Christianity Under Attack

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Who will separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Romans 8:35

Another day and another account of Christians being persecuted and killed. This time 12 African migrants on a rubber boat trying to get from Libya to Italy were thrown overboard by fellow passengers, while other Christians on board saved themselves by forming a human chain. Fifteen Muslim passengers have been arrested in the incident.

The world was shocked when the terror group ISIS beheaded 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians on a beach in Tripoli, Libya, releasing the directive to other Muslims to “behead a Christian to gain your salvation, so kill Christians wherever you find them.” At this time the fate of upwards of 150 Christian hostages, many women and children, kidnapped in Syria remains unknown.

Since January 1, 2015, almost 400 Christians have been killed in 24 separate attacks in 9 different countries. And these are the ones that have been reported and it is feared there have been many more deaths that have gone unreported. The Vatican estimates that Christians are the most persecuted group in the contemporary world with over 100,000 Christians being violently killed annually because of some relation to their faith. According to the World Evangelical Alliance, over 200 million Christians are denied fundamental human rights solely because of their faith, most living in Muslim-dominated countries. Of the world’s three largest religions, Christians are the most proportionally persecuted with 80% of all acts of religious discrimination being directed at Christians.

Every year, the Christian non-profit organization Open Doors publishes a list of the top 50 countries where Christian persecution is the worst. The 2014 lists the top ten offenders as North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Maldives, Pakistan, Iran and Yemen.

In spite of the horrifying reports of genocide of Christians our nation’s leaders remain chillingly silent. President Obama, a professed Christian, has not shown any rage or called upon any country to help stop this onslaught against innocents being killed and persecuted merely on the basis of their faith. In fact, on two occasions, he seemed to go to lengths to chastise Christians. In February he admonished attendees at the National Prayer breakfast that, “Unless we get on our high horse and think this (religious persecution) is unique to some place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.” Comparing current Islamist extremist atrocities to religious wars fought 500-1000 years ago seems ludicrous and patronizing. Response to his remarks was swift, with many saying this underscores the perception that Obama is out-of-touch with America.

Undeterred, at the Easter-themed prayer breakfast earlier this month he once again used his position to deliver a facile, preachy slap to Christians saying, “On Easter I do reflect on the fact that as a Christian I am supposed to love, and I have to say that sometimes when I’ve listened to less–than-loving expressions by Christians, I get concerned.” I say, “Physician, heal thyself.”

As our first black president, Barack Obama was in the perfect position to heal our nation and help narrow the divide between the races that still plagues our country. Instead, this winner of the Nobel Peace Prize has steadfastly wasted every opportunity to heal and has set back race relations decades. As a Christian I would have liked to see him use the time of Easter, the Christian’s most holy day, to show the world how a Christian acts, not with a holier-than-thou arrogance but with an attitude of forgiveness and love. I didn’t see that. Instead I was encouraged by the words of Pope Francis who has expressed hope that the international community does not look on, “silent and inactive”, in the face of the unacceptable persecution of Christians around the world.

What concerns me the most is Obama’s refusal to acknowledge and condemn the almost weekly killing of Christians , and in many cases, Jews. His focus seems to be solely on appeasing our enemies in the Middle East, which will only lead us down a dangerous path. I admit Christians have committed atrocities in the name of Christ but instead of using ancient deeds to denigrate the current genocide of Christians shows an amazing lack of responsibility. To say every religion has committed atrocities lets everyone off the hook, including Obama. Mr. President, move on up to the 21st century and man up as the leader of the greatest country in the world; a country that was created on the tenet of religious freedom, and call out the countries that harbor these Islamic extremists who are committed to wiping out Christianity in the most brutal ways imaginable. Enough is enough, unless you want to go down in history as the modern day Pontius Pilate. If you are concerned with leaving a legacy, remember not many people name their sons Pontius anymore.

Democracy vs. Dynasty

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In the scheme of our national government, the presidency is preeminently the people’s office. – Grover Cleveland

Hillary Clinton has officially announced her candidacy for president and while I would love to see a woman in the White House, I don’t want just any woman. And I don’t want a Clinton or a Bush for that matter. Out of the last twenty-six years, twenty of those have been under a Clinton or Bush presidency. While I think both families have served our country to the best of their abilities- succeeding in some respects, failing in others-the truth is our country is not prospering.

We don’t have the respect in the world we once commanded.  From working in Afghanistan I know that we are regarded as weak because we hand over billions of dollars without bargaining or asking for anything in return. America as a country is seen as an aggressor trying to buy loyalty in a way that only creates disdain from the Middle East and our biggest mistake in our dealings with them is failing to understand their culture.

The 2016 presidential race has so many talented candidates in both Democratic and Republican camps. It could be the most exciting campaign we have seen in decades or it could be the same old business as usual affair. The 2014 election showed an overwhelming repudiation of the Democratic Party and the Draconian cronyism in Washington but I don’t see Republicans taking advantage of their victories by making meaningful changes. The American public has political fatigue.

