebbe of Peremyshlyany is the head of a relatively small community, but his stature in the Hasidic world is high, gaining great respect especially due to the blessings and advice he bestows on visitors.

Among the Rebbe's visitors are quite a few from the secular world, including former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

In a talk with his adherents, reported in the Hamevaser newspaper, the rabbi presented the arguments for the haredi draft: "On the face of it, they sound convincing. Since everyone is born in God's image, why must one group serve and be a pawn to the army's requirements, and another group sit and study Torah? Where's the fairness?

"This requires us to understand and hone the reason why Torah students are indeed exempt from service."

The Rebbe explained, "It's clear to us that the fact we live in fear of enemies in all our years here in the land of Israel – That's because of the simple people, those who don't study Torah, this country is filled with.

"Those who ask why they must enlist and fight must be told that this calamity, these security dangers, is because of them, because of their helplessness and their abstaining from studying Torah."

The Rebbe continued, "Our right to be quiet and serene is only because of studying the Torah, without which calamity will befall the world.

"The simple people have only themselves to blame, for the calamity, the dangers and the need for an army which they bring upon themselves and upon us."

Religion and politics mix when it comes to Israel's chief rabbinate

As reported by Associated Press, February 25, 2013:

When Rabbi David Stav launched his official campaign last month to wrest control of Israel's top religious institution from its longtime hardline leadership, it was a long shot.

But just two weeks later, Israelis went to the polls and surprisingly shifted the country toward the center of the political spectrum – creating a rare window of opportunity for the modern Orthodox rabbi to capture the title of chief rabbi and fulfill his pledge to revolutionize the contentious role that religion plays in the Jewish state. Stav, a 53-year-old father of nine, heads a private network of modern Orthodox rabbis that is virtually an alternative organization to Israel's state-sanctioned rabbinical bureaucracy. It seeks to put a friendly face on Jewish traditions for secular Israeli Jews alienated by the ultra-Orthodox functionaries that regulate religious services.

The organization, called Tzohar, has gained popularity among secular Israelis with its program that sends rabbis free of charge to officiate at weddings.

Now Stav is waging a highly visible public campaign to change Israel's Rabbinate from the inside. He is being featured frequently in media interviews, is running a Facebook campaign, and appears in large color newspaper ads placed by a group of secular Israelis.

"It's not about public relations and niceness," Stav said in an interview. "There is a critical problem – it's not cosmetic – in the rabbinic system. It needs dramatic changes."

Stav cautiously acknowledges that the stars now seem to be aligned for his hoped-for coup.

Every 10 years, two rabbis – one representing Ashkenazi, or European-descended Jews, the other of Sephardic, or Middle Eastern lineage – are appointed to co-lead the Chief Rabbinate.

It's the country's supreme body overseeing civil services for Jews from cradle to grave – circumcision, marriage, divorce and burial. The current ultra-Orthodox Sephardic chief rabbi will likely be allowed to stay on, but the current Ashkenazi rabbi, Yona Metzger, is vacating his post in the coming months.

For the last two decades, ultra-Orthodox Jewish political parties have wielded outsized influence in governing coalitions, and in turn held sway over the panel of 150 rabbis and politicians that appoints the new chief rabbis.

That balance of power, however, may soon tip in Rabbi Stav's favor.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the leading Likud party needs partners to help him build a stable governing coalition, and two contenders he is courting – the centrist Yesh Atid and the pro-settler Habayit Hayehudi – have made it clear that they do not want the Chief Rabbinate to be dominated by ultra-Orthodox rabbis.

"We certainly support a more moderate and openly Zionistic Rabbinate," said Dov Lippman, a rabbi on the Yesh Atid list.

"One of our main goals is for a Zionist, national religious rabbi to be elected to be chief rabbi," Ayelet Shaked, a Habayit Hayehudi lawmaker, told Israel Radio.

Making Rabbinate more welcoming to seculars
The two parties have not publically endorsed a particular candidate, but a leading member of Stav's rabbinic organization is the No. 2 man on Yesh Atid's parliamentary list, and an official in Stav's organization said Yesh Atid and the chairman of the Jewish Home party are pushing for Stav's candidacy.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was citing private discussions.

The Yisrael Beitenu lawmakers, whose party ran with the Likud on a joint list, also support Stav, said Yekutiel Zafari, a party official.

The decision largely rests on what kind of behind-the-scenes agreements are made with coalition partners.

The rise of Yesh Atid and the Jewish Home reflect something of a backlash against Israel's ultra-Orthodox community, which makes up nearly 10% of the country's population of eight million.

Both parties have pledged to abolish a controversial system that allows ultra-Orthodox males to skip compulsory military service and instead attend religious seminaries.

The ultra-Orthodox have also antagonized the general public in recent years by attempts to impose their social mores, such as separation between men and women, in public spaces like buses and sidewalks.

Unlike many ultra-Orthodox rabbis, Stav served in combat as a soldier and reservist, and his eldest son is a paratrooper commander.

At least three other rabbis are contending for the same position, but Stav is the only one leading a public campaign, promising reform in some of the most controversial ultra-Orthodox practices. He has even published a manifesto outlining what he would change.

He would encourage couples to sign prenuptial agreements to ensure wives can request a divorce, a right not granted to them in the traditional Jewish marriage contract. He would privatize the kosher certification industry and make the chief Rabbinate its regulator, lowering the soaring prices of kosher supervision for the food industry.
He would make ritual baths more handicapped accessible, and require ritual circumcisers to refresh their skills in training classes every two years.

