...proclaim liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.
"Of all earthly possessions, liberty is the most precious: it is brought at a greater price, and preserved with greater watchfulness, than any other."
"Of all earthly possessions, liberty is the most precious: it is brought at a greater price, and preserved with greater watchfulness, than any other."
- James Aitken Wylie -
Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks discussing how social networks are an excellent spying machine for the US intelligence
What is liberty? What does it mean to be free? Jesus laid down the foundation for the liberties we cherish today and He can be truly titled the father of religious and civil liberty. His ministry embraced the outcasts of society, where he looked after the poor (John 13:29), laid down the foundation of the separation of church and state, where we should ‘render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the thing’s that are God’s’ (Matt. 22:21), revived the judicial system of balancing an individual’ case, where at ‘the mouth of two or three witnesses every word should be established’ (Matt. 18:15-17) and encouraged His saints not to think about themselves only, but to ‘strengthen thy brethren’ (Luke 21:32). If churches were to be run on His divine principles, then their would never be the hierarchal structure many institutions have in place today, where men wouldn’t be elevated as demigods and no members would be suffering. Jesus showed that a church and a society can only be stable and successful if those in power would learn to serve their neigbours unlike tyrannical governments.
But Jesus called them unto Him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise dominion over them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant; even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.
Over the years, His principles have been eroded and were almost lost by pompous, self ambitious men whose antics laid the foundation for that horrific period in human history in Europe known as the Dark Ages, where superstition controlled the minds of the populace and tyranny and statecraft reigned supreme. During this time when the darkness of Papal dogma looked like it was going to engulf the entire terrain of Europe, the light of the gospel could never be outed, for men who had the fear of God in their hearts began to rise up in Europe in that godly movement known as the Reformation. Godly men had a desire to earnestly study the Holy Scriptures and go back to the simple, primitive orthodox practices of the early church, where men could worship God ‘in spirit and in truth’ without a religious body compelling them to come in line with the status quo. John Wycliffe (c.1320-1384), an English political reformer, preacher, schoolman, Bible translator and the foremost religious pamphleteer that has arisen in Britain was called the 'evangelic doctor' and has been titled the ‘morning star of the Reformation’, upheld the principles of religious liberty and his followers known as Wycliffites or Lollards, were burnt to the stake for preaching the gospel of Christ and giving an illiterate nation of people in England an opportunity to read as well as know Jesus Christ for themselves. Why does nobody know of these men and women whose blood was spilt to give people their cherished liberties today. The prolific Protestant historian James Aitken Wylie (1808-1890) tells us why.
‘The names of many of these early sufferers, to whom England owes, under Providence, its liberties and its Scriptural religion, have fallen into oblivion.’ (1)
William Thorpe (left) a staunch follower of the English reformer John Wyclife stands before Thomas Arundel (seated right), the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1407. He was imprisoned for his faith, a violation of his religious liberty and interrogated for being obedient to Jesus Christ and not the established Catholic Church. There is no record of his fate.
Michael Servetus (1511-1523) had his religious liberty robbed from him and was burnt to the stake by Protestants in Geneva under the order of French Protestant reformer John Calvin.
The Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland, Oliver Cromwell (top) and his Secretary of State, the poet and polemicist John Milton (bottom) tried to create a society where freedoms could be given for everyone.
Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) is one of the most controversial characters in British history. The Jews who were expelled from Britain in 1290 were readmitted back into Britain under Cromwell’s Commonwealth in 1656. The Swiss Protestant historian Jean-Henri Merle d'Aubigné (1794-1872) wrote a solidly researched biography on his life, titled The Protector, where it documents his efforts to restore religious liberty in the Commonwealth and his passionate drive to help the persecuted northern Italy Christians, known as the Waldenses who were hunted down and bludgeoned to death by Papal armies in 1655, known as the ‘Easter Massacre’. The brilliant historian and the first Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, the late Dr. Eric Eustace Williams (1911-1981) wrote a solidly researched book titled Documents of West Indian History where he shows letters of Oliver Cromwell instructing British colonists in North America to treat the natives with care and not brutalise them like the Spanish did. A Protestant may glory in Cromwell’ achievements, and by right they should do so, but on the flip side he embraced the English/Protestant’ negative hatred toward the Irish and he confiscated their lands and harshly shipped many of them off to Barbados as servants, as well as Gypsies. The trafficking of African slaves also existed in his kingdom.
The poet John Milton (1608-1674), known as one of the first advocates for religious and civil liberty wrote a tract in 1644 titled Areopagatica which was a defence of free speech. A portion of it reads thus:
The poet John Milton (1608-1674), known as one of the first advocates for religious and civil liberty wrote a tract in 1644 titled Areopagatica which was a defence of free speech. A portion of it reads thus:
This is true liberty when free born men
Having to advise the public may speak free
Which he who can, and will, deserves high praise,
Who neither can nor will, may hold his peace;
What can be juster in a state than this?
A history lesson could be given of each of these zealous reformers throughout Europe, but it is important to look at the individual who single-handedly had the greatest impact on religious liberty, riding on the spirit of the Reformation.
Roger Williams (1603-1683) was a 17th century English born American Protestant theologian, who laid down the foundation for successfully instituting a society that practices religious and civil liberty. He was very unique within himself, for unlike the cold, extreme, brutal and heartless measures his fellow Puritans enacted out on the AmerIndians and anyone else who showed any sign of dissent from the established church, he was the champion of individual rights especially for the natives of North America and anyone who wanted to worship God, not according to the laws of the land, but according to the word of God in the colony he founded, Rhode Island.
Roger Williams (1603-1683), Puritan scholar and the founder of the Rhode Island and Providence Plantations
‘Sixthly, it is the will and command of God that (since the coming of his Sonne the Lord Jesus), a permission of the most paganish, Jewish, Turkish, or antichristian consciences and worships, bee granted to all men in Nations and Countries. That our selves and all men are apt and prone to differ it is no new thing Thing in all former Ages in all parts of this World in these parts and in our deare native Countrey and mournful state of England…To try out Matters by Disputes and writing in sometimes Endless. To try out Arguments by Armes and Swords is cruel and merciless.’
