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Thursday, 30 August 2012

Fearful Pakistani Christians Make Home In Forest


Fearful Pakistani Christians Make Home In Forest

By ZARAR KHAN and REBECCA SANTANA 08/27/12 04:39 PM ET

ISLAMABAD — Having fled their homes in the latest spasm of Pakistani religious strife, a few hundred Christians have camped in a forest in the Pakistani capital, cut down trees and are using the branches to build a church.

Their ordeal began when a Christian girl in their poor Islamabad neighborhood was accused by a neighbor of burning pages of the Quran – a blasphemy by Pakistani law that can mean life in prison.

 A week after the girl's arrest, much remains in question: her age – 11 to 16 in conflicting reports; mental condition _  Down syndrome has been mentioned; and what exactly she was burning – there's little evidence that Quran pages were involved.

But as word spread, hundreds of people gathered outside her house demanding action, and on Aug. 20 police arrested the girl pending an investigation. (The Associated Press is withholding her name because it does not generally identify underage suspects.)

Most Christians in the neighborhood fled – some 600 families according to one interfaith group. Some said their landlords evicted them. A few have returned.

One of those who moved into the forest on Sunday was Sumera Zahid, who was busy feeding her three children and her parents.

"We used to come here to collect wood for fuel so we find it a suitable place for shelter," she said. "Here it is not anybody's home, nobody's land. Let us live here in safety."

On Monday their pastor, Arif Masih, spoke to them by the frame of branches they were lashing together for their church.

"We are thankful to the Lord for this land although here is no water and food, but rest assured the Lord will create water fountains and provide all fruits here for you if you remain patient and suffer these hardships, thanking the Lord," he said.

       Blasphemy is an extremely sensitive issue in this 95-percent Muslim nation of 190 million people, and cases often grab huge attention here and abroad.

      Crowds have been known to beat or kill suspected blasphemers. Last year two prominent politicians who criticized the blasphemy law were murdered, one by his own bodyguard who then attracted adoring mobs. In July, thousands of people dragged a Pakistani man accused of desecrating the Quran from a police station, beat him to death and set his body alight.

      So volatile is the issue that public figures appear loath to speak out on the latest episode. The government has made little substantive comment, and no police protection was evident at the forest encampment.

On Monday the All Pakistan Ulema Council, an umbrella organization of Muslim clerics, held a news conference together with the Pakistan Interfaith League, the group that reports 600 families have fled and is campaigning to return them to their homes.

The two groups called for an investigation into whether the girl was wrongly accused and what role religious extremism played. League chairman Sajid Ishaq demanded government compensation for the displaced Christians, as well as protection.

Critics say the blasphemy laws are often used in vendettas and score-settling. Sensitivities are also heightened by Western reactions to such incidents, such as the U.S. State Department statement calling the latest case "deeply disturbing."

At the news conference, the head of the clerics' council, Maulana Tahir-ul-Ashrafi, told the outside world not to interfere, saying Pakistan would provide justice for the girl and her community.

Meanwhile, Nooran Bashir, who had fled a few hours after the girl's arrest, was back in her home Monday.

"I don't know whether she burned pages of some holy book or not, but we all had to abruptly leave our homes to save our lives," she said. She said one of her sons came back with her, but her other children were too frightened and she sent them to relatives.

She said Muslims asked the Christians not to worship in their church, and if they did, to refrain from singing.

But others were not ready to return. About 200 Christians, mostly men, protested in front of the city administration offices Monday, demanding permission to stay in the clearing. About another 100 people, mostly women and children, were back at the clearing.

"We don't have a big list of demands," said one Christian resident, Salim Masih. "We have cleared this place with our hands, and we have laid the first foundation of a small church here. Although this is a mere skeleton made of tree branches, this is the holy home of God. This should be respected."


'Extravagant Lifestyles' of Mega-Pastors to Be Exposed by Richard Dawkins Foundation


'Extravagant Lifestyles' of Mega-Pastors to Be Exposed by Richard Dawkins Foundation


By Stoyan Zaimov , Christian Post Reporter

August 28, 2012|10:54 am

The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science is working on a new project that members claim will expose America's "religio-industrial complex," and highlight the tax perks and privileges enjoyed by megachurch pastors and preachers of the prosperity gospel.

"The most important first step is cataloging the extravagant lifestyles of some clergy for an audience that includes the religious and non-religious alike. Many religious people find the extravagant lifestyles of some religious figures offensive," Sean Faircloth, the foundation's Director of Strategy & Policy, shared with The Christian Post about the idea behind the report.

While Faircloth could not say when the report would be completed, he added in his emailed statement that the main purpose and goal of the effort was to push for "equal treatment under the law, so that no religious bias in American law exists, including in tax policies (e.g. the parsonage exemption which benefits numerous well-off clergy)."

Faircloth goes more in depth about the investigation the Richard Dawkins Foundation is conducting into the wealth of many of America's religious leaders on GodDiscussion.com, where he shares that federal law permits religious organizations to give housing allowances to ministers, called parsonage exemptions, which allow some clergy to allegedly live like millionaires.

"Eight so-called ministers got housing allowances at Robert Schuller's Crystal Cathedral. Now three of these received housing allowances of $100,000-plus a year and three happened to be relatives of Reverend Schuller. Robert Schuller's daughter bought a house now valued at $2.29 million," the Richard Dawkins Foundation representative claims.

Faircloth also brings up the issue of the teaching of the prosperity gospel – mainly, when some megachurch leaders teach the faithful that if they donate money to the church or a particular ministry, they will be blessed by God with material and spiritual wealth.

"Joyce Meyer, America's top woman minister, lives the prosperity gospel full out, I'll tell you," Faircloth claims on GodDiscussion.com "Her ministry brings in over $100 million annually and of her money, she says 'There's no need for us to apologize for being blessed.' And Meyer asked, 'Is there no reward for anybody who's doing what I am doing?' Luckily, God has provided a very specific answer to that question. One part of that answer is a multimillion dollar private jet because flying commercial is so, to quote Meyer, uncomfortable today.

The future report is also set to highlight the rise of megachurches in America, the mentality that is allowing them to gain members, and how they are utilizing a government system that allows churches to operate as charitable organizations and go tax free.

Some megachurch pastors, such as Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., have chosen not to receive a salary from their church, choosing instead to develop charitable outreach programs to assist their communities (read Megachurch Pastors Use Their Millions to Bless Others).

Joel Osteen of Lakewood Church in Texas, one of the most popular megachurch pastors in America, argued earlier this year that financially successful ministries teaching people that they too can enjoy success does not conflict with teachings of the Bible.
"The way I define it is that I believe God wants you to prosper in your health, in your family, in your relationships, in your business, and in your career. So I do … if that is the prosperity gospel, then I do believe that," Osteen said in a previous interview with The Christian Post.

