And Now… Bloodbath in Libya
Bloomberg reported on February 24, 2011:
“’It’s a massacre in there,’ said Mohamed Yehia after he crossed into Egypt at the northwestern town of Salloum, speaking of the deadly crackdown by Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi. ‘He is crazy. The world must know what he’s doing to his people.’ Yehia, 23, is one of thousands of Egyptians working in Libya who gathered their belongings and left the oil-rich country yesterday after Qaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam, this week accused foreigners, including Tunisians and Egyptians, of inciting the ongoing revolt…
“Many of those arriving said they had seen mercenaries from Africa and elsewhere, some dark-skinned and some fair, some speaking French. They had been deployed to attack anti- government protesters in Libyan cities, including the capital, Tripoli, and Benghazi, which has seen some of the worst violence since the uprising began last week, the eyewitnesses said… ‘First the police attacked the protesters, but after they saw many of their people being killed, they sympathized and joined them. The army too,’ said Yehia.”
Europe’s Weak Response
Deutsche Welle reported on February 21:
“In a joint statement the European Council called for ‘an immediate end to the use of force against protesters and for all parties to show restraint’…
“German Chancellor Angela Merkel was quoted by her spokesman as being ‘shocked’ at the ‘great brutality’ employed by Libyan security forces against the protesters… Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle had harsh words for the Libyan leadership. ‘Nothing and nobody justifies the use of violence, murder and manslaughter to crush peaceful demonstrations,’ he said. ‘Anybody who seeks to intimidate citizens by threatening Libya with civil war shows that they are finished’… [The Local added on February 22 that Westerwelle also told broadcaster ZDF on Tuesday: “We can’t stand by and watch people be murdered.”]
“Italy, which has the closest business links with Libya among EU countries, appeared to be sending out contradictory messages with Foreign Minister Franco Frattini saying the EU should not ‘interfere’ in Libya… However, he suggested that Italy would not stand by and watch if reports of a self-proclaimed Islamic Emirate in Benghazi turned out to be true. ‘Would you imagine having an Islamic Emirate on the borders of Europe? This would be a really serious threat,’ Frattini said…
“The Libyan fallout is likely to be felt across Europe as oil prices continued to soar…”
In that regard, MoneyNews.com reported on February 22:
“Time magazine’s intelligence columnist reported on Tuesday that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has ordered his security forces to sabotage the country’s oil facilities, citing a source close to the government. In a column posted on Time’s website, Robert Baer said the sabotage would begin by blowing up pipelines to the Mediterranean…
“‘Among other things, Gadhafi has ordered security services to start sabotaging oil facilities,’ Baer wrote. ‘The sabotage, according to the insider, is meant to serve as a message to Libya’s rebellious tribes: It’s either me or chaos.’ The growing violence in Libya has forced a number of oil companies to shut in production in Africa’s third-largest oil producer and disrupted flows from the country’s export terminals.”
Europe will not want to stand idly by too much longer if their pocket books are affected by rising oil prices…
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood Orders Killing of Gaddafi
AFP wrote on February 21:
“Influential Muslim cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi issued a fatwa on Monday that any Libyan soldier who can shoot dead embattled leader Moamer Kadhafi should do so ‘to rid Libya of him.’ ‘Whoever in the Libyan army is able to shoot a bullet at Mr Kadhafi should do so,’ Qaradawi, an Egyptian-born cleric who is usually based in Qatar, told Al-Jazeera television. He also told Libyan soldiers ‘not to obey orders to strike at your own people,’ and urged Libyan ambassadors around the world to dissociate themselves from Kadhafi’s regime…
“Qaradawi has celebrity status in the Arab world… [and] has in the past defended ‘violence carried out by certain Muslims.’ The West accuses the cleric of supporting ‘terrorism’ because he sanctioned Palestinian suicide attacks in Israel. Britain and the United States have refused to grant him entry visas. The cleric, spiritual leader of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and longtime resident of Qatar, heads the International Union for Muslim Scholars.”