The first great European theorist and practisioner of toleration, well before the Enlightenment, was actually Roger Willams, an American. Williams was born in England, probably in 1603, to a prosperous merchant family. He grew up in London, near the Smithfield plain, where religious dissenters were sometimes burned at the stake. As a young man, he attracted the attention of the distinguished lawyer Sir Edward Coke, chief justice of the King’s Bench. Coke arranged for the young man’s education at Sutton’s Hospital, the future Charterhouse School (an elite “public school” that focused on a classical education), and then at Pembroke Hall in Cambridge University, where Williams received his A.B. in 1627. Williams quickly impressed with his remarkable flair for languages, mastering Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, and Dutch. In this way he made John Milton’s friendship: he taught Milton Dutch in exchange for receiving Hebrew lessons. On graduation, Williams took orders in the Church of England and, in 1629, accepted the post of Chaplain at Oates in Essex. In 1630, a leading Puritan reformer was placed in the pillory. One of his ears was cut off, one side of his note was split, and he was branded on the face with the letter SS, for “Sower of Sedition.” Later on the side of his nose was split and his other ear was cut off. For good measure, the man was then imprisoned for the rest of his life. Williams, who witnessed these events, and who was already very critical of the Anglican orthodoxy, decided that he could not live the religious life he wanted in Enland. He set sail for Massachusetts. At first, Williams was warmly welcomed by the leaders of Massachusetts Bay Colony. Although Boston found his views about the individual conscience too radical, he was welcomed by the congregation at Salem. (He held that a religious oath should not made mandatory by civil authority, thus anticipating one of the key claims in our Constitution.) During this period Williams spent some peaceful months at Plymouth, where he pursued his study of Indian life and languages. By 1635/6, the authorities saw that Williams was bent on continuing his divisive teaching. They ordered his arrest. Tipped off in advance, he fled. Looking back on the incidenct from Providence in 1670, he describes it this way:
…I was unkindly and unchristianly (as I believe) driven from my howse and land, and wife and children (in the midst of N. Engl. Winter now, about 35 years past)…I steered my course from Salem (though in Winter snow wch I feele yet) untl these parts, whrein I may say as Jacob, Peniel, that is I have seene the Face of God…
So begins the story of Rhode Island. In keeping with his sense of divine deliverance, Williams named the new settlement Providence. A key part of the life of the new settlement was respectful friendship with the Indians. Williams had always treated them as human beings, not beasts or devils. He respected their dignity. One of the key provisions of the Charter of Rhode Island was that “itt shall not bee lawful to or For the rest of the Colonies to invade or molest the native Indians…,” a provision that Williams particularly sought and, when granted, applauded, noting that hostility to the Indians “hath hietherto bene…practiced to our Continuall and great grievance and disturbance. The Indians’ behavior, for Williams expressed the Christian spirit of love more truly than did the severities of Massachusetts. Rhode Island rapidly became a haven for people who were in trouble elsewhere; other settlements were founded. Baptists, Quakers, and other dissidents joined the Puritan dissenters. In 1658 fifteen Portuguese Jewish families arrived in Newport. In 1643 Williams set sail for England to secure a charter for the new colony. A democratic charter was obtained, and the colony, uniting the diverse settlements under a single government, again proclaimed liberty of conscience. In 1652, Rhode Island passed the first law in North America making slavery illegal. By this time, Williams had been won over by the Baptists’ argument in favor of adult baptism; he was (re)baptized in 1639 and reffered to himself from that time as a “Seeker.” The charter was shocking indeed – not only in its odd provision regarding the Indians, but, above all, in its clause regarding religious liberty:
[N]oe person within the sayd coloyne, at any tyme hereafter, shall bee any wise molested, punished, disquieted, or call in question, for any differences in opinione in matters of religion, and doe not actually disturb the civill peace of sayd colony; but that all and everye person and persons may, from tyme to tyme, and at all tymes hereafter, freely and fully have and enjoye his and theire owne judgments and consciences, in matters of religious concernments, throughout the tract of lande hereafter mentioned; they behaving themselves peaceablie and quietlie, and not using his libertie to lycentiousness and profanenesse, nor to the civill injurye or outward disturbance of others; any lawe, statute, or clause, therein contained, or to be contained, usage or custome of this realme, to the contrary hereof, in any wise, notwithstanding.
Williams was notoriously skeptical about Sunday as the chosen day for no work. He had considerable sympathy with the theological arguments of the Seventh-Day Baptists. More generally, he saw the burden that comes with imposing a majority practice on all. Rhode Island had no Sunday law during his lifetime. Williams died in 1684 at the age of eighty-one, and was buried in his own property. (2)
This was the first time the principles of the Reformation was succesfully acted out in a society, not just in document, but in practice. Though countries in Europe seceded from the Papacy during the Reformation, there were still traces of Popery felt in the Protestant bodies, where people were tortured or burnt at the stake whose views were against the established religion of that state. John Calvin (1509-1564), the French Reformer and theolgian who called the Papacy the Antichrist, was still controlled by the spirit of his age and had a man called John Servetus (1511-1553) arrested and burnt at the stake for his views. The Anabaptists who arose in the 16th century were under constant persecution all over Europe by both Catholics and Protestants because of their strict stand of Biblical principles and that is why they and many other religious bodies migrated to North America, where they could worship God freely and practice the true concept of religious liberty.
Continuing the tradition of Roger Williams was the Baptist preacher Isaac Backus (1724-1806), the man who campaigned against state established churches and whose influence led to the separation of church and state, where the first ten amendments of the Bill of Rights in the United States Constitution also was a part of his influence. On October 8, 1788 he read a paper in New England and addressed it to the Warren Association on the subject of religious liberty and its importance in every day life.
‘The plain truth is, by the Gospel-charter, all professed Christians are vested with precisely the same rights; nor has one denomination any more right to the interposition of the civil magistrate in their favor than another; and whenever this difference takes place, it is beside the rule of Scripture, and I may say also, the genuine dictates of uncorrupted reason.’ (3)
People in North America have reaped the benefits from these godly men, where only the civil government can intervene in a state issue and not the churches. But the state can still infringe itself on religious bodies who come out of line with it. Emperor Constantine’ religious Sunday legislation, better known today as ‘blue laws’, have infringed themselves upon Protestant bodies, especially the Seventh-day Adventist church in North America in the first half of the nineteenth century.
In Rhea County, Tennesse, Seventh-day Adventists were sentenced to the chain gang for Sunday-law violation. Apart from the three men in the front row, all the men behind them are Seventh-day Adventists inluding a pastor.
As early as 1836, William Lloyd Garrison, fiery editor of The Liberator, had editorialized: “Certain we are that all attempts to coerce an observance of the Sabbath by legislation have been, must be, and ought to be, nugatory.” He cried out against the utilizing of civil or ecclesiastical pains and penalties in order “to enforce its observances, as a peculiarly ‘holy day.’ ” The abolitionists concluded the time had come to resist the Sunday-law flanking attack. In a statement drafted by Garrison and signed by Burleigh and other abolitionist spokesmen, an anti-Sunday-law convention was called in Boston, Massachusetts, for March 23 and 24, 1848. The convention call, addressed “An Appeal to the Friends of Civil and Religious Liberty,” pointed to the widespread existence of “laws enforcing the religious observance of the first day of the week as the Sabbath, and punishing as criminals such as arttempt to pursue their usual avocations on that day.” Criticizing the blue laws as “a shameful act of imposture and tyranny,” these reformers denounced “all penal laws respecting the religious observance of any day as the Sabbath” as despotic and anti-Christian and demanded that they should be repealed promptly. Following such a massive uproar, it came as no surprise that the 1848 Boston convention produced a package of six resolutions calling for the abolition of all state Sunday blue laws. The resolutions charged that those “who are for subjecting to fine or imprisonment such as do not receive their interpretation of the Scriptures in regard to the observance of the first day of the week as the Sabbath, are actuated by a mistaken or malevolent spirit…which in various ages, has resorted to the dungeon, the rack, the gallows, and the stake, for the accomplishment of its purpose.”
