Archive for October 8th, 2009

You Are Receiving the Goal of Your Faith, the Salvation of Your Souls

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

1 Peter 1:8-9 (New International Version)

Atheists Have Weak Stomachs – Claim Prayer Makes Them Physically Sick

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

Give me a break already!! If I took that attitude about everything they did that offended me, I’d be bedridden!! Now I know there are some logical, even headed atheists out there, so I have to ask…doesn’t this type of rhetoric embarrass you?

Atheists recruited to be part of a lawsuit that is trying to rid government ceremonies such as the inauguration of a president of any invocation or other prayer have claimed they are made physically ill by prayer.

“As I watched the inauguration, my stomach did a somersault with disgust for how much our country was violating the constitution (sic), the most important document in our country,” wrote a 15-year-old in testimony being given to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

The lawsuit was filed before President Obama’s inauguration and subsequently was dismissed at the district court level. Briefs now are being submitted to the appeals court in plaintiffs’ hopes the case will be reopened.

“I felt a temporary state of disconnection when these religious statements and prayers were made during the inauguration,” wrote another, according to an appendix of information submitted with the plaintiffs’ recent arguments in the case.

“All the prayers made me feel excluded from the political process and a second-class citizen,” wrote another. ” But, when Chief Justice Roberts asked the president to say, ‘So help me God,’ I felt threatened and sick to my stomach.”

Officials with the Pacific Justice Institute, who are defending the Revs. Rick Warren and Joseph Lowery, who spoke at the inauguration, said in their response that the Constitution simply does not demand that the government be “amoral or atheistic.”

“Prayers designed to solemnize public events have a long and venerable history in our nation,” said PJI Chief Counsel Kevin Snider, who authored the brief rebutting the claims.

“The First Amendment cannot be divorced from common sense,” added Brad Dacus, president of PJI. “While atheists, humanists and freethinkers are a tiny minority in America, they are free to express and practice their lack of faith as they please.

“That does not mean,” he continued, “however, that the vast majority of God-fearing citizens and public officials must be silenced in order to appease them.”

The complaint originally was filed by a long list of people who describe themselves as atheists, as well as the Freedom from Religion Foundation, the American Humanist Association, Atheists United, Atheists for Human Rights and Military Association of Atheists & Freethinkers.

The trial court judge speculated that he didn’t have the authority to censor speech at the inauguration. And he suggested that perhaps a sitting federal judge did not have the authority to instruct the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and the soon-to-be commander-in-chief what they could and could not say at an inauguration.

Eventually the case was dismissed because the inauguration, at which the atheists wanted to prevent any prayer, already had happened.

The case named those involved in the inauguration as defendants. The ministers, Warren and Lowery, offered prayers at the inauguration and also are named as defendants. They are being represented in the dispute by PJI.

The PJI response noted that Michael Newdow, a California lawyer who has litigated over references to God a number of times, previously challenged inaugural prayers twice, and twice has had his arguments rejected.

However, in this case he goes so far as to suggest an ulterior motive in having invocations and benedictions at Washington ceremonies.

“Plaintiffs … contend that the ‘real meaning’ of these declarations goes far beyond that constitutional benignity [of affirming believers’ views], for they contain an element analogous to the ‘real meaing’ of the ‘separate but equal’ laws of our nation’s earlier history and tradition,” the atheists argue.

“Specifically, the ‘real meaning’ is that Atheists are ‘so inferior and so degraded’ that their religious views warrant no respect,” they allege.

Original Link.

Two Arrested After Connecticut Police Find Car Filled With Explosives

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

We mentioned this yesterday, but it appears it may not be terrorist related. We’ll have to wait and see for sure.

Two people were arrested after authorities in Connecticut stopped a car full of explosives in a New Haven residential neighborhood.

Police charged 38-year-old John Iannucci of Branford and 27-year-old Jessup Bollinger of New Haven with manufacture of bombs, illegal possession of explosives and other charges.

Both men were being held on $500,000 bond. It was unclear if they had attorneys.

New Haven Officer Joseph Avery says police don’t know if the suspects planned to use the explosives, because they’re not talking much to investigators.

FBI New Haven spokesman William Reiner told FOXNews.com that the bureau is now helping local police in the probe, but declined to elaborate.

Cops pulled over a motorist Tuesday night allegedly driving a car full of pipe bombs, rifles and a propane tank in New Haven around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to FOX 61.

Original Link.

Report: Nearly 1 in 4 People Worldwide Is Muslim

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

The global Muslim population stands at 1.57 billion, meaning that nearly 1 in 4 people in the world practice Islam, according to a report Wednesday billed as the most comprehensive of its kind.