"I don't believe we are supposed to go through life defeated and not having enough money to pay our bills or send our kids to college. So you know, when I hear some of that, I think that is not who I am, he doesn't know me or what I teach. Because he is saying God doesn't believe that… there is no demand, I don't think I'd put it like that but I always talk about God rewards obedience. When you follow His way, the Bible says that His blessings will chase you down and overtake you."


Wednesday, 29 August 2012

When Racism disguises as science, when Sin puts on a mask of Intelligence: DNA Discoverer James D. Watson said Blacks are Less Intelligent Than Whites


My analysis

 James D. Watson bases his argument on a fallacy of generalization. The reasoning that  whites  are more intelligent than  blacks is very fallacious. I wonder whether  James D. Watson has attended a class in elementary logic. Of course, there are some blacks who are more intelligent than some whites just as there are some whites who more intelligent than some blacks. Therefore generalizing leads to nothing other than errors in reasoning.  We have blacks with a very high intelligent quotient just like we have whites with a very high intelligence quotient. Similarly, we have whites with a very low intelligent quotient just like we have blacks with a very low intelligent quotient.   James D. Watson’s submissions in the article below imply that even a white with the least intelligent quotient is more intelligent than the most intelligent black. This is the SIN of  racism disguising as science . I will not be surprised if  James D. Watson is an ardent promoter of Eugenics.

 

DNA Discoverer: Blacks Less Intelligent Than Whites

 

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,302836,00.html?cmpid=cmty_fb_DNA_Discoverer%3A

 

Published October 18, 2007

FoxNews.com

One of the world's most eminent scientists has created a racial firestorm in Britain.

James D. Watson, 79, co-discoverer of the DNA helix and winner of the 1962 Nobel Prize in medicine, told the Sunday Times of London that he was "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa" because "all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours — whereas all the testing says not really."

He recognized that the prevailing belief was that all human groups are equal, but that "people who have to deal with black employees find this not true."


Acknowledging that the issue was a "hot potato," the lifelong Democrat and avowed secular humanist nonetheless said his beliefs were not an excuse to discriminate against blacks.

"There are many people of color who are very talented," said Watson, "but don't promote them when they haven't succeeded at the lower level."

He told the interviewer, a former student of his, that he had recently inaugurated a DNA learning center near Harlem, and would like to have more black researchers at his lab, "but there's no one to recruit."


Steven Rose, a professor of biological sciences at the Open University in Britain, was quick to dismiss Watson's comments.

"This is Watson at his most scandalous, " Rose told the Times of London. "If he knew the literature in the subject, he would know he was out of his depth scientifically, quite apart from socially and politically."

Watson is the former director and current chancellor of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory biological-research institution on New York's Long Island, and both admired and infamous for bluntly speaking his mind.

In a British television documentary in 2003, Watson advised eliminating low intelligence through gene therapy.


"If you are really stupid, I would call that a disease," said Watson, according to New Scientist magazine. "The lower 10 percent who really have difficulty, even in elementary school, what's the cause of it?

"A lot of people would like to say, 'Well, poverty, things like that.' It probably isn't," he added. "So I'd like to get rid of that, to help the lower 10 percent."

He also touched upon sexual attraction in the same TV program.

"People say it would be terrible if we made all girls pretty," Watson said. "I think it would be great."

In 2000, he told a lecture audience at U.C. Berkeley that there was a correlation between a population's exposure to sunlight and its sex drive.

"That's why you have Latin lovers," Watson said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. "You've never heard of an English lover. Only an English patient."

The notion that intelligence tests and other scientific evidence shows that racial groups differ in intelligence, at least statistically, is not a new one.

It last gained popular attention in 1994 with "The Bell Curve," a best-selling book written by Harvard psychologist Richard J. Herrnstein (who died before publication) and political scientist Charles Murray, which argued that intelligence was more important than socio-economic background or education in achieving success in American life.

The book does not explicitly ascribe a genetic, racial connection to intelligence, but Murray in his publicity tour to promote the book cited studies that human intelligence could be ranked by ancestry, with East Asians and European Jews leading the way.

That view was more clearly stated in 1995 by British-Canadian psychologist J. Philippe Rushton, whose "Race, Evolution and Behavior: A Life History Perspective" quantified dozens of differences between blacks, whites and Asians.

In the 1970s, electronics pioneer William Shockley, who won the 1956 Nobel Prize in physics, said that the human race would suffer as less intelligent people outbred more intelligent ones, with the greatest damage to occur in the black American population.

Most sociologists, geneticists and psychologists reject the notion of racial differences in intelligence, pointing out that economic and social factors clearly influence IQ test scores.

The issue of race itself is scientifically controversial, with some arguing that it is a meaningless term and others saying that consistent traits occur among individuals of shared ancestry.

Watson is currently in Britain promoting his just-published new volume of memoirs, "Avoid Boring People: Lessons From a Life in Science."

"There is no firm reason to anticipate that the intellectual capacities of peoples geographically separated in their evolution should prove to have evolved identically," he writes. "Our wanting to reserve equal powers of reason as some universal heritage of humanity will not be enough to make it so."



Faking science to defend SIN: Chicago Researchers Look for 'Gay Gene'




Ignore those researchers who claim to have discovered a ‘gay gene’, says Peter Tatchell: gay desire is not genetically determined. Peter Tatchell

FIRST READ:

Homosexuality: it isn’t natural

http://www.spiked-online.com/site/article/5375/  

 

Chicago Researchers Look for 'Gay Gene'

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,302066,00.html

Published October 17, 2007

Associated Press

Julio and Mauricio Cabrera are gay brothers who are convinced their sexual orientation is as deeply rooted as their Mexican ancestry. They are among 1,000 pairs of gay brothers taking part in the largest study to date seeking genes that may influence whether people are gay.

The Cabreras hope the findings will help silence critics who say homosexuality is an immoral choice.

If fresh evidence is found suggesting genes are involved, perhaps homosexuality will be viewed as no different than other genetic traits like height and hair color, said Julio, a student at DePaul University in Chicago.

Adds his brother, "I think it would help a lot of folks understand us better."

The federally funded study, led by Chicago-area researchers, will rely on blood or saliva samples to help scientists search for genetic clues to the origins of homosexuality. Parents and straight brothers also are being recruited.

While initial results aren't expected until next year — and won't provide a final answer — skeptics are already attacking the methods and disputing the presumed results.


