THE NEW WORLD MAP
Adolf Hitler started World War II by attacking Poland on September 1, 1939. Nazi Germany moved only after it had already remilitarized the Rhineland, absorbed Austria and dismantled Czechoslovakia. Before the outbreak of the war, Hitler's new Third Reich had created the largest German-speaking nation in European history.
Well before the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Imperial Japanese government had redrawn the map of Asia and the Pacific. Japan had occupied or annexed Indochina, Korea, Manchuria and Taiwan, in addition to swaths of coastal China. Attacking Hawaii, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Indonesia was merely the logical 1941 follow-up to more than a decade of Japanese aggression.
Fascist Italy, by the outbreak of World War II in Europe, had already been remaking the map of the Mediterranean region in imitation of ancient Rome. Strongman Benito Mussolini had annexed what is now Ethiopia, Albania and most of Libya. He promised Italians that the Mediterranean would soon be mare nostrum, "our sea."
All of these hegemonies had arisen without triggering a global war. Had Hitler, Mussolini and the Japanese just been satisfied and consolidated their winnings, there was no evidence that the tired Western democracies would ever have stopped them.
The contemporary world is starting to resemble the 1930s, and maps again must be redrawn.
The Islamic State plans to take Baghdad to make it the capital of a radical Sunni caliphate from what is left of Syria and Iraq.
Its enemy, theocratic Iran, is forging its own Shiite empire. Through its proxies, Iran now effectively runs much of Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen. When Tehran gets a nuclear bomb, it will urge on Shiite minorities to overthrow the Sunni monarchies in the rich, oil-exporting Persian Gulf nations.
Russian President Vladimir Putin thinks he can reconstitute the empire of the czars and the later Soviet Union. American "reset" diplomacy green-lighted his annexation of the Crimea and his occupation of areas of Ukraine. Should Putin wish to absorb Estonia or other Baltic States, NATO probably would not stop him.
A terrified Eastern Europe, which not that long ago was part of the old Soviet Warsaw Pact, is already making the necessary political concessions in hopes that the unpredictable Putin leaves them alone.
China is vastly increasing its strategic air force and navy — and reminding its neighbors from South Korea to Australia of its new military clout. It has recently instigated various territorial disputes with Japan, Malaysia the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam. As a clever way to control key sea lanes and oil-rich areas in the South China Sea, the Chinese are building new military bases by turning small coral reefs into islands of sand.
Is this 1939 or 2015?
Well before World War II, Great Britain and France allowed Hitler, Mussolini and the Japanese to acquire what they pleased. The Western European democracies were terrified of confrontation and mired in economic crises. They had their own long-standing empires to worry about.
The United States — struggling with the Great Depression, squabbling over the New Deal, and bitter over its prior intervention in World War I and the failure to achieve European stability — also kept quiet.
Nothing much has changed 75 years later. Western Europe is terrified of Putin and mostly disarmed. The European Union is awash with debt.
Meanwhile, Japan rearms and is trying in vain to forge a common anti-Chinese front with the Philippines, Taiwan and South Korea.
As in the 1930s, an isolationist United States is again watching the new map unfold from the sidelines. President Obama assumes Americans are tired of the Middle East and want to be left alone. Afghanistan is a quagmire. Iraq collapsed once the administration pulled out all U.S. troops. The bombing of Libya proved a disaster.
In 1945, after some 60 million had perished in World War II, the Western democracies blamed themselves for having appeased and empowered fascist empires. That sadder but wiser generation taught us two lessons: Small sacrifices now can avoid catastrophic ones later on, and dictatorial regimes on a roll never voluntarily quit playing geostrategic poker.
If the present trajectories continue, a reconfigured Middle East will be bookended by radical Islamic empires — the Islamic State caliphate and a new Persian empire. China will control most of the Pacific and adjudicate trade, commerce and politics west of Hawaii and to the south and east of India. The client states of a new Russian empire will border central Europe and be under constant pressure to leave the EU, NATO or both.
How does all this end? One of two ways.
America and its allies can reawaken, gradually restore deterrence and re-establish the old postwar order without a global war.
