Democratic And Republican Parties Are Both Anti-Christ Parties

A Visit To This Time Last Year

 

September 4, 2016
Democratic And Republican Parties Are Both Anti-Christ Parties

When I was a young child back in the 1950’s-60’s I was raised in a family that believed in the Democratic Party. My parents were folks who believed in the reality that working people if they wanted to be able to financially survive needed Union protections. They also believed that the Republican Party was solely for the wealthiest people and was clearly anti working people. They also believed that the Democratic Party, because they cared about the poor was the party that the Churches backed. I never remember going to a Church that had a Republican Minister simply because the Republicans agenda’s were in direct contrast to the love, kindness and sharing teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In 1973 the U.S. Supreme Court with their ruling on ‘Roe v Wade’ abortion ruling seemed to change the political map within the Churches. The teachings regarding abortion within the Scriptures are definitely anti-abortion yet almost all of the Churches and their Ministers remained as Democrats because they could not transcend over to a Party (Republicans) who were against basically all of the teachings of Jesus about how we should all treat each other. Yet, my question is how can a Church, a Minister, or their congregation openly or even behind closed doors back abortion? How can you say that you or a Minister (that word means, Servant) are a Christian (follower of Christ) and at the same time back abortion?

What I do not understand is why the people who say they are Christians have not created a third National Party! The Democratic Party strongly backs a woman’s “right” to have an abortion at any time during a pregnancy. The Republican Party wants to end all abortions seeing them as the murdering of over a million children here in the U.S. each year. So, Republicans have garnered the “conservative Christians” into their camp because of the abortion issue. This is even though the Republican Party Platform is still strongly anti-working people, and anti the people having the right to work under Union protections.

I am a registered voting Independent because I see both Parties as crooked and pure evil. When the people go to the polls this November we just like every other election know that either a Republican or a Democrat is going to win at every level of Government. To vote for anyone else is nothing more than a protest vote that has no effect on who actually wins the elections, it will be a Democrat or a Republican. So, just like this November we Voters are having to consider which one of the two Evils win. Especially concerning the Presidency this year, which Evil is less Evil, that is what we have to look forward to. For either of these political parties to claim to be close or closer to God is total BS. Evil is still Evil, neither of these Political Parties have the endorsement of the Scriptures of God, so how can anyone who calls themselves a Christian or Jewish endorse or support either of these Demonic structures? I used the title of them being anti-Christ, I am not saying that either Parties leadership is ‘the anti-Christ’. What I am saying is that both Parties policies are in direct indifference to the teachings of God’s Holy Scriptures, thus both Parties are Anti-Christ!

If We Are A Racists, We Are Nothing But Luke Warm Water To Jesus

Racism And Jesus

 

Racism is hate and if you believe in Jesus, in Christianity, then this hate can be no part of any of us. Jesus was a Jew folks, he would have been Mediterranean brown, not a white boy. Here in America and a few other places around the globe there are people who call themselves ‘White Supremacist’, ‘Skin Heads’, ‘Alt-Right’ and or members of the KKK. I know very well from my travels all around this country that there are people filled with racial hate of every skin color, not just these white folks. There are also many people who are hate filled that use their religion to spew their hate, violence and murder. To me one of the things that I have never figured out is hatred of others within the Christian communities such as Protestant’s killing Catholics and vise versa. There is no such thing as “in the name of Christ I kill you.”

 

Up until the moment that Jesus rose from the chains of death the only people in the world that had any chance of salvation were the Jewish folks, not the Greeks, Romans, Brits or anyone else. When Jesus rose from the grave He broke the bonds of death and He ‘grafted’ all of the non-Jewish people into the safety of His arms. Jesus made it very plain to His Apostles and Disciples that they were to go and teach the Gospel to all nations, all tongues, all people so that they also could receive Salvation that it was no longer just to the Jewish people. People whom call themselves Christians yet will not invite a person of another nationality or skin color into their home or to sit with them at their supper table are delusional in thinking that these actions, this hate is ordained by Jesus. You will not find anywhere in Scripture where racism is ordained by God.

 

Jesus died on that cross to open up Salvation to all people of the Earth. If we are filled with hate toward other people over something they nor we have any control or say over, like skin color or the country we were born in, we are condemning our own selves to Hell. Folks if we say and believe in Jesus as ‘The Christ’ and we say we are followers of Christ ‘Christians’ yet we are racist or hate filled of others then we are nothing but ‘luke warm water’ to Jesus! For those who do not understand this meaning I will try to help bring its meaning into focus for you. In the Book of Revelation Jesus said that as Christians He would rather we be hot or cold for if we are luke warm He will spew us out of His mouth. Being hot would be being a very devout follower of God’s teachings. Being cold would be someone who is a Christian in their own mind yet never acted like a Christian or even let the people around them know that they were a Christian. Being luke warm is being a ‘fake’ Christian, a person who only acts like a follower of Christ for a couple of hours on either Saturday or Sunday morning. These are the people who during the rest of their week talk filth, lie and steal and tell racists jokes or have racist hatred in their actions toward other people, yet say they are a Christian. The people who do these sort of things drive the people around them away from considering becoming a Christian because of their horrible examples. Also, people who act like this tend to ‘drive away’ new and/or weak Christians. A luke warm Christian will be found guilty of not only their own blood being condemned they will be held accountable for the blood of all of those you chased away from the Cross of Christ. We cannot serve God and the world at the same time, either we are one or the other. If our heart is filled with hate, we have already made the decision that we have chosen the Devil over God.