Previous studies have shown that sexual orientation tends to cluster in families, though that doesn't prove genetics is involved. Extended families may share similar child-rearing practices, religion and other beliefs that could also influence sexual orientation.

Research involving identical twins, often used to study genetics since they share the same DNA, has had mixed results.

One widely cited study in the 1990s found that if one member of a pair of identical twins was gay, the other had a 52 percent chance of being gay. In contrast, the result for pairs of non-twin brothers, was 9 percent. A 2000 study of Australian identical twins found a much lower chance.

Dr. Alan Sanders of Evanston Northwestern Healthcare Research Institute, the lead researcher of the new study, said he suspects there isn't one so-called "gay gene."

It is more likely there are several genes that interact with nongenetic factors, including psychological and social influences, to determine sexual orientation, said Sanders, a psychiatrist.

Still, he said, "If there's one gene that makes a sizable contribution, we have a pretty good chance" of finding it.

Many gays fear that if gay genes are identified, it could result in discrimination, prenatal testing and even abortions to eliminate homosexuals, said Joel Ginsberg of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association.

However, he added, "If we confirm that sexual orientation is an immutable characteristic, we are much more likely to get the courts to rule against discrimination."

There is less research on lesbians, Sanders said, although some studies suggest that male and female sexual orientation may have different genetic influences.

His new research is an attempt to duplicate and expand on a study published in 1993 involving 40 pairs of gay brothers.

That hotly debated study, wrongly touted as locating "the gay gene," found that gay brothers shared genetic markers in a region on the X chromosome, which men inherit from their mothers.

That implies that any genes influencing sexual orientation lie somewhere in that region.

Previous attempts to duplicate those results failed. But Sanders said that with so many participants, his study has a better chance of finding the same markers and perhaps others on different chromosomes.

If these markers appear in gay brothers but not their straight brothers or parents, that would suggest a link to sexual orientation. The study is designed to find genetic markers, not to explain any genetic role in behavior.

And Sanders said even if he finds no evidence, that won't mean genetics play no role; it may simply mean that individual genes have a smaller effect.

Skeptics include Stanton Jones, a psychology professor and provost at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill. An evangelical Christian, Jones last month announced results of a study he co-authored that says it's possible for gays to "convert" — changing their sexual orientation without harm.

Jones said his results suggest biology plays only a minor role in sexual orientation, and that researchers seeking genetic clues generally have a pro-gay agenda that will produce biased results.

Sanders disputed that criticism.
"We do not have a predetermined point we are trying to prove," he said. "We are trying to pry some of nature's secrets loose with respect to a fundamental human trait."

Jones acknowledged that he's not a neutral observer. His study involved 98 gays "seeking help" from Exodus International, a Christian group that believes homosexuals can become straight through prayer and counseling. Exodus International funded Jones' study.

The group's president, Alan Chambers, said he is a former homosexual who went straight and believes homosexuality is morally wrong.

Even if research ultimately shows that genetics play a bigger role, it "will never be something that forces people to behave in a certain way," Chambers said. "We all have the freedom to choose."

The Cabrera brothers grew up in Mexico in a culture where "being gay was an embarrassment," especially for their father, said Mauricio, 41, a car dealership employee from Olathe, Kan.

They had cousins who were gay, but Mauricio said he still felt he had to hide his sexual orientation and he struggled with his "double life." Julio said having an older brother who was gay made it easier for him to accept his sexuality.

Jim Larkin, 54, a gay journalist in Flint, Mich., said the genetics study is a move in the right direction.

Given the difficulties of being gay in a predominantly straight society, homosexuality "is not a choice someone would make in life," said Larkin, who is not a study participant.

He had two brothers who were gay. One died from AIDS; the other committed suicide. Larkin said he didn't come out until he was 26.

"I fought and I prayed and I went to Mass and I said the rosary," Larkin said. "I moved away from everybody I knew ... thinking maybe this will cause the feelings to subside. It doesn't."


Homosexuality: it isn’t natural

http://www.spiked-online.com/site/article/5375/  

Peter Tatchell

Ignore those researchers who claim to have discovered a ‘gay gene’, says Peter Tatchell: gay desire is not genetically determined.


A few years ago, Dr James Watson, the Nobel Prize winner who co-discovered DNA, reopened the controversy over the so-called gay gene when he defended a woman’s right to abortion. He was quoted in the Sunday Telegraph as saying: ‘If you could find the gene which determines sexuality, and a woman decides she doesn’t want a homosexual child, well, let her [abort the foetus].’

Much of the reaction to Dr Watson’s statement focused on its homophobic versus freedom of choice implications. Largely overlooked was the fact that such an esteemed scientist was giving credibility to the flawed theories which claim a genetic causation of homosexuality.

Now, these theories have been given a boost by research suggesting differences in the brain structures of gay and straight people. Last week, a team of scientists at the University of Padova in Italy made headlines around the world when they claimed to have discovered that homosexuality in males may be caused in part by genes that can increase fertility in females (1).

According to gay gene theory, genetic factors are responsible for sexual orientation, with our genetic inheritance programming us to desire one sex rather than the other. This is a very simple, deterministic thesis: A causes B.

I don’t disagree that genes (and hormonal exposure in the womb) influence sexual orientation. The scientific evidence for these biological influences is presented in the book Born Gay (2005), written by Glenn Wilson of the Institute of Psychiatry in London and Qazi Rahman, a lecturer in psychobiology at the University of East London.

But contrary to what the authors seem to suggest, an influence is not the same as a cause. Genes and hormones may predispose a person to one sexuality rather than another. But that’s all. Predisposition and determination are two different things.

There is a major problem with gay gene theory, and with all theories that posit the biological programming of sexual orientation. If heterosexuality and homosexuality are, indeed, genetically predetermined (and therefore mutually exclusive and unchangeable), how do we explain bisexuality or people who, suddenly in mid-life, switch from heterosexuality to homosexuality (or vice versa)? We can’t.


The reality is that queer and straight desires are far more ambiguous, blurred and overlapping than any theory of genetic causality can allow.

After studying the sexual experiences of thousands of men, Dr Alfred Kinsey presented evidence, in Sexual Behaviour In The Human Male (1948), that ‘many males combine in their single histories, and very often in exactly the same period of time, or even simultaneously in the same moment, reactions to both heterosexual and homosexual stimuli’.

Some years later, the Kinsey researchers famously reported the case of a happily married young woman who, 10 years into her marriage, unexpectedly fell in love with a female friend. Divorcing her husband, she set up house with this woman. Many years later, despite a fulfilling ongoing lesbian relationship, she had an equally satisfying affair with a man. Examples of sexual flexibility, like that of this woman, don’t square with genetic theories of rigid erotic predestination.

