Friday, January 27, 2012

Today's Posts

It's the Walk for Life Weekend!

It's a busy weekend coming up but an exciting one. And to be ready for it requires a lot of work today. 

Claire had a doctor's appointment this morning and there was blogging to be done. But with these tasks completed, we now turn to the early part of the afternoon where Claire will be getting things ready for our participation at the Walk for Life down in Lincoln tomorrow morning. That means Claire getting together the material for a Vital Signs Ministries table AND baking cookies for the Nebraska Right to Life bake sale. Meanwhile, I'll be trying to get a few more chapters read in Jeff Shaara's WWII novel "The Final Storm" in order to be finished by our book club meeting Saturday night.

Then later this afternoon, we will head down to Brookstone Retirement Center to set things up for a 4 o'clock presentation of the January edition of "When Swing Was King."

Early tomorrow morning we will head down to Lincoln; pick up our niece Danni who wanted to come with us to the Walk for Life; go set up our literature table at the N.U. Student Union; and then walk up to the State Capitol building where the program gets underway promptly at 10 o'clock. There will be a few short speeches (almost always inspiring), a compelling ceremony where balloons representing the lives lost through abortion are released, and then the Walk for Life begins. Through the cordoned off streets of Lincoln (not very far really), we make our way back to the Student Union where the booths and bake sale tables are -- and where the incomparable Ryan Bomberger will address the gathering.

Come join us, won't you?

After the festivities end, we usually go out to dinner there in Lincoln with the people who come to the Walk from our Omaha church, Faith Bible Church. And, in recent years, that's been quite a gang. Sure, our church is a small one but when you get more than a third of the adult congregation to drive down to Lincoln for such an activity, then you know you've got quite a pro-life church!

I'm really honored to be part of such a team.

The rest of Saturday afternoon (not much is left after getting back to Omaha) will be spent in finishing the Shaara book and in preparing for Sunday's sermon on Galatians, Chapter 5. Then the Notting Hill Napoleons' book discussion Saturday night; church on Sunday morning; and a bit of relaxing "down time" after that.

That is, unless something else turns up!

Are You Surprised? Meryl Streep Is No Margaret Thatcher.

Put quite simply, the new Meryl Streep movie purporting to tell the story of Margaret Thatcher fails miserably to do that.

But merely tilting the script and portrayal in favor of liberal politics and philosophy isn't what is proving disgusting to audiences. After all, The Iron Lady is a Hollywood production -- what else would one expect?

No; as bad as the distortion of history is in the film (and it's pretty bad), it is something else entirely that has deeply offended so many viewers, even liberals who hated Thatcher's policies. The gravest offense is the film's concentration on the anguishing dementia Mrs. Thatcher has been experiencing in her old age.

Some even suggest that it is a calculated cruelty.

Max Pemberton is just one of those who found the film tasteless and mean. Writing in the Telegraph, Pemberton emphasizes that he is far from being a fan of Mrs. Thatcher. Indeed, she represents to him "a pantomime-ish villain of my childhood." Nevertheless, he describes his sense of pain and powerlessness after viewing The Iron Lady.

The film ended and I sat motionless while the credits rolled. Slowly I got up and walked out into the cold January air, sickened by what I’d been party to, so acutely aware that the scenes presented as entertainment and edification – scenes I’d paid to see – were, at that very moment, possibly taking place in a grand house somewhere in central London. I had partaken of cruel, thoughtless voyeurism, the subject of which was powerless to protest at her exploitation...

My anger at the film has nothing to do with politics. I don’t object to the artistic licence exercised over certain events or the way Lady Thatcher’s political life is portrayed. My issue is with the portrayal of how she is now. And I suspect that those who have seen the film will feel the same.

While Meryl Streep’s performance is mesmerising, it is impossible not to be disturbed by her depiction of Lady Thatcher’s decline into dementia. Columnists and commentators such as Charles Moore, Norman Tebbit and Douglas Hurd have opined in this newspaper and elsewhere about this distasteful approach. And David Cameron has similarly questioned the morality of making the film while she is still alive. I did not expect to agree with them. But now I am even more vehement in my condemnation, because, as a doctor, I have direct experience of the reality of dementia for the sufferer and their family...

 But to show someone in the throes of an illness while they are actually experiencing it and in terminal decline is chillingly insensitive. Can you imagine an unauthorised film being made about the life of a public figure who was dying of cancer, for example – Christopher Hitchens, say – before his death? Can you imagine watching scenes that his family opposed – showing him writhing in agony, weak and vulnerable? Of course not. There would be a furious outcry. It would rightly be considered a terrible violation of that person’s privacy, and in appalling poor taste...

 Watch this film without knowledge of the background and you’d assume Margaret Thatcher had already died. This is what angered me most about The Iron Lady. It is representative of how society largely views elderly people, particularly those with dementia. They are ignored. They are considered to be dead long before they actually are. Those with dementia experience a loss, not just of their memory and cognition, but of respect and dignity.

Sociologists talk of “social death” and “biological death”. Ideally, the two coincide, but in dementia, there is discordance. As people with dementia decline, they are no longer deemed worthy of attention or thought. As far as society is concerned, they are already history. This film gets away with treating Lady Thatcher as though she were already dead, because that’s precisely how society behaves towards the old and infirm. This is lamentable, vile and shameful – and it should anger every one of us.

So save your money. Don't let Hollywood distort your understanding (or even your image) of one of the genuine political heroes of our time. And don't encourage the cruel attitudes towards the elderly and infirm which Pemberton has described above. Make a deliberate decision to stay away from The Iron Lady and encourage your friends to do likewise.

Instead, I suggest that you watch this quick video and then sort through the many terrific offerings for further investigation of Mrs. Thatcher's real life and legacy here at The Margaret Thatcher Foundation.

Barack Obama Slashes Military, Significantly Weakens U.S.

The future is not bright for the U.S. military. Yesterday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta gave America a glimpse of the half-trillion dollars in defense spending cuts requested by the Obama Administration and detailed how the U.S. military’s capabilities would be affected in practical terms. The result is a slashed and burned military that woefully lacks the forces it needs to meet America’s security challenges on a global scale.

Mike Brownfield, writing for The Morning Bell over at Heritage Foundation has a lot more to say.

