Archive for October 20th, 2008

Study: Press, Obama Love-Fest Continues

Monday, October 20th, 2008

The media are doing their best to get Obama elected. In my eyes, their credibility is in the sewer. They are nothing more than the Socialist’s mouthpiece.

A non-partisan research group says Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has increased his lead over John McCain in the race for good press, while Sarah Palin’s press has “turned sharply negative” on network news shows.

The Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA) has released the results of a scientific content analysis of nearly 600 election news stories that aired from August 23 through September 30 on ABC World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, and Fox Special Report.

CMPA executive director Donald Reick says since the party conventions began, comments about Senator Obama on the network evening news shows have been 65 percent positive, compared to only 36 percent positive comments about Senator John McCain. Reick says Obama’s press coverage has been “universally great.”

Original Link.

Appeal Filed in Case Involving Christian Valedictorian

Monday, October 20th, 2008

I wish I knew how these school officials got the delusion that students cannot mention Jesus.

Erica Corder was one of several students who made a brief speech at her 2006 graduation from Lewis-Palmer High School in Colorado Springs, and she chose to mention the name of Jesus. The following is an excerpt from her 30-second speech:

“We are all capable of standing firm and expressing our own beliefs, which is why I need to tell you about someone who loves you more than you could ever imagine. He died for you on a cross over 2,000 years ago, yet was resurrected and is living today in heaven. His name is Jesus Christ. If you don’t already know him personally I encourage you to find out more about the sacrifice he made for you so that you now have the opportunity to live in eternity with him.”

Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver says Corder was immediately disciplined and coerced to write an apology to the school’s leaders and the student body. The attorney explains more was to follow. “[A]fter the lights were off,” says Staver, “[and] the people were gone, the ceremony’s over, [and] she’s already completed her course work, they then said to her: ‘We’re not going to give a diploma to you unless you write an e-mail apologizing to all of the local community.'”

Staver is concerned that school officials may not be aware of the Constitution. “First of all, it was illegal to withhold the diploma,” he adds. “Secondly, it’s just outrageous and unconscionable and unconstitutional for them to force this girl to make a speech or a message contrary to her will, simply because she mentioned the name of Jesus.”

Original Link.

California Episcopal Bishops Support Homosexual Marriage

Monday, October 20th, 2008

The most senior California bishops of the Episcopal Church came out in favor of same-sex marriage in the state on Wednesday. The bishops then called on voters to defeat Proposition 8 — the constitutional amendment that would define marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

From the statement released by the bishops:

As Episcopal Bishops of California, we are moved to urge voters to vote “No” on Proposition 8. Jesus calls us to love rather than hate, to give rather than to receive, to live into hope rather than fear. On Tuesday, November 4th, voters in California will be given the opportunity to vote for or against Proposition 8, which would amend the state’s constitution to reserve marriage as only between a man and a woman. Since the California Supreme Court’s ruling in May that civil marriage should be provided to all of the state’s citizens whether the genders of the couple are different or the same, faithful gays and lesbians have entered into marriage as the principle way in which they show their love, devotion and life-long commitment to each other. Furthermore, marriage provides these couples the same legal rights and protections that heterosexual couples take for granted.

Proposition 8 would reverse the court’s decision and withdraw a right given. Proponents of Proposition 8 have suggested that this amendment to the Constitution would protect marriage. We do not believe that marriage of heterosexuals is threatened by same-sex marriage. Rather, the Christian values of monogamy, commitment, love, mutual respect and witness of monogamy are enhanced for all by providing this right to gay and straight alike. Society is strengthened when two people who love each other choose to enter into marriage, engaged in a lifetime of disciplined relationship building that serves as a witness to the importance of love and commitment.

The sweeping statement represented an unconditional support for same-sex marriage. In one of the most revealing sections of the statement, the bishops celebrated the fact that the decision handed down by the California Supreme Court meant that “faithful gays and lesbians have entered into marriage as the principle way in which they show their love, devotion and life-long commitment to each other.”

The use of the term “faithful gays and lesbians” indicates that the bishops see active homosexual relationships as fully moral and thus to be celebrated. They offered enthusiasm about the display of love, devotion, and commitment among homosexual couples.

“Society is strengthened,” they argue, “when two people who love each other choose to enter into marriage, engaged in a lifetime of disciplined relationship building that serves as a witness to the importance of love and commitment.”

Note that the bishops simply refer to “two people who love each other.” Why two? Once marriage is transformed from the union of a man and a woman into a union without respect to gender — and on the claim that marriage is a “fundamental right” — how can the number two be anything but arbitrary?

Tellingly, the bishops offered no substantial biblical or theological defense of their statement. Instead, the bishops relied upon generalized language about “the Christian values of monogamy, commitment, love, mutual respect and witness of monogamy.” They added that these should be celebrated and affirmed “to gay and straight alike.” The Bible contains absolutely no generalized affirmation of monogamy. Indeed, the Bible commands monogamy in marriage, defined without question as the union of a man and a woman. The “Christian values” the bishops cite in favor of their support of same-sex marriage are aberrant abstractions from the biblical text, from the Christian tradition, and from the moral witness of the church.

