Saturday, December 16, 2017

90 years ago: The death of Israelite House of David leader Benjamin Purnell

On December 16, 1927, Benjamin Purnell, "King of the Israelite House of David," died of diabetes at the age of 66. The Israelite House of David, founded in 1903 by Mr. Purnell and his wife Mary, was a sect based in Benton Harbor, Michigan that subscribed to replacement theology, believing that they were true Israel. The Purnells followed a man named James J. Jezreel, who was supposedly the "sixth messenger," and the Purnells believed themselves to be the seventh messenger according to their understanding of Revelation 10:7:

When the seventh angel begins to sound, the mystery shall be finished as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.

Typical of pseudo-Christian sects, the Israelite House of David accepted the Bible as scripture, but also accepted extrabiblical revelations and interpretations of the Bible that were received by the "messengers." The group patterned itself after the Nazarites mentioned in Numbers 6:1-21, with a few modern quirks, such as the presence of an amusement park and a model railroad on their Benton Harbor property. The most memorable aspect of the Israelite House of David was the men's barnstorming baseball teams, with the players sporting long hair and beards--unfashionable in the 1920s and '30s--and playing teams across the United States.

The Israelite House of David supposedly practiced celibacy, but Mr. Purnell 11 days after losing a civil suit in which he was accused of fraud and sexually molesting daughters of sect members; the verdict was later overturned on appeal. Such things are typical of cults, where the leaders indulge in licentious behaviour while prohibiting their followers from doing the same.

Mr. Purnell, an alleged prophet, predicted that he would rise from the dead three days after his death, but that still hasn't occurred., and we've been waiting 90 years. A splinter group formed after the death of the "messenger," and the group's membership, which peaked at about 1,000, gradually diminished. There were still a few survivors as of 2011, but if there are any at the time of this post, they can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

It did come as a surprise to this blogger to discover that the Israelite House of David still seems to officially exist, and has a website. Its doctrines/revelations are a hodgepodge of twisted understanding of the Bible; I quickly tired of trying to understand them, as I soon began to suffer from what a university professor I knew called the MEGO syndrome (My Eyes Glaze Over). The curious reader can see the Israelite House of David reading materials here.

While Banjamin Purnell proved himself a false prophet by failing to rise from the dead when promised--or at all--the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead (see Matthew 28; Mark 16; Luke 24; John 21) and right on schedule. He is risen indeed.

Former Roman Catholic priest is convicted of murder--57 years after the crime

The reader will note that this is yet another case where Roman Catholic authorities and politicians made sure that the suspect wasn't prosecuted at the time of the crime. As reported by Associated Press, December 8, 2017:

An ex-priest was convicted of murdering a 25-year-old Texas school teacher and beauty queen on Thursday, more than 57 years after Irene Garza went to Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen intending to go to confession.

Garza’s bludgeoned body was found days after her April 16, 1960, disappearance. An autopsy revealed that she had been raped while unconscious and had been beaten and suffocated.

A Hidalgo County jury deliberated 6½ hours before returning its verdict in the murder trial of John Bernard Feit, an 85-year-old former priest, after hearing five days of testimony.

Feit, who was 28 at the time of her death, came under suspicion early on, telling police that he heard Garza’s confession — in the church rectory, not in the confessional — but denying he killed her.

This week, prosecutors presented evidence that elected and church officials suspected Feit killed her but wanted to avoid prosecuting him because it might harm the church’s reputation and elected officials politically. Most elected officials at the time in Hidalgo County were Catholic, and Sen. John F. Kennedy, a Catholic, was running for president that year.

Feit later spent time at a treatment center in New Mexico for troubled priests and after that became a supervisor and had a part in clearing priests for assignments to parishes. Among the men Feit helped keep in ministry was child molester James Porter, who assaulted more than 100 victims before he was ultimately defrocked and sent to prison.

Feit left the priesthood in 1972, married and went on to work at the Catholic charity St. Vincent de Paul in Phoenix for a number of years, training and recruiting volunteers and helping oversee the charity’s network of food pantries.

Among the evidence that pointed to Feit as a suspect over the years: His portable photographic slide viewer was found near Garza’s body. Two fellow priests told authorities Feit confessed to them. And one of them said he saw scratches on Feit soon after Garza’s disappearance.

Also, Feit had been accused of attacking another young woman in a church in a nearby town just weeks before Garza’s death. He eventually pleaded no contest and was fined $500.

At trial, Dale Tacheny, a tax adviser in Oklahoma City who had been a priest at a Missouri monastery where Feit had applied to live in 1963, said that Feit had confessed to him that he had murdered a young woman. Tacheny said it wasn’t until years later that he learned that the woman Feit had described was Garza.

Defense attorney O. Rene Flores argued that prosecutors have insufficient evidence to convict Feit, who was living in Arizona at the time of his arrest last year.

Garza’s family members and friends had long pushed authorities to reopen the case, and it became an issue in the 2014 district attorney’s race. Ricardo Rodriguez had promised that if elected, he would re-examine the case.

Prosecutors Michael Garza, who was not related to the victim, and Krystine Ramon, hugged members of Irene Garza’s family after the verdict was read. District Attorney Ricardo Rodriguez, who campaigned for election in part on a pledge to reopen the Garza murder case, embraced his team of prosecutors and the Garza family, some of whom shed tears of relief.

A stone-faced John Feit was led from the courtroom back to his county jail cell.

The jury will begin hearing evidence Friday morning on what punishment Feit should receive. He could be sentenced to up to 99 years or life imprisonment.

And now--New Age freckles

As reported by Kali Borovic of Bustle, November 7, 2017 (link in original):

Freckles have been a huge trend in beauty this year. There's been stick-on freckles and makeup freckles, but the latest take on the freckle trend goes above and beyond — literally. AstroFrecks, which are the creation of cosmetic tattoo artist Jessica Knapik of Depot Town Tattoo in Ypsilanti, Michigan, are the beauty look that you've been waiting for. Knapik is tattooing star signs in her clients' freckles — and it's the most magical thing you'll see all day.

With the semi-permanent face art, Knapik hides any star sign in the design, making it look exactly like natural freckles. The tattooed freckles even fade over time to make them look more and more realistic.

"As many people are right now, I'm super into crystals and what your best intentions can do, and sending your goals and wishes out into the universe. So [the idea for Astrofrecks] just sparked from that," Knapik tells Bustle. "I also love things with hidden meanings. This way you could get your Mom's astrological sign, your Dad's, your Grandma's, and kind of pay tribute without getting a giant heart that says 'Mom.'"

The freckles are applied using cosmetic tattooing technique, which is different from average tattooing technique you are probably used to. It's a mix of different pigment, application, and tattooing techniques that is less harsh on the skin.

"Cosmetic tattoo artists are trained a little more in aesthetics — beauty, face shapes, brow shapes. Cosmetic tattooing is also semi-permanent, so this won't last forever," Knapik says of the freckles. "It's perfect for freckles, because the older ones will be more faint and the newer ones will be darker, exactly like real freckles. And if you're sick of it, you just stop getting touch-ups and go back to how your face was before."

So far, Knapik says she's only done one AstroFrecks tattoo — but with the image becoming more and more popular on Instagram, there's probably a lot more where that came from.

"I would love to do more," Knapik says. "I'm one of those people who can't just do things the easy way. I have to put my own spin on it. Yes, this does create a little more work and planning on my end, but it's totally worth it to do something unique and special for my client."

The tattoo artist says that nailing the perfect AstroFrecks look is all in the technique. Knapik says the philosophy is all about fluidity and making sure the placement of the freckles is not too methodical. She tries to make sure every single freckle is a different size, shape, and hue.

Before tattooing, Knapik swatches different colors on her client's face to get the right tone and makes sure to place them where the sun would naturally hit. Knapik has some advice for people looking to get the cosmic-designed tattoo, or eve just faux freckles in general.

"Do your research. Make sure the artist's photos don't look stolen from someone else," she says. "Make sure they are working at a licensed body art facility.

"And most importantly, make sure you go to a cosmetic tattoo artist," Knapik adds. "We use different machines, different ink, and different needles. Please don't let someone put giant doll freckles on you with a standard tattoo machine."

With an intergalactic concept this personalized, it's only a matter of time until you see galaxy themed freckles take over. They are truly out-of-this-world.

Student discovers one exoplanet while researching Earth-like conditions on another

When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;
What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
Psalms 8:3-4

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork. Psalms 19:1

Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. Revelation 4:11

As reported by Don Campbell of U of T News, December 5, 2017 (link in original):

A University of Toronto PhD student has found that a little-known exoplanet called K2-18b could be a “super-Earth,” and in the process discovered a new planet in the same solar system.

The researcher, who had set a goal to discover a new exoplanet for his thesis, made the discovery by scouring data collected by the European Southern Observatory (ESO).

