Current Events

Religious Confusion in Europe…WHY?

Der Spiegel Online reported on February 16 about an almost incredible phenomenon in Germany and Europe: A growing minority of Catholic and Protestant “Christians” doesn’t believe in God and is looking for “alternative” belief systems.

The magazine stated:

“… in Germany… [one] in three [Germans] is no longer officially registered as a Christian. Just one in four eastern Germans believes that Christ was actually crucified. Only two-thirds of registered Catholics say they believe in God – and only one of two Protestants do. Finally, if pressed on their views, 11 percent of officially registered Protestants actually turn out to be card-carrying atheists.

“‘The church is just an option now, nothing more,’ says religious sociologist Klaus-Peter Jörns, who compiled these statistics some years back. According to a study conducted by Shell, one in five youths today belongs to a breed that Jörns calls ‘transcendence believers’: They admit that supernatural forces may exist, but are unwilling to pin the word ‘god’ on them – let alone put faith in concepts like the epiphany, sin and salvation.

“Simultaneously, adults raised within a Christian culture are increasingly expecting to be reincarnated. More than a quarter of all churchgoing Swiss Catholics say they can relate to Buddhist ideas on the subject. Heiner Barz, a professor for educational science at Düsseldorf University, has identified the ‘displacement of the resurrection doctrine by the reincarnation doctrine’ as a key religious trend in contemporary Europe – albeit with the caveat that it lacks ‘the doctrine of karma that is associated with it in the Eastern cultural sphere’ and its personal accounting system.

“… almost anything goes today… Innocuous supernatural phenomena which do not strike the fear of God into people have proven the most popular… ‘Our modern world is far less enlightened than we think,’ says Hartmut Böhme, a Berlin-based cultural scientist who sees palpable evidence of ‘fetishism’ in the modern European mindset.”

The magazine asked whether something is missing in all of this confusion. The answer is distinctively, YES! What is missing is the TRUE UNDERSTANDING of who and what God is, what He is doing TODAY, WHY we are experiencing so much suffering, and WHAT is the ultimate potential and fate of man! WHY was man created in the first place? There is only ONE source which gives you the answers to all these questions–and unfortunately, this source is not “orthodox” or traditional Christianity with their false teachings of heaven and hell, Easter bunnies and Christmas carols; nor can it be found in eastern religions with their esoteric concepts of reincarnation, or transcendental meditation practices falsely postulating that they can bring about “enlightenment.” Rightly understood, many of these practices are not only useless, but they could be terribly DANGEROUS for some engaging in them.

Do YOU want to know the answers to these all-important life-determining questions?

If you do, please read our free booklets, “God Is A Family,” and “Human Suffering–Why… And How Much Longer?

Germany’s Wrong Attempts to Deal with Holocaust Deniers

On February 16, Der Spiegel Online reported about the conviction and sentencing of a Holocaust denier in Germany, raising the important question whether such procedures do “more harm than good.” The short answer is: They certainly do. It is an unfortunate lesson of history that Germany has still not learned to act with BALANCE–they are either too strict or too lenient. To charge a Holocaust denier with a crime and sentence him to jail is –in American eyes — just plain ridiculous. And so, Germany WILL learn the hard way that their attempts of dealing with Holocaust deniers is just not working and will become counter-productive–regardless as to how laudable and noble the underlying intentions might be.

Der Spiegel Online wrote:

“Historical revisionist Ernst Zündel has been convicted for denying the Holocaust and sent to jail for five years. But many in Germany suspect such trials may do more harm than good… Center-left daily Süddeutsche Zeitung [states:]… ‘Freedom of opinion is a fundamentally far-reaching basic right… It’s not concerned with the validity of the thoughts expressed; it applies to any old nonsense, covering witlessness and idiocy no less than extraordinary stupidity…’

“The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung is even less convinced the trial and the sentence were justified. The piece, printed on the conservative daily’s front page, begins by stressing that this and previous trials — including one in Canada which Zündel won — have helped create a platform for Holocaust deniers. ‘Ernst Zündel has become world-famous. He’s become well-known not just via his publications but also thanks to court proceedings… He was granted the same freedom of speech as every other Canadian, albeit reluctantly…’ [Even though he won the court case in Canada, where he lived, Zündel was subsequently deported from Canada to Germany.] The legal basis for Zündel’s conviction in a German court is questionable, the paper argues: ‘Guilt has now been extended to include a person’s views… it likely fosters the very thing it wants to fight.’

“The left-wing daily Die Tageszeitung is especially disturbed by how the trial was conducted. ‘The trial was intolerable for all those who don’t belong to the extreme right. The right-wingers associated with Jürgen Rieger — the lawyer who is also an activist for the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) — used the trial as a platform for their revanchism and in order to publicize their claimed scientific “discoveries” on “the Auschwitz lie.” The lawyers also repeatedly tried to provoke the presiding judge … and turn the court proceedings into chaos. ‘Perhaps it would be better not to give Holocaust deniers and their supporters the satisfaction of taking them to court,’ the commentator concludes.

