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[VIDEO] What’s the Fate of Iraq’s Christian Community? 

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Mollie Z. Hemingway: When Did Having Values Become a Bad Bad Thing?

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[VIDEO] The Third Jihad: Homeland and Global Terror

In episode 11 of The Third Jihad, Clarion Project looks at the rise of homeland and global terror in the wake of 9/11 and the growing threat, seemingly ignored at home and overseas.

A member of jihadist group Al-Nusra Front stands in a street of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on January 11, 2014. Fighting pitting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) against other rebel groups -- including Al-Nusra Front, which is also linked to Al-Qaeda but is seen as more moderate -- broke out in Syria last week. AFP PHOTO / BARAA AL-HALABI


[VIDEO] Reverend Resigns After Quran is Read in Christian Church 

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One of the Queen’s chaplains has resigned after criticising a Glasgow church for allowing a Koran reading during one of its services.

The Reverend Gavin Ashenden said he left his position in order to have more freedom of “speak out on behalf of the faith”.

“Because I think it a higher and more compelling duty to speak out on behalf of the faith, than to retain a public honour which precludes me doing so at this time, I resigned my post.”

In a blog post published on Sunday, he said: “After a conversation instigated by officials at Buckingham Palace, I decided the most honourable course of action was to resign.”

Mr Ashenden had criticised the reading of the Koran during an Epiphany service at St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow earlier this month in an attempt to improve interfaith relations in Glasgow.

A student read a segment relating to the birth of Jesus Christ in Arabic. Islam considers Christ to be a prophet but not the son of God.

Mr Ashenden, who has served as one of the Queen’s 34 chaplains for nine years, said the reading had caused “serious offence”. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] 90,000 Christians Killed for their Faith Last Year

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[VIDEO] J.D. Vance on Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of Family and Culture in Crisis 

Can someone from Appalachia become upwardly mobile? Is it a disadvantage to have a southern accent in American society? Charles Murray, the W.H. Brady Scholar at AEI, interviews author J.D. Vance about his experiences in leaving his “hillbilly” roots behind.

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[VIDEO] Hitler Wasn’t Christian Or Atheist But He Had A Religion

01 Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini during Hitler's 1938 state visit to Italy

 


Normandy Attack: Tomorrow’s Newspapers Today

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Source: #tomorrowspaperstoday hashtag on Twitter


Decapitated Churches in China’s Christian Heartland 

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Christianity is Stigmatized, Feared, and Marginalized, in China as well as in the United States, because the Idea that Rights are God-Given Undermines Government Authority.

SHUITOU, China — Ian Johnson reports: Along the valleys and mountains hugging the East China Sea, a Chinese government campaign to remove crosses from church spires has left the countryside looking as if a typhoon had raged down the coast, decapitating buildings at random.

In the town of Shuitou, workers used blowtorches to cut a 10-foot-high cross off the 120-foot steeple of the Salvation Church. It now lies in the churchyard, wrapped in a red shroud.

About 10 miles to the east, in Mabu township, riot police officers blocked parishioners from entering the grounds of the Dachang Church while workers erected scaffolding and sawed off the cross. In the nearby villages of Ximei, Aojiang, Shanmen and Tengqiao, crosses now lie toppled on rooftops or in yards, or buried like corpses.

On a four-day journey through this lush swath of China’s Zhejiang Province, I spoke with residents who described in new detail the breathtaking scale of an effort to remove Christianity’s most potent symbol from public view. Over the past two years, officials and residents said, the authorities have torn down crosses from 1,200 to 1,700 churches, sometimes after violent clashes with worshipers trying to stop them.

A Sunday service at a state-sanctioned church in Wenzhou in 2014. There are an estimated 60 million Christians in China. Credit Sim Chi Yin for The New York Times

A Sunday service at a state-sanctioned church in Wenzhou in 2014. There are an estimated 60 million Christians in China. Credit Sim Chi Yin for The New York Times

“It’s been very difficult to deal with,” said one church elder in Shuitou, who like others asked for anonymity in fear of retaliation by the authorities. “We can only get on our knees and pray.”

The campaign has been limited to Zhejiang Province, home to one of China’s largest and most vibrant Christian populations. But people familiar with the government’s deliberations say the removal of crosses here has set the stage for a new, nationwide effort to more strictly regulate spiritual life in China, reflecting the tighter control of society favored by President Xi Jinping.

[Read the full story here, at The New York Times]

In a major speech on religious policy last month, Mr. Xi urged the ruling Communist Party to “resolutely guard against overseas infiltrations via religious means,” and he warned that religions in China must “Sinicize,” or become Chinese. The instructions reflect the government’s longstanding fear that Christianity could undermine the party’s authority. Many human rights lawyers in China are Christians, and many dissidents have said they are influenced by the idea that rights are God-given.

In recent decades, the party had tolerated a religious renaissance in China, allowing most Chinese to worship as they chose and even encouraging the construction of churches, mosques and temples, despite regular crackdowns on unregistered congregations and banned spiritual groups such as Falun Gong.

Hundreds of millions of people have embraced the nation’s major faiths: Buddhism, Taoism, Islam and Christianity. There are now about 60 million Christians in China. Many attend churches registered with the government, but at least half worship in unregistered churches, often with local authorities looking the other way. Read the rest of this entry »


The End of Democracy in America

Tocqueville foresaw how it would come.

Myron Magnet writes: Alexis de Tocqueville was a more prophetic observer of American democracy than even his most ardent admirers appreciate. True, readers have seen clearly what makes his account of American exceptionalism so luminously accurate, and they have grasped the profundity of his critique of American democracy’s shortcomings. What they have missed is his startling clairvoyance about how democracy in America could evolve into what he called “democratic despotism.” That transformation has been in process for decades now, and reversing it is the principal political challenge of our own moment in history. It is implicitly, and should be explicitly, at the center of our upcoming presidential election.

