Bigotry in Australia

Politician Suffers Abuse From Homosexualists

Australian politician defending religious freedom says she faces bigotry worse than racism

The Barnabas Fund

An Australian politician who has raised concerns about the impact on freedom of religion of attempts to redefine marriage says she has been subjected to bigotry worse than racism.
Karina Okotel, a Vice President of the Federal Liberal Party and who is of Sri Lankan heritage, says she has occasionally been subjected to racism in Australia. However, the “bigotry”, “discrimination” and “hate” she has experienced recently, due to her having opposed attempts to redefine marriage, have been “far worse.” She says, “I have even been told to go back to my own country, which is difficult given that I was born in Australia.

However, the discrim­ination and hate I have faced, just by querying whether we should be legalising same-sex marriage, has been like nothing I have experienced before.”

She revealed that after she had raised concerns about how redefining marriage might affect freedom of religion, she had been refused service and received insulting comments based on her ethnicity. She has also raised concerns about the longer term impact of this hate campaign on freedom of speech in Australia, saying, “I wonder what life will be like for my own kids should they form a view that supports traditional marriage. To protect them, will I have to caution them to keep their views to themselves, not to ask questions and not speak up?”
Gay rights activists have long campaigned against discrimination and incitement of hatred against those identifying themselves as LGBT. It is therefore particularly disturbing that those who raise questions about the LGBT ideological agenda are now being subjected to similar intolerance, discrimination and hatred. What is happening in Australia is not new. When the UK similarly debated  redefining marriage in 2012-13, politicianschurch leaders and ordinary Christians who voiced disagreement with it were subjected to a hate campaign which included death threats and huge amounts of abuse, much of it of a particularly vile and sometimes racist nature.
The question raised by Karina Okotel, as to whether in future she would have to advise her children to stay quiet about their views on marriage for their own protection, is a particularly important and disturbing one. It is the sort of comment we hear said by parents in countries such as Pakistan, where anyone voicing dissent with Islamic ideology or beliefs risks being accused of blasphemy. Of course, the consequences of doing so in Australia do not compare in any sense with those in Pakistan. However, the fact that Mrs Okotel and others have been subjected to such a level of hatred and discrimination that she has felt it necessary to raise these concerns, should ring alarm bells. 

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Daily Meditation

The Soul’s Final Feast

John Piper

One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple. (Psalm 27:4)

God is not unresponsive to the contrite longing of the soul. He comes and lifts the load of sin and fills our heart with gladness and gratitude. “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!” (Psalm 30:11–12).

But our joy does not just rise from the backward glance in gratitude. It also rises from the forward glance in hope: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God” (Psalm 42:5–6).

“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope” (Psalm 130:5).

In the end, the heart longs not for any of God’s good gifts, but for God himself. To see him and know him and be in his presence is the soul’s final feast. Beyond this there is no quest. Words fail. We call it pleasure, joy, delight. But these are weak pointers to the unspeakable experience:

“One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple” (Psalm 27:4).

“In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).

“Delight yourself in the Lord” (Psalm 37:4).
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Wilderness Renewal: from the Ends of the Earth to the ends of the earth… (Psalm 67)

I love the rugged west coast of Auckland, places like Piha, when it’s not crowded, Karekare, Muriwai and Whatipu. If I may be a little poetic…The drive out through the Waitakeres, separating you from the city streets and sights,  with the evergreen of native tree. The cliffs and bush clad hills sweeping down sharply to the iron sand beaches, that resound to the crash and boom of pounding surf.  Walking along the beach being accompanied by foam flurries and those little tumbling seed heads which bounce and skid past in the wind. There is a kind of awe that comes into my soul in those places, you feel on the very edge of the world, and I feel close to God.

