Month: February 2011

Ten Commandments Pulled Off Students’ Lockers by Virginia School Administration

Floyd, VA – Liberty Counsel sent a letter to the Floyd County High School administration, requesting the reversal of their censorship of religious material posted by school students on the face of the students’ lockers. On February 23, Jacob Agee and other students who are members of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes posted copies of the Ten Commandments on the face of their assigned lockers. Very quickly thereafter, Principal Barry Hollandsworth and Assistant Principal Tony Deibler removed each copy. Jacob then met with Principal Hollandsworth, who explained that he could not permit students to use the face of their lockers for religious expression because if he did, students of all religions could use their lockers for religious expressions of their respective religions.

These acts of censorship violate the students’ right to free speech. Students at the school are generally permitted to decorate the faces of their assigned lockers without prior approval of staff or administrators. However, school officials now say that prior approval is necessary for student expressions on their assigned lockers, so that they can censor religious viewpoints. A tour of the school would quickly reveal a variety of student expressions of school spirit, support of activities, birthday well wishes, social causes, and so on. In this case, the school has opened up student lockers for student expression and is monitoring and censoring religious speech.

There is a crucial difference between government speech endorsing religion and student speech endorsing religion. While a school could prohibit all stickers on student lockers, school officials cannot selectively discriminate against religious viewpoints while allowing other secular viewpoints. This is, in fact, what the school has done in this case.

Mathew Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, stated, “Liberty Counsel stands ready to defend the legal rights of students and members of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Floyd County High School. The school officials censored the Ten Commandments from the students’ lockers solely because they deemed them to be religious and thus impermissible. Censoring religious viewpoints of students, while permitting secular viewpoints, violates the First Amendment. Floyd County school officials must immediately reverse course.”

Essay: Middle East Democracy?

Many voices across the political and media spectrums have hailed the recent protests and changes in governments across the Middle East as welcome democratic advances into a largely totalitarian region of the world. With Tunisian President Ben Ali and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak overthrown, protests have spread to Yemen, Iran, Jordan, Bahrain, and most recently to Libya, where Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s regime teeters on the edge of collapse. These revolutions-in-the-making are the agitations of mostly restless young men who are tired of low wages, few prospects for advancement, and stifling government control over just about everything. In other words, these are rebellions like most others in history.

Seen from the West, the protests, the calls for new elections, and the forcing of longtime leaders out of office seem to be the perfect setup for the progress of democracy. To those of this mind, this is the formula for a more peaceful world. Perhaps if all nations were democracies, the peace quotient would indeed be higher than today, but would it necessarily be significantly higher? A better but more general question would be, “Would global democracy ensure peace?” And the answer would be a resounding, “No!”

No form of human government can ensure peace, and the reason is found in the word “human.” People have human nature, and no matter how they are governed, people will come into conflict with each other because human nature is essentially selfish (see Jeremiah 17:9; Matthew 15:19). When two people—or two nations—want the same thing badly enough, they will do whatever it takes to get it, including going to war. The only real advantage of a democracy over monarchy or totalitarianism is that more people have to agree to take the road to war or to any other evil, yet these things still happen with regularity. As former British Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill remarked, “Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

In his most recent column, “Democracy Versus Liberty,” Dr. Walter E. Williams, an economist at George Mason University, reminded his readers that “democracy and majority rule [are] a contemptible form of government.” He went on to quote a handful of the Founding Fathers—from James Madison and John Adams to Alexander Hamilton—illustrating that they held democracy in low regard and therefore did not saddle the fledgling United States of America with it. In fact, they called democracy “turbulent,” “folly,” “extreme,” and “suicidal”! Hamilton wrote, “If we incline too much to democracy, we shall soon shoot into a monarchy, or some other form of dictatorship.”

As Dr. Williams points out, our nation’s two most fundamental documents, the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, do not contain even one instance of the word “democracy.” The Constitution of the United States establishes the government of this nation as a republic, which dictionaries define simplistically as a government comprised of elected representatives of the people and usually presided over by an elected president. Likewise, they say a democracy is majority rule by the people, whether directly or through representatives.

While these spare definitions sound very similar, the similarity ends here. The primary difference, as seen through the Founders eyes, is the origin of rights: In a republic, they are the natural rights that spring from a loving God, and the government is constitutionally bound to protect them. In a democracy, rights have their source in the people, and the government imposes them through the force of law. Thus, citizens of a republic have a divine assurance of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” that no just law can supplant, whereas those in a democracy have no such guarantee. The majority can change or annul their rights at its whim.

