Saturday, December 26, 2009
Not all tidings are of great joy
As far back as the 5th century, the Monastery of Abu Fana in Upper Egypt was renowned, in the words of one travel guide, for its "exceptional splendor and prestige." In the 21st century, that grandeur is gone and the monastery has become instead a symbol of the abuse and degradation to which Egypt's ancient Coptic Christian community is regularly subjected.
On May 31, 2008, a band of Bedouin Muslims armed with automatic weapons stormed Abu Fana, destroying a small church and burning the monastery's farm. Nine monks and monastery employees were wounded, and four others were abducted. "One of the [abducted] monks had his arm and legs broken," the Egyptian lawyer and human-rights activist Nagib Gabriel later testified. "The other two were tied together with ropes, suspended from a tree, and severely beaten with hoses and sticks. Afterwards, they were placed -- upside down and still tied together -- on the back of a donkey and shoved off. The monks were further commanded to spit on the cross and proclaim the shahada [the Muslim credo that "there is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet"], beaten every time they refused, and even threatened with death."
Two millennia after Jesus was born in the Middle East, Christians living there often suffer greatly for their faith. Egypt is home to the oldest and largest Christian population in the region, yet the indignities heaped on them are many: They are prevented from building or repairing their churches, barred from many government positions, and treated with disdain when they seek help from the police or the courts. In the wake of the Abu Fana assault, the government arrested two Coptic brothers, who were held for 14 months and released only after the monastery agreed to "reconcile" with the Bedouins -- i.e., not to press criminal charges against those who had actually attacked the monastery.
When President Obama spoke in Cairo last June, he noted obliquely that "among some Muslims, there's a disturbing tendency to measure one's own faith by the rejection of somebody else's faith." But there was nothing oblique about the violence at Abu Fana, or about other recent attacks on Egyptian Christians, including the vandalizing of a Christian center in Ezbet Boshra-East in June, the torching of a Coptic church in Ezbet Basilious in July, or the looting and destruction of Christian-owned businesses in Abou Shousha and Farshoot last month.
What is most tragic about the plight of the Copts, however, is that they comprise only a fraction of the estimated 200 million Christians in 60 countries worldwide who face persecution because of their religion.
In Iraq, Christians in the northern city of Mosul are being driven out by a wave of violence that has worsened with the approach of Christmas. In recent weeks, a car bomb exploded outside the Church of the Annunciation, grenades were thrown at a nearby Christian school, and terrorists operating in broad daylight leveled the Church of Saint Ephrem. What is underway, says the Archbishop of Kirkuk, is a campaign of "ethnic and religious cleansing." Last week an anonymous source told Asia News: "The Christian community is destined to die."
In China, Christians who decline to worship in government-affiliated "patriotic" churches are systematically harassed. "At least 40 Roman Catholic bishops or priests remain imprisoned, detailed, or disappeared," the US Commission on International Religious Freedom noted in its 2009 annual report. "The Beijing Gospel Church, with a membership of 1,000 people, was raided by officials from four different agencies. . . . Local police raided the Chengdu Qiuyu Blessings Church . . . telling church [officials] they were suspected of 'illegal religious practices' and confiscating Bibles, hymnals, and other education materials."
In Somalia, at least 11 Christians who had converted from Islam were beheaded in 2009 by the jihadist group al-Shabaab. Another Christian convert was executed in Mogadishu last month; when his body was recovered, it "showed signs of torture," the Compass Direct news service reported. "All of his front teeth were gone, and some of his fingers were broken."
To such horrors could be added many others -- in India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Eritrea, Laos, North Korea, Saudi Arabia. It has been more than 2,000 years since the shepherds abiding in the fields near Bethlehem were told by an angel of the Lord, "Fear not: for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy." But for millions of persecuted Christians, the fears are all too real. And so therefore is their need for prayer and solidarity from all of us, Christian and non-Christian alike, who seek to be our brother's keeper.