Pakistan Marks 70 Years Of Independence Yet It Is Still A Bastion Of Hate Toward Minorities

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR)

 

As Pakistan Marks 70 Years Of Independence, Its Minorities Struggle For Space

People pose in front of Pakistan Independence Day signs in Lahore. The country, created in 1947 as a homeland for South Asia’s Muslims, celebrated 70 years of independence on Aug. 14.

Diaa Hadid/NPR

The children pile into the stadium in shiny clothes, clutching green-and-white Pakistani flags. Their parents light the area with cell phones to record the event as they scream, chant and cheer, watching soldiers close a gate that separates India from Pakistan.

In the evening ritual at the Wagah-Attari border, near Lahore and Amritsar, soldiers from both countries high-kick, shake their fists, then shake hands – and slam the gate shut.

It is deeply visceral for many Pakistanis: an acknowledgement of their border, of a plucky country they feel they have sacrificed so much to create.

Left: Youths sell paraphernalia in the colors of Pakistan’s flag to celebrate its Independence Day on Aug. 14. Right: An anonymous mask in Pakistan’s national colors of white and green lies on the grass of a park in Lahore.

Diaa Hadid/NPR

Pakistan was imagined more than 70 years ago by a stern, British-educated, whiskey-drinking Shiite lawyer. Muhammad Ali Jinnah hoped for a nation as cosmopolitan as he was. He led the fight to carve the country out of British-ruled India. In a new, independent India, Muslims were fearful that they would be dominated by a Hindu majority.

But in the decades since, the sense of who is a citizen in the Muslim state hasn’t been resolved. The question has come at a high price: Although Pakistan’s constitution specifies the protection of minority rights, “the government limited freedom of religion,” according to the State Department. The country’s tiny minorities of Sikhs, Christians and Hindus are vulnerable to persecution. Certain laws, such as blasphemy laws, are often used to target them.

As a boy in 1947, Muhammad Hanif Qureshi — now 83 and shown here with his great-niece and great-nephew in their home in Lahore — fled Amritsar. The area encompassing Amritsar and Lahore saw some of the worst violence of Partition.

Diaa Hadid/NPR

Within the Muslim community as well, the definition of who exactly is a Muslim has narrowed.

The seeds of Pakistan’s intolerance were sown within the country’s very ideology as a Muslim state, says Taimur Rehman, a political scientist at the Lahore University of Management Sciences.

That intolerance was “inherent in the very way in which Pakistan was created and the very purpose which it was supposed to serve of being a Muslim state,” he says. “By its very definition, it has already singled out a community in opposition to another one,” he says, referring to Muslims and Hindus. “And it’s very easy for that community to be to be narrowed further.”

Over the decades, he argues, the narrowing has been exacerbated by the military, Pakistan’s most powerful institution, which cultivated hard-line Islamists to wage a jihad in the disputed region of Kashmir, among other things.

A member of Pakistan’s tiny Sikh minority stops in Lahore’s Gurudwara or Sikh temple. Sikhs have a centuries-long presence in Lahore, but most fled for India in 1947.

Diaa Hadid/NPR

This has given right-wing religious groups outsize influence. “Despite never having won an election,” Rehman says, “they are nonetheless able to dictate the narrative in the country because of the support that they have from the military establishment.”

Perhaps none have suffered more than members of a small Muslim sect, known as Ahmadis, whose beliefs clash with the dominant Sunni version of Islam. They played a key role in founding Pakistan. They are a community of over-achievers: An Ahmadiphysicist, Abdus Salam, received one of only two Nobel prizes awarded to Pakistanis.

But the state declared Ahmadis as heretics via a constitutional amendment in the 1970s and restricted their rights further in the 1980s. They’re not allowed to call themselves Muslims, and can’t refer to their houses of worship as mosques. Over the years, militants have attacked their mosques and targeted them in killings.

Enlarge this image

A Hindu shrine in Lahore was rebuilt after it was burned down more than a decade ago during a period of communal tensions. Now it’s guarded by two state employees. A handful of worshipers come on Tuesdays.

Diaa Hadid/NPR

In a leafy suburb near Lahore, the Khans live in a two-story home behind a high gate that’s firmly bolted. Mrs. Khan stands on the balcony every morning, waiting for her husband to return from prayers at their local mosque. She’s terrified that somebody will kill him.

“We are frightened,” she says. “For the life.” (Her first name isn’t being published out of concern for the family’s safety.)

Most of her family already fled overseas.

So far, Mrs. Khan insists on staying. She runs a clinic that dispenses free medicine to her poorer neighbors. “If I go, the people will suffer,” she says.

She doesn’t want to “just sit and eat” in exile. “This is not the meaning of life.”

She’s also worried about her nephew. Twice, somebody threw a note into his house warning him to convert to Sunni Islam — or die. He hides out here when he’s afraid.

He repeatedly tried to flee Pakistan – but he says the U.K., Sweden and Canada all rejected applications.

The roots of intolerance run deeper than just how Pakistan defines itself as a Muslim state, says Anam Zakariya, an oral historian in Islamabad.