“The man who properly understands his own self-interest has all the guidance he needs to act justly and honestly. They believe that every person is born with the faculty to govern himself and that no one has the right to force happiness on his fellow man.”

Readers don’t fully credit Tocqueville with being the seer he was for the same reason that, though volume 1 of Democracy in America set cash registers jingling as merrily as Santa’s sleigh bells at its 1835 publication, volume 2, five years later, met a much cooler reception. The falloff, I think, stems from the author’s failure to make plain a key step in his argument between the two tomes—an omission he righted two decades later with the publication of The Old Regime and the French Revolution in 1856. Reading the two books together makes Tocqueville’s argument—and its urgent timeliness—snap into focus with the clarity of revelation.

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“True, readers have seen clearly what makes his account of American exceptionalism so luminously accurate, and they have grasped the profundity of his critique of American democracy’s shortcomings. What they have missed is his startling clairvoyance about how democracy in America could evolve into what he called ‘democratic despotism.’”

What’s missing in volume 2 of Democracy is concrete, illustrative detail. Volume 1 mines nine months of indefatigable travel that began in May 1831 in Newport, Rhode Island—“an array of houses no bigger than chicken coops”—when the aristocratic French lawyer was still two months shy of his 26th birthday. Tocqueville’s epic journey extended from New York City through the virgin forests of Michigan to Lake Superior, from Montreal through New England, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee by coach, steamboat, and even on foot through snow-choked woods, until he and his traveling companion, Gustave de Beaumont, boarded a steamer for New Orleans.

“That transformation has been in process for decades now, and reversing it is the principal political challenge of our own moment in history. It is implicitly, and should be explicitly, at the center of our upcoming presidential election.”

From there, they crossed the Carolinas into Virginia, visited Washington, and returned to New York to embark for home with a trunkful of notes and American histories. Tocqueville had watched both houses of Congress in action and interviewed 200-odd people, ranging from President Andrew Jackson, ex-president John Quincy Adams, Secretary of State Edward Livingston, Senator Daniel Webster, Supreme Court Justice John McLean, and future chief justice Salmon Chase to Sam Houston, a band of Choctaw Indians, and “the last of the Iroquois: they begged for alms.”

[Read the full story here, at City Journal]

Only by the time The Old Regime came out, though, three years before Tocqueville’s untimely death from tuberculosis at 53 in 1859, had he amassed the wealth of practical political experience needed to flesh out the argument of Democracy in America’s second volume. After three terms in the Chamber of Deputies during Louis Philippe’s bourgeois monarchy, he had served in the Constituent Assembly following the 1848 revolution, helping to write the Second Republic’s constitution and serving as foreign minister, until president Louis Napoleon made himself emperor. He had researched The Old Regime by reading mountains of official reports and correspondence from the 1750s onward in the archives, chiefly of Tours and Paris. All this allowed him to document what had 51mOL73ChuL._SL250_been inspired but mostly theoretical speculation in volume 2 of Democracy in America.

[Order Alexis de Tocqueville’s masterpiece “Democracy in America” from Amazon.com]

Tocqueville didn’t go to America out of blind democratic enthusiasm. “It is very difficult to decide whether democracy governs better, or aristocracy,” he mused: but the question is merely academic, because anyone who pays attention to swiftly shifting French affairs—from the Revolution, the Directory, and Napoleon to the Restoration and the constitutional monarchy of 1830—can’t deny that “sooner or later we will come, as the Americans have come, to an almost complete equality of conditions.” In that case, “[w]ould it not then become necessary to consider the gradual development of democratic institutions and mores not as the best way to be free but as the only way left to us?”

“In French, the word is moeurs, meaning manners, morals, core beliefs, and customs—what we would call culture. There are ‘three major factors that have governed and shaped American democracy,’ Tocqueville argued, ‘but if I were asked to rank them, I would say that physical causes matter less than laws and laws less than mores.’”

So he went to America in search of “lessons from which we might profit”—negative lessons as well as positive ones. And just after the publication of volume 1 of Democracy in America, he cast his own lot with democracy, marrying, to his family’s horror, a beautiful middle-class English Protestant, Mary Mottley, whom he considered “the only person in the world who knows the bottom of my soul”—but who never shed her middle-class outrage at “the least deviation on my part,” he complained. After all, who can stop his “blood boiling at the sight of a woman”? (And, already at 17, he had fathered a child, whose fate is unknown, with a servant girl.) Still, he at least remained faithful to democracy: when he inherited the title Comte de Tocqueville in 1836, he never used it.

[Also see – We’re Losing The Two Things Tocqueville Said Mattered Most About American Democracy, at The Federalist]

In America, he believed, he’d find democracy in its purest form—morally pure but also unmixed with any vestiges of a hierarchical regime from which it had had to revolt, unlike any other modern democracy. The earliest Anglo-American settlers had crossed the sea to begin the political world A view of America, from France.afresh. This band of equals had “braved the inevitable miseries of exile because they wished to
ensure the victory of an idea,” he wrote—the Puritan idea that “was not just a religious doctrine” but that “coincided with the most absolute democratic and republican theories,” inseparably intertwining “the spirit of religion and the spirit of liberty.”

 “’There is nothing the human will despairs of achieving through the free action of the collective power of individuals.’ Free and collaborative: that’s the mainspring of American mores.”

For the Pilgrims, Tocqueville explained, “Religion looks upon civil liberty as a noble exercise of man’s faculties, and on the world of politics as a realm intended by the Creator for the application of man’s intelligence. . . . Liberty looks upon religion as its comrade in battle and victory, as the cradle of its infancy and divine source of its rights.” As the settlers believed, “religion subjects the truths of the other world to individual reason, just as politics leaves the interest of this world to the good sense of all, and it allows each man free choice of the path that is to lead him to heaven, just as the law grants each citizen the right to choose his government.”

