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I took some serious heat recently, after raising questions about the usefulness, function, role and consequences of using the Australian Government’s recent COVDISAFE app. I outlined two areas of concern, then was forced to address a third. My primary point was about precedent. The second concerned emotional manipulation; peer pressure, and the third, data security.

Objections to this included asinine responses such as “it’s un-Christian not too”, that I wasn’t’ “loving my neighbor” and that “people will die if I don’t” sign up for the app. The more astute arguments included “Romans 13 and how it commands us to submit to the government as an institution put in place by God.” [i]

The less astute included an outright dismissal, saying my argument was “crap.”Another ridiculed my point about the app being almost on par with taking an ersatz Hitler Oath. (Not an irrational concern, given the social pressure and hostile responses.)

Most of the reactions only served to solidify the precedent and emotional manipulation points. Once we accept as the norm, governments labeling people, places or things arbitrarily as being “hazardous to public health”, how long will it be until this new normal is applied by less benevolent forces to the Israel Folau’s of the world? Or even those, like me, who share Margaret Court’s view of marriage as being the biologically compatible, God ordained union between a man and a woman.

An app that encourages people to potentially stigmatise, be suspicious of, and distance themselves from their neighbour, on the basis of that person having or (are being suspected of having?) an illness, isn’t all that conducive to Christian love, pastoral care or freedom.

Likewise, using emotional manipulation, regardless of how unintentional, to get people to sign up for the COVIDSAFE app by unfairly accusing them of not being a Christian, loving or Christ-like.

We’ve heard this same asinine, emotional manipulative non-sequitur before during the same-sex marriage debate, discussions about Islamic terrorism #illridewithyou, abortion, transgenderism, Apocalyptic Climate Change…really, any Leftist cause.

Speaking out against the potential abuse of power, manipulation, and manipulative political processes, in standing up for civil liberties, is living out a love for neighbour.

Since when did a no questions asked loyalty to politicians, or allegiance to an ideology such as Leftism, become a yardstick for being a Christian?

Starry-eyed supporters of the COVIDSAFE app seem more in tune with those condemning Jesus for liberating people designated by authorities as unclean, than it is supporting Jesus’ care for the wounded, vulnerable, downcast or outcast.

I doubt my detractors would align themselves so quickly with any statement like, “Yo, Jesus, did ya get that app about lepers, mate? No. Why the bloody hell not? Do you want people to die!?”

If this is justifiable on a social distancing level, than why not develop an app to also report the threat of STD’s, AIDS, Hepatitis or HIV? The fact we don’t, and won’t, indicate that COVIDSAFE, and the general response to COVID-19 is more about politics, than science or authentic Christian living. [ii]

If this is justifiable, and in the interest of public health and safety, why not fund an app for non-smokers to ping off the phones of people who choose to smoke? If you wouldn’t support this, and yet are starry-eyed about the COVID-19 app, why wouldn’t you support it?

Let me be clear. I agree with responsible social distancing. I agree with temperature testing. I agree to a slow reopening. I agree with defeating this virus. I agree with better hygiene management, because this, to me, is showing genuine care for others, based on a basic common sense justified by objective morality.

Perhaps one of the silver linings of the Coronavirus is a return to more concern for our neighbour. Especially when it comes to manners, and personal hygiene – practising a level of care, long forgotten; one discarded by the inconsiderate, self-destructive abandonment of healthy Western traditions. I’d welcome this because it has to do more with collective and individual responsibility – people free before God, for God, and accountable to God, not enslaved to government-as-god ruling madly without accountability.

Contrary to the sentiment coming from most of those applauding the app, COVIDSAFE does not make people using it magically immune to COVID-19.

It does however make you susceptible to potentially being denied service and employment if you don’t have the app. The government admits this latter point in its 78 page COVIDSAFE information manual, and doesn’t appear to be discouraging any third party application from denying employment or service to anyone who doesn’t have the app.

“3.19.4 The Australian Government has also given clear indications that it will not be mandatory for any person to install or to use the App. However, there may be a potential risk of circumstances in which a particular individual does feel pressured to download the App (e.g. a supermarket insisting on customers showing that they are using the App before being permitted to enter the store; or an employer insisting that their employees demonstrate that they are using the App before being permitted to start or continue work).”

It’s worth noting a report published during October last year, where The World Heath Organisation concluded that “active contact tracing is not recommended in general because there is no obvious rationale for it in most Member States.”

We don’t need a nanny state to wipe our noses.

How long will it be until sneezing in a public space automatically triggers a COVID-19 alert? Or worse, individuals quickly come under suspicion for blowing their nose into a tissue, or simply coughing in public.

If this sounds ridiculous, look back at panic buying. Look at the irrational, ludicrous interpretations and enforcement of social distancing laws, based on hysteria, hear say, or presumption. See the mounting examples of neighbour spying on neighbour, and neighbor denouncing neighbour for suspected breaches of the COVID-19 lockdown.

Look again at the reaction against anyone opting out of getting the COVIDSAFE app. Look also at how Cory Bernardi was treated for refusing to sign up for the app. Bernardi, the only person on the Skynews panel giving a defence of civil liberties, was told by host Prue MacSween to “give himself an upper cut”, and drown his concerns about government overreach in alcohol.

On the same panel, Melbourne City Councilor, Nicholas Reece accused Bernardi of not living in the real world, of making lofty “high school arguments about liberty and privacy.” It doesn’t appear that Reece fully understood the implications of his rebuttal. By placing Bernardi’s concerns over liberty and privacy, in the realm of school boy fantasy, Reece confirmed Bernardi’s point.