Unfortunately, the United States discarded true republicanism a long while ago, transforming itself into a representative democracy, and this is the form of government that it has been pressing on the nations of the Middle East for many years. The consequences of this are troubling. If these nations are successful in forming democratic governments, they will not ally or even collaborate with the liberal West but with their Muslim brothers in the Islamic world—and increase the possibility of world war, not diminish it!

The strongmen currently being overthrown are the “devils we know,” as it were, and they have maintained a degree of peace in the region for many years, albeit with sporadic flare-ups and threats of terrorism. Egypt’s Mubarak, especially, has respected the peace treaty between his country and Israel that he inherited from his predecessor, Anwar Sadat. While the Egyptian military regime has not fallen (only the head of state has been removed), the new government has promised to share power with more radical elements who may not honor the treaty in the same way. Should the Muslim Brotherhood become more influential, it will surely renounce it, and a new Arab-Israeli war would not be far behind.

The situation in Bahrain, whose population is 70% Shia like Iran, contains another factor that will undermine keeping Middle East peace if the current government falls to a “democratic” revolution. For many years, the U.S. Navy has headquartered its Fifth Fleet in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom under a deal that has been maintained since World War II. The ships and their attached air forces are stationed there to ensure the free flow of oil, to contain Iran, and to monitor and prevent terrorist organizations like al Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah from strengthening and expanding across the region. Its mere presence deters these radical actors on many levels.

Finally, Yemeni President Saleh, who has been an ally against al Qaeda, has pledged—under the duress of demonstrations—that he will not run for office again in 2013, nor will his son, whom he had hoped to succeed him. Yemen, itself a hotbed of radical Islamism, lies just across the Red Sea from Somalia and all of its turmoil. A radicalized Yemen would virtually guarantee heightened tensions around the Horn of Africa and disrupt sea traffic between the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.

The situation across the Middle East could change swiftly if these dominoes begin to fall. Certainly, the nation of Israel will begin to feel even more encircled by enemies, and its only real ally, the U.S., handcuffed by distance and shrinking logistical options, may be unable to come to its aid with strength as it now can. Could we be seeing the region reconfigured to instigate the King of the North’s whirlwind invasion, as Daniel 11:40-43 describes? Perhaps, but would it not be a great irony if this world’s great hope, democracy, played such a central role in bringing on the crisis at the close of this age?

– Richard T. Ritenbaugh

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Wrongly Convicted Afghan Christian Freed At Last!

Two weeks ago reports were circulating that Sayed Mossa, the 46-year-old Afghan jailed since last May for converting to Christianity, would be executed by hanging. But this week Mossa was freed by Afghan authorities and has been allowed to leave the country.

Sources in Kabul, along with the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in Washington, D.C., confirmed his release Thursday. His whereabouts were not disclosed pending Mossa’s reunion with his wife and six children. Due to threats from Muslim neighbors and the hardship of Mossa’s imprisonment, the family in recent months was forced to leave Afghanistan.

Mossa’s release ends a frightening ordeal for the former International Committee for the Red Cross therapist. An amputee, his case gained attention last fall after he sent written dispatches from prison saying that he was enduring daily beatings and sexual abuse from Muslim prisoners. (See “Deeds done in darkness,” Nov. 20, 2010.)

Western Christians living in Kabul, where Mossa (whose name is also spelled Said Musa) was held on charges of apostasy after he appeared in a video showing a baptism service involving Afghans, visited Mossa in prison and lobbied officials for his release. Failing that, they sought legal representation—only to find that no Muslim lawyer in Kabul would take his case. The attorney general’s office supervising the case would not accept outside counsel. His advocates were successful, along with officials from the U.S. Embassy, in having him moved to a safer prison last October, where he was no longer physically mistreated. But the Karzai government refused to release him, even as it continued to postpone scheduled dates for his court trial.

Under Islamic law, apostasy is punishable by death. But under Afghan’s constitution, freedom of religion is also upheld. In addition, Afghanistan under President Hamid Karzai is a signatory to the UN Declaration on Human Rights, which stipulates the right to choose one’s own religion.

According to a handwritten note Mossa sent from prison in mid-February, high-level diplomats from the U.S. and Italian embassies visited him and offered asylum. But an Afghan official asked him at the time—as he had been many times previously—to renounce his Christian faith and declare himself again a Muslim. Mossa refused. “I never, never, never deny my Lord’s name,” he wrote, and authorities sent him back to jail.