She traces it back to Pakistan’s birth story – at the time of Partition, in 1947, when millions of Hindus and Sikhs fled to India and Muslims to Pakistan. Mobs raped and butchered each other — around a million people died.

But Zakariya says those events are pushed aside. Pakistan focuses on celebrating its creation – and emphasizes how Muslims were victims.

“Now if it’s your biggest victory to date,” Zakariya says, “you have to make sure that the bloodshed is portrayed to the younger generations as perpetrated by Indians — Hindus and Sikhs.”

Laborers work to prepare the new Pakistan history museum in Lahore’s Greater Iqbal Park. The museum — a project of the provincial government and the private Citizens Archive of Pakistan — will be the first to look at Partition through the stories of those who witnessed it.

Diaa Hadid/NPR

It’s to drive home the point: “And that’s why there was a need to create Pakistan.”

There are challenges emerging to that narrative. In a sprawling park in the heart of noisy, smoggy Lahore, a museum will soon open that will look at Partition through the stories of the people who witnessed it. It’s a collaboration between the Citizens Archive of Pakistan, a nonprofit, and the government of Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province.

“This is the first place in the entire country where you’ll experience what the refugees in 1947 experienced,” says Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, an Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker and head of the Citizens Archive.

Being exposed to stories from survivors of Partition will help create a more inclusive Pakistan, she believes, but it’s a race against time – the people who lived through Partition are fading away.

And 70 years on, the very idea of what Pakistan is meant to be – an Islamic state, in opposition to Hindu-dominated India – feels hard to shake.

Aya (right), 19, partially covers her face as she poses alongside her sister Sania, 22, and their mother. They visited a shrine in Lahore with their family patriarch Abdul Aziz, who remembers tending fields alongside Hindus before British-ruled India was partitioned.

Diaa Hadid/NPR

Near the museum construction site, the Abdul Aziz family huddles under a shelter as a sudden summer rain drenches the park. Their patriarch, Yousef, isn’t sure of his age, but says he used to work in fields alongside Hindus – and so he predates Partition. When the Hindus left Pakistan, he said, Muslims became free.

“We are now in a country where we can say, ‘There is no God but God and Muhammed is his messenger,'” he says, reciting the Muslim declaration of faith.

In Pakistan, he says, “There is no idolatry” – a reference to polytheist Hinduism.

His granddaughters Sania, 22, and Aya, 19, nod in agreement. He says he’s proud of Pakistan, which he describes as a “fort of Islam” where it’s safe for his grandchildren to grow up.

Sania says she’s not interested in a museum. She’s already heard her grandfather’s stories of Partition, and she’ll tell them one day to her own children.

Besides, she says, “I know history — the Islamic history of Pakistan.”

The Wall Of Shame

The Wall Of Shame

Why do we build, to keep out

Was not Berlin’s built to keep in

The Great Wall of China can be seen from space

Decide what is real, do you live a sanctified life

Your reflection in the world’s looking glass

Does it show but one face or do you have many

Division from the south, but not from the north

Do you not see your two faces shining

 

What do you think your wall will facilitate

The poor of the south are humans just like you

Hungry, tired, and scared, they come to your gates

Looking for a safe place to build, and work and pray

We build a higher wall, we tell them they have to wait

From terrorist and drugs, you say your wall will defend

You wall out your brother, your neighbor, your friends

 

How is it you can be so cold yet say you’re a Christian

Do you not know, nor see, nor care, people are starving

By your actions you do offend the Lord Himself

Do you not think that a terrorist or a drug King Pin

Can enter your haven from the cold frozen north

Do not speak to me of family values ye hypocrite

As children and mothers die of hunger and guns

At the foot of this wall, this barrier you create

Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of a Mississippi law that protects people who oppose gay marriage

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHRISTIAN POST)

A three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of a Mississippi law that protects people who oppose gay marriage on religious grounds from being sued.

(Photo: Reuters/Mike Blake)Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant arrives to attend B.B. King’s funeral in Indianola, Mississippi, May 30, 2015.

In a unanimous decision issued Thursday, the panel concluded that the plaintiffs lacked the standing to sue the state over House Bill 1523, also called the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act, reversing a lower court’s decision.

“The governor of Mississippi and the executive director of the Mississippi Department of Human Services appeal a preliminary injunction. Because the plaintiffs do not have standing, we reverse the injunction and render a judgment of dismissal,” wrote Circuit Judge Jerry Smith on behalf of the panel.

In April 2016, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed HB 1523 into law, which prohibits the state from compelling businesses and individuals from supporting or servicing gay weddings.

(Photo: Reuters/David McNew)A same-sex wedding cake topper is seen outside the East Los Angeles County Recorder’s Office on Valentine’s Day during a news event for National Freedom to Marry Week in Los Angeles, Calif., Feb. 14, 2012.

“The sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions protected by this act are the belief or conviction that: (a) Marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman; (b) Sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage; and (c) Male (man) or female (woman) refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at time of birth,” reads HB 1523 in part.

LGBT groups and their allies denounced the legislation and sued to have it struck down. For his part, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order last year banning non-essential state travel to Mississippi.

“[I]t is the policy of the state of New York to promote fairness, protect the welfare of the citizens of the state of New York, and combat discrimination,” read Cuomo’s 2016 order.

