Saturday, December 03, 2011

Church of England bans hosting civil partnership ceremonies

The Church of England will not allow its churches to be used for civil partnership ceremonies unless the full General Synod gives consent, it says.
3 December 2011

A new law which allows civil partnership ceremonies to be conducted in places of worship in England and Wales comes into effect on Monday.

The Church said it would not host them just as a "gentlemen's outfitter is not required to supply women's clothes".

The government said no religious group would be forced to hold ceremonies. the rest

October Baby: A Pro-Life Movie Showing the Pain of Abortion

by Kelly Clinger

I didn’t know much about October Baby except that it was a movie about a girl who found out she was an abortion survivor. To my surprise, the film is much deeper than that.

October Baby follows Hannah (played by Rachel Hendrix) as she goes on a journey to find her biological mom…AND find herself. The exchanges between Hannah, her adoptive parents and her best friend, Jason, all paint a sobering, truthful picture about wondering who you are and where you come from.

Without even knowing that she was adopted or the survivor of an abortion, Hannah grew up feeling like something just didn’t fit. She felt like an outsider, and she built walls to protect herself. She had all of the symptoms of living through trauma…even though the trauma all occurred earlier than her memory could take her. the rest
One of the most powerful scenes in the movie for me was when Hannah tracks down the nurse from the abortion clinic, played by Jasmine Guy. I don’t want to give anything away here, so I’ll just say that I was STUNNED at the honesty of what the nurse shared. She talked about the truth of what goes on in abortion clinics. I cried and cried. The truth HAS to be told, and the makers of October Baby were not afraid to tell it.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Devotional: Behold! I have engraved you on the palms of My hands!"

Behold! I have engraved you on the palms of My hands!"
Isaiah 49:16

"Behold," says Immutable One, "I have engraved you on the palms of My hands." Not on the mountains, colossal as they are, for they shall depart; on no page of nature's vast volume, for the last fires shall scorch them; not on blazing sun, for he shall grow dim with age; not on glorious heavens, for they shall be folded together as a scroll. But on... the hand which made the worlds, the hand which was transfixed on Calvary, the hand of might and love; I have engraved you there! No corroding power can efface the writing, or obliterate your name! ...John MacDuff image

Study: 40% of Kids Who Attempt Suicide First Try in Elementary or Middle School

By Bonnie Rochman
Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Almost 40% of kids attempting suicide make their first try in middle or even elementary school, according to research that suggests that kids who think they want to kill themselves are considering it long before previously assumed.

About 1 in 9 children have attempted suicide before their high school graduation, but learning that they're making plans as early as elementary school is especially chilling.

In a study published in the November issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health, researchers at the University of Washington surveyed 883 young adults ages 18 or 19 about previous suicide attempts and learned that 78 — close to 9% — had tried to commit suicide.

Suicide attempt rates rose steeply at age 12 — around sixth grade — and peaked two to three years later. The 39 teens who said they had tried to commit suicide multiple times reported first attempting when they were as young as 9, which is the average age of a third-grader. Teens who said they had tried just once were more likely to have attempted suicide later, in high school.  the rest

Church of Scotland rejects same-sex marriage proposals

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Church of Scotland has given an unequivocal 'no' to the Scottish Government's proposal to redefine marriage.

In its response to the Scottish Government's consultation, the Kirk said the proposal "fundamentally changes" the historic understanding of marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman.

"Scriptural references to marriage, whether literal or metaphorical, all operate under this understanding," it said. the rest

Dolly scientist: abandon embryonic stem cell research-leads to tumors

Posted on Dec 2, 2011
by Michael Foust

LA JOLLA, Calif. (BP) -- The scientist who led the team that cloned Dolly the sheep has urged fellow researchers to forego embryonic stem cell research -- which he says is fraught with practical problems -- and pursue more promising types of research.

That's because he believes other research likely will overtake embryonic stem cell research.