“Nongovernmental associations spring up for furthering ‘public security, commerce and industry, morality and religion.’”

So Puritanism was the wellspring of American mores—a key term for Tocqueville that refers not just to “what one might call habits of the heart, but also to the various notions that men possess, to the diverse opinions that are current among them, and to the whole range of ideas that shape habits of mind.” In French, the word is moeurs, meaning manners, morals, core beliefs, and customs—what we would call culture. There are “three major factors that have governed and shaped American democracy,” Tocqueville argued, “but if I were asked to rank them, I would say that physical causes matter less than laws and laws less than mores.”

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From the seventeenth-century Puritan acorn grew American culture’s fundamentally libertarian creed. Universal reason (which reveals Jefferson’s self-evident truths, for example) is the source of moral authority, “just as the source of political power lies in the universality of citizens.” Most Americans believe that “consensus is the only guide to what is permitted or prohibited, true or false,” and that “the man who properly understands his own self-interest has all the guidance he needs to act justly and honestly. They believe that every person is born with the faculty to govern himself and that no one has the right to force happiness on his fellow man.” And they believe in human perfectibility, the usefulness of the spread of enlightenment, and the certainty of progress, so that what seems good today will give way tomorrow to something better but as yet unimagined.

[Read the full text here, at City Journal]

Why are your ships not built to last? Tocqueville once asked an American sailor. Naval architecture improves so quickly, the sailor replied, that the finest ship would be obsolete before it wore out. A Silicon Valley engineer would sound the same today. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Beyond Relativism: College Kids Struggle to Explain the Fact-Free New Morality

“Watch as the students struggle to explain why an adult male shouldn’t enroll in a first-grade class, why he’s not a woman, why he’s not substantially taller, or why he’s not Asian.”

At The Corner, David French writes: From the Family Policy Institute of Washington comes this amusing video, where a conversation about gender-neutral bathrooms turns into something a bit more interesting: Watch as the students struggle to explain why an adult male shouldn’t enroll in a first-grade class, why he’s not a woman, why he’s not liberal-huhsubstantially taller, or why he’s not Asian.

“Essentially the new morality is ‘you do you — so long as it doesn’t hurt me or someone else in a way that I immediately recognize.’ The new immorality is any act of ‘intolerance’ that purports to interfere with this radical autonomy.”

This isn’t moral relativism, it’s a completely fact-free new moral code, one based entirely on consent and harm. Or, I should say, immediate harm. Essentially the new morality is “you do you — so long as it doesn’t hurt me or someone else in a way that I immediately recognize.” The new immorality is any act of “intolerance” that purports to interfere with this radical autonomy.

[Read the full text here, at NRO]

The fascinating and disturbing thing is that a generation that so prizes its alleged love of “science” continues to hold to this primitive harm-based morality in spite of oceans of evidence that…(read more)

Source: National Review Online – Family Policy Institute of Washington

 


The Virgin of the Immaculate Conception

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The Virgin of the Immaculate Conception (with detail)

ARTIST
Unknown
DATE
late 18th century
DEPARTMENT
Latin American

Dallas Museum of Fine Art


‘The Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple’: Fra Carnevale c. 1467

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Fra Carnevale c. 1467

The Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple


New York Daily News December 6, 2015

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Raw Politics vs. Compassion: Dem & GOP Responses to San Bernardino Massacre


Prayer Wishes: Comedian Tim Heidecker

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UPDATE: Houston Voters Uphold Conventional Restroom Arrangement, Reject Mandatory Gender-Blending Ordinance

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No Men in Women’s Bathrooms: Those Crazy, Unfair, Radical, Houston Gender Traditionalists!

HOUSTON — Juan A. Lozano reports: An ordinance that would have established nondiscrimination protections for gay and transgender people in Houston failed to win approval from voters on Tuesday.

[Also see — The Bathroom, Locker Room, and Shower Wars and the 2016 Presidential Election at The Corner]

The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance was rejected after a nearly 18-month battle that spawned rallies, legal fights and accusations of both religious intolerance and demonization of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Supporters of the ordinance had said it would have offered increased protections for gay and transgender people, as well as protections against discrimination based on sex, race, age, religion and other categories. Read the rest of this entry »


Jesus’plaining

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Still-Unnamed Oregon Gunman Singled Out Christian Students, Shot Them in the Head

Chris Perez reports: The gunman who opened fire at an Oregon community college was forcing people to stand up and state their religion before he began blasting away at them, survivors said Thursday.

“The shooter was lining people up and asking if they were Christian. If they said yes, then they were shot in the head. If they said no, or didn’t answer, they were shot in the legs.”

A woman who claimed to have a grandmother inside a writing class in Snyder Hall, where a portion the massacre unfolded, described the scene in a tweet.

“The shooter was lining people up and asking if they were Christian,” she wrote. “If they said yes, then they were shot in the head. If they said no, or didn’t answer, they were shot in the legs. My grandma just got to my house, and she was in the room. She wasn’t shot, but she is very upset.

After yet another bloody weekend, it's time to speak frankly about who's killing Christians and why

The Twitter user then recalled how her grandmother attempted to save the life of one of her close classmates.
Two women wait outside Umpqua Community College campus after a shooting.Photo: AP

“She tried to perform CPR on her friend, but it was too late,” the woman said. “I hope nothing like this ever happens again.”

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Kortney Moore, an 18-year-old student at Umpqua Community College who was also in the room, told Oregon’s News Review that the shooter was indeed on the hunt for Christians.

