"Am I therefore become your enemy,because I TELL YOU THE TRUTH...?"
(Galatians 4:16)

Saturday, February 9, 2008

DECEPTION WATCH:Portrait of Christianity in the Next 1,000 Years

What will the Christian church look like in the next 1,000 years?If a devout Christian from the year 1000 A.D. were to be dropped into a mid-morning service at a 21st century progressive church, the medieval Christian would not recognize the Christian faith, says Kevin Kelly in the latest issue of Willow magazine – a publication of the influential Willow Creek Community Church.So it's "reasonable and responsible to expect tremendous change in the Christian church" in the next millennium, he writes.Besides the end of the world happening in this lifetime, Kelly offers five other scenarios – or plausible stories – for what the church may look like in the year 3,000 A.D.And he cautions, "If Christians don’t seize the future, then unbelievers will."
Scenario One
The center of Christianity will continue to shift west. Since the time of Christ, the center of gravity for the global Christian church has steadily moved west from its epicenter in Jerusalem. It has shifted to Armenia, Greece, Rome, then into Europe, and further west into North and South America.Many reports indicate that the center of Christianity is now in Asia and Africa where the Christian population is booming.But Kelly says it won't stop there."If the move west continues as it has for the last 2,000 years, Christianity’s center of gravity will keep migrating westward beyond East and Central Asia. The new missionaries based in Asia in the coming century will reach out to unbelievers in the birthplace of Christianity."Eventually, the epicenter of Christianity will circumnavigate the globe and arrive back where it began in Jerusalem.That means, "unless Christianity in the U.S. becomes less parochial and more global, what happens in North American Christianity in the next 500 years may simply be the side-show," Kelly writes. "The main event will happen elsewhere around the globe."
Scenario Two
The varieties of Christianity, including the number of creeds and denominations, will continue to increase. Christian denominations have increased from 500 in 1800 to 40,000 in 2007, Kelly cites.And nothing will apparently halt the diversification."When you can get 72 varieties of mustard in the supermarket, choice is accepted," he writes. "There is no known counter force visible in our culture which would work against increased varieties in Christian approaches."
Scenario Three
Churches outside mainstream Christianity are growing the fastest.The greatest growth in the future is expected from such marginal church groups as the Mormons and the Amish.The growth, however, won't go without criticism. These churches will be, and some already are, considered cults or heretics by the orthodox, Kelly points out.Nevertheless, Kelly says "an entirely safe bet would be that the largest denomination 1,000 years from now is one that does not exist at the moment."Currently, the largest church in the United States is Lakewood Church, a nondenominational church of now 40,000 weekly attendants, in Houston. It was founded in 1959.
Scenario Four
An overwhelming majority of the challenges – such as abortion, stem cell therapies and pornography – Christianity will be facing in the next millennium will be driven by new technologies. Kelly points out that today's challenges are tame compared to the ones coming.
And as Christians have already been witnessing, the next generations of Christians will speak the Facebook and YouTube language as easily as Americans speak English today."The long-term trend is more technology in the Christian culture; what is missing, and what may take several generations to supply, is an understanding of the spiritual meaning of technology," Kelly writes.
Scenario Five
As culture continues to move toward a future of questioning and doubt, Christianity has to "develop a cultural practice of positive questioning, of active holy doubt, and a clear articulation of what is eternal and what is in flux," he notes.That practice is likely to be constructed not by theologians, Kelly says, but by members of the worldwide church in a distributed social media context. "The wiki-church."And that includes Muslims.The Christian community is shrinking in Europe while the Islamic community continues to grow. And while Islam has turned radical and militant in other parts of the world, Kelly points to the millions of non-militant moderate Muslim communities."On many social issues moderate Islam and conservative Christianity agree," he contends. "They are both people of the book. They both honor many of the same prophets. They agree on many religious issues like prayer, sexuality, sin, and family."It is not impossible to imagine Muslims and Christians becoming allies in the inevitable culture wars of the future. It is no more impossible than imagining Christians and Jews would be allies a thousand years ago."
Kelly predicts 100 years from now, a conservative Christian-Islam alliance might be a serious global political force.While none of the five scenarios may happen, they are presented in order to gain a firm grasp of the present trends, Kelly says."Sometimes it takes an exercise of extrapolating to a thousand years from now to see what is happening tomorrow. Only by extending a trend can we see if it might endure, or survive in the face of other trends, or if it might provoke an awareness of a trend we could not see before."

PS:This is one of the silliest posts Ive ever read....BUT I decided to blog on this to show people,how far from the Bible people INSIDE the CHURCH IS NOWADAYS....I don't know what kind of techings they have at Willow Creek BUT IF you study the BIble and Bible Prophecy....It wont take a rocket scientist to realize that we are at the very end of the end times...We don't have 1000 years more,I dont even think we have 5 years more....!!!!the Coming of the Lord is inminent and scores of lukewarm nominal christians are still in OBLIVION LAND about the times we are in.....These five scenarios are pure nonsense....
He was right in one thing though:IF a christian from the medieval ages would pop up to one of the so called"contemporary or progressive services"would drop dead....cause for the most part these churches are no longer churches,but social gatherings where the visitor hears something he/she would like to hear and is never confronted by a sound biblical message of repentance of sin and salvation....It seems that now HELL and SIN are curse words....Well....after all it wont help pay the huge "pastor bills"
By the way Mr Kelly...The Center of Christianity will be where two or three are gathered in His Name....!!!!I'd advise Mr Kelly for the sake of his own soul to read the Scriptures and to drop wasting his time in theorizing about things that are not biblical at all.....
IF you attend Willow Creek.....RUN AWAY ASAP....before you fall in the same deep slumber of delusion they are all in......!!!!!!ESCAPE while there is still time!!!!!they are stumbling in darkness!!!!!!!
JESUS IS COMING SOON!!!!!!!!!!Be Ready!!!!!We ARE in borrowed time!!!!!!

As in the days of Noah....

The world's first time machine? Tunnel to the past could open door to future within three months, say Russians

Time travel could be a reality within just three months, Russian mathematicians have claimed.They believe an experiment nuclear scientists plan to carry out in underground tunnels in Geneva in May could create a rift in the fabric of the universe...The European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) hopes its "atom-smashing" tests-which aim to recreate the conditions in the first billionth of a second after the "Big Bang'" created everything-will shed invaluable light on the origins of the universe.But Irina Aref'eva and Igor Volovich, of Moscow's Steklov Mathematical Institute, say the energy produced by forcing tiny particles to collide at close to the speed of light could open the door to visitors from the future.According to Einstein's general theory of relativity, any large amounts of matter or energy will distort the space and time that surrounds it.If the energy or mass is large enough, it is claimed that time can be distorted so much that it folds back on itself - creating a wormhole, or time tunnel, between the present and the future.But Dr Brian Cox, a member of CERN and one of Britain's leading experts in particle physics, is highly sceptical about the Russian claims, calling them "nothing more than a good science fiction story". He said: "Cosmic ray collisions in the upper atmosphere are far more energetic than anything we can produce."They have been occurring for five billion years, and no time travellers have appeared."Stephen Hawking has suggested that any future theory of quantum gravity will probably close this possibility off, not least because the universe usually proceeds in a sane way, and time travel into the past isn't sane."Cynics often point out that if time travel was really possible, we would have been visited by people from the future.However, Einstein's laws of physics suggest that time travel is only possible into the past as far as the point when the first time machine was invented.

As in the days of Noah....