Ian Wilmut spoke to a crowd of stem cell researchers Nov. 29 in La Jolla, Calif., telling them that because embryonic stem cells tend to lead to tumors, scientists should spend their time on non-embryonic forms of research, particularly on a new method called direct reprogramming. In direct reprogramming, scientists avoid stem cells altogether and, for instance, reprogram a skin cell directly into a nerve cell. Researchers have had success doing just that with lab mice. It has the support of ethicists who have opposed embryonic research.
the rest
"This is Dolly's daddy, the guy who cloned Dolly the sheep," Prentice said. "He's turned away from cloning, he's turned away from embryonic stem cells, and he's pointing towards reprogrammed cells."

Bethlehemian Rhapsody

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Senate Poised to Legalize Sodomy and Bestiality in U.S. Military

By Pete Winn
December 1, 2011

( – The Senate this evening is poised to vote on a defense authorization bill that includes a provision which not only repeals the military law on sodomy, but also repeals the military ban on sex with animals--or bestiality.

On Nov. 15, the Senate Armed Services Committee unanimously approved S. 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act, which includes a provision to repeal Article 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).

Article 125 of the UCMJ makes it illegal to engage in both sodomy with humans and sex with animals. the rest

UK’s top Catholic bishop endorses gay civil unions despite Vatican condemnation

by Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

( - According to The Tablet, the Archbishop of Westminster, England, has publicly expressed support for homosexual civil unions, a move that appears to put him at odds with a clear Vatican decree against supporting such unions confirmed by Pope John Paul II and then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict) in 2003.

The Tablet reports that, while acknowledging that marriage and civil partnerships are not equal, Archbishop Vincent Nichols stated in a press conference late last month: “we would want to emphasise that civil partnerships actually provide a structure in which people of the same sex who want a lifelong relationship [and] a lifelong partnership can find their place and protection and legal provision.”

“As a Church we are very committed to the notion of equality so that people are treated the same across all the activities of life,” Nichols is reported to have said. “The Church holds great store by the value of commitment in relationships and undertakings that people give. Stability in society depends upon the reliability of commitments that people give. That might be in offering to do a job but especially in their relationships with one another. Equality and commitment are both very important and we fully support them.”

According to The Telegraph, Nichols said that he is “very disappointed” with the government’s plans to move in the direction of legalizing homosexual “marriage.” the rest

Pro-life nurse asked to assist abortion told: ‘You just have to catch the baby’s head’

by Thomas Peters
Wed Nov 30, 2011

As we’ve reported, a dozen pro-life nurses in New Jersey are fighting for their right to follow their conscience and not be forced to assist at abortions.

This quote in The Washington Post by one of the nurses stopped me in my tracks when I read it:
One of the nurses, Fe Esperanza R. Vinoya, said a manager told her: “‘You just have to catch the baby’s head. Don’t worry, it’s already dead.’ ”
Can you imagine anything more horrific than being forced to “catch” a dead baby’s head? A baby who only minutes before was alive in its mother’s womb?

Pro-abort writers and bloggers are hysterically (I don’t use the word lightly) attempting to attack these women’s motives. the rest

Thousands of Muslims Attack Christians in Egypt, 2 Killed, Homes and Stores Torched


(AINA) -- Thousands of Muslims attacked and besieged Copts in elGhorayzat village, population 80,000, killing two Copts and severely wounding others, as well as looting and torching homes and businesses. A quarrel between a Copt, John Hosni, and Mahmoud Abdel-Nazeer, who later died in hospital, turned into collective punishment of all Copts in the majority Christian village of elGhorayzat, in the Maragha district of Sohag province. Muslims vowed not to bury Abdel-Nazeer until John Hosni is punished. Mr. Hosni fled from the village with his family, "fearing a wholesale massacre of Copts," reported activist Mariam Ragy.

The events started on Monday, November 28, when John Hosni, a building supplier, had a quarrel with his neighbor, Mahmoud Abdel-Nazeer (48), over some steel rods and cement Mr. Hosni had left in the street to use for erecting a wall around his house. This was perceived by Mr. Abdel-Nazeer as extending the home into the street, which is public property. "Instead of reporting this building transgression to the police or local authorities, Abdel-Nazeer took the matter in his own hands and brought some Salafists and torched the store and the home of the Copt," said an eyewitness.

In the altercation between the neighbors, Mr. Hosni hit Abdel-Nazeer in the head with a wooden branch, which lead to his death later in hospital.

