On the Front Lines of the Culture Wars

Assassinations and abductions are increasingly a part of Pakistan politics as the Islamic republic descends into mob anarchy. Instead of public debate, politicians who take controversial positions are murdered and their killers treated like heroes.

Punjab’s governor and presidential hopeful, Salman Taseer, and the federal minister for minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, have been gunned down. Both committed the unpardonable sin of coming out in favor of repealing Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws.

In Pakistan, any Muslim can accuse any non-Muslim of blaspheming the Prophet Mohammed or the Koran — and the accused is doomed. Accusations have included touching the Koran without ceremonially washing one’s hands or commenting aloud that Jesus died for our sins and Mohammed did not.

That comment resulted in a death penalty for Christian mother of five Asia Noreen Bibi, who sits on death row awaiting her execution.

Islamic shari’ah law bars her from testifying against her accusers. No defense is effective. “Extra-judicial execution” is increasingly common — meaning that if the courts find the accused innocent, the exonerated is likely to be gunned down by spectators in the courtroom or waiting outside.

Families of the accused have to go into hiding — frequently losing everything they own. Increasingly the law has been abused in property disputes. If a Christian, Buddhist, Sikh or Hindu refuses to sell a key property, the buyer accuses them of blasphemy — and while they are in jail, the accuser just takes the real estate.

Pakistan is a key U.S. ally in the War on Terrorism, yet the insanity of its judicial system and the deadliness of political debate is ignored by the American press.

“I was wondering about a reporter friend I met in Jerusalem,” writes Mollie Hemingway on Dr. Terry Mattingly’s website “GetReligion.”  

“So I stopped by her Facebook page and was surprised to see a few links to stories about the abduction of the son of Salman Taseer. Punjab Gov. Salman Taseer was assassinated at the very beginning of this year by his own bodyguard. That bodyguard was upset about Taseer’s opposition to blasphemy laws carrying the death sentence for insulting Islam. Taseer was riddled by gunshots, shot in the back. The response to his assassination, the most high-profile one since former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was killed a few years prior, was perhaps even more shocking.

“The 26-year-old assassin was showered by hundreds of supporters with rose petals and garlands when he appeared in court.

“A couple of months later, the Christian federal minorities minister, Shahbaz Bhatti, was also gunned down,” writes Hemingway. “He was also killed for speaking out against a brutal blasphemy law. The law isn’t just theoretical. Christian Asia Noreen Bibi has been on death row under the law for some time now.

“And now Taseer’s son Shahbaz has been kidnapped. My main complaint about the coverage is that it’s lacking. You can actually find hundreds of stories in the Pakistani press and in the European press. But the stories stateside are much harder to come by.

“The Los Angeles Times did publish a story. Time actually has an economical but informative story about the current situation facing those who oppose capital punishment for “blasphemy.” Here’s a sample:

On Jan. 4, Governor Taseer — an outspoken advocate of religious tolerance — was gunned down with 27 bullets by one of his own elite bodyguards. The assassin, Mumtaz Qadri, confessed to his crime with chilling pride.

“This is the punishment for a blasphemer,” Qadri declared.

The reaction to the assassination was no less shocking. Within moments of Taseer’s murder, Qadri was hailed as a hero by a broad section of mainstream Pakistani society.

In the months before he was killed, Taseer had been robustly campaigning against the country’s vaguely worded blasphemy laws that have been consistently invoked against religious minorities.

In particular, Taseer demanded the release of Asia Noreen Bibi, a poor farmhand, who became the first Christian woman to face the death penalty under those laws.

The governor’s rare and forceful opposition was twisted and cast as an act of blasphemy itself. When Qadri appeared at court, he was garlanded and cheered by a group of lawyers.

In the ensuing months, not only has Qadri evaded conviction, but the Taseer family has also endured a series of further threats. Despite Qadri’s confession, the court has convened only fitfully, dragging out the trial.

“The government set a very bad precedent in the aftermath of Salmaan Taseer’s death by not seeking to hold his murderer accountable,” says Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan director for Human Rights Watch. “There has been no movement on the case, and the failure to prosecute and convict the self-confessed murderer is a sign of both incompetence and an appeasement of extremists.”

It is this form of surrender, Hasan says, that emboldens further lawlessness in Pakistan.

“Very well written by Omar Waraich,” comments Hemingway. “I hadn’t realized, for instance, that Taseer’s family had faced further threats or that the trial wasn’t being run fairly.