“All agencies, departments, boards, authorities and commissions [will] review all requests for state funded or state sponsored travel to the state of Mississippi so long as there is law in effect there that permits and enshrines discrimination against LGBT citizens and unmarried individuals …” Cuomo’s order added.

Last summer, Judge Carlton W. Reeves blocked Mississippi’s law from taking effect, concluding that it was “a vehicle for state-sanctioned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said in a statement Thursday that he commended the panel’s ruling on the “commonsense law.”

“No person should be punished by the government with crippling fines or face disqualification for simply believing what President Obama believed until five years ago, that marriage is the union of a man and a woman,” said Perkins.

“Today’s ruling leaves us more confident that the courts will uphold the ability of elected officials to protect the freedom of their citizens to believe and live according to those beliefs”

Follow Michael Gryboski on Twitter or Facebook

Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/faith-based-business-owners-wont-be-forced-serve-gay-weddings-mississippi-appeals-court-rules-189278/#D4ljHrmCXmHwz8dC.99

Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/faith-based-business-owners-wont-be-forced-serve-gay-weddings-mississippi-appeals-court-rules-189278/#0jjFfAGKXVH9qOiS.99

Is It Possible To Be A Devout Christian If You Are A Devout Republican Or Democrat?

 

I worded the title the way I did in an attempt to get your attention, now I would like for you to honestly think about the question please. I grew up in a home where my Mom and Dad were both Democrats, they never ever voted but they believed in Democratic ideals and thought that the Republican Party was only for rich people because of their theology. As a young boy I got most of my work ethics and my morals from my Mom and from the Church that I attended up until I was 17 (Church of Christ). The first Presidential election that I was old enough to vote in was in 1976. I am a registered Independent voter as I just can’t align myself with either of these two main political parties. This past election in November of 2016 was a very difficult one for me as in my heart I knew that the two main choices we had were both evil self centered asses, talk about voting for the least of the two evils! I just couldn’t get myself to vote for either one of them so I ended up voting for a third party candidate, Gary Johnson. I knew that he was not going to win, but at least I did vote. Just for the purpose of verification my past voting record for the Presidents have been as follows. 1976 Jimmy Carter, 1980 and 1984 Ronald Reagan, 1988 Michael Dakakis, 1992 and 1996 Bill Clinton, 2000 Al Gore, 2004 John Kerry, 2008 John McCain, 2012 Mitt Romney, 2016 Gary Johnson. As you see, not a Democrat nor a Republican. If you will notice, I have never ever voted for a ‘Bush’, I just could not allow myself to vote for one of them, their linage of evil is just to long and to strong. I have in most voting situations voted for what I thought would be the least of the two evils.

 

Now I am going to get into the reasoning why I used the title that I did about each of these two political parties. As most folks here in the States should be aware of each of these Parties are controlled by the fringes of their ideologies. The Republicans are controlled by the far to the right conservatives and the Democrats are controlled by the far to the left liberals. The reason we have all of this political gridlock is because of the Party leaders, they always refuse to meet in the middle to get Country moving forward. Just like the person I personally call a jerk “Senator Ted Cruz” who was trying to get the Republican nomination that Donald Trump won said during the debates and I quote “if I am elected President I will not negotiate with the Democrats.” The whole concept of the word politics is the word ‘compromise’, no compromise, no positive movement, just gridlock.

 

The Republicans with their hard right agenda is far from being a ‘Christian’ agenda. They like to say that they are and they do court the ‘born again Christian’ voting block yet their actions do not conform to their rhetoric. I my opinion the main reason that the Republican politicians tend to get the vast majority of the Christian vote is not because they love the Republican Party, it is because of the Democratic platform which insist on making abortion a ‘right’ of women. This is an issue that I personally as a Christian just cannot justify nor will it allow me to align with the Democrats because of it. The Republican Party and the Platform that they preach from is also very anti Christian in their ideals. The Republican Party Platform is very anti poor and very anti working class poor. The Republican Party has always (at least in my lifetime) aligned with the richest of the rich in America. Mr. Reagan called it “trickle down economics.”

 

I totally believe that one of the worse things that has ever happened to people who are not from wealthy families is the invention of the Stock Market. Think about it for a moment, when a company is able to break a Union, their stock value goes up. When a company moves to a country where they can get child labor and slaves to do the work, their stock value goes up. When two companies merge and they lay off hundreds or thousands of workers, their stock value goes up. One other little issue, think about this, when a company moves away from America to a far less developed country, thus cutting their expenses drastically, do you ever see the price of their products on the shelves go down to reflect their lower operating costs? The answer is no, these moves are only about one thing, more profits for the top end and for those who can afford to purchase large amounts of their stock. Republicans have proven themselves over and over again to be the “Business” Party while the Democrats portray themselves as the working class Party. Personally I do not believe that either Party Leadership cares at all about the lower and middle class except when they are trying to get their vote at election time. It is my belief that both Parties Leaderships only care about the richest of their donors, not the people who actually make these richest of the rich their lifestyles. Starvation is not a Christian virtue, people being homeless even though they are working because they can’t earn a ‘livable wage’, is not a Christian virtue, not being able to afford medical care is not a christian virtue. On the flip side is also the fact that murdering millions of defenseless babies is not a Christian virtue. So, now do you understand why I say that neither of these two Political Parties are worthy of having a Christian aligned with them?