Angry Muslims murdered two Christian brothers, Kamel Tamer Ibrahim (55) and Kameel Tamer Ibrahim (50), in revenge. The brothers were not a party to the altercation. Kamel Tamer, who was defending his shop from looting, was murdered in front of his wife. His brother was also murdered in front of his wife for defending his home (video of the murdered Copts. WARNING: contains highly graphic content)...

...After killing the Copts, Muslims went on a rampage, looting and burning Christian owned homes and businesses. the rest

Obama Administration Bans Knowledge of Islam

by Raymond Ibrahim
November 30, 2011

The Obama administration's censoring of photographs of the late Osama bin Laden, lest they offend Muslims, is one thing; but what about censoring words, especially those pivotal to U.S. security?
The Daily Caller reveals that "the Obama administration has been pulling back all training materials used for the law enforcement and national security communities, in order to eliminate all references to Islam that some Muslim groups have claimed are offensive."

The move comes after complaints from advocacy organizations including the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and others identified as Muslim Brotherhood front groups in the 2004 Holy Land Foundation terror fundraising trial. In a Wednesday Los Angeles Times op-ed, Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) president Salam al-Marayati threatened the FBI with a total cutoff of cooperation between American Muslims and law enforcement if the agency failed to revise its law enforcement training materials. Maintaining the training materials in their current state "will undermine the relationship between law enforcement and the Muslim American community," al-Marayati wrote. Multiple online sources detail MPAC's close alignment with CAIR. In his op-ed, Al-Marayati demanded that the Justice Department and the FBI "issue a clear and unequivocal apology to the Muslim American community" and "establish a thorough and transparent vetting process in selecting its trainers and materials."

Accordingly, after discussing the matter with Attorney General Eric Holder, Dwight C. Holton said "I want to be perfectly clear about this: training materials that portray Islam as a religion of violence or with a tendency towards violence are wrong, they are offensive, and they are contrary to everything that this president, this attorney general and Department of Justice stands for. They will not be tolerated." the rest

Senate lets chaplains opt out of gay weddings

By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Wednesday Nov 30, 2011

The Senate voted Wednesday to ensure military chaplains are not forced to perform gay marriages if they oppose that for reasons of conscience.

However, wording of the measure could make this a more far-reaching piece of legislation. It makes no specific reference to gay marriage, but instead says that a chaplain, “who as a matter of conscience or moral principle does not wish to perform a marriage, may not be required to do so.” That could apply not only to gay marriage but to other situations that might involve conscience and principles.

The chief sponsor of the legislation, however, has been clear about the intent.

“This amendment will allow the chaplains of our armed forces to maintain the freedom of conscience necessary to serve their nation and their religion without conflict,” said Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss. “Protections for military chaplains should be guaranteed in any policy changes being implemented.”

The measure was approved by voice vote and with no debate as an amendment to the Senate’s version of the 2012 defense authorization bill. the rest

With few parishioners, historic Chicago Episcopal church is closing


After nearly 130 years as one of the Near West Side’s richest landmarks, the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany is closing its doors.

The massive structure at 201 S. Ashland Ave. had a congregation that dwindled down to almost nothing. Only five to seven people were showing up every Sunday, and what few parishioners remained came to the decision in early November that it wasn’t sustainable to keep the building open.

With such a small group of parishioners, it was impossible to fill the coffers just to meet the basic needs of the church, according to one of the congregation’s leaders, Nikki Shields.

“While the Episcopal Diocese has been extraordinarily generous over the years, we’re faced with huge expenses just to keep the heating system up,” Shields said. “We’re going to disperse as a congregation and go our own ways.”

Indeed, in its last year, the church couldn’t even afford to keep a pastor in the church, and parted with its former leader, Rev. Meigan Cameron, in January. Instead, they went down the little-tried path of being a self-led congregation. the rest

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

NY: Judge Refuses to Dismiss Open Meeting Violations Suit Against New York Homosexual Marriage

November 29, 2011

Livingston County, NY – Judge Robert Wiggins dealt a major setback to New York Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg in the lawsuit brought by Liberty Counsel against the same-sex marriage law (“Act”). In response to the flagrant violations of the New York state constitutional and legal procedures, Liberty Counsel filed suit in the New York Supreme Court against the Act, which was signed into law on June 24, 2011, by Gov. Cuomo. The state asked the court to dismiss the case, but yesterday afternoon, Judge Wiggins sided with Liberty Counsel on the Open Meetings complaint, ruling that the case may proceed to trial. Liberty Counsel represents New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms and several other plaintiffs.

