NewsTue Mar 25, 2008 - 12:15 pm EST
Message of the Pope’s Baptism of Prominent Muslim: Be Not Afraid to Acknowledge Christianity as The
Editorial by John-Henry Westen
March 25, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - On Saturday night at the Easter Vigil in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI baptized Magdi Allam, one of Italy’s most prominent Muslims who upon his conversion took the name Cristiano - which means Christian. Allam, the Deputy Director of one of Italy’s largest newspapers - Corriere della Sera - wrote of his baptism the following day, saying, "Yesterday evening I converted to the Christian Catholic religion, renouncing my previous Islamic faith . . . For me it is the most beautiful day of [my] life."
As a prominent Muslim critic of Islamic extremism and terrorism, Allam had already received many death threats and had official Islamic death warrants - fatwas - signed against him. He was thus forced to live under constant security. He underwent his very public reception into the Catholic Church with the full knowledge that it would lead to much more dire death threats. "I know what I am headed for but I face my destiny with my head held high, standing upright and with the interior solidity of one who has the certainty of his faith," he wrote.
The most important part of Allam’s Easter Sunday message, however, was the portion where he pointed out that the Pope made a "historical gesture" in personally baptizing him in a public event that would be televised worldwide. "His Holiness has sent an explicit and revolutionary message to a Church that until now has been too prudent in the conversion of Muslims, abstaining from proselytizing in majority Muslim countries and keeping quiet about the reality of converts in Christian countries," he said.
Allam surmised that the Church was acting thus, "out of fear. The fear of not being able to protect converts in the face of their being condemned to death for apostasy and fear of reprisals against Christians living in Islamic countries."
While true in many cases, that fear is used as an impetus for a relativistic attitude which has been creeping into Christianity for decades. The approach sees Christianity not as the one and only truth, but one truth among many. The phenomenon also expresses itself in dealing with the various denominations within Christianity. Thus invitations to convert to Christianity - or from one denomination to another - are quietly tolerated at best, and at times openly criticized, even by those who call themselves Christian.
For instance, take the recent debacle in the Church of England over homosexuality. The result has been a fracturing of the Church of England between those who wish to remain true to the Scriptures and those who have embraced sexual immorality. A group of the faithful were looking to enter the Catholic Church en masse. The Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC), which may represent as many as 400,000 Anglicans, was speaking with Vatican officials about such a move.
One would think the reaction of those within the Catholic Church would be a heartfelt reception with open arms to brothers who are struggling to hold to the truth about human sexuality amidst turmoil within their denomination. Insiders reported that Pope Benedict would be pleased to receive the group; however, the reaction of one high ranking Church official spoke volumes about the relativistic attitude of many Christians.
Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, commented on the proposed entrance of the TAC into full communion with the Catholic Church, suggesting that the Church was resistant to the move. "We are on good terms with the Archbishop of Canterbury and as much as we can we are helping him to keep the Anglican community together," Cardinal Kasper told The Catholic Herald in a story published December 6, 2007.
When asked whether he felt encouraged by the TAC’s request, the cardinal replied: "It’s not our policy to bring that many Anglicans to Rome." He added, "Of course, as a Catholic I am happy if one person joins our Catholic Church but I doubt such a big group is coming - I think there are still many questions to solve first."
The question of conversion of the Jews to Christianity raises the same point. A worldwide controversy was stirred up after Pope Benedict gave general permission for the Tridentine form of the Latin Mass to be celebrated. Nominally Jewish groups - such as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), and the American Jewish Committee (AJC) - complained bitterly that praying for the conversion of the Jews was unacceptable.
The Good Friday prayers in the ‘extraordinary form’ - as the Latin liturgy is now called - contains prayers for the conversion of the Jews to Christianity. A slightly revised version issued by Pope Benedict reads: "Let us also pray for the Jews: that God our Lord might enlighten their hearts, so that they might acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Savior of all mankind. Let us pray. Let us bend our knees. Almighty and eternal God, whose desire it is that all men might be saved and come to the knowledge of truth, grant in your mercy that as the fullness of mankind enters into your Church, all Israel may be saved, through Christ our Lord. Amen."