“Being able to measure the mass and density of K2-18b was tremendous, but to discover a new exoplanet was lucky and equally exciting,” says Ryan Cloutier, a PhD student in U of T Scarborough’s Centre for Planetary Science, U of T’s department of astronomy and astrophysics in the Faculty of Arts & Science and the Université de Montréal Institute.

Both planets orbit K2-18, a red-dwarf star located about 111 light-years away in the constellation Leo. When the planet K2-18b was first discovered in 2015, it was found to be orbiting within the star’s habitable zone, making it an ideal candidate to have liquid surface water, a key element in harbouring conditions for life as we know it.

“It wasn’t a eureka moment because we still had to go through a checklist of things to do in order to verify the data,” Cloutier said. “Once all the boxes were checked it sunk in that, wow, this actually is a planet.”

The dataset used by Cloutier, the lead author, and other researchers came from the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) using the ESO’s 3.6-metre telescope at La Silla Observatory, in Chile. HARPS allows for measurements of radial velocities of stars, which can be affected by the presence of nearby planets, to be taken with the highest accuracy currently available. The instrument makes it possible to detect very small planets orbiting those stars.

In order to figure out whether K2-18b was a scaled-up version of Earth (mostly rock), or a scaled-down version of Neptune (mostly gas), researchers had to first figure out the planet’s mass, using radial velocity measurements taken with HARPS.

“If you can get the mass and radius, you can measure the bulk density of the planet and that can tell you what the bulk of the planet is made of,” says Cloutier.

After using a machine-learning approach to figure out the mass measurement, Cloutier and his team were able to determine the planet is either a mostly rocky planet with a small gaseous atmosphere – like Earth, but bigger – or a mostly water planet with a thick layer of ice on top of it.

“With the current data, we can’t distinguish between those two possibilities,” he says. “But with the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), we can probe the atmosphere and see whether it has an extensive atmosphere or it’s a planet covered in water.”

The James Webb Space Telescope, which will be launched in 2019, will be instrumental in collecting a range of data for studying the solar system, early universe and exoplanets.

“There’s a lot of demand to use this telescope, so you have to be meticulous in choosing which exoplanets to look at,” says René Doyon, a co-author on the paper who is with Université de Montréal Institute and a principal investigator for NIRISS, which is the Canadian Space Agency instrument on board the James Webb Space Telescope.

“K2-18b is now one of the best targets for atmospheric study, it’s going to the near top of the list.”

It was while looking through the data of K2-18b that Cloutier noticed something unusual. In addition to a signal occurring every 39 days from the rotation of K2-18, and one taking place every 33 days from the orbit of K2-18b, he noticed a different signal occurring every nine days.

“When we first threw the data on the table we were trying to figure out what it was. You have to ensure the signal isn’t just noise, and you need to do careful analysis to verify it, but seeing that initial signal was a good indication there was another planet,” Cloutier says.

Cloutier collaborated with an international team of researchers, including his supervisor U of T Scarborough Associate Professor Kristen Menou, and from the Observatoire Astronomique de l’Université de Genève, the Institute for research on exoplanets (iREx), Université de Grenoble and Universidade do Porto.

While the newly described planet K2-18c is closer to its star and probably too hot to be in the habitable zone, like K2-18b it also appears to be a Super-Earth meaning it has a mass similar to Earth.

The research, which received support from the Natural Sciences and Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Institute for Research on Exoplanets, will be published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Churches in Ethiopia are still being carved out of rock

Not for the first time, one alert individual disproves the wisdom of the majority of experts. As reported by Don Campbell in U of T News, November 22, 2017 (links in original):

Carving churches out of rock using only a hammer and chisel may seem extraordinary to us, but for those living in rural areas of Ethiopia, it’s simply an expression of faith.

“It’s hard work … literally,” says University of Toronto Professor Michael Gervers, an expert on Ethiopian history.

Gervers, a professor in the department of historical and cultural studies at U of T Scarborough, received a grant in 2015 from the Arcadia Fund to preserve digitally the knowledge and technique of how Ethiopia’s rock-cut churches are made. Since then, he’s travelled to Ethiopia three times and uncovered 20 modern churches across the country.

His work has attracted the attention of descendants of Ethiopian royalty. Last week, Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, the grandson of the country’s last ruling emperor, awarded Gervers the Grand Cross of the Order of the Star of Ethiopia in recognition of his research.

“I was impressed by his passion and love for the country,” Haile-Selassie says. “It exposes the richness of Ethiopia's culture and traditions, especially in its Christian form, to the world.”

There are hundreds of rock-cut churches scattered throughout Ethiopia, some dating as far back as the 12th century, with a few containing the finest examples of monumental stonework found anywhere in the world. The Church of St. George in Lalibela is one such example. As a world heritage site, it has long been heralded as a national treasure, but many thought the practice of carving churches from rock had all but disappeared 500 years ago. Even scholars of Ethiopian culture didn’t seem to know it was still taking place in remote areas of the country.

“Scholars and government officials didn’t seem to know it was happening. Even some church officials seemed surprised it was taking place,” says Gervers.

Since most of the modern rock-cut churches are being made in rural areas, the only way to find out more is to visit them. Often this involves travelling from village to village, and, once there, asking the craftsmen if they know of others that are being built, notes Gervers.

There’s a very practical reason why churches are carved out of rock in Ethiopia: Sandstone is abundant, a legacy of the country once being entirely covered by the sea. Other building materials like wood, steel and concrete are expensive and hard to come by, especially in rural areas. If done properly, a rock-cut church can also last much longer than a church built of other materials.

“It’s a very practical solution, especially since sandstone is relatively easy to carve compared to other types of stone,” Gervers says.

That’s not to say carving a church out of sandstone is easy. A typical crew using only hammer and chisel will carve out 50 centimetres of rock on a good day. Carving a church 15 metres square by four metres high can take two years of non-stop work, but often progress is slowed by a lack of funds or workers.

What’s even more remarkable is that most of the craftsmen involved have no formal training in carving churches. Many are local day labourers who work on roads or other buildings

What unites them all in building these churches is their faith. “Most of the time you come across a priest, a monk, or even a hermit who has decided that God has called him to carve a church and they start chiselling away,” Gervers says.

The grant has covered three seasons of fieldwork in addition to video recordings and transcriptions of interviews with the craftsmen. The material, a portion of which is already online, will be available for 20 years as part of the grant. Gervers also has an online database of Ethiopian art and culture that contains more than 65,000 images he’s collected over decades of research.

As for what continues to motivate him most about his research, he says it’s as much the physical as the intellectual challenges that come along with it.

“You don’t go to one of these churches in Ethiopia without breaking a sweat,” he says.

Most of the churches are carved into the side of hills or mountains. Gervers has even had to scale down a sheer cliff on a rope to access a church.

“It’s a challenge, but I’m perfectly happy in that environment,” he says. “Other than basic food and water, I don’t crave much in life. What motivates me most is seeing this project through.”

As reported by Liam Casey of Canadian Press, November 21, 2017:

...The web resource is expected to eventually contain hundreds of photographs, transcripts and hours of video interviews about the practice.

At some point, hopefully in the next year, Gervers says his findings will be published in an academic journal. But he also wants to get the word out in an effort to preserve the craft.

In 2014, the Arcadia Fund, a philanthropic foundation known for preserving languages, approached Gervers to see if the craft of hewing churches from rock was still practised, and if so, to document it.

Gervers already had a lead from his trip to Ethiopia in 2007 and began his hunt in 2015. Over the past two years he and a few colleagues in Ethiopia and Europe have been scouring the country looking for evidence.
So far, they’ve found 20 modern-day churches carved from rock, Gervers says.

“There is very little information that these churches are still being built, only those who live near a church know, no one else in Ethiopia really knows,” says Bayenew Melaku, an architect at the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction and City Development at Addis Ababa University, who is working with Gervers on the project.

“It is an endangered heritage because the knowledge is not well exposed and we’re worried this tradition will go extinct.”

It is believed that churches were built out of rock as early as the 12th century, and possibly earlier, Gervers says. They are of two styles: cave and monolithic churches.

Cave churches are essentially cut into the side of a cliff whereas monolithic churches are cut out from the rock, working from the surface digging down to create both the outside and inside of a free-standing structure.

Some of the most famous examples of monolithic churches carved from rock exist in Lalibela, a town in a mountainous region of northern Ethiopia where a complex of rock-cut churches have been designated a UNESCO world heritage site.

But the pilgrims and tourists who flock there should take the three-hour drive across the valley to a spot called Ambager, Gervers says. There they’ll find a hermit working away with a chisel and hammer.

The man, named Gebremeskel Tessema Mola, has withdrawn from society and, inspired by God, has dedicated much of his life to creating a monolithic church complex that so far spans about 35 metres in width and up to seven metres in height, Gervers says.

“He’s an artist because he has this great plan in his mind — he doesn’t seem to have plans on paper — but knows exactly where he’s going,” Gervers says. “It’s incredible how much he accomplishes every year.”

Gervers interviewed Gebremeskel, who goes by his first name, and took a tour of the church the man has slowly been carving out of rock since 1995, discussing the craft at length.