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life report provides a precise number for a population whose size has long has been subject to guesswork, with estimates ranging anywhere from 1 billion to 1.8 billion.

The project, three years in the making, also presents a portrait of the Muslim world that might surprise some. For instance, Germany has more Muslims than Lebanon, China has more Muslims than Syria, Russia has more Muslims than Jordan and Libya combined, and Ethiopia has nearly as many Muslims as Afghanistan.

“This whole idea that Muslims are Arabs and Arabs are Muslims is really just obliterated by this report,” said Amaney Jamal, an assistant professor of politics at Princeton University who reviewed an advance copy.

Original Link.

Italian Scientist Claims to Have Reproduced the Shroud of Turin

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

Religious artifacts fascinate me, not because they may contain some mystical powers, but by the sheer weight of history. Even if they are not what they are espoused as being, most are still quite ancient and interesting in their own right. Then there is the possibility that they are what they claim to be.
For me the Shroud of Turin is one of these types of items. Whether the real burial cloth of Jesus with His image miraculously formed on it, or a medieval work of art, it is fascinating.
Recently, an Italian scientist claims to have reproduced it. So here is what the scientist says and also a rebuttal from the Shroud of Turin Education and Research Association, Inc. (STERA, Inc.), a leading authority on the shroud.

ROME — An Italian scientist says he has reproduced the Shroud of Turin, a feat that he says proves definitively that the linen some Christians revere as Jesus Christ’s burial cloth is a medieval fake.

The shroud, measuring 14 feet, 4 inches by 3 feet, 7 inches bears the image, eerily reversed like a photographic negative, of a crucified man some believers say is Christ.

“We have shown that is possible to reproduce something which has the same characteristics as the Shroud,” Luigi Garlaschelli, who is due to illustrate the results at a conference on the para-normal this weekend in northern Italy, said on Monday.

A professor of organic chemistry at the University of Pavia, Garlaschelli made available to Reuters the paper he will deliver and the accompanying comparative photographs.

The Shroud of Turin shows the back and front of a bearded man with long hair, his arms crossed on his chest, while the entire cloth is marked by what appears to be rivulets of blood from wounds in the wrists, feet and side.

Carbon dating tests by laboratories in Oxford, Zurich and Tucson, Arizona in 1988 caused a sensation by dating it from between 1260 and 1390. Sceptics said it was a hoax, possibly made to attract the profitable medieval pilgrimage business.

But scientists have thus far been at a loss to explain how the image was left on the cloth.

Garlaschelli reproduced the full-sized shroud using materials and techniques that were available in the middle ages.

They placed a linen sheet flat over a volunteer and then rubbed it with a pigment containing traces of acid. A mask was used for the face.

The pigment was then artificially aged by heating the cloth in an oven and washing it, a process which removed it from the surface but left a fuzzy, half-tone image similar to that on the Shroud. He believes the pigment on the original Shroud faded naturally over the centuries.

They then added blood stains, burn holes, scorches and water stains to achieve the final effect.

The Catholic Church does not claim the Shroud is authentic nor that it is a matter of faith, but says it should be a powerful reminder of Christ’s passion.

One of Christianity’s most disputed relics, it is locked away at Turin Cathedral in Italy and rarely exhibited. It was last on display in 2000 and is due to be shown again next year.

Garlaschelli expects people to contest his findings.

“If they don’t want to believe carbon dating done by some of the world’s best laboratories they certainly won’t believe me,” he said.

The accuracy of the 1988 tests was challenged by some hard-core believers who said restorations of the Shroud in past centuries had contaminated the results.

The history of the Shroud is long and controversial.

After surfacing in the Middle East and France, it was brought by Italy’s former royal family, the Savoys, to their seat in Turin in 1578. In 1983 ex-King Umberto II bequeathed it to the late Pope John Paul.

The Shroud narrowly escaped destruction in 1997 when a fire ravaged the Guarini Chapel of the Turin cathedral where it is held. The cloth was saved by a fireman who risked his life.

Garlaschelli received funding for his work by an Italian association of atheists and agnostics but said it had no effect on his results.

“Money has no odor,” he said. “This was done scientifically. If the Church wants to fund me in the future, here I am.”

Link to FoxNews Article.

From the Shroud of Turin Education and Research Association, Inc. (STERA, Inc.) website:

I was away from my office and in Los Angeles yesterday when the story broke in the media that an Italian professor had “reproduced” the Shroud using techniques that were available in the 14th century. Although I didn’t have my computer with me, my mobile phone rang again and again with friends calling to read me the story, so I heard the news almost immediately.