On the ground, in the sea, and in the air, American forces will shrink drastically — the Army will shrink by 72,000 people, the active Marine Corps will be reduced by 20,000, the Air Force will see six tactical fighter squadrons de-established while an additional training fighter squadron will be eliminated, the next-generation F-35 Join Strike Fighter procurement will be slowed, and the Navy will retire seven cruisers and two amphibious ships at an early juncture while delaying the procurements of new ships. To put these cuts in context, we are returning to ground forces levels we had under President Bill Clinton when the Army strained and scrambled to execute smaller missions like Kosovo and Bosnia–let alone significant ground force operations.

In order to compensate for the drastically reduced military capabilities, the Administration plans to increase reliance on unmanned drones and special-operations teams based around the globe. But special operations are a scalpel, not a Swiss army knife. They are not an “easy-button” substitute for the many security missions the United States undertakes worldwide. And they rely on a strong backbone of conventional forces in order to succeed...

Read on...and I guarentee you will pledge yourself to work towards electing a new Commander in Chief in November.

Oh, Prunella, Did You See These Items?

* Ah, another moment of high pride for the NEA and the government schools it runs. A middle school teacher is caught napping in class by a kid quick enough to whip out his cell phone and capture the slipshod sleeper on film. The result? The 9th grade kid is suspended.

* "Only a president long shielded from criticism and accountability could make the kind of State of the Union speech President Obama did Tuesday night. It's hard to know where to begin, given his repetition of tired ideas from his previous SOTUs, his taking credit for successful policies he resisted and omitting failed ones he promoted, his numerous misrepresentations on issues big and small, and his glaring refusal to address the main issues that threaten the nation." (David Limbaugh, "Obama's Misstatements on the Union.")

* From an Associated Press report -- An increased scrutiny of Illinois abortion clinics in the wake of revelations about a "house of horrors" in Philadelphia revealed that some facilities had gone up to 15 years without inspections, and two now have closed after regulators found health and safety violations...

One of those facilities — the Women's Aid Clinic in Lincolnwood — closed when the owner decided to surrender its license rather than pay a $36,000 fine or endure an expensive legal fight with the state. The fine was for violations including the clinic's failure to perform CPR on a patient who died after a procedure. Its owner told the AP her clinic was safe and she felt victimized by the surprise inspection after 15 years.

 * "While the president spoke about the economic frustrations of average Americans in his State of the Union address Tuesday night, his wife, Michelle Obama appeared at the event in a sapphire blue dress from designer Barbara Tfank’s 2012 Resort collection, estimated to cost over $2,000."

* "The amount of money the federal government hands out in direct payments to individuals steadily increased over the past four decades, but shot up under Obama, climbing by almost $600 billion — a 32% increase — in his first three years. And Obama's last budget called for these payments to climb another $500 billion by 2016, at which point they would account for fully two-thirds of all federal spending." (John Merline, "Is President Obama Creating A Nation Of Dependents?"-- Investor's Business Daily)

* "How embarrassing this must be for President Obama, whose major speech theme so far this campaign season has been that every single American, no matter how rich, should pay their "fair share" of taxes...A new report just out from the Internal Revenue Service reveals that 36 of President Obama's executive office staff owe the country $833,970 in back taxes. These people working for Mr. Fair Share apparently haven't paid any share, let alone their fair share."

Planned Parenthood: Bizarre, Immoral & Infuriating

Just to make sure you remain rightly incensed about Planned Parenthood, I wanted to repeat a few items about the mega-abortion corporation that have shown up in previous Vital Signs posts. I begin with the 8 major reasons that I oppose Planned Parenthood but I then post a few links to VS posts that deal with some of the most maddening of Planned Parenthood's recent shenanigans.

1) Planned Parenthood kills preborn babies for profit. Hundreds of thousands of babies. And by payments to surgical abortionists and sales of chemical abortifacients, Planned Parenthood is raking in millions of dollars every year. They are the largest abortion providing, abortion promoting business in the world.

2) Planned Parenthood is the most aggressive promoter of abortion rights in the U.S. and abroad. It's influence in Congress, the United Nations, in state governments, in social service agencies, and among government educators is huge.

3) Planned Parenthood promotes (and enables) sexual promiscuity, even among very young teenagers.

4) Planned Parenthood promotes sexual perversion and does so with obscene and blasphemous materials.

5) Planned Parenthood holds firm to the racism and elitism of its eugenics founders.

6) Planned Parenthood has been caught on many occasions in criminal cover-ups of statutory rape.

7) Planned Parenthood operates many unsafe, unsanitary abortion clinics. It has had several abortionists who have killed adult women through botched abortion. It dispenses very dangerous abortifacient drugs in an unprofessional manner like over the phone and through "at home abortion kits." It works continually against parental rights and control. It works continually against any and all limitations on abortion.

And, oh yeah...Number 8) Planned Parenthood makes about $100,000,000 every year from American taxpayers.

And now on to those links I mentioned:

91% of Pregnant Women Going to Planned Parenthood Get Abortions

Planned Parenthood Throws Christmas Party for Democrats -- At the Abortion Clinic

Purposeful De-Construction: Planned Parenthood's Jaffe Memo

A Wow Washington Times Editorial: "Planned Parenthood Targets Blacks"

Top 12 Reasons to Defund Planned Parenthood Now (from Live Action)

Planned Parenthood's Mammogram Mantra Is Another Lie

Planned Parenthood: Where Are the Missing Millions of Our Tax Dollars?

Remember Planned Parenthood's Violent Superhero?

Planned Parenthood Fights for Funding...With a Sex Party?

Planned Parenthood Tries To Spin Its Way Out Of Scandal

Planned Parenthood Insists: You Must Do Abortions!

Judge's Ruling: Planned Parenthood Guilty of Illegal Abortion on a 14-Yr Old

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Today's Posts

It's Always a Good Day to Thank a Vet

Sending Valentines

We're sending out the Valentine's Day cards that Claire made last night for the Heart for the Disabled program sponsored by Joni & Friends that I mentioned yesterday.  Inside we're sending along this message:

"The will of God is never exactly what you expect it to be. It may seem to be much worse, but in the end it's going to be a lot better and a lot bigger." (Elisabeth Elliot)

We send along Valentine's Day greetings and, more important, our sincere prayers that the Lord Jesus Christ will strengthen you in the inner person, give you deep faith in His comprehensive love, and increase your joyful hope in the glorious inheritance that He will one day share with the saints.

There's still time for you and your family to be involved too. So grab the scissors and paste -- or go for the fancy templates available on your computer! -- and make some Valentines for people whose lives will be enriched because of your efforts.

