Category Archives: Uncategorized

“Detransitioning” Teen Sues Medical Community

At just 13 years old, teenager Chloe Cole — who thought she was a boy — started taking puberty blockers, began a round of testosterone and, just two years later, underwent a double mastectomy. Now she’s suing the medical group that allowed it all to happen.

The 18-year-old Cole announced Thursday her intent to sue the Permanente Medical Group, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals whose medical personnel “performed, supervised, and/or advised transgender hormone therapy and surgical intervention for Chloe Cole when she was between 13-17 years old.”

In a press release, Cole, represented by attorney Harmeet Dhillon, said her teenage life “has been the culmination of excruciating pain, regret and, most importantly, injustice.”

“I have been emotionally and physically damaged and stunted by so-called medical professionals in my most important developmental period,” she continued. “I was butchered by an institution that we trust more than anything else in our lives. What is worse is that I am not alone in my pain.”

“I will ensure that the blood and tears of detransitioners like me will not be in vain,” Cole continued. “It is impossible for me to recoup what I have lost, but I will fight to ensure that no other children will be harmed at the hands of these liars and mutilators.”

Dhillon, CEO of the Center for American Liberty, explained during an appearance alongside her client on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” that Cole is the victim of “medical malpractice and frankly mutilation.”

“The medical system shouldn’t dictate the future of young children’s lives,” Dhillon said in a statement. “Through this legal action, we will hold the ‘professionals’ involved accountable for their deliberate choices to mutilate children and financially benefit from it without regard to the human tragedies they created.”

Cole explained to Fox News host Tucker Carlson that she was just 12 years old when she was told she could medically change her sex from female to male. From day one, she said, she was affirmed in her decision — as a child — to permanently alter her body.

She said neither she nor her parents were ever “informed of the option of psychiatric treatment or an approach that attempted to treat the underlying psychological conditions to bring about a mental state congruent with [her] biological sex.”

Furthermore, the now-detransitioned teenager said she and her parents were “falsely informed” she was at an elevated risk of committing suicide and were faced with this terrifying ultimatum: “Would you rather have a dead daughter or a live son?”

The fear-mongering questions and misleading advice has left Cole in a tragic position.

“They removed both of my breasts, and I will never have them back,” she told Carlson. “As an adult, I never will be able to breastfeed whatever children I will have. I don’t even know if — because I was put on puberty blockers and testosterone at only 13 years old — I don’t know if I’ll even be able to conceive a child naturally, because I made an adult decision as a child.”

“I’m 18 years old now and I’m, quite frankly, I’m devastated with what has happened to me,” she continued. “It’s been very hard to cope with the loss of my breasts and it’s affected other areas of my life as well. I’m really not sure about the overall picture of my reproductive health and I’ve been … the treatments have made me very sickly, actually.”

News of Cole’s lawsuit comes as lawmakers in states like Florida and Tennessee are fighting to ban clinics and hospitals from performing irrevocable transgender-related surgeries and treatments on minors.

The oldest known Christian prayer

The prayer was written near the end of the first century.

Scripture is full of prayers from front to cover, but after the final page of Revelation, how did the early Christians pray to God?

The oldest known Christian prayer outside of the Bible can be found in the works of St. Clement of Rome, the fourth pope of the Roman Catholic Church. He held the office of Successor of St. Peter from 88 to 99, and is said to have been consecrated a bishop by St. Peter himself.

He wrote a prayer that historian A. Hamman, O.F.M. calls a “Prayer for All Needs.” It is a beautiful prayer, rich in symbolism and firmly rooted in the Gospel message. Below is an except of this ancient prayer (which is quite lengthy). For the full prayer, check out Early Christian Prayers.

You alone watch over the interests of spiritual beings, you are the God of all flesh. You gaze into the depths, you watch what men are doing. You are our help in danger, you save the despairing, Creator and Keeper of all that is spiritual. You give increase to the peoples of the earth, and from them all you chose us out to love you, through Jesus Christ, your dear Child, who brought us instruction, holiness and honor.We beg you, Lord, to help and defend us. Deliver the oppressed, pity the insignificant, raise the fallen, show yourself to the needy, heal the sick, bring back those of your people who have gone astray, feed the hungry, lift up the weak, take off the prisoners’ chains. May every nation come to know that you alone are God, that Jesus Christ is your Child, that we are your people, the sheep that you pasture.You have shown by what you have made and done how the world has been planned from eternity. The earth is your creation, Lord, yours that are true to every generation, just when you judge, your strength and splendour a marvel. Such competence yours in creating, such skill in setting firm the things you make, your goodness apparent in this world to see. You are loyal to those who trust you, merciful, compassionate. Forgive us our sins, our injustice, Our falls, our jarring deeds.

