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The PJ Tatler

Why Would the United Methodist Church Want to Remove a Popular Pastor?

Monday, April 27th, 2015 - by Chris Queen

Still Waters United Methodist Church occupies an idyllic location in a beautiful neighborhood in Atlanta. The church has been in existence for about 15 years and has had one pastor leading the congregation — Dr. Carole Hulslander. The members of Still Waters have built the church literally with their own hands, giving both money and sweat equity to the congregation they love.

Dr. Hulslander and her husband love and care for their parishioners, and the pastor preaches the Bible to this multicultural congregation. The church members would have no reason to believe that their beloved leader’s position would be in jeopardy. But all of that changed one Sunday this past March.

Two weeks before Easter, the District Superintendent showed up with a new pastor. When the Chair of the Pastor-Parish Relations Committee refused to allow a service that Sunday morning, because the District had violated the church’s Book of Church Discipline, the congregation retreated to their fellowship hall to sing and pray. The new pastor came in and began berating one of the members of the congregation. The new pastor demanded keys be handed over. When others intervened to calm the situation, the new pastor told the congregation to ‘f*ck off’.” The lion that would separate the sheep from their shepherd now paces around the walls of this church.

What would be the reason for such drastic measures? Dr. Hulslander’s outspoken support for traditional marriage is to blame, according to the pastor.

But after Dr. Hulslander signed a “Unity and Integrity” statement calling on the United Methodist Church to maintain its standards of Biblical integrity with regard to marriage, the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church sought to remove her.

The culture war has arrived at the door of Still Waters United Methodist Church.

The congregation has dug in their heels, unwavering in their support for Dr. Hulslander. As a result, Still Waters may lose its building and property. But the physical building is a small price to pay to these people as they stand firm in their convictions and their attempts to be the church that Jesus Christ called them to be. The church has started a GoFundMe account to help them in their fight. Share this story to help get the word out.

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African Christians Vow to Move On in the Face of Persecution

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015 - by Chris Queen

Three months after a brutal attack at the hands of a Muslim mob, Christians in the west African nation of Niger have vowed to rebuild and move on.

Ten people lost their lives and hundreds were injured when Muslim mobs went on the deadly rampage in early January.

[...]

It happened January 17, just 10 days after two Muslim terrorists stormed the offices of French magazine Charlie Hebdo, executing 12 people for publishing satirical images of the Islam’s Prophet Mohammed.

About 3,600 miles away in Niger, Muslims, angered by the cartoons, attacked the country’s Christians in revenge.

“We spent years building the church,” [Pastor Musa] Issa told CBN News while standing in the ruins of his church. “Within minutes it was all gone!”

And it wasn’t just Pastor Issa’s church. Mobs also destroyed Boureima Kimso’s church.

“Sixty-nine churches and 11 homes were destroyed. That’s a total of 80 Christian buildings within a few hours,” Kimso said.

In one town, a single Christian church remains standing, and the militants ransacked a Christian school. Officials have yet to arrest or prosecute a single person for the attacks.

Local Muslim officials deny any wrongdoing and have even claimed that Christians orchestrated the attacks, even though the militants wrote pro-Islamic messages on walls and blackboards in the school.

“Islam is a religion of tolerance and peace,” Boubacar Seydou, of the Islamic Association of Niger, said. “In Islam, we are not familiar with such acts of violence!”

[...]

“Muslims did not take part in these attacks. Sure, there were many Muslims protesting the cartoons, but no one pushed them to attack churches. I’m sure if we arrested some of those involved in the church burnings you’d discover that in fact Christians were among those taking part in the violence!” Seydou said.

Pastor Zakaria Jadi, whose church and home were among those destroyed, says it is ludicrous to claim Christians were involved.

“The mob kept chanting over and over in Arabic ‘God is great!’ God is great’ as they robbed and burned my home. I’ve lived with Muslims all my life. I know a Muslim when he stands in front of me!” Jadi said.

The government of Niger is working with these churches to help them figure out how to rebuild, and the pastors are preaching a message of forgiveness and preparing for revival.

“The Lord is training us; He’s building us. There cannot be increase without hardships. If you want to go to the next level you have to go through hardship,” Jadi said.

Image courtesy of Fox News

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Remembering Mark Harding, the man “sentenced to Islam” before 9/11

Monday, April 20th, 2015 - by Kathy Shaidle
Mark Harding and friend. (Photo: Blogwrath)

Mark Harding and friend. (Photo: Blogwrath)

Tonight I’ll be attending a memorial service for Toronto pastor Mark Harding.

A friend remembers:

Let me just say now that what shortened his life and caused his untimely death was his passion to help others. He was one of the first Christian ministers to see the threat of the militant Islam. He didn’t hate Muslims – he saw them as misguided souls in a need of help to get out of their trap. Some of them loved him back and appreciated his efforts, others, and they were the majority, hated him and did everything in their power to destroy him. In 1997, through the efforts of the Muslim fanatics, he was convicted for “hate speech” over criticizing Islam

As his “community service,” Harding was sentenced to study the Koran for over 300 days.

I’m not kidding.

Here’s Ezra Levant with Harding’s story, and a conversation with the man himself:

YouTube Preview Image

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Egyptian TV Host Begs Netanyahu to Bomb Iran

Monday, April 13th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Via IMRA:

“Our dear friend Netanyahu. Please – Iran faces you and the Bushehr reactor faces you. Put your trust in God and bomb it. We are with you. And if you need fuel for the jets we will give it to you.”

Those were the words of Egyptian television presenter Tawfik Okasha, owner of the private television station Al-Faraeen. Okasha notedly despises both Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. He openly advocates Arab tourism to Israel on his television station. Okasha is not the only Egyptian television host to speak out in support of Netanyahu.

Yet, Okasha’s support for Israel may be convoluted at best. A “staunch supporter” of Egypt’s ruling military council, Okasha has also accused the Obama administration of rigging previous Egyptian elections in favor of Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi, “as part of a plot to seize Egyptian oil fields and turn them over to Israel.” His conspiracy theory-esque logic has earned him the dubious title of Egypt’s “Glenn Beck.”

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Did Jesus Go to Hell? Damn Right He Did

Friday, April 10th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh
One in the eye for Satan

The Harrowing: One in the eye for Satan

Here’s the relevant passage from the Apostles’ Creed:

… conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; he descended into hell; on the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty…

(Scriptural adumbrations and references can be found here.)

In recent years, the Descent into Hell has gradually been ameliorated or even eliminated from the Creed, although it’s right there in the Latin: descendit ad inferos. But what does it mean? A challenging piece in Religion Dispatches tackles the subject head-on:

It was Saturday that Jesus Christ went to Hell.” This is one phrase that Christians, whether mainline or evangelical, Catholic or Protestant, will likely not hear from the pulpit this week. And yet the story of Christ’s descent to the underworld has deep roots in tradition.

The fourth century Apostle’s Creed tells us that following his crucifixion, but before his resurrection, Jesus “descended to the dead.” The Athanasian Creed of at least a century later is more explicit, Christ “descended into hell.” Depending on context and translation Jesus either journeyed to Sheol, Hades, or Hell. But allowing for differences in language Christianity held—and technically still holds as a central tenet—the view that Jesus spent the gap between his death and resurrection “harrowing” Hell, that is journeying to the underworld to liberate the imprisoned souls of the Hebrew patriarchs who had been imprisoned there since their deaths.

Contemporary congregations will often translate “hell” into a more palatable “death” or “the grave.” There is something unseemly in the idea of Jesus among the murders, rapists, fornicators and heretics of Hell. And yet it was central to Christological accounts of salvation for two millennia that God Himself be present in the lowest rung of creation to justify redemption for all mankind.

Holy Saturday was a day in which God was not in His heaven, but rather in his Hell.

To me, this is one of the most overlooked tenets of the Christian faith, so I have treated it at some length in my forthcoming book, The Devil’s Pleasure Palace, out this summer from my PJ Media colleague Roger Kimball’s Encounter Books. A teaser:

The phrase “descended into Hell” has become so controversial within Christianity that is often now dropped from the prayer. It has been interpreted to mean that Christ did not literally descend into Hell on the Saturday after the Crucifixion, that is, into Satan’s abode, but rather dwelled among the dead, those deprived of the Light, there to give witness to the Good News of the imminent Resurrection. Augustine taught that Christ actually went to Hell, but he expressed puzzlement over the implication of his belief; Aquinas wrote that Christ visited both Purgatory (where the souls confined there would eventually be saved) and Hell itself, to shame unbelievers (which seems a bit of an un-Christ-like victory lap).