Upon my return late last night, my mailbox was flooded with e-mail, my answering machine was nearly full of messages and more than 20,000 people had visited the website since Tuesday morning. I finally was able to read the story myself at around 1:00 am.

Normally, I don’t respond to this type of story, since the media rarely publishes the rebuttals anyway and the stories usually disappear by themselves after only a few days. In the end, giving it any attention at all usually only helps the author of the article and garners even more publicity for him because someone is publicly disagreeing with him. However, since so many viewers have written me, I decided to write this brief response in which I am expressing my own personal opinions on this topic. That is why I titled it an “Editorial” Response.

Frankly, knowing that the Shroud will go on public display again in around 6 months, I am not very surprised to see this type of story coming out, along with its resulting media coverage. This seems to happen every time the Shroud is about to go on public display. Yet whenever a serious scientific article about the Shroud is published in a peer reviewed journal, there is barely a ripple in the popular media. And now, once again, someone claims to have “reproduced” the Shroud, “proving” it is a medieval forgery. They made their claims via nothing more than a press release and got instant global media coverage. However, that is NOT the way science actually operates.

The author who made these claims states that he will make the details available “next week.” In the real world of science, a researcher must perform his experiments, compile his data, draw his conclusions, write a formal paper and submit it to a scientific journal for peer review. The work is then examined by other experts, usually of the same discipline, before it is accepted for publication (or rejected). The data must provide a sound basis for the claims and be there from the beginning. Not “next week.” And certainly not made public via a press release!

Sadly, in reviewing the article, it is apparent immediately that the author knows very little about the actual Shroud of Turin. He is not the first to suggest that the Shroud image was produced by red ochre pigment (iron oxide). In fact, he is at least the fourth to have proposed this theory in the last 30 years. Of course, this issue was anticipated by the STURP team in 1978 and a number of highly sensitive tests were performed that determined there was not enough iron oxide on the Shroud to be visible without a microscope. Iron oxide does not constitute the image on the Shroud. They also determined the image areas of the Shroud contain no more iron oxide than the non-image areas. It is more or less evenly distributed across the entire cloth.

Obviously, if the image were made in the manner detailed in the article, we would still find thousands of particles of iron oxide embedded into the image fibers of the linen and these would be clearly visible with just a good magnifying glass. Yet the microscopy done directly on the Shroud in 1978 revealed no such thing. These particles just don’t go away on their own. STURP’s instruments could detect parts per billion (a very small amount) of any substance on the Shroud and ALL known paints and pigments (including iron oxide) were excluded by the data. Interestingly, iron oxide is also a by-product of retting linen and the minute quantities found on the Shroud were pure and most likely the result of the retting process. The iron oxide used in red ochre pigment has many impurities and is rarely if ever found in its pure form.

I have stated on more than one occasion that making images on linen is relatively easy. However, making images on linen with the same chemical and physical properties as the Shroud is another story. Considering the massive amount of scientific data that now exists about the Shroud of Turin, anyone making claims such as these must submit their work for careful scrutiny and comparative analysis before drawing such dramatic conclusions. That has not been done in this case. Anyone making such claims must create an image with ALL the same chemical and physical properties as the Shroud, not just a few, if they wish to be taken seriously.

It has been demonstrated scientifically that the bloodstains on the Shroud came from direct contact with a body and are all forensically accurate. It has also been shown that the bloodstains were on the Shroud BEFORE the image was formed since the blood and serum acted to inhibit the image formation mechanism. There is NO image under the blood and serum stains on the Shroud.

However, to make this new “reproduction,” the “blood” was added (using a different pigment) AFTER the image was created. Obviously, it is much easier to add the blood to the image than to first create the blood stains and then create the forensically accurate image around them, which is exactly what a medieval forger would have had to do to duplicate the actual physical properties of the Shroud!

Many of the bloodstains on the Shroud show a surrounding halo of serum stains that are ONLY visible with UV fluorescence photography. Also, the blood has been chemically analyzed and determined to include components of actual blood, NOT pigment.

A proper, detailed scientific response to this press release is now being drafted by the online Shroud Science Group and I hope to publish an in-depth article by true Shroud experts addressing these claims in the near future.

However, I would be remiss if I did not mention that the press release also stated the researcher “received funding for his work by an Italian association of atheists and agnostics but said it had no effect on his results.” This is an interesting statement from someone representing a segment of the skeptical community that has frequently charged the STURP scientists with religious bias, implying that their data was somehow flawed because some of them happened to be Christians! Until such time that the data is made available so it can be properly examined and compared to the known data about the Shroud, I will not take these claims very seriously. And neither should you.