Since the young nation had proved a refuge from the scourge of church-state tyranny, and since the people were accustomed to making their own decisions regarding worship, liberation from Sunday legislation seemed a logical step. Supporters of religious liberty were urged to petition their state legislators for blue-law repeal. Since Christianity, as taught by its Founder, does not rely for its safety and prosperty “on the rack on the stake, the dungeon or the gibbet, unjust proscription or brutal supremacy,” why not “let the first day of the week stand on its own basis, as the second or third day stands?” If we do so, Garrison predicted, “it will be much more rationally observed than it is now.” While the work of Garrison and others in the antislavery cause was successful, their efforts to defeat Sunday laws largely failed, perhaps because slavery and national union were the ultimate political concerns of the day. Organized as a church in 1863, Seventh-day Adventists were commiitted to the doctrine of Sabbath observance from sundown Friday evening to Sundown Saturday evening, as a memorial of creation. They were also commited to civil disobedience, respect for government, and love of country. Their leaders counseled them honestly to endeavour to obey Sunday laws, however unjust. Seventh-day Adventists were charged with a wide variety of Sunday-law violations. In Arkansas, J. W. Scoles, a clergyman, was seen painting in the back of a church “out of sight of all public roads.” James A. Armstrong dug potatoes in his field. William L. Gentry plowed on his farm. Fourteen-year-old John A. Meeks hunted squirrels. J. L. James did carpenter work as an act of charity. He worked in the rain to repair a house for a widow about to be evicted from her home. The widow was a Methodist. The informer was a minister of the Missionary Baptist Church who had a habit of chopping wood for his own use on Sunday. J. L. Shockly cleared land and hauled rails. Joe McCoy plowed his field. John Neusch picked some overripe peaches which threatened to spoil on the trees. In 1887, Arkansas State Senator R. W. Crockett, grandson of the legendary “Davy,” made an impassioned plea to his cohorts to restore an exemption for seventh-day observers which would offer some relief from Sunday-law enforcement. During the years 1895 and 1896 alone, “no less than seventy-six Seventh-day Adventists were prosecuted in the United States and Canada under existing Sunday laws. Of these, twenty-eight served terms of various lengths in jails, chain gangs, etc., aggregating 1,144 days. (4)
It is quite clear from the evidence collated, that when a Protestant body of believers becomes a majority, they forget their former experience and they persecute just as harshly as the Papacy did. Baptists, Quakers, Seventh-day Adventists and other denominations in North America have felt the harsh results of the merger of church and state and if this ever happens again (which it will), harsher penalties are going to be imposed on those who don’t conform to the status quo.
In the climate we are living in today, hundreds of laws are being passed around the world that are infringing themselves on people’ civil and religious liberties and many are unaware what is taking place each day under their noses. While it isn’t necessary for a Christian to be spending sleepless hours bogged down and focusing on every single thing their governments are doing, they should be aware and not ignorant of what is taking place, so that they are not caught unawares of things that are to come.
- Governments are building a “global registration and surveillance infrastructure” in the US-led “war on terror”, civil liberty groups warned. The aim, they said, was to monitor the activities of entire populations in what campaigners call “an unprecedented project of social control.” National ID cards, they warned, would become a “globally interoperable biometric passport.” The setting up of airlines’ passenger name records information, including meal choices revealing personal, religious or ethnic affiliation. They highlighted an agreement between Europol, the EU’s incipient police headquarters, and the US, giving an “unlimited number” of American agencies access to data on race, political opinions, religious beliefs, health and the sexual life of individuals. (5)
- When the United States announced the US-VISIT program, which will require all foreigners, visiting America to be fingerprinted, photographed and placed in a biometric database, there was no official protest from France and Germany: both countries are already planning to fingerprint visa applications. Brazil, by contrast, retaliated by fingerprinting U.S. visitors. Europe’s greater deference to government authority led by countries like Germany and Britain to adopt surveillance measures after 9/11 that in some ways went further than the US Patriot Act. In 2002, for example Germany adopted a law that authorised the government to create a central database with personal information about foreigners, including fingerprints and religious background. In Britain Antiterrorism laws passed in 2000 and 2001 allow constables to arrest without a warrant anyone they suspect of being a terrorist. (6)
- Early plans to create a giant “Big Brother” database holding information about every phone call, e-mail and internet visit made in the UK were condemned by the Government’s own terrorism watchdog. Lord Carlisle of Berriew QC, the independent reviewer of anti-terrorist laws, said the ‘raw idea” of the database was “awful” and called for controls to stop government agencies using it to conduct fishing expeditions into the private lives of the public. Lord Carlisle acknowledged the value of using phone and Internet intelligence in fighting crime, but he said it would be wrong to go as far as the US Patriot Acts. (7)
- Lord Carlisle, the former Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman appointed to review the operation of the [Terrorism] act, wrote: “It has been drawn to my attention from real events in the past year that the definition of terrorism would have included, for example, an anti-war protestor who threatened to reach the runway of a military airfield and change his/her baby’s nappy there knowing that runway was due to receive US aircraft returning from bombing missions in Iraq. While this appears to be a strictly correct interpretation of the provision, it is questionable whether most citizens would regard such acts as falling within the appropriate scope of terrorism.” (8)
· Whisked through Congress in the weeks after 9/11, the Patriot Act allows the Feds to search any financial institution in the country for the records of anybody they have suspicions about. (9) US R’N’B sensation Jill Scott is worried that her phone has been bugged by the FBI since the release of a political charged single. She has joined the ever swelling ranks of entertainers who are using their extreme dissatisfaction with President Georg W Bush. (10)
An Unmanned Ariel Vehicle (UAV) also known as a drone.