In more recent cultural history, we have a parallel in the most influential work of art of the nineteenth century: Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen… In the Ring—which employs Nordic saga as semi-Christian allegory; at the end of his life, Wagner embraced Christianity explicitly in Parsifal and apparently was bruiting an opera about Christ himself when he died in Venice in 1883—Wotan brings about his own God-crisis, first by his brazen theft of the Rhine Gold and then via his concupiscence. Like the priapic gods of Greek and Roman myth, he has gotten himself into trouble by heedlessly fathering the long-separated Wälsung twins, Siegmund and Sieglinde. 

But Christ is a greater hero than Siegfried, and a greater God than Wotan; not only does he face the most horrible and agonizing of deaths, but he ventures into the lair of Death itself and (unlike Wotan) destroys it. Death’s eradication might take a while—it might take from here to Eternity—but it has been done, and one can only imagine the consternation of the demons as they watched the Principal Enemy enter into their own kingdom and slay Death itself.  “And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven,” says Jesus to the disciples in Luke 10:18-19. “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy.”

You can pre-order the book on Amazon here.

 

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This Poll About Gays and Evangelical Christians Might Just Change How You Think About This Whole Debate

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

download (42)

Which group do you think is more popular in the United States — evangelical Christians or gay people?

 

According to a recent poll conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner for the Human Rights Campaign, gay and lesbian people are now more popular than evangelical Christians.

The survey of 1000 likely 2016 voters nationwide asked respondents about their feelings toward gay and lesbian people and evangelical Christians. Fifty-three percent said they had favorable feelings toward gays and lesbians (up 13 points from 2011) while only 42% felt the same way about evangelical Christians. When it came to unfavorable feelings, only 18% claimed to have them toward gays and lesbians while 28% feel that way about evangelical Christians.

We’ve been told that the LGBT community is a minority in need of special legal rights and protections, but as this group continues to gain acceptance and win legal battles nationwide, another group — evangelical Christians — is finding itself increasingly marginalized and discriminated against. Now that the LGBT community is winning the nation’s popularity contest (and Christians are losing) maybe we ought to rethink who the real powerbrokers are in this country.

download (41)

 

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Halal or Haram? Turkey Fatwa Weighs in on Toilet Paper

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

Turkey’s Diyanet, or Directorate of Religious Affairs, issued a fatwa on the use of toilet paper, according to Hurriyet Daily News.

The verdict? It’s permissible if you need it, but haram if water is your first option for lavatory cleansing.

“If water cannot be found for cleansing, other cleaning materials can be used. Even though some sources deem paper to be unsuitable as a cleaning material, as it is an apparatus for writing, there is no problem in using toilet paper,” the statement said in part.

Some manufacturers have marketed halal toilet paper in Muslim regions, as noted in this recent Malaysian op-ed:

The other day, I went to a store to get a packet of toilet paper and was shocked to read “Halal, recognised by Jakim Malaysia” on its packaging.

Wow, even toilet paper is certified halal nowadays!

What’s next? Halal tampons and condoms?

As a Muslim myself, I understand the sensitivity of Muslims regarding halal products. Yes, we want to ensure foods and products we consume are prepared and cooked in accordance to Islamic rules and regulations.

…At times I feel we are taking this halal thingy a little bit too far.

I remember going to a Halal Expo a couple of years ago. I was pretty interested in one of the booths at the expo, promoting real estate.

“Halal Homes.”

I was amused and had to ask the consultant at the booth what it meant to have a halal home.

“A housing area which is built on halal land, using quality products and situated in a good location, far from haram activities such as factories producing haram goods and pig farms” – that’s more or less how he described it to me.

According to him, a halal certificate will be issued to the house buyers to certify the home is halal.

The global market for halal products is $547 billion a year, according to writer Fa Abdul.

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At Prayer Breakfast, Obama Reflects on ‘Less Than Loving Expressions by Christians’

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

With an apparent reference to his critics, President Obama quipped at this morning’s Easter prayer breakfast about less-than-Christian things he hears.

“On Easter, I do reflect on the fact that as a Christian, I am supposed to love. And I have to say that sometimes when I listen to less than loving expressions by Christians, I get concerned. But that’s a topic for another day,” Obama said, prompting laughter and applause from the audience.

“Where there is injustice — I was about to veer off. I’m pulling it back,” he quipped. “Where there is injustice we defend the oppressed. Where there is disagreement, we treat each other with compassion and respect. Where there are differences, we find strength in our common humanity, knowing that we are all children of God.”

Obama was introduced by Vice President Biden, who said “we live our faith when we nurture the hope and possibilities that have always defined us as a country.”

“And that’s why I’ve been so honored to work every single day for the last six-plus years with a man who encompasses that faith to his core,” Biden said. “A man who knows what it is to enter into the mystery with a deep and unyielding conviction that it’s within each of our reach to make real the promise of the ongoing miracle that is the United States of America.”

Obama thanked the audience for their prayers “particularly at a time when my daughters are starting to grow up and starting to go on college visits.”

“We hold this Easter Prayer Breakfast every year to take a moment from our hectic lives for some fellowship, friendship, prayer and reflection. I know pastors here have had a very busy Holy Week, and so for you to travel here and take the time to spend with us is extraordinary after what I know is difficult. I can’t say that our work during this season is comparable, but you should try dealing with thousands of people in your backyard on an Easter egg roll,” he quipped about yesterday’s White House event.

“I am no preacher. I can’t tell anything to this crowd about Easter that you don’t already know,” the president said. “For me, the celebration of Easter puts our earthly concerns into perspective. With humility and with awe, we give thanks to the extraordinary sacrifice of Jesus Christ, our Savior. We reflect on the brutal pain that He suffered, the scorn that He absorbed, the sins that He bore, this extraordinary gift of salvation that He gave to us. And we try, as best we can, to comprehend the darkness that He endured so that we might receive God’s light.”

Obama quoted Pope Francis: “He says that we should strive ‘to see the Lord in every excluded person who is thirsty, hungry, naked; to see the Lord present even in those who have lost their faith… imprisoned, sick, unemployed, persecuted; to see the Lord in the leper — whether in body or soul — who encounters discrimination.’”

“Isn’t that how Jesus lived? Isn’t that how He loved? Embracing those who were different; serving the marginalized; humbling Himself to the last,” Obama said. “This is the example that we are called to follow — to love Him with all our hearts and mind and soul, and to love our neighbors — all of our neighbors — as ourselves. As it says in the first letter of John, ‘Let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.’”

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Want to Solve the Gay Marriage Issue? Get Rid of Voters Over 50

Monday, April 6th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Amy Walter, bigwig political analyst, has found the solution to the gay marriage issue in America: Pick up and move everyone over 50 out of the country. Especially if they’re evangelical Christians. “This is not an issue in which Republicans can win. …Even when you look at Evangelical younger folks, they have moved on on this issue.”

The Presbyterian Church USA has recently come out in favor of gay marriage, provoking the Christian Science Monitor to examine how younger Christians are redefining their faith against the backdrop of Biblical morality. While the majority of Evangelicals remain opposed to gay marriage, support for gay unions has increased by 20 percentage points in the most recent Pew Survey.

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When Jews Flee, Christians Become the Target

Saturday, April 4th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Israel National News reports on Israel’s UN Ambassador Ron Prosor’s latest speech to the United Nations Security Council regarding the grotesque mistreatment of Christians in the Islamic world:

Amb. Prosor began by explaining that these days, as the Jewish Passover approaches, there is a terrible new “exodus” that is plaguing the Middle East, one “driven by a plague of [Islamic] persecution aimed at Christians, Kurds, Yazidi, Bahai, and of course, the Jews.”

He related that after the Muslim countries murdered thousands of Jews and forced hundreds of thousands to leave the host Muslim countries, the Muslims had no one left to persecute. So, the “extremists have turned on the Christians.

At the turn of the twentieth century, Christians comprised 26% of the Middle East’s population. Today, that figure is less than 10%.” In ISIS-plagued Iraq, “Christians were given the grim choice of converting to Islam or face death by beheading, stoning or crucifixion. Fearing for their lives, tens of thousands of Christians have fled to northern Iraq and taken refuge in Kurdistan.”

Amb. Prosor stated on behalf of the Israel government that “The Kurds are the leading force in the fight against ISIS. They have shown tremendous courage and fortitude. The Kurds need the support of the international community and they deserve political independence.”

Prosor’s speech is a timely reminder that as both Jews and Christians sit down this weekend to celebrate freedom and tune into The Ten Commandments, redemption, like slavery, is as much a physical act as it is a spiritual one. Not only does it require a good, hard look at reality, it also demands the willingness to unify in order to cross the great divide.

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Is It Militant Atheists Who Run the New Canada?

