Friday, November 26, 2010

One nation with many nationalities (NZ Herald)

Oh how I wish Malaysian politicians would learn from this!

One nation with many nationalities

Clare and Aaron Wallis with their son Jacob. Photo / Greg BowkerTwo-year-old Jacob Wallis has European and Maori ancestors, but his parents hope he will think of himself as simply a "Kiwi".
His mother Clare Wallis, 32, is one of a "leading lights" group of 200 chosen to test each round of the Growing Up in New Zealand surveys, and comes from a Pakeha family in Pukekohe.
She and Aaron Wallis, also 32, were teenage sweethearts at Pukekohe High and the fact that Aaron's grandmother was Ngati Porou was irrelevant.
"He's not involved with his iwi. You tick a box on a piece of paper, I think that is a sign of New Zealand where we've all got different backgrounds," Clare says.
Aaron ticked the "NZ Maori" box on his census form "because that's what my mother would do".
His mother was brought up speaking te reo Maori at Te Araroa near East Cape, but Aaron understands only a few words of the language, and is uneasy talking about ethnicity.
"I don't know if ethnicity is different from nationality," he says.
"I identify myself as my cultural upbringing and I was raised as a Kiwi.
"There was no option for 'Kiwi'. I don't put myself on the [Maori] electoral roll, I think it's a wasted vote. I thought about putting 'New Zealander' [on the census form] but I thought that would be a waste, too."
The couple have been to Te Araroa for funerals and other family events and will take Jacob there when he's older. He is already learning Maori songs at his creche in Onehunga, where the family lives.
But both parents are happy that Jacob's classmates come from every part of the world. The creche celebrates Diwali as well as Matariki.
"There's a bit of everything - Pacific Island, Indian, Asian, European - and the teachers are all different ethnic groups as well," says Clare.
"It's a big change in the world, it wasn't that long ago that it wasn't like that. So I think it's wonderful that you grow up and just think it's normal that there are lots of different cultures."
The full Growing Up in NZ study of 6822 babies born in Auckland and Waikato in the past two years reveals for the first time the full extent of ethnic mixing going on around us.
Almost half the babies have more than one ethnicity - 33 per cent have two ethnicities, 8 per cent have three and 3 per cent have more than three.
A fifth of babies will grow up in homes where English is not the main language.
More than a third of the mothers were born overseas, most in Asia (11 per cent), the Pacific Islands (10 per cent) or Europe (7 per cent).
When pressed for their "main ethnicity", only 57 per cent of the mothers said they were NZ European, followed by almost equal numbers of Pacific people and Asians (both 15 per cent) and Maori (14 per cent).
But the ethnicities of the babies reveal that the country's two historically dominant groups, European and Maori, look set to keep their influence in our future through intermarriage.
Almost three-quarters (72.5 per cent) of the babies will be partly European and almost a quarter (24.1 per cent) will be partly Maori.
A further fifth (21.4 per cent) will be partly Pacific and 16.2 per cent will be partly Asian.
Moreover, Europeans and Maori are still much more dominant in the rest of New Zealand than they are in Auckland, where most of the Growing Up sample live.
Nationally, 66 per cent of mothers still give European as one of their ethnicities and 23 per cent are at least part-Maori, while Pacific people account for only 12 per cent and Asians for 11 per cent.
By Simon Collins

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Quick November 2010 catch up ramblings

Not been blogging much as I have been very busy. Christmas is around the corner and lots of exciting extra church activities to work on. There's church games day (Youngies versus Oldies) followed by our annual church, family friends and neighbours bbq, and then carolling and the Christmas service.... all on top of my regular duties. And this Sunday I start a back to back 10 week stretch of Sunday preaching. And first week of January I hope to start a series on .... LEVITICUS! It's a tough book to want to preach a series on but I think it will be worth it. It will be challenging!

Busyness is also due to preparing to do a gospel magic show - mix of familiar tricks, updated familiar tricks as well as some new tricks. Tricky as I will be doing this show at a retirement village ... but just prior to the show I have caroling duties (the guitarist)! So it will be hard to set up and acts along the lines of McBride's Commando Act, while excellent in theory is way beyond my skill level (my fellow magicians will know what I am referring too! :-))

And of course trying to get as much sermon preparation and other admin stuff as possible done so I can finish off my annual leave.