Cut the Power of America's Family Courts
Do you think judges should have the power to decide what religion your children must belong to and which churches they may be prohibited from attending? We have long suspected that family courts are the most dictatorial and biased of all U.S. courts, routinely depriving divorced fathers of due process rights and authority over their own children, but this December a Chicago judge went beyond the pale.
Cook County Circuit Judge Edward Jordan issued a restraining order to prohibit Joseph Reyes from taking his 3-year-old daughter to any non-Jewish religious activities because the ex-wife argued that would contribute to "the emotional detriment of the child." Mrs. Rebecca Reyes wants to raise her daughter in the Jewish religion, and the judge sided with the mother.
As Joseph Reyes' divorce attorney, Joel Brodsky, said when he saw the judge's restraining order: "I almost fell off my chair. I thought maybe we were in Afghanistan and this was the Taliban." The lawyer is appealing.
Doesn't the First Amendment extend to fathers? Apparently not, if they are divorced. This case sounds extreme, but it is a good illustration of how family courts, the lowest in the judicial hierarchy, have become the most dictatorial of all courts because of the tremendous number of families and amounts of private money they control and the lack of accountability for their decisions.
In another divorce case this year, a family court in New Hampshire (where the state motto is "Live Free or Die") ordered 10-year-old Amanda Kurowski to quit being homeschooled by her mother and instead to attend fifth grade in the local public school. Judge Lucinda V. Sadler approved the court-appointed expert's view that Amanda "appeared to reflect her mother's rigidity on questions of faith" and that Amanda "would be best served by exposure to multiple points of view."
Where did family court judges get the power to decide what church and what school the children of divorced parents must attend? Family court judges have amassed this extraordinary power by co-opting and changing the definition of a time-honored concept: "the best interest of the child."
This rule originally came from English common law as compiled by William Blackstone in 1765, and meant that parents are presumed to act in their own children's best interest. For centuries, English and American courts honored parents' rights by recognizing the legal presumption that the best interest of a child is whatever a fit parent says it is, and should not be second-guessed by a judge.
When states revised their family-law statutes in the 1970s, the "best interest of the child" became disconnected from parents' decisions, and family courts assumed the discretion to decide the best interest of children of divorced and unmarried parents.
The notion that persons other than parents should decide what is in a child's best interest is illustrated by the slogan "It takes a village to raise a child." Those who use that slogan understand "village" to mean government courts, government schools or government social workers.
The trouble with the best-interest rule is that it is totally subjective -- it's a matter of individual opinion. Parents make hundreds of different decisions, and should have the right to make their decisions even if they contravene the self-appointed experts.
Whether the decision is big (such as where to go to church or school) or small (such as playing baseball or soccer), there is no objective way to say which is "best."
Since judges are supposed to base their decisions on evidence presented in open court, and there is no objective basis for deciding thousands of questions involved in raising a child, judges call on the testimony of expert witnesses. A big industry has grown up of psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, custody evaluators, and counselors who are eager to collect fees for giving their opinions.
Having opinions produced by persons with academic degrees is a way to make subjective and arbitrary judgments appear objective. With the volume of cases coming through family courts, judges can evade responsibility for controversial decisions by rubber-stamping opinions of these court-appointed experts.
Scientific American Mind published a scholarly paper in October 2005 by three noted psychologists who explained that the practice of allowing courts to be de facto decision makers "is legally, morally and scientifically wrong. ... Parents should determine their children's lives after separation, just as when they are married. ... Parents, not judges or mental health professionals, are the best experts on their own children."
It's time to call a halt to the practice of letting family court judges make decisions that are rightfully the prerogative of parents.
FGM Goes Mainstream In Britain!
I call this ‘the norming of f*cking savagery!’ FGM or female genital mutilation has been going on under the radar in every white Christian nation for at least a decade, probably quite a bit more. Britain, who seems committed to putting themselves out of existance in the near future has added an exciting new wrinkle to this process, official recognition!
