Global Christian group takes up cause of 11-year-old Down syndrome girl facing execution in Pakistan
An international coalition of churches representing more than half a billion Christians will meet in Geneva next month to take up the plight of an 11-year-old Christian girl who faces execution under Pakistan's blasphemy laws.
The World Council of Churches called the meeting to discuss Pakistan's brutal blasphemy laws and, in particular, the case of Rimsha Masih. Masih, who is believed to have Down syndrome, has been in jail for allegedly burning pages from a book containing Islamic scripture. The case has generated international condemnation, but the fundamentalist firebrands behind her imprisonment seem immune to criticism, much less diplomatic efforts.
"This latest affair just highlights the total hypocrisy of Pakistan, and its supporters, in the Human Rights Council," Roy Brown, chief representative to the United Nations for the International Humanist and Ethical Union, said in a statement.
Pakistan's blasphemy laws are ambiguous -- except in their mandatory prescription for execution -- and, as in the case of Masih, often enforced in tribal regions at the insistence of angry mobs. Pakistan's President Asif Al Zardari has demanded a report on the girl's arrest, which has brought protests from Amnesty International, British-based Christian group Barnabas Fund and others.
The Council, which links 349 Protestant and Orthodox church organizations, will hold the conference from Sept. 17-19, with United Nations representatives also expected to attend. The agenda will be topped by Pakistan's blasphemy laws, persecution of Christians and Masih's case.
"This is just the latest in a series of similar incidents going back many years. Some cases are reported, but many go unreported," said Mathews George Chunakara, who heads the WCC's commission on international affairs.
Also attending the conference will be representatives of Pakistani minority groups which the Council says are persecuted, including Hindus, Buddhists, Christians and dissenting Islamic sects -- including Ahmadis and Shias. Geneva-based Pakistani diplomats were not invited.
Masih was reportedly attacked by the villagers in her community near Islamabad Aug. 16 after being accused by Muslim neighbors of burning verses from the Koran in a children's learning guide called the Noorani Qaida. Police took her into protective custody, but the police station was quickly laid siege to by angry mobs demanding her execution for blasphemy.
"It is inconceivable that human beings could treat a little girl, let alone one with Down syndrome, in such a brutal manner," said Faith J.H. McDonnell, of the Washington-based Institute for Religion and Democracy. "The mob was intent on killing Rimsha and other Christians in the community, unless she was turned over to the authorities and put in prison."
When local mosques began broadcasting unsubstantiated accounts of the girl's "crimes" over loudspeakers, hundreds of Christians fled from the poverty-stricken community in fear for their own lives.
Earlier this year, a mentally-impaired Muslim man accused of burning a Koran was reportedly dragged out of a Pakistan police station by an angry mob and burned alive.
Pakistani police say they are investigating whether a Muslim cleric who allegedly tried to frame a Christian girl for blasphemy should be charged with insulting Islam himself.
Police officer Munir Jafferi says officials registered the blasphemy case against Khalid Chisti on Monday.
Police arrested Chisti on Saturday after a member of the cleric's mosque accused him of stashing pages of a Koran in a Christian girl's bag to make it seem like she burned the Islamic holy book. He has denied the allegation.
Jafferi says Chisti could be sentenced to life in prison if he is convicted of desecrating the Koran.
The Christian girl's lawyer, Tahir Naveed Chaudhry, says his client will remain in prison until at least Friday after her bail hearing was delayed for the second time Monday.
New book about Church of the East-The Silk Road is as iconic in world history as the Colossus of Rhodes or the Suez Canal. But what was it, exactly? It conjures up a hazy image of a caravan of camels laden with silk on a dusty desert track, reaching from China to Rome. The reality was different--and far more interesting--as revealed in this new history. In The Silk Road, Valerie Hansen describes the remarkable archeological finds that revolutionize our understanding of these trade routes. For centuries, key records remained hidden-sometimes deliberately buried by bureaucrats for safe keeping.
Christians in Shubra threatened
Among other things, the letters, copies of which were presented to Youm-7, say "We warn you Nassara [Koran's derogatory term for Christians] to cease your foul trade, whereby you sell filthy idols."
Accordingly, the bookshop owners rushed to the police stations to file reports in the hopes that the identities of those sending such letters be revealed. The report concludes by saying not much has been done to secure the stores and that only one security agent has been sent to patrol, and only during morning hours.
DNC hosts 2 hour Islamic prayer
(THE BLAZE) The Democratic National Committee is raising a number of eyebrows after choosing to proceed with hosting Islamic "Jumah" prayers for two hours on the Friday of its convention, though itdenied a Catholic cardinal's request to say a prayer at the same event.
The first two minutes are rather dry, but around 2:04 a muezzin sings the call to prayer with an American flag background, and the video "picks up" considerably.
Conflict over Church in Bahrain
MANAMA, Bahrain – The building of the largest Roman Catholic church in the Gulf was supposed to be a chance for the tiny island kingdom of Bahrain to showcase its traditions of religious tolerance in a conservative Muslim region where churches largely operate under heavy limitations.
Instead, the planned church -- intended to be the main center for Catholics in the region -- has turned into another point of tension in a country already being pulled apart by sectarian battles between its Sunni and Shiite Muslim communities.
Hardline Sunni clerics have strongly opposed the construction of the church complex, in a rare open challenge of the country's Sunni king. More than 70 clerics signed a petition last week saying it was forbidden to build churches in the Arabian Peninsula, the birthplace of Islam.
One prominent cleric, Sheik Adel Hassan al-Hamad, proclaimed in a sermon during Friday prayers last month, that there was no justification for building further churches in Bahrain, adding, "anyone who believes that a church is a true place of worship is someone who has broken in their faith in God."
In response, the government ordered him transferred out of his mosque,
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/09/03/plan-for-catholic-church-makes-waves-in-bahrain/?test=latestnews#ixzz25T6vzbTdlocated in the elite district of Riffa, where many members of the royal family live and the king has several palaces. But the transfer order touched off a wave of protests by the cleric's supporters on social media sites and by Sunni-led political blocs. Finally, the government was forced last week to cancel the order.
The uproar reflects the widening influence and confidence of hardline Sunni groups, who have been a key support for the monarchy as it faces a wave of protests led by Shiites demanding greater political rights. Shiites account for about 70 percent of Bahrain's population of just over half a million people, but claim they face widespread discrimination and lack opportunities granted to the Sunni minority. The monarchy has also has relied heavily on help from ultraconservative Saudi Arabia, which last year sent troops to help crush protests.
More than 50 people have been killed and hundreds detained in nearly 19 months of unrest in the strategic island kingdom, which is home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.
Bahrain's rulers have promised some reforms and urged dialogue to ease the crisis.
Instead, positions on all sides have hardened.
Many among the majority Shiites claim the Sunni monarchy is not interested in reforms that would weaken its near monopoly on power. Bahrain's most senior Shiite cleric, Sheik Isa Qassim, has actively opposed the church plans, questioning why the government should donate land for a Christian site when Shiite mosques have been destroyed as part of the crackdowns.
A Bahrain-based political analyst, Ali Fakhro, questioned the timing of the church project at a time when the nation is still locked in its own upheavals.
"What Bahrain needs is to solve it is own internal issues rather than adding more new things that could be the source of troubles," he said. "The plate is already full."