“‘Maximum Penalty — What Else?’ is the headline in conservative daily Die Welt. But the commentator is more concerned about the trial and its possible consequences than the title suggests. ‘The circumstances of the trial were often intolerable, at least for the non-confused among us. The fact that one of Zündel’s lawyers signed a document with the words “Heil Hitler” is just one of the more grotesque lapses.’ The commentator goes on to ponder a proposal currently being debated within the European Union — that of making ‘racism and xenophobia’ a punishable crime in all of the EU’s member countries. He takes a critical view of the proposal. ‘Should all Polish glorifiers of Stalinism and all French deniers of the murder of Armenians be taken to court in the EU, regardless of which country they are active in? That, from the German point of view, doesn’t seem like a good idea…'”

Neither does it seem to be a good idea to punish as criminals and sentence to jail those misled and misleading agitators who falsely deny the Holocaust–however blatantly objectionable and offensive such denial may be. To criminalize the expression of thought in this world–even of wrong thought–is VERY dangerous. It has backfired before in Germany and Europe, as well as in the former Soviet Union–and it will without doubt backfire again. Germany’s and Europe’s attempts to fight totalitarian thoughts by suppressing and criminalizing them with the “sword of the law” harbors the lurking danger of becoming totalitarian themselves–and Europe is, tragically, marching into that very frightening direction!

For more information, please read our free booklet, “Europe in Prophecy.”

Italian-US Relations Hit New Low

The reported on February 17 that “Italian-US relations hit new low after protests.” It continued:

“Italian pacifists and Left-wingers staged a 50,000-strong protest yesterday against the presence of a new large-scale US air force base. A former civilian airport in the northern city of Vicenza has been earmarked, with the base replacing two in Germany and acting as a departure point for US tours to Iraq and Afghanistan. The £500 million American plan to convert the Dal Molin airport, one and a half miles from the city centre, has come under fire from Italians who have long been opposed to America’s wars.

“The mass demonstration in Vicenza follows a series of diplomatic spats which have plunged relations between Italy and America to a new low. On Friday, an Italian court ordered 26 CIA agents to stand trial for the ‘rendition’ of a Muslim cleric allegedly kidnapped in Milan. Earlier this month, another judge ruled that Mario Lozano, a US marine, face trial for the fatal shooting of Nicola Calipari, an Italian spy.”

Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi Resigns

Der Spiegel Online reported on February 22:

“There are certain things you can rely on in Italy, like good food, nice weather and sharp dressers. So it is reassuring that Italian politics seem to be back to normal as well, after the blip that was Silvio Berlusconi’s recently ended five-year stint in power: With Romano Prodi’s resignation, we are back to the volatile Italian governments that we know and love. Italian Prime Minister Prodi stepped down on Wednesday after his center-left coalition suffered a Senate defeat on foreign policy… The governing coalition, ‘The Union,’ ranges from Catholic centrists to communists and greens, and it was its diverse nature which ultimately led to Prodi’s demise. In the past he has often resorted to confidence votes to bring his unruly allies into line over issues including the budget, gay rights — which brought the pro- and anti-Vatican factions into conflict — and Italian involvement abroad. The development is typical of Italy’s notoriously unstable coalition governments. Prodi’s government was Italy’s 61st since 1945 — an average of one government per year… Prodi’s proposal to keep Italian troops in Afghanistan, on the heels of his having allowed the expansion of a US military base in Italy, proved too much for his coalition to handle… Italy’s President Giorgio Napolitano accepted Prodi’s resignation but the beleaguered prime minister may still stay in power if he can bring his unruly coalition into line.”

Major Setback to American Efforts Against Al Qaeda

The New York Times reported on February 19:

“Senior leaders of Al Qaeda operating from Pakistan have re-established significant control over their once-battered worldwide terror network and over the past year have set up a band of training camps in the tribal regions near the Afghan border, according to American intelligence and counterterrorism officials… The concern about a resurgent Al Qaeda has been the subject of intensive discussion at high levels of the Bush administration, the officials said, and has reignited debate about how to address Pakistan’s role as a haven for militants without undermining the government of Gen. Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistani president… Officials from several different American intelligence and counterterrorism agencies presented a consistent picture in describing the developments as a major setback to American efforts against Al Qaeda.

