This Week in the News

“Churches Unfairly Scapegoated for Pandemic”

On July 10, The Week published the following opinion by Bonnie Kristian:

The New York Times on Wednesday published a case in point. ‘Churches were eager to reopen,’ the headline announced. ‘Now they are a major source of coronavirus cases.’ A shocking claim! Let’s see the evidence:

“[The New York Times wrote:] ‘Weeks after President Trump demanded that America’s shuttered houses of worship be allowed to reopen, new outbreaks of the coronavirus are surging through churches across the country where services have resumed. […] More than 650 coronavirus cases have been linked to nearly 40 churches and religious events across the United States since the beginning of the pandemic, with many of them erupting over the last month as Americans resumed their pre-pandemic activities, according to a New York Times database.’

“Wait, that’s it? The contrast is stark between the headline’s branding of churches as a ‘major source’ of contagion and the story’s citation of 650 church-linked cases out of 3 million nationwide… ‘The not-so-subtle subtext,’ observed Reason‘s Jacob Sullum, is that ‘[r]eopening churches was reckless, because they are more likely than other venues to be the sites of superspreading events, regardless of the precautions they take. But the evidence presented by the Times does not support that thesis.’ The Billy Graham Center’s Ed Stetzer raised the same objection, deeming this ‘a headline looking for a story’ and arguing the ‘real story’ is that ‘churches are gathering and remarkably few infections are taking place.’…

“We do know tens of thousands of cases have been tied to other locations — 24,000 to meatpacking plants and 57,000 to prisons… But that headline is what was published atop an article suggesting churches are uniquely dangerous places… the Times piece is not a wild aberration, though it stands out as a straight news item so poorly framed and explained. Recent months have seen too much journalism on churches and COVID-19 which is similarly misleading or incomplete.

“A recent Politico story, for example, questions why ‘officials have declined to single out church-related outbreaks as problematic’ while offering little evidence churches deserve to be thus singled out. The report says case clusters ‘are surfacing in counties across the U.S. where in-person religious services have resumed’ — but many other indoor public spaces have opened in those same counties. Is there data showing the churches are unusually culpable? Politico does not present it. Meanwhile, an emergent genre stories argues evangelicalism is itself a public health hazard….”

The quoted comments are interesting, especially as being published in a left-liberal magazine such as The Week. Some try to make or label the debate on religious liberties and freedoms a political issue. It is nothing of the kind. But giving up religious freedoms and practices, which are commanded by God, prepares us for the ultimate acceptance of the mark of the beast. There are always “arguments” someone can come up with to justify their respective compromising viewpoints, but if they are not based on the Bible, they are meaningless and wrong. Our new free booklet, “Obeying God rather than men,” enumerates, by way of example, some restrictions imposed by governments in the context of religious services and practices which, if followed, WOULD violate the commands of God.

Please also view our recent StandingWatch program, “California’s Ongoing Persecution of Churches”, as well as our video-taped message, “Coming Civil War in the USA?—Comments on News and Prophecy, July 11, 2020.” 

We also recommend watching the following StandingWatch program, “Do you disobey God while accepting the mark of the beast?”

We should be clear on what it means to accept the mark of the beast… and what it does not mean.

California Churches Have Had Enough with Gov. Newsom’s Restrictions

On July 10, Newsmax published the following article which originally appeared in The Associated Press:

“Crossroads Community Church Senior Pastor Jim Clark… [is] drawing the line at a new California ban on singing or chanting at religious services. ‘I said enough’s enough,’ Clark said. ‘We will be singing and praising the Lord. … We don’t chant, but if we did chant, we’d be chanting too.’

“The California ban was one of a number of restrictions on indoor businesses and gatherings put in place last week by Gov. Gavin Newsom… It’s unclear if any similar prohibition on singing exists in the United States, though there is one in England… The ban may well end up in court as there are differing opinions on its legality, with some conservative groups arguing it infringes on religious freedom…

“The American Center for Law and Justice, a religious freedom law firm with ties to President Donald Trump, says it will sue. ‘We can’t stand by and watch as California strips its believers of their God-given right to raise their voices in worship and praise,’ executive director Jordan Sekulow said on the center’s website. The center, which was founded by televangelist Pat Robertson, did not say how quickly it would sue…

“Another conservative-leaning legal group, The Pacific Justice Institute, told faith leaders in a letter that Newsom’s guidance is advisory because it does not say it is an order, cites no legal authority, isn’t signed by any official and includes no reference to penalties. Institute president Brad Dacus said after the letter went out attorneys there fielded dozens of subsequent calls from relieved religious leaders who allowed singing last Sunday and intend to keep doing so. ‘These churches are just glad to know they will not be criminally prosecuted for singing worship songs on Sunday morning,’ said Dacus, whose institute has filed pandemic unequal treatment lawsuits against state officials in Oregon and Washington…

“The California Catholic Conference said it would comply… But others like Clark said they will ignore the ban… Clark said there has been no effort to crack down, and no criticism of him flouting Newsom’s restrictions. To the contrary, he said feedback has been positive. ‘Most of them have been calls, ‘Thank you for standing up for what you believe,’” he said…

“Greg Burt, spokesman for the conservative California Family Council, said he’d heard of no effort to enforce the singing ban during the first weekend it applied. ‘As soon as they try to enforce it, it’s going to make national news,’ he said. ‘This seems to be a little more extreme than telling them they can’t meet, because you’re telling them how to worship,’ Burt said. ‘That seems to be a little more over the line involving the government directly violating the First Amendment.’

