Bush, Jesus, and Egypt


Bush, Jesus, and Egypt: How Democrats, Republicans, and Christianity Are Doing in the Middle East
by Gregory C. Cochran

In speaking about the Democrat Party, Gov. Mitch Daniels in his recent speech to CPAC said, “Our opponents are better at nastiness than we will ever be.  It comes naturally.  Power to them is everything, so there’s nothing they won’t say to get it.”   Believe it or not, he is speaking of something fundamental to the Democrat Party—not the nastiness.  I don’t mean here either to slander the Democrat Party or exalt the Republican. I hope only to explain the difference between the two parties and, in so doing, demonstrate how the two approaches are being played out in the Middle East.  In other words, I want us to understand better the political movements in America and Egypt.  History is offering us a teachable moment through current affairs in Egypt.

Many Republicans share Gov. Daniels’ disdain for democrats, while many democrats, likewise, despise the republican tendency to resist change and to “impose” values on others.  While nastiness is not endemic to either party, the other factors—a thirst for power by democrats and an imposition of values by republicans—are quite natural to the respective political parties.

Here is what I mean. By nature, democrats support democracy, meaning democrats believe in a majority rule.  What has to happen for the democrats to rule, then, is for the democrats to be the majority.  Thus, they naturally are quite interested in public opinion.  They will gravitate toward offices and institutions (media, academia) which shape public opinion because public opinion determines the rule of law in a democracy.

Republicans, on the other hand, hold primarily to the principle of the rule of law, a principle which says that certain things are never right regardless of what 51% of the people say.  Republicans, typically, are more conservative, in the sense that they are quite interested in preserving (or conserving) traditional beliefs and instruments which have been effective in the past.  By nature, conservatives aren’t as adept at stirring up the masses like democrats because they aren’t of the opinion that their causes are right or wrong based on the percentages of people who agree with them.  They don’t need majority support, they have the constitution.

I understand that I am oversimplifying and painting with very broad strokes in these descriptions of democrats and republicans.  Yet, at root, these are valid distinctions.  They are important distinctions.  The case of the revolution in Egypt brings out these distinctions clearly.  The New York Times has an article posted concerning George W. Bush’s role in stirring up democracy in the Middle East.  Yes, even the New York Times is able to see that President Bush—against public opinion—was right to assert that democracy would catch on in the Middle East.

Bush, of course, was a Republican. Yet, he advocated for democracy in the Middle East.  The New York Times article explains that President Bush—though advocating for democracy in Iraq and throughout the Middle East—was no fan of a “mere” democracy.  A mere democracy is one in which there is actually 51% rule.  Bush opposed such “democracies” on the basis that certain principles must exist in any democracy—such as the freedom of speech, a free press, and freedom of religion.  As a result, President Bush did not recognize Hamas as a legitimate democratic government, even though they were elected by 51% of the inhabitants of Gaza.  In Bush’s understanding of a democracy, terrorists organizations could not rightly rule.  The reason, of course, was that Bush—a republican—believed in a democratic republic, not in a mere democracy.  This is what another New York Times writer meant when he said,

The left has wrongly distilled President Bush’s emphasis on democracy into emphasis on elections, or on movements free of American influence. Bush rejected both those concepts. For Bush, like Churchill, democracy was a means to enable freedom; the ballot box was not the silver bullet.

So, President Bush advocated for an American democracy, a democratic republic in which a mere majority rule is not enough for a stable government.  There are checks and balances, even for the 51% majority, and that is a very good thing.  As we know, there was once a 51% majority who thought slavery was acceptable, and there was once a 51% majority who cried, “Crucify him! Crucify him.”  Both were wrong.  Even the majority is wrong on occasion.  Inalienable rights (such as the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness) must be protected by law despite public opinion.

This reality brings us to the present state of Egypt.  Both democrats and republicans have applauded the freedom march of street protestors in Egypt.  Yet, both appear concerned about which direction the future march will take.  Democrats tend to lean toward accepting whatever government arises out of Egypt as a legitimate government because it is a government of the people. (I know this is oversimplifying again, but leaders in President Obama’s administration have already made statements justifying the Muslim Brotherhood as legitimate governing partners).  Republicans are sounding the alarms about the Muslim Brotherhood’s role in Egyptian governance.

The issue in Egypt (as in Iraq) is not whether 51% approve; it is whether there is a legitimate democracy.  Already, in the New York Times article mentioned above, you can see the disdain which some democrats have for placing “caveats” on democracies.  In other words, the democrat tendency is to accept majority rule, while republicans insist on basic principles of human rights to be enshrined in a constitution which does not rely on a might-makes-right, majority mentality.

