Religious Rights Threatened
TERROR IN ISTANBUL
As USA Today reported on November 20, 2003, at least two explosions in Istanbul “hit the high-rise headquarters of the London-based HSBC bank and the British consulate on Thursday, killing at least 25 people and wounding nearly 400.” Der Spiegel Online reported that the death toll might reach 100, and that British Consul General Roger Short was killed. USA Today continued: “The attacks, which Turkish media reported were suicide bombings, coincided with the visit of President Bush to London and were blamed on al-Qaeda… Turkish authorities said the same groups were behind Saturday’s nearly simultaneous synagogue bombings in Istanbul, which killed 23 people and the two attackers [both Turks]… On Sunday, the al-Qaeda terror network claimed responsibility for the bombings.”
The city of Istanbul has a rich history. Originally called Byzantium, it was named Constantinople in 324 by Roman emperor Constantine I. Like Rome, Constantinople was built on seven hills. The name was changed to Istanbul in 1930. It is the largest city in Turkey. Historically, it had been the capital of the Byzantine Empire and later of the Ottoman Empire. As Funk and Wagnalls New Encyclopedia points out, “Istanbul is famous as one of the most often besieged cities in the world. Before the Turkish conquest its assailants included the Arabs (673-78, 717-18), the Bulgarians (813, 913), and the armies of the Fourth Crusade, which twice succeeded in taking the city (1203, 1204). After Constantinople fell to the Turks in 1453, the city became the capital of the Ottoman, or Turkish, Empire; it was the capital of present-day Turkey until 1923, when the newly founded Turkish Republic declared Ankara (then Angora) the capital. From 1918 until 1923 Great Britain, France, and Italy occupied the city.”
The encyclopedia also states that “Istanbul is the headquarters of the Ecumenical Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox church and the archdiocese of the Patriarch of the Armenians in Turkey; the city has nearly 200 Christian churches.”
Turkey has been understood as modern “Edom” in Biblical prophecy. The prophetic book of Obadiah foretells the future of Turkey. Sadly, it shows that Turkey and its major cities, including Istanbul, will have to face further terror, sieges, war and death.
DANGER FROM THE SUN?
Associated Press reported on November 15 about the recent “solar fireworks,” asking the question whether more is to come. The article stated, “The sun is demanding everyone’s attention, three weeks into perhaps the most dramatic and unexpected chain of eruptions ever observed… There have been as many as 11 salvos since October 19. And the fireworks could reach a new crescendo by Thanksgiving… NASA scientists compare it to a blizzard in July – in California… The biggest solar storm to affect Earth in the recent cycle was October 28… It caused a blackout in Sweden, damaged two Japanese satellites and upset radio communications and navigation systems for jets and ships. Airlines in the northern latitudes flew lower to protect passengers from extra doses of radiation… Scientists worry that a new round of eruptions could do more of the same or worse. Each solar burst hurls into space huge clouds of superheated, charged particle clouds that are 13 times the size of Earth… What will the sun do next? Astronomers can only watch and wait.”
On his recent trip to Great Britain, President Bush told academics gathered at Banqueting House on November 19, 2003: “In some cases, the measured use of force is all that protects us from a chaotic world ruled by force… There are principled objections to the use of force in every generation and I credit the motives behind these views… Those in authority, however, are not judged only by good motivations. The people have given us the duty to defend them and that duty sometimes requires the violent restraint of violent men… Let us never forget how Europe’s unity was achieved: by allied armies of liberation and NATO’S armies of defense.”
From his point of view, President Bush is correct. The people did elect him, as their President and as the Commander-in-Chief, to be protected from violent men, if need be, by force. That is one of the reasons why a true Christian who rejects violence and puts his trust in God, should not participate in governmental elections.