“Harmeet Dhillon, a lawyer and Republican Party official… said she is considering a lawsuit over the singing restriction. Dhillon and other critics including Advocates for Faith & Freedom and the National Center for Law and Policy said the church restrictions constitute unequal treatment when compared to recent crowds of demonstrators protesting police violence after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. ‘If you’re allowed to chant “Hey hey, ho ho, racism’s got to go” but you can’t chant the liturgy, that’s obviously discriminatory,’ she said.”

Again, the objections by church leaders to the governmental restrictions have NOTHING to do with liberal or conservative politics. At least, they should not have. Rather, they ought to be strictly based on God’s commandments, which must be obeyed, if they are in conflict with man’s laws or regulations. In this context, you might also consult the following Q&A’s, explaining our responsibility as God’s Church; many misunderstood religious concepts; and offering hope in these times of uncertainty.

Unwilling to Be Vaccinated against Coronavirus

Deutsche Welle wrote on July 12:

“In April, 74% of survey participants in Germany, the UK, Denmark, the Netherlands, Italy, France and Portugal said they would be willing to get vaccinated. By June, that number had dropped to 68%… The drop was particularly dramatic in Germany, which saw vaccine willingness drop from 70% to 61%. Divisions between northern and southern Germany were especially pronounced, with 67% of people in the northern state of Lower Saxony saying they would get vaccinated. In the southern state of Bavaria, however, only 52% said they would do the same.

“In early June, a national survey carried out by YouGov found only 50% of respondents were willing to get vaccinated — while 20% were staunchly opposed to getting a vaccine… [A] growing number of survey respondents… said they didn’t want to get a vaccine or were unsure about it due to concerns about potential side-effects or uncertainty about the safety of the vaccine….”

Of course, scientists working on the development of vaccines will go on overdrive to “assure” the public that a vaccine, still to be developed, will be “safe” and will have no side effects. People should be health-oriented and they should be very careful before allowing to be vaccinated with a vaccine which could be very dangerous. This is especially true for Christians in whom the Holy Spirit dwells. The Bible says that our body is supposed to be a holy temple of and for God.

The Great Covid-19 Deception

The Ron Paul Institute published an article on July 10 by Gary Heavin, stating that “he and his wife Diane are the founders of Curves, the world’s largest fitness franchise. Gary is the author of two NY Times bestselling books, Curves and Curves on the go. Gary co-wrote and starred in the movie Amerigeddon. Gary is a pro-life libertarian and serves on the advisory board of Dr. Ron Paul’s Institute for Peace and Prosperity. Gary and his wife are philanthropists who feed 10,000 children a day in Haiti and operate an orphanage outside the slums of Mumbai. Most importantly, they are bible believing Christians”:

“… it’s imperative that you understand the great deceit that Big Pharma, their minions at the FDA, CDC, NIH, the WHO, the MSM, and officials in high government positions are perpetrating on you, your family, and likely your doctor… you need to know you are being duped and you need a plan for you and your family if you become infected with Covid 19…

“When it comes to safe, effective and affordable therapies for Covid 19, Big Pharma and its agents, i.e. Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx and many others, appear to have an agenda to lie to you and your physician. The most obvious example is their ongoing effort to ridicule the treatment option of hydroxychloroquine, Azithromycin, and Zinc. We’ve all watched the harsh criticism that President Trump received when he promoted this protocol for Covid 19. So, hydroxychloroquine has been around for almost 70 years as a treatment for malaria, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis. The WHO has designated it as a safe and effective medication akin to taking an aspirin. A survey of 6,000 medical doctors affirmed it as their treatment of choice for Covid 19….

“How much effort has Big Pharma put into subverting this treatment regimen? In addition to denouncing its effectiveness, from Dr. Fauci and company, constant MSM hit pieces, the censoring of medical doctor’s articles and videos from the internet, there has also been a number of ‘studies’ done that were literally sabotaged from the onset.

“The VA hospital system reported in March that they had given hydroxychloroquine to a number of patients. Following their release of information, the MSM ran the story with the headlines, ‘VA hospital found that hydroxychloroquine doesn’t work and increases the fatality rate of Covid 19.’ However, if you actually read the study you will find that only the sickest of the cohorts were given the drug. They got the drug only after they were so far along that it would not have a chance to work and they were not given zinc. None of these details made the MSM articles.

“Another example of the Great Deception came from the British medical journal, The Lancet. The Lancet reported that a meta study showed that hydroxychloroquine was ineffective. As a result of this published study, France, Italy and other European countries immediately prohibited the use of this treatment option. Within a few weeks, it was found that the study was… badly designed and that the results were literally fabricated. The Lancet was forced to make a retraction of the ‘study.’ Of course in the meantime the MSM ran the original Lancet story and mislead millions of people and their physicians.

