ARTICLES AND COMMENTARY
IN THE NEWS
March 06, 2012
The movement to change Russia's political system will continue, say many
Russians, but Putin's election Sunday to a six-year presidential term has many
activists wondering whether they are entering dangerous times.
It was Putin who originally disposed of the direct election of governors, and it
is he who has overseen the banning of most opposition candidates from
state-controlled media. Tens of thousands of demonstrators protesting alleged
voting irregularities Monday were met by security forces who arrested more than
"We anticipated this. We knew ... we would see a constriction of our liberties,"
said opposition leader Sergei Udaltsov, who was among those arrested. "We have
yet to see whether this will become a tendency. If we see a tightening of the
screws, this will be very dangerous."
- USA Today
March 05, 2012
A senior German defense figure said in a report this week that Iran may be
significantly further ahead in its nuclear weapons program than public
intelligence assessments have so far suggested. Hans Ruhle, who directed the
planning department of the German Defense Ministry from 1982 to 1988, argued
that Iran may have been involved in the detonation of an experimental uranium
nuclear bomb in North Korea in 2010. The article, which appeared on the website
of the German daily Die Welt, said that many intelligence agencies believe that
at least one of the two nuclear tests that occurred in North Korea in 2010 was
an Iranian atomic weapon.
- The Jerusalem Post
March 04, 2012
According to AllAfrica.com, a sucide bombing in Ghana last week killed three
church members and injured 40 more. Had a motorcyclist not gotten in the way,
however, the entire church full of people would have been destroyed. Koinonia
House received a copy of the following letter from eyewitness Chris Morris, who
declared the protection of God in the situation, saying, "The absolutely amazing
thing is the force of the bomb went backwards, away from the church, killing 3
people, but sparing the nearly 1,000 people inside. Had any of that gone the
other way, the whole structure would have collapsed on everyone. Picture the
Samson/Philistine scenario and you have an idea of what this church looks like.
The devastation was so awful that later when people saw it, the refrain on
everyone's lips was, 'ONLY God could have done this..only GOD could have blown
the blast backwards...only God could hold up an invisible hand and shield the
people from death.'" Praise the Lord for His protection on the churches in
- All Africa
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ARTICLES AND COMMENTARY
FLUKE'S 'REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE' VS RELIGIOUS FREEDOM - (Print)
When President Barack Obama made a supportive call to Georgetown student Sandra
Fluke, he took a definite position on America's contraception controversy as a
woman's rights issue, and in doing so turned his back on the religious freedom
concerns involved in the matter. The controversy stirs up questions that are
much deeper than whether Rush Limbaugh should be calling a female law student a
"slut"; it demands that Americans make decisions about how far they
want the government micromanaging every aspect of their lives. It demands that
Americans take a stand about how far an institution should be forced to
financially support personal decisions that violate its religious and moral
Sandra Fluke is a Georgetown law student as well as a 30-something activist
dedicated to making contraception and other "reproductive
healthcare" free for university students. Rush
Limbaugh spotlighted Fluke nationally when he called her a
"slut" and said, "So Ms. Fluke and the rest of you feminazis,
here's the deal: If we are going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for
you to have sex, we want something for it. And I'll tell you what it is. We want
you to post the videos online so we can all watch." Rush later apologized
for his disparaging comments as a poor effort at humor. His attack earned
Fluke a call from the President himself.
Rush has rarely been praised for his diplomacy, but his comments were not just
inappropriate, they have served to fuel a backlash in support of Fluke and free
contraception for women. Unfortunately, the firestorm has diverted attention
from the real issue. The issue is not about whether contraception is useful for
society. It's not whether the easy availability of contraception protects
students or just encourages sexual promiscuity. The issue is this: should
Georgetown, a Catholic institution, be forced to cover contraception in its
health plans when the Catholic Church opposes contraception? Does the U.S.
government have the authority to demand such a thing? Do we want the government
making decisions about how we run our businesses and our schools and our homes,
down to the fine details? Where does this sort of invasion end?