‘Iraqi Christians Are Infidels Who Must Be Killed or Converted,’ Says Top Shia Cleric

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHRISTIAN POST)

‘Iraqi Christians Are Infidels Who Must Be Killed or Converted,’ Says Shia Cleric

 

May 21, 2017 | 10:17 AM

About 200 Christian families in Iraq have filed a lawsuit against the head of the country’s Shia Endowment for inciting sectarian violence against the Christian minority by saying in a video that Christians should be converted to Islam or killed.

(Photo: REUTERS/Suhaib Salem)Iraqis attend the first Palm Sunday procession in the burnt out main church of the Christian city of Qaraqosh since Iraqi forces retook it from Islamic States militants, Iraq April 9, 2017.

“Either they convert to Islam, or else they are killed or they pay the jizya [a tax on non-Muslims],” said Sheikh Alaa Al-Mousawi, who heads the government body which maintains all of Iraq’s Shia holy sites, in a sermon, according to a YouTube video uploaded by Middle East Monitor.

Declaring Christians to be “infidels and polytheists,” Al-Mousawi called for “jihad” against them. “Jews and Christians” must be fought and killed if they do not accept Islam, he went on to say.

The cleric is being compared to the Islamic State terror group, which is also known as IS, ISIS, ISIL or Daesh, which had asked Christians in Iraq’s northern provinces in 2014 to covert, flee or be killed. As a result of that warning, about 100,000 Christians had to flee at the time.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby recently met with Iraqi Christians during a visit to Jordan.

“People are divided from their children and families and have no idea what will happen. One woman has children in both Germany and the Netherlands, but has been refused entry to both so she doesn’t know when or if they will ever be reunited,” Welby said. “Young men are vulnerable to being recruited to extremist causes because their community and networks have been stripped away.”

Since 2003, as many as 1.5 million Christians, or close to 75 percent of all followers of Christ in Iraq, have fled the country, according to Josef Sleve, an Iraqi Christian lawmaker.

“The number of Christians living in the country now stands at between 500,000 and 850,000,” Sleve told Anadolu Agency earlier this month. “This means that over the past 14 years, some 1.5 million Christians have emigrated to other countries.”

IS has said it wants to wipe out Christians, and has beheaded, executed, tortured and enslaved thousands of people within its captured territory, which extends into Syria and other regions.

However, some Christians are now returning to their homes on the Plains of Nineveh in Iraq, and three major church groups have come together to rebuild more than 12,000 houses that were destroyed or damaged. The Syriac Catholic Church, the Syriac Orthodox Church and the Chaldean Catholic Church have formed the Nineveh Reconstruction Committee to plan and supervise the rebuilding of the houses.

Security forces backed by a U.S.-led international coalition last year took back several cities in Iraq from IS and liberated eastern Mosul in December. They are now trying to liberate the western parts of the city.

In an interview with Fox News earlier this year, Canon Andrew White, an Anglican priest known as the “vicar of Baghdad,” said the “time has come where it is over, no Christians will be left. Some say Christians should stay to maintain the historical presence, but it has become very difficult. The future for the community is very limited.”

He added, “If there is anything I can tell Americans it is that your fellow brothers and sisters are suffering, they are desperate for help. And it is not just a matter of praying for peace. They need a lot — food, resources, clothes, everything. They need everything.”

Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/iraqi-christians-infidels-killed-converted-shia-cleric-mousawi

 

The Skeptical State of Bible Reading in 2017

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘CHRISTIANITY TODAY’ NEWS)

The Skeptical State of Bible Reading in 2017

Two surveys examine who studies Scripture, who doesn’t, and why.

For the most part, Americans have positive things to say about the Bible. More than half call it a good source of morals (52%). About a third say it’s helpful (37%), true (36%), and life-changing (35%), according to a new LifeWay Research survey.

Even more told the American Bible Society (ABS) and Barna Group that they believe it’s the actual or inspired word of God (81%).

But a growing segment— 19 percent in 2017, up from 10 percent in 2011—say it’s simply a book of teachings and stories written by men.

That group has remained fairly stable in recent years (17% in 2013, 19% in 2014, 21% in 2015, and 22% in 2016). So this year for their State of the Bible report, ABS and Barna asked the people in that category a new question: If you think the Bible was written only by humans, do you think it was meant to be manipulative or controlling?

Almost 4 out of 5 skeptics said yes, which adds up to 13 percent of the US population. (A similar number of Americans told LifeWay that the Bible was bigoted (8%) or harmful (7%).)

ABS and Barna labeled them antagonistics. They used the same tag in 2013 for the entire group of skeptics, but then reconsidered.

“‘Antagonistic’ may too strongly pigeon-hole those who have not yet embraced the Bible,” Geoffrey Morin, ABS chief communications officer, told CT then. “The new categorization, ‘Bible Skeptics,’ is both more accurate and more hopeful.”

But this year, the survey broke the group in two, and found a marked difference between the resulting 32 percent that remained “skeptics”—those who believe the Bible was not divinely inspired, but neither was it written with the intent to manipulate—and the 68 percent that qualify as “antagonistics.”