Or the United States will not be bothered — at least until this new generation of dictators bothers us at home. (Contributor: By Victor Davis Hanson for The Washington Times and Town Hall)
For prayer: Christians often suffer the most when national boundary lines change due to religious oppression or forceful land acquisition. Such actions echo Jesus’ words about “wars and rumors of wars.” Yet, even amidst terrible suffering and unspeakable atrocities, substantiated reports tell us of thousands of Muslims turning to God, calling on the name of the Lord, and becoming followers of Christ. We see “signs of the times” everywhere. Pray for the suffering Church and new converts.
“And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” (Matt. 24:6-8)
“Nevertheless [God] did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” (Acts 14:17)
HUD WAR AGAINST THE SUBURBS
An African-American millionaire can buy a home in any expensive suburb. Color is no longer a barrier. Despite this progress, President Obama’s Department of Housing and Urban Development is accusing expensive towns of racism, simply because most minorities can’t afford to live there.
Westchester County, N.Y., has struggled under a federal monitor since 2009 to compel the county to comply with HUD’s demands for multi-unit affordable housing in expensive areas [shades of Marxism]. Hillary Clinton claims to be a warrior against inequality. But her adopted hometown of Chappaqua, an upscale Westchester village that one resident describes as “a little piece of heaven,” is battling HUD’s demands.
The legal war in Hillary’s backyard is a preview. The Obama administration is pulling out all the stops to launch a legal and regulatory assault on suburbs nationwide. HUD’s soon-to-be-released regulation, in the works since 2013, will compel affluent suburbs to build more high-density, low-income housing, plus of course sewers, water lines, bus routes and other changes needed to support it. All in the name of housing “fairness.”
Mr. Obama’s social engineers will eliminate local zoning, such as one-acre minimum lots, to achieve what the HUD rule calls “inclusive communities.” Property values be damned.
If you’ve worked hard to afford a home in an affluent neighborhood of single-family houses, you have a lot to lose under this HUD plan.
The HUD rule twists the original and laudable intent of the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which is to bar discrimination in renting, selling or financing housing. The new rule states that towns must “affirmatively further” diversity. If low-income minorities want to move to a town but can’t afford it, the town must “provide adequate support to make their choices viable.”
Whether the HUD plan goes forward will depend largely on how the Supreme Court rules in Texas Department of Housing v. The Inclusive Communities Project, a lawsuit brought to demand that public housing be located in wealthy Dallas suburbs. Before the end of June, the justices will decide whether Texas is guilty of racism simply for locating public housing in lower-income areas of Dallas, close to existing public transportation, rather than in costly areas. Activists claim that even without intent to discriminate the state is depriving poor minorities of the advantages of living in affluent neighborhoods.
Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress are trying to halt HUD’s new plan by depriving it of funding. To do that, the House passed the Gosar Amendment, sponsored by Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar, last Thursday but its success in the Senate is uncertain. Democratic members of Congress whose constituents live in some of the most expensive suburbs in the nation are nevertheless toeing the party line and supporting HUD.
HUD’s plan is frightening. Phase one will collect data on poverty, school testing scores, and public transit sites from every census division to spot towns that have too few poor residents. If your town is guilty, HUD regulators will charge racism and demand more public housing. Race is being cynically exploited here as a pretext to accomplish something different — economic integration.
The HUD plan is a power grab. Nothing in the U.S. Constitution empowers the federal government to do this. Zoning is a local government power.
HUD makes the silly argument that transplanting low-income minorities into suburbs will solve the causes of their poverty and “improve an individual or family’s life trajectory.” That ignores the factors stacked against poor kids. A family headed by a single mother is nearly five times as likely to live in poverty as a family headed by two parents, no matter where they live. Building wedding parlors on inner-city street corners and promoting two-parent families would do more to break the cycle of poverty than redesigning suburban America.
If the justices and Congress fail to stop HUD’s scheme, expect Hillary “Rodham Hood” Clinton to champion it (with a carve-out for Chappaqua, of course). HUD Secretary Julian Castro is even being mentioned as Clinton’s running mate. Short of taxing the rich to death, these inequality warriors would like nothing better than to prevent the rich from enjoying the suburbs, far from urban woes. (Contributor: By Betsy McCaughey for The Washington Times - Betsy McCaughey is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research.)