And there are still many naïve politicians and newscasters who claim that the Muslim Brotherhood is a harmless, non-violent, peaceful organization…
A Middle East Without Gadhafi
Haaretz wrote on February 21:
“President Shimon Peres said Monday he believed Libyan leader Muammer Gadhafi’s reign was nearing an end. It was an ‘irony of history’ that Gadhafi had recently expressed his desire for ‘a Middle East without Israel,’ but that it now looked like ‘there will be a Libya without Gaddafi,’ Peres said at the start of a four-day visit to Spain…
“The official part of Peres’ visit, which will mark the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Spain and Israel, will begin on Tuesday… Israel and Spain established diplomatic relations on January 17, 1986, nearly four decades after the creation of the state of Israel. The lack of formal relations was attributed largely to Spain’s friendly relations with Arab countries during Francisco Franco’s 1939-75 dictatorship.
“However, as Spain joined NATO and the European Economic Community, the precursor to the European Union, in the 1980s, it began to increasingly seek a role as a mediator between Israel and Arab countries. Spanish-Israeli relations are also marked by the expulsion of all Jews who refused to convert to Christianity from Spain in 1492. King Juan Carlos has apologized for the expulsion, but descendants of the expelled Jews have demanded stronger gestures, such as being granted the Spanish nationality.”
Sadly, prophecy shows that Europe, including Spain, will again become very hostile towards Jews, and past atrocities will be repeated, and even worse things are supposed to happen.
Big Opportunity for the EU in the Middle East?
Deutsche Welle reported on February 21:
“The EU finds itself presented with an opportunity to lead in helping a number of Arab states move toward democracy… the EU will offer its ‘support to civil society, youth and enhanced economic cooperation’… the [new EU] declaration… will also include an offer of a ‘new partnership’ with Egypt and Tunisia…
“However, revelations over the extent of business ties, arms deals and energy reliance between EU member states and governments such as those in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Bahrain have led some analysts to question whether the policies of certain individual member states have been holding the EU back from taking a strong, unified approach…
“Italy has strong ties with Libya… while Greece also has strong business links… France has been exposed as having strong links to the former Tunisian regime, while Britain has deep investment in Libyan oil fields and lucrative arms deals with Bahrain… It is quite likely that an internal struggle is underway within the EU between the Scandinavian and Northern European countries horrified at the repression of demonstrators, and southern European Mediterranean countries more anxious to preserve investments and commercial relationships…
“… it was the major powers inside the EU rather than the EU itself which led the calls for restraint when the protests began and issued statements on their own individual positions as the wave of unrest spread… this is a critical time for the EU in the region with many opportunities arising for it to establish a new set of relations through its immediate and future involvement. However, if the EU fluffs its lines again, the chance to lead in the remaking of the Middle East will be lost and its credibility irrevocably damaged.”
As the next article shows as well, the EU is still not totally unified, due to national interests of certain countries. The Bible says that even the final ten European nations or groups of nations will not be totally united, but they WILL obtain great strength in the military field (Daniel 2:40-43).
“The West Has No Leverage in Libya”
Der Spiegel Online wrote on February 22:
“Condemnation of the violence in Libya has been universal in Western capitals. But dictator Moammar Gadhafi shows no signs of calling a halt to the brutal repression of protests in the country. The West simply has no leverage in Libya… what can the West really achieve? So far, the collective indignation from all manner of government officials in Europe and North America has had precious little effect…
“The West, after all, has little influence in Libya. Oil riches make the North African country largely independent and diplomatic relations have long been difficult at best… Washington has little contact with Tripoli. Indeed, the country spent years on the black list of states which support terrorism. Only in 2008 were diplomatic relations re-established… the US doesn’t even have an ambassador in Libya. The last one was temporarily recalled after the WikiLeaks revelations.
“The US government is now also forced to rely on its European allies to exert pressure on Libya. Several EU states have working relationships with Gadhafi, not least as part of regular regional cooperation among the Mediterranean states. But the EU, once again, is divided in its approach. On Monday, EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels strongly condemned the regime’s crackdown on protestors. But they weren’t able to agree on any sanctions.