The State of the Union: Fact Checked by the Cato Institute

Why Compassion Must Be Insightful, Responsible

Gina Dalfonzo over at BreakPoint links to a heartbreaking story of how gullible Christians in the U.S. are supporting crooks when they think they are supporting orphans in Haiti. Having seen many similar frauds in my travels to Belarus, India, Nigeria and other places (including, yes, right here in the USA), I appreciate the principles that motivate Megan Boudreaux's impassioned call for responsible compassion.

In Haiti, orphanages = business, children = money.

The template here for businesses -- I mean orphanages -- are the same.  ”Pastor” makes a quick round in a poor neighborhood in Haiti, advertises for a place for some children to live, grabs some children.  BOOM,  you’ve got yourself a business.

Then the second step is to reach out…to churches, organizations etc…you explain how many starving children you have at your orphanage, how they have been abandoned, orphaned, and you explain how you need help.  Then an [American] church comes to the sweeping rescue…hurries up, raises some money, collects donations…next thing you know they are on a plane to said orphanage ready to “SAVE” them.  They show up, look at all the poor, sick, orphaned children…hand out their clothes and food…and 5 days later they are back to their home country thinking about how much they have helped.

PLEASE see my heart in this and keep reading, I am not BASHING groups that support orphanages, I am not BASHING people who take their time and money to invest in children’s lives.  What I AM BASHING is people who think the solution is throwing some money quickly at an orphanage along with a few new pairs of underwear and shoes…and then leaving not knowing what the outcome will be for these children.

Here’s what happens…your group leaves.  Someone like me (who lives in Haiti) heads to said orphanage…discovers…clothes gone, shoes gone, 15 days of Food is already out after only 2 days.  Children have changed back into ragged clothes and are lethargic again because they’re starving.

Round 2: next church group comes in, not knowing about first church group…again, comes into the orphanage…does the same thing (handing out food, clothes, medicine- “saving” these children)…and the same thing happens (it’s all gone within a week of church/team leaving)...

Son of God orphanage was the ABSOLUTE worst, having at least 14 groups, organizations, churches supporting them over the 11 months that I was fighting for them to be closed.  I PRAY I never find a place that bad again…but sadly since that time that Son of God has closed, I have received TONS of emails, messages and phone calls regarding terrible orphanages in Haiti.  (If you work in Haiti and know of any PLEASE message me).  There is a list here in Haiti with more than 50 orphanages that have this “Business” so terribly perfected that these children are sold, hurting, missing and dying.  There are HUNDREDS of other orphanages that are hanging on, still covering their tracks, confusing people…and just WAITING for someone to yell about them...

I know that for some, this blog might be too much information, too many details, too uninteresting…but the truth of it is, in Haiti, and in MANY countries…children=money.  And this equation is not only resulting in Restaveks and child trafficking but it is messing with children’s health, minds and childhoods, And it is KILLING children.

Every time I think about people using children to milk organizations, churches or individuals for everything they can…I am infuriated.  It lights a fire in me that turns me into a mix between a bulldozer, a blow horn and an uninhibited boxer.

I have SEEN children die because of this type of “support”…I have seen children lose their childhood, their will to live, their belief in good or hope or Christ because of the way these orphanages are run.

Does this mean that NO ONE should support orphanages? No, not by any means…but what it means is TAKE the time, the understanding, the TRANSLATING (use people who you trust and REALLY know Haitian Creole) , to know for SURE where your money is going and if it is REALLY getting to these children.

Be part of the SOLUTION, NOT the Problem.  If you, your church, or an organization you know supports an orphanage in Haiti that you think is troubled, please email … as Respire Haiti partners with a few other organizations here in Haiti to begin BREAKING the cycle of organizations double, triple or even quadruple funding the same orphanage.  We are not saying these places should each have ONE organization and only one, we are saying that when we work as the BODY OF CHRIST, we are better able to holistically meet each child’s and orphanages need.  By identifying who is working in each orphanage we can encourage teamwork, accountability and not duplicate efforts!

The March for Life: Two Very Different Views

As Jill Stanek says, "This must be seen to be believed." Jill then links to an internet slide show created by CBS' Washington, D.C.station. It's title is “Activists Hold Annual March For Life On Roe v. Wade Anniversary.”

But of the 7 photos in the slide show, all of them center on the infinitesimally small band of pro-abortion demonstrators. That's right. All of the photos star the pro-aborts! There are no pro-life marchers in the whole thing!

We are, of course, well versed in media bias -- as in their completely ignoring year after year after year the largest public rally in America.

But this is a laughable new low indeed.

Therefore, as always, if you want to see an accurate representation of the national March for Life, you've got to go to the activists themselves. So, for a more accurate idea of how the March went this year, check out this nifty video clip from last year's event. It's a time lapse video clip taken by the Franciscans that shows just a portion of the March. It is 90 minutes condensed into one.

A Riddle With a Lesson -- Fascinating

Interested in history? Science? Education? Cultural indoctrination? You will find this fascinating. 

Getting Away With Murder

The American "justice system" is cruelly (yet accurately) mocked by a murderer in North Carolina. He is a vicious thug who, rather than is paying for his crimes, is enjoying a life of comparative luxury at the government's expense.

In a letter to a local newspaper, the robber/murderer boasted that, even though he is on death row, he will very likely never have to face the executioner. Instead he sneeringly asks, "Is the public aware that I am a gentleman of leisure, watching color TV in the A.C., reading, taking naps at will, eating three well balanced hot meals a day. I'm housed in a building that connects to the new 55 million dollar hospital with round the clock free medical care 24/7."

And, of course, this is just one case. The sad reality is that there are hundreds of thousands of other prisoners in the United States who are enjoying the same irony as they live a richer life after committing their crimes than before. No work, no deprivation, no restitution and no substantial incentive for criminals to avoid coming back to prison when they are released.

Sigh. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what's called getting away with murder.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Today's Posts

Keeping Busy

I sure wish that being busy insured being effective. But alas, I often wonder about it.

Anyhow, having just finished Bob Greene's deeply moving book, Once Upon a Town: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen, I have to dive headlong into Jeff Shaara's 480-page The Final Storm: A Novel of the War in the Pacific in order to get it done before the Notting Hill Napoleons (our literary club of nearly 20 years) meet on Saturday night.