For prayer: Many loyal, patriotic citizens believe President Obama’s goals for America do not coincide with the ideals of the Constitution or free enterprise. While the Bible warns against pursuing riches, it does not condemn having wealth. This article is less about housing and more about redistribution of money. Government is to serve its citizens, not rule over them. When Americans are free to direct their spending, more money goes to charity, including to the Church and Christian missions.
“And [Jesus] said to them, ‘Whose image and inscription is this [coin]?’ They said to Him, ‘Caesar’s.’ And He said to them, ‘Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’” (Matt. 22:20-21)
DROWNING THE FISH
American generosity is the marvel of the world. The open heart, accompanied by the open pocketbook, is the American way to relieve the pain and loss of disaster. It’s how a wealthy society can spread largesse to those struggling with survival.
Six of 10 American households give to charity. Americans gave $335.17 billion to charities in 2013. The largest source of charitable giving came from individuals at $241.32 billion, or 72 percent of the total, followed by foundations ($50.28 billion, 15 percent), bequests ($26.81 billion, 8 percent), and corporations ($16.76 billion, 5 percent). Americans obey the Biblical injunction to be their brothers’ keepers in hard times.
This vast amount of money has inevitably attracted parasites and spawned a welter of bureaucracy and professional aid administrators. Some are more conscientious than others. A danger is that the bureaucracy is self-perpetuating and looks first to feather its nest.
The American Red Cross has raised $500 million to relieve the misery of the earthquake that devastated Haiti in 2010. Haiti is one of the poorest countries anywhere, and an exhaustive investigation by National Public Radio and the activist group Pro Publica could not find where the Red Cross expenditures went.
Suspicion of Red Cross aid is not new. The Red Cross, as any reporter with experience covering fires, floods and storms would typically tell you, arrives to set up an impressive public-relations operation, issuing streams of press releases. The Salvation Army and the churches arrive with blankets, clothes, sandwiches, coffee and doughnuts.
David Meltzer, the chief Red Cross lawyer and head of its international division, cites his charity’s aid during a cholera outbreak when the Haitian government was in “disarray,” which it usually is. The Red Cross nevertheless declines to provide a list of specific programs it ran, how much they cost and how much the charity spent on “administration.”
The Red Cross gave much of the money it collected to other groups to do the hands-on work, after first taking its customary administrative cut. The charities that received the money took their own fees as well. According to NPR-Pro Publica, the Red Cross collected an additional cut for what it calls the “program costs incurred in managing” these third-party projects. In one program reviewed by NPR-ProPublica, these costs ate up a third of the money that was intended to help impoverished Haitians. There is no dearth of highly polished pamphlets describing programs that function only to feed the bureaucracy.
A press conference in the capital of Port-au-Prince early this month, called by the Red Cross to answer charges in the NPR-Pro Publica investigation, descended into mostly noise. The Red Cross spokesman, Walker Dauphin, says the NPR-Pro Publica account had “misleading allegations” and that “in total, more than a hundred projects were implemented.” But Haiti’s most prominent newspaper, Le Nouvelliste, published an account of the press conference under the headline, “When the Red Cross drowns the fish.”
Rep. Rick Nolan of Minnesota, a Democrat, has called for the House oversight committee to look further into the Red Cross program in Haiti. That certainly seems appropriate. But given the growing list of national and international disasters to which American charity is devoted, something more is in order. More government regulation — especially given the scandalous way the Internal Revenue Service has ruled on the tax deductibility of charitable contributions — is clearly not the answer.
The major national and international charities themselves must set up the means to regulate themselves, to avoid further exploitation of American cash and good will, and to save the fish. (Contributor: By The Washington Times editorial team)
Prayer and Praise: Give thanks for America’s largesse of heart in leading worldwide giving to national and international emergencies and disasters. Much of this comes from hearts of faith informed by biblical instruction. As with all good causes, those with selfish motives can infiltrate, and some organizations are simply not run efficiently. Pray for those like The Salvation Army, Samaritan’s Purse, and others, where practical help is accompanied by a clear Christian witness.
[Paul to the Ephesian elders:] “I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:35)
“He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and He will pay back what he has given.” (Prov. 19:17)
WHEN GOVERNMENT BURSTS ITS RESTRAINTS
America has reversed direction from its origin of limited government and unlimited economy. Today, America is increasingly defined by an expanding government and a retreating economy. The question now is: When we will recognize this reversal?
