Good News Comes Too Rarely These Days

2022-03-31 Päivi Räsänen Religious Freedom Victory

But here is one story of a victory for freedom of speech in Finland that arrived in my email, but keep Finland and Dr. Räsänen in your prayers as the story may not be Finished (pun intended 😉):

Press release 30.3.2022
Member of Parliament, Dr. Päivi Räsänen: 

The Helsinki District Court has acquitted me of all the three charges

The Helsinki District Court has today acquitted me of all the three charges. The ruling of the court was unanimous. I am relieved, happy and grateful to God and to all the people that have supported me. The ruling was what I expected – Not for a second did I believe that I had committed anything illegal in my writings and statements.

The bishop of the Mission Diocese, Juhana Pohjola, was prosecuted because he was responsible for publishing and making my pamphlet accessible on the internet. I am thankful that the court acquitted him also.

I am grateful for having had this chance to stand up for freedom of speech, which is an essential right in a democratic country. This has been my honor. I greatly appreciate that the court recognized in its ruling the importance of free speech. I hope that this ruling will help prevent others from having to go through the same ordeal.

This court process and the decision are historical with regard to freedom of speech and religion. The court has had to for the first time to take a stand on whether it is legal or not to cite the Bible and to agree with it. The judges have had to weigh the relations between the fundamental rights and the criminal law and the interrelationship between different fundamental freedoms.

The interest in this case rises from the concern that if this kind of questioning of free speech is possible in a country like Finland, which has a good reputation regarding free speech internationally, the same is possible anywhere. In the latest Rule of Law Index, Finland ranked 3rd. It is alarming that in a country that ranked so high in the Rule of Law Index, I have been criminally charged for voicing my deeply held beliefs that are based on classical Christianity.

This process has been long, it has lasted for three years, and it has not only consumed time and resources on my part, but also of the police and the court. On the other hand, I have felt joy about being able to speak about the Gospel and the atonement of Jesus during these couple of years.

I had hoped that the prosecutor would have settled for this ruling, but today afternoon I heard that the prosecutors will very likely appeal to the Court of Appeal. I am ready to defend freedom of speech and religion in all necessary courts, also in the European Court of Human Rights. I want to encourage others to use these basic rights also.

Päivi Räsänen
paivi.rasanen@eduskunta.fi

Evamaria Kyllästinen
Ryhmäavustaja, Assistant to MP
Kristillisdemokraattinen eduskuntaryhmä, Christian Democratic Parliamentary Group
00102 Eduskunta
Tel. 050 574 1675|09 432 4065

For more on this story, see The Daily Signal’s report here:

Finnish Court Clears Christian Politician, Bishop of ‘Hate Speech’ Charges

Guest Blog about the Ukraine Crisis

This is a guest blog from Christianity Today; always good reading and accurate information.
As Russia Invades Ukraine, Pastors Stay to Serve, Pray … and Resist

(UPDATED February 24, 2022 01:55 PM) Prayer requests from Donetsk: “First, to stop the aggressor. But then for peace of mind, to respond with Christian character and not from human hate.”
by Jayson Casper

2022-02-26 Death in Ukraine

As Russia invaded Ukraine today, pressing near even to the capital of Kyiv, a Baptist home was destroyed and a seminary shaken by nearby blasts. Local sources told CT, however, that no churches or Christian buildings had been attacked so far. Top of Form

President Vladimir Putin announced his forces were targeting only military installations. He also asserted that Ukraine does not truly exist as a nation.

Igor Bandura, vice president of the Baptist Union, the largest Protestant body in Ukraine, heard about collateral damage to the home of a Baptist in Donetsk during a Zoom call with his 25 regional superintendents. Minus one. On the front lines of the eastern Donbas region, the Baptist leader from the occupied territory of Luhansk was unable to join.

But from the town of Chasov Yor on the front lines in neighboring Donetsk — in an area then still under Ukrainian government control — Bandura learned the local assessment.

He was told, “People don’t want to be under Russian control. But they feel helpless. What can ordinary people do? Pray and remain calm.”

This was the message put out by the Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations (UCCRO), a day after its appeal to Putin went unanswered. Ukraine’s chief rabbi invited Christian leaders to recite Psalm 31 together.

The UCCRO stated, “We urge you to remain calm, not to give in to panic, and to comply with the orders of the Ukrainian state and military authorities. The truth and the international community are on the Ukrainian side. We believe that good will prevail, with God’s help.”

Thousands of Ukrainians fled west as Russian missiles hit targets throughout the nation. Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs reported hundreds of instances of shelling.

President Volodymyr Zelensky announced by video shortly after midnight that 137 Ukrainians died during the invasion’s first day. “They are killing people and transforming peaceful cities into military targets. That’s villainous and will never be forgiven,”  he said, according to The New York Times.

Valentin Siniy, president of Traviski Christian Institute (TCI) in Kherson, about 50 miles from Crimea, had to evacuate his seminary along with a team of Bible translators as Russian helicopters attacked local targets.

He told CT, “The majority of old pastors of the churches stayed in the cities. Youth leaders started evacuating young people. We managed to purchase a van with 20 seats in order to evacuate people. About 30 people are in a safe place now, in western Ukraine. There are about 40 more people driving west [in] vehicles that are in bad condition.” Meanwhile his church has opened its basement to shelter neighbors living in multi-story buildings from bombings.

Yuriy Kulakevych, foreign affairs director of the Ukrainian Pentecostal Church said, “I and all ministers stay in Kyiv. We continue our intercessory prayers, talk to people to reduce panic, and help those in need.”

In Kamyanka, 145 miles south, Vadym Kulynchenko of Our Legacy Ukraine reported that his church had already started to receive refugees from the east. Temporary shelter will be provided, and the main needs are food, medicine, fuel, hygiene products, and air mattresses. Bombs hit three infrastructure centers in his city.

Kulynchenko asked, “Please pray for disciple-making in the country, safety for our people, and generosity in the midst of war, and also for discernment, as there is a lot of fake news.”

Kyiv Theological Seminary (KTS) had earlier issued a general warning. A communications professor wrote on Tuesday, “Generating panic through the spread of manipulative false information is exactly what the enemy seeks. This war is not as much for our territories, as it is for our soul and our mind.” On Thurs, KTS cited Isaiah 41:10 as it urged its Facebook audience “not to panic, but to remember how many times God in His Word says ‘don’t be afraid.’” The seminary noted that fear equals paralysis, while prayer, trust in God, and love of neighbor all give strength.

With a “leaden heart,” Taras Dyatlik. the Overseas Council regional director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, wrote to supporters of theological education of the many prayer needs currently facing his fellow church and seminary leaders in Ukraine — including receiving refugees into their dorms. “Many of them are thinking about evacuation of their workers and faculty and students within Ukraine, and some do not have any possibility to evacuate.” He asked for prayer for families, including his own, as Ukraine’s announcement of total mobilization “means many students, graduates, faculty will be called for military duty to serve in the army and participate in the combats.” And he requested prayer for the spouses of male leaders. Since all men ages 18 to 60 are no longer allowed to leave the country, he said many wives are staying as well. “Today I talked to [my wife] about evacuation out of Ukraine. She immediately refused and said: ‘I will be with you to the very end.’”

Students at Ukraine Evangelical Theological Seminary (UETS) outside Kyiv were instructed to shelter in place as military battled at a nearby airport, according to the school’s director of English language services, Josh Tokar. Those on campus are scared but not panicked, he said. The seminary president sent out a message from Psalm 27: “The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear?”

Bandura did not resonate with the call for calm. He said of Putin’s rhetoric, “Who are you to say our nation doesn’t exist? The truth is with us, and God is with us. We want to live in peace, but if Russia wants to take this from us, let us fight.”