New York law requires that a bill be printed and in its final form on the desks of the legislators three days prior to a vote, unless an emergency exists. Gov. Cuomo ignored the provision and declared an emergency, stating that waiting three days would deprive same-sex couples of marriage. Judge Wiggins wrote: “Logically and clearly this cite by the Governor is disingenuous. The review of such concept altering legislation for three days after generations of existing definitions would not so damage same-sex couples as to necessitate an avoidance of rules meant to ensure full review and discussion prior to any vote.” The judge then wrote that “although the disregard for the statute seems evident, the Court feels constrained to not rule on the Governor’s certification of necessity.”

However, on the Open Meetings complaint, Judge Wiggins wrote that “clear arm-twisting by the Executive on the Legislative permeates this entire process.” The Court noted that New York law requires every meeting of a public body to “be open to the general public,” with few exceptions, none of which apply here. On this significant aspect of the complaint, the court allowed the case to proceed to trial. Liberty Counsel will now pursue discovery on the Open Meetings violations, including the depositions of Cuomo, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and the President of the Senate. the rest

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A.S. Haley: Disciplinary Board Clears Charges Against Bishop Lawrence

Tuesday, November 18. 2011

The Rt. Rev. Dorsey Henderson, President of the Disciplinary Board for Bishops, has released a statement announcing that the eighteen-person Board could not muster a majority to charge the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence of South Carolina with "abandonment of the Communion of this Church." Thus ends a clumsy attempt to take seriously the allegations of "abandonment" lodged by dissidents from Bishop Lawrence's own Diocese, who tried to turn his steadfast insistence on the central importance of Holy Scripture to the life of the Church into a case for his abandonment of it.

Bishop Henderson, stung by the vehemence with which his initial announcement of "serious charges" against Bishop Lawrence was greeted, appears to have been unable to refrain from letting loose a parting shot, even as he retreated from the fray in ignominy (my italics added):
It is also significant that Bishop Lawrence has repeatedly stated that he does not intend to lead the diocese out of The Episcopal Church—that he only seeks a safe place within the Church to live the Christian faith as that diocese perceives it. I speak for myself only at this point, that I presently take the Bishop at his word, and hope that the safety he seeks for the apparent majority in his diocese within the larger Church will become the model for safety—a “safe place”— for those under his episcopal care who do not agree with the actions of South Carolina’s convention and/or his position on some of the issues of the Church.

"Apparent majority", Bishop Henderson? Did your investigations uncover that the dissident Episcopal Forum (some of whose members must have anonymously filed the childish charges) has at best about a thousand members? (There are even fewer, if we count just those who are willing to have their names publicly associated with the group.) And did you learn that Bishop Lawrence's Diocese has more than twenty-five times that number of Episcopalians, who are choosing to remain under his pastoral care?  the rest

Archbishop of Canterbury backs 'fast-tracking' women bishops to Lords

The first women bishops in the Church of England could be “fast-tracked” into the House of Lords, the Archbishop of Canterbury has suggested.
By Martin Beckford, Religious Affairs Editor
28 Nov 2011

Dr Rowan Williams, giving evidence to peers on reform of the Upper House, admitted there is a “somewhat restricted pool” of potential Lords Spiritual at the moment.

He said for the first time that he favoured rewriting the rules on how bishops are appointed to the chamber, so that women would be eligible once the first female bishops are created over the next few years.

The church’s governing body, the General Synod, will vote on the historic move next year and the first woman is expected to be made a bishop in 2014.

