Koh Nomination Provokes Hysteria over Shariah

In March 2007 the National Review-linked blog Phi Beta Cons carried a letter from a New York lawyer named Steven J. Stein addressed to Harold Koh, Dean of Yale Law School:

Dear Dean Koh

I attended the dinner of the Yale Club of Greenwich earlier this week.  In your discussion of “global law” I recall at least one favorable reference to “Sharia”, among other foreign laws that could, in an appropriate instance (according to you)  govern a controversy in a federal or state court in the US.  I, for one, oppose following “law” that is not the product of democratic lawmaking processes such as in this country, the Constitution, treaties to which the US is a party, legislative acts, (whether by a congress or a rulemaking authority in the executive branches of government) and, of course, judicial interpretations thereof . You mentioned, en passant, your extensive travels to Muslim countries so I must assume some familiarity with Sharia “law” including its decidedly undemocratic source, i.e., the truth as revealed to a Seventh Century “prophet” .  Therefore, I must assume your awareness that such ‘truths” include, the following:
 
Sura 8:12: “I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instill terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them.”

Sura 3:151 “Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers, for that they joined companions with Allah, for which He had sent no authority: their abode will be the Fire: And evil is the home of the wrong-doers!”

Sura 9:25 declares: “But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practise regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.”

Sura 9:29 states: “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” (Jizya was a tax which non-Muslims had to pay to their Muslim overlords).

Your own world view, as expressed in Greenwich, based on fairness, reasonableness and tolerance seems very much at odds with the foregoing “laws” followed by over One Billion residents of this planet.

The above does not inspire confidence in Stein’s abilities; Islamic law is a complex phenomenon that has developed in many different ways, and only a fool would suggest it can be encapsulated in a few random sanguinary verses from the Koran.

Now that Koh has been nominated as the State Department’s legal adviser, Stein’s accusation has been dusted off by those looking for evidence of B. Hussein X’s secret plans for Islam to dominate the USA. The NY Post has an article by Meghan Clyne, entitled “Obama’s Most Perilous Legal Pick“, which sees Koh’s supposed enthusiasm for shariah as of a piece with, erm… opposition to the death penalty and support for gay marriage:

…California voters have overruled their courts, which had imposed same-sex marriage on the state. Koh would like to see such matters go up the chain through federal courts — which, in turn, should look to the rest of the world. If Canada, the European Human Rights Commission and the United Nations all say gay marriage should be legal — well, then, it should be legal in California too, regardless of what the state’s voters and elected representatives might say.

He even believes judges should use this “logic” to strike down the death penalty, which is clearly permitted in the US Constitution.

The primacy of international legal “norms” applies even to treaties we reject. For example, Koh believes that the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child — a problematic document that we haven’t ratified — should dictate the age at which individual US states can execute criminals. Got that? On issues ranging from affirmative action to the interrogation of terrorists, what the rest of the world says, goes.

Including, apparently, the world of radical imams. A New York lawyer, Steven Stein, says that, in addressing the Yale Club of Greenwich in 2007, Koh claimed that “in an appropriate case, he didn’t see any reason why sharia law would not be applied to govern a case in the United States.”

However, Clyne at least gives us a clarification from Koh:

A spokeswoman for Koh said she couldn’t confirm the incident, responding: “I had heard that some guy . . . had asked a question about sharia law, and that Dean Koh had said something about that while there are obvious differences among the many different legal systems, they also share some common legal concepts.”

For Daniel Pipes, this becomes:

Harold Koh, Promoter of Shari’a?

And as we move further rightwards, another site gives us: 

Obama Pick Harold Koh Favors Sharia Law Over Constitution

However, not everyone has fallen prey to the latest hysteria. One conservative blogger with a dislike of Koh complains that:

The Posts big tag of Koh and Sharia law is an unsubstantiated overheard and poorly commented handoff from a Koh staffer. The thing is attacking him on being pro Sharia is easily refuted by looking back at some 2007 House testimony he gave.

Here’s the relevant quote:

The human rights situation in Iran is increasingly disturbing. Although a great percentage of the Iranian people support democratic reform, the country remains in the hands of the conservative clerics, who closely monitor and restrict the opposition and the press, punish human rights defenders, and impose a strict form of Sharia law that denies women and minorities basic rights. This year, Iranian government shut down two independent newspapers and blocked access to many media internet sites.  Yet the U.S. saber-rattling approach has blunted its ability to gain human rights leverage.  In criticizing Iran for its “severe restriction of the right of citizens to change their government peacefully,” the report uses stronger language than is found in the reports for Syria and Saudi Arabia, which have arguably similar levels of restrictions on the right to change the government.