So far the outcry has brought no change in plans to build the church complex, which has been backed by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa's monarchy. The complex will be the size of a large shopping center -- about 9,000 square meters (97,000 square foot) -- in Awali, an area near Riffa, south of the capital, Manama. It is to be a base for the Vatican to the small Catholic communities in the northern Gulf, as well as a spiritual center for other Christian denominations.
Work on the compound is still in its preliminary stages and no firm date has been given for its completion, leaving open the possibility of more complaints in the coming months.
The church project is part of last year's change by the Vatican to carve out a new apostolic district covering Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The administrative headquarters are expected to shift from Kuwait to Bahrain.
There are believed to be several million Christians in the overwhelmingly Muslim Gulf region, the vast majority of them expatriate workers who largely come from East and South Asia. Throughout the Gulf states, non-Muslim places of worship must work discreetly and cannot actively reach out for converts. In Saudi Arabia, churches are banned completely and any overt wearing of non-Muslim religious symbols is banned.
But Bahrain has a multi-religious tradition -- and tolerance -- that is unique in Gulf. The island nation has several Christian extended families which originally immigrated from Iraq, Iran or elsewhere in the early 20th Century and gained citizenship when Bahrain gained independence. Similarly, it has native Jewish and Hindu communities. The first Roman Catholic church in the Gulf was built in 1939 on land donated by Bahrain's emir.
The building of the church complex "is a sign of openness, important for Bahrain, and I hope it will serve as a model for other countries, too," the region's bishop, the Rev. Camillo Ballin, said in a statement.
Elsewhere in the Gulf, issues over Christian churches have flared in the past year.
In Kuwait, Islamist lawmakers have proposed bans on further construction of churches. Saudi Arabia's grand mufti, Abdel Aziz Al Sheik, reportedly urged for the destruction of all Christian churches on the Arabian peninsula, but it was quickly dismissed by nearly all Islamic leaders in the region.
"Bahrain is a country of tolerance among all religions, sects and races. This is well known about Bahrain's history," said the Rev. Hani Aziz of Bahrain's National Evangelical Church, who was among 19 non-Catholic Christian leaders who also met with Bahrain's king over the project. "The construction of a church falls in line with this image."
Michael Savage complains about Republican Eunuchs
During the RNC, Marco Rubio insisted that Obama is a "good man," but a bad president.
Egyptian Government plans to demolish the great pyramids of Giza (NOT A HOAX)
According to several reports in the Arabic media, prominent Muslim clerics have begun to call for the demolition of Egypt's Great Pyramids—or, in the words of Saudi Sheikh Ali bin Said al-Rabi'i, those "symbols of paganism," which Egypt's Salafi party has long planned to cover with wax. Most recently, Bahrain's "Sheikh of Sunni Sheikhs" and President of National Unity, Abd al-Latif al-Mahmoud, called on Egypt's new president, Muhammad Morsi, to "destroy the Pyramids and accomplish what Amr bin al-As could not."
This is a reference to the Muslim Prophet Muhammad's companion, Amr bin al-As and his Arabian tribesmen, who invaded and conquered Egypt circa 641. Under al-As and subsequent Muslim rule, many Egyptian antiquities were destroyed as relics of infidelity. While most Western academics argue otherwise, according to early Muslim writers, the great Library of Alexandria itself—deemed a repository of pagan knowledge contradicting the Koran—was destroyed under bin al-As's reign and in compliance with Caliph Omar's command.
However, while book-burning was a simple process in the 7th century, destroying the mountain-like pyramids and their guardian Sphinx was not—even though many early Muslim leaders certainly tried, some partially successful; by the time gunfire was invented, Egypt's Medieval Mamluk rulers even managed to "de-nose" the Sphinx during target practice (though popular legend naturally attributes it to a Westerner, Napoleon).
Now, however, as Bahrain's "Sheikh of Sheikhs" observes, and thanks to modern technology, the pyramids can be destroyed. The only question left is whether Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood president is "pious" enough—if he is willing to complete the Islamization process that started under the hands of Egypt's first Islamic conqueror.
Nor is such a course of action implausible. History is laden with examples of Muslims destroying their own pre-Islamic heritage—starting with Muhammad himself, who ransacked Arabia's Ka'ba temple, transforming it into a mosque.
Asking "What is it about Islam that so often turns its adherents against their own patrimony?" Daniel Pipes provides several examples, from Medieval Muslims in India destroying their forefathers' temples, to contemporary Muslims destroying their ancestors' heritage in Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Malaysia, and Tunisia. Currently, in what the International Criminal Court is describing as a possible "war crime," Islamic fanatics are destroying the ancient legacy of the city of Timbuktu in Mali—all to Islam's triumphant war cry, "Allahu Akbar!"
Much of this hate for their own pre-Islamic heritage is tied to the fact that, traditionally, Muslims do not identify with this or that nation, culture, or language, but only with the Islamic nation—the Umma. Accordingly, while many Egyptians—Muslims and non-Muslims alike—see themselves first and foremost as Egyptians, Islamists have no national identity, identifying only with Islam's "culture," based on the "sunna" of the prophet and Islam's language, Arabic. This sentiment was clearly reflected when the former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Muhammad Akef, recently declared "the hell with Egypt," indicating that the interests of his country are secondary to Islam's.
It is further telling that such calls are being made now—immediately after a Muslim Brotherhood member became Egypt's president. In fact, the same reports discussing the call to demolish the last of the Seven Wonders of the World, also note that Egyptian Salafis are calling on Morsi to banish all Shias and Baha'is from Egypt.
In other words, Morsi's recent call to release the Blind Sheikh, a terrorist mastermind, from U.S. imprisonment, may be the tip of the iceberg in coming audacity. From calls to legalize Islamic sex-slave marriage to calls to institute "morality police" to calls to destroy Egypt's mountain-like monuments, under Muslim Brotherhood tutelage, the bottle has been uncorked, and the genie unleashed in Egypt.
Will all those international institutions, which make it a point to look the other way whenever human rights abuses are committed by Muslims, lest they appear "Islamophobic," at least take note now that the Great Pyramids appear to be next on Islam's hit list, or will the fact that Muslims are involved silence them once again—even as those most ancient symbols of human civilization are pummeled to the ground?
Because the article "Calls to Destroy Egypt's Great Pyramids Begin" went viral on the Internet—read nearly 400,000 times on FrontPage Magazine alone where it first appeared—as expected, the infamous "hoax" charge has been made to lull the West back to sleep.
According to Daily News Egypt's "Another hoax: cleric calls on President Morsy to destroy Giza Pyramids," the calls from the Bahraini cleric I cited "urging President Mohamed Morsy to destroy the Giza Pyramids were issued from a parody Twitter account online, the Daily News Egypt has learned."
That's all—that's the "proof" that this story is a "hoax": Daily News Egypt (DNE) "has learned" that someone was "impersonating" the Bahraini cleric. Unlike my article, DNE offers no evidence, no links, no proofs to back its story: "Just believe us—you'll feel better," seems to be the message.
Some questions: If, as DNE suggests, this was a hoax to scare people over the rising influence of Egypt's Islamists, why did the hoax perpetrators choose a cleric from Bahrain, a small, foreign nation—why not parody an Egyptian cleric, which obviously would've made for a much more effective "hoax"?
