Ben Johnson

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Southern Baptist leader: If Obama mandate isn’t changed, Christians will go to jail

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE, February 8, 2012, ( – One of the most influential evangelical leaders in the United States says Christians should go to jail rather than comply with the Obama administration’s mandate to provide all contraception, including abortion-inducing drugs, in their health care plans.

Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), told “we will not comply” with the Dept. of Health and Human Services’ mandate requiring religious institutions to cover abortifacient products such as Plan B, Ella, and the IUD.

“We want the law changed, or else we’re going to write our letters from the Nashville jail, just like Dr. King wrote his from the Birmingham jail,” Dr. Land said.

Dr. Land wrote an op-ed on Tuesday with Barrett Duke, vice president for public policy and research at ERLC, calling his fellow Southern Baptists and evangelical Christians throughout America to oppose any infringement on the First Amendment.

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“The Obama administration has declared war on religion and freedom of conscience,” they wrote. “We consider this callous requirement by the Obama administration to be a clear violation of our nation’s commitment to liberty of conscience and a flagrant violation of our constitutional protection to freedom of religion.”

Dr. Land told LifeSiteNews he hopes Baptist ministers will “preach from the pulpit just how serious and dangerous this initiative by the Obama administration is,” and “encourage their parishioners to contact their congressmen and their senators and the president and let them know how deeply unhappy they are with this decision, and they want…legislation guaranteeing that it won’t happen again.”

“It is now in the providence of God,” Dr. Land said. “Our responsibility is to stand and say, ‘We will not comply with this. We want the law changed, or else we’re going to write our letters from the Nashville jail, just like Dr. King wrote his from the Birmingham jail.’ We will not comply.”

Dr. Land, who earned a Doctorate of Philosophy from Oxford University, has been named by Time magazine as one of “The Twenty-five Most Influential Evangelicals in America.”

President Obama’s recess appointment of Chai Feldblum to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) provided an insight to the president’s views, Dr. Land said. Feldblum has said whenever religious rights come into conflict with sexual rights, that sexual rights must prevail. “That’s exactly what’s happening in the Health and Human Services contraceptive and abortifacient directive,” he said. “They are saying that a woman’s right to have free contraceptive services and free abortifacients trumps the deeply held religious convictions of Catholics and Baptists and others. That’s a war on religion.”

Several of the Obama administration’s actions have convinced observers the president harbors an aversion to Christian values. “I do know hostility to religious conviction in the public square when I see it, and I see it in the Hosanna case,” in which the Obama administration attempted to narrowly define the ministerial exemption in hiring, Dr. Land told He called the Obama administration “radically secularist” on his weekly radio program.

The op-ed he co-authored came exactly one week after Dr. Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said evangelical Christians may be required to face imprisonment over the issue. Dr. Mohler said in his daily podcast, “You at least have to admire the courage of the Roman Catholic bishops in saying they are willing to go to jail rather than to comply with this. How many evangelical presidents and pastors and leaders would be willing to do the same?” 

“We’re going to find out in coming months,” he warned.

He said despite media coverage portraying the new regulation as a Catholic issue, “evangelicals need to stand back and – in our own terms, on our own doctrine – understand that our religious liberty is being similarly subverted and attacked.”

Government encroachments on religion have long concerned Dr. Land. Last December, he joined 59 other non-Catholic religious leaders in signing a letter to Barack Obama stating, “religious organizations beyond the Catholic community have deep moral objections to a requirement that their health insurance plans must cover abortifacients.” 

Dr. Land and Duke noted in their op-ed that the government protects other Christians from violating their consciences by exempting pacifists from serving in the military, but “the administration is refusing to allow those who believe that abortion is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being to follow faithfully the dictates of his or her conscience on a matter as grave as the death of an unborn child.” 

“A person who is not free to follow the dictates of his or her moral conscience is not free,” they wrote. “Our Baptist forebears died and went to prison to secure these freedoms.”

