Sunday, May 30, 2010

A new documentary film takes a skeptical look at Transcendental Meditation

The accumulation of wealth by Eastern religious leaders shouldn't surprise anyone. Remember, they live on a spiritual plane above and beyond the material world that the rest of us inhabit, which leaves them free to amass as much wealth as possible. Since material wealth doesn't mean anything to them (insert wink here), they're free to enjoy it without feeling burdened by it.

Some of us remember the Natural Law Party--the political wing of TM--spending a huge amount of money in an attempt to elect candidates in the 1993 Canadian federal election. Their meditation--and money--had about as much influence on voters in Canada as it had had on voters in other countries' elections, and it worked about as well as "yogic flying" worked in defying the law of gravity.

According to this review in Maclean's by Brian D. Johnson:

He was the original guru pop star. Made famous by the Beatles in the 1960s, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was the godfather of the Transcendental Meditation movement, known as TM. He inspired such acolytes as author Deepak Chopra and filmmaker David Lynch, and remained TM’s figurehead until his death in 2008 at the age of 94. The Maharishi was once dubbed "the giggling guru." But now it appears he may have been giggling all the way to the bank. David Wants to Fly, a new documentary shown last week at Toronto’s Hot Docs festival, offers compelling evidence that the Maharishi’s empire of enlightenment is more devoted to shaking down its followers and amassing wealth than transcending the material world.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Australia expels Israeli embassy official

As reported in The Sydney Morning Herald of May 24, 2010:

Australia said Monday it would expel an official from the Israeli embassy after finding the Jewish state was behind fake Australian passports linked to the killing of a Hamas operative.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said Australia remained a "firm friend" of Israel but no government could tolerate the abuse of its passports.

"The government has asked that a member of the Israeli embassy in Canberra be withdrawn from Australia," Smith told parliament, without identifying the official. "I have asked that the withdrawal be effected within a week."

An investigation into how four Australian passports were used by the team that carried out the January killing of Hamas operative Mahmud al-Mabhuh in a luxury Dubai hotel found the documents were forgeries, Smith said.

He said the high quality of the forged passports pointed to the involvement of a state intelligence service.

"These investigations and advice have left the government in no doubt that Israel was responsible for the abuse and counterfeiting of these passports," he said.

Smith said this was not the first time that Israel had misused Australian passports, but he declined to comment on the other occasions.

"This is not what we expect from a nation with whom we have had such a close, supportive relationship," he said. "These are not the actions of a friend."

"The government takes this step much more in sorrow than in anger," he added.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Polish Roman Catholic priest living in Brazil is charged with running perverted dungeon of teenage boys

Yet another one:

Agence France-Presse May 21, 2010

RIO DE JANEIRO - A Polish priest living in Brazil has been arrested on charges of pedophilia and of turning his home into an "erotic dungeon" where he organized orgies with teenagers, Brazilian media reported Friday.

The cleric, identified only by his initials MMS, is "a person compulsively attached to sex with adolescents," the judge overseeing the case, Alexandre Abrahao Teixeira, said in his decision to issue a preventive detention order.

The priest ran a church in the west of Rio de Janeiro state and used his spiritual authority over the youths to prey on them, the judge said.

The priest's house was transformed into "a sort of erotic dungeon where these youths were thrown into orgies," he said.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

60 years ago: Calgary gives Very Reverend Hewlett Johnson, "Red" Dean of Canterbury, the reception he so richly deserves

Very Reverend Hewlett Johnson (1874-1966), Dean of Canterbury, was a well-known apologist for the Soviet Union in the mid-20th Century who looked like a thinner version of the great English comic actor Alastair Sim. Lloyd Billingsley, in his book The Generation that Knew Not Josef (1985), devotes a chapter to the "Red Dean." According to Mr. Billingsley (p.55):

Prototalitarian clergymen are a decidedly modern phenomenon. The early Christians, with all their glaring faults, never produced anyone capable of seeing in Alaric, the Visigoth king who sacked Rome, the coming savior of the world. Modern tyrants, however, compared to whom Alaric was a bumbling and squeamish amateur, have had many enthusiastic supporters in the pulpit. If some sort of hall of fame were to be constructed for these clergy, the Very Reverend Hewlett Johnson, Dean of Canterbury, would surely be inducted on the first ballot.

On May 22, 1950, Very Reverend Hewlett Johnson, Dean of Canterbury was nearing the end of a tour of Canada, and was scheduled to speak that evening in Calgary at United Ukrainian Hall (209--4th Avenue East) at a meeting sponsored by the Calgary Peace Council, a Communist front organization. The purpose of the dean’s tour, according to The Calgary Herald of May 22, "is peace, the abolition of all weapons of mass destruction and renewed approaches between east and west." Dr. Johnson claimed to be following the advice of Winston Churchill, who was promoting new multinational peace negotiations.

Anglican clergymen in Calgary, interviewed by the Herald on Sunday, May 21, made it clear that the Dean of Canterbury did not speak for them or the Church. Rt. Rev. H.R. Ragg, Anglican Bishop of Calgary, stated, "He does not speak for the church, but only for himself, a right which belongs to every citizen in our free, democratic British Empire."

Canon W.H.H. Crump of Christ Church, Elbow Park, went further, saying that the Dean of Canterbury was causing "great grief and embarrassment" to the Anglican communion:

His views are not shared by his church, his government or the government of Canada. While he will be completely ignored by the church in this city, many including myself, will feel that if he insists on taking advantage of the freedom of speech which we all uphold, he should in fact become a private citizen and resign his deanery of Canterbury.

Canon E.H. Maddocks, rector of St. Stephen’s, was equally blunt:

His message as coming from a professed Christian minister I utterly fail to comprehend. In the Communist empire of Russia, which is so warmly commended by the dean, the state is laying claim to the whole soul and body of its citizens. To such a theory the church cannot but offer unyielding, uncompromising opposition." Canon Maddocks called modern Russian a vast "slave camp," and declared "in this darkness the Dean of Canterbury professes to find the closest approximation to the Kingdom of God on earth. Anyone holding such views ceases to command the respect of the followers of the Christ of the New Testament.

Coincidentally, newspapers on May 22 carried an Associated Press dispatch stating that John C. Allum, the Mayor of Auckland, New Zealand, had said that he’d written to Archbishop of Canterbury Geoffrey Fisher asking him to define the Church of England’s position toward the Dean of Canterbury so that the city authorities would know how to receive him. According to Mr. Allum, Archbishop Fisher replied:

My advice to Anglican churches overseas is that they should completely ignore a visit of Dean Canterbury.
It is unfortunately true that Dean Canterbury so conducts himself as to create embarrassment and difficulty wherever he goes, not as Dean Canterbury or as an ecclesiastic, but purely as an individual who desires to declare his belief on certain political matters. There is no obligation on civic authorities to take any notice of him. He is completely unrepresentative of the Church of England and this country.

The AP dispatch went on to say that the Church of England had disavowed Dean Johnson’s pro-Soviet sentiments, but explained that he could not be removed from office because he had not made himself liable to charges in either a civil or ecclesiastical court.