· US: The future of law enforcement was launched into the smoggy Los Angeles skies at the weekend in the form of a drone aircraft intended to bring spy-in-the-sky technology to urban policing. The unmanned aerial vehicle, called the SkySeer, looks like a remote-controlled toy and fits into a shoulder bag. In the air, the craft is guided by global positioning system coordinates, and a camera fixed to the underside sends video to a laptop command station. The SkySeer, which has low-light and infrared capabilities and can fly at speeds of up to 30 mph, would be able to spot burglary suspects. (11) A British-built “spy in the sky” is already in service with the US Immigration Department, patrolling the Mexican border where millions of illegal workers cross into the US every year. (12)
· Britain: Fleets of unmanned “drone” aircraft fitted with powerful cameras are to be used to patrol Europe’s borders in a dramatic move to combat people-smuggling, illegal immigration and terrorism. The Independent on Sunday can today reveal that the tiny planes will fly at more than 2,500 feet over the English Channel and Mediterranean beaches as part of a £1bn programme to equip Europe’s police forces, customs officers and border patrols with high-tech surveillance and anti-terrorism equipment. The aircraft, called unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), are already being used by the Belgian government to catch tankers illegally dumping oil in the North Sea. Several ships’ captains have already been prosecuted. The European Commission now wants to use similar drones, which can have a 6-metre wingspan and weighs as little as 195kg, to patrol the Mediterranean coasts and the Balkans where illegal immigrants try to enter the EU. The Russian government is close to flying drones over its borders. (13)
· USA: Hundreds of convicted sex offenders will have to wear a two-piece electronic tracking device for the rest of their lives under a new Wisconsin law. Ankle bracelets and a pagersized unit, often attacked to a belt, will use Global Positioning System (GPS) technology to follow their every stop. If they enter restricted areas, such as schools, officials will be alerted. GPS programmes will track 285 offenders this year, beginning July 2007, and up to 400 by the second year, says Dan Leistikow, spokesman for Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle. In May, Wisconsin joined a rapidly rising number of states using GPS to monitor convicted sex offenders. At least 23 states are doing so, according to a survey in February by the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole. Others have since begun or expanded GPS programs. “It is not an effective way to prevent sexual assaults”, says Richard Wright, a professor at criminal justice at Bridgewater State College. He says many serious sex offenders evade police by failing to register and others may re-offend regardless of tracking. He says no definitive study proves GPS deters crime. (14)
· Britain: Ministers are planning to implant “machine-readable” microchips under the skin of thousands of offenders as part of an expansion of the electronic tagging scheme that would create more space in jails. Amid concerns about the security of existing tagging systems and prison overcrowding, the Ministry of Justice is investigating the use of satellite and radiowave technology to monitor criminals. The move is line with a proposal from Ken Jones, the president of the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), that electronic chips should be surgically implanted into convicted paedophiles and sex offenders in order to track them more easily. Global Positioning System (GPS) technology is seen as the favoured method of monitoring such offenders to prevent them going near “forbidden” zones such as primary schools. (15)
· Lyons, France is the global headquarters of Interpol, the world’s first international police organization. Six years after Interpol began collecting stolen document details, its list contains about 8 million passports and 6 million identity documents – the only such international database in the world. Interpol started gathering DNA data in 2002 from swabs collected at crime scenes internationally. Those files now contain more than 73,000 DNA profiles, and Lyons’ databases also store over 68,000 fingerprints of known criminals. And, in a far more controversial move, Interpol lists more than 12,000 people as terror suspects. (16) The Vatican’s security force is to join Interpol after setting up two antiterrorism units…that work closely with police. The collaboration gives the Vatican access to a large data bank of suspects, the latest information on criminal or subversive organisations, and information on the latest antiterrorism operational procedures. (17)
Total recall (1990) is a science-fiction film about the future of surveillance.
LG (Lucky Goldstar) is a South Korean global conglomerate that specialises in electronics, chemical and telecommunication products. They are the leading producer of mobile phone handsets and the leading Iris Identity experts.
Minority Report (2002) is a film that deals with Iris Scan technology.
Iris scanning is a part of biometric security used all around the world.
Iris scanning is a part of biometric security used all around the world.
Malaysia was the first country in the world to issue biometric passports in March 1998, after a local company IRIS corporation developed the technology. In December 2002 thumbprint data was added to the biometric data on the passport chip. It includes a digital photograph and images of two thumbprints.
In 1990 a film was released called Total Recall starring Arnold Schwarznegger. It was a celluloid depiction of a science fiction book called “We Can Remmber it For You” by Philip K. Dick (1928-1982), a science-fiction writer inspired by the works of the neo-Gnostic Swiss Psychologist Carl Jung (1875-1961). He also wrote the science-fiction novel “The Minority Report” (1956) that was also adapted into a film (2002) starring Scientologist Tom Cruise and directed by the pied piper of Hollywood Stephen Spielberg, which deals with biometric iris scan technology. Total Recall is a film with excessive violence and swearing, that is set in the future (2084) which shows tracking devices to trace the movements of an individuals whereabouts (We can be tracked by our mobile phones we use today); biometric passports with photo and fingerprints (These may be in use globall by 2011 or 2012), where an airport observes strange behaviour of individuals; body-scanning X-ray machines to detect what a person has on them on the subway/underground (these are now being installed in airports across Europe and the U.S.) Is this Science fiction or Science fact? Just over 10 years after the release of that film, its prophetic dystopian view of the future stares us right in our face. An English intelligence magazine Eye Spy recorded in 2004, the new wave of biometric technology since 9/11.
The cracks in airport security are being sealed, one by one. Technologies are being applied at passenger and luggage checks that can sniff, snoop and scan better than before. As biometric scanning takes hold, fake identification will be useless because iris patterns, hand shape or face will be needed for new passports. Already the American government is requiring biometric information on most new passports used to enter the states. Trevor Pront, director of Marketing for the International Biometric group said “Things like odour recogntion, gait recognition – where the system recognizes the way you walk, vein recognition – recognizing the density of tissue and shape of veins in your hands, and ear biometrics – the shape and pattern of the ear.” The annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca often brings travellers to King Abdul Aziz Airport in Saudi Arabia. Last year, 500,000 of those who made the voyage had their iris scannned to build a database. In the test run last year, 20,000 pilgrims were scanned. (18)
Every time a Muslim group attempts a terrorist attack or is successful in one, biometric technology steps up a notch, reducing our cherished freedoms worldwide. Muslims are the perfect catalyst to bring about global laws to eventually impose the false global worship known in the Holy Scriptures as the MARK OF THE BEAST, which laymans terms identifies as the New World Order. When a 23-year-old Nigerian born, london-educated would-be suicide bomber Umar Abdulmotallab, unsuccessfully tried to blow himself up on a plane in the U.S. towards the end of 2009, more high-tech biometric security was installed into Airports globally.
· Britain: Full body scanners are to be installed at all UK airports in the wake of the Detroit plot. Ministers are ready to speed up as much as necessary to buy the X-ray machines which can see through clothing and even detect items swallowed or concealed inside the body. Home Secretary Alan Johnson said their use would stop the need for full body searches and even the delay they cause. The action is part of a massive overhaul of airport security in the UK. (19)
· US: Days after a Nigerian man allegedly tried to ignite plastic explosives on an airplane over Detroit, security companies say they have new body-scanning machines capable of screening passengers for such material in seconds that could replace the metal detectors used for decades at airports around the world. Experts urged the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to accelerate the installation of the body scanners. The TSA plans to install 150 scanners at airports in 2010 and buy another 300 scanners during the year, spokeswoman Kristin Lee said. The machines are considered as an alternative to pat-downs. Groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and some members of Congress call the scanners overly invasive. (20)
The 21st century has seen a rapid introduction of digital technology which is an excellent way of people communicating with each other and having instant and easier access to information. The invidual known as the guru of the electronic age saw this coming many decades before, where ‘In his enormusly influential Understanding Media (1964), Marshall McLuhan described the coming world as a ‘global village’, unified by communications technology and rapid dissemination of information.’ (21)
Since 2000, we’ve been introduced to iPods, Skype, DAB, podcasts, Blu-ray – Wi-fi, digital downloads, e-commerce, HD, iPhone, Facebook and Wii. Today’s revolution…sees you video-calling people for free on the other side of the planet, carrying thousands of songs in your pocket and finding out hourly what minor celebrities are eating. Computer games have bigger openings and higher grosses than Hollywood films. Google Earth means you don’t have to look out of the upstairs window to see into your neighbour’s garden. The complete works of Shakespeare and the entire Rolling Stones back catalogue can be downloaded on to your phone in minutes.