What matters most to him is to make the Chief Rabbinate more welcoming to secular Israelis, who make up the majority of Israel's Jewish population.

No to female rabbis, gay partnerships
According to government statistics, more than 9,000 Israeli couples last year sidestepped the Rabbinate and married in civil ceremonies abroad. Civil marriages are virtually banned in Israel.

Stav estimates that a third of all secular Israeli couples choose that option, and says those couples distance themselves from Judaism because they lack the religious marriage documents that would certify their future children as Jewish.

One of his biggest goals is to help Israel's million-plus ex-Soviet immigrants. He vows a massive genealogical research campaign to help immigrants prove their Jewish lineage, and to encourage those who are not of Jewish descent to convert.

"A state in Israel cannot exist when half of the nation thinks the other half is non-Jewish," Stav said.

Though he is seen as a moderate rabbi, he does not support female rabbis or same-sex partnerships, as do rabbis in the more progressive Reform and Conservative movements which are dominant in the US but have a limited presence in Israel.

Orthodox Judaism expert Menachem Friedman says Stav could stir a revolution in the Rabbinate – but the more stringent Orthodox rabbis in the Rabbinate would likely oppose his reforms.

"He is seen as more liberal," said Friedman, a professor emeritus at Bar-Ilan University. "This will put him under pressure and he won't be able to solve all the problems."

And his very public campaign to change the Rabbinate to its core might irk some on the election committee – those who have spent their careers in the very bureaucracy Stav is criticizing.

"Behind the scenes, there was always a political race" for the position of chief rabbi, said Yair Sheleg, a researcher of religious affairs at the Israel Democracy Institute. "But it was always behind the scenes. In public, it's not respectful."

Increase in anti-Semitism in France leads Jews to flee to Britain

As reported by Jewish News One TV, February 24, 2013:

A new report from the Jewish Community Protection Service says that anti-Semitic attacks in France increased by 58% from 2011 to 2012.

The biggest attack in 2012 was that of Mohamed Merah, who shot dead seven people, including three children and a rabbi, outside a school in Toulouse. Merah’s killings, the report says, led to a spike of anti-Semitic attacks in the days following.

The increase in anti-Semitism has led to an exodus of French Jews who have moved across the Channel to English shores, with St. John’s Wood Synagogue in London establishing French-language Shabbat services to fulfill a growing demand.

UK Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, who is retiring this year, has expressed concern over whether there was still a place for Jews in Europe after recent legal challenges to the Jewish practices of circumcision and ritual slaughter.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

90 years ago: Battling Siki challenges the laws of probability

This has nothing much to do with the subjects usually mentioned in this blog, but I've always found it amusing. On March 17, 1923, Battling Siki defended his world light heavyweight boxing title against Mike McTigue at La Scala Theatre in Dublin, and the fight lasted the scheduled distance of 20 rounds.

Battling Siki was a native of Senegal who was based in Paris, while Mr. McTigue was a native of County Clare, Ireland, currently based in New York. Julian L. Simon, in his book Basic Research Methods in Social Science (1969), cited this as a classic example of challenging the laws of probability--an African fighting an Irishman in Dublin on St. Patrick's Day. The reader may use his Sherlockian skills in deductive reasoning to figure out who won the decision.



Tuesday, March 12, 2013

30 years ago: Ronald Reagan, addressing the NAE, denounces the evil empire--and other evils

Warning--lengthy post ahead:

For those who have forgotten or are too young to remember, in March 1983 the Cold War was still on, and the U.S.S.R. was led by 68-year-old Yuri Andropov, who was being falsely promoted in the Western media as a "closet liberal" with a liking for the music of Glenn Miller. Mr. Andropov, who had directed the KGB (the Soviet secret police) for 15 years, had taken power after the death of longtime Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev in November 1982. The Soviets seemed to be winning the Cold War, despite an increasingly futile war in Afghanistan.

On March 8, 1983, U.S. President Ronald Reagan addressed the National Association of Evangelicals at their convention at the Sheraton Twin Towers Hotel in Orlando, Florida.



The speech was printed in the Orlando Sentinel, March 9, 1983:

There are a great many God-fearing, dedicated, noble men and women in public life, present company included.

And yes, we need your help to keep us ever mindful of the ideas and principles that brought us into the public arena in the first place.

The basis of those ideas and principles is a commitment that itself is grounded in the much deeper realization that freedom prospers only where the blessings of God are avidly sought and humbly accepted...

...I want you to know that this administration is motivated by a political philosophy that sees the greatness of America in you, her people, and in your families, churches, neighborhoods, communities--the institutions that foster and nourish values like concern for others and repsect for the rule of law under God.

Now I don't have to tell you that this puts us in opposition to, or at least out of step with, a prevailing attitude of many who have turned to a modern-day secularism, discarding the tried and time-tested values upon which our value civilization is based.

No matter how well intentioned, their value system is radically different from that of most Americans.

And, while they proclaim they are freeing us from superstitions of the past, they have taken upon themselves the job of superintending us by government rule and regulation.

Sometimes their voices are louder than ours, but they are not yet a majority.
An example of that vocal superiority is evident in a controversy now going on in Washington.

Since I'm involved, I've been waiting to hear from the parents of young America.
How far are they willing to go in giving to government their prerogatives as parents?
Let me state the case as briefly and simply as I can.