While some Ukrainians favor Russia, he said, half the population is ready to personally defend their nation. Pictures have circulated of grandmothers with guns. A recent CNN poll, meanwhile, found 13 percent of Ukrainians in favor of Russia’s use of force to reunite the two nations. Only 36 percent of Russians were in favor. (73 percent and 43 percent disagreed, respectively.)

The Russian Evangelical Alliance (REA) conveyed its support for the UCCRO appeal for peacemaking initiatives. Vladimir Vlasenko, REA general secretary stated, “All evangelical Christians pray every day and ask the Almighty to give wisdom to all, to preserve the fragile peace and not to plunge our countries into fratricidal conflict.”

“We see no justification for these actions and are deeply distressed by the death, destruction, chaos, and misery that will result,” stated Thomas Bucher, secretary general of the European Evangelical Alliance, according to Evangelical Focus. He stated, “The invasion of Ukraine is both unjustified and unprovoked. It has been claimed that the attack is necessary to protect ethnic Russians within Ukraine and to stop Ukraine from threatening Russia. These claims are untrue. This disaster has been provoked into being by President Putin for wider geopolitical purposes.”

In Rivne in western Ukraine, local officials directed all churches to remain open, with church leaders staying in touch with residents to help coordinate aid as well as military equipment as needed. Many in Ukraine are showing resilience.

Siniy said, “Our prayer today is that God’s will spreads on Earth as it is in Heaven. I encourage my staff and other Christian leaders that the mission stays the same even if we have to change geography.”

Staff at New Life Radio in Odessa, on the Black Sea coast, watched missiles fly past their homes. They told Evangelical Focus they are taking actions to hide equipment and preserve broadcasting, in case the station is raided in the near future.

Vasyl Ostryi, a pastor at Irpin Bible Church 18 miles northwest of Kyiv and a KTS professor of youth ministry, has also decided to stay. He wrote for The Gospel Coalition, “When this is over, the citizens of Kyiv will remember how Christians have responded in their time of need. We will shelter the weak, serve the suffering, and mend the broken. And as we do, we offer the unshakable hope of Christ and his gospel.”

YouVersion noted a spike among Ukrainian and Russian users of its popular Bible App over the past three weeks: searches for “fear” increased 11 percent; searches for “peace” increased 44 percent. People are praying in city streets.

2022-02-26 Ukrainians Praying in the Street

“We printed Bibles for 2022 and we are now in second month of the year and the stock in our warehouse is almost gone,” Anatoliy Raychynets, deputy general secretary of the Ukrainian Bible Society, told Eternity News shortly before the invasion. “In our churches — whether it is Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, or Evangelical churches — there are more new people. Not only on Sundays or Saturdays, but also during the week,” he told the Australian Bible Society news service. “On evenings when we have a Bible study, new people are coming. They want to pray, to hear something that brings hope or comfort.”

Rick Perhai, director of advanced degrees at KTS, said the international church he pastors in Kyiv has several leaders recommending the congregation continue its worship this coming Sunday. Some of their expat members have fled; others want to stay and join the fight. He laments that the enemy is seeking to destroy Ukraine as its Christians grow more and more poised to carry the gospel to surrounding nations. Nonetheless, he is praying for the Russians, asking for God to grant them repentance.

But his petition is also imprecatory. He said, “Pray that the nation of Russia would tire of their tyrant’s rantings at home and abroad and that they would remove him.”

Dyatlik also requested prayer for “the truth,” citing all the “perspectives” in the media. “We did not invite the war. The Kremlin and Vladimir Putin brought it to Ukraine. … There is moral evaluation of the acts of aggression like this,” wrote the theological educator. “These acts have biblical definition and biblical evaluation. Please pray for the spiritual discernment about these things.” Dyatlik closed his prayer letter with requests for believers on both sides of the conflict:

“Please pray about Russian Christians that they would raise their prayers and voice toward Russian government to stop the aggression; [that they] would not keep silent; please pray for the Western governments, of the US and European Union.

“Finally, please pray about Ukrainian Christians, that we will serve and live as the community of hope in a full sense of this term; that during these terrible times we would invite more and more people to the relationships with God and His children, to the relationships of love, hope, encouragement, support; that our minds and characters would continue to transform into the character of Jesus Christ.”

Western nations have roundly condemned Putin, and readied sanctions. Reports circulated of Russians lining up at ATMs to withdraw their cash, fearful the nation would be cut off from the international banking system.

Meanwhile in Donetsk, where 25 missionary teams have been working to establish churches, gas lines require a wait of hours for a rationed supply of five gallons. Grocery stories suffer empty shelves, as Ukrainians stock up on emergency food and water.

Bandura conveys his supervisor’s two main prayer requests: “First, to stop the aggressor. But then for peace of mind, to respond with Christian character and not from human hate.”

Guest Blog: Biden Administration Making Lists of Religious Vaccine Objectors – And So It Begins

According to Aaron M. Renn’s analysis of contemporary evangelicalism as he reported in “The Three Worlds of Evangelicalism,” there have been three distinct stages in the secularization of American culture.  Views on Christianity and, I believe, religion in general have followed the culture.

  •       Positive World View of devout religionists (Pre-1994): Society at large retained a mostly positive view of Christianity.  Publicly being a Christian was a status-enhancer both for business and political aspirations.  Christian moral norms were the basic moral norms of society and violating them resulted in negative consequences.
  •       Neutral World View (1994–2014): In the late 1990s, society began to take a neutral stance toward Christianity.  Being a good, church-going person no longer held privileged status, but it was not particularly disfavored.  Being known as a Christian had neither a positive nor a negative impact on one’s social or political status.  Christian moral norms retained some residual effect, but were considered along side of other moral norms for other religions and atheists.
  •       Negative World View (2014–Present): However, by 2014 American society developed a negative view of Christianity.  Being known as a Christian has now become a social negative across large swaths of the country, particularly in the elite domains of ­society.  Christian morality is expressly repudiated in main stream media, in universities and across almost all grades of education.  A Christian is seen as bigoted, closed-minded and a threat to the public good and the new public moral order.  Subscribing to Christian moral views or repudiating the secular moral order can have significant negative consequences, from job loss, dis-invitation to speaking venues, failure to get elected or even subjected to vandalism or attack without consequences for the perpetrator, similar to what happened to Jews in Germany just prior to WW2.

So now we are on the cusp of such severe negative views of Christianity that it is being targeted by government agencies for identification as to who claims exemption from government mandates based on religious convictions.  While this discrimination may apply to many religious views, Christianity is being carved out as a special case of resistance to ‘normal moral orders.’
___________________
And So It Begins:  Guest blog by Sarah Parshall Perry  & GianCarlo Canaparo
@SarahPPerry / @GCanaparo / January 11, 2022

2022-01-15 Vaccine Registration

The Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Columbia announced a new records system that will store the names and “personal religious information” of all employees who make “religious accommodation requests for religious exception from the federally mandated vaccination requirement.”

A tiny administrative agency in the District of Columbia announced a new policy Tuesday that will likely serve as a model for a whole-of-government push to assemble lists of Americans who object on religious grounds to a Covid-19 vaccine.

The Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Columbia — a federal independent entity that assists officers in the District of Columbia courts in formulating release recommendations and providing supervision and services to defendants awaiting trial — announced a new records system that will store the names and “personal religious information” of all employees who make “religious accommodation requests for religious exception from the federally mandated vaccination requirement.”

The announcement does not explain why the agency needs to create this list except to say that it will “assist the Agency in the collecting, storing, dissemination, and disposal of employee religious exemption request information collected and maintained by the Agency.” In other words, the list will help the agency make a list.

The announcement also does not say what the agency will do with this information after it has decided an employee’s religious accommodation request. And neither does the announcement explain why the Biden administration chose to test this policy in an agency with a majority-black staff, who are both more religious and less vaccinated than other groups. So much for the president’s commitment to “racial equity.”

We are starting to suspect that President Joe Biden is not keeping his promise to have the most transparent administration in history.