And given the to-do list I have in front of me the rest of the week, I can see it's going to be tight. I hope to write up reviews for The Book Den of both of North Platte Canteen and Final Storm but before that I have a lot to get done this week:

* a bunch of correspondence (including letters to pastors offering Vital Signs' help in developing letter-writing outreaches for their congregations AND a few Valentine letters for the Joni & Friends project, Heart for the Disabled);

* presenting two more "When Swing Was King" programs -- Northcrest nursing home in Council Bluffs (Jan. 26th, 2 PM) and Brookstone Retirement Center (Jan. 27th at 4 PM);

* reconstructing and re-recording several of the first several WSWK programs;

* doing the regular blogging;

* preparing Sunday's sermon (we're moving into Galatians, Chapter 5);

* getting ready for our informational booth at Saturday morning's Walk for Life down in Lincoln (We will see you there, won't we?);

* and then getting that Shaara book done.

I think I'd best get going!

Have a "Heart for the Disabled" -- Write a Valentine

 From Joni Eareckson-Tada's website... 

As some of you may know, we recently aired five "Joni and Friends" radio programs highlighting the stories of special needs families for our Heart for the Disabled week (if you’d like to hear the programs, visit our radio page and key in Heart for the Disabled). Cards and letters, notes, assurances of prayer, scriptures, and copies of poems and hymns from listeners are pouring into the IDC...

And if you haven’t written yet, now’s your time! 

Just visit our radio page and key in Heart for the Disabled to hear the families’ stories. Then pick up a pen, grab a card, dig out some Valentine hearts and glue and, well… be creative! (You’ve got a week or so before we pack up all the notes and overnight them to these families). After you’ve finished your note, mail it into Joni and Friends, PO Box 3333, Agoura Hills, CA 91376. 

These disabled people and their family members are thirsty for encouragement and we need your help to make certain their mailboxes are stuffed with words of blessing! So thank you for investing a few minutes in this special outreach… and bless you for having a Heart for the Disabled!

Mitt Romney Gives How Much to Mormonism?

With those Mitt Romney tax returns finally made public, we learn that he and his wife donated a total of $8.73 million to the Mormon religion -- over just the last two years.


With that money representing just a tenth of Romney's acquired wealth over those two years, it will serve as a most unwelcome contrast to the "I'm just one of the guys" perception that politicians love to project.

Needless to say, this is why Romney kept those tax returns under cover, producing them only after Newt Gingrich had made the issue an important part of his Republican nomination campaign.

Furthermore, one would rightly figure that this revelation is going to make those evangelicals and Catholics who have been supporting Mitt Romney a bit queasy since it proves that his commitment to Mormonism is much more serious than what they probably wanted to believe. For all that cash, of course, goes to further the mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- all those temples, all those copies of the Book of Mormon, all of those front door proselytizing efforts occurring throughout the world, all those baptisms for the dead, and all those classes that seek to convert nominal Christians by distorting the Bible and substituting a bizarre and distinctly non-Christian religious system.

No, this isn't something that will help Mitt Romney's chances to secure the support of evangelicals, Roman Catholics, or any one else who understands the truly weird teaching of Mormonism.

One might have thought that Romney, realizing the political baggage that tithing such huge amounts to the Mormon "Church" would represent, would have simply deferred from the practice. But then, Mitt Romney's tithes are something he believes indispensable to gaining him an afterlife paradise, one in which he will become a celestial god on some other planet with religious followers of his own.

Crazy stuff? Well, it's not Christianity -- nothing at all like Christianity.

And that's why these tax returns are causing a crisis of conscience this morning for many of those Christians who had previously supported Mitt Romney -- and thus a crisis of confidence at Romney headquarters.

Do Bible Stories Teach Theology?

At a recent gathering of seminary students who were engaged in ministry internships, one of the students began talking about her work as a children's minister. She was enjoying the experience, and the children all seemed to be enjoying their time with her on Sundays, but she expressed her concern that the curriculum she was using was not theological enough. "I don't want them just to hear Bible stories all the time," she said. "I want them to learn theology."

At first, it seems like a fair statement. I certainly commend her desire to provide solid teaching, and the church is definitely in need of a more rigorous education for its members. Everyone from the History Channel to Peter Singer to the local Mormon missionary is attacking Christian faith and doctrine. If the church is to withstand these attacks, then we certainly need to be educating our children about what we believe and why we believe it.

I find it troubling, however, that evangelical ministers who claim the authority and inspiration of Scripture would reject the notion that children's Bible stories can provide this education.

I realize that VeggieTales' Dave and the Giant Pickle may not be quite on par with the writings of Carl Henry, but does that mean that the story of David and Goliath is substandard as well? The vast majority of the Old Testament is narrative; in the New Testament, the four Gospels and Acts are also in story rather than propositional form. Jesus Himself primarily taught through telling stories! Biblical narrative is much more than mere entertainment, biography, or history. While they may not always conclude with an explicit moral (as do Aesop's fables), they are deeply theological...

Read the rest of Rebecca Poe Hays's very interesting column over at BreakPoint. Good stuff.

The Real State of the Union

Miss President Obama's State of the Union speech?

Never mind; Rich Lowry has a quick summation for you over at Fox News, excerpts of which I print immediately below. And after those remarks, I've put a link to an exceptionally good Republican response from Mitch Daniels -- oh, why won't he throw his hat into the ring?

Don't worry, America. There's nothing that ails this country that can't be made right by a catalogue of piddling proposals that will be forgotten tomorrow--and oh yeah, more taxes on the rich. Such was the message of President Obama's State of the Union address.

It made Bill Clinton's notoriously endless lists of poll-tested banalities look like artistry by comparison. It was light and forgettable, so insubstantial it could have floated off the teleprompter. It was spend more here, create a new program there, carve out a new subsidy in the tax code over there--and repeat as necessary, for over an hour.

The president steered clear of some of the nation's gravest domestic questions. You would never know we are accumulating debt at a $1.3 trillion annual clip. You would never know that health care costs are soaring and a vast political and constitutional fight is ongoing over his health care law (mentioned once, only very briefly, in passing). You would never know that Medicare and Social Security will soon be groaning under the coming wave of baby boomer retirements. You would never know the tax code is a hideously complex, economically inefficient monstrosity.

All of that was left aside, so the president could strike an uplifting, inoffensive tone proposing a raft of superficially unobjectionable new government actions. It was one thing for Bill Clinton to take this tack in the late 90s when the economy was roaring. It was evasive and irresponsible for President Obama to do it now in our current straits...

Here's Rich Lowry's article. And over here is Mitch Daniels'.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Today's Posts

Pro-Life Activists, Listen Up!

In additional reference to the Sanctity of Life Sunday two days ago and the March for Life in Washington, D.C. yesterday, I have a few items I think you'll find of value.

