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From a former atheist to a man who yearned to walk in the footsteps of Christ, on March 30, 1863, a weary President Lincoln issued Proclamation 97 for the “Day of National Humiliation, Fasting, and Prayer”.
“Whereas the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the supreme authority and just government of Almighty God in all the affairs of men and of nations, has by a resolution requested the President to designate and set apart a day for national prayer and humiliation.
It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.
We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But We Have Forgotten God.
We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.
Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us. It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sin, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.
Now, therefore, in compliance with the request, and fully concurring in the views of the Senate, I do, by this my proclamation, designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th. day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting and prayer. And I do hereby request all the People to abstain, on that day, from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite, at their several places of public worship and their respective homes, in keeping the day holy to the Lord, and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion.
All this being done, in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope authorized by the Divine teachings, that the united cry of the Nation will be heard on high, and answered with blessings, no less than the pardon of our national sins, and the restoration of our now divided and suffering Country, to its former happy condition of unity and peace.”
Sound familiar? There’s nothing new under the sun. Once again, our nation is in a polarized situation divided much like it was when this proclamation was declared. Contrary to modern belief, today’s lack of unity didn’t happen within a span of a few years. Many have been watching it develop over decades.
Ephesians 6:12, NASB: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
What do you believe is behind all the chaos and divisions taking place around the world? Those dark forces are likely salivating over what seems to be a great accomplishment.
Brothers and Sisters stop listening to the talking heads. Turn away from arguments which often make those who engage look like fools, arrogant and cold-hearted. Turn off what stirs up anger, frustration and fear. Click here for related Bible verses
It may be hard when our emotions cause an impulse to react, but instead, sit back for a moment, look up, and focus on our Almighty God. He will give you strength. For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7
It will take a miracle to heal what has been broken. We need more than public policy, stimulus checks, vaccines, or mere mortals to turn this around. Unlike Lincoln, we have few leaders with his wisdom to humble themselves before God. But what will the Body of Christ do?
There are multitudes around the world, including the persecuted, who are on their knees praying and asking God to intervene in the USA. As our nation needed so long ago, we too need to seek the Lord, today. Will you also join in prayer in the name of Jesus for this nation?
Come with a humbled heart, repentance and give praises to the Lord. Pray for a peace that surpasses understanding, for wisdom and truth. Pray also that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. God’s power, mercy, and love has not, nor will ever change. We trust He hears our prayers. He has healed divides in the past. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100:5
Pray brothers and sisters, pray America!
Back in 1925, the American Legion erected a memorial in Bladensburg, Md., to honor the memory of 49 men who perished during World War I.
The 40-foot tall memorial became known as the “Peace Cross.”
In 2014, the American Humanist Association — a group that believes in “being good without a god” — filed a lawsuit alleging the cross-shaped memorial is unconstitutional and demanding it be demolished, altered, or removed.
They alleged the cross carries “an inherently religious message and creates the unmistakable appearance of honoring only Christian servicemen.”
On Wednesday, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed and ruled the historic memorial must be torn down — all because the Bladensburg Memorial is in the shape of a cross.
The Fourth Circuit said the memorial excessively entangles the government in religion because the cross is the “core symbol of Christianity” and “breaches” the wall separating church and state. read the ruling
Writing separately, Chief Judge Gregory wrote, “This Memorial stands in witness to the VALOR, ENDURANCE, COURAGE, and DEVOTION of the forty-nine residents of Prince George’s County, Maryland ‘who lost their lives in the Great War for the liberty of the world.’ I cannot agree that a monument so conceived and dedicated and that bears such witness violates the letter or spirit of the very Constitution these heroes died to defend.”