Moments after hearing a bullet come flying through a window, she said the 20-year-old shooter made his way inside and targeted their teacher, pumping a single round into their head. Read the rest of this entry »


A Faithless President: A Simple Solution

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Read more…

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‘Descent into Limbo’, Zoan Andrea

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Descent into Limbo
Zoan Andrea
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circa 1475-1480


Pope Francis Reverses Position On Capitalism After Seeing Wide Variety Of American Oreos 

“Only a truly exceptional and powerful economic system would be capable of producing so many limited-edition and holiday-themed flavors of a single cookie brand, such as these extraordinary Key Lime Pie Oreos and Candy Corn Oreos. This is not a force of global impoverishment at all, but one of endless enrichment.”

WASHINGTON—Admitting the startling discovery had compelled him to reexamine his long-held beliefs, His Holiness Pope Francis announced Tuesday that he had reversed his critical stance toward capitalism after seeing the immense variety of Oreos available in the United States.

[Read “Not Exactly Satire by Kevin D. Williamson]

“Oh, my goodness, look at all these! Golden Oreos, Cookie Dough Oreos, Mega Stuf Oreos, Birthday Cake Oreos—perhaps the system of free enterprise is not as terrible as I once feared,” said the visibly awed bishop of Rome while visiting a Washington, D.C. supermarket, adding that the sheer diversity of flavors, various colors and quantities of creme filling, and presence or absence of an outer fudge layer had led to a profound philosophical shift in his feelings toward the global economy and opened his eyes to the remarkable capabilities of the free market….(read more)

Source: The Onion – Commentary at The Corner


Tocqueville’s Predictions Revisited

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Born 225 Years Ago, Tocqueville’s Predictions Were Spot On

Arthur Milikhmil writes: We often boast about having attained some unimaginable redefinition of ourselves and our nation. How odd then, that someone born 225 years ago today could understand us with more clarity and depth than we understand ourselves.

Back in 1831, Alexis de Tocqueville accurately foresaw both much of what ails us and our remarkable uniqueness and strengths.

“Despots of the past tyrannized through blood and iron.  But the new breed of democratic despotism ‘does not proceed in this way; it leaves the body and goes straight for the soul.’”

Tocqueville’s deservedly famous book, “Democracy in America,” was the product of his nine-month excursion throughout Jacksonian America. The purpose of this trip was to study our country’s political institution and the habits of mind of its citizens.

America’s Place in the World

Tocqueville correctly thought the then-developing America was the way of the future. As such, he foresaw that Europe would never be restored to its former greatness—though he hoped it but could serve as the cultural repository of the West.

[Also see – We’re Losing The Two Things Tocqueville Said Mattered Most About American Democracy]

He also predicted Russian despotism, thinking that Russia was not yet morally exhausted like Europe, and would bring about a new, massive tyranny. In fact, he conjectured that America and Russia would each “hold the destinies of half the world in its hands one day.”

“The majority’s moral power makes individuals internally ashamed to contradict it, which in effect silences them, and this silencing culminates in a cessation of thinking.”

He therefore hoped America would serve as an example to the world—a successful combination of equality and liberty. And an example of this was needed, since equality can go along with freedom, but it can even more easily go along with despotism.

“Tocqueville feared that the majority’s tastes and opinions would occupy every sphere of sentiment and thought. One among many illuminating examples is his commentary on democratic art.”

In fact, much of the world did go in the direction41YQn7tI66L._SL250_ of democratic despotism—wherein the great mass of citizens is indeed equal, save for a ruling elite, which governs them. In a strange sense, Tocqueville would think that North Korea is egalitarian.

[Order the classic book “Tocqueville: Democracy in America” (Library of America) from Amazon.com]

Despite his hopes for America, Tocqueville thought grave obstacles would diminish our freedom—though he didn’t think them insurmountable.

The Power of the Majority

Most alarming to him was the power of the majority, which he thought would distort every sphere of human life.

“The majority reaches into citizens’ minds and hearts. It breaks citizens’ will to resist, to question its authority, and to think for themselves.”

Despots of the past tyrannized through blood and iron.  But the new breed of democratic despotism “does not proceed in this way; it leaves the body and goes straight for the soul.”

[Read the full text here, at The Daily Signal]

That is, the majority reaches into citizens’ minds and hearts. It breaks citizens’ will to resist, to question its authority, and to think for themselves. Read the rest of this entry »


HQ: Paglia on ‘Snark Atheism’ and How Jon Stewart Has Debased Political Discourse

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“Suppressing information based upon what politics the information might help or hurt — is of course as illiberal and authoritarian an idea as you can have.”

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[Segments of the Camille Paglia Salon interview via @rdbrewer4Ace of Spades. Go here for additional commentary at the HQ]

‘All the great world religions contain a complex system of beliefs regarding the nature of the universe and human life that is far more profound than anything that liberalism has produced.’

SALON: You’re an atheist, and yet I don’t ever see you sneer at religion in the way that the very aggressive atheist class right now often will. What do you make of Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and the religion critics who seem not to have respect for religions for faith?

PAGLIA: I regard them as adolescents. I say in the introduction to my last book, “Glittering Images”, that “Sneering at religion is juvenile, symptomatic of a stunted imagination.” It exposes a state of perpetual adolescence that has something to do with their parents– they’re still sneering at dad in some way….

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“I think Stewart’s show demonstrated the decline and vacuity of contemporary comedy. I cannot stand that smug, snarky, superior tone. I hated the fact that young people were getting their news through that filter of sophomoric snark.

