Intercessory Insights from the Isles 2004
PART TWO ~ The Battle for Europe
'Highlighting World Events and Christian Initiatives
One Christian leader I was speaking to recently made this comment. ‘Pluralism has marginalized Christianity, secularism has neutralised it – and other forces are increasingly stepping in to fill the vacuum.” Relatively few, however, are perceiving just how serious the challenge really is – not least the issues we raised in the last edition concerning freedom of religious speech. This is a time to cultivate the minutes to pray for the freedom of our continent.
In the face of so many ‘heavy’ issues, may the Lord find ways to keep your hearts in balance and refreshed.
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also open up a way out so that you can stand up under it. (1 Cor. 13:10)
Just as the Lord used The Passion to touch many hearts, so there is a thirst in so many people to know the living Lord. May the Lord use all initiatives this year, including Fire from the North (2-9 August 2005, in Shetland,) to quicken people’s hearts and to further His purposes for Europe.
May God have mercy on our backslidden nation and yet bring revival to our shores
|Contend for the Faith
Violence in City Centres (and what God is doing about it)
Freedom of Expression at Stake
Legal Challenge to the Lambeth Experiment (Cannabis)
The Abortion Debate
Pray for Marriages to meet real needs
Schools and Universities
Injustices in Cot-Death Cases
Initiatives to Reduce Domestic Violence
The Political Correctness Channel
The Thought Police are Out in Force
Blasphemy/Incitement to Religious Hatred
Mental Capacity Bill
Human Cloning and Stem Cell Research
Civil Liberties Erosion
Law Lords vs ID cards
Jerry Springer - The Opera: Additional Response Items
Prayer for the UK - AP05
05/05/05-Landmark Date for UK
Religious Hatred Bill Update-MAY05
|Europe||The EU Stability Pact and the Constitution
France AP05 UPDATE
Referendum on the European Constitution
In Brazil . . . 3000 Intercessors raised up for Europe
Tired of Church?
“Contend for the Faith”
But if you do not listen to the Lord but disobey His commands, He will be against you and your king. (1Sam 12:15 TEV)
Much though he wanted to write something that would encourage the saints, the Spirit put it on Jude’s heart to focus on burdens that were on the Lord’s own heart. False teachers were even then ‘speaking abusively against whatever they do not understand’ (Jude 1:10) and leading many astray in the process, just as liberal theology in our own day robs people of their cutting edge. The Lord is angry when people present alternative gods as equal to Himself, and claim it doesn’t matter what we do, because He is so forgiving. (Peter addresses this matter in 2 Peter in much the same way that Jude does). Pray for the Lord to alert you to the issues He wants you to take a stand on – and give you wisdom to know how to ‘contend for the faith.’
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Violence in City Centres
O righteous God, who searches minds and hearts, bring to an end the violence of the wicked and make the righteous secure . . . for I see violence and riots in the city. (Ps.7:9, 55:9)
It is increasingly a shock to us from the security of our island fortress when we return to the mainland and have to remember to lock our car doors! Large football crowds rely on four figure numbers of police and stewards to control capacity Premiership games. Every Saturday night thousands more flock into our city centres. Hundreds are still there many hours later, much the worse for wear – yet the number of police on hand to supervise them is often tiny. Because of the fear of violence, these people often 'arm' themselves with a weapon when going out for the night primarily for self-protection. But,as Tim Rawe points out, this does mean that any confrontation is far more likely to flare up into violence, and indeed often does.
Praise God: prayer works! Some friends sent us a report the other day from the notoriously 'iffy' London borough of Haringay. They have on record that the crime rate drops regularly whenever the church prays together. The local police even contact them to ask for prayer before they launch their raids: sometimes with really spectacular results. That is really being salt and light in the community. It is making a difference and causing the people of Haringay to feel different about their borough.
We have heard before how the crime rate goes down when people go on marches for Jesus. The needs are so intense, however. Increased affluence and easy access to credit has made it possible for people to do things that previous generations could only have dreamt of doing. A discouraging forty per cent of 18-24 year olds are now officially classified as ‘binge drinkers.’ There is some comfort in remembering the depraved state Britain was in before the Wesleyan awakening, when the gin house reigned supreme - but such a diagnosis is a very long way from being any true sign of revival! It will take exceptional grace for this awakening to pierce the deadness of our lager-touting society.
Kim Rawe, from Haringay, has written:
'It’s when the ordinary believers from various denominations all get together to pray across the whole borough that we see the crime rate drop. It’s not particularly the numbers involved, but the unity of purpose.
'We pray like this specifically for a week in September, as well as praying across churches at other times. The intercessors pray weekly and see very specific answers to prayer . . . usually by reading the local paper later in the week. When you’re short of money you see God meet specific needs. If you live somewhere where you need God to work on a frequent basis He does (but you tend to hanker after a more relaxed location!).
'At first we tried to shield our children from local problems, but they’ve been in the post office whilst its being robbed, and been unable to go into our house because the police are keeping the crime scene outside our gate from the public. They have school acquaintances who have lost family members, and are affected by my concerns as local cars are stolen at gun or knife point – one with a baby inside. (The baby was later handed in at a police station.)
'The Israelites used their concerns about their children as one of the reasons for not moving to the Promised Land, but God is with our children as well as with us You know well how parents feel when its their children who need protecting. Interestingly the number of people who would call themselves Christians in Haringay is a high percentage of the population, mostly from the people not born in this country. God has definitely got a plan and a purpose here.’
May the Lord help us to get a handle on this issue by praying about the matter in our fellowships and with our prayer partners, and make a difference in our region too!
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When David Pawson asked the Lord what He particularly disliked some years ago, the Lord gave him a one word answer: "Christmas!" You can hardly have failed to notice other ways in which Christmas continues to be secularised at a galloping rate.
I was shocked the other day to see a large advertisements in British train stations. The scene would have been a fairly conventional Nativity scene with the Holy Family gathering around the crib – were it not for the fact that the baby Jesus was wearing a Father Christmas outfit! Unbelievably, the caption beneath the advertisement was, ‘Go on, ask Him for something this Christmas!’ The Churches Advertising Network actually spent a quarter of a million pounds promoting this consumerist message! Where can we find in it even a hint of what the gospel is really all about?
The Scottish Executive is considerably further down the secular PC road than its equivalent in Whitehall. The Executive actually banned its officials from sending Christmas cards with a religious theme ‘in case it causes offence . . .’ High Wycombe went one stage further and refused to advertise a carol service in case it offended non Christians. This is so dishonouring to the Lord. His Son is being deposed more and more in our society. What wonder if we reap the fruit of this betrayal in the years to come?
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Freedom of Expression at Stake
One of the things we have found in the last few years is that the Lord is networking key ministries at this time to present a united front to the secular challenge that we face as a nation. We invited representatives of the Lawyers Christian Fellowship to share with us on where this nation is up to in God's eyes at our last Malvern conference. They in turn expressed their desire to 'take the battle to the gates of the enemy,' by vigorously upholding what is left of the Christian heritage in this country. The urgency for this has never been greater. Although the cases we have featured here may not seem in themselves to be the most vital being contested in the nation, the principles behind the issues are exceptionally important.
Harry Hammond versus the Director of Public Prosecutions
We have also heard that the House of Lords has rejected an appeal about the Harry Hammond Case. If funds are available, this will have to be taken now to the European Court of Human Rights.
From Andrea Minichiello Williams:
'Our freedom of expression may be at stake as a result of a decision in the High Court. We would greatly value your time and support in reading the following.
'As you may know, Mr Hammond was a 69 year old Bournemouth street preacher with Aspergers syndrome. He was quite well known in Bournemouth town centre. One day, he displayed a sign in the town centre saying "Stop Homosexuality. Stop Immorality." 30-40 protestors surrounded him, and poured a bucket of water over his head and threw tomatoes at him. Despite this, it was Mr Hammond, and not his assailants, who was arrested, held in police cells and convicted under section 5 of the Public Order Act. It was held that the sign he was holding was insulting. He subsequently died but his executors were allowed to appeal against his conviction. However, on 13 January, the High Court upheld his conviction. Mr Hammond's executors intend to appeal.
'This case is a critical case for freedom of speech in our nation. It is about being able to say things in public that others might claim to find insulting or offensive. Given the significance of this case in terms of our freedom to preach the Gospel, we would also ask you prayerfully to consider supporting this case financially. The legal costs outstanding so far amount to [£6,000]. Paul Conrathe, the solicitor acting for Mr Hammond's executors estimates that ultimately, a further [£12,000] will be necessary. The House of Lords has not agreed to an appeal, which means that, funds providing, it will be necessary to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.
'If you are able to contribute to this case on a limited liability basis (i.e. your donation or pledge is the extent of you liability – no-one can require you to pay any more than you have donated or pledged), then please contact Paul Conrathe (0208 680 5575) or myself as soon as possible. Any cheque should be made payable to Coningsbys (Harry Hammond Fund) and sent to Coningsbys Solicitors, 87-89 High Street, Croydon, Surrey CR9 1 XE. (Please mark any correspondence for the attention of Paul Conrathe.)
'Please contact me should you have any queries. Andrea Minichiello-Williams (Lawyers Christian Fellowship Public Policy Officer (0771 2591164)'
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Pray for the Legal Challenge to the Lambeth Experiment
Between 2nd July, 2001 and 31st July, 2002, the Lambeth Cannabis Warning Pilot Scheme (the “Lambeth Experiment”) was implemented in Lambeth. Under this scheme, the police adopted a ‘softly softly’ approach to offences involving the possession of cannabis whereby anyone caught in possession of cannabis would generally be cautioned instead of being arrested.
On 12th September, 2003, the Association of Chief Police Officers ("ACPO") issued its nationwide policy guidance (the "Policy Guidance") in relation to cannabis enforcement in which it stated that cannabis is not a ‘policing priority.’
In November 2003, the Rev Eddie Brookes of Raleigh Park Baptist Church, Brixton issued proceedings against the Chief Superintendent of Lambeth and the ACPO. The ground of the legal challenge is that the police have no legal power to introduce a ‘policing policy’ that would result in the law not being adhered to.
The police are taking the legal challenge seriously. They have appointed Rabinder Singh of Matrix Chambers, a leading human rights QC, to defend their case. The Home Secretary, David Blunkett, has intervened to oppose the legal challenge. It is understood from Rev Brookes that, subject to sufficient funding, he is willing to take the challenge all the way up to the House of Lords. Although the result could go either way, there are good legal grounds to the challenge.
James Dingeman QC (of Hutton Enquiry fame ) was instructed to lead the legal team in response to the police’s decision to instruct Rabinder Singh QC. He has written, “In my opinion both the policy pursued by the [Chief Superintendent of Lambeth] and the guidance issued by the [ACPO] are reviewable by the Courts . . . I estimate, at present, that the prospects of succeeding on the claim are just less than 50 per cent. However it does seem to me that, on any view of the case, the Courts will make it clear that the law relating to `simple’ possession of cannabis must be enforced, whether by arrest or other means.”
Therefore, subject to funding of the case brought by Rev Brookes, a possible path of the case through the courts might be as follows: (1) the challenge succeeds or fails in the High Court; (2) the decision is appealed; (3) the challenge succeeds or fails in the Court of Appeal; (4) the decision is appealed; (5) the matter is ultimately concluded in the House of Lords.
This legal challenge is necessary for the sake of protecting society now, and for safeguarding Christian freedoms for the future.