That was taken from  a Committee of Foreign Affairs discussion of the 2007 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and the Promotion of Human Rights in US Foreign Policy (see here, p. 21). Koh also complains about human rights abuses in other Middle Eastern countries, and he complains that the report downplays violations in friendly countries in the region.

Meanwhile, Daniel Pipes hilariously draws on the expertise of David Limbaugh as evidence against Koh:

Limbaugh goes on to comment: “Whether or not Koh ever responded to Stein’s letter, Stein’s representations of Koh’s remarks are certainly consistent with Koh’s writings that I reviewed.”

Limbaugh, of course, is himself a fan of religious supremacy in the USA, although in his case his preference is for Christian fundamentalism. However, Limbaugh’s “review”, at Townhall, adds no new information as regards Koh’s views on Shariah, and is instead a rant against his supposed “transnationalism”.

UPDATE: Fox News explains Koh’s views to the masses, with a bit of help from Nonie Darwish:

dawish-koh

The particular phrasing for the list of punishments appears in only one other place online, in an essay by Lauren Vriens for the Council for Foreign Relations, and I have confirmation that the wording is her own. Here’s the actual context (emphasis added):

Marriage and divorce are the most significant aspects of sharia, but criminal law is the most controversial. In sharia, there are categories of offenses: those that are prescribed a specific punishment in the Quran, known as hadd punishments, those that fall under a judge’s discretion, and those resolved through a tit-for-tat measure (ie., blood money paid to the family of a murder victim). There are five hadd crimes: unlawful sexual intercourse (sex outside of marriage and adultery), false accusation of unlawful sexual intercourse, wine drinking (sometimes extended to include all alcohol drinking), theft, and highway robbery. Punishments for hadd offenses–flogging, stoning, amputation, exile, or execution–get a significant amount of media attention when they occur. These sentences are not often prescribed, however. “In reality, most Muslim countries do not use traditional classical Islamic punishments,” says Ali Mazrui of the Institute of Global Cultural Studies in a Voice of America interview. These punishments remain on the books in some countries but lesser penalties are often considered sufficient.

UPDATE 2: From the Yale Daily News:

In an interview Thursday, Robin Zorthian ’76, who organized the event in Greenwich, dismissed Stein’s claims as entirely false. Zorthian said Stein, a Yale alumnus’ guest that night, seemed a “tad unreasonable” throughout the question-and-answer session with Koh.

“[Koh] never said that Shariah law could or should be applied in the United States,” Zorthian said. “It seemed as if [Stein] was trying to pin down [Koh] to say something.”

Zorthian has also written a letter to the New York Post:

I was the organizer of the Yale Club of Greenwich event on March 13, which Meghan Clyne references.

The account given by Steve Stein of Dean Koh’s comments is totally fictitious and inaccurate. I was in the room with my husband and several fellow alumni, and we are all adamant that Koh never said or suggested that sharia law could be used to govern cases in US courts.

The subject of his talk was Globalization and Yale Law School, so, of course, other forms of law were mentioned. But never did Koh state or suggest that other forms of law should govern or dictate the American legal system.

Hopefully, your readers are interested in the facts.

Robin Reeves Zorthian
President
Yale Alumni Association of Greenwich
Greenwich, Conn.

WND in Distorted Journalism Shock

WorldNetDaily boasts of yet another “exclusive” – and yet again, it’s alarmist rehash of a report published elsewhere and distorted by a hack lacking in any kind of professional integrity:

obama-muslims-wnd

Here’s the shocking report:

WASHINGTON – Barack Obama is conducting his own affirmative action program to get more Muslims in the White House.

The move began with Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn, who took his oath of office with a hand on the Quran, to solicit the resume of what he considered to be the nation’s most qualified adherents of Islam.

According to the Denver Post, when White House officials heard about the program, it was put on overdrive.

The careful reader will quickly note (a) that the second sentence is barely coherent; and (b) that no link to the Denver Post is given. So let’s see what the Post has to say:

Obama gets list of top Muslim Americans

In a bid to get more Muslim Americans working in the Obama administration, a book with resumes of 45 of the nation’s most qualified — Ivy League grads, Fortune 500 executives and public servants, all carefully vetted — has been submitted to the White House.