Hundreds of British schoolgirls are facing the terrifying prospect of female genital mutilation (FGM) over the Christmas holidays as experts warn the practice continues to flourish across the country. Parents typically take their daughters back to their country of origin for FGM during school holidays, but The Independent on Sunday has been told that “cutters” are being flown to the UK to carry out the mutilation at “parties” involving up to 20 girls to save money.
That’s not the worst part, this part from a British Home official is… "We have appointed an FGM co-ordinator"
My God, what has happened to these people that they can no longer see savagery and understand what it is and that it must be fought, not welcomed, fought!
And as you prepare to celebrate diversity in your classrooms this “holiday” season please take note that this is what the Muslims think of your precious diversity… "Several leadings Imams have openly condemned the practice. This, though, does not deter its proponents, who maintain that it is their inalienable right to live according to their traditional beliefs and customs, rather than conform to British values. Indeed, some argue that the freedom to carry out FGM is a fundamental principle of our multi-cultural society".
And as of 1990 the CDC estimated that there had been as many as 168,000 cases of FGM here in the States. How does that comport with your values? Did your immigrant forefathers start cutting on your grandma? Is that why no one is talking about this? Do you want Saudi values practiced in America? Because they are and their adherents can’t imagine why that would be a bad thing.
Here’s the bottom line: if we have Muslims in our country these practices will follow right behind them, and then what? We essentially kept Muslims out of this country for just that reason, and until recently the only Arabs we tended to let in were Christians who were being persecuted by Arab Muslims.
So now we’re imported the savages and quelle surpise! They are conducting themselves as savages do, is this how we best model Classical Western values? Is this how we best preserve white civilization? I say no, what say you?
Holier than Thou: Leftist hypocrisy about religion in Australia
Christmas is a time when people grow even more tired of politics than usual, but it is also a time when the politically desperate take increasingly cheap shots at others in a ploy to divert media attention from their own failures.
This happened last Monday when ALP Senator Kate Lundy was despatched from the Labor dirt unit to make fun of Tony Abbott's strong Christian faith. Sent out to attack using focus group tested lines, Senator Lundy made a big mistake, and consequently a bigger fool of her emperor Kevin Rudd.
In a humiliating display, Senator Lundy inserted Mr Rudd's name where she was told to insert Mr Abbott's. Here's what she said: "What I think is important here (is) that we challenge Mr Rudd on his propensity to want to inflict his personal religious views, very strongly held, on the rest of the Australian population."
Now if it wasn't for the pointed attack on religious beliefs, pandering to the secular left, in a clumsy attempt at dog whistle politics, perhaps the faux pas could be excused. But how can we excuse the hypocrisy of Kevin Rudd, sending out the lamentable Lundy to attack a man of deep faith whilst claiming to be one himself.
But then again Kevin Rudd has claimed to be many different things in recent times. He was an economic conservative before he became a Christian socialist on his way to becoming a social democrat. He was a Catholic before becoming an Anglican but still demands communion from the Catholic Church, coincidently on the eve of Australia's first Saint being proclaimed.
Rudd condemned the 'political orchestration of organised Christianity' in his essay on Dietrich Bonhoeffer but insists upon doing doorstops in front of church almost every Sunday morning. In one ABC interview he even blamed others for the fact he had to take his faith public.
Kevin Rudd's religious beliefs are his business but he insists upon showcasing them to suggest he is a man of great virtue. Personally I am pleased he considers himself to be a Christian but is it about time we saw the real Kevin Rudd?
Rudd has repeatedly demonstrated himself to be a 'man for all seasons'. He will change his beliefs to suit the climate and is happy to send the unwitting to do his grubby work.
Notwithstanding Mr Rudd's supreme embarrassment at his Copenhagen failure, his attempt to play the religious card to attack his opponent at Christmas time gives another insight into the character of our Prime Minister. I am sure that an increasing number of Australians don’t like what they see.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.