Monday, May 21, 2018

A useful resource for information on Christians in Iran

Rather than post items--because there are so many--from this particular site, I'll just post the link to the Iranian Christian site Mohabat News, which readers can search for themselves. To see the site in Farsi, go here.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

70 years ago: The death of Buzz Beurling

On May 20, 1948, George Frederick "Buzz" Beurling was killed in a plane crash at the age of 26. A native of Verdun, Quebec, Flight Lieutenant George Frederick Beurling dropped out of high school in order to fly planes, but was rejected by the Royal Canadian Air Force at the outset of World War II. He joined the U.K. Royal Air Force in September 1940, and became the greatest Canadian ace of World War II, recording 31 (or 31 1/3) kills, 27 over Malta during a two-week period in 1942, earning him the Distinguished Flying Cross, Distinguished Service Order, Distinguished Flying Medal, and Bar.

Buzz Beurling grew up in a Christian home where God's word was believed. A love for the Jewish people and a belief that Jews were God's chosen people was taught. Accordingly, Flt. Lt. Beurling turned down an offer to join the Egyptian Air Force during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and joined the Israeli Air Force instead. At the conclusion of a test flight of a Noorduyn Norseman transport aircraft which was to be delivered to Israel, he and co-pilot Leonard Cohen were killed when the plane crashed while landing at Aeroporto dell'Urbe in Rome. Flt. Lt. Beurling's remains were eventually flown to Israel and buried in a military cemetery in Haifa.

The legacy of the Beurling family's love for the Jewish people continues today, as Buzz's niece Janice Beurling is a longtime leader in communications with Chosen People Ministries (Canada).

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Mormon Church and NAACP reach historic agreement

Why any Negroes would want to either join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or join with them in activities for the alleged betterment of society is beyond the ability of this blogger to understand. The reader should keep in mind that Mormonism claims to be restoring the "true" gospel of Jesus Christ that was supposedly lost hundreds of years ago. The teachings of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young are claimed to be direct revelations from God. However, Mormon leaders since then have shown themselves willing to abandon these "restored" truths in the face of strong criticism from outsiders. When Utah was being denied statehood in the 19th century because polygamy was a central Mormon practice, the Latter-day Saints received a revelation that polygamy was now to be outlawed, thereby paving the way for Utah's admission to the Union. When the Latter-day Saints were being criticized for refusing to admit Negroes to their priesthood, they received a revelation in June 1978 reversing their practice of the previous hundred years and more. When the content of Mormon temple rituals was revealed in documentary films such as The God Makers (1982) and books such as The God Makers (1984, 1997) by Ed Decker & Dave Hunt and What's Going on in There? (1988) by Chuck Sackett, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints received a revelation in 1990 removing some parts of the rituals that some found offensive; the excised parts included those that said that Christian pastors were hirelings of Satan. If the teachings of Mormonism are restored truths, how can the church leaders be willing to abandon them just because they become inconvenient and politically incorrect?

Among those teachings are those concerning black people. The Mormon explanation for the origin of the black race is that the angels who remained neutral in the dispute between Jesus and Lucifer were cursed by being born into human bodies with black skin. The Mormon doctrine of blood atonement is that there are certain sins which must be paid for by having the sinner shed his own blood. One such sin is that of marrying a black person; according to Journal of Discourses, which is among Mormon scriptural writings, the penalty for this "under the law of God is death on the spot. This will always be so." (Volume 10, p. 110, cited in The God Makers, p. 232 (1984), p. 249 (1997)). I'm not aware that the 1978 decision admitting Negroes to the Mormon priesthood has changed that "sin" or its penalty.

For those unaware of what the acronym stands for, it's National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, founded in 1909. As reported by Peggy Fletcher Stack of the Salt Lake Tribune, May 17, 2018 (updated May 19, 2018) (links in original):

In a dramatic gesture on the 64th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision, Mormon church President Russell M. Nelson strolled decisively into a news conference Thursday at the LDS Administration Building in downtown Salt Lake City arm in arm with top NAACP officers.

Creating a powerful image, Nelson and NAACP President Derrick Johnson called on the world to “demonstrate greater civility, racial and ethnic harmony, and mutual respect” while eliminating “prejudice of all kinds.”

The mutual respect was palpable as the two sets of white and black leaders described plans for future joint efforts.
“In meetings this morning,” Nelson said, “we have begun to explore ways — such as education and humanitarian service — in which our respective members and others can serve and move forward together.”

Johnson said his historic civil rights organization looked forward to many collaborative activities.

“President Nelson, the statement you just made expresses the very core of our beliefs and mission at the NAACP,” he said. “We admire and share your optimism that all peoples can work together in harmony and should collaborate more on areas of common interest.”

Nelson, considered a “prophet, seer and revelator” by millions of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints around the globe, reiterated the church’s “fundamental doctrine — and our heartfelt conviction — that all people are God’s precious children and are therefore our brothers and sisters.”

“All human beings — male and female — are created in the image of God,” he added. “Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.”

Johnson said the ties being established between the Utah-based faith and the NAACP should serve as a model for how groups can unite to achieve common goals.

“Like the Latter-day Saints, we believe all people, organizations and government representatives should come together to work to secure peace and happiness for all God’s children,” Johnson said. “We are clear that it is our job to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. And we do so in an advocacy voice, but now with a partner who seeks to pursue harmony and civility within our community.”

Several invited black Mormons — including LDS icons Darius Gray, Don Harwell and Cathy Stokes — filled front rows as the statements were read and exulted at the unity between the groups. Jeanetta Williams, president of the Salt Lake branch of the NAACP, also was on hand.

“This is unprecedented,” said Thom Reed, a black Mormon and an LDS Church employee. “It speaks to the openness of the new [governing] First Presidency and their willingness to engage with people all over the world.”

Then he added: “It’s the start of something big.”

Tracy Browning, another black Mormon and church employee, views the LDS-NAACP alliance as “an amazing opportunity for us to come together and see our commonalities, to be peaceful and respectful.”

NAACP officials described the meeting as cordial.

“It was like being on a first date,” said Leon W. Russell, chairman of the board. “We find out who you are, and you find out who we are.”

The most “concrete” idea that came from the summit, Russell said, was “the need to continue the dialogue.”

Zandra Vranes, co-author of “Diary of Two Mad Black Mormons,” applauds the exchange but was hoping for more.

“I want us, as Latter-day Saints, to engage in what the church has called us to do, which is to have more civility and racial harmony in our communities,” said Vranes, one of the blogging “Sistas in Zion.” “But I also want us to do that within our own Mormon organization as well.”

It is hard to “call out the world,” she said, “when we have a [church] that doesn’t have racial harmony. The best way for us to be at the forefront of showing the world how to do it is to do it ourselves.”

The NAACP can tell LDS leaders what blacks face in general, such as police brutality, but they don’t know, Vranes said, “what we face in the ward.”

For many, Thursday’s watershed meeting and statements seem particularly potent, given the previous tension between the two organizations.

In the 1960s, the NAACP protested Mormonism’s racial ban, excluding men and boys from the faith’s all-male priesthood and women and girls from its temples.

Even after that prohibition ended in June 1978, prejudice and racist attitudes persist to this day among some Mormons, causing continued pain for Latter-day Saints of color — even as membership skyrockets in Africa.

Last year, in the wake of racial clashes in Virginia, the LDS Church issued increasingly strong statements — especially after an alt-right Mormon blogger voiced bigoted views — condemning “white supremacist attitudes” as “morally wrong and sinful.”

But the church’s racial history never came up in this week’s meeting, said the NAACP president.

“We both have an interest in disaster relief and alleviating poverty,” Johnson said. “We want to decrease bigotry and hatred. We want to look to the future.”

Wilbur Colom, an adviser to Johnson, said the group met Wednesday with Clark Gilbert, who shared with the NAACP members information about the church’s Pathway program, an online educational outreach service.

“They gave us everything they had and anything we wanted,” Colom said, who then quoted Gilbert as saying, “And we’ll work with you to take Mormonism out, and put Martin Luther King in.”

On Sunday morning, the remaining NAACP visitors will take their seats in the historic tabernacle on Temple Square for the weekly “Music and the Spoken Word” broadcast, which will include, they say, the famed Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing the black national anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”
As reported by Ms. Stack in the Salt Lake Tribune, May 16, 2018 (updated May 17, 2018) (links in original):
In 1965, the NAACP led an anti-discrimination march in downtown Salt Lake City to protest the LDS Church’s racial policies at the time. A half-century later, national leaders of that historic black civil rights organization are in the Beehive State for a friendly landmark meeting with top Mormon officials.

These two groups — the NAACP and the governing LDS First Presidency — are set to issue an unprecedented joint statement Thursday morning.

And the extraordinary exchange traces its roots to a nearly decadelong friendship between two lawyers — Steve Hill, a white Utah Mormon, and Wilbur Colom, a black Mississippi activist.

Colom, who is acting as an NAACP special counsel, had a fleeting knowledge of Mormonism when he met Hill at a professional conference.