“So what could possibly be the motive behind Big Pharma’s Great Deception. Well there’s three answers, money, money and money. That brings up the treatment option that Big Pharma is promoting, Remdesivir. This lovely experimental drug, costs above $3,000 per regimen, must be given intravenously in a hospital (five days stay around 15 grand) and evidence shows that it doesn’t really work. The other treatment option is the promised Covid 19 vaccine that they allege is forthcoming. The NHS in Great Britain has committed to purchase a vaccine for the entire population of Great Britain. That’s a commitment of 80,000,000 doses at an agreed price of around $600 for each vaccination. That’s about $50,000,000,000. (50 Billion) That’s a lot of incentive to mislead people. This week, a US pharmaceutical company received $1.6 billion dollars towards their efforts to make this vaccine which in the opinion of many experts, won’t work on a coronavirus and will be untested and experimental.

“How does Big Pharma have so much control over the dissemination of this information or should I say propaganda? Well, the same answer pops up again, money. Big Pharma gave $2 billion dollars during the last election cycle to US politicians. Big AG, the military/security complex and big oil each gave only a paltry $1.0 billion dollars to buy the votes of our political leadership… The MSM counts Big Pharma’s advertising revenue at up to 80 percent of their income…”

The mass media and Big Pharma will not admit to any of this, but can there be any doubt that the involvement of Big Pharma has caused great harm to many people?

The Health Danger of Masks

The Ron Paul Institute published the following additional article on July 13:

“Way back in March of this year the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) were on record saying masks should only be worn by people who were around sick people. Healthy people didn’t need to wear masks.

“But all that has changed. Dr. Mark Sircus, in an article published on Lew Rockwell, July 10, 2020… reveals a startling statistic. He notes that typical CO2 in the air is about 400 ppm, a little higher than that around the nose or mouth as we breathe. But a typical mask can drive the level up to a dangerous 5,000 ppm!

“According to Dr. Sircus… wearing a face mask has been shown to reduce the amount of oxygen in the blood stream to 17.5 percent which over time can lead to hypoxia or lack of adequate oxygen to function normally. Headaches, foggy thinking and lethargy are common byproducts. Mask wearing while engaging in heightened physical activity can make matters even worse.

“Then there are the obvious inconsistencies with mask wearing. You have to wear one to enter a restaurant but once seated you can take it off? How does that work? Is there any ‘science’ that says seated people in a restaurant aren’t susceptible to the virus but if you start walking around you’re toast? None of this Covid garbage makes any sense to anyone willing to engage in critical thinking!…”

To be clear, we do not advocate against wearing masks when it is necessary, for instance, when shopping in stores [otherwise, one could not buy something] or working in an office where masks are mandated [otherwise, one could not work there and would lose his or her job]. What we ARE advocating is careful consideration of avoiding wearing masks when and where it is not necessary.

Certain States Travel Restrictions Constitutionally Dubious

On July 14, the Hill published the following opinion by lawyer “Daniel Ortner at the Pacific Legal Foundation, which litigates nationwide to achieve court victories enforcing the Constitution’s guarantee of individual liberty”:

“At the end of June, the governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut announced that anyone coming into their states from other states identified as coronavirus ‘hot spots’ — now up to 19 states — are required to quarantine themselves for 14 days. Ironically, Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York earlier in the pandemic called a similar policy put in place by Rhode Island for those who had been to New York unlawful and threatened to sue. But Cuomo was right then and is wrong now. These travel restrictions are constitutionally dubious and deeply problematic.

“Although governors have been granted emergency powers to respond to a pandemic, these powers have limits. In particular, governors can only exercise the power that has been granted to them by the legislative branches of their state. Constitutional guarantees, such as the right to due process and the right to travel, further constrain the governors’ emergency powers… ordering someone not to leave their home is a significant incursion on liberty. Accordingly, state legislatures have placed stringent limitations on the exercise of this power.

“A common limitation on the power to quarantine or isolate is the requirement that such orders must target discrete named individuals or identifiable groups, rather than broad categories of individuals. For example, in Connecticut, the governor or health commissioner can quarantine only those individuals they reasonably believe have been exposed to a disease or are contaminated. This requirement forecloses the application of quarantine and isolation orders to categories as broad as ‘anyone who has visited the state of Florida in the past two weeks.’ There is no reasonable basis for believing that anyone who has been anywhere in Florida has COVID-19. Statewide in Florida as of July 13, there were around 245,500 active cases among a population of 21.48 million, or around one in every 100 people (which is comparable to the number of active cases per capita in New York). And there’s even less reason to assume that for other states on the list, such as Iowa where around 1 in 400 people is infected, or North Carolina where around 1 in 300 is infected.

“Most states place significant procedural limitations on the exercise of quarantine and isolation authority, such as the right to an individualized hearing and to be represented by counsel, and categorical orders that apply to anyone who visited a particular state do not comply with these limitations. The northeastern governors’ orders ignore these sensible limitations, disregarding due process, another severe constitutional defect. Because quarantine or isolation orders significantly infringe on individual liberty, an individual is entitled to due process of law. At a bare minimum, an individual is entitled to a hearing where the government bears the burden of proof and where an individual can put on a defense. The northeast governors’ recent quarantine declaration provides for none of that.

“Finally, sweeping restrictions on travel violate the fundamental constitutional right to travel. We live in a country made up of 50 states… The Supreme Court has held that the Constitution protects the right of individuals to travel between states. This right to travel can be limited only when necessary to achieve a compelling state interest. A policy that imposes a quarantine on everyone coming from a particular state is far too broad and poorly designed to meet this level of scrutiny, especially when a traveler is not significantly more likely to be sick, on average, than the state’s own residents. Such a sweeping ban also ignores the significant regional variation that exists within most states. For example, someone from rural Franklin County in the Florida Panhandle is 12 times less likely to have had COVID-19 than someone from Miami-Dade County. But these sweeping travel bans treat them both the same…”

The question is, does anybody care anymore about America’s Constitution?