The idea that this is a woman's rights issue is a farce. Georgetown was not
sending people with cameras to spy on women in their dorm rooms nor insisting
that the coeds wear ankle-length dresses. Georgetown has not persecuted its
female students for using birth control. This private Jesuit university simply
does not pay for contraception as part of students' health plans. The
President's Office of Budget and Management is reviewing a possible new
regulation that could affect student health plans, and students like Fluke are
fighting to get not only contraception, but even sex change operations
covered by school health plans.
Contraception is much easier to sell to the public than gender reassignment,
though, and Fluke uses emotionally charged language in promoting her cause.
After not being able to speak at a recent hearing, Fluke told The Washington
Post, "My testimony would have been about women who have been affected
by their policy, who have medical needs and have suffered dire
consequences… The committee did not get to hear real stories I had to
share, about actual women who have been dramatically affected by this
Fluke said it has been "heartbreaking" to watch the government
"play political football with women's health."
Before taking Fluke too seriously, let's remember a few facts about Georgetown
University. The 2011-2012 annual tuition for the full-time undergraduate is
almost $41,000. Law students pay nearly $47,000. Georgetown is also not a
slipshod school that accepts just anybody; its student body is expected to be
full to the brim with exceptionally bright, well-informed young people. For
Fluke to suggest that Georgetown females' health has been dramatically affected
by the fact that their school health insurance won't pay for a $20-per-month (or
less) pill prescription seems a bit far-fetched. Students can easily
pay four times as much each month on their iPhone plans.
Whether married or not, whether promiscuous or not, Georgetown students
are certainly a bright, capable group. Those in need of
contraception should be expected to find it, with or
without coverage in their health plans. If they don't want to pay for a
prescription for the pill, Trojans are sold, readily available, in grocery
stores and drug stores and in gas station bathrooms for a few quarters. If
Georgetown law students are desperately broke, they can obtain free condoms at a
host of locations in Washington DC (see link below). Most county health
departments across the country will provide condoms as part of the effort to
prevent unwanted pregnancies and combat the spread of sexually transmitted
The whole matter is not about women's health or "reproductive
justice." The matter is about forcing the entire country, regardless of
religious or moral values, to submit to a far-left sexual agenda.
The U.S. Constitution has nothing in it about subsidizing personal decisions. It
does, however, uphold religious liberty. Fluke's crusade to deny freedom of
conscience to Georgetown University – and any other like-minded
private school – not only violates the First Amendment, it insults women
who are truly suffering from attacks on their rights. Terms like
"reproductive justice" should not be bandied about lightly; they
should be saved for efforts to protect women from true violations - forced
sterilization or forced abortions or the tragedy of female circumcision.
Expecting young women to pay for their own contraception is not extreme cruelty.
It's just part of expecting them to grow up and take responsibility for their
own life choices.
SYRIA'S NEW CONSTITUTION LITTLE HELP FOR CHRISTIANS - (Print)
Forces loyal to the government of Bashar al-Assad shelled the town of Rastan,
Syria on Sunday, bringing that day's civilian death toll to at least 19.
Refugees from Homs describe the militias' merciless slaughter
of children in the crackdown on rebel forces. Syria has managed
to agree on its new constitution, but Christians are still not permitted to run
for president. Jesus spoke to Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus, yet the
Christian communities in Syria face turmoil regardless of whether Assad
stays in power.
Syrians voted to approve President Bashar al-Assad's new constitution by 89.4
percent in late February, with an official turnout of 57.4 percent, according to
Syrian state television. The constitution places a limit of two seven-year terms
for the office of president, giving Assad a possible position of power for 14
additional years after the next presidential election. In a nod to open
government and freedom, the new constitution no longer limits presidential
candidates to the ruling Baath Party but has opened the country to a multi-party
system. Parliamentary elections are to be held in May, and Assad's government
has offered hope that these moves will calm the country's violence and appease
Instead, the opposition cried for a boycott of the referendum, and fighting
continued on the Sunday it was held while people went to the polls. The
constitution still gives the president a position of authority over the
legislative and judicial branches. The president can pick the prime minister
rather than letting parliament have its way. The seven-year term is only
renewable once, but the opposition wanted it shortened to five years.
