Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Today's Posts

Behind the Scenes at Planned Parenthood

Bill Hybels: "We Made a Mistake." Seeker-Friendly Churches Messed Up

Catholic Bishops Guidelines for Voters -- Is It Strong Enough About Abortion?

Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, Pro-Life Physician Imprisoned by Castro, Is Honored by White House

Underhanded, Secretive and Extermist: British MPs Report on Abortion

Behind the Scenes at Planned Parenthood

I've tried to imagine what it's like to be on the inside of PP, particularly its upper echelon. But when a business' lifeblood is abortion, I'm sure we will not begin to fathom the depths of its depravity until someone finally writes that tell-all book. (Paging Dr. Pelta? It's certain to be a best-seller, sir. Consider it.)

So the only real glimpses we have until then are anecdotal stories and lawsuits...

And Jill Stanek then goes on to share a couple of the most interesting of those stories from her perusal of two lawsuits filed this year by former employees against Planned Parenthood of Chicago Area and its CEO. They make for quite enlightening reading.

Her conclusion?

What should we take away from all this?

The abortion industry is a house of cards. There is plenty of evidence against it just waiting to be uncovered. When the stars finally align and honorable law enforcement officers and agencies, judges, and legislators converge, it will fall.

Bill Hybels: "We Made a Mistake." Seeker-Friendly Churches Messed Up

...Willow Creek has released the results of a multi-year study on the effectiveness of their programs and philosophy of ministry. The study’s findings are in a new book titled Reveal: Where Are You?, co-authored by Cally Parkinson and Greg Hawkins, executive pastor of Willow Creek Community Church. Hybels himself called the findings “earth shaking,” “ground breaking” and “mind blowing.” And no wonder: it seems that the “experts” were wrong.

The report reveals that most of what they have been doing for these many years and what they have taught millions of others to do is not producing solid disciples of Jesus Christ. Numbers yes, but not disciples. It gets worse. Hybels laments:

"Some of the stuff that we have put millions of dollars into thinking it would really help our people grow and develop spiritually, when the data actually came back it wasn’t helping people that much. Other things that we didn’t put that much money into and didn’t put much staff against is stuff our people are crying out for."

If you simply want a crowd, the “seeker sensitive” model produces results. If you want solid, sincere, mature followers of Christ, it’s a bust. In a shocking confession, Hybels states:

"We made a mistake. What we should have done when people crossed the line of faith and become Christians, we should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become ‘self feeders.’ We should have gotten people, taught people, how to read their bible between services, how to do the spiritual practices much more aggressively on their own."

Incredibly, the guru of church growth now tells us that people need to be reading their bibles and taking responsibility for their spiritual growth.

Just as Spock’s “mistake” was no minor error, so the error of the seeker sensitive movement is monumental in its scope. The foundation of thousands of American churches is now discovered to be mere sand. The one individual who has had perhaps the greatest influence on the American church in our generation has now admitted his philosophy of ministry, in large part, was a “mistake.” The extent of this error defies measurement.

Perhaps the most shocking thing of all in this revelation coming out of Willow Creek is in a summary statement by Greg Hawkins:

"Our dream is that we fundamentally change the way we do church. That we take out a clean sheet of paper and we rethink all of our old assumptions. Replace it with new insights. Insights that are informed by research and rooted in Scripture. Our dream is really to discover what God is doing and how he’s asking us to transform this planet."

Isn’t that what we were told when this whole seeker-sensitive thing started? The church growth gurus again want to throw away their old assumptions and “take out a clean sheet of paper” and, presumably, come up with a new paradigm for ministry.

Should this be encouraging?

Please note that “rooted in Scripture” still follows “rethink,” “new insights” and “informed research.” Someone, it appears, still might not get it. Unless there is a return to simple biblical (and relevant) principles, a new faulty scheme will replace the existing one and another generation will follow along as the latest piper plays.

What we should find encouraging, at least, in this “confession” coming from the highest ranks of the Willow Creek Association is that they are coming to realize that their existing “model” does not help people grow into mature followers of Jesus Christ. Given the massive influence this organization has on the American church today, let us pray that God would be pleased to put structures in place at Willow Creek that foster not mere numeric growth, but growth in grace.

Read the entirety of Bob Burney's column right here.

Catholic Bishops Guidelines for Voters -- Is It Strong Enough About Abortion?

Roman Catholic bishops in the U.S. will be voting next month on a document designed to help guide Catholic voters in the upcoming 2008 elections. According to an AP story written by Eric Gorski:

...A draft of the document calls abortion and euthanasia "intrinsically evil" and "pre-eminent threats to human dignity because they directly attack life itself, the most fundamental human good and the condition for all others." The bishops then cite other threats that can never be justified: human cloning, embryonic stem-cell research, racism, torture, genocide, and "the targeting of noncombatants in acts of terror or war."

Throughout the 37-page document, opposition to abortion gets special attention.
"The direct and intentional destruction of innocent human life is always wrong and is not just one issue among many," the draft says.

At the same time, the bishops say Catholics must not dismiss racism, the death penalty, unjust war, torture, hunger, health care problems or unjust immigration policy. "A consistent ethic of life," the document says, "neither treats all issues as morally equivalent nor reduces Catholic teaching to one or two issues."

Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput, [left] one of the country's most vocal bishops about Catholics' need to speak in the public square, criticized the previous version of "Faithful Citizenship" for not being strong enough in underlining abortion's pre-eminence.

Chaput said in an e-mail Tuesday the revised document "is better and clearer than any version in the recent past" but isn't ideal. He said would be offering suggestions, but wouldn't be specific.
Chaput wrote that "all bricks in a building are important, but the ones in the foundation support everything else. The latter aren't just important; they're indispensable."...

Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, Pro-Life Physician Imprisoned by Castro, Is Honored by White House

Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet is more than a physician in his native Cuba. He is an outspoken abortion opponent in a pro-abortion nation that doesn't take kindly to dissent. On Monday, he will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom -- America's highest civil honor -- in recognition of his struggles.

Biscet was arrested and served three years in a prison camp after publishing an article condemning abortion. After he was released, Biscet was again arrested and is serving 22 years in prison for anti-government views...

More of this LifeNews article can be read here. And, for further information about Dr. Biscet, here is a National Review article from 2004 and, most important, here is a page explaining how you can help intercede for Dr. Biscet and other political prisoners.

Underhanded, Secretive and Extermist: British MPs Report on Abortion

Robert Winnett and Rebecca Smith report for the Telegraph (U.K.) on the hotwire pronouncement of the science and technology committee of the British Parliament which has been running an inquiry into the nation's abortion laws. As the story fairly points out, the MPs in charge of the committee have decided there are absolutely no scientific reasons to justify supporting a reduction in the current 24-week limit for abortions.