Dean Johnson entered the hall through the front door; the door was hit by a tomato as soon as it closed behind him. The meeting of the Calgary Peace Council began with the United Nations song, followed by another song titled I’m Gonna Put My Name Down. Very Reverend Hewlett Johnson, Dean of Canterbury, was introduced at 8:50 P.M. by Arthur Wray, Member of the Legislative Assembly for Banff-Cochrane, who was currently sitting as an "independent Social Credit." The Red Dean declared that the U.S.S.R. was using atomic power for peaceful purposes, and deplored western nations’ rejection of Soviet leader Josef Stalin’s peace offers. Said the dean, "War to a planned economy is an intolerable nuisance. It is essential to an unplanned economy." Dean Johnson charged the United States with military expansionism for putting military bases near Russia, and urged audiences "to see that you get control of your press."

While 1,200 people were inside United Ukrainian Hall to hear the Red Dean, there were 500 outside, mostly boys of high school age, who, about five minutes after the beginning of the dean’s speech, began throwing eggs, firecrackers, and rocks at the building. A window was broken, and three youths were arrested. Some of the protesters shouted "Where’s Endicott?," referring to pro-Soviet United Church of Canada missionary James Endicott, chairman of the Canadian Peace Council. Mr. Endicott was in Edmonton that night, but was scheduled to be in Calgary in June. Towards the end of the protest some of the crowd outside began singing the song of the Volga Boatman. Very Reverend Hewlett Johnson, Dean of Canterbury, who had entered United Ukrainian Hall through the front door, escaped out the back door and climbed over a fence in order to reach his getaway car in the back alley.

The Calgary Herald commented on the Red Dean's appearance, and the resultant riot, in an editorial on May 25:

The Dean and The Mob

The rioting outside the hall where the Dean of Canterbury spoke on Monday was a shameful disgrace to Calgary. Most of it appears to have been the work of a bunch of teenagers, for whom the proper treatment would be a prolonged session in the woodshed with their fathers.
Breaking windows solves nothing, and if these high-school students have not yet learned anything about tolerance, then something is seriously wrong with the school system in this city. This kind of hoodlumism is vicious and unpardnonable, no matter what its motives: and we hope there will be no tendency on anyone’s part to excuse the rioters on the grounds that Dr. Hewlett Johnson’s strange opinions are calculated to arouse that kind of violence.
What is shocking about this uncivilized outburst of mob violence is that the youths taking part in it probably had only the sketchiest notion of the issues raised by the speeches which the Dean has been delivering. In any event, they did not hear him speak and therefore could not argue that his words had aroused them to frenzy. They displayed the same kind of goon-like intolerance which we used to expect from the Hitler Youth. They have no excuse.

* * *

Inside the hall, the fanatic figure in the black robes of the Church seemed to enjoy his incipient martyrdom. If Dr. Johnson visualizes himself as a lonely voice crying in the wilderness, then these young mobsters did their best to encourage his fantastic dream. He will now be able to go around the world preaching about the intolerance he found in Canada and using the fact as an argument to support his familiar contention that the Western nations are engaged in some murky capitalist plot to victimize the innocent Russians.
We must confess that we have revised our opinion of this man. Not long ago, we urged our readers to regard him as a misguided zealot who, unfortunately for himself and the great Church which he represents, did not know any better. Having heard him speak on Monday, we are convinced that our earlier estimate was wholly wrong.
The Dean of Canterbury is not a senile babbler with more sincerity than good sense. He is a vicious and vindictive old man who gives every appearance of enjoying himself as he recalls what happened at Hiroshima and mutters dark threats about what the Russians are preparing for use in the next war. (He knows, he explained on Monday, because he numbers many Russian scientists among his friends.)
He gloats openly over the fact that Frederic Joliot-Curie, the French Communist recently removed from his job as head of France’s atomic energy establishment, is a skilled scientist who has almost certainly told everything he knows to his friends in Moscow. He says he was well aware, some time ago, that it would not be more than two or three years before the Russians had the bomb "and," he added with what can be described only as a leer, "I know they aren’t stopping there."
The Dean of Canterbury, in other words, is going around the world rattling the sabre: not on behalf of his own country or his country’s allies, but on behalf of Russia. He carries on this evil work in the costume of a high prelate of the Church of England; he delivers his blood-curdling speeches while fondling a jewelled Crucifix (a present from the leader of the Orthodox Church in Russia) in a manner which comes perilously close to blasphemy.
He speaks as a man of God. He uses his position as head of the chapter at Canterbury Cathedral for the purpose of decrying his own country abroad and strengthening his country’s enemies. Do not let us be misled into supposing that Dr. Johnson’s speeches can be separated from his position in the Church. If he were plain Mr. Johnson, a civil engineer, nobody would pay any attention to him. It is because he wears the robes of sanctity and speaks from behind the image of the Cross that he is able to draw audiences wherever he chooses to go.

* * *

But his words are a denial of the faith of which he is supposed to be a principal exponent. He claims to preach peace and loving-kindness; in fact, he preaches a virulent brand of hatred, stirring up his hearers to hate the mysterious "interests" which, he says, deliberately foment war for their own purposes.
He is openly allied with a movement personifying everything which most Christians associate with the darkest evils of Anti-Christ. His position is not so much discreditable as dishonorable: if we were at war, it would be open treason, and could be punished as such. Because we’re technically at peace, the Dean of Canterbury must be allowed to speak, and our ancient traditions demand that he not only be allowed to speak but that mobs refrain from breaking windows while he is doing so.
We have thought it right to set down our changed views about this sinister man because it seems to us that many people have probably thought as we did until last Monday--that he is a well-meaning and rather pathetic figure. We are now convinced that he is no such thing; he is a grave danger to our way of life, and it is best that we should know exactly how we stand.

The other Calgary paper, The Albertan, published an editorial on May 26, which said, in part:

Peace Plus Tyranny

The "peace" appeal of the Dean of Canterbury made in Calgary this week was strictly phony, as far as we are concerned, although he himself was obviously quite sincere. The dean and his like want peace plus a large measure of communism. They minimize Russian dictatorship and tyranny. They don’t say "in spite of all the terrible faults of Russian we sincerely hope a way can be found for communism and western democracy to live together in peace." Rather they insist that Russia’s sins are virtues, that if one hates the Russian system he is a war-monger. They preach surrender, surrender either now to the triumphant supremacy of the Soviet system, or later to the terrible might of Soviet arms. Resistance to communism is both foolish and futile.
That such a traitorous doctrine should masquerade as "peace" is one of the great tragedies of the age, When the world is so war-weary and yet on the brink of atomic destruction, and when at he same time so much of it is in the bonds of slavery and oppression, peace is a holy word, and to defile it in the manner of the Dean of Canterbury is devilish sacrilege.

Woman gets caught cheating on her husband--and sues the phone company

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

Another example of someone refusing to take responsibility for her own sin, as reported by The Toronto Star:

A Toronto woman says the billing practices of Rogers Wireless Inc. led to her husband discovering her extramarital affair.

Now the woman, whose husband walked out, is suing the communications giant for $600,000 for alleged invasion of privacy and breach of contract, the results of which she says have ruined her life.

In 2007, Gabriella Nagy had a cellphone account with Rogers which sent the monthly bill to her home address in her maiden name. Her husband was the account holder for the family's cable TV service at the same address. Around June 4, 2007, he called Rogers to add internet and home phone.