The effort, driven by community leaders and others, including U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., was bumped up two weeks because White House officials heard about the venture, said J. Saleh Williams, program coordinator for the Congressional Muslim Staffers Association, who sifted through more than 300 names.

Well, so what if “Obama gets list” (and an unsolicited one at that) is not quite same thing as “Obama seeks Muslims for White House Posts”? The latter is more likely to provoke paranoia and fear about B. Hussein X (© Sadly No!), so is obviously perfectly justifiable.

WND concludes:

In 1991, Mohamed Akram wrote a memo for the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood that explained its work in America as “a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”

But does the Congressional Muslim Staffers Association, or any of the “45 of the nation’s most qualified” Muslims have any links to the Muslim Brotherhood? Not a question likely to be asked by any of WND‘s target readers.

March for England Rebukes Former Royal Anglian Soldier

A couple of days ago I blogged on the decision to cancel a demonstration in Luton in response to the recent provocation by a small group of Islamists who protested a parade of returning soldiers. Luton Today reported:

James Yeomans began organising the event after the disruption at last week’s homecoming parade for the 2nd Battalion of The Royal Anglian Regiment, nicknamed The Poachers.

He has decided to abandon the event in case it attracts further trouble…

An earlier report tells us that Yeomans is himself a former member of the regiment.

So what kind of “trouble” was Yeomans expecting? Apparently, it was the realisation that groups such as “March for England” (as I noted here) planned to hijack the event for their own anti-Muslim purposes. All we need to know is contained in a bitter response from March for England and its associated outfits posted on “Lionheart”‘s blog. Weirdly, it is in the form of a Youtube video, but I’ve transcribed a portion. Spellings and punctuation are as in the original:

David Davies MP should tell Mr Yeomans that he should have a little respect for those who were willing to unite in Luton. Who does Mr Yeomans think he is to call us all fascists, and pitiful? He says: “What have they ever done for their country?”

Well we were about to take to the streets in protest for the sake of our country!

Whilst our armed forces are serving in foreign lands, it is us who are back home witnessing militant Islam

Ask your families about whats happening while your thousands of miles away

Mr Yeoman’s is a political puppet

Says all the right things for the Establishment at our expense

He has stated: “we need to have a look at our sad lives”

He should offer an apology for sayning that against everyone willing to be in Luton on Saturday

Or David Davies MP should ask him to step down for disrespecting ordinary citizens in such a public manner

Two Facebook groups are named alongside “March for England”: they are “Defence of the Realm” and the “Welsh Defence League”.

Barton in the Beans and the BNP Baptist Chapel

After a bit of prodding, I’ve received a response from the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches (FIEC) about the recent hosting of the British National Party’s Rev Robert West at Barton in the Beans Baptist Chapel (also known as Barton Fabis Baptist Chapel or Barton Chapel). West’s appearance at this venue was noted on a BNP blog, but specific details were removed after Seismic Shock drew it to wider attention. The FIEC administrator was keen to point out that each church is independent, that the Fellowship does not support any political party, and that it is working to make member churches aware of the dangers posed by political extremists. I was also directed to a related church body called “Affinity”, of which the FIEC is a member and where further details about the chapel are listed. The specific entry is here; there is no minister listed, just a certain “Mrs C S Meller” given as the administrator. There are apparently regular services, though.

Mrs Meller is Christine Meller, and according to this site she and her husband Derek Meller maintain a museum at the Chapel, which is of historic significance and regarded fondly by British Baptists. There is no evidence that either of these persons support the BNP, but it just so happens that there is also a local BNP councillor named Ian Derek Meller, who is described as a member of the Chapel on the website of the North West Leicestershire District Council.

A site run by Searchlight magazine notes:

[Ian] Meller is a former member of the NF who in August 2000 was fined £400 with £55 costs for possessing an offensive weapon – believed to have been a chair leg. When he was arrested Meller was with a 15 strong contingent of NF members led by Mick Shore who was involved in the KKK and who is now also in the BNP. The gang of NF thugs of which Meller was a part were intent on attacking a Gay Pride march in Leicester.

Meller’s supporters claim he was carrying a flagpole.

West, meanwhile, believes that multiracialism is sinful, and that this is the lesson of the story of the Tower of Babel. He also shares Meller’s distaste for homosexuality, and in 2007 his Christian Council of Britain brought Paul Cameron to the UK.