I’m speaking here as an atheist. I don’t believe there is a God, but I respect every religion deeply. All the great world religions contain a complex system of beliefs regarding the nature of the universe and human life that is far more profound than anything that liberalism has produced.
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“Now let me give you a recent example of the persisting insularity of liberal thought in the media…”

We have a whole generation of young people who are clinging to politics and to politicized visions of sexuality for their belief system.

“When the first secret Planned Parenthood video was released in mid-July, anyone who looks only at liberal media was kept totally in the dark about it, even after the second video was released…”

They see nothing but politics, but politics is tiny….But this sneering thing! I despise snark. Snark is a disease that started with David Letterman and jumped to Jon Stewart and has proliferated since.

“It was a huge and disturbing story, but there was total silence in the liberal media. That kind of censorship was shockingly unprofessional.”

I think it’s horrible for young people! And this kind of snark atheism–let’s just invent that term right now–is stupid, and people who act like that are stupid….

“The resistance of liberals in the media to new ideas was enormous. Liberals think of themselves as very open-minded, but that’s simply not true!”

I think Stewart’s show demonstrated the decline and vacuity of contemporary comedy. I cannot stand that smug, snarky, superior tone. I hated the fact that young people were getting their news through that filter of sophomoric snark….

Liberalism has sadly become a knee-jerk ideology, with people barricaded in their comfortable little cells. They think that their views are the only rational ones, and everyone else is not only evil but financed by the Koch brothers.”

As for his influence, if he helped produce the hackneyed polarization of moral liberals versus evil conservatives, then he’s partly at fault for the political stalemate in the United States….

[Read more at Ace of Spades HQ]

The resistance of liberals in the media to new ideas was enormous. Liberals think of themselves as very open-minded, but that’s simply not true! Liberalism has sadly become a knee-jerk ideology, with people barricaded in their comfortable little cells. They think that their views are the only rational ones, and everyone else is not only evil but financed by the Koch brothers. It’s so simplistic! Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] REWIND: Barack Obama Describes His Christian Definition of Marriage

 


Salon: Having it Both Ways

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Modern Sin: Holding On to Your Belief

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Trying to put florists, bakers and others out of work for unapproved ideas about marriage

Charlotte AllenCharlotte Allen writes: On Tuesday the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that asks whether the Constitution requires states to allow same-sex couples to marry. Four days before the hearing, in Oregon, an administrative-law judge proposed a $135,000 fine against Aaron and Melissa Klein, proprietors of the Sweet Cakes bakery in Gresham, for the “emotional distress” suffered by a lesbian couple for whom the Kleins, citing their Christian belief that marriage is between a man and a woman, had declined to bake a wedding cake in 2013.

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“Media sympathy for the Kleins’ claim that being forced to participate in a same-sex wedding would violate their consciences ranged from nonexistent to…nonexistent. A CNN headline dubbed the Kleins’ since-closed business the ‘anti-gay bakery’; the Huffington Post prefers ‘anti-gay baker.’”

Same-sex marriage wasn’t legal in Oregon when the Kleins made their decision. But the couple was found to have violated a 2008 Oregon law forbidding discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation.

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“The victors have dropped their conciliatory stance. Bubonic plague-level hysteria surged through the media, academia and mega-corporate America in March after Indiana passed a law—modeled on the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993—that would enable religious believers to opt out of universally applicable laws under some circumstances.”

Media sympathy for the Kleins’ claim that being forced to participate in a same-sex wedding would violate their consciences ranged from nonexistent to . . . nonexistent. A CNN headline dubbed the Kleins’ since-closed business the “anti-gay bakery”; the Huffington Post prefers “anti-gay baker.”

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

[Also see Bake Me a Cake — Or Else by Mark Hemingway]

Supporters of the Kleins—who have five children and operated the bakery out of their home—quickly went on the crowdfunding website GoFundMe to try to raise money to help the family pay legal fees and the fine, which still requires approval by the state labor commissioner. The effort managed to raise more than $100,000 in a few hours. human-christ-bookBut then, on Saturday night, GoFundMe abruptly shut down the online appeal because the Kleins’ case involved “formal charges.”

[Check out Charlotte Allen’s book “The Human Christ: The Search for the Historical Jesus at Amazon.com]

The Kleins join a small number of bakers, florists and photographers around the country, most of whom say they serve and even employ gays in their over-the-counter operations but who also insist that their Christian beliefs in man-woman marriage preclude their providing services to same-sex weddings. Those numbers will probably dwindle further: Many states are treating those acts of conscience as ordinary bigotry and, by levying or threatening fines, forcing those small business owners into costly and potentially ruinous litigation. Read the rest of this entry »


Kirsten Powers: ‘If a Christian mob on a ship bound for Italy threw 12 Muslims to their death for praying to Allah, does anyone think the president would have been so disinterested?’

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Western leaders — including Obama — will be remembered for their near silence as this human rights tragedy unfolded

Kirsten Powers writes:

What do you call it when 12 men are drowned at sea for praying to Jesus?

Answer: Religious persecution.

Yet, when a throng of Muslims threw a dozen Christians overboard a migrant ship traveling from Libya to Italy, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi missed the opportunity to label it as such. Standing next to President Obama at their joint news conference Friday, Renzi dismissed it as a one-off event and said,  “The problem is not a problem of (a) clash of religions.”

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“Obama was mute on the killings. He failed to interject any sense of outrage or even tepid concern for the targeting of Christians for their faith.”

While the prime minister plunged his head into the sand, Italian authorities arrested and charged the Muslim migrants with “multiple aggravated murder motivated by religious hate,” according to the BBC.

 “If a Christian mob on a ship bound for Italy threw 12 Muslims to their death for praying to Allah, does anyone think the president would have been so disinterested?”

As Renzi was questioned about the incident, Obama was mute on the killings. He failed to interject any sense of outrage or even tepid concern for the targeting of Christians for their faith. If a Christian mob on a ship bound for Italy powers-bookthrew 12 Muslims to their death for praying to Allah, does anyone think the president would have been so disinterested?