I will also be stepping in with another elder to take over the youth ministry (an interim measure). It's not something I relish - not because I do not enjoy youth ministry. I do! And I have been more and more involved this year in the teaching aspect of the youth ministry. And my church youth are a GREAT bunch, so it's easy to work with them. They are genuinely kind and appreciative and respectful of us older folks! It's just that I am well aware that my best days as a youth minister is behind me. I just don't have the energy to hang out doing the typical youth activities, and keeping up with the trends - the movies, the music, the IT etc. I figured that out when I hit forty back in Malaysia, so it's not a new revelation! :-)  It's a huge challenge though and I would appreciate your prayers.

Adding in my Monday off days, I plan to be on leave from 20 Dec to 31 Dec. I need a good break and I don't want to spoil my annual leave doing ministry work that need to be completed. So got to be extra disciplined.

Garden is doing well and I am pleased with my tomato, chilly, salad, lettuce, carrots, potatoes and strawberry plants. Been enjoying my salad, lettuce and strawberries! Yum! Sorry no photos as I lost my camera a couple of months ago! Oh, the pain! :-( My french beans and long beans are however not doing so well *sigh* And my herbs -chives and coriander are only so so ... But my mint is doing well - but then again mint is hardy and will thrive in the harshest environments.

For the trees / bushes, am happy with the progress of my feijoa trees, and the newest additions this year, my dwarf apple tree and blueberry bush - they seem healthy and growing okay but I think it is too early to tell. My macadamia tree though seems to be struggling. I'm told it is the soil.

Flowers - pretty happy with what I have managed to achieve. Only one plant died - but that was because I foolishly transplanted it a couple of weeks ago. Did not realize that spring is a bad time to try transplanting certain shrubs. Experimented with some flowers plants given to me by a neighbour and I think I will be able to do significantly more next year. Been mixing planting of perennials with annuals and it is great to see my perennials flowering well - and the annuals starting to spring up, especially after an earlier batch of seeds I planted did not grow. My hope is to try and plant some roses next. Roses here are huge! I would not be exaggerating to say that the red roses here are at least twice the size of the biggest Cameron Highland roses.

Still lots to learn but it is fun - except for the weeding part :-( Have to do some weeding again next Monday as the weeds are coming up again. One problem is that I often can't tell which is a weed and which is a plant! I figured out the shapes of quite a few but since I have been trying out some new flower seeds, sometimes I am unsure! I planted some vegetable seeds in pots and later found out one thriving plant was a weed. The seed did not germinate and a weed took root! I was happily watering and fertilizing a weed for a few weeks wondering what plant it was! *blush* :-(

Family will be travelling back to Malaysia in less than 2 weeks time for about 3 weeks so I will be reliving my bachelor days again. But I foresee myself being too busy miss them too much. I think it will be like another mission trip except that I will be having the comforts of home.

I have added a couple more dishes to my cooking repertoire which I am happy to say are pretty popular with family and friends :-). I tried to make "siew yok" last week and it turned out well - though I think there's room to make the skin a bit crispier. Mmmmmhhh. My mouth is watering .... I'm going to have fun doing more cooking when my family's away!

Okay, got to go- back to work!

Jeremiah 10: The grave problem of stupid shepherds (Pastor's Notes)

Posted up my Pastor's Notes for 28 November 2010

To read, click HERE

Friday, November 19, 2010

Iraq and Egypt: al-Qaeda declares war on Christians (ANS)

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Iraq and Egypt: al-Qaeda declares war on Christians