One of the main original proponents of gay gene theory, Dr Dean Hamer, now concedes that it is unlikely that something as complex as human sexuality can be explained solely in terms of genetic inheritance. He seems to accept that while genetic factors may establish a predisposition towards homosexuality, a predisposition is not the same as a causation.

Many studies suggest social factors are also important influences in the formation of sexual orientation. These include the relationship between a child and its parents, formative childhood experiences, family expectations, cultural mores and peer pressure.

By about the age of five or six, a combination of biological and social influences seem to lay the basis of an individual’s sexual orientation. Because our sexuality is fixed at such an early age, many lesbians and gay men feel they have been homosexual all their lives and therefore mistakenly conclude that it must be genetic and that they were born queer.

They also see the gay gene explanation as a useful defence against the arguments of the religious right, which dismisses same-sex relationships as a lifestyle choice. But no one sits down one day and chooses to be gay (or straight). Sexual orientation is not a choice like choosing which biscuits to buy in a supermarket. We don’t have free will concerning the determination of our sexual orientation. Our only free will is whether we accept or repress our true inner sexual and emotional desires.

The relative influence of biological versus social factors with regard to sexual orientation is still uncertain. What is, however, certain is that if gayness was primarily explainable in genetic terms we would expect it to appear in the same proportions, and in similar forms, in all cultures and all epochs. As the anthropologists Clellan Ford and Frank Beach demonstrated in Patterns Of Sexual Behaviour (1965), far from being cross-culturally uniform and stable, both the incidence and expressions of same-sex desire vary vastly between different societies.

They found, for example, that young men in some tribes (the Aranda of Australia, Siwan of Egypt, Batak of Sumatra, Anga of Melanesia and others) had relationships with boys or older male warriors, usually lasting several years, often as part of manhood initiation rituals. Eventually ceasing homosexual contact, they subsequently assumed sexual desires for women.

If sexual orientation was genetically prefixed at conception, as the proponents of the gay gene claim, these young men would never have been able to switch between heterosexual and homosexual relations with such apparent ease.

Likewise, a glance at history reveals huge disparities between configurations of homosexuality in different eras down the ages. Same-sex behaviour in Ancient Greece was very different, in both its prevalence and particular manifestations, from homosexuality in Confucian China, Renaissance Italy, Meiji Japan, Tudor England and late twentieth-century America. Moral values, social ideologies and cultural expectations - together with family patterns and parent-child interaction - seem the only credible explanation for these massive historical divergences.

Despite obvious theoretical and empirical weaknesses, the claims that certain genes cause homosexuality have been seized upon and vigorously promoted by many in the lesbian and gay rights movement (especially in the US).

The haste with which these unproven, questionable theories have been embraced suggests a terrible lack of self-confidence and a rather sad, desperate need to justify queer desire. It’s almost as if those pushing these theories believe we don’t deserve human rights unless we can prove that we are born gay and that our homosexuality is beyond our control: ‘We can’t help being fags and dykes, so please don’t treat us badly.’ This seems to be the pleading, defensive sub-text of much of the pro-gay gene thesis.

Surely we merit human rights because we are human beings? The cause of our homosexuality is irrelevant to our quest for justice. We are entitled to dignity and respect, regardless of whether we are born queer or made queer, and irrespective of whether our homosexuality is something beyond our control or something freely chosen.

The corollary of the ‘born gay’ idea is the suggestion that no one can be ‘made gay’. This defensive argument was used by some gay leaders during the campaigns in England against Section 28, which banned local authorities from ‘promoting’ homosexuality, and again during the lobbying of the UK parliament for the equalisation of the age of consent.

Supporters of Section 28 and opponents of an equal age of consent justified their stance with the claim that people need to be protected against ‘pressure’ and ‘seduction’ into the homosexual lifestyle. Some gay spokespeople responded by arguing that it’s impossible to ‘make’ someone gay, and that a same-sex experience at an early age cannot ‘persuade’ a heterosexual person to become homosexual.

At one level, they are right. Sexual orientation appears to become fixed in the first few years of life. For most of us, it is impossible to subsequently change our sexual orientation.

However, what definitely can change as people grow older is their ability to accept and express formerly repressed queer desires. A person who is ostensibly heterosexual might, in their mid-30s, become aware of a previously unrecognised same-sex attraction that had been dormant and unconscious since childhood. Society’s positive affirmation of homosexuality might help such a person discover and explore those latent, hidden, suppressed feelings.

The homophobes are thus, paradoxically, closer to the truth than many gay activists. Removing the social opprobrium and penalties from queer relationships, and celebrating gay love and lust, would allow more people to come to terms with presently inhibited homoerotic desires. In this sense, it is perfectly feasible to ‘promote’ lesbian and gay sexuality and ‘make’ someone queer. Individuals who have a homosexual component in their character, but are inhibited by repression or guilt, definitely can be encouraged to acknowledge their same-sex attraction and act upon it.

Were future generations to grow up in a gay-positive, homo-friendly culture, it’s likely that many more people would have same-sex relationships, if not for all of their lives at least for significant periods. With this boom in queer sex, the social basis of homophobia would be radically undermined.

In this state of greater sexual freedom, where homosexuality becomes commonplace and ceases to be disparaged or victimised, gayness would no longer have to be defended and affirmed. Gay identity (and its straight counterpart) would thus, at last, become redundant. Hurrah!

Peter Tatchell is a human rights campaigner, and a member of the queer rights group OutRage! and the left wing of the UK Green Party. Visit his website here.


Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Kenya riots rage a day after killing of radical cleric


Kenya riots rage a day after killing of radical cleric

http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/World/Kenya+riots+rage+a+day+after+killing+of+radical+cleric/-/688340/1488810/-/ln7m75/-/index.html

By Michael Richard, AFP  (email the author)

Posted  Tuesday, August 28  2012 at  15:02
Rioters clashed with police in Kenya's port city of Mombasa for a second day Tuesday, after the killing of an extremist cleric linked to Al-Qaeda-allied militants, witnesses said.

Hundreds of angry youths throwing stones, damaging cars and chanting slogans in support of slain preacher Aboud Rogo Mohammed moved towards the centre of Mombasa, a popular tourist city, an AFP reporter said.

"The riots have started again," said Khalid Hussein of Muslims for Human Rights, a local organisation. Staff in Mombasa's main hospital reported that at least 14 people had been injured in the clashes.

Somalia's Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab militants meanwhile called on Kenyan Muslims to "take all necessary measures" to protect their religion.

"Muslims must take the matter into their own hands, stand united against the kuffar (unbelievers) and take all necessary measures to protect their religion, their honour, their property and their lives from the enemies of Islam," the Shebab said in a statement.