A similar uproar to the Good Friday prayers occurred in the secular media when conservative pundit Ann Coulter spoke on air with CNBC’s Donny Deutsch about her desire for all people, Jews included, to become Christian. Deutsch became hysterical when Coulter tried to explain that Christianity considers itself the continuation of Judaism, and thus Christians wish followers of Judaism to complete the journey - "we want Jews to be perfected" she phrased it.
Deutsch called Coulter’s comment uneducated, "hateful and anti-Semitic" and went so far as to compare her to Iran in wishing to "wipe Israel off the earth." Again the ADL complained bitterly, calling Coulter anti-Semitic.
But why the hue and cry about Christians hoping the Jews will convert? Wouldn’t it be obvious that Christians, true Christians, who believe in and follow Christ as ‘the way, the truth, and the life’ would want all people to know the truth?
It would be obvious to true believers of any religion, but not to relativists.
Orthodox Jewish Rabbi Yehuda Levin, the spokesman on moral issues for some 1000 Rabbis, explained this to me once in an interview on the Coulter kerfuffle. Rabbi Levin noted that Coulter’s remarks could not be construed as anti-Semitic and that Jews who practice their faith were not scandalized by the remarks. "The Orthodox are very comfortable in their beliefs of their religion and their practices," he said. "The Jews who would be more offended by this are those that are not involved in day to day practice of Judaism."
Michael Medved, the well known practicing Jew and movie reviewer, commented on Coulter’s remarks saying, "(A)ny American Jew who doesn’t already understand that sincere Christians want the whole world ultimately to come to Christ - including us - is an ignorant fool. Yes, Christianity believes in converting people: and most of us received that memo about 2000 years ago. The proper response to the declaration that Christians want all of humanity to become Christian shouldn’t be outrage or indignation; it ought to be, ‘Duh!’ If your friends or neighbors seek to share with you the greatest gift they’ve ever received, it’s not usually a sign that they hate you; in fact, it’s very likely an indication that they love you."
Levin pointed out moreover that true followers of Judaism, like true Christians and sincere believers in several other religions, feel they have the fullness of truth, and thus in charity hope for a day when all people will embrace the fullness of truth. He explained that especially on Jewish holidays special prayers are said, even several times a day, especially for non-Jews, that they will come to accept the truth.
All this is not to dismiss the very valid concerns over the safety and well-being of converts to Christianity from Islam. The newly baptized Cristiano Allam points out that even in Italy there are "thousands of Muslim converts to Christianity who are forced to hide their faith out of fear of being assassinated by Islamic extremists who lurk among us." He hopes that the Pope’s action and his testimony will allow Christian converts from Islam to live their faith openly. "If in Italy, in our home, the cradle of Catholicism, we are not prepared to guarantee complete religious freedom to everyone, how can we ever be credible when we denounce the violation of this freedom elsewhere in the world?" he asks.
Allam suggests, "Benedict XVI, with his witness, tells us that we must overcome fear and not be afraid to affirm the truth of Jesus even with Muslims."
We must also reject the fear of public criticism and belittlement that comes from many quarters when we give public affirmation to faith in Christ. Giving in to such fear leads to a false ecumenism, which is nothing more than relativistic denial of absolute truth.
In his own Easter message delivered Sunday, Pope Benedict called on not only Christians, but all "men and women whose spirit is sincerely open to the truth," to realize that "Jesus Christ died and rose for all; he is our hope - true hope for every human being."
Welcome home Cristiano, and also to the battlefield.
Please, enough with the cult of pop stars. Our kids need real heroes.