Back in 1975, Colom worked with Mark Cannon, a Mormon administrative assistant to Warren Burger of the United States. When the African-American attorney heard that the LDS Church barred black men and boys from its all-male priesthood and black women and girls from the faith’s temples, he was appalled.

Colom recalls telling Cannon: “If Mormons think God is saying I am inferior, they can’t be talking to God.”

Cannon assured Colom that the priesthood/temple ban would end — and, three years later, it did.

On June 8, 1978, the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced its priesthood would now be open to “all worthy male members.”

Then, in 2009, Colom met Hill through a mutual friend, and the two formed a fast friendship, including traveling to Africa together and with current NAACP President Derrick Johnson.

Colom and Johnson began looking at groups “that were strangers to us, ones we had very little contact with,” Colom says. “Those tended to be mostly conservative — with a flawed history.”

Last summer, an NAACP chapter in Mississippi partnered with an LDS stake (a regional group of congregations) on a service project. It was so successful that Colom wondered about forming a stronger bond with Mormon officialdom, so he called his buddy Hill.

In December, Hill reached out to an LDS general authority, who turned to apostle D. Todd Christofferson, who then invited the NAACP board and subcommittees — up to 100 people — to meet in Salt Lake City for the first time in that black organization’s storied 109-year history.

One problem? They were already scheduled to meet in Tampa.

Without much arm-twisting, the board agreed to forgo the Florida locale and move the meeting to landlocked Utah.

“I thought it would take at least a year to set this up,” Hill says, “but it took less than two weeks.”

In this era of “uncivil communication,” Colom says, “It’s time for two well-established groups to deal with each other civilly, to find areas of commonality.”

To that end, the LDS Church and the NAACP plan to work together in three areas: disaster relief, education and civic projects.

There is much to admire about Mormonism, Colom says. “We are not different people. We are one.”

In fact, “Be One” is the theme of the LDS Church’s June 1 celebration marking the end of the faith’s priesthood/temple prohibition on blacks.
See also my post 40 years ago: Mormons uphold exclusion of Negroes from the priesthood (January 8, 2010).

Friday, May 18, 2018

Methodist church in New Hampshire is cooperating with authorities after arrest of registered sex offender on church's mission board

This may not turn out to be all that scandalous, since the church claims that the offender in question has abided by the terms laid down to him. Time will tell as the matter is decided by the legal system. As reported by Rick Green of the Laconia Daily Sun, May 17, 2018:

GILFORD — The First United Methodist Church was aware that Alger Conger was a registered sex offender when he joined its Missions Committee, Pastor Jim Shook said Wednesday.

Conger agreed to a policy prohibiting unsupervised contact with children and abided by that policy, Shook said. He also said there is no indication Conger acted inappropriately with children.

Police arrested Conger on May 9 after receiving a tip that he is a registered sexual offender who should not be involved with minor children. He is now facing a Class A felony charge.

The tip came after Alger appeared in a photo last month in The Laconia Daily Sun, posing with a group of young people who were sorting items that the church was preparing to donate.

Conger, 80, was convicted in 2004 of aggravated felonious sexual assault of a person under 13 years of age, along with two counts of felonious sexual assault.

State law (RSA 632-A:10) outlines the prohibition from child care service for those convicted of any felonious offense involving child sexual abuse images, physical assault, or sexual assault, if "he or she knowingly undertakes employment or volunteer service involving the care, instruction or guidance of minor children.”

In a statement released Wednesday, the church said Conger has been a member of the church for several years and serves as the co-chair of the Missions Committee and as a sound technician.

"Ensuring the safety of children is a sacred duty, and we have rigorous, long-standing policies to prevent and respond to incidents of sexual misconduct or abuse,” the statement said. "While we deplore the actions of abusers, we affirm that these are persons who are in need of God's redeeming love.”

The statement said Conger abided by church policies against him having unsupervised contact with children, but noted "the legal restrictions on Mr. Conger are a separate issue; one that will be handled through the justice system. We have and will continue to cooperate fully with authorities on this matter.

"We want to assure those in our congregation and in the community that we are committed to making our church a safe space for everyone."

Shook said that the church’s understanding was that it was doing the proper thing by ensuring Conger had no unsupervised contact with children.

Shook said Conger’s role on the Missions Committee did not entail regular contact with children.

“We’ve had strict guidelines that we have followed that have kept him away from ministry involving young people,” Shook said.

New Hampshire college senior resigns campus Knights of Columbus leadership position after bringing male date to formal event

The reader will note the mention in the following article of the proportion of Roman Catholic colleges that are alphabet pervert-friendly. As reported by Mark Hayward of the New Hampshire Union Leader, May 16, 2018:

MANCHESTER — A St. Anselm College senior was pressured to resign his leadership post on the college chapter of Knights of Columbus after he brought a male date to the organization’s formal, according to two publications.

Andrew Keyes, who is scheduled to graduate on Saturday, resigned the position of Grand Knight in March when asked by the Rev. Benedict Guevin, a Benedictine monk who teaches at the college and is chaplain of the Knights chapter, according to an online article in the Jesuit magazine “America.”

“A lot of the seniors knew I was bringing my boyfriend,” Keyes told the magazine.

In an email, Guevin said Keyes was the face of a Catholic association on campus, and as such had the responsibility to uphold the teachings of the Church.

“He knew that this was the expectation but decided to act otherwise,” Guevin wrote. “So it was because of the confusion and doubt regarding Church teaching that I asked for his resignation. To do otherwise would have implicated me in this confusion, something that my conscience could not allow.”

The actions have drawn the notice of Catholic publications, blogs and advocacy groups.

“This is so out of step with what other Catholic colleges are doing,” said Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, which promotes justice and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Catholics. For years, he said, St. Anselm College has been on the organization’s list of LGBT-friendly Catholic colleges; two weeks ago the college hosted its first LGBT Day of Visibility.

The Knights of Columbus incident was detailed in a May 11 article in “America” and an April 16 article in “Hilltopper,” an independent publication that covers St. Anselm College.

Keyes told the “Hilltopper” that the formal, which was held on campus in a fellow student’s apartment, was uneventful. But within a few days, he received a text from a fellow student. The student told him to resign, or the student would have him removed.

“It was inappropriate for Mr. Keyes to hold a leadership position for a Catholic organization while being in a relationship that is contrary to the teachings of Holy Mother Church,” the student, Andrew Cilento, told “Hilltopper.”

Keyes said a lunch followed with Guevin when he was asked to resign.

Keyes told “America” that he agreed to resign but said he was surprised at the request because of what he was able to accomplish during his tenure.

He expressed pride in recruiting 12 new Knights, the most that have joined in recent years. He also said the Knights expanded fundraising and engagement with other student organizations this school year.

On the college website, St. Anselm said its chapter is one of the strongest of the 140 college Knights of Columbus chapters in North America and does volunteer and fundraising efforts for shelters, kitchens and seminaries. “In short, membership in our organization provides the student with ample opportunities to exercise positions of leadership and responsibility, and most importantly, to serve others in charity,” the site reads.

Keyes told “Hilltopper” that a few Knights may have been disgusted by his bringing a boyfriend to the party, but others have been supportive. Some have resigned in solidarity, and some have suggested the Council should be dissolved, according to Keyes.

DeBernardo said about two-thirds of Catholic colleges are on his list of LGBT-friendly universities; Rivier University in Nashua is the only other New Hampshire college.

St. Anselm College spokesman Michelle Adams O’Regan said the Knights of Columbus Council is not a student-funded or college-funded organization.

“It operates under the authority of the Knights of Columbus headquarters in New Haven, Conn. Saint Anselm College has no authority over action taken by its membership, the chapter chaplain or the organization’s national office,” O’Regan said.

There is some uncertainty in who pushed for the resignation.

“Hilltopper” reported that the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus had urged Guevin to ask for the resignation. But the Supreme Council told America that “it is not our practice to make a determination on someone’s Catholicity” and “the Supreme Council did not direct the local chapter to take action on this issue.”

DeBernardo said Guevin should have dismissed any complaint against Keyes in the spirit of Catholic social justice, which treats all individuals with dignity and respect.

“This individual did not have to cave to the pressure of one complaint,” DeBernardo said.

All Chilean Roman Catholic bishops offer to resign over sex abuse scandal

As reported by Hannah Strange of the London Daily Telegraph, May 18, 2018 (links in original):

Chile’s bishops have tendered an unprecedented mass resignation over a decades-long abuse scandal after Pope Francis accused the country’s church of destroying evidence of sexual crimes and “the gravest negligence” in the protection of minors.

In a damning 10-page report delivered to 34 Chilean bishops who were summoned to the Vatican this week, the pontiff said the Chilean Church was collectively responsible for “serious defects” in the handling of abuse cases.

Priests removed over sexual abuse had been moved to other dioceses where they remained in contact with children, complaints had been dismissed despite convincing evidence, and Church lawyers had been pressured to limit or halt investigations, he said. Prelates had also destroyed “compromising documents”, Pope Francis added.

Accusing the Chilean Church of “becoming self-focused” and falling into “ecclesiastical perversions” of messianism and elitism, the Pope said the depth of abuse in the South American country was a “painful open wound”. While individuals must be removed from their posts, it was not enough to address the problem, which, he declared, lay in “the system”.