America’s original perspective on government and the economy came from our Colonial past. Confronted with what they perceived as unlimited government — in the form of Colonial executive power and their exclusion from legislative power in the British Parliament — the Founders created a very limited government in the Constitution.
James Madison in Federalist No. 45 summed up the approach to government: “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined.” The federal government was to be held in check internally by its three branches and externally by the Constitution on one side, and the state governments on the other.
Contrasting with this very narrow view of federal power was an expansive vision of economic power. Again, it originated in America’s Colonial past. As a colony, America’s economy could be thoroughly controlled by the British government. It was intended to be a producer of raw materials and a market for British manufacturing. Ultimately, the increasing regulation of the Colonial economy — as much as the British government’s increasing encroachment — separated Colonial America from its British parent.
The Constitution is as notable for its lack of economic control over the young country as its intended restraint of the new federal government.
Taxes were minimal, with the government financed almost completely by tariffs and land sales. When the government tried to intervene economically, it failed spectacularly. The C&O Canal, championed by the early government, was replaced by the railroad even before its completion. And the federal capital, Washington, D.C., was a sleepy backwater town compared to the many new cities that arose from the nation’s burgeoning economic growth.
America’s model of limited government and unlimited economy prevailed until the 20th century. It was occasionally interrupted — even seriously by World War I — but would resume. However, with the Depression and World War II in quick succession, the altered relationship between government and economy did not fully revert. Both America’s government and its economy had begun the migration from their opposite poles.
The federal budget demonstrates how far government has traveled from its original limited form. In 1930, with the country just entering what would become the Great Depression, the federal government spent just 3.4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). In 2014, the last full fiscal year, the federal government spent 20.3 percent of GDP. Federal outlays are simply the most quantifiable area of the government’s reach, but that reach has also greatly expanded in the areas of taxation and regulation.
Arthur Laffer provided a glimpse of increasing government’s effect four decades ago. Looking just at taxation, he described the diminishing returns from increasing rates of taxation in the now famous Laffer Curve.
Simply looking at the old Soviet system, we intuitively understand Laffer’s Curve. In that case, under a system of state ownership of the means of production, the effective tax rate was 100 percent. The resulting economic sclerosis would lead to the USSR’s collapse within just three generations.
Why would not the Laffer Curve also pertain on a government-wide scale that includes regulation, spending and borrowing, as well as taxes? Why, as government becomes less limited and these areas of its economic impact increase, would there not come a point of negative effect?
As unquestionably limited as the federal government was at its origin, it is equally undeniable that its limits have been eroding. At the same time, it is equally clear that what was once a robust economy has been anything but — not just since the Great Recession, but before it as well.
If we cannot agree as a nation that an growing government has had a role in our shrinking economy, then current circumstances should at least prompt this discussion. How far and for how long must government expand before it has a negative economic impact?
For those who deny the principle behind the question, it is wise to remember that in no other area of the economy does the law of diminishing returns not prevail. Are we to believe that government’s impact on the economy is the sole exception? If it is not an exception, at what point does this diminution occur? And finally, has America already begun to feel its effect in practice?
Where once there was a limited government and unlimited economy, today there is a comparatively unlimited government and a limited economy. Following this progression, at what point do we begin to seriously measure, regulate and mitigate the impact of government’s increasingly destructive impact upon the economy? (Contributor: By J.T. Young for The Washington Times - J.T. Young served in the Treasury Department and the Office of Management and Budget from 2001 to 2004 and as a congressional staff member from 1987 to 2000.)
For prayer: In summary, this article asks, “Can an out-of-control government be restored to the original intentions of the Founders?” No one knows the answer. At present, the government consumes, and the economy is being consumed. Obviously, there is an endpoint at which both government and economy implode (note the situation in Greece). Many feel the only solution is a country reawakened by transforming revival. We ask intercessors to pray in unity to that end.
“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim. 2:1-4)
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)
MD DJ REFUSES TO WORK A BIRTHDAY PARTY FOR A GAY MAN
First there was the New Mexico wedding photographer. Then there was the Indiana pizza maker. Now there is the Maryland disc jockey.