It’s the same sort of thing that you can experience as you go along the desert road and after navigating the twists and turns of creeks flowing through that rather desolate landscape you come up to the plateau and there off to your right (if you’re going south) are the awe inspiring mountains Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu. They take your breath away. Maybe you’ve been more off the beaten track than I have and its tramping through bush clad hills or deep southern beech forest, or you’ve been overseas and there are wilderness places that stick in your memory: Glaciers and snowy peaks, jungle greenery, desert dunes, places that feel like the ends of the earth, that inspired awe and praise. The proclaim the greatness of the creator.

In this season of creation, we are working our way through a series of four psalms that speak of God’s awesome deeds and calls all of creation to give praise to God for what he has done and is doing: for Creation, for his sovereignty in the world, for his providence and as we saw last week for his saving acts for Israel. In Psalm 65 it was cause for a praise party, agricultural and pastoral fields, alive with rejoicing. In Psalm 67 that invitation is extended to the ends of the earth, not just the land we inhabit and use but the wild and wilderness places, as well. Not just Israel or the church but  all people and all of creation to come and praise God for his awesome deeds.

The Psalm we are looking at today builds on the previous one, it extends God’s saving grace and acts to a universal level. No longer just Israel but the whole of the earth, all nations and all people groups, all tribes and tongues are to come and know God’s salvation and God’s Kingdom. It starts and finishes with a benediction a blessing, and in between there is a prayer that all peoples would know God’s righteous rule and his guiding presence.

I remember one day going out to the beach and in front of the sun was a large storm cloud. There were rays of light coming through breaks in the cloud and shining down like spotlights on the water. The patches where it hit looked like sparkling jewels on what was otherwise a grey and foreboding sea.  As I continued to walk along the beach suddenly the clouds moved further offshore and the sun came out, the sky and the sea turned blue and the whole place was filled with light. The opening benediction of this psalm is like that. It takes the words of the Aaronic blessing in Numbers 6 “the Lord Bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face to shine upon you, the lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace”, which was a blessing specifically for Israel, like they are in that beam of God’s light and presence and peace and takes it over the border to include all nations. It’s a radical Psalm for Israel that includes all the pagan nations around them as objects of God’s love and his blessing. 

 It looks back to the blessing of Abraham in Genesis 12, where Abraham is blessed to be a blessing to the nations. It reminds Israel that their mission is to show God’s goodness and justice to the world.  It looks forward to the coming of Jesus Christ, his death on the cross and his resurrection and the amazing truth that this new life in relationship with God, is not just for the Jews but for the gentiles as well. It’s for all people. The sun has come out and shines on all.   EM Blaiklock sums it up like this…

“God’s rich benevolence, bathing humanity and the world like the life giving and comforting sun. In order that those who are blessed may pass the blessing to others…”

The central section of Psalm 67 is a prayer that that blessing might become a reality. It starts and finishes with the petition  “may the people praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you.” And is a hope that all people may experience the joy that Israel knows because of their relationship with God. In verse 3 & 5 the psalmist had used the Hebrew word for nations but in this repeated refrain it is extended to be more universal, it is a call to all people groups and tribes. God’s love and grace is for all. God’s love is for all humanity fulfilled in Jesus Christ: For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son. Just like the sun shines over all the earth and gives it light and warmth so God’s love is for all people.

Rules with equity and guides the nations look forward to what we know as the Kingdom of God, inaugurated by Christ. It looks forward to the reality of the presence of God’s Holy Spirit poured out on all who believe to lead us and to guide us in God’s ways. The picture is of God as the Good Shepherd caring for his flock and leading them to good pasture and plenty.

The psalm is a mission prayer, it’s a prayer that is answered in Jesus commission to his disciples, to you and I as those whom he has blessed, to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit and teaching them everything I have commanded you, and I am with you even to the end of the age.  We fit into this psalm not only as those from outside Israel, from the ends of the earth,  who have come to know God’s blessing and ways in Christ, but as embodiment of its central prayer.