“We had a sense of duty to prove that, by the help of the Holy Spirit, our forefathers really made what they made,” Gebremeskel told Gervers, according to a translated transcript of an interview the professor shared.

“That is why we have been working on this.”

Gervers’ work has also drawn the attention of the grandson of Ethiopia’s last ruling emperor.

“It exposes the richness of Ethiopia’s culture and traditions, especially in its Christian form, to the world,” Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, president of the Crown Council of Ethiopia, said in a statement.

Gervers headed back to Ethiopia on Tuesday to continue to his work.

Man's vegetarianism helps to expose him as a co-murderer

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

This sounds like a plot from the old radio program The Whistler. It seemed like a good idea at the time; what could possibly go wrong?  I have to wonder about the intelligence of the male partner in this scheme; and the woman is a nurse. She'll probably end up rejecting him because he's now so ugly--not that they'll be spending time together anytime soon. As reported in New Delhi by Rahul Bedi in the London Daily Telegraph, December 13, 2017:

Police in southern India have arrested a 34-year old woman for allegedly murdering her husband in collusion with her boyfriend who she then tried to pass off as her husband by disfiguring his face with acid.

Officials said police had charged Swathi Reddy in Nagarkurnool, Telangana state, with murdering her husband Sudhakar Reddy last Friday and will arrest her physiotherapist lover Rajesh Ajjakolu once he is discharged from hospital after undergoing treatment for facial burns.

According to police, Mrs Reddy had confessed to injecting her husband with an anaesthetic on 27 November and, after he lost consciousness, bludgeoning him to death with an iron rod with Mr Ajjakolu.

The pair then disfigured her husbands face and dumped his body in the nearby Nawabpet forest after partially burning it to prevent identification, investigating officer Inspector Srinivas Rao said.

Mrs Reddy, who is a trained nurse, then smeared Mr Ajjakolu's face with a mixture of acid and petrol, partially disfiguring his face.

She then raised the alarm, saying four people had broken into her house and attacked Mr Reddy with acid.

Her lover masquerading as her husband, was then admitted to hospital in Hyderabad to undergo burns treatment and plastic surgery.

However, fearing exposure, Mr Ajjakolu pretended that he could not speak and communicated only through writing.

Police said Mrs Reddy's in-laws were not convinced that Mr Ajjakolu was their son, especially after he declined mutton soup, having registered himself at the hospital as a vegetarian.

Other behavioural differences raised their suspicion and they filed a compliant with the police that the man admitted to hospital was not really their son.

According to Inspector Rao, Mrs Reddy continually changed her statement under sustained interrogation, further fuelling doubt over Mr Ajjakolu's identity.

He said she eventually broke down and admitted that she was having an affair with Mr Ajjakolu, some months after beginning physiotherapy sessions at his clinic two years ago.

Mr Rao said Mrs Reddy and Mr Ajjakolu were spotted together in a car a few days before the alleged murder, and her husband accused her of having an affair.

Fearing they would be exposed, the lovers then hatched their bizarrely elaborate plan, hoping Mr Ajjakolu could undergo plastic surgery and emerge as Mr Reddy.

They also planned that he would take over Mr Reddy's many properties and business interests.

Inspector Rao claimed that Mrs Reddy had confessed the plan and that the person admitted to hospital with facial burns was not her husband.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Australian royal commission on child sex abuse recommends making celibacy optional for Roman Catholic priests

I doubt that the Roman Catholic Church in Australia or anywhere else will immediately implement the Australian royal commission's recommendation, but it would come as no surprise to this blogger to eventually make such a move, as was the case when the practice of not eating meat on Friday was abolished in 1966. As reported by Jonathan Pearlman of the London Daily Telegraph, December 15, 2017:

Australia’s royal commission into child sex abuse has recommended that celibacy for Catholic priests should be optional and the sanctity of the confessional should be abandoned, as it ended an historic five-year inquiry that exposed horrific cases of abuse and cover-ups.

Releasing a landmark seventeen-volume report after holding thousands of occasionally emotional and harrowing hearings, the commission said the handling of child sex abuse in Australia had been a “national tragedy”.

"Tens of thousands of children have been sexually abused in many Australian institutions," the report said.

"We will never know the true number. It is not a case of a few 'rotten apples'. Society's major institutions have seriously failed."

The commission said the highest number of alleged perpetrators and abused children were in Catholic institutions but it also exposed widespread abuse in other religious organisations, as well as sports and community groups, schools and charities.

“Australian society must never go back to a state of denial about the nature, cause and impact of child sexual abuse in institutional contexts," the report said.

Established by former prime minister Julia Gillard in 2012, the commission has probed virtually every significant institution that deals with children and has already had a profound effect on the way that these organisations care for minors and handle reports of abuse.

More than 15,000 survivors and families contacted the commission, which heard from 8,000 victims, 1,300 witnesses and referred 2,500 alleged cases of abuse to authorities. The commission said as many as 60,000 survivors of abuse may be eligible for compensation.

Issuing more than 400 recommendations, the commission specifically criticised forced celibacy in the Catholic Church, saying it had led to “psychosexual dysfunction”. It recommended that the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference “request the Holy See consider introducing voluntary celibacy for diocesan clergy.”

“While not a direct cause of child sexual abuse, we are satisfied that compulsory celibacy [for clergy] and vowed chastity have contributed to the occurrence of child sexual abuse,” the commission said.

“For many Catholic clergy and religious, celibacy is implicated in emotional isolation, loneliness, depression and mental illness. Compulsory celibacy may also have contributed to various forms of psychosexual dysfunction, including psychosexual immaturity, which pose an ongoing risk to the safety of children. For many clergy and religious, celibacy is an unattainable ideal that leads to clergy and religious living double lives.”

The commission also recommended that the Church end the sanctity of the confessional, saying religious ministers should be forced to speak out when they were told of alleged child abuse.

“Laws concerning mandatory reporting to child protection authorities should not exempt … information disclosed in or in connection with a religious confession,” it said.

Anthony Fisher, the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, said he opposed changes to the confessional, saying it was a "distraction".

"I think any proposal to effectively stop the practice of confession in Australia would be a real hurt to all Catholics and Orthodox Christians and I don't think would help any young person," he told ABC News.

"I think if young people are to be kept safe, focusing on something like confession is just a distraction."

The average age of children abused at Catholic institutions was 11 years old. Some survivors reported being sexually abused during confession.

The commission recommended the creation of national child safety standards, additional training for schools and those working with children, and mandatory reporting of alleged abuse by occupations such as religious ministers, early childhood workers and psychologists.

Welcoming the report, Malcolm Turnbull, Australia’s prime minister, said the commission had been an “outstanding exercise in love”. He expressed gratitude to survivors who had the courage to tell their stories.

“It’s been very tough, often harrowing work, but above all, I want to thank and honour the courage of the survivors and their families who’ve told, often for the first time, the dreadful stories of abuse that they received from people who actually owed them love and protection,” he said.

Two fundamentalist Mormon polygamists are in court on the same day in different countries

The most visible polygamous arrangements of fundamentalist Mormons don't seem to consist of a 25-year-old stud with a handful of 20-year-olds, but an overweight, undistinguished-looking guy in his 50s with a harem of teenagers.

Submitted for your approval, the most prominent examples of fundamentalist Mormon polygamy of recent years. First, from the United States, as reported by Nate Carlisle of the Salt Lake Tribune, December 13, 2017:

Lyle Jeffs, who once was the day-to-day leader of the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, was sentenced Wednesday to nearly five years in a federal prison for defrauding a government assistance program and then fleeing.

U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart sentenced Jeffs to 57 months in prison, followed by three years of probation. Jeffs also was ordered to pay $1 million in restitution to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the program that Jeffs and his fellow FLDS members were convicted of defrauding.

“I acknowledge my mistakes and my decision-making and how it has affected the law,” Jeffs, 57, told Stewart in Salt Lake City’s federal courthouse. “I humbly accept responsibilities for my actions.”

“As far as my religious beliefs, they are sincere,” he added, specifying he doesn’t watch television or listen to modern music.

“I don’t intend to compromise that,” Jeffs said. He then asked Stewart for leniency.

Prosecutors had sought a 71-month sentence.

Wednesday’s hearing at times went into territory already covered during the prosecution — Jeffs’ and the FLDS’ beliefs, which includes a communal form of living.

Defense attorney Kathryn Nester has argued throughout the case that FLDS members, under Jeffs’ direction, were merely donating their benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in the same way that people of other faiths might take a covered dish to a church potluck.

Prosecutors have contended it was a fraud that cost taxpayers almost $12 million — though Stewart on Wednesday sided with a defense estimate of about $2 million —and took food away from FLDS members who had no other means to eat.

Nester began her arguments Wednesday by saying nothing about the case was ordinary.

Everything about it “has been without precedent, as far as I’m aware, in this country,” she told Stewart.