This is the start of a Christian Genocide

The terrorists attacked six predominantly Christian villages in Benue state’s Togo County on Friday (Sept. 23), destroying lives, houses and farms and looting homes for food, area residents said.

“These attacks by the herdsmen have left dozens of Christians dead and several more with gunshot injuries and machete attack wounds,” area resident Ukan Kurugh told Morning Star News in a text message. “Survivors of these herdsmen attacks have been taken to some hospitals, and they need urgent medical attention but lack the funds to pay for their medical bills. Some of them need urgent surgeries but they can’t afford to pay for the charges.”

Attacked were the villages of Tse Ikyem, Tsav, Tse Ijoho, Tse Ikyaan, Anawah, and Mou in Togo County, residents said. Mou was also attacked on Wednesday (Sept. 21), as was Mchia, in the same county.

“Our people have have suffered immensely in the hands of these marauding herdsmen,” Kurugh said.

Local resident Moses Teryima identified 12 of the Christians slain in Friday’s attacks as Aandohemba Msugh Aondo; Oliver Toryima Chion; Innocent Shinku Ngimsho; Mchivga Utume; Joseph Msugh Aondo Gwa; Bemdou Hundu; Luther Mchivga; Sunter Achiwan; Aondohemba Msughve; Hemhsnger Teryuega; Japheth Kwaghaondo Pinega; and Vihishima Mbanomso.

An area community leader, Joseph Anawa, confirmed that the six villages had been attacked on Friday. The Rev. Akpen Leva, chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Benue State Chapter, said in a press statemen that attacks against Christians and by herdsmen and other terrorists in the state have been ceaseless.

“Armed herdsmen and terrorists have not stopped their unprovoked attacks on Christians in Benue state,” Leva said. “These attacks are aimed at killing defenseless Christians and to force them out of their communities.”

Pastors and denominational leaders were among the victims of the attacks, he said.

“We condemn in strong terms these unprovoked attacks and loss of lives in these affected Christian communities and call on security agencies to rise up to the challenge in order to curtail the activities of these bloodthirsty herdsmen,” Leva said.

Catherine Anene, spokesperson for the Benue State Police Command, said police received reports of the attacks from the Divisional Police officer of Logo.

“Our personnel have been deployed to the area to contain the situation,” she said.

15 Christians Killed

In the same county on Wednesday (Sept. 21), suspected herdsmen and other terrorists killed 15 Christians and wounded 15 others in attacks on two villages, area residents said.

Predominantly Christian Mou and Mchia villages were attacked at about midnight. Fulani herdsmen, who are predominantly Muslim, killed 12 Christians in Mchia village, said area resident Peter Terseer.

“Aside from the 12 Christians who lost their lives in Mchia village, eight other Christians were injured during the attack,” Terseer told Morning Star News in a text message. “They’re being treated at the Anyiin hospital.”

In Mou village, resident James Akiga said three Christians died and seven were wounded in the attack by “band of terrorists and herders.”

“The victims have gunshot wounds and machete cuts,” Akiga said in a text message to Morning Star News.

Paul Hemba, Benue state special adviser on security matters, confirmed in a press statement that 12 Christians were killed at Mchia village and three at Mou village on Wednesday (Sept. 21) at about midnight. He also confirmed that 15 Christians were wounded in the assaults.

“Also on the night of Wednesday, Sept. 21, some other Christian communities in Guma Local Government Area were attacked by the terrorists and herdsmen, but they were repelled by security agencies who were drafted there,” Hemba said. “No life was lost, nor anyone injured, in the Guma attacks.”

Military authorities in the area confirmed the attacks on the Logo and Guma areas.