[Order Kirsten Powers’ upcoming book “The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech” from Amazon.com]

When three North Carolina Muslims were gunned down by a virulent atheist, Obama rightly spoke out against the horrifying killings. But he just can’t seem to find any passion for the mass persecution of Middle Eastern Christians or the eradication of Christianity from its birthplace.

“Pope Francis has repeatedly decried the persecution and begged the world for help, but it has had little impact. Western leaders — including Obama — will be remembered for their near silence as this human rights tragedy unfolded.”

Religious persecution of Christians is rampant worldwide, as Pew has noted, but nowhere is it more prevalent than in the Middle East and Northern Africa, where followers of Jesus are the targets of religious cleansing.  Pope Francis has repeatedly decried the persecution and begged the world for help, but it has had little impact. Read the rest of this entry »


ISIS Released a Video Threatening Christians and Executing by Gunshot and Beheading Ethiopian Christians in Libya

via SITE Intel Group


The Anti-Pizzeria Mob Loses its Mind

anaonburn

Burn Her! She Would Act Like a Witch in a Situation That Will Never Come Up!

 writes: Someone please tell me if my progression here is inaccurate in any way:

1) Family owners of small-town Indiana pizzeria spend zero time or energy commenting on gay issues.

2) TV reporter from South Bend walks inside the pizzeria to ask the owners what they think of the controversial Religious Restoration Freedom Act. Owner Crystal O’Connor responds, “If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no….We are a Christian establishment.” O’Connor also says—actually promises is the characterization here—that the establishment will continue to serve any gay or non-Christian person that walks through their door.

3) The Internet explodes with insults directed at the O’Connor family and its business, including a high school girls golf coach in Indiana who tweets “Who’s going to Walkerton, IN to burn down #memoriespizza w me?” Many of the enraged critics assert, inaccurately, that Memories Pizza discriminates against gay customers.

4) In the face of the backlash, the O’Connors close the pizzeria temporarily, and say they may never reopen, and in fact might leave the state. “I don’t know if we will reopen, or if we can, if it’s safe to reopen,” Crystal O’Connor tells The Blaze. “I’m just a little guy who had a little business that I probably don’t have anymore,” Kevin O’Connor tells the L.A. Times.

Rod Dreher titles his useful post on this grotesque affair “Into the Christian Closet,” and it’s apt considering the progression above. If only these non-activist restaurateurs had simply kept their views to themselves when asked by a reporter, April Fool’s would have been like any other day for them.

But as it stands, they’re now being trashed not just by social-justice mobs from afar, but by powerful politicians where they live and work. Democratic State Sen. Jim Arnold represents the O’Connors’s district. This is what he said about his constituents:

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“The vast majority of people in this country are not going to stand by and watch that kind of activity unfold,” he said. “If that’si-keep-telling-you-people-that their stand I hope they enjoy eating their pizza because I don’t think anyone else is going to.”

Sen. Arnold says he’s upset by the news because of the negative attention it’s bringing to a town he says is a great community.

He said this kind of thinking has no place in this town. And the Religious Freedom Restoration Law is not an excuse for them to discriminate.

“This is America and if people say they’re not going to serve them and they feel this is some kind of defense, which by the way doesn’t take effect until July 1, but if they feel it’s some kind of defense, I think they’re sadly mistaken[.]

Almost every word out of Sen. Arnold’s mouth was wrong, horrifying, or both.

1) The O’Connors did not say “they’re not going to serve them,” they in fact stressed the opposite. Read the rest of this entry »


Items Taken from Persecuted Christians Return to Nagaski in Rare Exhibition

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Miracles Protected by the Virgin Mary — Churches and Christian Sites in Nagasaki runs at the Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture until April 15

KYODO – Shinichi Koike reports: More than 500 items confiscated from Japanese Christians during their brutal persecution in the 19th century from the late Edo Period to the early Meiji Era are back in Nagasaki for the first time in about 150 years.

“The exhibition is taking place because the central government has recommended that churches and other Christian locations in Nagasaki be listed as UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites.” 

Some 550 items are on display in the special exhibition “Miracles Protected by the Virgin Mary — Churches and Christian Sites in Nagasaki,” which runs at the Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture until April 15. They include 212 important cultural properties loaned by the Tokyo National Museum, which rarely loans so many important objects at one time.

This Cathedral is the largest Catholic church in Japan. In that day,priests and all Catholics who were in Urakami Cathedral died.

The largest Catholic church in Japan. In that day,priests and all Catholics who were in Urakami Cathedral died.

“It shows the history of Christianity in Japan from the introduction of the faith by Francis Xavier in 1549, to the birth of the “hidden Christians” caused by brutal crackdowns and the confession of their beliefs to a foreign priest by a small group of Japanese in 1865.”

“We made a special decision to loan them because this is a well-planned exhibition,” said Toyonobu Tani, chief curator of the Tokyo museum, which received an application for the Nagasaki Prefectural Government last June.

The Christian martyrs of Nagasaki. 17th-century Japanese painting.

The Christian martyrs of Nagasaki. 17th-century Japanese painting (not part of collection, historical reference only)

The exhibition is taking place because the central government has recommended that churches and other Christian locations in Nagasaki be listed as UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites. It shows the history of Christianity in Japan from the introduction of the faith by Francis Xavier in 1549, to the birth of the “hidden Christians” caused by brutal crackdowns and the confession of their beliefs to a foreign priest by a small group of Japanese in 1865.

Monument to Kirishitan martyrs in Nagasaki.

Monument to Kirishitan martyrs in Nagasaki.