Researchers summarized the two groups: “Antagonistics’ average age is 41. He is more likely to be an unmarried male from the Gen-X or Millennial generation. Antagonistics are largely non-Christian, do not attend church, and a small 5 percent report reading the Bible at least three to four times a year.”

Skeptics are slightly older—on average, 43 years old. “More college graduates fall into this category than any other category. … [T]hey are largely single and not Christian, and most are unchurched.”

Antagonists are more likely than skeptics to be white (68% vs. 56%) or Hispanic (18% vs. 13%). They’re less likely than skeptics to make under $50,000 a year (39% vs. 47%) and more likely to make over $100,000 a year (27% vs. 14%).

They’re notably less open to the Bible—91 percent of antagonists have no desire to read the Bible more, compared to 74 percent of skeptics. They’re more likely (53%) than skeptics (37%) to say that none of the traditional sacred texts—the Bible, the Qu‘ran, the Torah, or the Book of Mormon—are holy.

Nearly three-quarters of antagonists believe the Bible has too much influence on US society (72%), compared to less than half of skeptics (42%).

Fewer antagonistic adults believe the Bible is important for the country’s moral fabric (9%, compared to 30% of skeptics), while nearly all (91%, compared to 70% of skeptics) believe the Constitution is morally important.

They also don’t care about being labeled immoral: only 21 percent are bothered, compared to 41 percent of skeptics and 36 percent of the Bible-engaged or Bible-friendly.

However, “being called ‘intolerant’ is particularly bothersome to antagonistics,” the ABS study reported. A quarter would find that offensive, compared with 4 percent of skeptics or the Bible-engaged.

Skeptics report that they wouldn’t care if they were called either intolerant or immoral (40%, compared to 30% of antagonists and 23% of the Bible-engaged).

More antagonists (63%) than skeptics (59%) told Barna that morality is on the decline, though they’re far less likely to believe that than the Bible-engaged (95%). And they’re more likely to blame it on corporate greed (71%, v. 52% of skeptics and 18% of the Bible-engaged) than on a lack of Bible reading (2%, vs. 6% of skeptics and 53% of the Bible-engaged) or a negative influence from movies, television, and music (27%, vs. 42% of skeptics and 29% of the Bible-engaged).

Despite their antipathy, you can find a Bible in most antagonist (62%) and skeptic (67%) homes; in fact, half of them own more than one. Antagonists and skeptics equally report being at least somewhat knowledgeable about the Bible (61%), and they are. More than 3 in 10 knew that Jesus was betrayed by Peter (36% of antagonists vs. 30% of skeptics); even more knew Mary Magdalene was the first to see Jesus after his resurrection (44% of antagonists vs. 38% of skeptics).

And most said the Bible encourages serving the poor (86% of antagonists, 79% of skeptics), patience (83% of antagonists, 78% of skeptics), and generosity (85% of antagonists, 96% of skeptics).

About 3 in 4 Bible skeptics said the Bible had no influence on their views on abortion, Israel, LGBT issues, refugees, money, immigration, and war. More than 9 in 10 antagonists said the same.

Antagonists are more likely to say that the Bible has exacerbated racial tension (79% vs. 70%) and gender inequality (93% vs. 83%) over the years. They’re also far more likely to say that the Bible oppresses the LGBT community (58%, compared to 22% of skeptics), women (43% vs. 14%), and different races (29% vs. 12%.)

Bible antagonists are more likely to describe a daily Bible reader as judgmental (39%, compared to 19% of skeptics), narrow-minded (38% vs. 21%), or foolish (23% vs. 6%).

Antagonistic adults are significantly more likely than any other group to report experiencing or witnessing trauma (9%), and most of them experienced that trauma personally (50%).

ABS noted that the rising trend of Biblical skeptics seems to be leveling off, but that it was “too early to say the decrease in Bible skepticism is a trend.”

“We are optimistic,” stated Morin, now ABS executive vice president of ministry mobilization. “[We] will continue tracking the data in the coming years to measure how the number of people who are skeptic[al] toward the Bible changes.”

The percent of those who are Bible-engaged—believe the Bible is the actual or inspired word of God and read it at least four times a week—has remained steady at around 20 percent of the population for the past seven years.

The translation they engage with most is the King James Version at 31 percent, though it’s down from 40 percent in 2016. The New King James Version also dropped slightly, from 12 percent to 7 percent, while the New International Version (11% to 13%), English Standard Version (5% to 9%), and Amplified Bible (1% to 7%) all saw increases in use.

Those who read the Bible were more likely to say that it brought them close to God (68% vs. 57% in 2016) and less likely to say that they sought directions or answers for problems (9% vs. 17% in 2016).

Overall, about a third of Americans have read through all or almost all of the Bible, LifeWay reported this week. Another 23 percent haven’t read more than a few sentences.

The amount of the Bible that Americans have read seems to correlate with the way they read it.

“Twenty-two percent read a little bit each day, in a systematic approach. A third (35%) never pick it up at all, while 30 percent look up things in the Bible when they need to,” reported Facts & Trends. “Nineteen percent re-read their favorite parts, while 17 percent flip open the Bible and read a passage at random. A quarter (27%) read sections suggested by others, while 16 percent say they look things up to help others.”

About half of evangelicals said they chose the systematic approach, reading a little each day (49%).