More importantly, why does DNE not address the other sources I had cited—including Egypt's very own Salafi party, which is on record calling for the elimination of Egypt's pyramids? Even Elaph, "one of the most influential websites in the Arab world," documents that both the Bahraini cleric and Egypt's Salafis are calling for the Pyramids' destruction.
Needless to say, DNE's hoax charge was quickly disseminated by others, who added their own "logic." For example, after quoting DNE as evidence, one Kate Durham, writing in Egypt Today, focuses on portraying me as having an "agenda" (which, of course, I do: safeguarding the Pyramids).
Likewise, after quoting the DNE report, RT's "Holy hoax: Radical Islamists call on Egypt to destroy pyramids" offered a revisionist history that truly resembles a "hoax," arguing that "demolishing the pyramids was prohibited during the 7th century—so the structures remained untouched."
Really? This almost suggests that the Arabian marauders, who invaded Egypt in the 7th century, pillaging and destroying, were "respectful" of the "cultural significance" of the Pyramids—perhaps designating them as "tourist attractions"? What about 8th century Caliph Ma'mun, who—as this comprehensive English-language fatwa dedicated to explaining the Islamic obligation of destroying pagan monuments, including the Pyramids, puts it—"wanted to destroy the Pyramids in Egypt and he gathered workers but he could not do it"?
What about 12th century Bin Yusif, Saladin's son and ruler of Egypt? He attempted to destroy the Pyramids, and had an army of laborers work day and night to dismantle Menkaure's Pyramid, only to quit after eight months, realizing the futility of the task, though his vandals did manage to leave a large vertical gash in the Pyramid's north face (see here). What about Egypt's Mamlukes who, with the advent of gun powder, used the "pagan" Sphinx for target practice, effacing its nose?
After citing the DNE report, Huffington Post's Llewelyn Morgan offers his assurances: "Let's be crystal-clear about this right here. The answer to the question in my title ["Are the Pyramids Next?"] is a mile-high, neon "NO". The pyramids of Giza are under no threat whatsoever, and neither is any of the rest of Egypt's glorious archaeological record."
He then portrays me as "scaremongering" and "offer[ing] a deeply misleading account of what has been happening in Timbuktu," because I had written, "Currently, in what the International Criminal Court is describing as a possible 'war crime,' Islamic fanatics are destroying the ancient heritage of the city of Timbuktu in Mali—all to Islam's triumphant war cry, 'Allahu Akbar!'" Morgan explains:
To read that that you'd think that the only Muslims involved in events at Timbuktu were the ones doing the vandalism. But of course it was Islamic buildings that they were attacking. Ansar al-Din, the al-Qaeda-affiliated zealots in northern Mali, consider the traditional Sufi practices of Timbuktu to be heretical.
This is strange logic, indeed. Because the Salafis of Mali consider Sufi buildings insufficiently Islamic—as all Salafis, Wahhabis, and "radicals" do—according to Morgan, that is proof positive that the Pyramids, which are purely pagan, are "under no threat whatsoever" from Egypt's Salafis.
If Morgan's point is that, by destroying Sufi Muslim shrines, the "al-Qaeda-affiliated zealots" are not practicing "true Islam"—that's still neither here nor there. All Salafis—whether in Mali or in Egypt, whether "al-Qaeda affiliated" or not—reject Sufism as a heresy and pagan Pyramids as worse; and in Egypt, the Salafis are now out of the prisons and sitting in Parliament.
All of these apologists are unaware that the Koran portrays pre-Islamic Egypt's Pharaoh as the quintessential infidel, with the result that the Pyramids, the handiwork of Pharaoh, have always been seen by the pious as an affront to the total victory of Islam in Egypt—hence why any number of Muslim leaders through the centuries tried to lay low those defiant symbols of Egypt's pre-Islamic past; hence why such calls are again become vocal.
Indeed, here's the latest bit of evidence: just published in El-Balad, on July 17, "Egypt's Justice and Development for Human Rights warned against the ongoing incitements from a large number of men of the Islamic religion to destroy the Pyramids and other Pharaonic antiquities, deeming them pagan symbols of pre-Islamic Egypt…. these calls have greatly increased after the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, Dr. Muhammad Morsi."
These calls are neither a joke nor a "hoax": the same mentality that sought to destroy the Pyramids in the past, is the same mentality that is gaining mastery over Egypt in the present—with the exception that, if destroying the Pyramids was an impossible task then, it is realizable now, a wonderful feather in the turban of any aspiring "champion of Islam"—a feat that none of the greatest caliphs and sultans could accomplish, try as they might.
Accordingly, those who understand that the Great Pyramids belong to all mankind, not just Egyptians—and I say this as a Copt, the nearest thing to a living descendant of Pharaonic Egypt—must safeguard their preservation, and not abandon them to Islamic zealots.
Still, the "leftist" mentality remains oblivious, as if to say, so what if Islamic doctrine and history is replete with the destruction of pre-Islamic monuments from one end of the Islamic world to the other, including several attempts against the Pyramids? So what if, at this very moment, Muslim fanatics are destroying artifacts in the name of Islam, in Mali and elsewhere? So what if Egypt's Salafis are on record calling for the destruction of the Pyramids?
Not to worry, the Huffington Post et al say it's just a "hoax." Nothing to see here, folks; go right back to sleep.
Incidentally, these media outlets and their writers are the same ones who, when the day comes and the Pyramids are attacked—just like when the Twin Towers were attacked on 9/11—will wring their hands and shake their heads, wondering, "Who knew?" "How?" "Why?" Then, because they still cannot comprehend Islam's teachings and history, they will, as ever, cite "grievance" or "poverty" or "political oppression" as the real reasons behind this latest atrocity, calling for more Western engagement and head-sticking in the sand.
And so the vicious cycle of Islamic intolerance followed by Western appeasement will continue, ad nauseam.
Inside Obama's and Janet Napolitano's "Animal House" ICE/DHS
A top official at Immigration and Customs Enforcement has resigned following allegations by several subordinates of lewd behavior.
ICE Chief of Staff Suzanne Barr submitted her resignation in a letter, obtained by FoxNews.com, to ICE Director John Morton.
In the affidavits, one of the ICE employees claimed that in October 2009, while in a discussion about Halloween plans, the individual witnessed Barr turn to a senior ICE employee and say: "You a sexy" (expletive deleted).
"She then looked at his crotch and asked, 'How long is it anyway?'" according to the affidavit.
The affidavit went on to say: "During this party, Suzanne Barr approached me and offered to" perform oral sex.
Republican lawmakers have taken a keen interest in the case, questioning what it says about the culture at ICE and DHS.
Congressmen go skinny dipping in the Sea of Galilee
(New York Times) During a trip to Israel last summer, several House Republican freshmen engaged in a late-night swim in the Sea of Galilee, complete with one skinny-dipping congressman whose choice threatened to tarnish the reputation of the House newcomers as superserious number-crunchers who sleep on their office couches and go to bed before midnight.
On a trip billed as a foreign policy fact-finding mission last year, a large group of Republican members of Congress, and some of their staff and family members, decided to take a swim in the sea after a long day.
Several members — including Representative Steve Southerland II of Florida, who jumped into the water holding hands with his 21-year-old daughter — said they were moved to dip for religious reasons. (The sea is believed by Christians to be the location where Jesus walked on water.)