Announcing their resignation offer on Friday, the Chilean bishops said they would stay in their roles while they awaited the Pope's decision. In a statement delivered by Bishop Fernando Ramos, they asked "forgiveness for the pain caused to the victims, to the pope, to the people of God and our country for the serious errors and omissions committed by us".

The confidential document, leaked to Chilean TV channel T13, is the result of a Vatican investigation into the case of Father Fernando Karadima, a now 87-year-old former priest who had been accused of abusing minors as early as 1984. The Chilean Church failed to act on the complaints until the early 2000s, and then dismissed the findings of investigators; it was not until 2011, after a group of accusers went public, that he was deemed guilty of sexual and psychological abuse and finally defrocked. However, due to the statute of limitations, criminal prosecution was then impossible.

Three of Karadima’s victims - Juan Carlos Cruz, James Hamilton and José Andrés Murillo - were received at the Vatican two weeks ago and urged the Pope to “stop the epidemic of sexual abuse and cover-ups”. Mr Hamilton explained that he had been first abused by the Santiago priest at the age of 17 in 1983; the abuses had lasted 20 years, he said, with Karadima blackmailing him by threaten to reveal the sexual contacts to his wife.

In a public letter, Pope Francis admitted to making “serious mistakes” in his own handling of the scandal “due to the lack of truthful and balanced information”, and asked for forgiveness “from all those I have offended”.

The pontiff drew outrage in Chile during a visit to the country in January when he defended Bishop Juan Barros, a former protege of Karadima, who is accused of having protected the predatory priest despite allegedly witnessing the abuse. Pope Francis appointed Barros to head the diocese of Osorno in 2015, even though the accusations against the Chilean bishop had been public for at least three years.
See also my post Pope Francis accuses sexual assault victims of slandering Chilean bishop--although the judge who heard the case believed the accusers (January 18, 2018).

Increase in pilgrimages prompts Church of England to send chaplains to Spain

Millennials and other pilgrims are trying to fill their spiritual vacuum with man-made religious exercises instead of the grace of God. They may be travelling through France and Spain now, but eventually they'll end up in Rome. As reported by Olivia Rudgard of the London Daily Telegraph, May 4, 2018 (links in original):

A millennial on a post-university gap year might not fit the obvious profile for a religious pilgrim travelling through Europe.

But growing numbers of of then are following a trend for pilgrimage - prompting the Church of England to send chaplains to fulfil their spiritual needs.

For the first time Anglican priests from England as well as sister churches in Canada and Australia will minister to people who have completed the Camino de Santiago, a voyage of hundreds of miles across France and Spain which is normally undertaken on foot.

The Rev Alasdair Kay, a Church of England priest based in Derbyshire, suggested the project after completing the walk himself during a sabbatical.

Many of the English-speaking pilgrims he encountered were "millennials, post-university" who were searching for spiritual meaning in life and needed guidance, he told the Daily Telegraph.

"'I've got my degree, but I haven't sorted out who I am or what I want to do with my life'", was a common theme, he said, adding that many of those he spoke to were not explicitly Christian but were interested in faith.

They were "finding spirituality in and through nature", and wanted "more dialogue and much less dogma," he said.

"There is a spirituality amongst millennials. They wanted to talk about prayer, they wanted to talk about spiritual experience, they wanted to talk about Jesus."

The Camino de Santiago is a pilgrimage to the burial site of the Apostle St James, whose body is said to have been brought to Santiago de Compostela following his martyrdom in 44 AD.

Pilgrims have travelled to the city since the medieval era. Numbers fell to a few hundred in the 1980s but a boom in popularity has seen them rise to 300,000 by last year.

Figures show that the number of people under 30 who undertake the pilgrimage has more than doubled in a decade, from almost 35,000 in 2007 to 84,000 in 2017, and this age group makes up almost one in three pilgrims on the route.

British pilgrims are also growing in number, from 1,700 in 2007 to 5,768 last year, according to statistics from the Oficina del Peregrino, which welcomes pilgrims who arrive at the journey's end point, the city of Santiago de Compostela in north west Spain.

The Catholic church provides mass and chaplaincy to pilgrims in Santiago de Compostela and is understood to be supportive of the new scheme to provide services and spiritual guidance for Anglicans and English-speaking Christians of other denominations.

A female Canadian priest has already travelled to the city to begin a 12 week pilot, and Mr Kay is due to join her in June.

A group of Church of England priests are then due to pick the role up in the Autumn after a break for the summer, when the hot weather means few English-speaking pilgrims take on the trip.

Each chaplain would be there for around two weeks, celebrating the Eucharist on Sundays and praying with pilgrims.

Many pilgrims are also workers in the financial services industry who were asking "I've got all this wealth, but why am I alive?", Mr Kay added.

"That was a big modern pain that I hadn't been aware of."

Some travellers are also on the cusp of retirement, had lost loved ones, or recently been diagnosed with or recovered from a life-threatening illness.

Archdeacon of Gibraltar Geoff Johnston, who has oversight of the project, said: “Some people are still searching for some spirituality in their lives, and sometimes the traditional church doesn't resonate with them, but other things could help them to become closer to some kind of spiritual life, and to God, and taking part in a pilgrimage makes them think about what life is about."

Thursday, May 17, 2018

First female Orthodox Jewish rabbi in Britain is ordained

Orthodox Judaism, at least in the United Kingdom, is showing signs of following the other branches of Judaism into feminism and apostasy. As in Judaism, so in professing Christianity--putting women in positions of leadership isn't just a sign of approaching apostasy, but an indication of the extent to which the apostasy already exists. As reported by Francine Wolfisz of the British publication Jewish News, May 10, 2018:

Dina Brawer this week became Britain’s first female Orthodox rabbi after attaining her semicha (religious ordination).

Brawer, a rabbinical student at the New York-based Yeshivat Maharat, which was founded in 2009 as an Orthodox seminary for female leaders, made the announcement on her Facebook page on Monday.

“After an intense two-hour oral examination, Rabbi Dr Sperber signed my semicha certificate today, 22 Iyar, 37th day of the Omer, in Bloomsbury, London,” she wrote.

Speaking to Jewish News this week, Brawer confirmed she has chosen “rabba” – the feminine term for “rabbi” in Hebrew – as her official title. “I will describe myself as a rabbi, that’s what I’ve trained to do and that’s what I’m qualified to serve as,” she said.

While Brawer – whose husband Naftali is a former rabbi at Northwood and Borehamwood and Elstree United synagogues – does not intend to take up a communal position in the UK, her newly-qualified status means that she is can officially answer halachic questions, officiate at baby blessings, weddings and funerals, provide pastoral care and teach.

Many of these duties were already undertaken by Brawer as a rabbinic student, as well as serving as a scholar-in-residence at Hampstead Synagogue, from 2015 to 2016.

The latter, she said, is a role that “did not exist anywhere in the United Synagogue until then and is a credit to Rabbi Dr Michael Harris’ modern Orthodox vision”.

This year she has additionally served as a rabbinic intern at Netivot Shalom, in Teaneck, New Jersey, where Brawer regularly delivers the sermon and Friday night Dvar Torah.

Speaking about why she decided to pursue a rabbinical qualification, Brawer – who in 2013 founded JOFA (Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance) UK – revealed that she wanted to “expand the realm of what is possible for women and girls in religious pursuit.”

She explained: “Being a rabbi epitomises living a life fully dedicated to Torah study and the intense pursuit of ritual and a Torah-infused life.

“I wanted to be a role model to women and girls in the community, to show this is not something only possible as a man, but definitely possible as a woman and something women should aspire to.

“Young girls should become anything they want. You can be well-educated, you can get a PhD in any topic, but when it comes to Jewish studies and religious studies, there’s a limitation. Well, there’s definitely no limitation.

“My intent was to open it and make it possible so that it’s not an unobtainable goal. I believe there will be many more who will follow.”

Amanda Shechter, executive director of Yeshivat Maharat, said: ‘We are so proud that Dina has passed her semikha examination and now joins the ranks of clergy leadership for the Jewish people.

‘Dina has been a transformational Jewish leader for many years. Her attainment of semikha will enable her to extend her impact even more widely and deeply.’

Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, senior rabbi to Reform Judaism, which ordained Britain’s first female rabbi in 1975, offered her congratulations.

“Mazal tov Rabbi Dina – welcome to the wonderful world of the rabbinate!”

Meanwhile Rabbi Charley Baginsky, Liberal Judaism’s director of strategy and partnerships, said: “We wish Rabba Dina Brawer a hearty mazel tov and welcome her as a colleague. This landmark moment for Orthodox Judaism in the UK is a recognition of all her hard work and dedication to the British Jewish community.

“Through her achievement, Rabba Brawer will have a huge influence on Orthodox Judaism and beyond – giving a generation of young Jewish girls and women another important role model to look up to.”

Brawer is set to leave the UK next month for the United States, where she will complete Hillel’s Office of Innovation Fellowship for Rabbinic Entrepreneurship, while Naftali will take up the position of executive director of Tufts University Hillel.