Prime Minister Adel Safar responded to the opposition's call for a boycott,
saying, "We are not concerned with this. We care about ... spreading
democracy and freedom in the country." Safar said, "If there was a
genuine desire for reform, there would have been movement from all groups,
especially the opposition, to start dialogue immediately with the government to
achieve the reforms and implement them on the ground."
Yet, peace cannot be encouraged by the wonton butchering of
innocent lives. The city of Homs is without electricity most of the day and
people are holed up in their homes, not daring to come out. Schools and
businesses are closed. Civilians continue to be the victims of Syria's shabiha
militias, which reportedly have been rounding up random men, whom they
torture and execute. Mere boys are being slaughtered in front of their fathers,
their throats sliced open, and a new constitution will not bring them back.
World leaders are not impressed with the constitutional changes.
"The referendum in Syria is nothing more than a farce," said Guido
Westerwelle, the German foreign minister. "Sham votes cannot be a
contribution to a resolution of the crisis. Assad must finally end the violence
and clear the way for a political transition."
Minorities On The Side:
Christians in Syria find themselves in a particularly difficult
situation. While Assad's abuse and crimes against humanity persist, the
country's Christians are not guaranteed any greater safety should Assad's regime
topple and be replaced by the more strict Islamic government represented by
much of the opposition forces. Christians make up 12 percent of Syria's 23
million people, but their numbers may dwindle if a more fundamentalist form of
Islam takes over. After the fall of Saddam Hussein, the Christians were driven
from Iraq - from some of the oldest Christian communities in the world. Saddam
Hussein was a brutal dictator, but Christians were not specifically targeted as
they have been since his regime fell.
Many Christians in Syria have backed Assad, but while the revised constitution
allows a variety of political parties, the section that bars non-Muslims from
running for president is still firmly in place. In 1973, President Hafez
al-Assad attempted to leave out the clause in Article 3 that makes Islam the
state religion, but hardline Muslims protested, and Syria is still legally an
Islamic state. Christians fought to have the clause removed from the current
constitution, but Assad's need to placate the Islamists in the country
Older Christians in Syria see their choices as either the Baathists or the
Islamists – or else a breakdown of government followed
by lawlessness. These are not a pleasant set of choices, and the Christians
are not alone in their quandary over which side to take. The Druze and Kurds
benefit from the semi-stability of the current regime, in spite of the violence.
The opposition has not risen up with a strong leadership that could be trusted
to take the reins from Assad without a dangerous power vacuum that will lead to
chaos and corruption - or a religiously motivated dictatorship.
There are many Syrians on the sidelines who want to avoid getting mixed up in
the mess, not liking any of their prospects, not having a great deal of hope.
Many have fled. Most simply want to raise their families in peace, but until
Assad stops allowing the butchering of children and offers the country real
freedom, the fighting will lead on in the direction of civil war – with
little help for the stabilization of the Middle East.
Our Christian brothers and sisters in Syria need our prayers. God's arm is not
short, and He alone can bring Syria much needed spiritual and physical
salvation even in the midst of bombs and bullets.
PURIM AND THE APPLE OF GOD'S EYE - (Print)
"For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me
unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple
of his eye." – Zechariah 2:8
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave US President Barack Obama a
timely gift - filled with symbolism – when he presented the President
with a scroll of the Book of Esther during his White House visit this week. At a
time in history when the world frowns on Israel, and Hezbollah leader
Hassan Nasrallah is calling on Muslims and Christians to wrest Jerusalem from
the Jews, Purim becomes an especially important holiday to celebrate with joy.