While most of the members remained clothed, or largely so, Representative Kevin Yoder of Kansas decided to disrobe entirely, as reported first by Politico on Sunday. This sent most of the members fleeing for the shore, said a participant, and prompted a harsh rebuke the next day from Representative Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, who was on the trip but did not swim in the sea.
More than 80 members of the House went on the trip, which was arranged by Mr. Cantor, as guests of the American Israel Education Foundation, a charity affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel lobbying group. It was believed to be the largest number of members of Congress to make the trip during a single recess, according to the organizers at the time. Mr. Cantor's comments were made to the entire traveling group, said one person there, saying that members should not detract from the trip's mission.
While swimming in that sea is inoffensive to Israelis — indeed, there is an annual race in that body of water — Mr. Yoder's nudity, as well as possible over-imbibing by some members that evening at the restaurant near the beach where they swam, angered Mr. Cantor, who believed it distracted from their foreign policy mission.
Why we would rather send our boys to get shot in the back by our Afghan "allies" before we have an honest discussion about the life of Mohammed and the content of the Koran
The U.S. military has halted the training of Afghan government-backed militias for at least a month to give the Americans time to redo the vetting of new recruits after a string of attacks by Afghan soldiers and police on their international allies, officials said Sunday.
There have been 34 insider attacks this year -- at least 12 in August alone -- that have killed 45 international troops, putting intense strain on the relationship between coalition forces and the Afghans they live and work with. The shootings also have thrown doubts on one of the pillars of the U.S.-led coalition's planned withdrawal by the end of 2014 -- training Afghan forces so they can take the lead for security in the country.
Gays threatened Professor who did research that concluded that children raised by gay parents are more likely to be depressed and on welfare
The University of Texas-Austin is backing a sociology professor who came under withering attack for a study that found children of same-sex parents are more likely to be depressed or on welfare than kids raised by heterosexual couples.
The school launched an inquiry into Professor Mark Regnerus' peer-reviewed work last month after a New York-based blogger attacked him for a controversial paper which compared the adult lives of people raised by parents in same-sex relationships to those raised by parents in traditional marriages. The study found several differences, including some that were potentially negative. But an inquiry by the school found Regnerus used sufficiently scholarly methods, university officials announced this week.
The University of Texas at Austin has determined that no formal investigation is warranted into the allegations of scientific misconduct lodged against associate professor Mark Regnerus regarding his July article in the journal Social Science Research," the school said in a statement. "As with much university research, Regnerus' New Family Structures Study touches on a controversial and highly personal issue that is currently being debated by society at large.
"The university expects the scholarly community will continue to evaluate and report on the findings of the Regnerus article and supports such discussion," the statement concluded.
The study asked thousands of adult children of straight, lesbian and homosexual parents dozens of questions and compared the results. While many questions did not produce statistically-significant differences, the study found major differences in a few categories. Adult children of gay couples were two to four times as likely to be on public assistance, more than twice as likely to be unemployed and more than twice as likely to have contemplated suicide.
After it was published, blogger Scott Rose accused Regnerus of scientific misconduct in two letters to the school, first charging Regnerus with deviating from "ethical standards" for research and later accusing him of "possible falsification" of research. Rose, who is gay, claimed the study was compromised because it was funded by the conservative Witherspoon Institute and that Regnerus was unable to be impartial because he is Catholic.
The inquiry was conducted by a four-member advisory panel composed of senior university faculty members, who seized Regnerus' computers and 42,000 emails. Once it was complete, the school had Alan Price, a former associate director of the Office of Research Integrity in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, review the inquiry, which he found was "consistent with federal regulatory requirements of inquiries into research misconduct."
Even though the school ultimately backed Regnerus' methodology, the entire process was troubling, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.
"It seems to us that UT Austin should take a closer look at its rules to make sure that the provision for sequestration does not become an open invitation to hassle and discourage researchers working within politically charged topics," the Philadelphia-based group, which takes no position on same-sex parenting, said.
After the school's announcement, Rose wrote on his blog, The New Civil Rights Movement," that he plans to pursue his claims against Regnerus with the American Sociological Association.
"The legitimate scientific community is united in concerns about the Regnerus study's lack of intellectual integrity, and the fact that prior to publication, the study did not receive ethical and appropriate professional peer review," Rose wrote.
Regnerus' New Family Structures Study sampled 3,000 people ages 18-39, of whom 248 said their mothers or fathers had a same-sex relationship while they were growing up. Regnerus, an associate professor of and a faculty associate at the university's Population Research Center, said his study is unique because prior probes of same-sex parenting have been based on smaller samples and anecdotal cases that seemed designed to conclude there are no differences between children of the two groups.
"My conclusions were quite different than many other studies that have been done in this area, in part because my study was both larger and more random than all but a few studies that came before it," Regnerus told FoxNews.com.
Regnerus said funding from the Witherspoon Institute and the Bradley Foundation, which he acknowledged are known for supporting conservative causes, played no role at all in the study. He also noted in his paper that different outcomes for children of same-sex vs. heterosexual parents could be in part due to a lack of social support for same-sex parents, stigmatizing of gay parents.
And he also stated that same-sex parents can still do a good job of raising their children, writing "it is certainly accurate to affirm that sexual orientation or parental sexual behavior need have nothing to do with the ability to be a good, effective parent."
But he wasn't altogether surprised the study generated controversy.
"Since it's a sensitive subject that offers quite different conclusions from previous studies, it's not surprising that it has drawn critics," he told FoxNews.com.
The Religion of the Canaanites
http://www.theology.edu/canaan.htm This is a polemical article about Baalism. Now-the author of this piece is obviously Calvinist-I am an anti-Calvinist.
Was the command to exterminate the Canaanites a justifiable act on the part of God, who ordered it, or on the part of people, who partially, at least, obeyed it? Was the episode at variance with the character of God and his people? That it was inconsistent and unjustified both on God's side and humanity's has been so often asserted, that a consideration of the moral and religious character of the Canaanites is a question of utmost importance in solving the supposed theological difficulties that are commonly adduced.
Professor H.H. Rowley, for example, claims that the divine command to destroy the Canaanites in general, or Jericho and its inhabitants in particular, and similar episodes in the Old Testament are contrary to the New Testament revelation of God in Christ, and involve the erroneous thoughts of the writers or characters in question about God, which we can now no longer accept as true. Moreover, Rowley claims that such incidents of wholesale destruction contain that which is "spiritually unsatisfying" and involve "dishonoring God."
So, this divine command to exterminate from the face of the earth all men, women, and children belonging to the seven or eight nations of Canaan is one of the most frequently raised objections to seeing God as just and loving in the Old Testament. How can God's fairness and mercy be seen in such blanket and wholesale condemnation of entire nations?
All attempts to mitigate or tone down this command to totally wipe out the population are ruined on the clear instructions of texts like Exodus 23:32-33, 34:12-16, Deuteronomy 7:1-5, and 20:15-18. The presence of the term herem in the sense of "forced destruction" constantly was applied to the Canaanites and thus they are marked for extermination.
Once again we are back to the question, "Will not the judge of all the earth do right?" It is the question Abraham asked of God, just before He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. It would seem clear that the OT does uphold the justice and righteousness of God, even in this command to eradicate the Canaanites. (Of course, consider the question Job's friend asked in Job 8:3: "Does God pervert justice? Does the Almighty pervert what is right?" Job's reply, in Job 9, is, in essence "yes".)