An organization of citizens sincerely motivated and deeply concerned about the increase in illegitimate births and abortions involving girls well below the age of consent some time ago established clinics nationwide to offer help to these girls and hopefull alleviate this situation.

Now again let me say, I do not fault their intent.

However, in their well-intentioned effort, these clinics have decided to provide advice and birth-control drugs to underage girls without the knowledge of their parents.

For some years now, the federal government has helped with funds to subsidize these clinics. In providing for this, the Congress decreed that every effort would be made to maximize parental participation.

Nevertheless, the drugs and devices are prescribed without getting parental consent or giving notification.

Girls termed "sexually active"--and that has replaced the word "promiscuous"--are given this help in order to prevent illegitimate birth or abortion.

We have ordered clinics receiving federal funds to notify their parents such help has been given...

...I've watched TV panel shows discuss this issue, sen columnists pontificating on our error but no one seems to mention morality as playing a part in th esubject of sex.

Is all of Judeo-Christian tradition wrong?

Are we to believe that something so sacred can be looked upon as a purely physical thing with no potential for emotional and psychological harm?

And isn't it the parents' right to give counsel and advice to keep their children from making mistakes that may affect their entire lives?

Many of us in government would like to know what parents think about this intrusion in their family by government. We are going to fight in the courts. The right of parents and the rights of family take precedence over those of Washington-based bureaucrats and engineers...

...I just happen to believe the school children of the United States are entitled to the same privileges as Supreme Court justices and congressmen.

Last year, I sent the Congress a constitutional amendment to restore prayer to public schools.

Already this session, there's growing bipartisan support for the amendment and I'm calling on the Congress to act speedily to pass it, to let our children pray.

Perhaps some of you read recently about the Lubbock school case where a judge actually ruled that it was unconstitutional for a school district to give equal treatment to religious and non-religious students' groups, even when the group meetings were held during the students' own time.

The First Amendment never intended to require government to discriminate against religious speech...

...More than a decade ago, a Supreme Court decision literally wiped off the books of 50 states statutes protecting the rights of unborn children. "Abortion on demand" now takes the lies of up to 1 1/2 million unborn children a year.

Human life legislation ending this tragedy will someday pass the Congress--and you and I must never rest until it does.

Unless and unitl it can be proven that the unborn child is not a living entity, then its right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness must be protected.

You may remember that when abortion on demand began many, and indeed, I'm sure many of you warned, that the practice would lead to a decline in respect for human life, that the philosophical premises used to justify abortion on demand would ultimately be used to justify other attacks on the sacredness of human life, infanticide or mercy killing.

Tragically enough, those warnings proved all too true: Only last year a court permitted the death by starvation of a handicapped infant.

I have directed the Health and Human Services Department to make clear to every health care facility in the United States that the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 protects all handicapped persons against discrimination based on handicaps, including infants.

And we have taken the further step of requiring that each and every recipient of federal funds who provides health care services to infants must post and keep posted in a conspicuous place a notice stating that "discriminatory failure to feed and care for handicapped infants in this facility is prohibited by federal law."...

...I urge the Congress to begin hearings and to adopt legislation that will protect the right of life to all children, including the disabled or handicapped...

...There is a great spiritual awakening in America, a renewal of the traditional values that have been the bedrock of America's goodness and greatness.

One recent survey by a Washington-based research council concluded that Americans were far more religious than the people of other nations; 95 per cent of those surveyed expressed a belief in God and a huge majority believed the Ten Commandments had real meaning in their lives.

And another study had found tat an overwhelming majority of Americans disapprove of adultery, teen-age sex, pornography, abortion and hard drugs. And this same study showed a deep reverence for the importance of family and of religious belief.

I think the items we have discussed here today must be a key part of the nation's political agenda.

For the first time the Congress is openly and seriously debating and dealing with prayer and abortion issues--and that's enormous progress right there.

I repeat: America is in the midst of a spiritual awakening and a moral renewal and with your biblical keynote, I say today "Yes, let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream."...

...But we must never forget that no government schemes are going to perfect man; we know that living in this world means dealing with what philosophers would call the phenomenology of evil or, as theologians would put it, the doctrine of sin.

There is sin and evil in the world, and we are enjoined by scripture and the Lord Jesus to oppose it with all our might.

Our nation, too, has a legacy of evil with which it must deal.

The glory of this land has been its capacity for transcending the moral evils of our past...
...There is no room for racism, anti-semitism or other forms of ethnic and racial hatred in this country...

The commandment given us is clear and simple: "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."

But whatever sad episodes exist in our past, any objective observer must hold a positive view of American history, a history that has been the story of hopes fulfilled and dreams made into reality.

Especially in this century, America has kept alight the torch of freedom--not just for ourselves but for millions of othes around the world.

And this brings me to my final point today.

During my first press conference as president, in answer to a direct question, I pointed out that as good Marxist-Leninists the Soviet leaders have openly and publicly declared that the only morality they recognize is that which will further their cause, which is world revolution.

I think I should point out, I was only quoting Lenin, their guiding spirit, who said in 1920 that they repudiate all morailty that proceeds from supernatural ideas--or ideas that are outside class conceptions; morality is entirely subordinate to the interests of class war; and everything is moral that is necessary for the annihilation of the old exploiting social order and for uniting the proletariat.

I think the refusal of many influential people to accept this elementary fact of Soviet doctrine illustrates a historical reluctance to see totalitiarian powers for what they are.

