Monday, December 27, 2010

Remember These During the Christmas Season

Paul Marshall is a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom. He studies the persecution of Christians and has a very sobering piece at National Review Online on the atrocities many believers are forced to suffer around the globe. One wonders why there's not an international outcry against the sort of brutal oppression he recounts. It certainly doesn't seem to have triggered the same sort of response that, say, the deaths of a half dozen terrorists at the hands of Israelis attempting to enforce an embargo would trigger.

I copy Marshall's full essay here because it just seems too important to interrupt by having the reader go to the link. I hope he and NRO don't mind. Please read it all:
Herod has his current imitators. In 1991, China’s state-run press noted the role of the churches in undercutting Communism in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, adding that if China did “not want such a scene to be repeated in its land, it must strangle the baby while it is still in the manger.” Al-Qaeda has declared that all Middle Eastern Christians should be killed, and many Christians in Iraq have canceled their Christmas celebrations lest they be targeted.

Others, while less explicit, have similar ends. Iran has passed a death sentence on Yousef Nadarkhani, pastor of the Full Gospel Church of Iran congregation in the northern city of Rasht. Nadarkhani became a Christian 16 years ago and was arrested on October 12, 2009, after protesting a government decision that his son must study the Koran. On Sept. 21 and 22, 2010, the Eleventh Chamber of the Assizes Court of Gilan Province said that he was guilty of apostasy and sentenced him to death for leaving Islam. (Apostasy is not a crime under any Iranian statute — the judges simply referred to the opinions of Iranian legal scholars).

Another Iranian Christian pastor, Behrouz Sadegh-Khanjani, may face a similar fate. He was arrested on June 6, 2010, and is still being held even though his detention order expired in October.

In Afghanistan, after a TV program showed video of indigenous Christians worshipping last May, many Christians were forced to flee, and as many as 25 were arrested. One of those arrested was Said Musa, a father of six young children, who had converted to Christianity eight years previous. He had stepped on a landmine while serving in the Afghan Army and now has a prosthetic leg. Musa had worked for the Red Cross/Red Crescent for 15 years, fitting patients for prosthetic limbs — it was after going to their office in Kabul on May 31 to request leave that he was arrested.

The prosecutor, Din Mohammad Quraishi, said Musa was accused of conversion to another religion. In early June, the deputy secretary of the Afghan parliament, Abdul Sattar Khawasi, said that “those Afghans that appeared on this video film should be executed in public.” The authorities forced Musa to renounce Christianity on television, but he has continued to say he is a Christian. In the first months of his detention, he suffered sexual abuse, beatings, mockery, and sleep deprivation because of his faith. He appeared, shackled, before a judge on November 27. No Afghan lawyer will defend him and, in early December, authorities denied him access to a foreign lawyer.

Another Afghan Christian, Shoib Assadullah, was arrested on October 21, 2010, for giving a copy of the New Testament to a man, and is being held in Mazar-e-Sharif. As with Musa, no Afghan lawyer has agreed to defend him, and both will probably face charges of apostasy, a crime that is punishable by death under the government’s version of sharia. As the State Department’s 2010 International Religious Freedom Report notes, religious freedom in Afghanistan has diminished “particularly for Christian groups and individuals.”

One of the most ignored stories of 2010 has been the campaign by the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabab militia in Somalia to kill all Somali Christians on the grounds that they are apostates. They have even beheaded Christians’ children. In one of the latest incidents, 17-year-old girl Nurta Mohamed Farah fled her village of Bardher in the Gedo Region after her parents shackled her to a tree and tortured her for leaving Islam. She went to the Galgadud Region to live with relatives, but shortly after, she was shot in the head and the chest and died.

Not content with killing people, on December 16, al-Shabab destroyed a Christian library they found in a derelict farm in the Luuq district — Christians often bury their Bibles and other books to escape detection. International Christian Concern reports that al-Shabab brought Bibles, Christian books, and audio/video materials to the city center and burned them after noon prayers.

At Christmas, we should remember these churches, each of which continues to grow, and remember these prisoners and others like them. Assadullah emphasizes that he “wants others to know that he is not frightened, and that his faith is strong.” Musa writes that “because the Holy Spirit always with me my situation is not bad until now. I see after what the plan of God is with me.”
It's a symptom of intellectual insecurity, I suppose, that people are so threatened by another belief system, one that does them no harm and has certainly done them much good, that they'll seek to kill those who adhere to it. It's a symptom not only of stupidity but also of savagery and barbarism.

Perhaps the best reason for pulling our troops and aid out of Afghanistan, indeed the toughest question that I've seen posed by advocates of getting out now, is Why should American soldiers be fighting and dying for people like these? That's a hard one to answer.