Dr Williams told the Joint Committee on the Draft House of Lords Reform Bill on Monday evening that the ranks of the episcopacy are currently not very “representative in gender terms” and that there is a “somewhat restricted pool” of potential representatives in the Lords.
the rest

Nigeria Militants Kill Children Of Christian Convert, Missionaries Say

Wednesday, November 23, 2011
By Stefan J. Bos

ABUJA, NIGERIA (BosNewsLife)-- A militant group seeking to enforce Sharia, or Islamic law, throughout Nigeria, has shot and killed two children of an ex-terrorist and "murderer" because he converted to Christianity, well-informed missionaries told BosNewsLife Wednesday, November 23.

Boko Haram, meaning “Western education is a sin”, carried out the killings this month after discovering that a former fellow fighter refused to kill a Christian and instead accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, explained Rae Burnett, Africa Director of the U.S. based Christian Aid Mission (CAM) group.

Burnett told BosNewsLife that the father and Boko Haram militant "was poised to slit the throat of his Christian victim" during November attacks in northern Nigeria that killed at least over 130 Christians, including missionaries, when "he was suddenly struck with the weight of the evil he was about to commit." the rest

Nigerian town and churches burn in Islamist sect attack: police

Canadian polygamy case likely to be appealed

Fri, 25 Nov 2011

A judge in Canada has upheld the country’s ban on polygamous marriages, but the case is likely to be appealed.

Canada legalised same-sex marriage in 2005 and polygamist supporters say it is therefore unfair to ban polygamy.

Miriam Chatwin, a fundamentalist Mormon, said: “We’re in the 21st century, you know, we have marriages of every kind”.  the rest
“To say that I can choose to be gay, I can choose to be a swinger, I can choose to be whatever I want to be but I can’t choose to be in a relationship with more women and one man, I think it’s unrealistic.”

Christian worker loses her job after being 'targeted' by Islamic extremists

A Christian worker has launched a landmark legal action after she lost her job when she blew the whistle on what she says was a campaign of "race hate" by fundmentalist Muslims.
By Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Religious Affairs Correspondent
27 Nov 2011

Nohad Halawi, who worked at Heathrow Airport, is suing her former employers for unfair dismissal, claiming that she and other Christian staff at the airport were victims of systematic harassment because of their religion.

She claims that she was told that she would go to Hell for her religion, that Jews were responsible for the September 11th terror attacks, and that a friend was reduced to tears having been bullied for wearing a cross.

Mrs Halawi, who came to Britain from Lebanon in 1977, worked in the duty-free section as a perfume saleswoman of the airport for 13 years but was dismissed in July. the rest

Monday, November 28, 2011

Devotional: Advent is a time of waiting...

Advent is a time of waiting. Our whole life, however, is Advent—that is, a time of waiting for the ultimate, for the time when there will be a new heaven and a new earth, when all people are brothers and sisters and one rejoices in the words of the angels: “On earth peace to those on whom God’s favor rests.” Learn to wait, because he has promised to come. “I stand at the door...” We however call to him: “Yes, come soon, Lord Jesus!”
...Dietrich Bonhoeffer image

Abortion Nearly Triples Breast Cancer Risk, New Study Finds

by Steven Ertelt

A new study published by scientists who examined diabetes mellitus type 2, reproductive factors, and breast cancer found a statistically significant association showing a 2.86-fold increased breast cancer risk from one induced abortion.

The study, led by Lilit Khachatryan, included researchers from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and the University of Pennsylvania. Khachatryan is from the Department of Public Health, American University of Armenia, Yerevan, Armenia; Robert Scharpfb is from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and Sarah Kagan is from the School of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania.

The study, published in Taylor and Francis, also found that delaying a first full-term pregnancy, which is frequently done by women having abortions, also raises the breast cancer risk wheras giving birth resulted in a 64% reduced risk.

Khachatryan’s team reported a statistically significant 13% increased breast cancer risk for every one year delay of a first full term pregnancy (FFTP), with delayed FFTPs until ages 21-30 or after age 30 resulting in 2.21-fold and 4.95-fold increased risks respectively. On the other hand, women with FFTPs before age 20 did not see a comparable breast cancer risk. the rest

A.S. Haley: Rot from Without, Decay from Within

Monday, November 28, 2011

The reports of same-sex marriage ceremonies carried out within the Episcopal Church (USA), such as those conducted by Bishop Thomas Shaw of the Diocese of Massachusetts, and by clergy at All Saints Church (Pasadena) in the Diocese of Los Angeles with the approval of Bishop J. Jon Bruno, thus make a mockery of both the foregoing canons, as well as of the rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer.