“Demands for punitive measures made by Finland and other Scandinavian countries were rejected. Italy in particular has resisted sanctions because the government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi doesn’t want to endanger its close economic ties with its former colony. It is also worried about a new wave of refugees from North Africa…
“British Foreign Minister William Hague spoke to Gadhafi’s second son, Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, and demanded an end to the bloodshed. The British government is one of Libya’s main contacts in the West… In recent years, Gadhafi’s son has been an important link between the two governments. He owns a house in London, is in his mid-30s and studied for a Ph.D. at the London School of Economics (LSE) from 2003 until 2008. He was regarded as a friend [of] the West and as a reformer, and he moved in the highest circles in London. His contacts included Prince Andrew… Blair even called Gadhafi junior a ‘family friend.’ But Saif al-Islam seems to have turned radical in response to the uprising. London observers could hardly believe their ears when he declared in a speech on Sunday that the Gadhafis would fight ‘to the last bullet.’”
“Europe Should Intervene Militarily in Libya”
Der Spiegel Online reported on February 24 about the less than thrilled reaction of the German press to the indecisive stance of Europe and Germany towards the Libyan disaster:
“Gadhafi on Thursday showed no signs of giving in to the mass protests which have gripped Libya for over a week. While large parts of north-eastern Libya appear to no longer be under government control, the regime is still trying to beat back demonstrators…
“Several European governments are looking into options at their disposal to put an end to the ongoing violence in Libya. US President Barack Obama likewise said on Wednesday that his government was pursuing a ‘full range of options’ to pressure Gadhafi into stopping the attacks on demonstrators…
“German commentators argue on Thursday that it is time for Europe to take action.
“The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes: ‘The time for indecision has passed… it is time for Europe to stop playing the role of gentle admonisher… Even sanctions — such as travel bans or the freezing of assets — wouldn’t be enough… Europe must issue a credible threat. The best thing would be a COALTION WITH THE ARAB LEAGUE, Egypt and the African Union — a coalition which, outfitted with an United Nations mandate, could MILITARILY RE-ESTABLISH PEACE in Libya….’
“The conservative daily Die Welt writes: ‘… what about the United States? The global power has enough problems on other fronts. And Europe? There has been no lack of soft power, warm words and hot air… At least the European Union gathered the courage to stop all weapons deliveries to Libya which had been, hard as it is to believe, reliably delivered until now…. But what about sanctions? Threats of MILITARY OPERATIONS? The danger is in delay…”
These opinions are quite interesting, as according to the Bible, Europe WILL form a coalition with Arab nations (however, Egypt is not mentioned in that regard), and it WILL ultimately intervene militarily in the Middle East, undoubtedly with the stated desire to establish peace in the region. Europe recognizes that the “responsibility” for such action is placed on its shoulders. Due to its military engagement in other countries and its huge domestic problems, the USA is unable and unwilling to intervene militarily in countries such as Libya, and NATO just ruled out a military intervention in Libya, showing that Europe cannot rely on either the USA or NATO to take decisive actions.
Huge Demonstrations in Bahrain–Why Bahrain Matters…
Der Spiegel Online wrote on February 22:
“The Arab revolution has reached the tiny Gulf state of Bahrain, where Sunni rulers control a majority Shiite population. Western nations are following the protests with concern… The island nation has a smaller population than Munich, and more than half of its inhabitants are foreigners… the world is dependent on oil… and two regional powers, Iran and Saudi Arabia, are both seeking to exert influence in Bahrain…
“About 70 percent of Bahrainis are Shiites. The Al Khalifa ruling family, however, is Sunni…
“[The Sunni kingdom of] Saudi Arabia is nearby; dangerously so, in fact. From Pearl Square in Manama, the Sheikh Khalifa Highway leads to the King Fahd Causeway, which connects the island nation with… Saudi Arabia…
“There are old family and tribal ties between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, where one-10th of the world’s total oil production is pumped out of the ground every day. For centuries, Eastern Province has also been home to Saudi Arabia’s Shiite minority… This explains why the House of Saud is currently feeling nervous. If the fury among Bahraini Shiites spreads to their fellow [minority] Shiites in Saudi Arabia, the world’s most important oil-producing region could descend into conflict… Tehran already sees Bahrain as Shiite territory and, therefore, as a sort of 14th province of the Islamic Republic of Iran…
“Since the 1990s, the United States has used Bahrain as a base for the Fifth Fleet, a military force for the Gulf region that currently consists of 6,100 marines and civilian personnel. The fleet is the core of Washington’s Iran containment policy. Bahrain is ‘a place run by an oppressive and corrupt little regime, long coddled by Washington because the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet is headquartered there,’ writes former CIA analyst Graham Fuller. And like in Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia, the question that arises in Bahrain is how much longer the United States and Europe can afford such an ugly status quo.”
