Update 395


Is Jury Duty Really That Bad?

On May 23, 2009, Norbert Link will give the sermon, titled, “Is Jury Duty Really That Bad?”

The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org (12:30 pm Pacific Time; 1:30 pm Mountain Time; 2:30 pm Central Time; 3:30 pm Eastern Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.

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Ignorance in High Places

by Brian Gale (United Kingdom)

Some time ago, I heard a very senior UK politician say that he supported marriage and the family. Because of the erosion of these basic institutions through legislation, tax laws and increasingly immoral behavior, I was really pleased to hear him be so supportive – until his next utterance. He continued that he supported marriage between a man and a woman, a man and a man and a woman and a woman! And this was from someone with aspirations to govern the country at the highest level.  

Is it any wonder, therefore, that with such ignorance in high places, Godly morality is shunned and ignored by those in power and by those who follow these leaders? In the ancient nation of Israel, the king was to “write for himself a copy of the law [of God] in a book” (compare Deuteronomy 17:18). The reason for this is given in the following verse: “And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes…”  

Today, our leaders and rulers have little or no knowledge of the law and the way of God; so much so, that they ignore the valuable wisdom that is so readily available. Instead, they develop their own ideas which often have little or no biblical foundation whatsoever. This is yet another case of doing what is right in their own eyes (compare Judges 17:6; 21:25). If our leaders had “written for themselves a copy of the book of the law”–or even just read it–they would know that marriage is only between a man and a woman and not any other combination that emanates from the mind of man.  They would also not implement legislation that contradicts clear Bible teaching and which requires that in case of a conflict, the law of the land always takes legal precedence over God’s Word.

The UK government continually boasts of the highest educational standards in our history, with more students obtaining degrees than ever before.   But alongside that is, perhaps, the greatest ignorance that we have ever had in terms of Godly knowledge and understanding.

Ignorance in high places has seeped right down through every strata of society, so that the knowledge of God and His way is little known or understood, and that is a very dangerous position to be in. Politicians always seem to think that they have all the answers.  

In truth, only God has!

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As U.S. Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, is facing incredibly low approval ratings and is bombarded with growing demands to step down, due to her perceived misrepresentations surrounding the waterboarding scandal, the U.K. Speaker of the House, Michael Martin, likewise came under fire, with many voices demanding his resignation, due to a financial scandal involving MPs’ “expense” accounts. But while Martin announced his intent to resign, Pelosi has been defiant until now.

President Obama’s long-awaited meeting with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apparently had the expected results–namely, that the two leaders did not agree on just about anything substantive.

President Obama’s commencement address at the Catholic University at Notre Dame highlighted again that his position on abortion, stem cell research and other related issues are NOT in accordance with God’s Word–the Bible. His repeated flip flops have begun to anger some of his strongest supporters–civil and human rights groups.

Even his ambitious plan to close Guantánamo suffered a serious setback when the Senate voted 90-6 on Wednesday, May 20, to stall the process (Financial Times, May 21).

In two subsequent speeches on Thursday, May 21, by President Obama and former Vice President Cheney, it became obvious that the divide between the two men and the policies they represent, could not be greater.

President Obama said in his speech that after 9/11, “our government made decisions based upon fear rather than foresight, and all too often trimmed facts and evidence… And in this season of fear, too many of us – Democrats and Republicans; politicians, journalists and citizens – fell silent. In other words, we went off course…

“I banned the use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques by the United States of America. I know some have argued that brutal methods like water-boarding were necessary to keep us safe. I could not disagree more. As Commander-in-Chief, I see the intelligence, I bear responsibility for keeping this country safe, and I reject the assertion that these are the most effective means of interrogation…

“The second decision that I made was to order the closing of the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay. For over seven years, we have detained hundreds of people at Guantanamo. During that time, the system of Military Commissions at Guantanamo succeeded in convicting a grand total of three suspected terrorists… Instead of bringing terrorists to justice, efforts at prosecution met setbacks, cases lingered on, and in 2006 the Supreme Court invalidated the entire system. Meanwhile, over five hundred and twenty-five detainees were released from Guantanamo under the Bush Administration… 

“There is also no question that Guantanamo set back the moral authority that is America’s strongest currency in the world… our government was defending positions that undermined the rule of law…”

Regarding Vice President Cheney’s response, The Associated Press wrote that he defended “the decisions of the Bush administration in dealing with terrorism. Expressing no remorse for the actions the Bush White House had ordered, Cheney said under the same circumstances he would make the same decisions ‘without hesitation.'”

At the same time, we were reminded of the dangers confronting the USA, when four men who were reportedly attempting to “commit jihad,” were arrested in New York “shortly after planting a 37-pound mock explosive device in the trunk of a car outside the Riverdale Temple and two mock bombs in the backseat of a car outside the Riverdale Jewish Center, another synagogue a few blocks away… [They] were charged with conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction within the United States and conspiracy to acquire and use anti-aircraft missiles” (The Associated Press, May 21).

An earthquake in Los Angeles, which was reputedly of a 4.7 to 5.0 magnitude, brought into focus the very real threat of the “big one.” A court decision, forcing parents to administer certain medical treatments to their 13-year-old child against the parents’ and the boy’s objections emphasizes again the ever-increasing power of the government to enforce its will on the will of the parents in administering certain medical treatments, while exemplifying the obvious contradiction in the government’s position that it is the right of the mother to kill her child through abortion.