To place the whole question in perspective, let the principle of Deuteronomy 9:5 be cited:
It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going in to take possession of their land; but onl account of the wickedness of these nations, the Lord your God will drive them out before you, to accomplish what he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Therefore, there is no attempt to establish a tacit or real moral superiority for Israel; the text informs us to the contrary in its explicit statements and narratives. The call of Yahweh cannot be traced to Israel's superiority in righteousness or numbers, "but it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath which he swore to your forefathers." (Deut. 7:6-8).
Ronald Goetz, with some justification, wonders why it is, then, that "...Israel is helped in spite of her sins, while the Canaanites are destroyed because of theirs?" The answer does not like, as Goetz himself observes in the fact that Israel is vastly more righteous than the Canaanites, for that is indeed a semi-Pelagian Pharisaism (Pelagianism: a fifth century Christian heresy taught by Pelagius and his followers that stressed the essential goodness of human nature and the freedom of the human will. Pelagius was concenred about the slack moral standard among Christians, and he hoped to improve their conduct by his teachings. Rejecting the arguments of those who claimed that they sinned because of human weakness, he insisted that God made human beings free to choose between good and evil and that sin was voluntary. Celestius, a disciple of Pelagius, denied the church's doctrine of original sin. Pelagianism was opposed by Augustine, bishop of Hippo, who asserted that human beings could not attain righteousness by their own efforts and were totally dependent upon the grace of God. Condemned by two councils of African bishops in 416, and again at Carthage in 418, Pelagius and Celestius were finally excommunicated in 418; Pelagius' later fate is unknown [perhaps he changed his name to Robert Schuler]). The answer does not lie in the righteousness of Israel, but it does lie in the increasing degrees of guilt that Canaan accrued. Even Jesus appealed to this principle in dealing with a comparison of cities in his day as judged over against Sodom and Gomorrah (Mat. 10:15). There had been a patient waiting from Abraham's time "for the sin of the Amorite...[to reach] its full measure." (Gen. 15:16)
This is not to say that Israel was permitted or even ordered to treat all other nations the same way, for Deuteronomy 20:10-15 odrders them to offer conditions of peace rather than extermination to all otehrs. However, the verses that follow, namely 16-18, disallowed the same offer to be given to Canaan. In fact, the Hebrew wars with other nations (except Canaan) were designed to be only in self-defense.
Why then were the Canaanites singled out for such severe treatment? They were cut off to prevent Israel and the rest of the world from being corrupted (Deut. 20:16-18). When a people starts to burn their children in honor of their gods (Lev. 18:21), practice sodomy, bestiality, and all sorts of loathsome vice (Lev. 18:23, 24, 20:3), the land itself begins to "vomit" them out as the body heaves under the load of internal poisons (Lev. 18:25, 27-30). Thus, "objection to the fate of these nations ... is really an objection to the highest manifestation of the grace of God." Green likens this action on God's part, not to doing evil that good may come (though that does seem often to be God's methodology: the ends justify the means), but doing good in spite of certain evil consequences, just as a surgeon does not refrain from amputating a gangrenous leg even though in so doing he cannot help cutting off much healthy flesh.
But there is more. Green observes that "...We may object to God's doing immediately and personally what we do not object to his doing mediately, through providence. Now nothing is more certain than that providence is administered on the principle that individuals share in the life of the family and of the nation to which they belong; and that, consequently it is right that they should participate in its punishments as in its rewards....Though many innocent persons could not but suffer, it was right, because of the relation in which they stood to the guilty, that this should be so."
One more observation must be made here. Every forcast or prophesy of doom, like any prophetic word about the future except those few promises connected with the Noahic, Abrahamic, Davidic and New Covenants (which are unconditional and dependant solely on God's work of fulfillment), had a suppressed "unless" attached to them. At that moment that nation turns from its evil way and repents then at that time the Lord would relent and cease to bring the threatened harm (cf. Jer. 18:7-10). Thus Canaan had, as it were, a final forty-year countdown as they heard of the events in Egypt, at the crossing of the Reed Sea, and what happened to the kings who opposed Israel along the way. We know that they were aware of such events, for Rahab confessed that these same events had terrorized her city of Jericho and that she, as a result, had placed her faith in the God of the Hebrews (Josh. 2:10-14). Thus God waited for the "cup of iniquity" to fill up -- and fill up it did without any change in spite of the marvelous signs given so that the nations, along with Pharaoh and the Egyptians, "might know that he was the Lord."
The destruction of the Canaanites was on the same principle as the whole world was judged (except for eight persons) in the Deluge or the five cities of the plain (including Sodom and Gomorrah), or Pharaoh's army. Usually those who object to these events are those who deny any compatibility of the doctrine of eternal punishment of the wicked with the mercy and love of God.
God's character and the acts he requires are fully consistent with everything that both testaments would lead us to expect in our God. The problem usually centers in a deficiency in our view of things and our ability to properly define terms or grasp the whole of a subject.
Canaanite Morality (an oxymoron)
Despite the paramount import of Canaanite morality and religion in the realm of theology and general Biblical studies, little was known about the subject 70 years ago except taht which, on the one hand, could be gleaned from the Bible, which, however, was ample enough for faith and on the other hand, that which was preserved in the Graeco-Roman authors, which was meager enough from the scholar's viewpoint.
Philo of Byblos
The main source of knowledge about Canaanite religion before the new sources became available after 1930 (primarily the Ugaritic materials) was Philo of Byblos, the Greek name of ancient Gebal on the Mediterranean (Josh. 13:5, 1 Kings 5:18), forty-two miles north of Sidon. Philo lived around 100 AD. He was a native Phoenician scholar and gathered data for a historical work called Phoenikika or "Phoenician Matters", designated "Phoenician History" by later Greek scholars. According to Porphery and Eusebius, Philo translated the writings of an earlie Phoenician named Sanchuniathon, who was supposed to have lived at a very remote age, whom W. F. Albright placed between 700 and 500 BC. Sanchuniathon in turn supposedly got his material from one Hierombalus under Abibal, king of Berytus, who is said to have flourished before the Trojan War.
The abstract of Phoenician mythology which has been preserved from Philo through Eusebius (like biblical notices on the same subject) used to be commonly regarded with suspician by critical scholarship and considered as mostly an invention by Philo, without any independent value as a source of knowledge of Phoenician religion. This skeptical attitude as disappered as a consequence of the recovery of religious epic literature of Ugarit on the north Syrian coast (1927-1937).
These significant poetical texts discovered by D.F.A. Schaefer in a series of campaigns have shown that the gods of Philo bear names in large part now well-known from Ugarit as well as from other sources. The Philo myths are characterized by the same moral abandon and primitive barbarity with fondness for descriptive names and personifications that are found at Ugarit.
The new sources of knowledge indicate little change in the content of Canaanite mythology between c. 1400 BC and 700 BC. Many details of Philo's account, not only in the matter of the names of deities, but in the mythological atmosphere as well are in complete agreement with the Ugaritic myths and late Phoenician inscriptions. Scholars are, therefore, justified in accepting, at least provisionally, all data preserved by Philo that do not involve subjective interpretation on his part.
The Canaanite Pantheon
As the myths of ancient Ugarit indicate, the religion of the Canaanite peoples was a crude and debased form of ritual polytheism. It was associated with sensuous fertility-cult worship of a particularly lewd and orgiastic kind, which proved to be more influential than any other nature religion in the ANE.