By Elizabeth Kendal
Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin (RLPB) 082
Special to ASSIST News ServiceAUSTRALIA (ANS) -- BACKGROUND IN EGYPT: In July 2010 Camilia Shehata Zakher disappeared after a quarrel with her husband, a Coptic priest in Minya Governorate. Unaware that she was with relatives in Cairo, he reported her missing and accused Muslims of abducting her for forced conversion, a fate not uncommon for Coptic girls in Egypt. When Egyptian Security Forces found Camilia in Cairo and returned her to her husband, Muslims protested, claiming that Camilia was now Muslim and was being held by the church against her will. One fundamentalist sheikh claimed to have heard her say the shahada, the declaration of Muslim faith. Digitally edited photos purportedly of Camilia in full Islamic dress started appearing on the web. Islamic militants urged that Christian tourists be kidnapped and killed in retaliation. On 1 September a Mauritanian cleric issued a fatwa permitting the killing of Egyptian Copts. Camilia came to be personifying the Muslim fantasy of Coptic girls convert ing to Islam and of the church as causing fitna or persecution.
Then on 8 September Camilia appeared on national TV denouncing the rumours of torture, drugs and captivity. 'I am appearing,' she said, 'in order to defend my husband, my child, my church and my religion which is Christianity.' Fundamentalist sheikhs subsequently claimed the woman on the TV was not Camilia, but her 'double'. Egyptian State Security immediately refuted this and the Chairman of the Committee of Declaration of Islam at Al-Azhar University, Sheikh Saeed Amer, stepped in and denied that Camilia ever came to Al-Azhar or that her case ever came before him. Islamist propagandists subsequently asserted that Camilia was kidnapped by State Security forces while on her way to Al-Azhar to formalise her conversion. The Islamists claim therefore the State actually prevented her conversion to Islam. The truth is: Camilia is a Christian who never converted to Islam. The Camilia of Islamic fantasy -- the convert to Islam who is suffering persecution at the hand of the church -- is a myth. Nevertheless this totally debunked myth is being used as incitement and as an excuse to kill Christians.
On 15 September, as religious tensions soared, the former secretary-general of the International Union for Muslim Scholars, Muhammad Salim al-Awwa, raged on Aljazeera international TV, falsely accusing Egypt's Copts of 'stocking arms and ammunition in their churches and monasteries' in preparation for war against Muslims. He also perpetuated the lie that the Coptic Church was holding female Coptic converts to Islam captive in desert monasteries (RLPB 079, 27 Oct 2010). As the rhetoric escalated, riots multiplied, forcing the government to urge media restraint for the sake of national unity. Then on 31 October ten al-Qaeda militants in Iraq laid siege to a Syrian Catholic Church in Baghdad. Fifty-eight died and more than 70 were wounded in the subsequent massacre. In claiming responsibility, the al-Qaeda-linked 'Islamic State of Iraq' gave Egypt's Coptic Church 48 hours to release fro m captivity Camilia Shehata and Wafa Constantine, an almost identical case from 2004. Otherwise jihadists would retaliate against Christians everywhere (RLPB 080, 3 Nov 2010). The incitement in Egypt being linked to the massacre in Baghdad and the threat from al-Qaeda shocked Egypt, prompting restraint there and temporarily settling the situation somewhat.
Nothing, however, has settled in Iraq. On 9 November three Christian homes were bombed at night in the suburb of Mansour, western Baghdad. The following morning two Christian homes in al-Dora were hit by mortar fire. Bombs also exploded outside a church in Kampsara and outside about a dozen Christian homes across Baghdad. At least four Christians were killed and dozens were wounded and terrorised. The targeted homes could be seen to be Christians because of funeral notices and visible Christian insignia. Then on Monday evening 15 November Islamic militants in the northern city of Mosul stormed two adjacent homes of Christian families in the eastern al-Tahrir neighbourhood and killed the two male heads of those households, a Syrian Catholic and an Armenian. Almost simultaneously a bomb exploded outside a Christian home in central Mosul. The next day a Christian man and his daughter aged six were killed by a car bomb in Mosul. This terror has led to a surge in Christians fleeing Iraq. They will join the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians struggling to survive as refugees in Syria, Turkey and Jordan. They no longer see any reason to risk their lives for a state where, even if they survive, they will be condemned to live as second class citizens (dhimmis).
In Egypt, the lives of Copts are conditionally 'protected' as dhimmis. This means they will not be killed and plundered provided they submit to the injustice, persecution and humiliation inherent in abject subjugation under superior Islam. After years of impunity for attacks on Copts, their security is now extremely tenuous. On Monday 15 November 22 homes, two commercial shops, a bakery, and livestock, all belonging to Copts, were burnt w hen Muslims -- reportedly nearly 1000 -- rioted in the Upper Egyptian village of el-Nowahed after hearing a rumour that a Christian boy was in a relationship with a Muslim girl. (According to the rules of Islam, a Christian boy may not approach a Muslim girl but must convert to Islam first.)
Due to years of radicalisation and the re-establishment of dhimmitude, the situation in Egypt is now pre-genocidal. Meanwhile the situation in Iraq is undoubtedly genocidal, partly because Iraq has become a base for foreign-sponsored sectarian Islamic militias. Additionally there is the factor that, as a Western experiment in Islamic democracy (like Lebanon previously), the West doesn't want to see or admit failure in Iraq. Especially that would challenge the West's firmly held belief that democracy -- as distinct from the Gospel of Jesus Christ -- is the solution to noble (rather than sinful) humanity's problems.
The West must end the denial and be responsible for securing and rescuing Iraq's Christian remnant. Once US troops with draw and the 'real' war begins, it will be too late.
  • level the paths, open the doors and provide safe passage for all Iraqi Christians fleeing Islamic terror and genocide for what may be an extended period of exile.
  • draw the hearts and minds of all Iraqi Christians to him, that they might put their faith in him alone, for he is their only hope.
  • intervene in Egypt, to still the brewing storm; may all Egypt's Christians -- Copts and Arab converts -- look to Christ and put their faith in him alone, for he is their only hope.
  • frustrate the plots and programs of the wicked, while pricking the conscience of the alliance states to Christian duty and moral obligation that they might respond with commitment and generosity to the humanitarian catastrophe that is befalling Iraqi Christians.

    'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to the least of these my brothers, you did it to me . . . Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one the least of these, you did not do it to me.' (From Matthew 25:40,45 ESV.)
PLEASE PRAY ALSO about the Sunday 21 November trial of Afghan Christian convert, Said Musa (45), in Kabul. This husband and father of six was arrested in the sweep of late May 2010, after film emerged of Afghan Christians being baptised and worshipping in 'Western safe-houses' in Kabul (see RLPB 059, 9 June 2010, Afghanistan: Christians menaced as Karzai woos Taliban). Said has reportedly been severely tortured and forced to renounce Christ, a renunciation he subsequently recanted. He is also being mocked and violently abused in prison for his faith. A state-assigned lawyer has refused to represent him because he is a Christian and no other lawyer is willing to. According to Compass Direct News 'Dr. Musa' (as he is known), himself an amputee, has worked for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Kabul for 15 years fitting people for prosthetic limbs.
When claiming responsibility for the 31 October church massacre in Baghdad, the al-Qaeda-linked 'Islamic State of Iraq' threatened to retaliate against Christians everywhere unless Egypt's Coptic Church released its alleged captives. The myth -- that Coptic converts to Islam are being held captive in Coptic churches (supposedly along with stockpiles of Israeli weapons) -- has been propagated by Egyptian Islamic fundamentalists keen to incite massacres of Copts. This situation in Egypt is extremely volatile. Meanwhile, genocide is unfolding in Iraq. On 9-10 November, over a dozen Christian homes and one church were targeted with bombs and mortar shells across Baghdad, killing four and wounding many. On 15-16 November, more bombs targeting Christians exploded in Mosul while two Christians were executed in their homes by militants. Please pray!

Elizabeth Kendal is an international religious liberty analyst and advocate. This prayer bulletin was initially written for the Australian Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission

Elizabeth Kendal's Religous Liberty Monitoring blog can be found at>.

** You may republish this story with proper attribution.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Iraqi Christians living in fear after further attacks (Barnabas Fund)

11 NOVEMBER 2010
Iraqi Christians living in fear after further attacks

"If we stay, they will kill us." - Archbishop Athanasius Toma Dawod, a senior Iraqi church leader

Christians in Iraq are living in a state of constant fear after a series of co-ordinated blasts targeting Christian neighbourhoods followed a bloody siege at a Baghdad church.

At least four people were killed and around 25 injured early yesterday morning when roadside bombs and mortar shells targeted homes and a church in six districts across central Baghdad – all of them areas that are predominantly Christian. The attacks came ten days after a hostage siege at a church in the Iraqi capital left more than 50 people dead. An interior ministry source told Reuters, "These operations, which targeted Christians, came as a continuation of the attack that targeted the church."

Two days after the church siege, the Islamic State of Iraq – an Al-Qaeda front group that claimed responsibility for the attack – threatened further violence, saying that Christians everywhere were "legitimate targets."

"Genocide" warning

A Baghdad church leader said that Iraqi Christians were "panicked" and did not know what to do. Archbishop Athanasius Toma Dawod, a senior Iraqi church leader in London, warned of a pending "genocide" and urged Christians to flee the country, while a senior cleric in Baghdad called for them to stay and bear witness to the faith, adding, "But people are human, and we can't stop them leaving."