The cleric, who was shot dead on Monday by "unknown people", according to the police, was on US and UN sanctions lists for allegedly supporting the Shebab, including through recruitment and fundraising.

He was driving with his wife and children when gunmen opened fire on his vehicle, leaving it riddled with bullets. Images released by his supporters showed his bloody corpse slumped behind the wheel.

Shortly after his death furious protests erupted, with one person hacked to death, cars torched, business attacked and five churches looted or set on fire.

Despite the eruption of fresh clashes Tuesday, regional police chief Aggrey Adoli said on the protests were under control.

"A group of youth has been throwing stones here and there, but our officers are there to contain the situation," Adoli said.

The cleric -- popularly known as Rogo -- was the spiritual leader of the Muslim Youth Center (MYC), a group viewed as a close ally of the extremist Shebab.

The Islamist MYC blamed the authorities for the preacher's murder, but police have dismissed the claim and say they are hunting the killers.

"Our beloved Sheikh Aboud Rogo... was murdered by the kuffar (unbelievers) as part of Kenya's policy of extra-judicial killings against prominent Muslim activists," the MYC said Tuesday in a statement.

Rogo was placed on a US sanctions list in July for "engaging in acts that directly or indirectly threaten the peace, security or stability of Somalia", specifically for recruiting and fundraising for the hardline Shebab.

The United Nations Security Council placed a travel ban and asset freeze on him in July, saying he had provided "financial, material, logistical or technical support to Al-Shebab".

The MYC condemned the killing as an "act of barbarity", and warned that they "hold the Kenyan authorities responsible for this targeted assassination."

Police on Tuesday appealed to the public for information on Rogo's killing.

"Investigations are going on to get people who committed the murder," said regional police chief Adoli. "We have not made any arrest so far, but our officers are out looking for them."

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Monday condemned Rogo's "horrific" murder, adding the government was "committed to bringing whoever was responsible to justice".

Rogo had been accused by the UN of using the MYC group as "a pathway for radicalisation and recruitment of principally Swahili-speaking Africans for carrying out violent militant activity in Somalia".

He "repeatedly called for the violent rejection of the Somali peace process", the US Treasury said, noting he had often advocated the use of violence against both the UN and the African Union force battling the Shebab in Somalia.

The cleric is also alleged to have introduced Fazul Abdullah Mohammed -- the late head of Al-Qaeda's east Africa cell, shot dead last year in Somalia's war-torn capital Mogadishu -- to at least one of the men who helped him carry out the twin US embassy bombings in 1998.

The bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam killed 224 people.

Two policemen feared dead in Kisauni grenade attack


By NATION Reporter

Posted  Tuesday, August 28  2012 at  16:43

Two policemen were feared dead after youth protesting the killing of fiery preacher Aboud Rogo hurled a grenade at a contingent of the officers in Kisauni, Mombasa.

Sixteen other officers were rushed to hospital after suffering injuries during the latest incident at Mwandoni Tuesday.

Earlier, the youth had set the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA) Kisauni on fire and vandalised the parish minister's house.

The unruly mob stole, among other things, at least 100 bibles.

Twelve people were arrested in Mombasa during the confrontation between police and rowdy youth.

Ten were bundled into a police van at Majengo area while two others were taken into custody near Msikiti Musa in the restive town.

Tension in Mombasa as Al-Shabaab suspect Rogo killed

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/-/1056/1487982/-/y9mumkz/-/index.html

By Nation Reporter
Posted  Monday, August 27  2012 at  12:38
Deadly riots broke out in Kenya's main port of Mombasa on Monday after the assassination of a radical cleric linked to Somalia's Al-Qaeda-allied Shebab militants.

At least one person was hacked to death as thousands of angry protestors took to the streets after Aboud Rogo Mohammed -- who was on US and UN sanction lists for allegedly supporting the Shebab -- was shot dead.

"A car behind us aimed at my husband, they shot him on the right side," said his widow Haniya Said, screaming in grief after the killing by unknown attackers.

"One person has been killed, he was slashed to death during the protests," said regional police chief Aggrey Adoli.

Cars were set on fire and two churches were looted in the city -- Kenya's main port and a key tourist hub -- according to an AFP reporter.

"There is chaos in town now, and our officers are on the ground dispersing the rioters to maintain peace," added Adoli. "They are demonstrating against the killing of Aboud Rogo, who was shot by unknown people."

Witnesses said that Mohammed's car was riddled with bullets, and a photograph released by his supporters showed his bloody corpse slumped behind the wheel of a car.

"He died as we rushed him to hospital. Why have they killed my dear husband?" his widow added, before she and her children were taken to the hospital.

Mohammed was placed on a US sanctions list in July for "engaging in acts that directly or indirectly threaten the peace, security or stability of Somalia", specifically for recruiting and fundraising for the hardline Shebab.

The United Nations Security Council placed a travel ban and asset freeze on the cleric in July, saying he had provided "financial, material, logistical or technical support to Al-Shebab".

He was the "main ideological leader" of Kenya's Al Hijra group, also known as the Muslim Youth Center (MYC), the UN said. The group is viewed as a close ally of the Shebab in Kenya.

Mohammed "used the extremist group as a pathway for radicalisation and recruitment of principally Swahili-speaking Africans for carrying out violent militant activity in Somalia", the UN said.

MYC leader Sheikh Ahmad Iman Ali, in a message posted on Twitter, said: "We are on the right track when our leaders get shahadah (martyrdom)."

"He will remain in our hearts forever," the MYC added, while another message offered the grim warning that the "kuffar (infidels) will pay" for his death.

"The whole city is on fire, there are looters in the streets, cars have been damaged, some have been burnt," said Francis Auma, from the local organisation Muslims for Human Rights.

"An imam in the mosque shouted through the speaker 'blood for blood', and immediately youths started stoning cars," said witness Dennis Odhiambo, whose car was damaged and who was forced to flee into a police station for safety.

The local Muslim Human Rights Forum condemned Mohammed's assassination, claiming it "mirrors" the recent killings or disappearance of others "on the country's terrorism watch list".

Mohammed "repeatedly called for the violent rejection of the Somali peace process", the US Treasury said, noting he had often advocated the use of violence against both the UN and the African Union force battling the Shebab in Somalia.

Uganda’s president makes son general, appoints him overall commander of special forces


Uganda’s president makes son general, appoints him overall commander of special forces


By Associated Press, Published: August 27


KAMPALA, Uganda — Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni made his son a one-star general and appointed him overall commander of the country’s special forces, leading some Ugandans to conclude that the son is being groomed to succeed his father.
In changes announced on Monday, Col. Muhoozi Kainerugaba was made a brigadier-general, the latest promotion in the 38-year-old’s quick rise through the ranks. Some Ugandans have long believed that Museveni, who took power by force in 1986, is nurturing his son to eventually take over from him when he retires.

