Former members of a Washington DC Alcoholic's Anonymous (AA) group accuse its current leadership of using coercive tactics at odds with AA principles & more like manipulative cult-like behavior than responsible addiciton recovery acts.
In a report published in Newsweek, A Struggle Inside AA, reporter Nick Summers interviewed former members of the Midtown AA group. They charged that local attendees who had assumed leadership positions in the non-structured group assigned new members sponsors instead of letting them pick their own, encouraged members to cut themselves off from their family & friends, advised new members to discontinue even prescribed medications, & encouraged dating & sexual relationships among their members, all actions against usual AA policy.
In response, current members told the reporter that they were a thriving group whose ex-members were jealous of their success. AA does not have a national leadership. Each group is autonomous & does not have any designated leadership. Members go only by unchecked first names to preserve their anonymity.
Cina Aid Association(CAA) has reported that persecution against Christian believers in Xinjiang province in China has intensified after the April 19 arrest of more than 30 major house church leaders after they met with 4 American Christians. After intensive international diplomacy efforts & media attention, the 4 Americans have been released & have returned to the US. Their interpreter, Mr. Jinhong Li, was also released & has returned to Beijing.
Two of the families who hosted the Americans have subsequently been raided. Their lands & other valuable household items such as their computers have been confiscated. Criminal detention papers listing 37 days of detention have been issued for 6 of those arrested: Pastor Xinglan Zhao, Pastor Xiurong Huang, Pastor Tianlu Yang, Pastor Chaoyi Wang, Pastor Chiling LI, & Pastor Sijun He. They are being held at Akesu City Detention Center.
CAA president Rev. Bob Fu commented, "We appeal to the international community to continue to intervene on behalf of these arrested Christian pastors. We urge the Chinese government to sincerely respect the spirit of the rule of law & religious freedom as a responsible 2008 Summer Olympic host.".
Actor Kirk Cameron & his colleague, best-selling author Ray Comfort, will face 2 atheists in New York this coming Saturday, May 5 for a 13 minute opening argument on the existence of God that will be aired on the Internet on Sunday. The debate is sponsored by ABC.com & was developed out of a challenge from Cameron & Comfort after ABC ran a story in January about atheists taping themselves blaspheming the Holy Spirit." Comfort, who claims he can prove the existence of God scientifically, without mentioning faith or the Bible, asked, "Why should so many be so bitter about Christianity in particular? Why aren't they making videos that blaspheme Buddha or Mohammed or Gandhi?" Cameron added, "We will not only prove that God exists, but as an ex-atheist I'll show that the issue keeping so many people from beliving in God -- Darwinian evolution -- is completely unscientific. It's a fairy-tale for grown-ups."
The debate allows for 13 minutes for each side to promote its position, with some back-and-forth interchange & selected questions from virtual & live audience members.
Cameron & Comfort co-host the website, television, & radio programs The Way of the Master, all of which are designed to inspire & equip Christians to share their faith. Comfort is a long-time Christian platform speaker & author who has written more than 40 books. Cameron is an experienced actor who played the character Mike Seaver on the popular television series Growing Pains & Buck Williams from the popular Left Behind movies.
ABC.com will air the entire debate on Wednesday, May 9 at 2 PM EST.
The Texas House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved legislation today that would allow public school students to meet during free time during school hours & otherwise express their religious beliefs in school, as long as they don't discriminate against the religious beliefs or sexual orientation of any other students. The bill, backed by Texas Governor Rick Perry, was passed 110 for & only 33 against. After affirmation expected on Tuesday, the bill will be sent to the Senate. It is unknown at this time whether or not the Senate will pass the bill.
A group of self-described "progressive" Christian Evangelicals calling themselves "Red Letter Christians," and led by the liberal, left-oriented Sojourners Magazine and left-oriented religious pundits like Jim Wallis and Tony Campolo, has recently emerged in the body politic. These self-proclaimed "progressives" have been making a lot of noise recently complaining about the ties that other Christian Evangelicals have long held with the conservative movement in the United States, including the conservative movement in the Republican Party.
One conservative policy under attack by these "progressives" is the conservative effort to "cut programs to the poor." They say that such a policy goes against Jesus Christ's commands in Chapter 24 of the Book of Matthew to feed those who are hungry.
These "Red Letter Christians" are making a lot of noise, but they are just a bunch of clanging cymbals. And, the love that they claim to spout has no truth in it whatsoever.
What these misguided religious zealots conveniently fail to note is that, nowhere in the New Testament, or the other books of the Bible, do Jesus Christ, His apostles, God the Father, the Holy Spirit, Moses, or the Hebrew prophets command the government to take money from its citizens and transfer it to poor people. In fact, the Bible says just the opposite.
God presents us with three general ways in the Bible to take care of the poor and needy: 1) Through the family; 2) Through the church; and 3) Through individual charity. The applicable passages for these three ways are Deut. 14:28, 29, Numbers 18:24, Matthew 6:1-4 and 1 Timothy 5:3-16.
