April 3, 2009

Weekly Summary: Week Ten

Protests against Proposition 8 resort to violence
It seems that those in opposition to proposition 8 are resorting to violence and harassment. That doesn't seem like the sort of thing you would want to do if you want people to accept you.

"Please sir, I want some more."
Many Republicans have opposed President Obama's economic plans, and now it seems some Democrats are also.

Condoms can't protect your spirit
Sexual activity is increasing, as well as sexual disease and unintended pregnancy. If you try to correlate them, you get called old fashioned. I just call it science.

200 Million Christians denied human rights
At UNL, students occasionally gather to protest "war", but they ignore the very real plight of the persecuted Church.

Weekly Puzzlers
This weeks puzzles provided by Nathan Davis. Last week's solutions available here.

Last week, thanks to a tip from a reader, we finally tracked down the "man" (a bandana clad hippy) who has been destroying our newspapers and possibly stealing our stands. We are still in discussion with our lawyer over what potential action we can take, but for now please be patient with us if the stands are empty: Some people hate other opinions so much they will resort to theft and destruction of property to silence it.

As always, thanks for reading!

Weekly Puzzler

This weeks puzzle was provided by Nathan Davis, a UNL Mechanical Engineer.


1 Equitable
5 Recipe abbr.
8 Concocted
12 Skillful
13 One ____ time (2 wds.)
14 Heed
15 Inform
16 Sport with webbed rackets
18 Enlarge
20 Parking timer
23 Hair dye
26 People raiser
30 Bathing place
31 Song
32 Whichever
33 Ecuador's neighbor
34 State further
35 Most in want
37 Malicious looks
40 Desert stops
41 Rouse again
45 Literary exposition
47 Dubuque's state
51 Hornet's kin
52 Bowling target
53 Iditarod vehicle
54 Makes a choice
55 Have breakfast
56 Golfers' pegs

1 Lard
2 Pres. Lincoln
3 Unwell
4 Alleviate
5 Powder mineral
6 Big Dipper component
7 Walk nervously
8 Bullwinkle, for one
9 No-shows
10 French preposition
11 Storm center
17 Pep rally sound
19 2nd amendment lobby
20 Iron or lead
21 Escape
22 Most sore
24 Hospital worker
25 Borders on
27 Light brown
28 Single
29 Seeded bread
33 Keyboard artist
36 Gentle animal
38 Harvests
39 Posed
42 Rub dry
43 China's continent
44 Clark ____ (Superman)
45 Pair
46 Eminem's milieu
48 Bullfight cheer
49 Pint-sized
50 Paid notices

Puzzle Solutions!

Solutions from last week's puzzles are shown here:

200 Million Christians Denied Human Rights

Stephen Harris
Journalism Major at Multnomah

Joseph Hovsepian found his father nearly two weeks after he disappeared; he had been stabbed in the chest 26 times. Haik Hovsepian, a prominent Christian leader in Iran during the early 1990s, was martyred after advocating for the release of a Christian convert sentenced to die for his faith.

The Hovsepians faced many troubles for their faith and evangelistic zeal. At the time of his father’s murder, Mr. Hovsepian’s military commanders stationed him in the worst locations, only allowing him a few hours sleep each night. “It was like an exile,” he said. He said the military also threatened his sister’s academic career and his brother’s life.

Christians worldwide face unprecedented mistreatment: 200 million suffer some form of oppression for their faith, according to the World Evangelical Alliance.

In a report given to the Geneva Convention in 2002, the World Evangelical Alliance wrote that Christians are the victims of progressive levels of malevolence, ranging from discrimination to persecution, and represent the world’s largest group denied human rights simply because of its beliefs.

“The gates of hell will not prevail, but there are gates of hell,” Karen Fancher, Multnomah University dean of students, said. Dean Fancher’s doctoral studies focus on equipping the church in war-torn Sudan.

Twenty-one years of civil war between the Muslim North and the Christian South have wreaked havoc on the Sudanese people. Two million people have died, and four million have been displaced.

Once, as Dean Fancher was preparing to fly home from a visit to Sudan, she talked to a commander from the army in the South. She asked him whether he favored the proposed splitting of the country in 2011, which would give the South independence and protection.

Dean Fancher said: “He said, ‘It would be easier for us if we seceded and became our own country, and we would be free to worship God in our [own] way, but we would never reach the Muslims in the North. How would they ever know Jesus?’”

“God clearly uses persecution to advance his church,” Rick Elzinga, a pastor from Beaverton, Ore., said. He said Christians in persecuted countries such as North Korea provide the church in the West with healthy models of spirituality. “The church there is a model of what it is to take up the cross of Christ.”