On the subject of data security, signing up to the COVID-19 app is not the same as signing up for an in-store card, or in-store credit. Those involve companies that operate under strict laws concerning privacy and use of personal information. They are accountable to the government, whereas the government is accountable to no one, but their party, their political supporters, and last of all, you the people – in a very, very limited sense.

For those who think that our fuehrers always know best, and will thus follow them blindly:

As Bill Muehlenberg and Matthew Littlefield have pointed out:

1. “ACT Policing has admitted it unlawfully accessed citizens’ metadata a total of 3,365 times, not 116 as previously disclosed in an explosive commonwealth ombudsman’s report on Monday. The new disclosures include a total of 240 cases that resulted in information valuable to criminal investigations and one that “may have been used in a prosecution”.
2. “When Canberra introduced metadata laws a few years ago, we were told they would only be used to find terrorists. But greedy councils were soon demanding access so they could catch litterbugs. Facial recognition tool Clearview AI was allegedly misused by members of Australian police departments.”
3. “Governments routinely go wrong as power grabs become the norm, and technologies are regularly used for evil purposes. Indeed, one clear lesson of history is what is merely ‘voluntary’ today far too often becomes ‘mandatory’ tomorrow – all for the common good of course.”

I get the point of the COVIDSAFE app. It’s to inform people of areas that have been recently exposed to COVID-19, and tell people to get checked if they’ve been exposed. What I question is its usefulness, function, role and the consequences of handing bureaucrats more power.

It’s one thing to look out for others; it’s another to encourage a precedent where innocent, domestic citizens/places are deemed by the government to be “unsafe” based on a virus they are unsure about.

Romans 13 may carry weight in why we respect the need for good government, but it doesn’t hold us back from questioning government initiatives like the COVIDSAFE app. Nor does Romans 13 discourage us from pointing out how our politicians, on both sides, have spectacularly failed, and still are failing, to give any reassurances about civil liberties; including how they will be respected, and reinstated, after the coronavirus counter-measures can no longer be justified under the current crisis.

My point is ultimately about the precedence of citizens signing onto a Government program without question, emotive, even manipulative peer pressure to do so, and the danger it poses.

My point is about concern for people signing on to government program, run by politicians who haven’t bothered to reassure the people they represent that they are protecting civil liberties. Not one politician has done this, before or since the implementation of totalitarian COVID-19 countermeasures.

Break through the jargon, and the COVIDSAFE app is essentially an app that has the potential to monitor citizens. It allows third-parties to deny employment or service to anyone not carrying it on their phone. Throw in the reaction against those questioning it, and the fine print gives cause for real and rational concern.

We, the people are not the virus.

As I’ve said in the past, the warning of the 20th century to government’s and their people today is this: any justifiable counter moves against an enemy become unjustified if they make the government as tyrannical as the enemy it fights.


References:

[i] As far as Romans 13 goes, while I concede that it’s a fair point, let me say again, that there comes a time when it’s necessary to remind the government that they only have, because God gives.

[ii] See the brilliant briefing on COVID-19 by Dr. Erickson for more on this (Link). Unfortunately, YouTube has removed, and continues to remove all links to the Erickson briefing; more information here.

Image cropped and filtered from a photo by Fredrik Bedsvaag on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2020

Ahmed Shaheed, lecturer and volunteer adviser to the U.N., is advocating that religions conform to an eventual universal, “progressive” law. In his latest report for the U.N, the religious freedom advocate provides an argument for a blueprint, which will outlaw any theological critique or practice, unless it has first been approved, or established by LGBTQAAI+ activists, radical feminists & academics who advocate from a Leftist worldview.

Steve Warren from CBN news rightly noted that recent ‘Report of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief (available as a Word Document here), makes no distinction between who and what religion Shaheed’s volunteered prescriptions pertains to. Instead Shaheed appears to have subsumed all religions into one category of hate, bigotry and discrimination.

Shaheed accuses all governments of failing to stop discrimination against women, and those who identify as LGBTQAAI+, stating:

‘Governments in all regions of the world have also failed to uphold their obligation to protect people from gender-based violence and discrimination perpetrated against them by private individuals or entities claiming a religious justification for their actions and to sanction the perpetrators of such acts. Gender-based violence and discrimination is being perpetuated both in the public sphere and by and within religious communities and entities.’

The report’s findings and prescriptions were based on ‘information gathered directly from survivors of human rights violations from over 42 countries.’ Participants ‘also included members of several United Nations agencies including UN AIDS, UNFPA, UNWOMEN, and the WHO.’

The key findings of Shaheed’s report specifically addressed,

‘Female Genital Mutilation, marital rape, early and forced marriage and polygamy; [and] noted the increasing use of religion or belief to deny reproductive health and sexual rights; criminalize protected conduct and deny the equal personhood of LGBT+ persons; or to undermine the right to freedom of religion or belief to women, girls and LGBT+ persons.’

Examples acknowledged progress, but specifically included countries such as Saudi Arabia where women ‘continue to face systematic discrimination in law and in practice in several areas and are inadequately protected against gender-based violence.’

Shaheed also stated that in Israel, ‘Denominational family law, to which there is no civil alternative, permits divorce only with the consent of the husband, which reportedly can coerce women to forfeit property or custody of children.’