Nester told Stewart the crimes won’t be committed again.

Stewart referred to letters he received in support of Jeffs, and which are not part of the public court record. Stewart then apparently summarized what some said.

“‘It was persecution of the worst kind,’ ” Stewart said. “ ‘The man has done nothing wrong, and what the community as a whole did was not a mistake.’

“And that troubles me,” Stewart said, speaking for himself, “because it could happen again. The effect has not been felt by the community.”

Federal prosecutor Rob Lund argued that Jeffs, while a first-time felon, had broken laws for years, including presiding over marriage ceremonies to underage brides, violating child-labor laws and other misdeeds ordered by his brother, FLDS President Warren Jeffs.

Warren Jeffs is serving a sentence of life plus 20 years in a Texas prison for crimes related to sexually abusing two girls he married as plural wives.

Lyle and Warren Jeffs presided over a “culture of corruption” in Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., Lund said.

“This case cries out for a message to that community,” Lund told Stewart. “They must obey the law.”

In explaining the sentence — 45 months for pleading guilty in September to one count of defrauding SNAP, and 12 months for a count of failure to appear in court — Stewart said it was “overly simplistic” to blame Lyle Jeffs for food shortages among the FLDS, but that his actions did harm that community.

“His conduct has shown that Mr. [Lyle] Jeffs has shown no respect for the laws of the United States,” Stewart said, “and will place the dictates of his faith above everything else.”

Prosecutors contend Jeffs pressured or ordered FLDS members to turn over the food they purchased with SNAP debit cards to the church, or to swipe the cards at two church-controlled groceries so the benefits could be converted to cash.

But the case against Jeff changed in June 2016, when he slipped off his ankle monitor and absconded from pretrial release. He was arrested almost a year later in Yankton, S.D.

Stewart later ruled that jurors would be able to hear about the absconding while they also considered whether Jeffs committed fraud. The plea deal was reached shortly after that ruling.

Jeffs’ co-defendants fared better. Two of them — John Wayman, another former FLDS bishop, and Seth Jeffs, another full brother to Lyle — pleaded guilty to felonies. They received credit for time served and were released from jail after entering their pleas.

Seven other defendants pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and received no jail time, no probation and did not have to pay restitution. The charges against another co-defendant were dropped.

Lyle Jeffs’ position and standing within his church declined leading up to or during his run for the law. FBI documents filed with the court discussed a falling-out between Lyle and Warren Jeffs. Nester on Wednesday told Stewart that her client had not received any family visitors at the jail and had no money in his commissary account. No supporters of Lyle Jeffs were apparent in court Wednesday.

Yet, Nester told Stewart that her client would ask to be sent to one of two federal prisons in Colorado to make visits easier for his family.

After the hearing, Lyle Jeffs’ eldest son, Thomas Jeffs, who left the FLDS years ago, said outside the courtroom that he was satisfied with the prison sentence.

“Maybe if he spends enough time in there, he’ll think about things,” the son said.

Lyle Jeffs once had nine wives, and he has about 60 children, according to family members. His legal wife, Charlene Wall, divorced him in 2015. A plural wife, Christine Black, is seeking child support from him through the state of Utah, according to filings in state court.
The second item, from Canada, as reported by Daphne Bramham of the Vancouver Sun, December 14, 2017:

CRANBROOK, B.C. — For two decades, B.C. attorneys-general and prosecutors refused to lay polygamy charges and believed, based on legal opinions, that the Criminal Code sanctions against the practice were constitutionally invalid.

It began in 1992 with a press release explaining why two men from the fundamentalist Mormon community of Bountiful would not be charged. The polygamy law, it said, was unconstitutional because of the guarantee of religious freedom.

People in Bountiful celebrated. They took it to mean that, after a century, it was suddenly legal to take multiple wives, even though the law remained on the books.

And marry, they did.

The bishop, Winston Blackmore, married 23 women in religious ceremonies, in addition to his one legal wife. James Oler, who succeeded Blackmore as bishop, took four wives in addition to his one legal wife.

In July, both men were finally convicted on one count each of polygamy.

This week in B.C. Supreme Court, Blackmore argued that the verdict should be stayed or that he should be exempt from punishment because his constitutionally rights to a fair trial were trampled.

A similar argument was made on Oler’s behalf by the amicus (friend to the court), Joe Doyle, appointed by the court after Oler chose not to actively participate in the trial or hearing.

At the heart of Blackmore’s constitutional application is that 1992 news release.

It said that based on “exhaustive” research by legal experts both in the attorney-general’s ministry and from outside, it was unanimously concluded that the polygamy law was unconstitutional because of a Charter guarantee of religious freedom.

It went on to say that the polygamy section of the Criminal Code was “obsolete” and that the best course of action wasn’t prosecution, but to “encourage” the federal government to rewrite the law.

There was another RCMP investigation in 2004, but again no charges were laid.

But when Wally Oppal became attorney-general in 2006, he said he disagreed that the law was invalid. After a series of legal misadventures involving special prosecutors, Oppal’s opinion was upheld in 2011 following a constitutional reference case.

Chief Justice Robert Bauman determined that the law is a “justifiable limit on religious freedom” because of its “inherent harms.”

Fast forward to now. Among the questions that Justice Sheri Donegan must determine is whether it was reasonable for polygamists — in this case, fundamentalist Mormons — to believe that they would not be prosecuted even though the Criminal Code law remained.

But beyond that, the judge needs to determine whether, by following what turned out to be bad advice from a succession of attorneys-general, that Blackmore and Oler were legally disadvantaged and their legal rights breached.

If she does decide that, Donegan must then determine whether the law allows or requires that they receive some sort of legal remedy in the form of their convictions being stayed or to be individually exempted from that one section of the Criminal Code. And if they can be exempted, should that exemption be limited to a specific time period.

Both Blackmore’s lawyer Blair Suffredine and Doyle made plain-spoken arguments. As Doyle said, it wasn’t as if the advice was being given by “some guy over the counter — it was the highest law officer in British Columbia.”

Suffredine said, “I find it close to offensive that the attorney-general can issue a press release and then say everyone should have ignored it.

“If I was an average person and heard the attorney-general ruled that what I did would not be prosecuted and it was not unconstitutional, I wouldn’t seek legal advice from a lawyer. I would presume that from the highest source that I would have to accept it as true even if I think it might not be.”

The prosecutors, however, spent several hours Thursday making legal arguments about prosecutorial discretion, the threshold and standards of proof needed before a court should step in with the extraordinary remedy of staying convictions to valid laws or make constitutional exemptions for individuals.

Ignorance of the law is not a defence, Micah Rankin said, noting that officially induced error is “an exceptional defence.”

“It’s not a justification,” he said. “(Officially induced error) is only where the state is at fault or has contributed to the fate of an individual by setting them on the wrong path.”

But Blackmore and Oler were already practicing polygamy. All of Oler’s marriages took place before the 1992 press release.

Six of Blackmore’s marriages were before 1992. And, as Rankin’s colleague Peter Wilson pointed out, even after the polygamy reference case upheld the law — “a sea change in the legal landscape” — Blackmore continues to live with multiple wives in a cluster of residences in Bountiful.

“Nothing in his conduct has changed,” Wilson said.

In addition to the stacks of material that the lawyers had given Donegan prior to the hearing, the amicus only provided his submission to the court and the prosecutors on Wednesday.

Wilson didn’t object to the late addition. But he did ask for and received permission from Donegan to have time to prepare a written response by Jan. 15.

It is yet another delay in a case that began in April and would have concluded in July with the two men’s convictions if not for Suffredine filing the constitutional application (the subject of this week’s hearing) in mid-trial.

The application was set to be heard in November, but was adjourned because Suffredine filed Blackmore’s affidavit on the eve of the hearing.

Now, because of this further delay to allow the prosecutors time to respond to the amicus’s submissions, it will be Jan. 22 before a date is even set for the judge to deliver her decision.
And as reported by Ms. Bramham in the Vancouver Sun, December 13, 2017:

CRANBROOK, B.C. — Convicted polygamist Winston Blackmore testified Tuesday that his religious marriages to 24 women — nine of whom were underage — were all legal under his god’s laws, but conceded that those marriages are illegal in Canada.

It was a stunning admission in court, since a mainstay of Blackmore’s application to have his guilty verdict thrown out is that he had no criminal intent and believed that plural marriages are legal because of the constitutional guarantees of religious freedom and freedom of association.

His application in court, which contends that Blackmore was unfairly charged, states that when the attorney-general decided not to charge him with polygamy in 1991, Blackmore was “expressly told no charges would be laid against him and that his religious practices were protected.”

Under cross-examination, Blackmore admitted that no one from the attorney-general’s ministry specifically told him that.

Blackmore’s concession that he knows polygamy is illegal in Canada came after nearly a full day under cross-examination and at the end of an at-times testy exchange with special prosecutor Peter Wilson.