Bahrain’s Survival Threatened
The Washington Post wrote on February 23:
“… what happens in tiny Bahrain might have outsize repercussions… The Shiite-led protesters in Bahrain are demanding that their Sunni royal family grant them equal rights and an equal voice, and Saudi Arabia is worried their campaign might give ideas to its own large Shiite minority…
“‘Although we are friends, the [Bahraini] leadership is afraid of the Saudis,’ said one Bahraini observer with close ties to Bahraini security officials… Hamad is likely to tell Abdullah ‘we still don’t need’ Saudi military assistance, said the Bahraini observer…
“In recent years, an expanded American military presence has provided a counterweight to Saudi influence. The U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet is docked just south of Manama, somewhat easing Bahraini fears of a Saudi invasion, Bahraini observers said.
“‘Bahrain’s survival really depends on two countries, the United States of America and Saudi Arabia,’ said Mansoor al-Jamri, editor in chief of the independent Bahraini newspaper al-Wasat.”
If Bahrain fell into the “wrong hands,” grievous economic and military consequences might ensue for the USA and Europe.
USA Vetoes Resolution Condemning Israel…and Loses International Standing
Haaretz wrote on February 21:
“After hesitating until the very last moment, U.S. President Barack Obama decided to have his envoy veto the UN Security Council resolution condemning the settlements. The Palestinian-initiated proposal would have declared the Israeli settlement enterprise in the territories illegal. Fourteen members of the Security Council voted in favor of the resolution, and only the U.S. veto kept it from being passed.
“The Palestinians lost the vote, but achieved their goal: They exposed for all to see the international isolation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s administration and embarrassed the U.S. administration by revealing it as two-faced.
“In explaining the veto decision, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, denounced the ‘illegitimacy’ of the settlements and stressed that Obama agreed with the resolution’s sponsors but had to oppose it for political reasons.
“Once again, the American superpower appeared to lose some of its prestige and international standing in order to defend the Israeli settlement enterprise, which enjoys the support of powerful patrons in Congress.
“Netanyahu celebrated his victory over Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, but he should view the U.S. veto as a warning. The world’s patience over continuing construction in the settlements is wearing thin. The Palestinians are making suspension of building a prerequisite for negotiations, a position which has international support…
“Instead of fanning the flames in the region and further heightening Israel’s isolation he should work to defuse tension, to listen to the international community and to present a practical program for ending the occupation and the conflict. Instead of acceding to the demands of right-wing cabinet members and approving major building plans in the West Bank, he should recognize the diplomatic damage that the settlements cause Israel…”
No matter what the current US Administration is doing, it seems like it can’t win and find any support—not even in Israel. At the same time, Israel is finding itself more and more in total isolation.
Obamacare—Constitutional or Not?
Fox News wrote on February 22:
“A federal judge on Tuesday threw out a lawsuit claiming that President Barack Obama’s requirement that all Americans have health insurance violates the religious freedom of those who rely on God to protect them. U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler in Washington dismissed a lawsuit filed by the American Center for Law and Justice, a Christian legal group founded by evangelist Pat Robertson, on behalf of five Americans…
“The case was one of several lawsuits filed against Obama’s requirement that Americans either buy health insurance or pay a penalty, beginning in 2014. Kessler is the third Democratic-appointed judge to dismiss a challenge, while two Republican-appointed judges have ruled part or all of the law unconstitutional. Kessler wrote that the Supreme Court will need to settle the constitutional issues.
“Three of the plaintiffs are Christians who said they want to refuse all medical services for the rest of their lives because they believe God will heal their afflictions. They say being forced to buy insurance would conflict with their faith because they believe doing so would indicate they need ‘a backup plan and (are) not really sure whether God will, in fact, provide,’ the lawsuit said. The two other plaintiffs have a holistic approach to medical care and prefer to pay for their health services out of pocket, in part because insurance often doesn’t cover their chosen methods of healing…
“Kessler rejected both arguments and ruled that Congress has the right to regulate health care spending under the Commerce Clause… She also said that anyone who objects to having health care for religious reasons can choose to pay the penalty instead…”
Same-Sex Marriages–Constitutional or Not?