The final benediction is a statement of confidence in God’s blessing. Israel has experienced God’s blessing in the plentiful harvest as we saw in Psalm 65 and here God’s care and love for all peoples is seen as resulting in that same bounty in all lands.  Now we know that that is not a present reality, there is famine and drought and starvation and malnutrition. This benediction looks forward in hope to what God is going to do. Gerald H Wilson comments “ there is an apocalyptic expectation that as the fractured and corrupted earth is restored to its originally intended productivity so fractured and divided humanity will be restored to its originally intended unity and reliance on God.” It is the whole of nature groaning waiting for the sons of God to be revealed that Paul talks about in Romans.

This is not just some distant future hope, in the opening benediction God’s blessing was to cause the nations to know God’s ways. Abraham was blessed so he could be a blessing on others. In James 2 it says what good does it do to say to your brother or sister bless you and send them away empty handed. God’s provision is to be shared with those in need and through that people will see his goodness and come to acknowledge him.

It’s wilderness Sunday, and it would be easy to simply talk about care and preservation of the wild and wonderful places in this world. Places that do need our protection and care. When we thing of the land producing its harvest you can think of land only in terms of its usefulness to humans. We can forget about how the various wilderness environments contribute to the whole ecosystem. How these different places are God’s provision of various habitats for God’s amazing creatures, it is God’s blessing that they produce the harvest needed to sustain that life.  On a spiritual level as the Psalms say they proclaim the wonder of God’s awesome deeds.  National Parks and world wilderness heritage sites marine reserves, and other conservation efforts are wonderful.

But I want to finish however by going off the deep end a bit and talk about the place of the wilderness in spiritual renewal and revitalizing the faith. In scripture and church history the wilderness has often been the place where people’s faith and in fact God’s people, both Israel and the Church have found renewal of faith and zeal for sharing God’s blessing with the world.

Israel’s journey to learn how to be God’s people was in the wilderness, in scripture Israel looks back to that time, as pivotal and formative.  They learned to rely on God, the lessons were not always easy, they didn’t always get it. But it was the preparation they needed to move into the promised land.

In the passage from Matthews gospel we had read today, John the Baptist was out in the wilderness calling people to repentance and to spiritual renewal. There is sometime important about stepping out of the everyday into the wild places and the edge that allows for that renewal to happen. It’s in the wilderness that Jesus comes and starts his ministry, he is baptized by John and goes out into the wilderness and is tempted for forty days, in preparation for his ministry. During his ministry Jesus would regularly go away from the crowd out in the wilderness and the lonely places and pray. There is something about it that renews the soul.

Under emperor Constantine Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, and one of the big question in church history is was that a good thing or a bad thing? It’s the start of Christendom, one of the responses to that was the desert Fathers. People who went out and sort for spiritual renewal in the wilderness. Some of them went to great extremes and we have stories of crazed hermits, but for many of them there came a renewal of the Christian faith, a renewal of discipleship and passion for the gospel.

The Celtic monks followed in that line as well instead of going to the desert they held on to the craggy seashore of Ireland and were willing to travel and wander in the wilderness.  They would go to seek a place where they could focus on developing their relationship with God. What would happen is they would set up their community and they would become a place of healing and learning, on many levels and become places of plenty as there agricultural practises tended to be better. People would come and join them and there are many towns and cities in Scotland and England that grew round them. They Christianize Ireland, Scotland and helped re-Christianize much of Europe in the dark ages. Where ever they went they shared the good news along the way. It just flowed out of them. I ’ve mentioned it before but there is a great book called “the day that the Irish saved civilization’ that talks of the impact the Celtic monks had on the world.

Francis of Assisi, is another who sort spiritual renewal and revival by going out into the wilderness.

While it wasn’t exactly the wilderness, john Wesley and later movements like the   salvation army responded to the industrial revolution by going to the edge and into the urban wastelands that sprung up, and preaching and serving there.