U.S. DOLLAR KEEPS FALLING
Bloomberg.com reported on November 15 that “for the first week, the dollar dropped 2.2 percent, the biggest decline since May 9.” The article quoted a chief investment officer, saying, “Dollar weakness is a trend that is well entrenched.” Another expert was quoted as saying, “We see the dollar… going down.” A senior currency strategist added, “The U.S. dollar is being shunned.” At the same time, the EU predicts that “Europe’s economic growth will accelerate next year,” according to the article.
GAY RIGHTS ON THE MARCH…
“Massachusetts’ highest court ruled Tuesday that same-sex couples are legally entitled to wed under the state constitution,” according to MSNBC News Service. The majority opinion stated that “barring an individual from the protections, benefits, and obligations of civil marriage solely because that person would marry a person of the same sex violates the Massachusetts Constitution.” The article pointed out that the “Massachusetts Legislature… has been considering a constitutional amendment that would legally define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.”
It continued: “Gay and lesbian advocates had been cheered by a series of advances this year, including U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down anti-sodomy laws, the ordination of an openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church, and a Canadian appeals court ruling that it was unconstitutional to deny gay couples the same marriage rights as heterosexual couples… In addition to Vermont, courts in Hawaii and Alaska have previously ruled that the states did not have a right to deny marriage to gay couples. In those two states, the decisions were followed by the adoption of constitutional amendments limiting marriage to heterosexual couples.”
In an article by Christianity Today that was posted on November 19, 2003, several conservative commentators were quoted as expressing outrage regarding the recent decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Court. Family Research Council President Tony Perkins called it “the most intolerant act of judicial tyranny in recent memory.” Focus on the Family founder James Dobson was quoted as saying, “This is a very sad day in the life of this country, and one that I believe invites the very judgment of God as we move arrogantly away from our moral underpinnings… He will not be mocked, and He warned us through the prophet Isaiah, ‘Woe to those who call evil good and good evil.'” Syndicated Columnist Cal Thomas was quoted as saying that the judges “are playing God.” He wrote: “It is like morally corrupt ancient Israel when there was no king ‘and everyone did what was right in his own eyes.'”
Robert Knight, director of Concerned Women for America’s Culture and Family Institute, was quoted by Christianity Today, as follows: “Christians are sure to be targets of persecution for their beliefs if ‘gay’ marriage is given legal backing.” The article concluded, “In any case, this decision is huge news, both in itself and in its implications.”
… WHILE RELIGIOUS RIGHTS ARE THREATENED
Associated Press reported on November 14 that Alabama chief justice Roy Moore was ousted “for refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state courthouse.” The article continued: “The nine members of the Court of the Judiciary handed out the harshest penalty possible, saying Moore left them with no choice by repeatedly insisting he would never obey a federal judge’s order to move” the monument from the courthouse.
Moore’s legal opponents announced that they “intend now to file a complaint
with the Alabama State Bar Association asking that Moore be disbarred.” If this should happen, the consequences for any Christian judge or lawyer in Alabama might be catastrophic. It could mean, for instance, that a Christian lawyer, who is conscientiously opposed to serving on a jury, might have to obey an order to serve and thereby to violate his religious convictions, or face disbarment.
A poem was circulated this year over the Internet that has been attributed to Judge Roy Moore. Here are some excerpts:
“Babies piled in dumpsters,
Abortion on demand.
Oh, sweet land of liberty,
Your house is on the sand.
Our children wander aimlessly
Poisoned by cocaine,
Choosing to indulge their lusts,
When God has said abstain.
You think that God’s not angry,
That our land’s a moral slum?
How much longer will He wait
Before his judgment comes?”
GERMANY AND FRANCE?
Deutsche Welle, a German television broadcasting company, published an article on November 14, wondering about the future relationship between France and Germany. It stated, “If a French newspaper is right, German-French ties could go from its current love affair status to downright marriage in the future, with foreign, defense and economic policy being merged. Already united in their opposition to the Iraq war, their miserable economies and desire to keep power in the European Union in the hands of the big players, France and Germany might have even more in store. The French newspaper Le Figaro reported this week that the governments in Paris and Berlin are thinking about merging important policy fields as well… In particular the smaller countries, among them the ten new members of the European Union, fear a French-German axis could turn into a formidable bloc in the EU decision-making process… The two [France and Germany] are also in favor of a constitution provision that would limit the number of seats in the powerful European Commission in the future to the current 15.”