In the upcoming presidential election, Dr. Land hoped faithful voters would consider the importance of religious liberty. “This is a very serious and defining moment in American society,” he said.

The Southern Baptist Convention is the largest Protestant denomination in the United States, with more than 16 million members and 45,000 churches in the United States.

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Steve Jalsevac Steve Jalsevac Follow Steve

Today’s chuckle: Rubio, Fiorina and Carson pardon a Thanksgiving turkey

Steve Jalsevac Steve Jalsevac Follow Steve
By Steve Jalsevac

A little bit of humour now and then is a good thing.

Happy Thanksgiving to all our American readers.

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Building of the European Court of Human Rights.
Lianne Laurence


BREAKING: Europe’s top human rights court slaps down German ban on pro-life leafletting

Lianne Laurence
By Lianne Laurence

STRASBOURG, France, November 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that a German regional court violated a pro-life activist’s freedom of expression when it barred him from leafleting in front of an abortion center.

It further ruled the German court’s order that Klaus Gunter Annen not list the names of two abortion doctors on his website likewise violated the 64-year-old pro-life advocate’s right to freedom of expression.

The court’s November 26 decision is “a real moral victory,” says Gregor Puppinck, director of the Strasbourg-based European Center for Law and Justice, which intervened in Annen’s case. “It really upholds the freedom of speech for pro-life activists in Europe.”

Annen, a father of two from Weinam, a mid-sized city in the Rhine-Neckar triangle, has appealed to the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights at least two times before, Puppinck told LifeSiteNews.

“This is the first time he made it,” he said, noting that this time around, Annen had support from the ECLJ and Alliance Defense Fund and the German Pro-life Federation (BVL). “I think he got more support, better arguments and so I think this helped.”

The court also ordered the German government to pay Annen costs of 13,696.87 EUR, or 14,530 USD.

Annen started distributing pamphlets outside a German abortion center ten years ago, ECLJ stated in a press release.

His leaflets contained the names and addresses of the two abortionists at the center, declared they were doing “unlawful abortions,” and stated in smaller print that, “the abortions were allowed by the German legislators and were not subject to criminal liability.”

Annen’s leaflets also stated that, “The murder of human beings in Auschwitz was unlawful, but the morally degraded NS State allowed the murder of innocent people and did not make it subject to criminal liability.” They referred to Annen’s website,, which listed a number of abortionists, including the two at the site he was leafleting.

In 2007, a German regional court barred Annen from pamphleteering in the vicinity of the abortion center, and ordered him to drop the name of the two abortion doctors from his website.

But the European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that the German courts had "failed to strike a fair balance between [Annen’s] right to freedom of expression and the doctor’s personality rights.”

The Court stated that, “there can be no doubt as to the acute sensitivity of the moral and ethical issues raised by the question of abortion or as to the importance of the public interest at stake.”

That means, stated ECLJ, that “freedom of expression in regard to abortion shall enjoy a full protection.”

ECLJ stated that the court noted Annen’s leaflets “made clear that the abortions performed in the clinic were not subject to criminal liability. Therefore, the statement that ‘unlawful abortions’ were being performed in the clinic was correct from a legal point of view.”

As for the Holocaust reference, the court stated that, “the applicant did not – at least not explicitly – equate abortion with the Holocaust.”  Rather, the reference was “a way of creating awareness of the more general fact that law might diverge from morality.”

The November 26 decision “is a quite good level of protection of freedom of speech for pro-life people,” observed Puppinck.

First, the European Court of Human Rights has permitted leafleting “in the direct proximate vicinity of the clinic, so there is no issue of zoning,” he told LifeSiteNews. “And second, the leaflets were mentioning the names of the doctors, and moreover, were mentioning the issue of the Holocaust, which made them quite strong leaflets.”

“And the court protected that.”

Annen has persevered in his pro-life awareness campaign through the years despite the restraints on his freedom.