April 29, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Two things happen each time a significant pop culture figure dies: Christians attempt to dredge up some moderately conservative or traditional thing that figure said at some point during his long career, and mainstream media attempts to convince a society thoroughly bored with such things that the person in question was a ground-breaking radical. The two most recent examples are the androgynous David Bowie—a cringe-worthy and possibly blasphemous video of him dropping to his knees during a rock performance and uttering the Lord’s Prayer circulated just following his death--and the pop star Prince.
I’ve had to suppress my gag reflexes many times as I saw my Facebook newsfeed fill up with memes sporting quotes from Prince about his faith and articles announcing that the musician who “embraced gender fluidity before his time,” according to Slate and “will always be a gay icon” according to The Atlantic, was against gay marriage. Sure, maybe he was. But only a Christian community so shell-shocked by the rapid spread of the rainbow blitzkrieg and the catastrophic erosion of religious liberty would find this remarkable. After all, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton said the same thing barely one election cycle ago. As one obituary celebrating Prince’s paradigm-smashing sexual performances written by Dodai Stewart put it:
Dig, if you will, a picture: The year is 1980. Many states still have sodomy laws. The radio is playing feel-good ear candy like Captain and Tennille and KC and the Sunshine Band. TV hits include the sunny, toothy blond shows Three’s Company and Happy Days. There’s no real word for “gender non-conforming.” But here’s what you see: A man. Clearly a man. Hairy, mostly naked body…a satiny bikini bottom. But those eyes. Rimmed in black, like a fantasy belly dancer. The full, pouty lips of a pin-up girl. Long hair. A tiny, svelte thing. Ethnically ambiguous, radiating lust. What is this? A man. Clearly a man. No. Not just a man. A Prince.
Right. So let’s not get too carried away, shall we? I know Christians are desperate to justify their addictions to the pop culture trash that did so much to sweep away Christian values in the first place and I know that latching on to the occasional stray conservative belief that may manifest itself in pop culture figures makes many feel as if perhaps we are not so weird and countercultural, but this bad habit we have of claiming these figures upon their passing is downright damaging.
After all, parents should be teaching their children about real heroes, titans of the faith who changed the world. Heroes of the early church who stood down tyrants, halted gladiatorial combat, and crusaded against injustice in a world where death was all the rage. These men and women were real rebels who stood for real values. If we want to point our children to people they should emulate, we should be handing them books like Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness by the brilliant writer Eric Metaxas rather than the pop albums Purple Rain or Lovesexy by Prince. If parents spend their time glorifying the predecessors of Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus instead of highlighting heroes like William Wilberforce, they can hardly be surprised when their children choose to emulate the former rather than the latter.
The mainstream media’s adulation of these pop stars is equally irritating. The unspoken truth of these obituaries is that the flamboyant antics of Prince and the rest of the so-called rebellious drag queens populating the rock n’ roll scene have been mainstream for a long time already. Want to see dozens of bizarre body piercings? Weird hairdos? Purple mohawks? Dudes with nail polish? Strange tattoos? Easy. Just go onto any university campus, or any public high school without a dress code. With headphones wedged firmly in their ear canals, they can pump the cleverly commercialized “counterculture” straight into their skulls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
More than that, some of these courageous rebels have actually sued their employers to ensure that they can let their establishment-smashing freak flag fly at work, too. An Edmonton woman with 22 visible body piercings complained that her employer was unfair because apparently she was being discriminated against “based on body modifications.” Yeah! The Man must be told, after all. And if he doesn’t agree, we will lawyer up. I wonder what the shrieking rebels of the early days would think about the snivelling children of the current grievance culture.
So these days, the media’s eulogizing about aging culture warriors who went mainstream a long time ago rings a bit hollow. After all, most rock n’ roll stars these days look tame compared to what shows up in the children’s section at Pride Week. Freaky is normal now. Normal is radical. Welcome to 2016.
When Christians are posting nostalgic tributes to the rebels who helped inoculate their children against the radical views of Christianity in the first place, you know that the victories of the counterculture are complete and Stockholm syndrome has set in.