The national debate about how to balance religious conscience protections and gay equality flared in the large, mostly liberal Washington, D.C., suburb of Montgomery County Friday, when Dani Tsakounis tried to help her brother hire Ultrasound Deejays for a party. An owner of the business told Tsakounis he would not provide the DJ because Tsakounis’s brother, a Silver Spring therapist, is married to another man and the birthday party they are hosting is for their 60-year-old roommate, who is also gay.
“I just said, ‘We won’t be able to do it, we’re a Christian organization and it would go against our faith, I’m sorry,’” Michael Lampiris, co-owner of Ultrasound Deejays, said Friday.
Tom Tsakounis, 46, was so upset when his sister told him that he posted the news on his neighborhood listserv, prompting calls of sympathy from neighbors. He also registered a complaint with the Montgomery County Human Rights Commission, which hears cases of alleged discrimination.
Maryland state law has banned discrimination based on sexual orientation in public accommodation — which includes businesses “offering goods, services, entertainment” the law says — since 2001. But the question of whether such laws infringe on the rights of religious conservatives, however, has received increased attention as more gay equality advocates have stepped up to file complaints and religious conservatives have argued that their conscience rights are being violated.
In this case, both Lampiris and Tsakounis were surprised the issue erupted – but for different reasons.
Tom Tsakounis said he had never been denied services in his life because he is gay and was floored to see it happen in Montgomery County – a liberal suburb where he has lived for 15 years. Lampiris, 54, has been living in the county for 30 years and said he had never heard of the law forbidding such discrimination.
Ultrasound Deejays, which he founded in the 1980s with his brother, has a written company policy stating “we will not be involved in any event involving homosexual celebration or activity. We follow biblical morality.”
The company policy states that they are a “family friendly” firm and won’t play vulgar music, tolerate provocative dancing or be involved with strippers, “fortune tellers, psychics, or magicians.”
“We will always try to provide a bright, entertaining, wholesome and fun deejay style where no one is left out,” the site says. “Let us work together to keep America clean and good!”
Hearing his sister tell what happened, Tsakounis said, and reading the Ultrasound policy “made me feel like I got hit in the stomach. You feel like: ‘C’mon, in my neighborhood?’ But: Wow, yes — in my neighborhood.”
Lampiris sounded unconcerned about a possible legal challenge. Their firm, which has at times had a roster of 40 DJ-contractors, has turned down other events, he said, such as when a teacher wouldn’t promise to work to stop raunchy dancing among students, or when he found out a bridal party included several lesbians.
Dani Tsakounis and Lampiris characterized their conversation the same way: Friendly at the start, with Lampiris telling her he could send a DJ and then asking for a few more details in order to find a good match of a DJ. Once she told him it was a 60th, Lampiris joked that she sounded too young to have a peer who was 60 — was this her father? That led to her describing that the man having the birthday was a long-ago partner of her brother, who was now married to another man. The three now live in the same house.
“I said: ‘Are they together in a union?’ And she said ‘Yes.’ It took me back and I said: ‘I don’t know if anyone would want to do it, I just don’t know,'” Lampiris recalled saying. Then he told Tsakounis his objection was religious. “She said ‘Forget it,’ and hung up.”
In this case, Lampiris said he had never heard of a related law, “but it’s important for us to make a stand. We don’t want to go against the law, but we also sometimes are called to do that if it goes against your faith. To me it would be like a synagogue having to cater to a neo-Nazi party or black DJ having to do a KKK dance,” he said. Gay clients don’t pose a “physical threat – it’s a conscience thing, and conscience is very important for everybody. In fact, I think it’s the most important thing.”
Jer Welter, managing attorney of FreeState Legal, which provides legal advocacy for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in Maryland, said several dozen cases like this come into county and state civil rights offices each year and are mostly resolved through mediation. Some have been litigated, he said. Most cases of discrimination never get filed as complaints, he said.
However U.S. courts are still hashing out a balance between religious conscience protections and protection from discrimination. One legal expert who specializes in religious liberty, but didn’t want to speak by name about the DJ case without knowing more details, said courts have looked at questions such as: What are a business’ general policies and culture? What kind of specific activity were they asked to engage in? For example, the attorney said, there might be a difference between simply refusing to serve a gay couple and refusing to work at an event that is centered on “celebrating homosexuality.”