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians have already been driven from their homeland over the last 20 years because of attacks by Muslim extremists. The exodus is expected to accelerate in light of the latest outbreak of violence.

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Fund, said:

My heartfelt prayers go out to the Baghdad Christian community, which is clearly under siege by Islamist militants who want to rid the entire country of Christians. I fear these latest attacks may precipitate the end of the Church in Iraq.

Please Pray

For all who have lost loved ones in the attacks and that the Lord will grant peace to those who are anxious about further violence.
That Iraqi Christians will find comfort, hope and strength in the Lord at this time.
For wisdom and guidance for Christian families in Iraq as they consider whether or not to stay in their homeland.
That the new Iraqi government, reportedly formed just yesterday after eight months of deadlock, will be strong and stable. Pray that it will exercise its authority over this escalating security crisis.

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Approaches to Addressing Radical Islam - What Will Work and What Will Not (Tawfik Hamid)

Another fine piece from Tawfik Hamid

Approaches to Addressing Radical Islam - What Will Work and What Will Not
By Tawfik Hamid
 The problems of radical Islam have been escalating during the last few decades and have affected the world in diverse ways. On one hand, the socio-religious-political impacts have directly affected our homeland and national security; and on the other hand, they have had a negative impact on our freedoms of expression and the social stability of many countries that have Muslim majorities or significant Muslim minorities. An analysis of the current responses to radical Islam reveals at least 5 different approaches or schools of thought.
 The first approach, which is used by many Muslims as a defensive mechanism for their faith, is to simply deny the existence of any ideological or religious role in the problem. This group typically promotes that Islam is a peaceful religion. This approach cannot work in solving the problem, as it always confronts the reality that almost all approved interpretations of Islamic core text and Islamic jurisprudence books that exist today promote values such as declaring wars to spread the religion, justify killing Muslim apostates, and allow beating women, polygamy, and stoning for adultery. In fact, such an approach makes things worse, as many westerners become angrier when they learn more about the Islamic teachings and recognize the reality that not only do these violent teachings exist, but also that they are unchallenged in mainstream teachings.
 The Bashers are the second group, who can only see the violent texts in Islam, its violent practices, and its traditional interpretations to conclude that it is impossible to change or reform it. This group promotes that peaceful Muslims are the ones that do not apply Islam. In other words, they are peaceful despite of - not because of - Islam. For example, a Muslim who does not beat his wife will start beating her if he started to become more religious and implement the mainstream interpretation of the Quran {4:34} that allows men to beat their women to discipline them. It is hard to explain the motives of the bashers solely on the basis of bigotry, as many of them did not have the same stand against Buddhism or Hedonism. This illustrates that the views of this group are not just an issue of hatred against the 'others' but, rather, a specific fear of certain violent teachings in Islam. Furthermore, it is fair to say that it is virtually impossible to stop criticism of Islam until the mainstream Islamic jurisprudence and interpretation books clearly stop the discriminatory and inhumane edicts in Islamic (or Sharia) Law. In other words, Islamic teaching needs to change first, before asking this group to stop their criticism of Islam. This group has a problem in that by denying any possibility for reformation within Islam they end any hope in having a realistic solution for the problem. The Bashers simply expose the problem without offering pragmatic solutions for it, which makes many unwilling to accept their views. 
 The Apologists are the third group, who play a different role by blaming external factors such as socioeconomic and political circumstances (e.g., US foreign policy) for being the cause of the phenomenon of Islamist terrorism. This group completely ignores the role of ideology in causing the problem. Critics of this group raise the point that if this view was correct, why do non-Muslims who live under the same circumstances not become suicide bombers? In other words, why do these external factors selectively choose and affect young Muslims? In addition, the external factors theory failed as it is hard to convince any sane human being that Islamists kill, behead, and explode their fellow Muslims in a barbaric manner because of elements in US foreign policy. 
 The Idealists are the fourth group, who assume that we must show 'tolerance' to any religion just for being a religion. This group fails as well, as tolerance for Islamic Law simply means intolerance for its victims. In other words, tolerance of Sharia Laws means extreme and sometimes fatal intolerance for apostates, adulterous women, and gays who will be killed with such a law. Idealists have to clarify their position if they are willing to show 'tolerance' to the religious rights of Muslims who practice this barbaric Sharia Law, or respect the religious rights and the lives of the latter groups by showing 'Intolerance' to these Islamic laws. It is insane to show tolerance to cancer cells and normal cells at the same time as the former will kill the latter. The Idealists need to distinguish between tolerating 'belly dancing' under the banner of Cultural Relativism, and tolerating 'stoning' of women until death under the same banner. Tolerating the part of Islam that teaches fasting in Ramadan is completely different from the teachings that promote suppression of women and justify killing homosexuals.  
 The fifth group uses an unobjective dishonest approach by selectively choosing information to prove their view that there is no ideological basis for the problem. For example, this group uses a peaceful- but an atypical - definition of Jihad to prove that it is a peaceful concept and ignores the more widely used violent definition and usage of the word. Every sane person who will do honest research in Islamic theology and history will recognize that this approach is unscientific and misleading. 