European Jews are increasingly afraid to wear kippahs (skullcaps) in public

If Jews are feeling increasingly uncomfortable living in Europe, maybe God is leading them to go to Israel, where they belong. As reported by Cnaan Liphshiz of Jewish Telegraphic Agency, April 25, 2018 (links in original):

AMSTERDAM (JTA) — The debate about wearing a kippah in Western Europe returned only a decade or so ago, but it has nonetheless come to follow a rigid pattern even in that short period of time.

The cycle – there have been dozens of such cases — begins with an anti-Semitic assault. It prompts a Jewish community official to warn congregants not to wear the Jewish skullcap in a certain area or at certain periods to avoid inviting further violent attacks.

This triggers a wave of indignation that often exceeds the reaction to the original assault.

International Jewish groups hold up the warning as a sign of how bad Western Europe’s anti-Semitism problem has become. Some of these groups criticize only the relevant authorities. Others also blast the local Jewish official who advised others not to wear the kippah, saying he or she should support a higher community profile, not a lower one. Finally, some local Jews downplay the official’s concerns and the media move on – until the next incident.

That’s exactly how things are playing out this week in Germany, when a non-Jewish man wearing a yarmulke was assaulted on April 17 by an attacker shouting “Jew!” in Arabic. The victim was an Israeli Arab who said he donned the kippah to test whether it had actually become dangerous to wear a yarmulke in Germany.

In response, Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, publicly advised Jews to avoid wearing kippahs in urban settings. (At a rally Wednesday night in Berlin, Schuster emphasized that his statement was that individuals should not go out alone with a kippah. He said he felt misunderstood and wanted to clarify.)

In response, Israel’s Ashkenazi chief rabbi, David Lau, and a Brussels-based Jewish organization called on German Jews to continue to wear kippahs and, in Lau’s words, “be proud of their Jewishness.”

Meanwhile, non-Jews in Germany organized a solidarity protest in which marchers wore kippahs – a gesture that has taken place in Sweden, Denmark, France and Poland in recent years.

In 2016, a community leader in France, Tzvi Amar, provoked a similar debate when he warned Marseille Jews to avoid wearing kippahs.

And in 2014, a Danish Jewish school in Copenhagen urged its students to come to school wearing baseball caps over their yarmulkes.

But to countless Jews across Western Europe, these debates featuring high-profile figures, politicians and Jewish community leaders have little bearing on their own personal choice. Not waiting for anyone’s invitation, hundreds of thousands of them have been hiding their kippahs and other Jewish symbols for years now in Paris, Marseille, Brussels, London, Amsterdam and many other European cities with a large population of Muslim immigrants.

At least a quarter of Europe’s Jews had resolved not to wear their kippahs or any other Jewish symbol publicly before any of the debates even took place, according to a 2013 survey in nine countries. In that European Union poll of 5,100 Jews — the most comprehensive study of its kind — 49 percent of 800 Swedish respondents said they refrained from wearing clothing that identified them as Jewish. In Belgium, whose capital city is the seat of the European Union, the figure was 36 percent.

In France, 40 percent of the approximately 1,200 Jews polled said they avoided wearing such items in public.

“It’s a matter of preserving one’s sanctity of life – an elevated value in Judaism,” said Prosper Abenaim, the only rabbi living in Paris’ poor and heavily Muslim neighborhood of La Courneuve.

On Shabbat, Abenaim wears a hat over his kippah as he takes the miles-long walk from his home in the affluent 17th district to La Couneuve’s dwindling synagogue. He advises his congregants to do the same – and immigrate to Israel, he said.

Jews like Abenaim are not being paranoid. The Fundamental Rights Agency of the European Union in its 2017 overview of anti-Semitism said that “Jewish people wearing visible symbols of their religion are the most likely to be targeted by anti-Semitic incidents.”

In France, most anti-Semitic violence is perpetrated by Muslims, according to the National Bureau of Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism. That category of crime, as well as hate speech, rose sharply in the early 2000s in France and other Western European countries during the wave of terrorist attacks in Israel known as the second intifada and Israel’s actions to stop it. In those years, the number of anti-Semitic incidents reported to authorities soared from a few dozen a year to hundreds, never returning to pre-2000 levels.

Heavily Muslim areas like La Courneuve are considered especially risky, although Jews living in richer areas with fewer Muslims also refrain from wearing kippahs and other Jewish symbols in public.

Philippe Karsenty, a local politician and pro-Israel activist from the upscale Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine, a few years ago warned a younger relative not to wear a Star of David pendant. Karsenty remembers telling him: “Nothing good will come to anyone from you wearing it.”

In France today, a Jewish symbol is likely to “escalate a parking dispute to a stabbing,” Karsenty said.

Perhaps ironically, anger and opposition to Muslim extremism in Europe is creating additional problems for Jews who wear kippahs.

Several European countries have banned the wearing of face-covering veils, a Muslim custom. While these recent bans in Belgium, France and the Netherlands clearly target Muslims, they are nonetheless creating an atmosphere that is more restrictive of wearing all and any religious symbols, including the kippah.

In the Netherlands, an employee of the Anne Frank House last year waited for six months in vain for his bosses to decide on whether he could wear a kippah to work. He declined their suggestion that he come to the office wearing a hat and ultimately decided to wear a kippah without permission, forcing them to hammer out a policy on the matter. They finally permitted him to wear the kippah.

The leader of France’s far-right National Front party, Marine Le Pen, has been candid about her plan to ban the wearing of the kippah in public — not because she opposes it, she has said. Rather, she said in an interview last year, French Jews should “sacrifice” the freedom to wear a kippah in public in favor of the fight against radical Islam.

But Le Pen also cited the fear of many French Jews in downplaying the significance of the sacrifice she was asking.

“Honestly, the dangerous situation in which Jews in France live is such that those who walk with a kippah are in any case a minority because they are afraid,” Le Pen said.
See also my post Finland's Jews advised not to wear skullcaps in public for fear of attacks (January 15, 2013)

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

New Apostolic Reformation targets Indigenous Canadian peoples for evangelism

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6

Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device.
And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
Acts 17:29-30

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16

Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. John 18:36

As is so often the case with items such as the following, I'm not sure what to make of it, since I'm not there and don't have firsthand knowledge of the situation. I'm uncertain as to whether the people in question are coming to true saving faith in Jesus Christ and then are being led into charismaniac error, or whether they're falling for a false gospel and a false salvation--of two bad alternatives, I hope the former is true. Charismaniacs have a habit of making extravagant claims of miracles, so I'm always skeptical of their stories of "transformation."

I'm troubled when Inuit leaders say that God is “looking to re-establish the relationship” He previously had with them; I could be wrong, but there may be a danger of old pagan practices being brought back and renamed as Christian. As the passages of scripture cited above indicate, there's only one way to come to God, and that's through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ shedding His blood on the cross as payment of the penalty of sin. None of us had a relationship with God prior to coming to faith in Jesus Christ. The gospel is for everyone, and that includes the native peoples of Canada.

Whatever my differences may be with those who are opposed to evangelism among Canadian Natives, I agree with their opposition to the New Apostolic Reformation, including its false gospel of prosperity; its acceptance of extrabiblical revelation; its excessive demonology, including "spiritual mapping" of alleged demonic strongholds and emphasis on generational curses; its unscriptural invention of the modern offices of "apostles" and "prophets;" and its dominionism. As the Lord Himself said, His kingdom is not of this world, but the New Apostolic Reformation, with its seven-mountain mandate, is very much about this world. Let us pray that the Native peoples of Canada will rely on the Bible as their only authority of faith and practice, will be able to discern truth from error, and will act accordingly.

For solid information on the New Apostolic Reformation from a Biblical point of view, I highly recommend Lighthouse Trails Research Project. Search that site under "New Apostolic Reformation," and you will find an abundance of useful information.

As reported by Geoff McMaster of the University of Alberta publication Folio, March 23, 2018 (link in original):

A new evangelical sect targeting Indigenous people in Canada is an ominous trend that should be closely watched, says a University of Alberta sociologist.

In an exposé published last fall, The Walrus reported that an American evangelical movement called the New Apostolic Reformation, or NAR, has been moving north, using sociological research and “spiritual mapping” to locate vulnerable populations it deems possessed by demons.

“It is important that there's enough knowledge about the group in the communities they target, so people have the ability to understand what's coming in and how to deal with it,” said Robin Willey, a post-doctoral fellow who has studied evangelical movements in Canada.

“There is certainly something suspect about using research from the social sciences to shape strategy appearing to specifically target vulnerable populations,” he said. “It is troubling to say the least, and basically amounts to a form of neoliberal recolonization, where Indigenous populations are encouraged to ‘colonize’ themselves.”

According to The Walrus, NAR has already established a foothold among Canada’s Inuit people in the North, but most recently the movement has been recruiting new followers among the impoverished Indigenous population of Winnipeg’s north end, using the language of reconciliation to promise social transformation and healing.