What is really going on with this announcement at this tiny agency? Likely, the Biden administration is using it to stealth test a policy it intends to roll out across the whole government. Almost nobody has ever heard of the Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Columbia, and very few people pay close attention to it or are covered by its policies. Indeed, at of the time of publication of this article, the announcement has been viewed only 16 times.

However, had Biden announced, for example, that the Department of Labor intended to adopt this policy, it would be big news. The Federal Register where announcements like this are made would be flooded with comments that the department would have to address. That would, of course, delay the policy’s rollout. With the Pretrial Services Agency, Biden likely expected that the policy would land quickly and without a splash. As it is, the notice of a new announcement provides less than 30 days for public comment. Biden may not be winning points for transparency, but he is doing his best to win first place in subjecting Americans with sincerely held religious beliefs to differential treatment.

Take the Department of Defense, for example — which has failed to grant a single religious exemption on behalf of any service members requesting one for the federal vaccine mandate. A group of Navy SEALS was recently successful in its federal lawsuit against the Biden administration on claims that its conscience rights under the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act were violated.

From the outset of his administration, Biden voiced support for passage of the patently faith-hostile Equality Act — a bill that would gut the Religious Freedom Restoration Act entirely when it intersects with LGBTQ+ protections and entitlements in public accommodations.

The president also swiftly revoked the Mexico City policy that had been reinstated by former President Donald Trump, thereby ensuring that religious Americans would be forced to fund abortions overseas by way of their tax dollars, despite their religious objections to the act.

While employers, employment agencies, or unions with 100 employees or more are prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 from engaging in disparate treatment and from maintaining policies or practices that result in unjustified disparate impact based on religion, this administration does not seem to have received the memo.

That, at the bottom, is what this policy is about.

Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email letters@DailySignal.com and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the URL or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state.

Sarah Parshall Perry and GianCarlo Canaparo are legal fellows in the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

An update on January 15 revealed that 18 other agencies in the US government are also tracking people who maintain religious objections to covid vaccinations.  These include the Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of the Treasury, to name only a few.

Intermezzo Guest Blog by Alabastersky – Deceived

This guest blog has been edited somewhat with a paragraph deletion, links added and minor changes; if you wish to read Lisa’s original, you can find Alabastersky’s “Deceived: The New Religion” here.  People, we must learn to love Truth more than anything.  Our Father guarantees that if you love the truth you will not be deceived.  Galatians 6:7 commands, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.”  The Bible would not give us a command without the ability to fulfill it!  As for those who are deceived, this is because they did NOT love the truth: “The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10)

From Alabastersky:
It occurs to me that as we plummet headfirst more into darkness each day, that we compromise and allow deception to reign. There are those who become so far removed from truth along the way that they will begin to not only believe but to embrace the lie so much that they themselves are convinced by it. The deceivers actually begin deceiving themselves!

I’ll give you some examples. The New Testament of the Bible tells us much about the Pharisees. We always see them waiting to trip Jesus up, or catch Him in some blasphemy, or in an act violating their traditions. They truly seem to be a demonized and hateful bunch, and Jesus often appears saddened and annoyed by them. But I believe their zeal was not only born out of a perceived threat of loss of control over the people, but also out of an actual belief that Jesus was a crack-pot blasphemer who was leading God’s chosen people astray. It was a combination of these two (and probably other motivations not mentioned). But as we can clearly see now, and for anyone who wishes to study it, Jesus fulfills every Old Testament prophecy about the Messiah’s [first coming]* – every single one.
[*Editor’s Note, the only ones remaining are about End Times events.]

Jumping forward to today, I’ve often wondered how multitudes could be allured into buying wholeheartedly into the one world religion of the antichrist that the Bible describes in Revelation 13, but believe the sincere zeal of the Pharisees gives us a clue. From this chapter in Revelation, we learn that the antichrist (or beast* as he is called), together with the false prophet* (or second beast) perform miracles that are so great that they deceive even possibly the very elect (see Matthew 24:24 and 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12). So we know from this that there is great allure and attraction for people to become followers of the beast who sets himself up not only as the Messiah but also as the fulfillment of all other religions, but is in fact the very antithesis of truth.
[*Editor’s Note: these leaders will NOT be called “antichrist,” “the beast” nor “the false prophet” in the media.]

This allure of deception was confirmed when I saw New York’s Governor on a news broadcast recently stating that she needed “apostles” to evangelize people to get the vaccine because “Jesus taught us to love one another,” and that people who’ve gotten the shots are “the smart ones” while those who refuse to get it “aren’t listening to God and what God wants,” Whose god, I wondered, and why isn’t she taking individual circumstance into consideration? I also have to ask if she herself hears “God” when it comes to the murder of innocent unborn (and even just born) babies?

Now if you honestly believe that the vaccine is the best thing for you, then by all means, go for it. That is your choice, and I’m not here to stop you. But if for various reasons there are those of us who do not believe it is the best thing, why is the government working so forcibly to mandate that it is not our choice? One has to consider that if a government (any government) can force you to take the jab, then they can also force you to take the mark of the beast. Compromise is made in small steps, and the lines we cross in the midst of compromise can be dangerously deceitful.

I’m still trying to figure out why those who have been vaccinated need to be protected from those who have not been vaccinated. If the vaccine is as good as they claim, why would that be necessary? If the vaccine is as good as they claim, why, according to CDC data, did the virus almost flat line as far as new cases in the US prior to the vaccine, and then suddenly and aggressively spike after people began being vaccinated? I’m curious to know why there is a higher risk of catching covid after vaccination than there is before, by the very people who have been vaccinated? I’m curious to know why countries like Australia never took the extreme measures they are taking now for covid against such things as the flu, since the flu has higher death rates than covid?  I’m curious about a lot of things, and I know I don’t stand alone in my curiosity.

But I digress… The point I am hoping to make about the governor of New York’s appeal is that she, much like the Pharisees, has bought into this secular empire religion, and as a result not only perceives a threat of loss of control over the people, but also truly believes that those who act in an individual manner against the government-dictated social norms are crack-pots who are leading people astray.

Take that with another news article regarding a letter from a [national] teachers organization, that requested for parents who engaged in protests to be designated as domestic terrorists and treated as such, as if the government has final authority over our children. For anyone who is a Christ-follower, all of this appears to be the height of hypocrisy and lunacy, but to those who swallow the lies “hook, line, and sinker,” they are just as sincere in their belief in the deception as we are in the grounded and absolute truth of the Bible.

This goes along with a book my husband was reading recently, Hitler’s Cross by Erwin Lutzer, which analyzes what happens when a country forgets God, and declares the state in place of God in regards to what you are allowed to believe, and what happened to the church and Germany as a result. In the book he describes one of Hitler’s top enforcers, Heinrich Himmler, who believed in reincarnation. In his warped idea of spirituality based on a mix of Norse mythology, Hinduism, racism, and the occult, he believed that the Jewish people were “lower than the animals.” As a result he also sincerely believed he was actually doing the Jewish people a favor by annihilating them, so they could return on a higher rung of life than before. How absurd! Sin, hatred and the evil in which it is rooted has no bounds. Those who combine an almighty state with total control and a warped spirituality, and racism in whatever form, who deny Judeo-Christian values, advocate for loss of freedom, and the right to one’s life, and deny the right to decide what entails one’s own physical health, are crossing the line from welfare to tyranny.

THIS is why it is so important to know and understand our enemy is not flesh and blood but are the rulers and powers, principalities and forces of this present darkness (see Ephesians 6:12). This is also why it is important to stand and not compromise.

Letting go of our will in order to seek and fulfill His will instead has nothing to do with conformity. We need to understand that unity and conformity are not one and the same. We can all unite as one nation without conformity, keeping our individuality and God given rights. There is nothing more powerful [against tyranny] than being who God created us to be! That is why our founding fathers emphasized being created equal, with equal opportunity. Equal opportunity does not guarantee equal outcome, and the sooner we return to that understanding, the faster all this racist nonsense being propagated by those wishing to divide and conquer through fear will come to an end.