 Each of the former groups can contribute to solving the problem of radical Islam.
 Those who deny the existence of any violent teaching in mainstream Islam must face the unavoidable reality that violent teachings do exist, and are still unchallenged in the mainstream Islamic books. This group needs to provide at least one single mainstream-approved Islam book that negates and theologically refutes the above violent Sharia concepts. As long as this approved book does not exist, the problem will remain, claiming that "Islam is peaceful" without changing the violent teachings is merely unrealistic lip service that aims at deceiving others. 

The Bashers need to continue exposing the violent teachings and practices in Islam as exposing such texts and its practices is vital to initiate a true reformation within the religion. However, the bashers can also play a role by declaring that they have no problem of peaceful coexistence with a new Islamic teaching that refutes the violent edicts of Sharia and emphasizes the peaceful aspects of the religion. This will put more responsibility on the shoulders of the Islamic scholars to change the interpretations of the violent texts if they are truly willing to stop "Islamophobia".

The Apologists need to stop the self-flagellation attitude that ignores the ideological component of the problem, as ignoring the role of the ideology impedes efforts for reforming Islam. Muslims will NOT feel the need to reform if others are telling them that the problem is all about the US foreign policy and that it has nothing to do with the religious ideology. 

Those who use the Idealistic approach can also contribute to solving the problem by stating that 'tolerance' must only be given to the peaceful teachings that do not harm other human beings and cannot be applied to the religious teachings that discriminate against or threaten the lives of other human beings. Failure to make this distinction can be fatal.

Followers of the Unobjective Dishonest approach must adopt an honest and scientific approach that addresses the facts without trying to distort or hide them to serve certain agendas. This group can convey a better message by acknowledging the existence of the violent interpretations and stating that that we need to foster the peaceful interpretations so that they dominate the Islamic jargon and teachings. 

In conclusion, solving the problem of radical Islam will require us to cooperate with one another rather than fight against each other. The responsibility of solving this problem   is a joint responsibility that needs the cooperation of different groups rather than the actions of one single group. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The US Must Suppress Sharia Law to Uphold Freedom of Religion (Tawfik Hamid)

Another honest piece by Tawfik Hamid, a Muslim scholar!