Influential Evangelicals Withdraw from Christian-Muslim Statement

Administrators from one of the most influential evangelical colleges in the country removed their names from a controversial letter addressed to Muslim leaders that some say compromises the Christian faith.Wheaton College president Duane Litfin, provost Stanton Jones and chaplain Stephen Kellough decided to back away from the letter that they had originally endorsed along with nearly 300 Christian leaders in November in response to an October statement ("A Common Word Between Us and You") from 138 Muslim scholars and clerics who called for interfaith cooperation for world peace."I signed the statement because I am committed to the business of peace-making and neighbor-love,” Litfin stated on Friday in The Record, the student publication of Wheaton College. “I did not savor the document’s unnuanced apology section, but swallowed that in order to be a part of reaching out a hand to these Muslim leaders who had courageously taken the initiative. Though the statement was not written in the way I would have written it, it seemed to me that I could sign it without compromising any of my Christian convictions.”The Christian-endorsed statement – which included such signatories as Rick Warren of Saddleback Church, Billy Hybels of Willow Creek Community Church, and Leith Anderson of the National Association of Evangelicals – urged for interfaith dialogue that would build relations and reshape the Christian and Islam communities. Christian leaders also asked for forgiveness of sins committed against Muslims in the Crusades and excesses of the war on terrors in the letter.Titled "Loving God and Neighbor Together: A Christian Response to a Common Word Between Us and You," the statement emphasized the "absolutely central" commonality between both religions: love of God and love of neighbor.The response drew sharp criticism from highly respected theologians R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and John Piper, pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church, and other Christian leaders.Piper called the Christian document a "profound disappointment" in the way it was worded and was surprised that even some of his friends lent their support to the letter."What's missing from this document is a clear statement about what Christianity really is and how we can come together to talk with Muslims from our unique, distinctive, biblical standpoint," Piper said in a public statement last month.He rejected the letter's emphasis on the common ground of the love of God, arguing that the love of God for Christians is starkly different from that of Islam."The love of God is...uniquely expressed through Jesus Christ as the propitiation for our sins because he died on the cross and rose again. All those things, Islam radically rejects," Piper stressed. "So they do not believe in the love of God we believe in."The Rev. Canon Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo, the director of the Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity and a British Anglican, applauded the effort of the Muslim leaders in reaching out to Christian leaders to try to find common ground but he called the Christian response a "betrayal" and "sellout" of the Christian faith.Following such criticism, Wheaton's Litfin realized he "moved too quickly" to sign the statement in his eagerness to support its strengths, including peace-making.Recognizing that the statement could have been written differently to avoid vagueness of the Christian faith, Litfin said he could not support a statement that speaks as if Quran's Allah and the God of Christians are the same."I needed to back away," he said regarding his retraction.At the same time, he said he does not criticize others "who do not share these qualms."Noting that he was not pressured to withdraw his name from the statement, Litfin said, "It was simply a matter of conscience, combined with the fact that I had put the College on the line in a way I was no longer comfortable in defending.”Other signers of the Christian letter showed no qualms about their endorsement."I still agree with the statement. I don’t have reservations," said Roy Oksnevad, director of Muslim Ministries at Wheaton College’s Billy Graham Center, according to The Record.

As in the days of Noah....

Christian Teens Seek 'Space' at Packed BattleCry Event

NEWARK, N.J.-A packed stadium where thousands were standing or sitting shoulder to shoulder may seem like an unlikely place for teens to seek their own "space," but according to Bishop T.D. Jakes that's exactly where they needed to be Friday night to hear where God wants them to go.Over 13,000 teens and youth leaders gathered at the IZOD Center in Newark, N.J., to hear the influential megachurch pastor speak at BattleCry NYC, a two-day youth rally which kicked off Friday.The event is part of Recreate ’08, a series of rallies hosted by Teen Mania this year in response to a culture that some say has become morally bankrupt.Speakers have been calling on teens not only to reject mainstream pop culture but to reclaim and "recreate" it.At the New York rally, teens received doses of inspirational messages from New York Yankees’ pitcher Mariano Rivera, six-time Grammy Award winner Kirk Franklin and the David Crowder Band.Jakes, who took the stage after an address delivered by Teen Mania founder Ron Luce, shared with the spiritually hungry crowd a message from 1 Samuel 3:1-10.He said that there are many teens in today's generation who are like Eli or Samuel – either they can't hear God's voice but they understand it or they can hear God's voice but cannot understand it. Many, Jakes said, are unable to find their "space" or place of purpose in their lives."You know something's missing but you don't know how to fix it," said the pastor of the Dallas-based Potter's House. "So you start doing crazy things looking for answers."Many, the Bishop continued, end up trying to fill the intense emptiness with drugs, alcohol or sex. Others turn to violence and think "crazy stuff" when they can't find out where they fit, said Jakes.But he assured the enthused teenagers who had been following his message with responsive cheers and choral "Amens" that God is faithful and will grant them a new beginning despite their past or mistakes."This altar is your space," said Jakes as he welcomed teens toward the stage during the altar call. "Where you can come with any issue, any problem, any situation, any circumstance and God will wash you and forgive you and set you free."As the teens crowded in front, some prayed intently with tears while others closed their eyes to pray with faces raised upward.One youth minister told The Christian Post that he was pleasantly surprised to see all of his youth group respond positively to the altar call."They all went down. It was really good to see that," said Ramon Cruz of Grace Fellowship in Branford, Conn.Victoria Manteiro, 13, said Jakes' message really moved her."I'm hoping my purpose will become more clear" following the event, she told The Christian Post.For some participants, the event was an opportunity to pass on a life-changing experience.Victor Davila, 24, who had attended the first Battle Cry event in 2005 and 13 Acquire the Fire events, said the rallies combined with love he received from a mentor have helped him go from an abusive guy from a divorced family to a youth leader today.While the messages are powerful, Davila said it's when the love is shown in action that teenagers can change.He said because his mentor loved him with God's love, he was able to turn his life around.“That's what I want to show my kids, too,” Davila told The Christian Post.The night topped off with worship from David Crowder Band who performed hits songs from their latest album Remedy.A pre-event prayer rally was held in Times Square earlier in the day with Luce as the main speaker.Luce and an greater crowd of teens were expected back at the stadium Saturday for an all-day session filled with messages, musical performances, drama and, of course, a lot of battle cries.
PS:I have a problem with this deal of "reclaiming the culture"thing...Nowhere in the Bible says that we are called to "reclaim the culture"BUT to preach the Gospel to a wicked generation and a wicked culture...We are called to the Reconciliation Ministry:reconciling the sinner with His maker....thru repetance of sins and turning from their wicked ways....I sincerely hope this Battle Cry event had a Christ centered message....I hope so....I hope they are not giving the youth just some compromised message so diluted that doesn't have the life transforming power thru true repentance that the Lord intended it to have....
As in the days of Noah....

Afghanistan’s “New Rushdie”

Afghanistan is reputed to be an ally in the “War on Terror,” but a recent legal case makes one wonder which side its government is really on. Last Wednesday, the Afghan senate upheld the death sentence a lower court had passed on 23-year-old journalism student Perwiz Kambakhsh. Kambakhsh’s crime: distributing a paper he had downloaded from the internet that purportedly insults Islam. The offending article, allegedly written by an Iranian, discusses verses in the Koran about women. Kambakhsh’s only chance to escape death by beheading is if he receives a pardon from Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai. Ironically, the deposed Taliban, which is fighting to destroy the Kabul government along with its senators, was the biggest supporter of the Afghan legislators’ sentence.Like the government, the al-Qaeda-allied Taliban has also called for “severe punishment,” naming Kambakhsh “the new Salman Rushdie.” Kambakhsh’s troubles began on October 27, when he was arrested for distributing the paper at his school, Balkh University. Some students complained to the police, and before long he was in their custody, where he has remained ever since. Shortly after his arrest, reactionary religious clerics called for the death penalty for Kambakhsh, which an obliging court handed down in January. These leaders next staged a successful demonstration against the young man’s release from prison while his death sentence is under appeal. Kambakhsh’s death sentence comes as no surprise. While the Afghan constitution’s Article 34 states that “Freedom of expression shall be inviolable,” and Article 7 says Afghanistan has signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and will abide the United Nations charter, Article 3 cancels all that by affirming that “…no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam.” In other words, Sharia law trumps all. And this is the constitution that, according to Freedom House director Nancy Shea, the New York Times editorial page on January 6, 2004, called “one of the most enlightened constitutions in the Islamic world.” This is not the first time a court in Afghanistan has passed a death sentence on an Afghan citizen for exercising his rights. The most notorious case occurred two years ago, when a 41-year-old Afghan man was to be beheaded for converting to Christianity. The man, Abdul Rahman, refused the judge’s offer at his one-day trial to reconvert to Islam. Like Kambakhsh, Rahman was convicted under Article 130 of the constitution, which allows Sharia law to be applied when no constitutional provisions or other laws exist to cover the case. Fortunately, the ensuing international outcry saved Rahman from the executioner’s blade and he was allowed to emigrate to Italy. Former women’s affairs minister Sima Samar also feared for her life when she went on trial for blasphemy in Afghanistan in 2002. Samar allegedly had told a Persian-language magazine in Canada that she did not believe in Sharia law. Although the charges were dropped, due to a lack of evidence, she did not return to cabinet, taking a lower-level post instead, indicating that in Afghanistan it is probably better to use one’s head than lose it. Nina Shea has written that other Afghan journalists have been imprisoned for blasphemy “after debating the compatibility of Sharia law with democracy,” an oxymoron if ever there was one. She adds that there may be additional, unknown Christian converts in Afghan prisons. But Shea helped dispel any doubt about the Islamist base of Afghan jurisprudence when she reported that Afghan Supreme Court Justice Fazl Hadi Shinwari told America’s National Public Radio “…it is his duty as judge to “behead” those who do not conform to Islamic law.” And it gets worse. Balkh province deputy attorney general had stated he would arrest any journalists who supported Kambakhsh, since Afghan journalists have rallied to the cause of their student colleague, who also works at a local newspaper. Moreover, the senators actually had the nerve to criticize the international (i.e.,: western) pressure the case has drawn, while soldiers from these countries are fighting, and dying, to save them and their people from the kind of theocratic conduct they are now exhibiting themselves. The treatment shown Kambakhsh and others like him indicates that Western countries should give up any illusions that Afghanistan can ever become a liberal, tolerant society. In what is supposed to be a Western-style democracy, Islamists are successfully using the courts to impose their ruthless vision on the whole country without the permission of the people. The Afghan government is becoming Taliban-lite. All of which makes one wonder what attitude Afghanistan will take towards the West once it no longer needs Western financial and military assistance. Afghan senators’ primitive rulings do not mean that Western military forces immediately should withdraw from the war-torn country. It is in our security interests to stay and oppose the Taliban and prevent Afghanistan from again becoming a terrorist base that could once more threaten the West. Moreover, some believe that, with development, a backward Afghan society will become more tolerant and that western countries should use their development aid as leverage to lobby for and promote this end. But don’t hold your breath. Wherever Sharia law exists, barbarism, as witnessed most recently in the Kambakhsh case, is likely to surface.
By Stephen Brown
As in the days of Noah....