Know this, the truth and understanding of which I speak is only imparted through the Holy Spirit. Scripture tells us that when we hold to His teachings, then we will know the truth, the truth will set us free (see John 8:31-32). Jesus said He IS the truth (John 14:6). You can know Him too. He is found by everyone who sincerely seeks Him, and He will set you free!

 

Guest Blog from Thompson Engles

Thompson is a Christ-follower that impresses me like the sons of Issachar who understood the times and what Israel should do (1 Chronicles 12:32).  This does not mean I agree with everything he writes, but I trust him as a brother that cares for the Church of the living God, and for the lost who need Jesus.  The following is a repost of his most recent blog with some minor edits of British spelling and grammar (I am the Grammar Police and I have a badge to prove it. 😂)  But seriously, his not-so-random thoughts here are worth reading, if for no other line than this: “The protected need to be protected from the unprotected by forcing the unprotected to use the protection that didn’t protect the protected.
___________________________________________________
Random Thoughts on Issues of the Day (Part 4)
by thompsonlengels5484

“The world is engaged in the largest clinical trial, the largest global vaccination trial ever, and we will have enormous amounts of data.”– Department of Health.

2021-09-14 Vaccination

The writer is not a stoic or in any way seeking to undermine the pain of those who have lost their loved ones through Covid. I’m truly saddened by all these. May the God of all comfort, comfort us who are under this crucible of suffering, I, among them.

Welcome to a time before a nightmare. A Gestapo regime is here — “Where are your papers?” Because many will think this is about vaccines, let me set the record straight. If you want to get the jab, by all means, take it! It’s your choice and I’m not going to view you different because you’ve taken the vaccine. No.

My chief contention is on compulsory government vaccine mandates – and the obvious hate passed to the unvaccinated. I’ve been called many awful names when I share my unpopular view(s) during these hard times. I’m not bitter and afraid of any man.

But I’ll not keep silent when something needs to be said. I’ll not, truthfully, follow something that does not make logical sense.

You know, ”fear is an extremely powerful psychological tool, that has been used by politicians always,” notes a holocaust survivor; “the Nazis were particularly adept at it.”

The times we are living in is in many ways carbon copy of what took place before the holocaust. The government, again, as I’ll keep on emphasizing, is not for the people but against its people.

The government is the real virus.

We now have a class of “subhuman” fellows, that is, the unvaccinated. The vaccinated are scared of the unvaccinated. It is the unvaccinated fella, who, they say, is the reason why Covid is still here. “It is not the responsibility of the unvaccinated to protect the vaccinated.” That’s the vaccines job!

Plainly put, The protected need to be protected from the unprotected by forcing the unprotected to use the protection that didn’t protect the protected.

2021-09-14 I Can See You

Again, the issue here is not about vaccines; it is about totalitarian regimes taking place right under our noses. And if we speak against such signs, we’re labelled immediately to be conspiracy theorists. Let me show you how a totalitarian regime will look like, or looks like:

You’ll need to produce papers 24/7. We’ll need papers to enter restaurants, bars, concerts, casinos, conventions and hotels and to board a train, plane or bus. We’ll need papers to enter a supermarket, or we’ll starve to death. We’ll need papers to visit our families. All for the crime of being unvaccinated!

And God forbid, you’ll need papers to go and worship God with other brethren in your local church.

The scary thing about all this is people are led by emotions rather than pausing to reflect on what’s really happening. Others, of course, know what is happening but are scared to speak up. Others fear losing people’s good opinion of them. They do not want to offend anyone, just impress.

Not that we offend because we desire to do so, but because for some things to be heard; we need to say what others aren’t saying. Call the elephant in the room.

I’d not want my children or anyone to grow under the Gestapo’s. Children are now being trained to be suspicious. “They might be infected, they might infect me.” Of course, that’s the Media’s job — to pass out fear! Why? Because fear sells!

2021-09-14 Vaccinaton Lines

On issue of vaccine passports. Again, an absolute desire for a totalitarian survelliance state. It’d be good if folks would care enough and study history. Also, I’d challenge men and women instead of being rushed to forcing men to follow everything the state says, to also take time and carefully be informed.

Do not let the state make you a villain to your own family. That’s what Satan wants — the destruction of families!

Some of you reading this may have a medical knowledge or perhaps, practicing medicine! I’d remind us of the oath you took — to protect lives. Not by use of propaganda and fear.

To the elders of a church and to the brothers of Christ. It is not Scriptural of you to refuse entry into your services a subgroup of society (unvaccinated) based on their medical choice. Only Jesus Christ has the authority to regulate the terms of corporate worship, not the government!

These, in a sense, tell you are to make no distinction between those who call out in faith, either on race or medical choice.

The gospel should be proclaimed to all men — vaccinated and the unvaccinated. Therefore, to refuse members access to corporate worship would be to betray our Savior and openly disobey His great commission.

To members (and also leaders) of a local congregation: Do not coerce the conscience of others. The conscience is one of the innermost expressions that animates an individual, and that allows them to worship God as well as obey a legitimate governing authority.

The conscience is the immediate contact of God’s presence in a person’s soul, and so an individual forced to act in a way that is objectionable to their conscience will never be at peace, either before God or before the state.

A government that endeavors to force or coerce an individual who is striving to honor God will find that they only encounter resistance.

A government should never coerce conscience, but rather respect the important function that it carries in aiding a person to worship God freely and live obediently before the state.

2021-09-14 Heres Looking At You

So then, on issues of vaccines, as stated above, if some  people have made the decision and have already taken the jab, that is their right, and it cannot be abrogated. But those who are not ready, or hesitant, also have their valid reasons why they are not in a rush.

Their conscience binds them to wait, and their Savior advised them not to make decisions before they have counted the cost.

This is a principle of wisdom, that everyone applies to many aspects of their lives.’ The government, or any other corporate body or individual, be it in public or private, should not coerce the conscience of its people.

Neither, I say, should the state or any other person, label those who question these things as unloving. To conclude that is a fallacy devoid of sound reasoning.

You’re wise and know how to apply.

Intermezzo Guest Blog: Update on Afghanistan

As Biden’s humanitarian and military crisis in Afghanistan proceeds, friends in Afghanistan are trying desperately to find a way out of the country, mostly over land into neighboring countries.  Imagine thinking “escaping to Iran” would be an attractive option!

In spite of the small number of Afghani Christians, missions agencies report that for several years Afghanistan has had the fastest growing population of Christ-followers, second only to Iran.  This story is from the son of an imam who hated Christians when he was 17, but found out that Christians were offering peace and life while the Muslims of whom he was part were threatening him with death for simply reading the Bible.  The following is a transcript from a Christianity Today podcast called Quick To Listen.  Good reading and information in Christianity Today.
__________________________________________

‘My Heart Is Broken’: An Afghan Pastor Grapples with the US Withdrawal
America’s departure and the Taliban’s ascent is forcing Christians out of the country.
Morgan Lee, August 20, 2021

2021-08-23 Taliban in KabulTaliban patrolling Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug. 16, 2021.

Earlier this year, President Joe Biden announced that after close to 20 years, the United States would be withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan. Last week, as the military began its exit, the Taliban was ready and within days had seized control of the country. The ascent sparked widespread fear and led to thousands arriving at the airport only to find their flights out of the country had been canceled. Some even grabbed hold of an aircraft in desperation.

Biden defended the decision, arguing that Afghanistan’s leaders “gave up and fled the country.” He also said: “The Afghan military collapsed, sometimes without trying to fight. If anything, the developments in the past week reinforced ending that US military involvement Afghanistan now was the right decision.”