We saw this phenomenon in the 1930s; we see it too often today.

This does not mean we should isolate ourselves and refuse to seek an understanding with them.

I intend to do everything I can to persuade them that it was the West that refused to use its nuclear monopoly in the forties and fifties for territorial gain and which now proposes 50-per cent cuts in strategic ballistic missiles and the elimination of an entire class of land-based, intermediate-range nuclear missiles.

At the same time, however, they must be made to understand we will never compromise our principles and standards.

We will never give away our freedom.

We will never abandon our belief in God. And we will never stop searching for a genuine peace, but we can assure none of these things America stands for through the so-called nuclear freeze solutions proposed by some. The truth is that a freeze now would be a very dangerous fraud, fo that is merely the illusion of peace. The reality is that we must find peace through strength.

I would agree to a freeze if only we could freeze the Soviets' global desires. A freeze at current levels of weapons woul remove any incentive for the Soviets to negotiate seriously in Geneva and virtually end our chances to achieve the major arms reductions which we have proposed.

Insted they would achieve their objectives through the freeze. A freeze would reward the Soviet Union for its enormous and unparalleled military buildup.

It would prevent the essential and long overdue modernization of United States and allies defenses and would leave but aging forces increasingly vulnerable. And an honest freeze would require extensive prior negotiations on the systems and numbers to be limited and on the measures to ensure effective verification and compliance. And the kind of freeze that has been suggested would be virtually impossible to verify.

Such a major effort would divert us completely from our current negotiations on achieving substantial reductions.

A number of years ago, I heard a young father, a very prominent man in the entertainment world, addressing a tremendous gathering in California.

It was during the time of the Cold War when Communism and our own way of life were very much on people's minds. He was speaking on that subject.

Suddenly, I heard him saying, "I love my little girls more than anything"--and I said to myself, "Oh, no, don't. You can't. Don't say that."

But I had underestimated him. He went on: "I would rather see my little girls die now, still believing in God, than have them grow up under Communism and one die no longer believing in God."

There were thousands of young people in that audience.

They came to their feet with shouts of joy.

They had instantly recognized the profound truth in what he had said with regard to the physical and the soul and what was truly important.

Yes, let us pray for the salvation of those who live in that totalitarian darkness--pray they will discover the joy of knowing God.

But until they do, let us be aware that while they preach the supremacy of the state, declare its omnipotence over individual man, and predict its eventual domination of all peoples of the Earth--they are the focus of evil in the modern world.

It was C.S. Lewis who, in his unforgettable Screwtape Letters, wrote:

"The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid 'dens of crime' that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labor camps. In those we see its final results. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clear, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices."

Because these "quiet men" do not "raise their voices," because they sometimes speak in soothing tones of brotherhood and peace, because, like other dictators before them, they are always making "their final terrirotial demand," some would have us accept them at their word and accommodate ourselves to their aggressive impulses.

But, if history teaches anything, it teaches: Simple-minded appeasement or wishful thinking about our adversaries is folly--it means the betrayal of our past, the squandering of our freedom.

So I urge you to speak out against those who would place the United States in a position of military and moral inferiority. You know, I have always believed that old Screwtape reserves his best efforts for those of you in the church.

So in your discussions of the nuclear freeze proposals, I urge you to beware the temptation of pride--the temptation blithely to declare yourselves above it all and label both sides equally at fault, to ignore the facts of history and the aggresive impulses of an evil empire, to simply call the arms race a giant misunderstanding and thereby remove yourself from the struggle between right and wrong, good and evil.

I ask you to resist the attempts of those who would have you withhold your support for our efforts, this administration's efforts to keep America strong and free, while we negotiate real and verifiable reductions in the world's nuclear arsenals and one day, with God's help, their total elimination.

While America's military strength is important, let me add here that I have always maintained that the struggle now going on for the world will never be decided by bombs or rockets, by armies or military might.

The real crisis we face today is a spiritual one; at root, it is a test of moral will and faith.

Whittaker Chambers, the man whose own religious conversion made him a witness to one of the terrible traumas of our age, the Hiss-Chambers case, wrote that the crisis of the Western world exists to the degree in which the West is indifferent to God, the degree to which it collaborates in communism's attempt to make man stand alone without God.

And then he said, "For Marxism-Leninism is actually the second oldest faith, first proclaimed in the Garden of Eden with the words of temptation: 'Ye shall be as gods.'
"The Western world can answer this challenge," he wrote, "but only provided that it faith in God and the freedom He enjoins is as great as communism's faith in man."

I believe we shall rise to this challenge; I believe that communism is another sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages are even now being written.

I believe this because the source of our strength in the quest for human freedom is not material but spiritual, and, because it knows no limitation, it must terrify and ultimately triumph over those who would enslave their fellow man.

For in the words of Isaiah:

"He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increased strength...But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary..."

Yes, change your world. One of our Founding Fathers, Thomas Paine, said, "We have it within our power to begin the world over again." We can do it doing together what no one church could do by itself. God bless you and thank you very much.
I don't agree with Mr. Reagan's call to change the world (and his citing of the anti-Christian Thomas Paine in support of this), and I think he was overly optimistic in his belief that a spiritual awakening was taking place (and too generous in his views of the intentions of his opponents), but the passage of time has vindicated his comments and policies on the Soviet Union. Mr. Reagan mentioned his desire to eliminate intermediate-range nuclear missiles, and he achieved that when he and Mikhail Gorbachev signed the INF treaty in December 1987. I liked his speech when I first read it in 1983, and I like it now, with the exceptions just mentioned.