Actually, they go much further, even suggesting that certain limits now in place be removed. For instance, the pro-abortion MPs argue that only one doctor should be required to give such authority for an abortion (Current law requires two.) Indeed, the MPs take the extreme position of suggesting that a nurse would be authority enough to give consent for an abortion.

And the MPs' report even argues for legalization of at-home abortions.

The Telegraph story further reveals the underhanded, secretive methods used to "develop" and pass this report -- standard operating procedures when it comes to pro-abortion tactics -- and the resultant steam being created by the outnumbered pro-life members of the committee.

Here's an excerpt:

...In an article in today's Daily Telegraph, Dr Bob Spink, the Conservative MP behind the minority report, describes the inquiry as "shameful" and its conclusions "laughable". [Spink's photo is at left]

"[The committee's] abortion report marks an untimely but sadly embarrassing end," he said.
"It is simply laughable to compare the viability of aborted babies, who would almost all otherwise be born healthy, with babies who are sadly pre-term, usually indicating pre-disposing medical problems for baby or mother. But that is what the science committee report does."

Dr Spink and Nadine Dorries, another Conservative committee member who also supports the minority report, allege that the committee had made "selective use of evidence" and relied on an "incredibly biased list of pro-abortion witnesses". He claims that 10 international studies they had tabled had been overlooked.

Dr Spink said: "I will be arguing in Parliament for an end to the late abortion of healthy babies which have minor abnormalities, like club foot or a cleft palate. I will be arguing for a reduction from 24 weeks, for a tightening not relaxation of abortion laws, including resisting home abortions, the retention of two doctors' signatures, clear guidance on what constitutes serious handicap, and much more support for women who must make these heart-wrenching decisions."...

Dr Spink said Michael Martin had stopped publication of the committee's discussions over the report.
"Those would have helped reveal the stupidity of Parliamentary secrecy," he said. "Unless I want to end up in the Tower, I must not comment on the report process; or even say how many amendments were tabled and how massive and convoluted some of them were, or how little they were considered as the report was railroaded through a committee, riven apart by a clear abuse of time-honoured process.

"The public are denied the facts, democracy is the loser," he added.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Today's Posts

The Mother of All Tax Hikes. Are You Gonna' Stand For This?

The Fear of God...In the Most Unhealthy, Silly Ways

Who Cares About the Boorish Behavior of Pete Stark? Not the Democrats or the MSM.

Television is Enamored with the Occult

The Mother of All Tax Hikes. Are You Gonna' Stand For This?

American families are feeling the crunch of spiking energy costs, runaway college tuition, ever-burdensome home mortgages and steadily rising prices for consumer goods.

These and other cost-of-living increases are eating away at the family budget — making every dollar earned and saved even more valuable. The very last thing families need is to see more of their paycheck confiscated by Congress.

Unfortunately, the U.S. House that already has passed $100 billion in tax increases this year to pay for bigger government and wasteful pork thinks otherwise. Last week, led by the Ways and Means Committee chairman, Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y.
[photo at left] congressional Democrats unveiled a breathtaking proposal: the single largest tax increase in American history.

It’s not often that we can speak in such absolute terms, but in this case, there is no way around it. Dubbed the “Mother of All Tax Bills” by Rangel and embraced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who told reporters last Thursday that she “certainly” supports the tax increase, this monstrosity would raise taxes on everyone: from the very poor to the very rich and everyone in between.

Indeed, with a price tag of $1.3 trillion — yes, that’s “trillion” with a “t” — the Mother of All Tax Bills is actually more like the Mother of All Tax Hikes. And to make matters worse, the Pelosi-Rangel plan kills tax cuts enacted by Congress in 2001 and 2003, making it a $3.5 trillion tax hike in total. Could the news get any worse for American families, farmers, small businesses and other job providers? Not likely...

Get a cold washcloth on your forehead before you read the rest of Congressman John Boehner's column. But do read it. And then fire off a letter, e-mail or phone call to your own Representatives and Senators letting them know what your reactions are to the Democrat's contemptible bill. Contact information for all Washington officials can be found here.

The Fear of God...In the Most Unhealthy, Silly Ways

Perhaps it's just the spirit of Halloween. Why else would bureaucrats, politicians and journalists be so spooked, so jittery, so downright fraidycat about Christianity...even the briefest references to God?

Here's a few examples:

* The National Park Service "rearranging" a display of the Washington Monument so that the model of the building would conceal the Latin words “Laus Deo” (meaning “Praise Be to God”).

* Responding to the question as to whether those who support the idea of a literal six-day creation should be called "stupid", Ken Gallinger (the newspaper's "ethics columnist") responded, "Creationism is not the first nonsense the Christian Church has unleashed upon the world. And, unless you factor in the risk of turning your brain into silly putty, it's considerably less dangerous than such other ecclesiastical offerings as anti-Semitism, misogyny, the ‘domination' of nature, or gay-bashing ... all of which are solidly rooted in Christianity's Holy Book."

* Under legal threat from a church-state separation group, the Akron City Council has dropped its long-standing practice of opening meetings with the Lord's Prayer. Council President Marco Sommerville said the prayer was most likely started to show citizens that council members looked for outside guidance. But after the advocacy group Americans United for Separation of Church and State threatened litigation, council members decided to shed tradition, choosing instead to pray privately before meetings.

* One hundred twenty-five national cemeteries can no longer honor military veterans families with a flag-folding recitation ceremony because one person complained that the ritual mentions God.

Thousands of military families request the flag-folding recitation ceremony for deceased loved ones. It’s unofficial, but especially meaningful to families that want to honor a soldier’s sacrifice. But the recitations were banned by the VA until further notice because, as Rees Lloyd with the Defense of Veterans Memorials Project of the American Legion puts it, one person was offended. “One disgruntled narcissist has caused a complete ban affecting 300-million Americans honor our war-dead and our comrades, veterans and we think its an outrage and we intend to fight it.”

The complainer’s name isn’t known, the VA isn’t commenting, nor is it releasing language of the ban. Romey Kilgore with United We Serve calls it a slap in the face to our military. “Our American veterans; they've fought and died for our beliefs and our right to express them and we owe them nothing less than that.”

* And, of course, I'm not even listing here examples of more overt, more deadly persecutions against Christians which are going on every day around the world. To help you keep up on those (at least a bit), I will again mention a few of the sources I've found the most helpful: Voice of the Martyrs; Forum 18; Persecution Blog; Compass Direct News; International Christian Concern; Christian Freedom; the Hudson Institute; Open Doors; and the "Persecution News" section of OneNewsNow (located far down the right hand column).