He did concede: “The truth is, this did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated.” As the government fell, it was not clear if the US had done anything to protect those who had worked with the military as translators. Plans to resettle Afghans as refugees seemed to be formulated in real time. The rights of women and girls, which were suppressed under the Taliban’s previous time in power, also appeared in jeopardy. And the lives of Christians, who according to official numbers only make up a minuscule number of the country’s nearly 40 million people, seem in peril as well.

David Paiman is an Afghan pastor and evangelist. You can follow his ministry herePaiman joined global media manager Morgan Lee and news editor Daniel Silliman to discuss how he converted from Islam to Christianity, the withdrawal’s consequences for the church in Afghanistan, and how we can best support the country and people during this time.

The transcript is edited by Faith Ndlovu

Highlights from Quick to Listen: Episode #277

David Paiman: Thank you for your concern about Afghanistan. We are grieving and our hearts are heavy. We see the news that Afghanistan is blaring and everywhere in the street, we can see hopeless people are left behind. But we see the reality more when we talk to people inside Afghanistan.

I’ve been talking to many believers inside Afghanistan. They are crying out for help, and they are crying out for the American army, and some of them sent me a video of many women and girls.

They have been to the airport and they’re crying out to American soldiers to help them. They have been there to serve them and help them but that is over. What we are seeing is too much and my heart is broken.

We are here in America, we see what we see on Twitter or television, but generally speaking, what do you find that Americans don’t know about Afghanistan that you really want them to know? What do they maybe misunderstand about what they do know?

David Paiman: Americans should know about Afghan believers, those who have converted to Christianity. Their lives are in danger, especially for people who are registered as Christians in Afghanistan. There are about many families there and they already got their identity. Many other Afghan believers only registered but they don’t have their identity cards yet; it’s still being processed. Suddenly everything has turned in a different way and they are in desperate need of help. Many people just heard the Taliban say very good news using soft words to say, “we forgive everyone, and we will do our best to build the country.” That’s not the truth. The truth we heard from inside is that they are going from house to house to search for people. They have been to many Afghan believers’ houses, and they took their Bibles. Praise God that the Afghan believers were not at their home. But they’re still searching for them.

Did President Ghani’s government require Christians to register?

David Paiman: They were not required to register, but they registered for the next generation. They don’t want their children to be called Muslims, they want their identity to be Christian.

Is your religion something that is printed on your ID cards?

David Paiman: Yes. But what the system did, because they don’t like Christians, when they printed out the cards for Christians they print out “other.” If they print out “Christian,” they face trouble with their own family, they cannot go to the bank, they cannot get a license, they cannot get anything. In reality they are Christian but they print out “other,” not Christian.

So, this was a big step historically for people to start declaring themselves in this official way, that they’re Christian and making public their faith, sometimes at great risk.

Afghanistan is a big country. Was this happening in Kabul? Was this happening in the villages? Where were these Christians deciding to take the stand?

David Paiman: All the Christians that registered are in Kabul. Today I heard the news, which I hope is false news. But I heard that three Christian families were taken by the Taliban and their houses were burned. We don’t know where they are, but I’m not sure yet that that is exactly what’s going on there.

There are very few Christians that live in this country. How did people end up hearing the gospel?

David Paiman: There are a lot of Christians during these two, three years. I am in media and get many calls every day, at least 10 calls from Afghanistan.

They want to receive Christ. Many house churches inside Afghanistan have started sharing the gospel with each other. Some families have been openly sharing the gospel with people and others heard from media, from Facebook, YouTube, and TV. But whenever they receive Christ, we try to connect them with them to get discipled and to grow in Christ, inside Afghanistan.

Take us back to 2001 when America invaded, what was that like for you? What was that like for Christians in the country?

David Paiman: Yeah, that’s what I call false hope. I will never forget in 2001 when the American army came and took over, everyone was celebrating, everyone got freedom and people were praising and thankful to America. Exactly 20 years later we see what’s happening now.

Where were you living at that time?

David Paiman: I was in Saudi Arabia.

With the hope that you experienced, what did you think might happen?

David Paiman: The real hope is Jesus Christ. Afghanistan has been trying many ways to get hope, to get peace inside Afghanistan, but they did not try Jesus Christ. They did not try God. They did not try His love and His mercy. My prayer and zeal are to share Christ with them. They can receive Christ and they can get the real hope, the living hope that never ends.

How old were you back in 2001?

David Paiman: I was about 17 years old.

What did you hear about the American military during that time?

David Paiman: I was very excited because I was a Muslim from Hazara tribes. My tribe experienced the pressure of the Taliban, because mostly Hazara from Shiá Muslim and all Taliban from Sunni Muslim. I saw many Hazara killed by the Taliban in those times and when America came in 2001, I was so excited that we got freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of everything that we could practice in Afghanistan.

Did that happen when the US first showed up in the first year or two?

David Paiman: From 2001 to 2006 it was good. From 2006 to 2010 it changed a little. From 2010 to 2021 it was not a good situation in Afghanistan as well because the government was corrupt. However, America helped the Afghanistan government, the Afghanistan government did not do what they were supposed to do. I don’t want to go into politics. I’m angry with Joe Biden because he said Afghanistan was not willing to take care of their country, yet billions of dollars have been used to help them.

It’s painful that many Afghanistans leave it behind and now we see that Afghanistan is bleeding and people are crying out for help, but it’s because they don’t take care of their own country.

Talking about the issue of women and girls, how did you notice how they were treated before the Americans arrived?

David Paiman: The girls could not go to school and the women could not go out without any man and there was trouble. Now Taliban is a little bit different, but this morning I heard the news that the girls and the women cannot go out without any men. I don’t know what to say about the Taliban 20 years ago and now, I don’t think they have changed. It’s still the same, the Sharia never changes.

But under the past 20 years though, you saw girls going to school, which was not happening under the Taliban. And you saw way more women working?

David Paiman: Yeah exactly.

Did you have any women who were leading churches or doing evangelism, or did they show up in church leadership too?

David Paiman: Yes, my sister-in-law, who is leading a house church there under the men’s leadership. She tries to help other women, does Bible study with them, and leads them woman to woman and men to men; under the men’s leadership which is what the Bible says.

Now the fear is that the schools that were open to girls are going to be closed and as you said, women may not be able to leave the house without men?

David Paiman: Yes. They cannot leave the house without the men. A few schools are open, but only girls under 14 years can go to school. We don’t know yet about college. In Herat city last week, the girls were supposed to go to college, but the Taliban stopped them.

You mentioned that in 2001 you were a Muslim. How did Jesus find you?

David Paiman: I didn’t want to come to the faith. I hated Christians and didn’t want to be one because I’m from a very religious Muslim background.

My father was an imam. They taught me how to be a good Muslim. I have been to Mecca six times, and I practiced my religion very well because I thought the Muslim religion is the only religion, the only way to God. But after my sixth pilgrimage to Mecca, a stranger came to me from Syria and he shared his testimony, how he received Christ inside the Mecca, how he saw the vision of Christ during his pilgrimage in Mecca. That made me get angry with him. I tried to fight with him. I wanted to kill him. But after 45 minutes of our conversation, he asked me, “Would you please let me pray for you?”

I was very proud. I said, “Okay, you pray for me. I will pray for you.” When he started to pray, I closed my eyes to listen to him and it seemed that he knew my problem. He knew my heart. He knew that I’m searching for real peace and that prayer led me to Christ. After he finished his prayer, the big questions came to my mind.

I said, “If he is an infidel, how could he know my heart?” He then gave me a New Testament Bible. I read but I didn’t accept it because my father taught me that the Bible is corrupt.

Six months later I went to Afghanistan, and I shared this experience with my best friend. He then gave me a Bible in my language. He said not to worry about the New Testament I should just start from Genesis. When I started reading from Genesis, I knew inside my heart that something is true here because God Himself is reaching humans, to bring them back to Him. It was so clear to me that this is God Himself wanting human beings to come to Him. I then took the Bible from him.