Since the inception of the Lambeth Experiment, there has been a noticeable decline in the welfare of the local community. Cannabis and harder drugs have been more widely and openly available in Brixton. There is a more notable presence of people involved in drug dealing, begging and prostitution. Rev Brookes has witnessed cannabis being openly smoked in the presence of police officers without any action being taken by the police. Although cannabis is illegal, people in Brixton and beyond believe that possession of cannabis is now legal.
There is clear scientific evidence that cannabis is harmful. Dr Peter Saunders, General Secretary of the Christian Medical Fellowship, speaking in support of the legal challenge says: “cannabis is not a harmless drug. It produces disinhibition, cognitive difficulties, emotional disturbances, poor motivation and (sometimes) addiction. Cannabis smoke also contains carcinogens, particulate matter and tar, which suggests that in regular users it will produce a similar spectrum of respiratory, circulatory and neoplastic diseases to tobacco smoke.”
In a Parliamentary Consultation in the House of Commons in October 2003, Professor Robin Murray of the Institute of Psychiatry stated that there is now considerable clinical evidence linking cannabis use to mental illness, especially schizophrenia, psychosis, anxiety and depression. The risk of developing mental illness, especially psychosis, is increased with earlier and heavier cannabis use. 18 year olds who have used cannabis 50 times have a nearly seven-fold increased risk of developing psychosis over the next 15 years. Up to 80% of new cases of psychosis currently seen in some psychiatric hospitals are triggered by cannabis abuse.
According to Dr Hans-Christian Raabe, a GP who works with the Maranatha Community, “The Government itself admits in one of its reports that cannabis is “unquestionably harmful”. It accepts that in some cases, “the taking of cannabis can be a gateway to the taking of more damaging drugs” and considers helping young people a “priority”. Society is further harmed by drug addicts turning to theft, robbery and burglary to feed their addiction.”
Consequences of the Legal Challenge
If the challenge is successful, the High Court will:
1. Make a declaration that the policy in relation to the Lambeth Experiment pursued by the Chief Superintendent for Lambeth was unlawful; and
2. Make a declaration that the Policy Guidance issued by the ACPO is unlawful.
In short, it will be made clear that the police must enforce the law in relation to drugs for the protection of society.
If you have any queries in relation to this case, please do not hesitate to contact Andrea Minichiello Williams, Barrister, email@example.com; Peng Voong, Solicitor, firstname.lastname@example.org
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The Abortion Debate
Andrea Williams of the Christian Lawyers Fellowship sent me details of the Debate that Lord Alton initiated on March 16th 2004 in the House of Lords on late terms abortions for disability. Law Lord Stoddart, a peers who one would by no means deem "pro-abortion" or "pro-choice", made the following noteworthy comments:
"...it seems to me that we have gne a long way from the intentions of the
1967 Act. Those of us who supported it believed that we were supporting a
Bill to outlaw back-street abortionists, for example, which was good, and to protect women's health and welfare and the prevention of severely disabled births where there was no prospect of any viable, decent lifestyle. Those were the bases on which we made up our minds.
But we have gone a long way beyond that now... We have gone beyond what we thought we were doing. We now have virtually abortion on demand. We have a woman's absolute right to have an abortion irrespective of other interests and the interests of other people. I believe that we have come a long way too far.
When I was supporting these measures I did not dream that we would reach a figure of 155,000 abortions every single year. That is an enormous number. It is almost the same number of people that the Government say we are short of and wish to allow to immigrate into this country to work. We are allowing the abortion of 155,000 souls every year.
We have now reached a new, alarming situation where viable foetuses which could live a good and useful life-perhaps even be geniuses-are killed
unnecessarily. They could live a viable life if allowed to be born. I believe that it is now time to revisit the whole issue of abortion. I am going rather further than the noble Lord, Lord Alton. Perhaps it is people like myself who should be saying that at this time. I believe that we have gone too far and that now is the time to look at things. " (Lord Stoddart)
Full full report, click on this link: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld199900/ldhansrd/pdvn/lds04/text/4
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Pray for Marriages to meet Real Needs
Sadly, Britain continues to have the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in Europe. Nearly 42,000 girls under eighteen became pregnant in 2002. The government's strategy of giving out more and more contraceptives is clearly not working. (The Scottish Executive are urging explicit guidance on homosexuality to be given to the under 7s!) Compare this with the millions of dollars that President Bush has invested into 'abstinence education.' Combined with an active faith (and reduced welfare payments for early motherhood) the percentage of teenage pregnancies in the US has dropped by nearly a third in the past decade.
Pray for all agencies, churches and fellowships that are seeking to support the institution of marriage.
Identifying our Top Needs
Apart from prayer, what is there we can do to help marriages to ‘work’ more smoothly? Many marriage counsellors recommend an exercise that we have found most beneficial. It focuses on identifying what we, and our partners, really need and ten top 'need's (qualities and characteristics such as admiration, appreciation, touch, respect, comfort, etc)
To make the support we give each other in marriage relevant, we need to know what forms of emotional support we are most in need of. Have a go at itemising your top three or four needs from the list below. Then, before moving on, write down what you consider to be your partner’s most important three or four needs.
Admiration & Appreciation
Care, Comfort & Affection
Understanding our own, and our partner’s real needs will cause us to reappraise the way we relate to them.
Step 1: Take time out as a couple for you and your partner to work out your top three needs. Keep these lists to yourselves for the time being!
Step 2: Write down what you imagine your partner's top needs are.
Step 3: This is the most interesting bit: comparing notes! Again and again, we find that even people who thought they knew each other really well end up missing or mistaking their partner’s top needs altogether.
Over a period of time, the effects of ‘missing the mark’ in this way can cause attritional damage. Partner X may have put in a huge amount of effort giving quality ‘y’ to Partner Z. After some years of doing so he (or she) starts wondering (and perhaps resenting) why so much output has yielded so little return – almost as though these considerable efforts have not been appreciated.
It’s simple really; what we were giving wasn't what partner Z really wanted! (Though it may very well have been what partner X themselves would have wanted, and therefore assumed that their partner craved too).
Doing this exercise will help us to focus our efforts where they will be most appreciated. It doesn’t have to be with our marriage partners. We can use it with our children, colleagues or ministry partners to see where their (and our) real needs are.To identify these needs is therefore absolutely crucial. If you think you are too busy to find time to do this exercise, it may indicate just how much you really do need to make time to do it!
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Successive governments have taken advantage of the peace dividend since the end of the Cold War. It is now pared to the bone. Only half of Britain’s battle tanks are now capable of operation service. 40 Challenger 2 tanks, costing £40 million each had to be ‘cannibalised’ for spare parts during and after the Iraq war. Many of these will take over a year to be fully operational again.
You may have missed it, but Gordon Brown has frozen any recruitment into the army until further notice. That is alarming enough in itself, but further cuts are anticipated, with even such illustrious regiments as the Black Watch under threat. The Defence Secretary was full of words about these representing savings not cuts. Max Hastings described the review as ‘full of weasel words and techno-babble; a document so vague that turkeys could endorse it for Christmas.' Meanwhile 40 new Apache helicopters that cost over a billion pounds remain stored in a warehouse on Salisbury plane, (for £6,000,000!) because the Ministry of Defence failed to train enough pilots!
In Shetland we are concerned for white fish and the oil industry; in terms of the overall economy, the search for ‘soft’ spending targets was inevitable when you remember the huge spending spree Gordon Brown has been on recently. More than 350,000 new public sector workers have been hired (more than half of whom could be labelled bureaucrats). The present policies of "tax, spend and borrow" (as opposed to the ‘prudence’ which characterised his earlier years in office) are fundamentally unsustainable. At some point, borrowing will have to cease and a difficult choice be made: to cut spending or impose further tax rises.
Pray for the Lord to be at work in the heart of our armed forces: both in terms of their size and shape, and what the Lord does in the hearts of the people (and their families) who are serving in them.
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Pray into Prisons
The Lord listens to those in need and does not forget His people in prison (Ps. 69:33 NLT)
I was shocked to skim read a book the other day that looks set to be a best seller about a man imprisoned in an American prison in which bestial practices one would have associated with the Gulag were commonplace. America has proved that it can be tough on crime; can it now be compassionate with those caught up in crime?
Successive prison inspectors in the UK, such as the late Sir Stephen Tumim, have made entirely sensible suggestions for utterly needed reforms. They did this on the basis that a humane prison regime is the one most likely to reduce the volume of crime in the long run,’ and that inmates needed to train in marketable skills and express themselves artistically. They could only watch in dismay as next to nothing was done about their suggestions.
The fact is that our prisons are not geared for reforming people. At the moment, reformers are the exception rather than the rule (but praise God for the wonderful work of Alpha courses in the prisons right across the land)! Two million Americans are likewise currently incarcerated many in truly appalling conditions.
Pray for the power of God to oversee all that happens inside prisons; to protect the vulnerable and to bring many to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus.
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Pray for Schools & Universities
Curriculum requirements are causing the role music and art play in primary schools to be downgraded.
I can understand why Prince Charles has made an appeal for the history of the British Empire to be introduced onto the curriculum. Studies on Hitler and Stalin are so widely taught in schools but most children know very little about the influential and sociologically important role the British Empire played not so long ago when it ruled a quarter of the earth.
By the way, plans are again under way to introduce a single religious education curriculum. Pray for space for the Lord to work in this. As a tiny example of how unbalanced the whole thing is becoming, Divali received full attention in our local pre-school play group, while the ‘Christian’ element was represented by a single visit to a cold and empty church!! (The committee turned down my suggestion that a local minister should come and explain the gospel and the meaning of Christmas to the children).
Pray for every aspect of our schools and universities, not least spiritually.
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Pray about Injustices in Cot-death Cases
(I wrote this article a few weeks ago, and have been pleased to see the matter hit national headlines since then).
Throughout the time Sally Clark was wrongfully imprisoned for supposedly ‘murdering’ her children, Ros was praying for her to be vindicated. Only her intense belief in her innocence enabled her to withstand the torrents of abuse she received in prison, where she was branded a baby killer. Several other women have now been acquitted. At the centre of these convictions lay the so-called expert evidence of Professor Sir Roy’ Meadows. His contention was that ‘two cots deaths are highly suspicious and three murder.’ The statistics he based this on were entirely specious: that the chances of two cot deaths happening in one family was 73,000,000:1.
Rosie Waterhouse pointed out that what is particularly disturbing is that decisions about these women were taken in family courts, in which proceedings are confidential, and parents are barred from speaking out publicly to defend themselves.
Pray for all the parents who have had one or more children forcibly removed from them. These children will now be growing up in other families as a result of false evidence. And pray for the cases of the fifty plus who are still in prison as a result of what has become known as ‘Meadow’s Law’ to be fast tracked. May very great wrongs be put right!
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Pray for Initiatives to Reduce Domestic Violence
"If you do not listen, and if you do not set your heart to honour My name," says the Lord Almighty, "I will send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have already cursed them, because you have not set your heart to honour me . . . "
Some years ago Ros and I were listening to a horrendous fight between neighbours. It began by furniture throwing at each other and quickly progressed to something much worse. It was at this stage we felt we had no alternative but to call the police. But they did not want to take action because it was between a married couple who, when the doorbell sounded, instantly pretended that all was well between them. Much is likely to change with the introduction of the domestic violence bill which proposes that courts should have the power to keep suspected people away from their partners, even if they have not been convicted.
Amongst other key proposals, common assault will become an arrestable offence. Police will be able to remove anyone suspected of hitting their partner from the home, and placing them on a register of domestic violence offenders. Given that the vast majority of abuse cases occur ‘in house’ this is a long overdue move. At the same time, it needs under girding in prayer that it will not be used inappropriately, but only in cases of actual abuse.