Who Cares About the Boorish Behavior of Pete Stark? Not the Democrats or the MSM.

The august and sagacious William Rusher (photo at left) comments on the Pete Stark affair -- not only the odious behavior of the liberal Congressman but the callous indifference shown by Democrats and media to Stark's clodhopping.

...So there we have it: an 18-term Congressman felt perfectly comfortable telling his colleagues and the American people that the president of the United States actually wants to send youngsters to Iraq to get their heads blown off for his amusement.

Does he seriously believe that? I have no idea. A congressman capable of saying such a thing may be equally capable of believing it. On the other hand, he may not believe a word of it. Maybe, in Stark's universe, if you hate somebody enough you can say anything you want to about them, the falser the better.

Certainly Stark qualifies, if any Congressman does, as a crazy liberal. In 2004 his rating by the liberal Americans for Democratic Action was 90 out of a possible 100; his rating by the American Conservative Union was zero. And there is no reason to believe that the voters of his heavily Democratic district on the east side of San Francisco Bay were deeply offended by his statement about President Bush.

For that matter, Democratic politicians in general took it in stride. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (from the other side of San Francisco Bay) conceded only that Stark's statement was "inappropriate." But there was no resolution of condemnation from his fellow Democrats in the House, and no blasts from the liberal media. And Stark himself, after first refusing to comment at all, offered only a grudging statement falling far short of what was called for.

But the very fact that an assertion so appalling -- charging the president of the United States with arranging the decapitation of American soldiers for his "amusement" -- could slip by with so little reaction (aside from the outrage voiced by a few Republican Congressmen) tells us something truly terrible about what some Americans are beginning to think, and say, of their opponents. If enough people start doing that, this country will be in deep trouble indeed.

The whole column is here.

Television is Enamored with the Occult

Judging from the commercials which interrupt the weekend sports programs I've seen, I kinda' knew there was a new trend in television towards the supernatural. But yowsa' -- until I read through this New York Times article, I didn't realize just how deep the current TV season is invested in the occult. Did you?

Alessandra Stanley's review is a rather creepy Halloween read but, of course, the shivers you get come from the topic itself and its implications for American society, certainly not her writing which is fine.

Well, with one notable exception, however.

In the last paragraph I quote from Ms. Stanley's article, she makes the common but quite serious error of suggesting that Satan is God's opposite. God is the immeasurably holy, infinite Creator. Satan is a mere creature: a rebellious angel whose limits are carefully spelled out in the Scriptures and whose defeat and doom is already assured by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. God and the devil are definitely not opposite personalities.

But with that correction made, I do recommend Ms. Stanley's article:

There must be a rational explanation for all the supernatural phenomena on television. There must.

Because it is weird, and even a little freaky, that so many shows this season prey on the paranormal. Vampires have day jobs as detectives, store clerks reap souls for the Devil, reporters time-travel to get their stories straight, cheerleaders walk through fire and people of all kinds talk to dead people, sometimes quite chattily. Even reality television is getting swept up in the surreal: On Oct. 24 NBC will unveil “Phenomenon,” an “American Idol”-ish competition for illusionists and mentalists, with Uri Geller and Criss Angel as judges.

On the CW show “Supernatural” strapping young ghostbusters hunt down evil spirits armed with a Colt revolver and holy water, displaying the kind of weary nonchalance that “CSI” investigators bring to a crime scene. “So, Bobby,” one of the heroes asked in the season premiere, “what do we have here, a biblical plague or what?”...

Because there are, after all, an unnatural number of supernatural series at the moment. “Lost” is about to enter its fourth season (it began in 2004). “Medium” and “The Ghost Whisperer” have been on the air since 2005. “Heroes,” which began last year, showcases genetic mutants who use their special powers to save the world from comic-book apocalypse.

And this season there are still more supernatural heroes, and some of them are putting normal detectives out of work. The protagonist of “Moonlight” is a vampire with a day job as a private eye. He relies on a dealer to supply him with blood because he has a conscience: too scrupulous to bite the necks of innocent women and children, too fastidious to drink directly from a blood bag. (After his supplier brings him a pint, he pours it into a wine glass.)

“New Amsterdam,” a show Fox plans for midseason, has as its lead character a New York City police detective who is secretly immortal. As a soldier in the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam in 1642 he rescued an American Indian girl from a massacre and was rewarded with eternal life. (He is streetwise because he knew the streets of New York back when they were wagon trails.)

And HBO is preparing “True Blood,” a series by Alan Ball, the creator of “Six Feet Under,” about vampires who can live off synthetic blood made in Japan...

But this season networks are seeking an occult following in all sorts of places. ABC has “Pushing Daisies,” a series about a piemaker-turned-detective who can raise the dead long enough to ask them whodunit. NBC’s “Journeyman” is about a newspaper reporter who travels through time, though unfortunately he returns only to his own past, not more interesting destinations like King Arthur’s court or the Salem witch trials. “Reaper,” on CW, is a comedy about a clerk in a discount megastore whose parents sold his soul to the Devil.

Right now Satan appears to be more of a draw than his opposite; only “Saving Grace,” a TNT drama about a dissolute police detective (Holly Hunter) who is visited by a country-western angel named Earl, hints at a benevolent, all-powerful God. On “The Ghost Whisperer” Jennifer Love Hewitt plays a woman who helps dead people transition to the Other Side, guiding them to a hazy white light. But otherwise there isn’t much of a religious message to the show. It’s more interested in spooky spirits than spirituality...

Monday, October 29, 2007

Today's Posts

Joni on TV?

Corruption, Bad Science, Abortionist Influence: New Data on FDA/RU-486 Scandal

Pope Benedict Calls On Health Professionals to Be "Conscientious Objectors" to Deadly Drugs

The Latest Battle in the Episcopal Wars

Portugal's Socialist Government Orders Doctors to Perform Abortions -- Your Action Needed

MSM "Embraces" Harry Potter's Homosexual Mentor

Joni on TV?

Claire and I (strangely oriented as we are to the 19th Century) are not subscribers to cable or satellite TV. However, for those of you who may be linked up to DIRECTTV, you will likely find this invitation a very worthwhile one.

It is a quick video clip from Joni Eareckson Tada giving you the details on an exciting, uplifting new TV program available on Friday evenings.

Corruption, Bad Science, Abortionist Influence: New Data on FDA/RU-486 Scandal

Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it recently received 175 pages of new documents pertaining to the abortion pill RU-486 that had previously been withheld by the Food and Drug Administration (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Food and Drug Administration, et al. (on remand 00-2973)). According to the documents uncovered by Judicial Watch:

-- Despite the FDA's refusal to disclose where the abortion pill is
manufactured, these documents confirm that the China-based Hua Lian Pharmaceutical Company manufactured RU-486 at the time of approval. This seems to be the first official document confirming that the abortion drug has been manufactured in China.