“You told us it’s your belief, and I respect it’s sincerely held, that you consider your celestial marriages to be legal, lawful and proper in the eyes of God. Yes?” Wilson asked.

“Yes,” said Blackmore.

“I’m suggesting that you know that they’re not considered to be legal, lawful and proper in the eyes of the Government of Canada. Fair statement?” Wilson asked.

“Fair statement,” Blackmore replied.

The former fundamentalist Mormon bishop of Bountiful, B.C. contends in his court application that his many marriages between 1992 and 2007 were “induced by the public position of the attorneys-general over many years.”

That public position — based on legal opinions from a former provincial chief justice and a retired appeal court judge — was that Canada’s polygamy law was unconstitutional because it infringes on the guarantee of religious freedom.

So, if Blackmore believed polygamy was legal, why didn’t he follow the marriage laws in British Columbia? Why didn’t he get the written consent of the parents of the girls who were under 19 when he married them? Why didn’t he get the required court approval to marry Lorraine Johnson, who was only 15 at the time of their “celestial marriage”?

“I think in the hundreds of years of Mormon plural marriage, no one has ever done that,” Blackmore responded.

“Because it’s unlawful,” Wilson interjected.

“I don’t think anyone would have given them the time of day, if they would have applied,” Blackmore continued.

“Because it’s unlawful, right?”

“It’s not unlawful,” Blackmore insisted, noting that Canadian law allows men and women to “freely associate in any sort of capacity, sexual or other” with multiple partners.

“I am aware the Charter guarantees their right. And all I’m asking, My Lady, is that this Charter grants us the same protection as it grants other citizens of Canada.”

Making that Charter argument in legal terms will be left to Blackmore’s lawyer, Blair Suffredine, in the coming days.

But Suffredine got off to a rocky start when he provided Justice Sheri Donegan with a brief outline of his case before Blackmore’s cross-examination.

As part of his argument, Suffredine said that because Blackmore and his first and only legal wife divorced in 2004, the polygamy law shouldn’t apply.

He also contends that with Blackmore’s ex-communication from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in 2002, the religious marriages were invalidated.

But since Suffredine had initially made the application as a challenge under the Constitutional Question Act, the judge asked which provisions of the Charter he would be arguing. Suffredine said he probably wouldn’t use all of the ones that he mentioned in the application.

As Suffredine fumbled and said that he wasn’t sure and that he needed to read the sub-sections, the judge gave him time to do that after admonishing him, telling him that she needed “a clear articulation of what is being sought … this is critically important.”

In July, Donegan found both Blackmore and James Oler, another former bishop of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, guilty of one count each of polygamy.

Those verdicts were not registered, and neither man was sentenced, pending the outcome of Blackmore’s constitutional application.

Oler is not named on the application, but because its outcome has a direct bearing on him, Oler is in the courtroom. As at the trial when he was found to have had five wives, Oler has no lawyer and is not actively participating...

600 years ago: The execution of Lollard leader Sir John Oldcastle, Lord Cobham

On December 14, 1417, Sir John Oldcastle, Lord Cobham, was executed; his age may have been anywhere from 39-57. Sir John was a leader of the Lollards, who rejected Roman Catholic pilgrimages and doctrines such as the worship of saints and transubstantiation, and demanded that the Bible be translated into English. He was convicted of heresy in 1413 and imprisoned in the Tower of London, but escaped, and headed a revolt against his erstwhile friend King Henry V in January 1414. The revolt was unsuccessful, but Lord Cobham escaped again, and spent the better part of four years in Wales, until he was captured and brought back to London, where he was hanged at St. Giles-in-the-Fields Church and then burned at the stake as a traitor. Foxe's Book of Martyrs states that Sir John's execution took place in 1418.

I don't agree with Lord Cobham's decision to participate in political intrigues, but I admire his stand against the leaders of the Roman Catholic church. The Pope at the time was Gregory XII, with Antipope John XXIII claiming the papal throne. Martin V took office as Pope just a month before Lord Cobham's execution. A number of statements by Lord Cobham quoted by John Foxe are worth repeating, inasmuch as they contrast so greatly with the mealy-mouthed talk coming from today's Christian "leaders," whose lives and safety aren't at risk, as Sir John Oldcastle's was.

To King Henry V:

...But, as touching the Pope and his spirituality, I owe them neither suit nor service, forasmuch as I know him, by the Scriptures, to be the great Antichrist, the son of perdition, the open adversary of God, and the abomination standing in the holy place.

To his Roman Catholic examiners:

As for images, I understand that they be not of belief, but that they were ordained since the belief of Christ was given by sufferance of the Church, to represent and bring to mind the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, and martyrdom and good living of other saints; and that whoso it be, that doth the worship to dead images that is due to God, or putteth such hope or trust in help of them, as he should to to God, or hath affection in one more than in another, he doth in that, the greatest sin of idol worship...

...My belief is, that all the Scriptures of the sacred Bible are true. All that is grounded upon them I believe thoroughly, for I know it is God's pleasure that I should so do; but in your lordly laws and idle determinations have I no belief. For ye be no part of Christ's Holy Church, as you open deeds do show; but ye are very Antichrists, obstinately set against His holy law and will. The laws that ye make are nothing to His glory, but only for your vain glory and bominable covetousness. And as for your superiority, were ye of Christ, ye should be meek ministers, and no proud superiors...

...Your fathers, the old Pharisees, ascribed Christ's miracles to Beelzebub, and His doctrine to the devil; and you, as their children, have still the selfsame judgment concerning His faithful followers. They that rebuke your vicious living must needs be heretics, and that must your doctors prove, when you have no Scripture to do it...To judge you as you be, we need go no further than to your own proper acts. Where do you find in all God's law, that ye should sit in judgment on any Christian man, or yet give sentence upon any other man unto death, as ye do her daily? No ground have ye in all the Scripture so lordly to take it upon you, but in Annas and Caiaphas, who sat thus upon Christ, and upon His apostles after His ascension. Of them only have ye taken it to judge Christ's members as ye do; and neither of Peter nor John...For since the venom of Judas was shed into the Church, ye never followed Christ, neither yet have ye stood in the perfection of God's law.


When asked by the Archbishop of Canterbury what he meant by that venom, Sir John replied, referring to Roman Emperor Constantine's endowment of the Church in the 4th century:

Your possessions and lordships. For then cried an angel in the air, as your own chronicles mention, Woe, woe, woe, this day is venom shed into the Church of God. Before that time all the bishops of Rome were martyrs, in a manner; and since that time we red of very few. But indeed since that same time, one hath put down another, one hath poisoned another, one hath cursed another, and one hath slain another, and done much more mischief besides, as all the chronicles tell. And let all men consider well this, that Christ was meek and merciful; the Pope is proud and a tyrant; Christ was poor and forgave; the Pope is rich and a malicious manslayer.

To questioning from doctor of law Master John Kemp, Lord Cobham answered:

He that followeth Peter most high in pure living, is next unto him in succession; but your lordly order esteemeth not greatly the lowly behaviour of poor Peter, whatsoever ye prate of him, neither care ye greatly for the humble manners of them that succeeded him till the time of Silvester, who, for the more part, were martyrs.

When asked his view of the Pope, Sir John replied:

He and you together make the whole great Antichrist, of whom he is the great head; you bishops, priests, prelates, and monks, are the body; and the begging friars are the tail.

As J.C. Ryle, Anglican Bishop of Liverpool (1880-1900), pointed out, the Roman Catholic Church has never repented of its persecution of true Christians who repudiated Rome's false teachings. The unbiblical doctrines and practices that the Lollards opposed are still in place today, and should still be rejected by true Christians.

Backlog: Shepherd fleeces flock, then writes a book

Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot, they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness. Jeremiah 12:10

Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the Lord.
Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the Lord.
Jeremiah 23:1-2

As reported Garance Burke of Associated Press, February 12, 2007:

RIPON, Calif. — For nearly a decade, members of Ripon's First Congregational Church bared their souls to Pastor Randall Radic. But there were certain things he wasn't telling them.

That became obvious a year ago, when Radic pleaded guilty to betraying his flock and secretly selling the church and its rectory out from under them. He used the money to buy himself a brand-new black BMW and a laptop — exploits he later chronicled in a cheeky, almost gleeful blog about his double life as a sinner.

"We didn't know anything until we got a call from the bank that he had bought a BMW," said David Prater, who led the church board during Radic's tenure. "He drove that car right down Main Street."

Irate parishioners had been rooting for a long prison term of up to 16 months at his sentencing, set for Thursday.

But Radic's lawyer said last week that the 54-year-old former pastor, who spent six months in jail awaiting trial, will not have to serve any more time behind bars because he agreed to testify about the alleged murder confession of a jailmate.

In the meantime, ownership of some of the church property is still tied up in lawsuits.

"Most of the congregation, being a good Christian congregation, has forgiven him. But there are still things happening to the church that we can't understand," said Judy Edwards, who took over as pastor last year. "If the parsonage was stolen, why isn't it being returned?"