In addition, the report cited Tunisia, first saying that

‘although it stands out in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region for many of its  protections for the human rights of women and girls, the Personal Status Code of 1956, rooted in an interpretation of Islam, requires further amendment to guarantee gender equality in inheritance rights.’

Other nations and regions mentioned were South and South-East Asia, citing Sir Lanka’s Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act ‘which, unlike national legal provisions for non-Muslim women, does not identify a minimum age requirement or require a woman to consent to marriage; leaving Muslim women and girls unprotected by national provisions.’

This is in addition to some ‘counter-extremism’ measures from South and South-East Asia where some states have ‘targeted women from Muslim minority communities with rape, forced sterilization, and forced abortion.’

Iran got its own paragraph. Shaheed’s volunteered advice raised concerns about ‘laws inspired by religious beliefs’ such as the Iranian regime’s ‘compulsory veil legislation and the reported arrest, enforced disappearance, and arbitrary detention of women’s human rights defenders who protested against it.’

In the same way, the report described concerns about limitations put on Muslim women (no region or country was referenced) regarding wearing ‘headscarves, or full-face veils – in their efforts to combat gender-based discrimination, but without sufficient attention to the self-understanding and agency of women.’

As is to be expected, pro-life advocates were high on Shaheed’s hit list. Following the general abuse of language regarding abortion, Shaheed, rebelled this section: ‘State restrictions on access to sexual and reproductive rights.’ He then cited partial and total bans on abortion in some Latin American countries, claiming that ‘discriminatory religious edicts inform laws and policies that restrict sexual and reproductive rights’. His justification for this claim is that some ‘women and girls can be prosecuted for miscarrying their pregnancies, and limited access to abortion has in some cases, caused serious suffering.’

As for LGBTQAAI+ discrimination, Shaheed pointed again at South and South-East Asia, and Sub-Saharian African regions, stating that many have ‘justified’ the maintenance of the country’s legal prohibition of homosexuality on the grounds that it upholds the tenets of Islam or Christianity.‘ He argued that civil laws in these regions are ‘contributing to violence and discrimination against LGBT+ persons’.

Shaheed then addressed adultery laws, noting that in

‘countries where Islamic law governs personal laws, adultery is severely punished and may even result in a sentence of death by stoning. The sanctions are generally imposed on the women rather than the men. Additionally, sexual assault and rape often go unreported because women fear they will be charged with adultery; and there may be impunity for marital rape.’

Poland copped it too, with Shaheed labeling opposition to identity politics, gender wars, and LGBTQAAI+ ideology as ‘pseudoscience’; saying that protecting ‘heterosexual norms’ was discriminatory and doing violence to ‘LGBTQAAI+ persons’. He claims that ‘well coordinated groups are misusing freedom of religion or belief across continents and in the media – to counter human rights in the name of religion or belief.’ Calling anyone who ‘espoused that a gender ideology is harmful to children, families, tradition and religion’ an active participant in perpetuating “injustice”.

The report did distinguish between beliefs and interpretations of those beliefs. Shaheed gave special praise to (Leftist) activists in religious communities, for showing that ‘not necessarily all members of a religious community held to [“oppressive beliefs” based on interpretations of religion].’ He inferred that this was the correct way to use freedom of religion, and it’s for these people alone, that religion of freedom should be protected.

In sum, citing specific examples and allegations from within the Middle East, African, Poland, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Latin America, Tunisia, South and South-East Asia, Shaheed is claiming that all religions are doing violence to women, girls and people who identify as LGBTQAAI+. As such, he seems to be advocating a “need” for religion to be brought into line with the “glorious benevolence” of what could be rightly termed the religion of Leftism. Shaheed’s suggestions present a strange irony, given that he is a well-known, advocate for freedom of religion, freedom of conscience and of belief.

Given that Islamism makes up the majority of areas where Shaheed’s concerns rest, by subsuming all religions into one melting pot of discrimination and violence, out of what seems to be a fear of discriminating against Muslims, Shaheed is doing unfair violence to Christians and Jews. He, among all people should know that playing the ‘they’re all just as bad as each other’ card is dismissively childish and in some parts lazy. It buttresses ignorance of, and encourages an increasingly prejudice against Christianity, and all traditionally free societies built on Biblical Christian foundations.

Shaheed (and potentially the U.N as a whole) is saying that those who choose to provide a loving “no” to transgenderism, or refuse to embrace the LGBT flag, and its ideology; alongside Christian pro-life advocates in Western nations are to be equated with Islamists beheading infidels, murdering their wives in honour killings, taking child brides, and throwing homosexuals from rooftops.

Thus the lack of definition and distinction regarding specific religious, judicial and theological contexts raises red flags. It’s ludicrous to brand Christians as extremists simply for holding to the view that marriage is between a man and a woman, or that there are only two genders.

Where we can agree with Shaheed is that ‘traditional, historical, religious or cultural attitudes must not be used to justify violation of human rights’. I’m all for this. But again, let’s define our terms of reasoning, and examine the context before making broad recommendations that could give rise to the U.N equivalent of the Gestapo, and Soviet gulags.

The Christian theological understanding of the world, agrees at this point with Shaheed. The Biblical witness testifies that sin pervades human existence, kills relationships, hinders God’s providential fatherly Lordship at work in the world, and affects male and female genders, nations, and ethnicities equally.

Abuses and abuse does occur, not just in the name of religion, but name of ideological paradigms – all man-made systems of salvation and condemnation, both civil and ecclesial. Borrowing Karl Barth’s terminology, these ‘towers of Babel’ should be challenged, because God challenges them. The most obvious example of this is in His remedy for sin, via a reckoning and forgiveness of sin, through Jesus Christ.