· 2001: iPods
· 2004: Facebook
· 2005: Youtube is online
· 2006: MysPace, Bebo
· 2007: iPhone
· 2009: Twitter-There are 60m people worldwide who use twitter. (22)
These modern day digital goodies also come with a price. In a time where freedom is slowly being taking away from us, these digital artefacts are a much easier, swift and more efficient way of governments monitoring and tracking people without having to introduce ID cards. Mobile/cell phones and Facebook, as well as other social network sites have been powerful tools for intelligence agencies to track people and acquire an intricate knowledge of people’, lives by gathering personal information and storing their personal photographs as well as voice recognition on a database for future purposes, as one British civil liberty lobbyist discovered in his research in 2009.
As more and more ‘people, machines and environments are connected’, this vastly increases the amount of : ‘potential information for use in day-to-day operations of public security organisations. In the next few years billions of items in the physical world will be connected, using technologies such as radio-frequency identification (RFID), broadband wireless (Wifi, WiMax), satellite and wireless (Bluetooth, wireless USB, ZigBee). This means it will be possible to trace more and more objects in real-time and to analyse their movement and activity retrospectively. The ‘objects’ referrred to also include people who could be tracked through their car, mobile phone or the clothes they are wearing. Social network sites as MySpace, Facebook and Second Life – and indeed all forms of on line activity – generate huge amounts of information that can be of use to public security organisations. Every object the individual uses, every transaction they make and almost everywhere they go, will create a digital record. What is much clearer now is that 11 September 2001 was used to accelerate a process already under way. Globalisation and its ‘technological revolution’ – was ready to break out of the constraints imposed by liberal democratic values. Notions of privacy and data protection, espoused as basic values, stood in the way of progress. The welfare state, where a benevolent state, requiring the social control of market forces unhindered by rights and regulations. In place of theoretically serving the people, the state now serves the interests of international capital. (23)
The country that has felt the greatest repurcusions of post 9/11 is Great Britain. It once had the largest Empire in history, covering a quarter of the globe and introducing the Habaeus Corpus, the 1215 AD Magna Carta, wherever she put her flag and although it is small in size in comparison to other countries, it is now the most surveillanced “Big Brother” state on earth, whose citizens are monitored more than any other on the globe. Many call Great Britain a fascist state, where they can get fined or get a criminal record for some of the most trivial things that other countries would be shocked at or would laugh at. This is how their daily lives are tracked.
· Richard Thomas, the information commissioner, has warned that Britain could be sleepwalking into an East German-style surveillance society, holding extensive but secret files on all citizens. Mr Thomas said the government was planning these population databases that would make more personal information quickly available to more officials, yet citizens would not be able to find out what the governments knew about them. The projects, he said, were the home secretary’s identity card scheme, the citizens’ information project (a population register proposed by the Office for National Statistics), and a planned database of every child in the country from birth to age 18. (24)
· 2009: Police have been accused of misusing powers granted under anti-terror legislation after a series of incidents, ranging from the innocuous to the bizarre, in which photographers were questioned by officers for taking innocent pictures of tourist destinations, landmarks and even a fish and chip shop. Police are allowed to stop and search anyone in a designated “Section 44 authorisation” zone without having to give a reason. (25)
· 2009: A report published by the Human Genetics Commission states that more than three quarters of black men aged between 18 and 35 have their DNA profiles posted on the national database. It feeds into increasing concern that black people are disproportionately targeted by police officers. Justice Ministry statistics published this year that since 2007 there had been more than a threefold rise in the number of black people stopped and searched under counter-terrorism laws almost twice that for black people. There had also been a two-thirds increase in the number of black people searched under the so-called Section 60 powers, which allow police to carry out searches without having grounds to suspect that the person is carrying a weapon. This compared with a 41 per cent increase for white people. In the mid-Eighties Professor Alec Jeffrey’ discovered how to take a sample of someone’s DNA and convert it into a unique genetic fingerprint. The database, set up in 1995 and overseeen by The National Policing Improvement Agency – the government quango for police technology – contains the DNA of 4.8 million people. It is the largest in the world per head of population. About 30,000 profiles are added each month. Initially it was used for storing DNA profiles from crime scenes. Since April 2005 the DNA of anyone arrested for a recordable offence has been added. The DNA remains on the database even if there is no charge or an acquital at court. (26)
· Every police force in the UK is to be equipped with mobile fingerprint scanners – handheld devices that allow police to carry out identity checks on people in the street. The new technology…may be able to receive pictures of suspects. The police claim the scheme, called Project Midas, will transform the speed of criminal investigations. Geoff Whitaker, a senior technology officer with the NPIA, told the Biometrics 2008 conference that Project Midas would save enormous amounts of police time and reduce the number of wrongful arrests. Policing of public occasions, sporting events, festivals, political conferences – as a well as immigration and border controls – could benefit from the equipment , he suggested. Project Midas would give the police “a full, mobile national capability” to check identities. Some US police forces are already using the technology. One of the companies bidding for the Midas contract, Northrup Gruman, told the Guardian: “A lot of the handheld [devices] we are considering have cameras so they can support fingerprint and facial images.” (27)
· Every force in will have a fleet of specially fitted police vans with ANPR cameras. These will work alongside high-speed intercept officers. Every police force will have direct computer access to the National ANPR Data Centre. Intelligence officers will be able to access data on a car’s movements over a number of years. The Security Services have special exemption under the Data Protection Act to use ANPR information for purposes of national security. Anti-terrorism will be their main interest. (28)
· New head-mounted cameras will help police in the fight against anti-social behaviour. Det. Supt Richard Wood said the cameras would mean officers “instantly have the evidence to hand to help them apply for an ASBO.’ If the project in Haringey, North London, is successful the £1,800 cameras could be worn by officers policing football matches. It is hoped the tiny devices – about the size of an AA battery capable of recording high-quality images – will also act as a deterrent. (29)
· Britain is to become the first country in the world where the movements of all vehicles on the roads are recorded. A new national surveillance system will hold the record’s for at least two years. Using a network of cameras that can automatically read every passing number plate, the plan is to build a huge database of vehicle movements so that the police security services can analyse any journey a driver has made over several years. The network will incorporate thousands of existing CCTV cameras which are being converted to read number plates automatically night and day to provide 24/7 coverage of all motorways and main roads, as well as towns, cities, ports and petrol-station force courts. The scheme is being orchestrated by the Association of Chief Police Officers (Apco). But others concerned about civil liberties will be worried that the movements of millions of law-abiding people will soon be routinely recorded and kept on a central computer database for years. The Home Office Scientific Development in Hertfordshire is working on ways of automatically recognising human faces by computer, which many people would see as truly introducing the prospect of Orwellian surveillance, where our every move is recorded and stored by machines. (30)
· Nowhere is surveillance technology more visible than in London. Authorities began ringing the city’s financial district with closed-circuit (CCTV) cameras after a spate of bombings by the Irish Republican Army in the early 1990s. (31) Britain has 4.2million CCTV cameras, with 300,000 new ones fitted every year. There is one CCTV camera for every 14 people in Britain. The average Londoner will be recorded 300 times a day by CCTV cameras. 20% of the world’s CCTV cameras are in the UK. There are 6,000 speed cameras covering British roads, including 2,500 mobile speed cameras. (32)
· More than 27million store cards are circulating in the UK. These cards hold details of all a shoper’s purchases, available to the companies – and to police, should they want to seize them.