Radic was a respected figure in Ripon, population 14,000, a quiet town of 1940s-era homes and tree-lined streets in California's San Joaquin Valley.

"The church was basically senior citizens, people in their 80s, 90s and close to 100," Prater said. "He was their favorite son."

Radic's pulpit was in a wooden, 90-year-old chapel, and he lived in a church-owned house a few blocks away. Parishioners said he favored literal interpretations of the Bible and emphasized love and grace in his Sunday sermons.

"This is a town with a lot of faith," said Navid Fardanesh, president of the Ripon Chamber of Commerce. "People had a lot of trust in him, and unfortunately he took advantage of the situation."

First, Radic faked documents giving him possession of the parsonage, and used the property to take out about $200,000 in personal loans, prosecutors said. Then he forged papers saying he had the power to sell the church, and sold it to a couple for $525,000.

After investigators began inquiring about the $102,000 BMW, Radic fled to Denver. Prosecutors coaxed him back, and he was arrested in 2005.

It was in jail that Radic met Roy Gerald Smith, a sex offender awaiting trial in the 2005 slaying of a woman in a death-penalty case. In Radic's blog on a now-defunct Internet site, the former pastor suggested that as he gained Smith's confidence, Smith confessed.

Radic soon struck a deal: He would plead guilty to embezzlement and be released from prison. And prosecutors would drop nine other felony charges in exchange for Radic's testimony.

Since Radic was not Smith's pastor, the inmate's incriminating statements are not protected by the usual confidentiality rules involving members of the clergy, Radic's lawyer Michael Babitzke said.

As he awaited sentencing at home, Radic started blogging about his personal life. He tried to solicit a literary agent for a tell-all book he called "Snitch" and spelled out the details of how he fleeced his flock.

Radic, who still lives in Ripon, did not find a buyer for "Snitch," but he did sign a deal last month to publish a book called "The Sound of Meat," billed as a "(fairly) truthful" memoir.

The church got its title back last year, and parishioners have been able to worship there throughout the ordeal. But the church is still out tens of thousands of dollars lost in transaction fees, and has yet to recover title to the parsonage.

Radic still faces a number of lawsuits, but criminal proceedings against him appear likely to end when he is sentenced.

"He's very remorseful and regretful about the situation," his lawyer said. "But in an imperfect world ... people behave imperfectly."
Two years later, Mr. Radic published his first book, A Priest in Hell, and was interviewed by Stephen Elliott for the internet publication The Rumpus; was published on February 28, 2009:

For nearly a decade the First Congregational Church in Ripon, a small town just outside of Modesto, California, put their trust in Pastor Randall Radic. Then he mortgaged the church house. Then he mortgaged the church. He was sentenced to nearly two years in prison but cut a deal to snitch on a murderer he met in the jail in exchange for early release. Now he’s written a book.

Rumpus: How did you end up in Modesto?

Randall Radic: I used to be a professional swim coach, but got tired of it. I was in Fresno coaching swimming. Then I was called to take the church in Ripon. They call it ‘calling’. When you accept the call you ‘take the church. So here I am. I should add that I don’t like it here.

Rumpus: Could you explain that a little bit?

Radic: My education was geared for the priesthood but I got sidetracked. When I tired of coaching I looked around for a church. The Church in Ripon was looking for a pastor. So they ‘called me, which means they hired me. I took the job.

A friend put on to the position. He was the pastor of the church at the time, and he left for another church in the midwest.

Rumpus: How long did things go OK for and then what happened?

Radic: Things went fine for about 7 years. Then I got tired of being poor and mortgaged the house that the church provided for me to live in. The house was not mine. When the initial money from the house ran out, I sold the church itself.

Rumpus: What did you want that money could buy?

Radic: I wanted a nice vacation, a BMW, nice clothes, fine wines, good cigars. In effect I wanted status, and in a way I wanted people to like me.

Rumpus: So after three years you mortgaged the church. You had the authority to do that?

Radic: I had the authority, but not the legal right. What I did was totally wrong. And I did it for the wrong reasons.

Rumpus: How did you get caught?

Radic: I made a large deposit into my personal checking account. The bank got suspicious and contacted the church. From there things got worse. Then they went to hell.

Rumpus: There’s no way you were going to be able to pay off those mortgages. Didn’t you know you were going to get caught? Did you want to get caught?

Radic: At first, I actually thought I could get away with it. Total arrogance. After a while, though, I knew it was inevitable. But there was nothing to do about it, except turn myself in and confess. And I was too scared to do that. In the end, perhaps, I wanted to get caught. I mean I didn’t want to go to jail and face all the humiliation. But I didn’t want to keep living the way I was living either. For I was overwhelmed by guilt — couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep. And fear! The fear factor was like factor twelve on a scale of five. In hindsight, getting caught was the best thing that ever happened to me. It made me face up to myself, what I had done, where I was going, who I was, who I wanted to be. So I would say that in my case getting caught was a second chance.

Rumpus: What finally happened? You surrendered to the police?

Radic: Yeah, in the end. First I got scared and ran. Then my family and friends talked me into myself up. I came back and surrendered. I was released on my own recognizance. Then they found out about the church sale and I was arrested.

I went to San Jose County Jail for six months. During that time I was attending hearing after hearing. I was sentenced to sixteen months in prison but because I agreed to testify in a murder case they released me.

Rumpus: So you never actually went to prison?

Radic: No. But jail is worse than prison in many ways. The food is worse. I was in PC (protective custody) so I was locked down most of the time. In prison the food is better, and if you’re mainline you get out most of the time. Especially in minimum-security, which is where I would have been. Instead I was in jail with child molesters, murderers, rapists, and bank robbers.

Rumpus: If you hadn’t testified how long would you have been placed in prison?

Radic: If I hadn’t agreed to testify they would have sent me to prison probably after about five months in jail. I would have received credit for that time in jail. In reality I would have spent another three months in prison then I would have been paroled.

Rumpus: How did you end up involved in a murder trial?

Radic: A murderer in jail confessed his crime to me and another inmate (not in religious sense). I admit I wanted to get out of jail but I also felt compelled to testify against this guy. He was a stone-cold killer.

Rumpus: Were you worried about him seeking retribution?

Radic: Yes and no. Yes because he would have killed me without a second thought. No because he had no gang affiliation. If he had been gang affiliated I would not have testified. Someone would have gotten to me.

Rumpus: When did you decide to write a book about your experiences?

Radic: While I was in jail. The corrections officers often told me, “You should write a book when you get out.” They thought my story was bizarre.

Rumpus: How’d you find your publisher?

Radic: ECW is a publisher in Toronto, Canada. I sent the manuscript to them and a number of other publishers. Jack David, who is the publisher, liked it and offered me a contract. Then he offered me a contract for a second book.

The book is not your usual boring rise, fall, and redemption kind of thing. It’s voyeuristic. Like a bad porno movie. When you finish it you say to yourself, “I don’t think I wanna do that or go there.” When you read about jail and the kind of people who are in jail it scares the living daylights out of you.

Rumpus: So why did you write the book? What did you hope to get out of it?

Radic: I wrote the book for peace of mind. For me, jail was horrifying and surreal, like taking a trip to Dante’s Inferno without a guidebook or finding myself in the biblical Great Gulf Fixed. So I wrote the book to put everything I had experienced into perspective. A kind of handle on reality that I could use to pick it up and walk around with it. Like most Americans I had no idea what jail was like, what kind of people went to jail — the mentally ill, the brutal — hollow, violent people. Naive and innocent, I walked into “the belly of the beast.” When I came out I wasn’t naive or innocent anymore. I came out wary, with no more illusions. I guess I wanted someone else to know what it’s like.
Mr. Radic's Author Page at Amazon reads:
Randall Radic, Th.D., S.T.D. is a former Old Catholic priest. He is a graduate of the University of Arizona. He holds a Master of Theology, from Trinity Seminary, a Doctorate of Theology from Trinity Seminary,Th.D., and a Doctorate of Sacred Theology, S.T.D. from Agape Seminary.

After a midlife crisis, he spent time behind bars. Today, he has emerged a changed man. He is the author of Gone To Hell: True Crimes of America’s Clergy (ECW Press/ Oct 2009), and A Priest in Hell: Gangs, Murderers and Snitching in a California Jail.


Mr. Radic is also the co-author, with Ralph Fontana, of Terminal Disaster: Inside the Money Machine (2012).

