Christians in the crosshairs

The Supreme Court ruled in June, by a vote of 7-2, that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had violated the First Amendment rights of the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop after he refused to bake a cake celebrating a same-sex wedding. The owner, Jack Phillips, repeatedly made clear he was not denying service in general based on sexual orientation. Rather, he was refusing to participate (by creating a custom cake) in a ceremony that ran contrary to his Christian beliefs.
Phillips was subjected to a lengthy six-year process of hearings and appeals before receiving vindication from the Supreme Court, which strongly rebuked the Colorado Commission for clear “religious hostility” to Christian beliefs. While this was a judicial victory for Phillips, the phrase “the process is the punishment” is appropriate here.

End of story, right? Wrong.

Just as the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, a caller to the cakeshop requested a special cake celebrating a gender “transition.” It shouldn’t be a surprise at this point that Phillips politely declined that order as well. The result? The Colorado Commission has initiated the same type of proceedings that were invalidated in the previous case! On that basis of that fact, Phillips’ attorney has filed suit against the Commission in Federal Court. The result of that action is still pending, but it’s safe to say the Supreme Court’s view of the Commission’s bias has been confirmed.

This is by far not the only example of Christians being targeted. The wholly misnamed “Military Religious Freedom Foundation has demanded the removal and arrest of an Air Force General assigned to Edwards Air Force Base in California. Why? Because he’s had the audacity to do things like ask people to pray for wisdom for his leadership. He also shares his beliefs and experiences with other Christians via a personal website. This is only the latest crusade by the MRFF to create a military environment where one can only have beliefs if they keep them wholly to themselves. That’s far from religious freedom. The group should go by the name “freedom FROM religion foundation,” because that’s what their track record shows as its goal.

Vocal atheists still like to laugh at the idea Christians are persecuted in the United States. Granted, American Christians have yet to be subjected to the level of cruelty inflicted on their brothers and sisters in other countries. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a pronounced and growing hostility to the Gospel. That official hostility is the wellspring from which persecution can grow.  The seeds are already sprouting in America.

Christians in the U.S. do not have a special immunity from the schemes of the Ruler of this Present Darkness. Only vigilance and vigorous defense can protect the unusual freedoms we’ve enjoyed through our history. As the fabric of the Surveillance State model becomes tighter and tighter, we need to understand there will soon be no middle ground or choice of apathy. We will all either profess Jesus as our Lord, come what may, or else deny Him at our eternal peril.

Watch and pray, brothers and sisters. And seek discernment how you can engage, for the battle already rages around you.

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This ‘n’ that

A few notes to hopefully provoke your thinking today:

I’ve thought for some time that our nation’s enemies use our desire for civility and decorum to handicap us in the culture war.  When the other side says “have you no decency,” it’s usually a dodge to avoid being accountable for their own actions.  It seems I’m not alone in thinking so:

…while appropriate restraint is always a part of this consideration, we go too far when we decide that we must always adhere to every aspect of a dying civility no matter the cost. Failing to openly defy the Left’s blatant aggression does not preserve civility — it only emboldens the uncivil and betrays their victims.

…civility is not a moral absolute and its form is always adjusting along with culture, it’s requirements are determined primarily by social contract — the kind of behavior we all implicitly or explicitly agree to when interacting with one another.   …when one party violates a contract, the other party is no longer bound by all of its terms. If you sign a contract to buy a car, and the dealer refuses to turn it over you, you aren’t “sinking to their level” by refusing to hand over your money. If you contract an employee who never shows up for work, you aren’t “repaying evil for evil” by withholding his wages. The same is true when dealing with people who are deliberately uncivil to civil people — it fundamentally changes what the rest of society owes them.

We need to stop taking the lazy road of “be civil though the heavens fall” and begin being deliberate about when to be civil — and when not to be.  For starters, I suggest the following guidelines…  (read the whole post here)

One of the biggest areas in which ‘civility’ and emotional blackmail is used against us is in the area of immigration.  So it’s nice to see the rest of the world COMBINED recently took in more refugees than the U.S. for the first time in 38 years.  Keep that little factoid handy for the next time your Leftist acquaintance decries the supposed ‘heartlessness’ of the U.S.

Leftists also demand expensive judicial proceedings for everyone who shows up on our borderlands, in order to accord them “due process rights.”  Turns out the Supreme Court has ruled consistently since the late 1800s that non-citizens are not entitled automatically to the same expensive access to our judicial system that citizens have.  Another handy note to have in countering our enemies’ talking points (and yes, I’m calling them enemies now.  Their actions show it’s an accurate term, whether using it is civil or not).