Western pressure to release Mossa continued to build: NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen spoke out about the case, warning Kabul that “a sentence to death or any punishment for converting from one religion to the another is in strong contradiction with everything NATO stands for.”

An Afghan Christian living in Kabul who knows Mossa told me today, “We are all happy and thankful. On one hand it is encouraging for us that God has answered our prayers; on the other hand I personally don’t know how much things have improved . . . the government must be more careful in future cases as they may not want to buy problems and international pressure for themselves.”

Mossa’s release is a mixed victory for religious freedom advocates who have campaigned on his behalf for many months. Afghan officials appear to have relented on Mossa’s behalf but not to have changed a policy of crackdown on Christian believers. Another Afghan convert, Shoib Assadullah, remains in jail after his arrest on similar charges last October. In a letter smuggled out of his jail cell in Mazar-e-Sharif, he wrote last week, “I am undergoing severe psychological pressure. Several times I have been attacked physically and threatened to death by fellow prisoners, especially Taliban and anti-government prisoners who are in jail.”

Six more converts face prison and death sentences in Afghanistan after they were denied asylum in India. The Barnabas Fund announced today that they are likely to be deported back to Afghanistan.

“We cannot be more thrilled about Sayed Mossa’s release,” said International Christian Concern spokesman Aiden Clay. “It has been encouraging to see the international community, including churches, reporters, and government officials in Europe and North America work together for the common goal of freeing Sayed. Many sleepless nights, prayers, and tears have paid off. However, the battle has not yet been won.”

Courtesy of

Christians urged to pray for believers in Iran

According to Elam Ministries, there are at least 25 Christians still being held behind bars out of around 120 imprisoned by the authorities since last December.

Elam director Sam Yeghnazar is appealing to Christians to pray for their brothers and sisters in Iran, that they would be mentally prepared to face interrogators. It is also asking that they pray for the persecutors, that they would realise that what they are doing is wrong, and for fellow prisoners, that they would hear the Gospel.

“Prison is a place that people dread,” said Yeghnazar.

“This is where our brothers and sisters are suffering. It is where they win victories or suffer defeat.

“So it would be good to start [our prayers] from prison.”

The Christian community in Iran has been hit by a wave of arrests since last December. On February 13, around 45 Christians were rounded up and detained overnight in several towns and cities across Iran. At least five of them were held in Tehran’s notorious Evan prison.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide suspects that the arrests and detentions are part of a wider attempt by the Iranian government to intimidate the Christian community.

Christians are regarded as an enemy of Islam and the Iranian state. Tehran Governor Morteza Tamadon recently likened Christian missionaries to the Taliban and warned of more arrests.

Elam Ministries said some of the Christians to have been released have reported being placed in solitary confinement and subjected to harsh interrogation in Section 209 of Evin Prison.

“Ex-prisoners who have endured Section 209 testify it is the worst part of the whole grim experience of arrest and imprisonment,” said Elam.

“They say the mental pressure is unbearable.”

Pastor Behrouz Sadegh-Khanjani was released on bail on February 15 after being detained in Shiraz since last June. He stands accused of crimes against the Islamic order and blasphemy, and now awaits a further hearing, expected to take place in April.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide said there was still no news on the fate of Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, who is appealing against a death sentence for blasphemy.

CSW’s national director Stuart Windsor condemned the harassment of Christians.

“CSW deplores the systematic targeting of religious minorities by the Iranian government,” he said.

“As a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Iran is illegally obligated to uphold international standards of religious freedom for all its citizens.”

Courtezsy of

City’s hate of religion taken to Supreme Court

By Bob Unruh
© 2011 WorldNetDaily

The Vatican

A city’s official condemnation of Roman Catholic Church teachings as “discriminatory,” “insulting,” “callous” and “defamatory” is being taken to the U.S. Supreme Court because of the Constitution’s requirement that government not be “hostile” to faith.

The case stems from a 2006 non-binding resolution from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors that called the Catholic Church’s teachings “an insult to all San Franciscans” and accused the Vatican of being a “foreign country” that “meddles with and attempts to negatively influence this great city’s existing and established customs and traditions.”

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The case is being fought by the Thomas More Law Center, which is arguing that the Supreme Court should take this opportunity “to secure and maintain uniformity of decisions on an important issue of federal law.”