Religion Explains Unfortunate Events

Gary McCullough of Christian Newswire steps in to explain a recent story that has generated controversy:

On March 24, our service distributed a submission from Gingi Edmonds that engendered much more than the usual number of replies questioning the character of Christian Newswire. This is not surprising since the item addressed is a combination of abortion, the death of born children, and the always popular topic of God’s wrath. Edmonds wrote about the recent Montana airplane crash in which several children died, and the ties the family has to the abortion business.

The plane crash was in Montana, and it killed a number of family members (plus a few others) of Irving “Bud” Feldkamp, who owns a chain of abortion clinics in California. The plane had changed course from its intended destination for an airstrip at Butte, but it crashed into the adjoining Holy Cross Cemetery. This cemetery is Roman Catholic, and reportedly contains a “Tomb of the Unborn” (the Knights of Columbus have apparently erected a number of these in Montana).

Edmonds, who had previously protested at Feldkamp’s residence, suggested a supernatural significance:

We warned him, for his children’s sake, to wash his hands of the innocent blood he assisted in spilling because, as Scripture warns, if “you did not hate bloodshed, bloodshed will pursue you”. (Ezekiel 35:6)

A news source states that Bud Feldkamp visited the site of the crash with his wife and their two surviving children on Monday. As they stood near the twisted and charred debris talking with investigators, light snow fell on the tarps that covered the remains of their children…

I don’t want to turn this tragic event into some creepy spiritual ‘I told you so’ moment, but I think of the time spent outside of Feldkamp’s…I think of the haunting words, ‘Think of your children.’ I wonder if those words were haunting Feldkamp as well as he stood in the snow among the remains of loved ones, just feet from the ‘Tomb of the Unborn’?

…”I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then.” (Deut. 30:19)

Edmonds also complained that the mainstream media had not reported these details, and some repostings claim they have been “censored”.

Unsurprisingly, Edmonds’ ruminations were widely regarded as in poor taste, and her article has been interpreted as suggesting that God struck the aircraft down in vengence, or even as expressing Fred Phelps-like glee over the tragedy. McCullough, however, complains of

…the common misunderstanding of God’s judgment and what Edmonds expressed.  Imagine if you will, a father telling his toddler son not to touch a hot stove. Over and over the father warns that the stove will burn him if he touches it.  Yet the toddler does, and cries out in pain. The infant mind might blame the father for the burn he just experienced — thinking he was being punished. “Why did you burn me daddy?”

I do not know the extent of the pain we will experience for failing to heed our Heavenly Father’s admonition not to murder. Child-on-child and child-on-adult murderers are becoming less rare. An overall lack of respect for human life is undoubtedly having an impact. The highest concentration of child-on-child murders occur within the segment of our society with the highest concentration of abortion clinics. And we cry out, “Why is this happening — is God punishing us?”

Ms. Edmonds does not claim that God took the lives of the airplane crash victims in an act of vengeance. She does point out the irony of such a loss being experienced by a leader in the child-killing profession.

Fair enough for the distinction, but McCullough tries to have to have it both ways. Obviously, touching something that is hot is likely to cause a burn (although, alas for McCullough, his example also raises the possiblity that religion may promote, or be based on, false understandings of causality). The assertion that tolerance of abortion leads to a violent society doesn’t have much behind it, but I can understand the causal argument he’s getting at. However, that’s very different from Edmond’s invocation of Ezekiel and Deuteronomy – she’s clearly claiming that the plane crashed because of Feldkamp’s business interests, and the inference is that the site of the disaster is a sign of this. That means that God intervened, either directly or through having established some kind of “karmic” law that results in the innocent relatives and employees of someone who offends against divine commands suffering harm. Such a causality – and its apparent absence in other situations – raises a number of obvious problems in theodicy that not even the various Biblical authors could agree on, and which I don’t need to rehearse here…

English “Patriots” Capitalise on Islamism

 Luton Today reports on the decision to abandon a counter-demo against the recent small but ugly Islamist demo against returning British soldiers:

James Yeomans…has decided to abandon the event in case it attracts further trouble, but has organised another protest in London on April 12, to encourage the government to ban “all protests of hate towards troops”.