Now, the first two ways are pretty clear. People’s first obligation is to the needy, poor, widowed, and orphaned in their own families. Only after they do this do they have any obligation to help the needy, poor, widowed, and orphaned through their local church organization. God established the pattern for this kind of church giving in Numbers 18:24 and Deuteronomy 14:28, 29. As David Chilton points out in his great book "Productive Christians in an Age of Guilt Manipulators," the bulk of Christian giving to the local church should be geared toward financing professional theologians, experts in biblical law and church discipline, teachers of God’s word and leaders skilled in worship. It was only every third year that all the giving was set aside to help the needy, poor, widowed, and orphaned. Even then, the money was not given just to anyone who showed up. Those able to work but don’t, do not qualify for help. Also, those who have families to take care of them don’t qualify, nor do widows under age 60 qualify, according to the Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 5:3-16.
Jesus Christ, who is God in the flesh, talks about the third way in Matthew 6. He tells His listeners that they should give individual charity. He also says they should give such charity secretly: “Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.”
In other words, God is not a socialist. Nor is he a liberal. In fact, in none of the Bible passages just cited, nor in any others I know of, does Jesus, God or even Moses cite the government as the means by which the poor, needy, widowed and orphaned are housed, clothed and fed.
Thus, a simple, straightforward reading of the Bible, God’s Word, including the "Red Letter" words of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, clearly shows that the American welfare state is anti-God, anti-Christian and unbiblical. Any Christian or Jew who advocates such a government welfare system (including clergymen or women) should be harshly rebuked and disciplined by their church and synagogue congregation or hierarchy. Furthermore, any members of any political party, including Republicans, Democrats, Reform Party members, Libertarians, or whatever, who advocate such a socialist system yet claim to be Christian or Jew should be reprimanded by their fellow brothers and sisters and by all church and synagogue leaders. If any such party members refuse to repent and change their ways, then their names should be posted at their church or synagogue and throughout the whole land so that all Christians and Jews in the United States or elsewhere can know not to vote for these people or place them in positions of authority and leadership.
Of course, all Christians and Jews should encourage families to take care of their own. And, they should also encourage their churches and synagogues to give at least one-third of their gross income to help the poor, needy, widowed, and orphaned.
On that note, it is interesting to recall that the Tenth Commandment in Exodus 20:17 actually protects private property by commanding people not to covet their neighbor’s house or belongings. That commands applies to the average citizen as well as the elected official, the judge and all other government officials.
Furthermore, the Bible condemns laziness and praises hard work. Proverbs 10:4 says, “Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.” Proverbs 14:23 says, “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.”
Finally, it is interesting to note that, in Mark 7:20-23, not only does Jesus Christ declare that all sex outside of heterosexual marriage, including homosexuality, pre-marital sex and adultery, is evil, he also declares that both greed and envy are evil. Thus, Jesus Christ condemns both the greed of the rich man as well as the greed of the poor man, and the envy of the poor man as well as the envy of the rich man.
Thus, God condemns the politics of envy of the left, and He extols the virtues of hard work and capitalism, not just the value of charity!
Liberals and socialists like the "Red Letter Christians," Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sen. Ted Kennedy, Sen. Barack Obama, and Al Gore are violating the commands of the God of the Bible. If they truly want to follow God, they should stop their ignorant opposition to the conservative movement in America and join it. One of the first things they should do immediately is help cut government programs for the poor.
Americans and Europeans must stop the ungodly, immoral rape of taxpayers by the totalitarian, socialist welfare state of liberalism! They must establish a proper and godly system of family, church and private charity. Everyone should follow God’s clear guidance in this matter. God will reward people mightily for their total obedience in these matters.
Hoping to renew interest in Christianity in a part of Europe where church attendance has plummeted & most people don't consider themselves religious, Christian Dutchman Johan Huibers is building a working replica of Noah's Ark as an educational & evangelistic tool. Johan's Ark will include a petting zoo, museum, display center on exotic animals, & a refreshment stand on the top deck. Built to scale 1/5 the size of the ark described in the Bible, Johan's ark has a steel hull, wooden siding & decks made out of American cedar & Norwegian pine, meets all local, national, & international maritime regulations, & can pass under every bridge on its designated tour route through Holland.
Huibers says, "This will speak very much to children, because it will give them something tangible to see that Noah's Ark really existed. They'll hear the creak of the wood, smell the smell of the dung."
He expects the modest entrance fee ($2.40 for children & $3.60 for adults) & concession profits to repay the nearly $1.2 million in development & construction costs covered by a bank loan. Huibers says he's not concerned that global warming will flood his country of Holland, reminding the reporter, "It won't happen again. You know the rainbow," he gestured, referring to God's promise never to destroy the earth by flood again. Although his wife wishes he would have stuck to the traditional social service ministry tasks he has done in the past, Huibers says this project is his heart's desire, & that through it many thousands of people will experience a little bit of the Bible tied up to the dock in Holland.