He noted that in April a Kentucky Circuit Court ruled that a Christian T-shirt maker had the right to refuse to make gay pride festival shirts.
What will happen next wasn’t clear. Efforts to reach the state and county civil rights offices late Friday were not successful.
Tsakounis said his sister and other friends were trying to help him and his husband find another DJ for the party for their friend– who is Tom’s long-ago boyfriend and now their roommate. They had never considered any potential discrimination issue and the space booked for the party, which is in August, is the Knights of Columbus Hall, which is a Catholic Church-affiliated building, he said.
After the Friday incident with Lampiris, Tsakounis said he left a voicemail with the Knights.
“Now I’m really nervous. What if they say no? My sister said, ‘I’d never walk into a Knights of Columbus hall and say: I’m straight, I’m having a straight party.’ We just haven’t had to think about these things.”
Lampiris said he hopes the issue won’t become a standoff in any way. But if it did, “we would make a stand if the good Lord is willing,” he said, citing the New Testament book of Acts: “We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Contributor: By Michelle Boorstein for The Washington Post - Washington Post researcher Magda Jean-Louis contributed to this report.)
Intercessors know how to pray in this situation. We have been here several times before, though names and faces change. Our prayer is that a homosexual person or couple can hear and accept the straight person’s concerns and convictions and simply seek another vendor. The demand to seek agreement and compliance is neither honest nor fair. Please pray as you are led, not forgetting the obvious larger issues.
“But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: ‘We ought to obey God rather than men.’” (Acts 5:29)
“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.’” (Dan. 3:16-18)
ARMY REFUSES TO PROVIDE HONOR GUARD FOR CHURCH'S JULY 4TH
For nearly two decades, the U.S. Army has provided an honor guard for an Independence Day celebration at a Baptist church that predates the founding of the nation. But this year – that tradition has come to an end.
Officials at Fort Gordon say they will not be able to send an honor guard to a July 5th service at Abilene Baptist Church because it violates a military policy banning any involvement in a religious service.
“While there are conditions under which the Army can participate in events conducted at a house of worship, we cannot participate in the context of a religious service,” Public Affairs Officer J.C. Mathews told me.
He said officials at Fort Gordon as well as the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate reviewed the church’s request and determined they were in fact holding a “religious service.”
So it’s OK to invite the troops so long as you don’t pray, talk about Jesus or read the Bible?
“As a result, the Army is not permitted to take part,” Mathews said.
That policy would be an offense to most churches in America – but it is especially offensive when you consider the Army just refused to provide an honor guard for a church whose first pastor was a chaplain in the Revolutionary Army.
Abilene Baptist Church was founded in 1774 – one of Georgia’s most historic churches and the second oldest in the state. The founding pastor was arrested by a colonial magistrate for “preaching in Georgia” and the first pastor, Reverend Loveless Savage, was a chaplain in the Revolutionary Army.
“It was an absolute shock,” said Brad Whitt, the current pastor of Abilene Baptist Church. “What a sad commentary on the state of affairs in America – when we cannot even allow the flags to fly if they are in a church building.”
“We’ve had a tremendous working relationship with the fort,” he told me. “We’ve hosted all sorts of events for military families. We really try to show our love and respect and we try to honor our military folks.”
The July 5th church service is scheduled to be a “God and Country”-themed celebration with patriotic music and lots of red, white and blue. Afterwards, the church is hosting a Sunday picnic – complete with hot dogs and hamburgers. And for the sake of full disclosure, I’ve been invited to speak at the church service – as well as eat a hamburger afterwards.
Pastor Whitt said they were genuinely confused by the Army’s slight – seeing how Fort Gordon has been providing an honor guard for the past 20 years.
“They have participated for the past two decades and now they are saying – no,” he said. “This is just another example of the secularization of America.”
The church sent me photographs of the honor guard on the main platform of the church in 2007 and 2010. Last year, the church held their service in a local park – and once again – the military sent an honor guard.
So what changed?
Fort Gordon’s Public Affairs Office pointed me to Army Regulation 360-1 – dated May 2011.
