Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Source: Prophecy News Watch - Week In Review/August 5 - 9

Keeping You Informed of World Events From A Biblical Perspective 

Prophetic Trends & Headline News

1. Where is the United States in Bible Prophecy?

How You're Tracked Digitally All Day 

Our daily habits — when we wake up, how we get to work, what we like to watch when we get home — are being tracked by dozens of interconnected systems, from cell carriers to traffic cameras. Together, they could form a picture of your day in disturbingly high detail.

It's not just high-priority targets and would-be terrorists that leave a digital trail as they go about their business — millions of Americans each produce gigabytes of data associated with themselves just by walking down the street, browsing the Internet, and using their mobile phone. PRISM and XKeyscore may be in the news, but we've been tracked by other means for a long time.

As a demonstration, TODAY followed NBC News producer Robin Oelkers during a normal weekday, noting the many times when his ordinary actions placed him on the grid.It began as soon as he woke up, checking emails and Facebook on his phone or laptop while getting ready for work — any number of servers took note that his account began a session between 7:30 and 8 a.m. By logging in with his home Internet connection, Robin's IP address and its location are also automatically recorded at any site he uses. Oelkers walks his dog while on his iPhone, which, said our expert, is "basically a tracking device."

Meanwhile, in order to have a signal, his phone must be in contact with at least one cell tower, but may be monitored by several in case as he begins to move. These towers can be used to calculate his position to within a city block or two. "Your mobile phone is basically a tracking device," said Nick Thompson, editor of NewYorker.com, in an interview that aired Thursday. "It's taking information about where you are, and sending it to lots and lots of companies."

When it comes to tracking, you don't have to log in via a Web browser or set up your phone a certain way to tell the world to start following your trail. Recently, Apple was caught keeping records of every wireless network iPhones encountered. And several phone makers were found in 2012 to be including a secret back door on their phones capable of reporting every touch, every byte, and every conversation to anyone with the right software.

Leaving the house, Robin enters the view of the public, and therefore the view of any number of traffic and security cameras. Many of these cameras will passively record his license plate, using special software to convert the image into numbers and letters. The make, model, and color of his car is also recorded in some situations. Other cameras capture his face and appearance, associating him with locations and routes. Such tools are invaluable to police tracking down a fugitive, but in the meantime Robin's face and license may be stored for days, years, or even indefinitely, depending on local laws or business practices.

Of course, all this indirect surveillance is redundant when Robin's car has been tracking his position constantly with its GPS system. Depending on how new the car is, that route information might be backed up to the cloud for easy retrieval, or even collated (anonymously) with other cars' paths to help analyze traffic patterns.

After parking (in view of several cameras), Robin may stop by Starbucks to grab a coffee. Swiping his rewards card, he adds this purchase to a long list of data points describing his preferences and shopping habits. Such data may be kept internal at Starbucks for inventory and promotional purposes.
In the office, Robin is on surveillance cameras wherever he goes.

At work, he mixes his daily duties on the computer with a bit of personal browsing. Even though they may be inconsequential to his work, the traffic logs are saved, and a lawsuit or internal complaint could make them relevant in a heartbeat. "The company can not only see it, but they probably store that," said Thompson. "They probably store it for legal reasons for a long period of time."

Back at home, Robin relaxes on the couch to watch a movie with the kids. Somewhere, whether he's using a cable box or a TiVo or an Apple TV, some server takes note that he has selected another episode of a certain show, while others sit in his queue unwatched. His personal profile is updated and recommended shows changed. And his viewing habits, while tracked separately, are added to those of others for the streaming service's reports and feedback.
America's Last Warning - Midnight Hour Approaching On God's Prophetic Clock

“God’s prophet” – famed evangelist Billy Graham – is praying America will experience another “great spiritual awakening.”

International evangelist Reinhard Bonnke – whose ministry records 72 million people responding to the call of salvation in Africa and elsewhere – says God told him the time has come for “a mighty wave of salvation to sweep the USA.”

And Harvest Crusades President Greg Laurie – a Southern California megachurch pastor who became a believer during the legendary Jesus Movement of the late 1960s and 70s – believes America’s “only real hope” is national revival. At a time when many believe the midnight hour on God’s prophetic clock is fast approaching, major evangelists – Billy Graham, Franklin Graham, Bonnke, Laurie, Chuck Smith, Banning Liebscher and others – are turning their attention toward America in the hope of helping ignite an end-times awakening.