But there are strings attached. NAR believes in the acquisition of wealth to bring about its vision, and that means collecting tithes. The top “apostles” have been known to pocket millions every year, following the prosperity gospel, which promises material wealth and physical healing to those who give generously, reports The Walrus.

The sect’s theology derives from the late Peter C. Wagner, who foretold of apostles infiltrating what he called the seven “mountains of culture”—education, government, media, arts and entertainment, religion, family and business in the name of God.

“That’s pretty much everything,” said Willey, “but NAR also lists business as the most important of the seven mountains, and it’s only through the accumulation of wealth that you can start fuelling influence into the other mountains."

Instead of focusing on personal salvation, as does mainstream evangelicalism, “NAR extends it to people groups, nations, communities and geographic areas. So instead of exorcising demons from a single individual, you can talk about exorcising demons from an entire people, group or community,” said Willey. Convinced they are soldiers in God’s army, NAR apostles aim to eventually take over governments and save the world from corruption and idolatry, establishing God’s new kingdom on Earth.

“They talk about saving some of the most impoverished populations on the planet,” said Willey, including those in Africa and South America.

"The interesting thing about them (in the Canadian context) is they have this language of reconciliation, which plays so well in vulnerable Indigenous communities” suffering from the cultural devastation of residential schools and their legacy of physical, sexual and substance abuse.

According to The Walrus, the movement arrived in Manitoba after one of NAR’s apostles, Cindy Jacobs, had a vision that God wanted to release the “spirit of reconciliation” among Indigenous and non-Indigenous churches in the province. The result was a recruitment drive called “Awakening Manitoba,” in which followers are inducted in emotional prayer services or faith-healing rituals.

"They believe that humans have dominion over the land—taking the biblical directive literally—and can sell that sort of thing to Indigenous people,” reminding them of their preordained rights as original stewards of the land, said Willey.

“But what comes along with that, somewhat ironically, is that there is only one religion and one religious practice that is OK.”

Under NAR’s prophecy, the only way to rid a population of demons is to destroy former religious practices and burn ungodly possessions—such as drugs, pornography, heavy metal music, even sweat lodges—in the name of purification. It is a clear violation of calls in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report for faith groups to “respect Indigenous spirituality in its own right.”

According to some estimates, there are chapters of NAR in all 50 American states. Membership numbers are hard to arrive at because followers don’t officially sign on to any church, seminary or ministry. American lawmakers such as Mike Huckabee, Michele Bachmann and former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin have all been drawn to the movement.

In assessing the threat in Canada, however, Willey said numbers matter.

“If this group is really quite small, say, sitting around five per cent of the evangelical community, how much do we really need to worry? My understanding of the evangelical movement right now is that it is becoming more segmented and more diverse.”

Though acknowledging NAR has clearly arrived in Canada, Willey said he hasn’t yet seen signs of it in Alberta. But that doesn’t mean it won’t show up here soon.

“This is a colonial discourse, and as settlers we have a responsibility to ensure people know about it," he said, to avoid substituting one form of colonialism for another.
The Walrus is a secular publication expressing what might be called left-wing views, but this blogger thought its article on the subject was quite fair. As reported by Joel Barde in The Walrus, October 23, 2017 (updated November 3, 2017):

It’s late october 2015, and around 200 people are packed into Winnipeg’s First Nations Family Worship Centre. Facing a tall cross, believers sway in unison, arms outstretched. Some cry. Others flutter their wrists, as if an electrical current were running through them.

Over the past three nights, a group of visiting religious leaders has inducted these largely Anishinaabe parishioners into their movement. The highly emotional services have built to this moment, a spiritual release called “Awakening Manitoba.” “I feel an anointing coming on!” shouts the centre’s Ojibwe pastor, Raymond McLean, pumping his fist in the air onstage. He gestures for Alain Caron—a spectacled, scholarly preacher who has won over the congregation with a series of impassioned sermons—to join him. McLean hooks a burly arm around Caron, who closes his eyes and dances to the blaring Christian rock.

Many of the worshippers make their way forward. As they reach Caron, he lays his hands on their heads and releases a torrent of inscrutable words. Some walk away. Others fall backwards into the arms of a deacon, who lays them flat and draws blue blankets over their motionless bodies.

They rest for a moment, faint smiles on their faces, invested with a radical new commission. As soldiers in God’s army, they will infiltrate government agencies, rid the world of idolatry, and urgently build God’s Kingdom of Heaven on earth. Under McLean’s command, they will start here, at home: purifying Winnipeg’s troubled North End, then spreading their message to other First Nations communities.

Since that October weekend, the Family Worship Centre has become part of the New Apostolic Reformation (nar), a growing religious movement quietly reshaping evangelical Christianity...

...The nar has promoted its theology through books, schools, and ministries. The crown jewel in its promotional efforts is the Transformations series, pseudo-documentaries that purport to show the dramatic economic and societal transformation visited on communities that accept God’s glory.

According to the Sentinel Group—which produces the movies and denies any association with the nar— the Transformations series has been translated into thirty-one languages and viewed more than 200 million times. It has also played a key role in the nar’s shift from converting individuals to societies; when shown in churches, movies are accompanied by instruction on spiritual-warfare techniques.

All of the movies feature a similar narrative: an impoverished region turns to God, eradicates non-Christian beliefs, and undergoes societal and economic healing. In Kenya, a witch doctor is driven from her community, resulting in a decreased crime rate. In Fiji, an Indigenous community burns sacred masks, putting a dramatic end to a violent civil war.

In 2001, Transformations II shone a spotlight on the Canadian North, which—along with other featured regions like Uganda—came to symbolize a theocratic tabula rasa, a world ripe for conversion. The eastern-Arctic segment of the movie opens with an animated scene: a spiritual leader of a nomadic Inuit clan learns of a new God, Jesusie, from a travelling Inuk. The leader vows to accept Jesusie if he has a successful hunt. On a moonless night, he kills a seal, then brings it back to his clan, who eat from its meat, accepting Christ as their Lord and saviour. Only later, after missionaries arrive, do they learn the whole story of Christianity.

The movie then cuts to testimony from born-again Inuit. Over lurid images of bruised bodies, they describe widespread physical and sexual abuse and alcoholism. Inuit children push rocks into a shallow grave—the eighth suicide of the year, explains the voice-over, making their rate more than twenty times the national average. Demons, according to one Inuk believer, had invaded their communities. Even the land had turned its back: caribou and berries began to disappear.

Had God abandoned the Inuit? No; God was “looking to re-establish the relationship” their forefathers had long ago accepted. Over triumphant music, the movie depicts a frenzy of baptisms and impassioned church services—the revival that was gripping the territory. People in Pond Inlet, so moved by the Holy Spirit, gather all their ungodly possessions—drugs, pornography, heavy metal music—and with the aid of the rcmp set them ablaze. “The fire of the Lord is spreading!” exclaims an ecstatic Inuk woman. Inuit are portrayed as being healthier and happier—even suicide is on the decline, they say. (A 2014 study by a Nunavut land claims group contradicts this assertion.)

The film concludes by highlighting how God is “raising up” a new set of Inuit leaders who are “not shy about declaring the Lordship of Christ.” A teacher boasts how all her pupils are Christian, and municipal councillors defiantly state that no meeting starts without prayer. One of the last shots is of Armbruster. He’s hunched down in the atrium of Nunavut’s newly built legislature, gazing at a mace made of narwhal tusk. The Lord’s prayer, he declares proudly, is encased within. “It’s brought into the legislature every time they meet to do official business!”...

...In 2004, Armbruster and Curley travelled to Fiji, where, along with other high-profile nar affiliates, they were introduced to a spiritual-warfare technique called the Healing the Land Ceremony. As evidence of its effectiveness, they were taken to a remote Indigenous community called Nootko that had, a couple of years earlier, carried out the ceremony. Once plagued by infighting, the tiny community, they were told, had healed. Even the land reacted—a stream, once polluted, now ran clean.

The technique excited Armbruster. The ceremony traces a community’s present-day conditions to the sins of its forefathers. There are five principal sources: the generational disconnect between fathers and their children; the shedding of innocent blood (murder); sexual sin (homosexual acts, sex out of wedlock); the breaking of covenants (promises and treaties); and idolatry and witchcraft (any non-Christian form of religion or spirituality). According to nar theology, sin “wounds” the land, allowing Satan’s forces to control communities.

On a sunny morning in the summer of 2007, Armbruster performed the Healing the Land Ceremony on the outskirts of Clyde River, Nunavut, a community of some 900 people. “God chose the places for people to live,” he explained, standing in a circle of community members. “When God created the earth, he created everything good—but our sins have defiled the land.” Armbruster clutched his well-worn bible in his left hand. “Much of what we received from our forefathers was good—but we have to atone for what was not.”

An elderly Inuk in a long black coat spoke next; an Inuk woman stood beside to him, translating his testimony. The man pointed toward the water. “This spot is where they prayed to the evil spirits,” he relayed in Inuktitut. “Satan used to wait out there to devour and destroy people.” The man looked ashamed. “The Lord has also shown me where a mother gave birth, then fed it to the dogs. Because of these sins the earth has been defiled. And because it’s been defiled, we have suffered much and gone through hardship...”