Saturday, April 4th, 2015 - by Kathy Shaidle

lunney

 

What does it say to persecuted Christians who’ve fled to Canada as refugees, just to see their beliefs being trashed by militant atheists after they get here?

That’s one of the thought-provoking observations MP James Lunney made during this lengthy interview with Brian Lilley of TheRebel.media.

Lunney was a Conservative MP, but last week he changed his party affiliation to “independent” and stepped down from the Conservative caucus after being “caught up in a controversy over evolution.”

Lunney, who has degrees in zoology and chemistry, says all these insidious Twitter campaigns are an attempt to “trap social conservatives” and keep them out of politics and the public square.

He also explains that supporters of Darwin are often unable to explain their own views coherently, citing celebrity atheist Richard Dawkins who, while rejecting the idea of God, posited space aliens as a possible source of life on Earth (!?)

You won’t want to miss this wide-ranging interview, that’s gotten quite a bit of attention up north:

YouTube Preview Image

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Story About First Business to ‘Publicly Vow to Reject Gay Weddings’ Was Fabricated Out of Nothing

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015 - by Scott Ott

Memories Pizza - CLOSED - Walkerton, IN   Yelp

The Huffington Post headline screams:

Indiana’s Memories Pizza Reportedly Becomes First
Business To Reject Catering Gay Weddings

Memories Pizza is a nine-year-old shop in downtown Walkerton, Indiana, just a few blocks from John Glenn High School. It’s owned by an openly-Christian couple, the O’Connors, who decorate their shop with mementos of their faith in Christ. So how does a small business in a small town wind up making headlines around the world as the new avatar of Christian bigotry?

Perhaps, you say, they brought this upon themselves, seeking out publicity for their strict biblical views.

Eh…no.

Some cursory internet forensics shows how it happened…or rather, how it was made to happen.

ABC-57 reporter Alyssa Marino’s editor sends her on a half-hour drive southwest of their South Bend studio, to the small town of Walkerton (Pop. ~2,300). According to Alyssa’s own account on Twitter, she “just walked into their shop [Memories Pizza] and asked how they feel” about Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Owner Crystal O’Connor says she’s in favor of it, noting that while anyone can eat in her family restaurant, if the business were asked to cater a gay wedding, they would not do it. It conflicts with their biblical beliefs. Alyssa’s tweet mentions that the O’Connors have “never been asked to cater a same-sex wedding.”

What we have here is — as we called in journalism school jargon — “no story.” Nothing happened. Nothing was about to happen.

If I were forced to mark out a story line, it would be this: A nice lady in a small town tries to be helpful and polite to a lovely young reporter from “the big city.”

In other words, Memories Pizza didn’t blast out a news release. They didn’t contact the media, nor make a stink on Twitter or Facebook. They didn’t even post a sign in the window rejecting gay-wedding catering jobs. They merely answered questions from a novice reporter who strolled into their restaurant one day – who was sent on a mission by an irresponsible news organization.

Next: ABC-57 anchor Brian Dorman leads the evening newscast dramatically with this:

Only on ABC-57 News tonight. We went into small towns looking for reaction to the Religious Freedom Act. We found one business, just 20 miles away from a welcoming South Bend…with a very different view.

Alyssa Marino tweets how she got the Memories Pizza scoop

Alyssa Marino tweets the genesis
of the Memories Pizza scoop.

 

Notice that his city of South Bend is “welcoming,” but that small-town business is not. It’s very different. That’s why ABC-57 “went into small towns,” as if embarking on a safari to aboriginal lands.

Not only did ABC-57 News create that story ex nihilo (out of nothing), but the next day, the station’s Rosie Woods reported on the social-media backlash against the Christian pizza shop owners.

“Our Facebook page has been blowing up with comments after we aired that story last night,” said Woods.

At this point, even my old Leftist journalism professors would be grinding their teeth and rending their garments.

You see, not only did ABC-57 manufacture the story with an ambush interview, it then doubled-down by making the reaction to the story into another story to give the sense of momentum, as if it were growing at its own impetus. Yet, everything about it is a fabrication.

Memories Pizza didn’t “publicly vow to reject gay weddings” as HuffPo says it. The O’Connors were just, quite literally, minding their own business.

Back in the ABC-57 studio, Rosie Woods read three negative social media comments attacking the pizza shop owners, and then said, “And that’s just one side of this debate that’s heating up as more people and business owners speak up about the law.”

She then quotes one (1) person, the owner of another business, who agreed with the O’Connors. Seems that “just one side of this debate” deserves more attention than the other.

Buzzfeed's false headline about Memories Pizza

This false Buzzfeed headline has been seen hundreds of thousands of times.

The unnamed ABC-57 editor then sends another reporter door-to-door on Walkerton’s rather depressed-looking main drag, trying to get reactions from other business people about the pizza shop owners. And the story inexorably snowballs onward, with only man’s yearning for truth to propel it.

All of the blog traffic and social media activity led to about 36,000 Facebook shares at ABC57.com on the original Alyssa Marino story less than 24 hours after it aired.

BuzzFeed posted its own inaccurate headline, with the kicker: ”The Internet has unleashed its wrath.”

All of those eyeballs benefit the TV station, which sells advertising on its website. It also helps several young, minor-market reporters who hustled and stumbled their way into the national spotlight. But don’t blame them. Blame the editor.

Meanwhile, over at Yelp.com, more than a thousand “reviews” of Memories Pizza rapidly accumulated, quickly overwhelming the positive comments from actual customers who like the pizza, the hospitality and the small-town charm. Folks who never heard of Walkerton attacked Crystal O’Connor’s business, her morality and her Lord. Many of the remarks included racially charged descriptions of genitalia and sex acts. “Reviewers” also posted pictures of naked men, of Adolf Hitler shouting “Ich habe ein pizza” (I have a pizza), and of Jesus gesturing with his middle finger. Over on Facebook, the restaurant’s 5-star average rating rapidly plunged to one star, as non-customers slammed away at Crystal’s little business.

In Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, a manifesto of political power, Rule No. 12 says, in part:

Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)

The Left doesn’t care who gets hurt, so long as they get what they want. They’re willing — no, they’re eager — to sacrifice a small-town business, and it’s owners.

Lest you think I’m being too dramatic. Late Wednesday, word comes that Jess Dooley, a female coach at Concord High School 45 minutes away in Elkhart, has been suspended after tweeting:

Who’s going to Walkerton, IN to burn down #memoriespizza w me?

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Charges Dropped Against Street Preacher (Thanks to Canada’s ‘Rebels’)

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015 - by Kathy Shaidle

streetpreacher

Another win for Canadian free-speech hero Ezra Levant and his viewers at TheRebel.media.

Last year, Rev. David Lynn was fined by Toronto police for “busking without a license.”

The trouble is: He was preaching at Toronto’s lively Yonge & Dundas intersection, where actual musical buskers — and, not incidentally, Muslim proselytizers — generally make lots of noise unmolested.

Levant set up a fund to hire a lawyer for Lynn, and today news broke that the charges against him have been dropped.

It’s hard to say whether or not the preacher can be charged again, but for now, chalk up another win for the guy Instapundit calls “the Andrew Breitbart of Canada,” and the engaged, concerned citizens in TheRebel.media’s audience.

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Poll: Voters Confused on Religious Liberty

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015 - by Liz Sheld

Rasmussen has a new poll out today on the hot topic of religious liberty. Religious liberty is in the news because Governor Mike Pence of Indiana signed a bill into law that essentially prohibits the government from “substantially burdening” a citizen’s exercise of religion unless there is a “compelling” government interest.  Opponents of the bill charge that this will lead to discrimination against gays and lesbians because Christians can deny services or products to them claiming religious freedom as a “cover.”

This is not a new law, it’s been around for 20 years as a federal law and it was signed by Democrat President Bill Clinton. Other states, twenty to be exact, have similar laws to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act or RFRA. (Here’s a good piece to get you up to speed on RFRA, in case you haven’t been following the buzz.)

Needless to say, the messaging on both sides of the issue has led to some confusion among the electorate as is clearly seen in Rasmussen’s latest public opinion survey.

When asked: “A number of states have adopted or are considering laws that prohibit the government from forcing businesses to provide services they find objectionable on religious grounds. Do you favor or oppose a law in your state that would allow businesses to refuse service to customers for religious reasons?” 53% of voters oppose such a law.

And then we have this:

When asked: “Suppose a Christian wedding photographer has deeply held religious beliefs opposing same-sex marriage. If asked to work a same-sex wedding ceremony, should that wedding photographer have the right to say no?” 70% agree.

So, to recap,  53% oppose the RFRA law and 70% agree that a Christian should have to the right to refuse a service that violates his religious beliefs.

