Being Faithful unto Death

Yousef Nadarkhani lives under a sentence of death. Iran plans to execute him for the crime of being a Christian pastor. It all  began in 2009 when Nadarkhani objected to his children being indoctrinated into Islam in the school they were required to attend. He was standing for parental rights as well as the Christian faith.

His outspoken views led to his arrest and the eventual death penalty sentence. This has created a furor in what could be called the remnant of the civilized world. In a rare moment of moral clarity, even the Obama administration has spoken against this unjust sentence. Republicans and Democrats alike unite in admonishing the Iranian regime and calling for Nadarkhani’s release.

Iran is under some pressure, therefore, to review the case. At one point this past week, his lawyer believed there was a 95% chance that the verdict would be overturned. Then, amazingly, the Iranian government changed its tactics—no, Nadarkhani was not being sentenced to death for being a Christian; rather, it was because he had raped someone and even ran a brothel.

That one doesn’t survive the laugh test. It is so transparently false that no one is buying it. These false accusations are reminiscent of the Stalin Show Trials of the 1930s or how Hitler got rid of his enemies: concoct a fantastic story without a shred of evidence and use it to advance the goals of the regime.

What’s going to happen to Pastor Nadarkhani? No one knows for sure yet, but it doesn’t look hopeful. In the midst of this, though, one thing is crystal clear—this man is a model of Christian steadfastness and devotion to the One who saved him from sin. His refusal to deny his Savior is a testimony to the life-changing power of the Holy Spirit. His life—and perhaps his death—will serve as a sobering reminder to Western Christians that we are not simply playing a religious game. We are eternal beings with either heaven or hell awaiting us, and we must answer the call to be faithful, even unto death.

Think of Yousef Nadarkhani; pray for him and for his family. Let his life be an inspiration to those of us who claim the name of Christ.

The Plight of the Moderate Muslim

I’ve been offering samplings of Mark Steyn’s America Alone over the past few weeks, and today I’m up to chapter five, “The Anything They’ll Believe In: Church vs. State.” There’s just so much meat in this chapter that I’m going to cover only the first part today and save the latter half for another time.

Steyn writes about how Islamists have selectively assimilated into Western culture. What he means by that is they pick and choose what they will adopt as it suits their purposes. He says they have done an excellent job of mastering the following aspects of the West: legalisms, victimology, and the entitlement culture. They sue in court to get special treatment. For example, the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled “that the state prison system has failed to justify denying a Muslim inmate special feast-day meats, such as oxen and camel.” While American soldiers have to stomach typical MREs, Muslim prisoners can sue for camel.

The prison system in Britain is now remodeling the bathrooms because “Muslim inmates have complained that the toilets face Mecca and that therefore they’re obliged to ride sidesaddle, which can be very uncomfortable.” Wait a minute. Aren’t they prisoners? Since when do prisoners get special requests? Are we even aware this is happening or will we awaken to a new reality someday?

With respect to the entitlement mentality, Steyn notes, “While it’s not true that every immigrant on welfare is an Islamic terrorist, the vast majority of Islamic terrorists in Europe are on welfare, living in radicalized ghetto cultures with nothing to do but sit around the flat plotting the jihad all day at taxpayers’ expense.”

He then takes aim at the concept of the “moderate Muslim.” If you thought he was being controversial with his earlier statements, he definitely challenges political correctness on this topic:

Still, as we always say, the “vast majority” of Muslims oppose “extremism.” These are the so-called “moderate Muslims.” One is tempted to update the old joke: a ten-dollar bill is in the center of the crossroads. To the north, there’s Santa Claus. To the west, the Tooth Fairy. To the east, a radical Muslim. To the south, a moderate Muslim. Who reaches the ten-dollar bill first?

Answer: the radical Muslim. All the others are mythical creatures.

He goes on to explain why that joke is on target:

The “moderate Muslim” is not entirely fictional. But it would be more accurate to call them quiescent Muslims. In the 1930s, there were plenty of “moderate Germans,” and a fat lot of good they did us or them. Today, the “moderate Muslim” is a unique contributor to cultural diversity: unlike all the visible minorities, he’s a non-visible one—or, at any rate, non-audible.