 

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Coexistence In The Middle-East (And Every Where else On Earth): Or Self Inflected Armageddon?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY  ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

Opinion

Coexistence Is the Last Chance to Avoid the Precipice

Last week, Egypt’s Coptic Christians cancelled Easter celebrations in mourning for those who were killed in two separate terrorist explosions targeting churches in the cities of Tanta and Alexandria.

In Iraq too, new maps are being drawn by sectarianism, while minorities shrink and ethno-religious fabric change under the violence perpetrated by Iran on one side and ISIS on another.

Likewise, we openly witness how shredded Syria has become, and under the eyes of the international community, it is well on the road of partition and population exchange– finally, the less said the better it is when the subject matter is ongoing events in occupied Palestinian territories.

Given this painful regional climate, the ongoing arguments about Lebanon’s future electoral system become a travesty, not much different from the ‘crowded’ field of Iran’s presidential elections where neither votes nor abundance of candidates mean a thing against what the Supreme Leader utters and the elitist Revolutionary Gaurd the (IRGC) dictates.

In Lebanon, the Middle East’s ‘democratic’ soft belly, the Lebanese’ daily bread and butter is endless and absurd arguments and counter-arguments about what the most appropriate electoral system should look like in upcoming parliamentary elections. This is not actually new. Moreover, true intentions behind what is going on have nothing to do with what is being said, whether the intention is escalation or hypocrisy.

The real problem is that the Lebanese are acutely divided on several basic issues regarding conditions of coexistence, political representation and even the meaning of democracy.

For a start, one must ask oneself whether the next elections – regardless of what system is adopted – are going to produce any change in the status quo? Is there any common Lebanese vision as to what the country’s identity is among the ostensible ‘allies’, let alone political adversaries and those dependent on foreign backing and sectarian hegemony?

Then, one may also ask – given defective mechanisms of governance – would ‘state institutions’ still be relevant and meaningful? Would any electoral law be effective in the light of accelerating disproportionate sectarian demographics, and the fact that one large religious sect enjoys a monopoly of military might outside the state’s umbrella, while still sharing what is underneath that umbrella?

The other day in his Easter sermon the Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Bechara Ra’i said “the (Lebanese) Christians are nobody’s bullied weaklings, but are rather indispensable (!)…”. This is tough talk indeed, but it too is not new.

From what is widely known about Cardinal Ra’i, even before assuming the Patriarchate, is that he is highly interested in politics, and that political views are as candid as they are decisive. On Syria, in particular, he has been among the first to warn the West against and dissuade its leaders from supporting the Syrian uprising; when he claimed during his visits – beginning with France – that any regime that may replace Bashar Al-Assad’s may be worse, and thus it would better to keep him in power.

The same path has been followed by current Lebanese president Michel Aoun, who was strongly backed by Hezbollah, to the extent that the latter forced a political vacuum on Lebanon lasting for over two years.

Of course, Hezbollah, in the meantime, had been imposing its hegemony over Lebanon, fighting for Al-Assad in Syria, and training the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen as part of Iran’s project of regional dominance. In promoting this ‘project’ globally, but particularly in the West, Iran has given it the themes of ‘fighting terrorism’ – meaning ‘Sunni Muslim terrorism’- and ‘protection of minorities’ within the framework of a tactical ‘coalition of the minorities’.

A few days ago Aoun said during an interview that “the aim behind what is taking place in the Orient is to empty it of Christians and partition the region into several states”. Again, this is not something new, as it used to be said on the murder and kidnapping road blocks during the dark days of the Lebanese War between 1975 and 1990. Those days the fears of uprooting were common and widespread; reaching the climax within the Christian community with rumors that the mission of American diplomat Dean Brown was to evacuate Lebanon’s Christians to Canada, and within the Druze community during ‘the Mountain War’ (1983-1984) that they would be expelled to southern Syria.

However, Aoun, as it seems, has not been quite aware of who was applying the final touches on population exchange, and drawing the map for the ‘future’ states he has been warning against. He has simply ignored the full picture, turning instead, to repeat old talk in order to justify temporary interests that are harmful if not fatal to minorities, rather than being beneficial and protective.

In this context, come the ‘try-to-be-smart’ attempts to impose a new electoral law in Lebanon as a means of blackmail, as if the country’s sectarian ‘tribal chieftains’ are naïve or debutants in the arena of sectarian politics. The latest has come from Gebran Bassil, the foreign minister and President Aoun’s son-in-law, when he expressed his “willingness to entertain the idea of a Senate, on the condition that it is headed by a Christian!”. This pre-condition was quickly rejected by the Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri on the basis that the presidency of a Senate, as approved in “Taif Agreement” – which is now part of Lebanon’s Constitution – was allocated to the Druze; and thus, what Bassil had suggested was unconstitutional.

It is worth mentioning here that all suggestions regarding the future electoral law have ignored the issue of a Senate. It was has also been obvious that another item in the “Taif Agreement” was being intentionally ignored too, which is adopting ‘Administrative De-Centralization’.

However, if some Lebanese parties feel uncomfortable with the idea of ‘De-Centralization’, more so as both Iraq and Syria seem to be on their way to actual partition, it is not possible anymore to separate Lebanon’s politics from its demographics.