The latter (rubrics), by the way, outrank the canons of the Church. General Convention can vote to amend the Canons at any single session, but it can effect an amendment to the Book of Common Prayer only in the same manner that it can amend ECUSA's Constitution -- by passage of the amendment at two successive General Conventions, with referral in the interim to each of the Church's several dioceses for their consideration and approval.

Thus, same-sex marriage ceremonies in the Church could not be approved unless and until there was an amendment approved to the Book of Common Prayer. To my knowledge, no such proposal to amend the BCP rubrics has been proposed for GC 2012 in Indianapolis -- the only proposal of which I am aware is to establish rites for the blessings of same-sex civil unions (or "marriages", if that is what the law of the particular State involved recognizes). If none is properly proposed before the applicable deadlines for such legislation, then same-sex marriage ceremonies in the Episcopal Church (USA) could not be approved at least until GC 2018.

The foregoing paragraphs describe, to the best of my ability, the current state of the canon and liturgical law of the Episcopal Church (USA) with regard to "marriage" between persons of the same sex. Such "ceremonies" are neither recognized, nor allowed to be performed, within the authorized liturgies of the Church. It is once again a measure of the lawlessness that reigns at all levels of ECUSA (with the primary example having been long since established by the Presiding Bishop's repeated defiance of the Canons) to note that neither Bishop Shaw nor Bishop Bruno has been required to account, under the more flexible disciplinary canons which took effect last July 1, for their open and flagrant violations of the BCP rubrics, and the canons of the Church, as quoted above. (One can only wonder what kind of "certificate" Bishop Shaw required Dean Ragsdale and her lesbian partner to sign, before he "married" them, that was in complete accordance with Canon I.18.3 (d) quoted above.)  the rest

Charges Dismissed against Bishop Lawrence

Statement by the President of the Disciplinary Board for Bishops

Comments at Stand Firm

Comments at Titusonenine

Air Force Academy adapts to pagans, druids, witches and Wiccans

Officials say an $80,000 Stonehenge-like worship center underscores a commitment to embrace all religions.
By Jenny Deam, Los Angeles Times
November 26, 2011

Reporting from Colorado Springs, Colo.— In the still of a cold November evening, a small gathering of pagans, led by two witches, begins preparations for the coming winter solstice. But these are not just any pagans, and this is not just any setting. They are future officers of the United States Air Force practicing their faith in the basement of the Air Force Academy's cadet chapel.

Their ranks are slim. According to the academy's enrollment records, only three of 4,300 cadets identified themselves as pagans, followers of an ancient religion that generally does not worship a single god and considers all things in nature interconnected.

Still, the academy this year dedicated an $80,000 outdoor worship center — a small Stonehenge-like circle of boulders with propane fire pit — high on a hill for the handful of current or future cadets whose religions fall under the broad category of "Earth-based." Those include pagans, Wiccans, druids, witches and followers of Native American faiths. the rest

Removal of Cross From Army Chapel in Afghanistan Stirs Controversy

Some fear megachurch bubble may soon burst

Aging pastors, big overheads may threaten longevity
Nov. 20, 2011

The past three decades have been boom times for big churches like the Lord’s Chapel. In the 1970s, only a handful of churches drew more than 2,000 people on Sundays. Now they number in the thousands.

But the collapse of the Crystal Cathedral near Los Angeles, which is being sold to pay off more than $40 million in debt, has prompted fears that the megachurch bubble may be about to burst.

Most megachurches — which earn that label around the 2,000-attendance level — are led by baby boomer pastors who soon will hit retirement age and without suitable replacements in the pipeline. And some fear the big-box worship centers with lots of individual programs no longer appeal to younger generations. the rest

Bethlehem's Nativity Church to Get Overdue Repairs

Mon, Nov. 28 2011
By Anugrah Kumar, Christian Post Contributor

The church is the main tourist attraction in Palestine, which gets about 2 million tourists each year.