-- The documents indicate that not only did Hua Lian fail its first FDA safety inspection, but that the company was not in compliance with safety requirements at the time the FDA approved the facility for manufacturing on August 15, 2000.

-- The documents also show the extent to which the pro-abortion lobby was involved in the approval process. For example, one of the trials used by the FDA to justify its decision was conducted by Dr. Suzanne Poppema, President of the National Abortion Federation. Another trial was performed by Dr. Daniel Mishell, a senior scientist for RU-486's patent holder, the Population Council.

-- RU-486 must be used in conjunction with another drug (Cytotec) that is not approved as an abortifacient. According to FDA internal communications obtained by Judicial Watch, the agency knowingly participated in the "off label" use of Cytotec and helped the drug's manufacturer, Searle, craft a letter designed to protect the company from legal liability for the unauthorized use of the drug.

"These documents show the reckless and politicized nature of the FDA's decision to approve the abortion pill," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. "The FDA certainly has a lot of explaining to do. For starters, why has the FDA previously refused to disclose the Chinese connection and the related safety issues? And why did the FDA allow the abortion lobby to participate in the clinical trial process? The American people deserve answers."...

(Source: Marketwire release)

Pope Benedict Calls On Health Professionals to Be "Conscientious Objectors" to Deadly Drugs

Pharmacists must be allowed to refuse to supply drugs that cause abortion or euthanasia, Pope Benedict said on Monday, calling on health professionals to be "conscientious objectors" against such practices.

The Pope told a convention of Roman Catholic pharmacists that part of their job was to help protect human life from conception until natural death -- the Church teaching that rules out any deliberate termination of pregnancy or euthanasia.
"It is not possible to anaesthetize the conscience, for example, when it comes to molecules whose aim is to stop an embryo implanting or to cut short someone's life," the Pope said...

Here's more of the Reuter's story, courtesy ABC News.

The Latest Battle in the Episcopal Wars

In this Boston Globe story (written by Michael Paulson) we learn of yet another Episocopalian congregation that has had more than enough of it's denominations' squirrelly heterodoxy. An excerpt of that story is printed below. However, few splits are as amicable as the one Holy Trinity managed so I include some comments from (and a link to) a recent David Virtue essay which deals with the weighty question of just who "owns" a congregation's buildings and other assets. Virtue elucidates the issues very well. But first...the Paulson story:

A conservative Episcopal parish in Marlborough is bolting the denomination, in the latest indication that even in liberal Massachusetts the Episcopal Church is losing congregations over its support for gay rights.

Holy Trinity Church in Marlborough is leaving behind its building, renting space in a nearby Methodist church, and affiliating with the Anglican Mission in the Americas, which is overseen by the Episcopal Church of Rwanda.

The small Marlborough congregation, with about 70 active members, is following a national trend in which conservative Episcopal congregations are leaving the Episcopal Church USA to affiliate with theologically like-minded Anglican provinces in Africa.

The Marlborough congregation is the third local group of Episcopal parishioners to bolt this year. In January, many of the parishioners of All Saints Episcopal in Attleboro left to form All Saints Anglican in Attleboro and in September, most of the parishioners of All Saints Episcopal in West Newbury left to form All Saints Anglican in Amesbury. The new Attleboro congregation is affiliated with the Episcopal Church of Rwanda, the new Amesbury congregation with the Anglican Church of Kenya.

There are also several other Anglican congregations in Eastern Massachusetts - including in Brewster, Brockton, Middleborough, and Sandwich - that have been formed by individuals who are unhappy with the direction of the Episcopal Church.

Most of those congregations have formed since the Episcopal Church approved an openly gay priest, the Rev. V. Gene Robinson, as bishop of New Hampshire, but their leaders say they have a broader set of concerns about what they perceive to be the liberal theological direction of the Episcopal Church and its willingness to make decisions that are opposed by other provinces of the global Anglican Communion.

"The Episcopal Church is headed in a direction where we cannot follow," said the Rev. Michael McKinnon, the rector of the Marlborough congregation.
"More than any particular issue, it really is more from our point of view, when decisions are made that affect the entire Communion, these things need to be discerned through Scripture and tradition at the communion level, not at the local level."

The Marlborough congregation has reached an agreement with the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts over the disposition of its assets, reflecting an effort by Bishop M. Thomas Shaw to avoid the litigation that has characterized many splits around the country.

Locally, there has been litigation in Attleboro and Brockton, but McKinnon said yesterday that in Marlborough, "Bishop Shaw was very gracious, and sent us forth with his blessing, and I hope we're setting an example of how this can be done amicably..."

And now, David Virtue weighs in on the "ownership" issue and how the Episcopal hierarchy is using it to try and retain control over individual congregations:

...To keep orthodox bishops from letting orthodox parishes flee with their properties, the national church is pouring huge amounts of money into the law firm of David Booth Beers to see that the dioceses do not weaken and cave into the demands of parishes who may be tempted to fight for their properties.

Because property ownership is in the realm of state corporate law, a few courts years ago began deciding church property disputes according to "neutral principles" while steering clear of doctrinal squabbles. This profoundly bothers the Episcopal Church. The U.S. Supreme Court in 1979 (Jones v. Wolf) not only approved but also encouraged this approach to local church ownership. The Episcopal Church hurried to add the Dennis Canon to its constitution, clearly claiming that property owned by churches is held in trust for TEC.

Times-and the courts-are changing. All this is going to be challenged by whole dioceses that are thinking of fleeing the Episcopal Church.

Mrs. Jefferts Schori, the Episcopal Church's Presiding Bishop, is on record saying that the sale of properties can be sold to another church as long as that church is not associated with other Anglican groups. So it can be sold to say a Methodist or independent evangelical or community church, a restaurant or night club, but not to a fellow Anglican who wishes to remain loyal to the Anglican Way. (It should be noted that the former cathedral in Western Michigan was recently sold to a large evangelical mega church.)

The question that is foremost in the minds of orthodox dioceses who are thinking of leaving the denomination is this: Does the national church have any claim on individual properties of fleeing dioceses?...

Read the rest of David Virtue's intriguing essay right here.

Portugal's Socialist Government Orders Doctors to Perform Abortions -- Your Action Needed

Here's Matthew Cullinan Hoffman's important report for LifeSiteNews. Please note (and use!) the contact information at the conclusion of the article. Let's invest our polite appeals to the Portuguese government, urging them to stop this coercive injustice and to protect freedom of conscience in their country. You can look at my e-mail as a sample.

