Judge blocks Trump’s new travel ban

Derrick_K._WatsonPresident Trump’s new travel ban, revised to eliminate the legal difficulties that a judge found in his first order, has also been thrown out by a federal judge.

A Hawaii federal court blocked the ban, which was to go in effect today.

The judge said that Trump’s campaign comments about Muslims show that the restrictions on travel or immigration from six terrorist-infected countries have the true purpose of discriminating against a religion.

But if the target is Muslims, why aren’t Muslims from the rest of the world blocked?  Why just those six countries?

It seems strange to me that a judge insists on interpreting a policy according to  campaign rhetoric.  This, even after the policy was revised to remove the apparent connection.  What if the president had a complete change of heart about things he said in the heat of the campaign?  Would his policies still be interpreted according to what he said back then?  I just don’t understand how legally the effusions of a campaign speech can have the force of law in determining the meaning of a statute.

Photo of Judge Derrick K. Watson, by United States District Court for the District of Hawaii [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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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?

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Will Islam become the world’s largest religion?

religion-882281_640A new study says that Islam will pass Christianity as the world’s largest religion by 2070.

The report says that in 2050, Muslims will make up 10% of the European population.  But they will number only 2.1% in the United States.

Interestingly, the study also says that the number of atheists and non-religious affiliated will decline globally.

This may very well be, but, like many statistical studies, it is mainly just an extrapolation of current numbers over time.  Muslims have a higher birth rate than Christians do, so if we graph that out, their numbers will be higher by 2070.

Other scenarios are not factored in.  For example, what if some of the 10% of the European population that has an Islamic heritage convert to Christianity, now that they can be exposed to it?  That may depend on Christianity reviving in Europe, but that is not outside the possibility of the grace of God.  Or what if the brutality of ISIS and the Islamic terrorism that is rampant in the Middle East creates a reaction against the religion?  Or what if the Westernization of Islamic countries creates a decline in the birth rate?  Or what if the Christian birth rate shoots up?

Lots of things can happen, there being many more variables and unpredictabilities in life than a single statistical trend.

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Putting Iran “on notice”

613px-Army_of_the_Guardians_of_the_Islamic_Revolution_troop_marching_with_gun_and_headbandPresident Trump has put Iran “on notice” for its recent ballistic missile tests, which were forbidden by its accord with the previous administration.  An article in the Washington Post shows how Iran has grown into a major military power, forming alliances throughout the Middle East and becoming one of the few nations capable of projecting military force beyond its borders.

The analysis shows–without, of course, saying so–just how weak President Obama’s policies towards Iran were, enabling its economic and military revival so that it’s now a major threat in the Middle East.  Trump has re-imposed some sanctions and sent the destroyer U.S.S Cole to waters where Iran has been throwing its weight around.  It’s not clear what else he has in mind, should Iran continue its aggressive stance.

The Sunni Arab countries, such as Saudi Arabia, are delighted with Trump’s tough talk on Iran.  According to the article, the prospect of the United States standing up against their Shi’ite rival more than makes up for Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric.

But the president will have to deal with a couple of complicating factors:  The Shi’ite Iranians, with their proxy militias, are fighting the Sunni ISIS, arguably a much greater enemy of the United States.  And Iran is closely allied with Russia.  If Trump wants to improve relations with Vladimir Putin, that would conflict with his desire to get tough with Iran.

Read the article, excerpted and linked after the jump. [Read more…]

German government vs. Christian converts

refugees-B-INThe German government is mistreating ex-Muslim immigrants who have converted to Christianity, according to Rev. Gottfried Martens (a Lutheran pastor in fellowship with the LCMS) who has evangelized and baptized over a thousand of them).

He says hearing boards on their immigration applications are testing their Christianity by asking them questions such as “what are the names of the two sons in the parable of the Prodigal Son?” and “What did Martin Luther die of?”  And they are mocking what they say about Christianity, about how Christ has died for their sins.

Pastor Martens has written a letter detailing his charges.  Read what he is complaining about after the jump. [Read more…]