It’s possible that voters think people should have a “right,” but they don’t like the idea of a “law.” I’m not sure. One thing I suspect is that there has been such a media campaign against the RFRA that people don’t really understand the purpose of the law. They’ve been told the law is bad by the media. You can see this because there is a visceral negative reaction to the abstraction (the law) but then overwhelming support for the instantiation (the actual situation).

The issue of media bias is recognized by the electorate, as 51% say gay rights groups and the media make the laws sound more discriminatory than they really are. And still, we have that figure of 53% who oppose RFRA by people who acknowledge they are being misled.

Curious.

The national telephone survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted by Rasmussen Reports on March 30-31, 2015. The margin of sampling error for the survey is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.

 

 

 

 

 

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Indiana’s Governor Seeks Clarification on Religious Freedom Legislation

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015 - by Chris Queen

In the face of criticism from many areas of society, Indiana’s governor Mike Pence is seeking clarification on a religious freedom bill he signed into law last week.

Pence made the announcement Tuesday, acknowledging his state has a “perception problem” over the law designed to protect religious liberty.

Since Pence signed the bill into law last week, critics have hit the streets and social media saying it discriminates against gays and lesbians. The objections to the law stretch from the White House to Hollywood.

The governor has since been meeting with lawmakers to address those concerns. Pence is still defending the bill.

“I don’t believe for a minute that it was the intent of the General Assembly to create a license to discriminate. It certainly wasn’t my intent,” he said.

“I can appreciate that that’s become the perception, not just here in Indiana but all across the country. We need to confront that,” Pence added.

The law has drawn the ire of companies like Apple, and others have called for a boycott of the state. University of Connecticut basketball coach Kevin Ollie has said he will not attend the Final Four this weekend in Indianapolis over the law, despite the fact that his team is the reigning champion going into the tournament.

It has been customary for the winning coach from the previous season to appear at the Final Four, as well as the annual convention of the National Association of Basketball Coaches that coincides with the crowning of a new champion. Ollie had been scheduled to attend the coaching summit, which organizers said is expected to draw 3,500 people to Indiana’s capital city.

Nineteen other states have enacted similar laws, which echo a bipartisan bill signed into law by President Bill Clinton in the 1990s. Pence and other Republicans are quick to state that the intent of the law is not to discriminate, but to protect people of faith.

In Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal, Pence penned an op-ed saying the law is not a license to discriminate. Republican lawmakers in Indiana echoed that sentiment.

“What we hoped for with the bill was the message of inclusion — inclusion of all religious beliefs. What has come out was the message of exclusion and that was not the intent and hopefully not the effect,” state House Speaker Brian Bosma said.

Bosma said lawmakers are looking to clarify through legislation that the law does not discriminate.

Advocates for religious freedom have expressed concern that people of faith are vulnerable to attacks from the government. A similar measure has passed in Arkansas, while an initiative in Georgia looks not to pass this year.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock / PromesaArtStudio

 

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NY Times Shocking Revelation: Evangelical Rubes Risk Their Lives to Help Poor, Black Foreigners

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015 - by Scott Ott

In news that must have shocked the vast majority of New York Times subscribers, columnist Nicholas Kristof this week divulged that he has seen evangelical Christians doing selfless, crucial service in the world’s most dangerous places among the most desperately poor, even though liberals know evangelicals are religious bumpkins.

Today, among urban Americans and Europeans, “evangelical Christian” is sometimes a synonym for “rube.” In liberal circles, evangelicals constitute one of the few groups that it’s safe to mock openly.

Yet the liberal caricature of evangelicals is incomplete and unfair. I have little in common, politically or theologically, with evangelicals or, while I’m at it, conservative Roman Catholics. But I’ve been truly awed by those I’ve seen in so many remote places, combating illiteracy and warlords, famine and disease, humbly struggling to do the Lord’s work as they see it, and it is offensive to see good people derided.

Surprisingly, Kristof doesn’t urge readers to develop a more complete and fair caricature of such “rubes,” but actually suggests liberals pause and reflect “the next time you hear someone at a cocktail party mock evangelicals.”

As an evangelical Christian, I don’t get to as many cocktail parties as I used to, and I didn’t realize that folks at such parties mock people like me with enough frequency that a columnist for “the paper of record” feels duty-bound to deal with the subject.

Dr. Stephen Foster, serving as medical missionary in Lubango, Angola.I do, however, spend a lot of time with other Christians, and it is not an extraordinary thing at church to meet folks who have traveled the world on medical missions, provided food and clothing to those in need, or helped in a variety of other personal ways. It’s also not surprising in my church to see married couples who have adopted or foster-parented multiple children whose delightful faces reflect a rich palette of human hues. I know a Christian couple from a tiny midwestern town who had more the 60 foster children over the years. Last I heard, they were living in Oaxaca, Mexico, serving people in the name of Christ. I’ve known Christians who would quietly slip cash into the hand of a needy person at their moment of greatest need, or who would let a stranger use their vehicle or their spare bedroom for as long as necessary — or who would drop everything to drive hundreds of miles to help someone.

When it seemed I didn’t have a friend in the world — but I did have a case of bronchitis that was blooming into pneumonia — a pastor and his wife took me into their home, fed me, did my laundry and nursed me back to health, without being asked and without asking for anything.

As odd as it sounds to me to hear Kristof’s surprise at the love and grace I see around me daily — I don’t want the moment to pass without recognizing Nick for recognizing it.

I must say that a disproportionate share of the aid workers I’ve met in the wildest places over the years, long after anyone sensible had evacuated, have been evangelicals, nuns or priests.

Likewise, religious Americans donate more of their incomes to charity, and volunteer more hours, than the nonreligious, according to polls. In the United States and abroad, the safety net of soup kitchens, food pantries and women’s shelters depends heavily on religious donations and volunteers.

The brothers and sisters in Christ I described above don’t need praise from men, not even from impressive liberal columnists for the New York Times. They hear the applause of heaven, and feel the joy of Jesus as they work in the power of his Spirit.

Nevertheless, I think it’s good for the country, for Times readers and even for Nick, whenever anyone gets a glimpse at the absurdity of his own bigotry.

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Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Case Involving Worship in NYC Public Schools

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015 - by Chris Queen

On March 30, the Supreme Court declined to review a case involving which groups can meet after hours in New York City’s public schools. The Bronx Household of Faith, a small congregation, sued the city over its policy.

The city permits groups to rent school facilities for extended periods of time for “social, civic and recreational meetings and entertainment, and other uses pertaining to the welfare of the community.” There are few limitations on extended use, but one prohibits using school buildings for “religious worship services” or as a “house of worship.”

[...]

Lawyers for the Alliance Defending Freedom argued that excluding worship services from “a broadly available public forum” discriminates against religion. The church, which has outgrown its own building, needs more space for special occasions and the nearby public school is the only place large enough that they can afford.

The appeals court, however, said the reason the space is affordable is because of taxpayer subsidies, and the school board is taking reasonable precaution against liability for appearing to unconstitutionally advance a particular religion.

“The Free Exercise Clause does not entitle Bronx Household to a grant from the board of a subsidized place to hold religious worship services,” the appellate court ruled. Further, the court found no evidence the rule was “motivated by hostility to religion.”

Naturally, opponents of the policy have expressed their disdain, and they are appealing to an unlikely ally to assist them in their fight.

Fernando Cabrera, a council member and pastor leading opposition to the policy said he was “profoundly disappointed” that the Supreme Court won’t be hearing the case.

“We cannot ignore the immense contribution to society that religious organizations and institutions have made throughout our nation’s history and continue to make across the U.S. today,” he said in a statement.

“Churches meeting in New York City public schools for worship services have fed the poor and needy, assisted in rehabilitating drug addicts and gang members, helped rebuild marriages and families and provided for the disabled.”

The Alliance Defending Freedom called on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to use his power to revoke the policy. De Blasio said last year he opposes the policy and believes “that a faith organization playing by the same rules as any community nonprofit deserves access.”

What’s next for the Bronx Household of Faith and other churches? That of course remains to be seen, but if De Blasio intervenes, he may create an interesting alliance.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock / VICTOR TORRES

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I’m Only Going to Do Business in States That Support the First Amendment From Now On

Monday, March 30th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard
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This protest movement against Indiana’s Religious-Freedom Restoration Act has gotten completely out of hand. The outrage is based on lies, misinformation, and propaganda about things that are not even in the law.

Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote in a Washington Post editorial that the new law says “individuals can cite their personal religious beliefs to refuse service to a customer or resist a state nondiscrimination law.” That’s a complete fabrication and the Washington Post allowed him to get away with it.