The following month, Rogers mailed a "global" invoice for all of its services to the matrimonial home that included an itemized bill for Nagy's cellular service, according to the statement of claim filed in Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

When Nagy’s husband opened the Rogers invoice, he saw several hour-long phone calls to a single phone number.

"Nobody does business this way and he's not stupid," says Nagy, who is in her 30s. He called the number, spoke to the "third party" who confirmed the affair, which had lasted only a few weeks, Nagy told the Star.

"My husband didn't tell me that's how he found out, he just left."

"The husband used the previously private and confidential information that the defendant unilaterally disclosed to the husband to inquire about the people that the plaintiff was telephoning and the nature of such calls," the statement of claim says.

The statement alleges Rogers "unilaterally terminated its cellular contract with the plaintiff that had been in her maiden name and included it in the husband’s account that was under his surname.

Floozies for Christ: Carrie Prejean

As a jewel of gold in a swine's snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion. Proverbs 11:22

Carrie Prejean, for those who’ve forgotten, was the winner of Miss California USA in 2009 who attracted controversy in the national pageant when she answered a question about marriage by affirming the traditional view that marriage is between one man and one woman. She was subsequently presented as a heroine in certain sectors of the American evangelical community, such as Focus on the Family and Liberty University. The original title of her Focus on the Family broadcasts was to be, if I remember correctly, Carrie Prejean: A Modern Queen Esther. However, some (including me) thought this was going too far, and the broadcasts appeared under the title Carrie Prejean: Standing Firm. The broadcasts no longer appear to be available online, but if you contact Focus on the Family, you should be able to purchase the recordings (or maybe not--after what's happened in the months since, Focus on the Family may not want to admit that the broadcasts ever existed).

On June 10, 2009 Carrie Prejean was fired as Miss California USA. She alleged that she was fired because of her opposition to gay marriage, but pageant officials denied it. Pageant owner Donald Trump's comments were reported by TMZ:

Donald Trump just told TMZ he gave the green light to fire "biblically correct" Carrie Prejean's award-winning butt because she just wouldn't do the job and treated people badly.

Trump told us Carrie refused to appear at around 30 events on behalf of Miss California USA. He says Prejean was contractually bound to appear and she just wouldn't do it. He doesn't think her attitude has anything to do with her politics.

Trump said: "To me she was the sweetest thing. Everyone else -- she treated like s**t."

Keith Lewis, director of Miss California USA, went into greater detail:

Our problems with Carrie Prejean began before the controversial question at MISS USA. In early March, Carrie was advised in writing to re-read her contract because of conflicts that were ongoing for some time. Although our focus before MISS USA was on preparation, our focus after MISS USA is on brand building. Like anyone else who has a job, once you finish one assignment you go on to the next one. Unfortunately, Carrie had her own agenda. After signing on to appear at a press conference and to record a fundraising telemarketing message for the National Organization for Marriage, Carrie found a new voice that was not in keeping with ours. Although we attempted to put all the differences behind us at the press conference hosted by Mr. Trump when he instructed Carrie to bring herself back into contract compliance, that unfortunately did not happen.
Carrie’s contract in part states the following:

a) During the term of my reign as the State Pageant titleholder:

1) To cooperate fully with you and your affiliates, employees, agents, representatives, designees, sponsors, official charity affiliations and the like in carrying out their instructions in connection with the actions I will be performing under this agreement and in connection with my preparation for competition in the 2009 Miss USA Pageant. Without limiting the foregoing, I agree to follow and obey all rules, instructions, directions and requirements implemented by you in connection with my reign as the State Pageant titleholder, as they may be changed, modified or amended by you at any time.

2) To keep punctuality all appointments and appearances that require my presence.

3) You will have the exclusive right and control over all personal appearances which I may make or any services which I may render in the entertainment, literary and related fields. Without limiting the foregoing, I will not, without first obtaining your written consent, make any personal, television (both on scripted or unscripted television programming), motion picture, Internet/on-line or radio appearances or otherwise participate in, prepare or assist in the preparation of any written, audio or visual work that depicts, concerns, or relates in any way to me, including, without limitation, any motion picture, television program, commercials, music recordings, merchandising, screenplay, teleplay, print article, book, or Internet or web content. For the avoidance of doubt, I acknowledge and agree that the foregoing restrictions shall apply to all such appearances, services and works, regardless whether or not related to my reign as Miss California USA 2009 or the Miss California USA Pageant.

Although we could list multitudes of documented violations, for the purpose of taste and time we will attach a few as they relate to her allegations.

Her statement "I made every appearance" – We offered 53 appearances in writing, she was available for 1 and was either unwilling or unavailable for all the others.

That does not include the offer of Playboy or the reality show, I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here
Her statement, "They wanted me to do Playboy" not recommended but offered to her based upon her written request

Quoted from Carrie Prejean’s e-mail to us "I expect you to be forwarding me ALL email requests and interview requests to me. I know how you are and its (sic) not right if you are selecting things for me." Her statement "I did not make a book deal"

Quoted from an e-mail from Charles Limandri to Paula Shugart at Miss Universe, "As we discussed, Carrie has already started moving forward with the book deal. In fact, I now understand that she has already signed a contract with the publisher, that there are drafts of the content prepared, and that they expect to soon choose a writer to put it all together. Therefore, obviously as far as she is concerned, this project must go forward at this point."

Her statement "I have cooperated fully" Quoted from e-mails written to Keith Lewis from Carrie Prejean when he attempted to get details for her master calendar, "You do not cooperate with me, and you pick and chose the the things YOU want me to do. That is not happening anymore. Stop speaking for me. I have MY own voice. What are u gonna do fire me for volunteering for the special olympics hahaha ur crazy No I am doing this appearance. You do not need details. Its for the SPECIAL OLYMPICS!!! You just need to know I will be doing it alright. You will not facilitate this appearance." She was never told she could not go only to allow us to get the details Her statement, "I did not make appearances without their consent" There is currently a video that she taped for Shape magazine that was shot after MISS USA without our permission or involvement and is available online.

Her statement, "This is personal". We agree but not on our part. We believe it is personal on the part of Carrie Prejean and her lawyer who is General Council for NOM, the National Organization for Marriage, and their desire to continue to focus on their agenda around this issue.

The Miss California organization has a tradition of supporting strong-minded young women of all stripes. There is room in the Miss California family for titleholders of all points of view and we respect Carrie for having the courage and faith to stand by her convictions. We simply wish Carrie had been equally faithful to her contractual obligations, which she has not.

Copies of the email exchange between Carrie Prejean and pageant officials can be found here.

In reading the comments from both sides (and what has been revealed since then), there’s no doubt in my mind that Miss Prejean was fired as Miss California USA because of her attitude and behaviour, not because of her religious beliefs. However, some Christians insisted on believing otherwise. Here’s an amusing example from Learning, Loving, and Leading, the blog of Doug Brown, student pastor at Surrey Hills Baptist Church in Yukon, Oklahoma:

Politically correct police have won.
Carrie Prejean stripped of the Miss California crown.,2933,525716,00.html

If you haven't followed this story it is one worth catching up on. Miss California was in the top three in the recent Miss USA pageant when in the interview part of the pageant she was asked her opinion of same-sex marriage. She had the strength of character to state what she believes. She said, "...a marriage should be between a man and a woman."