This year, Purim will be celebrated March 7-8. The famed foiling of the wicked
plot of Haman to blot out the Jews is, of course, one of the more dramatic
narratives in the Bible. The feast of Purim was instituted by Mordecai at the
end of the Esther to celebrate the deliverance of the Jews from Haman's plot to
kill them. Purim (from Akkadian, puru, "lots") is so called
after the lots cast by Haman in order to determine the month in which the
slaughter was to take place (Est 9:26; 3:7).
The celebration of Purim involves many hidden things. Dressing up in costumes
(concealing one's true identity) is a fun part of the holiday, but one of the
most enjoyable parts of Purim involves feasting on "hidden foods." In
the Bible, Esther's true identity as a Jewess was kept secret until
the time she was able to speak up on behalf of her people, saving their lives.
In the same way, Purim celebrants munch on foods that look like one thing on the
outside but have a surprise filling. Persian Jews might enjoy gondi - a meatball
filled with raisins and nuts in a sweet and sour sauce. Jews from Eastern Europe
might gorge on kreplach, meat-filled dumplings or challahs stuffed with onions
and poppy seeds.
It's a time for Jews to celebrate God's providential protection in ancient
Persia, as well as many many other times throughout the centuries. Sometimes God
works overtly – as when He parted the Red Sea – and
at other times He works quietly behind the scenes. Always,
whether openly visible or not, His power and protection and love
always make themselves known.
The more we look in Esther, the more we realize that there is still much
more to discover; the entire drama has deeper roots. Haman was a royal
Amalekite, a descendant of the very king Agag whom King Saul was supposed to
have slain (1 Sam 15:1-28; Est 3:1). Samuel killed Agag instead, and for Saul's
failure, his kingdom was taken away. Mordecai, too, a key benefactor in the
tale, was a result of David's having refused to take vengeance upon Shimei so
many years earlier (2 Sam 16:5-13; 19:16-23; cf. 1 Kings 2:36-46; Est 2:5). It
was Esther's marriage to the King of Persia that ultimately led to the
rebuilding of Jerusalem.
Along with its celebrations, Purim is a time for the giving of charitable gifts
and remembering the provision of God in protecting the Jews from their enemies
throughout history. When Haman determined to destroy the Jews in the Book of
Esther, God provided deliverance. Hitler may have done great damage, but today
we see the Jewish people thriving, and doing so in the land of Israel ! (The
Nazis, on the other hand, didn't fare so well. )
More than 200,000 Holocaust survivors still live in Israel, elderly with little
financial means. In the spirit of Purim, Israel Today readers sent in
donations to help provide care packages to these dear people. The Purim care
packages included warm blankets among other things, and the staff of Israel
Today was pleased with the support of its readership, writing on
behalf of the Holocaust survivors, saying, "It lets them know
that today, unlike during the decade of horror they endured in the 1940s, there
are people around the world that not only care for them, but are willing to go
the extra mile and provide for them. That these people of goodwill are
Israel-loving Christians was a real shocker, especially for those who were so
brutally treated at the hands of those who represented Christian
Those words should slice at our hearts. We hope we can be known and trusted as
friends of the Jewish people. During WWII, brave Christians souls like Corrie
and Betsie Ten Boom hid Jews in their homes, even when their own lives were at
risk. Tragically, though, there were many people who called themselves followers
of Christ who did nothing to save their Jewish brothers. The Third Commandment
tells us not to take the LORD's name in vain. If we claim to serve God, if we
call ourselves by His name, we must live as Christ and lay down our lives for
our brothers and sisters – especially when their worst enemies come
banging at the door.
Nasrallah is mistaken to call on Christians to chase the Jews out of Jerusalem;
we should be the first to say, "Sit down, Nasrallah! How can we throw
stones on the apple of God's eye!" As Gentiles, we need to remember that we
are grafted into the true olive tree by the skin of our teeth (Rom 11:17-24). We
must not forget that we were joined into what was a Jewish Church - with Jewish
leaders, a Jewish Bible, and are worshipping a Jewish Messiah.
Baruch HaShem Adonai. Bless The Name of the Lord!
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MEMORY VERSE OF THE WEEK
Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer
the righteous to be moved.
- Psalms 55:22 KJV