As a legal immigrant from Egypt and a Christian, this story was particularly poignant. Will the president heed this particular plea? I would guess not, but I hold out hope.
A 15-year-old Egyptian girl, Dina el-Gohary, has written an emotional appeal to President Obama asking him to use his influence to save her father, Maher el-Gohary, who is being persecuted for his beliefs. "Mr. President Obama, we are a minority in Egypt," Dina writes, according to a report from the Assyrian International News Agency. "We are treated very badly. … We are imprisoned in our own home because Muslim clerics called for the murder of my father, and now the Government has set for us a new prison, we are imprisoned in our own country."
Dina and her father are Christian converts in a part of the world where conversion can mean death. The Muslim-majority countries of the Middle East are among the world’s greatest offenders against freedom of conscience. Religious liberty does not exist or is severely curtailed based on Shariah supremacy. Egypt is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which commits signatories to respect a variety of liberties, including religious freedom, but a court considering whether Mr. el-Gohary could legally change his religious affiliation ruled that Egypt was only bound to honor those provisions that did not contradict Islamic law, and "in the event of a contradiction, Shariah takes precedence."
Egypt’s Constitution guarantees freedom of belief but not freedom of religious practice. The same court stated that faith is "an internal, personal matter," but the right to actually practice a religion other than Islam "is subject to restrictions that may be imposed through regulations that emphasize certain higher interests, especially those related to safeguarding public order and moral values and to protecting the rights and freedoms of others." Because Muslims would take offense at Mr. el-Gohary becoming a Christian, their indignation outweighs his right to choose his faith. The state thinks that changing the religious affiliation on his identity card from Muslim to Christian is "a threat to societal order." The court further insulted Mr. el-Gohary by claiming he could not even prove he was a Christian. Documentation supplied by the Coptic Christian Church was tossed because the court said the church had no legal authority to recognize conversions and that Mr. el-Gohary was "toying with religion."
Mr. el-Gohary has had several death-sentence fatwahs issued against him, has been forced to live in hiding and has been banned from leaving the country. His case actually is one of the more benign. Former Afghan citizen Abdul Rahman converted to Christianity and was arrested and threatened with death but managed to flee to asylum in Italy. In August, during an anti-Christian riot in Pakistan, eight people were burned to death and two others were fatally shot. "You said that the Muslim minority in America are treated very well," Dina el-Gohary wrote to Mr. Obama, "so why are we not treated here likewise?" The U.S. government is well aware of Mr. el-Gohary’s plight. The State Department’s 2009 International Religious Freedom Report covers his case in detail. We urge Mr. Obama to review this report. He has gone out of his way to curry favor with Muslims at home and abroad, but the president seems unwilling to address this difficult issue. We have heard him apologize extensively for American actions abroad, but when it comes to religious liberties, the United States is not the country with the problem.
For his part, Mr. el-Gohary is adamant that he will remain a Christian regardless of the oppression he faces. He said he and his daughter would not revert to being Muslims "even if we have to live on the streets. We love our Lord Jesus, and we have left Islam for good."
Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.
Alexis de Tocqueville
Let me see if I understand the more “moderate” view of abortion, setting aside for the time being the extremely rare case where the mother’s life truly hangs in the balance. I would like to consider the shibboleth of abortion should be illegal “except in cases of rape and incest.” I would like to analyze this from both the perspective of the moderate/centrist liberal and from the moderate/centrist leaning conservative and see if it makes sense from either direction.
Let me first see if I understand this from the more liberal position.
1. Liberals tend to want to protect the rights of the living even in cases of murderers (anti-death penalty).
2. Yet, they want to protect the so-called libertarian (pro-choice) right of a woman to choose to have an abortion.
3. So more moderates will give in on elective abortions, but still staunchly defend the woman’s right to choose in cases of rape and incest, believing that it is the “compassionate” way of minimizing those horrendous acts.
4. So the net effect is that the rapist and/or incest perpetrator gets a shortened more lenient sentence, while the innocent product of that rape/incest receives the death penalty.