The Associated Press wrote on February 23:
“In a major policy reversal, the Obama administration said Wednesday it will no longer defend the constitutionality of a U.S. law banning recognition of same-sex marriage.
“Attorney General Eric Holder said President Barack Obama has concluded that the administration cannot defend the federal law that defines marriage as only between a man and a woman. He noted that the congressional debate during passage of the Defense of Marriage Act ‘contains numerous expressions reflecting moral disapproval of gays and lesbians and their intimate and family relationships — precisely the kind of stereotype-based thinking and animus the (U.S. Constitution’s) Equal Protection Clause is designed to guard against.’…
“He noted that the Supreme Court has ruled that laws criminalizing homosexual conduct are unconstitutional and that Congress has repealed the military’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy on gays in the armed forces.”
Heavy Defeat for Angela Merkel
Deutsche Welle reported on February 22:
“German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) took a beating at Sunday’s state elections in Hamburg, obtaining just 21.9 percent of the vote – the party’s worst election results since World War II and a disappointment for Merkel as her party contests the first of seven crucial state elections this year. The opposition Social Democrats (SPD) won 48.3 percent of the vote, an increase from 34.1 percent in 2008. The SPD won 62 seats in the Hamburg state assembly, eking out an absolute majority…
“For Merkel, the result means the loss of three seats in the Bundesrat upper house of parliament, making it harder for her government to push through federal legislation. In the last election in the northern city-state in 2008, the CDU’s share of the vote was 42.6 percent, more than double Sunday’s score. The drop of 22.1 percentage points was the steepest decline ever between two elections for the CDU.
“The result in Hamburg, where Merkel was born, will also send a signal to voters before the other state votes, especially in the southwestern region of Baden-Württemberg where her CDU is also in danger of losing power in March.”
The mass-circulation Bild wrote on February 21:
“This election victory is a political tsunami!… For the SPD, the election year of 2011 could not have started any better. If the Social Democrats succeed in emulating their Hamburg success in Rhineland-Palatinate, Baden-Württemberg and Berlin, we can look forward to some politically turbulent months.”
And Now… Guttenberg in Big Trouble…
Der Spiegel Online wrote on February 22:
“German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg is under pressure to resign amid allegations he plagiarized parts of his Ph.D. thesis. Angela Merkel and other leading conservatives are worried the popular politician could fall, just when they need him to drum up votes ahead of crunch state elections…
“For days, fellow CSU members have been urging Guttenberg not to resign… everyone in the CSU knows that the future of their mandates and positions largely depends on this baron from the northern Bavarian region of Franconia…
“The reaction in the media over the weekend and on Monday was generally devastating… Many Christian Democrats, including leading members of the party, feel that the entire affair could be extremely damaging. They sense that there could be much more to come…”
Deutsche Welle reported on February 23:
“German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg’s alma mater, the University of Bayreuth, on Wednesday revoked his doctorate in law amid allegations his thesis contained numerous plagiarized passages… [but] the committee did NOT determine whether Guttenberg’s infractions were intentional…
“The statement came after [Guttenberg had attempted to voluntarily relinquish his doctorate title and] German opposition lawmakers grilled Guttenberg over the plagiarism charges at a four-hour-long session in Germany’s lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, in Berlin… ‘You have cheated, you have deceived, you have lied,’ said Thomas Oppermann of the Social Democratic Party. ‘I find it intolerable that the chancellor decided an impostor and liar should still belong to the cabinet.’
“On Monday, Chancellor Angela Merkel said she had ‘full confidence’ in her defense minister… Several German law professors had accused Guttenberg of blatant plagiarism, listing up to 70 passages in which he did not correctly cite their work. As tempestuous as Wednesday was for the defense minister, his troubles are not over yet. State prosecutors in Bavaria have confirmed at least two criminal complaints have been filed against him. The complaints allege Guttenberg violated copyright laws, and lied in a previous sworn statement that his thesis was entirely his own work.
“Many of Guttenberg’s political allies are keen to see him remain in office, since he is Germany’s most popular politician by far. Guttenberg, who has been listed as a possible future chancellor, has dismissed opposition calls for him to resign.”
… Or Is He?