The latter are now being affected by radical and everlasting demographic changes occurring across the country’s disintegrating eastern borders with Syria. These include what is being reported – without being refuted – about widespread settlement and naturalization activities in Damascus and its countryside. Furthermore, once the population exchange between Shi’ite ‘pockets’ of northern Syria and the Sunni majority population of the Barada River valley is completed, the new sectarian and demographic fabric of Damascus and its countryside would gain a strategic depth and merge with a similar fabric in eastern Lebanon.

This is a danger that Lebanese Christians, indeed, all Lebanese, Syrians, Iraqis and all Arabs, must be aware of and sincere about. The cost of ignoring facts on the ground is tragic, as blood begets blood, exclusion justifies exclusion, and marginalization undermines coexistence.

Nation-building is impossible in the absence of a free will to live together. It is impossible in a climate of lies, while those who think they are smart gamble on shifting regional and global balances of power.

Eyad Abu Shakra

Eyad Abu Shakra

Eyad Abu Shakra is the managing editor of Asharq Al-Awsat. He has been with the newspaper since 1978.

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Why do Christians keep inviting you to church?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

Why do Christians keep inviting you to church?

As Easter approaches, many churches are stepping up their outreach.

Story highlights

  • Christians who share their faith aren’t intolerant, Ed Stetzer says
  • It shows they believe what Jesus said and care about those around them, he says

Ed Stetzer holds the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and is the executive director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. The views expressed in this column belong to him.

(CNN)“Hey, do you want to come to church with us on Easter?”

You may have heard this or something similar from a friend, co-worker or family member. Depending on where you live, perhaps you’ve already received a mailer or two about a local church service.
Maybe you’ve wondered why Christians like me won’t just leave you alone. I assure you, it’s not because we like imposing ourselves on others. In fact, for many of us, it’s just the opposite.
On a recent Sunday, I stood up at Moody Church, an evangelical church in Chicago where I am interim pastor, and encouraged people to invite their friends to our Easter services. I reminded the congregation that Christians should be committed to the task of evangelism, that Jesus commanded it.
But I also know that, to atheists or adherents of other faiths, it can be confusing to know how to respond to such outreach. Understanding our motivation may help.

The great commission

The fact is churches are gearing up for Easter like pizza places are for the Super Bowl. They know this will be the biggest Sunday attendance of the year, Christmas included. Many members will have brought guests, and pastors want to be sure to preach a compelling sermon.
For many churches, including mine, we actually prayed over cards with names on them — the names of people to whom our church members were reaching out — so they might have open hearts.
I imagine some react in horror to that statement thinking: How dare anyone try to convert someone to another religion?
That makes sense in a world where spirituality has been Oprah-fied, and in a culture that says it’s fine to believe what you want as long as you don’t try to convince anyone else to believe differently.
It works great, if not for one reality: the words of Jesus.
You see, Christianity is a missionary faith because of the life and teachings of Jesus. Sure, you probably know the teachings of Jesus that fit in our culture: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” for example. And the world would be a better place if we all did those things.
But Jesus had many other teachings as well — and they’re just as important. After his resurrection, but before his ascension to heaven Jesus said some things that explain why Christians are still evangelizing.
Christians call these commands commissions, and they include: “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19); “You will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8); and “As the father has sent me, I am sending you” (John 20:21).
These are the last earthly words of Jesus before his ascension. That gives them an even greater weight to many who believe his last words should be our first priority.

The ‘P’ word

Some people may think “proselytize” is a dirty word, but that depends on how you define and practice it. Proselytize means to convert someone to another belief or opinion. And the truth is, we all do it — or at least try to. We try to convince our buddies that our sports team is better, our wives that this restaurant serves tastier food, our children that smartphones aren’t actually as interesting as adults make them seem.
We proselytize because we deeply believe what we are sharing is important enough to expend our energy and enthusiasm. For Christians, they share because they truly believe the founder of the faith told them to, and that his message changes people.
And some people — even atheists — appreciate our efforts.
Comedian Penn Jillette, a well-known nonbeliever, explained how he responded to someone sharing a Bible with him:
“I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. If you believe that there’s a heaven and hell … and you think, ‘Well, it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward’… how much do you have to hate somebody not to proselytize?”
I get that Christians who are proselytizing seem out of step in modern, live-and-let-live America, but when you are a Christian, you don’t get to pick and choose which of his commandments to obey.
I understand that some non-Christians think Christians who share the good news are being intolerant.
Admittedly, some Christians have been intolerant at times throughout history, seeking conversions through unethical means. However, sharing our faith itself is not intolerant, but in fact is something that shows we really believe what Jesus said and we care about those around us.
Tolerance means more than acceptance of different people’s beliefs, sometimes it also means listening to them. And when a whole lot of people believe there was a guy who was dead on Friday, and alive on Sunday, that’s something worth explaining, particularly at Easter time.
So, please don’t be offended.
Your Christian friends, neighbors, family members or co-workers are mustering up some courage because they care enough to reach out to you. They believe they’ve seen lives changed and are following a person whom they believe guides them toward faith and good works.
Don’t be shocked that your friends think Jesus’ last words should be their first priority — particularly around Easter, the day when they believe he came back from the dead. Their sharing with you means they care enough to get uncomfortable.
Trust that it comes from a good place and take a moment to hear them out.