“The last crackdown aroused fierce protests from European countries, prompting the Meiji government to lift its ban on Christianity in 1873.”

Satoshi Ohori, head of the Nagasaki museum, said the availability of the national treasures makes the exhibition “epoch-making” because it shows the proud history of Christianity in Japan and the highly christ-nagasakispiritual nature of the Japanese.

Crosses, rosaries and other items on display were confiscated from Christians in the village of Urakami and never returned. A Tokyo museum official described them as “negative heritage,” and there are calls in Nagasaki for their return.

The exhibition, which includes a portrait of Xavier and Pope Gregory XII, who met four young Japanese boys sent by Christian Lord Otomo Sorin in 1585 as part of the first Japanese embassy to Europe, is thus seen as a step toward conciliation between descendants of persecuted Christians and the central government.

Members of a cultural committee formed by descendants belonging to St. Mary’s Cathedral, better known as Urakami Cathedral, in the city of Nagasaki, were invited to a private viewing of the show on Feb. 19.

“We saw proof of our ancestors’ belief,” said Katsutoshi Noguchi, one of the members. “I hope (the exhibition) will enable lots of people to share recognition that this sad history should not be repeated.”

The confession of faith by a small group of hidden Christians was seen as a miracle overseas, but the Tokugawa shogunate carried out a series of brutal crackdowns on them in Urakami.

The last and biggest of four crackdowns, triggered by the arrest of the whole village by the Nagasaki magistrate in 1867, expelled some 3,400 villagers to various parts of Japan. The crackdown also resulted in the deaths of more than 600 through torture, execution and other methods used to force people to renounce their faith. Read the rest of this entry »


A Painting Marking the Recent ISIS Beheading of Coptic Christians

coptic#GoodNightAll

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Charles C.W. Cooke: Progressives, Its Time to Start Panicking: THERE IS NO PLAN B

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Once we take Hillary out of the equation, the game looks rather different. As potent as it might be on paper, the Democratic party’s present edge within the Electoral College is by no means infinite, and it does not obtain in a personality vacuum…

Charles C.W.Cookecooke writes: I’ll say it, happily: Democrats should be worried about Hillary Clinton, and moderately panicked about the immediate future of both their party and their cause.

This is not, of course, because Hillary’s latest scandale du jour is in any practical way going to “disqualify” her; and nor is it because leftward-leaning voters are likely to recall anything more from this rather awkward period in time than that the Clintons are as perennially sleazy as they ever were. Rather, it is because the last few days have underscored just how tenuous the Left’s grip on power and influence truly is in the waning days of the once-buoyant Obama panic-bettyera.

“The Democratic base that isn’t wedded to her is nervous about it. It makes her more vulnerable. What is this anointed candidate getting us?”

At present, Republicans control the House of Representatives, they lead the Senate, and they enjoy pole position within a vast majority of the states. The Democratic party, by contrast, has been all but wiped out, its great historical hope having relegated himself by his obstinacy to the role of MVP on a team of just a few. For the next couple of years, Obama will dig in where he can, blocking here, usurping there, and seeking to provide for the Left a source of energy and of authority. cookeBut then . . . what?

[preorder Charles C.W. Cooke’s new book “The Conservatarian Manifesto: Libertarians, Conservatives, and the Fight for the Right’s Future” from Amazon]

After last year’s midterm elections, New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait contended grimly that the sheer scale of the Republican wave had rendered Hillary Clinton “the only thing standing between a Republican Party even more radical than George W. Bush’s version and unfettered control of American government.” The customary rhetorical hysterics to one side, this estimation appears to be sound.

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On the surface, the knowledge that Clinton is ready to consolidate the gains of the Obama project should be a matter of considerable comfort to progressivism and its champions. Indeed, as it stands today, I’d still bet that Hillary will eventually make a somewhat formidable candidate, and that, despite her many, many flaws, she retains a better than 50 percent chance of winning the presidency in 2016.

“…A much more flawed candidate than we thought. And Republicans now have material they never thought they would have.”

— Deborah Arnie Arnesen, a progressive radio host in Concord, New Hampshire

In part, this is because she is a woman, yes, and because she will play ad nauseam upon this fact between now and November of next year; in part this is because she has been distressingly effective at selling herself as a moderate, and because her husband is remembered as a solid caretaker and remains popular across partisan lines; in part this is because the Democratic party is currently benefitting from a number of structural advantages that Republicans will struggle to overcome, whomever they choose to be their standard bearer; and in part this is because the economy will almost certainly be doing well enough by next year that the “Obama saved us all” narratives will seem plausible to a good number of voters. Read the rest of this entry »


Captain America Won’t Save Us

captain-A

Republicans look like they’re obsessed with finding a superhero

Daniel Henningerrenocol_DanHenninger writes: You have to feel sorry for the Democrats. In a world warming to presidential politics, what do they talk to each other about? Nearly two years from the election, they’ve already got their launch vehicle in place, former everything Hillary Clinton . Fire and forget.

The one-time First Lady, U.S. senator and Secretary of State pumped up a political crowd in Silicon Valley this week by vowing, presumably as president, to “crack every last glass ceiling.” As a political issue, the “glass ceiling” dates back to . . . 1984. It may be older than “income inequality.”

“The U.S. just tried electing a rookie president and had six years of amateur hour. It doesn’t work.”

But anywhere else two people gather who aren’t Democrats, you will fall into the same intense political conversation with a one-word question: Whoduyalike? Who do you like among the names floating in GOP circles for the 2016 nomination? Walker, Bush, Paul, Rubio, Jindal, Perry, Cruz, Christie, Fiorina, Carson, Santorum, Pence. I kind of like…

“And it won’t work again if the next president, whether rookie or former governor, shows up in the Oval Office in January 2017 with not much more than his victory cape and some political pals.”