The spread of the swine flu is still on the rise, with one expert suggesting that it might have been created in a lab; the Catholic Church is in the news again for allowing despicable child molestation through their priests and nuns to go on for decades in Ireland; and finally, “Ida,” a “missing link” between apes and humans was allegedly found. With this utter nonsense, many seek to give credence to Darwin’s theory of evolution, which has been disproved by some scientists.

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Financial Scandal in Britain and its Potential Consequences

The Financial Times wrote on May 15:

“After a week of lurid revelations, only a few brave MPs are still ready to stand up and defend the way they worked the Westminster expenses system… The mood among most MPs was one of shock and fear: a fear that the public will turn on them as individuals and against democratic politics in general… Political leaders were initially slow to realise the destructive potential of the leaked expenses data, first trying to blame the system and the Commons officials that authorised claims rather than MPs themselves…

“Nobody knows quite where the dust will settle… Labour, the party in power with the most sitting MPs, could suffer most… The June 4 local and euro-elections may give a taste of what the voters make of it all, if they can be bothered. All the signs are that many people are giving up on politics altogether.”

Reuters reported on May 18:

“The Sun said a general election due by the middle of next year should be held immediately after days of disclosures about MPs’ questionable and sometimes lavish expenses brought British politics into disrepute. ‘Voters have had enough of this Government, enough of greedy MPs, enough of a Commons Speaker who has turned the Mother of Parliaments into the mother of all shyster politicians,’ it said in an editorial headlined ‘Give Britain an election … now.’

“Prime Minister Gordon Brown is certain to resist calls for an election, with his Labour Party trailing the Conservatives in polls and the economy in its worst recession since World War Two… The support for parties beyond the main three had jumped nine points from the previous month, adding to speculation that fringe groups like the Greens, the anti-European Union UK Independence Party and far-right British National Party (BNP) will show big gains in European and local elections on June 4…

“The Daily Telegraph has got hold of a disc containing details of expense claims and has been publishing damaging reports of claims for moat cleaning, an adult film and dog food, as well as for mortgages that have been paid off. The image of all parties has suffered, but Labour has been worst hit because it has been in power for the last 12 years and was already on the ropes over the economic crisis. Labour has suspended two MPs and one of its junior ministers has stepped down pending an investigation into his finances.”

The Financial Times wrote on May 19:

“Michael Martin said on Tuesday he would resign as Commons Speaker after losing the confidence of many MPs and party leaders over his handling of the Westminster expenses furore… His announcement that he would step down on June 21 makes Mr Martin the first Speaker of the House to be publicly forced to resign since John Trevor was forced out in 1695 after being caught accepting a bribe.”

The New York Times added on May 19:

“In a terse statement, he told parliament he would step down on June 21, enabling parliament to elect a successor on June 22. He was the highest-ranking public figure to fall victim to the expenses affair. Political commentators depicted his announcement as a sign that Prime Minister Gordon Brown had caved to pressure, further damaging his political fortunes. The British leader is battling disastrous poll ratings in advance of elections that must be held within a year.

“For some, Mr. Martin was a scapegoat for the squirming embarrassment of legislators of all major political parties caught in a cascade of disclosures in The Daily Telegraph newspaper about their spending… But for others he was held responsible for blocking disclosures of financial abuse and for stonewalling reforms…

“The disclosures incensed many Britons, caught in a deep recession and angry at what they have seen as examples of their elected representatives exploiting their privileged positions to secure unwarranted financial support.

“Facing a possible no-confidence vote, Mr. Martin announced his decision Tuesday to a house he has presided over as speaker since 2000.”

Obama and Netanyahu Meet

The Associated Press reported on May 18:

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday he is ready to resume peace talks with the Palestinians immediately, but any agreement is contingent on their acceptance of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. Netanyahu and President Barack Obama met for more than two hours at the White House and focused on Mideast peace talks, Iran’s nuclear program and the U.S.-Israeli relationship.
“Obama said he expects a positive response from his diplomatic outreach to Iran on stopping its nuclear program by the end of the year. The president said the United States wanted to bring Iran into the world community, but declared ‘we’re not going to have talks forever.’

“At the same time, Obama said bluntly that it was important that Netanyahu, a hard-liner on peace negotiations with the Palestinians, get back to the negotiating table. While his language was gentle, Obama’s words were notable nonetheless for being made in public.”

Haaretz.com wrote the following on May 18:

“Their meeting proceeded according to expectations. The president displayed reserved friendship, covering over the deep differences between the two leaders’ positions. As expected, Netanyahu described the meeting as ‘very good and friendly,’ while Obama praised the prime minister publicly for his political skills and awareness of history, saying he believed Netanyahu would make ‘strategic decisions for Israel’s security’ during his term.

“What about content? The meeting focused on Iran, the Palestinians and the link between them. Netanyahu said they reached complete understanding on the goal regarding Iran – ‘to prevent Iran from developing a military nuclear capability.’ Obama promised him that if the diplomatic effort fails to get results by the end of the year, the U.S. will reevaluate the situation and perhaps impose tougher sanctions. He also said that all options are on the table… Netanyahu said he hopes ‘Obama will succeed’ in his talks with Iran, but this is a diplomatic phrase. It is doubtful that he believes the Iranians will suddenly become nice and give up their nuclear program just because Obama talks with them.