Target boycott climbs to over 1 million
April 29, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Over 1 million people have signed a pledge to boycott Target over its new policy allowing men to access women’s bathrooms.
The American Family Association’s Boycott Target petition gained traction immediately, reaching the one million mark in only nine days.
“Corporate America must stop bullying people who disagree with the radical left agenda to remake society into their progressive image,” said AFA President Tim Wildmon. “#BoycottTarget has resonated with Americans. Target’s harmful policy poses a danger to women and children; nearly everyone has a mother, wife, daughter or friend who is put in jeopardy by this policy. Predators and voyeurs would take advantage of the policy to prey on those who are vulnerable. And it’s clear now that over one million customers agree.”
Target defended its policy in a statement saying that it believes everyone “deserves to be protected from discrimination, and treated equally” and earlier this week, a Target spokeswoman defended the policy as “inclusive.”
The AFA said that unisex bathrooms are a common-sense alternative to allowing men unfettered access to women’s bathrooms.
“Target should keep separate facilities for men and women, but for the trans community and for those who simply like using the bathroom alone, a single occupancy unisex option should be provided,” the petition says.
The AFA warned that Target’s new policy benefits sexual predators and poses a danger to women and children.
“With Target publicly boasting that men can enter women's bathrooms, where do you think predators are going to go?” the petition asked.
There have been numerous instances of predatory men accessing women’s bathrooms and intimate facilities in the wake of “transgender” bathroom policies allowing them to do so.
“We want to make it very clear that AFA does not believe the transgender community poses this danger to the wider public,” said Wildmon. “Rather, this misguided and reckless policy provides a possible gateway for predators who are out there.”
Amazing new video captures the flash of light the moment life begins
CHICAGO, April 29, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Life begins with a spark – literally.
Researchers at Northwestern University have documented the striking event in a new video that accompanies a study published this week.
At the moment of conception, the egg releases massive amounts of zinc, which creates a spark that can be seen with the aid of a microscope.
“It was remarkable,” said Teresa Woodruff, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University's medical school. “To see the zinc radiate out in a burst from each human egg was breathtaking.”
The research team had noted the zinc sparks before in mice eggs but had never observed the process in human beings.
“All of biology starts at the time of fertilization,” Woodruff said, “yet we know next to nothing about the events that occur in the human.”
One of the researchers, Northwestern chemistry professor Thomas O'Halloran, explained the science behind the process in 2014.
“The egg first has to stockpile zinc and then must release some of the zinc to successfully navigate maturation, fertilization and the start of embryogenesis,” he said. “On cue, at the time of fertilization, we see the egg release thousands of packages, each dumping a million zinc atoms, and then it's quiet.”
“Each egg has four or five of these periodic sparks,” O'Halloran said. “It is beautiful to see, orchestrated much like a symphony.”
Since the amount of zinc in an egg correlates with successful implantation and birth, the Northwestern researchers are highlighting that their research may be used to assist in vitro fertilization.
But that raises concerns given the grave moral issues with IVF, which involves creating numerous embryos that are either killed or frozen. Moral theologians also emphasize that IVF is an injustice even for the children who are born as a result, as they are created in a lab rather than in the union of man and woman.
The study may have far-reaching consequences the research team did not intend, such as strengthening public belief in the longstanding scientific consensus that life begins at the moment of conception/fertilization.
Many of those who saw the Northwestern video said it testifies to the beauty of life and the shallow lies that buttress the argument of abortion-on-demand.
“I saw this, and I was blown away by it,” said Rush Limbaugh on his nationally syndicated radio program Thursday afternoon. “For anybody in the mainstream media to openly admit that life begins at conception” defies arguments that an unborn child is only “tissue mass.”
Researchers released a separate video of the zinc spark taking place in a mammalian egg more than a year ago:
The paper, which is entitled “The Zinc Spark is an Inorganic Signature of Human Egg Activation,” was published by Scientific Reports on April 26.