PERSECUTION WATCH:Christians being persecuted by MUSLIMS!

Demons 'possess' Ugandan kids

Kampala-More than 100 students in a western Ugandan school become possessed by demonic spirits, Uganda's state-run newspaper reported on Tuesday.The New Vision said that authorities at Sir Tito Winyi Primary School in the western district Hoima described the "hysterical" students as suffering from a demonic attack."The situation is bad. About 100 pupils are totally mad.They are chasing everybody including teachers and fellow pupils, throwing stones, banging doors and windows," the paper quoted headmaster Vincent Kitende as saying.Kitende said that a similar incident took place at the school late last year, affecting more than 200 students that time, according to the paper.He said: "We do not know what to do. On Sunday, we held special prayers before the pupils reported and assured parents to send their children, knowing there was no cause for alarm. But here we are in a bad situation again."Hundreds of parents came to collect their children from the school. Last year, four Hoima residents were arrested for casting a spell on the school, the paper reported.Belief in witchcraft was common in some parts of Uganda, particularly in deeply religious areas.
As in the days of Noah.....

Olympic kow tow as British athletes are forced to sign contracts banning criticism of Chinese regime

British Olympic chiefs are to force athletes to sign a contract promising not to speak out about China's appalling human rights record-or face being banned from travelling to Beijing.The move-which raises the spectre of the order given to the England football team to give a Nazi salute in Berlin in 1938(picture left)-immediately provoked a storm of protest.The controversial clause has been inserted into athletes' contracts for the first time and forbids them from making any political comment about countries staging the Olympic Games.It is contained in a 32-page document that will be presented to all those who reach the qualifying standard and are chosen for the team. From the moment they sign up, the competitors-likely to include the Queen's granddaughter Zara Phillips and world record holder Paula Radcliffe-will be effectively gagged from commenting on China's politics, human rights abuses or illegal occupation of Tibet.Prince Charles has already let it be known that he will not be going to China, even if he is invited by Games organisers.His views on the Communist dictatorship are well known, after this newspaper revealed how he described China's leaders as “appalling old waxworks” in a journal written after he attended the handover of Hong Kong. The Prince is also a long-time supporter of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan leader.Yesterday the British Olympic Association (BOA) confirmed to The Mail on Sunday that any athlete who refuses to sign the agreements will not be allowed to travel to Beijing. Should a competitor agree to the clause but then speak their mind about China, they will be put on the next plane home.The clause, in section 4 of the contract, simply states: “[Athletes] are not to comment on any politically sensitive issues.”It then refers competitors to Section 51 of the International Olympic Committee charter, which “provides for no kind of demonstration, or political, religious or racial propaganda in the Olympic sites, venues or other areas”. The BOA took the decision even though other countries-including the United States, Canada, Finland, and Australia-have pledged that their athletes would be free to speak about any issue concerning China.To date, only New Zealand and Belgium have banned their athletes from giving political opinions while competing at the Games.Simon Clegg, the BOA's chief executive, said: “There are all sorts of organisations who would like athletes to use the Olympic Games as a vehicle to publicise their causes.“I don't believe that is in the interest of the team performance.“As a team we are ambassadors of the country and we have to conform to an appropriate code of conduct.”However, human rights campaigner Lord David Alton condemned the move as “making a mockery” of the right to free speech.The controversial decision to award the Olympics to Beijing means this year's Games have the potential to be the most politically charged since 1936.Adolf Hitler used the Munich Games that year to glorify his Nazi regime, although his claims of Aryan superiority were undermined by black American athlete Jesse Owens winning four gold medals.More recently, there was a mass boycott of the 1980 Games in Moscow in protest at the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.But Colin Moynihan-now BOA chairman Lord Moynihan-defied Margaret Thatcher's calls for British athletes to stay at home and won a silver medal as cox of the men's eight rowing team.Former Olympic rowing champion Matthew Pinsent has already criticised the Chinese authorities over the training methods used on children, which he regarded as tantamount to abuse. Young gymnasts told him they were repeatedly beaten during training sessions.Mr Clegg confirmed that such criticisms would be banned under the team's code of conduct, which will be in force from when athletes are selected in July, until the end of the Games on August 24.Mr Clegg said: “During the period of the contract, that sort of action would be in dispute with the team-member agreement.“There are all sorts of sanctions that I can apply. I had to send a team member home in Sydney because they breached our sponsorship agreement and that is the first time it happened.“I have to act in the interest of the whole British team, not one individual. No athlete is above being part of the team.“There is a requirement on team members to sign the agreement. If athletes step out of line, action will have to be taken.”Darren Campbell, Olympic relay gold winner at the 2004 Games in Athens, said the BOA's move would “heap extra pressure on athletes”. But he added: “We are there to represent our country in sporting terms, just as our Army do when they go off to war. It is not supposed to be about politics.”The BOA is taking a far more stringent stance than authorities in other countries. Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates said: “What we will be saying to the athletes is that it's best to concentrate on your competitions.“But they're entitled to have their opinions and express them. They're free to speak.”
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As in the days of Noah....

DECEPTION WATCH:BWA-Catholic dialogue reaches midpoint

NASHVILLE, Tenn.-While some Southern Baptists may describe a dialogue between Roman Catholics and the Baptist World Alliance as possibly helpful,[others question how much really can be accomplished.][[[Representatives of the Pontifical Council for""" Promoting Christian Unity""" and the Baptist World Alliance held the second meeting of a four-year dialogue Dec. 2-8 at the Vatican. (The forum focused on baptism and the Lord's Supper (which Roman Catholics call the Eucharist)(1). A previous meeting at Samford University's Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Ala., Dec. 10-15, 2006, addressed the authority of Scripture and church tradition.]]]{{{{BWA spokesman Eron Henry said the Baptist World Alliance agreed to the dialogue because the organization's objectives affirm efforts "to unite Baptists worldwide, to lead in world evangelism, to respond to people in need, to engage in the defense of human rights and religious freedom, and to promote theological reflection. "}}}}(????){{"Our talks with the Roman Catholics and """other Christian groups""" aim to fulfill these mission goals, but especially to aid in the promotion of human rights and religious freedom-especially in countries and regions where Baptists as a minority are discriminated against-and the promotion of theological reflection," Henry said}}...{. The Baptist World Alliance would have no official statement on the substance of the talks until they end in 2010, he added.}[[[[[[ The Southern Baptist Convention ended its membership in the BWA in 2004 in favor of working directly with Baptists and other likeminded evangelicals around the globe instead of through the BWA.]]]]]][[Some Southern Baptists would affirm conversations that emphasize ""subjects on which they agree with Roman Catholics,"" Chuck Quarles, chairman of the division of Christian Studies at Louisiana College in Pineville, La., acknowledged."Discussions between Catholics and Baptists that affirm our shared views of Christian morality send a strong message to our decadent culture," Quarles said. "Dialogue intended to foster a greater commitment to principles of religious freedom and to discourage violence in areas where great tension exists between Catholics and Baptists is certainly in keeping with the teachings of our Savior, particularly in the Sermon on the Mount."Quarles noted, however, that this particular series of dialogues is focused on theological issues, including """"the place of Mary in the communion of the Church, and the nature of oversight and primacy in the Church's ministerial structure," as well as the relationship between Scripture and tradition and the understanding of baptism and the sacraments.""""Theological dialogue between Baptists and Catholics is also fully appropriate," Quarles said. ]]]{"Before any meaningful dialogue can proceed, however, ""participants must agree to the terms of the dialogue."""Steve Lemke, provost of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, agreed."We all desire to fulfill the Lord's desire for all Christians to be one in Him, and it is advantageous to join Roman Catholics in addressing issues about which we share similar values, especially concerning the sanctity of human life," Lemke said. "However, the theological issues on which we disagree are significant and non-negotiable. On these issues, Baptists may have dialogue with Roman Catholics, but must never compromise."'}(what....????so why in the world they do even sit down to talk to the RCC????)