“In practice, this means that Netanyahu agreed to give Obama until the end of the year. Then, if Iran’s nuclear program is still proceeding, Israel will consider ‘other options’…

“The differences on the Palestinian issue remain. Obama wants a Palestinian state, Netanyahu refuses to say ‘two states.’ He prefers to speak about how to prevent the Palestinians from establishing a second Gaza in the West Bank, requiring them to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, and security arrangements. Obama said the settlements must stop, Netanyahu replied by demanding Palestinian ‘reciprocity.’

“Obama intends to launch a new American peace plan in his speech in Cairo on June 4. It will no doubt contain all the elements Netanyahu is uncomfortable with – two states, halting settlement construction and removing outposts.”

The Los Angeles Times added on May 18:

“Netanyahu said he was ready to resume peace talks with the Palestinians immediately but he also said any agreement depended on their acceptance of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. It was not immediately clear in the way he phrased the response whether Netanyahu was demanding that as a precondition for talks…

“The Israeli leader did not respond publicly to Obama’s demand on an end to the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and refused again to say he was ready to negotiate a so-called two-state solution to the nearly 60-year dispute with the Palestinians. The plan, endorsed by the United States and other parties pushing for peace between the historic foes, calls for establishment of a Palestinian state side by side with Israel.”

“Persisting Rift between USA, Europe and Israel”

Deutsche Welle wrote on May 19:

“Benjamin Netanyahu’s first visit to the Oval Office did not bring about the easing of tensions that the international community had hoped for. The Israeli prime minister did not endorse a two state solution while in Israel itself, a new settlement in the West Bank is on the agenda. On both of those issues US President Barack Obama had hoped to sway the Israeli leader towards compromise…

“The two leaders tried to paper over their differences but it was obvious that there was considerably less agreement than Washington had hoped for… The persisting rift in US-Israeli relations comes as a disappointment to many in the international community. European leaders had hoped that the hard-line stance of the new Israeli government might be softened somewhat by pressure from Washington…

“Europe’s own first experience with Israel’s new leadership had been somewhat sobering. Earlier this month, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman toured the EU to a much disillusioning effect. The ultranationalist Lieberman has rejected the idea of a Palestinian state and has announced that Israel was no longer bound by the so-called Annapolis peace process which formed the basis of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in 2008… The EU’s external relations commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner warned last month that a planned upgrade of bilateral relations between Israel and the EU could not come about until the government in Tel Aviv commits to the peace talks with the Palestinians.”

Welt-On-Line added on May 19:

“The two leaders tried to paper over their differences but the divisions were hard to ignore between Israel and its superpower ally… After two hours of talks, Obama offered no new remedies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which has defied efforts by successive U.S. administrations. He has yet to formulate a detailed Middle East strategy… With Israeli leaders mostly skeptical of Obama’s efforts to engage Iran diplomatically, Netanyahu stressed Israel’s concerns about Tehran’s nuclear program. Israel… has not ruled out military strikes against Iran if diplomacy fails…

“If Netanyahu remains resistant to talks with the Palestinians on tough issues such as borders and settlements, it could cause friction in U.S.-Israeli relations… Netanyahu can ill afford the perception at home that he is alienating Israel’s chief ally. Neither can he be seen giving up too much if he wants to keep the right-wing core of his coalition intact.”

Further Reactions to Obama-Netanyahu Meeting

On May 19, Haaretz.com stated:

“An aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas heaped praise Monday on U.S. President Barack Obama for his ‘encouraging’ commitment to a two-state solution… while lambasting Netanyahu for his ‘disappointing’ remarks… Israeli opposition lawmakers also weighed in with criticism of Netanyahu, calling the meeting a waste of time [and ‘pointless’] and accusing the prime minister of ‘unintelligible chatter’…

“A politician on the right of the political spectrum, however, said that the meeting proved Obama was not committed to Israel’s security in the face of the threat from a nuclear Iran. ‘There is room for real concern since the U.S. is shirking its historical obligation to guarantee Israel’s safety,’ said MK Aryeh Eldad of the National Union party. ‘The U.S. is saying, in effect, that it is willing to accept a nuclear Iran, and Israel remains alone in the face of Iran. Israel will have no choice but to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities alone, using any means available, may the price be what it may’…

“Outside the White House, pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli protesters drew most of the police attention even though they were far outnumbered by protesters for other causes. A human divider of police officers separated protesters holding Palestinian flags and signs condemning Israel’s roadblocks in the Palestinian territories, and others holding signs comparing Obama and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler in 1939 and urging Obama to prevent the ‘Islamic takeover of the Holy Land.'”

The Jerusalem Post wrote on May 19:

“Hamas reacted with pessimism on Tuesday to the meeting between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama, saying that while the comments made by the two leaders professed hope, they were really just meant to deceive the world.”

Iran Defies USA

The Wall Street Journal wrote on May 21: “Iran Tests Missile, Launching Pre-Election Show of Defiance.”

The article continued:

“Iran test fired what it said was its most advanced surface-to-surface missile, days after President Barack Obama laid out a rough timeline for assessing progress in diplomacy with Tehran and weeks ahead of Iranian presidential elections… Iran said the Sajjil-2 had a range of 2,000 kilometers, or about 1,200 miles. That would make it capable of reaching Israel and the Black Sea coast of European Union members Romania and Bulgaria… Iranians remain fiercely proud of their country’s technological prowess, especially amid United Nations and U.S. sanctions on the country.”