One reason the media are held in such contempt today is the realization they, too, have broken the social contract.  Presenting slanted information while claiming to be impartial is hardly being ‘civil.’  Yet the Associated Press seems to have done it again, trying to tug heartstrings by claiming the military is ‘discharging’ immigrants rather than allowing them to become citizens.  But it turns out there is more to this than the AP would have you know, including the fact that ‘discharge’ is not the appropriate word for someone who hasn’t even been to Basic Training yet.  But remember, kids, “fake news” is only a Trump laugh line…

Finally, for those of us who aren’t tired of winning yet, the economy is strengthening to the point labor is becoming in short supply — and hence, more valuable and lucrative.  Could it be that allowing thousands of people to flow into our nation unchecked each month helped depress wages for decades?  Inquiring minds should want to know…

Those blissful pre-Columbians

Archeologists continue to find out more about the utopia that was the Western Hemisphere before paradise was troubled by the arrival of the Europeans:

Aztec human sacrifices were far more widespread and grisly that previously thought, archaeologists have revealed.

In 2015 archaeologists from Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) found a gruesome ‘trophy rack’ near the site of the Templo Mayor, one of the main temples in the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan, which later became Mexico City.

Now, they say the find was just the tip of the iceberg, and that the ‘skull tower’ was just a small part of a massive display of skulls known as Huey Tzompantli that was the size of a basketball court…

Some Spanish conquistadors wrote about the tzompantli and its towers, estimating that the rack alone contained 130,000 skulls…

And since not only men but women and children are represented in the excavation’s finds, it shows how progressively egalitarian Aztec society was.

OK, enough sarcasm.  Imagine being a sincerely devoted Spanish Christian who came upon such a scene in its heyday.  Would you have tried to understand it as a legitimate alternative cultural norm equally valid to your own, or would you have seen a literally monumental affront against God’s greatest creation (human beings), and acted accordingly?

It’s one thing to criticize the abuses Europeans inflicted upon the native peoples of the Americas.  It’s quite another to consider the two societies to be on the same moral footing.  The word “savage” is no longer in vogue, but correctly used it describes a society completely cut off from the Truth and the Word of God.

But before we moderns become too conceited, let’s remember that savagery and human sacrifice aren’t extinct, and some of the worldviews that lead to it are still very much with us.

A turning of the tide?

Leftists are in full meltdown over the announcement Justice Anthony Kennedy will step down from the Supreme Court July 31. This action provides President Trump an opportunity to nominate yet another Constitutionalist like Neil Gorsuch to the court. Should Trump serve two full terms, it is likely he will nominate the replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsburg as well.

The enemies of our Constitutional system are in abject terror over the possibility, now increased, the Court will undo decades of judicial activism. Unable to enact their agenda through the ballot box, the Left sought to impose it instead by abusive judicial fiat. But just as unconstitutional executive orders by Obama could be undone by corrective orders from Trump, the shredding of the Constitution can be reversed by a Supreme Court made up of Justices who respect it.  The impact of these nominations on the next 20 to 30 years cannot be overstated.  It’s vital to elect America First Constitutionalists (sadly, only a subset of the GOP) this fall, and ensure Trump’s reelection in 2020.  Things are going well for patriots lately, but as Glenn Reynolds frequently channels Han Solo, “don’t get cocky, kid.”

On other fronts:

-The Supreme Court, even with Justice Kennedy still on it, has issued a couple of key rulings, freeing pro-life crisis pregnancy centers from being forced to provide information on how to obtain an abortion, and denying unions the ability to force payments from non-members (which usually ends up in liberal political campaigns).

– The reputation of the FBI is hardly helped when Peter Strzok answers a Congressional subpoena to testify in a classified forum, but reportedly refuses to answer the most germane questions by claiming “it’s classified” or declining to answer “on advice of counsel.”  What are the FBI’s lawyers encouraging him to continue hiding?

– A former Hillary 2016 Campaign officer has been indicted for soliciting sexual access to children as young as two years old.  And from the “you can’t make this up” files, he was also chairman of the International Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict charity.  As they say, fishermen go where the fish are.