Now I’m not saying we need to all move out to through the  Waitakere’s and go live in a cave out on the west coast, or find a craggy outcrop on the side of the mountain somewhere to spend years meditating and praying. But there is a lesson for us from those west coast beaches. In New Zealand for water safety reasons we are always told to swim between the flags, as a parent with the kids we will always try and swim between the flags. But at the same time as a body boarder my eyes would wander to the wild waves, where maybe it wasn’t so safe, but the waves were better. We’ve allowed that water safety message to apply to our faith as well. We’ll only go in between the flags, in a well defined safe environment. But our faith needs a bit of wilderness, its needs a bit of wild, not just tame and safe. God’s inviting us to meet him in the wild waves, in the wilderness places, on the edge, where it’s not safe, off the beaten path. That might be going on a retreat, or as Leonard Sweet calls them Wilderness spiritual advances, it maybe willing to step out of our comfort zones to do something we’ve never done before… But just like when we find ourselves awestruck by a ocean coast vista or mountain range or forest or desert landscape, it’s in those more wild places we will experience God’s presence, provision and glory. It is as we are prepared to step into the wild that we will renew our sense of God’s love for all the world and his call for us to go and share, and be, the good news of God’s kingdom.


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Landcorp May Shrink in Size

An Excellent Proposal
Every so often we have the pleasure of driving the Rotorua-Taupo road.  We always take great pleasure in the scenery–and in particular, the farms lining both sides of the road in parts of the drive.

The only splotches of rain on that particular parade are the knowledge that the farms are owned by the Landcorp, an organ of the State.  Like all state owned and directly operated businesses they are inevitably subject to the slings and arrows spitting out of the fads and fashions popular with the government of the day.  Not so long ago, when forestry was in the doldrums, large swathes of this state owned land–then a pine forest–had the trees harvested and the land converted to dairying.

These new dairy farms came into production perfectly timed to coincide with a cyclical dairy downturn.  This is normal with government owned enterprises: little–yet self-important–bureaucrats making decisions with our money, without the severe discipline of  market risk.  State farmers are, in the end, cosseted from such things.  Consequently, they end up making commercial decisions in a grandiose, cavalier manner.  Nine times out of ten they destroy value.

Consequently, we did a few fist-pumps when we heard of the NZ Government’s intention (should National be re-elected) to sell off such farms.

National will direct Landcorp to offer farms to young farmers because “there is no clear public good coming from Crown ownership and little financial return to taxpayers”.  Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said the young farmers would have to “work the land” for five to 10 years, after which they could lease the farms before buying them.  It was envisaged about 100 young farming families would benefit from the programme.

“Not all of Landcorp’s around 140 farms will be sold. Many are subject to Treaty claims and others have a right-of-first-refusal for Iwi – and these rights will of course be respected. Some of Landcorp’s larger farms will be divided into smaller units more appropriate for first-time owners,” Guy said.

Federated Farmers president Katie Milne said it was an “exciting prospect” for young farmers.
It was a slightly “back to the future” policy because in the days of the Department of Lands and Survey farmers went into a ballot each year for farms.  “I know of a few farmers who won the ballot and were able to buy a farm. I remember when my father and mother used to enter the ballot every year, although they never won anything.” . . .

Guy said the young farmers would have the opportunity to buy the farms “at market rates” when they had built up enough capital after leasing them.  The farms would be awarded on a lease-to-buy arrangement, with leases awarded by a panel and ballot, and prioritised towards young farmers who had experience at running a farming operation, and had not already had sole ownership of one before. The leasee would be required to work the farm continuously themselves for at least five years before being able to buy it, or longer if they need more time to build up capital.

New Zealand Young Farmers chief executive Terry Copeland said the announcement was great news.  “We welcome any opportunity for young people to get access to farm ownership. There’s been significant barriers in recent years with the high cost and limited opportunities to get into the farm ownership model and I can see this as being a very positive thing for the next generation of farmers coming through.”  [Stuff]

If this is able to be rolled out, it will make the Rotorua-Taupo drive even more enjoyable.
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frustrated or fruitful?

20160216-19

devotional post # 2144

Hosea 14:8-9

Hos 14:8 O Ephraim, why am I still having to deal with the idols? I am the who answers and looks after you. I am like an evergreen cypress; your fruitfulness comes from me.
Hos 14:9 Let whoever is wise understand these things; let whoever is discerning know them; because the roads of Yahveh are right, and the upright walk on them, but transgressors stumble on them.

frustrated or fruitful?