Egypt’s future on (a) whether it will be a democracy and (b) exactly what kind of democracy might emerge is still an open question.  As an American—and especially as a Christian—I am quite concerned about what will happen next.  Even though there is a democracy in Iraq, for example, there is a terrible oppression of Christians there.  This post by Rich Lowry explains how, for Christians in Iraq, the democracy there has been a disaster.  Something President Bush should not applaud (at least not completely).

According to Lowry, an Iraq-type democracy in Egypt would mean “Lights Out” for Christians in the Middle East.  In one sense, his comments hit the mark precisely.  Democracy alone is not enough to preserve liberty.  Yet, in another sense, let’s hope that he is wrong.  There was once a Friday afternoon in which everything turned dark indeed for Christians from the sixth hour to the ninth hour, but three days later, there was a victory over every enemy known to man.  The light shone more brightly from that day forward. Sometimes, it seems, there may be darkness just before the dawn.  Let’s hope a new day is dawning indeed in Egypt and the Middle East.

Why All Christians Must Witness


In many countries around the world, there is a kind of “tolerance” of religions which says that you can believe what you want as long as you don’t proselytize anyone else.  In other words, you can be a Christian, you just can’t tell anyone about it.  Sure, you can be a Christian privately but don’t bring it in public.

I am sure there are many in America who would like it if we adopted this “I-wish-you’d-just-shut-up” policy. They foolishly and naively think that there would be peace if only the Christians would be quiet about sin and forgiveness. But Christians aren’t the cause of the lack of peace.  And, even if we were, the plain fact of the matter is that we cannot be silent.  Several reasons have been offered to explain why the mute button doesn’t work with Christians.

 

Some would say the main reason we are not silent is that we are commanded by Christ to speak, to witness to the glory of God.  We are commanded by Christ to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Trinity and teaching them to observe everything that Jesus commanded (Matthew 28:18-20).  This is the Great Commission of the church.  Though some have argued that this was meant for the disciples only or for the first church only, that position has not convinced many in our day.  We understand that the first disciples were the first evangelists, but they were not the only evangelists.  Philip and Stephen and Barnabas and Timothy and Apollos and the woman at the well in John 4 are all examples of evangelism in action by those who were not Apostles.  And Acts 8 makes plain that those who are persecuted flee to another city, where they, naturally share the gospel.  Christians feel compelled by the commandments of Christ to share the good news with the world.

Christians are compelled by love, too.  Far beyond the mere command from Christ that His followers should make disciples of all nations is the compulsion in the believer to love others.  As Christ taught, the whole law is summed up in the compulsion to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love your neighbor as you love yourself (Matthew 22:37-40).  Because Christians have been loved by God (even though they deserved his wrath), they understand that love is freely given and not earned.  They are free to love all men, even the most unlovely among them.  So, Christians in love will share the love of Christ with others.

It only makes sense that Christians would be concerned for others.  After all, Christians have been where unbelievers are—strangers of God without hope.  We were captured by grace.  We tasted the bitter fruits of sin and were rescued from its destruction by the grace of God.  Therefore, without any haughtiness or pretense, we speak of the hope of Christ to others. Out of concern for their souls, we speak.  We desire for others to have what we have—peace with God and a certain hope over all things, even over death itself.  We would be callous and unloving if we did not want these priceless, eternal gifts to be available to others.

So, to put the matter in its simplest form, we witness because we are witnesses.  Christians cannot be silent because we are completely remade by the Word of God.  The Word has made us new creatures.  The Word has reshaped our minds, our hearts, our loves, our hopes, our priorities, and our joy.  So, how can the Word not be heard?  God’s Word always accomplishes the purpose for which it goes out. God’s Word will be heard.

To understand what I mean, try holding your breath. Oh, sure, you can do it for a while, maybe a minute or two, but not longer.  The reason is that our lungs are designed to breathe.  What they inhale, they must exhale.  And so it is with the church of God.  What she breathes in, she must breathe out.  And the individuals in the church breathe in the Word of God, and, so, they breathe out the Word of God.  It is that simple.  Christians share because they are Christians.

We are the light of the world. Light shines in the darkness.

‘Save That Sound Bite; It Might Come Back to Haunt Him’ – By Kathryn Jean Lopez – The Corner – National Review Online


Kathryn Jean Lopez interviewed Barry Rubin,Director of Global Research in International Affairs and author of 2 books concerning Egypt and Islam.  She asked him the following question. I post the question and the response so you will get an idea of what it’s like for Christians in Egypt:

Lopez: Human Rights. Christians. Democracy. Any of these winners today?