The Cost of Premarital Sex

The Mail Online has an article which discusses the correlation between premarital sex and the quality of a marriage. The results of the research evidently fly full in the face of the contemporary Zeitgeist. Here's the heart of it:
Scientists at the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University in Utah interviewed 2,035 married people about when they first had sex with their partner.

Analysis of the results showed that couples who waited until marriage before having sex enjoyed a much healthier relationship with their partner than those who started having sex in the early part of their relationship.

In particular, relationship stability was rated 22 per cent higher, relationship satisfaction was 20 per cent higher, quality of sex was 15 per cent better and even communication between partners was 12 per cent better.
There's more on this at the link.

The results don't surprise, or at least shouldn't surprise. When a couple is not committed to waiting, sex tends to crowd out everything else that should be going on in the time they are together before their marriage. The relationship isn't nourished or explored. Compatibility problems in areas other than the physical, areas which will become critical when the couple has to make a life together, tend to become suppressed and glossed over. It doesn't seem important that the two people may have little in common or are unable to communicate on the same wavelength. Good sex makes it all well.

Unfortunately, those who have been saying since the sexual revolution of the 60s that sexual attraction will not sustain a relationship, much less a marriage, have been shunted aside and scoffed at for being "old-fashioned" and irrelevant. Turns out, though, that studies like this one, plus the statistics on divorce and family cohesion, show them to have been right.

We always have to learn the hard way, it seems.

Thanks to Hot Air for the tip.

A Comeback?

Jennifer Rubin is a conservative blogger at the liberal Washington Post which is to be commended for giving her a perch there. Her most recent post assesses the flurry of enthusiasm among the liberal media for Obama's finish during the lame duck session. Just when everyone seemed to be pronouncing the President's political life all but over, he got a couple of things he wanted, things to which no one seemed to be too strongly opposed in any event, and much of the media has reacted as if they'd just witnessed Lazarus emerge from the tomb.

Rubin demurs and suggests instead that the excitement over the revivification of Mr. Obama's political career is either phony, misplaced, or premature. She maintains that there is no "comeback":
[I]f the highlight of Obama's term, according to outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, was the "historic" ObamaCare legislation, then the highlight could soon be extinguished. Obama's central domestic achievement is facing judicial scrutiny, a Republican onslaught to repeal, or at least defund, it, and a public that has never "learned" to love the bill.

Only inside the Beltway could the passage of an arms control treaty and repeal of DADT consume so many for so long and result in such exaggerated punditry. Would Republicans have traded wins on DADT and START for their wins on the DREAM act, the tax deal and the omnibus spending bill? Not in a million years.

But liberal media mavens have a narrative that resists "bad news" (i.e. scandals, polling, the Tea Party movement) which suggests trouble for the Obama administration. They also confuse legislative achievement with political success. If passing stuff was the secret to a political comeback, then the Democrats after ObamaCare and the stimulus plan would have had the greatest year ever [at the polls].

Obama may yet stage a comeback. But to do that, he'll have to do what the left loathes -- cut domestic programs, rework entitlement programs, stand up to foreign adversaries (Obama's legacy is irretrievably ruined if Iran gets the bomb on his watch), cut back on growth-restricting regulations and keep tax rates low. And so long as unemployment remains at historic highs, Obama's chances of re-election remain poor.
I particularly like the sentence that says that the left-leaning media confuse legislative achievement with political success. They also confuse legislative action with national progress. Turn on almost any program at MSNBC and the talk is all about how great it is that the Democrats won on DADT and START. It's like watching a sports talk show. It's all about whether one's own side wins. There's rarely any discussion of what these things will actually mean for the country and whether we'll be better off once they're passed.

You'd think, watching the commentary on MSNBC, that what's actually in these measures and what their consequences will be is totally irrelevant. How many newspapers have actually walked their readers through the provisions of the START treaty and pointed out what the proponents like and the opponents don't, and why? I suppose some have, but most news outlets spent their time during the lame-duck session chattering about the political alignments and who among the Republicans Mr. Obama might win over to his side to get the treaty passed. Then, once it passed, they reported on this as a great victory for the President with little or no explanation why we should think that it was a great victory for the country.

The television talking heads also prattle a lot about Obama's "move to the center", as if this were a brilliant stratagem. I've heard almost no one talk about what it says for a man's principles if he campaigns on the left (or right), but then moves to the middle once elected in order to improve his chances of reelection. If Mr. Obama abandons his core convictions to compromise with the Republicans the country will be better off than had he not, but Mr. Obama will be shown to have been nothing more, politically speaking, than John McCain without McCain's experience. So what was the point of all the sturm und drang in 2008? What did all the rhetoric about a coming transformational presidency actually mean?

It would seem that it meant that the electorate had been snookered into believing that they were getting something novel in our politics when, in fact, they were getting the same old thing.