The Local wrote on February 23:
“German Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg has grown more popular despite a plagiarism scandal… 73 percent of people are happy with Guttenberg’s political work, compared to 68 percent before accusations he copied large chunks of this doctoral dissertation emerged. A similar number (72 percent) said his decision to give up his doctorate title was sufficient to allow him to stay minister. Only 24 percent of those surveyed said he should step down…
“Internet sleuths have set up a collaborative website, or Wiki, to comb through the 475 pages of zu Guttenberg’s work, concluding there was evidence of unattributed copying on 270 of them. When the 14 pages of content and 65 pages of footnotes are taken into account, this amounts to more than two-thirds of the dissertation…
“Media commentators on Wednesday were divided on whether the minister should step down.
“The leftist Tageszeitung wrote: ‘How can one go on believing such a man in the future, when he testifies on critical events, for example regarding the German army?… The fact that she [Angela Merkel] is prepared to keep a liar in the cabinet in order to preserve her balance of power isn’t just unworthy of her office. It is a scandal…’
“But the centre-left Süddeutsche Zeitung, while saying zu Guttenberg should be ‘ashamed’ of his actions, nevertheless said it could work in his favour. ‘Could the plagiarism affair even clear the path to the chancellery for him?’ asked the respected daily. ‘”Look,” says the baron to the people, “I’m one of you. A person who has weaknesses and who makes mistakes.”’”
Developments in Germany’s political landscape are of great importance. We know from Scripture that a strong political personage will arise in continental Europe, most likely in Germany, who will play a wide-ranging role in world affairs. We are certain that Angela Merkel is not that person; so we are to watch for further developments.
Gorbachev Dismantles Russian Myth of Democracy
The Associated Press reported on February 21:
“Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on Monday described Russia as an imitation of democracy and accused its current rulers of conceit and contempt for voters, in his harshest criticism of the government yet. Gorbachev criticized Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his protégé, President Dmitry Medvedev, for saying that they will decide between them who should run for president in Russia’s March 2012 presidential vote. ‘It’s not Putin’s business. It must be decided by the nation in the elections, by those who would cast ballots,’ Gorbachev said at a news conference…
“Gorbachev… called for a probe into last week’s statement by an assistant to the judge who convicted oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky who said that the judge did not write the verdict and read it against his will in the Moscow courtroom. Judge Viktor Danilkin found Khodorkovsky guilty in December of stealing oil from his own oil company and extended his prison term through 2017. The assistant, Natalya Vasilyeva, who is also the spokesperson for the court, said the verdict was imposed upon Danilkin when it became clear his own ruling would not please top Russian officials behind the politically driven case…
“Putin has been seen as the driving force behind the unrelenting legal attack on Khodorkovsky, who challenged him early in his presidency and has been imprisoned since 2003… Gorbachev also denounced the main pro-Kremlin United Russia party as a ‘bad copy’ of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union…”
It is illusionary to think that Russia will ever become a democracy. Rather, it is destined to form a confederacy with other more or less non-democratic nations, such as China, Japan, India, North Korea, and Iran (Persia).
“Marital Status” Irrelevant for Church of England’s Clergy
Mail On Line wrote on February 19:
“The Church of England has infuriated traditionalists by dropping the requirement for clergy to disclose their marital status when they apply for new posts. Church officials say the changes have been introduced to mirror new secular employment and equality laws aimed at eliminating discrimination. But traditionalists say they further undermine the Christian view of marriage by hindering parishes from finding out whether candidates for jobs are divorced or in a gay ‘marriage’.
“One senior cleric said: ‘This opens the floodgates to divorce and remarriage being accepted as normal in the Church because they are no longer seen as a significant factor in appointments. It would also mean parishes being unaware until they have made their decisions that a clergyman’s personal life may be out of step with its position on issues such as civil partnerships. This is a slippery slope. It is another sign the Church is abandoning its traditional values.’
‘The Church has… bowed to liberal pressure over gay ‘marriage’ and ruled in 2005 that gay clergy can have civil partnerships but should refrain from sex…
“Rod Thomas, whose conservative evangelical group Reform represents 500 clergy, said the changes were unnecessary as the Church was not required to change its rules to reflect the rest of society. ‘More significantly, the Bible makes clear that the personal circumstances of an individual are very important in deciding whether they should be leaders in God’s Church,’ he said.”