The US Must Suppress Sharia Law to Uphold Freedom of Religion
 By Tawfik Hamid
A popular new law that bars Oklahoma courts from considering Islamic law, or Shariah, when deciding cases was put on hold Monday after a prominent Muslim in the state won a temporary restraining order in federal court. This ruling was issued in the name of freedom of religion and minority rights.   
U.S. District Court Judge Vicki Miles-LeGrange ruled that the measure, which passed by a large margin in last Tuesday's elections, would be suspended until a hearing on Nov. 22, when she will listen to arguments on whether the court's temporary injunction should become permanent.
"Today's ruling is a reminder of the strength of our nation's legal system and the protections it grants to religious minorities," said Muneer Awad, executive director of Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Oklahoma, who filed the suit last Thursday, claiming the law violated his constitutional rights.
"We are humbled by this opportunity to show our fellow Oklahomans that Muslims are their neighbors and that we are committed to upholding the U.S. Constitution and promoting the benefits of a pluralistic society," Awad said. 
Awad's statement blatantly misrepresents the realities of Sharia law.
Sharia Law advocates the opposite of freedom of religion and minority rights.  For instance, one of the fundamental principles of Sharia Law is that Muslims who leave Islam, i.e., apostates, should be killed. Allowing Sharia Law to pertain in US courts completely ignores the rights of the Muslim apostate minority and in so doing endangers their lives.
Imagine that a Muslim apostate was in the court room in the US.  If an Islamic Mullah insisted that Shariah law mandates that this apostate be killed, would the judge allow this ruling of Sharia Law? If the judge stopped the killing process, according to the ruling by US District Court Judge Miles-LeGrange, the judge would be limiting the religious freedom of the Mullah.  The judge must suppress the "religious freedom" of the Mulla in order to give the apostate his constitutional rights to freedom of religious beliefs.  It is impossible to have it both ways: the man will live if the Constitution is regarded as the law, or he will die if Sharia is allowed to overrule the Constitution.   
The US courts MUST draw a clear line between parts of acceptable parts of Sharia that are considered personal issues, which are usually not debatable in court rooms, such as washing before prayers and those foundational and fundamental parts of Sharia that promotes violence, discrimination, and gender inequality. These Sharia rules include killing apostates, beating women, stoning of women for adultery, killing homosexuals, accepting slavery, and inequality in inheritance between a man and a woman.
Some may argue that Sharia can be accepted in US courts as there are many interpretations of Sharia Law. This na├»ve approach ignores the fact that differences in Sharia interpretations are not about the acceptability of violent edicts but rather about details of their implementation.  For example, the four main schools of Jurisprudence in Islam are Shafii, Maleki, Hanbali, and Hanafi. Without exception, including in contemporary times, none of these schools of Islamic jurisprudence have ever condemned the punishment of stoning.  The views of the four schools of jurisprudence differ only with regard to insignificant issues such as the size of the stones that must be used.
Those who promote the acceptance of Sharia Law in the US need to realize that, not one single approved Sharia Law book clearly rejects the Redda Law (Killing of Muslims who convert to other faith or deny a fundamental part of the religion).  Islamic Sharia texts rejecting this inhumane practice does not now exist, and has never existed. The Redda Law is still taught as fundamental part of Sharia, practiced by radical Islamic groups, and is considered the law of the land in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Others may argue that Sharia in the US should be allowed only to influence American courts with regard to regulation of family matters.  While this arena may sound innocent, the family practices that Sharia allows and even encourages include beating women, polygamy, and forcing underage girls to marry older men.   Women and girls within Islam need American laws to protect them from the injustices of Sharia.
In short, it is impossible to uphold the US constitution and Sharia Law at the same time.  It is impossible to accommodate both systems together because the one protects freedom and equality of humans and the second advocates violence and domination. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Local school Graduation services

Just dropped my son off to school as he has to be early for band practice for his High School senior prize giving ceremony. I do not need to be there that early so just killing some time in the office.

On the left is the front of the high school invitation
and on the left is HIPPY invitation.
What is so cool for me is to be invited as a special guest for this - meaning I don't have to sit in the "bleachers" / benches on the balcony that is such a pain on my back. I get to sit in front. Not so exciting is that I have been asked to be in the procession (special guests). I have always felt awkward in processions :-) This invitiation might be a small thing for many but to me it is an honour to be an invited special guest as it indicates that the School recognizes me as a Pastor of a local church who has genuine interest in the affairs of the school and local community.

What is a bonus is that when I got in just now, there was waiting for me a letter with another invitation - to the local HIPPY graduation service, which is again to me an honour. Maybe I will bring along my balloons and do some impromptu walk about magic then too. Will be fun! Wasn't asked of course as I do not think the HIPPY teachers know I do magic and balloons ...

I think this is a great opportunity to get to know my local community better and invite some of the community leaders  our annual church neighbourhood Christmas BBQ next month.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Misconstruing the Constitution - let's stop doing it! (Ramon Navaratnam)

This was sent to me by a friend. Thought it would be good to out on my blog. What has been highlighted is not my emphasis but original to how I got this article.

Ramon Navaratnam

The Malaysian constitution has been misinterpreted and misconstrued after 1970 in a wide ranging and consistent manner.Hence it has led to polarisation and exclusiveness that has built disunity into the Malaysian polity . This negative trend has been reinforced by the intrinsic promotion an subtle practice of "ketuananship" or Malay dominance and domination.

For instance article 153, provides for the ``special position `` of the Malays as well as the ``legitimate interests of the other communities ``. But it is the former constitutional provision that has been emphasized and the latter relatively neglected . This is the root cause for divisiveness and the source of much dissatisfaction for all fair minded Malaysians.