'The current series of dialogues is being held under the banner, "The Word of God in the Life of the Church: Scripture, Tradition and Koinonia." An earlier phase of Baptist-Catholic conversations, held between 1984 and 1988, resulted in a 1990 report titled "Summons to Witness to Christ in Today's World."A participant in earlier Baptist-Catholic dialogues said he felt the two delegations had differing goals."I participated in a 'scholars' dialogue with Baptists and Catholics for about 15 years," said Don Kammerdiener, who served for almost 40 years as a missionary and administrator with the Southern Baptist International Mission Board. "I don't regret the investment of time and energy, but frankly I don't know if there were many useful results."The only basis for useful dialogue is that the participants know what they believe, are prepared to share an open and complete testimony of their faith and that they go with a willingness to listen to the other participants," Kammerdiener said. "With some exceptions, I felt that the major issue in the discussions was to find agreement to tone down or eliminate Baptist witnessing, or 'proselytizing,' as some preferred to describe it."'
Pope Benedict XVI met with the Baptist and Catholic delegations during their meeting in Rome, according to the Roman Catholic Zenit news agency. The pontiff said that for dialogue between Baptists and Catholics to move forward, points of disagreement must be confronted in a spirit of openness, respect and fidelity to the truth of Christ."It is my hope that your conversations will bear abundant fruit for the progress of dialogue and the increase of understanding and cooperation between Catholics and Baptists," Benedict said, according to the Zenit report. He added that the dialogue offered "a promising context for the examination of ... historically controversial issues."Quoting the Second Vatican Council, Benedict told the group that "the lack of unity between Christians 'openly contradicts the will of Christ, provides a stumbling block to the world, and harms the most holy cause of proclaiming the good news to every creature.'" He noted that "issues such as these need to be faced together, in a spirit of openness, mutual respect and fidelity to the liberating truth and saving power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
Despite the pope's professed openness to dialogue with Baptists, Lemke said he is pessimistic that the dialogue can produce any meaningful fruit."First of all, it bears noting that the pope initiated dialogue with Muslims before he did so with Baptists," Lemke said. "Secondly, in the light of Pope Benedict's repeated strong and unambiguous statements that Protestant churches 'suffer from defects' and 'cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called 'Churches' in the proper sense,' genuine dialogue appears to be impossible."Benedict raised eyebrows this past June when he approved a document from the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith asserting the traditional Roman Catholic position that it alone is the legitimate heir to the church established by Christ because it asserts apostolic succession from the Apostle Peter down to the present. "Moderate" and liberal Catholics have backed away from that teaching since the Second Vatican Council. While allowing that Christ works redemptively through Protestant and evangelical churches, traditional Catholic doctrine says they are "ecclesial communities," not proper churches because they reject the authority of the papacy.
Among the Baptists participating in the dialogue are former BWA General Secretary Denton Lotz; Timothy George, dean of the Beeson Divinity School; Lilian Lim, president of Asia Baptist Graduate Theological Seminary in Singapore; Nora Lozano of the Baptist University of the Americas in San Antonio, Texas; and Tomás Mackey of the Baptist Seminary in Buenos Aires, Argentina.George's participation bodes well for the integrity of the process, Quarles said."The Protestant Reformers eagerly sought such dialogue as long as it could be mutually agreed that the Holy Scriptures were the final arbitrator in any disagreements," Quarles said. "I am confident that Timothy George, a highly respected Baptist historian and theologian, approaches these dialogues in the spirit of the Reformers."George has openly called for what he describes as "an ecumenism of conviction" rather than one of accommodation, a unity of believers "that did not paper over serious differences but faced them honestly in a common quest for truth," Quarles said. "Such dialogue is in keeping with the teachings of the New Testament in passages such as 2 Timothy 4:24-25."
Mark Coppenger, another participant in the earlier series of discussions, said he was surprised that Catholics who held strongly conservative positions on abortion and women priests took less than conservative positions on the Scripture."I see that, like the SBC team of the 1990s, the BWA team is discussing Scripture and the Word of God with the Catholics," said Coppenger, pastor of Evanston (Ill.) Baptist Church and professor of apologetics at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. "I hope these Baptists stand firm on biblical inerrancy, as we did in those earlier conversations."I suppose the greatest surprise I had in the four annual meetings I attended was the Catholics' eagerness to embrace what some call 'higher criticism,'" Coppenger recounted. "The popular New Jerome Biblical Commentary, which was edited by one of the Catholic team members, exhibited the same sort of squishiness that provoked the SBC Conservative Resurgence. Everywhere I turned, it was trito-this and J-that, here a redactor, there a regional myth, with a patronizing, scare-quote tone."I had trouble believing that the same people who hung tough on abortion and women priests could be so cozy with the errantists," Coppenger said.
Meaningful dialogue on theological issues faces significant obstacles, Quarles noted."The Catholic Church's Second Vatican Council outlined the terms for true unity between the Catholic Church and the churches of Western Protestantism: 'Their ecumenical action must be fully and sincerely Catholic, that is to say, faithful to the truth which we have received from the apostles and Fathers of the Church, in harmony with the faith which the Catholic Church has always professed, and at the same time directed toward that fullness to which Our Lord wills His Body to grow in the course of time,'" Quarles recounted.On the other hand, Quarles continued, "Baptists must similarly reply that any ecumenical action on our part must be fully and sincerely Baptistic, that is to say, faithful to the truth received from the prophets and apostles in the Holy Scripture, which we believe has been accurately and faithfully expressed in our own historic confessions and for which many of our Baptist forefathers spilled their blood."On these terms, the dialogue would seem destined to result in a theological impasse," Quarles said. "Some of the cherished doctrines that separate Baptists from Catholics are fundamental and essential to the Gospel that we preach. These essential doctrines must be considered non-negotiable in any ecumenical discussions."We must avoid the pitfall of distancing ourselves from the teachings of Jesus and the Scriptures in order to feel closer to other people."
Mark Kelly is an assistant editor of Baptist Press.
PS:this whole thing is too much for a saturday afternoon....!!!!
For all those reading this post,that are truly saved and filled with the Holy Ghost....well you'll understand the danger of this 'ecumenical"talks....There is no UNDERSTANDING and FRUIT in the conversations with the RCC WITHOUT COMPROMISE somewhere....
Well,actually this BWA bunch is being deceived for quite some time before they even thought to talk to the RCC and the current Pope.....
(1)There are deep differences between what the pagan RCC believes and what CHRISTIANS believe....
Nobody that is truly saved by the blood of the Lamb would sit down to discuss "understandings" with any pagan cult....

As in the days of Noah......