Sadly, the standards in our Western societies are so far removed from true Christianity, that nothing should surprise us anymore. The Church of England’s latest pronouncement is just one more proof as to how much our nations and religious leaders have turned their backs on God and His Word.
Christian Churches For Muslim Worship?
Fox News wrote on February 18:
“Two Protestant churches are taking some heat from critics for opening their church buildings to Muslims needing places to worship because their own facilities were either too small, or under construction… Dr. Alex McFarland, a Christian theologian and radio talk show host, charged these churches ‘have crossed the line from respect and tolerance, to … affirmation and endorsement…’ Dr. Jason Hood, an Evangelical theologian, says there are other ways Christians can share the love of Christ without building a bridge too far…
“McFarland says it’s good to remember the ‘political ramifications’ of Muslim-Christian interaction. ‘What if we went to Muslims and said “Hey, can we use your mosque for the worship of Jesus, the incarnate son of God, the one that said ‘no one comes to the Father but through him.”’ I doubt there would be a lot of reciprocity’. McFarland says the groups run the risk of creating something called ‘Chrislam’ – a combination of the two faiths that essentially ignores… the exclusive claims of both Christianity and Islam.”
The Bible seems to indicate that ultimately, prior to Christ’s return, one large religion, claiming to be Christian, will combine most religions under its umbrella.
Massive Space Storm Overdue
Mail On Line wrote on February 22:
“The world is overdue a ferocious ‘space storm’ that could knock out communications satellites, ground aircraft and trigger blackouts – causing hundreds of billions of pounds of damage, scientists say. Astronomers today warned that mankind is now more vulnerable to a major solar storm than at any time in history – and that the planet should prepare for a global Katrina-style disaster.
“A massive eruption of the sun would [send] waves of radiation and charged particles to Earth, damaging the satellite systems used for synchronising computers, airline navigation and phone networks. If the storm is powerful enough it could even crash stock markets and cause power cuts that last weeks or months… The chances of a disruption from space are getting stronger because the sun is entering the most active period of its 11 to 12-year natural cycle.
“The world got a taster of the sun’s explosive power last week when the strongest solar eruption in five years sent a torrent of charged plasma hurtling towards the world at 580 miles per second. The storm created spectacular aurorae and disrupted radio communications…
“Solar storms are caused by massive explosions on the sun. The explosions release waves of X-rays and ultraviolet radiation which smash into the Earth within minutes, disrupting radio signals and damaging the electronics of satellites. They are followed ten to 20 minutes later by a burst of energetic particles which cause even more havoc with satellites – and then 15 to 30 hours later by supercharged plasma which collides with Earth’s magnetic field. The plasma create the aurora – or Northern Lights – and can induce electrical currents in power lines and cables.
“Jane Lubchenco, head of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said: ‘This is not a matter of if, it is simply a matter of when and how big. The last time we had a maximum in the solar cycle, about 10 years ago, the world was a very different place. Cell phones are now ubiquitous; they were certainly around but we didn’t rely on them for so many different things…’”
Christ prophesied that we can expect strange cosmic disturbances in the heavens, which will affect the earth (Luke 21:25; compare Joel 2:30).
Big Earthquake in New Zealand
The Telegraph wrote on February 22:
“More than 150 are feared dead after a major earthquake hit Christchurch, one of New Zealand’s biggest cities, in what the prime minister described ‘New Zealand’s darkest day’… The Queen, who is also New Zealand’s head of state, expressed her sadness at the 6.3 magnitude quake, saying she was ‘utterly shocked’ by the news…
“A state of emergency was declared following the quake, which struck at 12.51pm on Tuesday local time (2351GMT Monday), when office blocks and shopping centres in the city centre were bustling with people… Officials fear the death toll could double amid reports that more than 200 were trapped in collapsed buildings and wreckage of homes. Bodies were seen lying in the streets, untended until emergency services were able to reach them… Mr Key, the prime minister who has flown to the city, described what he saw as ‘utter devastation’…
“William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, said Britain stood ‘ready to provide any assistance that we can… The ties that bind the UK with New Zealand are very close…’
“The chaotic scenes were far different from last September’s ‘miracle’, when no one was killed in a 7.1 magnitude quake. Tuesday’s much shallower quake, just two miles below the surface… has been described as the worst earthquake to hit the country in 80 years.”