Rubin: Christians in Egypt, truth be told, are likely to lose either way. A more radical regime is likely to tolerate more attacks on them, a weak moderate one is likely to tolerate attacks so as not to set off Islamist militants. The existence of some anarchy will also endanger them.

via ‘Save That Sound Bite; It Might Come Back to Haunt Him’ – By Kathryn Jean Lopez – The Corner – National Review Online.

Super Bowl Guilty in Sex Trafficking?


Is the Super Bowl responsible for encouraging child slavery and prostitution?  Some believe the Super Bowl is particularly effective for drawing pimps and prostitutes to its mass gathering of maleness.  So, hats off to a group of Southwestern Seminary students who have started “Lose the Chains,” an advocacy group to (once again) fight against slavery in America.  This time, of course, the slavery is sexual slavery (the kind that a Planned Parenthood employee was willing to facilitate in New Jersey).  Lose the Chains became especially active leading up to the Super Bowl because of the claim that this super sporting event is a particularly lucrative lure for the pimps who “own” these girls.

Other media outlets doubt the veracity of the claims that the Super Bowl causes a spike in sex trafficking.  As the Legalblogwatch points out officials in Tampa (2009) and Phoenix (2008) have stated that they saw no increase in sex trafficking while their towns hosted the Super Bowl.  Nevertheless, this same post points out a couple of notable factoids.  First, Legalblogwatch states that the media who are writing articles skeptical of the presence of sex trafficking have themselves been investigated for it.  Apparently, there was an incident in which a website owned by Village Voice Media Group (the media outlet behind skeptical reports) was accused of running an ad in which a 13 year-old was sold into sexual slavery. Second, the writer at Legalblogwatch does not mention Miami—the host city from the 2010 Super Bowl.  According to this report from Time, officials in Miami reported as many as 10,000 additional prostitutes were brought into the city during Super Bowl week.

In addition, the skeptical writer cross-checked the arrests records for the World Cup and found there were “just 5 arrests for forced prostitution.”  I wonder, is that an argument for or against the point that super sporting events encourage sex trafficking?  Is the fact that there were “just 5 arrests for forced prostitution” at a major sporting event a good reason to stop fighting sex trafficking?  What exactly is our comfort level with regard to enslaving teenagers in prostitution?  For my part, I’d say even “just 5 arrests” is too many.  Five cases of sexual slavery is five too many, but we all understand that these five arrests say nothing about how many traffickers there actually were.  How many got away without being arrested?

The Time Magazine blog offers a more balanced look at the figures and reports that Christian groups staged a preemptive strike against sex trafficking in the Dallas-Fort Worth area leading up to this Super Bowl.  Thank God for Christians working as salt and light in the world to be a witness to what is good.

Good work has also been done in Cincinnati and, now, in Atlanta.  Sadly, Atlanta is proving to be a hub for human trafficking and, especially, for child prostitution.  What this means, of course, is that the Super Bowl is not the problem; it is only the opportunity.  The problem is sin in the heart of those who would enslave needy children for sex and for profit.  The problem is in the heart of those whose lust would lead them to use and abuse girls and boys.  The perverts, the pimps, the pornographers, and the Planned Parenthood-types who prop them up are the problem.  The Super Bowl is not the problem.  Sin in the heart of men is the problem.

“For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.  These are what devil a person…” Jesus in Matthew 15:19-20.

 

Atlanta http://www.christianindex.org/5678.article

Super Glory (Don’t Miss It) « Doc Cochran’s Weblog


Super Glory (Don’t Miss It) « Doc Cochran’s Weblog.

It is Super Bowl Sunday, so, we have to be reminded of what is true glory.  The Super Bowl is a glory-filled event, but…

What Are Christians Doing in Egypt?


What about the Christians in Egypt? What are they doing during this revolution?

I forewarned (here) that the protests in Egypt might bring on more violence against Christians, and it has.  Paul Marshall of the Hudson Institute details one of the latest attacks in this article.  The Barnabas Fund chronicles other hardships Christians are facing in Egypt.

Yet, the Christians are not defeated by on-going violence against them.  I thought it might be interesting for you to consider the various ways which the Christian minority in Egypt is responding to this present crisis.

According to Jordan Sekulow in this account in the Washington Post, some Christians are joining in the protests with others who are standing for democracy in Egypt.

Over at the IMB, stories are being told about avenues opening up for the spread of the gospel in the midst of what otherwise might be chaos.  Indeed, there is a long history in Christianity of turning violence into opportunity for doing the good work of spreading the gospel (see Acts 8:1-4).