“Our troops are managing the situation in Logo – some attacks had been happening around that area before now which made us to conduct a weeklong operation there about two weeks ago,” Maj. Gen. Kevin Aligbe said in a press statement. “These terrorists have killed between two and four people every three to four days. Most times we received reports that they, bandits, have attacked and retreated.”

Nigeria led the world in Christians killed for their faith last year (Oct. 1, 2020 to Sept. 30, 2021) at 4,650, up from 3,530 the previous year, according to Open Doors’ 2022 World Watch List report. The number of kidnapped Christians was also highest in Nigeria, at more than 2,500, up from 990 the previous year, according to the WWL report.

Nigeria trailed only China in the number of churches attacked, with 470 cases, according to the report.

In the 2022 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, Nigeria jumped to seventh place, its highest ranking ever, from No. 9 the previous year.

If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit for a list of organizations that can orient you on how to get involved.

LA Launches Investigation into Famous Church Arson

An arson investigation is under way after fire destroyed a historic church in South Los Angeles early Sunday, authorities said.

The blaze at Victory Baptist Church broke out shortly before 2:30 a.m. and quickly grew to major emergency status, said Nicholas Prange, a spokesperson with the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Two firefighters were hospitalized with mild to moderate injuries after battling the flames, Prange said. One became trapped by a collapsing ceiling before being rescued, he said.

The Los Angeles Times said Victory Baptist has played a major role in the spiritual and political history of South LA.

Founded in a local storefront on Easter Sunday in 1943, the church moved into its current building on McKinley Ave a year later. In the 1950s, its Sunday night services were broadcast on television nationally.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at the church in 1964.

An arson team with the House of Worship Task Force was part of the investigation, officials said.

What does Jesus say about fighting unbelief

Health issues, job losses, death of loved ones, ongoing stressful circumstances — all these things can make a believer struggle with unbelief. We start to doubt if God is working in the situation or question His goodness.

Oftentimes, we can become so focused on the challenging situation that we lose sight of God and His ability. In those moments, we need help to bolster our faith.

Jesus can help us overcome our unbelief when we cry out to Him. Just as He did for the father of the demon-possessed boy, Jesus can help us see our weakness, demonstrate His power, and redirect our focus to Him. He faithfully helps us in our unbelief and patiently shows us that He is trustworthy.

Biblical Context and Background

Directly after the event of the Transfiguration, Jesus and the “inner circle” of disciples descended the mountain and found the rest of the disciples unable to heal a demon-possessed boy (Mark 9:2-14).

Experts in the law were arguing with the disciples, and the boy’s father was overwhelmed (Mark 9:14,17-18).

Commenting on the disciples’ lack of faith, Jesus requested that the boy be brought to Him (Mark 9:19). The father explained the condition of his son: “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us” (Mark 9:22).

Based on the father’s reply, his experience with the disciples has caused him to doubt Jesus’ ability. Christ repeated the father’s words: “‘If you can?’ said Jesus. ‘Everything is possible for one who believes’” (Mark 9:23).

After Jesus’ corrective statement, the man cried out, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).

Although he believed in Jesus, he also struggled with doubts and weakness in his faith. Jesus immediately demanded that the demon leave the boy and heals him of the painful possession (Mark 9:25-27).

In this conversation between the Lord and the boy’s father, we learn how Jesus helped the man overcome unbelief. By noticing these aspects of the conversation, we can note how Christ helps us with our doubts and questions.

He Points Out Areas of Weakness

In their conversation, Jesus started by pointing out the father’s struggle with doubt. The man had asked Jesus for help but doubted the Lord’s ability: “If you can” (Mark 9:22). Jesus answers this doubt by reminding the man that anything is possible for the one who believes (Mark 9:23).

The problem was that the man was focusing on the challenging circumstance instead of God. He witnessed the disciples’ inability to heal his son and was overwhelmed by the seriousness of his situation.

The man’s son was suffering, and he questioned if Jesus could free his son from the demon. Jesus’ reply allowed the man to see the weakness of his faith, which was the first step in overcoming his doubts.

Like the father of the demon-possessed boy, we often focus on challenging situations and forget the truth of Jesus’ strength.

These circumstances can discourage us, but they can also reveal areas of doubt in our life. Jesus uses these situations to help us recognize our weaknesses, so we can start focusing on His strength.

