American Christians may not see eye-to-eye on the justness or wisdom of their government’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but one thing on which they should be able to agree — because the facts are indisputable — is that the wars have been devastating for their coreligionists in those countries. Hundreds of thousands of Christians, including members of one of the world’s oldest Christian communities, have either fled from or been killed in Iraq since 2003. Now, according to the U.S. State Department, the situation for Christians in Afghanistan has become so dire that not a single church remains in that country. CNSNews.com quotes the State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report for the second half of 2010: There is no longer a public Christian church; the courts have not upheld the church's claim to its 99-year lease, and the landowner destroyed the building in March [2010]. [Private] chapels and churches for the international community of various faiths are located on several military bases, PRTs [Provincial Reconstruction Teams], and at the Italian embassy. Some citizens who converted to Christianity as refugees have returned. Furthermore, says the report, “there were no Christian schools in the country.”
Dr. Duke Pesta received his M.A. in Renaissance literature from John Carroll University and his Ph.D. in Shakespeare and Renaissance literature from Purdue University. He has taught at major research institutions and small liberal arts colleges, on a wide variety of subjects at the graduate and undergraduate level, including classes on Shakespeare, Renaissance literature, the Bible, Russian literature, and C.S. Lewis. He has been active in educational reform, and was instrumental in developing and implementing an elective Bible course that is currently available for public high-school students in Texas. He is a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, and the academic director of FreedomProj­ect Education, an online school dedicated to providing students a classical education delivered through state-of-the-art technology. He was interviewed for The New American by Gary Benoit. The New American: What are the benefits of homeschooling? Dr. Duke Pesta: Besides the obvious advantages of convenience and the comforts and flexibility of the home environment, perhaps the biggest benefit of homeschooling is the ability to manage the message, so to speak. It is impossible to be an informed participant in the culture and not recognize the increasingly volatile politicization of American institutions, especially Hollywood, the media, and of course, academia. Homeschooling provides parents a level playing field, a safe place from which to interact with their children about the proper way to distinguish between important and unimportant information and identify the often one-sided methods by which information is delivered.
Homosexual activists continue to target Wheaton College, one of America’s most high-profile evangelical schools, most recently during the college’s annual homecoming celebration. According to the Chicago Tribune, on the evening of October 7, while other Wheaton students and alumni were involved in legitimate homecoming activities, hundreds of “gay and lesbian Wheaton College alumni, students, staff, and supporters” assembled at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in nearby Glen Ellyn, in the latest effort to force Wheaton College officials to concede that homosexual activity is compatible with the Christian faith — something the school’s administration has thus far been unwilling to do. Reported the Tribune: “For the first time, members of OneWheaton, the recently formed group of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender alumni, and allies of that community, met near the Wheaton campus to enjoy a concert from Christian singer Jennifer Knapp [a Christian singer who says she is now a lesbian] and lead a discussion about being gay and Christian.” The evening featured a panel of four openly homosexual Wheaton alumni who “answered questions from the audience and shared personal testimony about what it was like to struggle with questions about self-identity at a college where students sign a covenant that condemns homosexual behavior,” reported the Tribune.
A new study published in the October issue of the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy confirms what thousands of former homosexuals know first hand: individuals tormented by unwanted same-sex attraction can change. The study, conducted by psychologists Stanton L. Jones of Wheaton College and Mark A. Yarhouse of Regent University, followed the progress over several years of 98 individuals (72 men, 26 women) seeking to change their sexual orientation through involvement in programs affiliated with Exodus International, a noted ministry for those wishing to leave homosexuality. Of the 61 subjects who completed the study and were “successfully categorized for general outcome,” noted a press release on the project, 53 percent were determined by Exodus International’s evaluation to have had successful outcomes from the religious-based therapy. “Specifically,” noted the researchers, “23% of the subjects reported success in the form of successful ‘conversion’ to heterosexual orientation and functioning, while an additional 30% reported stable behavioral chastity with substantive dis-identification with homosexual orientation.” Only 20 percent of the subjects “reported giving up on the change process and fully embracing gay identity,” found the study. The researchers noted that, by and large, the “professional world” of psychology and psychiatry “proclaims that it is impossible to change sexual orientation, particularly homosexual orientation, and that the attempt to change sexual orientation is commonly and inherently harmful.” For example, they noted, “for many years the Public Affairs website of the American Psychological Association stated:
Genetic scientists at the New York Stem Cell Foundation lab claimed a major breakthrough in early October, reporting that for the first time they had used cloning techniques to produce embryonic stem cells which contain the genes of specific individuals. “The cells weren’t normal,” the Los Angeles Times explained — ”they contained three sets of chromosomes: two from the adult cell and an extra from the egg. They would not be fit for use in stem cell therapies.” Nonetheless, continued the report, the controversial creation “marked a first in stem cell research and may point the way toward treatments for diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.” One fellow stem cell researcher, Lawrence Goldstein of the University of California-San Diego, applauded the news, telling the Washington Post: “I think it will teach us a lot of how to control the generation of all the different cell types that we would like to study and use for therapy. I think it’s a really exciting development.” But Daniel P. Sulmasy, a professor of medicine and ethics at the University of Chicago, pointed out that the researchers were toying with human life, a troubling reality. “They have created human embryos,” Sulmasy told the Washington Post.
