“We must stand up for Middle East’s persecuted Christians.” A must-read column.

crossThis morning I want to encourage you to read a well-written and important column by Johnnie Moore, a professor of religion and Senior Vice President of Liberty University, on the plight of Christians in the Middle East today.

Also, here’s an interview Moore did on Fox News discussing the issue, saying the “Arab Spring has become the Christian Winter.”

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We must stand up for Middle East’s persecuted Christians

By Johnnie Moore

(the following are excerpts — to read the full column, please click here.)

Christianity began in the East, not the West, yet today Christians in the East are enduring an all-out-assault by Islamic terrorists, while Christians in the West live their lives largely oblivious to it all. This has to change.

This is no imaginary persecution; in Syria alone there have been reports of kidnappings, Christian communities intentionally displaced by militants and, worst of all, shootings and beheadings of Christians who refused to convert to Islam. 

In Egypt radicals have recently destroyed dozens of churches, and the once vibrant Christian population in Iraq has been decimated.

Christians in the West should stand up for those in the East out of regard for all they have given us over these thousands of years, if for no other reason.

See, what most American Christians don’t realize is that the “Islamic World” was once the Christian world. Some of the most well-known and influential leaders in the early church hailed from North Africa and the Middle East….

Today, St. Augustine would be called a Tunisian, Origen would be Egyptian and the Apostle Paul – who was on the road to Damascus when he encountered Christ – would have told the story of his conversion while heading to “Syria.” 

It was also in the Syrian city of “Antioch” that Christians were first called “Christians,” and to this day there are as many Christian holy sites in that nation as anywhere else in the world.  

When Jesus was born, and his life was threatened by the hysteria of King Herod, it was to Egypt that Joseph and Mary fled until Herod’s bloodlust subsided.  

If the famed Council of Nicaea were held today, the headline would read: “Christian theologians gather in Turkey to settle long-held dispute about Christ’s deity,” and the part of the Jordan River where Jesus was baptized could have very well flowed through modern-day Jordan , as opposed to Israel…..

Sadly, few Christians in the West have any idea this is going on, and I was once just like them.

Then I was invited last September to observe a meeting convened by Jordan’s King Abdullah in his country’s capital, Amman. Several dozen leaders of the Christian congregations of the East attended the meeting; I listened as these Catholic cardinals, Orthodox patriarchs and Anglican and Coptic bishops described the plight of their people.  

No one was discussing their theological differences, because it was their churches that had been burned, their relatives who had been kidnapped and killed, and nearly every one of them told stories of consoling an inconsolable mother or child as they grieved the death of their last living loved one.

I wept as I heard their stories, and I wondered why Christians around the world weren’t incensed by it all.  

Ironically, that meeting in Jordan was not convened by Christians, but by Muslims who cared about the plight of their Christian neighbors. 

At one point, Jordan’s strong and kind king said that “it is a duty rather than a favor” to protect the Christians in the region, and Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad, a senior adviser to the king, acknowledged that “Christians were in this region before Muslims.” He said, “They are not strangers, nor colonialists, nor foreigners. They are natives of these lands and Arabs, just as Muslims are.”

While I was deeply encouraged by the tone of these Islamic leaders, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “I wonder how many Christians in the West even care about those in the East?”

In that moment, I decided I would be their advocate….

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Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog

Canadian PM Harper visits the epicenter. Tells Israel: “Through fire and water, Canada will stand with you.” Brings delegation of 208 Canadians, including Rabbis & Pastors. Also, read full text of Harper address.

harper-net-flagsAt a time when so many world leaders are turning away from Israel and trying to isolate the Jewish state, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper – an evangelical Christian and the most pro-Israel world leader on the planet at this time — arrived in Jerusalem on Sunday for his first visit, telling the Israeli people, “through fire and water, Canada will stand with you.”

Harper was given the red carpet treatment by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu with whom he has become a close and personal friend, as well as a staunch and reliable ally. He and his wife, Laureen, dined with Netanyahu and his wife, Sara. The Harpers also toured several Christian holy sites, and plan to visit several more — including sites around the Sea of Galilee — during their trip.

Harper brought with him a delegation of 208 Canadians, including 21 Rabbis, 27 CEOs of Canadian companies, as well as numerous evangelical pastors and Catholic priests.

On Monday, Harper became the first Canadian Prime Minister in history to address the Israeli Knesset. He reaffirmed the importance of Israel as ”a Jewish state,” and was given a standing ovation for his long-standing and warm friendship and support for the State of Israel and the Jewish people.

“It is right to support Israel because after generations of persecutions the Jewish people deserve their own homeland,” Harper told the Israeli parliament. “I believe the story of Israel is a great example to the world. It is a story, essentially, of a people whose response to suffering has been to move beyond resentment and build a most extraordinary society, a vibrant democracy, a freedom-loving country with an independent and rights-affirming judiciary. An innovative, world-leading ‘start-up’ nation. You have taken the collective memory of death and persecution to build an optimistic, forward-looking land, one that so values life, you will sometimes release a thousand criminals and terrorists, to save one of your own. In the democratic family of nations, Israel represents values which our Government takes as articles of faith, and principles to drive our national life. And therefore, through fire and water, Canada will stand with you.”

To read the text of his extraordinary speech, please click here (scroll to the bottom of the Haaretz article where the video of the speech is located).

Harper met with Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Monday morning. Later this week, he will visit Jordan and meet with King Abdullah II in Amman, deeply committed as he is to encouraging peace between Israel and the Arab people.