And, finally, there is this incredible photograph (which you probably will not see on mainstream outlets).  It shows Christians locking hands to encircle a group of Muslims, enabling them to carry out their prayer obligations.  (The picture was posted here).  Amazing.

Christians in Egypt Making a Protective Wall so Muslims Can Pray

Christians to Hold Prayer Day for Egypt amid Civil Unrest | Christianpost.com


Christians to Hold Prayer Day for Egypt amid Civil Unrest | Christianpost.com.

We should all join in praying for Egypt and especially for the Christians who live there.  They have been oppressed and persecuted for years, and it is not certain what will happen next.   Of course, the Lord knows what will happen next.  May He bless His people with the hope they need to persevere.  It is interesting that all of this has broken loose just after the Pope issued his sermon encouraging Christians there.

A Closer Look Into Iran


Typically, all we know about Iran is that they are going nuclear, and we (meaning Americans) might be in danger from such a move.  Sure, as Christians–as well as  Americans–our  interests are political.  We ought to be concerned about Iran’s nuclear ambitions.  However, we Christians have a much larger concern (as is pointed out nicely over on Big Circumstance).

Our larger concern is, of course, the spread of the Gospel.  This excerpt from Operation World points out that the Good News is indeed spreading in Iran.

Disillusionment with the Islamic Revolution still grows and spreads. Thirty years of war, economic hardship, a strict authoritarian government and lack of freedom yield widespread disappointment, especially among the younger generation. Iranians’ sense of disconnectedness with their rulers – and even with their national religion – makes them exceptionally open to the gospel. The long and respectable history of Christianity in Persia, the Church’s noble suffering under persecution and the natural bridges between Shi’ism and Christianity make for unprecedented opportunities for church growth. There is a great hunger for the good news and for authentic spirituality.

The great hunger is presently on display in the growth rate of Christianity in Iran:  nearly a 20% increase per year.  That is both amazing and praiseworthy.  However, it is also prayer-worthy.  Operation World projects the number of Christians to be somewhere between 100,000 and 400,000.

Out of a total population of more than 75 million, Christians still represent a very small minority.  Yet, as we have said, the numbers are growing rapidly.  Christians are no longer “under the radar.”  They are known and, thus, they are–as Christ said we always would be–targets for persecution (Matthew 5:10-11).  Because the Christians are now present in recognizable numbers, they are being persecuted.  As this story relates, the persecution has increased since the beginning of the year.  They need prayer, and they are asking for our prayers.

A Way to Help the Persecuted


Below is a plea from Open Doors USA for you and me to help persecuted Christians in Iraq:

Please take a moment to sign a petition to Secretary of State Clinton asking her to work with the Iraqi government to immediately form and implement a comprehensive plan of action to protect the dwindling community of Christians in Iraq.

The number of Christians in Iraq has decreased from an estimated 850,000 in 1991 to 330,000 today. Thousands have fled Iraq and now reside as impoverished refugees in Syria and Jordan. Of the Christians that remain in Iraq, more than half are internally displaced due to violence and constant threats against them by Islamic extremists.

Violence against Christians in Iraq has rapidly escalated this past year including a bomb attack on three buses carrying Christian students in May 2010, the siege against Our Lady of Salvation Cathedral in Baghdad in which 58 were killed in October 2010, and also the murder of an elderly Christian couple on December 30th who were killed by a bomb left in front of their house.

The Iraqi government clearly has not made protection of Christians in Iraq a priority. The U.S. government needs to strongly encourage and work with the Iraqi government to protect Christians and other religious minorities before they are all driven out of Iraq. History continues to demonstrate that where religious freedom flourishes, stable democracies, strong economies, and healthy societies develop. Considering the immense financial commitment the US has made in Iraq and the tragic loss of American and Iraqi lives, it is imperative that we hold both the US and Iraqi governments accountable to ensure religious freedom for all people in Iraq!

To accomplish this we are asking that you
sign a petition to Secretary of State Clinton raising these concerns. Please share this petition with your friends and family. The more signatures we gather, the greater influence we will have on our current administration in prioritizing the protection of vulnerable Christians in Iraq.

Advocating with you,

Lindsay Vessey
Advocacy Director
Open Doors USA

Largest Democracy


Check out this video and pray today:

Smith and Wolf Good Job


Two Republican congressmen have done the right thing in calling for Secretary of State Rice to take action against the mistreatment of Christians in China.  Particularly in view here is Pastor Bike’s family.  China Aid Association documents the matter on their website. It is worth checking out and voicing your support.  With all the political rancor out there, it is good to see some of our congressmen actually working to serve others.