Unfortunately, some of the evils mentioned by Mr. Reagan--especially abortion--are still with us.

When news of Mr. Reagan's speech reached dissidents in the U.S.S.R., they were thrilled and encouraged that at last there was an American president who was willing to recognize and tell the truth about the Soviet Union. On March 9, The Soviet press agency TASS rebuked Mr. Reagan for his "bellicose, lunatic anticommunism." The reaction from some so-called "evangelicals" in the United States was similar to that of TASS, as reported by Charles Austin in The New York Times, March 10, 1983:

Officials of the National Association of Evangelicals said yesterday that evangelical Christians meeting in Orlando, Fla., this week were too divided on the question of a nuclear freeze to pass a resolution on the topic, despite President Reagan's strongly worded speech to the group.

And some evangelical theologians said they agreed with more liberal Christians who contended that the President's speech distorted Christianity to serve political goals.

No resolution on proposals to halt the development, testing, and production of nuclear weapons went before the 1,100 registrants at the association's annual convention that ended Thursday because, according to Arthur E. Gay, its president, there was too vast a range of opinion within the group. A resolution may be developed by next year, association officials said.

Those attending the meeting did take part in a two-hour debate on the subject of a nuclear freeze. But that discussion took place after the main business session of the four-day convention were completed, so that the 1,000 delegates were unable to act on specific proposals...

...In general, [Mr. Reagan's] speech was well received by the evangelical delegates, who interrupted often with applause and accorded the President a standing ovation.
But his remarks on the Russians and the nuclear freeze later drew sharp criticism from more liberal church leaders and from a spokesman for Evangelicals for Social Action, a group of conservative Christians that endorses nuclear freeze proposals.

In the last year some conservative Christians, including the evangelist Billy Graham and Senator Mark O. Hatfield, the Oregon Republican, have spoken out in favor of a reduction of nuclear weaponry.

Robert Dugan, head of the Washington office of the National Association of Evangelicals, said he believed that about one-fourth of the evangelicals who had formed an opinion on the nuclear freeze would disagree with the President.

Two days after Mr. Reagan's speech, Dr. Ronald J. Sider of Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary debated the nuclear freeze at the Orlando gathering with Dr. Harold O. Brown of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois.
Dr. Brown said nuclear pacifists who would rather be "Red than dead" are not following the teachings of Christ. "The Christian can never accept the contention that physical death is so great an evil that anything else is preferable to it," he said.

Dr. Sider, who heads Evangelicals for Social Action, said evangelicals could not ignore the issue forever since it was the "greatest moral question of our time." He later described the debate, which was followed by an open forum, as "very open and friendly" and said support for nuclear disarmament was growing among evangelicals.

In a telephone interview, Dr. Sider was critical of Mr. Reagan's speech to the conservative Christians. "It is intolerable to suggest that good citizens in favor of a freeze are duped by the K.G.B. or by Satan," the Baptist theologian said, describing as "heretical" the idea of "some kind of special divine connection between God and the United States," a view he ascribed to Mr. Reagan.

By Friday, several church leaders had criticized the President's speech not only for the policies it advocated but also for the theological justification for those views. Much of this criticism focused on Mr. Reagan's characterization of the Soviet Union as the "focus of evil" and his use of language some consider sectarian and divisive.

"The American people need to realize that we and the Russians, if not one in love, are at least one in sin," said the Rev. Dr. William Sloane Coffin, senior minister at Riverside Church in New York, who said national self-righteousness was an obstacle to peace.

He and Dr. Donald W. Shriver Jr., president of Union Theological Seminary, said at a news conference Friday that they believed the President, who has also been critical of the pastoral letter on nuclear arms being prepared by the nation's Roman Catholic bishops, was engaged in a "calculated effort to undermine the human and moral leadership of the religious community in this country."

Several American Jewish leaders also charged that Mr. Reagan wanted to bend religious concepts to partisan politics. "The President has no right to stigmatize those who disagree with his brand of 'civil religion' as succumbing to the temptation of pride," said Rabbi Walter S. Wurzburger, president of the Synagogue Council of America
I think Mr. Reagan's critics would have a good point in questioning the propriety of a Christian organization inviting a political leader to address them and seek their support for his agenda. However, I noticed that Ronald Reagan's liberal critics didn't consistently follow this policy when Bill Clinton was President of the United States. Ron Sider's friend and colleague Tony Campolo boasted of his closeness to Mr. Clinton (not close enough to be aware of his sexual sins, however, according to Mr. Campolo), and was often seen in his company.

It should be noted that what is now Eastern University, home of Ron Sider and Tony Campolo, is associated with the American Baptist Churches, formerly the Northern Baptist Convention. These are liberal Baptist churches, affiliated with the "usual suspects":

The American Baptist Churches will remain in the National and World Councils of Churches. By an overwhelming vote of 160 to 5 with one abstention, the General Board of the ABC made this decision at its December 1988 meeting where it also voted to become an "official observer" in the National Association of Evangelicals. The latter step was undoubtedly taken in an effort to placate those few ABC churches which have called for the ABC to withdraw from the NCC and WCC, but the fact remains that any Christian who retains membership in an American Baptist Church is related to support the apostate ecumenical movement. God days, "Come out!" Foundation, January-February 1989, p. 25

I think it's questionable to label Billy Graham and Mark Hatfield as "conservative," and it's ludicrous to apply that label to Evangelicals for Social Action, a more accurate name for which would be Evangelicals/Liberals for Socialism. As for Ron Sider, I've never believed that he's a Christian. He boasted about his participation in the "Witness for Peace" program that supported the Marxist Sandanista government of Nicaragua and opposed the Reagan administration's policies on Nicaragua. The Sandanistas persecuted Christians--see the book Breaking Faith by Humberto Belli, published in 1985--which Dr. Sider admitted, but it didn't seem to bother him too much, leading this blogger to wonder just whose side he was on. "One may always question the sincerity of those who advocate policies that go counter to their avowed values." (Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction, 1983, p. 83).