New Restrictions by Gov. Newsom

Fox News wrote on July 13:

“California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday ordered a halt to indoor activities at certain businesses statewide… Newsom, a Democrat, announced during a press briefing that all bars across the state must close… and that restaurants, wineries, tasting rooms, family entertainment centers, zoos, museums and card rooms must suspend indoor activities. The governor also announced that all gyms, places of worship, malls, personal care services, barbershops, salons, and non-critical offices in counties on the state’s ‘monitoring list’ had to shut down under the new order. The order affects more than 30 counties which are home to about 80 percent of California’s population…

“In March, California became the first state to impose a mandatory stay-at-home order… By late April, Newsom — under increasing pressure – began allowing businesses and activities to resume…

“Newsom’s announcement comes just hours after the state’s two largest school districts, Los Angeles and San Diego, announced they will not reopen for in-person instruction when the 2020-21 academic year begins next month…”

Los Angeles Unified, the country’s second-largest school district with roughly 700,000 students, will begin online-only “instruction” August 18; San Diego Unified, which serves more than 100,000 students, is set to start Internet “Instruction” August 31. But Orange County’s Board of Education voted to approve recommendations for reopening schools in the fall that do not include the mandatory use of masks for students or increased social distancing in classrooms. This vote is advisory only.

The Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal wrote on July 14:

“The evidence — scientific, health and economic — argues overwhelmingly for schools to open in the fall. Start with the relative immunity of young children to the disease, which should reassure parents. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30 children under age 15 have died from COVID-19. In a typical year 190 children die of the flu, 436 from suicide, 625 from homicide, and 4,114 from unintentional deaths such as drowning.

Only two children under age 18 have died in Chicago — fewer than were killed in shootings in a recent weekend. In New York City, 0.03 percent of children under age 18 have been hospitalized for Covid and 7.5 in one million have died. The death rate for those over 75 is more than 2,200-times higher than for those under 18.”

All these new measures, including the refusal to open schools, will BANKRUPT California [and other states] for sure and will destroy the financial survival of millions of people. They may also lead to violent protests and violent reactions. Man is proving time and again that he is totally incompetent to rule. We need Christ’s return to replace ALL human governments with the righteous Kingdom of God.

Reactions to Gov. Newsom’s New Restrictions

 Fox News reported on July 16:

 “A California pastor (Greg Fairrington, leader of 3,500-members Destiny Christian Church outside of Sacramento) said he would defy Gov. Gavin Newsom’s latest coronavirus lockdown… ‘If we don’t take a stand, all we’re doing is kicking the can down the road and we will be having the same conversations in three weeks, six weeks, six months, or even a year from now,’ [he said]. During a livestream service earlier this month, Fairrington floated a run for governor if he gets enough support… After 11 weeks of online-only services, Fairrington reopened on May 31 along with 1,000 other congregations across the state. Days before, President Trump had declared houses of worship ‘essential’ and stated he would override any governors that don’t allow them to open.”

 In a newsletter of the Los Angeles Times, it was stated on July 16:

 “The rapid shifts between a little more light and further darkness have created a sense of whiplash for many Californians. We stayed home, suffered job losses or uncertainty, and struggled to pivot as the rules adjusted and a bit of normalcy returned. Now, we find ourselves seemingly plunged back in time to the panic of late March and April, with narrowed lives and ever louder alarm bells ringing in every direction… the analogy of ‘the hammer and the dance’ might be helpful for wrapping your head around our ever-shifting situation… 

“We’ve already seen the hammer — it came down hard in late March, when aggressive action was taken to all but shutter the state of California. And we are now well into the dance, a delicate, imperfect quickstep of tightened and loosened restrictions that began when stay-at-home orders first eased in mid-May. We twirl in, and then out, and back again, urgently hoping that our improvised choreography can outpace the need for another all-encompassing blow of the hammer sending us back into total lockdown.

 “It’s a roller coaster ride with no end in sight. And… we are all screaming in our hearts. But the chaos has been particularly acute for those who work in industries affected by the closures. Small-business owners are contending with how to possibly stay afloat, as their workers face further layoffs and furloughs after months of financial uncertainty. That pain is being felt across California, as evidenced by a slew of reports in local papers around the state… The 2021 Rose Parade is canceled for the first time in 75 years…”

California’s Economic Downfall

Regarding California’s precarious situation, CNBC already published the following article on May 9, 2020:

“California will have a budget shortfall of $54.3 billion because of the economic devastation wrought by the coronavirus, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration announced Thursday, a stunning reversal for a state that had a $21 billion surplus a year ago.

“The state has been under a mandatory stay-at-home order since mid-March, forcing nonessential businesses to close and prompting more than 4 million Californians to file for unemployment benefits. After recording record low unemployment of 3.9% at the start of the year, the Newsom administration now predicts a jobless rate of 18% for the nation’s most populous state — 46% higher than the height of the Great Recession a decade ago… the revenue shortfall means the state’s constitutionally required funding level for public schools and community colleges will fall by $18.3 billion…

“The Newsom administration projects personal income will fall by close to 9% for the state’s nearly 40 million residents while permits for new housing construction — a key measure of the economy’s health — will drop more than 21%… For the past 10 years, the state has had an unprecedented run of economic growth, adding more than 3.4 million new jobs… But the projected budget [dispelled] any notion of a quick recovery once the state’s coronavirus restrictions are lifted… ‘The next few years we’re going to have to work through these challenges,’ Newsom said Wednesday.”