The lengthy regulation states Army participation must not selectively benefit (or appear to benefit) any religious group. It also mandates that Army Public Affairs not support any event involving the promotion, endorsement or sponsorship of a religious movement.
According to public affairs, the 2007 church service was designated by the military as a “non-sectarian musical and patriotic program.”
According to the military’s calculations, 80 percent of the program was musical and the other 20 percent included narration and other patriotic elements.
“Because this was not a religious service, our participation was permitted,” he said.
He said the key is not whether the event is sponsored by a religious organization or held in a house of worship.
“Instead, the key factor is, whether or not the event is an actual religious service,” Mathews said.
So it’s okay to invite the troops so long as you don’t pray, talk about Jesus or read the Bible?
“That’s what makes this so sad,” Pastor Whitt told me. “This is what we’ve come to in our nation – where even just representing the colors is some sort of political thing.”
While the Pentagon won’t allow an honor guard to set foot in a church, they have no problem allowing them to march in a gay pride parade.
Last year the Department of Defense gave permission for an honor guard to participate in Washington, D.C.’s gay pride parade – a historic first. An honor guard is also expected to march in the 2015 Capital Pride parade.
So if a military honor guard can celebrate gay pride in a public parade, why can’t they celebrate American pride inside a Baptist church? (Contributor: By Todd Starnes for Fox News - Todd Starnes is host of Fox News & Commentary, heard on hundreds of radio stations. His latest book is "God Less America: Real Stories From the Front Lines of the Attack on Traditional Values." )
For prayer: Christians must pray and prepare for far worse than this social insult. Our nation is officially post-Christian. The next step is “anti-Christian.” Leaders willing to tell the truth are alerting Christ’s followers to prepare for more. Our Lord said that “the gates of Hades shall not prevail against [His church].” He also said that the path of those who chose to follow Him would not be exempt from suffering and that believers should be prepared to die if identified with Him.
“Jesus answered [Pilate, saying], ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.’” (John 18:36)
“‘These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them.’” (John 16:1-4)
UK'S PAT CONDELL WARNS AMERICA IS LOSING FREE SPEECH
British atheist writer and comedian Pat Condell's latest YouTube video targets American progressives who seek to sabotage the First Amendment in a desire to criminalize speech they deem offensive.
Watch Video: <Click Here!>
With his tongue planted firmly in cheek, Condell delivers a scathing, though humorous, rebuke of Americans who are sitting on the sidelines watching their fundamental birthright being purged before their very eyes in the name of progress. His British perspective is unique as he admits his home country has long since bullied the right to free speech out of its citizens.
"The progressive tide is coming in, America, and it's looking irreversible," he warns. "Not least because the next generation is being carefully programmed right now by a progressive educational establishment to hold the First Amendment and all it represents in morally superior contempt."
Though many of his videos are blows against liberal government, a great bulk of Condell's offerings have targeted Islam and religion in general, including Christianity. Many have been offended by Condell's words and many have leveled threats. Yet, Condell continues to exercise what little freedom he has left via these mini-episodes of free speech with a perspective perhaps only one from across the pond could truly understand. That is perhaps why his warning to America is so imperative:
You see, what you need to understand, America, is that feelings are the new truth, and truth is the new blasphemy in this brave new progressive world of ours. (I'm sorry, did I say brave? I meant cowardly, of course.)
To this mentality, the First Amendment isn't simply an inconvenience, or an obstacle to be overcome. It's a crime against humanity.
So the days of that pesky, troublesome First Amendment are clearly numbered, folks. And when you think of all the trouble it has caused, you can't say that's a bad thing. Well, you can now, obviously, but not for long. (Contributor: Trey Sanchez for Truth Revolt)
For prayer: In light of many assaults our own government and other anti-Christian forces wage against free speech and other aspects of religious liberty, the weapons to counter such attacks are not physical but spiritual. Christians may intercede with fasting, offer a strong biblical witness, seek redress in court, and peacefully resist. After that, if we do not prevail, we must accept the penalty and suffering meted out—and we must forgive our persecutors. Nothing more. Let’s pray accordingly.
“For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” (Phil. 1:29)
“Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2 Tim. 3:12-13)