· Google stores ISPs and keywords from the 10billion search requests made each month – and can hold onto the details indefinitely. The firm last month promised to make anonymous any information stored for more than two years. AOL last year published the details of 23million searches by 650,000 online users – but revealed no names. [Note: This article was written in 2007]
· More than 10 million Oyster cards are in circulation, allowing Transport for London to monitor all journeys made. Scan your Oyster/season ticket, or when buying a ticket you scan your chip and pin card.
The oyster card in Greater London is an electronic ticket that has a record of every journey an individual makes throughout London.
The oyster card in Greater London is an electronic ticket that has a record of every journey an individual makes throughout London.
· Use your mobile. The call will be logged and a pinpoint location of where you are can be recorded.
· Take out cash at bank for lunch, we know where you are! Switch on Sky TV and your Sky Plus box logs what you are watching. (33)
The kidnapping, interrogation, torture and false incarceration (Guantanamo Bay) of individuals who the West and their Musim allies see as dissidents in the Islamic community, is a trial run and model of what is going to happen in the future. The global intelligence apparatus spearheaded by the CIA known as rendition, where individuals are kidnapped, flown to different parts of the world and interrogated, can be seen as quite scary of what governments can do to innocent civilians who they believe pose a threat to the stability of the world, like the paranoia of the Dominicans in the days of the Spanish Inquisition. Any prophetic student who wants to be aware of what may happen to them in the not to distant future according to prophecy, who absolutely refuses to accept ‘the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name’ (Rev. 13:15-17), needs to keep an eye on what is happening to so-called dissident Muslims worldwide. A thoroughly researched book called Ghost Plane by an English journalist Stephen Grey, documents the CIA’s Secret Rendition programme. It documents that horrific torture methods and interrogations have already been in use by the British in Kenya in the 1950s during the Mau Mau uprising and that labour camps/prisons were in use in Russia, as the late historian and novelist Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008) confirmed in his Gulag Archipelago. Like many books written in post- 9/11, it confirms that the attacks in New York and the Pentagon paved a way for governments to swiftly put into place many laws that would otherwise have taken years to develop if there were no attacks.
An article in a London newspaper exposing the European countries that colluded with the CIA to use their airports as stop off points for planes used in rendition. Were not France and Germany opposed to the US invasion of Iraq?
A British convert to Islam gives his account his harsh experience in Guantanamo Bay and gives a picture of what really goes on there
These are some of the many things that are put into place to omit our civil liberties and are eroding our cherished freedoms. The rationale governments use, is that it is to protect the internal security of the country and its citizens, but the more terror laws that are put into place and the more hightech technology steps up a level, the more there is an infringement on the privacy on an individuals rights.
Though it gets no media coverage depending on where you live in the world, religious liberties are also being severly threatened and some countries have come under fire for their draconian methods used on its citizens who step out of line. When Senator Barack Hussein Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States of America in November 2008, the world was drawn into a euphoria of Obamamania. At first no one would dare to criticise him in the hype and atmosphere of this democratically elected senator’ succesful win to the Oval office, for fear of being labelled a racist, or for fear of being called a traitor if you were black. Outside of this euphoria, where nearly every global newspaper had Obama’ face who were in sink with U.S. time, his election did cause a deep stir that led to a massive surge in white supremacist in his home turf, especially in the Southern states, who found it absolutely degradable that their Commander and Chief was half African and of half white Protestant blood. The US intelligence caught wind of this and intercepted a number of assassination attempts before and after the elections by disgruntled white supremacists. This led to the Extremism and Radicalisation Branch, Homeland Environment Threat Analysis Division coordinating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to produce a report in April 2009 called (U//FOUO) Rightwing Extremism and Political Climate Fuelling Resurgence in Radicalisation and Recruitment, where some startling information was revealed that should make students of prophecy aware and alert of what the government plans to do in the not too distant furture to groups or individuals who are into “end times” prophecies. A portion of it reads thus:
Antigovernment conspiracy theories and “end times” prophecies could motivate extremist individuals and groups to stockpile food, ammunition and weapons. These teachings aslo have been linked with the radicalisation of domestic extremist individuals and groups in the past, such as violent Christian Identify organizations and extremist members of the militia movement. (34)
Though there are a high number of white right supremacist groups in the U.S. who have taken extremist measures in their opposition to the government, in the climate of our day where any lobby group or demonstrators such as animal right campaigners, anitabortionist and anticapitalist activists are labelled as domestic terrorists, both in the U.S. and the U.K., we have a clear picture of what is going to happen to those who immerse themselves in “end times” prophecies and share it with others.
In countries like Saudi Arabia and North Korea, religious liberty is non-existent and they are one of the many countries around the world that has absolutely no room in their political structure for intolerance. The following is a list of the laws around the world that are not only an infringement of religious libertites of Christians in Communist and Islamic countries, but even in Western countries also.