From the perspective of the left this is absolute nonsense. Do they not want to “care” for the “least of these” in these cases? Yet, ultimately they are causing damage to both the unborn…who receives the ultimate penalty (DEATH), though they are the most innocent, and the mother…who suffers with emotional and physical trauma compounded by the death of her unborn child.
If they refuse to see the unborn child as a human being (which is often the justification from the Left) then there is still the issue that the mother continues to bear the marks of both the violent act of the incest and/or rape and the subsequent act of the abortion.
From the perspective of the Conservative leaning moderate:
1. Conservatives want to protect the life of the unborn child (sometimes without caring about the situation of the mother).
2. The “moderates” view this as a satisfactory compromise, thinking they will reduce the numbers of abortions.
3. Yet they effectively have affirmed the view that the unborn child conceived in a violent and/or immoral act is of “no value” and therefore does not need protecting, by agreeing to such legislation. They are therefore sacrificing and compromising on the truth that all human life is of immeasurable value and allowing this most innocent victim to receive the death penalty.
4. They also view this as “compassionate” to the plight of the woman victim, “easing her pain” in the short-term but causing greater distress in the long-term.
Conclusion: The compromise makes no sense from the more conservative perspective, for to minimize the value of the life of a human being in the case of rape/incest completely undermines the rationale for the pro-life position in the first place and opens wide the door complete unrestricted abortion on demand.
Here is a sobering story that truly addresses where this logic leads:
“She told me that she would have aborted me if it was legal”
Dennis Sewell has written an interesting and incisive article that presents the argument that Darwin’s ideas have lead to great atrocities and violence. Here is the article on Times online in the UK.
Here is an important section:
In America, where Darwin’s writings on morality and race have come under particularly intense critical scrutiny because of the enduring creationist debate, he has been accused of fostering moral nihilism and scientific racism, and even of promoting an ethic that found its ultimate expression in the Holocaust. Most startling of all, a connection has now been drawn between Darwin’s theories and a rash of school shootings. In April, 1,000 people gathered at sunset in Littleton, Colorado, to commemorate the victims of the Columbine high school massacre, 10 years on. Darrell Scott, whose daughter Rachel was the first of the 13 children to be murdered, and whose son Craig narrowly escaped being shot, cannot understand why so little attention has been paid to the motivation of the killers, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, and their interest in Charles Darwin’s ideas. “Harris wore a ‘Natural Selection’ T-shirt on the day of the killings. They made remarks on video about helping out the process of natural selection by eliminating the weak. They also professed that they had evolved to a higher level than their classmates. I was amazed at the frequent references to evolution, and that the press completely ignored that aspect of the tapes.”
Much of the evidence remains sealed under a court order issued to minimise the risk of copycat killings, but from those documents that are in the public domain, it is clear that Eric Harris fantasised about putting everyone into a violent computer game that only the fittest could survive. And, like Darwin himself, he noted how vaccination might be interfering with nature’s weeding process. In his rantings Harris said he wished there were no vaccines, or even warning labels on dangerous goods, “and let natural selection take its course. All the fat, ugly, retarded, crippled dumbass, stupid f***heads in the world would die… Maybe then the human race can actually be proud of itself”.
As the attorney for the families of six of the students killed at Columbine, the Denver lawyer Barry Arrington has come across more in a similar vein. “I read through every single page of Eric Harris’s journals; I listened to all of the audio tapes and watched the videotapes… It became evident to me that Harris consciously saw his actions as logically arising from what he had learnt about evolution. Darwinism served as his personal intellectual rationale for what he did. There cannot be the slightest doubt that Harris was a worshipper of Darwin and saw himself as acting on Darwinian principles.”
In 2007, detectives following up a tip-off about a planned school shooting in Pennsylvania discovered that their suspect often logged on to a social networking site called Natural Selection’s Army and a number of related chatrooms that were later tagged by the media as the “cyber school for killers”. These sites were quickly shut down by their service providers, but today “Natural Selection” is the name of a popular computer game in which competing teams attempt to annihilate one another — a sign that Darwin’s term is still associated by many teenagers with sudden and extreme violence.
“Natural Selection” T-shirts have proved a popular line through web-based outlets, and it seems that the Columbine killers have spawned a gruesome personality cult — there is even a computer game in which players adopt the roles of Harris and Klebold, which features original CCTV footage of the killings.