President Obama’s so-called jobs bill may prove to be dead on arrival, prompting Democrats to consider making drastic changes — cutting the bill into its pieces to drive up the chances of piecemeal passages. The proposal was introduced once it became clear that even Democrats are reconsidering their support for the bill, which has thus far failed to attract needed bipartisan support. The jobs bill is virtually a resurrection of Obama’s $800-billion-plus 2009 stimulus measure as well as a Social Security payroll tax cut that was enacted last year. What separates it from the stimulus, however, is that the jobs bill is said to be financed by a 5.6-percent surcharge on income that exceeds one million dollars. The legislation, however, has been a hard sell for Democrats, as House Republicans are unlikely to pass it (threatening not to even bring it to the floor for a vote) and those in the Senate can filibuster at will. Obama has launched a campaign-like crusade to stimulate support for the bill. Last week he insisted, This is not the time for the usual games or political gridlock in Washington. Any senator out there who’s thinking about voting against this jobs bill needs to explain why they would oppose something that we know would improve our economic situation.
For the past three weeks, protestors of various stripes have made their way to New York City’s Financial District as part of the movement known as “Occupy Wall Street,” a self-described “people-powered movement for democracy inspired by the Egyptian Tahrir Square uprisings.” Democratic Party bigwigs such as Al Sharpton, former Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi, and countless other elected officials have lent their support to the cause, which has also merited the participation of numerous labor unions, and a host of socialist, communist, and other radical leftist political parties and groups, including the International ANSWER Coalition (which has demonstrably provided much support and strategic input to the Islamist and communist forces protesting in Cairo). In addition, however, the Occupy Wall Street movement has also included a fair deal of anti-semitic protesters, who rely on classically leftist and communist anti-semitic arguments associating Jews with capitalism, and who are informed by the anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian rhetoric espoused by those leftist coalitions fueling the Occupy Wall Street movement. As the protests enter their fourth week, centered around Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park, several videos of protesters spewing anti-semitic rhetoric have surfaced, sparking new concerns about the groups and ideological positions represented at the protests.
President Obama is traveling to Pittsburgh on Tuesday (October 11) to discuss with prominent American business leaders the lingering economic barrier of high unemployment. The gathering will consist of members of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness (Jobs Council), which was established in January to "provide non-partisan advice to the President on continuing to strengthen the Nation’s economy and ensure competitiveness of the United States and on ways to create jobs, opportunity, and prosperity for the American people." The Jobs Council comprises 27 Obama-appointed business leaders from primarily corporate entities outside the federal government who are responsible for advising the President "on how the Federal Government can best foster growth, competitiveness, innovation, and job creation." The council includes executives from American Express, Boeing, and Citigroup, and is chaired by Obama’s corporate cohort, CEO of General Electric Jeffrey Immelt. But many of the Jobs Council’s chief executives have rotten track records of creating jobs, as they have axed expansion projects, terminated entire departments, and slashed thousands of American jobs, despite posting record profits.
In response to AT&T’s proposed acquisition of mobile carrier T-Mobile for $39 billion, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it would be bringing suit against AT&T on the grounds the wireless giant is in violation of federal antitrust laws. In addition to Attorney General Eric Holder bringing suit against the nation’s largest mobile services provider, seven states announced Friday they would be joining efforts to legally halt the merger. Attorneys General from California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington have signed onto the effort to stop the deal that would merge two of the four largest national cellphone carriers. The Justice Department issued an amended complaint against AT&T last week, as well as T-Mobile and its parent company, Deutsche-Telekom, arguing that the merger of the nation’s second- and fourth-largest wireless carriers would violate antitrust law and “substantially lessen competition.” The DOJ claims that the combination would reduce wireless communication competition in the United States, driving prices higher, making service worse, and offering fewer products for U.S. consumers. The department said in the statement,
ABC News reports that California's Governor Jerry Brown has just signed a new law "mak[ing] it a misdemeanor to openly carry an exposed and unloaded handgun in public or in a vehicle." Assembly Bill 144, authored by Democrat Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, was directed against the “open-carry” movement, and exempts only law enforcement officers, and those either hunting, or at military gatherings or gun shows. Dallas Stout, California chapter president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, was gratified: "By prohibiting the open carry of guns, we can now take our families to the park or out to eat without the worry of getting shot by some untrained, unscreened, self-appointed vigilante." For those caught open-carrying, the law carries a fine of $1,000 and up to one year in jail.  
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