* First of all, for those of you who live in Nebraska, please make note of the Walk for Life coming up this next Saturday morning in Lincoln. The speaker this year is an especially exciting one, Ryan Bomberger. You just gotta' make the Walk this year! Here's more. And here too.

* "Roe v. Wade at 39" by Michael J. New.

* Barb Malek's fine essay,  “Women Are Watching”- A Pro-Life Twist on Planned Parenthood’s New Campaign!

* It wasn't just in Washington, D.C. that pro-lifers were marching. Check out Jeanne Smits' story from LifeSiteNews, "Record Turnout for Paris March for Life."

* "Gendercide: The War Feminists Seemingly Refuse to Fight" by Ericka Andersen at the Heritage Foundation.

How About the Moral State of the Union?

15 Questions the Media Should (But Won't) Ask Barack Obama

* How do you decide which foreign leaders to submissively bow towards and why do you think that's appropriate for an American President?

* Through dubious means, you and your allies in Congress managed to push through an incredibly unpopular health care bill that helped lead to the worst election night for the Democratic Party in 50 years. Since the bill has passed, many of your claims about the bill have proven to be untrue. For example, we now know the bill won't lower costs and despite your assurances to the contrary, big companies like McDonald's say they may drop health care because of the health care reform. Since the American people have rejected your health care reform and it doesn't do what you said it would, shouldn't you work with the Republicans to repeal it?

* Your stimulus bill cost more in real dollars than the moon landing and the interstate highway system combined. What do we have to show for all of that money spent?

* When you took office, gas was $1.79 per gallon. Since then, you've demonized the oil industry, dramatically slowed offshore drilling, blocked ANWR, and killed the Keystone Pipeline. Now, gas is $3.34 per gallon. How much higher do you anticipate driving gas prices?

These are just four of the questions in John Hawkin's terrific Town Hall column, "15 Questions The Mainstream Media Would Ask Barack Obama If He Were A Republican." Go read the others -- every one of which is a absolute doozy -- right here.

Team Obama's Prosecution of Pro-Life Activist Fails the Stink Test

Ralph Aldrich recently received a letter from Mathew Staver (that's right, just one "T" in Mathew) who is Chairman of the religious rights organization, Liberty Counsel Action. The letter concerned the Obama administration's heartless (and thoroughly unjust and unconstitutional) prosecution of pro-life activist Mary Sue Pine -- a prosecution which was denied quite forcefully by a federal judge.

Here's part of that letter below as well as the link to the LC's online petition to Barack Obama asking for the speedy termination of Eric Holder's job as head of the Justice Department.

Thankfully, a federal judge has ended Attorney General Eric Holder’s two-year political persecution of Florida pro-life educator Mary Susan Pine!

Holder and the DOJ had sought to levy thousands of dollars in fines against Pine as well as get a permanent injunction banning her from continuing her faithful 20-year ministry outside an abortion clinic in West Palm Beach, Florida.

But this scheme was thrown out of court and drew criticism from Judge Kenneth L. Ryskamp, who concluded that the government lacked evidence to prove not just one, but “all three elements of its FACE (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act) claim.”

Judge Ryskamp concluded that “the evidence could not lead a rational jury to find that Ms. Pine’s conduct [i.e., having peaceful conversations with clinic visitors on a public sidewalk] constituted a physical obstruction within the meaning of FACE.”

The Judge chastised Holder for seeking to apply federal law in a clearly unconstitutional manner:..

The government’s decision to prosecute Pine despite having no evidence of wrongdoing prompted Judge Ryskamp to suspect a conspiracy at the highest level of the Obama Administration: "The Court is at a loss as to why the government chose to prosecute this case in the first place.  The Court can only wonder if this action was the result of a concerted effort between the Government and the [abortion clinic], which began well before the date of the incident at issue, to quell Ms. Pine’s activities…"

When Eric Holder should be prosecuting terrorists, he is wasting time manufacturing baseless lawsuits against law-abiding, pro-life Americans and engaging in other politically-inspired campaigns against pro-liberty, pro-family citizens! Such actions by the Attorney General are abuses of power and examples of intolerably misplaced priorities!

Here is the petition.

Church Life: "The Kid's Table" vs Intergenerational Unity

Monday, January 23, 2012

Today's Posts

Obama's America: Where A Young Girl's Dreams Require Abortion

So this is what America has come to? This is what generations of patriots worked for, prayed for, and fought for? That it is deemed necessary for young girls to abort their babies in order to fulfill their dreams?

Tragically, this is Barack Obama's America. For that's exactly what he said yesterday in his remarks praising Roe v Wade.

But, if this is not your vision of America, please dedicate yourself anew to pray hard and work hard to get this guy out of the White House -- before he is able to place yet more abortion extremists on the Supreme Court and thus insure that this nightmare will last for decades to come.

Aslan Is On The Move

A dear friend and pro-life colleague from Birmingham, England who I have quoted before here on Vital Signs Blog sent over an e-mail yesterday. And among the items Dr. Greg Gardner shared in that note are those I print below. They lifted my heart and I hope they do the same for you.

A British guy who has lived in Atlanta for the past 13 years, working for Operation Mobilisation was talking about the Middle East. He told us about the prayer meeting in Cairo attended by 71,000 people not long ago. Undoubtedly the largest gathering of Christians ever in the history of that country.

In Saudi Arabia, thousands of Filipino women are working as maids in Saudi homes and there are a lot of drivers from India, some of them Christians. The authorities recently gave permission for a prayer event for non Saudi people to attend. The main meeting was attended by about 3000 people and there were 2000 or so in the overflow hall.

Aslan is on the move.  

Indeed, He is, Greg. And thanks so much for alerting us to a couple of the ways He is doing so.

5th Circuit Court Gives Today's Right to Life Marchers Fresh Hope

The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Texas gave good reason for celebration for the hundreds of thousands who will arrive in Washington on Monday for the 39th annual March for Life.

The Court upheld last week the constitutionality of a new law in Texas requiring that abortion providers provide ultrasound exams and that women listen to the physician’s description of her unborn child and to the heartbeat before deciding to abort.

The law, signed by Gov. Rick Perry in May, was blocked by a federal district court in August which argued that the law impinged on free speech rights of abortion providers.

Now Texas may become not just the nation’s largest creator of jobs, but the nation’s best protector of human life...

Read the rest of Star Parker's Town Hall column right here.

