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Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Racial Profiling in Contempt of Court case?


ATLANTA (AP) – A judge ordered the arrest of a Muslim woman who refused to take off her head scarf at a court security checkpoint.

The judge ordered Lisa Valentine, 40, to serve 10 days in jail for contempt of court, said police in Douglasville, a city of about 20,000 people on Atlanta's west suburban outskirts.

Valentine's husband, Omar Hall, said his wife was accompanying her nephew to a traffic citation hearing when officials stopped her at the metal detector and told her she would not be allowed in the courtroom with the head scarf, known as a hijab.

Valentine violated a court policy that prohibits people from wearing any headgear in court, police said after the Tuesday arrest.

Hall said Valentine, an insurance underwriter, told the bailiff that she had been in courtrooms before with the scarf on and that removing it would be a religious violation. When she turned to leave and uttered an expletive, Hall said a bailiff handcuffed her and took her before the judge.

There are so many things wrong in this story, leaving aside the almost certainty that the AP got some of the details wrong, as they invariably do.

First of all, the security requirement is Big Brother gone wrong. If security were truly a concern in the headgear ban, then court attendees would be required to remove everything but their underwear--and items that scare judges can be hidden in underwear more easily than in a headscarf. It's extremely insensitive to the millions of people in the world, men and women, who wouldn't feel dressed without headgear, and an insult to the common sense of most everyone else.

Secondly, it smacks of political correctness. Look at the names: these are evidently Euro-Americans who converted to Islam. Lisa just didn't look like a Muslim, and the guard evidently felt quite free in refusing to accommodate her religion. If so, it just goes to show that racial profiling is basically impossible to eliminate. The White Man has been the target of just such a You-don't-look-like-you-could-possibly-qualify denial of special treatment.

Thirdly, the story is all given from Lisa's side, with the sole admittance that she uttered an expletive at the guard before being cuffed and booked. In my book, cussing out a security guard is not only stupid, it's probably illegal, given the language she likely used. But giving the judge, who never even saw her, power to throw her in jail for it is a denial of due process. She should have been arrested and arraigned. But that's not how it works in our Brave New World in which judges disdain to function in their appointed judiciary role alone, but demand their share of the legislative and executive roles as well.

Well, in this story, political correctness trumped racial profiling, and Lisa got off scot-free:

The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations urged federal authorities to investigate the incident as well as others in Georgia.

"I just felt stripped of my civil, my human rights," Valentine told The Associated Press on Wednesday from her home, after she said she was unexpectedly released once CAIR got involved. Jail officials declined to say why she was freed.

Municipal Court Judge Keith Rollins said that "it would not be appropriate" for him to comment on the case.

Would that we all had such friends in high places. Better yet, though, that none of us did.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Jihad in Jos

While most of the world's attention was focused on a small group of Muslim commandos attacking Western interests in Bombay, a slaughter of far greater magnitude was going on in Nigeria. And you're not likely to hear much truth about it from the major news media.

As it happens, The White Man has access to reporters on the scene, and can vouch for the truth of this account of the events surrounding the November 27 elections in Jos, Nigeria:



1 December 2008

Although tension has eased in Jos, Plateau State, following a weekend of deadly violence, there is increasing resentment in the Christian community at “biased and inaccurate reporting of events” by the international media.

Several international news agencies have reported that the violence was triggered by the results of a local government election. However, sources in Jos point out that voting passed off peacefully and the violence broke out in the early hours of Friday 28 November before electoral results had even been announced. Moreover, instead of targeting political institutions, rioters armed with guns, spears, machetes and other weapons immediately attacked Christian businesses, churches and the homes of clergymen. A local source informed Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW): “As usual they took Jos by surprise, and are now hiding behind election results to launch and excuse their mayhem.”

Of even greater concern are reports that appeared to suggest that Christians had killed 300 Muslims over the weekend, whose bodies were deposited at a central mosque. In reality, the men died while obeying orders from a mosque in the Dilimi area, which was using its loudspeakers to instruct all Muslims to defy the authorities, participate in the “jihad”, loot properties for money and then burn them. Local security sources insist the rioters were shot while defying a night-time curfew and launching fresh attacks, including an unsuccessful large-scale assault on police barracks. Commenting on these deaths the General Secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Engineer Salifu said: “It was not Christians who killed them; it was their own unfortunate attitude”. He also articulated local concern that such inaccurate reporting could fuel further violence against Christians elsewhere.

While a final Christian death toll has yet to be determined, Engineer Salifu informed CSW that so far more than 16 churches are known to have been burnt down and at least four pastors are confirmed to have been killed, including a pastor from the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN) who was shot dead in the suburb of Congo-Russia, and another from the Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA), killed in the Rikkos area. “From all indications, the final death toll will not be less than 100”.