Mark (who asked that his last name be omitted), an Iranian Christian who came to the United States shortly after his country’s Islamic Revolution in 1979, said more people in Iran came to salvation after they were cut off from Christian witness than before the revolution.

As a child in pre-revolution Iran, Mark was once handed a Christian tract from a blond Western man. Mark ran home to inform his mother, who told him to throw it away and wash his hands. “Because there was freedom, people were not excited to hear about Christianity,” he said.

Now things have changed. Before the revolution, only about 300 Christians were from Muslim backgrounds, but today there are at least 70,000, according to Iranian Christians International.

Dean Fancher said that glamorizing persecution is a dangerous proposition. She said, “Persecution can be devastating to the church, and we see that historically. There can be unique places with unique individuals who would rather die than deny Christ and who do it with love and passion. I don’t think that’s the norm, though. Persecution isn’t a formula [for church growth].”

Mufdi (whose name has been changed to protect his identity), an Egyptian man with a broadcast ministry in the United States, said that his native land is rife with persecution. Although Egypt’s constitution technically ensures religious freedom, in practice discriminatory laws based on Islamic teachings keep Christians from enjoying that liberty, according to the U.S. State Department’s 2008 Religious Freedom Report.

This document reports that one of the country’s lower courts issued a ruling, now under appeal, that Muslims are not allowed to change their faith. Mufdi said Egyptian authorities often leave Christians vulnerable to harassment from Muslim extremists and even attempt to shift the blame from the Islamic offenders to the Christian victims.

Pastor Elzinga said, “We [Americans] live in an abnormal time when we can live our Christian lives and not experience much if any persecution, but that’s quickly changing.” He said that American Christians should prepare for persecution by learning from and praying for the persecuted church.

However, during a prayer session for the persecuted church at Multnomah’s 2008 missions conference, he found only one student present. He decided to take action by forming a prayer group at Multnomah with his son, Andrew, during the fall of 2008. Andrew, now a freshman at Multnomah, leads the ministry. In addition to weekly prayer meetings, the group also holds monthly gatherings in which guest speakers present overviews of persecution in countries such as Egypt, Iraq and North Korea.

Dean Fancher said, “We don’t want to glorify the persecuted church, but those men and women that we see faithfully serving Jesus in very difficult circumstances should be our teachers. I want to be that faithful even if I’m not being persecuted. [We should ask] God to prepare us to be more fully surrendered to him today, in freedom.”

Condoms can't protect your spirit

Andrew Lacy
UNL Broadcasting Major

While flying to Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon, the Pope insisted the way to confront HIV and AIDS is through sexual monogamy. He referred to AIDS as “a tragedy that cannot be overcome by money alone, and that cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which even aggravates the problems."

Not surprisingly, secularists have a problem with this. To them, abstinence and monogamy are outdated and unrealistic. Indeed, one only has to look as far as our own Daily Nebraskan to read defenses of casual sex and condemnations of ASUN candidates who agree with the Pope's position. As a Lutheran, I view the Pope as nothing more than another politician, but for secular liberals to attack him for stating what should be obvious is absurd to me.

Apparently, we can only tell people not to engage in self-gratification if it falls in line with liberal ideology. “Don't watch Fox News. Don't listen to Rush Limbaugh. Don't read the Student Newspaper.” These are all considered reasonable positions, but when Christians encourage their sons and daughters not to engage in risky behavior that can cause major emotional and spiritual scars, it's overly simplistic and irrational.

Upon closer inspection, it's very clear which position is more simplistic and not thought out. On one side, we have a culture that tells you, “If it feels good, do it.” On the other side, we have knee-jerk radicals who believe a condom provides no protection for the soul. On one side, we have those who promote behavior that can ruin lives (news flash: sexual promiscuity and poverty often go hand-in-hand). On the other side, we have people who realize that, excepting tainted blood transfusions, no one has ever contracted AIDS while abstaining and only one person has ever gotten pregnant without having sex, and that required divine intervention 2,000 years ago.

Condoms can fail, but abstinence works every time it's tried.

“Please sir, I want some more.”

Benjamin Kantack
UNL Political Science and Spanish Major

As banks, insurance providers, and automakers continue to petition the government for funding to defibrillate their catatonic companies, the average American is becoming disenfranchised with the handling of the financial crisis. Recent Gallup polls show that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner (the man tasked with the bailout, stimulus, and other spending projects) has a mediocre 42% approval rating, while the percentage of Americans with a positive impression of Obama’s budget proposal has dropped to 39%.