“…debates within the administration about how best to deal with the threat have yet to yield any good solutions, officials in Washington said… American intelligence and counterterrorism officials said that most of the men receiving training in Pakistan had been carrying out attacks inside Afghanistan, but that Al Qaeda had also strengthened its ties to groups in Iraq… Over the past year, insurgent tactics from Iraq have migrated to Afghanistan, where suicide bombings have increased fivefold and roadside bomb attacks have doubled… Last fall, the Algerian group renamed itself Al Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb. Officials in Washington say they believe that the group is linked to a recent string of sophisticated car bombings and other attacks in Algeria.”

Reunification of Anglican and Roman Catholic Church?

The Times On Line reported on February 19:

“Radical proposals to reunite Anglicans with the Roman Catholic Church under the leadership of the Pope are to be published this year, The Times has learnt… The proposals have been agreed by senior bishops of both churches. In a 42-page statement prepared by an international commission of both churches, Anglicans and Roman Catholics are urged to explore how they might reunite under the Pope… Rome has already shown itself willing to be flexible on the subject of celibacy when it received dozens of married priests from the Church of England into the Catholic priesthood after they left over the issue of women’s ordination.

“There are about 78 million Anglicans, compared with a billion Roman Catholics, worldwide. In England and Wales, the Catholic Church is set to overtake Anglicanism as the predominant Christian denomination for the first time since the Reformation, thanks to immigration from Catholic countries…

“In one significant passage the report notes: ‘The Roman Catholic Church teaches that the ministry of the Bishop of Rome [the Pope] as universal primate is in accordance with Christ’s will for the Church and an essential element of maintaining it in unity and truth.’ Anglicans rejected the Bishop of Rome as universal primate in the 16th century. Today, however, some Anglicans are beginning to see the potential value of a ministry of universal primacy, which would be exercised by the Bishop of Rome, as a sign and focus of unity within a reunited Church… Anglicans are also urged to begin praying for the Pope during the intercessionary prayers in church services, and Catholics are asked also to pray publicly for the Archbishop of Canterbury.”

America in Turmoil

Der Spiegel Online reported on February 19:

“Republican Senators foiled a Democratic bid to have Congress criticize President George W. Bush’s troop increase in Iraq. But with a clear majority of politicians on Capitol Hill opposing the White House’s war strategy, is this a defeat for the president or for the Democrats?”

The magazine continued:

“The Financial Times Deutschland writes: ‘For four years any criticism of the war was seen as a betrayal of the troops. This taboo has now been broken … the vote marks a decisive change in American politics. The Bush Administration has not only forfeited its credibility internationally — now it is also fighting a losing battle on the home front… But a US government that has suffered such a loss of authority is a weakness for the whole West. Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East, Iran and North Korea are the big conflicts in international politics. Bush — morally disavowed and increasingly abandoned by his own party colleagues — will not be able to do much to solve them. So who will?’

“The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes: ‘The damage to Bush is enormous. Congress has made clear to the president: this war has increasingly become his war and not a mission in the name of the nation. Congress has to vote on the defense budget in March — and whoever dares refuse the troops the money will be criticized by the government for lacking patriotism. The trick has always worked before. The Democrats are already ensnared in tactical manoeuvers — torn between loyalty to the military and their anger over the botched Bush war … Four years after the disastrous march on Baghdad it is not only Iraq that is collapsing. The war also threatens to split America into friend and foe.’

“The left-wing Die Tageszeitung writes: ‘The US Democrats have failed their first big test. They won’t be able to end the US mission in Iraq in the foreseeable future … That is a disappointment but not a surprise … It was never really their aim to use all their might to stop Bush. That was finally clear when the liberals agreed that the Iraq resolution would be ‘non-binding.’… The majority of Democrats wanted to do something symbolic without taking on the responsibility for the disastrous war in Iraq. It is pure electoral politics… The Democrats could now refuse to approve the president’s war budget. But that plan looks unlikely in the face of the recent defeat. It would mean that the Democrats had a plan to get out of Iraq without setting the entire region alight. There is no such plan in sight — neither from the Democrats nor from the Republicans. And certainly not from the White House.”

“The conservative daily Die Welt writes: ‘George W. Bush suffered a defeat in Congress that will resonate in some way or another. Either it was the beginning of a political avalanche which will bury Bush’s Iraq policy and with it seal his presidency’s foreign policy failure. Or it was an error on the part of the opposition in Congress, which could end in a rude awakening for those candidates who want to succeed Bush in the White House.'”

US Coalition Allies On Opposite Track

The Associated Press reported on February 21:

“Britain will withdraw around 1,600 troops from Iraq in the coming months and aims to further cut its 7,100-strong contingent by late summer if Iraqi forces can secure the country’s south, Prime Minister Tony Blair said Wednesday. The announcement, which came as Denmark said it would withdraw its 460 troops and Lithuania said it was considering pulling out its small contingent, comes as the U.S. is implementing an increase of 21,000 more troops for Iraq — putting Washington on an opposite track as its main coalition allies… Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice played down the British pullback, saying it is consistent with the U.S. plan to turn over more control to Iraqi forces.”