“Prime Minister Harper, my good friend Stephen, welcome to Jerusalem,” said Netanyahu said on Sunday upon welcoming Harper at his office, reported Israel Hayom. “I have to say, Stephen, that you are a great friend of Israel and the Jewish people. I’m not just saying that — I mean it deeply from the bottom of my heart and I speak for all the people of Israel….This world is often cynical and hypocritical, and you have shown great moral leadership. When it comes to fighting terrorism, you know that there cannot be any politically correct double talk, but only unequivocal condemnation and united international action….When it comes to anti-Semitism, you have stood up unabashedly at the side of Israel and the entire Jewish people, I think at the side of decency and fairness to everyone: Jews and non-Jews alike. And when it comes to Iran’s repeated calls for Israel’s annihilation and its unrelenting development of nuclear weapons — you and Canada have stood unflinchingly on the right side of history.”

“Touching on the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations,” Israel Hayom noted, Netanyahu told Harper, “You recognize that a genuine peace, a lasting peace, must be based on mutual recognition and sound security arrangements on the ground. I think in all this and in so many other things, you have shown courage, clarity and conviction. And in standing up for the truth, your voice, Stephen, has been an indispensable one,” Netanyahu said. “So the people of Israel and I deeply appreciate your friendship and the friendship of the people of Canada to us.”


Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog

“What happened on Thursday… will stand as one of the most lawless acts yet committed by this administration”

Avik Roy of Forbes is one of the unsung heroes in the battle against Obamacare. His latest article — “Government Takeover: White House Forces Obamacare Insurers To Cover Unpaid Patients At A Loss” — outlines the increasingly frenzied thrashing of an administration that is operating completely outside the boundaries of the Constitution.

Of all of the last-minute delays, website bungles, and Presidential whims that have marred the roll-out of Obamacare’s subsidized insurance exchanges, what happened on Thursday, December 12 will stand as one of the most lawless acts yet committed by this administration. The White House—having canceled Americans’ old health plans, and having botched the system for enrolling people in new ones—knows that millions of Americans will enter the new year without health coverage. So instead of actually fixing the problem, the administration is retroactively attempting to force insurers to hand out free health care—at a loss—to those whom the White House has rendered uninsured. If Obamacare wasn’t a government takeover of the health insurance industry [before], then what is it now?

On Wednesday afternoon, health policy reporters found in their inboxes a friendly e-mail from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, announcing “steps to ensure Americans signing up through the Marketplace have coverage and access to the care they need on January 1.” Basically, the “steps” involve muscling insurers to provide free or discounted care to those who have become uninsured because of the problems with healthcare.gov.

HHS threatens to throw non-complying plans off the exchanges

HHS assured reporters that it would be “urging issuers to give consumers additional time to pay their first month’s premium and still have coverage beginning January 1, 2014.” In other words, urging them to offer free care to those who haven’t paid. This is a problem because the government has yet to build the system that allows people who’ve signed up for plans to actually pay for them. “One client reports only 15 percent [of applicants] have paid so far,” Bob Laszewski told Charles Ornstein. “So far I’m hearing from health plans that around 5 percent and 10 percent of consumers who have made it through the data transfer gauntlet have paid first month’s premium and therefore truly enrolled,” said Kip Piper.

“What’s wrong with ‘urging’ insurers to offer free care?” you might ask. “That’s not the same as forcing them to offer free care.” Except that the government is using the full force of its regulatory powers, under Obamacare, to threaten insurers if they don’t comply. All you have to do is read the menacing language in the new regulations that HHS published this week [PDF], in which HHS says it may throw otherwise qualified health plans off of the exchanges next year if they don’t comply with the government’s “requests.”

…There are other services HHS is asking insurers to offer for free. The administration is “strongly encouraging insurers to treat out-of-network providers”—i.e., costly ones—“as in-network to ensure continuity of care” and to “refill prescriptions covered under previous plans during January.” But the issue of unpaid premiums looms largest.

It’s unconstitutional to force insurers to cover people for free

The administration could pay insurers to cover up for its mistakes. But that would lead to criticism—as it has in other instances—that the White House is lawlessly throwing taxpayer money at insurers to, well, cover up for its mistakes. So, instead, they’re asking insurers to pay for the mistakes.

But, of course, the cost of paying for those mistakes won’t end up being paid by insurers, but by consumers, in the form of higher premiums.

In theory, the Obama administration’s actions aren’t merely illegal—they’re unconstitutional. The Fifth Amendment of the Bill of Rights says that no one can “be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

But it will be up to insurers to sue to protect their rights. Like battered wives, they are unlikely to do so. Companies like Aetna and Humana are so terrified that the administration will run them out of business that they are more likely to do what they’re told, and quietly pass the costs on to consumers. The chaos and recriminations have made insurers like UnitedHealth, who have largely stayed out of the exchanges, look smart.

In 2010, PolitiFact said that the claim that Obamacare was a “government takeover of health care” was its “lie of the year.” The Federal Register disagrees.

So as the long list of Obama administration scandals continues to expand — seemingly every day — what are the Republican leaders doing?

You guessed it: allowing Democrats to destroy the spending caps (“the sequester”) that had been promised for 10 years… just two years ago.

Oh. And passing Amnesty for illegal immigrants.

It’s time to vote out every fake Republican. Find out when your primary is and start working to support the most conservative candidate you can in your local race. It’s time. November is coming.

Hat tip: BadBlue Money News.

Doug Ross @ Journal