The three Christian sects have had the money to renovate the church but none of them wants the others to be granted a right to a part of the church that is not theirs. “If you repair the roof, under Ottoman law, you own the structure,” Raymond Cohen, author of a book about renovations at Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Selpuchre, told the U.K.’s Independent newspaper. “In the pub, you want somebody else to buy the round. In the Church of the Nativity, it’s the opposite. Everyone wants to pay.”

The church was placed on the 2008 Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites by the World Monuments Fund.

“The present state of the church is worrying,” the Watch List said. “Many roof timbers are rotting, and have not been replaced since the 19th century. The rainwater that seeps into the building not only accelerates the rotting of the wood and damages the structural integrity of the building, but also damages the 12th-century wall mosaics and paintings. The influx of water also means that there is an ever-present chance of an electrical fire.” the rest image by Lyn Gateley

It is now all but certain that human embryonic stem cells will not deliver cures to dread diseases. Apologies, anyone?

Non, je ne regrette rien
Michael Cook
Thursday, 24 November 2011

 Embryonic stem cell research is looking increasingly like a dead end. Last week, after many false starts and a year after launching a human trial for spinal cord injuries, the California-based biotechnology firm Geron pulled the plug on all of its embryonic stem cell research to focus on cancer drugs. It had to: it was going broke.

This is a landmark moment in the stem cell debate. Geron was the leading company in embryonic stem cell research. It had been the focus of media attention for years. The National Institutes of Health directed readers to its website. A cure for spinal cord injury would have been the ultimate vindication of hES cell research.

But these hopes have crashed and burned. There have been no cures. The main development for therapeutic cloning in the past decade was a gigantic fraud by a Korean scientist Hwang Woo-suk who suckerpunched the world’s leading science journals. Nowadays there is only one other company conducting a clinical trial with hES cells.

History seems to have passed this technique by. In 2007 a Japanese scientist, Shinya Yamanaka, published a technique for morphing ordinary skin cells into pluripotent cells. Most of the leaders in embryonic stem cell research jumped ship overnight because the new cells were both pluripotent and ethical. It was like moving from vacuum tubes to semiconductors. The CIRM now looks like a white elephant which cash-strapped Californians can hardly afford.

Most stem cell scientists still argue that human embryo research is needed to understand how organisms develop. But they did not sell their research to the public as blue sky science. They sold it as cures for devastating diseases.

Is there any hope left after the hype?

Yes, said New Scientist, in its response to Geron’s failure. Without a smidgen of remorse or irony, it said: “Treatments based on adult stem cells are undoubtedly in the lead, with some very encouraging results this year… So at the moment, adult cells are leading the way clinically? Absolutely… In terms of sheer numbers and commercial potential, they are way in front.” the rest

Nigeria: Four dead, eight churches burned in latest round of attacks in northeast

November 28, 2011

These attacks appear to be a continuation of an earlier rampage by Boko Haram in Nigeria's Yobe state. An update on this story. "4 dead, churches burned in north Nigeria attack," from the Associated Press, November 27:
MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — Witnesses and authorities say at least four people died in an apparent attack on a northeast Nigeria city that saw churches and businesses burned to the ground.
It's probably safe to assume it was an attack.
The attack happened Saturday night in the city of Geidam in Nigeria's Yobe state, which sits near the country's arid border with Niger.
Jihad causes poverty:
Witnesses say attackers blew up a local police station and attacked a bank, as well as set fire to businesses and at least eight churches.
The attacks come after a Nov. 4 attack in the state capital claimed by the radical Muslim sect known as Boko Haram that killed more than 100 people.
Meanwhile, police blamed the sect for two killings Sunday morning in neighboring Borno state.
Jihad Watch

Children Are Being Exposed To Shocking Levels Of Sexual Content

posted November 28, 2011
By Marsha West

This probably won’t shock most people because we live in an age where the envelope has been pushed so far it’s disappeared over the horizon. According to the Daily Mail, pink and leopard-print thong panties with no crotches sized to fit a seven-year-old were being sold at Kids N Teen in Greeley, Colorado. The panties were yanked after a mortified mother complained. As one writer put it: “It’s a new kind of memory: A daughter’s first pair of crotchless panties.”