The July 15, 1983 issue of Christianity Today covered a conference in Pasadena, California sponsored by Fuller Theological Seminary, the NAE, and 39 other evangelical organizations on the theme "The Churchand Peacemaking in the Nuclear Age." According to the article:

He believes the U.S. should embark on a fundamentally different path. That new path is civilian based defense. He proposes that the U.S. channel money now being spent on nuclear arms into a massive program to educate its citizens in the methods of non-violent, non-cooperative self-defense--principles espoused by Gandhi...

...Sider, who identifies Soviet totalitarianism as a "ghastly evil," believes that if the U.S. would disarm, the Soviets would almost surely invade and thousands would likely be tortured and killed. But, he says, "If hundreds of thousands of committed, praying Christians died in a [non-violent campaign], I predict we would see the most rapid expansion of the Christian faith the world has ever known.
The people of not only the United States but those in the late Soviet Union and the rest of the world should be grateful that the American government implemented the policies of Ronald Reagan in the 1980s rather than the policies of Ronald Sider.
Thomas Dixon, this blogger's favourite politically-incorrect author, wrote a novel titled The Fall of a Nation (1916), in which the United States is invaded as the result of a conspiracy by the old European monarchies. There's a character in the novel named Plato Barker who bears an amazing resemblance to Ron Sider:

His last proposition was evidently his favourite. He dropped his voice to low persuasive tones:

"Even supppose the unthinkable thing could happen. Suppose that some misguided nation in an hour of madness should send a hundred thousand soldiers across three thousand miles of sea and attempt to invade this country--what then? This country, mark you, peopled by a nation of vastly superior numbers, equal intelligence, mechanical genius and political organization--"

He paused and thundered:

"What would happen?

"Those hundred thousand invading soldiers would never see their old homes again--"
Tremendous cheers rent the air.

"And what's more, dear friends, they would never desire to see their homes again. We would march out to meet them with smiles and flowers. We would bid them welcome to our shores. We would give to them the freedom of our city and greet them as brethren!" (p. 46)

How vain this Socialist symbol of the common red blood that pulses from every human breast! How pitifully tragic their failure in the hour when the war summoned the world to the national colors. The red flag faded from the sky. It was all talk--all wind--all fustian--all bombast--all theory. Men don't die for academic theories. Men don't die for what they believe. And yet these American Socialists were as busy with their parrot talk as if nothing had happened in the world since that fatal day in July, 1914, when old things passed away and all things became new. (p. 47)
Later, after the United States has been invaded and captured by the armed forces of the European monarchies, the pacifist appeaser Plato Barker is one of the first people imprisoned by the invaders:

The Honorable Plato Barker, for reasons deemed sufficient by the Governor-General, was placed in the United States penitentiary at Albany. In spite of his mania for peace, Waldron thoroughly mistrusted him. His passion for oratorical leadership he knew to be insatiate. What fool scheme he might advocate in secret could not be guessed. In vain Barker offered to take the iron-clad Imperial oath. Waldron was deaf to all entreaties even when the petition was borne to him by the officer of the army who had captured the silver-tongued leader and made hima scullion. Villard, the Commanding General, had allowed Barker to deliver Sunday lectures to his soldiers on harmless themes of Chautauqua fame. The Commander had grown to like the orator as a harmless sort of court jester. He was particularly fond of his illustrations and jokes. He declared that Barker had missed his calling--he should have been an evangelist or a clown. (p. 330)

Supreme Court of Canada, in Saskatchewan (Human Rights Commission) v. Whatcott, moves to limit freedom of speech

The first two sections of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms state:

1. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
(a) freedom of conscience and religion;
(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of
the press and other media of communication;
(c) freedom of assembly; and
(d) freedom of association.


In the early 1980s, when Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau was trying to force a charter of rights on the Canadian people, there were a few voices in the wilderness, including this blogger, who predicted that our freedoms would be diminished instead of enhanced, and that the only people who would end up with any rights would be criminals, perverts, deadbeats, and malcontents.

Former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, whose government enacted the Canadian Bill of Rights in 1960, opposed the charter, and said that he didn't think that Canadians could be fooled into thinking they would be getting rights under the charter that they didn't already have. Unfortunately, Mr. Diefenbaker, who died in 1979, overestimated the intelligence of the Canadian people. It should be noted that Mr. Diefenbaker created a Bill of Rights rather than a Charter of Rights because he believed in Canada's legal system based on British common law, and believed in the supremacy of Parliament in deciding such issues, instead of putting rights into the Constitution, which would result in the courts being the arbiters of these issues. The Diefenbaker Canada Centre at the University of Saskatchewan has a virtual exhibit on the Canadian Bill of Rights, which the reader may want to explore. I particularly recommend the column by Guy Kroft from about 1960 arguing against the necessity for a bill of rights using reasoning similar to that used 20 years later in arguing against the necessity for a charter of rights. To read the documents from this virtual gallery, no one at the time (1958-1960) seemed to anticipate the creation of human rights commissions or activist courts that would distort the law in order to impose their own agenda for society.