– Without Obama propping them up with pallets of cash, the Iranian regime is suddenly experiencing a popular backlash again.  The previous administration’s failure to support Iranian dissidents was inexcusable.  Worth noting: “Q” indicated a week ago Iran was about to get interesting again… another tick of credibility for those keeping score.

– The GOP seems to have a few more members with spines lately, as the latest attempt to pass an amnesty for illegal immigrants has been soundly defeated.  Eternal vigilance is required on this issue, however.

Keep praying hard!  If God can resurrect His Son or an army of dry bones, He can certainly revive our nation!  Let’s seek daily to have our nation bless Him, that He may show favor to us even at this late hour.

Failing to defend the Faith

I’ve long considered Queen Elizabeth to be representative of class and tradition in an age that has largely rejected both.  But as this article points out, the history of her family — including Saturday’s marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle — shows her descendants have decisively spurned whatever faith and self-discipline the Queen Mother possesses.  Even worse, under her reign, including the title “Defender of the Faith,” the Anglican Church has rejected many Christian doctrines in the name of “tolerance” and “inclusion.”  The result is a Britain in far worse shape than when Elizabeth ascended the throne more than 65 years ago.  She is the longest-reigning monarch in British history.  But despite her personal popularity, it’s not altogether clear her legacy will be on the whole a positive one.

…the courtship and wedding of Meghan and Harry, who is sixth in line for the throne, signaled a sea-change for the royal family in many ways. The bride is American, divorced, biracial, a Catholic, and a commoner, all of which would have been considered scandalous just a generation ago. (Markle was baptized into the Church of England in a private ceremony in March.)…

That the Church blessed the union at all, coming as it did after the couple had been openly cohabitating and in light of Markle’s divorce, signals a radical departure from the traditions of the church headed by Queen Elizabeth, who inherited the title “Defender of the Faith” on the day of her coronation.

While the queen is said to be a very religious woman, her children and grandchildren don’t appear to share her faith. The marriages of the children of the queen and Prince Philip have been replete with scandals and divorces — the most infamous being Prince Charles’s divorce from Princess Diana. Her children and grandchildren, not to mention her husband, openly defied church teachings with pre-marital and extramarital affairs and cohabitation before marriage. Both Prince William and Prince Harry shacked up with their future spouses before marriage, something that would have been unthinkable 20 years ago….

…according to a 2017 British Social Attitudes survey, more than half the population claims they have no religion and only three percent of adults under the age of 24 describe themselves as Anglican. Amongst those ages 18 to 24, three out of four say they have no religion. Among all adults in Britain, only 15 percent now identify as Anglican, 17 percent as Catholics or “other Christian,” and 6 percent say they belong to a non-Christian religion.  (((Spiritually, then, it is no surprise a Muslim is now mayor of London itself.  The influence of that pernicious religion is likely to grow ever stronger there in the vacuum left by the abandonment of Christ.  — Jemison)))

The Church of England’s decline in numbers closely follows the sad trajectory of other mainline Protestant churches. As is almost always the case, declines usually begin with the decision to compromise on longstanding church doctrines. The Church of England began ordaining women in 1994, and ten years later the first female bishops were ordained. Not long after, the church began unofficially blessing same-sex couples. And while the Church of England doesn’t yet officially allow for same-sex marriage, the stage has already been set for approval with the acceptance of clergy in same-sex civil partnerships.

What a long way the Church has come from 1936 when King Edward VIII abdicated his throne so he could wed American divorcee Wallis Simpson.

Indeed.

“…Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.”  (Luke 12:48)

Guess she’s not hiding it anymore

Bet you didn’t expect to read this headline:

“Hillary Clinton Joins International Elite Coven (Yes, really.)”

Earlier this week, Hillary Clinton made an appearance in New York City at an exclusive women’s club called The Wing. The event was put together by co-founders Audrey Gelman and Lauren Kassan in honor of Hillary. They were able to converse on her new book What Happened, her legacy, and (unsurprisingly) Russian meddling. It was quite the typical post-election conversation to be expected from Hillary. However, on this occasion, there was one significant difference. This time Hillary was speaking to a group of women who practice witchcraft and openly call themselves a coven. According to The Wing’s Instagram page: “We’re a coven, not a sorority.”