The Portuguese Health Minister has ordered the Portuguese Medical Association to eliminate its ethical prohibition on performing abortions, sparking protests from physicians and legal experts.

Minister Antonio Correia de Campos, a socialist, [pictured at right] is basing his directive on the fact that Portugal recently decriminalized all abortions during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy. With the support of Portugal's attorney general, he has declared that the Medical Association's code conflicts with the new law, and has given them thirty days to eliminate the restriction.

The Association's current ethical code states that "doctors must maintain respect for human life from its beginning", and "the practice of abortion constitutes a grave ethical failure".

The decision appears to follow a recent strategy used by the abortion lobby and pro-abortion politicians in Latin America, which equates decriminalization of abortion with a legal "right" to an abortion. Although criminal penalties have been eliminated from the Portuguese legal code, the Constitution of Portugal still states that "human life shall be inviolable" and "the death penalty shall not exist under any circumstances."

The decision to force the changes drew a sharp denunciation from Daniel Serrao, a doctor who previously headed the Ethical Commission of the Portuguese Medical Association, who stated that "any type of interference is completely unacceptable, from whomever it comes outside of the profession, regarding the way that doctors think they should relate to each other." The Portuguese Bar Association also issued a statement denouncing the decision as "arrogant and overbearing".

Contact Information:

Embassy of Portugal in the United States
2125 Kalorama Rd., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008
Phone: 202-328-8610
Fax: 202-462-3726

Embassy of Portugal in Canada
645 Island Park Drive, Ottawa, Ontario, K1Y 0B8
Tel.: (613)729-0883, Fax: (613)729-4236

Dear Ambassador Catarino,

Would you please pass on to your government my urgent appeal that they cease interfering in the medical practices of individual doctors in Portugal? Indeed, the recent actions by Minister Antonio Correia de Campos and the Attorney General ordering the Portuguese Medical Association to eliminate its ethical prohibition on performing abortions constitutes a flagrant injustice against freedom of conscience. This careless order is not only immoral and coercive but something that will certainly draw outrage from freedom-loving peoples all over the world.

So, please remind your government to honor the Association's current ethical code which states that "doctors must maintain respect for human life from its beginning" and "the practice of abortion constitutes a grave ethical failure." To be sure, your government has an even more impressive model to follow; namely, the Constitution of Portugal which boldly, unequivocally presents that "human life shall be inviolable."

Be assured that I (as many, many citizens of the United States will be doing) will pray that the Portuguese government quickly comes to its senses about this matter.

Thank you for your consideration of my request.

Denny Hartford
Director, Vital Signs Ministries
Omaha, Nebraska

MSM "Embraces" Harry Potter's Homosexual Mentor

Just when you thought it was safe to immerse kids in books about witchcraft, J.K. Rowling has to succumb to political correctness and “out” Hogwarts Headmaster Albus Dumbledore.

This is well after the fact, of course. Her seven Harry Potter books have sold more than 450 million copies and made her a billionaire. So why make Dumbledore, a beloved authority figure to millions of kids, out to be homosexual?

No one can plumb Rowling’s motives except God Almighty. Some suggest that her announcement last Friday at Carnegie Hall is merely a promotional ploy. The news may well lead to another run on the book series, with sexually confused kids and the Village People desperately seeking clues to Dumbledore’s closeted adventures.

The media are acting in concert, barely able to disguise their cheerleading. A Culture and Media Institute review of 125 stories on Nexis from Friday through Tuesday turned up only one source – an online Scottish edition of The Express – that included a single critic of Rowling’s decision. The rest either took a neutral line or liberally quoted activists who hail the fact that Dumbledore’s likeability and moral authority will help sell acceptance of homosexuality...

As to Rowling, my guess is that she made her shocking revelation in order to pander to the cultural elites who regard celebration of homosexuality as a mark of sophistication. She’s already rich. Perhaps now she wants to be loved by the media and Hollywood. It’s the ultimate liberal litmus test, and it drives a wedge between traditional religious believers and the hip, kaleidoscopic sexual deviancy that is engulfing us from every which way...

(Source: Robert Knight's latest article over at Human Events, "Dumbledoring Down the Culture." Knight is the director of the Culture & Media Institute, a division of one of our favorite band of "watchmen on the wall," the Media Research Center. He also has worked as a L.A.Times news editor and writer, held fellowships at both the Hoover Institution and Heritage Foundation, and founded the Culture & Family Institute at Concerned Women for America and the Family Research Council's Cultural Studies Department. This is a guy to pay attention to!)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Today's Posts

Seeing Clearly: Adult Stem Cells Providing Another Medical Breakthrough

Political Prisoners? No; Not Here in Belarus.

Why are America's Real Heroes Unsung?

Book 'Em Dano: Congressional Villains Pass Hawaii 505

Anti-War Movies Bombing Here But Hollywood Looks for Overseas Profits

No Big Deal: Few Frenchmen Bothered by President 's Divorce

What's What With Evangelicalism?

Seeing Clearly: Adult Stem Cells Providing Another Medical Breakthrough

Eye surgeon Virendar Sangwan has perfected a procedure so cutting-edge that most who have tried it have failed. In an operating theater in the central Indian city of Hyderabad, he surgically implants corneas grown in a petri dish from stem cells by his colleague Geeta Vemuganti in patients with damaged eyes. Together they perform about 80 corneal regeneration procedures a year, making the L.V. Prasad Eye Institute where they work one of the most prolific facilities in the world using stem cells to regenerate tissue of any kind.

The Sangwan-Vemuganti team uses stem cells found in the tissues of living adults, not ones derived from embryos...

"It's impressive what they are doing at Prasad." In addition to the Hyderabad project, only Holland's program and a half-dozen others in the world conduct operations using corneas grown from stem cells.

The treatment uses stem cells harvested from the limbus, located where the cornea touches the white of the eye. For those with damaged corneas, these cells - called "limbic" and "conjunctiva" - are harvested from a patient's good eye, if he has one, or from a close relative.

They are placed in a petri dish and chemically tweaked to grow into the lower layer of a cornea, called the epithelium. It is then transplanted into the eye of the patient, where in most cases it takes hold and grows. In 56% of the cases at the Prasad Institute, patients could still see clearly 40 months later...

The rest of this Fortune magazine story (reprinted on the CNN website) is here.

Political Prisoners? No; Not Here in Belarus.

A few days ago the Belarus Chamber of Representatives passed a "reform" bill which will pardon several categories of convicts whose crimes were punishable by no more than six years in prison. However, even those who were convicted of severe economic crimes, such as larceny and fraud, may also have up to 2/3 of their sentence eliminated. According to Interior Minister Uladzimir Navumau, this amnesty will extend to some 2,500 convicts.