You will not find one word in the law that allows someone to refuse service to a customer. All it says is that the government must show a compelling interest if it’s going to force people to violate their religious beliefs and if people believe the government has done so, they are allowed to raise religious liberty as a defense in a court case. That’s all. Not one word about gay lunch counters and no separate drinking fountains, despite the hyperbole comparing the RFRA to Jim Crow laws.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence told George Stephanopoulos on Sunday that an “avalanche of intolerance” has been poured out on his state and the media coverage has been “shameless and reckless.” To read media reports, half the country is boycotting the state, taking their business to neighboring states, half of which have practically the exact same law. Even the NBA weighed in, bothering fans who wanted nothing more than to enjoy a basketball game by self-righteously declaring that they’re not anything like those bigots in Indiana.

There is a powerful, vocal minority of activists in this country that despises the First Amendment. Oh, they like it just fine if it protects pornography or the rights of children to receive explicit sex instruction in schools, but if it’s speech they don’t agree with — like someone having a deeply held religious belief that homosexuality is sinful — it’s considered hate speech and it needs to be banned.  They don’t mind religious liberty if it means that native Americans can smoke peyote, but the minute that Hobby Lobby objects to paying for abortion pills, all bets are off. They don’t want tolerance, they want complete compliance with their moral hegemony.

 

 

In case you’re interested, here are the states with laws in place protecting religious liberty, in case you want to consult it when you’re deciding where to do business (from the Washington Post):

imrs

 

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The One Important Fact Every Media Report Left Out About That ‘Town That Banned Swearing’

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015 - by Kathy Shaidle

no-swearing

 

A week or so ago, everyone was having lots of Footloose-joke fun at the expense of Canada’s “The Town That Dreaded Curse Words”:

Taber, Alberta — population around 8,000 — has not only banned swearing, but “yelling and screaming” are now also against the law in the small community.

Serious questions came up, too, like whether the bylaw violated (admittedly comical) Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

But what nobody dared to report, until Maclean’s did just now, was just who all these anti-social miscreants were, the ones that necessitated the passing of such a wacky-sounding law in the first place.

Turns out, they’re young Mennonites.

Huh? That sounds like a bigger joke than the original story, right?

(“What kind of Buddhism is this, Otto?“)

But even Maclean’s buries the (other) lede until mid-way through their piece:

These troublemakers aren’t just Mennonites.

They’re Mexican Mennonites.

Who’ve brought with them their culture’s well-documented indifference to such uptight Anglo-Saxon values as prioritizing higher education; cooperating with one’s neighbors to maintain a safe, clean, quiet, civilized public square; and interacting with (surprisingly non-bribable!) authorities in a respectful, law-abiding fashion.

Victor Davis Hanson, please pick up the (off-) white courtesy phone.

And press #2 for Spanish.

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Shot by Cops After Yelling Nazi Slogans? Depends on the Color of Your Skin

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015 - by Kathy Shaidle
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Calgary Muslims shout “Heil Hitler” at pro-Israel demonstrators (August 2014, via BCBlue)

 

Over at TheRebel.media, Ezra Levant continues to follow the ongoing saga of the cops in his hometown — Calgary, Alberta — and what seems like their weird double standard when it comes to troublemakers who shout Nazi slogans in public.

Last year, a bunch of Muslims yelled “Heil Hitler!” at a pro-Israel rally. 

The cops stood by and did nothing, and I’d argue that that was the right response. Free speech, right?

But over the weekend, a decidedly Caucasian-looking dude shouted “White power!” at some “anti-racism” demonstrators.

A run-in with police followed — and he was shot.

This comes shortly after the perps at yet another incident in Calgary — a Muslim-led riot during which a Jewish family was attacked in broad daylight — were finally sentenced to… write essays as punishment!

Ezra squeezes a lot into this short video, including revelations as to just who was behind that rather arbitrary “anti-racism” rally:

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VIDEO: Ayaan Hirsi Ali Speaks Out in New Book ‘Heretic’

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Watch as the infamous activist, blacklisted by Brandeis University for her anti-Islam views, discusses her new book Heretic and the concept of reforming Islam. Martha Raddatz has no problem outing herself as a turncoat feminist, accusing Hirsi Ali, herself a survivor of female genital mutilation, of unfairly attacking Islam now that she has left the religion.

Raddatz and the pro-Islam Manalo Omar are also quick to gang up on Hirsi Ali when she highlights one of the many Qu’ranic calls for death to infidels currently being used to justify Sharia law and jihad, citing both “the Torah” and “the Bible” as containing violent verses. When Hirsi Ali replies by questioning where the Christians are who take these verses as literally as their Islamic counterparts, Raddatz changes her line of questioning without changing her politically correct tone.

“Doesn’t [your book] incite people to hate Muslims?” is Raddatz’s conclusion, not her query, proving once again that the West’s multiculturalist elite are the greatest threat to Islamic reform.

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Jindal: U.S. ‘Shouldn’t be Blindly Following Europe’ by Letting in Muslims Who Promote Sharia

Thursday, March 19th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said his proposal to restrict immigration of Muslims who promote sharia law isn’t religious discrimination but protecting the freedoms of all Americans.

Jindal, a potential 2016 candidate, recently said “we shouldn’t tolerate those who want to come and try to impose some variant or some version of Sharia law.”

Explaining his position last night on Fox, Jindal stressed “we don’t discriminate against anybody of any religion and certainly there are many Muslims that are proud patriotic Americans. That’s great.”

But, he added, “it’s also true there are radical Muslims, Muslims that want to treat women as second-class citizens.”

“There are those who want to use our freedoms to undermine the freedoms of others. It makes no sense to let those types of folks come into our country. It is just common sense. The question I’ll specifically ask for example is would I be for allowing ISIS members to come to America? Why would I want to allow people who want to kill Americans to come to America?” Jindal said.

“In America, we say you have the right to believe what you want as long as you’re not harming others. So as long as you’re not trying to limit the freedoms of other people, we believe in the right of freedom of self-expression, religious liberty, freedom of speech, freedom of association. You don’t have the right to come here and say for example that you think women should be treated as second-class citizens. You don’t have the right to say others don’t have the same freedoms we give to you.”

The governor stressed that “we shouldn’t be blindly following Europe where you have second- and third-generation immigrants that don’t assimilate, don’t integrate, don’t consider themselves parts of that society.”

“We’ve historically said you can’t come here in years past during the Cold war, if you come here to promote communism, if you’re coming here to undermine America’s foreign policy, if you’re supporting a group that’s an enemy of the United States,” Jindal said.

“…We don’t want people who are going to undermine freedoms of other people. If we don’t insist on that, we’re going to go the way of Europe. I think that’s a dangerous thing. Again, we believe in religious liberty, but it doesn’t mean you can use your freedoms to undermine the freedoms of other people.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations accused Jindal of fearmongering on the campaign trail.

“Do we want to protect our country from people who want to do us harm? Absolutely. But you look at criminal activity, not thought,” said CAIR official Corey Saylor. “It’s an unfortunate reality that some politicians will pick on minorities rather than offer solutions to the economic and real national security issues our country faces.”

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VIDEO: Sore Losers at CNN Dub Bibi ‘Racist’

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

What the Netanyahu election-day robo call actually said:

Voter turnout in the Arab sector is three times higher! The threat is real: Abu Mazen’s calls and American money are getting the Arab vote out. Go and vote.

Why it was a reiteration of the truth, not race-mongering:

After the V15 story broke, the Free Beacon reported on a “confidential strategy memo” sent out last December by Ameinu, the American wing of Israel’s Labor movement, soliciting funds for a “massive, non-partisan Get Out The Vote (GOTV) campaign” in Israel. Touting their American contacts “…with experience in similar recent operations, including the Obama presidential campaign,” the memo details a direct link between Ameinu and the organization tagged to operate the GOTV campaign, Givat Haviva, a recipient of State Department funding.

Ameinu claims it broke from the alliance with what eventually became V15 before the V15 campaign was formed, instead choosing to direct its non-partisan fundraising efforts specifically towards Israel’s Arab community who, while traditionally Left-leaning, were not necessarily registered with any particular party.

The post-election reality? The Joint List, a coalition of three Arab and one Arab-Jewish party “will be the third largest faction in the Knesset bringing with it formidable political power.” Something that does not reassure anonymous Israeli Christian Arabs who refused to vote for an Islamic party, along with more anonymous Israeli Arabs who “…feel uncomfortable voting for a party that has members who will do nothing to advance the rights of women and homosexuals.”

How the Leftist-funded and fueled “Anybody but Bibi” crowd is playing it:

Like Taylor Swift, no matter what tune they hum their lyrics remain the same.