“I realize that America has its own troubles, particularly with the economy. I understand that reporters here are focused internally and obsessed with politics. But Americans also need to know what’s going on in Pakistan.”

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If late novelist and screenwriter Michael Crichton had lived to write a follow-up to State of Fear, the plotline might well have gone like this: at a top-secret, state-of-the-art laboratory in Switzerland, scientists from 113 countries finally discover the true cause of “global warming.”

However, nobody wants to hear what they found.

But it’s not fiction and such a study exists — published by the prestigious Organisation Européenne pour la Recherche Nucléaire, which employs just under 2,400 full-time employees, as well as some 7,931 scientists and engineers representing 608 universities and research facilities and 113 nationalities — and runs the colossal Large Hadron Collider on the French-Swiss border. Odds are you’ve heard nothing about their study. What did these highly respected scientists find is causing global warming?

“It’s the sun, stupid,” writes James Delingpole in the British daily newspaper the Telegraph, one of the few media to publish the findings. “More specifically – as the Danish physicist Henrik Svensmark has long postulated – it’s the result of cosmic rays which act as a seed for cloud formation.

“The scientists working on the project are naturally euphoric: this is a major breakthrough which will not only overturn decades of misguided conjecture on so-called Man Made Global Warming but will spare the global economy trillions of dollars which might otherwise have been squandered on utterly pointless efforts to reduce anthropogenic CO2 emissions.”

But if these findings are so monumental, why has the news media been silent about this discovery? 

Because the findings are profoundly politically incorrect. Delingpole finds it absolutely fascinating that such an important study has been so completely suppressed — but he can see the massive political forces at work. 

What is this study he is talking about? “The latest revelations from CERN over its landmark CLOUD experiment,” he explains.

CERN refers to the Organisation Européenne pour la Recherche Nucléaire, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, an international organization whose purpose is to operate the world’s largest particle physics laboratory is situated in the northwest suburbs of Geneva on the French–Swiss border. Established in 1954, the organization has twenty European member states. The term CERN is also used to refer to the laboratory itself.

Just what did CERN find?

According to the International Business Times, one of the few media to report on the study, the team of international scientists found a common link in global warming on Earth and the similar warming occurring on Mars, Jupiter, Triton, Neptune and Pluto — where there are few SUV or coal-fired power plants. The link? The cycles of the sun. 

“Global warming and climate change are phenomena that broke the bonds of scientific circles to emerge as a matter of debate between ‘believers’ and ‘skeptics,'” reported the Times. “Countless studies validating and denying global warming have seen the light of the day, providing fodder for more, often somewhat bitter debates.

“Within the past month, Nobel Prize winner and leading climate change ‘alarmist’ Al Gore has called those who deny global warming akin to ‘racists,’ and ‘pseudo-scientists,’ and accused media of manipulating evidence about global warming,” reported the Times.

And that’s why so little has been reported about this study. Gore and his disciples have nurtured a group-think that makes the very idea that man is not cause of global warming absolutely untenable. After all, they have millions and millions of dollars invested in such schemes as “carbon trading” — built on the theory that carbon in the atmosphere is the cause of elevated temperatures worldwide.

But CERN has pokes a hole in Gore’s “established science.” CERN is the European entity that created and operates the colossal Large Hadron Collider, has now built a stainless steel chamber that precisely re-creates the Earth’s atmosphere. Research findings published by none other than CERN in the journal Nature hold that cosmic rays and the sun, not human activities, are responsible for global warming.

However, this could cost people like Gore their reputations. CERN’s discovery “isn’t exactly what Gore would welcome right now,” notes the Times.

Scientist Lawrence Solomon explains the study’s significance:

The science is now all-but-settled on global warming, convincing new evidence demonstrates, but Al Gore, the IPCC and other global warming doomsayers won’t be celebrating. The new findings point to cosmic rays and the sun — not human activities — as the dominant controller of climate on Earth.

The research, published with little fanfare this week in the prestigious journal Nature, comes from über-prestigious CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, one of the world’s largest centres for scientific research involving 60 countries and 8,000 scientists at more than 600 universities and national laboratories. CERN is the organization that invented the World Wide Web, that built the multi-billion dollar Large Hadron Collider, and that has now built a pristinely clean stainless steel chamber that precisely recreated the Earth’s atmosphere.

In this chamber, 63 CERN scientists from 17 European and American institutes have done what global warming doomsayers said could never be done — demonstrate that cosmic rays promote the formation of molecules that in Earth’s atmosphere can grow and seed clouds, the cloudier and thus cooler it will be.