(The anti-social behaviour bill is also badly needed, not least for tackling gangs of kids and excessive neighbour noise – but beware pendulum swings even there. New Yorker George Pulido was charged a few weeks ago with ‘making unreasonable noise’ after his son’s Winnie-the-Pooh balloon popped in a public place!)
Even as you pray for situations in the UK, don’t forget the millions who live under Sharia law, where there is far less redress for victims in a society that requires four male witnesses to prove that a woman has been abused. Think of the hidden agonies suffered by countless women in Pakistan and so many other countries. Spain, for example, has one of the worst records in Europe for domestic violence. According to leading newspaper El Pais 50,000 complaints were made to the police last year – and these surely represent only the tip of the iceberg.
Spanish judges are notoriously reluctant to take any action against 'male machismo,' but they did have the courage to imprison Mohamed Kamal Mostafa, the Egyptian born imam of Fuengirola whose book 'Women in Islam' contains detailed information on how to beat your wife. The imam is planning to appeal against the decision.
Pray for all those affected by violence, and for the action that is taken against the perpetrators.
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The Political Correctness Channel
"Whatever was required to be done, the Circumlocution Office was beforehand with all the public departments in the art of perceiving HOW NOT TO DO IT!" (Charles Dickens)
I have always nursed a secret hope that maybe one day the academic world would wake up and realise what an ass political correctness and ‘newspeak’ really are. As Anne Robinson pertinently asked, why do people have to speak of ‘marketing access equipment’ when what they really do is make ladders?
Students are not to be permitted to fail their exams; they will be awarded the grade of N for Nearly. Stock markets take ‘corrections; rather than tumbles and companies are downsized and collateral damage is noted when Allied bombs demolish civilian houses. All of which helps one to avoid having to think of real people facing real suffering.
Unfortunately, what looks like mere tweaking of words often covers over something much more serious. To continue for a moment at the batty end of the spectrum, try going to Batley, where a head teacher has banned the story of the ‘Three little Pigs’ in case it offended the Muslims. A Muslim spokesman made the perfectly sensible reply that whilst Muslims may choose not to eat pork, they have nothing against pigs appearing in stories!
Meantime, an Ofsted inspector has ticked off a child minder in Salisbury for not providing children in her care with ethnic or disabled dolls to reflect the diversity of our society. The book ‘The Friendly Dolphin’ has been banned in America because it discriminates against pupils who do not live close to the sea, and Harry Potter is banned for being anti-family, for owning an owl (taboo to a certain Indian tribe) and for being an orphan. It was thought that this might potentially upset readers! And just for still more bad measure, back in Sutton Coldfield, a school has replaced sports day with ‘group problem-solving exercises’ because losing was too traumatic for the losers.
Lives and livelihoods are being wrecked by such nonsense. Political Correctness is driving people to make more and more insane decisions! We don’t need to lose any sleep over J K Rowling’s income, but it is a sad thought that society is paying people to take other peoples livelihoods away in such ways. Perhaps it was inevitable that having ditched the Lord’s ways we would end up with such nonsense!
‘Political Correctness’ does not spread evenly. Certain people and institutions benefit from its umbrella protection, whilst others suffer. The old adage holds true that for one (person, cause or course of action) to be right, another has to be seen to be in the wrong. Mark Steyn illustrates this point by showing how quick the BBC was to drop Robert Kilroy-Silk’s television series. It made no protest, however, when someone else declared, in what Steyn described as a ‘non-factual emotional rant’ ‘hat Brooklyn-born Jewish settlers – towards whom I feel nothing but hatred – should be shot dead because they are Nazis.’
What message does all this send? That multi-cultural Britain will not stand for such things! Criticising Muslims is totally unacceptable, and will involve the Commission for Racial Equality and a police investigation that could end in a long jail sentence. Criticising Jews, however, is apparently kosher!
Concerning the role of the Commission for Racial Equality, one of its spokesmen, commenting on Kilroy-Silk’s inadequate apology, encouraged the guy to learn something about Muslims and Arabs, and to make a generous donation to support a Muslim charity. Here, perhaps, are early warning signs of something we have seen in so many other societies around the world where governments have ‘leant’ on trouble-making citizens. Steyn categorises these remarks by deliberately enlarging them to show where they could lead to: ‘extravagant public contrition, re-education camp; "voluntary" surrender of assets.’ Where have we heard this before? Steyn concludes, ‘I don’t know about you, but this ‘multicultural Britain’ business is beginning to feel like an interim phase.’
Pray that our God-denying, form-filling, spirit-cramping society does not commit the ultimate sacrilege as a nation and make it illegal to declare that Jesus is Lord.
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The Blasphemy Bill/ Incitement to Religious Hatred (by David Evans, elder, New Trinity Church, Leicester)
The proposed repeal of Britain’s ancient blasphemy laws and the proposed new offence of ‘incitement to religious hatred’.
Introduction and background
Britain’s blasphemy laws, which originated centuries ago, were last used in 1921 and in 1976. In 1921 a person was sentenced to 9 months hard labour. In 1976, a newspaper editor was given a nine months suspended sentence and a fine of £500. He appealed, but the sentence was upheld and Lord Scarman then urged that the blasphemy law should be updated to cover all religions.
The laws invoked in these cases reportedly had their origins in medieval courts and defined blasphemy as "the publication of matter which vilifies or is contemptuous of or which denies the truth of the Christian religion or the Bible or the Book of Common Prayer." Furthermore, the blasphemy has to be couched in indecent, scurrilous or offensive terms likely to shock and outrage the general body of Christian believers and it carries a maximum life sentence.
Britain's law commission had already recommended the abolition of the blasphemy laws in 1985. The case to scrap the blasphemy laws received a boost in 1997 when the report from the Runnymede Trust's commission on British Muslims recommended that a new offence of incitement to religious hatred should be created rather than extending the blasphemy law to all religions.
In 1996, Nigel Wingrove, a film director, appealed to the European Court of Human Rights over a film banned in Britain because of its depictions of the crucified Christ in sexual situations and he challenged Britain's blasphemy laws.
Wingrove argued that the laws infringed his freedom of speech guaranteed under the European Convention on Human Rights, and since the laws only apply to the Church of England, and not other religions or Christian denominations, it unfairly discriminates against religions. Wingrove lost.
The Home Secretary, David Blunkett, said three years ago that he favoured scrapping the common law offences of blasphemy and blasphemous libel. "This particular provision has not been used for a very long time," he told MPs on the Commons Human Rights Committee in 2001. "It is my own view that there will come a time when it will be appropriate for the blasphemy law to find its place in history."
More recently, he has said "As part of the consideration being given to the new offence of incitement to religious hatred, we have been considering the wider context, including the findings of the House of Lords Select Committee".
The committee considered a number of religious offences, including the issues of blasphemy and incitement to religious hatred.
It said any prosecution for blasphemy laws was likely to fail or be overturned on appeal because of the incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights Act in British law.
This is because blasphemy only offers protection to the Church of England and thus effectively differentiates between different religions as well as curtailing the freedom of expression.
It is intended that the offence of inciting religious hatred will close the "unacceptable loophole" that multi-ethnic faith groups are not protected in the same way as Jews or Sikhs are by laws against incitement to racial hatred.
The offence of ‘incitement to religious hatred’ is a new one. It is supposed to be the case that freedom of speech and the freedom to criticise religions will not be curtailed. This is of concern to, for instance, comedians who crack religiously-based jokes and secularists who wish to retain the right to criticise all religion. It is also obviously of concern to Evangelical Christians, who teach that Jesus is the only way to God!
It would be a new criminal offence of inciting hatred against groups or individuals on the grounds of their beliefs, carrying a maximum seven years in jail. In this connection, certain remarks made by the Home Secretary are rather worrying. In July 2004, Blunkett said ‘the intention is to deal with those who deliberately stir up dissension and hate and not those who criticize beliefs with which they disagree.’
With reference to pluralism and openness in society, he is reported to have said ‘it’s what distinguishes us of every faith from those who would take our lives because they reject our faith. It applies equally to far-Right evangelical Christians as to extremists in the Islamic faith.’
On being asked what he meant by ‘far-Right evangelical Christians’ he said something about Christians in America who picket abortion clinics, but clearly his thinking could go well beyond that.
Matters of concern to Christians
1. Under the proposed ‘incitement against religious hatred’, homosexual activists will argue that speaking against homosexuality should also be a crime. (A Pastor in Sweden is currently serving a jail sentence for preaching against homosexuality).
2. If the blasphemy laws are abolished, and the anti religious incitement bill becomes law, the House of Commons is likely to include sexual orientation in the list and Jesus will be openly blasphemed- but anyone who preaches against homosexuality or Islam will become a criminal.
3. In the State of Victoria in Australia, a law forbidding ‘vilification’ of other religions has been passed. This has resulted in Christians and Muslims being virtually at war with each other, rather than achieving the peace and harmony the advocates of the law said it would achieve. One Christian, a former Muslim, from that State has gone back to his native Pakistan to escape persecution from Australian Muslims!
4. It is clearly possible that these proposed changes would have adverse reflections on many forms of Evangelism, especially the more overt ones such as open-air preaching.
The current situation in the legislative process
First the good news! It was possible that the Queen’s speech in the penultimate week of November could have included the proposed repeal of the blasphemy law. However, Home Office Minister Fiona Mactaggart has said ‘the Home Office will continue to keep blasphemy laws under review but at the moment we have no plans for repeal’.
This has met with fierce criticism and renewed calls for the abolition of the blasphemy laws. Christians now have a window of opportunity to oppose this- but for how long? The Government did, after all, say at one time that they had no intention of completely outlawing foxhunting!
Now the bad news! Plans have been accelerated for the new religious incitement law. A bill is under consideration under the title ‘Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill’ and Clause 119 seeks to amend sections 17-29 of The Public Order Act 1986. That section deals with ‘Racial hatred’ and the proposal is to add to that ‘Religious hatred’.
The details are a little convoluted but a version has been produced where the proposed amendments to the Act have been inserted in red. Instructions are:Copy and paste the following link into your Internet Browser:
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/cgi-bin/ukparl_hl?DB=ukparl&STEMMER=en&WORDS=seriou+organis+religi+119+&COLOUR=Red&STYLE=s&URL=/pa/cm200405/cmbills/005/05005.178-184.html#muscat_highlighter_first_matchThis Bill is set down for its Second Reading and for debate in the House of Commons on Tuesday 7th December 2004.
What can we do?
1. PRAY!!!!!! Individually and corporately, fervently and persistently. Pray particularly about the Commons debate on December 7th .
2. Write to or ring our MPs. Keep it relatively short and non-judgmental. Do not quote scriptures, just point out the fallacies and dangers about the proposed changes and explain your concerns. If the MP does not reply, chase him/her! People who are not good letter-writers can ‘crib’ from people who are- but change the words round. MPs are ‘switched off’ by groups of people sending identical letters.
Letters to MPs should be addressed to the MP at House of Commons, Westminster, London SW1A OAA.
3. Sign the enclosed Petition to the Queen and return completed pages to the address at the bottom of the form. Stephen Green of Christian Voice hopes to have at least 100,000 names on it by the end of 2004. The Petition can be downloaded from the home page of www.christianvoice.org.uk
4. We may need to consider action such as demonstrations, marches or other public-profile activities. If we had half the passion of the pro-hunting lobby we would be doing a lot more than we are now!
5. PRAY!!!!!! Pray especially for David Blunkett. It may be that God will use the current storm about his ‘private’ life.