The American Legion could appeal directly to the Supreme Court. Read More
Detroit (Agenzia Fides) – A judge Mark Goldsmith in Detroit has temporarily halted the deportations of Chaldean Christians and other Iraqi immigrants ordered last June by virtue of the new immigration rules implemented by the Trump Administration. The measure had already been temporarily blocked by the same judge for shorter periods, and all the suspensions ended yesterday, Monday 24 July. Yesterday’s new ruling by Judge Goldsmith also took note of Iraqi citizens who referred of the risk of being subjected to violence and persecution once back in the country of origin. Goldsmith also pointed out that the criminal and judicial cases weighing on many of the Iraqis threatened with deportation were actually “dormant” cases. The judge declared that the constitutional rights of Iraqi immigrants, many of whom have long been resident in the United States, have been violated, and that guarantees for the protection of fundamental freedoms can be suspended only in rare cas es of foreign invasion or internal insurgence.
The Iraqis already arrested on June 12 at the disposition of the Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE, US Federal Agency responsible for border control and immigration) were 114, but potential expulsion measures threatened about 1,400 immigrants from Iraq. Most of the Iraqis already arrested (see Fides 11/7/2017) lived in the area of Detroit and belonged to Chaldean Christian families. The operation was implemented after the agreement between the United States and Iraq with which the government of Baghdad had agreed to host a number of Iraqi citizens subjected to the expulsion order, while being removed from the black list of affected nations from the so-called “Muslim ban”, wanted by President Donald Trump to prevent access to the United States for citizens from six Muslim majority countries considered as potential “exporters” of terrorists. Even some of the arrested Christians had in the past had problems with justice.
Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako also intervened on the case: in a letter to Chaldean Bishop Frank Kalabat, at the head of the Eparchy of St Thomas the Apostle in Detroit, the Primate of the Chaldean Church expressed solidarity and closeness to Iraqi families affected by the provisions of expulsion, and hoped for an adequate solution to the humanitarian emergency caused by the expulsion measures, also directed against family men with small children.
Now Iraqi immigrants, at risk of deportation, have three months to arrange their legal strategy with their lawyers to render ineffective the expulsion orders issued by the ICE. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 25/7/2017)
In June, protesters against federal agents’ rounding up more than 100 Iraqi-American immigrants told local media that those who were detained had no prior warning that Immigration and Customs Enforcement would be arresting them.
The report shared that U.S. Democratic Reps. Sander Levin and Brenda Lawrence of Michigan joined members of the Chaldean Christian community gathered in front of the Patrick V. McNamara Federal Building. They held up signs, crosses and American flags, venting their frustration against federal authorities who detained their father, brothers and uncles, many of whom have been in the community for decades.
Late June 20, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington released a letter that conference officials sent to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, urging him from a moral perspective to defer deportation of the individuals apprehended by ICE, particularly Christians and Chaldean Catholics, “who pose no threat to U.S. public safety” and would be sent back to a region where the persecution of religious minorities continues.
VOP note: Please speak out and pray for our Iraqi brothers and sisters to remain safe in our country.
DALLAS (Christian Examiner) – Christian leaders are pushing back against a Buzzfeed article that questioned HGTV stars Chip and Joanna Gaines for attending a church that opposes same-sex marriage. The Gaines are the hosts of HGTV’s highest-rated program, Fixer Upper.
The Nov. 29 story quickly was labeled a “hit piece” by critics, who questioned why it was newsworthy that a famous couple’s church holds to traditional beliefs that have been affirmed by Christians for 2,000 years.
The story carried the headline: “Chip And Joanna Gaines’ Church Is Firmly Against Same-Sex Marriage” and said in a subhead: “whether the Fixer Upper couple agrees is unclear.” It has been read more than 500,000 times.
Glenn T. Stanton, director of family formation studies at Focus on the Family, said such accusations should be answered “bluntly.” READ MORE
(Voice of the Persecuted) What in the world is going on with our lawmakers? While the Western media puts all the focus on our election, their silence covers up the continued persecution and genocide of Christians. Is it any wonder that a large majority in the U.S. are still ignorant that persecution is even taking place, today?