SHARI'AH LAW WATCH:'Make one law for Muslims, one for everyone else'

POLITICIANS have moved to distance themselves from claims by the Archbishop of Canterbury that Sharia law would inevitably be introduced in parts of Britain.Dr Rowan Williams, the leader of the Anglican Church, said recognising Sharia law would improve community cohesion.Its introduction would mean Britain's 1.8 million Muslims no longer having to choose between "the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty".Dr Williams' remarks in an interview on the BBC's World at One programme provoked a furore and Downing Street quickly rejected the idea, insisting that British law had to be in tune with "British values".Alex Salmond's office also said there were no plans to incorporate Sharia law into Scots law.But Dr Williams stressed that Sharia law was too often seen through biased media reports solely as decreeing brutal punishments such as beheadings.He said it could instead be "constructively accommodated" to resolve marital disputes rather than the divorce courts."In some cultural and religious settings, they (Sharia laws] would seem more appropriate."He added: "It seems unavoidable and, as a matter of fact, certain conditions of Sharia are already recognised in our society and under our law, so it is not as if we are bringing in an alien and rival system."We already have in this country a number of situations in which the internal law of religious communities is recognised by the law of the land as justifying conscientious objections in certain circumstances."Dr Williams said Orthodox Jewish courts already operated in the UK, and anti-abortion views of Catholics and other Christians were "accommodated within the law". But the remarks provoked alarm in the government yesterday, and Downing Street quickly moved to dismiss the possibility of Sharia law having any jurisdiction in Britain.Gordon Brown's spokesman said: "Our general position is that Sharia law cannot be used as a justification for committing breaches of English law."Nor should the principles of Sharia law be included in a civil court for resolving contractual disputes. "The Prime Minister believes that British law should apply in this country, based on British values."A Scottish Government spokeswoman also said: "We respect and welcome cultural diversity in Scotland.The development of all government policy has regard to different cultural needs. Our laws are based on universal values of equality, respect and human rights – applicable to every person in Scotland."But Mohammed Shafiq, director of the Ramadhan Foundation, welcomed the comments.He said:"These comments further underline the attempts by both our great faiths to build respect and tolerance."Trevor Phillips, the chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said Dr Williams' comments were "muddled and unhelpful". He added: "Raising this idea in this way will give fuel to anti-Muslim extremism and dismay everyone who is working towards a more integrated society."He warned that Sharia law could threaten the protection given to children in custody cases or women in divorce proceedings. "There is a fundamental principle here: when you appear before a court in Britain you appear as a citizen, equal to any other, and you should be treated equally to any other."There can be no opt-outs. If we abandon that principle, the first who would suffer would be ethnic-minority citizens."
ISLAMIC Sharia law, controversial in the West for the extreme nature of some of its punishments, is a legal and social code designed to help Muslims in their daily lives.It is derived from the Koran and based on precedent as well as interpretation, so there are no static laws. Sharia rules can govern diet, worship, marriage and behaviour.In the UK, the Treasury has changed a law to ensure that Muslims who take out Sharia-compliant mortgages do not have to pay stamp duty twice.Because paying interest is illegal under Islamic law, Muslim borrowers hand over ownership of a property to a bank and pay "rent" until the debt is paid off. Ownership then transfers back from the bank.Sharia law is also applied in some marriages between Muslims. It gives men the universal right to divorce their wives.A woman who wishes to be divorced usually needs the consent of her husband but is allowed to dissolve the marriage if she can show a judge her husband is impotent.Much like laws in Britain, Sharia laws are often the subject of debate and dispute.
As in the days of Noah....

French Court: Parents Can Register Names for Fetuses

PARIS, France-France's supreme court has ruled that parents of miscarried or stillborn children can register a name for the child, no matter what stage of development the child was at at the time of miscarriage or birth, reports the AFP.Previous to this most recent ruling, parents in France were allowed to register a name for miscarried or stillborn children, but only after 22 weeks gestation, or if the child weighed over 1.1 pounds.This new ruling gives parents the right to claim the body of their child, which, until this point, was incinerated by the hospital along with other waste tissues. It also allows the mothers of miscarried or stillborn children to claim maternity leave.According to the AFP report, the ruling is triggering a storm over the issue of abortion in France, with pro-abortion activists arguing that the ruling gives pro-life activists a strongly emotional argument for the humanity of the child, by indicating that a fetus at any stage has a right to a name. "A fetus is only viable after 26 weeks," said Chantal Birman, deputy president of a pro-abortion group called ANCIC. "You have to take the timetable of pregnancy into account."She said that the court decision, "will help a rollback on abortion availability that has been taking place in Europe for the last few months."However, there is an increasing recognition in medical circles that miscarriage or stillbirth can be an extremely traumatic experience for mothers and fathers alike, who may have developed a profound emotional connection with their unborn child. "The mourning process can be long and lonely," says the Helping After Neonatal Death (HAND) website. "After the death of a baby, it generally takes twelve to twenty-four months simply to find your new base."Many parents have found that the process of grieving is helped significantly by the giving of a name to their child. "Giving the baby a name and having the baby baptized or blessed, if such rituals are important to us, are ways for us to acknowledge the reality of the life that has come and gone so quickly," says HAND.

As in the days of Noah....

Rats destroy crops in Bangladesh

A plague of rats has destroyed the crops of tens of thousands of people living in Bangladesh's remote Chittagong Hill Tracts.Aid workers have warned that the destruction of crop has left the people in a "near-famine situation".The rat population has soared in recent weeks as they feed off the region's bamboo forests, which are blossoming for the first time in decades.Neighbouring states in India have suffered from the same problem.According to the UN Development Programme (UNDP) about 150,000 people living in the hills along the country's south-eastern border with India have been affected.Prasenjit Chakma of the UNDP, who has visited the area, told the BBC that people there had been reduced to eating roots to survive, but even these are now running out.
'Disaster zone'
He said fields had been stripped of their plants, and are now dotted with large rat holes."The rats are much bigger than usual. They eat everything that is fresh and green," he said.The rodents have multiplied at an alarming rate - the bamboo blossom is such a good food source for them that when they eat it they can breed up to eight times a year - four times more often than normal.According to local folklore, the flowering of the bamboo, and the subsequent surge in rat numbers, occurs every 50 years.They say the last time it happened was 1958. People across the border in India share this same belief - and the same problem.In Mizoram state, the bamboo began to blossom last year.The government there declared it a disaster zone after the rats went on to eat people's food stocks.Here, the authorities and relief agencies have begun to get some aid to the hungry, but they admit it is not yet enough, and that the problem is spreading, as more forests start flowering.Mr Chakma said the region will face problems for the next three to four years, until the rat population declines.He said there are so many of them, it is difficult for the farmers to kill enough to make a difference."The situation is very serious. The people living in that region are very poor anyway. It is now a near famine situation," he said.

As in the days of Noah....

RCC WATCH:The LURE of Lourdes...

Lourdes is a massive Roman Catholic pilgrimage site with more hotels than any other French city, except Paris.
It reminded me of my father's attic - small, overcrowded, fusty, and so stuffed full of junk that the minute I entered I used to panic, desperate to get out again. So, when I arrived at my very tired-looking hotel, which appeared to be perfumed by the socks of last season's pilgrims and saw its lobby, packed full of gaudy Virgin Mary memorabilia, you will forgive me when the words "Good God!" escaped my lips, and not in any laudatory way.When I had recovered from my temporary crisis of faith, I set off down the steep hill towards the famous Lourdes shrine.I had come early in the pilgrimage calendar and almost every shop and hotel I passed was still boarded up.All, that is, except the souvenir shops which were very much open for business.Their shelves were full of wonders: Virgin Mother statues arranged in height order from miniature to monster, Holy Mother cigarette lighters and ashtrays,("holy water"like the ones in the picture above left.....sigh....) poster-sized holograms which, according to the angle they were tilted at, showed either the bearded Jesus or the fresh-faced Mary.Unfortunately the quality was not entirely consistent and I am sorry to say that in some of the holograms Mary had a permanent five o'clock shadow.Surely the "magic of Lourdes" - that was the phrase used by so many people I knew who had come here - had to be more than this.
Crutches of the cured
The fame of Lourdes, of course, is based on the magic of miracles.In every chapel or church I visited the walls were engraved with stone plaques saying things like "Thank you, Mother Mary, for giving me back my sight" or "Thank you for saving my son from ruin". The ceiling of the famous grotto where Bernadette was shown the hidden source by an apparition of the Holy Virgin used to be fringed with the crutches of the cured.Today, they have been removed. Perhaps 21st-Century pilgrims no longer find this kind of faith very palatable.I suggested this to Patrick Thellier, the Catholic doctor employed in Lourdes by the Church to verify so-called miracle cures.He rubbed his temples vigorously in the manner of a man who is relentlessly tortured by his own brain activity."It is a constant balancing act between faith and science for me," he said."I know that I see patients to whom something inexplicable and remarkable has happened, but how can I prove scientifically to other doctors that a miracle has been performed? "You cannot prove a miracle and, in this day and age, everyone needs proof to believe."
Searching for a miracle
Today's acknowledged miracle recipients are few and far between.The last was in 1987 and, in his 10 years working here, Dr Thellier has never confirmed a case himself.I asked him what he does if someone comes to him clearly sick but convinced they are cured. He immediately lifts his hands to his face as if to shield himself from the question."Don't," he said. "It's pitiful. Oh God, it's pitiful."Later, at the reciting of the rosary at the grotto, I met a young Austrian woman who told me she was seriously ill.She was lighting candle after candle and filling several large bottles with holy water."I have come to ask Him to look after me," she said, desperately searching my eyes for encouragement."I need to get better. I need the miracle."A few paces behind her a man in a tattered jacket was on his knees before the statue of the Virgin Mary, his face screwed up into a silent scream of anguish.I told one of the visiting British priests, Father Bob - who had come with Peggy, one of his elderly and terminally ill parishioners - how uncomfortable I felt witnessing such scenes of despair.
Lighting a candle
Father Bob, a large and jolly Welshman and self-confessed devotee of Lourdes, threw back his head and laughed."Don't you worry about them," he said. "This is their home. Lourdes is a place where the sick don't just count. They come first."He jiggled Peggy's wheelchair."Isn't that what I always say, Peggy? If you want the front pew at mass, get a wheelchair and you'll be guaranteed the best seat in the house! Anyway, Peggy's not come for a miracle. She has just come to find peace."Father Bob suggested I might find peace in Lourdes if I visited the grotto after dark, long after the tacky souvenir shops had closed.So, that night, I sat quietly for a while before the shrine and thought about miracles.Before I left I lit a candle for the sick Austrian woman.You just never know.