...At many nar-affiliated conferences over the years, Armbruster has often spoken in grandiose terms about how church has merged with state in Canada’s North. But according to Jim Bell, the long-time editor of Nunatsiaq News, Armbruster’s influence needs to be put in context. When I reached Bell by phone, he chuckled a bit, thinking about the gap between Armbruster’s claims and reality. Nunavut, he said flatly, is no theocracy. The territory has gone on to defy conservatives on hot-button issues, including same-sex marriage, bringing the legislation in line with the rest of Canada.

Bell also had a theory: fundamentalist Christianity has become central to the recreation of Indigenous identity for many Inuit. Curley and others don’t draw a distinction between evangelical and Inuit values, said Bell. “Now you could argue that they have reinvented Inuit culture in their own image. But they don’t see it that way. They believe this church is not just the expression of religious identity, it’s also an expression of a really important cultural identity.”

And that, he suggested, is why the 2004 election got so intertwined with messy questions about identity and tradition. Inuit Christians were asserting their culture and resisting what they perceived as a colonial overreach. “They were not saying we oppose protecting the rights of gay people because gay people are sinful—they were saying that we oppose this because it is not consistent with Inuit culture.”

There may also be other cultural reasons for the nar’s success. Armbruster’s ministry caught the attention of French anthropologist Frédéric Laugrand, who has written about the Healing the Land Ceremony. He believes that the ceremony mirrors elements of Inuit shamanism, such as connecting present conditions to past events and using public disclosures to bring communities together. And, like shamanism, it is highly emotional in nature. Laugrand also feels that the popularity of the ceremony—which was practised in more than twenty communities, sometimes multiple times—owes much to political forces. At the time of the Inuit revival, Indigenous groups were frustrated with the federal government and the protectionist agenda of environmental groups. In contrast, Armbruster and missionaries working in the region came with a very different message: that God gave Inuit dominion over the land, and it should be theirs to use.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Former politician Michele Bachmann apologizes to Jews for saying they need to be evangelized

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6

Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device.
And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
Acts 17:29-30

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16

But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
I Corinthians 1:23-24

I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. Galatians 2:21

Here we go again, with yet another Christian grovelling before Jews, asking their forgiveness for the heinous crime of saying that they need to come to God through the blood of His son Jesus Christ. As reported by Jewish Telegraphic Agency, May 14, 2018:

Michele Bachmann apologized in Israel for statements she previously made calling on Jews to convert to Christianity in order to help bring the End of Days.

Bachmann, a former congresswoman from Minnesota who ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, said in 2015 that Christians need “to be faithful in the Kingdom and to help bring in as many as we can, even among the Jews — share Jesus Christ with everyone that we possibly can because, again, He’s coming soon.”

Bachmann made the comments during a radio interview in Israel while on a tour organized by the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian group.

Bachmann apologized for that statement Sunday at a joint Jewish-Christian Bible study at the Knesset, held in honor of Jerusalem Day. She asked for “repentance from the Jewish people for the horrible and arrogant way Christians — myself included — treated and regarded the Jewish people.”

“I ask for forgiveness from the Jewish people for what it is that we have done,” said Bachmann. “I apologize profoundly and ask forgiveness from the Almighty God that these statements brought pain.”

The event was co-sponsored by the Knesset Caucus for the Encouragement of Bible Study, the Schindler Society and Israel365’s Yeshiva for the Nations, which aims to teach Torah to non-Jews. This was the third such Bible study and the first one to take place on Jerusalem Day.
As reported by Jewish Telegraphic Agency, November 8, 2015 (links in original):

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Former presidential candidate Michele Bachmann called for an intensified effort to convert Jews to Christianity.

Bachmann, a former congresswoman from Minnesota who ran for the Republican nod in 2012, was in Israel last week on a tour organized by the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian group.

Toward the end of the week, she spoke on the council president’s radio program, “Washington Watch,” and discussed the meaning of the recent intensification of violence in Israel and the West Bank. She cast the violence as a signal of the return of Jesus, which would necessitate mass conversions.

“We recognize the shortness of the hour,” Bachmann said on the program hosted by Tony Perkins, “and that’s why we as a remnant want to be faithful in these days and do what it is that the Holy Spirit is speaking to each one of us, to be faithful in the Kingdom and to help bring in as many as we can — even among the Jews — share Jesus Christ with everyone that we possibly can because, again, He’s coming soon.”

The first to report Bachmann’s call was Right Wing Watch, a project of People for the American Way, a church-state separation advocacy group.
If Ms. Bachmann was of the view that Christians have to "convert" Jews en masse prior to the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, she was mistaken. Conversion is God's work, not ours. If however, she meant that the gospel should be proclaimed to Jews, she was correct, and shouldn't have apologized. Ms. Bachmann's name has been linked with the dominionist New Apostolic Reformation at times, so I'm not sure exactly what she did mean. The gospel is "to the Jew first," and they need to come to God in the same way Gentiles do--through faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross; it's not "arrogant" to proclaim that. As the above passage from Galatians says, if it's possible to come to God through keeping the law, then Christ died in vain.

I'm one Christian who's tired of Christians constantly apologizing to politically-correct groups, especially when they're apologizing for the alleged sins of other people. I'm always hearing that Jewish resistance to the gospel is the result of centuries of Christian anti-Semitism. That seemed a good explanation until it occurred to me (long after it should have, I must admit) that such a rationalization fails to explain Jewish opposition to Jesus Christ during His ministry, or Jewish persecution of Jewish believers in Christ and Jewish attempts to prevent Gentiles from coming to Christ in the 1st century, when there was no Gentile church around to persecute Jews. As the passage in I Corinthians 1 cited above says, He's a stumblingblock to the Jews.

A Bible study put on by the organizations mentioned in the article above is highly unlikely to acknowledge Jesus as the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Torah (the five books of Moses) and the rest of the Old Testament, and Christians might want to reconsider their participation in such Bible studies. As the Lord Jesus Christ said:

Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust.
For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me.
But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?
John 5:45-47

Monday, May 14, 2018

150 years ago: The birth of Magnus Hirschfeld

Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
Romans 1:24-32

Not only does this month (May 5, actually) mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx, but the 150th anniversary of the birth of another Prussian native whose contribution to humanity was overwhelmingly destructive. On May 14, 1868, German physician and sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld was born in Kolberg. Dr. Hirschfeld was a cross-dressing Jewish sodomite who promoted homosexuality as normal, and also supported women's suffrage and decriminalization of abortion. In 1897 he founded the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee, the first advocacy organization for perverts' rights.

In 1919, Dr. Hirschfeld founded the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft (Institute for Sexual Research), which contained a large archive and library, providing "educational services," and receiving famous visitors. The Institut was sacked by the Nazis shortly after their rise to power in 1933, with many of its books and archives burned. Dr. Hirschfeld, however, was abroad, having departed Germany in November 1930 to embark on a world tour to promote perversion and other causes that would now be regarded as politically correct. He went into permanent exile in France, and died of a heart attack on May 14, 1935, his 67th birthday. Good riddance. Dr. Hirschfeld, however, should be listed in the same category as Alfred Kinsey as a founder of the sexual revolution which has done so much harm, all in rebellion against God.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Canadian evangelical university jumps on global warming propaganda bandwagon

Here we go again, with yet another worldly bandwagon that the professing evangelical church decides to jump on, as the world becomes increasingly skeptical. As reported by Jack Taylor in The Light Magazine, May 2018 (link inserted by blogger):
“If we can’t fix the climate we can’t fix other things.” Dr. Katharine Hayhoe’s presence on a stage captures your imagination immediately. Her conversational style pulls at scientific minds and hearts of faith alike. “We have been driving down the road looking in our rear view mirror and that is fine if things are stable but not if things are changing.”

Hayhoe, Director of The Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University, is enhancing the May 12th Sky Gala: Cosmos, Climate & Faith with a profile that has seen her named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People, Fortune’s 50 World’s Greatest Leaders and Foreign Policy’s 100 Leading Global Thinkers.

The Canadian Scientific and Christian Affiliation is hosting the informal gala which also features a concert by Janet Danielson (SFU School of Contemporary Arts) and contributions from the Isotone Ensemble (Oakridge, Tennessee).

Hayhoe knows layspeak for conservative Christians and understands the tensions swirling like a hurricane around sincere believers trying to know who to trust in the flotsam of fake news. The powerpoints and charts are convincing. “There are 26,500 indicators of a warming planet.”

The evidence is laid out and presented in a disarming fashion. “Science can tell us why we’re getting warmer – climate changes for natural reasons.” She speaks of El Nino, changes in the earth’s orbit which bring about ice ages, and the energy from the sun. “It’s not the sun making the planet warmer; it’s not El Nino; it’s not the ice age… all those things say we should be cooler.” The culprit is nailed. “Three hundred years ago, with the wide use of coal, the Industrial Revolution resulted in a spike in carbon dioxide. There is a natural blanket around us and we’re adding an extra layer of 43% more to produce an artificial greenhouse effect.”