President Obama’s Unacceptable Speech at University of Notre Dame

On Sunday, May 17, President Obama gave his commencement address at the University of Notre Dame. Even though the Catholic University’s invitation to Mr. Obama and its decision to confer on him an honorary degree sparked protests by antiabortion advocates, most in attendance–reportedly overwhelmingly nominal, but not practicing Catholics–welcomed him warmly and gave him a standing ovation. The invitation to Mr. Obama amplified longstanding tensions between Catholic Church teachings — which see abortion as murder — and perceived academic freedom.

Mr. Obama spoke much about common ground, imploring all sides on the issue to “work together.” But how can this be done, if abortion is evil and the protection of life is good?–as the Bible clearly puts it. You might want to read Paul’s clear statements in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18. It is interesting that in his speech, Mr. Obama operated from the backward premise that abortion was NOT WRONG, but he then pleaded for compassion and help for those mothers who would not want to have an abortion.

Also, since the Bible teaches that it is wrong to kill life for the purpose of allegedly saving the life of another, Mr. Obama’s argument in his speech that stem cell research (which involves the killing of human life) should be allowed to make it easier for children who suffer from juvenile diabetes, is simply unacceptable (In addition, there is really no current scientific data supporting the notion that stem cell research will in any way help cure Type 1 Diabetes).

Even though President Obama was correct that we must not demonize or reduce to caricature those who hold different opinions, this polemic political statement did not in any way get to the crux of the matter–whether according to GOD’S WORD–the BIBLE–abortion and stem cell research and other related issues are wrong or right. If they are wrong, then there CANNOT BE common ground with the concept that they ALSO may be right.

We are quoting the following excerpts from Mr. Obama’s speech, which he delivered at the University, addressing abortion and other related issues (as published by the Wall Street Journal on May 17):

“The gay activist and the evangelical pastor may both deplore the ravages of HIV/AIDS, but find themselves unable to bridge the cultural divide that might unite their efforts. Those who speak out against stem cell research may be rooted in admirable conviction about the sacredness of life, but so are the parents of a child with juvenile diabetes who are convinced that their son’s or daughter’s hardships can be relieved.

“The question, then, is how do we work through these conflicts? Is it possible for us to join hands in common effort? As citizens of a vibrant and varied democracy, how do we engage in vigorous debate? How does each of us remain firm in our principles, and fight for what we consider right, without demonizing those with just as strongly held convictions on the other side? Nowhere do these questions come up more powerfully than on the issue of abortion…

“Because when we do that — when we open our hearts and our minds to those who may not think like we do or believe what we do — that’s when we discover at least the possibility of common ground. That’s when we begin to say, ‘Maybe we won’t agree on abortion, but we can still agree that this is a heart-wrenching decision for any woman to make, with both moral and spiritual dimensions. So let’s work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions by reducing unintended pregnancies, and making adoption more available, and providing care and support for women who do carry their child to term. Let’s honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause, and make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded in clear ethics and sound science, as well as respect for the equality of women.’

“Understand — I do not suggest that the debate surrounding abortion can or should go away. No matter how much we may want to fudge it — indeed, while we know that the views of most Americans on the subject are complex and even contradictory — the fact is that at some level, the views of the two camps are irreconcilable. Each side will continue to make its case to the public with passion and conviction. But surely we can do so without reducing those with differing views to caricature…”

Notre Dame’s Hypocritical Course of Action

The Wall Street Journal wrote on May 19:

“It was precisely the message President Obama wanted to send: How bad can he be on abortion if Notre Dame is willing to honor him? We cannot blame the president for this one. During his campaign for president, Mr. Obama spoke honestly about the aggressive pro-choice agenda he intended to pursue… and his actions have been consistent with that pledge. If only our nation’s premier Catholic university were as forthright in advancing its principles as Mr. Obama has been for his.

“In a letter to Notre Dame’s Class of 2009, the university’s president… John Jenkins, stated that the honors for Mr. Obama do not indicate any ‘ambiguity’ about Notre Dame’s commitment to Catholic teaching on the sanctity of human life. The reality is that it was this ambiguity that the White House was counting on; this ambiguity that was furthered by the adoring reaction to Mr. Obama’s visit; and this ambiguity that disheartens those working for an America that respects the dignity of life inside the womb…

“Pro-lifers are used to this. They know their stand makes them unglamorous. They find themselves a stumbling block to Democratic progressives — and unwelcome at the Republican country club… At Notre Dame today, there is no pro-life organization — in size, in funding, in prestige — that compares with the many centers, institutes and so forth dedicated to other important issues ranging from peace and justice to protecting the environment. Perhaps this explains why a number of pro-life professors tell me they must not be quoted by name, lest they face career retaliation…”

President Obama’s Flip-Flops–and Pelosi Under Fire

The Financial Times wrote on May 15:

“President Barack Obama on Friday announced that he would use military commissions to try some of the 240 prisoners detained at Guantánamo Bay, angering civil rights groups for the second time in a week…

“Human rights groups that had welcomed Mr Obama’s campaign stance on the commissions and his January decision to close Guantánamo criticised the move. The Center for Constitutional Rights, which has filed legal cases on behalf of hundreds of detainees, said it was an ‘alarming development’. ‘President Obama was elected to restore the rule of law, not continue to reinvent it,’ the CCR said. ‘It will substantiate our allies’ ongoing loss of faith in the commitment of the United States to the rule of law, and undermine their willingness to help the Obama administration close Guantánamo.’

“Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, criticised Mr Obama for ‘backtracking dangerously on his reform agenda’, saying the commissions were ‘flawed beyond repair’. ‘There is no good reason why the Guantánamo cases shouldn’t be tried in federal court,’ said Mr Roth. ‘In the more than seven years since the military commissions were announced, only three suspects have been prosecuted. The federal courts, by contrast, have tried more than 145 terrorism cases during the same period.’

“Mr Obama was condemned by civil rights advocates earlier this week when he reversed his previous decision to release hundreds of photos of US soldiers abusing detainees at detention facilities other than Abu Ghraib, the notorious Baghdad prison…

“Separately, the Central Intelligence Agency on Friday hit back at claims by Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic House speaker, that the spy agency lied to Congress during 2002 briefings about the use of harsh interrogation techniques. ‘There is a long tradition in Washington of making political hay out of our business. It predates my service with this great institution, and it will be around long after I’m gone,’ said Leon Panetta, CIA director. ‘But the political debates about interrogation reached a new decibel level yesterday [Thursday] when the CIA was accused of misleading Congress.’

“Mr Panetta said CIA records showed that its officers had accurately informed members of Congress in the 2002 briefing about the ‘enhanced interrogation techniques.’ ‘Our contemporaneous records from September 2002 indicate that CIA officers briefed truthfully on the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, describing “the enhanced techniques that had been employed.” Ultimately, it is up to Congress to evaluate all the evidence and reach its own conclusions about what happened,’ said Mr Panetta.”

The publication, “Political Intelligence,” reported on May 18:

“The CNN/Opinion Research Corp.survey released this afternoon found that the approval of how Pelosi is doing her job as speaker has dropped from 51 percent in January to 46 percent in March to 39 percent now…”

California’s Financial Nightmare

The Los Angeles Times wrote on May 20:

“Democratic leaders say everything’s on the table as they begin studying deep, painful cuts… to close an anticipated $21.3-billion budget gap… Chastened by voters’ angry roar, the architects of California’s special election pledged today to move quickly to solve the latest state budget crisis…

“There was a rare bit of good news: …the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said the state remains eligible to receive another $8 billion in stimulus money for its Medicaid program… That still leaves a huge hole in the state budget, however, and Democratic leaders in Sacramento acknowledged that closing the deficit will result in painful cuts to even some of their most cherished programs… They also said yet another push for tax or fee hikes remains an option, despite staunch opposition from Schwarzenegger and Republican lawmakers…

“Reflecting the economic slide since the governor first laid out his spending plans earlier this year, Schwarzenegger announced plans to lay off 5,000 of the state’s 235,000 workers and proposed slashing education by up to $5 billion, selling state properties, borrowing $2 billion from local governments and potentially reducing eligibility for healthcare programs. Worst-case scenarios also call for the release from state prisons of up to 19,000 illegal immigrants, who would face deportation, and the transfer of up to 23,000 other prisoners to county jails.

“The governor also wants to borrow up to $6 billion, but awaits word on whether Washington would guarantee those loans. The White House has never done so for the state, but is considering the action as Wall Street expresses concern that California could become a deadbeat borrower.”

Earthquake in Los Angeles

The Associated Press reported on May 18:

“A magnitude-4.7 earthquake [according to other reports, the magnitude was between 4.8 and 5.0] rattled the Los Angeles area Sunday night… and experts say stronger quakes are on the way.

“The initial quake, which the U.S. Geological Society reported earlier as magnitude-5.0, struck at 8:39 p.m. Its epicenter was about one mile east of Lennox… The rumbling lasted about 10 to 15 seconds. Shaking was felt throughout the Los Angeles area and as far south as North County. NBCLA.com visitors reported feeling the jolt in Burbank, Pomona, San Bernardino and other areas [It was also felt in San Diego and surrounding areas.]…

“It was the strongest quake to strike the Southland since a magnitude-5.5 earthquake hit in Chino Hills last July…

“Officials at Los Angeles International Airport, which is near the epicenter, released a statement saying, ‘Operations are normal and there are no flight delays following preliminary inspections of terminals, the airfield, Sepulveda Tunnel and other areas of the LAX Central Terminal Area’…

“Earlier this year, scientists kept close watch on an earthquake swarm near the southern end of the San Andreas Fault that shook the desert…”

Mandatory Chemo Therapy of 13-Year-Old Boy Against Parents’ Objections?

The Associated Press reported on May 15:

“A Minnesota judge ruled Friday that a 13-year-old cancer patient must be evaluated by a doctor to determine if the boy [Daniel] would benefit from restarting chemotherapy over his parents’ objections. [The] District Judge… found that [Daniel] has been ‘medically neglected’ by his parents… and was in need of child protection services [and] if chemotherapy is ordered and the family still refuses, [Daniel] will be [taken away from the parents and] placed in temporary custody…

“It was unclear how the medicine would be administered if the boy fights it…

“Daniel’s court-appointed attorney, Philip Elbert, called the decision unfortunate. ‘I feel it’s a blow to families,’ he said. ‘It marginalizes the decisions that parents face every day in regard to their children’s medical care. It really affirms the role that big government is better at making our decisions for us’…

“Daniel was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and stopped chemotherapy in February after a single treatment. He and his parents opted instead for ‘alternative medicines’ based on their religious beliefs. Child protection workers accused Daniel’s parents of medical neglect; but in court, his mother insisted the boy wouldn’t submit to chemotherapy for religious reasons and she said she wouldn’t comply if the court orders it.