Steyn then quotes a Muslim apostate who, he says, makes an important distinction: “there are moderate Muslims, but no moderate Islam.” It is true that millions of Muslims simply want to live quietly without causing trouble to anyone. The problem is that “all of the official schools of Islamic jurisprudence commend sharia and violent jihad. So a ‘moderate Muslim’ can find no formal authority to support his moderation.”

Further, why should any moderate Muslim challenge the establishment? What help will he get from the West?

The Iranians declared a fatwa on Salman Rushdie and he had to go into hiding for more than a decade while his government and others continued fawning on the regime that issued the death sentence. The Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh spoke out and was murdered, and the poseur dissenters of Hollywood were too busy congratulating themselves on their courage and bravery in standing up to Bush even to mention their poor dead colleague in the weepy Oscar montage of the year’s deceased. To speak out against the Islamists means to live in hiding and under armed security in the heart of the so-called “free world.”

Steyn doesn’t stop there. He pinpoints the underlying problem that allows this abject cowardice to flourish. What is that? I’ll come back to it in a future post. Return here for the answer.

The Potential for Armageddon?

So the U.N. has imposed new sanctions on Iran. Anyone else feel a yawn coming on? Can’t you see Iran trembling over this world outrage? No? Neither can I. The so-called sanctions are worse than useless: semi-tough talk with no follow-through.

An apt depiction of what sanctions will accomplish. Yet every time the “world” does this, we’re told that it’s really going to make a difference. Does anyone with any sense of reality believe this?

Iran is so frightened it has just announced it is sending a flotilla to Gaza to break the Israeli blockade. Without trying to sound alarmist, we have here a potential warmaking situation. If Israel boards those ships, Iran may declare war. Now, they may not, simply because they might instead decide to bask in the glow of the “world’s” outrage directed once again toward Israel.

There is a sense of unreality to the whole situation. Somehow, in many people’s minds, the nation that is desperately trying to remain a nation while surrounded by hate-driven enemies is pilloried while another nation that says it wants to wipe the first nation off the face of the earth is treated as legitimate. This is also the nation [Iran, in case you’re confused at this point] that recently held an election that all serious observers know was stolen by its fearless leader.

Conservatives always make comparisons with Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler during the 1930s. I don’t think the comparison is all that bad, except for this: the potential consequences now are much greater as Iran steadily moves forward in its quest to develop its own nuclear weapons. Hitler may have had such dreams, but his dreams never came this close to reality.

Are we approaching a Biblical Armageddon? Too many people in the past have declared it to be imminent, so I’m going to be more cautious. This situation, however, is potentially worse than anything the Middle East has faced in the past—and whatever transpires in the Middle East will affect us directly.

I’m not just spouting some pious phrase when I say it is time to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Immigration, Terror, & the Coming Elections

The primary reason for civil government is to protect the people of a nation. That’s one reason why the illegal immigration issue is so important. Yet what is our president doing about it?

It’s almost as if he wears blinders. Well, he does actually—they’re the result of his ideology.

There’s also the threat from Iran, which, during the campaign, candidate Obama called a “tiny” nation that we shouldn’t worry about. Isn’t it time he started worrying? If he does, he may have to reverse some of his actions.

Closer to home, we were fortunate that Faisal Shahzad didn’t know what he was doing when he tried to take out Times Square.

That’s not what I would call a “policy.” Of course the adminstration would argue that’s not its approach—it just appears to be. They are on the alert to find the real terrorists.

Yes, those homegrown Tea Partiers are a menace to a government that is as detrimental to the republic as the BP oil spill is to the coastline.

The November elections certainly will be crucial. Obama will have to work his magic once again.

I’m just praying he will be as effective as he has been in the latest round. God save the republic.

Do You Feel Nationally Secure?

I want my understanding of the responsibilities of government to be as Biblically based as possible. Scriptural passages that talk about the role of government seem to concentrate primarily on punishing evildoers and protecting the citizens.

That means we need law enforcement and courts of justice. We also need a military to defend against those who might want to attack us. If we fall down on either of those aspects of protection, we are in danger.

The Soviet Union is no more. We can thank Ronald Reagan and others who worked with him for that. Russia, in its latest incarnation, might become a threat again. It has been particularly unhelpful in our efforts to derail Iran from becoming a nuclear power. A nuclear Iran will attack Israel for sure; it also will be only too happy to sell some of its weapons to terrorists.