The event was being promoted on-line by formerly local anti-Muslim blogger “Lionheart”, who posted a video promo using stills taken from March for England (MfE) events; elsewhere it is clarified by MfE that “This is not a March for England event but we urge you to support it.” [UPDATE: It appears that this “support” was unwelcome and was the reason why Yeomans decided to cancel the protest]

“March for England” is of interest though. It seeks to use Islamist provocations to promote English patriotism:

We have been brainwashed to tarnish march’s that show pride and our countrys flag’s as Right Wing or Racist … WELL WE ARE MARCHING ON TO CHANGE THAT TARNISH !!! TO CLAIM BACK OUR FLAG WHICH SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN ASSOCIATED WITH RACISM IN THE FIRST PLACE.

It is time to unite against everything that is ruining our country. Our country has been sold and ruined by government, it is time to let the government hear our voice. Immigration, E.U, Terrorism, And so much more is threatening our country’s identity. It is time to remove that notion that flying the St George flag is racist. It is time to be counted.
IT IS TIME FOR ENGLAND TO AWAKE !!!!.

Who is responsible for this “brainwashing” is not explained, although there is curiously little complaint about how the actual use of English symbols by the far-right may have contributed to their unfortunate association with racism. Photos on the MfE website show some Sikh involvement, and a couple of photos show a black teenage boy at their events. Support for the Gurkhas is also a theme.

On the other hand, though, MfE likes the idea of using English symbols to throw their weight around, and restoring a world of cricket and elderly ladies cycling to Evensong does not seem to be the priority:

mfe

MfE’s website has a short list of six “Friends Links” – these include “Lionheart”‘s blog and a pro-BNP blog called English Rose.

The leaders of MfE are not readily apparent, although “Lionheart’s” blog and a few other sites show the organiser to be a certain Dave Smeeton, a football supporter from Portsmouth. It is also linked with the “United British Alliance“, which exists “to raise peoples awareness of the rising threat within our towns and cities from islamic extremists” and to encourage “a new tide of patriotism in Britain AGAINST our enemies” (the UBA is also allied with Jesse Petrilla’s United American Committee). Both groups have been commended by “Lionheart”:

The inevitable has finally arrived and long overdue and I take my hat off to the leaders of March for England and the U.B.A who have organised an grass roots movement to make OUR voices heard, and to all those who stand behind them and have taken to the streets in protest of everything that is now happening in OUR society, and what OUR Country has become.

In their own words:

U.B.A stands shoulder to Shoulder with Sikhs, Jews, in fact anyone whom unites aginst the new nazism that we struggled through world wars to remove… hence you see us stand besides the jewish flag… if you look at the lambeth palace i held a danish and jewish flag.. as the police thought we was right wing, a right wing idiot would die before hold a isreali flag.

March For England is for England… and in that atmosphere anything that threatens our way of life is against the English… be it terrorists, governments e.t.c… united as one but for Queen and Country

U.B.A is solely against terrorists (islam) over-riding our country…..

this is where we unite… two groups united even though we hold strong to the union jack, and they the St George… it is a strong enemy which via government has slowly started to over-ride our freedom, way of life…e.t.c… so both have united,.. but under an umbrella in support.

Both groups joined SIOE (Stop the Islamisation of Europe) recently when they marched to Lambeth Palace on September 11th to demonstrate against the introduction of Sharia Law into OUR Country.

“Lionheart” was writing in the wake of a counter-demo against an Islamist-organised “al-Quds” march in London in September. Potkin Azarmehr, an Iranian secularist who was the overall organiser of the counter-protest, explained that

To our right were the SIOE and March for England supporters. I had received many warnings that the later were a right wing Nazi group, but I could find nothing on their website that remotely suggested this, and in fact they go out of their way to distance themselves from any racist association. Nevertheless I had my anxieties about two things, a confrontation between the different groups in the counter demo and any indication of racism which would have tarnished our aims and objectives and benefited the Islamic Republic supporters. As it turned out, none of this took place. The March for England supporters assured me they will not tolerate any racism amongst their ranks and even suggested to me that if we think their presence will in any way damage us, they are happy to go away. I asked them to stay and we all agreed to have our own distinct positions behind the railings.

However, Workers’ Liberty, a fiercely secularist far-left group that was also counter-protesting, tells us that

Workers’ Liberty members, a few other British socialists and members of the Worker-communist Party of Iran turned up to counter-demonstrate, as did a larger group of broadly nationalist and, as it turns out, rightish Iranians. We demonstrated awkwardly next to each other until a third group turned up, composed of supporters of the “March for England” organisation, a nationalist group with English flags who are almost certainly some variety of fascists, though they denied it…March for England soon showed their true colours in full technicolour, shouting “Hang them”, “No surrender” and “White power” as the Al Quds march went by.