But some things remain the same in Alexander Lukashenka's dictatorial rule over Belarus for the word is that this new found liberalism towards criminals will not extend to political prisoners. Indeed, Navumau explained at the news conference that the country doesn't even have political prisoners!

"There are no political prisoners or politically motivated articles in Belarus. Many people whom the opposition is talking about [i.e. opposition politicians Alyaksandr Kazulin and Andrey Klimau] were convicted on criminal charges."

Why are America's Real Heroes Unsung?

...Last month, during a prime-time telecast of the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards, actor James Spader and actress Sally Field were honored for their "dramatic portrayals" of fictional characters. In December, the 30th Annual Kennedy Center Honors will be broadcast on prime-time TV so we can pay tribute to "daring" entertainers such as Steve Martin, Diana Ross and Martin Scorsese. Then there are the Country Music Association Awards, the Tony Awards and, of course, the Oscars. Even the best television commercials are celebrated with the ultimate recognition of appreciation -- prime-time network television coverage and front-page newsprint. This week, in her daily "Katie's Notebook" radio broadcast, Katie Couric described those who get colonoscopies as her heroes.

Katie is wrong. Heroes are people who put themselves at risk for the benefit of others. They are selfless. Talented actors, movie stars, Hollywood celebs and winning athletes might make great entertainment, but for people who are really dramatic, people who accomplish real feats of daring, try the names Paul Ray Smith (upper left), Jason Dunham (right) and Michael Murphy (lower left).

Thanks to our mainstream media, most Americans haven't the foggiest idea who these remarkable men were, what they did or where they did it. The word "were" is important because each of these men is dead. They were all in the prime of life when they died fighting terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan. Each of them has a story that would make a blockbuster Hollywood film, which most likely will never be made. Each of them lost his life trying to save the lives of others. Each of them is a real American hero -- honored for "gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty" with the highest tribute and most prestigious decoration that our nation's military can bestow on an individual: the Medal of Honor. Sadly, few outside their families and a small circle of friends know who they were and what they did...

Oliver North fills us in on what the MSM won't; namely, a few of the details about these genuine American heroes.

Book 'Em Dano: Congressional Villains Pass Hawaii 505

Good grief; they did it! Just when you think you've seen the nadir of American politics, these guys grab a shovel and dig deeper still into the muck.

The House of Representatives, a group of solons that swears they can read the Constitution, has nevertheless passed by a vote of 261-153 Rep. Neal Abercrombie’s HR-505, the “Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2007.” That bill, and Sen. Daniel Akaka’s version, quite literally attempt to create a new “sovereign” state within the United States: a new Native Hawaiian “tribe” comprised of descendants of indigenous Hawaiians.

But wait...there's even more to the madness for 39 Republicans voted in favor of Abercrombie’s bill, including New Jersey's Chris Smith!

Jed Babbin responds to these follies in this Human Events article.

...Abercrombie’s bill, as he said yesterday, is “…all about land and money.” There are about 150 current laws conferring federal benefits on native Hawaiians. But they were put in jeopardy by a 2000 Supreme Court decision that struck down a state law restricting to native Hawaiians the right to vote for some state offices. Unsurprisingly, the court said that neither race nor ancestry was a permissible basis for discrimination except within other sovereign governments such as Indian tribes. Because some Hawaiian activists want that money and land, Abercrombie and Akaka are trying to create a new Hawaiian “tribe” where there wasn’t one before.

And that’s the problem. Under the Bureau of Indian Affairs definition of a tribe, the people who comprise it must exist as a community apart from society and have -- from historical times -- political influence over its members. Under those criteria, Hawaiians are no more a tribe than the Cleveland Indians baseball team. But this is no joke. According to one House staff report on the bill obtained by Human Events, this new “tribe” could be comprised of as many as 400,000 people worldwide, including about 20% of Hawaii’s population. It could have authority over people in all fifty states.

Under the Abercrombie bill, America’s “special political and legal relationship” with native Hawaiians would be recreated in a separate and autonomous government. The bill says it will, “provide a process for the reorganization of the single Native Hawaiian governing entity and the reaffirmation of the special political and legal relationship between the United States and that Native Hawaiian governing entity for purposes of continuing a government-to-government relationship.”...

Here's the rest of the story and, believe me, it's a wild a plot as anything you ever saw on Hawaii 5-0. But, of course, that was just a television show. This example of political theater is all too real.

Anti-War Movies Bombing Here But Hollywood Looks for Overseas Profits

From James Taranto's Best of the Web column over at WSJ Online comes this Tinsel Town tidbit:

The Washington Times has a heartening bit of show-business news:

It doesn't matter how many Oscar winners are in front of or behind the camera--audiences are proving to be conscientious objectors when it comes to this fall's surge of antiwar and anti-Bush films.

Both "In the Valley of Elah" and, more recently, "Rendition" drew minuscule crowds upon their release, which doesn't bode well for the ongoing stream of films critical of the Iraq war and the Bush administration's wider war on terror.

"Rendition," which features three Oscar winners in key roles, grossed $4.1 million over the weekend in 2,250 screens for a ninth-place finish. A re-release of "The Nightmare Before Christmas" beat it, and it's 14 years old. . . .

Beyond the fiction features, the anti-Iraq war documentary "No End in Sight" (box office: $1.4 million) couldn't capture the indie crowd, beating a swift retreat to DVD next Tuesday despite glowing reviews.

Brandon Gray, president and publisher of, says audiences seek out movies for inspiration, for laughter and to be moved.
"Many of these recent dramas fail on all those fronts," Mr. Gray says. "They're too heavy handed in their presentation."

On the surface this would appear to be a market failure: a series of bad business decisions driven by ideological zeal. But then again, today movies are a global business. It's possible that these films, having bombed in America, will fare better in overseas markets, where moviegoers are more likely to look askance at America.

Hollywood decision-makers selling out America to make a buck? Talk about your cultural contradictions of capitalism.

No Big Deal: Few Frenchmen Bothered by President 's Divorce

The news that France's recently-elected President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife, Cécilia, have divorced has produced little more than a shrug from the nation's population. No surprise, though. Not with the marriage rate in France plummeting more than 30 percent in the past generation, with nearly half of those marriages that do occur ending in divorce.

Here's more from the New York Times.

What's What With Evangelicalism?