He Patiently Demonstrates His Power

Christ demonstrated His authority over the spiritual world that day and showed the boy’s father His ability and trustworthiness. Both the disciples and the boy’s father displayed weakness of faith and doubts.

Jesus bemoaned their lack of faith when He said, “’You unbelieving generation,’” … “‘how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you?’” (Mark 9:19). He addressed both the crowd and the disciples.

The disciples had repeatedly witnessed Jesus’ miracles that demonstrated His divinity and power. He had power over the elements (Mark 4:41), power over demons (Mark 1:25), and even power over death (Mark 5:41-42).

All these signs served as proof of His identity as the Messiah and Son of God (John 30-31). Similarly, Jesus showed the boy’s father that He is powerful and capable by driving out the demon from the boy.

Importantly, Jesus also dealt with Thomas in a similar way. Thomas was skeptical of the other disciples’ claims that Jesus was resurrected.

He claimed, “Unless I see the nail marks in His hands, and put my finger where the nails have been, and put my hand into His side, I will never believe” (John 20:25, BSB).

When Christ appeared to Thomas, He took care to show the disciple His hands, feet, and side. As He told Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe” (John 20:27).

In His patience with our doubts and questions, Jesus willingly gets down to our level. He shows us His strength and power so that we can overcome our unbelief.

Today, Christians have the complete Word of God. By reading Scripture and seeing Jesus’ faithfulness as our Lord and Savior, we can grow in our faith.

He ensured that the disciples would record His words and deeds for them and future generations of people who would place faith in Him because of the disciples’ testimony (John 14:26; 17:20). Thus, one of the ways Jesus shows us His power today is through His Word.

He Redirects Our Focus on Him

Driving out the demon from the boy, Jesus showed that He is powerful and capable. However, his words to the boy’s father show that the one who has faith trusts that God is capable and willing.

As John D. Grassmick notes in his commentary, “Faith sets no limits on God’s power and submits itself to His will” (“Mark,” Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament Edition).

Jesus knew that He could and would heal the boy despite the faith of the father. Yet, in most instances in the gospel accounts, Jesus focuses on the individual’s faith in Him.

He was just as concerned with a person’s spiritual life as He was with their physical ailments (John 5:13-14; 9:35-41). Our Lord cared about the boy’s physical oppression by a demon and the father’s struggle with unbelief.

Instead of focusing on doubts and the assumed “strength” of our own faith, we must focus on God and His strength. Followers of Christ are not immune from hardships that shake their faith. Paul struggled with a “thorn in the flesh” that made him feel weak.

The Lord told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Our weakness and struggle with faith point us back to our need for Jesus because our strength and faith come from Him.

When we experience unbelief, Jesus brings our focus back on Himself instead of focusing on the situation or our perceived ability.

Why Does This Matter?

In the moments when we experience unbelief, Jesus helps us understand our need for Him. He shows us our weakness in contrast to His power. All our self-sufficiency and perceived strength fade away, and we are left fully aware of our neediness.

Scripture reminds us that “if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself” (2 Timothy 2:13). Despite our weakness and doubts, Jesus continues to stay faithful. He helps us overcome our unbelief by reminding us of our need for Him and redirecting our focus on Him.

How Powerful Is the Devil?

This is something we should all think about.

In a message addressed to the king of Tyre, but obviously meant for Satan, we have these words, “You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty… You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; you were on the holy mountain of God… You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you” (Ezekiel 28:12-15).

And in Isaiah, “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!… For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God… I will be like the Most High'” (Isaiah 14:12-14).

Satan was the highest of the created beings. As such, he is extraordinarily powerful. He is also subtle, deceitful, vile, and hateful beyond imagination. Jesus called him the “prince of this earth” and the “father of lies.” (See John 8:44)

His name Lucifer means “the light one.” His name Satan means the “adversary.” His name Beelzebub, according to some, means the “lord of the flies” or the “restless lord.” His name Apollyon means “destroyer.” (See Unger’s Bible Handbook, Chicago: Moody Press, 1966, p. 520-521.) The apostle Peter said that he is like a roaring lion going to and fro seeking whom he may devour (see 1 Peter 5:8).