“He did continue, and he did adapt,” Puppinck told LifeSiteNews. “He kept his freedom of speech as much as he could, but he continued to be sanctioned by the German authorities, and each time he went to the court of human rights. And this time, he won.”

ECLJ’s statement notes that “any party” has three months to appeal the November 26 decision.

However, as it stands, the European Court of Human Rights’s ruling affects “all the national courts,” noted Puppinck, and these will now “have to protect freedom of speech, recognize the freedom of speech for pro-lifers.”

“In the past, the courts have not always been very supportive of the freedom of speech of pro-life,” he said, so the ruling is “significant.”

As for Annen’s pro-life ministry, Pubbinck added: “He can continue to go and do, and I’m sure that he does, because he always did.”  

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A vibrant church in Africa. Pierre-Yves Babelon /
Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

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‘Soft racism’: German Bishops’ website attributes African Catholics’ strong faith to simplemindedness

Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete
By Pete Baklinski

GERMANY, November 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) --  The only reason the Catholic Church is growing in Africa is because the people have a “rather low level” of education and accept “simple answers to difficult questions” involving marriage and sexuality, posited an article on the official website of the German Bishops' Conference posted yesterday. The article targeted particularly Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea, the Vatican's prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and ardent defender of Catholic tradition.

First Things blogger Leroy Huizenga, who translated a portion of the article, criticized the article's view as “soft racism.”

In his article, titled “The Romantic, Poor Church,” editor Björn Odendahl writes: 

So also in Africa. Of course the Church is growing there. It grows because the people are socially dependent and often have nothing else but their faith. It grows because the educational situation there is on average at a rather low level and the people accept simple answers to difficult questions (of faith) [sic]. Answers like those that Cardinal Sarah of Guinea provides. And even the growing number of priests is a result not only of missionary power but also a result of the fact that the priesthood is one of the few possibilities for social security on the dark continent.

Huizenga said that such an article has no place on a bishops’ conference website. 

“We all know that the German Bishops' Conference is one of the most progressive in the world. But it nevertheless beggars belief that such a statement would appear on the Conference's official website, with its lazy slander of African Christians and priests as poor and uneducated (Odendahl might as well have added ‘easy to command’) and its gratuitous swipe at Cardinal Sarah,” he wrote. 

“Natürlich progressives could never be guilty of such a sin and crime, but these words sure do suggest soft racism, the racism of elite white Western paternalism,” he added. 

African prelates have gained a solid reputation for being strong defenders of Catholic sexual morality because of their unwavering orthodox input into the recently concluded Synod on the Family in Rome. 

At one point during the Synod, Cardinal Robert Sarah urged Catholic leaders to recognize as the greatest modern enemies of the family what he called the twin “demonic” “apocalyptic beasts” of “the idolatry of Western freedom” and “Islamic fundamentalism.”

STORY: Cardinal Danneels warns African bishops to avoid ‘triumphalism’

“What Nazi-Fascism and Communism were in the 20th century, Western homosexual and abortion ideologies and Islamic fanaticism are today,” he said during his speech at the Synod last month. 

But African prelates’ adherence to orthodoxy has earned them enemies, especially from the camp of Western prelates bent on forming the Catholic Church in their own image and likeness, not according to Scripture, tradition, and the teaching magisterium of the Church. 

During last year’s Synod, German Cardinal Walter Kasper went as far as stating that the voice of African Catholics in the area of Church teaching on homosexuality should simply be dismissed.

African cardinals “should not tell us too much what we have to do,” he said in an October 2014 interview with ZENIT, adding that African countries are "very different, especially about gays.” 

Earlier this month Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels, instead of praising Africa for its vibrant and flourishing Catholicism, said that African prelates will one day have to look to Europe to get what he called “useful tips” on how to deal with “secularization” and “individualism.” 

The statement was criticized by one pro-family advocate as “patronizing of the worst kind” in light of the facts that numerous European churches are practically empty, vocations to the priesthood and religious life are stagnant, and the Catholic faith in Europe, especially in Belgium, is overall in decline.

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