“Doctors have said Daniel’s cancer had up to a 90 percent chance of being cured with chemotherapy and radiation. Without those treatments, doctors said his chances of survival are 5 percent. Daniel’s parents have been supporting what they say is their son’s decision to treat the disease with nutritional supplements and other alternative treatments favored by the Nemenhah Band. The Missouri-based religious group believes in natural healing methods advocated by some American Indians…

“Bostrom, a pediatric oncologist said Daniel’s tumor shrunk after the first chemotherapy session, but X-rays show it has grown since he stopped the chemotherapy… [The mother] told the New Ulm Journal newspaper that the family’s Catholicism and adherence to the Nemenhah Band are not in conflict, and that she has used natural remedies to treat illness.”

The Associated Press reported on May 21 about the bizarre twist of events in this case:

“A new arrest warrant was issued Thursday as the search continued for the Minnesota mother who fled with her 13-year-old cancer-stricken son to avoid chemotherapy treatments… the new warrant for the mother is for deprivation of parental rights. An earlier arrest warrant was based on a contempt of court charge. Brown County Attorney James Olson said the parental rights are those of Brown County family services, which has been granted custody of Daniel to get him to a pediatric oncologist…

“James Olson… originally asked the judge to cite the father [Anthony Hauser] for contempt of court, but later backed off and said he believed Hauser didn’t know where his wife and son had gone. An alert issued to police departments around the country said mother and son might be traveling with a California lawyer…”

France’s First Lady Criticizes the Pope

The Telegraph wrote on May 18:

“France’s First Lady… departed from her post’s traditional religious neutrality to accuse the Pope of ‘damaging’ countries like Africa with his stance on birth control. The Italian-born former supermodel risked angering believers in France and beyond by declaring that the Pontiff’s proclamations showed that the Church needed to ‘evolve’…

“Mrs Bruni-Sarkozy said: ‘I was born Catholic, I was baptised, but in my life I feel profoundly secular. I find that the controversy coming from the Pope’s message – albeit distorted by the media – is very damaging…’

“The comments will cause Mr Sarkozy embarrassment in a country where, despite the separation of Church and State, a majority of the population was born Catholic. André Roux, a constitutional historian said: ‘It’s unprecedented for a first lady to criticise the Pope. Charles de Gaulle’s wife was very Catholic and would never had taken up position, remaining very discreet. The same was true of Bernadette Chirac, who never gave her opinion on religion or international affairs. Even Danielle Mitterrand, the wife of François Mitterrand who was not a believer and aired her political views, never attacked the Pope…’

“After becoming Mr Sarkozy’s third wife last year Mrs Bruni-Sarkozy has campaigned against the spread of Aids in Africa. The Pope’s stance against the use of contraceptives in Africa was roundly criticised in France – including by many Catholics. Some 43 per cent of them wanted the Pontiff to step down, according to one poll.”

“Catholic Church Shamed by Irish Abuse Report”

The Associated Press reported on May 21:

“After a nine-year investigation, a commission published a damning report Wednesday on decades of rapes, humiliation and beatings at Catholic Church-run reform schools for Ireland’s castaway children. The 2,600-page report painted the most detailed and damning portrait yet of church-administered abuse in a country grown weary of revelations about child molestation by priests.

“The investigation of the tax-supported schools uncovered previously secret Vatican records that demonstrated church knowledge of pedophiles in their ranks all the way back to the 1930s. Wednesday’s five-volume report on the probe — which was resisted by Catholic religious orders — concluded that church officials shielded their orders’ pedophiles from arrest amid a culture of self-serving secrecy…

“Ireland’s myriad religious orders, much like their mother church, have been devastated by 15 years of scandals involving past cover-ups of abusers in their ranks… A government-appointed panel has paid 12,000 survivors of the schools, orphanages and other church-run residences an average of $90,000 each — on condition they surrender their right to sue either the church or state. About 2,000 more claims are pending. Irish Catholic leaders cut a controversial deal with the government in 2001 that capped the church’s contribution at $175 million — a fraction of the final cost.”

Germany in Worst Post-War Recession

Bild Online wrote on May 19:

“The German economy is in its worst post-war recession… Gross domestic product (GDP) has crashed 3.8 per cent since the start of the year and 6.7 per cent since the beginning of 2008, with economic growth decreasing in every quarter. The decline from January to March is by far the biggest since 1970… Germany is considered as one of the strongest countries in the world in terms of exports – but investment has also declined compared with the last quarter…

“Economists are shocked – even the experts predicted a decline of just 3.2 percent… Jürgen Michels, the chief economist at Citigroup, said: ‘It is a dramatic crash and a poor start to the year. It can only get a little bit worse, but not much better. Whether the economy will grow this year is questionable.’”

Spread of Swine Flu on the Rise…

Reuters reported on May 18:

“The new influenza strain circulating around most of the United States is putting a worrying number of young adults and children into the hospital and hitting more schools than usual… The H1N1 swine flu virus killed a vice principal at a New York City school over the weekend and has spread to 48 states…

“‘We are now experiencing levels of influenza-like illness that are higher than usual for this time of year,’ [Dr. Anne Schuchat of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] added. ‘We are also seeing outbreaks in schools, which is extremely unusual for this time of year’…

“About half of all cases of influenza are being diagnosed as the new H1N1 strain, while the rest are influenza B, or the seasonal H1N1 and H3N2 strains. Flu season in the United States is usually almost over by May. CDC officials say around 100,000 people are likely infected with the new flu strain in the United States…

“Influenza is a factor in 36,000 deaths a year in the United States and 250,000 to 500,000 deaths globally, the CDC says.”

