Friday, March 30, 2012

Eternal Flame News: Educate Yourselves

Breaking news stories that's effecting our world.

March On Jerusalem
British petrol panic puts heat on government
UK petrol stations shut after panic buying
Ark. Court Rules Teachers Can Have Sexual Relationship With Of-Age Students
We're No. 1: In highest corporate taxes
Is Conservatism Our Default Ideology?

Religious Freedom Ambassador is Working Hard in her Diplomacy Efforts

Nearly a year into her stint as the State Department's point person on religious freedom, the Rev. Suzan Johnson Cook has traveled to eight countries and seems to have moved beyond questions about her lack of diplomatic experience.


"I had to certainly learn the culture of the State Department," said Johnson Cook, the Obama administration's ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, in a recent interview, "but I was not foreign to the issues."

She was in Abuja, Nigeria, not long after bombs killed dozens attending Christmas Day Mass. And she's been to Assisi, Italy, where she participated in an interfaith gathering organized by Pope Benedict XVI. But she still has many countries on her to-do list, including some of the State Department's hot spots.

Her initial plans for a February visit to China, which is designated as a "country of particular concern" for its religious freedom record, were halted when China denied her visa.

"We look forward to traveling and looking at a mutually agreeable time when it works for China and it works for us," she said, not addressing criticism that the incident made her office look weak.

"But we continue to press even before the visit. We're concerned about religious freedom efforts there, particularly registration of churches, the number of immolations that have happened."

From her top-floor corner office in the State Department, the first African-American woman to hold the post works with a 16-person team, who kept the office running during a long vacancy and Johnson Cook's own on-again off-again confirmation process.

"I got to believe that she will be a quick study, but still you've got a very complicated culture and not a whole lot of time," said Robert Seiple, the first ambassador to hold the post, who has met with Johnson Cook a couple of times.

In a bureaucracy where office real estate carries political significance, some observers question why Johnson Cook's office is placed within the department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, and how much access she has to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

"I can't respond to everybody on the outside," said Johnson Cook, who noted that she traveled to Istanbul with Clinton last summer. "What I can say is that on the inside I have access, and the system works, and the structure works."

Religious freedom activist Thomas Farr, who was troubled about her lack of foreign affairs experience when she was appointed, now says, "I think she's done a pretty good job under difficult circumstances."

The office of the mother of two teenage sons is decorated with family mementoes, including her father's Bible on which she took the oath of office. On the walls are photos of her with Clinton in front of Istanbul's famous Blue Mosque and officiating at Coretta Scott King's funeral as four U.S. presidents looked on.

The former New York Baptist minister promotes interagency attention to religious freedom, works with U.S.-based groups that are concerned with religious freedom and co-chairs the State Department's new Working Group on Religion and Foreign Policy.

"It may not be the first time it's ever happened, but it's the first time that it's institutionalized," she said of the group that was launched last fall. "You see government and civil society beginning to work together."


Thousands of Bibles Delivered to China

China (MNN) ― While there always seems to be two sides of the "Bibles in China" issue, the fact remains there are two sides to the "Bibles in China" issue. Some say it's difficult to get Bibles into some parts of China and the only way to get them in to the country is to smuggle them. However, others say if you go through the proper channels, including the registered church, you can distribute Bibles with no trouble.

President of Bibles for China Wendell Rovenstine says they opt to go above ground. "Our desire is to be as honest as we can possibly be and to operate only in an open and legal opportunity that exists in China."

Rovenstine says Bibles for China opts to work with the above-ground churches. "Some would call that the registered church. There's a Chinese Christian Counsel, there's a Religious Affairs Bureau. We work through them and through our partners in China."

While there is a need for Bibles all over China, Rovenstine says, "We've opted to work in the rural area where Bibles are needed, where they can do it openly and legally and have a great opportunity to present the Gospel through His word."


Jonathan Tremaine Thomas Reminds Christians in America That Jesus Already Paid the Price of Racism and How to Overcome it

“There’s power in the blood of Emmett Till, There’s power in in the blood of Medgar Evers! There’s power in the blood of Dr. King!”–Jesse Jackson

When I read Jesse Jackson’s quote from a sermon this past Sunday, my heart began to burn. Then on yesterday, I attended a march in downtown Indianapolis where over 2500 people showed up seeking “Justice for Trayvon”

As these leaders stood and passed the megaphone, the crowd chanted with great fervor: NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE! Ministers of the “gospel” next to me delighted in stirring the crowd. It seemed as if it was almost a competition to see who could say the words that would provoke the crowd the most; recounting the years of injustices, the defiance needed for change, and the need not to be oppressed. I was grieved as I watched the unholy spirit of the gospel of ethnocentrism, throw the crowd into convulsions of zealous response.

Today I posted briefly on facebook about the Jackson sermon and posed the question, “Do you see what Gospel is being preached?” A friend responded that no one was taking away from the power of the blood of Jesus but rather highlighting the powerful actions that can come from the bloodshed of those who have died. However, the very lack of mentioning THAT BLOOD, the blood that was shed for not just black people, but that liberated ALL of HUMANITY from slavery and the fallen systems of this world at the very moment where people need to be reminded of where TRUE hope and TRUE justice an AFFRONT to heaven.

Proverbs 12:16 says, A fool’s anger is known at once, But a prudent man conceals dishonor. Instead, many of our churches are revealing their own lack of divine wisdom by allowing our pulpits to be used to fan the anger into flame and draw us into valuing our earthly identity over our heavenly citizenship. By default, due to the historicity of the relationship between the church and the black community, the rest of the culture follows suit.

So I walked through every portion of the crowd and shouted at the top of my lungs “JESUS IS OUR JUSTICE! JESUS IS OUR PEACE!”

And I realized, this message is the only message that will sustain, preserve, protect, and lift us. The Trayvon situation is merely the manifestation of humanity. Zimmerman is fallible. Trayvon was fallible. The police are fallible. The justice system is fallible. Our marches are fallible. Our policies are fallible. We are fallible. Therefore, we must preach about a blood that is infallible, a government that never fails, and a ruler whose reign is established on the foundations of Justice AND Righteousness. Our ancestors understood this. We must repent and return.

–Jonathan Tremaine Thomas

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