Christians must remember that Satan appears as “an angel of light” — very beautiful, very seductive, very appealing (2 Corinthians 11:14). His initial appearance is not that of some hideously deformed creature. That view comes later. Satan’s guile and power notwithstanding, every Christian has the power, in the name of Jesus, to resist him and to overcome him. Jesus gave His disciples authority over all the power of the enemy (see 1 John 3:8, Luke 10:19, and James 4:7).

Excerpt taken from Answers to 200 of Life’s Most Probing Questions, Copyright 1984 by Pat Robertson. 

Who Really wrote the Dead Sea scrolls?

In November 1946, as the sun slowly rose over the Judean Desert, three Bedouin cousins went looking for a lost goat in the hills close to the Dead Sea. Intent on finding the animal, they stumbled instead on some of the most important religious texts in the ancient world—the Dead Sea Scrolls. Some 100,000 fragments from around 900 manuscripts, found in 11 caves, have been discovered to date, and new scroll fragments continue to be found to this day. 

Written on animal parchment and papyrus, most of the manuscripts are sectarian, though about 100 of them are biblical text, providing insight into the Bible and shedding light on the histories of Judaism and Christianity. Every book of the Hebrew canon—the Christian Old Testament—are among the texts (except Esther). They also contain previously unknown prayers, hymns, mystical formulas, and the earliest version of the Ten Commandments.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are estimated to be 2,000 years old. While their authenticity is not in doubt, what remains a mystery is their authorship. In this ancient whodunnit, here are some possibilities.

First theories 

The Essenes, a monastic Jewish sect that lived in a nearby desert complex known in Arabic as Khirbet Qumran (ruins of Qumran), is the most common answer among scholars. This notion was set forth by Roland de Vaux, a French archaeologist who, with an international team, excavated Qumran between 1952 and 1957. He came to this conclusion in a couple of ways.

Flavius Josephus, a first-century Romano-Jewish historian who would have known the Essenes, wrote about them in his book, The History of the Jews. Millenia later, De Vaux matched Josephus’ descriptions with those of the region’s inhabitants written in the newly discovered scrolls. Similarities include communal living, wearing linen shifts, and ritual bathing.

Josephus wrote, for example, that at the fifth hour, after “they have clothed themselves in white veils, they then bathe their bodies in cold water.” And indeed, de Vaux and his team excavated a number of mikva’ot (the plural of the Hebrew word mikveh) on the site. These ritual baths would contain around 85 gallons of mostly “living water”—rain or seawater that had not been stored—enabling members to immerse themselves at set times of the day. These common rituals surely confirmed the Essenes and the locals were one and the same, no?

Furthermore, Josephus wrote the Essenes “take great pains in studying the writings of the ancients, and choose out of them what is most for the advantage of their soul and body.” That must be a reference to the sea scrolls, right?

De Vaux concluded the scrolls’ authors had lived in Qumran, since 11 scrolls were discovered close to the site. And, since the Essenes had lived in Qumran, they and the scroll authors appeared to be one and the same.

Debating identities

And yet, many scholars contest the identification of the Qumran community as Essene. For example, many devoutly observant Jews, not just the Essenes, practiced ritual immersion in mikva’ot. In addition, Josephus describes the Essenes as an urban phenomenon rather than a community of hermits in the desert. The Jewish philosopher Philo seems to agree, writing that the Essenes lived “in many cities of Judea and in many villages and grouped in great societies of many members.”

Furthermore, a growing number of scholars have suggested that the people who hid the scrolls around Khirbet Qumran may not be the same people who wrote the scrolls. In fact, given that the Dead Sea Scrolls encompass nearly the full range of the Hebrew Bible, some historians believe that it is almost impossible for a remote, small group of scribes to have written such a large corpus.

Jerusalem origins? 

Some scholars argue it is far more likely that many—if not all of the scrolls—were written by professional scribes working in the Temple in Jerusalem. This so-called “Jerusalem Origin Theory” was first advanced in 1960 by the German theologian Karl Heinrich Rengstorf, who argued that the scrolls must have formed part of an extensive library maintained at the Temple.

The American scholar Norman Golb took this a step further and suggested that the scrolls were evacuated from a number of libraries in Jerusalem and Judea at large as the Roman army under General Titus approached Jerusalem around 70 A.D.