Swine Flu Created by Scientists in Lab?

Bild Online wrote on May 19:

“The deadly swine flu virus was created by scientists in a lab, according to a shock claim from one expert. Adrian Gibbs (75) believes the disease… may have been made accidentally in laboratories where vaccines were being developed.

“The Australian virologist was one of the first to analyse the genetic construction of the swine flu virus, and he was part of the team which developed anti-flu vaccines Tamiflu and Relenza. Gibbs has no concrete evidence, but he believes that scientists accidentally created the H1N1 virus while trying to create flu vaccines: ‘It is the simplest explanation.’

“He has not ruled out other possible explanations, but has handed over his research to state health organisations where it is being checked out by experts. But Nancy Cox, head of the Influenca Division in South America and Africa, believes swine flu probably originated in areas where it was was first discovered: ‘There is no proof that the virus comes from a lab.'”

Not Again–Scientists Believe “Missing Link” Between Man and Apes Found!

The Wall Street Journal reported on May 15 about the preposterous claims by scientists that they might have found the missing link between apes and men. The paper wrote:

“In what could prove to be a landmark discovery, a leading paleontologist said scientists have dug up the 47 million-year-old fossil of an ancient primate whose features suggest it could be the common ancestor of all later monkeys, apes and humans. Anthropologists have long believed that humans evolved from ancient ape-like ancestors…

“The discovery has little bearing on a separate paleontological debate centering on the identity of a common ancestor of chimps and humans, which could have lived about six million years ago and still hasn’t been found. That gap in the evolution story is colloquially referred to as the ‘missing link’ controversy. In reality, though, all gaps in the fossil record are technically ‘missing links’ until filled in…

“Nonetheless, the latest fossil find is likely to ignite further the debate between evolutionists who draw conclusions based on a limited fossil record, and creationists who don’t believe that humans, monkeys and apes evolved from a common ancestor…”

In typical spectacular fashion of the boulevard press and mass media, Sky News Online wrote on May 19:

“Scientists have unveiled a 47-million-year-old fossilised skeleton of a monkey hailed as the missing link in human evolution… The search for a direct connection between humans and the rest of the animal kingdom has taken 200 years – but it was presented to the world today at a special news conference in New York. The discovery of the 95%-complete ‘lemur monkey’ – dubbed Ida – is described by experts as the ‘eighth wonder of the world’… Researchers say proof of this transitional species finally confirms Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution…

“With her human-like nails instead of claws, and opposable big toes, she is placed at the very root of human evolution when early primates first developed features that would eventually develop into our own…

“Up until now, the most famous fossil primate in the world has been Lucy, a 3.18-million-year-old hominid found in Ethiopia in 1974. She was then our earliest known ancestor, and only 40% complete…”

If you want to learn more about this matter, including the truth regarding “Lucy,” please read our free booklet, “The Theory of Evolution–A Fairy Tale for Adults?”

In addition, in spite of the “Ida Fossil Hype,” several scientists have voiced concern and dismiss the idea of Ida being a missing link. Der Stern Online reported on critical voices, seriously questioning the entire “interpretation” of the “discovery.” And as Live Science reported on May 20, “the public could be left with the impression that Ida is a rock-solid missing link in the human evolutionary chain… ‘It’s not a missing link, it’s not even a terribly close relative to monkeys, apes and humans, which is the point they’re trying to make,’ said Chris Beard, a curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh.”

The article continued:

“The debacle started to unfold when the finding, cloaked in secrecy while a media engine was being primed, leaked out in The Wall Street Journal, and then in London’s Daily Mail. Then The New York Times wrote about the media circus that was to ensue. All this was published before anyone but the research team (and its tightly controlled media team) knew the details of the finding… Ida’s unveiling was highly scripted (with some ‘Barnum and Bailey aspects,’ said paleontologist Richard Kay of Duke University). More important, it can now be said the findings may well have been significantly overstated… if this event causes the public to distrust science and media, that distrust is well placed.”

Amen to that!!!

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What is your position on the death penalty?

We find in the ninth chapter of the book of Genesis that, following the great flood by which God wiped out all existing mankind, save Noah and his family, God made a covenant with Noah. In that covenant, God emphasized the sanctity of human life.

Genesis 9:5-6 reads: “Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning… from the hand of man. From the hand of every man’s brother I will require the life of man. Whoever sheds man’s blood By man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man.”

Later, after God had brought the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery, He instructed the leaders of the nation of Israel that capital punishment was to be carried out for a variety of crimes, including murder, kidnapping, adultery and rape (Exodus 21:12, 16, and Deuteronomy 22:13-27). Moses was also commanded to put to death anyone who cursed their father or mother (Leviticus 20:9).

God’s people in New Testament times acknowledged the authority of civil governments to carry out the death penalty. In Acts 25:11, Paul at his trial before Festus gave recognition to the death penalty when he said: “For if I am an offender, or have committed anything deserving of death, I do not object to dying….”

Paul tells us in Romans 13:1-5: “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience sake.”