Since that statement Miss Prejean was treated as if she was the second coming of Adolf Hitler. Her name and character has been drug through the mud. She has been ridiculed and called hypocritical. The way she was treated you would think she had called for the death of all living polar bear cubs in the world.

And finally yesterday the news, literally news, came out that she had been stripped of her current title. Miss Prejean heard about the move in the news a sign of true disrespect. The "official" reason for her being ousted as Miss California was, "contract violations". We could believe that if she had not been treated the way she was after her stance on same-sex marriage. Anyone with half a brain knows why she was stripped of her title.

The point of this story that I want to focus on is this: she was punished for her beliefs. In a day in which we are told there is no objective truth. We are told there is no right and wrong. It amazes me that in this setting someone can be punished for their beliefs. The true hypocrites in this story are those who mistreated Miss Prejean for her stance.

Pastor Doug’s defense of Miss Prejean can be excused on the grounds that by his own admission, he has only half a brain (maybe he’ll get a whole brain when he becomes a full pastor).

There have been some developments in the Carrie Prejean saga since June 2009. First, she filed a lawsuit against Miss California USA over her dismissal:

"Carrie Prejean is finally firing back at the people behind Miss California USA," said The former Miss California USA crown bearer—who clashed with pageant judge/blogger Perez Hilton over same-sex marriage—just filed a lawsuit "claiming Shanna Moakler and other pageant officials forced her out because of her religious beliefs." Included in the suit are allegations of "religious discrimination, defamation, public disclosure of private facts, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent infliction of emotional distress."

In November it was reported by Radar Online that Miss Prejean had posed for 30 nude photos and 8 sex tapes. She threw a temper tantrum during an appearance on Larry King Live on CNN. Her ex-boyfriend claimed that Miss Prejean had attempted to get him to lie about how old she was when one of the sex tapes was shot (she wanted him to say she was 17 at the time, he claimed she was 20). The revelation of the sex tapes reportedly led to a settlement of her lawsuit. Meanwhile, Keith Lewis added further comment:

In response to Carrie’s awkward appearance on "Larry King Live" and her ex-boyfriend saying he was told to lie about her age in her solo sex tape, Miss Cali Prez Keith Lewis tells TMZ:

"The public is finally getting a glimpse of the real Carrie Prejean who lives in her own delusional world.

The childish behavior, her negative attitude, the sarcasm and condescending tone, the disrespect and continual lying she is demonstrating now is only a fraction of what we endured during her reign and after.

Anyone who buys her book is supporting a woman who is actually the opposite of everything she claims to be.

I sincerely hope she is able to get the psychological help I believe she has shown to clearly need."

For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication. I Thessalonians 4:3

In February 2010 it was reported that Miss Prejean had become engaged to Kyle Boller, backup quarterback with the St. Louis Rams of the National Football League, and had moved in with him.

Carrie Prejean's legal problems aren't over yet. In March 2010 it was reported that she was being sued by A. Larry Ross Communications, an ostensibly Christian public relations firm, for not paying them for work that they had done on her behalf. According to Courthouse News:

A "Christian-focused" public relations firm gave former Miss California Carrie Prejean "interview tips and damage control" during a 2009 media controversy says the ousted beauty queen owes it $64,000. Larry Ross Communications, sued Prejean in Denton County Court, Texas, claiming she has not paid for the "hundreds of hours" it spent fielding media calls and doing other public relations work.

...Larry Ross Communications claims it represented Prejean throughout the brouhaha, providing "crucial information" to her attorney when Prejean sued the Miss California Pageant.
The company's Web site says it "assists Christian-focused organizations, associations, ministries and churches in telling their stories through the Christian and secular media in the context of traditional news values."
The company says it gave Prejean "intensive interview training," "brokered a conference call with Donald Trump ... and confirmed a joint press conference with Trump and the pageant officials."

Although A. Larry Ross Communications claims to be "Christian-focused," apparently nobody there has bothered to read what God has to say about Christians taking one another to court:

If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints?
Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases?
Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!
Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church!
I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers?
But instead, one brother goes to law against another—and this in front of unbelievers!
The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?
Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers.
I Corinthians 6:1-8 (NIV)

It's my contention that the cause of Christ is harmed far more by the behaviour of professing Christians such as Carrie Prejean than by the mosquito attacks of so-called "new atheists" such as Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens. To compare Miss Prejean to Queen Esther, is of course, absurd, as Esther was a virtuous woman (it's also worth noting that Esther's predecessor, Vashti, was deposed as queen because she refused to parade her beauty in front of a bunch of drunken men (Esther 1:10-12). As for Carrie Prejean's claim to be a Christian, I'll quote (out of context) Mark "Jacko" Jackson: "Well, prove it! And until [she does]...I'm gonna wait! Oi!"

For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: I Peter 4:17a

HT: Politics Daily

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Floozies for Christ: Bristol Palin

But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not once be named among you, as becometh saints; Ephesians 5:3

For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: I Thessalonians 4:3

More evidence that you can’t be a satirist anymore: It used to be that people who charged speaking fees were those who had actually done something; in 2010, however, we have an agency called Single Source Speakers that has added Bristol Palin--19-year-old daughter of former Alaska Governor and failed U.S. vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin--to their roster of speakers. Single Source doesn’t say what she’ll be charging for her speeches, but Associated Press quoted family attorney Thomas Van Flein as citing a figure between $15,000-$30,000. Single Sources’ entry on Bristol Palin reads:

Bristol Palin
Fee: ????
Travels from: Alaska
Programs: Abstinence, Conference, Fundraiser, Pro-Life, Special Event/Holiday, Women's, Youth

Bristol Palin, Sarah Palin's oldest daughter, took the country by storm practically overnight when she was introduced to Americans during the 2008 presidential campaign. Her teen pregnancy and the birth of her son Tripp, resulted in millions of Americans discussing the issues surrounding teen pregnancy. Bristol has since gone on to become a Teen Ambassador for the Candie's Foundation, and speaks about pregnancy prevention, abstinence, faith and life. She recently appeared on the ABC drama "The Secret Life of the American Teenager" and is working on her first book.

As for "working on her first book," I wonder what book she’s reading (or colouring); I find it hard to believe she’s writing one, given that she hasn’t done anything worth writing or reading about. Bristol Palin is someone whose main accomplishment has been to have a child out of wedlock, and whose name is known only because her mother is a famous politician. When it comes to speaking on pregnancy prevention and abstinence, as Winston Churchill would say, "Here, surely, is the world’s record in the domain of the ridiculous and the contemptible." Bristol seems to be following in her mother's footsteps when it comes to cashing in on celebrity. For those who’ve forgotten, Sarah Palin had almost a year and a half left in her term as Governor of Alaska when she up and quit, apparently because she was unaccustomed to and unwilling to put up with more of the criticism (warranted or unwarranted) that comes with being a national figure. She’s since gone on to the book and lecture circuit, instead of continuing to serve as governor.

Those who think they know what the positions of Bristol and Sarah Palin are on the issues of teenage fornication and pregnancy might be surprised. On February 16, 2009 they appeared on Greta Van Susteren’s program on Fox News. The best commentary I’ve read on this appearance comes from Ingrid Schlueter on her former blog, Slice of Laodicea, which is fortunately still online:

Quote of the Day

"Get beyond the ideal of abstinence," the 44 year old, new grandmother said. "Hey, life happens."