The prevailing view among the "experts" in the early 1980s was that judges would never abuse their powers and use the charter to impose their own views. However, since the Charter became part of the Constitution Act on April 17, 1982, I've seen my fundamental freedoms mentioned in section 2 of the charter eroded, especially "conscience and religion"--the first two mentioned--while human rights commissions and some courts have invented non-existent rights out of whole cloth, and used "hate crimes" laws to prosecute those whose opinions are currenlty unfashionable. In recent years, the fundamental freedoms of conscience and religion, which are written in the charter, have tended to be trumped by non-existent freedoms such as "freedom to practice and promote a homosexual lifestyle" and "freedom not to be offended or to have one's feelings hurt." My friend Ezra Levant, who has experienced firsthand the human rights Gestapo in Alberta, has written an excellent book about this, titled Shakedown (2009).

On February 27, 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada issued its decision in the case of Saskatchewan (Human Rights Commission) v. Whatcott (go here to see the full text of the Court's ruling), a case involving leaflets criticizing homosexual practices that were prepared and distributed by a Christian activist in Saskatoon named Bill Whatcott, who claims to have been involved in homosexual activity before coming to Christ.

I've seen some of the printed matter that Mr. Whatcott distributes, and, although I agree with his opposition to abortion and homosexuality, I don't like his approach, and I find his leaflets offensive. I'm skeptical of the ability of Mr. Whatcott's leaflets to win anyone to the Lord Jesus Christ, but they've been effective in attracting attention to Bill Whatcott. I believe, however, that Mr. Whatcott has a right to be offensive. When he ran for mayor of Edmonton in 2007, he had no chance of winning, but I voted for him, just to thumb my nose at the forces of political correctness. He placed 6th of 9 candidates, receiving 1,665 votes (1.11%), so he "missed it by that much" (and the fact that I voted for him makes me a "one-percenter").

The usually politically-correct Toronto newspaper The Globe and Mail offered an editorial on February 28, 2013 that was critical of the Supreme Court decision for setting a "dangerously vague standard on which to be limiting free speech," while columnist John Ibbitson, on February 28, 2013, pointed out how the ruling highlights a difference between Canada and the United States:

Many journalists – including the editorial board of this newspaper – and free-speech advocates were disappointed by the decision, arguing (among other things) that the definition of hate is vague, subjective, and free-speech chilling.

Most provinces have no statutes banning hate speech in their human rights codes. A federal law is about to be repealed, thanks to a private member’s bill supported by the Harper government.

Still, the fact that such laws can exist, if legislatures choose to pass them, marks Canada as a very different place than the nation next door, where First Amendment rights are sacrosanct.

The ruling affirms that Canadians “are more concerned with equality and social harmony than our neighbours to the south,” said Prof. Ryder. “A broad, libertarian interpretation of our Charter rights doesn’t have as much purchase here.”
The National Post, a newspaper based in Toronto, has provided excellent analyses of the Supreme Court's ruling. As reported by Joseph Brean, February 27, 2013:

Canada’s human rights hate speech laws are a constitutionally valid limit on freedom of expression, the Supreme Court has unanimously ruled in a landmark judgment.

The judgment in the case of William Whatcott of Saskatchewan reaffirms the Canadian approach to hate speech, that it can be limited by law to address the problem of hate speech, unlike the American approach, in which speech cannot be limited except in the most extreme circumstances.

In upholding a definition of hatred first crafted by the Supreme Court in 1991, the current justices ruled that the hate speech section of Saskatchewan’s Human Rights Code addresses a pressing and substantial issue, and is proportional to its objective of “tackling causes of discriminatory activity to reduce the harmful effects and social costs of discrimination.”

The court struck out some strange language in the law, which bans speech that “ridicules, belittles or otherwise affronts the dignity of” identifiable groups — language that the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission said was already ignored in practice.

But it upheld the controversial legal concept of speech that is “likely to expose” certain groups to hatred...

...The judges reinstated Mr. Whatcott’s conviction by a hate speech tribunal in the case of two anti-gay fliers he distributed, but overturned it in the case of two others.
National Post columnist Andrew Coyne provided his analysis of the Whatcott ruling on February 27, 2013:

The very first line in the Supreme Court’s calamitous decision in the case of Saskatchewan (Human Rights Commission) v. Whatcott gives a clue to where it is going. “All rights guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” it declares, “are subject to reasonable limitations.”

This is a legal truism, but as always it is as important what the Court did not say. It did not choose to begin a ruling on an important freedom of speech case with a ringing affirmation of the importance of free speech, or what an extraordinary thing it is to place restrictions upon it.

Indeed, in its haste to get on with the limiting, it did not even pause to properly quote the section of the Charter that grants the state such authority. The Charter “guarantees” the rights set out in it, Section 1 declares, “subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.” The limits don’t just have to be reasonable. They have to be “demonstrably justified.”
Another columnist, Jonathan Kay (who, I believe, is not a Christian), noticed the effect the Whatcott ruling will have on the ability of Christians to express their views. As he stated on February 27, 2013:

...A better judgment would have been one that entirely took censorship out of the hands of human-rights commissions — which tend to be staffed by former activists instead of qualified judges; do not respect the ordinary legal rules of due process; and regularly stack the deck in favour of complainants, who (perversely) are offered cash bounties as rewards for their identity-politics grievances ($17,500 in the Whatcott case, for instance). Canada already has a federal hate speech law, after all: Section 319 of the Criminal Code, which is narrowly tailored, and contains safeguards against frivolous prosecutions. To the extent Canada needs any hate-speech censorship regime at all, Section 319 does just fine.