Canaanite deities, on the one hand, present remarkable fluidity of personality and function, so that it is often extremely difficult to fix the particular domain of different gods or to define their kinship to one another. Physical relationship, and even sex, change with disconcerting ease. This is one of the grossly irrational aspects of Canaanite religion, indicative of its corrupt nature. On the other hand, Canaanite deities have for the most part etymologically transparent names, a fact which seems to point to the Canaanite pantheon as representing a cruder and more primitive type of polytheism.
Miscellaneous epigraphic and literary sources reveal the names of the chief gods and goddesses of numerous Canaanite citaies in various periods. The Ugaritic deities are now best known because of the hundreds of religious texts dating from the fifteenth and early fourteenth century BC which were found in a library housed in a building situated between Ugarit's two great temples, one dedicated to Baal and the other to Dagon. The divinities which figure in the mythological texts from Ugarit were evidently not peculiar to the city, but were current among all Canaanites, since they brear only a vague relationship to the most popular deities worshipped in the city itself.
El is the name by which the supreme Canaanite deity is known. This is also a name by which God is called in the Old Testament -- El, the God (Elohim) of Israel (el elohe yisrael: Gen. 33:20). In most prose it occures more often with an adjunct:El Elyon (the most high God, Gen. 14:18), El Shaddai(traditionally, God Almighty, Gen. 17:1), El Hai (The living God, Josh. 3:10), and very commonly in the plural of majesty, Elohim. In Hebrew poetry El is much more frequent, where it stands quite often without any adjunct (Ps. 18:31, 33, 48; 68:21; Job 8:3).
The word El is a generic name for "god" in Northwest Semitic (Hebrew and Ugaritic) and as such it is also used in the Old Testament for heathen deities or idols (Ex. 34:14; Ps. 81:10; Is. 44:10). The original generic term was 'ilum; dropping the mimation and the nominative case ending (u) becomes'el in Hebrew. It was almost certainly an adjectival formation (intransitive participle) from the root "to be strong, powerful" ('wl), meaning "The Strong (or Powerful) One."
In Canaanite paganism the el, par excelence, was the head of the panthon. As the god, El was, in accordance with the general irrationality and moral grossness of Canaanite religion, a dim and shadowy figure, who, Philo says, had three wives, who were also his sisters, and who could readily step down from his eminence and become the hero of sordid escapades and crimes. Philo portrays El as a bloody tyrant, whose acts terrified all the other gods, and who dethroned his own father, murdered his favorite son, and decapitated his own daughter. The Ugaritic poems add the crime of uncontrolled lust to his morbid character and the description of his seduction of two unnamed women is the most sensuous in ANE literature (much of Ugaritic literature is R rated at best).
Despite all this, El was considered the exalted "father of years" (abu shanima), the "father of man" (abu adami), and "father bull", that is, the progenitor of the gods, tacitly likened to a bull in the midst of a herd of cows. Like Homer's Zeus, he was "the father of men and gods."
Baal was the son of El, and the reigning king of the gods, dominating the Canaanite pantheon. As El's successor he was enthroned on a lofty mountain the the far northern heavens. Often he was considered to be "the Lord of Heaven" (Baal-shamem); but sometimes distinguished from the latter, as in Philo, Baal was the god of the rain and storm, whose voice could be heard reverberating through the heavens in the thunder. He is pictured on a Ras Shamra stela brandishing a mace in his right hand and holding in his left hand a stylized thunderbolt ending in a spear head.
In Ugaritic literature Baal is given the epithet Aliyan, "the one who prevails". As the giver of rain and all fertility, he figures prominently in Canaanite mythology in his struggle with Mot (Death), the god of drought and adversity. In his grapple with Mot, he is slain. As a consequence, a seven year cycle of scarcity ensues. Thereupon the goddess Anath, the sister and lover of Baal Aliyan, goes in search of him, recovers his body and slays his enemy, Mot. Baal is then brought back to life and placed on Mot's throne so that he ma insure the revival of vegetation for seven years. This is the central theme of the great Baal Epic of Ugarit.
Besides the king of the gods and the storm god, Baal was the god of justice, the terror of evildoers. He was also called "the son of Dagon", the grain god, who was athe cheif deity of Ashdod (1 Sam. 5:1-7) and who had temples at Ugarit and Gaza (Judges 16:23).
At Ugarit Baal's consort was his sister Anath, but at Samaria in the ninth century BC Ashera appears in that role (1 Kings 18:19). Different places at different periods arranged the pantheon somewhat differently, but the picture by and large was fairly stable. The name ba'al itself in Northwest Semitic (Hebrew, Phoenician and Ugaritic) is the common noun for "master" or "lord" and accordingly, like 'el, "strong one", could be applied to various gods. Actually, however, from an early period (by at least the 15th century BC) the ancient Semitic storm-god Hadad (Akkadian Adad) became "the lord" par excellence.
A combination of the sister and spouse of Baal, was one of a galaxy of three Canaanite goddesses whose character gives a hint of the depths of the moral depravity to which the Canaanite cults sank. The other two are Astarte and Asherah. All three were patronesses of sex and war -- sex mainly in its sensuous aspect as lust, and war in its aspects of violence and murder. The depraved character of Canaanite religion is indicated by the character of Anath. An Egyptian text of the New Kingdom period described Anath and Astarte as "the great goddesses who conceive but do not bear."
Another equally viscious characteristic of Anath worship was the fiendish savagery of the composite goddess. A fragment of the Baal Epic (II.7ff) shows her indulging in a massacre of old and young alike:
She smites the people of the seashore
Destroys mankind of the sunrise....
She piles up heads on her back
She ties up hands in her bundle....
Anath gluts her liver with laughter
Her heart is filled with joy.
Egyptian texts represented Astarte and Anath as goddesses of violence and war, showing them naked astride a galloping horse, waving weapons of battle.
Interestingly enough, Anath was given the epithet of "virgin" and "the Holy One" (qudshu) in her invariable role of a sacred prostitute. This term qudshu, "the Holy One" is related to the biblical term translated "holy". It is important to recognize that among Semitic poeples the idea of "holiness" was applied to anything that had been dedicated to the service of a deity. The moral connotation of the term is a later, derived, concept. Even in the OT, its usage is often just in the sense of "separated" to God.
Anath is represented often as a naked woman bestride a lion with a lilly in one hand and a serpant in the other. The lilly represented sex appeal and the serpant represented fertility.
The male prositutes consecrated to her honor were called qadesh(Deut. 23:18, 1 Kings 14:24, 15:12, 22:46). The feminine qedeshais also found (Deut. 23:18, Hosea 4:14)
The goddess of the evening star, was like Anath and Ashera concerned with sex and war and was not always clearly distinguished from them. In Egypt Anath and Astarte were even fused into one deity called Antart, while in later Syria their cult was displaced by that of a composite deity: Anat-Ashtart (Atargatis). Like Anath, Astarte was both a mother goddess and a divine courtesan, and she shares all the latter's moral turpitude. (She was also known as Ishtar in Persia, and the name Esther is a form of this word. Additionally, the English word "star" comes from this name).