PS:The Word of God declares in John 14:6....:
"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. "
As in the days of Noah....

'Tragic protest' of Iraqi Kurdish women

Like their colleagues across Iraq, the doctors and nurses at the Emergency Management Centre in Irbil work relentlessly.
The medical specialisms at this hospital are war surgery and burns. With the continuing violence in nearby Mosul and Diyala province, war surgery is in great demand. So too is the burns unit.The chief nurse, Ahmed Mohammad, has done the tour of the women's intensive care unit many times before."This is ICU burns," he said. "We have four patients here."In the corner of the ward lies a girl swaddled in bandages."The upper part of her body is burnt. So are her head and her arms, as well as one of her thighs," he said.Eighteen-year-old Sana has been here for nine weeks. Only the tips of her fingers and a small part of her face are visible.
Alarming trend
"I tried to commit suicide," Sana said. "I have been sick. I had some mental problems and that is why I decided to burn myself."Sana's state of mind and her story are confused - but in time it becomes clear that the pressure of exams at school became too much for her.One moment she blames herself. The next she says that her family didn't support her.The Kurdish region of northern Iraq is generally seen as a model for the rest of the country.This semi-autonomous area is relatively safe, the economy is flourishing and it is regarded in the West as a liberal haven in an often-conservative region.But since the fall of Saddam Hussein there has been an alarming trend - hundreds of women have died after setting themselves on fire.Anecdotal evidence from medical sources and women's activists indicate that on average a woman a day tries to kill herself in the Kurdistan region. Most of them do so because of family problems.
Agonising death
The workers at Radio Khatuzeen have heard scores of stories like the one Sana tells."The way they kill themselves is a real tragedy," says Chilura Hardi who runs the women's radio station and centre."Can you imagine? You put kerosene on yourself and light it. Some of them lock themselves in a room so that nobody can actually get to them and save them."The workers at the centre have several theories about why so many women try to kill themselves in such an agonising way.Some believe that religion is to blame - if a woman does something wrong, so the theory goes, she faces burning in hell.Others argue that in a conservative, patriarchal society, the pain of women is only recognised through dramatic gestures. The kerosene heaters that are in every home provide a way to be noticed.
There is also the horrific history of Iraq's Kurds."When Saddam's regime was in power he did everything to subordinate women," Chilura Hardi says."The Anfal Campaign against the Kurds was exactly like that. He actually killed all the men but let the women stay and live that sort of misery with their children. There was 30 years of that kind of rule. It will take a long, long time for that to change. It is a very slow and painful process."The human rights minister in the Kurdistan region admits that immolation is a problem that his government is struggling to deal with.There have been attempts to improve education and women's shelters have been built, but it will take years to change long-held customs."Our community consists of all types," Dr Yousif Shwan Aziz says. "Fortunately most of them are liberal people. They believe in the progress of women and men."
For many Kurdish women the optimism of the minister is not borne out by experience."There is widespread bad treatment of women," said Chiman whose sister burnt to death."I don't believe that women here have power. The reports in the media are just talk. The reality in our society is totally different. It's a fact that the government is too feudal. It doesn't have a solution for the problems."At times the challenges facing Iraq are simply incomprehensible.As in other countries at war, it often seems that it is women who suffer most.For the Kurds, the Kurdistan region is meant to be different - a place where this most persecuted of people are trying to build a safe future.There is much that still needs to change for Kurdish women.
As in the days of Noah....

GAY WATCH:Anti-gay police complaints 'rise'

The number of complaints about homophobia within the police has risen by almost a quarter, according to the Gay Police Association.
The association said it received 350 calls to its helpline last year, compared with 260 the year before.It estimated that there were about 7,000 homophobic incidents among police last year, but intimidated officers were reluctant to report them.The police said "any form of homophobia has no place in the police".The Gay Police Association said it was aware of colleagues refusing to serve with gay officers and quoting sections of the Bible at them on parade grounds.Some officers have used legislation designed to protect religious freedoms to justify their actions, saying that they found homosexuality incompatible with their beliefs.The Association of Chief Police Officers said it was aware of the concerns and has drawn up new guidance for senior officers to make it clear that discrimination cannot be justified on religious grounds.
Freedom of expression
Chairman of the Gay Police Association Paul Cahill said:"We've had officers refusing to work with gay officers but also slightly more sinister expressions of homophobia."We had situations where colleagues would come in to work and on parade would openly state their religious opposition to homosexuality and would even quote sections of the Bible.This was completely out of context with being at work and on parade."Many gay officers quite rightly felt that was an attempt to intimidate or harass them."But the officers behaving in that way would say 'we were asserting our right to freedom of religious expression'-albeit that it was questionable in the context in which it was raised, the timing and the manner in which it was raised."Mr Cahill said some officers were using legislation promoting tolerance to be "openly homophobic and get away with it on the grounds they are entitled to under law - albeit that the law doesn't go that far."
'Crossing the line'
ACPO's lead officer on sexual orientation, Lancashire Police deputy chief constable Mike Cunningham, said he was aware of the concerns raised by the Gay Police Association."We are actively encouraging people to report racism, homophobia, anything to do with any particular minority with vulnerability."One of the problems with that is that sometimes the number of complaints actually goes up.That's not a cause for comfort and I'm not sitting here in anyway complacent,"he said."Any form of homophobia has no place in the police. People with all religious beliefs also have a right to hold a religious belief. Where that crosses the line is when it infringes on the rights of other individuals with whom they are working."That sometimes is a complicated matter for managers to deal with and I'm seeking to provide guidance to help them work through that,"he added.
As in the days of Noah....