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Northern Ireland Politician Demands Biden Apologize for ‘Disgraceful’ Orange Joke

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

Vice President Joe Biden isn’t getting St. Patrick’s Day cheer from Belfast after a joke he made during a holiday event this morning.

Biden welcomed Taoiseach Enda Kenny to the Naval Observatory for the annual Paddy’s Day breakfast, quipping “anyone wearing orange is not welcome in here” while posing for photos on the front porch. Biden then said he was joking.

Orange refers to the Protestants in Northern Ireland, who wear the signature color on marches through Catholic neighborhoods. Biden is Catholic.

At the breakfast featuring eggs, potatoes, and Irish soda bread, Biden later referenced the cross-party talks to resolve strife in Northern Ireland, saying “we need genius on all sides right now to lock this agreement down,” according to the White House pool report. “To finally, finally, finally again bring an end to this dark chapter.”

William McCrea, a Democratic Unionist Party member of Parliament, called on Biden to apologize.

“I don’t see it as humorous in the manner it was said. When Northern Ireland is making such an effort to make St Patrick’s Day an inclusive celebration, Joe Biden’s comments were disgraceful and careless,” McCrea said in a statement released by the DUP.

“Whether they were intended as a joke or not, the comments are a slur on those who would be known as ‘orange’ i.e. Protestants. This term is much wider than anyone who is a member of the Orange Order.  It has traditionally been used to define people from the Protestant faith,” he continued. “VP Biden should apologise for his remarks and take corrective action to prove in a practical way that people who are from a Protestant background are welcome in the White House. Undoubtedly if he had made such a remark about any other faith group there would be calls for his resignation.”

Biden has essentially, at one time or another, made remarks about everybody, including offending Jewish groups by calling money lenders “shylocks” last September.

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You Don’t Have to be Catholic to Benefit from Lent — So Suffer a Little For Your Own Good

Thursday, March 12th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

Don’t take it from me; take it from Arthur Brooks in the pages of, believe it or not, the New York TimesA life entirely devoted to the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain is a fool’s errand:

We don’t want to suffer — we hate it, in fact. Yet it is suffering that often brings personal improvement. Not all pain is beneficial, obviously. But researchers have consistently found that most survivors of illness and loss experience “post-traumatic growth.” Not only do many people find a greater emotional maturity after suffering; they are even better prepared to help others deal with their pain. That is why after a loss we turn for comfort to those who have endured a similar loss.

Sages throughout history have relished the enigma that pleasure is undefined without suffering. In the words of Carl Jung: “There are as many nights as days, and the one is just as long as the other in the year’s course. Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word ‘happy’ would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness.” The Tao Te Ching extends the metaphor: “Difficult and easy accomplish each other, long and short form each other, high and low distinguish each other.”

… in this season of Lent, hundreds of millions of Catholics are pondering their own inadequacies and inviting discomfort through abstinence and fasting. In a postmodern era, where death is taboo, pain is pointless, and sin is a cultural anachronism, what could be more rebellious?

But the spirit of these practices is open to everyone, religious or not. Think of it as a personal declaration of independence. The objective is not to cause yourself damage, but to accept the pain and fear that are a natural part of life, and to embrace them as a valuable source of lessons to learn and tests to pass.

A few years ago I attended Mass at St. Monica’s in Santa Monica, Calif., about as “welcoming” a parish as you can imagine. It happened to be the Sunday before Lent and the padre’s sermon was on the subject of the season fast approaching three days later. “Have a good Lent,” he told the congregation, an expression (coming from the Irish penitential wing of Catholicism as I do) I had never heard before. But, for the reasons Brooks points out above, it made a lot of sense. No pleasure without pain, no gain without loss. As the poet Milton wrote in the famous Areopagitica:

Good and evil we know in the field of this world grow up together almost inseparably; and the knowledge of good is so involved and interwoven with the knowledge of evil, and in so many cunning resemblances hardly to be discerned, that those confused seeds which were imposed upon Psyche as an incessant labour to cull out and sort asunder, were not more intermixed. It was from out the rind of one apple tasted that the knowledge of good and evil, as two twins cleaving together, leaped forth into the world. And perhaps this is that doom which Adam fell into of knowing good and evil, that is to say of knowing good by evil.

I’ll have a lot more to say on this subject in my forthcoming book, The Devil’s Pleasure Palace, out this summer from Encounter Books. I hope you will have a chance to read it.

 

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Drug Dealing Pastor Charged With Shooting Teen

Thursday, March 12th, 2015 - by Chris Queen

Hollywood loves to portray pastors and church leaders as men with dark secrets lurking behind their work for God, and sometimes a story comes along that fits that narrative. This week, a Boston pastor and school administrator shot a 17-year-old in the back of the head in an apparent dispute over the pastor’s drug dealing operation.

To the kids at Boston’s English High School, where the Rev. Shaun O. Harrison Sr. was considered the dean of students, the pastor and prominent antigang activist was known by the nickname that adorned his office door: “Rev.”

And that, police say, is how a 17-year-old student found bleeding from a bullet fired into the back of his head identified the man who shot him Tuesday.

“Rev,” police and prosecutors say, was leading a double life.

Arraigned in Roxbury District Court on Thursday, Harrison, 55, is accused of attempting to execute a student he had been mentoring at English, but was also allegedly selling marijuana as part of the pastor’s drug operation.

[...]

Through an attorney, Harrison denied the charges.

In court, Suffolk Assistant District Attorney David Bradley described the alleged attack as an “execution-style shooting” of a teen who survived despite being shot behind the ear.

The Boston Globe describes a scenario that reads like a movie plot featuring henchmen with matching tattoos doing the bidding of their dealer, a man who led anti-gang efforts within his community.

Naturally, news of Harrison’s arrest brought out a chorus of incredulity from people who served alongside the pastor.

“I was stunned beyond description,” Rev. Dr. Gregory Groover, pastor of the Charles Street AME Church where Harrison attended services, told Fox2Now. “He seemed to consistently care with a deep heart for saving young people who were in the streets or gang related, prison-involved. That was the population that his life seemed to center around.”

[...]

“It doesn’t sound like our Shaun,” Rev. Opal Adams, an associate pastor at the Roxbury church, told the Boston Globe. “It’s not the character of the man we knew.”

The school system released Harrison from his position at the school.

Image courtesy of the Boston Globe.

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Fox News: America Not a ‘Christian Nation’

Saturday, March 7th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

I’ll let you stop laughing… okay, now you can go ahead and read Peter Manseau’s opinion piece on the Fox News site:

Within the last few days, we’ve seen protestors holding crosses shout “go home!” at Muslims in front of the Oklahoma State Capitol, several Idaho state senators refuse to listen to a Hindu invocation, and new poll numbers suggesting that a majority of Republicans — 57 percent — “support establishing Christianity as the national religion.” In a year already filled with attacks and harassment of religious minorities across the country, the rise of such “Christian nation” rhetoric is troubling. But it’s not new.

No mere assessment of the religious affiliations of population, the argument that America was at its founding and remains a nation Christian in character has served as cover for a variety of racist and nativist sentiments for generations. It can be found in the writings of those who warned that Catholics threatened the nation’s “free institutions” and fanned the flames of a mob’s destruction of a New England convent in 1834, just as it can been seen decades later in newspaper reports warning that non-Christian Asian immigrants would cause the West Coast to be “swamped, inundated, despiritualized, and un-Americanized.”

The insistence that the United States is explicitly Christian arises from the assumption that a majority of citizens have been members of one church or another since the nation’s founding. Yet historians have estimated the number of American church-goers in 1776 to be only around 350,000 — less than a fifth of the population.

Okay, that’s enough. There’s always some wisenheimer intent on “proving” that black is really white, up is really down and in is really out, when you stop to think about it. It’s a kind of sophomoric lawyerism gone wild, the notion that “we could make the argument that,” no matter how risible. (Very akin to the obvious fraud of “man-made climate change,” in fact.)

Conveniently, Manseau ignores the difference between Protestant denominations and the establishment of a state religion. When Massachusetts and Connecticut established Congregationalism as their established churches, they weren’t choosing between Islam and Christianity, or even between Catholicism and Protestantism. The idea of an established religion was exclusively Protestant, and they were simply choosing among sects, which they called “religions.” Nor does “church-going” equate to being Christian; if it does, Barry Hussein is in big trouble.

Even as a matter of demographics, “Christian nation” raises questions. A large number of the people whom we now acknowledge as Americans often go uncounted when we look back at our country’s earliest days. More than a hundred thousand Native Americans, mostly unconverted before the Trail of Tears, were pushed beyond the borders of the United States with the Indian Removal Act of 1830.