An account by one of the Al-Quds marchers concurs with this:

The chant from their side included “White pride: no surrender!”, “Terrorist bombers, off our streets!” and “Hang them, hang them”.

[UPDATE: In the comments below, Smeeton insists that “Never once has any chant or shout on our marches or protests included the word white!!!”]

Photos of this event certainly show a disproportionate number of heavy-set bald-headed middle-aged white men.

Moriel Scrubs Article Blaming Stephen Sizer for Church Attacks

Back in January, the Rochdale Observer reported on an unpleasant incident:

THE pastor of Zion Baptist Church has expressed his disappointment after vandals daubed anti-semitic graffiti on the church wall.

An insult aimed at Israeli Jews as well as the words ‘Free Gaza’ were painted in metre high letters on the outside wall of the Milkstone Road church.

Things escalated the following month:

A gang of “20 youths” have launched another vicious attack on the Zion Baptist church, assaulting the pastor and hurling racist abuse.

Pastor Dennis Rigg and his brother Mervyn have been in and out of the church setting up for their dad’s funeral which is set for Saturday.

Yobs attacked the pastor and pelted a series of hard snowballs at their heads, as well as shouting hateful slurs relating to their Christian religion and its apparent [erroneous] relation to attacks on Gaza.

Of course, the word “Zion” in a church’s name does not indicate any connection to Zionism (and even if it did, such harrassment would still be unacceptable). It’s obvious why this is happening now; the only question is whether the “youths” really are ideologically-driven or just yobs looking for an excuse to throw their weight around (or a bit of both) – apparently a gang tag was added to the graffiti.

However, an article recently published online by the Christian Zionist organisation Moriel Ministries (last blogged by me here) blames Stephen Sizer:

It is apparent that the Muslim community, which has lived in the UK for many years, was never before agitated by the many churches called “Zion” scattered around Great Britain. However things have changed, ever since Anglican priest Stephen Sizer launched his crusade against ‘Christian Zionists’, young Muslim youths are angry at even a church building with the word “Zion” on it, just imagine what it is like to be Jewish in Britain now! Sizer’s books Christian Zionism and Zion’s Christian Soldiers, his many articles for Muslim journals and web sites along with his speaking tours in Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Lybia, Egypt and Indonesia have brought Christian supporters of Israel, whether they are Christian Zionists or not, into the sights of many extreme Jihadists around the world and particularly in Britain. The Spectator magazine, 4th May [sic – should be March] 2009, notes that “Last weekend the Revd Stephen Sizer, vicar of Christ Church, Virginia Water appeared at an anti- Israel meeting with an Islamist called Ismail Patel. Patel has not only accused Israel of ‘genocide’ and ‘war crimes’ but considers Disney to be a Jewish plot and supports Hamas, Iran and Syria.”…

The article also notes similar vandalism of a Messianic Synagogue in Northern Ireland.

Now, Sizer’s associations (some of which, as chronicled by the pro-Israel Seismic Shock,  seem to me to be ill-advised) and his studies of Christian Zionism (which I have found useful) can certainly be the subject of critical comment, just as anything else can (I’ll also disclose that I’ve met Sizer and that I’m broadly in sympathy with his efforts on behalf of Palestinian Christians). But the above paragraph is an insult to the intelligence: Christian Zionism is a high-profile religious phenomenon which is hardly shy about making its perspective known to the public. Those who are likely to be moved to violence against it already know that it exists without help from Sizer – and it is highly unlikely that these “youths” in Rochdale have been even indirectly influenced by his writings or talks.

In fact, the attacks on Pastor Rigg highlight a different problem: that many Muslims are under the misapprehension that all Christians must be Christian Zionists. This has caused problems for Palestinian Christians, and in other places where Christians are a minority or where there is inter-communal tension. In these contexts, Christian writings that are critical of Christian Zionism actually offer a corrective.

However, perhaps Moriel realised this article was dubious (which is saying something!), and it has now been removed – although the url remains:

http://moriel.org/MorielArchive/index.php/news/uk/anti-zionist-attacks-on-church-and-messianic-group

The article itself can still be seen re-posted here.

Update on Rev. Moon’s UPF in the UK

From a press release:

A recently-appointed “Ambassador for Peace” from the UK is to make an official visit to Pakistan this week. The Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Cllr Abdul Rashid, will be visiting the troubled Asian Republic at a time of heightened political tensions. The official tour will include visits to the Punjab and Azad Kashmir provinces, where the Lord Mayor will meet high-ranking dignitaries and speak at events promoting greater understanding of British culture and commerce.