Because the sun’s magnetic field controls how many cosmic rays reach Earth’s atmosphere (the stronger the sun’s magnetic field, the more it shields Earth from incoming cosmic rays from space), the sun determines the temperature on Earth.

“So if it’s so great, why aren’t we hearing more about it?” asks Delingpole in the Telegraph. “Well, possibly because the Director General of CERN Rolf-Dieter Heuer would prefer it that way. Here’s how he poured cold water on the results in an interview with Die Welt Online:

I have asked the colleagues to present the results clearly, but not to interpret them. That would go immediately into the highly political arena of the climate change debate. One has to make clear that cosmic radiation is only one of many parameters.

The findings came from what is called the CLOUD experiment – Cosmics Leaving OUtdoor Droplets. It uses a cloud chamber to study the possible link between galactic cosmic rays and cloud formation. Based at the Proton Synchrotron at CERN, it is the first time a high-energy physics accelerator has been used to study atmospheric and climate science, explains Delingpole.

Scientist Nigel Calder was the first to smell a rat when he read Heuer’s comment, writes Delingpole. Calder notes:

CERN has joined a long line of lesser institutions obliged to remain politically correct about the man-made global warming hypothesis. It’s OK to enter “the highly political arena of the climate change debate” provided your results endorse man-made warming, but not if they support Svensmark’s heresy that the Sun alters the climate by influencing the cosmic ray influx and cloud formation.

The once illustrious CERN laboratory ceases to be a truly scientific institute when its Director General forbids its physicists and visiting experimenters to draw the obvious scientific conclusions from their results

Scientist Lubos Motl, too, detects a double standard:

One could perhaps understand if all scientists were similarly gagged and prevented from interpreting the results of their research in ways that could be relevant for policymaking.

However, the main problem is that many people who are trying to work on very different phenomena in the climate are not prevented from interpreting – and indeed, overinterpreting and misinterpreting – their results that are often less serious, less reliable, and less rigorous, perhaps by orders of magnitude, than the observations by the European Organization for Nuclear Research.

“Moreover,” writes Delingham, “this sentence by Heuer, ‘One has to make clear that cosmic radiation is only one of many parameters’ is really a proof of his prejudice. Whether the cosmic radiation is just one player or the only relevant player or an important player or an unimportant player is something that this very research has been supposed to determine or help to determine.

“But then, as Solomon reminds us, this was never an experiment the scientific establishment wanted to happen in the first place.

The hypothesis that cosmic rays and the sun hold the key to the global warming debate has been Enemy No. 1 to the global warming establishment ever since it was first proposed by two scientists from the Danish Space Research Institute, at a 1996 scientific conference in the U.K. Within one day, the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Bert Bolin, denounced the theory, saying, “I find the move from this pair scientifically extremely naive and irresponsible.” He then set about discrediting the theory, any journalist that gave the theory cre dence, and most of all the Danes presenting the theory — they soon found themselves vilified, marginalized and starved of funding, despite their impeccable scientific credentials.

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The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, were a wake-up call from God, says the Rev. Billy Graham’s daughter, Anne Graham Lotz.

She recalls how she was at home by herself on the day of the terrorist attack. “My daughter called and told me to turn on the TV. A plane had hit one of the towers. I thought it was a little Piper Cub. But then I turned on the TV just as the second airliner hit. It was horrible.

“I watched,” she recalls. “As the first tower came down – then the second, God woke me up and set my heart on fire.”

The attacks were meant to be a wake-up call to all Christians to start a revival within the church, she says. She remembers how September 11 personally transformed her own faith and instilled in her a passion to share her convictions with others.

“On that day, God woke me up and set my heart on fire to tell other people the glorious good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

“It made me more focused. As I watched the towers fall, I thought I was watching 50,000 people die, but many people had gotten out. It was less than 3,000, but it was still shattering. I asked myself how many were not ready to step into eternity. I remember that very day sharing the Gospel with strangers. I came out bolder. It was a time not to be silent.

“I still have that,” she says. “I still don’t want anybody to die without Jesus.

“It is time for the church to look up, look within ourselves, stop blaming other people. The church is sleeping.

“As a country we have pushed God farther and farther out of our government, businesses, marketplace and schools. It’s time to repent and invite Him back.

