May 10, 2010
The Business of Causing People Distress
Great Britain was once the center of Christian liberty, where free men could speak their minds and where they worshiped God in courage and truth. In the late 1880s, London was the most church-going city on the planet.
Today, Christians in Britain are required to keep their opinions to themselves. Only about 2 percent of the population can be measured as true believers. Many churches in London have either closed or have been turned into museums--relying on tourists for their funding.
I can see how bad things are there from the hits that come to Rapture Ready. Even though Europe is the birthplace of many Christian faiths, 98 percent of the site's traffic comes from North America. The top-ranked foreign country is Australia, and they only have 22 million people.
I doubt that most Americans grasp how hostile Europe has become to the preaching of the Holy Word of God. Merry ole England is a place of bigotry and anti-Christian hatred. People are being harassed and arrested for open-air preaching.
Dale McAlpine made news last week when he was arrested for telling passersby that homosexuality is a sin. The 42-year-old Baptist who has preached Christianity in Workington, Cumbria, for years said he did not mention homosexuality while delivering a sermon from the top of a stepladder, but admitted telling a passing shopper that he believed it went against the Word of God.
Last year, Miguel Hayworth, 29, was threatened with arrest for simply reading extracts from the Bible in public. While preaching in the city of Manchester, he was approached on more than one occasion by several police officers who accused him of inciting hatred with homophobic and racial comments.
One plain-clothes officer, who was with the other two uniformed officers, said: "It is against the law to preach and hand out tracts; preaching causes offense and handing out tracts is harassment and could result in an arrest."
There is no reason for police to hassle Christians who witness their faith in public venues. Freedom of religion and freedom of religious speech are specifically protected by the European Convention on Human Rights.
What is being used against Christians in Britain is the Public Order Act. It started in 1936 to control rioters and has evolved over the years. The big change came in 2006 with the Racial and Religious Hatred Act. It bars inciting hatred against a person on the grounds of his or her religion.
A key problem with the law is the ability of the police officer to charge anyone who is causing “alarm or distress.” To be labeled as an offender, all one needs to do is run afoul of someone else’s sinful lifestyle. I don't see how the Bible can still be regarded as "the Good Book" if reading it in public qualifies as hate speech.
There seems to be a global conspiracy at work because this type of anti-Christian policy is found in many other Western nations. I have friends who tell me there is almost the same level of restriction in Canada. Joseph Chambers is one of our featured writers, and he recently was going up north to preach at a church there. The Canadian border police would not let him bring one of his books into the country. They said it was flagged for its hateful commentary.
We are now seeing signs that religious liberty in American may be next to fall. Franklin Graham caused the Pentagon some distress over his stated views on Islam. Graham was “dis-invited” by the Army to speak at a National Day of Prayer ceremony at the Pentagon because he said Islam was an evil religion.
I don't see how the Army can find the grounds to take Graham to task. Wasn't it Muslims who flew a plane into the Pentagon? Did not Nidal Malik Hasan kill twelve people and wound thirty at Fort Hood, Texas, in the name of Islam?
One of the biggest problems with the church today is that pastors have gotten out of the business of causing people distress. If you tell people they are lost and bound for a lake of fire, it is very likely that they will feel distress over this type of revelation.
Jesus warned that we would be persecuted because the world hated Him first. I believe we need to hold firm because the time of our departure is drawing near. When
believers and non-believers stand before the great white throne, the lost will mostly likely
complain we are at fault for not distress them enough.
“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me” (John 15:18-21).
America's Only Real Defense
I received a phone call from my friend Chris in New York City the other night and there was incredulity in the distinctive NYC brogue while he talked. A subway train conductor, he was flabbergasted over the number of police personnel combing the subway and other places in the great city on the Hudson.
When a New Yorker who sees as much as a subway conductor sees every day gets excited over something, it is best to pay attention. The intensive concern of the authorities was, he and I surmised, over the attempted bombing in Times Square. Rather than easing as the present moved farther from the moment of the discovery of the loaded vehicle, the anxiety and effort to find...we don't know what...is increasing everywhere my friend looks.
A suspect has been arrested for the Saturday, May 1, bombing attempt. His name is Faisal Shahzad, apparently a naturalized U.S. citizen of Pakistani origin. He has, authorities believe, had significant help from terrorists in Pakistan.
"U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Mr. Shahzad was detained at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York on Monday as he attempted to board a flight to Dubai. Mr. Holder said it was clear the bomb had been intended to kill Americans" (Steve Kingstone, "Times Square Bomb Suspect Arrested in New York," BBC News, 5/4/10).
Since the time of my friend's phone call, made well after the suspect had been taken into custody, the search--for whatever reasons--seems to have intensified. It is said that the bomb found in the car in Times Square was made from fertilizer, fireworks, petrol, and propane gas tanks. It could have, the experts say, caused a significant fireball, though it was crudely constructed. The fact that it was capable of detonation but didn't go off inspired thoughts that brought me to write this commentary.
Why, my brain prompted, have such attempts to explode terrorist-planted bombs failed in the United States--when the terrorists have been highly successful in exploding their murderous devices in most other areas of the world, including the nations of the West? And why has this level of terrorism not worked here since the attacks on New York and Washington DC on September 11, 2001?
True--there have recently been deadly shootings by those who fit the profile of Mideast terrorists in Arkansas and Texas as well as foiled plots, such as a planned murderous rampage in Virginia. But the hate-filled desire of the radical Islamics in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other points eastward have not materialized.
We have heard for years that the terrorists will set off nuclear devices in large cities across America and that suitcase atomic bombs are just awaiting to be detonated upon orders--from somewhere--to destroy New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and other huge metropolitan centers. Thankfully, none of these horrendous explosions have happened.
America has the most easily accessible public and government places in the world. And Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, as well as U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and most network and cable news pundits, have acknowledged that in the case of the Times Square bombing attempt, it was just good fortune that the explosive didn't ignite. They all say that it was good luck and alert citizenry that saved the day in New York last Saturday.
The federal officials patted each other on the backs for apprehending the suspect, even though he almost got off the runway at JFK before the plane was recalled. But they use the words "very fortunate" and "good luck" to describe the bomb's failed detonation.
There have been many terroristic plans foiled, and those responsible for national security admit that those might just be the proverbial tip of the iceberg in consideration of the number of terroristic plots that are ongoing in this nation. Homeland Security officials readily admit that there is no way to keep track of every possible terrorist plot against this, the most hated nation by the Islamist fanatics (second only to Israel).
So it can't just be "good fortune" or "luck" that has spared us truly horrific attacks since the 9/11/01 assaults.
Certainly we who believe that God is in control of all things know that it is He, not "good fortune," who has for some reason spared the U.S. in these deadly attacks. On the other hand, there is absolutely no other nation more deserving of God's great protective hand being removed. The light and truth that have been shed on America likely make our people the most responsible of all peoples to live under the Lord's guidance, rather than deliberately pull in the opposite direction, as we have done in so many ways.
It is a strange thing to contemplate. It's like the calm before one of our Arkansas tornadoes. You just sense that the atmosphere is ripe for a coming storm.
The Lord--not Homeland Security, the decreasingly effective U.S. military, or our growingly intrusive yet increasingly incompetent federal government--is our only defense. It is He Who, for His own reasons, has prevented those who hate America and Israel from doing their most dastardly worst.
But judgment awaits and is building. It is past time for God's people--the born again--to follow the prescription the Lord gave His people, Israel, as recorded in 2 Chronicles 7:14. Like the psalmist, it is time for those who name the name of Christ to say: "The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies" (Psa. 18:2-3).