The so-called ``social contract `` is perhaps the most misinterpreted and misconstrued in the debate on national unity and nation building for the following reasons and there has to be more constructive debate on this critical issue , to promote national unity ;--

Firstly , there is no evidence of any written social contract . It’s being presented as something in concrete and is being perpetuated constantly to give the concept some credibility.

Secondly , admittedly there was an unwritten understanding that the ``special position `` of the Malays would be protected while about 1 million non-Malays were offered citizenship.

But unfortunately many politicians and even academics choose to ignore the fact that the citizenship was given as a matter of the birth right of these 1 million non-Malays and was also a requirement that the Malay elite and political leaders at that time, had to accept in order for the British to agree to grant Merdeka(independence) to Malaya, practically on a silver platter .

Thirdly, it is becoming fashionable for some politicians and even elitist leaders to claim that the ``special position `` of the malays is being challenged . This is not true . However the implementation of article 153 of the constitution pertaining to the affirmative action policies, such as the``New Economic Policy``, is being constantly queried by tax payers and others who wish to fight the abuses of the implementation of the NEP and the consequent wastage of public funds and the many inefficiencies in implementation .

Fourthly, what is misconstrued now is to extend these preferences in scholarships , licences , permits , housing and government contracts, etc , well after the original target period of 20 years i.e. until 1990 . Now this protective and preferential policy is being perpetuated as if it will be implemented forever ? This single factor is causing much uncertainty and a severe lack of confidence, which is aggravating the huge ``brain drain`` of talented professional Malaysians of all races amounting to hundreds of thousands !

Fifthly, the government claims that the 30% equity target has not yet been met , is now being seriously challenged. About RM50 billion has been allocated over the years to achieve the restructuring target! What has happened to these vast sums of money – where has it all gone too? And how much more needs to be spent and for how long more? These are legitimate questions, from local and foreign investors and from Malaysian tax payers, which must be answered soon .


In conclusion, those who criticise others who question the quality of implementation of the NEP, should be asked whether they are sincere in protecting the interests of the poor ? Or are they wanting to prevent criticism of the social contract and affirmative action in order to benefit from the special position of the Malays, for their own selfish gains and not those of the low income Malays and others, who deserve our full support ?

We have to be honest and sincere in promoting national unity and thinking like true Malaysians in order to protect the integrity of our nation and its sustained long term peace, stability and progress , please .

(Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam is a prominent civil society leader, a former top government servant and personally helped to draft the New Economic Policy)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Just joined a Jewish library

I just returned from joined a small Jewish library located in East Auckland. The Raye Freedman Memorial Library.

Has a very limited amount of books on biblical subjects. Mostly on Jewish history, Judaism, holocaust etc. But still, it is an added resource centre for me. And I am sure, in time, the library resources will grow (fingers crossed)

Borrowed a few books and a 5 CD audio book on an award winning journalists travels to discover the world of the Bible (books of Moses) - will be interesting listening when I drive.

One of the books I borrowed. Looks interesting!

This one is certainly worth the trip!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Jeremiah 7: The need to “walk our talk” or risk reaching the point of no return. (Pastor's notes)

Just posted up my Pastor's Notes for the 7th November 2010 bulletin. To read, click HERE

Light Party 2011 at KCC

Have to quickly post up some pictures taken by Ken of the Light Party. Great turn out from the neighbourhood. Praise God!

Pam - sporting as ever came dressed up according to the theme - animals

Laura and team hard at work painting kids faces

And adults as well ... 

Just "chilling" before the official programme begins ....

5 to 8 year olds getting ready for games. It never ceases to amaze me how popular balloon swords are :-)

8 to 12 year olds getting set for their games

5 years old and under getting ready for their games

A Kiwi must! Sausage sizzle!

Magic show about to begin!

Fancy dress competition

Fancy dress competition madness

Youth had to participate too ...

First time I used Robbie Raccoon for a live show.

Introducing my guest magician ... Jamie Wee. The gag worked well as from what I gathered, the children did not throw away my business card that was put in their "party pack / gift bag". Nice that some came up to me to ask me how to make the card catch fire! My response? "I told you already, that you are too young to play with fire, That is why the card won't burst into flames!

Jamie and his hand chopper routine

Kids never seem to get tired of this effect ... I get asked to do it every year!

And this one too! ... Except this time I got an adult volunteer to have some fun with.

My favourite rope effect. Next time I get an adult! This kid was funny though!

The highlight ! - Lolly scramble! Over in minutes!