Where we should depart from Shaheed is his politically motivated generalizations. This is evident in his broad use of religion, and his push to protect freedom of religion or belief, only for those who fit neatly within a universally approved ideological paradigm (Leftism).

His only issue with Christianity appears to be pro-life advocates, and Christians who uphold both binary gender, and the equality of the physiological, biological union, which sees man free woman, and woman free for man.

In sum, Shaheed’s recommendations resemble a receipt for re-education camps. His definition of ‘human rights defenders’ might be better translated ‘social justice warriors’ or Leftists; and his call to protect them, seems to be advocating freedom from religion, not freedom of religion.

Worth noting: it’s strange Shaheed has overlooked Communist countries. The report doesn’t mention Communist Chinese persecution of the Muslim minority Uyghurs and Christians. It makes no mention of Christians suffering in droves at the hands Islamists in Nigeria, Asia, The Middle East, or the African Continent; and he makes no mention of oppression in Vietnam, North Korea, or even Russia.

As for people characterizing others as “immoral actors”, Shaheed may want to look in his own “progressive” backyard first, and observe the caricatures of Christians made en masse by radical feminist and LGBTQAAI+ activists, his so-called ‘human rights defenders’. To quote Warren, ‘mainstream Christianity doesn’t call for violence or discrimination against anyone, even though some opponents of orthodox Christian belief have tried to characterize it that way.’


References:

First published on Caldron Pool, 21st March, 2020.

© Rod Lampard, 2020

The attack on Masjid Al Nor and Linwood Mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand was horrific.

The loss of life, the changed lives and the many painful years of grieving to come for the victims involved – all of it heartbreaking.

The world, as we’re told, now stands in mourning for the innocent lives taken.

Social media is saturated with comments from those in disbelief, to those looking to show solidarity, or outrage, and those who see the attack on the Mosque in New Zealand, as an opportunity to further their own self-interest.

We are witnessing, and no doubt will witness, great shows of solidarity and grief, and rightly so. But selective outrage only feeds self-interest.

It should be remembered that many of those brandishing badges of sympathy, and anger, are often silent when massacres are carried out almost annually in the name of Allah and his prophet.

OF 1

They are silent in the midst of global condemnation, and when featured on countless analytical panels, filled with experts unpacking the event, they dismiss the actions, by way of quiet approval with the slogan, Islam is a “religion of peace”, or by reminding people that any massacre at the hands of an Islamist is not representative of all Muslims.

We are quickly told to disassociate any blame from Islam that all such questioning is “hate speech”; all critique is written off as Islamophobic.

Yet, when an event happens that involves a non-Muslim attacking a Muslim, the guilt-by-association runs thick and fast. The opportunity to attack “the enemies of Islam” (which under Islam, is all non-Muslims) becomes far too great a temptation to resist.

Javad 1

Consequently, the generalizations begin. Those under Islam, end up doing exactly what they accuse non-Muslims of doing, when an Islamist sets a bomb off in crowded arenas filled with civilians, quite often a church [most recently, Nigeria and The Philippines] all in the name of Allah and his prophet.

The individuals who perpetrated the attack are the ones to be held accountable. Anyone who demands otherwise is auctioning off the innocent, turning the victim into a political commodity. Placing guilt on an entire group of people only furthers, wherever possible, a self-serving political narrative, at the expense of victims caught up in this tragic event.

If the attackers’ manifesto is legitimate, as is currently assumed to be the case, then the facts don’t match the political maneuvering of opportunists, who jumped on this event for quick political traction against Donald Trump, Candace Owens, Conservatives and those with white melanin. [i]

As Peter Sweden and others are now reporting [ii]. The ideological motives and attachments of the attackers aren’t as clear cut, as some would have us believe.

Sweden 1

The political maneuvering isn’t just isolated to those on the Left. Right-wing, Australian Senator, Fraser Anning, will now find it very difficult to avoid the accusation that he also chose to use this tragic event for quick political gain.

Anning didn’t wait. The timing of Anning’s press release is way off, but some of his reasoned points aren’t all that out there.

Though poorly timed, dismissing some of Anning’s points is tantamount to applying a band-aid to a broken bone. Such as, dismissing concerns about the consequences of “Open Borders”, and how this policy paralyses all help offered to genuine refugees, by way of importing the very crisis and form of government those refugees are fleeing from.

Add to this the concerns of many Westerners who question the challenge of importing a people, who can find, and have a place in the West, but who have among them, people who insist upon holding, and in some cases imposing, a political ideology that is very limited in its compatibility with Western Civilization, Judeo-Christianity and Classical Liberalism.

Those parts of Anning’s statement suggests, that he was making an attempt to communicate that the tragic, calculated attack at the Mosque in New Zealand is perhaps, as much a symptom, as it is a sin.

As dumb as the timing of Anning’s statement was, it’s an expression of frustration; written for all who refuse to listen to those who feel their views are underrepresented in the major political parties; those who have real, and rational (and, yes, some irrational) concerns about the trajectory of their countries and communities.

After the necessary period of mourning, politicians need to take the time and listen to those concerns, instead of instantly dismissing them and the people who express them, as “unwelcome”, “offensive”, “racist”, “Nazi”, “phobic”, or “unChristian”.

To refuse to do this is to continue to ignore the storm that’s been darkening the horizon, but has been dangerously dismissed, by far too many, for far too long.