Hayhoe wants Christians to know that she and her pastor husband are people of faith who believe the planet is God’s greatest gift after His Son. She wants believers to understand that caring for our world is an expression of our care for the poor, the needy, the vulnerable and all others who make up the neighbours we are meant to love.

“Our physical experience informs our brains… we have to look globally and not just where we live.” This is a good word to those of us facing a comfortable Canadian spring. “Climate is about more than weather.” Hayhoe points to a world with stronger hurricanes, warmer oceans, breaking records and increasing deserts as evidence of impact. “We can’t just throw out data we don’t like,” she says. While science can tell us that “our choices in carbon usage matter… it can’t tell us what’s the right thing to do – faith helps make those decisions.” Our choices regarding the climate will impact our crop yields, our health care system and our education. On average our planet is warmer and more humid than we’ve ever been in recent history.

Part of the confusion for Christians is the strength of the opposition to climate change teachings. Hayhoe considers political, psychological, sociological and science in her presentations. She is a voice well worth considering wherever you might fall in the continuum of climate change.

Climate change is about wisdom, discernment and stewardship. It is about learning to trust the eyes and minds of those who invest their time, energy, knowledge and resources towards the vulnerability of our planet. “Assessing the potential impacts of climate change is essential to setting sound targets that minimize the costs and maximize the benefits of both adaptation and mitigation.”

Dr. Katharine Hayhoe is trying to bridge the gap between science and faith in one specific area. Her book, A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions tries to deal with misconceptions and complexities as we work our way through what is being touted in the media. YouTube and TED talks are also part of her communication channel to reach anyone who will listen.

If you want to listen to “the climate change evangelist” in person there is still time to check out the May 12th Sky Gala event. We do ourselves a favor to stay informed by those who have dedicated their lives to discovering truth in one form or another.
Dr. Hayhoe's talk was part of a conference titled Science & Christianity in Canada at Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia:

This conference will include Canadians in science, speakers dealing with issues relevant to our theme, & talks on science & Christian faith in general. Check website for more information at: csca.ca/may2018/

The reader will notice that none of this has anything to do with the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ; rather, it's yet another social gospel diversion. Readers can do their own investigation into the numerous scandals and lies involving those promoting the global warming propaganda. I remember the mid-1970s when these "experts" were promoting a coming ice age. Even if the globe is warming (which I doubt), I have yet to hear an adequate explanation of why this is bad; I'm tired of 30- and 40-below windchills. I might take the global warming propagandists seriously if and when they start living lifestyles in accord with what they say they believe.

See my post Today's Evangelicals, Tomorrow's Liberals--A Warning from 1983 (January 13, 2010)

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Alberta's socialist government legislates further restrictions against anti-abortion protests, as "Conservative" leader refuses to conserve

Support for abortion and alphabet sexual perversion seem to be articles of religious faith for the accidental government of Alberta's New Democratic Party. As reported by Dean Bennett of Canadian Press, May 9, 2018:

EDMONTON — Premier Rachel Notley's NDP government made more changes to its abortion clinic bill Wednesday while the Opposition United Conservatives continued to register their displeasure by walking out en masse during votes.

Government members accepted an amendment from Independent Derek Fildebrandt to specifically include the role of municipal bylaw officers in enforcing the proposed legislation, which mandates no-protest zones around clinics.

However, they rejected a second Fildebrandt motion aimed at ensuring the bill won't restrict the freedom of the media to cover news events surrounding the clinics.

"I don't think (privacy of clinic participants) has been abused by the media to date and I don't think it would be abused in the future, but I think (press freedom) is an important aspect to take note of when we're writing legislation," Fildebrandt told the house.

NDP Infrastructure Minister Sandra Jansen spoke against the amendment.

Jansen, a former journalist, said mainstream journalists already handle the clinics respectfully. But Jansen said some anti-abortionists billing themselves as journalists would use the amendment to breach the no-go zone and harass staff and patients.

"While I appreciate the effort, I will say that I find the implications of this amendment frightening," Jansen said.

Bill 9 would create minimum 50 metre no-protest zones around abortion clinics.

It would also make it illegal for anyone to harass a doctor by phone, mail or online to convince them to not provide abortion services. Anyone breaking the law would face fines up to $10,000 or a year in jail.

UCP Leader Jason Kenney has said the legislation is unnecessary because abortion clinics already have legal tools at their disposal to deal with protests. He said he and his caucus are abstaining from what they call deliberately political and provocative legislation.

Five of the 25-member UCP caucus sat silently during debate of Fildebrandt's amendments and walked out when the votes were called.

The UCP has now left the house en masse six times during discussions on Bill 9.

The NDP says the UCP members are failing to meet their responsibilities as legislature members by walking out on an important bill.

Earlier Wednesday during question period, Kenney questioned the government's sincerity, noting, "Bill 9 is something they did not even think was important enough to mention in their (recent) throne speech let alone their (2015 election) platform."

The UCP caucus also walked out of the vote late Tuesday night when the government accepted an amendment by NDP backbencher Deborah Drever to increase the safety zones to 150 metres if the proposed minimum of 50 metres doesn't prove effective.

Fildebrandt argued against it.

He said while he is in favour of legislated protections for women and staff, that must be balanced with respect for freedom of speech.

If the bill becomes law, Alberta would join British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador in creating so-called bubble zones.

Notley has said the UCP absence at debate speaks to the party's broader unofficial policy of not standing up for women's rights.

This past weekend, United Conservatives voted to adopt a policy that would mandate parents be told when a minor has "invasive medical procedures."

Those on both sides of the abortion debate say that would open the door to mandatory parental consent in abortion procedures for minors.

Kenney has said he will decide what resolutions are part of the party's election platform and reiterated he won't legislate on abortion.
As reported by Mr. Bennett on May 8, 2018:
EDMONTON — United Conservative Leader Jason Kenney says he will not legislate on abortion even though party members passed a resolution that advocates on both sides say could do just that.

"I've been clear that we won't be bringing forward any legislative measures on abortion," Kenney said at the legislature Tuesday.

At the party's founding convention on the weekend, members voted 74 per cent in favour of a resolution that would require parents to be notified before any invasive medical procedure was performed on a minor.

The anti-abortion group Wilberforce Project spoke in favour of the motion and urged delegates to adopt it.

Kenney said the resolution was put forward by a delegate whose child was vaccinated without his knowledge.

"The resolution spoke to a general concern about parents wanting to be involved in their children's health, particularly for young children," he said.

"Obviously we support the idea that children should receive vaccines that are necessary to protect their health, but parents should not be surprised when they learn their child has been given a shot."

Premier Rachel Notley and Health Minister Sarah Hoffman said the resolution was aimed at interfering in abortions.

Notley said the resolution, along with the refusal of Kenney's caucus to debate or vote on a bill that would create safe zones around abortion clinics, exhibits a disturbing pattern.

"You put those two things together, the fact of the matter is women in Alberta would not have anybody standing up for them in the UCP caucus," Notley said.

"I want all women to know in this province that we respect their bodily autonomy, that we respect their right to access legal services without having to get someone to sign a permission slip," added Hoffman.

Kenney, a former federal Conservative cabinet minister, has said in the past what while he is against abortion, he won't legislate on the issue.

The resolution was one of two contentious social policies adopted by party members at the convention.

Members also voted 57 per cent in favour of parents being told when their children are involved in any subject of a religious or sexual nature, including after-school social clubs such as gay-straight alliances.

The issue sparked heated debate on the convention floor. Kenney said Sunday he interpreted the resolution differently and wouldn't implement it the way members saw it.

Kenney has made it clear that while members can vote for policies, it's his job to craft a platform that would work for four million Albertans should the United Conservatives win power.

"It's not my intention to get into any contentious social issues in our platform," said Kenney.

Gay-straight alliances are social clubs set up by students to help LGBTQ children feel welcome and to lessen any chance of bullying. Under Alberta law, students can get a gay-straight alliance if they ask for one and schools are forbidden from telling parents if their children are in one.

Advocates have suggested some parents would oppose their child's participation and that, by notifying parents, children would not take the risk to sign up and the social groups would die.

Notley said she is concerned that Kenney, if he were premier, would either weaken the existing law or leave it on the books but not take action if it were ignored.

She said the former Progressive Conservative government did not push to enforce existing rules around gay-straight alliances.

"Based on the much more extreme positions that were adopted by the UCP last weekend, we can expect very clearly that they wouldn't enforce the rules that we put in place."
Fatboy Kenney is a textbook example of a "conservative"--conserving nothing having to do with Western civilization, merely conserving what the enemies of Western civilization have achieved. This is at least consistent with his record in federal politics, when, as a member of the cabinet of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's "Conservative" government from 2006-2015, he refused to do anything to support efforts by pro-life backbenchers to place any restrictions on abortion. This was the government that was accused by some of its more hysterical opponents--especially in the media--of attempting to implement a Christian theocracy. Fatboy Kenney has also made it clear that he will do nothing to impede the sexual perversion agenda. In fact, his United "Conservative" Party (the only thing they're united on is the desire for power) is expressing its disappointment at not being allowed to march in this year's perversion pride parade in Edmonton. As federal Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism in 2011, Mr. Kenney was pleased to announce a policy of admitting more sodomites and lesbians to the country, and declined to comment when the "Conservative" government legalized the abortion pill in 2015. Fatboy Kenney entered politics as a member of the Reform Party of Canada, but like the rest of that now-defunct party, he lost interest in reform and now can't be bothered to conserve anything.