More detailed briefing papers on the Blasphemy Laws are available on request from the author of this summary- contact David Evans on 0116 2215094 or email@example.com
Sources of Information:1. M Ziauddin, DAWN International 20 10 2004.
2. Catholic World News, 27 03 1996.
3. The Guardian 18 10 2004.
4. BBC News, 18 10 2004.
5. Philip Johnston, Home Affairs Editor, Daily Telegraph July 2004. 6. Christian Voice newsletters, October and November 2004.
7. Andrew Woodcock, PA News Political Correspondent, 27 11 2004.
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The Thought Police are out in Force
In this section we will be continuing to look at some of the ways in which the ‘fog’ of political correctness is spreading.
One of the saddest cases I have come across in the last few months concerns the prison officer of 21 years unblemished record – who was sacked for making an allegedly insulting remark about Osama bin Laden. The man was told that three Muslim visitors to the prison might have heard his ‘insensitive’ comment. There is no evidence that they did hear anything, but he lost his job anyway – and this at a time when substantial numbers of people are openly inciting British citizens to disregard existing British laws because they are seen to be in conflict with Islamic law.
This is likely to become a much more pressing issue in the next few years. Cases in Canada launched by the Muslim Council are causing western judges to jump to defend Islamic sensitivities. One evangelical Christian was sentenced to several hundred hours of Islamic indoctrination for speaking out against Islam. The shadow of the imans is spreading over the Western nations.
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‘Every government service should be weighed against the cost of that service in loss of personal freedom’ (Ronald Reagan)
I have recently trawled through half a dozen different interpretations of the book of Revelation. It is a fascinating study and a feature in its own right. To focus for a moment on just one ‘episode,’ we see a beast who emerges as a lamb but speaks like a dragon (Rev. 13:11). Anti-Christ does not always come as rowdily and as raucously as, say, Hitler’s original storm troopers.
The book of Revelation is one that believers tend to leave to one side during times of peace and prosperity. In times of distress and persecution, however, people are much quicker to see it for what it really is: an inspired word from heaven to sustain and empower us through hard times.
Most generations have identified the "anti-Christ" as some tyrant or tyrannical regime that has been oppressing the saints. For the first four hundred years of the Church’s existence, it was automatically assumed that it meant the Roman Empire. After all, the Emperor had ordered people to worship images of him or lose their life for their impudence. But the language used by John in Rev. 13 goes beyond the mere worship of a statue of Caesar. Later generations identified the Papacy in Luther’s day, Napoleon, and, more recently, Hitler and Stalin, to name but a few.
The original reference to Nero Caesar whose combined letters can, with some creative stretching of the imagination, be made up to 666, has led many to assume that there will be a latter day rise of Imperialism – a revived Roman Empire in fact. When one thinks how close Hitler got to achieving that goal it begins to sound rather less far-fetched! Others see in Islam the‘ obvious’ counterfeit.
It seems much more likely that John was calling for divine discernment rather than mathematical cleverness. Rather than worrying too much about the specific name of the person or institution referred to, what is clear is that we are looking at the sum total of apostasy and wickedness focused on a particular person or system. Wherever there is blasphemy and bestiality, there is the beast. What comfort would it have been to the victims of Soviet communism, Pol Pot or Idi Amin to know that he wasn’t the real Anti-Christ? What more evil could these regimes have done?
Discriminatory sanctions against Christians have long been practiced (cf Rom. 15:26, Heb. 10:34). John had earlier referred to the poverty of the Church at Smyrna, and to the fact that although the Christians in Philadelphia had very little they were faithful with what they did have. Those who are faithful to Christ during the Great Tribulation are portrayed as never again hungering in heaven (7:6) – whereas the great harlot wallows in her obese luxury (18:3).
What could be more plausible than that the systems which anti-christ will make his own will be introduced into society as being necessary for national security? The many forms of ID and fingerprinting currently being mooted by national governments mark a point of transition. The ultimate ‘security’ that will be advocated consists of something that cannot be snatched from your bag or pocket. The ‘mark’ is from start to finish a counterfeit of the seal of the living God (Rev. 7:2-4)
The ‘mark’ reflects something new, however, in that it goes beyond speaking of tacit worship or ‘ownership’ of the prevailing cult. It appears to be something placed directly on the person’s hand or forehead.
The beast forced all the people, small and great, rich and poor, slave and free, to have a mark placed on their right hands or on their foreheads so that no-one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number that stands for the name. (Rev. 13:16-17)
The Evening Standard published an article recently that sounds much in line with all too many warnings from Christian sources, that we are very close now to being able to enter the cashless era. The VeriChip, smaller than a tiny pea, can already be implanted in the forearm under local anaesthetic and quietly forgotten about. But all manner of data radiates from it through low-powered radio waves so that you can pay your bills just by standing close to a till or cash point.
It goes without saying that ‘Applied Digital’, the company responsible for developing the chip, will market it primarily under the security banner, of being so much freer from the risk of credit card fraud. But civil liberties groups are appalled at the thought of having it embedded in people’s skin. One commented, ‘this is an invasion of privacy on a level we have never seen before. This chip could allow companies to track your every move.’
Whether or not the coming of the cashless society is marked by peace, the Bible warns us clearly that spiritual warfare and tribulation will continue on Planet Earth until the Lord returns.
Again, to focus on just one issue alone, take the sixth woe in Rev. 9:14-16. This is where we find four angels, the instruments of God’s judgement being released from the river Euphrates, which was the traditional place from which the enemies of Israel began their advance. The language is explicit enough to indicate genuine historical-political events, and fearsome destruction. The author adds that the number of the mounted troops was two hundred million. (Rev. 9:16) If this is in any way a literal figure, it makes one wonder whether China may be involved. It is the only country in the world with an army of such a size.
Suddenly, the vision changes from the harassment of believers in Revelation 13 to a glorious vision of the Lamb in His glory in 14:1, in which the Lamb stands in direct contrast to the dragon. Even though the battle continues on Earth, the presence of the Lord God Almighty fills the universe. There are many satanic onslaughts still to come, but God’s grace can keep us faithful so that we too will stand before the throne of the Lamb one day and join the angelic choirs in singing songs of redemption and vindication.
"Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim You, who walk in the light of Your presence, O Lord." (Ps. 89:15)
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Mental Capacity Bill
LOOSELY DRAFTED MENTAL CAPACITY BILL PROVIDES INADEQUATE PROTECTION FOR VULNERABLE PATIENTS, WARN CHRISTIAN DOCTORS AND LAWYERS
Government efforts to force Bill through could allow euthanasia in by the 'back door'
The Mental Capacity Bill, which begins its report stage in the House of Commons [14 December 04] is loosely drafted and in its present form leaves open a door whereby some mentally incapacitated patients could be starved, dehydrated and left to die, the Christian Medical Fellowship and Lawyers' Christian Fellowship have warned today.
Peter Saunders, General Secretary of the CMF, which represents over 4,500 UK Christian doctors, said; "The Bill gives statutory force to 'advance refusals' and 'proxy decisions', meaning that doctors will be legally required to withhold food and fluids in some situations where they believe such action clinically inappropriate. CMF believes that advance refusals should be only advisory, not legally binding, or they could force doctors to practise with a hand tied behind their backs."
Saunders continued, "Clinical circumstances exist where it is entirely appropriate to withhold food and fluids: when their burden outweighs any benefit to life or health, or when they confer no clinical benefit for example, but this should never be on a long term basis as it will inevitably lead to the death of the patient."
"CMF is concerned that patients will make unwise and hasty advance decisions to refuse food and fluids without being properly informed about the diagnosis and the expected course their illness will take or the treatment and palliative care options. It is too easy for patients to be driven by fears of meddlesome treatment and 'being kept alive', into making advance
decisions that later might be used against them. "Commonly patients change their minds about what care they would like, as
their condition changes, and for this reason advance decisions must be kept constantly under review. It is also noteworthy that the majority of patients who make advance refusals actually prefer doctors to override those which they feel prejudice their care.”
Andrea Williams is the Public Policy Officer of the LCF, a body that represents 1,500 lawyers in the UK. She said; "The Mental Capacity Bill leaves far too many loopholes that could be abused by unscrupulous doctors and other health professionals or those with an interest - financial or otherwise - in the patient's death. Other doctors may feel pressure to abide
by advance refusals, against their better judgement, in order to avoid the possibility of prosecution"
"Advance refusals of food and fluids should not be legally binding nor should food and fluids be withdrawn without strong clinical indication. Mentally incapacitated patients should not be experimented on when the research provides no clinical benefit to them. Several key amendments enacting these provisions are needed to tighten up the bill and alleviate the legitimate concerns raised by CMF and LCF, but the Government has so far been reluctant to listen", Williams commented.
Both Saunders and Williams concluded; "It would be a great tragedy if the Government used its large majority to force through this Bill without a proper opportunity for MPs to hear the arguments for themselves and debate appropriate amendments. If this happened we might look back and see this as the moment when euthanasia entered the UK by the back door."
NB: Christian Medical Fellowship was founded in 1949 and is an interdenominational organisation with over 4,500 British doctor members in all branches of medicine. A registered charity, it is linked to about 60 similar bodies in other countries throughout the world. The CMF exists to unite Christian doctors to pursue the highest ethical standards in Christian and professional life and to increase faith in Christ and acceptance of his ethical teaching. For further information visit
Lawyers Christian Fellowship: Originally founded in 1852, in London, as the Lawyers' Prayer Union, the Lawyers Christian Fellowship [LCF] has grown to become a national organisation with around 1,500 members at every stage of the legal profession. LCF works to encourage and equip Christian lawyers to be effective in their life and work, and to promote Christian principles within the UK legal system.
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HUMAN CLONING AND STEM CELL RESEARCH – TV DEBATE AND VOTE
16th December, 2004
The Lawyers' Christian Fellowship (the “LCF”) welcomes the news that on Thursday 16th December, at 9pm, a programme called ‘If ... Cloning could cure us’ will be shown on BBC2 and will be followed by a debate on Newsnight with a chance for viewers to cast their vote (see also news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/if/4065719.stm).
This is being billed as a well-balanced presentation of the arguments for and against cloning and stem cell research, thereby making a valuable contribution to this highly controversial and topical debate. The more attractive alternative of using adult stem cells over embryonic stem cells is discussed. Adult stem cell therapies, largely overlooked up to now despite their better track record (for example, 56 disease conditions in humans have been treated with adult stem cell therapies, whilst none have been treated with embryonic stem cells) are now receiving some of the attention they deserve.
Embryonic stem cells are designed to grow rapidly. This is why embryonic stem cells generate fast growing cancers when implanted and why they are so hard to control. On the other hand, adult stem cells exist throughout the adult body and have a long term role in the replacement of damaged tissue throughout our development. This is what makes adult stem cells, and not embryonic stem cells, ideal for use in cellular replacement technology.
This debate is timely because Peng Voong, who works as an LCF Public Policy Analyst, initiated judicial review proceedings against the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority last month over its decision to grant Professor Murdoch of the Newcastle Fertility Centre at Life a licence to do human cloning. One of the arguments raised by Mr Voong’s legal team is that the scientific case for the cloning authorised under the licence has not been made out, as required by Parliament.
Said Andrea Williams, Barrister and Public Policy Officer of the LCF:
“There is a real need for the truth to be exposed in response to the inflated claims of those who support so-called therapeutic cloning and embryonic stem cell research. Not only do these claims mislead the general public as to what may be achieved, they also give false hope to many people who suffer from serious diseases.”