New technology, including artificial intelligence–based analysis of handwriting conducted at the Netherland’s University of Groningen in 2021, bolsters this theory. For example, the research found that different forms of script, and the varying biomechanical behaviour of wielding a pen, show that more than one scribe may have worked on the same Great Isaiah Scroll. Careful analysis of the text has also identified subtle changes in the style of Hebrew, or in the Aramaic, Greek, or even Nabatean of other documents.

Another question is the presence of many duplicates of certain biblical books; why copy more than one version if the scroll was only for local use? The fact that the scrolls represent a near-complete collection of Hebrew Scripture also seems to suggest a more prominent source than a remote breakaway sect.

Reaching compromises  

Some modern archaeologists believe the Essenes authored some of the Dead Sea Scrolls, but not all. Recent evidence suggests that during the Roman siege of Jerusalem, when the Temple and much of the city was destroyed, Jews may have escaped to safety through sewers. Researchers have found artefacts, including pottery and coins, in the sewers dating from this time of siege—sewers that lead to the Valley of Kidron, a short distance from the Dead Sea … and Qumran. Perhaps some of the Dead Sea Scrolls travelled this way as well.

Another clue to the compromise theory is the pottery in which the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. According to Jan Gunneweg of Hebrew University in Jerusalem, like DNA, no clay on Earth has the exact chemical composition so the specific area in which pottery was made can be determined. Her conclusion: Only half of the pottery that held Dead Sea Scrolls is local to Qumran.

Gaining new insights

Modern scientific testing has added to the debate. In recent years, the scrolls have also been analysed by linguistic experts, who proposed a date range from 225 B.C. to A.D. 50, based on the style of writing as well as the size and variability of the characters. This appears to roughly match the later carbon dating of the inks, which were made of carbon soot from oil lamps mixed with olive oil and honey or water.

These tests produced a date range between 385 B.C. and A.D. 80, which would extend the origins of the Dead Sea Scrolls well beyond the estimated occupation of the Qumran settlement.

The bottom line: Research is still ongoing and the debates continue to fly. What’s not debated is that the Dead Sea Scrolls provide a rare glimpse into the first-century Jewish world, whoever their authors were.

Do Christians Need Government?

Government was instituted by God to bring His laws to people and to carry out His will and purposes. In the Old Testament, government maintained the place of worship, provided judges to decide civil cases between the people, restrained and punished lawbreakers, and mobilized the nation for action against external enemies.

The first government was a theocracy, where God dealt directly with the people. When God was in charge of things, no other government was necessary.

He worked through the family, clan, or tribe. The father or patriarch acted as the agent of God for the rest of the family.

During the period of the judges the people became rebellious, and clear direction from God was lacking. Both religious and civil life became confused, and “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6, Judges 21:25).

At the close of the period of the judges, God raised up Samuel, who was both a prophet and a judge. At that time, the formal religious life of the country was under the direction of the high priest. During Samuel’s administration, the people asked for a king, and God gave them a monarchy which rose to its height during the reign of David and his son Solomon (1 Samuel 8:4-5, 1 Samuel 19-20, 1 Kings 9:3-5, 1 Kings 10:23).

When the perfect government is established during the Millennium, Jesus Christ will combine in Himself the offices of prophet, priest, and king.

This will be a perfect theocracy, made possible because the perfect law of God will be universally accepted by all mankind, and “the earth shall be full of knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9). Perfect government comes from God and is controlled by God.

Short of that, the next best government is a limited democracy in which the people acknowledge rights given by God but voluntarily grant government limited power to do those things the people cannot do individually. Contrast these forms of government with Communism, which maintains that the dictatorship of the proletariat is supreme and an essential evolution of history; that God does not exist; and that citizens have only those privileges granted by the state.

SCOTUS rules on pastor’s role in execution

Texas likely violated the religious liberties of a death row prisoner when it denied the man’s request to have his pastor touch him and pray over him during his execution, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

In an 8-1 opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the high court found that Texas’ policy disallowing John Ramirez’s request was an unnecessary burden to a religious exercise. Justice Clarence Thomas was the lone dissenter.