1 Peter 2:13 also emphasizes: “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good.”

Christ Himself acknowledged that Pilate’s authority to crucify and to release Him was “given” him “from above” (John 19:11)–but He also stressed that Pilate’s actions towards Him were a miscarriage of divine and even human justice. Once again this shows that God has given permission to human rulers to carry out capital punishment, but since God is not ruling this world, there is no guarantee that the execution of those convicted of crimes is fair and just and in accordance with God’s and even man’s laws.

Man is not born with spiritual discernment, and therefore, errors in judgment can, and have been made, and guilt wrongly established. In theory, modern justice is carried out under the premise that the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and in many jurisdictions, the prosecution must show beyond a reasonable doubt that he or she committed the offense. If there is reasonable doubt, the person must be acquitted. In practice, due to news coverage ahead of a trial and because of other factors, the accused is oftentimes presumed guilty and is called upon to prove his innocence.

Capital punishment in the United Kingdom was abandoned in 1998, the last hanging taking place in 1964, prior to capital punishment being abolished for murder in 1969. There were several unsuccessful attempts to reinstate capital punishment for killing police officers. Capital punishment in America is still somewhat active in a number of States, although some have repealed the death penalty. In other countries the execution of criminals by their governments is still much in effect including beheadings, firing squads, stoning and hanging.

Even though God permits civil rulers to execute convicted criminals, this does not mean that the true Church of God should get involved in the political debate of the pros and cons of capital punishment. Regarding the woman caught in the act of adultery–a capital sin under God’s law, and for which Moses had been commanded by God that both the adulterer and the adulteress should be stoned (John 8:5; Leviticus 20:10)–Christ refused to condemn the woman. Although not condoning the sin, He recognized the hypocrisy of those who demanded the death penalty (for instance, they only presented the woman caught in the very act of adultery, but not the man), but He advised the woman “to sin no more,” and the woman’s life was spared (John 8:10-11).

Even in Old Testament times, judicial safeguards were built into God’s law to provide for the rights of the accused in order to prevent injustices, i.e. guilt had to be firmly established; circumstantial evidence was not sufficient, and at least two witnesses were required to establish guilt. False witnesses were themselves subject to death. Difficult cases could be sent, on appeal, for judicial review. Once rightly convicted, however–and since the nation of Israel was at that time a theocracy, God would see to it that no innocent person would be wrongly convicted—the death penalty was mandatory, and it was swift and sure. By contrast, today’s punishment in a number of cases is slow and unsure and often subject to long-winded and sometimes even mandatory appeals. In these cases the administration of justice is seen to be lax, ineffective and devoid of what victims perceive as adequate justice and appropriate sentences.

Eventually, following Christ’s Return, the administration of justice, including capital punishment, will be rendered by God’s saints as Kings, Priests and Judges. It will be meted out fairly and equitably.

In the meantime, God’s Church is to have no part in administering man’s “justice” and the death penalty, and Church members are not to serve as judges or jurors. The following quote is from a position paper by the Global Church of God in a special edition, dated February 1999: “…if the State is not fulfilling its obligations, it is not up to the individual to take to himself the State’s authority which was conferred by God Himself. It is not for the individual to ‘execute wrath on him who practices evil.’ For Christians this is even more so as we are not to be the ruling executives, legislators or judges of the civil government. Paul explained this in 2 Corinthians 3. Though the administration of ‘the letter’ which kills (v6) is from God—and a civil authority that administers it is even ‘God’s minister’ of this particular function (Romans 13:4)—true Christians are to administer only ‘life’ through the administration of the Spirit.”

Lead Writers: Bill Koeneke and Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

A new StandingWatch program was posted on StandingWatch and YouTube. It is titled, “Benedict’s Controversial and Disappointing Visit.” In the program, Norbert Link asks the following questions: Why was the Pope’s visit to the Middle East overshadowed by so much controversy–from his call for an independent Palestinian homeland to his “disappointing” speech at the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, to the Vatican’s initial denial of his membership of the Hitler Youth, to his call in Bethlehem to remove Israel’s West Bank separation wall? What does this mean in light of the fact that Pope Benedict XVI is not only a religious leader, but also the political head of the Vatican State? What role will the Catholic Church play in the Middle East, and how will it use its “power” to attempt to bring peace to the region?

A new German AufPostenStehen program was posted on the Internet. It is titled, “Angriff auf Christliche Religion in den USA.” The English translation of the German title is, “Attack on Christian Religion in USA.” The program deals with President Obama’s attempts to violate religious freedom in the US, via Give Act and Hate Crime Legislation, and it points out that we must not look at a Messiah-like figure (e.g., Mussolini or Hitler) to be rescued from our problems.

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How This Work is Financed

This Update is an official publication by the ministry of the Church of the Eternal God in the United States of America; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom.

Editorial Team: Norbert Link, Dave Harris, Rene Messier, Brian Gale, Margaret Adair, Johanna Link, Eric Rank, Michael Link, Anna Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson

Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank

Our activities and literature, including booklets, weekly updates, sermons on CD, and video and audio broadcasts, are provided free of charge. They are made possible by the tithes, offerings and contributions of Church members and others who have elected to support this Work.

While we do not solicit the general public for funds, contributions are gratefully welcomed and are tax-deductible in the U.S. and Canada.

Donations should be sent to the following addresses:

United States: Church of the Eternal God, P.O. Box 270519, San Diego, CA 92198

Canada: Church of God, ACF, Box 1480, Summerland, B.C. V0H 1Z0

United Kingdom: Global Church of God, PO Box 44, MABLETHORPE, LN12 9AN, United Kingdom

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