It’s telling when one incident is picked up and widely carried as the tragedy that it is, and yet MANY others, like the constant harassment of Coptic churches and Christians in Egypt [iii], who face things like what happened in N.Z on close to a monthly basis, are shrugged off and dismissed.

Just as the attack in the Philippines [iv], back in January was and still is; very few paid ANY attention to it, others probably still have no idea it even happened. Just as the dismissal of attacks on white farmers [v] in South Africa, and the dismissal on anyone who criticizes those attacks.

There is no denying the fact, that the ‘eco-fascist terrorist attack’ on these Mosques in New Zealand, was a tragedy.

It is a time to mourn. We comfort the suffering and seek justice for the innocent victims involved, but this should precipitate a much needed to time listen and talk.

If you choose to mourn, and make a public display of it, choose also to mourn for North African, Nigerian, Middle Eastern and Asian Christians, who face this kind of vicious, selective slaughter on a regular basis.

Many are ‘facing growing persecution around the world, fuelled mainly by Islamic extremism and repressive governments, leading the pope to warn of “a form of genocide” and for campaigners to speak of “religio-ethnic cleansing”. (The Guardian, 2015) [vi]

There wasn’t, nor has there been any Worldwide mourning for them.

If you mourn, mourn also for these.


References:

[i] NBC News, New Zealand mosque shooting: attackers apparent manifesto probed, sourced 16th March 2019

[ii] Taylor Lorenz, 2019. The Shooter’s Manifesto Was Designed to Troll. The Atlantic sourced 16th March 2019

[iii] Michael Oduor, 2016. Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Christian minority facing attacks AfricaNews.com Sourced 16th March 2019

[iv] BBC News, 2019. Jolo Church Attack: Many Killed in Philippines Sourced 16th March 2019.

[v] Lauren Southern, 2018. South Africa’s Farm Murders: Jeanine’s Story, sourced 16th March 2019.

[vi] Harriet Sherwood, 2015. Dying for Christianity, The Guardian

(Originally posted on The Caldron Pool, 16th March 2016)

Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2019


Addendum 1: Although I’m stating the obvious, I’m aware that the Mainstream media do report these attacks against Christians. I’m grateful for that. My point in this article is that there is a noticeable absence of global lament and outrage when such attacks are reported.

Addendum 2: in response to accusations that there is no evidence of massacres of Christians, all sourced, 16th March 2019:

Exhibit a) http://www.auscma.com/2018/12/another-bloody-christmas-for-egypts-coptic-christians-as-copts-protest/

Exhibit b) https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-47018747?fbclid=IwAR27hl6oW981USdQYsxEuu9hPlIjFb-jp9miVe8501gxs6HkD-Z8_WIQuFc

Exhibit c) https://www.africanews.com/2016/07/28/egypts-coptic-orthodox-christian-minority-facing-attacks/?fbclid=IwAR0GmXxvoJ6_nAl-CGjLa7CPEpt6a4PyxkNAjx91j4_VWmArHSus4XSrxag

Exhibit d) https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/27/dying-for-christianity-millions-at-risk-amid-rise-in-persecution-across-the-globe?fbclid=IwAR3uLp1oEXAcBBZM6EnvzytSvCvxZDtsg0G9QJduFwLlX5yu3YUic8ogPE0

Exhibit e) https://edition.cnn.com/2018/04/24/africa/nigeria-church-attack/index.html

Exhibit f) https://www.eternitynews.com.au/world/christian-workers-in-somalia-worship-in-secret-fear-al-shabab/

Exhibit g) https://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/cwn/2018/october/hindu-attacks-against-christians-on-the-rise-in-southern-india

 

My interest in Gene Edward Veith Jnr’s work began in 2012 after reading ‘Modern Fascism (1993).

In it Veith shows himself to be a fearless, sharp, forward thinking academic[1] who isn’t afraid to stick his neck out when presenting sensitive facts. For a scholar, this isn’t just risky, it often means standing alone, on uncomfortable truths, that have either been conveniently buried or ignored. Taking a stand can end in ostracism or excommunication.

One potent example is Veith’s thunderous proclamation that ‘fascism is back in academia’.[2] This rides on the coat tails of a discussion about the defence (and for some, the denial) of German existentialist philosopher, Martin Heidegger’s[3] ‘extensive involvement in the Nazi Party.’

All the evidence suggests that Heidegger ‘was an activist in the Nazi party’. The most damning, according to Vieth, was Heidegger’s  alignment with the Sturmabteilung (Stormtroopers) of Ernst Röhm (‘a radical [Nazi] faction’, ‘rife with homosexuality’), which led to Heidegger being ‘considered too extreme, even for Hitler’[4].

Another example of Veith’s tenacity, and lack of fear, despite the current culture of silence, and suppression in academia, of anything that doesn’t fit a particular political narrative, is found in his unpacking of the relationship between fascism and academia. Veith unpacks how the culture produced by revisionist deconstructionism, contributed to the rise of fascism; and how this culture opened a door to the National Socialists (Nazis), allowing them take total control of the German (Weimar) parliament through a democratic process.

The straight-talking tone of his 2003 revised edition of ‘Loving God with All Your Mind’, remains consistent with ‘Modern Fascism’. The text is a manifesto on how Christians, in an era of subjective relativism, can participate in that culture, without becoming one with that culture.