Bhutto assassination: new video

Creationists Seek Foothold in Europe

LONDON-After the Sunday service in Westminster Chapel, where worshippers were exhorted to wage "the culture war" in the World War II spirit of Sir Winston Churchill, cabbie James McLean delivered his verdict on Charles Darwin's theory of evolution."Evolution is a lie, and it's being taught in schools as fact, and it's leading our kids in the wrong direction," said McLean, chatting outside the chapel."But now people like Ken Ham are tearing evolution to pieces."Ken Ham is the founder of Answers in Genesis, a Kentucky-based organization that is part of an ambitious effort to bring creationist theory to Britain and the rest of Europe.McLean is one of a growing number of evangelicals embracing that message-that the true history of the Earth is told in the Bible, not Darwin's "The Origin of Species." Europeans have long viewed the conflict between evolutionists and creationists as primarily an American phenomenon, but it has recently jumped the Atlantic Ocean with skirmishes in Italy, Germany, Poland and, notably, Britain, where Darwin was born and where he published his 1859 classic.Darwin's defenders are fighting back. In October, the 47-nation Council of Europe, a human rights watchdog, condemned all attempts to bring creationism into Europe's schools. Bible-based theories and "religious dogma" threaten to undercut sound educational practices, it charged.Schools are increasingly a focal point in this battle for hearts and minds. A British branch of Answers in Genesis, which shares a Web site with its American counterpart, has managed to introduce its creationist point of view into science classes at a number of state- supported schools in Britain, said Monty White, the group's chief executive."We do go into the schools about 10 to 20 times a year and we do get the students to question what they're being taught about evolution," said White, who founded the British branch seven years ago. "And we leave them a box of books for the library."
Creationism is still a marginal issue here compared with its impact on cultural and political debate in the United States. But the budding fervor is part of a growing embrace of evangelical worship throughout much of Europe. Evangelicals say their ranks are swelling as attendance at traditional churches declines because of revulsion with the hedonism and materialism of modern society."People are looking for spirituality," White said in an interview at his office in Leicester, 90 miles north of London. "I think they are fed up with not finding true happiness. They find having a bigger car doesn't make them happy. They get drunk and the next morning they have a hangover. They take drugs but the drugs wear off. But what they find with Christianity is lasting."Other British organizations have joined the crusade. A group called Truth in Science has sent thousands of unsolicited DVDs to every high school in Britain arguing that mankind is the result of "intelligent design," not Darwinian evolution.In addition, the AH Trust, a charity, has announced plans to raise money for construction of a Christian theme park in northwest England with a 5,000-seat television studio that would be used for the production of Christian-oriented films. And several TV stations are devoted full-time to Christian themes.All this activity has lifted spirits at the Westminster Chapel, a 165- year-old evangelical church that is not affiliated with nearby Westminster Abbey, where Darwin is buried.In the chapel, Rev. Greg Haslam tells the 150 believers that they are in a conflict with secularism that can only be won if they heed Churchill's exhortation and never, ever give up."The first thing you have to do is realize we are in a war, and identify the enemy, and learn how to defeat the enemy," he said.There is a sense inside the chapel that Christian evangelicals are successfully resisting a trend toward a completely secular Britain."People have walked away from God; it's not fashionable," said congregant Chris Mullins, a civil servant. "But the evangelical church does seem to be growing and I'm very encouraged by that. In what is a very secular society, there are people returning to God."School curricula generally hold that Darwin's theory has been backed up by so many scientific discoveries that it can now be regarded as fact. But Mullins believes creationism also deserves a hearing in the classroom."Looking at the evidence, creationism at the least seems a theory worthy of examination," he said. "Personally I think it is true and I think the truth will win out eventually. It's a question of how long it takes."Terry Sanderson, president of Britain's National Secular Society, a prominent group founded in 1866 to limit the influence of religious leaders, fears the groups advocating a literal interpretation of the Bible are making headway.
"Creationism is creeping into the schools," he said. "There is a constant pressure to get these ideas into the schools."The trend goes beyond evangelical Christianity. Sanderson said the British government is taking over funding of about 100 Islamic schools even though they teach the Quranic version of creationism. He said the government fear imposing evolution theory on the curriculum lest it be branded as anti-Islamic.The Council of Europe spoke up last fall after Harun Yahya, a prominent Muslim creationist in Turkey, tried to place his lavishly produced 600-page book, "The Atlas of Creation," in public schools in France, Switzerland, Belgium and Spain."These trends are very dangerous," said Anne Brasseur, author of the Council of Europe report, in an interview.Brasseur said recent skirmishes in Italy and Germany illustrate the creationists' tactics. She said Italian schools were ordered to stop teaching evolution when Silvio Berlusconi was prime minister, although the edict seems to have had little impact in practice. In Germany, she said, a state education minister briefly allowed creationism to be taught in biology class.The rupture between theology and evolution in Europe is relatively recent. For many years people who held evangelical views also endorsed mainstream scientific theory, said Simon Barrow, co-director of Ekklesia, a British-based, Christian-oriented research group. He said the split was imported from the United States in the last decade."There is a lot of American influence, and there are a lot of moral and political and financial resources flowing from the United States to here," he said. "Now you have more extreme religious groups trying to get a foothold."In some cases, the schools have become the battlegrounds. Richard Dawkins, the Oxford university biologist and author of last year's international best-seller "The God Delusion, "frequently lectures students about the marvels of evolution only to find that the students' views have already been shaped by the creationist lobby."I think it's so sad that children should be fobbed off with these second-rate myths," he said."The theory of evolution is one of the most powerful pieces of scientific thinking ever produced and the evidence for it is overwhelming. I think creationism is pernicious because if you don't know much it sounds kind of plausible and it's easy to come into schools and subvert children."White, the director of the British Answers in Genesis, is well aware that the group's school program is contentious. The group has removed information about it from its Web site to avoid antagonizing people.The group operates a warehouse with $150,000 worth of DVDs, books and comics promoting creationism, but he says he only sends speakers and materials into schools that invite Answers in Genesis to make a presentation.White, 63, said he was raised as an atheist, and after earning a doctorate in chemistry, embraced evangelical Christianity in 1964.He says that when he is asked to speak to science classes, he challenges the accuracy of radioactive dating which shows the world to be thousands of millions of years old and says that the Bible is a more accurate description of how mankind began. He personally believes the Earth is between 6,000 and 12,000 years old.
"Usually I find the discussion goes on science, science, and science and then when the lesson is finished one or two students say, 'Can we talk about other things?' and I sit down with them and usually they want to talk about Christianity," he said. "They want to know, why do you believe in God? Why do you believe in the Bible? How can you be sure it's the word of God?"Dawkins feels the effect. He said he is discouraged when he visits schools and gets questions from students who have obviously been influenced by material from Answers in Genesis. "I continually get the same rather stupid points straight from their pamphlets," he said.White is getting ready for a visit by Ken Ham, who will preach at Westminster Chapel this spring. Meanwhile he is pleased that small groups of creation science advocates now meet regularly in Oxford, Edinburgh, Northampton and other British cities."The creation movement is certainly growing," he said. "There are more groups than there were five years ago. There are more people like me going out speaking about it, and there's more interest. You have these little groups forming all over the place."
As in the days of Noah....

Jordan: Hamas picking off humanitarian aid sent to Gaza

"We are surprised it should be confiscated and distributed in a manner based on political considerations...this only penalises those who really deserve this aid." You're surprised? Really?"Jordan says Hamas seizes aid covoy sent to Gaza," by Suleiman al-Khalidi for Reuters (thanks to Sr. Soph):
AMMAN, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Jordan said on Saturday the Islamist Palestinian group Hamas has confiscated a convoy of humanitarian aid sent to people living under an Israeli blockade in the Gaza Strip.
Minister of State for Information Affairs Nasser Joudeh told the state news agency Petra that Hamas members on Thursday seized 16 trucks carrying emergency supplies into Gaza and diverted the cargo to a warehouse run by the Islamist group.
Hamas has ruled the Gaza Strip since June when it routed secular Fatah forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has revived peace talks with Israel.
"We are surprised it should be confiscated and distributed in a manner based on political considerations...this only penalises those who really deserve this aid," Joudeh said.

As in the days of Noah....

END TIMES WEATHER:Harsh winter kills more than 750 in Afghanistan

KABUL-More than 750 people have perished as a result of severe cold and heavy snowfalls this winter across Afghanistan, a government official said on Saturday.The cold spell, the worst in decades in the impoverished and mountainous central Asian country, has also killed nearly 230,000 cattle, said Noor Padshah Kohistani of the National Disaster Management Commission.
"Across the country, 763 people have died since the start of the winter due to cold weather and severe snowfalls," he told Reuters. The snowfalls have destroyed more than 500 houses and damaged more than 40,000, a disaster commission statement said.The worst affected areas were the western provinces of Herat and Badghis where some people had to have amputations because of frostbite, according to the state media.Several families sold their children recently because they were unable to care for or feed them, media reports said.Many key roads linking districts with provincial capitals have been blocked because of snow, hindering deliveries of supplies.The deaths of cattle are regarded as a huge loss for Afghanistan, an agricultural country that largely relies on foreign aid.In the face of a harsh winter that has pushed food prices to record highs, the United Nations World Food Program last month appealed for extra food assistance for 2.55 million Afghans until the next harvest in June.