Read the complete article from the Shroud of Turin Education and Research Association, Inc. (STERA, Inc.) here.

“The ACLU’s Real Agenda in the Mojave Desert” by Robert Knight

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

Some of you may not have caught the background on the Mojave Desert Cross, so here it is:

High Court Takes Up Case of Cross on Public Land

The cross, located on a rocky outcrop in the Mojave Desert, has been covered in plywood for the past several years following federal court rulings that it violates the First Amendment

Now on the article by Robert Knight:

Where is Art Carney when you need him?

The straight man for the classic Honeymooners TV show could deliver a line sorely needed at today’s Supreme Court hearing on the fate of the Mojave Desert war memorial cross: “Simmer down, Ralphie boy!”

In this case, Ralphie is Frank Buono, a man who has gone to absurd lengths to find offense. In fact, it’s reminiscent of the false knock on the Puritans that they above all else feared that someone, somewhere was having a good time. In Frankie’s case, he apparently fears that someone, somewhere might take comfort in a cross erected to honor America’s fallen heroes.

At issue in Salazar v. Buono is the five-foot-tall (estimates vary) cross that is the latest in a series of crosses erected on Sunrise Rock since 1934 in California’s Mojave National Preserve. The original was built by World War I veterans with the Veterans of Foreign Wars who had gone to the desert for their health and decided to honor their fallen comrades and the rest of America’s war dead by erecting a wooden cross. The current one, made of pipe, was built in 1998 by a local resident, Henry Sandoz. The cross is in a remote region seen by few. But one of those is Buono, a former Park Service employee and ACLU member who told the ACLU that although he moved to Oregon, he comes down and sees the cross “two to four times a year.” That was enough for the ACLU to file a lawsuit in 2001 demanding that the National Park Service tear down the cross.

A quick comparison. In Berlin, Ronald Reagan thrilled millions by saying “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” The ACLU, on the other hand, squeals loudly, “Courts, tear down this cross!” Whose country would you rather live in?

In 2004, Congress passed laws designating the site as a national war memorial and swapping the land on which the cross stands for some privately owned acreage. But Mr. Buono, whose complaint was that a cross on taxpayer-owned federal land violated his First Amendment right against establishment of religion, filed an injunction halting the transfer. He claims that he’s an injured party although the government gave him relief on his original request: “Stop saying ‘yes’ to my demands, or I’ll sue!” Naturally, the wacky Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco found merit in his argument, bringing us to the Oct. 7 hearing before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Park officials years ago covered the cross in canvas lest the sight of it burn Mr. Buono’s eyes on one of his strolls. After some patriot tore off the canvas, the cross was covered in a plywood box. Could there be a more apt symbol of what the ACLU wants to do to religion in this country?

C.S. Lewis once remarked that the agenda of the Left is to make pornography public and religion private, a goal clearly reflected in the ACLU’s endless string of nuisance cases. They’ve gained a lot of ground. While America is awash in Internet porn and ever-more coarse trash on TV, an obscure cross honoring our war dead gets hammered into a box.

In June, the American Civil Rights Union (ACRU), an antidote to the ACLU, filed an amicus brief that says Mr. Buono has no standing in this case because he is claiming injury based on his own injunction that has foiled the relief that he had sought.

Read the complete article here.

“End-Times Insanity” by Terry James

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

Fear is on the rise in America and the world at the moment. It is a type of fear that comes upon humankind almost like nervous milling about that stirs within the wildebeests of the Serengeti just before predators set them to flight. There are many reasons this is so. But one reason in particular especially agitates the simmering fear. It is the culprit more than all of the other reasons combined for the building anxiety today.

Before we address that most profound reason for fear of things to come, let’s look at the many other causes that make fear levels rise across the nation and the world. Those causes involve a myriad of issues and events. We and others who consider our times in light of Bible prophecy continually attempt to analyze those matters and present our findings to anyone and everyone who will stop, look, and listen.

For the masses of humanity in third-world regions, such as vast areas of Africa, Asia, and other bleak places, panic is a daily search for the next bite of food and swallow of water. We see the frail bodies, the distended stomachs, the flies on the faces of those whose wide, searching eyes look to the cameras filming them for their next life-sustaining morsel.

These suffering souls are not often demonstrative with their fear because their circumstances have denuded them of energy, and have robbed them of the ability to know how near to starvation they have come. The world turns a blind eye, for the most part, to the plight of these emaciated hordes. The group of people who are looking the other way too often includes even those of us who are watchmen on the wall for the signals of Christ’s return.