“The crux of the problem is that this court’s Establishment Clause jurisprudence … tends to be hostile toward religion,” the petition to the court said.

WND reported earlier when the case was submitted to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which issued a fractured ruling that offered no resolution.

Three judges found for the petitioners, three found for the defendants and five decided there was no standing in the case.

Read more: City’s hate of religion taken to Supreme Court

The formal statement from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors attacked the church’s belief because it prohibits the adoption of children by homosexuals.

The resolution, adopted March 21, 2006, calls the Vatican a “foreign country” that is meddling in the city’s affairs. Further it states that the church’s moral teachings are “insulting to all San Franciscans,” “hateful,” “insulting and callous,” “defamatory,” “absolutely unacceptable,” “insensitive” and “ignorant.”

The resolution further references the Inquisition and calls on the archbishop of San Francisco and other Catholic officials to defy church teachings and beliefs.

According to the Thomas More Law Center, Catholic doctrine teaches that allowing children to be adopted by homosexuals would mean doing violence to the children “in the sense that their condition of dependency would be used to place them in an environment that is not conducive to their full human development.”

“Such policies are gravely immoral, and Catholic organizations must not place children for adoption in homosexual households,” the center explained.

“The 9th Circuit prohibits a government display of the passive symbol of the war memorial cross on Mt. Soledad, yet it expressly approves of the government’s explicit condemnation of Catholic religious beliefs,” said Richard Thompson, chief counsel for the TMLC.

“This outrageous double standard is made possible by the Supreme Court’s flawed tests by which it interprets the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment – an interpretation that is hostile toward religion,” he said.

The challenge claims San Francisco’s resolution violates the First Amendment, which forbids government disapproval of a particular religion, religious belief or of religion in general.

At the 9th Circuit, Judge Andrew Kleinfeld wrote, “The ‘message’ in the resolution, unlike, say, the message that might be inferred from some symbolic display, is explicit: a Catholic doctrine duly communicated by the part of the Catholic church in charge of clarifying doctrine is ‘hateful,’ ‘defamatory,’ ‘insulting,’ ‘callous,’ and ‘discriminatory,’ showing ‘insensitivity and ignorance,’ the Catholic church is a hateful foreign meddler in San Francisco’s affairs, the Catholic church ought to ‘withdraw’ its religious directive, and the local archbishop should defy his superior’s directive. This is indeed a ‘message of … disapproval.’ And that is all it takes for it to be unconstitutional.”

“This case is a ‘poster child’ for the inconsistent results caused by the Supreme Court’s muddled Establishment Clause case law,” said Robert Muise, senior trial counsel for the TMLC. “Thus, it provides an opportunity for the court to abandon this unworkable jurisprudence in favor of one that respects our nation’s religious heritage, history, and traditions and that eschews the absurd results produced by the status quo. Unfortunately, under the current jurisprudence, the closest measure for predicting the outcome of a particular case is the personal predilections of the judge or judges deciding it.”

Catholic League spokesman Bill Donohue told WND at the time the comments denouncing church doctrine were “incredible, invective and bigoted comments.”

“This is beyond belief. It clearly is a hostile environment,” he said.

The issue of state control over the adoption of children has been growing exponentially in recent months. In several locations, Catholic organizations have stopped providing adoption and other referral services because of government mandates that they provide children to homosexual duos when asked.

The San Francisco statement also claimed that “same-sex couples are just as qualified to be parents as are heterosexual couples” and condemned Cardinal William Levada of the Vatican’s Doctrine of the Faith as “a decidedly unqualified representative of his former home city.”

City officials included a directive urging local Catholic officials “to defy all discriminatory directives of Cardinal Levada” and telling Levada “to withdraw his discriminatory and defamatory directive that Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of San Francisco stop placing children in need of adoption with homosexual households.”

“Petitioners object to and have been injured by the anti-Catholic resolution adopted by the city,” the petition explains. “The city’s resolution attacks petitioners’ deeply held religious beliefs, conveys an impermissible, government-sponsored message of disapproval of and hostility toward the Catholic religion, and sends a clear message to petitioners that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community,” it continues.

“The effect of the city’s anti-Catholic resolution … is the same as posting a large sign on the front door to city hall reading, ‘Catholics are not welcome in San Francisco.'”

“Because the Constitution forbids hostility toward a particular religion or of religion in general – hostility that has no place in our nation’s history and traditions – such practices should be judged under the Establishment Clause by applying a struct scrutiny standard of review,” the petition argues.