By looking to relevant Biblical examples Veith describes a way forward. He states (rightly),

‘the intellectual resources of Christianity are vast and rich […] The tolerance for paradox, [within Biblical Christianity] with its combination of openness and scepticism, means that the Christian life and the biblical worldview not only can withstand critical inquiry, but they can inspire critical inquiry […]‘ (pp. 146 & 97).

Beginning with the Babylonian exile of Daniel (and Israel), Veith argues that the Bible already sets the bar for exiled Christians in a postmodern; post-Christian world.

Daniel’s example is one of steadfastness, submission to authority, ‘respect and courtesy towards his enemy’ (p.103). Added to this is the importance of prayer and community. For the Christian in exile, the ‘application of Daniel 2:17-19 seems to be that Christians in a hostile environment need to seek out other Christians in that hostile environment to support each other in fellowship and prayer’ (p.104)

Vieth notes that the two popular responses of Christians in this kind of environment is often ‘withdrawal[5] or compromise’ (p.11). Both are toxic because both acts reject the vocation and intellectual inheritance handed down to Christians. The act of withdrawal contracts Christianity leading to apathy, or esoteric elitism[6].

Whereas compromise, ‘reinterprets Christian doctrine according to the ways of thinking currently in vogue. This is the way of theological liberalism […] in doing so [Christianity] is changed into something else’ (p.12).

Withdrawal and compromise are inconsistent with Biblical Christian living (Rev.3). Withdrawal denies that the ‘Christian life is to be lived out in our vocations’ (p.104); lived out in the world, not of the world or separated from it. Compromise denies Christ. Is synchronistic and leads to a ‘Christless Christianity’ (p.47).

Daniel prayed, put his trust in God and negotiated with authority. He didn’t withdraw. Neither did Daniel compromise.

Daniel is, therefore, a primary example for how Christians, not only should, but can, live out Mark 12:29-31[7].

 ‘It’s important for Christianity to maintain its inherent radicalism. Christianity is not simply another cultural institution (p.70) […] Christians must be  informed by a ‘thermostatic’[8] education, maintaining heat through both a traditionalist and progressive function, in a profound way, without slipping into idolatry; daring not to make anything made by sinful human beings into a sacred absolute’ (pp.71-74)[9].

So that God’s Word is not, and cannot easily be replaced with the reason and words of the creature, ‘Christians must subject any human creation and institution to the most skeptical and critical scrutiny.’ (p.74)[10]

Through the biblical example set by Daniel, Veith rejects the withdrawal and compromise, either/or. He is confident that ‘it’s possible for Christians to engage the contemporary intellectual world without weakening or compromising the faith […] In order to do this, Christians need to be aware of the contours of contemporary thought’ (p.12).

One of the most effective ways ‘Christians can witness to people today, both to the active enemies and to the far greater number of the ignorant and indifferent, is simply to inform them objectively of what it is that Christians believe’ (p.51)[11]

Written by a seasoned Christian in the academic world, ‘Loving God with All Your Mind’ is a manifesto for Christians. Veith offers directions for how Christians can still live out the Gospel; live out their vocation, without apology, in love and service, knowing that they are very much in the world, but because of Jesus Christ, are no longer of it. Even in the pagan plurality of postmodernism and the quagmire of morality, fear, insecurity, and indecision, attached to it.

Through vocation, and the deep intellectual heritage, inherited by Christians, withdrawal and compromise are negated.

Veith is right,

‘This tradition of active thought and practical problem solving is a vital ally for Christians fighting against the intellectual trends of the contemporary world…we can and thus be freed from the tyranny of the present, the assumption that the way people think  today is the only possible way to think.’ (p.109)

In other words, Christians have every reason to stand firm. Therefore, speak truth in love. Be consistent. Be real. Be humble. Be present. Be like Daniel. Live like Jesus.

For the greatest commandment is this ‘hear oh Israel, the Lord you God is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all you heart, with all your soul and all your mind, and all your strength. The second greatest commandment is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ (Mark 12:29-30, ESV)


References:

[1] Vieth is a Lutheran and professor of English.

[2] This is of special interest given the 1993 publication date. Veith’s well informed argument draws a connection between the fascism of the 1920s and 30s, and where real fascism resides today.

[3] Farias, V. 1987. Heidegger And Nazism, Temple University Press, 1989.

[4] Modern Fascism

[5] An option suggested by Rod Dreher et.al.

[6] Veith, p.106

[7] ‘And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.’ – Jesus.

[8] See Veith’s discussion on Blasé Pascal and Neil Postman, p.145

[9] ‘God’s Word has a caustic, corrosive effect on idols of all kinds’ (Veith, p.75)

[10] ‘The moral and religious beliefs of a Christian need to be shaped by the Word of God, not by the world. Christians need to be critical thinkers and to use discernment, forging their own ideology based on Scripture, not the social class that they aspire to. Christians should not be so easily labeled.’ (Veith, p.100)

[11] In applying a solid grasp of what our early Christian forebears meant by the words: faith seeks understanding (fides quaerens intellectum) ; I believe in order to understand (credo ut intelligam) (p.146), Christians can navigate through the fog of postmodernism, and be a guiding light to others.

©Rod Lampard, 2019

Also published @ The Caldron Pool, 17th February 2019

In August, Iranian refugee and former Muslim, Ramin Parsa was arrested for trespassing {*coughs* for breaking blasphemy laws}, while privately sharing his testimony about becoming a Christian, in a Mall of America, shopping centre in Minnesota.