Starvation, nonetheless, is one of the sure signs of where this generation stands on God’s prophetic timeline. That millions of people are caught up in growing famine dramatically forewarns that the black horse of the Apocalypse will one day, perhaps soon, ride forth. But growing famine is not the greatest reason for the geometrically progressing worry around the globe.

Thinking on fear burgeoning within the civilized areas of the world, we briefly review the more familiar causes. These involve topics we have exhaustively examined in recent days:

· Iran is on the verge of becoming a possessor of nuclear weaponry. Israel can’t and won’t let this happen. The potential for war—nuclear war—breaking out in the Middle East is not just possible, but likely, considering the realities involved.

· North Korea is a loose cannon that already has nuclear capability, according to some experts. Even China, its chief governor in the nation-state sense, can’t seem to control the North Korean madmen and their threats.

· Afghanistan is a breeding ground for terrorists, and reportedly hosts Osama bin Laden and others who want to destroy America, Israel, and anyone else who doesn’t bend the knee to Allah. Americans continue to come home in body bags from that region, while politicians play electioneering games, not wanting to offend leftist voter bases by sending troops needed to win the war there.

· Pakistan, a nuclear power, is in disarray, with constant threats of overthrow against its decreasingly pro-American position within its leadership. Terrorists threaten to blow up things and kill people in every part of the world. New York and other major American cities and their large, densely-congregated populations are in the bull’s eye for attack by terrorists with possibly horrific weapons, including those that are nuclear, biological, and chemical.

· The United States of America daily experiences assaults from within, chipping away at individual rights and national sovereignty. The U.S. Constitution is under constant assault, and the system of checks and balances is out the window. Congress shrinks from its responsibility to the American people, while there is observably a power grab of unprecedented proportions. Morality plummets, while entertainment madness infects old and young alike, taking thoughts of preserving the republic far from the citizenry. U.S. leadership in economy, diplomacy, and most every other category is on the skids. Corporate America has become a sick, dying entity—thanks to elected officials who seem intent on the government owning/running private enterprise. By their constant striving to meld the American economy with the socialist economic structures of Europe, they are destroying this nation—whether wittingly or not. These, by running up multi-trillion dollar deficits, are giving away hope for future generations to know the prosperity of past generations of Americans. The neo-Babel builders herd America’s great wealth, technology, and influence toward end-times Babylon—the long-anticipated New World Order. President Obama’s administration and the leaderships of most other G-20 nations are violating at every turn God’s prescription for interacting with His chosen nation, Israel. The world’s diplomatic community, of course, has no idea of the prophetic ramifications of dealing treacherously with Israel, so it has no qualms about trying to force a peace that can never truly be made this side of Christ’s Second Advent. However, there is a sense of extreme danger that even the international community of nations feels in dealing with Israel and its enemies in the “Roadmap to Peace” plan. Most fearful of all—from the perspective of those of us who watch the stage-setting for biblically prophetic things to come—is the fact that the church as a whole is oblivious to America’s dealing treacherously with Israel. Most in this late hour, in fact, think the church has replaced Israel as inheritor of God’s promises given to the people of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Today, much of the church is in total prophetic ignorance, and is so fat, lazy, and lethargic that I almost wonder if she can be lifted at the Rapture, even by the Lord Jesus.

All of the foregoing, however, does not account in total for the almost tangible fear about the future. The one, all-encompassing reason for the fear that is driving people to look anxiously at what’s ahead for themselves and their children is the spirit that pervades this generation of earth-dwellers. It is the spirit of Antichrist.

The world has cast God aside. This has been happening in the U.S. since 1963, when prayer, Bible-reading, and things of a religious nature—meaning Christianity—were suppressed in public schools. Today, the crops sown in that decade are being reaped in the generation that saw American leaders assassinated, its economy bankrupted, a war that eventually took 50,000 American lives, and a drug culture develop that continues to plague the nation.

To deny that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh to seek and save the lost is to invite another one to step in and fill the void that exists when attempts are made to keep God out. We have seen and heard the raves in recent times, with media using words like “messiah” and “savior” to describe the type of adulation attributed to a political candidate. One day, the one called “the Beast” will step into the spotlight of end-times history to fulfill the role of that long-prophesied Man of Sin.

Because Christ is denied, fear saturates all of mankind today. It is an insanity born of Christ-rejection. It is the development of reprobate spiritual dementia in a world of people ripe for God’s judgment: “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient” (Romans 1:28).

There is an antidote for the madness that infects humanity in these end of days: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). Jesus Christ is the antidote to the fear-insanity rampant today. He is coming back—perhaps today!

-Terry

Original Link.