Mwambutsya Ndebesa, a political historian at Uganda’s Makerere University, said the promotion gives that credence.
“Museveni might now be confirming the rumors that he is preparing his son for succession,” Ndebesa said. “It’s just unimaginable that this is happening.”

In his new role Kainerugaba, who received some military training at the elite Sandhurst British academy, will be the chief protector of his father and resources such as oil wells. While he previously reported to the chief army commander, it appears that now he will answer directly to his father.

Some analysts say that Kainerugaba’s rise through the army has been a source of resentment for the more senior army officers who see the first son as being shamelessly fast-tracked toward the point when he will assume firm control of the Ugandan military. Uganda’s most senior army officers are veterans of the bush war that brought Museveni to power in January 1986, when Kainerugaba was not yet a teenager.

Nicholas Sengoba, a political analyst based in Kampala, said Kainerugaba’s promotion had made it clearer that Museveni wants his son to have more say in the military going forward.

“It’s been quite obvious that Muhoozi is headed for big things,” Sengoba said. “This vindicates those who have been critical of Museveni. The doubts are being removed slowly.”

Throughout his political career Museveni has been dogged by accusations that he practices nepotism. His wife is a Cabinet minister and his brother used to be one.

Museveni, who was reelected last year, has not said if he will run again when his current term expires in 2016. But he faces pressure within and outside the ruling party to quit and preside over what would be the first peaceful transfer of power in Uganda’s history.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Museveni promotes Muhoozi to brigadier


By RISDEL KASASIRA

Posted  Tuesday, August 28  2012 at  01:00

Col. Muhoozi Kainerugaba was yesterday promoted to the rank of Brigadier and put in charge of a new-look Special Forces.

President Museveni, who is the commander-in-chief, announced the changes yesterday. Brig. Kainerugaba, who is also the First Son, will command the Special Forces Command, formerly the Special Forces Group, which has been restructured and divided into Special Forces One and Special Forces Two.

Special Forces One will handle VIP protection and will be under the command of Lt. Col. Sabiiti Magyenyi Mzee who has been promoted to Colonel while Special Forces Group Two has motorised infantry will be under Maj. Don Nabasa.
They will both work under Brig. Kainerugaba. The special Forces Group Two has tanks, marines and other armoured vehicles.

In a statement issued yesterday, acting Army spokesperson Capt. Chris Magezi described the restructuring of the presidential guard as a move to enhance the operations of the unit.

“The President and Commander-in-Chief has also decided to re-organise the Special Forces Group (SFG) into Special Forces Command (SFC) which will be under the Overall Command of Brig Muhoozi Kainerugaba who has been promoted from the rank of Col.,” he said.

“The re-organisation is designed to enhance efficiency and effectiveness of the Special Forces Command in the conduct of its operations which among others include VIP protection and protection of strategic installations.”

Others changes
In other changes, Maj. Gen. Fred Mugisha, the former commander of the African Union Forces in Somalia (Amisom) who was also Commander Field Artillery Division, is the new Joint Chief of Staff, replacing Lt. Gen. Robert Rusoke who was last week appointed Ugandan ambassador to South Sudan.

Brig. Charles Angina, the former chairman of the UPDF General Court-Martial, has been promoted to major general and returns to his former position of Chief of Staff Land forces, replacing Brig. Silver Kayemba.

When asked about Brig. Kayemba’s new role, Capt. Magezi said: “More announcements would be made soon. There is no communication about him but more details are expected to be announced by the Commander-in-Chief.”
The spokesman did not give any details.

Col. Magyenyi, who holds a masters degree in biochemistry from South Africa, has been the SFG commander for the last one year while Brig. Muhoozi was attending a course in the same country.

The promotion is another feather in Brig. Muhoozi’s cap, which has seen him rise from a second lieutenant in 1999. Observers have raised questions about the speed of the First Son’s ascent in the army with some suggesting that President Museveni could be grooming his son to run the country in future but Muhoozi has repeatedly defended his advance as being on merit.

Army insiders say Brig. Muhoozi’s promotions have been backed by staff and command training in Sandhurst, UK, Fort Leavenworth, USA, Egypt, Nigeria, Israel, South Africa, and Uganda.

Brig. Muhoozi biography
Born: 1974
Schools attended: Kampala Parents School, St. Mary’s College Kisubi and Kings College Budo...
Marital status: Married
Occupation: Commander of Special Forces
Rank: Brigadier
Joined Army: 1999
Role Models: Che Guevara, an Argentine Marxist revolutionary and guerilla leader; Salim Saleh, Fred Rwigyema and President Museveni
Hometown: Rushere

Christians Condemn Idolatrous ‘Queenship of Mary’ Observance, Emphasize Need for Evangelism




FIRST READ:
The Real Blessed Mother of Jesus, Mary

Pope explains how Mary’s queenship points to Jesus

 http://watchmanafrica.blogspot.com/2012/08/pope-explains-how-marys-queenship.html


Sample of Comments

Jeanne Myers · Top Commenter · LaGuardia CC
WHERE IN ANY OF THE SCRIPTURES DOES IT TELL US TO PRAY TO MARY, THE SAINTS, ETC.? HOW MANY TIMES IN HOW MANY WAYS DOES 'GOD' MAKE IT PLAIN THROUGH HIS "SON" AND THE APOSTLES WHO OUR PRAYERS ARE DIRECTED TO (James 2:14)?? SHOULDN'T THE POPE WHO SAYS HE SPEAKS FOR GOD ALREADY KNOW THIS? WHOSE "WORD" AND "AUTHORITY" WILL THOSE OF YOU WHO SAY YOU LOVE THE Lord Stand on, God/Jesus' or man??


Shawn Barnish · Top Commenter · El Mirage, Arizona
The Catholic Cult Church is the MOTHER WHORE of many denominations.
(All denominations, the ones with the pyramid scheme of control, are corrupt).
The "Church" is to be a local congregation of believers. With Jesus Christ as it's head. Period. The WORD is the final authority.
This is what we get when people TWEAK the truth and gain a following.
People, lustful people with itchy ears (2 Tim 4 KJV) will heap to these false teachers. And look how big THIS idolatrous whore has become!
Jesus said to call NO MAN your father except God above. - Matthew 23:9 KJV
Right there shows why calling Priest/Pope "father" is wickedness.
People must be SAVED BELIEVERS before they get baptised! Acts 8:36-38 KJV
Saints are just BELIEVERS. So don't be praying to me! Pray only to God through Jesus Christ!