It’s also a sign of the times when a retailer decides there’s nothing wrong with selling sleazy leopard-print thong panties with a split crotch alongside stuffed animal backpacks.

While I’m on the subject of seven-year-olds, the Parents TV Council (PTC) reports that there are some disgusting children’s programs being aired on TV during the family hour. The PTC released a Special Report “exposing the shocking levels of sexual content in animated programs on cable networks popular with children.” One such program is “Allen Gregory.” According to the PTC “The program’s namesake, Allen Gregory, is a precocious seven-year-old who has sexual fantasies about his sixty-something-year-old school principal. The program includes Allen circulating rumors of a sex tape of him with the principal; and some of the most explicit language imaginable, including vulgar euphemisms for male anatomy and bleeped f-words.” the rest
PTC president, Tim Winter, gave this warning:

“Adult content isn’t just creeping into the cartoons that kids today are watching the most; it has overtaken much of that animated programming. We’re not talking about cartoon characters slipping on banana peels and ramming into doors. Our data demonstrates that today’s norm is profanity-laden storylines involving everything from rape and cocaine to STDs and crystal meth. There is now more sexual content on these cartoons than violence – even when counting traditional ‘light’ cartoon violence.”

Mark Levin Show: Death Panels Will Be A Reality With Obamacare

Assessing People as “Units” is Evil – UPDATED
As regular readers know, I rarely listen to talk radio — the reception is lousy in the house and when I’m driving I like to listen to my cd’s. But I was monitoring traffic on the all-news station and something annoyed me so I started flipping around. I hit the Mark Levin show and was stopped in my tracks by a conversation between Levin and a caller who identified himself as a neurosurgeon. Now I need to confirm if this is real.

The caller said that he had recently gone to Washington to participate in a conference involving both the American Association of Neurosurgeons (AANS) and the Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS). I couldn’t take notes while driving, but the gist of the call was this: these surgeons were told, by a member of the Department of Health and Human Services that under the new health insurance legislation (aka Obamacare) government-insured people over the age of 70 who present with brain issues — stroke, hemorrhages, etc — would see no automatic surgical intervention, as they might now. Before any surgery could be begun, an “ethics” panel — made up not of doctors but of administrators and bureaucrats — would convene assess whether the person would be treated. “As a general course, though,” the caller said, “only ‘comfort care’ would be offered if you’re over 70.”

“So, generally speaking, it will be ‘comfort care only’ for patients over 70? That will be the rule, rather than the exception?” Asked a horrified-sounding Levin.

“Yes, but they’re not referred to as patients, or even subjects,” the caller corrected, “they’re called ‘units’. That’s what they called them.”   more...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Christians contemplate their future in secular Europe

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Christians have been told they must find a framework for promoting their beliefs if they are to confront the challenge of aggressive secularisation and the erosion of Christian values across all spheres of life.

Opening the Beyond Individualism conference on Friday, Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali said it was “amazing” that a Christian nurse in Britain today could be suspended for offering to pray for a patient, when it was Christians who had set in place many of the institutions and public services now taken for granted.

He warned that the Christian values inherent in Europe’s heritage have been eroded by a process of “aggressive secularisation” that Christians must understand if they are to challenge it. the rest
Bishop Nazir-Ali took issue with attempts to detach concepts like equality and diversity from their Christian roots, arguing that they could only be properly understood from the vantage point of Christianity, with its emphasis on the common origins of all human beings and their intrinsic value as God’s creation.

Orlando's new Episcopal Bishop Greg Brewer made trip from nonbeliever to church leader

By Jeff Kunerth, Orlando Sentinel
 November 26, 2011

Greg Brewer grew up in a family where his father went to the Catholic church and his mother went to the Baptist church. Neither seemed to fit Brewer. He tried other churches, and none of them seemed to speak to him either.

Brewer went to college thinking religion was for people who needed a crutch. A chance religious retreat with a college group changed his mind, and his life — forever.

Last week, Father Greg Brewer was elected the fourth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida. His consecration is March 24, 2012, when he takes over from Bishop John W. Howe, who is retiring.  the rest