Saying Christ is the only way to God is “abusive and criminal”?

coexist-1211709_640Two British street preachers were arrested for publicly reading the Bible, particularly the parts about Jesus being the only way to God.

In their trial, the prosecutor said,“To say to someone that Jesus is the only God is not a matter of truth. To the extent that they are saying that the only way to God is through Jesus, that cannot be a truth.”

The prosecutor apparently thought that those teachings were just quirks of the King James translation of the Bible, rather than basic doctrines of Christianity.  He said, “to use words translated in 1611 in a very different context, in the context of modern British society, must be considered to be abusive and is a criminal matter.”

The court agreed, sentencing the two Christians to a fine of £2,016 each ($2,452.42). [Read more…]

Is Russia seeding our shoreline with nuclear weapons?

Operation_Upshot-Knothole_-_Badger_001Former Russian defense ministry spokesman Viktor Baranetz is claiming that “we are quietly ‘seeding’ the U.S. shoreline with nuclear ‘mole’ missiles (they dig themselves in and ‘sleep’ until they are given the command).”

The context of his article in Pravda is that Russia is responding to U.S. military buildups and the prospect of even more defense spending by President Trump, which Baranetz describes as “buying the support” of the military-industrial complex.

A Kremlin spokesman dismissed the account of this “seeding” of nuclear weapons, but of course he would.

Vladimir Putin is said to want to warm up to President Trump, to the point, some say, of helping him get elected, with both presidents supposedly seeking some kind of alliance.  But the Russian military seems increasingly hostile to the U.S., with their planes buzzing our ships and other provocative actions, including stories like this.  Perhaps Russia has factional conflicts within its government also.

But maybe it isn’t the case that Russia is on one side or the other.  Maybe it just wants to create havoc.

Whether this story is true or not, the very prospect of nuclear mines/missiles reminds us that nuclear war is still a possibility, and that a country–or a group of terrorists–does not necessarily need high-tech missiles or aircraft to attack us with nuclear weapons. [Read more…]

Converts to “religion of freedom” are boosting church attendance in Europe

refugees-A-INThe Muslim immigrants converting to Christianity are having a noticeable effect on church growth and church attendance in Europe.  (See this, this, and this.)

For the last few decades, churches have been almost empty on Sunday mornings. But congregations that have evangelized Muslims are coming back to life.  For example, theTrinity Lutheran Church in Berlin, which we have blogged about, used to have 150 parishioners.  Now they have 700.

The phenomenon has spread to England.  One Anglican bishop says that one out of four of the confirmations he performs are for Muslims converting to Christianity.

Two stories from British sources after the jump.  They give some inspiring testimonies about how some of these immigrants came to Christ.  A common theme:  the realization that Christianity is “the religion of freedom.”

I suppose there is a connection between the freedom of religion and the religion of freedom! [Read more…]

President Trump’s new travel ban

Immigration_Ban_Protest_at_ORD_08President Trump has issued a revised travel and immigration ban.  This one is  designed to pass legal muster after his first executive order on the issue was struck down by the courts.  It is also designed to avoid other problems raised by the first order.

The new policy will allow visitors and immigrants from Iraq, responding to military requests that Iraqis who helped U.S. forces whose lives may now be in danger be taken care of.  Now citizens of only six countries will be denied visas for 90 days:  Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen.  The U.S. refugee resettlement program will be suspended for 120 days.

The measure also removes the provision that allowed exceptions for religious minorities escaping persecution.  Thus, the courts can no longer construe it as being biased towards Christians and discriminatory against Muslims.

The new order also addresses the implementation problems of the first version.  Those who already hold visas or permanent resident cards will not be affected.  And the new policy will not go into effect until March 16, giving border agents time to prepare for the new measures.

Do you think this new executive order will get through the courts?  Is it now reasonable and just?  Will it still provoke outrage?

[Read more…]

Did the Attorney General commit perjury?

640px-Jeff_Sessions_hearing_swearing_inDuring his confirmation hearing, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was asked, under oath, if he had had any communications with Russian officials before the election.  He was asked this twice, both in oral testimony and in a written deposition.  He said “No.”  Now we know that he had communications with the Russian ambassador.  Twice.  One of the conversations was an inconsequential chat at a conference, and the other was a meeting in his office.

Sessions has now recused himself from any investigations of Russian involvement with the Trump campaign.  He denies that he did anything wrong.  But doesn’t this constitute perjury?

Democrats are saying so, but this doesn’t mean they are wrong.  Sessions himself accused Bill Clinton of perjury for lying under oath.  Now there are calls for a special prosecutor to get to the bottom of all of these Russia connections.

The White House is calling this a “witch hunt.”  There are certainly concerns about how this information about meetings with Russians is leaking, apparently from FBI or CIA investigators.  Some say the “Deep State” trying to take down our elected government.  Others say that we may be seeing patriotic Cold Warriors worried about our government being infiltrated by their old adversary.

But there is nothing wrong with a member of Congress–especially the chairman of a committee that deals with related issues–from speaking with ambassadors from other countries, including the Russian ambassador.  Democratic lawmakers, including some of Sessions’ biggest critics now, have spoken with the Russian ambassador.  There is no evidence being offered that Sessions was colluding with the Russians to get Trump elected.  The talks were probably completely innocent.  The Democrats are obviously playing politics, trying to discredit the Trump administration. But still, Sessions should not have said that he had no communications with the Russians.

 Sessions said that he wasn’t committing perjury because his meetings with the Ambassador were in connection with his role as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, not his role in the Trump campaign.  But surely he could have explained that when he was under oath instead of flatly denying any communications.  He may have been wearing two hats, but he isn’t two people.

And yet perjury is very hard to prove, requiring “willful” deception, something easy to deny.   Conservatives from Fox News to the Trump-skeptical National Review are denying that Sessions committed perjury.  (Mostly they are saying that his contacts were innocent and that he could never be convicted of perjury, neither of which addresses lying under oath.)  I just wish they could be more convincing.

[Read more…]

Is the Russian military testing Trump?

640px-MiG-29_fuselageA Russian spy ship was spotted Tuesday sailing just off the U.S. east coast.  Also on Tuesday, the administration confirmed that Russia had deployed ground-based cruise missiles in violation of a 1987 treaty.  Last Friday, four Russian jets buzzed an American ship in the Black Sea.

Such provocations sound like Vladimir Putin is testing our new president, who created the impression when Iran was doing this sort of thing that he would not tolerate it.  Putin tested Obama like this all the time, drawing conclusions about his weakness.

It will be interesting to see what President Trump does.

It has been alleged that the Russians helped Trump get elected.  Trump has floated the idea of eliminating the sanctions against Russia for invading the Ukraine and annexing the Crimea.  But Trump’s new secretary of state and secretary of defense have talked tough about keeping the sanctions.  And being overly cozy with the Russian ambassador is what got national security advisor Michael Flynn fired.

Why do you think Putin would throw his weight around like this?

If Trump ignores these incidents, he might look weak, or even in thrall to Putin.  If Trump reacts, he needs to be measured and must not over-react, qualities that have not been his strong suit.

At any rate, this may be President Trump’s first foreign relations test.

[Read more…]