The LCF encourages everyone to engage in the debate on such highly important and topical issues as human cloning; as many people as possible should watch the program on Thursday night, 9pm, and vote in the Newsnight debate.
To liaise with the solicitor acting on the case or to contribute financially towards this legal challenge, please contact:
David Foster Barlow Robbins Solicitors 55 Quarry Street Guildford Surrey GU1 3UE firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 01483 464 243 Fax: 01483 573 325
LCF media enquiries: Andrea Minichiello Williams,Barrister, email@example.com 0771 259 1164 Back to Contents
Praying for the UK - April 05
In 2 Chronicles 21 there is a powerful picture of the angel of the Lord with his sword drawn and stretched out over Jerusalem. As a result of wrong actions and heart allegiances, judgment was upon the nation. ‘The prophet Gad went to David and said to him, "This is what the LORD says: `Take your choice: three years of famine, three months of being swept away before your enemies, with their swords overtaking you, or three days of the sword of the LORD--days of plague in the land, with the angel of the LORD ravaging every part of Israel.` Now then, decide how I should answer the one who sent me."
David said to Gad, "I am in deep distress. Let me fall into the hands of the LORD, for his mercy is very great; but do not let me fall into the hands of men."
My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken Me,
the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns,
broken cisterns that cannot hold water. (Jer. 2:13)
From the mouths of many messengers the Lord is warning that this is a decisive moment for the UK. Chuck Pierce declares the ‘enemy has a plan to suppress the vision of God in this land. Do not get discouraged. Keep saying what needs to be said, even if no one is listening.’
Clifford Hill, Moshe Lawrie and Wendy Alec are amongst many other powerful voices being raised in warning. The Lord’s longsuffering patience with us is on the point of running out as the result of the wrong allegiances and alignments that we are now taking.
One obvious form that judgement could take is the imposition of fresh burdens upon ourselves; the consequences of wrong lifestyles on the one hand, and restricting legislation on the other. We can rejoice that the government has just announced that it has dropped the Incitement to Religious Hatred clause in order to get the rest of the bill through, but this may only be a reprieve: it could come back again later on. In that context, and even though the political analysts would tell us that the forthcoming election is a foregone conclusion, we should pray for the Lord to be at work on, and leading up to, May 5th. There is little that is edifying in the sight of the Conservatives stoking up resentments against Labour, or of Labour raising the fear-spectre of what the Conservatives did last time round. May the Lord go one step further and appoint those who will be most open to the workings of the Lord and least susceptible to the setting and following of wrong ways.
Above all, may He hold this shield of prayer and praise in place over the nation to keep away the sword that is stretched out towards us. This will mean each one of us playing our part: longing for the things He longs for and keeping our heart-sympathies away from the things that He is judging. As Chuck Pierce put it, ‘Do not just sing songs with your mouth, but allow the message of these songs to pierce and activate your spirit-man for war.’
 In terms of national alignments, Chuck Pierce warned particularly against siding with Syria against Israel.
 A friend pointed me yesterday to a book by Baroness Helena Kennedy, herself a QC and a New Labour peer. Just Law: The Changing Face of Justice and Why it Matters to Us All’ (Vintage UK, Random House) reveals the authoritarianism that lies below the surface of our present government (thus endangering civil liberties). It contains a scathing attack on those one would have expected to be her political soul mates. See the book reviews on www.amazon.com.
5/5/05 A landmark date for Britain?
We continue to feel extremely concerned about the directions the present administration is poised to take the country in.
v To take the issue we have featured on several occasions, the Incitement to Hatred on religious grounds, the Charles Clark, the Home Secretary, has written to Muslim leaders apologising for failing to get the bill though, and blaming the opposition parties for this. How discriminating is that? See the article below.
v Clark has also said that he will invoke the Parliament Act to reduce still further the influence the House of Lords can have in checking the progress of such bills. He has also promised to remove the last of the hereditary peers.
v All in all, this is a foretaste of acts and actions that promise not only to be bad for democracy but to have a seriously spiritually weakening effect on the nation. It still appears that the nation has not really woken up to the constitutional and other changes that have been stealthily inflicted during the last few years of damaging spin and intrusive bureaucracy.
v The Lord is warning that 5/5/05 is a serious date in His sight for the future of this country.
Barnabas Fund are letting people know that the Victoria Council in Australia, which previously took Daniel Scot to court, is now considering calls to ban the Alpha course.
Robin Fletcher, a self described witch, called for the ban under the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act passed in the state of Victoria in 2001. This is the same law that pastors Daniel Scot and Danny Nalliah were convicted under for "inciting hatred" in December 2004. In that case it was hatred against Muslims; in this case, Fletcher claims, it is hatred against witches. "It constitutes a personal danger to my health and safety within the prison system," he said, citing negative references to witchcraft in the course material. He is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence for sexually abusing two teenage
The government in the UK has tried to introduce similar legislation that will also ban incitement to religious hatred. However in order to pass an important bill through parliament before the general election, the government removed the hotly contested clause. Nevertheless, if re-elected, they have committed themselves to bringing it back in, and next time will use the Parliament Act to force it through. From the outset Barnabas Fund has claimed that such legislation presents unacceptable restrictions on religious freedom of expression in Britain. The usage of the law in Australia suggests that this will certainly be the case.
* Pray that the VCAT will use sense and not allow the complaint to go
* Pray the next British government will abandon plans to introduce a
law banning incitement to religious hatred.
 British Home Secretary apologises that Religious Hate Law is not passed – in a bid to win Muslim voters and set them against the opposition. Omar Al-Jundi, London; Asharq al-Awsat, 13 April 2005
The ruling British Labour Party is pursuing its ongoing efforts to restore favour with the country’s Muslims before the election. The Home Secretary Charles Clarke has officially apologised for the government’s about turn on its decision to pass a law criminalising incitement of hatred against Muslims on the grounds of their faith. The law was to have been passed during the parliamentary session which ended last Monday. He made a careful point of mentioning the Liberal Democrat Party’s antipathy towards the law. Commentators accused Clarke of exploiting the issue of Muslim rights in order to make political gain. This unprecedented apology comes around four weeks before the general elections on 5 May. Yesterday’s message to all mosques in the length and breadth of the country placed the blame for the failure of the legislation with the two main opposition parties. The Home Secretary started his letter, obtained by Asharq al-Awsat, by expressing deep regret that the Liberal Democrat and Conservative opposition had forced the government to drop the measure before the parliamentary session ended. He pledged to bring the measure to a vote in the next session. He stressed his party’s commitment to supporting Muslims and making sure they were treated the same as other religious adherents.
In a clear attempt to turn Muslims against the other parties he said “They bare the full responsibility for blocking this law”*. He pointed out that they had never hidden their intention to vote against the law. To the mosque leaders he added “I believe that you and rest of British Muslims will carefully weigh up the situation, especially with respect to the opposition shown by the Liberal Democrats”*.
Significantly, in some areas where there are a number of potential voters opposed to the Iraq war, it is the Liberal Democrats who are poised to defeat Labour. Most Labour and Conservative MPs voted in favour of the war, while the Liberal Democrats opposed it, increasing their level of support among British Muslims.
Inayat Bunglawala, Secretary of Media Affairs for the Muslim Council of Britain, said that the failure of the other two parties did not excuse the government for not passing the law. He pointed out the bill had not been given enough time for sufficient parliamentary debate. In a telephone conversation with Asharq al-Awsat, he confirmed that British Muslims feel profoundly disappointed that the measure was withdrawn. He added “We are waiting for the Labour manifesto tomorrow. If it doesn’t mention the incitement to religious hatred legislation as part of their commitment if they form the next government, they are clearly not interested in supporting Muslims”*. In 2001 the Labour Government backed off an attempt to introduce a similar law.
The EU Stability Pact and the Constitution Fiasco
The idea behind the Stability Pact was that member countries of the Eurozone were obliged to keep their inflation rate within very tight order or face sweeping fines. No country was to run a budget deficit in a year of more than three per cent. From the start it reminded me of those man made set of rules that may look good from the outside but which produce nothing but bondage and resentment.
"Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules . . . These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings." (Colossians 2:20-22)
Many nations (such as Portugal and the Czech Republic) took extreme action to prepare their economies for the eurozone – so much so that they plunged themselves into recession. But now France and Germany have broken the rules themselves and haughtily declare themselves above such things. No action against them has been taken. The smaller states are livid. On the face of it the Stability Pact is dead in the water. But the European Central Bank is terrified of this prospect, fearing that it will weaken the resolve of the smaller nations to carry out what they perceive as entirely necessary reforms.
Look on it from the point of view of these smaller countries though. They were asked to stick within tight guidelines. They saw France and Germany arrogantly ignoring the rules – and are then asked to sign up to the new draft of the EU Commission which will change the voting rules in order to give the big powers more power. No wonder that Poland played it tough.
The fact that Poland would exercise considerable voting power in the Council was one of the reasons why the Policy electorate had given the green light to joining the EU in the first place. It could hardly turn round now and tell people that the rules have changed even before we join and that they will have less say in how things happen from now on. No, Poland stood up for its own people at a time when Britain seemed willing to hand everything over on a plate. Matters quickly reached such an impasse that even Europe’s ‘Floundering Fathers,’ as Matthew d’Ancona termed them, could neither sweet talk nor horse trade their way around the differences.
This was a federal constitution for Europe in all but name, and its rejection will have set the federalising tendencies back a long way. Knowing the way Europe works, though, it will doubtless find ways to bounce back in a slightly different guise sooner rather than later. President Chirac responded by saying that a ‘pioneer group’ of states would push ahead with integration regardless, thus putting the concept of a two tier Europe back in centre stage. The Suddeutsche Zeitung weighed in by comparing and contrasting ‘those who are committed to . . . the weighty role Europe plays in the world’ with the ’second rate group who mostly just fight for their subsidies’ – a barely coded reference to Poland and Spain.
For the first time, more than half of the EU’s population claims to have lost faith in its institutions. This does not suggest a high turn out for the elections to the European Parliament next June?
A year or so ago Heidi Campbell prophesied that God was going to cause Brussels to 'bow down'. I wonder if this wasn’t part of the outworking of this prophecy.
Over all of Europe a spectre remains: the fact that far too little has been done to prepare the continent for the genuinely serious effects of the demographic time bomb. With fewer children being born, and fewer citizens being conventionally employed, the burden of paying for the elderly is a problem that is looming ever larger and coming ever closer. Not every young person wants to be spending a huge percentage of their income paying the benefits of those who have completed their working life. This is a huge issue that will be convulsing European coffers in the not so distant future.
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Pray for France. Following the intense heat wave that claimed many lives in the summer, the south of France was beset in December by its worst floods on record. Pray for the work of all who are active in making Christ known in France.
France is looking less well placed than it was a year or so again when it was the toast of the Arab nations because of its stand against America. It has lost most of that support through its clampdown against Muslim women wearing headscarves, who view this stand as open persecution. Other European nations consider that its refusal to honour the EU Stability Pact (qv) makes it as high-handed as the Americans it has so vigorously denounced. (Whereas American relationships with Germany and Russia are gradually recovering, France remains in the 'not to be trusted' category, specifically excluded from lucrative deals in Iraq. And the government of President Chirac has lost much of its popularity by biting a necessary bullet and slashing pensions and benefits.