If you're Catholic, Orthodox, Coptic or, for that matter, an evangelical who wonders just what "evangelical" really means in the 21st Century, I'd advise you to read through the symposium put together by Touchstone Magazine featuring very worthwhile comments from 1) Russell D. Moore, author and Dean of the School of Theology and Senior Vice President for Academic Administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky; 2) Denny Burk, author and Assistant Professor of New Testament at Criswell College in Dallas, Texas; 3) John R. Franke, Professor of Theology at Biblical Seminary in Hatfield, Pennsylvania; 4) Darryl Hart, author and staff member with the Intercollegiate Studies Institute; 5) Michael Horton, author, editor of Modern Reformation magazine and Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics at Westminster Seminary, San Diego; and 6) David Lyle Jeffrey, author and Professor of Literature and the Humanities at Baylor University and Guest Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Peking University.

Really interesting, helpful and challenging stuff. You won't agree with all of it ( I didn't) and you may not like the implications of some of the things they have to say (I didn't), but I'm sure you'll find it all most provocative. And to illustrate it, let me give you just a few quick examples:

Has Evangelicalism lost anything in the process of maturing (if it did)?

The Evangelical movement has “matured” out of Fundamentalism in some of the worst ways. Yes, Fundamentalism was often narrow, often legalistic, and often tied to an inordinate fear of contamination by the outside culture.

In our flight from Fundamentalism, however, many of us—individuals and churches—have become mired in just what the Fundamentalists warned us we would: worldliness. The carnality in many Evangelical churches is astounding, not just at the obvious level of sensuality, but also at the less obvious (to us, anyway) level of covetousness, love of money, and celebrity worship...

What seems to have changed markedly among Evangelicals is a willingness to combat doctrinal error. When Evangelicals strove to put together a movement of conservative Protestants around 1950, they were clearly in opposition to liberal Protestantism, secularism, and Roman Catholicism.

The only enemy of those three that remains is secularism. This could be a sign of growing ecumenism among Evangelicals. I take it instead as an indication of theological confusion and the triumph of an impoverished view of tolerance...

With growing successes in popular culture, Evangelicalism increasingly risks becoming assimilated by it. Obsessed with its own relevance, the movement has shown that it is as capable of surrendering its soul to the mall just as mainline Protestantism has largely offered itself to the academy. Often mixed with a genuine concern for reaching non-Christians, winning respect has become a major motive.

Sociologist Christian Smith has recently described American spirituality as “moralistic, therapeutic deism,” and he says that this fits those raised in Evangelical churches as well as any others. If Fundamentalism reduced sin to sin s (or at least things they considered vices), contemporary Evangelicals seem to have reduced sin to dysfunction. In this context, Jesus is not the savior from the curse of the law, but a life coach who leads us to a better self, better marriages, and happier kids...

Are there any fundamental differences within the Evangelical movement today, and do you think they will deepen into permanent divisions, or even have already? How might they be healed?

...There are serious problems in Evangelical Christianity today, including some things I would reject as outright heresy: pluralism and feminism and the rejection of God’s knowledge of the future, for example. The best way to deal with these issues is not, however, in more Evangelical manifestoes but in strong, healthy, disciplined, evangelistic churches—Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, non-denominational, and so forth.

The differences are too many and too complex to enumerate here, but we would do well to mention some that have been in the foreground of discussion.

The Emergent Village wing of the emerging church has been chipping away at the theological and moral foundation of the Evangelical movement. For instance, “Evangelicals” such as Brian McLaren have called for an Evangelical moratorium on calling homosexuality sin. Steve Chalke has suggested that the penal substitutionary view of Christ’s atonement is a form of “cosmic child abuse.”

Open theism has been embraced by many Evangelicals who insist that God cannot know the future choices of his free creatures. This particular teaching has thrown classical notions of the doctrine of God into disarray.

We might also mention that nearly every feature of my definition of Evangelicalism is to some extent a matter of dispute within the movement. At Fuller Seminary, for instance, the issue of inerrancy divided the faculty before being jettisoned as an essential Evangelical doctrine. Some Evangelicals are openly speculating whether it is necessary for a sinner to have explicit faith in Jesus Christ in order to be saved.

One, for instance, suggested in 2004 in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society that there is a “reformed” version of inclusivism that may very well find support in Scripture. This kind of thinking calls into question the necessity of conversion and the urgency of evangelism and missions, all of which have been hallmarks of the Evangelical movement.

All of these are fundamental issues that beg the question of what Evangelicalism’s confessional boundaries are. The only way to heal the breaches is for Evangelicals to find their unity in the truth of the gospel, just as Jesus prayed (John 17:13–21). Yet agreeing upon the center of this “truth” is precisely what has eluded the Evangelical movement...

...Arguably the greatest tension within Evangelicalism currently concerns the movement’s relationship to electoral politics. The older generation of Evangelical spokesmen, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and James Dobson, is gradually being replaced (informally and mainly through the mainstream media) by a younger generation, including people like Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, and Jim Wallis.

The younger (though hardly youthful) Evangelical leaders are reluctant to participate in the culture wars and have embraced causes fairly distinct from those that defined the Religious Right. A Left-Right political struggle could well be the next fault-line within Evangelicalism.

Horton: At its best, Evangelicalism early on (in Britain and North America) offered a united witness for what C. S. Lewis called “mere Christianity.”

As Lewis observed, no one can live in this hallway. Christians are nurtured in particular rooms (i.e., traditions), but they come into the hallway for fellowship and common witness. The problem, of course, is that the rooms are different indeed: Anabaptists and Anglicans, Arminians and Calvinists, Methodists and Lutherans, and increasingly, Roman Catholics and Orthodox.

From my perspective, while pietism may have enriched the Reformation churches to some extent, the heritage of revivalism represents a counter-Reformation that in many respects went even further than Trent in the direction of Pelagianism. Hence, on his American visit, Dietrich Bonhoeffer could refer to the religious scene as “Protestantism without the Reformation.” In both faith and practice, Reformation Christianity differs from the sort of Evangelicalism represented, for example, by Charles Finney, more radically than it does with Rome or Orthodoxy.

So there is the Reformation stream, which has always had an influence beyond its numbers, particularly through immigration of confessional Protestants and the legacy of Old Princeton, and then there is the revivalist stream, which feeds into the vast ocean of Wesleyan, Holiness, and Pentecostal Christianity. When you add the growing popularity of Anabaptist, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox traditions, as well as fresh appreciation for the heritage of Protestant liberalism among some younger theologians, Evangelicalism may increasingly be incapable of theological definition.

The irony in all of this is that Evangelicals seem to be camping out in the hallway. Blending their own cocktail, Evangelicals may show appreciation for a variety of traditions without ever belonging to any one.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Going "Godly Green" -- Trading Christian Orthodoxy for Eco-Spirituality

Today's "must read" comes from a fascinating Frank Furedi article in Spiked Online. It concerns the actions of Western religionists who have discarded theology, personal morality, and evangelism and yet desperately require some raison d’être to keep going. Their solution? Eco-spirituality! Check it out.