Among those reported to have frequented the original Natural Selection’s Army website was an 18-year-old Finnish student, Pekka-Eric Auvinen. On November 7, 2007, in Tuusula, Finland, Auvinen forced his head teacher to kneel down in front of him before he shot her with his pistol. He slaughtered a further seven victims before turning the gun on himself. Some of the Jokela high school students afterwards described the way Auvinen prowled through the building pointing his gun at people’s heads. Sometimes he would squeeze the trigger and kill them; sometimes, after looking long and hard through the sights, he would suddenly turn away and let his terrified target go free. One witness said he seemed to be choosing his victims at random, but in fact he was making a very deliberate selection. He was trying to weed out the “unfit”.
Before he embarked on his shooting spree, Auvinen posted a lengthy apologia on the internet. Styling himself a “social Darwinist”, he said that natural selection appeared not to be working any more — had maybe even gone into reverse. He had noticed that “stupid, weak-minded people reproduce faster than intelligent, strong-minded ones”. The gene pool was sure to deteriorate if society continued to guarantee the survival of the second-rate. He had pondered what to do about this problem. He understood that life was just a meaningless coincidence, the outcome of a long series of random mutations, so there might not be much point in doing anything at all. But eventually he had decided he would do his bit by becoming a natural selector, aping the pitiless indifference of nature.
Auvinen left a special plea for his motivation to be taken seriously and for the world not merely to write him off as a psychopath, or to blame cult movies, computer games, television or heavy metal music, before concluding: “No mercy for the scum of the Earth! Humanity is overrated. It’s time to put natural selection and survival of the fittest back on track.”
Darwin is often held up as a hero of the modern age, who releases us from many aspects of ethics and morality and in a postmodern way firmly establishes individual/community/cultural relativism. The freedom from authoritative ethics given by a divine creator also inevitably leads to a nihilistic lack of purpose and reason. Eugenics and Nazi Germany are the direct descendants of Darwin, yet little of the ethical implications of Darwinian evolution (one’s that Darwin himself reached) are taught to our students, but they are simply allowed to reach those conclusions on their own. Yet many churches in mainline denominations celebrate Darwin on an annual basis during evolution weekend. They think themselves enlightened, educated and progressive, yet the reality is that they are teaching a philosophy whose implications are eugenics, violence, and death. Thinking themselves wise, they have become foolish and exchanged the life-giving objectively true message of the gospel for a morally bankrupt, ethically depraved false philosophy leading their disciples down the wide road of destruction.
Presbyweb linked to this story about a particular Presbyterian Church that is engaged in a fascinating new ministry. They are doing a service for dogs and their owners. It is certainly an interesting gimmick, and I as a dog lover and owner of three dogs myself was intrigued.
What was most revealing about this particular church and pastor was this section of the article:
Before the first Canines at Covenant service last Sunday, Eggebeen said many Christians love their pets as much as human family members and grieve just as deeply when they suffer – but churches have been slow to recognize that love as the work of God.
"The Bible says of God only two things in terms of an ‘is’: That God is light and God is love. And wherever there’s love, there’s God in some fashion," said Eggebeen, himself a dog lover. "And when we love a dog and a dog loves us, that’s a part of God and God is a part of that. So we honor that."
First I would correct him about the “is”…does it not repeatedly say that God is holy and that God is righteous? But setting that aside, his statement about God is love, completely misses the point. Somehow he has interpreted this in some kind of nonsensical pan/en/theistic way to mean the reciprocal of the statement, namely that “love is God”, thereby making a logical fallacy. Clearly when the apostle John speaks of God being love, he is speaking of an attribute of a personal God. Yet this particular pastor has reinterpreted this to mean that when someone experiences some kind of warm (possibly fleeting) feeling of love, then God must somehow be present. Maybe this pastor will soon be holding a blessing for cash and currency, because we have all probably known people who dearly love money? His logic would then have us all experiencing God whenever we have some warm feeling that we attribute as love. My wife loves ice cream (as many do), so I wonder if he’ll be starting a Ben and Jerry’s service soon?