The church is not to respect what the Bible clearly identifies as sin. Furthermore, some loves are explicitly prohibited within the Scripture. The bishops stood to endorse activities and relationships that every previous generation of Christians had understood to be sin. No previous generation has been confused about the issue of gender with respect to marriage. The bishops announced their defiant stance against Scripture, tradition, and the practices and beliefs of most Christians worldwide — including most within their own Anglican Communion.

Original Link.

“What’s Really at Stake in the Gay Marriage Debate?” by Albert Mohler

Monday, October 20th, 2008

Human society is a complex reality, but certain constants have framed that reality for human beings. One of those constants has been the institution of marriage. The respected status of the heterosexual pairing, set apart for exclusive rights and respected for its functions for the society, is among the most important of those constants. Even where deviations from this pattern occur, they are of interest merely for the fact that they are deviations from this norm.

The legalization and normalization of same-sex marriage undermine that constant. What had been a clear picture now becomes confusing. Marriage had been universally understood to be heterosexual. Now, it is something else. The picture is further confused by alienating the heterosexual breeding and parenting function from marriage. Not only does marriage appear now to be what it never was before, the essential functions of marriage are up for grabs.

The pictures in the mind change. The pictures in books for children change. Mommy and Daddy give way to Mommy and Mommy, Daddy and Daddy, or any number of variations on the relationship theme. Marriage is dethroned as a cultural constant and even as a predictable reality. The institution of marriage is destabilized and transformed before our eyes — and especially in the eyes of the young.

Keep that in mind when you consider a recent public school field trip for first-graders in San Francisco. Here is the shape of the future — if same-sex marriage is sustained. As the San Francisco Chronicle reports:

A group of San Francisco first-graders took an unusual field trip to City Hall on Friday to toss rose petals on their just-married lesbian teacher – putting the public school children at the center of a fierce election battle over the fate of same-sex marriage.

The 18 Creative Arts Charter School students took a Muni bus and walked a block at noon to toss rose petals and blow bubbles on their just-married teacher Erin Carder and her wife Kerri McCoy, giggling and squealing as they mobbed their teacher with hugs. Mayor Gavin Newsom, a friend of a friend, officiated.

So a class of six-year-olds was taken on a field trip to join in celebrating a same-sex marriage ceremony. Liz Jaroflow, interim director of the school, defended the field trip as an educational experience. As she explained, “It really is what we call a teachable moment.” She went on to explain that the educational value had to do with the legitimization of same sex marriage as a civil rights issue. “I think I am well within the parameters,” she insisted.

‘As far as I’m concerned, it’s not controversial for me,” she stated. “It’s certainly an issue I would be willing to put my job on the line for.” Well, in San Francisco her job is probably safe. But this “teachable moment” will not be restricted to San Francisco. Not by a long shot.

It turns out that parents had the right to use an “opt out” provision to keep their children at the school, and not at the ceremony at City Hall. According to the paper, two families did just that. Two. Eighteen students participated in the field trip. This, you must understand, is the new normal.

California voters have the opportunity to defend and restore marriage in their state by approving “Proposition 8” on November 4. That proposition would define marriage as the union of a man and a woman — period. At least one of the children at the downtown ceremony wore a “No on 8” button to the event. The charter school used children as campaign fodder.

California is among the states with the most extensive sex education programs. Often known as “comprehensive sex education,” these programs go far beyond matters of reproduction. The students are taught about marriage. If “marriage” includes legalized same-sex marriage, then that is the definition presented to students.

The battle over Proposition 8 is a struggle over some of the most fundamental principles of life, society, and meaning. In the eyes of same-sex marriage advocates the battle is for equality, dignity, and respect for homosexual relationships. In the eyes of same-sex marriage opponents, the battle is for the preservation of an institution essential for human happiness and thriving.

Both sides in this debate understand that issues right at the core of human dignity are at stake. Each side understands that the decision on this question will shape the future of our civilization. And, make no mistake, both sides know that the children are watching. Just ask the first-graders from the Creative Arts Charter School.

———-

In addition to being one of Salem’s nationally syndicated radio talk show hosts, R. Albert Mohler, Jr. is the president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky and recognized as one of America’s leading theologians and cultural commentators. Contact Dr. Mohler at mail@albertmohler.com.

Original Link.

Ultraconservative Islam on Rise in Mideast

Monday, October 20th, 2008

I have stated repeatedly that violent radical Ultraconservative Islam is on the rise. I believe that if there really is such a thing as “moderate” Islam, it either agrees with radical Islam’s aims and methods, as to be nearly completely silent or it is cowed by the threat of violence from the radicals if it speaks up.
In any case, it appears that the Western way of life will always be an affront to Islam, who will always be willing to use violence to force it’s beliefs on others.