According to CNBC on February 26th, the President included a request for $250 billion in additional bailout funds in the budget he submitted to Congress. The request “would support asset purchases of $750 billion via government stabilization programs,” according to the administration, which affirmed that “Additional action is likely to be necessary to stabilize the financial system and thereby facilitate economic growth.”

What is surprising about this $250 billion request, however, is the fact that no one – not even the President himself – knows what it will be used for. Instead of specifically allocating funds to troubled companies or organizations, the request was a “placeholder,” as yet not assigned to any particular recipients, according to Reuters on March 26. As both a fiscal conservative and a guy whose mom gets suspicious when he asks for $20 and doesn’t say what for, I find it more than a little disconcerting that the president expects to have to shell out more cash, but doesn’t know specifically why or to whom.

The Republicans, the party of penny-pinchers, stood up (as expected) to the inclusion of such an arbitrary, haphazard ballpark figure in the proposed 2010 budget. But the opposition to the $250 billion placeholder includes several influential Democratic congressmen. Each congressional chamber has a Budget Committee to review the President’s suggestions.

In the Senate, the chairmanship of said committee falls to Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota, who told NPR that he eliminated the $250 billion because “[T]here is no plan as to how to use the money and no assertion by the administration that they’re even certain it would be needed.” Conrad added, “[W]e simply can’t budget money for things that are theoretical.”

Conrad’s counterpart in the House, Democratic Congressman John Spratt of South Carolina, called on the President to justify the request. On March 29, Rep. Spratt told CNN’s John King on State of the Union that “If it’s needed, we will be there to support it. But let’s not create a presumption it is needed and see if we can’t make the most of what’s in circulation already.”

Two other Democrats – Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada – spoke out against the prodigality, according to a March 24 article by David Lightman. Nelson stated “I don’t think there’s enough support for any additional rescue plans at this point.” Reid argued that further funding could be provided when the need arises, saying “If it’s an emergency we can do it.”

Some might consider the refusal of these Democrats to back the president’s wanton allocation of funds nothing more than bending to the will of their constituents. However, there is a glimmer of hope that these congressmen may have begun to recognize how inefficient and unsuccessful the federal government has proven itself at administering bailout monies in this time of crisis. Perhaps the Obama administration will be less eager to pour out more taxpayer dollars whenever a failed company approaches with an empty bowl and a pitiable, Twist-esque expression, pleading “Please sir, I want some more.”

Protests against Proposition 8 resort to violence

Tobias Davis
UNL Mechanical Engineering Major

In California, homosexual protesters against the recently passed proposition 8 are resorting to violence to argue their view.

A group of 10-20 Christians had been gathered on a street corner in San Francisco's "Castro" district, quietly praying and singing, when a group of men began yelling and shouting profanities, warning the Christians to leave the district. The group of Christians were backed into a corner, had hot coffee poured on some of them, were hit on the head, and some Christians were pushed to the ground and kicked. The mob-like crowd which was violently harassing the Christians started taking pictures, shouting "We know where you live" and "We're going to kill you," and continuously blowing shrieking whistles directly in their ears. Police officers in raid gear had to be called to get the Christians safely out, with the mob of homosexuals following for several blocks, still shouting and screaming.

In another related event, a little old lady showed up to a homosexual protest holding a simple cross, as a simple counter-protest to the larger group. Within seconds the mob had torn the cross from her hands, broken it apart on the ground, surrounded her, and began shouting and pushing at her. In this case a News Agency was there, and it did not appear that the Police were called.

While it might be nice to believe that this was an isolated event, the truth is that most of the homosexual community in California has resorted to these violent and under-handed tactics. Searching news sources online for terms such as "california church vandalism" pulled up immediate hits for recent events related to violence protesting proposition 8.

Online responses to this violence vary, one particular response worth noting is the "Those Christians had it coming" attitude. This argument essentially says the Christians should have known they would be assaulted, so it was their fault. This same argument was, fairly recently, used to argue that it was a woman's fault she was sexually assaulted if she went out at night, since "She should have known better." Of course, this argument does not stand up to reason, both in the case of a woman being assaulted at night, and in the case of Christians being assaulted in San Francisco, and was thrown out of courts fairly quickly.

In 1998 when Eric Rudolph bombed two abortion clinics and claimed it was a Christian thing to do, Christians and the pro-life community as a whole spoke out immediately and very publicly against the use of violence in any way. Trust of the Christian and pro-life community was maintained because of this outcry against violence from that community. The Eric Rudolphs are not considered part of that community because of their response. However, no similar immediate public response has been made from the homosexual community, so it is unsure what the response of the Country will be to a people who allow their community to commit acts of violence without repercussion.