I started to read the Bible in my city Ghazni, which is about 250 kilometers from Kabul, and I started comparing the Bible and Quran. With two of my friends, every day we started comparing the Bible and the Koran to try to find which part of the Bible is corrupt.

While I was still reading the Bible, I was still a Muslim practicing Muslim, and I got caught by the police because somebody reported that I was reading the Bible. They took the Bible from me. I found myself in the mosque and there were about 60 or 70 people there and they started asking me why I was reading the Bible. I argued with the imam and started asking him a question from the Quran himself, he could not answer me. He started a claim that he proved that I was a Christian. I was not a Christian. I was Muslim. I did not want to become a Christian.

They started beating me until I became unconscious. I then found myself in a police station. I gave them a lot of money and then I ran away from the police station. I went to Kabul. I was hiding in a safety house, which had a lot of Americans.

A lady from Canada who was a missionary helped me to escape from my country to India. I didn’t know she was a missionary at that time. In India, I met Afghan Christians and I was very angry with them. I started to fight with them. One of the guys I fought with is now inside Afghanistan and is sharing the gospel there.

Three months later, one of my friends had epilepsy. I called the pastor and his friend, and they came and prayed for my friend who had epilepsy. At that moment he got healed and I saw the power, actually, I felt the power. I knew then there was power in the name of Jesus. I went to the bathroom, and I received Christ and asked Him to come into my life and I received Him. I gave my life to Christ in 2008.

Why did you go to the bathroom?

David Paiman: Because I didn’t want to receive Christ in front of them because I didn’t want to become a Christian.

I didn’t want them to know that I am receiving Christ. I wanted to receive Christ very secretly.

How did that practically change your life in 2008?

David Paiman: On that night after I came out from the bathroom and had washed my face as I had been crying, I proceeded to make tea for my guests and the pastor knew something had happened to me. After the tea service, the pastor came to me and asked if he could pray for me.

I said, “of course.” He put his hand on my shoulder and started to pray. I started to cry and confess my sin. The next day everything changed. I felt different. I talked differently and everything changed in my life. I saw things differently. I could see people differently and I started sharing the gospel the next day, right away.

I started sharing the gospel with people. I told them only Jesus could save their lives. Only Jesus can give you peace only Jesus can give you hope.

When you started telling people did anyone believe you? Did anyone decide to learn more about Christianity?

David Paiman: At first believers didn’t believe me because I had been persecuting them.

They thought maybe I had come from the Afghan government because I had a very close friendship with the embassy. They thought maybe I was a spy from them. But later on, they believed me.

But yeah. I saw many people come to Christ in India. I received Christ in India in 2008.

And then you started telling people in India for many years?

David Paiman: Yes. I was in India for five and a half years, and then I moved to Indonesia. I was in Indonesia for three years.

We started house churches there and then we baptized about 72 Iranian people. During those three years, 17 Afghan Muslims converted to Christ, and we baptized them. In 2015, I moved to Australia. I started an Afghan church in Sydney, Australia till 2019.

In 2019, I moved here and now we have a ministry. We are helping refugees and we started our house church here in Memphis, Tennessee.

What do you find about God or Jesus resonates with Afghans? What do they love about Christianity?

David Paiman: I heard many people like my friends, especially here saying they see the reality of love in Christian life.

They love you unconditionally. They don’t expect you to do something. They love you just as you are. In Afghan culture when you love some people you expect them to love you back but many of them say they see true love here in American people and Christian people.

That love has now opened the door for us. We can share the gospel with our Afghan friends here.

What’s your sense of what American Christians should be doing out of love right now?

David Paiman: For me, all Christians should practice at least two things, go, and give. If you cannot go, you should give. If you’re a believer, you have to share the gospel, go, or give, giving and supporting it’s all the one part. Christians in America can also pray and help financially. Send them food to eat. This morning I talked to one leader and he’s ready to go to Christ and what he asked me was, “after I go will you please take care of my family.”

He shared Philippians 1:20 (Phil 2:20) which says, “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” He said, “to die, I get my life. I start my life with Christ” and that encouraged me. The only thing for me is the burden of his family. He has given his life to Christ.

I have a burden in my heart to take care of his family and it’s the burden for all Christians in America and to cry out to God and pray for them. If you know people in Afghanistan help them out of Afghanistan. That’s the greatest help.

So, you would say American Christians should also support welcoming thousands of refugees here.

David Paiman: Exactly.

What type of long-term impact do you think that the withdrawal will have on the mission field in Afghanistan?

David Paiman: To help Afghan believers inside of Afghanistan. The missionary can easily come out of Afghanistan, but Afghanistans are left behind.

If they are discipled well, they can share the gospel inside Afghanistan. That for me is long-term, helping Afghan Christians inside Afghanistan. It should start from inside of Afghanistan not from outside Afghanistan, that’s my opinion.

Because now Afghans will be leading these churches, not foreigners?

David Paiman: No, Afghans should start leading the church. They should start discipling people and that’s all Afghans are doing now.

How do the Christians that you meet find Christianity? Who tells them about it?

David Paiman: It’s mostly from media, from Facebook, YouTube, radio, TV, those are the four sources that we have inside Afghanistan. Now it’s not too difficult we can give them the bible. When they’re sleeping in the bed, they can hear the gospel, and no one can stop that.

This past week has been demoralizing. How has it affected your faith in God?

David Paiman: Whenever I talk to believers inside Afghanistan, I find that their faith is very big and mine is very low, and they give their life to Christ. Jesus said, “if you don’t take your cross, you are not worthy to follow Me, if you don’t confess Me in front of people, I will not confess you in front of My Father. That’s exactly what they are doing now. They took their cross willingly and they tried to come under the grace of God, joyfully give their life to Jesus.

Daniel Silliman: Yeah. That’s compelling, that’s what we all believe as Christians and that’s our call daily to take up our cross and the challenges that they’re facing are serious. Thanks for sharing that with us.

David Paiman: The other thing that American believers and Americans should know is this word about the church. In Afghanistan, people know they are the church, and they understand that. But here, mostly most of America, they say the building is a church. There is a building with a cross on it that’s what they call church but, in Afghanistan, the real church is going on.

I’m so encouraged by their ministry.

What are you praying for as you speak to people back in Afghanistan and Afghans here?

David Paiman: To be honest in the first two, three days, I didn’t know how to pray, and I could not pray because my heart was so heavy and when I saw the news, I was so upset with Americans, I was so upset with the missionaries. I was so angry and that’s my human nature. I could not pray but praise God when I talked to them, they encouraged me. They said, “Jesus is with us now.” Now my prayer for Afghanistans, especially for believers is for the grace of God to be always over them because they cannot do anything out of the grace of God. With the grace of God, they can do all things. That’s my prayer.

As we close our conversation, is there anything else that you would like our listeners to know, any information you’ve heard from your friends and family back in Afghanistan that you want to share, or anything we didn’t ask you about?

David Paiman: Yeah, please pray for believers. They are leaving the country, especially pray for two families who just arrived in Pakistan, three families that are in Iran now, and four families that are in Tajikistan. Please pray for them and specifically pray for four families inside Afghanistan. I think I already mentioned their life is seriously in danger.

In their new countries, what should we pray for them, that they get connected to a church community and build their lives someplace new?

David Paiman: Yes, we are praying for them to make contact with other believers at churches and their second countries. Pray for us here that we can make decisions wisely and that we don’t give them false hope or false promises.

Would you be willing to end our show in a word of prayer?

David Paiman: Sure.
Dear Father. You are a good father. I know you know everything about my country. You love my people. You love the Taliban. You love even the people persecuting us. Lord. You command us to love them back. Please help Afghan Christians, especially those inside the country to love them and share your words with them. Lord, I pray for your protection over believers inside Afghanistan I pray for my people, they’re hopeless. They just see the darkness. Lord, I pray that your light will shine on them. Open their minds and their hearts to see you and to see that you love them to see that You died for them. Lord, open their eyes so that they can taste and see that you are a good God.