And now, after some restrictions had been lifted, they are back again… and with them, the economic downfall of California continues.

Buying Guns in Record Numbers

The Wall Street Journal wrote on July 14:

“Gun sales began rising to unusual highs in March, as coronavirus cases began surging in the U.S. and government-ordered lockdowns led to the highest unemployment levels since the Great Depression. The Federal Bureau of Investigation processed 7.8 million background checks for gun purchases from March to June… In June, background checks for firearms were up 136%, compared to a year earlier… Background checks in June for civilians seeking a license to carry were the highest since the FBI began conducting checks 20 years ago. Background checks for guns in Georgia tripled last month versus last year… and have more than doubled in Oklahoma, New York, Illinois and Minnesota.

“Last month in Minneapolis, the city where Mr. Floyd, a Black man, was killed by a white policeman, the line for gun permits was three hours long on Juneteenth, with a racially diverse group standing in line to obtain a permit… Dealers estimate that 40% of sales are going to first-time buyers, an increase over the normal average of about a quarter… sales of handguns, which are used for personal safety, are the strongest…

“That worries political leaders who are struggling to quell a recent surge in violence in cities around the U.S. Murders in Milwaukee, Chicago, Kansas City, Mo., and New York are on pace to see their highest levels in years, or even decades. ‘When we shut down all but necessary businesses, the states kept gun shops open. Why is that an essential business? And we had people lined up outside,’ Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said in an interview. The city is struggling with a steady increase in gunshot victims…

“First, there was a run on ammo… then it was the Asian-American community fearful over hate crimes they had seen related to China-bashing, and now it is just about everybody. Basic training courses are sold out through October. At Coliseum Gun Traders in Uniondale, N.Y., sales manager Kevin Romano said many first-time gun owners say they are buying guns because they see other people are buying guns.

“Gun stores were closed in some states in March amid a debate over whether they needed to be open during lockdowns, along with such essential businesses as grocery stores and gas stations. But eventually, all state governments allowed them to operate after the Trump administration said they should be considered essential businesses. Among the new buyers are people who say they never thought they would own a firearm and were previously critical of those who did…”

Violence WILL spread. Is civil war inevitable?

CNN Spreads Heretical and Blasphemous Teachings

Fox News reported on July 14:

“CNN anchor Don Lemon made the claim that Jesus Christ was ‘not perfect’… ‘Jesus Christ, if that’s who you believe in, Jesus Christ, admittedly was not perfect when he was here on this earth,’ Lemon told his colleague Chris Cuomo during ‘CNN Tonight with Don Lemon’ on Monday… ‘Don Lemon’s comments are, first of all, heretical,’ [Robert] Jeffress, the pastor of 14,000-member First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas told Fox News, ‘and it contradicts the most basic tenet of the Christian faith and demonstrates how tone-deaf the left is to faith issues’…

“MRCTV says, ‘this isn’t the first time that CNN has aired anti-religious rhetoric,’ pointing to what Cuomo told his viewers at the end of last week. ‘If you believe in one another and if you do the right thing for yourself and your community, things will get better in this country. You don’t need help from above,’ he said at the conclusion of Friday’s show. ‘It’s within us.’”

More Nonsense from the LAT:

On July 14, the Los Angeles Times published a commentary by Jody Rosen, recommending to “cancel the Star-Spangled Banner” and replace it with an appropriate piece as America’s new national anthem. The following was stated:

“‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ — like, for that matter, ‘America the Beautiful’ … is out of step with the 21st century… Irving Berlin’s ‘God Bless America’ [and] its uncomplicated patriotism… doesn’t wash in 2020. ‘This Land Is Your Land’… has its own blind spots: to indigenous Americans, the refrain ‘This land belongs to you and me’ may sound less like an egalitarian vision than a settler-colonialist manifesto. Nope, none of these songs will do.”

And so, the nonsense continues.

From Hagia Sophia to Al Aqsa?

Breaking Israel News reported on July 12:

“On Friday, a Turkish court annulled a 1934 ruling that turned the Hagia Sophia into a museum, effectively paving the way for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to fulfill his promise to turn the formerly Christian site into a mosque… Immediately after the court ruling, Erdogan signed a decree declaring Hagia Sophia was now open to Muslim worship and the first prayers inside could take place on July 24. Erdogan reiterated his claim that Hagia Sophia was originally constructed as a mosque…”

The Jerusalem Post wrote on July 11:

“Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to ‘liberate al-Aqsa mosque’ from Israel after ‘resurrecting Hagia Sophia’ as a mosque on Friday.

“The decision to change the status of the ancient Hagia Sophia church, which had been transformed into a mosque in 1453 and then into a museum in 1934, was made controversially last week. It follows an increasingly religious authoritarian agenda from Ankara that has made Turkey the world’s largest jailer of journalists, seen dissidents imprisoned for ‘terrorism’ and witnessed increasing military invasions of neighboring countries by Turkey.