Two significant meetings of conservative groups take place today through Saturday, and some of these people will pitch themselves at both the CPAC conference just outside Washington, and to the Club for Growth in Palm Beach. Mike Huckabee will preach on his own behalf Thursday evening to the National Religious Broadcasters convention in Nashville.

captain-A

It’s all great fun. But there’s something a little off about the Republican presidential conversation right now. It doesn’t come close to reflecting the seriousness of the task facing voters in 2016: Elect a successor to the most catastrophic American presidency in over 80 years. And it ain’t over yet.

“Their Captain America could be named Rand, Scott, Jeb or Marco, but the mere landing of this political superhero in the Oval Office will turn the country around. Really? That’s all it is going to take?”

Instead of offering an anxious electorate a recognizable alternative to this status quo, the Republicans look like they’re obsessed with discovering Captain America.

Their Captain America could be named Rand, Scott, Jeb or Marco, but the mere landing of this political superhero in the Oval Office will turn the country around. Really? That’s all it is going to take?

It is hard to overstate what one-man-shows these presidential candidates have become—one guy, some political pros they’ve hired, their donors and whatever thoughts are running through their or their pollsters’ heads.

In normal times, it might not matter much that a CPAC conference with its gauntlet of speeches and straw polls looks a lot like the NFL Scouting Combine. Chris Christie has no vertical leap, but man can he lift.

The task that Barack Obama is dumping on the next U.S. president, of either party, is overwhelming. Read the rest of this entry »


Cartoon of the Day

ISIS-cartoon


Muslim Boy Writes on Mosul Wall — At Great Personal Risk: ‘My Christian Brothers, You Shall Return to Your Churches’

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Twitter 

via @kathrynlopez


Byron York: Why are Americans Confused About Obama’s Religion?

obama-church

In 1985, Barack Obama had just arrived in Chicago for his new job as a community organizer when he headed to Smitty’s Barbershop, a tiny storefront on the South Side. As Smitty cut his hair, Obama listened to the men in the shop talk politics and racial grievance. When the barber finished, he handed Obama a mirror and said, “Haircuts ten dollars. What’s your name, anyway?”

“Barack.”

“Barack, huh,” Smitty responded. “You a Muslim?”

“Grandfather was,” Obama said, according to his memoir Dreams From My Father.

Smitty’s question, which Obama didn’t exactly answer, prefigured a controversy that continues to this day…

airforceone-obama-india

Byron Yorkyork writes: Fresh from a controversy over his views on evolution, Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker is now involved in a controversy over his views, or lack of them, on President Obama’s religion. On Saturday, two Washington Post reporters asked Walker, in the nation’s capital for a governor’s meeting, whether Obama is a Christian. Walker said he didn’t know.

Informed by the reporters that Obama is in fact a Christian, Walker replied, “I’ve actually never talked about it or I haven’t read about that,” protesting that the president’s religion is not a topic of great interest to voters. “I would defy you to come to Wisconsin. You could ask 100 people, and not one of them would say that this is a significant issue,” Walker told the Post.

“In August, 2010, a Pew poll made news when it found that 18 percent of those surveyed believed Obama is a Muslim. But just as notably, 43 percent of respondents in that survey told Pew they didn’t know Obama’s religion. Among those who said they didn’t know were 41 percent of Democrats.”

Nevertheless, the story created at least a minor explosion in the political press, and Democrats quickly used it to attack a Republican who has recently risen to the top tier of the GOP 2016 presidential field.

Obama-Gallup-poll-unpopular-Hex

But when it comes to confusion, or wrong information, about Obama’s religion, Scott Walker is far from alone. Polls have long shown many Americans know little about the president’s faith.

“One notable suggestion in the Pew survey was that in Obama’s first couple of years in office, as Americans became more familiar with him as president, they became less sure of his religious faith. In March 2009, shortly after Obama entered the White House, 34 percent said they did not know his religion, while 48 percent identified him as a Christian.”

In June, 2012, Gallup asked, “Do you happen to know the religious faith of Barack Obama?” Forty-four percent said they did not know, while 36 percent said he is a Christian, 11 percent said he is a Muslim, and eight percent said he has no religion. The “don’t know” group included 36 percent of Democrats. (A larger number of Republicans, 47 percent, said they didn’t know Obama’s religion, as did 46 percent of independents.)

“By August 2010, the number of Americans who said they did not know Obama’s religion had grown to 43 percent, while the number who identified him as Christian fell to 34 percent. The trend was true not just of the president’s political opponents but of his supporters as well.”

In August, 2010, a Pew poll made news when it found that 18 percent of those surveyed believed Obama is a Muslim. But just as notably, 43 percent of respondents in that survey told Pew they didn’t know Obama’s religion. Among those who said they didn’t know were 41 percent of Democrats.

obama-religion

One notable suggestion in the Pew survey was that in Obama’s first couple of years in office, as Americans became more familiar with him as president, they became less sure of his religious faith. In March 2009, shortly after Obama entered the White House, 34 percent said they did not know his religion, while 48 percent identified him as a Christian. By August 2010, the number of Americans who said they did not know Obama’s religion had grown to 43 percent, while the number who identified him as Christian fell to 34 percent. The trend was true not just of the president’s political opponents but of his supporters as well. “Even among Democrats, fewer than half (46 percent) now identify his religion as Christian, down from 55 percent last year,” Pew wrote in 2010. Read the rest of this entry »


Washington Post presents this week’s ‘Ask Scott Walker’ puzzler: Is Obama a Christian?

obama-religion


New York Post, Feb 17, 2015: ‘POPE’S RAGE Assails Mass Murder of Christians’

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Jihadis 14, Crusaders 2

National Review Online