Tyler O’Neil from PJ media reported that while Ramin, now a Christian Pastor living in Los Angeles, was sharing his testimony,

“Another woman who was not part of the conversation went and complained to the security. The guard came and said, ‘You can’t solicit here.’ He then told them “we were not soliciting”. He just said, ‘Bye,’ and walked away.” After Parsa, the pastor, and his son grabbed some coffee, “three guards were waiting for me and said, ‘You must leave now.’ I asked why. They said, ‘You’re soliciting.’ I said, ‘No, we are not.’ I was explaining to them that I’m from out of state, I’m here as a guest, I’m here to see the mall.”
“That’s when they grabbed my coffee, handcuffed me, and took me to the underground mall gaol,” he recalled. “They patted me down, handcuffed me to a metal chair that was bolted to the ground. They refused to give me water, refused to let me go to the restroom except right before the police came. When I was taken to gaol after 3 hours. I was hungry and thirsty.”

In a video aired on Facebook, Ramin Parsa gave a detailed response about his encounter, talking about the dangers of creeping shari’a law, how Christians should be aware of Shari’a creep and how necessary it is to become pro-active in answering it. Parsa also mentioned his support for Donald Trump’s travel ban on Somalia, saying “Imagine if these people [Somalian Islamists] get into power [in the United States]. They don’t respect the constitution and the bill of rights, and American values. They come here to oppress. So…now I understand why there’s a [travel] ban on Somalia, which is a good thing….I believe that true refugees are Christians and other minorities in Muslim countries living under Islamic Shari’a Law.”

According to Parsa’s website, he was ‘raised in Iran, in a Shiite Muslim family. He lived under Islamic Law and was taught to practice strict religious traditions. After his father died, Parsa began to question Islam and the existence of God.

He heard about the gospel, disagreed with it, but became curious. Parsa gave himself to God, asking to be shown the way forward and came to Jesus Christ as a result. He was later arrested for handing out bibles. Then stabbed, causing him to move from Iran to Turkey.’ He came to America for Bible College and now works as Pastor of Redemptive Love Ministries International.

PJ Media also reported that Ramin Parsa’s pre-trial is for December 11th, where, while hopeful for an acquittal, “if prosecutors don’t drop the charges, his case will go to trial.”


Originally published at www.caldronpool.com 4th December 2018 under the same title.

It always surprises me that people tend to only take from what I write, the things they most want to hear. Both for good and for bad. I could write a sentence, draw a picture, create a song or write a poem, and no matter how simple, it would be taken the wrong way.

So let me clarify:

Voting “no” to Same-Sex marriage was never about imposing “Christian law”, to say otherwise is to misrepresent the facts. Voting “no” to SSM was about bringing truth, some semblance of balance back to politics and preserving what is good about our society for future generations.

If the people don’t take an interest in governments, governments will govern outside the interests of the people. It is in all our interest to preserve classical liberal freedoms, to keep science free from ideological prisons, to keep the rule of law as it exists in its basic form, influenced by the moral revolution that saw Western Civilization rise from its solid foundation in Judeo-Christianity.

This basic form exists as 1. Habeas corpus – the right to justice, a fair trial. One that limits the power of the court, king and community. 2. The vote – the right to have your voice heard and participate in the sociopolitics of the day. 3. Private property – the right to earn, create, and serve others without hinderance or threat.

Today’s generation has the responsibility to use the freedom they are given responsibly.

Confusing children about their gender, rejecting biological fact, endorsing forms of misogyny and misandry among many other things, is an evil that must be rejected and stood up against.

We are to cling to the good, and abhor evil. Not encourage it. Evil being the manipulation of others. Evil being the perversion of science. Evil being the corruption of theology for the service of ideology. Evil being the worship of the creature instead of the creator. Evil being the false doctrine that demands truth be whatever you feel it is.

Evil being the sexual corruption of the young to serve the sexual desires of those older than them. Evil being the turning of man against woman, and woman against man, through fear, suspicion, hate, indoctrination and idolatry. Evil being the false doctrine that says the State is my god, parent and lover, my sole provider, my owner, and therefore my master and lord.

For me and many others this loving “no” includes acknowledging the Lordship of Christ; truth, life before any others. It’s about living out our gratitude for what we have been given. It’s about refusing to allow all aberrations of freedom, justice and love.

It’s about saying no in a loving way, so that good – as defined by God in His revelation to us – will be held in distinction from all that threatens it. Therefore, our “no” is a “yes” to freedom, not a denial of it.

This is far from imposing a christian law or a theocracy. It’s about upholding classical liberal principles against a cult of modern liberalism, its lust for power and all that it demands.


Related content:

To Everything There Is a Season: Deifying Our Neighbour Isn’t One of Them
Conscientious Abstention From Same-Sex Marriage Is Not The Same As Racism
They’ve Paved Paradise & Put Up a Parking Lot…

Not including those who spewed out vitriol, abuse, intimidation and violence, congratulations to the Yes supporters. Australia has voted. 7.81 million (61.6%) said Yes to SSM – 4.87 million (38.4%) said No, and another 3.28 million Australians were like, “meh; I don’t really care.”

If Australia’s Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnball, is serious about fairness, he’ll preserve the right to a conscientious objection to SSM; the right for people to hold the view, and teach their kids that marriage is between a man and a woman; and that those children have a right to equal access to their biological father and mother.

As I have hopefully made clear in the written contributions I’ve made to this national debate, I see the issues as a matter of social justice. The “no” vote has been about defending truth, liberty, fraternity, science, and even equality, from unbalanced ideological servitude.