There is also growing evidence that the weekend’s violence may have been planned in advance. So far 500 Muslim rioters have been arrested, some of whom were dressed in fake police and military uniforms. Two hundred are now known to be citizens of the neighbouring Republic of Niger, while 300 are from the northern Nigerian states of Kano, Katsina and Sokoto. Some of the rioters informed police that they arrived in Jos three days prior to the violence. “They had weapons, many weapons” said another source, “they were ready, very ready”.

Commenting on the weekend’s violence, Rt. Rev Dr. Benjamin Kwashi, Anglican Archbishop of Jos told CSW: “This crisis is a wake up call to state and federal authorities to undertake a serious appraisal of all the previous crises in Jos and elsewhere that have affected the church in northern Nigeria, and to ensure that truth is told, truth is maintained and justice is done. We have become a convenient scapegoat and target for those with grievances about events both at home and abroad. The Church in northern Nigeria needs urgent national and international protection. We have suffered this violence for over 20 years and it is now becoming unbearable”.


Monday, 8 December 2008

Is Calvinism a Religion?

In the previous post we explored the allegation that Calvinism is a cult, and found wanting sufficient evidence that it does now, or ever has, fit into that definition. I don't consider the question yet closed, however, just because historian Ruth A. Tucker has weighed in on the negative side of the question. Although Church History is her specialty, and there's no reason to doubt her sincerity, there are a couple factors bringing down the weight of her testimony, as so far presented:

1) She apparently lacks an adequate proficiency in Latin, so some of the earliest history of Calvinism is probably a closed book to her;
2) She's a Calvinist of some standing (however tenuous) in the Christian Reformed Church, so it's in her best interests not to dig up anything that may turn out to be embarrassing.

So, we leave it to the side in affirmation of the question to make the next move, and proceed to the next question, in which long-forgotten history does not play a crucial role: Is Calvinism a Religion?

A Religion can be defined as a broad system of belief that makes exclusive claims. Religions by nature are quite diverse within themselves, containing a wide variety of denominations. For example, within the Muslim religion we find the main trunks of Sunnism and Shi`aism, and within these the branches respectively called Salafists, Wahabists, Barelwists, and Deobandists; the Imamis, Isma'ilis, Alawites, and Zaidists; along with the Kharijite and Sufic side trunks with their various minor branches. Some of these various denominations would just as soon kill each other as greet each other, but stick any mix of them together in a mosque at prayer time and they will all bow toward Mecca and intone on cue that Mohammad is the prophet of God. They all belong to the same religion, and all recognize each other as fellow Muslims. Should any branch wander so far from the center as to refuse to do so, it is in danger of losing its identity as a Muslim sect and being branded an infidel religion, as happened to the Druze and Baha'i religions, which started out as syncretistic sects of Shi`a Islam.

Initially, Calvinism started out as a sect of the Protestant movement away from Catholicism. As such it had much in common with Lutheranism, which held sway in the Teutonic nations, and Anglicanism, which ruled England. Ironically, it was the only one of the three main branches of Protestantism that didn't result in a denomination named after its founding theology. The Calvinist churches took names such as Reformed and Presbyterian, with much Calvinist influence also being found in Free and Baptist churches. But this influence all worked one way; members of Reformed or Presbyterian churches who found themselves at odds with Calvinism were put out of the church, either by expulsion (as in Castellio) or execution (as in Servetus). Calvin himself supported this practice, even going so far as to say that anyone who did not join with him in denouncing a non-Calvinist as a heretic was a heretic himself.

Calvin's disciples today would not hold to so strict a view as to condemn their opponents to the flames, but their basic belief system, being the same as Calvin's, requires them to admit that anyone who disagrees with them is a heretic and not a true believer in actual Christianity. This can be traced from the very earliest days, when the Geneva Council declared Calvin's Institutes to be "holy doctrine which no man might speak against," down to the present day, when his disciples label their own sectarian doctrines as, not "The Five Points of Calvinism," but "The Five Doctrines of Grace." And everywhere in between, we see the same. In "A History of the New School, and the Questions Involved in the Disruption of the Presbyterian Church in 1838," Calvinist historian Samuel J. Baird contends that “the doctrines, all of them, of the connected system set forth in the [Westminster] Confession, are the very and infallible truth of God, and gospel of salvation.” In other words, the Westminster Confession, that unchangeable and infallible Manifesto of Calvinism, is equated with the truth of the Gospel, which no one can question without being condemned as a heretic. The Bible itself must bow to this supreme authority, or not speak at all.

Such is the conclusion to which any disciple of John Calvin is eventually driven. In their minds, Calvinism is identical with Christian Orthodoxy, and many go so far as to say that no one who rejects their doctrines can be truly saved. By their exclusive claim to truth, and condemnation of all competing views of Scripture and those who hold to them, the disciples of Calvin themselves have defined Calvinism as not just a, but the, only true Religion.