–Governor Sarah Palin to Greta Van Susteren on Fox News Channel, 2-16-09 in reference to her teen daughter Bristol’s pregnancy. Bristol told Fox that she has "no immediate plans to marry."

Bristol Palin: Teen Abstinence Not Realistic

Evangelical Governor Sarah Palin has become something of a conservative icon these days for Christians. Anyone who watched the Fox News interview last night with Governor Palin and her 18-year-old daughter, however, should be asking some hard questions.

Fornicating and then having a baby out of wedlock is apparently no longer viewed as sin among evangelical Christians. The word "sin" simply does not exist. Neither is marriage all that important to this "pro-family" leader. Her daughter and boyfriend are still unmarried after their child was born. Bristol is only now "engaged" to the high school drop-out who fathered her child. Sarah and Todd Palin are OK with this. As for Bristol, she says she has "no regrets", not even for her child who was born outside of the institution of marriage, and she thinks that abstinence is unrealistic. I would suggest that with a moral outlook devoid of God’s authoritative Word, she is correct. Bristol does not appear to begin to understand what she has done and what kind of an example she has been to other girls her age, many of whom will never have wealthy parents to pick up the pieces. Worse still, Governor Palin shrugs the situation off as not ideal, but says the family will "make the most of it."

...why would Todd and Sarah Palin allow Bristol on national television as some kind of celebrity for having a baby out of wedlock, her sole accomplishment thus far in life? What message are they sending her–that fornication pays with big media gigs?

If a daughter of a supposedly Christian home can go on national television with parental sanction and state that abstinence (moral purity) is unattainable, it says volumes about the values she has imbibed. Bristol appears to be the tragic product of completely secular thinking. God and His Word apparently have nothing to do with her world and life view.

As far as I’m concerned, anyone who believes that the grace of God (which is, in the title of a booklet by Dave Breese, The Wealth By Which We Live (1982)) is not "realistic" or sufficient for living a life of purity and holiness has no business claiming to be a Christian. Some may think I’m being too hard on a 19-year-old girl. However, she’s old enough to charge fees for public speeches, and people don’t charge fees for speaking unless they figure that they’re knowledgeable enough on something that people will pay to hear what they have to say. If Bristol Palin is going to publicly pose as someone possessing knowledge or wisdom that’s worth paying to hear, then she’s fair game for public criticism. I see no evidence that she has any such knowledge or wisdom, and I wouldn’t pay 15-30 cents to hear her speak, much less $15,000-$30,000. Especially do I not think that Bristol Palin has any wisdom to offer Christian young people.

Those who are anxious for Christian young people to hear a message about abstinence and purity would be better off hearing from someone who’s actually lived such a life. I was in the audience at Bartle Hall in Kansas City on December 30, 1983 when Elisabeth Elliot delivered a powerful message based on her experience. It gets replayed every so often on Focus on the Family, and the audio may be available on the Internet. If you can’t find it, look for her book Passion and Purity (1984).

July 15, 2010 update: Bristol Palin and the bum who fathered her child are back together and engaged, and fittingly, on the cover of Us magazine. It's quite apparent that he doesn't know Jesus Christ; I'd accuse Bristol of sinning by marrying an unbeliever, but I see no evidence that she's a Christian, either.

June 26, 2015 update: The engagement mentioned above broke up, and now another engagement has broken up, but Bristol Palin is pregnant--again, out of wedlock--again. As reported by Helena Andrews of the Washington Post, June 25, 2015:

Palin, whose recent engagement to former Marine and Medal of Honor awardee Dakota Meyer ended mysteriously and abruptly, broke the baby news on her personal blog Thursday.

“I wanted you guys to be the first to know that I am pregnant. Honestly, I’ve been trying my hardest to keep my chin up on this one,” wrote Palin.

“I know this has been, and will be, a huge disappointment to my family, to my close friends, and to many of you,” continued Palin, mother of 6-year-old Tripp with her first ex-fiance Levi Johnston. “But please respect Tripp’s and my privacy during this time. I do not want any lectures and I do not want any sympathy.”

Thus far, Meyer, who has more than 65,000 followers on Twitter and who Mama Palin once called “an American Hero,” has remained silent on the subject of Bristol’s baby.
There's no point giving Miss Palin any lectures, since it's apparent that she wouldn't listen, anyway. And I'm sick of people holding press conferences or making publicly available posts on blogs, asking that their privacy be respected. If you want your privacy respected, keep your privacy private. As for the silence of Miss Palin's latest ex-fiance, maybe he has doubts as to whether the child is his--but that's just my speculation.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

10 years ago: Vatican reveals the third secret of Fatima

On May 13, 2000, during a pilgrimage by Pope John Paul II to Fatima, Portugal, the Vatican reported the last of three prophecies, or "secrets," said to have been revealed in Fatima by the Virgin Mary in apparitions to three children, beginning on May 13, 1917. The first secret had been interpreted as forecasting the end of World War I and the beginning of World War II; the second secret supposedly forecast the rise and fall of Communism in Russia.

According to Vatican Secretary of State Angelo Sodano, the third secret foresaw the killing of a "bishop clothed in white;" this was interpreted as forecasting the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II, which also occurred on May 13, in 1981. Two of the children died in childhood and were beatified by the pope during his pilgrimage; the third was still living.

However, the well-known priest and author Malachi Martin had a different view of the third secret (see his book The Keys of This Blood (1990), pp. 629-633). Mr. Martin asserted that the Virgin, according to the three secrets, mandated the pope who was in office in 1960 to consecrate Russia to her immaculate heart, and that the Russian orthodox church would then convert back to Roman Catholicism. If the mandate were not followed, devastating war in the world and destruction inside the Roman Catholic Church (The Great Apostasy) would follow. Mr. Martin claimed that he had stood outside the papal living quarters in 1960 while Pope John XXIII and Cardinal Bea and others were reading the document containing the third secret, and that in order to assure Russian cooperation at the approaching Second Vatican Council, the Pope decided against the mandate. Popes Paul VI and John Paul II also decided against it for various reasons. By the time the third secret was revealed by Mr. Sodano, Mr. Martin was no longer around to question the revelation; he had died on July 27, 1999 at the age of 78. He died in hospital in New York several days after suffering a brain hemorrhage, supposedly in an accidental fall at his apartment, but the timing of his death and the Vatican’s revelation of the third secret was very convenient--and very suspicious.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Message distorts John 3:16-17

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
John 3:16-17, KJV

This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. John 3:16-17, The Message

Some Bereans, such as Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon at The Berean Call, have commented about how Eugene Peterson in The Message alters the meaning of John 3:17. "That the world through him might be saved" is changed to "put the world right again," which makes Jesus Christ sound more a social reformer than a saviour.

However, it’s also worth taking a look at what Mr. Peterson does to John 3:16. This is perhaps the most beloved verse in the Bible, and one that directly led me to put my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as my saviour. The word rendered as "everlasting" in the King James Version and "eternal" in most modern versions is the Greek word aionios. According to An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words by W.E. Vine (1940), " is used of persons and things which are in their nature endless..." Which is to say, "everlasting" or "eternal" are correct renderings of the word. However, The Message changes "everlasting life" to "a whole and lasting life." "Whole and lasting" sounds a lot less impressive to me than "everlasting" or "eternal." It sounds as though Mr. Peterson is more interested in promoting a better life on Earth than in preparing people for eternity.