The State wants the church to stay out of politics, but the Church is being encroached on by the State. The people want the church to stay out of politics, but it paints their political slogans on church walls, violently interferes with gatherings and misuses the Bible to manipulate or bash Christians into submission. The people want the church to stay out of politics, but they bring politics into the church, demanding a pledge of allegiance to systems that perpetuate hatred and inequality, behind a veil of tolerance, love and equality.

None of this is new, it’s the very same thing that was perpetuated by Nazis and Communists, as French theologian and Marxist scholar, Jacques Ellul noted:

‘But I’ve heard such talk a thousand times, from fascists as well as Stalinists: “You have no right to judge from the outside; first you must join up, sympathize totally with our aims, and then you can talk.” BUT that is just when one can no longer say anything! The experience of those who looked horrified, in hindsight, on Hitler’s or Stalin’s time confirms this: “How could we have taken part in that?” they ask.’
(Ellul, Jesus & Marx 1988:146)[i]

It’s a clear double standard when the LGBTQ and their supporters can freely criticise and push others to refuse service to those who disagree, then turn around and deny those in disagreement, the right to the same free speech and freedom of conscience. That’s not equality.

The line is blurring. Christians who support SSM have confused love of God with love of neighbour, and as such have compromised their neighbour, through a false [Marxist/materialist] claim that says we should place love for neighbour over and above God.

This is what is called horizontal theology. It is grounded in the errors and perversity of natural theology; the implicit claim that by blindly loving  our neighbour we can reach God through our neighbor. This encourages me to treat my neighbor as though that neighbor was a second revelation of God. The kind of ideas that lead to the false worship of Kings, rulers, prophets and objects throughout history. In short, the creature is worshipped in place of the Creator, because the Creator has been confused with His creature.

We are to be Christlike in our treatment of our neighour; have Christ in mind when we go to serve our neighbour, but we are grossly mistaken if we think that Jesus’ words in Matthew 25:40 “as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me”, means that our neighbor replaces Christ.

This misunderstanding leads is to works-righteousness. It leads us away from the righteousness of God that is graciously placed on us by the dynamic love of God. Grace that is active, free and sufficient, in the work carried out by the obedience of Jesus Christ.

We reject grace, when we reject Christ and put our neigbour in His place. This is because we reject God’s invitation to relationship. It denies God’s revelation in Jesus Christ, “who is the way, the truth and the life”[ii] it denies the fact that life with God, begins with, God with us. Christless Christianity is an oxymoron.

Love is not love, God is love. That “they will know us by our love”[iii] is true, but that love involves the freedom to give both a reasoned “yes” and “no”. The alternative view confuses love with niceness, sloth and indifference.

What this does is turn Christianity into a numb universal ethic of niceness – a lukewarm empty shell; a stoic idol built to reflect and cater to the feelings of men and women.

The ethic of universal niceness is false and incompatible with a thinking faith that commands us to have no god before God; to “test all things, and hold fast to the good[iv]”; to discern and ultimately lean not “on our own understanding, but on God.’’ (Proverbs 3:5-7). To lean not on an abstract or vague idea of God, nor on a god created by human imagination, but on the tangible gracious grip of God, as the One who grasps us and testifies to us about Himself, in space and time, through covenant and in Jesus the Christ.

Faith seeks understanding.

Our response to this is found in prayer and gratitude. Actions; grounded in word, deed and attitude that reciprocates God’s selfless movement towards us, in covenant, manger, cross, empty tomb and beyond.

Being super nice has the veneer of Christian love, but it’s moral therapeutic deism at best, practical atheism (Christian in name only) at worst. This is the kind of thing that fed the blood and soil ideology of Nazism, and the Marxist ‘deification of the poor, over against THE POOR One’ (Ellul, 1988), through the dictatorship of the proletariat. Not that we should ignore the poor, but that we shouldn’t deify them to further the self-interests of those who take it upon themselves to designate who the oppressed and the oppressors are. For all have fallen short of the glory of God and are justified by his grace as a gift through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:23).

For the “no” voters there will be a need to take time to grieve.

Then there will be a need to catch our breath, rise and once again say to the world that we refuse to surrender or kneel before anyone but God, and His revelation in Jesus Christ.

To once again say to the world that love of neighbour is not love of God, nor should we confuse the two. For to do so is to make a god of our neighbour, and make love for neighbour, the means of salvation. Love of neighbour is grounded on and in our love of God, without the latter we are not free and therefore, we cannot truly do the former. We will be doomed to serving our own selfish interests.

Jesus is the way, tolerance isn’t. Jesus is the way, love is love isn’t. Jesus is the way, means that no man or woman, good work or intention, super niceness, or feeling is or can be. The true path to freedom, the only path to salvation is the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. This cannot be reversed. It is decisive. The path is set.  #bewaretheauctioneers

In light of the changes to come, Christians are to do what they are called to do, centre everything in Jesus Christ. To lay every issue before the cross, following Paul’s words in Romans 12, clinging especially to those which encourage us to ‘…rejoice in hope, be patient in trial, be constant in prayer.’

Kyrie Eleison.


References:

[i] Ellul, J. 1988 Jesus & Marx: From Gospel to Ideology Wipf and Stock Publishers

[ii] John 14:6, ESV

[iii] John 13:35 & Matthew 7:16 ESV

[iv] 1 Thess. 5:21, 1 Corinthians 14:29, 1 John 4:1 ESV