The European Constitution in the Balance: Pray for the French referendum, on May 29th
It has astonished American and French onlookers that the usually internationally minded British people have paid so little attention to European matters thus far in the election. (By contrast, the issue of the European Constitution has become a major talking point in France).
v Anatole Kalestky argued brilliantly in the Times (13-04-05) that a No vote is the most probable, not because the average French voter is really any more up to speed on the intricacies of the constitution than were the Spanish voters who nodded it through, but because they are fed up to the back teeth with Giscard d’Estaigne and Jacques Chirac. (He compares it with watching Parliament on TV and seeing Harold Wilson still slugging it out decades later with Ted Heath).
v In the longer term, he actually thinks it will lead to reforms being made that have long been put off, something that is clearly much needed in a country where unemployment is running at over ten percent. Pray for God’s blessing on France.
Which brings us onto the whole question of ‘wider’ government. Hardly anyone ‘in the street’ in the UK wants Brussels to have more power, any more than most people want the UN to be a world government.
v David Brooks argues in The New York Times, ‘Global governance can never work because there is no global democracy to give it legitimacy. Supranational bodies are accountable only to a self-selecting elite – which is precisely why they are so prone to corruption and wasteful, paralysing bureaucracy.’ And yet there are many working behind the scenes to lend more significance to the decisions made by the multinational corporations than to those made by elected governments. Pray that we may be spared the worst effects of bad government, and that the Lord will continue to raise up courageous agents and voices for good.
Pray for the French referendum on the European constitution. Six countries have already ratified the constitution, but it could also be a close run affair in Holland. The consequences of a French ‘Non,’ however, would be significant; possibly affecting the introduction of Turkey into the EU – something the new pope is adamantly opposed to.
 According to the Financial Times, (23-04-05) the EU's Luxembourg presidency plans to issue a statement calling on other member states to ratify the treaty as normal, in the event of a French No on May 29. But diplomats in Britain, which takes over the EU presidency on July 1, believe the treaty would be dead if rejected in the French referendum. Privately they expect the UK to cancel its own poll in 2006. French officials also believe the treaty could not be revived, and that the best hope would be to try to salvage some parts of the text at a later date.
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"How terrible it will be for you that have such an easy life . . . and for you that feel safe . . . you great men of this great nation." (Amos 6:1)
For more than fifty years Swiss government has basically operated unchanged, with the main parties sharing out the seven seats in the federal cabinet in the same way: with two reserved for the Christian Democrats, two for the socialists, two for the radicals and one for the extreme right SVP (Swiss People’s Party).
The Geneva based UN High Commissioner for Refugees condemned the anti-immigrant and foreigner rhetoric of the SVP – and particularly of its leader, Christoph Blocher, during the recent election as ‘atrocious.’ However the SVP more than doubled its vote. This led Blocher to issue an ultimatum: that he should personally be given an additional seat on the cabinet or he would take the unprecedented step of forming an opposition to it. The Swiss parliament capitulated to his demand.
On the face of it, this is a bad sign for Switzerland, a country where the church has been steadily dwindling for many years. But there is hope. Prophetic prayer movements, especially FocuSuisse are beginning to instil a new passion and vision into people’s hearts. John and Laura Madan have had some fine times ministering to youth conferences there.
Pray for the power of the Lord to touch Switzerland and to continue to protect the country. Swiss police recently arrested eight foreign nationals accused of involvement in attacks in Saudi Arabia.
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We have often mentioned the need to pray for Turkey, regarded by some as the largest unreached nation in Europe, if not the world. That phrase itself raises a question however. Is Turkey part of Europe? (Technically, 3% of it is, with the remaining 97% being in Asia).
The question of whether Turkey will ever become a member of the EU is a live question in Turkey itself, where the vast majority are certainly in favour of joining.
On the political front, opposition and machinations are afoot. Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, who rather delights in being regarded as the father of Europe's new constitution, is well aware that the wording of the draft charter effectively diminishes Turkey's chances of success in its 40-year quest to join the European Union. The reason for this is because Turkey’s population is projected to exceed that of every other member state by the time membership talks could be completed (round about 2015).
(Turkey currently ranks secondly only to Germany’s 82 million people). This would automatically accord it the greatest voting power in the council – a possibility that is causing certain member states to be less willing to allow Turkey full admission as an EU member. Giscard is on record as saying that the access of Turkey would ‘mean the end of Europe’. We can therefore surmise that the new voting rules have been specifically set up to exclude Turkey from the EU.
Giscard said, "There are a lot of formulas outside the pure and simple membership, like a strategic partnership or a Nafta-like economic partnership." Others aren’t worried by the size of Turkey, because most of the sensitive issues still require unanimous voting. "We don't vote that much in the EU - the EU is a consensus-driven
Organization," said Steven Everts of the Centre for European Reform in
London in an interview reproduced in the International Herald Tribune.
We do not of course know for certain what will happen to the draft constitution until referendums are held in several EU countries. One ‘no’ vote in a national referendum would theoretically be enough in theory to postpone the formal adoption of the document. Polls suggest that Britain is poised to do just that when the matter is finally put to the test. Do pray for what happens in this respect.
(As a complete aside, concerning the fact that the exit polls were again wrong in America -- they predicted a victory for Kerry, just as they did last time for Al Gore – I am reminded of a word the Lord spoke to Denis Clark (the former leader of Intercessors for Britain) that He regarded some of these opinion polls as a mild form of divination –and that He enjoyed confounding them!)
In the past, the debate about access for Turkey has focused on its human rights record, and its compatibility with Europe's cultural heritage. There certainly does appear to be an increasing openness on the part of the authorities to portray Turkey as a multi cultural society. The EU’s opposition is therefore now taking a new approach: protesting more about the country being too big to join!
What would Turkey joining mean in reality? Overnight, the percentage of Muslims in Europe would jump from 3% to about 17% of the total population. This thought goes down particularly badly in France and Germany, which are already struggling to assimilate their large Muslim minorities.
Those who favour Turkey's accession, like Ana Palacio, the former Spanish foreign minister, consider that accepting Turkey into the EU fold would send a positive and much-needed message of reconciliation to the Muslim world. That is why Spain, Britain, Italy and the Netherlands all support Turkey’s candidature.
Opponents claim that Turkey’s religious and cultural heritage is fundamentally incompatible with that of the EU. They are also well aware that it would cost
billions of euros in subsidies to prop up the weaker Turkish infrastructures. One German expert estimates that it would cost a staggering $13.9 billion in agricultural subsidies per year to accommodate Turkey. But what will be the political cost of driving Turkey away from the EU to look elsewhere for support?
One person who knows Turkey well has written,
‘The situation is very complicated. There is a frantic desperation from just about everyone in the culture to join. They generally see this as the only way forward. People ask us all the time what our thoughts are, and as messengers for the gospel, we say that we don't really know and it’s not something we have too much information about. This is partly true but its also to avoid some
painful truths that we feel our friends and others would find very
The bottom line is that joining would be very difficult in many areas. The EU would have to take a massive cut economically to support this entry, as well as face the reality of large areas of corruption and failed infrastructure in a country that is three times the size of UK. The freedom to travel issue is also fraught with trouble. We say jokingly that on day 1, 5 million people would leave the country – so many are desperate to leave for a better life.
Can the EU limit travel within its boundaries? Doesn't that take away one of the founding principals? We'd heard that with the ten other newly joined nations some restrictions were in place, but we are not sure what they are.
Another factor is that the economy is not 'lined up' with the joining criteria - admittedly it has improved. One problem is the accessible clean drinking water situation. Apparently to be able to join the EU around 85% of the population has to have access to clean drinking water. A the moment,the percentage is way below this.
The human rights issue is only for lip service too. So far as we are aware, no fundamental changes are being implemented and freedom of religion is still a long way off. It is not so much a Muslim country, as some of the scare mongers in Europe make out, but it is still very different in world view and nationalism – the carrot to join the EU is financial, but there is no desire to buy into many of the other ideals. But do remember that the EU’s view is a far from godly one; conditioned by fear on the one hand and greed on the other.
Finally – what might this do for the gospel and the Kingdom? We seriously don't think it will make that big a difference. Suspicion of the spiritual and moral values of the West would remain and not be easily altered. More and more citizens as individuals in Turkey wish to find out what the good news of Jesus really is, without any political or historical hindrances. Let’s not forget that the EU itself is not that tolerant to the claims of Jesus – so let’s get on with the spiritual work and ask the Lord first to send and then to skilfully deploy more labourers' for the Saviour to reap the harvest!
Pray for the gospel of Christ to advance the length and breadth of Turkey, especially into the vast eastern regions where there is currently next to no witness. Pray for the many who are working to bring Turks to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus, both in their homeland and in the many countries to which they have emigrated.
I heard the other day that the churches Paul wrote his epistles to were small affairs: probably about 50 strong – a very far cry from today’s mega-churches. But look what came from them! This thought gives courage to continue praying for the small fellowships that currently meet in Turkey. This was a suggested blueprint I received today to pray for.
Ø For the leaders: to promote peace, justice and fairness.
Ø For the conditions to be suitable for ambassadors of Jesus to proclaim His name freely and without hindrance (at least in equality with the main religion).
Ø For greed and corruption to be challenged and removed.
Ø For individual people to hear of Christ and His love, and to turn to Him, rather than pursuing their selfish ambitions.
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EUROPE European Expansion
Whatever your views on the European Union, let’s view the celebrations on the 1st May 2004 as ten new nations joined the EU as an opportunity to pray for these precious nations. After all, when did most of us spend much time thinking let alone praying for Slovenia, Slovakia, Hungary, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, the Czech Republic, Poland, Malta and Cyprus (south) where the Lord has many who love Him? And don’t forget Rumania and Bulgaria, which are scheduled to join in three year’s time – and Cyprus (north) where things are very tough.
This step represents the most ambitious phase of the enlargement of Europe, whose borders now extend from the Atlantic to Russia in the world’s largest political union. All but two of these nations were, until recently, part of the Eastern European communist bloc that was so bitterly divided from the West.
It is right and honouring that these nations play their full part in Europe. All are free market economies of the kind approved by the founders of the European Community. Let’s face it, Western Europe is an ageing community: a fresh influx from these countries may go some way to bring new life to our communities!
There will be challenges ahead at many levels, not least in the fact that the average income in these eastern countries is barely one third of that enjoyed in the West. May the Lord bless each one of these nations, and bring much that is good out of the closer ties between these nations. May He watch over the issue of would-be migrants – (both at the and guard us all from those who would seek to exploit the new system for evil purposes.
Referendum on the European Constitution
One should not underestimate the amount of influence newspapers such as The Sun and The Express wield. Humanly speaking, their opposition is more likely to have brought about Tony Blair’s unexpected U turn in permitting a referendum than the opposition from both the Conservative and Liberal parties. From a spiritual point of view, however, it is important to realise that numerous leading intercessors have battled long and hard for just such a reversal to come about.
Evangelist David Hathaway believes that Romano Prodi (president of the EU) had promised Tony Blair the Presidency of the EU if he succeeded in bringing Britain fully into line about Europe. One wonders what will happen if the vote does go ahead and it is a No? The decision to hold a referendum certainly represents the biggest risk that Tony Blair has ever run – and a possible breakthrough for Euro-sceptics. There is widespread consternation amongst EU leaders, who, in private, are mega alarmed at the thought of a British “No” vote rocking the plans they have been working towards for so long in centralising more and more power.
The 1975 referendum on the Common Market is no real pointer to this present one. There was a widespread expectation that the NO vote would triumph, but as it turned out, the YES vote came from behind to win at the post. But the circumstances then were very different. European economies were strong, while Britain was ‘a basket case,’ with inflation riding high and strikes plaguing numerous industries. But unemployment and inflation figures are significantly lower here than now than they are in France and Germany. Even so, it would be foolish to assume that the opinion polls (which currently show a heavy majority against it) are infallible and not to pray about the matter.