“[Texas fails] to show that a categorical ban on audible prayer is the least restrictive means of furthering this compelling interest, and they do not explain why other jurisdictions can accommodate audible prayer but Texas cannot feasibly do so,” Roberts wrote in the majority opinion.

Ramirez’s execution, originally set for September but halted while the court weighed the case, can now be rescheduled, providing the Texas prison system changes its policy to allow touch and prayer in the death chamber. Texas prison officials said in a statement that the agency “respected the court’s decision and will be making appropriate modifications to our practices to align with today’s ruling.”

The decision comes months after the court heard arguments on the case and follows years of back-and-forth between the high court and the Texas prison system over the religious rights of prisoners set for execution. The Supreme Court has repeatedly blocked Texas executions over concerns that the state was not equally and fairly accommodating condemned prisoners’ religious liberties, which are protected by federal statute.

Challenges to the state’s religious accommodations have prompted the high court to stop several executions in recent years, even as it rejected last-ditch appeals to stop about a dozen other Texas executions for reasons including a prisoner’s youth at the time of murder, or claims of false testimony or junk science presented at trial.

The justices halted the execution of Ramirez, a 37-year-old sentenced to die for the robbery and fatal stabbing of a Corpus Christi store clerk in 2004, hours after he was set to die in September. Texas prison officials had denied his request to have pastor lay hands on him and pray over him as he died, claiming it would involve security risks, though the state later told the justices that the risk of disruption was likely low.

Since the justices opted to hear Ramirez’s case last September, one man has been executed in Texas, but several other executions have been rescheduled or taken off the calendar while waiting for the court to resolve the religious rights question. Four people are scheduled to be executed in the state between April and August.

During oral arguments in November on Ramirez’s case, several conservative justices seemed concerned that ruling for Ramirez, and again ordering Texas to change its execution policy, could increase their own workload. They theorized that deciding Ramirez should be allowed to be touched by his pastor would open the door for other prisoners to bring forth personalized requests.

“If we rule in your favor here, this is going to be a heavy part of our docket for years to come,” Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who previously penned the court’s sole opinion against religious limitations in Texas executions, told the prisoner’s attorney.

Texas’ procedure for allowing religion in the execution chamber has undergone several iterations in the last few years, after repeated guidance from the high court. For decades, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice allowed its staff chaplains to rest a hand on a prisoner’s leg and pray quietly during an execution, but the agency only employed Christian and Muslim advisers.

After multiple orders by the justices halting executions over concerns of religious discrimination and violation of liberties, the department’s policy now allows prisoners’ personal religious advisers to be in the death chamber — provided they clear a background check and orientation — but they can’t touch the prisoners or speak.

A “call from God” prevents a suicide attempt.

One Saturday night, a pastor was working late and decided to call his wife before he left for home. It was about 10:00 PM, but his wife didn’t answer the phone.
The pastor let it ring many times. He thought it was odd that she didn’t answer but decided to wrap up a few things and try again in a few minutes.
When he tried again, she answered right away. He asked her why she hadn’t answered before, and she said that it hadn’t rung at their house. They brushed it off as a fluke and went on their merry ways.
The following Monday, the pastor received a call at the church office, which was the phone that he’d used that Saturday night. The man that he spoke with wanted to know why he’d called on Saturday night. The pastor couldn’t figure out what the man was talking about. Then the man said, “It rang and rang, but I didn’t answer.”
The pastor remembered the mishap and apologized for disturbing him, explaining that he’d intended to call his wife. The man said, “That’s okay. Let me tell you my story. You see, I was planning to commit suicide on Saturday night, but before I did, I prayed, ‘God if you’re there, and you don’t want me to do this, give me a sign now.’
At that point, my phone started to ring. I looked at the caller ID, and it said, ‘Almighty God’. I was afraid to answer!” The church that the pastor attends is called Almighty God Tabernacle.

The Bible in 50 Words

God made.
Adam bit.
Noah arked.
Abraham split. Jacob fooled.
Joseph ruled.
Bush talked.
Moses balked. Pharaoh plagued.
People walked.
Sea divided.
Tablets guided. Promise landed.
Saul freaked.
David peeked. Prophets warned.
Jesus born.
God walked.
Love talked. Anger crucified.
Hope died.
Love rose. Spirit flamed.
Word spread.
God remained.