A dramatic early scene in the special is the site of the Twin Towers in New York City, where the 9/11 terrorists struck, during which Miller specifically attributes the terrorism, violence, & massacre to religion in general, monotheism, including Christianity, Islam, & Judaism in particular. He narrates, "The spectacle of September 11 is a forceful reminder of the potentially destructive power of the three great monotheistic religions that have dominated the world one way or another for nearly 2,000 years."
Peter Sprigg, vice president for policy at the convservative Family Research Council (FRC) noted in contrast, "We have to remember that the two most horrific regimes of the 20th century, which probably killed more people than any other dictatorships in history, were the Soviet Union & Nazi Germany, both atheistic regimes." To that could be added the millions killed under the atheistic dictatorships of Mao Zedong of China & Pol Pot of Cambodia. Statistics for the 4 atheistic regimes total something more than a billion people (see, for example, the statistics determined by R. J. Rummel in his 20th Century Democide).
Sprigg suggested, "If they [PBS] really want to be objective, they need to have a three-part series documenting the evidence in favor of Christianity" also.
Utah Attorney GeneralMark Shurtleff told a mixed group of representatives from polygamous communities, law enforcement, & social service agencies that the solution to dealing with justice issues in Utah's polygamous groups was neither a "schorched-earth policy" (arrest everyone) nor a "Mary Had a Little Lamb" approach (ignore it), but a third option, one he calls "established justice." The Town Hall meeting in St. George, Utah on Tuesday attracted around 200 individuals concerned with the issues surrounding the law & groups splintered from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) that continue to illegally practice polygamy in Utah & Arizona. Added Arizona Attorney GeneralTerry Goddard, continued progress depends on a commitment to a specific principle: treating each other with respect.
Shurtleff's option focuses on prosecuting serious crimes, particularly those against women & children, but takes the "religious polygamy issue out of it."
Goddard said that the 2 states have made "great progress" along this path, erasing the border between them on this issue, & that Nevada is poised to join their prosecutorial efforts.
LeAnne Timpson, a member of the Centennial Park Action Committee, said her group (from a small polygamous community of the same name) is pushing for an "integrated society & political environment, in which polygamous & nonpolygamous cultures can fit."
The meeting was sponsored by the Utah AG's Safety Net Committee, charged with promoting & advancing the AG's agenda do deal legally but fairly & tolerantly with the polygamous groups. The Safety Net Committee has a two-track mission: Provide access to service agencies, & to the justice system, for those in polygamous communities who need such help. Committee member Ann Wright commented, "After 3 years of working together, it is disheartening to see that people who have polygamy as a religious principle are still looked upon as not having any choice in their lives." She continued, "The Safety Net members & the population at large do not understand our choices. Therefore, in their eyes, we have no choice."
After protracted discussion & planning, the U. S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) has determined that grave markers of followers of Wicca, a form of neo-paganism or witchcraft, will be allowed to display a common Wicca symbol, the pentacle (a five-pointed star in a cicle).
The settlement will apply to graves of those whose heirs have previously requested them as well as to future ones. Selena Fox, one of the most prominent Wiccan high priestesses, said that there are 11 families nationwide waiting for the symbol to be added to their loved ones' grave markers in national cemeteries. "I am glad this has ended in success in time to get markers for Memorial Day," the leader of Circle Sanctuary said.
The agreement is in settlement of a civil lawsuit filed last November by veterans' widows & other family members alledging that the VA has delayed making a definitive ruling on the issue for more than 9 years.
38 religious symbols are recognized & allowed under the VA for placement on grave markers in national cemeteries. The pentacle's 5 points represent the natural elements of earth, air, fire, water, & spirit. Wiccans in general are nature worshippers, pantheists who believe that all of reality, material or immaterial, is divine; that all of reality is one living organism. There are many associations of wiccans, neo-pagans, or witches, as well as many independent or self-styled practitioners. While many trace some of their beliefs or practices to ancient folk religions practiced before the advent of the Judeo-Christian religion, today's groups & individuals have modified or re-invented what was ancient for contemporary worship.
Acress mom Katie Holmes, wife of actor dad & leading Scientology follower Tom Cruise, is reported to have disclosed she wants to expose their one year old daughter, Suri, to the teachings of the Catholic Church as soon as she is old enough for "kiddie classes." Holmes was raised a Catholic but reportedly abandoned her faith when she met Cruise in 2005. Cruise is a strong Scientologist. Differences over religious upbringing of their children were cited by friends as part of the reason for his acrimonious divorce from actress Nicole Kidmann earlier.
According to friends' reports to the magazine Life & Style, Holmes is attempting to repair friendships, heal the rift with her parents, & renew her Catholic faith commitment. The magazine said Holmes told one friend, Maghann Birie, that she can't believe she abandoned her old life.
The Lord's Servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will give them a change of heart leading to a knowledge of the truth
II Timothy 2:24-26