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Twenty killed as avalanches sweep Indian Kashmir

SRINAGAR, India-Twenty people were killed by avalanches and 15 others were missing in Indian Kashmir as the heaviest snowfall in recent years brought the Himalayan region to a standstill, officials said on Saturday.More than 300 people have been rescued from avalanche-hit areas, while many villages remained inaccessible, police said."More rescue and relief teams would be sent by air to the places where the need was felt," Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said.Six members of a family, including two children, were killed when an avalanche swept away their home late on Friday in the Banihal area 110 km (70 miles) south of Srinagar, police said.In the neighbouring area of Kapran an avalanche killed another family of six.In 2005, nearly 250 people were killed after heavy snowfall triggered avalanches that swept away hundreds of homes in southern Kashmir.The Indian army, which has a large presence in the state, said it would airlift 1,500 people on Saturday who have been stranded for more than a week on a snowbound mountain highway that connects the Kashmir Valley with the rest of India.In state's high altitude Ladakh region, thousands of goats that provide fine wool for Kashmir's famous Pashmina shawls are facing death as their winter pastures near the Chinese border have been covered by unexpected heavy snowfall.
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Heat rises in headscarf row

Turkish lawmakers lift headscarf ban

ANKARA-[[[[[Turkish lawmakers voted overwhelmingly on Saturday in favour of lifting a ban on Islamic headscarves at universities, defying a mass rally protesting the move as a threat to secularism.The final vote on the constitutional reform package, tabled by the ruling Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP), received 411 'yes' votes in the 550-seat house, parliament speaker Koksal Toptan said.The new legislation, which was backed by the opposition Nationalist Action Party, only needed 367 votes to pass.The package amends the constitution to read that the state will treat everyone equally when it provides services such as university courses and that no one can be barred from education for reasons not clearly laid down by law, an allusion to young women who wear headscarves.The amendments now need to be approved by President Abdullah Gul, a former AKP member who has yet to veto any law put forward by the government.The reform has angered secularists-among them the army, the judiciary and academics-who see the headscarf as a symbol of defiance against the strict separation of state and religion, a basic tenet of the mainly Muslim country.As parliament was voting, tens of thousands of people, waving Turkish flags and pictures of modern Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, gathered in downtown Ankara to voice their strong opposition to the reform and anger at Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government."Turkey is secular and will remain secular," shouted the protestors, among them many women, including some wearing headscarves."What is being done today in parliament is to eliminate the republican regime and replace it with bigotry. They want to destroy the secular democratic republic," ]]]]]Gokhan Gunaydin, from the organizing committee, told the crowd to loud applause.A police officer at the rally, which was called by more than 70 trade unions and non-governmental organisations, estimated that the crowd was less than 100,000 people. A similar demonstration drew more than 125,000 people last weekend.The AKP, largely distrusted by secularists for its roots in a banned Islamist movement, says the headscarf ban-imposed after the 1980 military coup-is a violation of the freedom of conscience and the right to education.The ban has been implemented at varying degrees over the years, forcing many women to abandon their education and others to hide their headscarves under wigs to attend classes.The secular camp says easing the restriction in universities will put pressure on women to cover up and pave the way for the lifting of a similar ban in high schools and government offices, thus eroding secularism and ushering in more religious rule.Leading academics have warned that lifting the ban would lead to clashes on campuses and a boycott of classes by some female academics.The Republican People's Party (CHP), Turkey's strictly secular main opposition, has threatened to challenge the reform at the constitutional court for falling foul of the principle of secularism.Some analysts, including those who favour lifting the ban, have criticised the amendments as hastily-prepared and the government of insincerity for focusing on an explosive problem rather than drawing up a plan to remove all obstacles to women's education.

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Myanmar announces referendum in May, polls in 2010

YANGON-Myanmar will hold a referendum on a new constitution in May, the ruling junta said Saturday, promising to then have multi-party elections in 2010.The announcement on state television came amid mounting international pressure on Myanmar over its bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations in September, when the United Nations estimates at least 31 people were killed.It also came nearly two decades after democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her party comfortably won a nationwide vote which was then rejected by the military.Last autumn's protests, led by Buddhist monks, were the biggest challenge to military rule in nearly 20 years."The referendum on the new constitution will be held in May 2008," said the government statement, read over state television. No exact date was announced. "Multi-party democratic elections will be held in 2010, according to the new constitution," it added."It is suitable to change the military administration to a democratic, civil administrative system, as good fundamentals have been established," it said."The country's basic infrastructure has been built, although there is still more to do in striving for the welfare of the nation," it added. Myanmar last held elections in 1990, when Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) won in a landslide, but the ruling junta has never recognised the result.NLD spokesman Nyan Win said the party was surprised by the announcement, especially since no one has seen the final version of the constitution that the military plans to bring before voters."I am surprised that they set a date for an election," Nyan Win told AFP."We have to see the results of the referendum on the constitution. How can they know if it will be a success? It is still early to talk about an election."The junta organised the last elections in Myanmar after public frustrations at political repression and economic troubles erupted into protests in 1988.Aung San Suu Kyi first took to the public stage during that uprising, which was far larger than the demonstrations last year.The military responded by confining her to her home in 1989, but the newly formed NLD still won a landslide victory when the junta held elections the following year.Instead of recognising her victory, the military insisted on drafting a new constitution and convened a National Convention in 1993, which spent the next 14 years in fitful meetings laying out the guidelines for a new charter.In the early stages, the NLD participated in the talks, but the party later boycotted the National Convention in protest at Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest.The Nobel peace prize winner has spent a total of 12 years locked in her rambling lakeside home in Yangon, allowed little contact with the outside world.The charter talks, held in secret by 1,000 delegates chosen by the regime, finally concluded on September 3, 2007, just weeks after anti-government demonstrations began appearing in Yangon in protest at an overnight hike in fuel prices.By the end of September, the protests had snowballed into the largest anti-government demonstrations since 1988. The military responded with a deadly crackdown in which security forces opened fire on crowds, killing dozens.The junta's unexpected announcement late Saturday was its first significant gesture to Myanamr's pro-democracy forces since the protests.The military has allowed a UN envoy to visit, and named a liaison officer to hold talks with Aung San Suu Kyi.Her fifth and most recent meeting with the liaison officer was on January 30, when Aung San Suu Kyi had announced that she was "not satisfied" with the pace of the negotiations -- a pace that seems to have suddenly accelerated.
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JIHAD WATCH:Bomb Kills at Least 20 at Pakistan Election Rally

PESHAWAR, Pakistan-A bomb exploded Saturday at an election rally in northwestern Pakistan, killing at least 20 people, FOX News has confirmed.The blast occurred at a rally of the Awami National Party-a secular, ethnic Pashtun group-in the town of Charsadda in the turbulent North West Frontier province, where Islamic extremists operate.Early reports attributed the blast to a bomber who blew himself up, but the mayor of Charsadda has said it was a planted bomb, according to a FOX News producer in Islamabad.Interior Minister Hamid Nawaz said the attack was believed carried out by a bomber who detonated his explosives "very close to the stage" where party officials were assembled.Isphandyar Wali Khan, the party's provincial leader and a prominent human rights champion, was addressing the rally but told Dawn television that he was not hurt.Nawaz said Islamic militants were threatening all the political parties in the northwest ahead of the Feb. 18 parliamentary elections."They are against everyone," he told Dawn News TV.Charsadda has witnessed several attacks in recent years. More than 50 people died in the town in December when an attacker blew himself up amid hundreds of holiday worshippers at a mosque at the residence of former interior minister Aftab Khan Sherpao.

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Japan Deploys Fighter Jets After Russian Bomber Violates Airspace

TOKYO-A Russian air force bomber briefly violated Japanese airspace over an uninhabited island just south of Tokyo on Saturday, the Foreign Ministry said.The three-minute flyby over Sofugan in the Izu island chain by a Tupolev 95(picture left) ended following warnings by Japanese air force fighter jets, said Foreign Ministry official Kotaro Otsuki.The ministry immediately lodged a protest with the Russian Embassy in Tokyo and demanded an explanation, Otsuki said.A switchboard operator at the embassy said no one was available to comment Saturday.Japan's navy scrambled 22 fighter jets, including F-15s, and two airborne warning and control aircraft known as AWACs, a Defense Ministry official said on condition of anonymity, citing protocol. [[[Japan held a rally Thursday to demand the return of a disputed island chain that Russia seized in the closing days of World War II. The capture of the four islands, called the Kurils in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan, kept the two countries from signing a peace treaty.Japan holds a rally every Feb. 7, the anniversary of an 1855 Japan-Russian friendship treaty that gave Japan possession of the islands.Otsuki said he didn't know if Saturday's flyby was related to the rally Thursday.He said Russia last violated Japanese airspace in January 2006 near Rebun Island off Japan's northern main island of Hokkaido-and close to the disputed northern islands.]]]Sofugan, which lies on the southernmost tip of the Izu island group, is about 650 kilometers (400 miles) south of Tokyo.

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