Now, when I first ran across this I thought maybe that last quote was an overdone “girrrrrl power” remark.  This is a serious charge, so I did my own due diligence.  Scrolling through the Instagram page for the group shows witches and occult symbolism to be rife in the organization, especially in the clothing and trinkets it offers for sale.  It’s worth noting the URL address for the membership application page, too:  “https://witches.the-wing.com/apply.”  Various stories I looked up about the rise of The Wing point out the space is forbidden to men, which seems to go along with this little gem:

Knife

On her own Instagram page, one co-founder of The Wing, Audry Gelman, describes herself this way:  “I’m like any modern woman trying to have it all. I just wish I had more time to seek out the dark forces & join their hellish crusade.” 

In short, this isn’t a case of women calling each other “witches” in the casual way blacks sometimes throw the “n-word” at each other.  I’m sure the tongue-in-cheek elements are meant to provide an “it’s a harmless inside joke” cover, but there’s no denying a consistent theme pervading the organization.  An organization that charges more than $2000 a year for membership, yet is growing rapidly:

The Wing, a trendy women-only co-working space with Instagram-worthy decor, is expanding its empire to six new locations around the world, including another location in Brooklyn.  Women in Toronto, London, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and, yes, Williamsburg, will soon have working spaces of their own in the near future, the company announced today with billboards in the neighborhoods getting their Wings.

And as you might suspect, such a well-connected, well-funded organization actively supports some fellow travelers:

The Wing in politics

I’m guessing this appearance by Her Hillariness may be a sign she’s recognized the presidency will never be in her grasp.  Thus, her usefulness is now in lending support and name recognition to others like her.  While I’m mildly surprised at how openly she’s embracing such a group as The Wing, I’ve never doubted her sympathies.  As I shared shortly before the election, the one time I was in a room with her and Huma Abedin, the sense of spiritual oppression was palpable.  I’m sure there are plenty of people who would read that and laugh.  But the same Bible that assures me Christ died and rose for my salvation also warns me there is an Enemy that prowls around, seeking to devour, and that there are those among us who willingly serve that Enemy.  If you read much about the Wing, you’ll see that Hillary is far from the only well-known name associated with it.  So I’ll close with what C.S. Lewis had to say years ago to those who would guffaw at the idea of dark forces in the world:

I know someone will ask me, ‘Do you really mean, at this time of day, to re-introduce our old friend the devil-hoofs and horns and all?’ Well, what the time of day has to do with it I do not know. And I am not particular about the hoofs and horns. But in other respects my answer is ‘Yes, I do.’ I do not claim to know anything about his personal appearance. If anybody really wants to know him better I would say to that person, ‘Don’t worry. If you really want to, you will. Whether you’ll like it when you do is another question.’

Movie Report: Paul, Apostle of Christ

Went to see the above-named movie with several Paul_387x580banner_nowintheaters-387x580friends from church Saturday evening.  It’s well worth your time and the price of admission.  A caution: much like the movie Passion of the Christ, this is not escapist entertainment.  It makes you think.  As with that other movie, I noticed there was very little conversation as people left the theater.

Several things impressed me about this production.  First, much of what Paul says is drawn from the various letters he wrote in the New Testament — either verbatim or by paraphrase.  You get the sense his dialogue is intended to be close to the spirit and heart of the man being depicted.  Second, while the movie is nowhere near as graphic as the Passion of the Christ, it does not shy away from highlighting the very real persecution and martyring of the Church in the time of Nero.  (The PG-13 rating is a good guide for age appropriateness.)  But it does so in a way that provides a reminder of the encouragement we have in Christ even when facing death at the hands of others.  A closely related third, the Christians of Rome are not cardboard saints.  They wrestle with how to respond to such wanton evil being inflicted on them.  Without giving spoilers, I’ll say it was refreshing to see that not everyone made perfect “Sunday School” choices.

Which brings me to a final point.  A pitfall of many “Christian” movies is a desire to tie everything up neatly: the antagonist repents, there is miraculous deliverance, and so forth.  This movie manages to avoid that.  I won’t get more specific so as not to ruin it for others, but suffice to say while the film concludes in a very appropriate manner for the story it is telling, it leaves open the question of how some characters’ futures resolve.

The best compliment I can give the movie is to note that before we went separate ways Saturday evening, our group agreed it could drive some discussion in our Bible study Sunday morning.  (I should note we’ve been in Paul’s letters for a while now, so the movie’s release was very timely).  Much like the Visual Bible films of a few years ago, this movie provides a way to look at familiar scripture through a different lens than the written word alone.  I find myself hoping more such thought-provoking films will be made — movies that demonstrate a respect for scripture even while carefully filling in historical blanks.

This one is worth your support.