Iran is increasing pressure on Christians, even raiding their family outings, beating and arresting them on trumped up charges of attempting to overthrow the government. (Read more)
Iran continues to violate international human rights agreements and treaties, whose signatories are supposed to respect basic rights such as the right of religious freedom, personal security and dignity, the right to be free from arbitrary detention, the right not to be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the right to humane conditions of detention, the right to a fair trial and the right of victims to justice and to reparation. While Iran escalates high seas harassment of our U.S. Navy ships—chants “Death to America” following Friday prayers—vows to wipe Israel off the face of the map—imprisons or executes anyone who dares to speak out against the corrupt religious views of the Iranian regime—enforced or involuntary disappearances—arrest, beat and torture Christians. Why? They follow and believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. This is seen as a huge threat by the Iranian Regime. It’s outrageous beyond comprehension how the West remains silent of these human rights abuses.
In Turkey, the government run news (no Turkish news agency operates without government consent) published a propaganda article that said the Patriarch of the oldest Orthodox Christian community was involved in the recent coup to oust Erdogan. (Read More) Later, they took it down, but not before it was spread far and wide. This adds to the real threat of danger for Christians living in the country. But, the West is silent AGAIN!
The media is finally beginning to cover the plight of Pakistanis who fled persecution. Pakistan is one of the most dangerous nations for religious minorities. In Thailand, they suffer immensely as illegals though they hold UNHCR asylum certificates. Yet, our lawmakers drag their feet to help these suffering Christians.
The latest 10,000 Syrian refugees admitted into the U.S. included only .5% Christians. It’s shameful that a powerful sovereign nation such as North America, allows the UN to dictate which refugees we take in. In 2015, Republican Sen. Tom Cotton said this “unintentionally discriminates against Christians and other religious minorities who are reluctant to register as refugees with the United Nations for fear of political and sectarian retribution.”
Our leader’s response, “That’s not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.”
The American people have long demonstrated unmatched compassion for the world’s persecuted and endangered, Cotton said.
It’s not about religious tests. Why do they find this so hard to understand? It’s about helping those who are at the greatest risk. We agree 100% with Cotton, our reliance on the United Nations for referrals of refugees should also be re-evaluated and changed.
Pakistan has become increasingly dangerous for Christians and yet the Pakistani government still receives aid funds from the West.
Boko Haram is actually intensifying it’s attacks on Christians in Nigeria and surrounding areas (confirmed) and yet the promises of change by Buhari is now viewed as empty words by those who surrendered their vote to him. The world sees how the promise of hope and change has worked out for our nation, now darkened with deep divisions and growing racial tension among it’s citizens.
The DAESH (ISIS), although you wouldn’t know it by our politicians or news media, has made strides in Iraq, attacks the West through recruits called ‘lone wolves’, by the media and government agencies, as genocide and abuses continue unabated.
Yet, the U.S. President and Secretary of State have the unmitigated gall to say the world is safer than ever and climate change is our greatest danger. Who do they think they’re fooling? Wake up Church!
Refugee camps from Africa to the West are rotting with infiltrators who rape, torture and kidnap for the sex trade. This is a proven fact. In fact, today in a report of the plight of girls arriving in Italy from Africa, they are traded as sex slaves and the boys as servants. Again, the agenda of the West turns a politically correct eye and remains silent, when they should be shouting out from the rooftops! So ashamed and saddened that the American voice for truth and justice has become barely a whisper.
Churches in the West are almost as much to blame. Their silence on persecution, abortion and human rights abuses— only concerning themselves with filling their coffers. Too few are speaking out.
For a nation that screamed “NEVER AGAIN” after WWII, we have failed miserably in the eyes of God and those suffering in the world.
Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.
Challenge your church to share more about the persecuted. To dedicate a few moments each week to unite in prayer for our suffering brethren. Let’s change our attitude so we can change the atmosphere in Christ, through the power of prayer. It can happen today and begins with one voice speaking out—and that voice is yours.
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A look at the state of the religion in the U.S., Europe, and the world.