Everyone's at Fault for Our Terrible State of the Union...Except Obama

Now, President Truman made it very clear: The buck stops with him. No passing the buck for that guy. But Mr. Obama blames everyone but himself. Mr. Bush, he says, left the nation in a ditch, a deep ditch, and he’s been digging out since he took office. And Congress? Those guys are just plain awful, he says. So mean. Wah, they won’t do anything I want done! Mr. Obama feels so sure about it that he’s basing his re-election campaign on bashing Capitol Hill.

But with the president delivering his State of the Union speech to Congress Tuesday night, let’s pause here to take as hard look at the real state of America, by the numbers, using only cold, hard facts...

And, oh what damning facts!

Go on. Follow this link to today's "Must Read" article, "The Truly Dismal State of the Union" by Joseph Curl at the Washington Times.

There's a New Mood of Celebration in the School Choice Movement

"I strongly support National School Choice Week because all children in America should be able to access the best schools possible. We have a moral and societal obligation to give our children the opportunity to succeed in school, at work, and in life. We cannot meet that obligation unless parents are empowered to select the best schools of their children. I encourage everyone who wants to see a transformation of American education to get involved in National School Choice Week."

The above comments come from comic legend Bill Cosby but there's a whole lot more who are enthusiastically supporting National School Choice Week by attending a giant kickoff event in New Orleans.

There was an air of celebration at the event as participants recognized that 2011 was a banner year for the school choice movement. And the thanks for that goes, not exclusively but primarily, to conservatives. As Mike Brownfield, writing in the Heritage Foundation, points out:

The groundswell of support comes after a year of significant strides in the school choice movement. A total of 12 states and the District of Columbia either enacted or expanded school choice options in 2011. Heritage education expert Lindsey Burke explains that last year, “more families than ever before gained access to school choice options, freeing them from assignment-by-zip code policies that often relegate families to the public school closest to their home, regardless of whether it meet their child’s needs.” As a result, more families have access to school choice options — including vouchers, tax credits, homeschooling, online learning, and even education savings accounts.

That expansion of school choice came after what appeared to be ominous news for some of America’s schoolchildren in 2009 and 2010. In Washington, D.C., home to some of the country’s most dangerous and under-performing schools, families of low-income children received vouchers through the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, giving them a chance to choose a brighter educational future. That light of hope, though, was about to be extinguished when Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) inserted a provision in a 2009 spending bill that would have ended the program. That changed, though, when the Tea Party revolution came to Congress, bringing with it a new movement toward school choice...

Obama's Immense Re-Election Money

I just came across this Mother Jones item from the first of December, an article which observed that Barack Obama had been far more aggressive in doing fundraising events than his predecessors. In fact, by the first of December, Obama had done 69 fundraisers for the year. That's more than one every 5 days!

And the public wonders what the President does between basketball games, White House parties, vacations and rounds of golf.

Barack Obama had a choice. He could work with the Congress to try and run the country with efficiency and principle. Or he could play games, ignore the people, criticize the Congress and be serious only about running for re-election. Shamefully, he opted for the latter course.

But he's amassed quite a treasure chest to get it done.

Obama's fundraising has more than paid off. The president has raised nearly $90 million so far—but with a significant 46 percent of it from small donors—for his reelection effort, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The next highest fundraiser in the 2012 presidential field is Republican Mitt Romney, who has raked in $32.2 million.

Obama's pace exceeds his own fundraising in the early stages of his first presidential run, in 2007. Through September 30, 2007, Obama had raised $80 million; this time around, that figure was $88 million through September 30. As the president, he does have the full backing and fundraising muscle of the Democratic National Committee, which is scouring the country for every dollar and every volunteer it can find to power Obama through what's shaping up to be one of the most bruising, cash-drenched campaigns in history.

If you're a Republican, you can start worrying. For not only does Barack Obama have the bully pulpit of the presidency and the fawning favor of the media, he's got an awfully big amount of cash.

Even the Liberals Are Fed Up With Obama's Conceit

I'm sure the White House team had a real "ouch moment" Saturday morning when reading their favorite newspaper, the New New York Times. For within its pages was a stinging rebuke of Barack Obama's inefficient, condescending, disappointing presidency -- and from a usually reliable source too.

Sure, the Maureen Dowd column tried to throw some dirt on George W. Bush, Newt Gingrich and others, but she went on to blast the Big O (and his wife) pretty hard.

 Despite what his rivals say, the president and the first lady do believe in American exceptionalism — their own, and they feel assaulted and underappreciated.

We disappointed them.

 As Michelle said to Oprah in an interview she did with the president last May: “I always told the voters, the question isn’t whether Barack Obama is ready to be president. The question is whether we’re ready. And that continues to be the question we have to ask ourselves."

They still believed, as their friend Valerie Jarrett once said, that Obama was “just too talented to do what ordinary people do.”...

Kantor writes that the Obamas, feeling misunderstood, burrowed into “self-imposed exile” — a “bubble within the bubble” — with their small circle of Chicago friends, who reinforced the idea that “the American public just did not appreciate their exceptional leader.” 

She reports that Marty Nesbitt indignantly told his fellow Obama pal Eric Whitaker that the president “could get 70 or 80 percent of the vote anywhere but the U.S.” 

The Obamas, especially Michelle, have radiated the sense that Americans do not appreciate what they sacrifice by living in a gilded cage...

Charles C. W. Cooke over at NRO weighs in on the column and presents some good stuff of his own. 

But even for those of us who never bought Obama’s shtick, and who do not believe in either the Coming of the Age of Aquarius or that any president could “turn out to be a Messiah,” there has been much about this administration that has surprised.

I did not expect him to be an “introvert,” either. Nor did I expect the man to be such a terrible politician. Instead, I presumed that Obama would be an intelligent technocrat with a well-oiled and competent White House, and that he would be able to use his oratorical ability to his advantage. I fully expected that I would oppose what he would try and achieve — and I do — but I didn’t expect to be embarrassed watching him attempt it. As it happens, the Obama White House is a mess, the president largely shies away from detail — leaving it to the very Congress he blames for his ills — and his speeches tend to hurt any policy he is trying to advance. And he seems incapable of considering his own role in all of this...

Friday, January 20, 2012

Today's Posts

A Christmas Wrap

The January LifeSharer letter from Vital Signs Ministries is up and inside is an adventurous review of our varied Christmas activities. From the Christmas Eve breakfast (19 guests) to Christmas Day One dinner (18 guests) to the carols sung outside the abortion clinic to the 17 presentations of the Christmas version of "When Swing Was King" to a whole lot more, it's pleasantly wrapped up for you.