I believe the reason President Obama won in 2008 was his powerful rhetoric that was infused with hope and the promise of change. The American public is longing for prosperity, national pride and a sense of personal security. But candidates can promise much with their words but words alone do not deliver outcomes. President Obama is a man of words and only if he has a teleprompter. He is not a man of action and his inaction and hesitancy have caused frustration in the American public. Although the economic statistics are positive, the majority of Americans still feel they are worse off than ever before.

I am praying that we won’t have a ticket of Bush vs. Clinton in 2016. The Presidency should not be an inheritance. It should be a bastion of democracy and not an enclave of dynasties. Let’s elect someone who isn’t the traditional liberal or conservative. That just doesn’t seem to be working. Most of all, let’s elect someone with integrity, honesty and courage. And we haven’t had someone in the White House since Harry Truman that wasn’t a millionaire; maybe we could elect someone who really can relate to the needs of the common families of America.

If we don’t get the next election right we will become even more vulnerable to the vultures who are circling our nation just waiting for us to get too weak to fight back. Our country needs new blood in the White House. We need and deserve a leader who not only inspires, but actually leads us back to the proud nation we once were.

Blue Lives Matter

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A broad brush has been used to unfairly malign the reputation of the profession of policing in the United States. –  Sheriff David Clarke

Lately liberal news media, uninformed celebrities and race baiters would have you believe that every police officer has an itchy trigger finger looking for any excuse to gun down unarmed people. The reality couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, just as in any profession, there are bad employees and I’ll admit a rogue cop with a gun is terrifying, but the overwhelming majority of law enforcement officers are dedicated public servants who put their lives on the line every day in order to serve and protect.

This week two police officers were wounded in an ambush style shooting in racially charged Ferguson, Missouri. Such types of attacks are the leading circumstance in the surging number of shooting deaths of law enforcement officers, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. They also state that over 1,500 law enforcement officers have died in the line of duty during the last ten years, an average of one death every 58 hours. There are over 58,000 assaults against law enforcement officers every year. Ambush attacks, such as the shooting of New York Police Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos while sitting in their patrol car in Brooklyn, were the number one cause of felonious officer deaths for the fifth year in a row. Ambush killings accounted for 23.2% of police officers killed in the line of duty 2002-2011.

Attorney General Eric Holder has stated, “These troubling statistics underscore the very real dangers that America’s brave law enforcement officers face every time they put on their uniforms. Each loss is unacceptable—a beloved father, mother, son or daughter who never came home to their loved ones.”

Holder’s words ring hollow to many who credit his recent anti-government, anti-police rhetoric with fanning the flames of violence toward police across the country. Likewise, President Obama’s initial response to the shooting in Ferguson was to tweet “Violence against police is unacceptable. Our prayers are with the officers in MO. Path to justice is one all of us must travel together.” Only a week earlier he called for “collective mobilization” against police.

I am thankful for the dedicated men and women who protect me and the society I live in. While I was in Afghanistan I saw firsthand what living in a culture where there is no law enforcement to call upon is like. In areas that do have the Afghan National Police (ANP), many of the officers are the ones you need to fear. Once when I visited the Kapisa Province Agricultural Director at a research farm, three unkempt ANP wearing ill-fitting, grey uniforms and carrying rifles, followed us around the field all day. The Director, who was usually very friendly and smiling, seemed subdued and uncomfortable. I later learned that the ANP had forced him to put them on the payroll for the irrigation project the U.S. was funding at the farm. They followed us around to intimidate the Director to comply with their demands. Non-compliance in Afghanistan can mean death to you or your family.

I have always had positive interactions with police and when I have been stopped for an occasional traffic violation I have always been treated with courtesy, mainly because I, too, am courteous. If you don’t want to be hurt or killed by a police officer, then comply with what they say. If they tell you to “Stop” then stop. If you want to be treated with respect, then be respectful. Law enforcement officers work in very stressful situations and they must make life and death decisions in a split second. Acting stupid is going to increase the probability that the outcome won’t be good for anybody.

I want to close with a remembrance for the law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty in March 2015:

Special Agent William Sheldon, 9//11 related illness, March 2

Police Officer Terence Avery Green, ambush attack, gunfire, March 4 (His partner was shot, but survived.)

Police Officer Robert Wilson, III, gunfire, March 5

Lieutenant C. Scott Travis, heart attack, March 5

Police Officer Brennan Rabain, Auto accident, March 7

Deputy Marshall Josie Wells, gunfire, March 10

Deputy Sheriff Johnny Gatson, auto accident, March 10

Police Officer Burke Rhoads, auto accident, March 11

Patrolman George Nissen, assault, March 12

Trooper Donald Fredenburg, collapse on job, March13

Police Officer Darryl Wallace, auto accident, March 15

Lieutenant Richard Woods, heart attack, March 17

Police Officer Adrian Arellano,  motorcycle accident,March 18

Police Officer Alex Yazzie, gunfire,March 19

Police Officer Michael Johnson, gunfire, March 24

Trooper Trevor Casper, gunfire, March 24

Rest in peace, good and faithful servants.