The fact that First Congregational Church of Ripon, California would call a man with an Old Catholic background as pastor and then replace him with a woman indicates to this blogger that what is being practiced there is churchianity rather than Christianity. The following calendar item, apparently from 2014, provides further evidence of the church's liberal direction:

FRIDAY JUNE 20th “Mathew Sheppard Story”
First Congregational Church of Ripon, 100 N. Acacia Ave, Ripon, CA (209) 599-3361


This apostasy is nothing new (a frequent point of this blog). Richard S. Wheeler, best known as an author of Western novels, was a member of the Congregational Church when he wrote the non-fiction book Pagans in the Pulpit (1974), a critique of the social gospel of liberal "Christianity." The book is worth reading, and is still relevant.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Church of the Holy Sepulchre officials in Jerusalem disavow keymaster's refusal to receive U.S. Vice President Mike Pence

Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem.
And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it...
...In that day will I make the governors of Judah like an hearth of fire among the wood, and like a torch of fire in a sheaf; and they shall devour all the people round about, on the right hand and on the left: and Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place, even in Jerusalem...
... In that day shall the Lord defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the Lord before them.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.
Zechariah 12:2-3, 6, 8-9

I can't recall the site or blog where I read a post earlier this year by a Christian who had visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and came away with the impression that the place is demonic--which may or may not have anything to do with the following, as reported by Dov Lieber of The Times of Israel, December 13, 2017 (link in original):

Officials at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem on Wednesday dismissed the significance of a letter written by the site’s Muslim keyholder in which he vowed not to receive US Vice President Mike Pence as irrelevant, since the man is not an official of the church and does not represent it.

A spokeswoman for Pence, who is due next week, said the vice president has not reached out to plan a visit to the church at this stage, and a church official said no visit had yet been planned.

Adeeb Jowdeh al-Husseini, the Custodian of the Keys to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, wrote in an Arabic statement this week that he “refuses completely to receive United States Vice President Pence in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.”

Stressing his opposition to US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Husseini further said he would not be present when the US vice president visits the church, and called on church leaders of the different denominations not to receive Pence.

However, no church visit is planned and Husseini does not represent the church, officials said.

Pence’s press secretary Alyssa Farah wrote on Twitter that Pence, who often plays up the role of Christianity in his public life, had never reached out regarding a visit to the holy site. “This report is false,” she wrote.

A senior church official also said no visit had been planned.

“We didn’t receive any formal or informal request and if there is a request, there is a status quo procedure to respect involving the three communities. Anyway it is not up to one of the key keepers to decide anything about this kind of issue,” the official said.

Two other church officials said Husseini is not a church official and does not represent any of the of Christian denominations who have a stake in the church where, according to Christian tradition, Jesus was buried.

“He is not an official and represents himself,” said one of them, Ibrahim Shomali, chancellor of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

Husseini is part of a long tradition of Muslim men who inherit the responsibility of opening and closing the Christian holy site in order to keep the status quo between all the different parties at this sensitive sacred spot.

“We will say to Mr. Trump, it’s not reasonable that one can give something away that doesn’t belong to him to someone that doesn’t deserve it,” wrote Jowdeh al-Husseini in his statement.

In an address last Wednesday from the White House, Trump defied worldwide warnings and insisted that after repeated failures to achieve peace, a new approach was long overdue, describing his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the seat of Israel’s government as merely based on reality.

The move was hailed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and by leaders across much of the Israeli political spectrum. Trump stressed that he was not specifying the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city, and called for no change in the status quo at the city’s holy sites.

Last week, the senior Egyptian cleric Al-Azhar’s Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb cancelled a scheduled meeting with Pence.

“Al-Azhar cannot sit with those who falsify history and steal the rights of people,” a statement said. “How can I sit with those who gave what they do not own to those who are undeserving?”

On Wednesday, the head of the Joint List of Arab parties in the Knesset said his faction would boycott Pence’s speech to the parliament.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas also cancelled a planned meeting with Pence.

On Saturday Abbas’s diplomatic adviser, Majdi Khaldi, said that a meeting planned between the PA president and Pence was canceled “because the US has crossed red lines” on Jerusalem.

Abbas had viewed close ties with Washington as strategically important because of the US role as Mideast broker. The snub of Pence signaled a sharp deterioration in relations.

The White House warned on Thursday that canceling the meeting planned for the West Bank would be “counterproductive.”

Jibril Rajoub, a senior member of Abbas’s Fatah party, had said Friday that Pence was “not welcome in Palestine.”
As reported by Julia Manchester of the Washington newspaper The Hill, December 13, 2017 (link in original):

The official custodian in charge of the keys to one of the most sacred sites in Christianity will not welcome Vice President Pence when he visits the Old City of Jerusalem this month.

“It has come to our attention that Vice President Pence intends to make an official visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and asked me to receive him officially,” Adeeb Joudeh, who is responsible for the keys to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, wrote in a letter on Wednesday, according to Israel's Channel 2 News.

“I absolutely refuse to officially welcome the American Vice President Mr. Mike Pence at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and I will not be physically in church during his visit," he continued.

“This is an expression of my condemnation of President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel."

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is located in the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City and is said to contain the sites where Jesus Christ was crucified and where Christians believe he was buried and resurrected.

Officials from the church have downplayed the importance of Joudeh's letter.

“We didn’t receive any formal or informal request and if there is a request, there is a status quo procedure to respect involving the three communities. Anyway it is not up to one of the key keepers to decide anything about this kind of issue,” a church official said, according to The Times of Israel.

A senior church official told the publication that no visit had been planned.

Pence, who was raised Roman Catholic and now identifies as an evangelical Christian, is set to travel throughout the region this month seeking an "end to the persecution of Christians and all religious minorities."

However, a prominent Christian group in the region has signaled they will not welcome Pence on his official visit in the wake of Trump's decision on Jerusalem.

The leader of Egypt's Coptic Christian Church said last week he will not meet with Pence, saying Trump's decision came "at an unsuitable time and without consideration for the feelings of millions of people."

A group of Christian churches in Jerusalem also penned a letter to President Trump urging him not to recognize Jerusalem as the capital, prior to his announcement last week...

Monday, December 11, 2017

100 years ago: British forces capture Jerusalem

As birds flying, so will the Lord of hosts defend Jerusalem; defending also he will deliver it; and passing over he will preserve it. Isaiah 31:5

On December 11, 1917, British Army General Sir Edmund Allenby marched into Jerusalem through the Jaffa Gate and declared martial law, two days after Hussein al-Husayni, the Ottoman Mayor of Jerusalem, surrendered to British troops, ending 400 years of Ottoman Empire rule of the city. General Allenby was reportedly a Bible-believing Christian, prayed that his forces would be able to take Jerusalem without damaging any holy places, and marched into the city rather than entering on horseback, as an expression of his respect for Jerusalem's status as a city revered by Jews, Christians, and Muslims. I can't verify it, but it has been reported that General Allenby claimed that Isaiah 31:5 was being fulfilled on that very day, with the Lord using British Royal Flying Corps planes to defend and preserve Jerusalem.

The British capture of Jerusalem was another event leading to the establishment of the modern state of Israel. A disproportionate number of the major events before and after the establishment of modern Israel have occurred in years ending in "7;" I don't believe that to be prophetically significant, but I find it interesting, and it helps one to memorize a timeline of events:

1897: Theodor Herzl, the founder of the modern Zionist movement, convened the first Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland, which concluded by adopting a program to pursue the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine.

1917 (November): British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour issued the Balfour Declaration, stating the British government's support for the establishment of a homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine.

1917 (December): General Sir Edmund Allenby led British forces in the capture of Jerusalem, ending 400 years of Ottoman rule of the city, and beginning 30 years of British rule, most of that time under a League of Nations Mandate.

1947: The United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 181, partitioning Palestine into Jewish and Arab states by October 1, 1948.

1967: Israeli forces inflicted a stunning defeat on Egyptian forces in the Six-Day War and took control of old Jerusalem.

1977: Egyptian President Anwar Sadat accepted Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin's invitation to come to Jerusalem and address the Knesset, and severed relations with other Arab countries that weren't willing to join him in pursuing peaceful relations with Israel.

2017: U.S. President Donald Trump declared Jerusalem to be Israel's capital, and announced that the United States will soon move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

75 years ago: Federal Council of Churches proposes a North American Council of Churches

Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. II Timothy 3:5

On December 10, 1942, the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America, meeting in Cleveland, approved a plan for the establishment of a North American Council of Churches to include Canada. That never came about, but in 1948, mainline Protestant churches from both the United States and Canada were among those that came together to form the World Council of Churches. In 1950, the Federal Council of Churches became the National Council of Churches. The WCC and NCC were apostate at the time of their creation, and they're more apostate now, as a glance at their websites will show. As the word of God tells us, "from such turn away."

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Pope Francis wants the English translation of the Lord's Prayer changed

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
Matthew 6:9-13

As reported by Maham Abedi of Global News, December 8, 2017 (link in original):

Pope Francis says the words in the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ — one of the most well-known prayers in Christianity — need to be tweaked.

In an interview on an Italian TV show Wednesday, he explained that he thinks the current English translation isn’t completely accurate. The pontiff explained that the translation, which asks God “lead us not into temptation,” doesn’t work because Satan — not God — leads to sin.

“A father does not do that, a father helps you to get up immediately. It’s Satan who leads us into temptation, that’s his department,” he said during the interview.

That’s why he wants the Roman Catholic Church to consider changing the words to “do not let us fall into temptation.”