…The Lord Mayor was recently appointed as an “Ambassador for Peace” by The Universal Peace Federation – a UN-associated humanitarian organisation.

Of course, the UPF may be “UN-associated”, but it is better-known as being Moon-associated: “Ambassadors for Peace” receive a certificate signed by Rev. Sun Myung Moon, and the UPF exists promote Moon’s “One Family Under God” slogan.

Meanwhile, a UPF-sponsored event is due to take place in the House of Commons on 2 April, entitled “New Vision Amid the Economic Crisis“:

…We will hear from popular campaigns such as the Jubilee Debt Campaign that will remind the G20 nations of their previous commitments as well as discussing the principled changes the G20 should embrace in order to bring about the more equitable, stable and developed world that is closer to ‘one family under God’.

Speakers listed are: Nick Dearden (President: Jubilee Debt Campaign), Ruth Tanner (Campaign and Policy Officer: War on Want),  Helen Tailor Thompson (Thare Machi Education), Bishop Riah Abu El-Assal (Former Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem), Imam Umer Ahmed Ilyasi (Secretary General: All India Organisation of Imams and Mosques), Moeen Yaseen (Executive Director: Global Vision 2000), Anil Bhanot (General Secretary: Hindu Council UK), and Dr. Thomas Walsh (International Secretary General: Universal Peace Federation).

I blogged on the London UPF “Global Peace Festival” – which included involvement from British politicians – here.

(Hat tip to a reader for some details)

Don McLeroy’s “Unique and Insightful” Conspiracy Theorist

The Texas Freedom Network brings us some background on Robert Bowie Johnson, whose book Sowing Atheism: The National Academy of Sciences’ Sinister Scheme to Teach Our Children They’re Descended from Reptiles has been recommended by Don McLeroy, chairman of the State Board of Education. The TFN notes that Johnson sees Obama as part of a Satanic conspiracy, citing a press release:

In a series of essays published at www.solvinglight.com/blog/, author Robert Bowie Johnson Jr. presents evidence that Barack Obama is directly linked to Satanic teachings through his close association with Oprah Winfrey, who parrots and relentlessly promotes, worldwide, the anti-Christian doctrine of her guru, Eckhart Tolle.

“The voting public has a right to know to what degree Barack Obama, who has called himself a ‘committed Christian,’ considers himself and his wife to be integral parts of Oprah’s and Tolle’s New Age global tribe, a tribe that has adopted the “wisdom” of the ancient serpent as its own,” Mr. Johnson said.

 Johnson also expounded these views in an article for Human Events:

Barack Obama’s connections to Oprah Winfrey and her New Age guru, Eckhart Tolle, are the least examined, yet most revealing, and by far the most potentially ruinous of the senator’s controversial associations. Obama claims to be a “committed Christian,” yet appears to support Oprah in the worldwide dissemination of Tolle’s and her virulent anti-Christian doctrine.

…In Iowa, Michelle Obama said that Oprah had touched her soul and empowered her. How so? Through the blatantly anti-Christian Oprah/Tolle doctrine?

Is Obama a “committed Christian” as he claims, or is he on board with Tolle and Oprah in their global anti-Christian crusade? Or, as a third explanatory possibility, is the Tolle-entranced Oprah, “the richest and most influential woman in the world,” not the Oprah Obama knew?

Johnson runs Solving Light Books, and he has apparently been published in

The Progressive, The New York Times, Playboy, the international publication of Answers in Genesis, TJ (Technical Journal), Newsday, and many others.

Not many people can boast of such a combination.

Johnson’s magnum opus, however, is a book called The Parthenon Code: Mankind’s History in Marble. Here’s the pitch:

The DaVinci Code
is fictional.

The Bible Code
is bogus.

The Parthenon Code: Mankind’s History in Marble
is a GENUINE ancient artists’ code which opens the door to long-hidden truths about the origins of mankind.

In this book, and in other volumes such as Noah in Ancient Greek Art and Athena and Eden: The Hidden Meaning of the Parthenon’s East Facade?, Johnson claims that Greek mythology is based on historical events depicted in the Bible – Nereus is actually Noah, and Athena is “the serpent-friendly Eve of Genesis”. One reviewer, preposterously, calls this “the first interpretation of Greek Mythology that actually makes sense.”