The reader will also note the absence of the word "begotten" from verse 16. I haven’t time to reprint it here, but Mr. Vine’s dictionary has a lengthy explanation of the phrase "only begotten," which is the Greek word monogenes. The phrase is unique to the writings of John, and is found five times (John 1:14; 1:18; 3:16; 3:18; and I John 4:9), always in reference to Christ as the Son of God. I’ve already posted on The Message’s refusal to use the phrases "Lord Jesus" and "Lord Jesus Christ," and I don’t understand how such a perverse paraphrase can be seriously regarded as a "Bible."

Is there a connection between a sulfur spring in the Canadian Arctic and possible life on Europa?

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Psalm 19:1

The LORD by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens. Proverbs 3:19

As reported by Canwest News Service:

A NASA satellite's detection of a faint yellow stain on an ancient glacier in the Canadian Arctic is being hailed as a major breakthrough in the search for life beyond Earth.

The yellowish tinge on a remote patch of the Great White North is caused by microbes interacting with a sulphur spring bubbling up from below the ice of the Borup Fiord Pass on Ellesmere Island, Canada's northernmost major land mass.

Scientists have long known about the one-of-a-kind feature, described by NASA as a place "like none other on Earth."

But the discovery by a Canada-U. S. research team that the sulphur spring can be pinpointed by infrared sensors -- housed in an orbiting spacecraft -- fuels hope that a probe sent to Jupiter could detect similar chemical signals on one of its moons, Europa.

The ice-covered sphere has dark regions that are suspected to be sulphur deposits and possible hotbeds of microbial activity -- in other words, alien life.

Located 600 million kilometres from Earth and smaller than our own moon, Europa is described by NASA as being "near the top of the short list of places in our solar system that might harbour extraterrestrial life."

That's because scientists believe the distant moon is covered in ice that "might conceal an ocean of liquid water," a prime prerequisite for life.

Neanderthals are not "totally extinct"

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. Genesis 1:27

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

As reported by Canwest News Service:

There is a little Neanderthal in most of us, according to an international team that has added an intriguing twist to human ancestry.

The cave dwellers interbred with "modern" humans shortly after they left Africa, say the scientists, who have extracted the genetic evidence from gnawed bones found in a Croatian cave.

Their analysis shows that one to four per cent of all the DNA in people of non-African ancestry originated with our thick-browed cousins.

"The Neanderthals are not totally extinct," says team leader Svante Paabo, of Germany's Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, noting how their genes live on in us "a little bit."

"One to four per cent of the DNA that I carry in my cells, if I come from outside Africa, is from the Neanderthals," he says...

...The genomes show that Neanderthals interbred with the "modern" humans after they migrated out of Africa. "It's certainly an indication of what went on socially when Neanderthal and modern humans met," Paabo told a media teleconference.

Co-author David Reich, a geneticist at Harvard Medical School, says it is difficult to know how much mingling and mating went on.

There may have been a "large number of matings among large populations, or a small number of matings -- even dozens -- into a quite small founding population of modern humans moving outside Africa," says Reich.

The researchers suspect the interbreeding occurred in the Middle East 45,000 to 80,000 years ago and before humans spread out across Asia...

...Neanderthals had slightly larger brains than Homo sapiens, were stockier and more muscular.

Just a few questions, Chief: If interbreeding took place between Neanderthals and "modern" humans, doesn't that mean that the Neanderthals were, in fact, human? And if their brains were larger than those of modern man, couldn't that indicate that they were smarter than us? Wouldn't that indicate "devolution" rather than evolution?

Daughters of polygamous fundamentalist Mormon leader speak out against their father's cult

30 years ago, when Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau was trying to force his Charter of Rights and Freedoms into the constitution, there were a few of us warning that if he succeeded, the only people who would end up having any rights would be perverts, criminals, deadbeats, and malcontents. The charter officially became part of the Constitution Act on April 17, 1982, and events since then have confirmed my misgivings. As a white, English-speaking, Canadian-born heterosexual male Bible-believing Christian, I’m definitely less free in 2010 than I was before 1982.

No group in Trudeaupia (formerly Canada) has benefited more from the human rights cancer than sodomite activists. When the Liberal government recognized the legitimacy of sodomite and lesbian marriages in the last decade, I predicted that the next step would be to legally permit polygamy. When the objective standard for marriage of one man and one woman is done away with, then everything just becomes a matter of preference, and it becomes illogical and increasingly difficult to prohibit other "arrangements." For years there has been a community of fundamentalist Mormons practicing polygamy in the small community of Bountiful, British Columbia. The B.C. government has been afraid to prosecute the polygamists because they don’t think it would survive a Charter challenge in court. As reported by Valerie Fortney of the Calgary Herald:

In January 2009, five years after RCMP began investigating the community of about 1,000 people, its spiritual leader, Winston Blackmore, was arrested and charged with one count of polygamy. Nineteen women were named on his indictment.

James Oler was also charged with one count of polygamy, with three women listed on his indictment.

The charges against both men were quashed on a technicality. Rather than appealing that decision, British Columbia's attorney general decided to refer the issue to the B.C. Supreme Court. The action, joined by the federal Justice Department, is meant to determine whether Canada's anti-polygamy laws are constitutional.

The non-Christian scholar Jacob Bronowski, in his television documentary series The Ascent of Man, argued from a secular point of view that when human societies outlawed polygamy, it was to prevent older men taking advantage of younger women. Think of what will happen if polygamy is permitted: older men will accumulate harems of younger women--women who rightly belong with younger men. There will be large numbers of young men without the civilizing influence of compatible women in their lives, and the result will be a society full of criminals and barbarians. The B.C. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case in the fall of 2010. Should the court rule in favour of the fundamentalist Mormon leaders, Trudeaupia will be pushed back into the dark ages (back past her starting point, in fact, because polygamy was never legal in Canada)--a rather ironic legacy of the country's most "progressive" Prime Minister.

Brenda Jensen and Lorna Jean Blackmore, half-sisters who are daughters of Bountiful’s Harold Blackmore and two of his wives, are now speaking out about the life they led within the Canadian Fundamentalist Curch of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Jensen alleges that in the polygamist community, systematic mind control begins not long after birth.

"We are not individuals, we are not persons," Jensen says. "Our hearts and souls are killed before we even get a chance to know ourselves."

Rulon Jeffs, who died in 2002, was the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Jensen hands out copies of photographs showing the late Rulon Jeffs, then in his 90s and posing with his two teenage wives on their wedding day.

"Look at those girls' eyes; they are dead," she says.

The goal, she says, is to make sure they are "empty vessels, so that righteous brothers could fill you up and lead you to exaltation.

"This is not a religion," says Jensen, who managed to avoid marriage to her "assigned" 60-year-old husband when she was 16 and married a young man from another sect after the family had moved to Arizona.

"This is a cult, and should be treated under the law both here and in the United States, as such."

Jensen now runs from her home in Utah the HOPE Organization, a nonprofit group devoted to helping survivors of abuse within polygamous relationships.