The movement comes as Graham, the 94-year-old New York Times bestselling author and evangelist who has preached to more people – 2.2 billion – than any Protestant in history and has provided spiritual counsel to every president from Harry S. Truman to George W. Bush, released a letter last summer titled “My Heart Aches for America.” In the letter, Graham wondered what his late wife, Ruth, would think of a nation in which “self-centered indulgence, pride and a lack of shame over sin are now emblems of the American lifestyle.”

Graham compared America to the ancient city of Nineveh, the lone superpower of its time. When the prophet Jonah finally traveled to Nineveh and proclaimed God’s warning, the people repented and escaped judgment, Graham wrote. “I think it’s an apt description,” Laurie said. “I think in many ways America is like Nineveh. The wickedness of Nineveh was so great that God effectively said it was recognized up in heaven – ‘the sin of Nineveh has come before me’ – and I believe America is at such a state.”

Laurie said Graham “is a prophetic voice, and to me it’s like Isaiah or Jeremiah standing up and telling our nation what we need to do.” “We would be wise to heed his warning and his admonitions and turn back to God, because I believe God’s prophet is speaking to us,” Laurie said.

Hope for America

Believing that America, like Nineveh, also has a window of time to repent and return to God, Graham is holding the My Hope America with Billy Graham evangelistic outreach the week ofNov. 7, his 95th birthday.

“My Hope has been used in many countries and hundreds of thousands of people have received Christ as Savior,” Graham said. “I think it’s going to be a tremendous time of evangelism. I think that the Lord is going to use it mightily. I’ve been praying that we might have a spiritual awakening. But I think that becomes possible as individuals surrender their lives fresh and anew to Christ. And that’s the hope that we have.”

In a massive, nationwide event now involving more than 16,000 churches and hundreds of thousands of people, Americans are expected to gather with family, friends, neighbors and co-workers the week of Nov. 7 to watch programs featuring a new and powerful message from Graham, dynamic music and testimonies.

Some will invite guests into their homes or churches to learn about Jesus using television or video, while others will gather at a coffee shop or the park to watch the program on a tablet or smartphone.

“I believe this could be a huge night in American church history as hundreds of thousands of homes are opened and hundreds of thousands of people are sitting and watching and hearing the gospel,” said Franklin Graham, Graham’s son and president and chief executive officer of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. “It just might be one of the largest evangelistic efforts in the history of our nation.”

The My Hope America with Billy Graham event is part of a larger effort by major evangelists and ministries who are planning numerous evangelistic crusades, conferences and other events this year and next.

The movement began in February when Bonnke declared to 5,000 people in attendance at the two-day Gospel Fest in Vero Beach, Fla. that, “All America shall be saved!” Bonnke is best known for his crusades in Africa and for his cry, “All Africa shall be saved!”

On June 16, several thousand “Jesus People” gathered at the Calvary Chapel Summer Crusade with Franklin Graham and Calvary Chapel Pastor Chuck Smith in Costa Mesa, Calif. Then, on July 22-24, about 6,000 youth gathered for the Jesus Culture Conference in Universal City, Calif. where Bonnke spoke.

Bonnke, known for his Great Gospel Crusades in Africa in which as many as 1.6 million people attend, said God told him last year it was time to “cast the Gospel net across America.”

Bonnke will speak next Sept. 27-28 at the Good News Orlando crusade at the Amway Center in Orlando, Fla.

He said he wants to fill the Orlando arena and then “go from city to city, from state to state and from coast to coast.”

“America will be saved!”

Bonnke said Americans “need to hear the Gospel.” When he preached in Germany, he said, skeptics told him Germans had rejected the Gospel.

“I preached in a stadium and when I made the altar call, the power of God was so wonderfully present that I saw with my own eyes people jumping over the benches to come forward,” Bonnke said. “They couldn’t come forward for the prayer of salvation fast enough, and then I realized one thing: Germany has not rejected the Gospel. I think the new generation has never really heard the Gospel.