“The resurrection of Hagia Sophia heralds the liberation of the al-Aqsa mosque, the Turkish Presidency website says… The speech, which was in Turkish, was translated slightly differently to Arabic and English, apparently as a way to hide part of Ankara’s full views on how it has linked Hagia Sophia to a wider agenda. In Arabic the speech says that turning Hagia Sophia into a mosque is part of the ‘return of freedom to al-Aqsa,’ essentially meaning Israel should be ejected from controlling Jerusalem’s Old City where al-Aqsa is located.

“Turkey’s president linked the decision to reviving Islam from Bukhara in Uzbekistan to Andalusia in Spain. This terminology, linking al-Aqsa in Jerusalem to Hagia Sophia and Spain, is a kind of coded terminology for a wider religious agenda… Turkey’s current president has long championed the Palestinian cause and been an extreme critic of Israel… Linking the major change at Hagia Sophia to Jerusalem illustrates that Ankara’s ambitions are far larger than just reasserting Islamic prayers at the historic mosque and church in Istanbul; it is part of a larger Islamic agenda for the region.

“Turkey’s ruling AK Party is rooted in the Muslim Brotherhood and Turkey is a close ally of Hamas in Gaza. Hamas is also rooted in the Muslim Brotherhood… Ankara’s leadership believes that its changes to Hagia Sophia are only one step of a larger religious militarist agenda in the Middle East… One day, Turkey could even aim its sights at Jerusalem. The speech about Hagia Sophia clearly indicated this is on the agenda in the future.”

The Bible confirms that Turkey will engage in mean and hostile acts against Israel. God is strongly condemning Turkey for such conduct.

Breaking Israel News reported on July 14:

“The United Nations came out strongly against the Turkish government turning Haga Sophia, built as the most prominent church of its time, into a mosque. But many people, Jews and Christian, noted that UNESCO was being hypocritical since it has a long history of supporting Muslim appropriation of Jewish sites in Israel…

“Elias Zarina, an Israeli Christian Arab and co-founder of the Jerusalemite Initiative [said:] ‘What Erdogan just did to Hagia Sophia and it will not stop there, Muslims have been doing to Christians all through history. This is what the Muslims did to the Temple Mount; they built a Muslim building on top of the ruins of the Jewish Temple and now Jews are forbidden from going there or praying there. And UNESCO went along with it, perpetuating the Muslim lie that the Temple Mount is only a holy site for the Muslims.’”

The Right of the Sword

Newsmax wrote on July 12:

“For Turkey’s religious conservatives, ‘converting the Hagia Sophia is the ultimate moment,’ said Mustafa Akyol, a senior fellow specializing in Islam and modernity at the Cato Institute, a Washington think tank. ‘They believe in what they call the right of the sword, the right of the Ottomans to convert the church into a mosque as a result of conquest,’ Akyol said.

“‘Turkey has the sovereign right to do what it wants. But I ask them: What will you say if Israel does something to Al Aqsa? Will that also be the right of the sword?’”

The “Right of the Sword” points to war. The Bible predicts of course that war WILL occur soon in the Middle East. Also note the next article.

Erdogan’s Move Threatens Christianity

The Associated Press wrote on July 10:

“The move threatens to deepen tensions with neighboring Greece, whose prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, condemned the decision as an affront to Hagia Sophia’s ecumenical character… ‘This decision clearly affects not only Turkey’s relations with Greece but also its relations with the European Union, UNESCO and the world community as a whole.’

“In Greece’s second-largest city, Thessaloniki, protesters gathered outside a church that is modeled on Hagia Sophia and bears the same name. They chanted, ‘We’ll light candles in Hagia Sophia!’ and held Greek flags and Byzantine banners. Cyprus ‘strongly condemns Turkey’s actions on Hagia Sophia in its effort to distract domestic opinion and calls on Turkey to respect its international obligations,’ tweeted Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides.

“Vladimir Dzhabarov, deputy head of the foreign affairs committee in the Russian upper house of parliament, called the action ‘a mistake.’ ‘Turning it into a mosque will not do anything for the Muslim world. It does not bring nations together, but on the contrary brings them into collision,’ he said… Garo Paylan, an ethnic Armenian member of Turkey’s Parliament tweeted that it was ‘a sad day for Christians (and) for all who believe in a pluralist Turkey.’ ‘The decision to convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque will make life more difficult for Christians here and for Muslims in Europe,’ he wrote…

“On Friday, Archbishop Elpidophoros of America said the decision runs counter to the vision of secular Turkey’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk ‘who understood that Hagia Sophia should serve all Turkey’s people and indeed the whole world.’ ‘The days of conquest should remain a closed chapter of our collective histories,’ he told The Associated Press…

“Erdogan, a devout Muslim, has frequently used the Hagia Sophia issue to drum up support for his Islamic-rooted party…

“Built under Byzantine Emperor Justinian, Hagia Sophia was the main seat of the Eastern Orthodox church for centuries, where emperors were crowned amid ornate marble and mosaic decorations. The minarets were added later, and the building was turned into an imperial mosque following the 1453 Ottoman conquest of Constantinople — the city that is now called Istanbul. The building opened its doors as a museum in 1935, a year after the Council of Ministers’ decision. Mosaics depicting Jesus, Mary and Christian saints that were plastered over in line with Islamic rules were uncovered through arduous restoration work for the museum. Hagia Sophia was the most popular museum in Turkey last year, drawing more than 3.7 million visitors.”