And there's a few items too about things coming up in the near future like the Walk for Life in Lincoln on January 28th and the discussion of Nancy Pearcey's Saving Leonardo on February 7th.

Check it out right here.

The Christian Case for the Sanctity of Life -- Great Film Clip!

And Another Great Pro-Life Clip!

Saudi Arabia's Religious Police Decried for Brutality

The Authority for the Promotion of Virtue? That's the Orwellian title given the religious police of Saudi Arabia. But, according to journalist Nadin Al-Badir, those virtuous cops are often ex-cons with histories of violence and drug dealing.

But it's worse than that. Al-Badir related to a television audience in Egypt just how barbaric their policies can be -- as in beating a man to death because of his hair length or in forcing more than a dozen young girls to die in a fire because they were not wearing traditional Islamic head coverings.

Here's the story.

Barack Obama Is the Anti-Patriot

It's a rare thing but the two big Posts (the newspapers of Washington and New York) are bothered today about the same thing; namely, Barack Obama's mind-numbing cancellation of the Keystone pipeline. First the New York Post editorial:

Who knows how many potential jobs President Obama killed yesterday when he bowed to hard-core environmental activists and put an indefinite hold on the mammoth Keystone XL oil pipeline?

Beyond doubt, it was a lot.

At the same time, he planted a big wet one on his greenie base — which he’ll need to hold on to if he’s to win re-election. Obviously, he has his priorities...

That will make the left very happy. But, again, it does nothing for job-creation and — more important over the long term — does even less for energy independence. (Whatever happened to Obama’s promise to find ways to wean the nation off of Middle Eastern oil, anyway?)

Moreover, it’s an open invitation to Canada to instead build the pipeline for another major oil consumer — China.

Ironically, Obama’s announcement came just a day after his own Council on Jobs and Competitiveness called for an “all-in approach” to energy — including expanded oil and gas drilling and expediting new projects...

And now the Washington Post:

 Mr. Obama’s Jobs Council could start by calling out -- the Obama administration.

On Wednesday, the State Department announced that it recommended rejecting the application of TransCanada Corp. to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline, and Mr. Obama concurred. The project would have transported heavy, oil-like bitumen from Alberta — and, potentially, from unconventional oil deposits in states such as Montana — to U.S. refineries on the Gulf of Mexico coast...

We almost hope this was a political call because, on the substance, there should be no question. Without the pipeline, Canada would still export its bitumen — with long-term trends in the global market, it’s far too valuable to keep in the ground — but it would go to China. And, as a State Department report found, U.S. refineries would still import low-quality crude — just from the Middle East. Stopping the pipeline, then, wouldn’t do anything to reduce global warming, but it would almost certainly require more oil to be transported across oceans in tankers...

But the best analysis of all is from a Washington Post op/ed piece from Robert J. Samuelson. Entitled "Rejecting the Keystone Pipeline is an Act of Insanity," Samuelson's column is spot on in underscoring Obama's base and unprecedented anti-Americanism.

President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico is an act of national insanity. It isn’t often that a president makes a decision that has no redeeming virtues and — beyond the symbolism — won’t even advance the goals of the groups that demanded it. All it tells us is that Obama is so obsessed with his reelection that, through some sort of political calculus, he believes that placating his environmental supporters will improve his chances.

Aside from the political and public relations victory, environmentalists won’t get much. Stopping the pipeline won’t halt the development of tar sands, to which the Canadian government is committed; therefore, there will be little effect on global-warming emissions. Indeed, Obama’s decision might add to them. If Canada builds a pipeline from Alberta to the Pacific for export to Asia, moving all that oil across the ocean by tanker will create extra emissions. There will also be the risk of added spills.

Now consider how Obama’s decision hurts the United States. For starters, it insults and antagonizes a strong ally; getting future Canadian cooperation on other issues will be harder. Next, it threatens a large source of relatively secure oil that, combined with new discoveries in the United States, could reduce (though not eliminate) our dependence on insecure foreign oil...

The big winners are the Chinese. They must be celebrating their good fortune and wondering how the crazy Americans could repudiate such a huge supply of nearby energy...

By law, Obama’s decision was supposed to reflect “the national interest.” His standard was his political interest. The State Department had spent three years evaluating Keystone and appeared ready to approve the project by year-end 2011. Then the administration, citing opposition to the pipeline’s route in Nebraska, reversed course and postponed a decision to 2013 — after the election.

Now, reacting to a congressional deadline to decide, Obama rejected the proposal. But he also suggested that a new application with a modified Nebraska route — already being negotiated — might be approved, after the election. So the sop tossed to the environmentalists could be temporary. The cynicism is breathtaking.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Today's Posts

Mitt Romney Sends Millions to Mormon "Church"

ABC News is reporting on Mitt Romney's ongoing tithe and other donations to the Church of Latter Day Saints. It's a staggering amount of money too -- at least $4 million in just the last five years and, through stock contributions that have not been fully disclosed, possibly millions more.

So, let me try to take this in -- the fellow that the Republicans are going to nominate to run for the Presidency of the United States gives millions to a religious group that teaches millions of planets throughout the universe are ruled by individual gods? And that Earth's "heavenly father" (Elohim) lives on Kolob with his goddess wives where he engages in sexual activity and creates spirit babies? And that Lucifer and Jesus are brothers? And that Jesus won the vote of a celestial council to be the savior of Earth's race?

And, even without getting to the holy underwear, the polygamy, the curse on non-Aryans, the ancient American civilizations that never were, the baptisms for the dead, that's just the beginning of the really kooky stuff.

No, let's face it. Mitt Romney's big-government RINO baggage alone should disqualify him from serious consideration. Beyond that, there is his extremely poor history on the moral issues -- remember the contribution to Planned Parenthood? But, for crying out loud, is not an enthusiastic commitment to the absurdities of Mormonism a clear signal that Mitt Romney is anything but a balanced, rational, profound thinker?

Gravitas is more than slicked back, slightly graying hair. Gravitas is having some sense about the world around (and above) you.

By the way, you can bet the mainstream media will suddenly discover a strong interest in the bizarre tenets and history of Mormonism...just after Mitt Romney wins the G.O.P. nomination. And imagine Mr. Romney in front of Barbara Walters or in a televised debate trying to answer questions about pre-existence, Moroni, the golden tablets, and so on. Even Barack Obama will look better to the American voters after that.

New Book Den Entries

I don't get over to The Book Den with much regularity anymore. Yet, because of the interesting topics covered there in the past, there are a lot of web surfers who find their way to it every day -- over 500 so far this month.