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) – The Muslim call to prayer fills the halls of a Cairo computer shopping center, followed immediately by the click of locking doors as the young, bearded tech salesmen close shop and line up in rows to pray.

Business grinding to a halt for daily prayers is not unusual in conservative Saudi Arabia, but until recently it was rare in the Egyptian capital, especially in affluent commercial districts like Mohandiseen, where the mall is located.

But nearly the entire three-story mall is made up of computer stores run by Salafis, an ultraconservative Islamic movement that has grown dramatically across the Middle East in recent years.

“We all pray together,” said Yasser Mandi, a salesman at the Nour el-Hoda computer store. “When we know someone who is good and prays, we invite them to open a shop here in this mall.” Even the name of Mandi’s store is religious, meaning “Light of Guidance.”

Critics worry that the rise of Salafists in Egypt, as well as in other Arab countries such as Jordan and Lebanon, will crowd out the more liberal and tolerant version of Islam long practiced there. They also warn that the doctrine is only a few shades away from that of violent groups like al-Qaida—that it effectively preaches “Yes to jihad, just not now.”

In the broad spectrum of Islamic thought, Salafism is on the extreme conservative end. Saudi Arabia’s puritanical Wahhabi interpretation is considered its forerunner, and Saudi preachers on satellite TV and the Internet have been key to its Salafism’s spread.

Salafist groups are gaining in numbers and influence across the Middle East. In Jordan, a Salafist was chosen as head of the old-guard opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood. In Kuwait, Salafists were elected to parliament and are leading the resistance to any change they believe threatens traditional Islamic values.

The gains for Salafists are part of a trend of turning back to conservatism and religion after nationalism and democratic reform failed to fulfill promises to improve people’s lives. Egypt has been at the forefront of change in both directions, toward liberalization in the 1950s and ’60s and back to conservatism more recently.

The growth of Salafism is visible in dress. In many parts of Cairo women wear the “niqab,” a veil which shows at most the eyes rather than the “hijab” scarf that merely covers the hair. The men grow their beards long and often shave off mustaches, a style said to imitate the Prophet Muhammad.

The word “salafi” in Arabic means “ancestor,” harking back to a supposedly purer form of Islam said to have been practiced by Muhammad and his companions in the 7th century. Salafism preaches strict segregation of the sexes and resists any innovation in religion or adoption of Western ways seen as immoral.

“When you are filled with stress and uncertainty, black and white is very good, it’s very easy to manage,” said Selma Cook, an Australian convert to Islam who for more than a decade described herself as a Salafi.

“They want to make sure everything is authentic,” said Cook, who has moved away from Salafist thought but still works for Hoda, a Cairo-based Salafi satellite channel.

In most of the region, Salafism has been a purely social movement calling for an ultraconservative lifestyle. Most Salafis shun politics—in fact, many argue that Islamic parties like the Muslim Brotherhood and the Palestinians’ Hamas are too willing to compromise their religion for political gain.

Its preachers often glorify martyrdom and jihad—or holy war—but always with the caveat that Muslims should not launch jihad until their leaders call for it. The idea is that the decision to overturn the political order is up to God, not the average citizen.

But critics warn that Salafis could easily slide into violence. In North Africa, some already have—the Algerian Salafi Group for Call and Combat has allied itself with al-Qaida and is blamed for bombings and other attacks. Small pockets of Salafis in northern Lebanon and Gaza have also taken up weapons and formed jihadi-style groups.

“I am afraid that this Salafism may be transferred to be a jihadi Salafism, especially with the current hard socio-economic conditions in Egypt,” says Khalil El-Anani, a visiting scholar at Washington’s Brookings Institution.

The Salafi way contrasts with the Islam long practiced in Egypt. Here the population is religious but with a relatively liberal slant. Traditionally, Egyptian men and women mix rather freely and Islamic doctrine has been influenced by local, traditional practices and an easygoing attitude to moral foibles.

But Salafism has proved highly adaptable, appealing to Egypt’s wealthy businessmen, the middle class and even the urban poor—cutting across class in an otherwise rigidly hierarchical society.

In Cairo’s wealthy enclaves of Maadi and Nasr City, robed, upper-class Salafis drive BMWs to their engineering firms, while their wives stay inside large homes surrounded by servants and children.

Sara Soliman and her businessman husband, Ahmed el-Shafei, both received the best education Egypt had to offer, first at a German-run school, then at the elite American University in Cairo. But they have now chosen the Salafi path.

“We were losing our identity. Our identity is Islamic,” 27-year-old Soliman said from behind an all-covering black niqab as she sat with her husband in a Maadi restaurant.

“In our (social) class, none of us are brought up to be strongly practicing,” added el-Shafei, also 27, in American-accented English, a legacy of a U.S. boyhood. Now, he and his wife said, they live Islam as “a whole way of life,” rather than just a set of obligations such as daily prayers and fasting during the holy month of Ramadan.

Original Link.