While Turkey will escape the hands of the “beast” or the “king of the North” and ultimately assist Europe in fighting Israel, Erdogan’s fanatic and radical Muslim policy will anger and be of concern for many Christians.

Conflicting Reports from Israel re Potential Lockdown

JTA wrote on July 14:

“Israel’s Health Ministry is considering ordering Israelis to limit their Rosh Hashanah celebrations to only their nuclear families… The order would come with a total lockdown of Israeli cities for the High Holidays, a repeat of the Passover closure policy…

“The Makor Rishon newspaper first reported on Monday that Israel’s Population and Immigration Authority will allow non-citizens to enter Israel to attend life-cycle events including weddings, births, and bar and bat mitzvahs. Advance coordination and proof of health insurance, including for COVID-19, is required, as is a two-week isolation for the visitors, who can include the relatives’ spouses and children who are under the age of 1…

“Israel’s current ban on the entrance of non-citizens is in effect until Aug. 1.”

Bloodbath at Church in South Africa

The Daily Mail wrote on July 12:

“Five people have been killed and dozens arrested in an ongoing church massacre in Johannesburg. The bloodbath took place at the International Pentecost Holiness Church in Zuurbekom, and specialised police and a heavily-armed national defence force remain at the scene. It is believed the killings came amid a leadership battle at the church, as officers scrambled to the church at 3am local time following reports that 200 people were taken hostage…

“The International Pentecost Holiness Church, which has a membership of three million, has become divided in its search for a successor to former leader Glayon Modise. He died in February 2016 without appointing a successor… The clashes have led to several court battles over the years. It has not yet… been confirmed if today’s hostage situation relates to the ongoing row.

“In November 2018 two church factions confronted each other outside the church’s Silo headquarters… Churchgoers at the time reported being narrowly hit by bullets…”

If true, these would be horrible developments pertaining to a church claiming to be representing Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.

Duda Wins in Poland

Deutsche Welle wrote on July 13:

“Polish President Andrzej Duda has won the country’s presidential election… The right-wing politician will lead Poland for five more years… Cultural issues dominated the campaign trail, with the government, state media and the influential Catholic church all ultimately coming out in support of Duda, a social conservative… In the weeks leading up to the election, the president’s rhetoric shifted farther to the right. He seized on gay rights as a key theme, denouncing the LGBT+ rights movement as an ‘ideology’ worse than communism…

“Duda also tapped into anti-Semitic tropes in his characterization of his rival as someone who would sell out Polish families to Jewish interests. Poland had been home to Europe’s largest Jewish community before it was decimated by Germany in the Holocaust…

“‘Poland is split down the middle,’ said Witold Orlowski, a professor at Warsaw University of Technology Business School. ‘On the one hand, even this slim victory is a PiS success and will allow it to continue to govern, at least technically,’ Orlowski said. ‘On the other hand the social and economic situation will deteriorate and a large part of the electorate will blame the PiS.’

“In 2017, the EU launched unprecedented proceedings against Poland over changes to the country’s judicial law made on Duda’s watch that could see its EU voting rights suspended.”

We would expect that catholic Poland will be a part of the final European constellation of the ancient Roman Empire.  

Pope Francis’ Prayer to the “Virgin Mary”

Herald Malaysia wrote on July 11:

“Pope Francis offered Mass asking the Virgin Mary to help Christians recognise the face of Christ in each migrant and refugee…

“Invoking the new Marian title [Solacium migrantium, ‘Solace or Comfort of Migrants,’] added to the Litany of Loreto in June, Pope Francis prayed for the migrants who are in detention camps in Libya and elsewhere who are often subject to abuse and violence.”

One of her titles is also the “Queen of Heaven”, which was adopted from the pagan goddess Ishtar or Astarte. We know of course that the Mary of the Bible is dead and in her grave, awaiting the resurrection from the dead to eternal life in the God Family at the time of Christ’s return.

Required Qualities for the Next Pope?

National Catholic Reporter wrote on July 14:

“New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan has forwarded copies of a book that suggests qualities desirable in a future pope to cardinals across the globe, in an apparent break with the longstanding practice that the Catholic Church’s highest prelates refrain from publicly lobbying for possible candidates for the papacy… The book is George Weigel’s The Next Pope: The Office of Peter and a Church in Mission, released by the publisher this month…

“Pope John Paul II [wrote in] the 1996 apostolic constitution Universi Dominici Gregis:… ‘I … forbid anyone, even if he is a Cardinal, during the Pope’s lifetime and without having consulted him, to make plans concerning the election of his successor, or to promise votes, or to make decisions in this regard in private gatherings’…

“Dolan’s note accompanying Weigel’s book is dated June 9, signed by the cardinal, and printed on letterhead featuring Dolan’s coat of arms. It appears to have been sent to all 222 of the world’s cardinals… Weigel does not specifically propose names of cardinals to consider as a possible future pope in his book, but he does suggest characteristics and qualities that would be desirable in the next pontiff. Weigel also makes several veiled criticisms of Francis…

“Upon the death or resignation of a pope, all cardinals under the age of 80 are tasked with gathering in Rome to elect his successor. At present there are 122 such cardinals, including Dolan.”