WASHINGTON – Alliance Defending Freedom asked a federal district court Friday to order the Internal Revenue Service to identify records it has withheld for nearly two years that are related to secret procedures for investigating churches. The existence of the secret procedures became known through the agency’s settlement of an atheist group’s lawsuit, but the IRS has stonewalled the release of details.
In 2014, ADF filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act for the records. The IRS refused to produce any records for a full year. When it finally started producing documents in July 2015, months after ADF filed suit through its attorneys with Judicial Watch, the agency withheld more than 10,000 out of 16,000 pages requested, and of the pages it did produce, more than 2,000 are almost entirely blacked out. Now ADF is asking the court to order the IRS to comply with its legal duty to justify the thousands of records withheld or else produce them.
“The IRS is not above the law, and Americans deserve to know the truth about the agency’s secret deals with activists,” said ADF Legal Counsel Christiana Holcomb. “The IRS has a legal obligation to explain why it is hiding things or else produce the documents. Its ongoing refusal to follow the law is absurd, particularly since much of we are asking for is information that the IRS has already provided voluntarily to Freedom From Religion Foundation.”
The whole matter stems from a legal settlement between the IRS and FFRF in Freedom From Religion Foundation v. Koskinen. The IRS assured the atheist group that it had adopted new protocols and procedures for church investigations in order to end the lawsuit.
“The Obama IRS first ignored the ADF FOIA request and is now stonewalling in federal court,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The public has the right to know about any new IRS guidelines for investigating the practice of our basic First Amendment freedoms.”
In July 2014, a Freedom From Religion Foundation press release announced it had reached a settlement with the IRS in its lawsuit against the agency. As the release revealed, “The IRS has now resolved the signature authority issue necessary to initiate church examinations. The IRS also has adopted procedures for reviewing, evaluating, and determining whether to initiate church investigations.”
The FFRF press release mentioned the ADF-sponsored “Pulpit Freedom” movement as a motivation for its lawsuit, which urged the IRS to enforce what’s known as the “Johnson Amendment” against churches. Currently, the Johnson Amendment authorizes the IRS to regulate sermons and requires churches to give up their constitutionally protected freedom of speech in order to retain their tax-exempt status.
ADF and Judicial Watch filed the motion to compel Friday with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in Alliance Defending Freedom v. Internal Revenue Service. Several members of Congress, at least one state attorney general, and a number of concerned organizations have also asked the IRS to come clean on its settlement with FFRF.
According to recently released figures from the State Dept., the United States has let in a miniscule number of Christian refugees from Syria — only 34 — during the four years since the Islamic State began its campaign of mass slaughter. Put differently, although Christians amount for 10 percent of Syria’s population—and so should at least be 10 percent of the refugees accepted into the States—only two percent of those accepted are Christians.
This disparity is being ignored by influential U.S. Christian groups. The Church World Service (CWS) and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have both called for the resettlement of 100,000 Syrian refugees in the United States next year. Yet advocacy for especially persecuted Christians is lacking among these U.S. Christian organizations.
The CWS, for example, does not even mention the special plight of Christians on its website’s call to help Syrian refugees; it primarily features pictures of Muslims. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops — which touts itself as the world’s largest refugee resettlement organization and even received $80 million from the federal government in 2014 for its Migration Fund — also often fails to mention Christians in its public advocacy for the resettlement of Syrian refugees.
Refugee Resettlement Watch charges that “The Bishops [of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops] surely are not telling local priests and parishioners that they are raking in millions of dollars of cold hard cash from federal taxpayers for refugee resettlement activities. And, they aren’t telling them that they are NOT advocating to save the persecuted Christians of Syria through this program” (emphasis in original).