That same year, the enslaved population numbered in the millions—in much of the South, they made up half the population. Given that only a tiny percentage of the enslaved were Christians when they arrived, early America likely included more men and women with connections to African beliefs than members of many Protestant denominations. What do these uncounted non-Christians do to the idea that America began as a “Christian nation”?

The answer is: absolutely nothing. Neither the Indians nor the black slaves of the period were citizens of the new nation. Blacks only became full citizens during Reconstruction, and the Indians were not given citizenship until 1924, under the Republican president Calvin Coolidge.

In the end, this piece of drivel turns out to be — surprise! — an apologia for Islam, as you’ll see on the next page…

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Israeli Court Rules to Allow Jewish Prayer on Temple Mount

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015 - by Chris Queen

An Israeli judge has reversed a police policy that barred Jews from praying on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.

Temple activists were euphoric Monday after a precedent-setting ruling by Magistrates’ Court Judge Malka Aviv in the case of Yehuda Glick vs. the Israeli Police, a day earlier. The judge ruled that the police “must make sure that Jews are able to pray on the Temple Mount” – in a ruling replete with harsh criticism of the police’s policies on the Temple Mount.

Activists were quoted on a Temple activists blog as saying: “This day will be remembered for generations in the annals of the struggle for the return of Jews to the Temple Mount.”

The police are legally bound “to ensure that Jews are able to pray on the Temple Mount, and not to act sweepingly to prevent Jews from praying on the Temple Mount,” the judge determined.

Attorneys for Rabbi Glick pointed out the historic nature of the ruling.

Attorney Aviad Visoly, who represented Glick said Tuesday that the verdict “has made prayer on the Temple Mount ‘kosher’. In essence, the court took the Supreme Court’s rulings about the Jews’ right to pray on the Temple Mount, and implemented them.”

“This is almost the first ruling – and certainly the most sweeping – in which the court implements the right of Jews to pray on the Temple Mount. From today, every Jew is allowed to pray on the Temple Mount. The prayer itself is not an offense.”

Prior police policies had barred Jewish prayer at the site for fears that such actions would spark Palestinian violence. Judge Aviv ruled the policy “arbitrary” and “without appropriate consideration” and awarded Glick roughly the equivalent of $125,000 in damages and $37,700 in legal fees.

The site is an important one in both Jewish and Christian history:

Temple Mount is considered to be one of the most important religious sites in the Old City of Jerusalem. Jews, Christians and Muslims all consider it sacred, making it one of the most contested sites in the world. Among Christians and Jews, there is some dispute as to whether it is the biblical Mount Moriah or Mount Zion.

According to Jewish tradition, it is the place where God’s presence is most manifested, and followers of rabbinic Judaism believe it to be the site where God gathered dust to create Adam.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock / Mikhail Markovskiy

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Feminists Fail to Notice Netanyahu’s Stand for Muslim Women

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Fast-forward to 19:12 (or better yet, just watch the whole thing).

In the world of contemporary feminist politics, criticism of Islam is off the table. Unless, of course, you’re a female Muslim in a Muslim-dominated country who desperately seeks reform. If you are, you’re stuck banging your head against the wall as your sisters in the West do everything to ignore you in pursuit of wage equality, sexual consent apps, and chronicling Lena Dunham’s latest hair adventure.

Most women who follow feminist media is sadly too drunk on the Kool Aid to realize that popular sites like Jezebel, Feministing, the Mary Sue, Everyday Feminism, and the Feminist Majority Foundation have all failed to comment on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s historic address to Congress. Their flagrant ignorance of the most important foreign policy issue of our time is inexcusable. The willful blind eye they continue to turn towards women oppressed by radical Islamic rule is unforgivable. In one simple, powerful sentence Netanyahu did what contemporary feminists in the West refuse to do:

In this deadly game of thrones, there’s no place for America or for Israel, no peace for Christians, Jews or Muslims who don’t share the Islamist medieval creed, no rights for women, no freedom for anyone.

His Game of Thrones mention received more attention than did the fact that Netanyahu equated “freedom for anyone” with “no rights for women.” There’s your meme. There’s your platform. There’s your unifying fact: If women are not free, no one is free. And yet here Western feminists remain embroiled in a heated debate over Patricia Arquette’s lack of “intersectionality“. There’s an age-old meme for that one, too: It’s the pot calling the kettle black.

In appearing before Congress today, Bibi Netanyahu did more for women oppressed by Islam than the feminist movement has on a worldwide scale. He joins a small but powerful group of real feminists including Nonie Darwish, Wafa Sultan, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali who are brave enough to use their western platforms to speak out on an issue vital to women across the globe. Israel’s Prime Minister ended his speech by quoting Moses: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them…“. It’s time contemporary feminists ask themselves what they are so afraid of.

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American Blogger Hacked to Death by Islamists in Bangladesh

Friday, February 27th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

A Bangladeshi-American secularist blogger who had received frequent threats from Islamists was hacked to death on a Dhaka street Thursday night.

Ansar al-Islam Bangladesh used its Twitter account to claim responsibility for the murder of Avijit Roy before its account, Ansar Bangla 7, was taken down.

“The target was an American citizen.. 2 in 1. #America recently martyred 2 of our brothers in #Khurasan & #Shaam. #Revenge+#Punishment,” read one of the tweets.

Roy is a dual U.S.-Bangladesh citizen who lived in Georgia and was in Bangladesh for a month, according to the Associated Press. He reportedly has a daughter currently attending school in the U.S. His wife, Rafida Ahmed Bonna, was with him at the time of the attack and was severely wounded, with one of her fingers severed by the pair of machete-wielding attackers.

Roy’s blog in the 90 percent Muslim country, mukto-mona.com, translates to “free thinking” and featured atheist, humanist and nationalist writers. He was also an author whose books included The Philosophy of Disbelief and The Virus of Faith — further stoking outrage of Islamists.

He and his wife had just left a book fair when they were attacked. Roy was struck in the head and died on the operating table at Dhaka Medical College and Hospital, Reporters Without Borders said.

“The measures so far taken have not led to the arrest and trial of the perpetrators and instigators of crimes of violence against journalists and bloggers. The police and judicial authorities need to focus on the right target,” Benjamin Ismaïl, head of the Reporters Without Borders Asia-Pacific desk, said. “It is unacceptable for them to spend so much time searching news outlets, arresting journalists, censoring news and investigating bloggers, when the many attacks on bloggers are still unpunished.”

State Department press secretary Jen Psaki opened Friday’s briefing with the attack and said the administration “condemns in the strongest terms the brutal murder of Avijit Roy, which was horrific in its brutality and cowardice.”

“Avijit was a journalist, a humanist, a husband, and a friend, and we extend our condolences to his family and friends. He was taken from us in a shocking act of violence,” Psaki said. “This was not just an attack against a person, but a cowardly assault on the universal principles enshrined in Bangladesh’s constitution and the country’s proud tradition of free intellectual and religious discourse.”

“…Clearly, we know his background, which was why I outlined it, but don’t have anything to ascribe in terms of a motive in this case.”

But Islamists targeting secularist bloggers is sadly nothing new in Bangladesh.

In 2013, they put out a call for bloggers deemed blasphemers to be murdered. In January 2013, blogger Asif Mohiuddin was stabbed by Islamists yet survived. On Feb. 15, 2013, Ahmed Rajib Haider, a blogger who also criticized Islamic fundamentalism, was hacked to death and no one was convicted in the attack.

Ansar al-Islam took credit for Haider’s slaying in a November Facebook post, and included Mohiuddin’s face on a hit list of future targets.

“We call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government to leave no stone unturned in investigating and prosecuting the attack on Avijit Roy and Rafida Ahmed Bonna,” Committee to Protect Journalists Asia Program Coordinator Bob Dietz said. “This attack is emblematic of the culture of impunity that pervades Bangladesh, where the lack of accountability in previous attacks on the press continues to spurn a deadly cycle of violence.”

Reporters Without Borders said 19 bloggers have been listed as targets on Islamist websites since the 2013 demonstrations.

Instead of going after the Islamists, the press-freedom group said, the Bangladeshi authorities began shutting down websites and arresting bloggers.

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Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh
"Minnesotans"

“Minnesotans”

Importing Somalis — among the most troubled and troublesome people in the world — to Minnesota, that is:

The State Department has helped to relocate tens of thousands of refugees from the war-torn African nation of Somalia to Minnesota, where they can take advantage of some of America’s most generous welfare and charity programs. But the effort is having the unintended consequence of creating an enclave of immigrants with high unemployment that is both stressing the state’s safety net and creating a rich pool of potential recruiting targets for Islamist terror groups.

In the fiscal year that ended in September, Minnesota welcomed 1,118 Somali refugees arriving directly from Africa, most of them without family ties to the state, according to State Department statistics. Overall, more than 30,000 Somalis live in the midwestern state comprising the nation’s largest concentration of Somali immigrants, according to U.S. Census data.