The article continued:

“But opposition Liberal Democrat leader Menzies Campbell said Blair’s plan fell a long way short of a promise to leave Iraq as a ‘beacon of democracy’ for the region. ‘The unpalatable truth is this … we will leave behind a country on the brink of civil war, where reconstruction has stalled, where corruption is endemic and a region which is a lot less stable than it was in 2003,’ Campbell said.

“Besides the United States, Britain and Denmark, the major partners in the coalition include South Korea (2,300 troops), Poland (900), Australia and Georgia (both 800) and Romania (600), according to the Brookings Institution. South Korea plans to halve its 2,300-member contingent in the northern city of Irbil by April, and is under pressure from parliament to devise a plan for a complete withdrawal by year’s end. Polish President Lech Kaczynski has said that his country’s troops would stay no longer than December.

“Blair, who has said he will step down by September after a decade in power, has seen his foreign-policy record overshadowed by his role as Bush’s leading ally in the unpopular war. As recently as last month, Blair rejected opposition calls to withdraw British troops by October, calling such a plan irresponsible.”

Less Than 15 Years?

The Financial Times reported on February 22:

“The world has less than 15 years to take urgent action against global warming through the use of new technology if it is to prevent a climate catastrophe, the United Nations warns in the as yet unpublished third part of its World Climate Report [due to be published in May]. If carbon emissions are not substantially reduced by 2020, the report warns, global warming will set in motion irreversible natural processes such as the melting of the ice shields in Greenland and the over-acidification of the oceans… The scientists who compiled the report propose a range of measures, including the much increased use of biofuels and hybrid cars, as well as the construction of new nuclear power stations… The first part of the ­Climate Report, which looked at the physical basis of climate change, caused a global discussion about global warming when it was published this month. The scientists warned of a future characterised by extreme weather events – long and intense droughts, fierce hurricanes, heatwaves and rising sea levels – as a result of rising temperatures… The second part, expected to be published in April, will look more specifically at the effects of climate change on humans and nature.”

Tensions Intensify Between Washington, Moscow and Europe

The Financial Times reported on February 21:

“Tensions intensified on Wednesday over US plans for missile defence bases in Poland and the Czech Republic, as Washington called on Europe to take a tougher stance towards the Kremlin. The Bush administration’s two top foreign policy officials lashed out at Moscow’s campaign against the bases, which Washington insists are aimed at possible threats from Iran rather than Russia. Condoleezza Rice, US secretary of state, said the suggestion this week by Russia’s head of strategic rocket forces that Russia could target the two central European countries if they agreed to host the bases was ‘very unfortunate’. She also dismissed comments by Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Germany’s foreign minister, who said this week Moscow should have been consulted more about the sites, given their proximity to Russia’s borders… Mr Steinmeier’s spokesman said the minister was aware that ‘technical talks’ had taken place between Moscow and Washington, but said he had been warning against a return to the type of security stand-offs of the cold war era.

“Separately in Brussels, Stephen Hadley, US national security adviser, emphasised Washington’s dismay at a speech this month in which Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, hit out at the missile defence plans and the US’s ‘unilateral’ use of force… The EU has consistently struggled to forge a common line on Russia. Countries such as Poland, which are suspicious of the Kremlin’s intentions, are pitted against big western European states such as Germany and France, which are often keen to deepen ties with Moscow.”

Beware of the Hornets

The reported on February 21:

“Swarms of giant [Asian] hornets renowned for their vicious stings and skill at massacring honeybees have settled in France. And there are now so many of the insects that entomologists fear it will just be a matter of time before they cross to Britain… Thousands of football-shaped hornet nests are now dotted all over the forests of Aquitaine, the south-western region of France hugely popular with British tourists… A handful can destroy a nest of 30,000 bees in just a couple of hours — a major concern among the beekeeping industry.”

When reading this, one is reminded of God’s promise to defeat ancient Israel’s enemies with hornets (Exodus 23:28; Deuteronomy 7:20; Joshua 24:12). Hornets can be a powerful enemy for humans.

Smoking Much More Dangerous Than Originally Thought

Reuters reported on February 20:

“Smoking causes long-lasting changes in the brain similar to changes seen in animals when they are given cocaine, heroin and other addictive drugs, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday. A study of the brain tissue of smokers and nonsmokers who had died showed that smokers had the changes, even if they had quit years before… A team led by Bruce Hope of NIDA, one of the National Institutes of Health, analyzed levels of two enzymes found inside brain cells known as neurons… Smokers and former smokers had high levels of these enzymes… Hope said other studies had seen the same thing in animals given cocaine and heroin — and it was clear that the drugs were causing the effects… Experts on smoking have long said that nicotine is at least as addictive as heroin.”

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