Writing in The Times, Anatole Kaletsky says that the treaty purports to return powers to national government, but in reality ‘extends EU sovereignty into almost a dozen new areas’ without so much as a hint of any powers reverting to nation states. A ‘No’ vote from Britain could yet do more than just realign Britain’s own position in Europe: it just could lead to a ‘nation-based union’ of the kind that almost everyone in the UK would be in favour of. (Amid the general confusion of last week’s events, Jack Straw hinted that there may not even be a vote at all, if European leaders are unable to agree the final wording of the constitution. I suspect many European leaders would almost prefer that to a damaging ‘No’ vote from Britain!)
Pray for the way that Britain and Europe develop in the future
People appear to be waking up at last to see the subtle and not so subtle ways in which democracy is been eroded in our nation, and the real danger of underlying trends. In the main article in The Times (21-4-04), the Archbishop of Canterbury launched a strong, virtually an all-out attack, accusing Labour of ‘damaging democracy’. Dr Rowan Williams said that deceptive official statements risked bringing democracy into disrepute and even raised the spectre of civil disobedience in response. This is unparallel language from a Primate.
Prophet Martin Scott believes that Tony Blair’s remaining time in office may now be short. Pray for the Lord to touch the part of Tony Blair that is sensitive to God, rather than the other part, which is dangerously opportunistic, blindingly ambitious and still determined to look to Alistair Campbell and Peter Mandelson for key advice.
3000 Intercessors for Europe
Does this mean that God has lost interest in Europe? Not a bit of it. Listen to this report from Rubens Cunha in Brazil.
God has blessed Goiania city. Today, about 40% of its 1½ million of our inhabitants are born-again Christians. Some local churches consist of thousands of members and miracles are commonplace in everyday life.
In the last few months Goiania has been challenged to pray for Europe. It started when Brian Mills visited the city last July sharing with several churches about the spiritual needs of the European nations. Then God spoke to a member of the National Network of Intercession (the head office of which is in Goiania) about involving the church of Goiania in a project of prayer and fasting for 40 days.
This project was undertaken by the National Network of Intercession in partnership with Go to the Nations and YWAM. It resulted in a booklet being published giving information about the various European countries. 2000 booklets were issued. These ran out in a week.
Nevertheless, God's people answered the call. Several churches and prayer groups prayed with only one booklet between members and at least 3000 people prayed and fasted for Europe from August 11th to September 19th 2003. God moved powerfully.
Everyday, faithfully at 5am, a Pentecostal church would pray prophetically, then, at midday a Charismatic church would pray on, later, at 7pm, a church of an Historical denomination would continue the prayers.
In October, as part of this project, 47 intercessors from Goiania went to the ‘Go To The Nations' conference in Manchester. There they met other intercessors from different parts of Brazil thereby establishing an army of 180 soldiers who then spread all across Europe in order to pray for those countries that God had placed on their hearts.
These intercessors are now back in Brazil, carrying in their hearts all that God wants to do in Europe. They are inputting into their communities what they saw, heard and received from the Holy Spirit, sharing God's vision for Europe with others and, in the process, increasing the number of spiritual warriors for this warfare.
Both the 40 days of prayer and fasting and the intercessors trip are only the beginning. God alone knows how many blessings will result.
For several years we have been warning that cyber warfare is a key issue for twenty-first century security. It is frightening to think how few much of modern life would be paralysed if the Internet were to be successfully hijacked. And whilst we may, in the past, have become accustomed to thinking of loner psycho freaks huddled in their anoraks taking revenge on the big bad world who has failed to recognise how clever they are, there is a new breed of highly motivated (and well-paid) professional hackers, who are well aware that information is power.
Original sin has long since cast its long shadow in cyber space: US companies report thirty attacks a week on average! Many of these hackers adopt an attitude similar to the one I used to find prevalent amongst our sixth form which I call ‘the schoolboy shoplifting morality.’ (In essence: ‘we wouldn’t dream of stealing from the corner shop, but nobody owns WH Smiths, so that’s ok’) Most Russian hackers, for example, would be reluctant to break into Russian companies, but are quite willing to take advantage of the fact that there is no law in Russia that prevents hacking into US companies!
Most of the world’s most serious hackers, however, are located in Brazil (where 18 out of the top 20 most active hacking groups in the world are based). They are very active too, however, in Russia, where the Mafia is particularly interested in seeing how it can turn the hacking game to its own benefit, and in China, where hackers charge less for their services than their Russian counterparts. In Korea, a crime group recently held a 'hacker contest' and promptly recruited the most promising candidates. By the time the ring was busted, numbers had swollen to over 4,000 and the personal information of two and a half million people had been stolen.
Hackers prefer locations as far as possible outside the clutches of US, Japanese or European law-enforcers. Newsweek Magazine (14/12/03) reports how they devise complicated channels for their digital signals to throw the cyber-cops of the trail.
They then threaten to launch distributed-denial-of-service attacks (DDS) that would overwhelm the servers – and then demand payment for not doing so. Pray for the measures being taken to counter the hackers, and for protection from cyber attack.
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"And I will provide a place for my people . . . and will plant them so that they have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people shall not oppress them any more, as they did at the beginning." (2Sam 7:10)
‘Without working papers, prostitution is one of the only ways that migrant women can earn an income here,’ commented Helen Ward, co-ordinator of Europap, an EU funded organisation that seeks to reduce HIV among sex workers. A staggering 500,000 women and children from Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia and South America are ‘trafficked’ to Europe for sexual purposes every year: an industry that yields the pimps an annual $8,000,000,000. Not only is there an increasing demand for prostitution in the EU, but the rise of organised crime in eastern Europe combined with the desperation of many women to do better than they can in their home countries.
Thousands of these women are deported each year, but the majority remain, often in ‘clusters.’ This is because when traffickers open up profitable routes, they can supply hundreds or even thousands of women and children within months. Thus thousands of Nigerians have made their way to Belgium and Brazilian women to Portugal.
Most of these people take basic precautions against catching Aids, but health research by Time Magazine (20/20/03) shows that the women complain of chronic kinds of anxiety and pain. They fear they will not be able to become mothers themselves and they ‘aren’t at peace with themselves.’
At this time when the Lord is touching many people back in the homelands of Nigeria and Brazil, pray for these 500,000 people a year, who all had their own hopes and dreams when they set out on their hazardous journey. Pray for God-given initiatives to reach them.
I was much struck by the example of a team of Asian women who take God’s love to the huge community of illegal Chinese immigrants in one of New York’s toughest areas. Working with Bill Wilson’s Metro Ministries in Brooklyn, they witness day and night in the streets and back alleys and visit homes to share the gospel, pray for needs and distribute food. Virtually every home has idols in it, and they come up against traditional Chinese beliefs such as Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism.
Open Heaven (www.openheaven.com) reports that these Chinese immigrants also worship their ancestors. Becoming a Christian means cutting of from their family roots. They overcome objection by persuading parents that their children will love them more if they become Christians.
These families fear deportation by U.S. immigration agents and worry about relatives left in China. In the United States, they live like animals. Several families squeeze into tiny apartments in shabby tenements with outside public toilets. Gambling is endemic, and women are forced into prostitution.
New York City has the largest Chinatown in the United States, with an estimated population in excess of 100,000, excluding undocumented illegal aliens – which would probably double that number.
Vicky Liew heads up Metro Ministries' Chinatown division with a team of young women from Taiwan -- Kitty Chuang, Maggie Haung and Barbara Lin, supported by other members of Bill Wilson's team. "We spend a lot of time prayer walking in different areas," Kitty said. "We go to a park and walk and we pray with faith and proclaim this is our land, just like Joshua. People’s hearts are much softer now."
The Sunday schools attract 900 to 1,000 children weekly. Some parents and other adults attend and watch from the sidelines. An estimated 2,000 conversions to Christ result annually. Ministry workers follow up converts and help them to become part of local churches. (Source: Metro Ministries Chinatown Division, December 2003 edition of ‘Charisma’ magazine.’
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An intimidatory culture exists in many institutions in our lands and long hours are almost universal. Hearing the story of one dear friend who had been made to suffer by her employer made me initially want to respond in kind and take strong action to prevent petty bullies from getting away with their bullying. But then I reminded myself of all the discrimination Christians were obliged to endure in the Soviet era. They did not respond in kind when their teachers browbeat them, and blocked their career paths. May the Lord expand our hearts and show us how to react and relate in each individual circumstance!
Given that more and more responsibility falls on the fewer and fewer workers, more companies are taking active steps to invest in anti-stress activities. Some of these stray into alternative therapies we are better off without, but the problem is an acute and increasing one. Right at the top of the stress charts come nurses and teachers and others in the public sector, where less is invested in stress relief. (One survey discovered that 46% of all midwives quit the profession because they find the job too difficult given the staff shortages – there is currently a shortfall of 5,000 midwives. It is easy to see how this becomes a vicious cycle).
Here are a few simple and practical things we can all do. We can all drink water! One percent dehydration (and, remember, we often don’t feel thirsty) can affect concentration and performance by up to 20%! The other most instant relaxation tip is to consciously practice deep slow breathing. This automatically helps to induce a physical calmness – to which worthwhile spiritual exercises can profitably be added! Simple stretching exercises and moving about is better than doing nothing. As for regular exercise, its benefits are well enough known to need any additional plugging. I’d recommend table tennis – we’ve had some wonderful games up here recently! What are you doing to counteract stress?
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Tired of Church?
The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honour, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. (1Tim 5:17)
Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day of the Lord approaching. (Heb 10:25)
What can be more wonderful than to meet with like-minded people in the flow of the Spirit, and to know that we are touching heaven’s throne together? Conversely, what can be more soul deadening than to sit in a church and feel out of touch and out of sorts with what is going on?
Some years ago, I attended an important seminar in Plymouth that was concerned to link God and the work place. One survey showed that a staggering nine out of ten Christians in business do not feel that the Church has any real relevance to, or indeed interest in their professional work. Yet for most of us that is, after all, our principal mission field.
This intercessory insight calls us to pray for the Lord to help the many who are feeling ‘restless and unsettled in their churches. God does not want the Church of tomorrow to endlessly repeat the ways that the church of yesterday found most stimulating. He has new ways to bless this present generation. Pray for the many who feel disempowered and disenfranchised, that the Lord will find new ways to harness them, and bring them right back into the centre of His flow.
Most of these people are not 'backsliding' at all – but they could be in danger of spinning out into a vacuum if they feel unable to cope with the diet they are served up with week by week in their fellowships. Many of those I meet in this category were formerly pastors, elders or worship leaders. Some of these have fallen from grace, perhaps by allowing ‘empire building’ to overcome their original desire to share in the work of the Kingdom of God.
As often as not, however, the pressures of leadership (disputes, rejections and so on) simply became too much for these sensitive souls. For whatever reason they were not able to take the time out that they needed. When they burnt out they found that the 'flow' they had been used to operating in had, as it were, been switched off at the mains. Many have returned to their former professions, seriously disillusioned. Pray for God to rekindle such people's hearts, and to use the wisdom and anointing they have had in the past in new ways.
It only takes one word from Him to enable new things to begin. Some dear friends of ours, who had persevered for years with a style of ‘churching’ that no longer appealed to them, set up a chapel in their home that they opened up to the people in their neighbourhood. It already feels like one of those places that have been prayed in for years. This year they held Advent meetings with a difference for the unchurched. Of course they risked misunderstanding from some, who worried out loud that they must be backsliding. But they were not. They were, and are, simply exploring creative new ways to fulfil the Great Commission.