GERMANY’S ONGOING PARANOIA
As Associated Press reported on November 14, “Germany’s Christian Democrats [CDU] on Friday stripped a lawmaker [Martin Hohmann] of his rights to vote with or speak for the conservative opposition party in parliament.” This move followed his controversial speech on October 3, which was labeled by much of the press as “anti-Semitic.” The article also pointed out that the CDU has “also begun moves to expel Hohmann from the party entirely, a process that could take years.” Der Stern reported on November 14, that 195 of the CDU members of parliament voted for the expulsion. Nevertheless, the CDU leadership was “surprised” that 28 members of parliament voted against it, 16 members abstained, and four votes were invalid. Before the vote was cast, “letters, emails or phone calls were received by the CDU, criticizing the planned expulsion of Hohmann,” according to Der Spiegel, dated November 13. Numerous resignations of party members from the CDU were also registered.
Hohmann had addressed the CDU members of Parliament before the vote, asking for forgiveness. He stated, according to Der Spiegel of November 13:
“I have apologized three times… I have trusted the promise of [a journalist] not to reveal the identity of [Army General Guenzel, who had congratulated Hohmann on his speech in a personal letter]… The main sentence of my speech stated: ‘Neither the Germans nor the Jews are a people of perpetrators.’… Contrary to this main sentence, [another journalist] stated on October 30 on public television: ‘Hohmann calls Jews a people of perpetrators.’ This report was false. With this malicious change the journalist started the media scandal.”
Hohmann also said, according to the magazine: “In my Parliamentary address of June 6, 2003, pertaining to the Treaty between the state of Germany and the German Jewish Community, I quoted, with conviction, a passage from the book of Genesis, to warn against any attacks on Jews. God told Abraham: ‘I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ I am very saddened that I am now publicly viewed as someone who has hurt the feelings of the Jews, or who is an Anti-Semite. My goal was the opposite. My wife and my children suffer, too, because I am labeled as an Anti-Semite. I have apologized several times. I want to do everything to heal the hurt caused by me, and I beg once again for forgiveness.”
“The Holy See and Brandenburg signed an agreement to regulate relations between the Catholic Church and the majority-Protestant German state,” according to Zenit, of November 13. The press statement of the Vatican explained: “The teaching of Catholic religion in public schools and the ecclesiastical management of schools and institutions of formation at all levels will also be regulated.” The Vatican Information Service added on November 13: “The present accord… departing from agreements with the German Reich and Prussia which are still in force… and acknowledging the reciprocal independence of Church and state and their desire for mutual cooperation, gives a permanent code to the relations between the Catholic Church and the state.”
It is obvious from the foregoing that there is not really an independence of church and state, when Catholic religion is being taught in public schools.
ZIMBABWE’S UNCERTAIN FUTURE
We were given a letter from a citizen of Zimbabwe, describing the terrible situation in that African country. Sadly, little, if anything, has been made public in the Western press. We are bringing a few excerpts from the letter:
“You probably know about the governmental doctors’ strike. They wanted their salaries hiked… The government refused, and now there is a mass exodus of these people… Things here are pretty bad. I believe we are standing at a turning point. There could either be a magical political resolution or there will be civil war. The minimum wage for a gardener is currently 12 K a month. Bread costs 3 K a loaf. How many loaves is that a month? Four. So someone with a family to support [has to] survive on four loaves of bread a month… Unemployment is increasing every day… If war breaks out…, the value of the houses is gone… In a developed country, if you work in a fast-food restaurant, you can at least rent an apartment and have food on the table. There is no chance of that here… I tell you plainly, I don’t see things continuing like this for much longer.”