“We may very well be living in the most strategic and critical generation since the first coming of Jesus Christ to Earth,” she says. “But people in general are oblivious to what time it is! We are fanatical about sports, we are consumed with eating and exercise and entertainment, we mob the shopping malls, we are preoccupied with the lifestyles of the rich and famous, and we zealously pursue greater heights on the corporate ladder.

“We fight over the style of church music, argue over political candidates, dream of bigger houses and cars and portfolios – totally unaware that we are all living on the brink of what?

“We are living on the brink of radical inside-out, upside-down, never-be-the-same-again change! We are teetering on the edge of a giant abyss where time stops and eternity begins, yet we live our lives as though this life is all there is or ever will be.

“God allowed September 11 and used it. If we don’t wake up, what is going to come next?

“This is a wake-up call for you! America, are you listening?”

She realizes such words may spark criticism, even derision.

“You know, everybody wants to be accepted,” she says. “But that’s not why I do what I do. Even when Jesus stepped out into public ministry, people loved Him, and then turned on Him. I want to speak the truth in love – to be as clear and simple as I can be.

“I really don’t live my life for other people’s approval. I feel compelled to do this. I believe that the primary problem in America is not economic or healthcare reform, I believe the primary problem is that we need to get right with God.

“In the message that I have given ever since September 11, I tell how God showed me the sin in my life. He revealed it to me as I spent seven days on my face. It was one of the hardest things I ever went through.

“I emerged with a freshness in my ministry and my presentation – to tell other people that God has given us hope even on September 11 – the most horrific of days.

“In a world where political correctness seems to deny truth, where moral relativism seems to deny standards, and where religious pluralism seems to deny God, it’s vital to know what we believe and why we believe it.”

Ten years later, she still feels a special urgency, she says. September 11 was just the beginning.

“Just as human history had a beginning, the Bible makes it very clear that it also has an end. People are not cosmic accidents wandering through time and space. Our existence has a purpose that is forever entwined with the God who created us for Himself,” she says – and mankind’s time on earth is coming to an end.

“Within my lifetime, I have seen the fulfillment of every sign Jesus gave His disciples 2,000 years ago,” she says. “Not only have I seen the signs, but I have observed the local, national and global ‘birth pains’ increase in astonishing frequency and intensity.”

She says those signs point to Jesus’ imminent return. He could return at any moment. What should we expect?

She cites two signs that tell her that time is short. One is the rebirth of the nation of Israel. She says she was born the same month and year that the Jewish nation “reclaimed their land, their language and their place among the nations. The Bible says that the generation which sees that will be the last.

“Then Jesus said we would see a second sign,” she says, “worldwide evangelism. This is the first time in human history that the Gospel is being preached throughout the entire world.”

Then, she says, there are the natural disasters that seem to be unfolding with increasing regularity.

“When we see these disasters happening, God has told us exactly what we are to do – we are to cry out to Him. And He will use us to make a difference to our generation.”

She writes in her new book Expecting to See Jesus: A Wake-Up Call for God’s People, that the signs will be like childbirth.

“Jesus said they would be like a birthing,” she says. “When I gave birth, the contractions were five minutes apart, then two, then one after the other. Now, we see disasters happening more and more frequently and they are record-breaking.

“Today’s record breaks last week’s record – droughts, fires, earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, snowstorms – and not just in America, but in England, Australia, Somalia all around the globe, such as the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. They are birth pains. They are happening now.”

What should we expect?

“I believe that Jesus’ return will cover at least seven years. I am not that dogmatic about how long it will be since the Scriptures are not that clear. I believe at one time, Christ will take the faithful.”

The Rapture? As in the Left Behind books and movies?

“The word ‘rapture’ isn’t in the Bible,” she notes. “But I believe that we Christians will not have to live through the worst. Jesus will have taken us to heaven.”

That will get people’s attention – as millions vanish or rise to meet Jesus in the sky. Then what happens when the Christians are gone?

“That triggers all sorts of things, such as worldwide revival,” she says.

But, if all the Christians are gone, who will preach?

“There won’t be anybody,” she admits. However, a great deal of Christian literature will be left behind. “They will learn from what we leave them. I realized some time ago that God was calling me to write down things for the generation after me, when there are no teachers, no preachers.”

That’s why in her books, she says, she tries to write so anybody can grasp the message – just as her father, Billy Graham, did throughout his years of ministry.

“Daddy took the Gospel and made it so simple that anybody could understand it –and it had a huge impact,” she says. “It is a simple message that we are sinners and if we turn to Him, we can be born again.”

But why is she so convinced that Jesus is coming – and very soon?