She was the wife of El in Ugaritic mythology, and is the goddess who is also called Athirau-Yammi: "She Who Walks on (or in) the Sea". She was the cheif goddess of Tyre in the 15th century BC, and bore the appellation qudshu, "holiness." In the OT Asherah appears as a goddess by the side of Baal, whose consort she evidently became, at least among the Canaanites of the south. However, most biblical references to the name point obviously to some cult object of wood, which might be cut down and burned, possibly the goddesses' image (1 Kings 15:13, 2 King 21:7). Her prophets are mentioned (1 Kings 18:19), and the vessels used in her service referred to (2 Kings 23:4). The existence of numerous symbols, in each of which the goddess was believed to be immanent, led to the creation of numerous forms of her person, which were described as Asherim. The cult object itself, whatever it was, was utterly detestible to faithful worshippers of Yahweh (1 Kings 15:13), and was set up on the high places beside the "alters of incense" (hammanim) and the "stone pillars" (masseboth). The translation of asherah by "grove" in some translations follows a singular tradition preserved in the LXX and the Vulgate which apparently connects the goddess' image with the usual place of its adoration.
Mot means "death", and he was Baal's enemy. He is the god of the dead and all the powers that opposed life and fertility. He was the favorite son of El, and the most prominent enemy of the god Baal. Mot was the god of sterility and the master of all barren places. Traditionally Mot and Baal were perpetually engaged in a seasonal struggle in which Baal, like many similar harvest deities, was annually vanquished and slain. Mot, however, was annually vanquished and killed by Baal's sister and lover Anath, who thus aided Baal's resurrection.
Or Resheph (from Hebrew reshef, "the burner", or "the ravager"), an ancient West Semitic god of the plague and of the underworld, the companion of Anath, and the equivalent of the Bablylonian god Nergal. He was also a war god and was thus represented as a bearded man, brandishing an ax, holding a shield, and waring a tall, pointed headdress with a goat's or gazelle's head on his forehead. Resheph was worshipped especially at Ras Shamra (Ugarit), Byblos, and Arsuf (later Apollonia, near Yafo); under the title Mikal (or Mekal) he was also worshipped at Beth-shean in eastern Palestine and at Ialium in Cyprus. Resheph was usually believed to be related to Mot, the god of sterility and death, but he also seems to have been a god of well-being, plenty, and fertility, and in that respect he may have been a form of the god Baal.
Shulman (or Shalim)
The god of health. The name is related to the Hebrew word shalom, which means "peace" or "prosperity".
The god of arts and crafts. He seems to be related to the Hebrewkosher, which means "fit" or "proper".
The General Character of Canaanite Cults
The Ugaritic literature has helped reveal the depth of depravity which characterized Canaanite religion. Being a polytheism of an extremely debased type, Canaanite cultic practice was barbarous and thoroughly licentious. It inevitably had a most serious retarding and debilitating effect on every phase of Canaanite cultural and community life. It was inescapable that people should gravitate to the moral level of the sordid gods they worshipped, or rather that the gods were a reflection of their society. "Like gods, like priest; like prist, like people" expresses a law that operates unfailingly.
Canaanite Cults Utterly Immoral
The brutality, lust and abandon of Canaanite mythology is far worse than elsewhere in the ANE at this time. And the astounding characteristic of Canaanite deities, that the had no moral character whatsoever, must have brought out the worst traits in their devotees and entailed many of the most demoralizing practices of the time, such as sacred prostitution, child sacrifice and snake worship.
Canaanite Cults Effete and Corrupt
Such an effete and corrupt religion could have no other than a devitalizing effect on the population. So vile had the practices of the Canaanites become that the land was said to "vomit out its inhabitants" (Lev. 18:25) and the Israelites were warned by Yahweh to keep all his statutes and ordinances "that the land," into which he was about to bring them, would not "vomit" them out (Lev. 20:22). The character of the Canaanite religion as portrayed I the Ugaritic literature furnishes ample background to illustrate the accuracy of these biblical statements in their characterization of the utter moral and religious degeneracy of the inhabitants of Canaan, wo were accordingly to be decimated and dispossessed.
The Character of the Canaanite Cults Justifies the Command to Destroy Them
It is without sound theological basis to question God's justice in ordering the extermination of such a depraved people or to deny Israel's integrity as God's people in carrying out the divine order. Nor is there anything in this episode or the devotion of Jericho to destruction that involves conflict with the New Testament revelation of God in Jesus Christ.
God's infinite holiness is just as much outraged by sin in the NT as it was in the OT, and the divine wrath is not less in the NT against those who refuse the forgiveness provided by Christ. Consider what Jesus said to and about the scribes and Pharisees who opposed him, the fate of Annanias and Sephira, or the rather apocalyptic judgments describe in Revelation.
The principle of divine forbearance, however, operates in every era of God's dealings with people. God awaits till the measure of iniquity is full, whether in the case of the Amorite (Gen. 15:16) or the antediluvians consumed by the Deluge (Gen. 6) or the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19). But God always gives a way to repent and avoid the judgment (consider God's words in Ezekiel 33, as an example -- "God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather, that the wicked turn from his evil ways.")
In the case of the Canaanites, instead of using the forces of nature to effect his punitive endes, he employs the Israelites to be his ministers of justice. The Israelites were apprized of the truth that theywere the instruments of the divine judgement (Joshua 5:13-14). In the light of the total picture the extermination of the canaaites by the Israelites was just and employment of the Israelites for the purpose was right. It was, frankly, a question of destroying or being destroyed, of keeping separated or of being contaminated and consumed.
Canaanite Cults Dangeroulsy Contaminating
Implicit in the righteous judgment was the divine intention to protect and benefit the world. When Joshua and the Israelites entered Palestine in the 14th century (or 13th), Canaanite civilization was so decadent that it was small loss to the world that in parts of Palestine it was virtually exterminated. The failure of the Israelites to execute God's command fully was one of the great blunders which theycommitted, as well as a sin, and it resulted in lasting injury to the nation (Judges 1:28, 2:1-3).
In the ensuing judgment the infinite holiness of Yahweh, the God of Israel, was to be vindicated saliently against the dark background of a thoroughly immoral and degraded paganism. The completely uncompromising attitude commanded by yahweh and followed by the leaders of Israel must be seen in its true light. Compromise between Israel's God and the degraded deities of Canaanite religion was unthinkable. Yahweh and Baal were poles apart. There could be no compromise without catastrophe.
W.F. Albright wrote:
It was fortunate for the future of monotheism that the Israelites of the conquest were a wild folk, endowed with primitive energy and ruthless will to exist, since the resulting decimation of the Canaanites prevented the complete fusion of the two kindred folk which would almost inevitably have depressed Yahwistic standards to a point where recovery was impossible. Thus the Canaanites, with their orgiastic nature-worship, their cult of fertility in the form of serpent symbols and sensuous nudity, and their gross mythology, were replaced by Israel, with its nomadic simplicity and purity of life, its lofty monotheism, and its severe code of ethics. In a not altogether dissimilar way, a millennium later, the African Canaaanites, as they still called themselves, or the Carthaginians, as we call them, with the gross Phoenician mythology which we know from Ugarit and Philo Byblius, with human sacrifices and the cult of sex, were crushed by the immensely superior Romans, whose stern code of morals and singularly elevated paganism remind us in many ways of early Israel. (Note: the Romans were apparently descended from Japheth, so their destruction of Carthage was a fulfillment of Gen. 9:27).