Shawn Barnish · Top Commenter · El Mirage, Arizona
You can't be a BELIEVER in Jesus Christ alone and be a Catholic at the same time.
Catholics need to become EX CATHOLICS to be saved.
Doing "penance" per Sodomite boy raping Priests, bowing to idols, sprinkling water on infants, etc are all faith in WORKS. Period. Case closed. End of story. And no one who is depending on his own works will enter thy kingdom of God.
"22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? <--- The Catholic Cult to a TEE!
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

 

Christians Condemn Idolatrous ‘Queenship of Mary’ Observance, Emphasize Need for Evangelism

http://christiannews.net/christians-condemn-idolatrous-queenship-of-mary-observance-emphasize-need-for-evangelism/  


Christians nationwide are expressing concerns following Wednesday’s Catholic observance of the Feast of the Queenship of Mary — one of a number of holidays on the liturgical calendar — and are emphasizing the need for evangelism.

On the Roman Catholic holiday, Pope Benedict addressed a crowd of international followers at the courtyard of the Castel Gandalfo in Rome, declaring that Christians should look to Mary to find answers in life, and that prayers should continually be sent to her.

“I welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s audience, especially the groups from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Japan and the United States of America. I also greet the young altar servers from Malta and their families,” he stated. “Today the church celebrates the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary. May the prayers of our Lady guide us along our pilgrimage of faith, that we may share in her Son’s victory and reign with him in his eternal Kingdom.”

“Devotion to Our Lady is an important part of spiritual life,” he continued. “She will not fail to intercede for us with her Son. .. [Mary is] queen in the service of God to humanity, [and] is queen of the love that lives the gift of self to God [in order] to enter into the plan of salvation of man.”

Benedict claimed that the love of Mary is manifested through her “watching over us, her children, the children who come to her in prayer, to thank her or to ask for her maternal protection and heavenly help, perhaps after having lost their way, burdened with grief or anguish amid the sad and troubled vicissitudes of life.”

The “Feast of the Queenship of Mary” was established by Pope Pius XII in 1954, and was originally celebrated on May 31st. In a radio address announcing his reasons for the occasion, he stated, “[T]he Son of God, reflects on His heavenly Mother the glory, the majesty and the dominion of His kingship, for, having been associated to the King of Martyrs in the unspeakable work of human redemption as Mother and cooperator, she remains forever associated to Him, with a practically unlimited power in the distribution of the graces which flow from the redemption.”

The Catholic television network EWTN further explained, “Pius XII added that ‘nothing is excluded from her dominion.’ As Mediatrix of all graces, who shared in earning all graces, she is, as Benedict XV said…, ‘suppliant omnipotence’: she can obtain by her intercession anything that the all-powerful God can do by His own inherent power.”

However, the date was later changed by Pope Paul VI to August 22nd, in order to place it eight days after the observance of the Assumption, a date marking Mary’s purported ascension into Heaven. Catholics believe that at the end of Mary’s life, she was received into Heaven both body and spirit. Pope Paul John Paul II explained in 2004 that when Christ said, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and will receive you to myself; that where I am, you may be there also,” Mary became the ‘pledge’ to the promise.

Pope Benedict stated that the placement of the Feast adjacent to the assumption demonstrates what he called “the close link between Mary’s royal nature and her glorification in body and soul beside her Son.”

“To him who rules the world and holds the destinies of the universe, we turn with confidence, through the Virgin Mary,” he said.

However, most evangelical Christians have nothing to do with the observance and many condemn it. Some have never heard of the holiday.

“It’s just a manifestation of idolatry,” Matt Slick, president of Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM) told Christian News Network. “The Roman Catholic Church has elevated Mary to a goddess. … They’ve even said that she participated in the atonement.”

“Catholics place undo emphasis on Mary and give her glories reserved only for God,” said Robert Thomas of Ex-Catholic Baptist. “Any undo exaltation of Mary is repulsive to a true Bible believing Christian who desires to see the Lord Jesus Christ alone exalted. … The Scriptures clearly teach that Mary was a sinner and therefore needed a Savior, [but under] Pius XII, Catholics are required to believe under the pain of mortal sin that Mary was crowned Queen of Heaven and Queen of the Universe. … [W]here is the Scriptural proof for that?”

“She’s a recipient of the grace of God, just as any Christian is a recipient of the grace of God,” added Pastor Jon Speed of the Log College and Christ is King Baptist Church in Syracuse, New York. “We’re all highly favored. We’re beloved. Every believer who is in Christ is in the same position as Mary.”

The evangelists state, however, that they are not only concerned with the Vatican’s emphasis on Mary, but also a number of other doctrines that conflict with the heart of the Gospel.

“We are told in Scripture that if anyone adds any words to salvation, they don’t have salvation,” Slick said. “The Roman Catholic Church says that salvation by faith alone is heresy.”

“[The main question is] ‘Where do you get your righteousness from?’” Speed noted. “No matter where they are in the spectrum of Catholicism, that’s going to be the main issue.”

“The Roman Catholic church, like the Pharisees, contradicts the Holy Scriptures with its dogmas. Every teaching and tradition that is contrary to the inspired Word of God we reject on the authority of the Scriptures,” stated Thomas. “Rome in all actuality, nullifies or destroys God’s holy word with her unscriptural traditions of men.”

Speed said that he sees Roman Catholicism as being a “huge mission field.”

“Everybody’s afraid to say that Roman Catholics are not Christians, and that if you make that statement, you are perceived as unloving or old school,” he stated. “But, either we’re trying to hide what we believe about the Gospel, or we don’t really believe it.”

“Sharing the Gospel with a Catholic is like sharing the Gospel with anyone else,” Speed added. “Just go out and start a conversation with someone and give them something to read for Catholics, and ask them if they will read it.”

Slick agreed.
“One of the best things I’ve come across in years is to ask [them if they] will they pray and ask Jesus to forgive their sins,” he said, explaining that usually there is much hesitation to do so. “So, they can never just come to Jesus, and it’s because the Roman Catholic Church is apostate. It teaches another Gospel. … The obligation the Roman Catholic Church puts upon their members is an impossible Gospel.”

He added that most Christians, however, do not know how to articulate the Gospel, and need to study the Scriptures and share them with others.

“There are some very helpful resources,” Speed said, noting that Mike Gendron of Proclaiming the Gospel Ministries offers a variety of materials to Christians who want to learn more about how to share their faith with Roman Catholics.

According to the liturgical calendar, today is the Catholic Feast of St. Bartholomew.