“My faith is not based on my hopeful thinking, not on dreams and wishes and feelings, not on hearsay or doom, not on gloomy economic forecasts, not on the dramatic political, social, cultural, medical, environmental and moral cataclysmic changes taking place in our world today – not on environmental disasters of biblical proportion like Hurricane Katrina. I base my deep inner conviction on what the Bible says.”

What will happen during the final seven years of life on earth?

She says there will be “three and a half years of bad things – man doing bad things to man. Then the last three and half years, God’s wrath will be unleashed upon the earth.

“I do not believe God would put His people through that,” she says – hence her conviction that the Christians will already have been taken into heaven.

So, her message “is one of hope, that we do not have to go through that. We can escape both judgment for our sins and the eternal consequences of it – as well as the period of His wrath upon the world.”

“The signs that Jesus said would characterize the last generation were given to His disciples who recorded them in the Bible,” she says. “Jesus said these signs would be like birth pains that increase in frequency and in intensity.

“These are now taking place all around us. While we have always experienced wars, famines, earthquakes, and the persecution of God’s people, these signs are occurring much more frequently and with record-breaking intensity.

“The biblical signs and the news headlines are coming together in a dramatically sobering way, giving every indication that it’s five minutes to midnight on the time clock of history, and yet so many people are sleeping!

“The attack on September 11 was a wake-up call for the nation, as well as the church.

“Yet, ten years later we’re still sleeping!”

American culture is circling the drain faster and faster, but most of us are too caught up in the frenetic pace of our lives to notice the dramatic changes that have sent our country spinning out of control, says New York Times best-selling author Dr. David Jeremiah.

“We live in a ‘cynical age of situational ethics, when atheists are shaking their fists at God, Jesus is the butt of crude jokes, the Bible is treated no better than a coffee table book of trite proverbs, and ‘war’ and ‘marriage’ are being redefined daily,” says the host of the Turning Point radio program and senior pastor of California’s Shadow Mountain Community Church.

“Toto, we’re not in America anymore,” says Dr. Jeremiah, only half-jokingly. “America today is not the America it was.”

This has been so disorienting, he explains, because “America’s departure from God’s standard has occurred so slowly that many of us do not realize just how far we’ve drifted.”

In a new book I Never Thought I’d See the Day! Culture at the Crossroads, Dr. Jeremiah examines the dramatic cultural and social changes of the recent years from a biblical perspective.

“There is a hunger for answers,” he says. “Many, many Christians across the country and around the world have suffered. They want answers.”

In his book, Dr. Jeremiah addressed nine issues, all of which he believes have significant implications for America and the church. He asks, for example: “Who thought we would ever see the day when atheists would be angry?

“Atheists have become intolerant and vocal, railing against God with fanatical zeal,” he says — and shows how the movement has abandoned rational thought and resorted to toxic vitriol and groundless accusations.

“Who thought we would ever see the day when Christians wouldn’t know they were in a war?” he asks. It’s a spiritual war!

“The spiritual battle against Satan continues, but Christians cannot hope to achieve victory in war of which they are unaware,” writes Dr. Jeremiah brings his knowledge of Scripture and military strategy to bear with the hope that Christians everywhere will heed his warning and arm themselves.

“Who thought we would ever see the day when Jesus would be so profaned?” he asks. “When Jesus is featured in profane ways on television shows like South Park, He is reduced from His biblical stature of divine and holy to a cultural characterization of crude and common.”

 Dr. Jeremiah says that we are personally obligated to limit what we approve, what we call entertainment, what we say and think, and what we tolerate.

“Who thought we would ever see the day when marriage would be obsolete?” he asks — cautioning that the degradation of this most basic social building block threatens the stability of society as a whole.

Other questions he examines: “Who thought we would ever see the day morality would be in freefall? When the Bible would be marginalized When the church would be irrelevant?”

A community’s churches used to be considered a source of life and light, their light has grown increasingly dim.

The changes in America’s culture during recent decades have made us long for a simpler time, he notes.

Disturbing as the reality of America’s descent may be, Dr. Jeremiah remains optimistic — not about man’s ability to solve these dilemmas, but rather, about God.

“I do not mean that I expect God to swoop down and return America to the good old days. I don’t think that’s biblically realistic,” he says. “So what is there to be optimistic about? I am optimistic about God’s ability to transform us–to raise us higher as the world sinks lower.

“The only solution is to follow a different path from that of the disintegrating world around us.”