In the early 1980s, Johnson was the co-creator of a couple of ideological board games. Mother Jones reported in 1981:

Johnson and [Ronald] Pramschufer are marketing a new board game called “Capital Punishment,” in which the goal is to get “criminals” past “liberals” and into the electric chair, on death row or imprisoned for life. Under the game rules, liberals can free the criminals, but when that happens, an innocent citizen becomes a crime victim and is sent to “heaven”.

This followed “a satire of the welfare system titled ‘Public Assistance: Why Bother Working for a Living'”(1), which can now be purchased here.

Johnson also collaborated with Pramschufer to write a guide for small presses, and in 2007 Pramschufer’s RJ Communications (now called SelfPublishing, Inc) published a novel entitled Danger My Destiny, co-authored by Johnson and Hilda Petrie-Coutts; she is the mother of composer and music producer Wernher Pramschufer, so presumably is also related to Ronald.

Johnson’s first book was the polemical 1973 West Point: America’s Power Fraternity, co-authored with a certain K. Bruce Galloway; Gore Vidal complained that they “tend to see conspiracy where there is often only coincidence”, citing their claim that Vidal’s West Point graduate father had been made Director of Aeronautics by Franklin D. Roosevelt in order to retain West Point control over civil areonautics, particularly for mail transport. According to Vidal (2),

Actually, it was civil not military aviation that pushed for my father’s appointment, while the decision for the army to fly the mail was Roosevelt’s. 

McLeroy’s recommendation for Johnson’s Sowing Atheism can be seen here:

In the current culture war over science education and the teaching of evolution, Bob Johnson’s Sowing Atheism provides a unique and insightful perspective. In critiquing the National Academy of Science’s (NAS) missionary evolution tract—Science, Evolution and Creationism, 2008, he identifies their theft of true science by their intentional neglect of other valid scientific possibilities. Then, using NAS’s own statements, he demonstrates that the great “process” of evolution—natural selection—is nothing more than a figure of speech. These chapters alone are worth the reading of this book.

Next he shows how the NAS attempts to seduce the unwitting reader by providing scanty empirical evidence but presented with great intellectual bullying—both secular and religious. He actually embarrasses the NAS with a long list of their quotes where they make the obvious claim that evolutionists believe in evolution. He then shines light on the Clergy Letter Project, again showing the obvious—theistic evolutionists believe in evolution…

According to a profile, McLeroy “holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Texas A&M University and a Doctor of Dental Science degree from The University of Texas Dental Branch in Houston.”

(Hat tip: Ed Brayton)

***

(1) “Gallows Humor Alive and Well”, in Mother Jones, July 1981, p. 10.

(2) Gore Vidal, “West Point”, in Matters of Fact and of Fiction, 1978, p. 194.

Satan is Alive and Well on American TV

WND reports on ABC’s Satan debate:

Is Satan a religious fable, or an actual being wreaking havoc in the world?

The question was debated yesterday by four unusual suspects – one megachurch pastor, one former television preacher branded by some as a heretic, the alternative medicine guru Deepak Chopra and the founder of Hookers for Jesus – in a taped debate that will air on national television later this month.

The “heretic” is Carlton Pearson, once a member of the Pentecostal A-list but now a minister with the United Church of Christ, having adopted an inclusionist theology. The megachurch pastor is Mark Driscoll:

…The Satan discussion will be the latest in a series of “Face Off” debates created by ABC TV’s late-night news program, Nightline, and will air March 26.

…James Goldston, the show’s executive producer, told the Seattle Times, “We went for the most interesting voices we could find.”

Driscoll told the paper that the curious lineup – a diverse group of people outside the world of theology’s hallowed halls – helps ensure that “this is not just an academic debate but also a practical discourse.”

In fact, ABC has excluded any academic voice that might provide some sensible historical context. Where’s Elaine Pagels, author of The Origin of Satan? Or Henry Ansgar Kelly, author of Satan: A Biography? Even as a bit of worthless-but-fun sensationalism the debate fails, as ABC looks to me to have been too scared to bring on someone from the Church of Satan.

Meanwhile, the Sun has some actual evidence for us to ponder:

Satan’s footprints spotted in Devon

A BAFFLED gran told last night how she discovered the Devil’s footprints — in sleepy Devon.

…She said: “I couldn’t believe it — the footprints were in the shape of a cloven hoof. There were no other marks at all in the snow. I’d love to know what it was.”

Of course, though, it may just mean that Glen Jenvey keeps a pet goat.

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