Clinton's Africa visit fuels debate on competition between US and China


Clinton's Africa visit fuels debate on competition between US and China

http://chinawatch.washingtonpost.com/2012/08/clintons-africa-visit-fuels-debate-on-competition-between-us-and-china.php



US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has concluded an 11-day tour of Africa in which she promoted a new US strategy for the continent.


The visit also stoked international debate about whether the US and China, the world's two biggest economies, are competing for resources in Africa.


Clinton's remarks during the trip, although not mentioning any country by name, were widely interpreted by analysts and media to be targeting China and lobbying African leaders to cooperate with the US, which was replaced by China three years ago as Africa's biggest trading partner.


Clinton arrived in Senegal on Aug 1 and visited Uganda, South Sudan, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa and Ghana. It was the highest-level visit to the continent by a US official since Barack Obama's administration issued a new strategy for Africa in June.


Clinton said in Senegal that the US was committed to "a model of sustainable partnership that adds value, rather than extracts it" from Africa. She said unlike other countries, the US "will stand up for democracy and universal human rights even when it might be easier to look the other way and keep the resources flowing".


A Xinhua News Agency commentary said Clinton's trip had a "hidden agenda", which was "aimed, at least partly, at discrediting China's engagement with the continent and curbing China's influence there".


"Her remarks betrayed an attempt to drive a wedge between China and Africa for selfish gain by the US," said the commentary headlined "US plot to sow discord between China, Africa is doomed to fail".


He Wenping, an expert on African studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said figuring out how to balance China's influence in Africa may be one of the strategic intentions of Clinton's visit to Africa.


"The White House has stated that China is no threat to the US, and called for closer cooperation to support Africa's development," He wrote in an article.


"But consider Clinton's accusations against China's 'new colonialism' during her visit to Zambia in June last year and her criticism of China's development and investment mode during her tour of China's neighbors in early July."


He wrote that the Obama administration recognizes that the next economic boom may be in Africa and wants to "motivate US enterprises to participate in the African renaissance."


China-Africa trade ballooned to $166.3 billion in 2011, as African exports to China jumped to more than $93 billion.


Chinese direct investment in the continent has exceeded $15 billion, with investment projects covering 50 countries.


In July, President Hu Jintao announced that China will provide $20 billion in loans to help African countries develop infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing, and small and medium-sized enterprises.


Accompanying Clinton were a number of US trade representatives. US Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank is expected to arrive in Africa soon, becoming the first US commerce minister to visit the continent.


Some US analysts rejected the idea that the US and China are competing for resources in Africa.


Morgan Roach, an African studies expert at the Heritage Foundation, said the Obama administration largely continued the Africa strategy of the past administration.


"There wasn't anything new and was a missed opportunity. Africa has changed a lot in the past decade and the United States needs a strategy that reflects this," she said.

She said there is a common misperception that the US and China are in competition in Africa.


"It suggests that they have the same interests. They don't. China perceives Africa as an ideal investment opportunity, where it can work quickly and efficiently with African leaders. In the United States, relative good governance, respect for the rule of law and human rights are prerequisites for engagement, economic or otherwise," she said.


"China often has more in common, at least ideologically, with African leaders than the United States does. This not only facilitates trade and economic growth, but leads to further cooperation in other areas of foreign policy for example, the United Nations," she said.


Douglas Paal, vice-president of studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said that Clinton's trip is "of no compelling strategic significance" as she is about to complete her term as secretary of state.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Fla. Methodist Church Holds Worship Service in Bar


Fla. Methodist Church Holds Worship Service in Bar

http://www.christianpost.com/news/fla-methodist-church-holds-worship-service-in-bar-80306/#PfT0IGHS3XUzrWFs.99

By Michael Gryboski , Christian Post Reporter

August 20, 2012|5:56 pm

A Methodist church in Florida holds worship services at an unlikely location: a bar on the Florida-Alabama border known for bikini contests, fish-throwing events, and the occasional fight.


Perdido Bay United Methodist Church has an outreach service that takes place weekly at the Flora-Bama Lounge, Package and Oyster Bar, which prides itself on being "America's last roadhouse."

Titled "Worship at the Water," it was launched in July 2011 and observed its first Easter earlier this year, with over a thousand people attending the service.

In an interview with local media, founding pastor Jack de Jarnette explained that this was a way to reach out to secular society.

"When you cannot get people to come to church, the alternative is to bring the church to them," said Jarnette to Florida Today.

Jarnette also told FT that if on earth today Jesus would have been there, adding that "It's the sort of place he often went and hung out with people."

Dr. Jeremy K. Pridgeon, Pensacola District Superintendent of the Alabama-West Florida Conference of the UMC, the Conference Perdido Bay belongs to, told The Christian Post that it was not the only church having an outreach ministry of this kind.

"Within our own Pensacola District, Gulf Breeze United Methodist Church in Gulf Breeze, Fla., has been holding a 'Worship at the Water' experience for years at Flounders Restaurant," said Pridgeon.

"Other congregations, such as Destin United Methodist Church in Destin, Fla., and Navarre United Methodist Church in Navarre, Fla., hold similar services at times during the year. The Perdido Bay United Methodist Church followed the model used at Gulf Breeze United Methodist Church in implementing their service at the Flora-Bama and it has been met with tremendous enthusiasm by both those who live in and visit the Perdido Key area."

Pridgeon also told CP that the effort to reach out to those outside of the church walls was consistent with the history of Methodism and the views of John Wesley, its founder.

"For John Wesley, he believed all could be saved. Wesley had to be converted to 'field preaching' but came to understand its importance in sharing the Gospel," said Pridgeon.

"He preached under trees, in the mines, the prisons, and elsewhere. He was of the belief he could proclaim the message of Christ to more in these venues than he could in existing churches. I see this as an extension of that heritage."

The services for Worship at the Water are contemporary, with worshippers meeting under a large tent mostly wearing beach clothing and with a band performing various songs. Baptisms are held in the Gulf of Mexico and offerings are placed in neon tackle boxes located throughout the bar.

Worship at the Water has received its share of media attention for holding worship services at a place not known for sacred behavior. Fox News' program "The Five" had a segment last Friday on the question of whether or not one can "mix Bibles and beer."

"I think you can. I think it's been done. I think these people are the Thomas Edison of worshipping," said Brian Kilmeade. "I believe they should be saluted because realizing attendance is down and worshipping is down, what you do is you go to the place where the people are."

"Most people go to church because they want to stay out of Hell. Most people in those bars have already been there," said Bob Beckel.

"I think it's a good idea. If they drink and they hear the Word I think it's helpful. One or two may catch onto it."

Perdido Bay United Methodist Church did not return comment by press time.