50 years ago--The birth control pill is approved for use in the United States

Today marks the 50th anniversary of a milestone in the history of the sexual revolution. On May 9, 1960 Enovid, the original oral contraceptive, was approved in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration for use by married women for the purpose of birth control. An article on the pill's significance in the U.S.A. and Canada may be found here.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Campus Crusade's Power to Change's mission is to boldly go where the United Church of Canada has gone before

"Most people are devoted to causes which are neither significant nor lasting."
--Howard Hendricks, from the promotional film for the Campus Crusade for Christ conference KC '83.

It comes as no surprise to this blogger to see the continuing liberal direction taken by Power to Change (more familiar to those of us of a certain age as Campus Crusade for Christ, Canada). It’s what I predicted would happen after they announced their "new paradigm" in May 2006. An example of this is the unlikely issue of bottled water. At a general council of the hopelessly apostate United Church of Canada in Thunder Bay in August 2006, a resolution was put forward against "commodification" of water supplies that included a request that UCC congregations and members boycott bottled water. However, as reported by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation:

Ironically, the church's delegates are drinking bottled water this week at its meeting at Lakehead University. The conference facility was not equipped to provide drinking water.

The Calgary Herald, in an editorial, offered a dissenting view:

Of course, delegates attending a conference in Thunder Bay, Ont., can stroll to the nearby shores of North America's largest freshwater lake, Superior, and have all the water they want for free. They can even take it out of the taps for nothing more than the utilities charge. What they're really paying for is the cost of purifying it, packaging it and delivering it.

That's not commodification, it's fee-for-service.

On November 30, 2006 the UCC issued its policy position on water, which included:

Discourage the purchase of bottled water starting within its courts and congregations where possible;

The UCC social policy position page includes the link to their report titled Water: Life before Profit.

Flash forward to April 2010, and the Power to Change site contains a blog post by Claire Colvin titled Raise a Glass for Earth Day, which advises:

Yes, drinking bottled water when you’re out somewhere is healthier than drinking pop. But drinking water from a tap is even better, for all of us. This year for Earth Day, instead of turning something off, turn something on. Head to the sink and pour yourself a delicious glass of tap water. You’ll do us all a favor.

More Books and Things contains some excellent commentary (e.g., this post) on Power to Change’s use and promotion of the materials of Erwin McManus. Few of the blog posts on PTC’s Soul Cravings page mention the gospel of Jesus Christ or contain anything that’s distinctively Christian; most of the posts could have been written by any secular motivational speaker or writer. It’s almost enough to make one nostalgic for the formulaic writing of Bill Bright. The current emphasis of Power to Change is an excellent example of what Chris Rosebrough is talking about (go to Fighting for the Faith and search for "3D Theology") when he says that the material principle of modern evangelicalism, i.e., what it’s really about, has gone from "Jesus Christ crucified for our sins" to "the changed life," while the formal principle, i.e., the source of the material principle’s authority, has gone from "sola scriptura"--the Bible as our only guide of faith and practice--to "the Bible as guidebook"--containing principles for practical living.

If their website is any indication, Power to Change is becoming just a self-help movement, and is increasingly unrecognizable as Christian. To see where this sort of development has come from and where it’s headed, read the text of Samuel Tow’s prescient address from 1983 titled Today’s Evangelicals, Tomorrow’s Liberals.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Focus on the Family hired Tim Goeglein as their "man in Washington" after he was exposed as a serial plagiarist

I’d never heard of Tim Goeglein until Focus on the Family broadcast a three-part series titled Seeing President Bush in a New Light on June 8, 9, and 10, 2009, with Mr. Goeglein as the guest. The broadcasts are no longer available online, but if you contact Focus on the Family and mention the title and dates of the programs, you should be able to purchase the recordings. I listened to the programs, where Mr. Goeglein was praising Mr. Bush to the skies, and my reaction to much of what I was hearing was "What a pack of lies! Who is this guy?"

A quick search on Tim Goeglein found that he was hired in March 2009 as vice-president for external relations for Focus on the Family Action, the lobbying arm of the organization--which is to say, he acts as Focus on the Family’s "man in Washington." Mr. Goeglein spent 10 years as press secretary to U.S. Senator Dan Coats (Republican--Indiana); when Sen. Coats retired, Mr. Goeglein spent two years with Gary Bauer’s Campaign for Working Families. Mr. Goeglein joined the administration of President George W. Bush in 2001, and served as a special assistant to Mr. Bush and deputy director of the White House Office of Public Liaison, i.e., he was the liaison between the administration and religious groups--on the opposite end of the phone from his current position with Focus on the Family.

Mr. Goeglein left the Bush administration in March 2008. And why did he leave? He was exposed as a serial plagiarist. Mr. Goeglein contributed occasional guest columns to the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, one of his hometown newspapers. A blogger named Nancy Nall discovered an instance of plagiarism in one of Mr. Goeglein’s columns, and posted it, under the title Copycat, on her blog on February 29, 2008. The item had barely been posted when readers began finding other instances of plagiarism by Mr. Goeglein. On March 3 Ms. Nall wrote an article for Slate magazine detailing how fast the evidence against Mr. Goeglein had accumulated. The News-Sentinel ran an article on March 1 saying that 20 of Mr. Goeglein’s 38 columns contained examples of plagiarism. Within two days, the number of known examples of his columns containing plagiarized material had risen to 27. Mr. Goeglein offered his resignation to the Bush administration, and the resignation was accepted.

Tim Goeglein was hired by Focus on the Family a year after being exposed as a serial plagiarist, which doesn’t say much for the organization’s ethical standards. If you read the article about Mr. Goeglein’s hiring in the Focus on the Family publication Citizen Link, you will find no mention that he left the Bush White House in disgrace. The fact that a man of such character as Mr. Goeglein can get hired by Focus on the Family may give some people hope; any readers who have had a hard time finding work because of a history of plagiarism might want to try Focus on the Family.

As for George W. Bush: In addition to being a war criminal according to the standard laid down at Nuremberg, the execution of Terri Schiavo should have been enough to dispel any belief that Mr. Bush is a Christian. If that isn’t enough, there’s the interview he gave to ABC News Nightline in December 2008, which was reported in print by Associated Press:

Asked about creation and evolution, Bush said: "I think you can have both. I think evolution can ? you're getting me way out of my lane here. I'm just a simple president. But it's, I think that God created the earth, created the world; I think the creation of the world is so mysterious it requires something as large as an almighty and I don't think it's incompatible with the scientific proof that there is evolution."

...Interviewer Cynthia McFadden asked Bush if the Bible was literally true.

"You know. Probably not. ... No, I'm not a literalist, but I think you can learn a lot from it, but I do think that the New Testament for example is ... has got ... You know, the important lesson is 'God sent a son,'" Bush said.

"It is hard for me to justify or prove the mystery of the Almighty in my life," he said. "All I can just tell you is that I got back into religion and I quit drinking shortly thereafter and I asked for help. ... I was a one-step program guy."

The president also said that he prays to the same God as those with different religious beliefs.

"I do believe there is an almighty that is broad and big enough and loving enough that can encompass a lot of people," Bush said.