THE CHOICE WE FACE
WASHINGTON – Democrats unveiled a party platform at their national convention Monday that echoes President Obama's call for higher taxes on wealthier Americans while backing same-sex marriage and abortion rights.
Delegates will vote Tuesday to adopt the platform that reflects the president's argument that his work is unfinished and he deserves another four years to complete the job.
"Today, our economy is growing again, Al Qaeda is weaker than at any point since 9/11, and our manufacturing sector is growing for the first time in more than a decade. But there is more we need to do, and so we come together again to continue what we started," the platform said.
The document is a sharp contrast from the Republican blueprint that the GOP adopted at its convention last week. The Republican plan would ban abortion and gay marriage, repeal Obama's health care overhaul law and shift Medicare into a voucher-style program.
Democrats acknowledged that divergent views.
"This election is not simply a choice between two candidates or two political parties, but between two fundamentally different paths for our country and our families," the Democrats said.
The Democratic platform calls for extending the middle-class tax cuts for the 98 percent of American families who make less than $250,000 a year, and makes a promise not to raise taxes on them. The platform claims a typical family has saved $3,600 during Obama's first term. "Now he's fighting to stop middle-class families and those aspiring to join the middle class from seeing their taxes go up and to extend key tax relief for working families and those paying for college, while asking the wealthiest and corporations to pay their fair share," the platform says.
The Republican platform would extend the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, pending reform of the tax code. It also says the party would try to eliminate taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains altogether for lower- and middle-income taxpayers. It also would work to repeal the estate tax and the alternative minimum tax.
The Democratic platform states that it "unequivocally" supports Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal, and "supports a woman's right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay."
The platform states: "Abortion is an intensely personal decision between a woman, her family, her doctor and her clergy; there is no place for politicians or government to get in the way."
The Republican Party platform bans abortion in all cases, even rape, incest and when the life of the mother is endangered. Republicans say "the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed." It opposes using public revenues to promote or perform abortion or to fund organizations that perform or advocate abortions.
The Democratic platform supports the movement to get equal treatment under the law for same-sex couples.
The platform says: "We also support the freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference." The platform opposes "federal and state constitutional amendments and other attempts to deny equal protection under the law" to same-sex couples.
The Republican Party platform affirms the rights of states and the federal government not to recognize same-sex marriage. It backs a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
The platform states that "Democrats are strongly committed to enacting comprehensive immigration reform." Immigration overhaul would include bringing "undocumented immigrants out of the shadows," requiring illegal immigrants "to get right with the law, learn English and pay taxes" to get on a path toward citizenship. It also calls for a visa system that meets the country's "economic needs, keeps families together and enforces the law." It acknowledges that administrative fixes are not permanent. "Only Congress can provide a permanent, comprehensive solution."
The Republican platform opposes "any form of amnesty" for those who intentionally violate the immigration laws, demands a halt to Justice Department lawsuits against states that have enacted tough immigration measures, would deny federal funding to universities that provide in-state tuition to illegal immigrants and advocates making English the official national language.
Democrats say the new health care law makes Medicare stronger by adding new benefits, fighting fraud and improving care for patients. It notes that nearly 50 million older Americans and those with disabilities rely on Medicare. Over 10 years, the law will save the average Medicare beneficiary $4,200, the platform says. "Democrats adamantly oppose any efforts to privatize or voucherize Medicare," the platform says.
The GOP platform pledges to move Medicare away from "the current unsustainable defined-benefit entitlement model to a fiscally sound defined-contribution model." It supports a Medicare transition to a premium-support model with an income-adjusted contribution toward a health plan of the enrollee's choice.
The Democratic platform criticizes the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, which lifted restrictions on independent political expenditures by corporations and unions, and calls for "immediate action to curb the influence of lobbyists and special interests on our political institutions" -- with a constitutional amendment, if necessary, in the cause of campaign finance reform.
"We support requiring groups trying to influence elections to reveal their donors so the public will know who's funding the political ads it sees," the platform says.
The Republican platform supports the Citizens United decision as a free speech issue.
The platform pledges to continue building on the new health care law. It says accessible, affordable, high-quality health care is part of the American promise, that Americans should have the security that comes with good health care, and that no one should go broke because they get sick. "No law is perfect and Democrats stand willing to work with anyone to improve the law where necessary, but we are committed to moving forward," the platform says.
The GOP platform says that a Republican president on his first day in office would use his waiver authority to halt progress in carrying out the health care act. It calls for a Republican plan based on improving health care quality and lowering costs and a system that promotes the free market and gives consumers more choice.
The platform says Democrats have responsibly ended the war in Iraq, put the Al Qaeda terrorist organization on the path to defeat with the killing of Usama bin Laden and reversed the Taliban's momentum to set the stage for the drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
"As a consequence of the president's decisions and the brave work of our military and intelligence professionals, bin Laden can no longer threaten the United States and Al Qaeda's senior leadership has been devastated, rendering the group far less capable than it was four years ago," the platform said. "The Al Qaeda core in Afghanistan and Pakistan has never been weaker."
Democrats back further reductions in the nuclear weapons stockpile, building on the hard-fought U.S.-Russia treaty that Obama got through the Senate in December 2010. Democrats also say they have an "unshakable commitment to Israel's security," and Obama will do all in his power to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
Democrats say they want to maintain a strong military, but argue that in the current fiscal environment, tough budgetary decisions must include defense spending. They noted that Democrats and Republicans agreed last summer in the deficit-cutting plan to reduce military spending.
Republicans, in their platform, criticizes the Obama administration as holding weak positions toward such countries as North Korea, China and Iran and for reductions in military spending.
The language in the 2012 Democratic party platform is noticeably different from the language in 2008 – particularly, with regard to Iran and Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
The 2008 platform stated that "Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel" and that "The world must prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons."
This year, by contrast, the platform adopted Tuesday by Democrats makes no mention of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. With respect to Iran, the platform reads, "President Obama believes that a diplomatic outcome remains the best and most enduring solution.
"At the same time, he has also made clear that the window for diplomacy will not remain open indefinitely and that all options - including military force - remain on the table," it says. And its going to stay on the table-as long as Obama is president.
Republican running mate Paul Ryan criticized Democrats Wednesday for having "purged" the word "God" from their official platform, calling the move "peculiar" as Democrats downplayed the omission.
"I think it's rather peculiar. It's not in keeping with our founding documents, our founding vision, but I guess you'd have to ask the Obama administration why they purged all this language from their platform," Ryan said in an interview with Fox News.
He was among several conservatives complaining after the official party platform was adopted late Tuesday at the Democratic convention in Charlotte, N.C.
The Democrats' 2008 platform, like platforms before it, included the word "God."
It said: "We need a government that stands up for the hopes, values, and interests of working people, and gives everyone willing to work hard the chance to make the most of their God-given potential."
The 2012 platform did not use the word. A similar section said: "We gather to reclaim the basic bargain that built the largest middle class and the most prosperous nation on Earth -- the simple principle that in America, hard work should pay off, responsibility should be rewarded, and each one of us should be able to go as far as our talent and drive take us."
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/09/05/paul-ryan-knocks-democrats-for-having-purged-platform-reference-to-god/#ixzz25c7x3sve
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/09/03/dems-reveal-platform-backing-gay-marriage-abortion-rights/#ixzz25VhdjC3H