But given the mania for censorship sweeping many other developed nations, especially in Europe, the Supreme Court judgment in Whatcott was far from a worst-case scenario. It signals that political correctness has its limits in Canada. As the Court stated: “Representations belittling a minority group or attacking its dignity through jokes, ridicule or insults may be hurtful and offensive. However … offensive ideas are not sufficient to ground a justification for infringing on freedom of expression.”

(In this respect, the Supreme Court’s language echoed that of an important 2012 Alberta Court of Appeal decision, which upheld the right of Red Deer, Alta. pastor Stephen Boissoin to excoriate the “homosexual machine” and “militant homosexual agenda” in the pages of a local newspaper. “Matters of morality, including the perceived morality of certain types of sexual behavior, are topics for discussion in the public forum,” properly concluded Mr. Justice Clinton O’Brien in that case. “Freedom of speech does not just protect polite speech.”)

The complication is that millions of Canadians do see homosexual behaviour in...fire-and-brimstone terms, even if the rest of us (myself included) do not. They include not only many religious Christians such as Mr. Whatcott, but also many religious Muslims and Jews. And there is no sugar-coating the fact that — despite its claim to be “balancing” the rights of all concerned — the Court effectively has privileged the protection of gay Canadians over the right of religious Christians to promote what they view as the established, Biblical take on homosexuality.
The paragraph in which Justice O'Brien's statement is cited reads:

Matters of morality, including the perceived morality of certain types of sexual behaviour, are topics for discussion in the public forum. Frequently, expression on these topics arises from deep seated religious conviction , and is not always temperate. It is unfortunate when some choose to express their opinions in a crude and offensive manner, but sincerely held convictions sometimes give rise to extreme polemical speech. Freedom of speech does not just protect polite speech. Further, in my view, some latitude should be given to those who do not have the educational advantage of being able to communicate their message in more sophisticated language. Indeed, a message in sophisticated language may be capable of greater harm, as listeners may give it more credence than a message delivered in coarse and crude language.
Rex Murphy offered his views in his National Post column of March 2, 2013:

...You can say what you like in Canada — to yourself, in a low voice. According to our Supreme Court, free speech is secondary to the right not to feel offended.

I join with Andrew Coyne...in expressing bewilderment at one particular statement from this week’s decision in the case of Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission v. Whatcott — the one where the Justices write: “truth may be used for widely disparate ends.” What an eerie caution.

The court wants to make sure that disreputable forms of truth can’t serve to get Canadians off the hook for hate speech.

After all, truth is such a wily, insidious, sly concept. Allowing Canadians to use it any way they please … why, that way lies anarchy and uncomfortable dinner tables...

...There have been, in recent decades, any number of commentators pointing out the follies and failings of our human rights commissions and tribunals. In rendering their judgment on Whatcott — which arose from the machinations of this same human-rights industry — could not the Justices have offered some view on the often outrageous manner by which this industry operates?

The Court was silent on the manner by which human rights tribunals stack the deck in favour of the offendee against the alleged offendor. The victim-complainant is given all manner of succor and support from bureaucrats. The “offending” party, on the other hand, is left to bear the time and burdens of hearings and rulings. Often, he must go out and get a lawyer, at his own expense...

...Where are the voices of Messers. Harper, Mulcair or Trudeau on so fundamental an issue as freedom of speech? None has the courage to grasp the nettle on this.

It is a remarkable shame that freedom of speech and freedom of religion are being trimmed and sliced, cut down and made secondary to transient fashions. Meanwhile, our leaders — while brave on petty things — keep long silence on matters that are at the centre of how we have governed ourselves for generations.
Finally, George Jonas offered a historical persepctive in his National Post column of March 2, 2013:

...it seems ethnic jokes aren’t being outlawed. Well, thank God for small mercies. I never much liked ethnic jokes, but then I never looked at them as the symbolic remnants of what used to be a fundamental freedom...

...When I stepped ashore in the last days of December, 1956, same-sex practices between men were against the law...It was in the spring of 1969 that Pierre Trudeau’s Bill C-150, the amendment to decriminalize homosexual acts, which Trudeau introduced as Justice Minister in 1967, received its third reading in Parliament...Back then, the liberal position was that homosexuality wasn’t a sin but an illness, and while making a sin a crime was one thing, making an illness a crime was like recommending jail for someone with gallstones. Those who defended the status quo made frequent references to Sodom, and Trudeau, who coined the phrase about the state having no business in the nation’s bedrooms, was described correspondingly as a Sodomite.

Human Rights Commissions, had they existed back then, could have had a field day prosecuting participants on both sides of the debate. Some of the arguments used to push for decriminalization were as politically incorrect as the moral and religious injunctions offered for retention. (Imagine a “progressive” debater arguing that those seeking libidinal congress with their own, rather than with the opposite sex, aren’t bad people, only crazy. Chances are he’d be on the wrong side of the Supreme Court’s hate-speech line before he could say “Bill Whatcott.”)