When Premier Notley's father Grant was leader of the Alberta New Democrats, it was possible to be a member of that party and to be pro-life, and even to get nominated as a candidate. I remember a pro-life NDP member running as a candidate in a provincial election in the 1980s. When I was a student at the University of Alberta in the early 1980s I was acquainted with a fellow student who was a supporter (he may have been a member, but I don't recall) of the provincial NDP, who was pro-life, and wasn't afraid to be at odds with the majority of those in the party.

Meanwhile, John Carpay, a lawyer from Calgary who is doing tremendous work to defend Canadian Christians' rapidly-diminishing freedoms, argues that the new Alberta law is unconstitutional and unnecessary. As he stated on May 9, 2018 (updated May 10, 2018):

Alberta Health Minister Sarah Hoffman recently claimed that banning peaceful anti-abortion protests near abortion clinics is not about freedom of expression. Yet she has also expressed confidence that her new law would withstand a constitutional challenge.

By speaking of a constitutional challenge, it seems that she knows that this new law tramples on free expression as protected by Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

It’s not easy to make a case against peaceful expression on a public sidewalk, so the minister, along with Edmonton and Calgary abortion clinic managers, refer to a collection of illegal and potentially illegal behaviours: “aggression, threats, yelling, screaming, interference, bullying, intimidation, harassment, shaming, and blocking access.” Perhaps these examples of illegal behaviour will distract people from the prohibition on Charter-protected expression.

It is a criminal assault to push, shove, hit, or punch someone, or even touch someone without consent. Uttering threats to harm a person’s life, body, or property is also criminal. Disturbing the peace by yelling and screaming is criminal, and also contrary to municipal noise bylaws.

Criminal Code Section 430 makes it illegal to “obstruct, interrupt, or interfere with the lawful use, enjoyment, or operation of property.” It’s criminal to block access to someone going about their business and engaging in legal activities (which includes getting an abortion). All of these actions could be characterized as aggression, which is illegal, along with interference, threats, yelling, screaming, and blocking access.

But what about bullying, intimidation, shaming, and harassment? Intimidation caused by physical blocking, interference, or obstruction is already illegal.

Intimidation caused by threats is also already illegal. An environmentalist protester can’t tell a logger: “Chop down that tree and I will chop you down.” But threatening some form of moral consequences or psychological harm (e.g. “you are on the wrong side of history,” “karma will repay you for harming Mother Earth” or “your lust for profits is killing the forest”) is perfectly legal.

Intimidation caused by someone criticizing your behaviour is part of living in a free country. How can citizens debate a topic (pipelines, climate change, Donald Trump’s presidency) without referring—directly or indirectly—to standards of good and evil? In contrast to theocratic Iran and communist North Korea, free societies don’t dictate the correct answers to difficult questions...

...In a free society, nobody can be exempt from having her or his actions criticized as immoral by others. Witness the predictable litany of judgment cast by social justice warriors: racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, etc. Should governments pass laws to create “safe” zones where no person will hear such words?

What holds true for intimidation also holds true for bullying, shaming, and harassment. Feelings of being bullied, shamed, and harassed are normal in a free country, and to be expected, absent physical interference or threats of harm. All Canadians have a right to denounce conduct they believe to be wrong. People exercise this right every day on blogs and Facebook and Twitter and elsewhere, denouncing what they see as political, economic, or environmental injustice.

Whenever citizens exercise this right to speak out against actions they believe to be unjust, this will necessarily offend those who carry out such actions. Feeling offended is the price we pay for living in a free country.

Alberta’s proposed law is about government deciding that the “wrong” opinion can’t be expressed peacefully on a public sidewalk, just because some people feel very offended by this opinion.

Under the pretence of stopping already-illegal behaviour, this law targets the heart of constitutionally protected expression. This law should therefore be resisted and rejected by all who cherish free society—pro-choice and anti-abortion people alike.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Alberta government reverses decision to reject Christian couple as adoptive parents

CONSTITUTION ACT, 1982 (80)
PART I
CANADIAN CHARTER OF RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS

Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law:

Guarantee of Rights and Freedoms

1. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

Fundamental Freedoms

2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

(a) freedom of conscience and religion;

(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;

(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and

(d) freedom of association.


The result in the case described below is good news for a change, but is there anyone associated with any level of government anywhere in Trudeaupia Canada who isn't obsessed with promoting alphabet perversion and trampling on religious freedom? As reported by Christie Blatchford of the National Post, May 2, 2018:

An Edmonton couple rejected as adoptive parents because of their religiously grounded beliefs about homosexuality and gender now have been approved.

Throughout the complex process — which involved an orientation course, a home study, three personal interviews and extensive reference checks — the couple had made it clear that while they were Evangelical Christians, they would support and love any child regardless.

The husband was adopted himself as a newborn, and the wife said her heart ached for “the older children in foster care that I have met, who I know are unlikely to ever get adopted because of their age.

“I want to offer kids like these a home and show them that they are valued.”

They are unable to conceive because of medical complications.

The mysterious change of mind from Alberta Child and Family Services came quietly in December last year, a month after the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms in Calgary took on the couple’s case and lawyer Jay Cameron filed an application in the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench for judicial review of the decision.

He alleged religious discrimination, saying the denial breached the couple’s Charter rights to religious freedom, and accused the government of attempting to coerce the couple “to abandon” their deeply held beliefs as a prerequisite to adoption.

“This is the essence of religious discrimination,” Cameron said.

The Justice Centre announced the victory Wednesday in a press release.

It hasn’t discontinued the case, president John Carpay said in an email, but rather adjourned it indefinitely.

A spokeswoman for the ministry, Karin Campbell, confirmed in an email the ministry had “rescinded” the earlier decision and said, “Families are not denied adoptions based on religious beliefs…”

Yet clearly, this one had been.

The couple’s file was assigned to the Catholic Social Services (CSS) for the home study and background checks.

The “CSS practitioner” asked a series of questions about sexuality, including how the couple would handle a child who was questioning their sexuality.

The couple said they’d explain their beliefs and reassure the child of their love. The practitioner asked how they’d handle a child engaged in “sexual exploration” and if they’d encourage it. The wife said while they’d be willing to discuss it, they wouldn’t encourage sexual exploration, as they believe sexuality shouldn’t be experienced or explored until after marriage.

In February of last year, the practitioner told the couple, who are identified only as C.D. and N.D. in court documents, she was “pleased to recommend” them.

But when the home study report was completed, it said the couple wasn’t “accepting of homosexuality” and that this was “a concern that cannot be mitigated.”

In March, the couple was told Child and Family Services had further questions regarding their “views about sexuality”: How exactly would they support a child questioning their sexuality? What if the child had a gay biological relative?

The wife responded and frankly answered that “Biblical principles are the foundation of our home … As such, we believe that homosexuality is wrong. We will not treat sexuality as something to be ‘discovered or explored’….” And, she said, they believe that “gender and sexuality are determined at birth.”

But she also said that she and her husband recognize that “young adults will choose what they wish to choose. Our hope is that by providing a stable, loving home and openly discussing our values (and reasons for them) with our children, they would want to follow our example.

“Ultimately,” she wrote, “a parent’s love is not, and should not be, given based on the decisions and actions of a child. It’s unconditional and filled with grace and mercy…”

That led to even more questions, among them: Does that mean there are two genders (male/female) and one sexual orientation (heterosexual)? Do you believe that people choose to be homosexual or that they choose to act on their homosexuality?

Again, the wife replied for the couple, and said in essence, “our view is that acting on feelings of same-sex attraction is a choice, and thus, homosexuality is a choice.”

Later that month, the practitioner called them, telling them “you are a great couple” and “you’d be great parents,” but that her supervisors were concerned they might “return” a child if he or she struggled with their sexuality.

With tears streaming down her face, the wife said in an affidavit prepared for court, she told the woman “we would never do such a thing… We would never reject a child in our care…”

Later that night, the couple got a rejection letter with the explanation that they “would be unable to help a child who has sexual identity issues.”

They were crushed and angry that their views had been misinterpreted.

“We accept that same-sex relationships exist,” the wife said in the affidavit, “and that same-sex marriage is a legal reality.

“Further, we accept that other people have different views than ours on this subject, and we respect their freedom to both hold that view and act in accordance with that view. Further still, and most importantly, we have and will continue to treat all same-sex attracted individuals with respect.”

But she said, “It seemed as though all our answers to her questions were not the answers she was looking for or were grossly misinterpreted…”

In a final meeting last May, the couple met two staff from Alberta Child and Family Services, an adoptions caseworker and a supervisor.

The supervisor told them their religious beliefs about sexuality were incompatible with the adoption process.

What’s more, she told them, this was “the official position of the Alberta government.”