That should compel me to be a bit more active on the site...if other duties didn't press in so. Nevertheless, in keeping with the desire, I've added three items over there this morning:

A Most Moving "Edwardian" Experience

Dorothy Sayers Quotables

2011's Reading Review

I hope the readers (and even the TV viewers!) among you find them of interest.

Are Even More Radical Sex Ed Programs Heading to Your Government School?

“Ideally, comprehensive sexuality education should start in kindergarten and continue through 12th grade.”

And that "comprehensive" education should include sexual orientation issues (i.e. understanding "sexual orientation as the romantic attraction of an individual to someone of the same gender or a different gender” by the 5th grade level), emergency contraception, different kinds of family structures (by the 2nd grade), body parts and how they function sexually, and how to "identify parents or other trusted adults of whom students can ask questions about sexual orientation.”

These are some of the goals reflected in an influential National Sexuality Education Standards report, created by a professional group of advisers -- a group which just happens to include the National Education Association, the American School Health Association, Planned Parenthood and the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.

And you still say that sending your kids to the government schools is no big deal?

Wake up, parents. Wake up, preachers. Wake up, taxpayers.

Planned Parenthood Insider: It's All About Selling Abortion

Catherine Anthony Adair, a former employee of Planned Parenthood, wrote an op-ed for the Washington Examiner back in November that is still making waves. I wanted to make sure that you had a chance to read it AND that you would then have a very powerful piece to pass along to those who still imagine Planned Parenthood to be a pro-woman charity instead of the demonstrably anti-women mega-abortion corporation that it actually is.

In 1997, I began working at a Boston Planned Parenthood clinic as a young, idealistic college student who strongly believed in what I had been told about the organization, that I would be helping other young women access safe and affordable health care.

But I quickly came to learn that the message Planned Parenthood advertised did not reflect reality. I was disillusioned by the betrayal that was perpetrated against patients and the public alike.

My time there was not spent providing prenatal care to pregnant women, providing counseling or basic health care services or educating women about reproductive health.

Instead, I spent my days urging women to terminate their pregnancies. My superiors constantly reminded me of our abortion-centered business model: abortions first, everything else came second...

Planned Parenthood's mission is to pressure as many women into having an abortion as it can. Those in charge know that can't be accomplished if they refer to the child as a "baby."

Then women would know what was really growing inside them: a little person with a beating heart, functioning nervous system, tiny hands and feet. The child is entirely disregarded. There is no counseling, no care, no waiting and no discussion. Once a pregnancy is confirmed, it is off to termination.

Planned Parenthood takes specific advantage of women who are too young or misinformed to know better than to trust them with their well-being. Those who know the truth have a duty to speak out.

Do not be fooled by their sound bites and statistical manipulations. Planned Parenthood is not "pro-women," as it claims to be. It is pro-abortion. It does not stand for women. It stands for ending our pregnancies. Women are treated as commodities, not as human beings.

We must shed light on what Planned Parenthood actually does. It spends millions of dollars each year to ensure that the American taxpayer will continue subsidizing its abortion services.

Last year, Planned Parenthood's efforts bought in a record $363 million in government funding. It generates so much by making false claims about how public funding reduces the number of abortions.

But the numbers tell a different story. From 2000 to 2009, Planned Parenthood saw an 80 percent increase in taxpayer funding and a 69 percent increase in the number of abortions it performed.

Women deserve better.

A Keystone of Stupidity: Obama's Anti-American Pipeline Decision

John Hinderaker over at Power Line writes about the obstinate and decidedly anti-American action of Barack Obama to cancel Keystone.

Incredibly, President Obama today denied the application for a permit to construct the Keystone XL Pipeline. Obama’s statement tried, rather pathetically, to blame his decision on the Republicans, who ostensibly rushed him into making up his mind prematurely. Of course, the Keystone application has been pending for more than three years–how impatient can the Republicans get?

We have written repeatedly about the economic benefits of the Keystone pipeline; for example here, where we quoted from a study by the Perryman Group which concluded that the pipeline would create an immediate 118,000 person years of employment via construction, while the long-term impact in the energy industry would be from 250,000 to 550,000 jobs. Not to mention cheaper energy prices, which will make all Americans richer, American products more competitive abroad, and will create, indirectly, still more jobs.

So what on earth is Barack Obama thinking? This item on the White House web site perhaps offers a clue. It is, to be blunt, almost unbelievably stupid...

Read the rest of Hinderaker's important article right here.

The Economist: "Even Non-Christians Should Worry" About the Persecuted Church

The Economist, that venerable British magazine, is taking note of the persecution of Christians around the world. Indeed, more than taking note, the editors are calling for even secular nations to start taking action to stop it. Thank you, Economist.

Below are excerpts from the editorial:

The world’s most widely followed faith is gathering persecutors. Even non-Christians should worry about that.

Christianity is growing almost as fast as humanity itself, but its 2.2 billion adherents cannot count on safety in numbers. That is partly because the locus of the world’s largest religion is shifting to hotter (in several senses) parts of the world...

But moving from the jaded north to the dynamic south does not portend an easy future. In Nigeria scores of Christians have died in Islamist bomb attacks, targeting Christmas prayers. In Iran and Pakistan Christians are on death row, for “apostasy”—quitting Islam—or blasphemy. Dozens of churches in Indonesia have been attacked or shut. Two-thirds of Iraq’s pre-war Christian population have fled. In Egypt and Syria, where secular despots gave Christianity a shield of sorts, political upheaval and Muslim zeal threaten ancient Christian groups. Not all Christianity’s woes are down to Muslims. The faith faces harassment in formally communist China and Vietnam. In India Hindu nationalists want to penalise Christians who make converts. In the Holy Land local churches are caught between Israeli encroachment on their property and Islamist bids to monopolise Palestinian life. Followers of Jesus may yet become a rarity in his homeland...

Among liberal values, the freedom to profess any religion or none has a central place. America’s government is bound by law to promote that liberty. In line with its own ideals, America is rightly as concerned by the persecution of Muslims of any stripe as by the travails of Christians in China or Jews and Bahais in Iran. And it objects when Christian lands, like Belarus, practise persecution. Other more secular Western countries should do more to defend that right.

What about those who see persecuting other religions as part of their calling? No faith is blameless: from Delhi to Jerusalem many of those stirring up hatred are men of God. But there is a specific problem with Islam. Islamic law (though not the Koran) has often mandated death for people leaving the faith...