We have to be on the alert and vigilant—yet what are we doing? I noted in a previous blog that President Obama has a new nuclear strategy. Many fear it is leading us into dangerous territory by weakening our resolve to defend ourselves.

I’m not comforted by that either. There’s a lack of seriousness that emanates from the Oval Office on the issue of national security.

Iran doesn’t seem particularly impressed by the president’s new approach. What is he going to do if Iran gets nuclear weapons? What will his strategy be at that point? We need to hope it’s not this:

That certainly would fit into his worldview; after all, the rich are the real enemies, right? Oh, and of course certain other people:

Yes, he can be strong when he wants to be.

We need a different worldview in the White House. We won’t get an opportunity for that until 2012. A good start, though, would be a massive overhaul of Congress in 2010. It can be done.

The New Defense Posture

Earlier this week, the Obama administration came out with its Nuclear Posture Review. It included new restrictions on when nuclear weapons would be used and focused on Obama’s desire to rid the world of all nuclear weapons. Some people are saying it is Reaganesque, since that president also sought a nuclear-free world. There are differences, which I’ll come back to later.

National Review asked a number of defense experts to comment on this new policy. Since they know far more about defense than I do, I would like to offer some brief excerpts from their commentary.

James Carafano of the Heritage Foundation notes:

The president lists five priorities in the NPR. Defending the U.S. isn’t one of them.

You’d think it would be job Number One. That’s why we invented nukes. Instead, the Review is largely a political document for trumpeting the president’s “road to zero,” a vision that will leave the U.S. with a smaller, less reliable, less credible nuclear force — making the world a more dangerous place.

Brian Kennedy, President of the Claremont Institute, had this to say:

The Nuclear Posture Review has just been released. Would that it had not. One does not have to read too far into it to see the amazing capacity human beings have for self-deception.

There is much in it that simply re-articulates the American Left’s antipathy to our strategic nuclear arsenal, the weapons system that has checked the aggression of totalitarian states against the free world for six decades. This was to be expected. More striking is the transparent naïveté contained within the president’s “vision” of a world without nuclear weapons and its bold and bizarre assertion that Russia is not our enemy. Much as we would hope otherwise, the Russians continue to build ever more advanced ballistic nuclear missiles, supply Iran with the technology and knowhow to develop such weapons for use against the United States and Israel, and, with the Communist Chinese, seek to marginalize the United States and its allies.

President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, Clifford May, is trying to figure out if he heard correctly:

Let me see if I have this straight: Iran is developing nuclear weapons and threatening to use them and/or share them with terrorists. In response, President Obama has renounced the development of any new nuclear weapons by the U.S. and pledged that America will not deploy nuclear weapons against non-nuclear countries — not even in retaliation for a biological or chemical attack, assuming, of course, that said attacker is, at the time of said attack, in compliance with its nonproliferation obligations under international treaties.

Well, if that’s not worth a second Nobel Peace Prize, what would be?

I referred earlier to the comparison some have made between the Reagan and Obama approach. It is true that Ronald Reagan dreamed of a world without nuclear weapons. Yet there was one caveat.

When Reagan met with Gorbachev and sought to reduce nuclear weapons, he always quoted an old Russian proverb, “Trust but verify.” He didn’t just take the word of a failing superpower built on a foundation of Marxism-Leninism and devoted to moral relativism. Any reduction had to be verified—we had to be able to inspect Russian facilities to see that they were following through on their promises.

What we have today is an adminstration that doesn’t operate on the same worldview as Reagan. Instead, it believes that our nuclear arsenal is the reason for the problems; therefore we need to show the world how trustworthy we are. Meanwhile, Iran and other rogue states laugh at our simplistic views and continue moving the world closer to nuclear confrontation by their desire to obtain those weapons themselves.

For those who argue that it’s only fair—why should the U.S. have nuclear weapons and not Iran—I would ask, “Are you of sound mind?” We have handled them responsibly for decades. Do you really believe Iran will do the same? There is no moral equivalence here.

If we really want to help bring stability in international relations, one cartoonist has a suggestion as to how that might occur.