· The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg does not seem to be offering much hope for religious minorities who offer tolerance in Europe. What is the state of religious freedom in the countries of Europe – clearly the oldest Christian nations in the world? A certain religious tranquility has come to European society. But the oldest daughters of the Catholic Church are still groping with the challenges of what Europe pejoratively calls “cults”. In January 1996 a Frnch national commission on cults blacklisted 172 organizations, among them Southern Baptists, Opus Dei, Seventh-Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Scientologists. No precise definition of a “cult” was isssued by the French government, but the listing clearly marginalized members of these organizations. Belgium has produced a blacklist of 189 religious organizations and created an agency to monitor them. Germany has also established a commission to monitor cults. (35)
· At the European Union-United States Summit in Ireland on 26 June 2004 the European Union-United States Declaration on combating terrorism’ agreed to ‘take forward … objectives, through dialogue and action at all levels’ including twelve ‘objectives’ to ‘detect, infestigate and prosecute terrorists and prevent terrorist attacks’. The Dromland Declaration was followed up at the ‘European Union-United States Justice and Home Affairs Informal High Level’ meeting at Wassenaar, Netherlands on 7 July 2004. Just three weeks after the High Level European Union-United States meeting in Wassenaar, on 28 July 2004, the Netherlands Presidency of the Council sent a quetionnaire to the Working Party on Substantive Criminal Law for member states to respond to by 1 September 2004. The questionnaire is primarily directed at te first and third of the United States’ ‘concern’ – the introduction of a preparatory crimianl offence and the protection of intelligence information in court proceedings. It opens by asking if it is a crime in their countries to ‘incite or recruit’ for terrorist acts (A.1) and to provide ‘directly or indirectly’ material support (A.2). It also asked whether there are legal limits on action against religious leaders or charitable institutions (A.4) and whether financial inducements before an attack or after are lawful? The second series of questions opens with the use of ‘special investigative techniques’ (B.1), including: ‘can the government overtly or covertly observe conduct taking place in a house of worship or property otherwise belonging to religious or charitable entity? Are there limitations to executing searches and seizures in such a location?’ It goes on to ask whether a ‘religious figure’ can be lawfully questioned or information be gathered abouth them, and do any ‘legal privileges’ bar gathering such information of evidence? (B.2) And are there any legal limits on detaining or arresting religious figures? (B.3). As far as can be ascertained only 11 out of 25 European Union member states have responded to the questionnaire. (36)
· 2006 (Britain): For many years, Philip Howard evangelised shoppers in London’s Oxford Street, urging them to reject the devil and “be a winner, not a sinner.” Wind and rain did not silence him; nor did insults or entreaties to turn down his megaphone. But last week the devil scored a temporary victory over Mr Howard, in the form of an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO). For the next three years, the preacher will have to rely on his God-given amplification system, or face punishment that could, in theory, run as long as a five-year prison term. (37)
· 2006 (Britain): John Banda has taken a “displaying Bible texts is a crime” incident to the Independent Police Complaints Commission! On 26th October at 11 am Mr. Banda was stopped by three police officers as the 76-year-old black Christian was diplaying a Bible text message in the London Bridge area. The text was displayed on an A3 size notice suspended on a piece of string around his neck. The notice displayed the words, “Jesus Christ is Lord. Repent therefore and be converted that your sins may be blotted out.” (Philippians 2:11 and Acts 3:19). He was surrounded by the police officers and ordered to remove the text from his person or be booked for a criminal charge under section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 (Displaying any sign, which is threatening, abusive or insulting). The police said they had received a complaint. Mr Banda, who in the past was the Treasurer of the United Church of Zambia, after at first objecting, then removed the notice from around his neck in response to a police order to “Take it off.” Mr banda later asked the Metropolitan Police to apologise for their heavy-handed unwarranted action against him. Eventually the Police responded that they did not have any record of the incident!!!
The complaint to the Independent Police Complaints Commission has now been extended to ask, (1) Why did the CCT cameras cease to operate on 26th October at around 11.00 am? (2) Police records mst show which police officers were on duty at that time so why do all the three police officers have no recollection of that incident? (After all it was an unusual incident!) (3) Where is the record of the complaint the Police said they were acting on? (4) Is Police denial that ‘an incident ever happened” increasing in frequency as a method of obstructing as method of obstructing complaints against the Police behaviour? (38)
· 2008 (Britain): Two Christian preachers were stopped from handing out Bible extracts by police because they were in a Muslim area, it was claimed. They say they were told by a Muslim police community support officer that thy could not preach there and that attempting to convert Muslims to convert Muslims to Christianity was a hate crime. The community officer is also said to have told the two men: ‘ You have been warned. If you come back here and get beat up, well, you have been warned. A police constable who was present during the incident in the Alum Rock area of Birmingham is also alleged to have told the preachers not to return to the district. It comes amid growing concern over the development of Islamic ‘no-go areas’. The preachers, Americans Arthur Cunningham, are demanding an apology and compensation from West Midlands Police. They say their treatment breaks the Human Rights Act, which guarantees freedom from religious expression. (39)
· CHINA: In China, one could not expect treatment to be accorded to any world religion in general and to Catholicism in particular in the immediate aftermath of the establishment of the PRC. This was because the CCP, as patriotic Communists, demanded the severance of ties with western ‘imperialist’ cultural institutions, and because they wished to stamp out all alternative sources of political authority, and furthermore as believers in atheist Marxism they were unfavourably disposed to any religion. The anti-imperialist mood in China reached its peak in the course of China’s participation in the Korean War (1950-4). In a Communist party state, due to ideological differences (atheism versus theism), the political leaders always have problems in dealing with a universal religion. These problems are, firstly, in the field of ideology: religious belief is seen as a product of the pre-Socialist stage of history destined to be superseded eventually when mankind reaches the stage of Socialism. Meanwhile religious bodies and religious believers are viewed as a carry over from the old society. Secondly, from the point of view of politics, the degree of tolerance to be accorded to ‘religious dissenters’ is dependent on the stage of historical development the society is thought to have reached and the problems and policies of the Communist rulers. These problems cannot be called too difficult, so long as the state can retain its authority over the religious believers. For example, the Chinese government does not appear to have great problems of authority with Chinese Buddhists, Chinese Protestants or Chinese Muslims (except that, because of ethnic rather than for religious reasons, some of the latter seek greater autonomy from the central government). Despite the differences in belief, the Chinese government can exercise its authority over these believers apparently apparently without irreconcilable conflict. For political and social reasons, such as for the promotion of its international reputation and for the purpose of uniting with the national minorities, the Chinese government can be even more tolerant of the Buddhists, Muslims and Protestants by granting some privileges to them, for example, by sending some of their elites abroad on cultural exchanges, provided of course that they are docile enough to accept to China’s authority and are willing to promote the broad interests of the state and the party. China cannot apply such privileges to Catholics simply because this particular branch of Christianity has a unique feature – it is administered by the Vatican which is recognised by international law as a sovereign state, while the Roman Catholic church has the characteristics of a transnational actor in world politics. (40)
ISLAM (MIDDLE EAST/AFRICA):
· Despite the Koran’s endorsement of tolerance, the Universal Islamic Declaration of Huna Rights of 1981 makes it clear that it recognizes no distinction between law and religion. Abdullahi An-Na’im, a noted authority, wrote in in the Human Rights Quarterly in 1987, “It would be heretical for a Muslim who believes that Shari’a is the final and ultimate foundation of the law of God to maintain that any respect of the law is open to revision and reformulation by mere mortal and fallible human beings. To do so is to allow human beings to correct what God has decreed.” In Islamic nations, conflicts between the vindication of Muslim ideas and the concept of religious freedom are often resolved in favor of the former. In May 2002, for example, Saudi Arabia deported two Filipino Christians who had found to be in possession of a Bible and some Christian CDs. The Christians had violated the Saudia Arabian law forbidding the public expression of any religious belief other than Islam. (41)
· Christians living in Muslim countries are generally treated as second-class citizens. They meet frequent discrimination in education, employment, and even from the police and judiciary. They are despised and distrusted, often suspected of giving their primary loyalty to the “Christian” West rather than to their homeland. The basis of this lies in the traditional Islamic teaching that Christians and Jews – the “People of the Book” – should be subjugated by force and made to pay a special tax called jizya. Sura 9, verse 29 of the Qur’an instructs Muslims as follows:
Fight those who believe not in God nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by God and His Apostle, nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. These subjected peoples are designated dhimmis. As well as the jizya, there were many other conditions imposed on dhimmis, most of which were designed to underline their inferior status. Though these rules are not followed strictly nowadays, the general attitude still prevails across the Muslim world. Christians are very often discriminated against in employment, education, and other social contexts, as well as by the police and the judiciary.