Hosea’s parting words are a final appeal for the Israelites to recognize that idolatry will only lead to fruitlessness and lack of direction. The LORD is the evergreen cypress who promises a fruitful life. The LORD has the right roads that they can walk on without stumbling. Everyone makes choices in life, and the LORD wants us all to know that he is the right choice.

LORD, here we are again, looking for you to guide us. We want to live fruitful, purposeful lives. Thank you for showing us the way.

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Monday quote

Violation of conscience is a grave act against man. It is the most painful blow inflicted on human dignity. It is, in a certain sense, worse than inflicting physical death.

Pope John Paul II (1982).


Under the threat of losing their jobs, citizens are being forced to sign declarations that do not agree with their conscience and with their convictions,… Violation of conscience is a grave act against man. It is the most painful blow inflicted on human dignity. It is, in a certain sense, worse than inflicting physical death, murder…. The principle of respect of conscience is a fundamental right of man, guaranteed by constitutions and by international accords. I raise my voice to God, together with all men of good will, so that the consciences of my countrymen are not suffocated.
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The world we deserve

We have this strange sense of justice buried deep within us that constantly screams out for satisfaction at all the wrongs we witness. But where does this sense come from? Why do we feel entitled to demand that these wrongs be made right, that justice be brought to the unjust?

A cursory glance at the history of Western civilisation teaches us that concepts of morality and justice sprout from societies built on notions of absolute truth, or God. This isn’t to say that these societies perfectly followed their own standards, but they did have a framework in place which made sense of these concepts.

“Why do bad things happen to good people?” “I’m not perfect, but I definitely don’t deserve this.” Cliches pour forth as we attempt to defend ourselves from the constant attacks that life throws at us. Who exactly we are yelling at, nobody knows. Chance, the universe, God or god (us) – it doesn’t really matter. We just want to make it clear to whoever is listening that this isn’t fair.

We can only be justified in our cries for justice if there is some sort of imbalance going on around us – something has ripped in the fibre of reality and affects us all. Today, however, the prevailing worldview of functional atheism (or as Michael Horton calls itt, ‘the Sovereign Self’) provides no such foundation. If there is no God or sense of objective morality in the world, then no legitimate appeal to cosmic justice can be made. Suffering would be blind bad luck, with every person subject to the disposition of nature, others, and themselves.

But we know that this is all wrong, don’t we? We know deep within ourselves, whether we like to admit or not, that this call for justice is legitimate. We know this because there is something much more to humans than meets the eye. We are much more than a squishy collection of quarks, floating around the universe with nowhere to place our feet.

Do we really know what we are asking for when we beg for justice? The justice of God is absolute, righting the wrongs not only of genocide and racism, but also the diseases of gossip and early morning crankiness. If there is ultimate justice, then there is an ultimate standard – one which we all fall far short of.

Keeping the reality of our depravity in mind will help Christians immensely in our evangelistic efforts – if we remember that this present evil age is our crime, then we will be more likely to seek answers outside of our ourselves, at the cross of the Judge and Justifier.

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China Threatens More Persecution of Christians

China’s Wants to ‘Annihilate’ Underground Christian Communities

Approaches the Status of a Rogue State

Thomas D. Williams
Breitbart News

A report on China’s new regulations regarding religion suggests that the norms are consciously intended to “annihilate underground communities” and “suffocate official communities,” rather than merely organize them.

China’s State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) has published a series of regulations overhauling religious practice in the officially communist country. Despite China’s claims of “religious freedom,” the U.S. State Department as well as numerous watchdog groups consider China to be guilty of systemic religious oppression.

The new rules are slated to come into force on February 1, 2018.

An early draft of the regulations was released a year ago, creating concern among believers and human rights groups, but if anything the updated text is even worse, AsiaNews stated in its report. The few added articles go into greater detail in pondering the many “threats and deviations” that can come from religion.