Many of the refugees settle near the Twin Cities, with Minneapolis being dubbed “Little Mogadishu” after the capital of Somalia. This population is also being targeted by Islamist terror organizations like the Islamic State and al-Shabab, a Somalia-based group with links to al Qaeda, according to U.S. officials.

Among Minnesota-based Somali-Americans, American converts to Islam or Somali refugees, there have been numerous convictions for various levels of collaboration with Islamist terror groups, plus reports of fighting with al-Shabab or other Islamist groups.

Who was it who said “the Constitution is not a suicide pact”? (Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson.) Neither is Christian charity. The Scandinavians of Minnesota will have as much opportunity to regret this as their cousins back home in Sweden and Norway do today.

On Sunday, al-Shabab made a propaganda video warning of an attack on shopping malls around the world, including the Mall of America in Minnesota. Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the terror attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Kenya two years ago, which left 67 dead.

“We have definitely seen targeted terror recruitment videos, videos aimed and targeted directly at the youth here in Minnesota primarily within the Somali community,” said Kyle Loven, an FBI spokesman in Minneapolis. “They’re going after disaffected youth — those who are isolated. We can’t get into specifics, but we’ve been involved in major investigations since 2007 and continue to be.”

Wow. Just wow.

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IMF Chair’s ‘Conspiracy Against Women Working’ as Effective as Obama’s Generic ‘Extremism’

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Lip Service

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde followed Obama’s trendsetting “War on Muslims” narrative, thus failing the cause of women’s equality across the globe. The Feminist Fail started out on the right track:

Nations should remove laws that prevent women from working in order to increase the female labour supply and boost their economies, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde has said.

“In too many countries, too many legal restrictions conspire against women to be economically active,” Lagarde wrote in a blog. “In a world in search of growth, women will help find it, if they face a level playing field instead of an insidious conspiracy.”

What exactly is this “insidious conspiracy” Lagarde is referring to? Don’t worry, she hasn’t taken the Patty Arquette pill, although she’s definitely drinking the Obama Kool Aid, because it’s all downhill from here:

But the IMF has to tread a careful line on this issue to avoid explicitly critiquing the laws in its 188 member countries, including states like Mali and Yemen, which have been among the worst performers on indices of gender equality.

Mali and Yemen, both Muslim-dominated states. Mali’s logo, “one people, one goal, one faith” is a contradiction in terms, at least when it comes to fostering economic growth, which is the only topic up for discussion on Lagarde’s watch:

The IMF has sought to couch its arguments in economic terms, saying in a previous study that having as many women in the labor force as men could boost economic growth by 5% in the United States, 9% in Japan and 34% in Egypt.

Note the radical climb in potential economic growth when the stats begin speaking to Muslim nations? Oops. Guess Lagarde’s staffers didn’t get the “War on Muslims” memo until after they prepared their findings, to which they quickly tacked on the following caveat:

“In recommending equal opportunities …this study does not intend to render a judgment of countries’ broadly accepted cultural and religious norms.”

Classy. Let’s talk about an obvious problem without directly drawing attention to it, since the problem is defended by radicalized terrorists. Is that called the White Elephant defense strategy?

 

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State Dept. on ISIS Kidnapping of Christians: ‘The Majority of Its Victims Have Been Muslims’

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

The State Department this evening responded to ISIS’ mass kidnapping of Christians in Syria by stressing that the terrorists harm all religious groups.

Estimates of the number of kidnapped Assyrians from villages near Tel Hmar have ranged from at least 90 to as high as 200. Thousands fled with no possessions as ISIS attacked in the early morning hours. Members of the ancient community speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus.

The Assyrian Human Rights Network said ISIS moved the hostages to the Abdul Aziz Mountains region, where they fear the terrorists will use the Christians as human shields against Kurdish fighters.

Said State Department press secretary Jen Psaki in a statement sent to reporters tonight:

The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms ISIL’s attacks yesterday on predominantly Assyrian Christian villages in the northeast Syrian province of Hasakeh, where they kidnapped dozens of civilians, including women, children, priests, and the elderly. Hundreds of other civilians remain trapped in villages surrounded by ISIL fighters, and clashes continue between ISIL and local forces defending their communities. ISIL burned and destroyed homes and churches, and the violence has reportedly displaced more than 3,000 people. We demand the immediate and unconditional release of the civilians taken captive yesterday and of all those held by ISIL.

ISIL’s latest targeting of a religious minority is only further testament to its brutal and inhumane treatment of all those who disagree with its divisive goals and toxic beliefs. ISIL continues to exact its evil upon innocents of all faiths, and the majority of its victims have been Muslims. People of all faiths and many religious leaders throughout the region have united in condemning ISIL’s depravity, including its mass killings, rape, sexual enslavement, lashing, stoning, crucifixion, torture, and public murders of hostages.

Earlier this month, ISIS was ordering Assyrians to remove crosses from their churches. About 600 families are now sheltering at the Cathedral of the Virgin Mary in Al-Hasakah, suffering from “a significant lack of blankets, water, food and heating fuel,” the Assyrian Human Rights Network said.

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Look Who’s Going to Jail

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

That would be the daughter of Barack Hussein Obama’s spiritual mentor and the man who “baptized” him into whichever variation of “Christianity” the president currently claims to adhere:

Jeri L. Wright, the daughter of President Barack Obama’s controversial former pastor, was headed to jail Monday after a judge revoked a deal that allowed her to remain free as she awaits sentencing on a money-laundering conviction.

U.S. District Judge Sue E. Myerscough ruled there was probable cause to believe Wright committed a separate theft while on bail, thereby violating terms of her supervised release, according to Sharon Paul, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in the Central District of Illinois. The judge ordered Wright, who appeared in court in Springfield, to be taken into custody by U.S. marshals.

Wright, 49, of Hazel Crest, is the daughter of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the Chicago minister known nationwide for the controversy his sermons created for Obama in the 2008 presidential election. Last March, Jeri Wright was found guilty of money-laundering, lying to federal investigators and lying to a grand jury over her role in a state grant-fraud scheme orchestrated by one of her childhood friends, former Country Club Hills Police Chief Regina Evans.

Prosecutors now say Wright was taking part in another scheme — this one involving ghost payrolling — even as she was standing trial.

“Money-laundering” and “lying” don’t sound very Christian to me, but what do I know, I’m Catholic. Really, you can’t make this stuff up.

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Iran’s Supreme Leader Claims That Religious Minorities Are Safe In His Country

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015 - by Chris Queen

Iran’s Supreme Leader Seyyed Ali Khamenei recently told a group of religious minority leaders in the country that they are safe and have always been under Iran’s watch.

Iran’s Supreme Leader, stated that based on Islamic teachings, followers of other religions should be treated with justice and fairness.

He went even further and added, “Muslims in Europe and America face death threats. There is a great propaganda campaign against them, and their places of worship are under constant attack.”

He claimed, “Such treatment of non-Muslims is nonexistent in the history of our Islamic regime. Even our hotheaded conservative youth do not allow themselves to attack a non-Muslim.”

Naturally, Khamenei’s statements hold no water whatsoever when stood up against the facts.

Such claims of tolerance of non-Islamic faiths by the Iranian Supreme Leader are made while a large number of religious minorities have been imprisoned and executed since the establishment of the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

Even religious minorities that are recognized in Iran’s constitution have been harassed, persecuted and marginalized since the early days of the Islamic Revolution, which has led to a mass migration of many religious minorities, especially Jews and Christians.

[...]

In 1979, when the Islamic Revolution took place, the Armenian-Iranian population was around 180 thousand. Comparing this number to the new census of the community, 60 percent of Armenian-Iranians have left the country. There has been a significant drop in the Iranian Jewish population as well.

Several United Nations special reports and resolutions have condemned the violation of Human Rights, especially the violation of the rights of religious minorities.

Also, Ahmad Shaheed, the UN’s Special Rapporteur for Iran, wrote in his report, “At least 307 religious minorities are being held in Iran’s prisons for their faith, including 136 Bahai’s, 19 Dervishes, 50 Christians, 90 Sunni Muslims, and two Zoroastrians.

In addition, Open Doors’ 2014 World Watch List ranked Iran among the ten countries where Christians are persecuted the most. Its 2013 list put Iran in the 9th spot, but in 2014 Iran was moved to the 7th spot.

Christians face persecution and death, while practitioners of the Baha’i faith lose all social rights and face execution. Sunni Muslims may not build their own mosques in Tehran.

There’s no word on what, if any, statistics and facts Khamenei attempted to use to back up his claims.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock / Bruce Stanfield

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