The prayer’s translations are from the Latin vulgate, which was translated from ancient Greek, which was, in turn, translated from Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus.

Liturgical translations are usually done by local Churches in co-ordination with the Vatican.
As reported by Harriet Sherwood and agency in the English newspaper The Guardian, December 8, 2017 (link in original):

...The 80-year-old also highlighted that the Catholic church in France had adapted the prayer, and uses the phrase “do not let us fall into temptation” instead.

The two versions of the Lord’s Prayer most commonly used in England both say “lead us not into temptation”.

“I’m not aware of any plans to change the translation in the English-speaking world but you can certainly see the logic of doing so,” said Austen Ivereigh, the pope’s biographer.

“It is not God who tempts us into sin but the enemy of human nature. But tradition and familiarity are also important factors in weighing up any decision to modify a translation.”

The Rev Ian Paul, an Anglican theologian, said the pope’s comments would make traditionalists nervous.

“The word in question is peirasmos [from New Testament Greek] which means both to tempt and to be tested. So on one level the pope has a point. But he’s also stepping into a theological debate about the nature of evil.

“In terms of church culture, people learn this prayer by heart as children. If you tweak the translation, you risk disrupting the pattern of communal prayer. You fiddle with it at your peril.”

The Lord’s Prayer, which is memorised by millions of Christians across the world, appears in the Bible.
It speaks volumes about the state of Biblical illiteracy in England these days that a newspaper has to state that the Lord's Prayer is found in the Bible.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

U.S. President Donald Trump declares Jerusalem to be Israel's capital

Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem.
And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it...
...In that day will I make the governors of Judah like an hearth of fire among the wood, and like a torch of fire in a sheaf; and they shall devour all the people round about, on the right hand and on the left: and Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place, even in Jerusalem...
... In that day shall the Lord defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the Lord before them.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.
Zechariah 12:2-3, 6, 8-9

During the 1979 Canadian federal election campaign, Progressive Conservative Party leader Joe Clark, Leader of the Opposition, promised, if his party formed the government, to move Canada's embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It was widely believed that Mr. Clark made that promise in order to boost the chances of PC candidate Ron Atkey in the Toronto riding of St. Paul's. If that was the idea, it worked; Mr. Atkey was elected, and the Progressive Conservatives won a plurality of seats in the House of Commons, ending 16 years of Liberal Party government, the last 11 years under Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. Mr. Clark became Prime Minister of a minority government, and Mr. Atkey was named Minister of Employment and Immigration. Mr. Clark failed to keep his promise, and within nine months, the government had fallen, and another election had resulted in Mr. Trudeau being returned to power with a majority of seats in the House of Commons. Mr. Atkey was among the PC MPs who lost their seats, and he never returned to active politics.

U.S. President Donald Trump has acknowledged reality by declaring Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel, and has promised to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Let's watch and see if he keeps his promise, and what results from his words and actions on the subject.

As reported by Matthew Lee and Bradley Klapper of Associated Press, December 7, 2017:

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump shattered decades of unwavering U.S. neutrality on Jerusalem Wednesday, declaring the sorely divided holy city as Israel’s capital and sparking frustrated Palestinians to cry out that he had destroyed already-fragile Mideast hopes for peace.

Defying dire, worldwide warnings, Trump insisted that after repeated peace failures it was past time for a new approach, starting with what he said was his decision merely based on reality to recognize Jerusalem as the seat of Israel’s government. He also said the United States would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, though he set no timetable.

“We cannot solve our problems by making the same failed assumptions and repeating the same failed strategies of the past,” Trump said, brushing aside the appeals for caution from around the world.

Harsh objections came from a wide array of presidents and prime ministers. From the Middle East to Europe and beyond, leaders cautioned Trump that any sudden change on an issue as sensitive as Jerusalem not only risks blowing up the new Arab-Israeli peace initiative led by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, but could lead to new violence in the region.

No government beyond Israel spoke up in praise of Trump or suggested it would follow his lead.

Israelis and Palestinians reacted in starkly different terms. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed Trump’s announcement as an “important step toward peace,” and Israeli opposition leaders echoed his praise. But Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Trump’s shift serves extremist groups that want religious war and signals U.S. withdrawal from being a peace mediator. Protesters in Gaza burned American and Israeli flags.

Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is a powerfully symbolic statement about a city that houses many of the world’s holiest sites. Trump cited several: the Western Wall that surrounded the Jews’ ancient Temple, the Stations of the Cross that depict Jesus along his crucifixion path, the al-Asqa Mosque where Muslims say their Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven.

And there are major ramifications over who should control the territory. The United States has never endorsed the Jewish state’s claim of sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem and has seen the city’s future as indelibly linked to the “deal of the century” between Israel and the Palestinians that Trump believes he can reach. Beyond Kushner, Trump has dispatched other top emissaries to the region in recent months in hopes of advancing new negotiations.

Trump said he wasn’t delivering any verdict about where an Israeli-Palestinian border should lie. Instead, he described his Jerusalem declaration as recognizing the reality that most of Israel’s government already operates from the city, and he suggested the U.S. ally should be rewarded for creating a successful democracy where “people of all faiths are free to live and worship.”

“Today we finally acknowledge the obvious,” he said, emphasizing that he wouldn’t follow past presidents who tiptoed around Jerusalem out of diplomatic caution.

U.S. embassies and consulates around the world were put on high alert. Across the Middle East and Europe, they issued warnings to Americans to watch out for violent protests. In Jordan, home to a large Palestinian population, the U.S. said it would close its embassy to the public Thursday and urged children of diplomats there to stay home from school...

...For the first time, Trump did appear to endorse the concept of an independent Palestine existing alongside Israel. Yet even that idea appeared conditional, as he said he’d promote the “two-state solution” if both sides agreed. Netanyahu’s government is dominated by hardliners who oppose Palestinian independence.

Trump made no reference to signing a waiver that officially delays any move of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but the White House confirmed he signed the waiver Wednesday. It means there will be no embassy move for at least another six months. Establishing a Jerusalem embassy was a major campaign promise of Trump’s and one that officials said he focused on in discussions with top advisers in recent weeks.

On Wednesday he focused on his directive to the State Department to begin a process of moving the embassy as required by U.S. law, however many years that might take. After his speech, he signed a proclamation to that effect...
Mr. Trump's move is already serving to reveal divisions among Arabs, as reported by Zeina Karam of Associated Press, December 7, 2017:

Beirut--...Jerusalem, a cherished and combustible landmark, is one of the very few unifying issues in an Arab world plagued by wars and sectarianism. But even the prospect of Trump recognizing it as Israel’s capital became a reason for bickering between the Middle East’s Sunni and Shiite powerhouses, Saudi Arabia and Iran, who are engaged in a catastrophic proxy war for supremacy in the region.

“If half the funds spent by some rulers in the region to encourage terrorism, extremism, sectarianism and incitement against neighbors was spent on liberating Palestine, we wouldn’t be facing today this American egotism,” Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said in a tweet Wednesday, clearly directed at Saudi Arabia...

...Saudi Arabia, a regional powerhouse that could help the White House push through a Middle East settlement, has voiced strong opposition to Trump’s move, saying it would “provoke sentiments of Muslims throughout the world.”

Trump’s move puts the Sunni nation, whose king holds the title of “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques,” in a bind. The kingdom, particularly its powerful crown prince, Mohammad Bin Salman, enjoys close relations with Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner — a relationship that the Saudis need and cannot afford to compromise.

While the Saudis can at least on the surface pressure Trump and distance themselves from Israelis, they will almost certainly continue to cooperate on intelligence sharing regarding Iran.

For its part, Iran will seize upon Trump’s move to show itself the defender of Muslims — and Saudi Arabia cannot be seen as acting any less forceful in its opposition to recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital...

...Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt have invested in good relations with the United States and are at odds with fellow Arab countries over political and religious differences. Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen are mired in wars and conflict, and entire cities have been laid to waste.

Sunni-led Gulf Arab states, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, share with Israel a deep distrust of Shiite power Iran and their relations with Israel have somewhat thawed.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu referred to this Wednesday. While he acknowledged that Israel won’t be able to sign peace treaties with the Arabs without a deal on the Palestinians, he implied that ties have already been established and have plenty of room to grow.

“Peace treaties, no. Everything else below that, yes, and it’s happening,” he said...

...Reflecting opinion in much of the Arab world, two leading Lebanese newspapers issued front page rebukes to Trump over his expected announcement.

The An-Nahar newspaper compared the U.S. president to the late British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour, who a century ago famously promised Palestine as a national home to the Jewish People, in what is known as the Balfour declaration.

The paper’s Wednesday headline read: “Trump, Balfour of the century, gifts Jerusalem to Israel.”
Some people, including this blogger, consider equating Donald Trump with Arthur Balfour to be high praise for Mr. Trump. See my post 100 years ago: The Balfour Declaration paves the way for fulfillment of biblical prophecy (November 2, 2017).