You are a merciful, God. Lord, I pray for the American army in Afghanistan. I pray that you protect them from evil. Help them, give them the wisdom to choose the right people, and bring them out. Lord, I also pray for my brothers and sisters outside Afghanistan. I pray for the churches. Thank you for my spiritual family here, Lord, they encourage us. Lord. I pray that you give them wisdom and knowledge to help us in Your way, not in their way. Thank you, Lord, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Intermezzo Guest Blog: Keep Praying for Afghanistan

President Biden has abjectly abandoned our Afghan ally, leaving the tragic nation to the whims of demonic Islamist radicals.  In spite of Zabihullah Mujahid’s, (the Taliban spokesman) assertion that no one is to be harmed and private property is to be respected, the history of the Taliban’s brutal force of a perverted form of Sharia law suggests a bloodbath is coming, especially to groups like the Hazara who have longed for freedom and cooperated with the West.  The Taliban has a record of public torture and hangings, and other forms of execution, and subjugation of women to assure no popular uprising against them.

I will not be covering this unfolding tragedy on my blog, but encourage you to subscribe to All Arab News and All Israel News, outlets of Joel Rosenberg, to keep informed of what will happen.  If these events begin to clearly intersect with Biblical prophecy, we may return to this theme in this blog.  Even so, Lord Jesus, come.

All Arab News
August 16, 2021 02:52 AM

 


SURRENDER

Biden abandons Afghanistan, Taliban seizes control of country, Afghan President flees, all as 20th anniversary of 9/11 approaches.
by Joel C. Rosenberg | August 15, 2021

2021-08-16 Taliban Takeover

Less than one month before the 20th anniversary of the al Qaeda attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 — which led the U.S. and NATO forces to invade Afghanistan, topple the Taliban, and decimate Osama bin Laden’s terrorist empire — a nightmare is unfolding in that mountainous, tragedy-stricken country.

President Joe Biden has surrendered Afghanistan.
The Taliban has seized control of most of the country.
On Sunday, Taliban forces entered the capital of Kabul.
The Taliban is set to declare the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” in the coming hours.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has fled the country.

2021-08-16 NYT Headline

Most of the Afghan army is surrendering.
The U.S. embassy in Kabul has been evacuated.
American military equipment is falling into the hands of the Taliban.

Many Congressional leaders are furious by Biden’s decision to pull out all U.S. military forces from Afghanistan and to abandon the theater to the very radical Islamist terrorist regime the U.S. and her allies have been fighting for two full decades.

That’s the story at this hour.
We will have more coverage tomorrow and throughout the week as this major story unfolds.

2021-08-16 The Last Days of the TalibanTime Magazine cover from December 2001

 

Unmasking Masks – Intermezzo Guest Blog by Dr. Peter Weiss

“Don’t wear masks, now wear masks. Wear two masks, since two is better than one. Vaccines will set you free, until they don’t. Therapeutics that can treat COVID-19 are frowned upon, and you must be evil if you even suggest the possibility.”

2021-08-12 Unmasking Masks

Surgical masks mainly protect patients from droplets from the surgeon and the surgeon from blood splatter from the patient. They were not designed to protect against viruses. We upended our world with ineffective policies that have unintended consequences.
by Peter Weiss, August 11, 2021

I admit, I was nervous. I had about 30 minutes before I was needed in the operating room. My patient had active COVID-19, but needed emergency surgery. This was back in August 2020, pre-vaccine and mid-hysteria. I pushed the button for the basement. I hate basements.

As I walked in, the nurse was ready for me. I had to be form-fitted for my N95 mask. Form-fitting is critical for preventing any viral particles from sneaking in from the sides of the mask. I put the first one on. She then had me put a plastic hood over my head and upper body. She hooked up a tube and asked me to let her know if I sensed any bad smell or had any sour taste in my mouth [testing the mask]. Within five seconds, I was sick from the sour taste in the back of my throat. She quickly stopped and we repeated the same test with another N95. This time, it took 30 seconds. Luckily the third N95 fit, with no sour taste or smell even after three full minutes.

I was ready. I donned a form-fitted N95 mask, a bubble suit, double gloves, and goggles. It felt like I was in a bad movie, but this was really happening.

It’s now a year later and what have we learned about masks? Everything and yet nothing.

I was a co-author of a paper on N95 masks that was published in 2007 in the American Journal of Public Health. It was written by my brothers and niece, as well as myself. Yes, we’re all physicians. Dr. Martin Weiss was the lead author. It was titled “Disrupting the Transmission of Influenza A: Face Masks and Ultraviolet Light as Control Measures.”

One takeaway message from that article, which was written during the H1N1 scare, was that N95 masks can block 95 percent of particulate aerosols from penetrating into the mask, and we need to manufacture them now. They can block particles as small as 300 nanometers in size, which could block the COVID-19 virus.

Even though COVID is small enough to slide through the N95, the mask still has dense nanofibers that can catch droplets. In the operating room, it’s the best we have unless we have a full N100 respirator. Still, the N95 can capture the virus when expelled from an infected person, according to an article published in Nature Medicine in April, 2020.

The sad part is that our call for mass production of these masks back in 2007 went unheeded. We also stated that the goal is vaccines and therapeutics. While we have vaccines, therapeutics are lagging far behind. Even discussing therapeutics is frowned upon now.

Today, we’re constantly bombarded by recommendations and even orders to wear masks when outdoors. Los Angeles County, New York, and St. Louis all are implementing indoor mask mandates — again.

There was a time when we were told to wear them outside, even if alone. The problem with the best of intentions is that they can often lead to poor judgment. What constitutes a mask in the setting of COVID-19 restrictions? It’s worth unmasking masks.

Let’s start with N95, as I described above. To be effective, it has to be form-fitted. Not all N95’s fit properly, and they can leak viral particles. They’re actually called respirators, not masks. A mask mainly keeps the wearer from ejecting droplets or spray that affect others. A respirator provides two-way protection and can keep the wearer from catching aerosol particles from others.

There is even a N100, which does what it implies. N100 can block out the COVID, but good luck wearing it for any length of time. N95 respirators aren’t comfortable, and I have trouble wearing them for long periods of time. You really don’t want your surgeon uncomfortable. A number of colleagues and I have had to stop surgery to wipe our faces and readjust our masks.

Surgical masks are made of three plied layers of synthetic microfibers and extra-fine synthetic fibers, which block out much larger particles, but do a poor job of blocking the much smaller particles associated with COVID-19 viral transmission. The COVID-19 virus is extremely small, 60-140 nanometers, which is 1/1000th of a micron. A paper, “Filtration Performance of FDA-Cleared Surgical Masks,” stated that “The results suggest that not all FDA-cleared surgical masks will provide similar levels of protection to wearers against infectious aerosols in the size range of many viruses.” It was published in the Journal of International Society of Respiratory Protection in 2009.

Surgeons wear surgical masks for two reasons. First, we don’t want any blood or bodily fluid to hit us in the mouth, and second, we don’t want our saliva or drool to spill into the wound. We don’t wear them for viral protection. To be fair, there are a few articles that claim some surgical masks reduce viral transmission, from the person wearing the mask, but that’s assuming that droplets are the main cause of transmission when they may not be. Some believe aerosol spray is the major factor.

Those studies also assume that there’s no leakage from ill-fitting masks, since those were controlled environment studies. Aerosol spray is the extremely small viral particles that an infected person would give off when breathing. Droplets would be slightly larger, but still minuscule, and found in the kind of spray you see in a sneeze or when someone is speaking or coughing. (A side note: Masks with ties are more effective than masks with loops since they give a better seal.)