If that still isn’t enough, you can refresh your memory with this recap of Mr. Bush’s observance of non-Christian religious practices during his years in the White House. You can also go to the site Bush Revealed for more detailed information.

January 23, 2015 update: Go here or here for a transcript of an excerpt from Focus on the Family's June 2009 broadcast with then-host James Dobson inteviewing Mr. Goeglein.

American Christians--Is your pastor a hireling of the United States government?

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.
Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
Romans 13:1-7

Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;
Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.
I Peter 2:13-14

The above passages are often taken by Christians to mean that Christians owe almost complete obedience to human governments (the exceptions being where the authorities try to forbid the preaching of the gospel or demand that Christians worship the ruler as God). A number of times I’ve heard Christians cite these passages (especially Romans 13:1) to argue that those in authority are necessarily put there by God. I believe that to take such a view is to go against what the Bible teaches about truth, righteousness, and justice. A person could murder his way into power, take over in an illegal coup, steal an election, or lie about his constitutional qualifications for office, and yet we’re supposed to believe that such a person is in power by the authority of God. Such a view doesn’t say much for the character of God. I’m reminded of the 1888 U.S. presidential election, when Republican candidate Benjamin Harrison lost the popular vote, but won a narrow electoral vote win over Democratic incumbent Grover Cleveland. Mr. Harrison grasped the hand of Pennsylvania Republican boss Matt Quay, and said, "Providence has given us the victory." A few weeks later, Mr. Quay told reporters in Philadelphia, "Think of the man! He ought to know that Providence hadn't a damn thing to do with it," adding that Mr. Harrison would "never know how many Republicans were compelled to approach the gates of the penitentiary to make him president."

Both of these New Testament passages contain conditions. Those in authority are to praise those who do good, punish those who do evil, and do good to the people of God. If they’re that, then they aren’t governing with the authority of God, even though they may still hold the reins of power. The Old Testament gives us an example of a king who was anointed by the LORD, but who lost that authority although he was still in office. Saul was anointed King over Israel in I Samuel chapter 10; in verse 7, Samuel told Saul that God was with him. However, Saul began to disobey God in chapter 13, and after he further disobeyed God by refusing to destroy everything belonging to the Amalekites, the LORD rejected him as king:

And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee: for thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD hath rejected thee from being king over Israel. I Samuel 15:26

And the LORD said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons. I Samuel 16:1

Was Saul immediately deposed as king? No, he was still on the throne, and remained King over Israel until he died in battle in I Samuel chapter 31. What he lost was the authority of God behind his rule; Saul was no longer God’s man on the throne, even though the LORD allowed him to remain in office for some time after pronouncing His rejection of Saul as king.

One pastor who takes a view of Romans 13 that’s contrary to the view often expressed among Christians is Chuck Baldwin of Pensacola, Florida. In February 2009 he wrote a column on the subject titled Romans 13 Revisited. Three years earlier, Pastor Baldwin interviewed Greg Dixon, former pastor of Indianapolis Baptist Temple, on the subject of Romans 13, and the audio can be downloaded here. In January 2010 Pastor Baldwin’s son Timothy, a constitutional lawyer, wrote a two-part column titled Biblical Mandate For Just Government: What is Good & Evil, which may be found here and here.

In May 2006 Alex Jones, at his Prison Planet site, ran a column by Paul Joseph Watson alleging that the United States government, through the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), is paying thousands of pastors to preach sermons on Romans 13, advising Christians obey the government, and not to resist a declaration of martial or other intrusive government actions. Mr. Jones has a reputation for promoting conspiracy theories, but in this case, he provides evidence to back it up. A concerned congregant from Church of New Hope, an Assemblies of God church in Stow, Ohio, wrote to Prison Planet and included a copy of a bulletin insert dated November 9, 2008 from the Ohio District AoG Superintendent, Rev. John Wootton, invoking Romans 13 to state that Barack Obama’s presidency comes from God, and that Christians should lead the way in supporting him.

Another column by Mr. Watson in February 2009 disclosed that a member of the Worldwide Church of God had asked church leaders if any WCG pastors were on the FEMA payroll, only to be told that such information was privileged. Also in February 2009, Mr. Jones interviewed State Representative Matt Shea of Washington, who expressed his concern over the use of pastors as FEMA agents. You can watch the video of the interview, or read the transcript.

It’s tempting to think that all this is just the typical conspiracy-mongering of Alex Jones, but I’ve found some evidence myself to back up his allegations. At Beaverton Grace Bible Church in Beaverton, Oregon, Pastor Chuck O’Neal had a series of four (count ‘em, four!) sermons in the summer of 2008 on the subject of Christians obeying the government. These were:

July 13, 2008 Evangelistic Sedition!

July 27, 2008 Gospel Seditionists Submitting to State Authority

August 3, 2008 Moral Seditionists Submitting to State Authority

August 10, 2008 Practical Submission to State Authority

I invite, indeed, urge the reader to download these messages. I don’t think I’ve ever heard sermons that advised a more servile attitude toward government than these. I can’t prove that this pastor is a paid government agent, but these sermons make me very suspicious.

February 12, 2015 update: As reported by Mikael Thalen of Infowars, February 9, 2015:

A church hosting a law enforcement appreciation sermon asked its followers to pledge their allegiance to government this weekend, arguing that all state authorities throughout history have been ordained by God.

According to an anonymous visitor of the Gold Creek Community Church in Mill Creek, Washington, who provided exclusive photos to Infowars, attendees were ordered to submit to the state without question.

“They had police worship today and last week was military worship where they played clips of American Sniper…” the source said. “They were telling people to basically worship government and worship police no matter what. No mention of police brutality, no mention of the stingray systems grabbing our data…”

The church’s pastor, Dan Kellog, who is also reportedly a police chaplain, used the Romans 13 bible verse to justify his position. As noted by Infowars Paul Joseph Watson, Romans 13 has long been used by authoritarian regimes to force compliance.

“Romans 13 has routinely been cited by tyrants throughout history in an attempt to prevent Christians from opposing their rule, indeed, it was Hitler’s favorite bible verse,” Watson wrote. “Religious groups such as the Catholics in 1930’s Germany also used the verse as an excuse not to rise up against the Nazis when they were still a minority political party.”

Near the end of the sermon, members of the congregation were asked to raise their right hands and make a pledge, which included the promise to call 911 on “suspicious” neighbors.

“I pledge to call 911 if I see someone suspicious in my neighborhood,” the pledge stated.

While working with law enforcement to create a safer community is a noble cause, the sermon made no mention of the duty of Americans to oppose and protest unconstitutional legislation and dictates.

The sermon’s content is eerily similar to a 2009 document passed out to churchgoers in Ohio that told Christians to support President Obama due to his status as “God’s minister.”

Since at least 2006, the Department of Homeland Security has used Romans 13 under a FEMA program to train pastors to become literal secret police. Pastors are tasked with teaching their congregations to submit to every government action including forced relocation under martial law.

During the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, pastors operating under the “Clergy Response Team” program were used to quell dissent as police and military carried out unconstitutional gun confiscation.
Click on the link to see or hear Pastor Dan Kellogg's message on Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, February 8, 2015.

Click on the links to see the photos of the screen behind Pastor Kellogg displaying Romans 13:1 and the pledge mentioned in the article above.

HT: Chuck Baldwin