Among the many perils posed by religion, the norms state, are dangers to “national security and public health, threats to ethnic and national unity, and the possibility of terrorist activities.” Religion may also “violate people’s civil and democratic rights, obstruct public administration and invading public or private property.”

All in all, AsiaNews declared, the new regulations present religion not as Marx’s “opium of the people,” but rather as the “pestilence of the people.”

The regulations stipulate onerous fines for persons associated with underground religious communities not authorized by the state, which have no legal standing in the country. For activities taking place in unregistered places and with unregistered personnel, fines between 100-300 thousand yuan are mandated. “Unauthorized” travel abroad, even if for religious education or pilgrimage, is punishable by a fine of between 20,000 and 200,000 yuan. Such fines are very high, if you consider that the minimum wage in a city like Shanghai is 2300 yuan.

China’s growing fear of religious communities and its desperate attempts to bring believers to heel may well be a result of religion’s success in the country.

According to a study from the University of Shanghai, more than 60 percent of students are interested in learning more about Christianity and the numbers of young catechumens has been growing in both officially recognized communities and underground churches.

As Breitbart News reported three years ago, the number of Christians in China now exceeds the number of members in the Chinese Communist Party, the largest atheist organization in the world, with 85 million official members. Although exact figures are unavailable, there are now an estimated 100 million Christians in China.

Christianity is growing so fast in China that some predict that it will be the most Christian nation in the world by 2030. The greatest growth is coming outside the official state-sanctioned churches, in unofficial Protestant “house churches” and in the underground Catholic church. This could help explain the Party’s determination to crack down hardest on members of these “illegal” churches.

Although the People’s Republic of China has claimed to recognize freedom of religion since 1978, party members are explicitly forbidden to belong to or practice any religion. In 2011, Zhu Weiqun, executive vice minister of the United Front Work Department, wrote, “Party members shall not believe in religion, which is a principle to be unswervingly adhered to.”
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Daily Meditation

Stand, And Do Your Duty

TO MRS. RAY GARRETT: On the real program of the spiritual life—living in the present moment.

C. S. Lewis

12 September 1960

The whole lesson of my life has been that no ‘methods of stimulation’ are of any lasting use. They are indeed like drugs—a stronger dose is needed each time and soon no possible dose is effective. We must not bother about thrills at all. Do the present duty—bear the present pain—enjoy the present pleasure—and leave emotions and ‘experiences’ to look after themselves.

That’s the programme, isn’t it?

From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume III
Compiled in Yours, JackThe Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume III: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy 1950-1963. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Yours, Jack: Spiritual Direction from C. S. Lewis. Copyright © 2008 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
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The Reign of Western Idolatry

The Last One Hundred Years

All mankind is incurably religious.  Man is a worshipping creature.  The distinction is not whether mankind, cultures, or nations worship, but whom they worship.  A second proposition is this: either individual human beings will worship the one, true Living God, or they will worship an idol–a god manufactured by men.

Some religions claim to believe in no god.  Buddhism–at least in its Theravada form–is an atheistic religion, for example, believing in no god, but in the eventual annihilation of the human soul.  Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the West, professing belief in no deity, would end up manufacturing a veritable workshop of idols.

One of these is economics.  Filthy lucre has been cast in the light of a pure god, able to bestow upon mankind a millennium of prosperity.  Now to those who have missed it, these doctrines of the religion of economics have been seriously proposed.  It has not been intended as a metaphor.  Nor is it offered as hyperbole to make a point.  It has been (and continues to be) argued as a literal proposition.  Money is the god of Western man.

William T. Cavanaugh, in The Myth of Religious Violence: Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009) cites Robert H. Nelson’s 2001 book, entitled Economics as Religion in which the author argues:

. . . the replacement of Christianity and other religions by the religion of economics has ushered in an age of freedom and prosperity.  Nelson shows how market economics exactly parallels the earlier role of Christianity in Western society, with its own providential god (the invisible hand of the market), sacred texts, priesthood, and plan of salvation for the recurrent problems of human history: “The Jewish and Christian bibles foretell one outcome of history.  If economics foresees another, it is in effect offering a competing religious vision.” [Op cit., p. 108f.]