About half of Oklahoma Belongs to Native Americans

BBC News reported on July 10:

“The US Supreme Court has ruled about half of Oklahoma belongs to Native Americans, in a landmark case that also quashed a child rape conviction. The justices decided 5-4 that an eastern chunk of the state, including its second-biggest city, Tulsa, should be recognised as part of a reservation… Thursday’s decision… is seen as one of the most far-reaching cases for Native Americans before the highest US court in decades. The ruling means some tribe members found guilty in state courts for offences committed on the land at issue can now challenge their convictions. Only federal prosecutors will have the power to criminally prosecute Native Americans accused of crimes in the area. Tribe members who live within the boundaries may also be exempt from state taxes… Some 1.8 million people – of whom about 15% are Native American – live on the land, which spans three million acres.

“Justice Neil Gorsuch, a conservative appointed by US President Donald Trump, sided with the court’s four liberals and also wrote the opinion. He referred to the Trail of Tears, the forcible 19th Century relocation of Native Americans, including the Creek Nation, to Oklahoma. The US government said at the time that the new land would belong to the tribes in perpetuity. Justice Gorsuch wrote: ‘Today we are asked whether the land these treaties promised remains an Indian reservation for purposes of federal criminal law. Because Congress has not said otherwise, we hold the government to its word.’…

“In a dissenting opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts said the decision would destabilise the state’s courts. He wrote: ‘The State’s ability to prosecute serious crimes will be hobbled and decades of past convictions could well be thrown out. The decision today creates significant uncertainty for the State’s continuing authority over any area that touches Indian affairs, ranging from zoning and taxation to family and environmental law.’”

The decision of the US Supreme Court does not address land ownership.

Trump to Open Up Citizenship for Dreamers?

Fox News wrote on July 11:

“President Trump said Friday that he will be signing an executive order in the next few weeks which will include a ‘road to citizenship’ for… DACA… recipients… ‘I have the power to do it as president…’ Trump said… Trump, who has pledged to end DACA since he was on the campaign trail in 2015 when he called the program an ‘illegal executive order,’ said that the bill wouldn’t just be for temporary relief but would be a far more encompassing merit-based bill. DACA currently serves as a protection for young immigrants that were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, also referred to as Dreamers, to allow them to legally study, work and remain in the U.S. without fear of deportation. While it is unclear whether the president can grant DACA recipients a path to citizenship through executive powers, he stated it is his intention Friday…

“Trump’s announcement comes just weeks after the Supreme Court 5-4 ruling that rejected Trump’s attempt to dismantle the program for young immigrants. It said that the administration had not provided proper legal justification to end the program [instituted] by former President Barack Obama in 2012. Trump took to Twitter to express his anger about the ruling at the time. ‘These horrible & politically charged decisions coming out of the Supreme Court are shotgun blasts into the face of people that are proud to call themselves Republicans or Conservatives,’ Trump tweeted…

“President Trump and a bipartisan group of senators hit a stalemate in January 2018 after a compromise immigration bill was presented that would protect DACA recipients. But Trump would not agree to the measure because it did not include a provision for the U.S.- Mexico border wall, eventually leading to the longest government shut down in U.S. history.

Trump first submitted his appeal to the Supreme Court in January 2018 after a federal judge blocked the president’s attempt to terminate DACA. The Supreme Court then began oral arguments for the case in November 2019, which prompted Trump to tweet, ‘Many of the people in DACA, no longer very young, are far from “angels.” Some are very tough, hardened criminals.’”

Trump’s position on DACA has been extremely inconsistent and contradictory, to say the very least.

In another interesting development, Deutsche Welle reported on July 14 that “The Trump administration has dropped a proposed rule that would have required international students to leave the US if their college classes were held entirely online this fall…

“[Several universities, including Harvard] challenged the Trump administration’s decision [in court]… US District Judge Allison Burroughs in Massachusetts said the US government as well as Harvard University and MIT had reached a settlement that would make the rule moot.”

Germany: Rich Economy “Über Alles”

Deutsche Welle wrote on July 11:

“Economy and Energy Minister Peter Altmaier defended Germany’s continuing trade relationship with China, following the passing of a controversial new security bill in Hong Kong. ‘It has always been the policy of the Western international community, including the EU, that international trade relations cannot be based solely on how democratic a country is,’ Altmaier told national newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. ‘We have never done that,’ he stressed, adding this was not even official policy in the times of Willy Brandt or Joschka Fischer – Germany’s former Social Democratic chancellor and Green party foreign minister respectively.

“With regard to Sino-German relations, Berlin has long adhered to the principle of ‘change through trade’ (‘Wandel durch Handel’ in German), hoping that increased business ties may lead to more democratic structures in China. China implemented Hong Kong’s so-called national security law at the end of June that covers offenses such as succession, subversion of state power, local terrorist activities and collaborating with foreign forces to endanger national security. It also gives China greater legal jurisdiction in the semi-autonomous territory… Critics fear it will quash dissent and jeopardize Hong Kong’s special status within China.”

Germany is the richest economy in Europe. No surprise there.

Acknowledgement and Disclaimer

These Current Events are compiled and commented on by Norbert Link. We gratefully acknowledge the many contributions of news articles from our readership. The publication of articles in this section is not to be viewed as an endorsement or approval as to contents or accuracy of the selected articles, but they are published for the purpose of pointing at worldwide developments in the light of biblical end-time prophecy and godly instruction. Our own comments are provided in italics.

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