This is part of the ‘Church without walls’ we have been hearing so much about – and such ventures are going to be vital to meet the needs of a generation shorn of all Christian heritage.
Colin Wilson, a Scottish prayer leader, points out in Highland Christian News that people are much less inclined these days to offer unthinking allegiance to institutions and structures. People are more inclined to get behind specific initiatives, projects and people than they are to automatically support historic ties. There cannot but be financial consequences for many churches and organisations as a result of these changes.
God has resources to meet the needs of this hour – but each one of us needs to be playing our part, not least in asking the Lord where what and to whom we should be investing our prayer and resources. The unofficially quoted advice given to trainee Anglican ministers that they are there to ‘preside over the orderly management of decline’ does not sound like the living and active Word of the Lord!
As always, relationships are all-important. We used to say (and this is as near to a guiding principle as we would dare to go) ‘don’t let your children get a whiff of (spiritual) death.’ If you are in the category of feeling uncertain where and with whom you belong, may He lead you clearly this year, give you strong confirmation when you are on the right track and clear warnings and course corrections when you are not!
Guy Rothwell, (very much an in-church pastor!) sent me an article that was written on behalf of the tens of thousands of active Christians who now find themselves no longer able to cope with the fare they are being served up with in their churches, but whose hearts are still warm towards the Lord.
To read numerous testimonies, together with an on-line publication on the subject:
go to http://www.streetrevival.com and click on the -NEW ONLINE BOOK-- THE "OUT-OF-CHURCH" CHRISTIANS link.
Mission News Network (firstname.lastname@example.org) report that while millions of people have already seen the film "The Passion of the Christ", thousands have accessed Truth Media's web site TheLife-dot-com. Truth Media is a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ, Canada. Spokeswoman Karen Schenk says, "In the last 30 days we have seen an average of about 10,000 visitors a day coming to the website. We have a chat room, so, we scrambled and put together 24-hour moderation for it. We have seen quite a few people being led to the Lord."
Truth Media uses the internet for evangelism regularly. Schenk says this web site, which is designed around the film, had a unique response. "We've never seen one just start at this level and to have these kind of numbers and impact coming in right from the 'get-go'." Schenk says the site will be translated into other languages as the film is translated.
Full Story: http://mnn.gospelcom.net/art icle/5819
'The Passion' is provoking strong reaction, both ways. Here's a positive reaction. Paul Harvey writes:
I really did not know what to expect. I was thrilled to have been invited to a private viewing of Mel Gibson's film "The Passion," but I had also read all the cautious articles and spin. I grew up in a Jewish town and owe much of my own faith journey to the influence. I have a life long, deeply held aversion to anything that might even indirectly encourage any form of anti-Semitic thought, language or actions.
I arrived at the private viewing for "The Passion," held in Washington,DC and greeted some familiar faces. The environment was typically Washingtonian, with people greeting you with a smile but seeming to look beyond you, having an agenda beyond the words. The film was very briefly introduced, without fanfare, and then the room darkened. From the gripping opening scene in the Garden of Gethsemane, to the very human and tender portrayal of the earthly ministry of Jesus, through the betrayal, the arrest, the scourging, the way of the cross, the encounter with the thieves, the surrender on the Cross, until the final scene in the empty tomb, this was not simply a movie; it was an encounter, unlike anything I have ever experienced.
In addition to being a masterpiece of film-making and an artistic triumph, "The Passion" evoked more deep reflection, sorrow and emotional reaction within me than anything since my wedding, my ordination or the birth of my children. Frankly, I will never be the same. When the film concluded, this "invitation only" gathering of "movers and shakers" in Washington, DC were shaking indeed, but this time from sobbing. I am not sure there was a dry eye in the place. The crowd that had been glad-handing before the film was now eerily silent. No one could speak because words were woefully inadequate. We had experienced a kind of art that is a rarity in life, the kind that makes heaven touch earth.
One scene in the film has now been forever etched in my mind. A brutalized, wounded Jesus was soon to fall again under the weight of the cross. His mother had made her way along the Via Della Rosa. As she ran to him, she flashed back to a memory of Jesus as a child, falling in the dirt road outside of their home. Just as she reached to protect him from the fall, she was now reaching to touch his wounded adult face. Jesus looked at her with intensely probing and passionately loving eyes (and at all of us through the screen) and said "Behold I make all things new."
These words are taken from the last Book of the New Testament, the Book of Revelations. Suddenly, the purpose of the pain was so clear and the wounds, that earlier in the film had been so difficult to see in His face, His back, indeed all over His body, became intensely beautiful. They had been borne voluntarily for love.
At the end of the film, after we had all had a chance to recover, a question and answer period ensued. The unanimous praise for the film, from a rather diverse crowd, was as astounding as the compliments were effusive. The questions included the one question that seems to follow this film, even though it has not yet even been released. "Why is this film considered by some to be 'anti-Semitic?" Frankly, having now experienced (you do not "view" this film) "the Passion" it is a question that is impossible to answer.
A law professor whom I admire sat in front of me. He raised his hand and responded, "After watching this film, I do not understand how anyone can insinuate that it even remotely presents that the Jews killed Jesus. It doesn't." He continued, "It made me realize that my sins killed Jesus" I agree. There is not a scintilla of anti-Semitism to be found anywhere in this powerful film. If there were, I would be among the first to decry it. It faithfully tells the Gospel story in a dramatically beautiful, sensitive and profoundly engaging way.
Those who are alleging otherwise have either not seen the film or have another agenda behind their protestations. This is not a "Christian" film, in the sense that it will appeal only to those who identify themselves as followers of Jesus Christ. It is a deeply human, beautiful story that will deeply touch all men and women. It is a profound work of art. Yes, its producer is a Catholic Christian and thankfully has remained faithful to the Gospel text; if that is no longer acceptable behaviour than we are all in trouble. History demands that we remain faithful to the story and Christians have a right to tell it. After all, we believe that it is the greatest story ever told and that its message is for all men and women. The greatest right is the right to hear the truth . . . The problem is not the message but those who have distorted it and used it for hate rather than love. The solution is not to censor the message, but rather to promote the kind of gift of love that is Mel Gibson's filmmaking masterpiece. I am passionate about "The Passion."
P.S.Mel Gilbson stated he did not appear in his own movie, by his choice, with one exception: It is Gibson's hands seen nailing Jesus to the cross. Gibson said he wanted to do that because it was indeed his own hands that nailed Jesus to the cross (along with all of ours.)
Finally, let’s pray for the Lord to keep His front-line troops functional and on fire this year ... linked together, prayerful, sufficiently in touch with the wider body to receive God’s divine imput, but effective too at the local level. May each one of us be increasingly free from prejudice and error, pride and confusion, hassles of our own making – and from what Charles Wesley perceptively called ‘my calling’s snare.’
May You know the Lord’s leading clearly in all these matters – and may He bless the ministries and missionaries You name before Him now.
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Erosion of Civil Liberties in the UK
"Those people who will not be governed by God will be ruled by tyrants." (William Penn, 1644-1718)
For people domiciled in the UK, this has not been a good year for the democratic well-being of our country. Christmas has been all but completely secularised, stripped of its meaning by the vacuous term ‘Season’s Greetings.’ Sycophants and professional politicians are increasingly a symbol of our nation’s overall health. Few things illustrate this more cogently than the fact that well over ten times the amount of parliamentary time was spent debating hunting issues as opposed to the war in Iraq.
Our priorities as a nation are now so entirely different from the Lord’s that Clifford Hill has just released a thundering word of warning concerning the danger our nation faces. Our gross indifference to the ways of God has caused His judgements first to catch up with us, and now, increasingly, to overtake us. (cf Zeph. 1:6) We are so aware that this is what the Lord has been warning of for many years.
Just as God raised up ‘last chance’ prophets such as Amos and Hosea during the crucial days of the eighth century BC, so He is speaking again today. Cliff believes that God is now sounding His very last chance for us as a nation. He is warning that a host of repressive legislation and other disasters will overtake us as a nation if we do not respond to the Lord at this time. We have posted a link to this exceptionally solemn word on www.ruachministries. (Go to Intercessory Insights, Part One, and click on ‘Word to the Nation.’ You will also find a number of serious articles illustrating these points in Part Two).
I am always eager to stress the positive side; that God is moving by His Spirit touching, leading and using so many people at this time. But rather than sitting back and waiting for revival to drop from the sky, it is important to remember the word the Lord gave Kenny Borthwick (the leader of CLAN – [New Wine] Scotland) that the next work of God is going to be a great demonstration of compassion, as believers reach out to people who know they are in need, and people, knowing that they are in great need, reaching out in turn to receive that help from the Lord.
Detaining Terrorist Suspects? The Law Lords versus the Home Office / ID cards
On the day Charles Clark came to power, he was faced by an extraordinary thumbs down from the Law Lords, who ruled that it was entirely wrong for foreign nationals to be detained at Belmarsh Prison and elsewhere without trial. One QC, who resigned over the issue, called it ‘an odious blot on our legal landscape.’ This is strong language to say the least. Lord Hoffman went further: ‘The real threat to the life of th nation comes not from terrorism but from laws such as these.’ Lord Scott even called the Government’s Anti-Terrorism Act as more appropriate to Stalin’s Soviet Union than to the United Kingdom.
These are difficult issues. The Law Lords are almost certainly underestimating the threat Al Q’aeda poses the UK, but at the same time must be applauded for taking a stand against the severe erosion of civil liberties currently being pushed through by the present government. There may well be more something deeply significant in David Blunkett being forced to leave office, considering that he was the principal architect of the Incitement to Religious Hatred act that we may hear so much more about in years to come. (Mind you, as we have seen in the case of Peter Mandelson, such issues these days are considered more an inconvenient gap in people’s careers rather than ‘resignation for life’). With Parliament so often being effectively sidelined or bypassed, the role played by the judiciary, along with the national newspapers, is paramount in terms of ensuring checks and balances in society.
As the Daily Express wrote, ID cards did not prevent atrocities this year in Turkey, Pakistan or even Spain, where every citizen is obliged to carry one. All the September 11th hijackers had valid documentation. The editorial comment said it all: ‘Terrorists do not lie about their identity; only the evil in their minds.’
What this boils down to is that we are faced with issues that only the Lord in His mercy, together with highly successful efforts by the police, can help with. Pray for all who are in a position to make changes or who are obliged to implement laws; for more mercy than we deserve in terms of checking the spread of evil. I still believe it is a miracle that we have avoided worse tragedies this year.
In many ways, it is not legal decisions that are affecting most people in our country so much as booze! We are in danger of becoming immune to the scale of drunkenness affecting our nation.1500 arrests are made for drunkenness and disorder and 360 drink-related sexual assaults are reported every week in England and Wales. But even these statistics don’t tell the whole story. Far more instances are never reported. The government has awoken belatedly to how serious the problem it is, and has, perhaps to a surprising degree, begun to ‘repudiate’ the 60’s culture that spawned society’s present day attitudes. But this alone will change neither habits nor hearts.
Western Europe is decadent, but Britain has become a byword for bawdy, obscene, ostentatious drunkenness that often leads to violence. It was like this before the Spirit moved in Wesley’s day when the gin houses reigned supreme but that is no cause for complacency. Pray and pray for the Spirit of God to wean many hearts from trends that are wreaking havoc and to woo them to the life of Christ.Behind every statistic lie real individuals. If the subject feels too big to pray about en masse, start by praying for people you know who are indulging too freely, and build up in prayer from there.
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