“Government speech that explicitly disfavors religion, such as the resolution at issue here, should be held ‘invalid unless it is justified by a compelling interest and is narrowly tailored to advance that interest.’ Here, there is no compelling interest – or indeed even a rational basis – to justify the ‘insolent, stupid, or worse’ … resolution expressly condemning petitioners’ religion,” the petition states.

Read more: City’s hate of religion taken to Supreme Court

Global Evangelical Body: Execution Trial of Afghan Convert Illegal


The trial of an Afghan man who is facing execution for converting to Christianty is illegal and must be stopped, said the religious liberty representative of the world’s largest evangelical body. Godfrey Yogarajah, executive director of the World Evangelical Alliance’s Religious Liberty Commission, argues that the trial of convert Said Musa, 45, breaks at least three provisions of Afghanistan’s 2004 Constitution.

According to Article 130 of the country’s Constitution, courts can rely on Sharia law only within the limits of the Constitution and only if the “pending” case does not relate to any provisions in the Constitution or any other law.

A case qualifies as “pending” if it is registered under law. But Yogarajah points out that apostasy is not a crime recognized by the Afghan Constitution or any other statutory law.

“Article 27 of the Constitution says that no person shall be pursued, arrested or detained for an act that is not considered a crime,” said Yogarajah in a statement Saturday. “So under what statutory law was Musa arrested?”

Musa, a former Red Cross worker who lost his left leg in a landmine explosion, has been detained since last May after a local TV network broadcasted images of Afghan Christians being baptized by Westerners. Musa was one of the converts to Christianity identified in the video.

The father of six has said that he was tortured and sexually abused by prison guards and inmates during his imprisonment. He is staying in the infamous Kabul Detention Center and has been denied access to a lawyer or a fair trial. Some defense lawyers have refused to represent Musa unless he reconverts while others have dropped his case after being threatened. His wife and six children fled to Pakistan after his arrest.

Musa’s case is the first time that apostasy has led to near execution since the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

In addition to Article 130, Yogarajah also points to Article 7 of Afghanistan’s Constitution that states the country’s obligation to adhere to the international covenants of which it is a signer. One of these covenants include the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Three clauses of Article 18 of the ICCPR state that:

• Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching
• No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice
• Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others

Yogarajah, however, acknowledges that Article 3 of Afghanistan’s Constitution says that no law can be contrary to “the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam.”

“Though this contradicts earlier constitutions, but after the inclusion of Article 7 (with a pledge to abide by international conventions), in the 2004 Constitution, the interpretation of Article 3 needs to be reformulated in light of this glaring contradiction.”

The WEA, which represents 600 million evangelicals in 128 countries, laments that nine years after the fall of the Taliban there is little visible change in the areas of rule of law and civil liberties.

“The calls by extremist elements for the death of an alleged apostate are understandable – but when the administration seeks the death penalty for a convert by the misuse of vague laws, it raises serious concerns,” said Yogarajah. “Repression can never lead to peace in the long-run. The government must not avoid reforms for fear of a backlash by extremists.”

Afghanistan is ranked No. 3 on Open Doors’ World Watch List of countries with the worst Christian persecution.

Kentucky Senate Passes Bill to Teach Bible in Public Schools

The Kentucky Senate passed a bill Wednesday that would add Bible classes to the curriculum in public schools.

The Senate voted 34-1 to approve Senate Bill 56.

The measure would direct the Kentucky Board of Education to create guidelines on a curriculum around the Bible. According to the proposal, students would be able to take a Bible course as a social studies elective centered on the Hebrew Scriptures, Old Testament of the Bible, the New Testament, or a combination of the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament of the Bible.

Sen. Joe Bowen (R-Owensboro), the bill’s sponsor, said the purpose of the legislation is Bible literacy.

He said the intention is to acquaint students with a book that has had tremendous impact on American society and western culture, according to The Associated Press.

Knowledge of biblical characters and narratives serves as “prerequisites to understanding contemporary society and culture, including literature, art, music, mores, oratory, and public policy,” the proposal stated.

While schools in Kentucky can teach classes on the Bible, the bill would standardize the coursework.

Sen. David Boswell (D- Owensboro) sponsored a similar bill last year that passed the Kentucky Senate but failed in the House. Boswell last year said the legislation was constitutional because the Bible would not be taught from a religious standpoint but from a literary one.

Senate Bill 56 now heads to the state House.

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