Christ prophesied that in these last days, we will hear more and more about “earthquakes in various places” (Matthew 24:7).
Mysterious Death of 100 Pilot Whales in New Zealand
AFP wrote on February 22:
“More than 100 pilot whales died in a mass stranding at a remote New Zealand beach, conservation officials said Monday… Pilot whales up to 20 feet (6m) long are the most common species of whale seen in New Zealand waters.
“… Earlier this month, 14 [pilot whales] died after beaching near the South Island tourist city of Nelson and 24 perished last month near Cape Reinga in the country’s far north. Scientists are unsure why pilot whales beach themselves…”
It is interesting that this particular mass killing occurred just before a strong earthquake struck Christchurch.
“Frisians Ward Off Evil Spirits With Bonfire Festival”
The Local wrote on February 22:
“North Frisians lit their traditional Biikebrennen bonfires on Monday night, celebrating the new year and warding off evil winter spirits in one of northern Germany’s most important folk festivals. More than 60 fires burned in coastal communities along the North Frisian Islands in the state of Schleswig-Holstein, in addition to some in nearby Denmark’s South Jutland region…
“Communities in the area often save their discarded Christmas trees from which they build massive towers for burning. A strawman symbolizing winter is also often burned, which has led some historians to conjecture that the practice derives from the pagan midwinter feast.”
Pagan customs and traditions are prevalent in our “Christian” societies. For more information, please read our free booklet, “Is That in the Bible?—Man’s Holidays and God’s Holy Days.”
Anniversary of Execution of White Rose Members
Deutsche Welle wrote on February 22 about the anniversary of the execution of Hans and Sophie Scholl, members of the German White Rose movement. The following was stated:
“Hans and Sophie Scholl are among those most closely associated with the anti-Hitler movement in Nazi Germany. The young siblings from Munich were part of the White Rose, a resistance group committed to non-violence. From June 1942 to February 1943, they secretly printed anti-war leaflets with slogans like ‘Down with Hitler!’ and ‘Freedom!’ which they distributed to the public. The group has been praised by many prominent personalities, including anti-fascist German novelist and Nobel Prize-winner Thomas Mann. To this day, the White Rose stands for courage, bravery and political responsibility…
“‘Do you and your children want to suffer the same fate that befell the Jews?’ asks the fifth and second-to-last White Rose leaflet, which was written shortly before the group’s arrest by the Gestapo on February 18, 1943. ‘Do you want to be judged in the same way as your abusers? …Should we forever be the people hated and rejected by the whole world? No! So distance yourselves from the National Socialist subhumanness! Tear off the coat of indifference that covers your heart! Make a decision before it’s too late!’
“Franz Josef Müller, now 86, was a member of the White Rose. As a 17-year-old, he protested together with Hans and Sophie Scholl, Alexander Schmorell, Christoph Probst, Willi Graf and university professor Kurt Huber against the crimes of the Nazi regime… the activities of the White Rose [spread] beyond just Munich in southern Germany, reaching all the way to Hamburg in the north… Most of the Hamburg-based White Rose members had an academic background…
“Traute Lafrenz [a medical student in the early 1940s, now aged 91] helped deliver White Rose leaflets from Munich to Hamburg, where they were to be distributed. She was arrested by the Gestapo and later freed by American soldiers. After the war, she immigrated to the United States, where she worked as the director of an institution for mentally handicapped children.
“Lafrenz… was not the only Hamburg resident arrested due to connections with the White Rose – over 30 others suffered the same fate. Eight of them did not survive the prosecution, including Hans Conrad Leipelt who had helped Lafrenz transport the leaflets. Many of the accused were demonstratively tried for high treason at the so-called People’s Court and sentenced to death.
“Thanks to errors in the investigation process, Franz Josef Müller received ‘only’ a jail sentence. After the war he studied law and became a teacher.”
Hans and Sophie Scholl, children of a Protestant pastor, as well as others paid with their lives for what they believed in. They had the strong desire to warn their fellow citizens and make them aware of the atrocities of the Nazi regime, but they did not resort to violent means in doing so. The Church of God has the duty and commission to warn the world of impending disaster, due to the way we live, but we must not resort to violence, either. How dedicated and zealous are WE to finish the Work which God has given us to do—even if it costs our lives?