Iran: Five hundred thousand Persia, Armenian, and Assyrian Christians of all denominations live in constant fear under the Islamic republic of Iran. Christian spiritual leaders are executed by the government.
Sudan. Seven million black Africans live in the south. Most of these are Christians – Anglicans, other Protestants, and Catholics. Since the Islamic conquest, the Africans of Nubia were displaced to the south. As a result of an Islamist takeover in the north in 1989, they are submitted to ethnic cleansing and forced to abandon their faith. One million south Sudanese are exiled.
Syria. One million Christians are Syrian citizens. Deprived of their cultural and educational rights, Syria’s Aramaeans, Orthodox, and Melkites are present in the northeast and the major cities.
Middle East Christians suffer collectively. Yet few people in the West are aware of the size of the Christian communities in the Middle East. The common image of Middle Eastern Christianity is that it is limited to a few groups or individuals among the Palestinian population. In reality the Palestinian Christians are only a fragment of the millions of Christians from Sudan to Armenia: more than 10 million Copts live in Egypt, 7 million Christians and animists in south Sudan, 1.5 million Christians in Lebanon, about one million Assyro-Chaldeans in Iraq, 1 million Christians in Syria, and five hundred thousand in Iran, among others. The fact is that the Middle East is neither entirely Arab nor entirely Muslim. Despite the continuous oppression of these Middle Eastern communities for thirteen centuries, many national groups survived and struggled to restore their freedom. At the beginning of the twentieth century the Copts of Egypt, the Assyro-Chaldeans of Iraq, the south Sudanese, and the Lebanese Christians tried to obtain independence. But the Arab powers in the region denied these Christians their natural right to self-determination. At the expense of the Middle East Christians, Arab identity and Islamic domination were established in the region. (42)
· European human rights judges have condemned Turkey for requiring citizens to specify their religious status in national identity cards. “This is in breach of the state’s duty of neutrality and impartiality, since its leads the state to make an assessment of the applicat’s faith,” the European Court of Human Rights said. “Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs has a negative aspect – namely, an individual’s right not to be obliged to disclose his or her religion, or to act in a manner that might enable conclusions to be drawn as to whether he or she holds such beliefs.” The case was taken to Strasbourg in 2005 by Sinan Isik, an Izmir-based member of Turkey’s Alevi community, after local courts refused to allow him to remove the ‘Muslim’ identification from his ID. The court said the practice violated articles on religious freedom in the European Convention on Human Rights, and had not bee corrected by a new Turkish law in 2006, allowing citizens to apply to have the section changed or left blank. It added that the Alevi community was “deeply rooted in Turkish society and history”, and widely regarded as a faith separate from Islam, which is nominally professed by most of the country’s 71.5 million inhabitants. “The fact of having to apply to the authorities in writing for the deletion of religion in civil registers and IDs – and, similarly, the mere fact of having an identity card with the ‘religion’ box left blank – obliges the individual to disclose, against his or her will, information concerning an aspect of his or religion or most personal convictions”, the court said. “This was undoubtedly at odds with the principle of freedom not to manifest one’s religion or belief.” Human rights groups say religious identification clauses are regularly used to deny jobs to non-Muslims in Turkey, whose Islamist-led government, under premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has faced repeated criticisms for failing to uphold the rights of religious minorities. The European Commission warned the country it must do more to uphold religious freedom before being allowed to join the EU in 2015, after the European Court accepted two separate suits by Orthodox and Protestant churches that Turkey had violated their rights by denying them property ownership and legal registration. (43)
These are some of the things that are taking place in the world at this present time and it is quite obvious that nothing will be reversed. As Bible prophecy is winding down with only a few more prophecies to be fulfilled, it is absolutely potent that God’ people are alert, aware and are kept up to date with the many different things in the field of politics and religion, but most importantly, their number one goal should be to have the character of Christ which will give us true inward liberty and peace.
"Society can be saved not otherwise than as the individual is saved: it must be convinced of sin; its mind must be enlightened; its will renewed; it must be brought to embrace and act upon truth; and when in this way it has been sanctified, society shall enter upon its rest." (44)
- James Aitken Wylie -
For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
Source: (1) The History of Protestantism vol. I p. 353; (2) Liberty of Conscience by Martha C. Nussbaum pp. 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 355; (3) The Life and Times of Isaac Backus p.235; (4) DATELINE SUNDAY, U.SA. by Warren L. Johns pp. 43, 44, 45, 46, 49, 50, 51, 55; (5) The Guardian, Thursday, April 21, 2005 p.19; (6) NEWSWEEK, March 8, 2004 p.51; (7) The Independent, Wednesday 15th October 2008; (8) The Guardian, Tuesday, April 27, 2004 p.8; (9) NEWSWEEK, December 1, 2003 p.44; (10) THE VOICE, August 23-29, Issue No.1128; (11) The Independent, Tuesday, 20th June 2006; (12) The Independent on Sunday, 4 June 2006; (13) Ibid; (14) USA Today, Thursday, June 8, 2006 p.4A; (15) The Indepndent on Sunday, 13th January 2008 p.2; (16) TIME, March 3, 2008 pp.34, 35, 36; (17) The Universe, Sunday, October 5, 2008 p.7; (18) EYE SPY, Issue 23, 2004 pp.56, 58; (19) THE SUN, Tuesday, December 29, 2009; (20) USA TODAY, Wednesday, December 30, 2009; (21) The Aquarian Conspiracy by Marilyn Ferguson p.97; (22) The Sun, December 29, 2009 pp.32, 33; (23) The Shape of Things to Come by Tony Bunyan pp. 38, 39, 65, 66; (24) The Guardian, Monday, Auguat 16, 2004 p.6; (25) The Independent, Thursday, 3 December 2009 pp. 1, 4; (26) The Times, Tuesday, November 24, 2009 p.6; (27) The Guardian, Monday, 27th October 2008; (28) The Independent, Thursday, 22 December 2005; (29) METRO, November 20, 2006 p.23; (30) The Independent, Thursday, 22 December 2005; (31) NEWSWEEK, March 8, 2004 pp. 48, 49; (32) METRO, Monday, March 26, 2007 p.5 (33) Ibid; (34) Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Radicalisation and Recruitment p.4; (35) Can God & Caesar Coexist? By Robert F. Drinan pp. 156, 157, 158; (36) Countering Civil Liberties by Tony Bunyan pp. 16, 17, 18, 19; (37) The Economist, May 13th 2006 p.36; (38) The Reformer, July/August 2007 p.14; (39) Daily Mail, Monday, June 2, 2008 p.9 (40) Sino-Vatican relations: problems in conflicting authority 1976-1986 by Beatrice Leung pp. 1, 2, 5; (41) Can God & Caesar Coexist? By Robert F. Drinan pp. 187, 188; (42) The Myth of Islamic Intolerance edited by Robert Spencer pp. 227, 228, 229, 252, 253; (43) The Universe, Sunday February 21, 2010 p.11; (44) The Papacy p.6 by J. A. Wylie