These days, moralisers find it easier to make people feel guilty about their impact on the environment than about committing one of the seven deadly sins. Not surprisingly, many religious institutions are busy reinventing themselves by promoting ecological virtues and preaching against the eco-sins of polluters.

On occasions, the attempt to recycle traditional theological concerns in a green form becomes a caricature of itself. In August, Dom Anthony Sutch, a Benedictine monk, announced that he would hear eco-confessions of sins against the environment at the Waveney Greenpeace festival, in a confessional booth carefully constructed from recycled materials. The good monk clearly practices what he preaches. He tries ‘very hard’ to live a green lifestyle and is proud of his principal achievement – reducing his electricity bill by 30 per cent. This mock ritual is unlikely to offer penitents’ salvation or redemption, but their ‘awareness’ will be raised. And these days being ‘aware’ is recogn
ised as akin to being virtuous.

Sometime back in the 1980s, Western societies gave up on the project of rescuing ‘traditional values’ and morality. From time to time, conservative politicians and moral entrepreneurs have attempted to launch back-to-basics crusades promoting ‘family values’. However, their lack of popular appeal has only exposed society’s estrangement from these traditions. Indeed by the Eighties, even religious institutions found it difficult to uphold their own authority with conviction. Instead of influencing society many churches began to internalise the attitudes associated with the lifestyles of their increasingly individualised consumerist flock. The last quarter century has seen a steady diminishing of religious authority in Western societies. Debates about the role of women priests,
homosexuality and marriage indicated that religious institutions have become confused about their own relationship to traditional values...

The appeal of eco-spirituality to so many different religions is a testimony to the powerful influence that environmentalism exercises over contemporary culture. At a time when traditional institutions find it difficult to connect with popular concerns, environmentalism is still able to transmit ideas about human responsibility through appealing to a sense of right and wrong. That is why the authors of children’s books and school officials also use environmentalism as a vehicle for socialising youngsters.

However, eco-spirituality cannot really compensate for the loss of traditional moral authority. Indeed the very embrace of the environmentalist agenda can only accelerate the decline of institutions that cannot give meaning to the religious doctrines on which they were founded. The shift away from God towards nature inevitably leads to a world where the pronouncements of environmentalist experts trump those of the priesthood. It will be interesting to see what will remain of traditional religion as prophecy and revelation is displaced by computerised climate models...

(Hat tip to Cornwall Alliance's Dr. E. Calvin Beisner via Albert Mohler.)

Salvo: "The Most Important Magazine of Our Day"

...As the mother of three young adults, I’ve witnessed firsthand the ability of [new magazine] Salvo to reach young readers and challenge them. I’m proud to be a pro bono member of Salvo’s editorial board, contribute from my own wallet to their efforts, and introduce this stunning publication to as many people as possible. Why? Because I believe Salvo is the most important magazine of our day...

Wow. That's quite a plug.

But coming from the eminently hip and hopeful Rebecca Hagelin, it's an endorsement you'll want to know more about. So, here's her Town Hall column about Salvo (and a few other interesting things) and here is the Salvo website itself. (Note: for Salvo's website, please use the link I provide here; the link in the column doesn't connect.)

By the Way, Who Were the Other Contenders for Al Gore's Nobel Prize?

Among the noteworthy articles I missed while in Belarus earlier this month was this excellent editorial from the Wall Street Journal describing just a few of the people who, unlike Al Gore, truly deserved the Nobel Peace Prize.

That the Committee overlooked these brave souls in their haste to praise the politically-correct but scientifically-incorrect and hypocritical Mr. Gore is a sad scandal indeed. But Mr. Gore had a chance to make an important point for liberty and justice by refusing the award and its cash, using the occasion instead to herald the plight of the heroes that the Nobel Committee members had heartlessly snubbed. He did not do so.

And this fellow was almost our President?

Here then, from October 13th, is the text of the WSJ piece.

In Olso yesterday, the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize was not awarded to the Burmese monks whose defiance against, and brutalization at the hands of, the country's military junta in recent weeks captured the attention of the Free World.

The prize was also not awarded to Morgan Tsvangirai, Arthur Mutambara (photo at left) and other Zimbabwe opposition leaders who were arrested and in some cases beaten by police earlier this year while protesting peacefully against dictator Robert Mugabe.

Or to Father Nguyen Van Ly, a Catholic priest in Vietnam arrested this year and sentenced to eight years in prison for helpin
g the pro-democracy group Block 8406.

Or to Wajeha al-Huwaider and Fawzia al-Uyyouni, co-founders of the League of Demanders of Women's Right to Drive Cars in Saudi Arabia, who are waging a modest struggle with grand ambitions to secure basic rights for women in that Muslim country.

Or to Colombian President Álvaro Uribe, who has fought tirelessly to end the violence wrought by left-wing terrorists and drug lords in his country.

Or to Garry Kasparov (shown at right) and the several hundred Russians who were arrested in April, and are continually harassed, for resisting President Vladimir Putin's slide toward authoritarian rule.

Or to the people of Iraq, who bravely work to rebuild and reunite their country amid constant threats to themselves and their families from terrorists who deliberately target civilians.

Or to Presidents Viktor Yushchenko and Mikheil Saakashvili who, despite the efforts of the Kremlin to undermine their y
oung states, stayed true to the spirit of the peaceful "color" revolutions they led in Ukraine and Georgia and showed that democracy can put down deep roots in Russia's backyard.

Or to Britain's Tony Blair, Ireland's Bertie Ahern and the voters of Northern Ireland, who in March were able to set aside decades of hatred to establish joint Catholic-Protestant rule in Northern Ireland.

Or to thousands of Chinese bloggers who run the risk of arrest by trying to bring uncensored information to their countrymen.

Or to scholar and activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim, jailed presidential candidate Ayman Nour and other democracy campaigners in Egypt.

Or, posthumously, to lawmakers Walid Eido (photo at left), Pierre Gemayel, Antoine Ghanem, Rafik Hariri, George Hawi and Gibran Tueni; journalist Samir Kassir; and other Lebanese citizens who've been assassinated since 2005 for their efforts to free their country from Syrian control.

Or to the Reverend Phillip Buck; Pastor Chun Ki Won and his organization, Durihana; Tim Peters and his Helping Hands Korea; and Liberty in North Korea, who help North Korean refugees escape to safety in free nations.

These men and women put their own lives and livelihoods at risk by working to rid the world of violence and oppression. Let us hope they survive the coming year so that the Nobel Prize Committee might consider them for the 2008 award.