Thus, one example of a modern atheistic Western religion is economics.  There are others.  Socialism is another.  Fascism is a third.  All three exalt Man to the status of a god, to the same extent as other religions exalt their deities.

Ludwig Feuerbach, writing in 1842, significantly influenced Karl Marx in this regard.  He wrote:

We must start to  be religious once again; politics must become our religion, but it can only do so if we, in our perceptions, have a supreme value that makes our religion of politics. [Ibid., p. 111.]

It is ironic that when Marxism was failing as a religion that six former Communists, Arthur Koestler amongst them, would write essays published in a volume entitled The God That Failed, (1949) arguing that Communism–the most pure form of Marxist ideology–had betrayed its followers.

We provide one more example of the ubiquity of religion and religions throughout the West.  In the earliest days of the United States, Benjamin Franklin had argued for “a cult of the nation and the duties of the citizen” [Emphasis, ours.].  From the beginning the United States sought to promulgate a civil religion.  And so the nation-state serves as a deity in the United States, more so than in any other Western country.

Here is a significant quotation from one who has been called the greatest American novelist:

We Americans are the peculiar, chosen people–the Israel of our time. . . . Long enough we have been skeptics with regard to ourselves, and doubted whether, indeed, the political Messiah had come.  But he has come in us, if we would but give utterance to his promptings. And let us always remember that with ourselves, almost for the first time in the history of the earth, national selfishness is unbounded philanthropy; for we cannot do a good to American, but we give alms to the world.  [Herman Melville, cited in Cavanaugh, op cit., p. 116]

Continuing the theme, Cavanaugh cites author Carlton Hayes on the deification of the American flag:

Nationalism’s chief symbol of faith and central object of worship is the flag, and curious liturgical forms have been devised for “saluting” the flag, for “dipping” the flag, for “lowering” the flag, and for “hoisting” the flag.  Men bare their heads when the flag passes by; and in praise of the flag poets write odes and children sing hymns.

In America, young people are ranged in serried rows and required to recite daily, with hierophantic voice and ritualistic gesture, the mystical formula: “I pledge allegiance to our flag and to the country for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”  Everywhere, in all solemn feasts and fasts of nationalism the flag is in evidence, and with that other sacred thing, the national anthem.  [Cited in Cavanaugh, op cit., p. 117.]

Cavanaugh adds:

If we think that Hayes is exaggerating the function of the Pledge of Allegiance, we need only to consult the author of the pledge, Francis Bellamy, who said that the pledge was meant to sink into schoolchildren through ritual repetition, and added, “It is the same way with the catechism, or the Lord’s Prayer.”  [Ibid.]

 The point is that all these examples make manifest the truth that secular modern man is incurably religious.  Western man has festooned his existence over the past 150 years with multitudes of idols, most of them covered with sacrificial blood.

Herein lies the fundamental cause for the twentieth century being the bloodiest yet in recorded human history.  Idols need to be worshipped.  They require blood-sacrifice to  be honoured.  The West’s secular religions have delivered up an unimaginable abundance of the stuff.

Against all these abominations stands the King of the world, Jesus Christ.  He has declared, “No more shedding of blood”.  The sacrifice of his own blood obliterated all other blood sacrifices.  No blood sacrifice from that point on has had any legitimacy nor claim.  “It is finished” was (and remains) his cry.

The implicit warning is both clear and dire: if we do not bow down to the Lord of all the earth, we will end up bowing down to idols created by our imagination.  And they will require our blood to signal our devotion.  How long will the West continue in its ignominy?  How many more must die at the altars of our idols?

From mass abortions, to ceaseless wars, to self-facilitated terrorist murder, the gods of the “secular” West continue their reign of terror.
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