We hear a lot about “droplets.” Droplets aren’t some raindrop-size spit coming out of a person. Scientists usually mean something less than five microns (1/5,000 of an inch). The vast majority of COVID-19 is spread in much much smaller aerosol spray of 1/1,000 of a micron.

Dr. Kevin Fennely published a paper in The Lancet in 2020, stating that most viral pathogens are found in small particles. This conflicts with the view that larger droplets are responsible for most viral transmission. There have been other studies showing that very small particles (under 5 microns in size) may contain as much as nine times as much virus as larger particles (droplets). It’s also postulated that these smaller particles may be more dangerous, since they can penetrate deeper into the lungs. As a side note, when a droplet falls to the ground, it becomes aerosolized and is still a problem.

Those who believe that droplets are the main source for COVID-19 infections should also then support social distancing, but not the six feet we’re told. To be accurate, it should be anywhere from 18 to 27 feet. No one really knows where this six-foot social distancing “rule” came from. It most likely arose from the 1918 Spanish flu outbreak. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends social distancing at one meter (39 inches). This was based on work by a researcher from 1930 who studied the spread of tuberculosis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently changed the social distance requirements in schools from 6 feet to 3 feet (slightly less than 1 meter).

So, in effect, we’ve upended our entire world to enact policies with limited impact, meaning that the cost associated with implementing them isn’t offset by the proposed gains.

COVID-19 is bad. It’s absolutely horrible, especially if you’re older and have underlying medical conditions that make you more vulnerable. The good news is that, for most of us, it will only be a mild infection, such as the flu. The chance for a young person under 40 to die from COVID-19 can be as low as 0.01 percent and even lower if vaccinated.

The unintended consequences of the draconian measures from this pandemic are tragic. A recent report by The Well Being Trust says there could be 75,000 more deaths by what is called “death by despair” (suicide, drugs) because of COVID-19. Those 75,000 will be young people, not the elderly. In other words, people who aren’t really at risk from COVID-19.

We’re beset by misinformation and confusing recommendations from our government. Vaccines are amazing, I’m a believer, yet some politicians, such as President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, publicly stated that they wouldn’t trust any vaccine coming out under former President Donald Trump, until they were in charge. Don’t wear masks, now wear masks. Wear two masks, since two is better than one. Vaccines will set you free, until they don’t. Therapeutics that can treat COVID-19 are frowned upon, and you must be evil if you even suggest the possibility. This isn’t a reliable information environment.

How we tell a medical story is critical for success. It’s the way we tell a cancer patient or a surgical patient how we’ll treat them that sets up a plan for success.

And that plan should be based on a rational balance of cost, reward, and freedom. We don’t force a cancer patient to get a treatment that will make them suffer and a similar argument could be made for the vaccine.

Even though I’m a believer in the vaccine, I understand those who aren’t and respect the right of a healthy 18-year-old woman to decline receiving it. For the 36 million people who have had COVID, there’s no need for them to get the vaccine, since they have natural immunity. For how long, we don’t know, but research suggests durable immunity. It’s simple to test and find out if you still have antibodies against COVID-19.

Back in 2007, we suggested that the nation stockpile N95 masks. No one listened. We’re now incapable of manufacturing those masks. They’re all made in China. So now, we can wear a cheesecloth mask, and we’re told that we’re saving our nation.

I personally have no problem with wearing a mask if and when it’s truly needed. It just has to be the right mask, an N95 or greater. And yet, these masks are distinctly uncomfortable and add an additional strain on your system. They make it harder to breathe, or in research terms, impede gaseous exchange. I often have to stop surgery to adjust my mask and “catch my breath,” I’ve been wearing masks for all of my professional life, so it’s easier for me. I’m not everyone, though.

The issue we have is defining when is mask-wearing warranted? Forcing vaccinated people, or those who have recovered from COVID-19 to wear a mask, makes little sense, other than making some people feel more secure. Forcing a 2-year-old to wear a mask is asinine, to say the least.

On top of that, mandates don’t work. The implied new goal of reducing the COVID-19 death rate to zero is unrealistic and will never happen. This is now endemic. If we mandate mask-wearing to “save” lives, then we might as well mandate prohibition, since there are an estimated 95,000 deaths per year from alcohol-related incidents. Many of those are from drunk drivers killing innocent bystanders or passengers. The same argument can be made here. Solutions need to be realistic, not ridiculous.

Our nation should be able to mass-produce something as simple as N95 respirators and distribute them to the nation when and if needed for some future catastrophe. There will surely be more pandemics coming. My point is, if we need a mask, make it something that works.

Cloth masks, or even surgical masks, are like tying a rope around your waist while driving and claiming it’s a seat belt.

It also isn’t too much of an exaggeration to say wearing a Gucci style face-covering, such as Nancy Pelosi has, is like asking an X-ray technician to wear their grandmother’s kitchen apron when taking X-rays.

Dr. Peter Weiss has been a frequent guest on local and national TV, newspapers, and radio. He was an assistant clinical professor of OB/GYN at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA for 30 years, stepping down so he could provide his clinical services to those in need when the COVID pandemic hit. He was also a national health care adviser for Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign.

God Help Us All – Wordless Wednesday

Five Times August is the name of a solo music project by Dallas, Texas independent singer/songwriter/guitarist Brad Skistimas.  Another one on this same theme entitled Jesus, What Happened To US?: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPzc8ROZEjU.

Lock down all towns
Everybody slow down
Give ’em everything you have
Mask up, vax up
Get your body trashed up
Better do what they ask

It’s alright, okay
Sorry, but ya can’t pray
Gotta keep the church doors closed
No superstitions
A saint politician
Will tell ya what you need to know

Citizen fools
And brand new rules
Make everyone a hero now
So keep your distance
No resistance
Only do what you’re allowed

Cash that check
Go dance in the wreck
But just don’t speak your mind
Get your facts from the paid contracts
‘Cause never would they tell a lie

They don’t know me
And they don’t own me

Oh God help us all
Look what we’ve become
Oh God help us all
And fix what we have done

See no evil
Bow to the needle
Didn’t we turn out great?
Sick is the new health
Poor is the new wealth
Truth is whatever they say

Expert lectures
Media protectors
Tell me who to love and hate
Jail in the network
Hail to the Zuck-burg
Head down, just behave

Liberty, freedom, angels, demons
Someone’s in control
(Well) no way, no how
I wouldn’t say it too loud
Don’t you know they’re on patrol?

Need more likes
Post up, let’s fight
There’s no way that you’re wrong
Gott listen to the science
‘Cause it’s all about compliance
You agree or you’re gone

They don’t know me
And they don’t own me

Oh God help us all
Look what we’ve become
Oh God help us all
And fix what we have done

Sell my info
Hacked in, don’t know
Show me what I need to buy
Sex consumption, no corruption
Just as advertised

You’ve been labeled
And I’ve enabled
Better apologize
Propaganda
Racist slander
Time to organize

Shot, bang, who’s next?
Brain dead, useless
Show it on the TV screen
Tell me who to vote for
Gotta to start a new war
Wouldn’t want to live in peace

Divide and Conquer
Weak, not stronger
Everybody know your place
Do it now, won’t hurt
Dig into your own dirt
Virtue found it’s grave

They don’t know me
And they don’t own me

Oh God help us all
Look what we’ve become
Oh God help us all
And fix what we have done

Incite violence
Enforce silence
Mainstream message
Won’t you guide us?
You know what is best
For our own good

Anti-this and anti-that
Cancel this and cancel that
Take it to the streets
And the neighborhoods

Worship actors
Food and drugs
Brand yourself
Give them your blood
Don’t believe your eyes
Don’t look around

Fake news, rumors,
Ok boomer
Ignorance will stain our future
Will ya make it through
Or burn it down?

Oh God! Oh God! Help us all! Oh God! Help us all!

~ Five Times August ~