When the Catholic hierarchy does mention persecuted Christians, they are often lumped in with every other group, including Muslim majorities. This approach begins with Pope Francis. Last September, when he stood before the world at the United Nations, his energy was, once again, spent on defending the environment. In his entire speech, which lasted nearly 50 minutes, only once did Francis make reference to persecuted Christians—and he merged their sufferings in the same sentence with the supposedly equal sufferings of “members of the majority religion,” that is, Sunni Muslims (the only group not to be attacked by the Islamic State, a Sunni organization). Said Francis:
I must renew my repeated appeals regarding to the painful situation of the entire Middle East, North Africa and other African countries, where Christians, together with other cultural or ethnic groups, and even members of the majority religion who have no desire to be caught up in hatred and folly, have been forced to witness the destruction of their places of worship, their cultural and religious heritage, their houses and property, and have faced the alternative either of fleeing or of paying for their adhesion to good and to peace by their own lives, or by enslavement.
In the real world, however, “members of the majority religion”—Sunnis—are not being slaughtered, beheaded, and raped for refusing to renounce their faith; are not having their mosques bombed and burned; are not being jailed or killed for apostasy, blasphemy, or proselytization. Quite the contrary, “members of the majority religion” are responsible for committing dozens of atrocities against Christian minorities every single month all throughout the Islamic world.
From a strictly humanitarian point of view, then—and humanitarianism is the chief reason being cited in accepting refugees—far from being lumped in with “members of the majority religion,” Christians should receive top priority simply because they are the most persecuted group, as repeated studies have shown.
At the hands of the Islamic State and in Syria alone, Christians have been repeatedly forced to renounce Christ or die; they have been enslaved and sold on sex slave markets; they have had more than 400 of their churches desecrated and destroyed.
If Christian minorities are true refugees, most Muslims are to a large extent economic migrants not fleeing real persecution but arriving from safe locales such as Turkey. Moreover, roughly 97-98 percent of those being accepted as refugees into the U.S. are Sunni Muslims—the same sect that ISIS, which supposedly precipitated the refugee crisis, belongs to. And many of them, unsurprisingly, share the same vision of relentless jihad on the infidel—such as the “refugees” who murdered some 120 people in France, or the “refugees” who persecute Christian minorities in European camps and slaughter them in their beds, or the “refugees” who drown Christian migrants in the sea, or the ISIS-affiliated Sunni jihads who massacred over a dozen Americans at a Christmas party in San Bernardino.
In short, the refugee resettlement system egregiously discriminates against those who are most deserving of sanctuary and refugee status. Yet little is said or done by pro-resettlement U.S. Christian groups to address, much less correct, this problem.
If influential Christian organizations are ignoring the discrimination against or at least indifference to Christian refugees, the Obama administration’s policies should not be surprising. Aside from the fact that 98 percent of refugees being accepted into the U.S. are Sunni Muslims and only two percent are Christian—a skewed ratio based on Syria’s demographics—consider:
- When inviting scores of Muslim representatives, the State Department is in the habit of denying visas to solitary Christian representatives.
- When a few persecuted Iraqi Christians crossed the border into the U.S., they were thrown in prison for several months and then sent backto the lion’s den.
- When the Nigerian government waged a strong offensive against Boko Haram, killing some of its jihadi terrorists, Secretary of State John Kerry fumed and called for the “human rights” of the jihadis(who regularly slaughter and rape Christians and burn their churches). More recently, Kerry “urged Tajikistan not to go overboard in its crackdown on Islam.”
- When persecuted Coptic Christians planned on joining Egypt’s anti-Muslim Brotherhood revolution of 2013, the U.S. said no.
- When persecuted Iraqi and Syrian Christians asked for arms to join the opposition fighting ISIS, D.C. refused.
- When working on releasing a statement accusing ISIS of committing genocide against religious minorities such as Yazidis — who are named and recognized in the statement — White House officials argued that Christians “do not appear to meet the high bar set out in the genocide treaty” and thus likely not be mentioned.
Days before the disparity against Christian refugees was revealed, President Obama lashed out against the idea of giving preference to Christian refugees, describing it as “shameful”: “That’s not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion,” loftily admonished the president—even as the exact opposite was occurring: Muslims were getting every preference over Christians.
Such open hypocrisy can stand when influential Christian groups—they who are most responsible for speaking up for savagely persecuted Christian minorities—engage in it themselves.