“Every generation has a right to hear the Gospel, the ABC’s of the Gospel – the Gospel of salvation. And I believe the younger generation in America also has the right to hear the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ and make up its own mind.”

Call to repentance


The crusades and other events come as a number of spiritual and political leaders have made calls for repentance in recent years, arguing the nation is in a downward spiral of economic decline, corruption, immorality, secular humanism and attacks on religious liberty.

WND.com founder and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Farah is calling for a nationwide day of prayer, repentance and fasting on Sept. 11 – the 9/11: National Day of Prayer and Repentance – in response to the “ongoing downfall of our nation.” The plan is embraced by thousands around the country, including Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., Chuck Norris, Laurie and Rabbi Jonathan Cahn.

Cahn, author of the New York Times bestselling book “The Harbinger: The Ancient Mystery that holds the Secret of America’s Future,” said there is a strong awareness among believers and Christian leaders that America is in “great spiritual danger.”

“The speed of its departure from God has accelerated,” said Cahn, the senior rabbi at the nation’s largest messianic congregation, the Beth Israel Worship Center in Wayne, N.J., and a descendant of Aaron, the brother of the biblical prophet Moses. “Hardly a day passes without another step in the nation’s moral and spiritual descent. To anyone who is spiritually sensitive or, for that matter, who reads the Bible, the picture is clear.

“We stand at a tipping point,” he said. “I believe that’s why the Lord caused ‘The Harbinger’ to be released at this exact point in time. It’s a warning, the sounding of the trumpet, the call to return. The only hope we have is that of a turning of course, repentance, revival, a return to God.”

In addition to the annual Harvest Crusade Aug. 23-25 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif., Laurie will preach Sept. 28-29 at Harvest America at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

Harvest Crusades, in its 24th year of leading national and international Christian revivals, selected Philadelphia because of its history as the birthplace of the nation.

Many believe the U.S. is at a new historic crossroads and hope that events such as this can help bring spiritual revival across the land. The event will be held at 7 p.m. Eastern Time on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 28 and 29. Thousands of other locations around the country will participate via satellite and live-streaming.

“I think (Graham) is the reason we are seeing this emphasis on the gospel and bringing it to America,” said Laurie, who has preached to more than 4.7 million people and has seen nearly 400,000 make a faith decision since beginning Harvest Crusades in 1990. “Those of us who are Christians recognize that the only real hope for our country is for us to have a spiritual awakening.”

Mobilizing Matthews

Meanwhile, hundreds of ministers and others in all 50 states are continuing to gather in preparation meetings for My Home America with Billy Graham. At the meetings, pastors and lay church leaders are learning how to maximize the nationwide evangelistic outreach in their own congregations. Meetings are still taking place across the country through the summer. In addition to the meetings, thousands of individuals have registered for the project and participated in the free online training.

“The My Hope strategy asks churches to involve their members as Matthews,” said Preston Parrish, the BGEA vice president for My Hope America with Billy Graham. “Matthew was an early follower of Christ in the New Testament who had been a tax collector for the Romans. When he met Christ and began to follow Christ, he threw a party in his home and invited his friends so they could meet Jesus as well and experience his life-changing power.

“So these participating churches, more than 16,000 of them now, are encouraging their church members to make themselves available as Matthews – as people who will open their homes to their family members, neighbors, friends, co-workers and others in conjunction with a specially-prepared program in which Billy Graham communicates the Gospel.”

After the broadcast, Parish encourages these “Matthews” to share their brief, personal stories of salvation about how Jesus has changed their lives and then give a “loving invitation … to begin having this experience of a relationship with Jesus Christ too.”

Franklin Graham, who conducted his first evangelistic event in 1989 and has since preached to more than 7 million people around the world, said it’s called “living room evangelism.”

“It’s beginning to pray now for your unsaved family and friends and on Nov. 7 invite them to your home,” he said. “Have a hot dog, have a meal. Everyone has friends and family come to their homes, but invite some of your unsaved ones. Have them come and we will bring the telecast everyone can watch, either by downloading it on your computer or watching it on television. There are a number of formats in terms of ways it can be seen.

“But the point is it’s a 30-minute program and at the end of the 30 minutes the Gospel is given. The invitation is there. All you have to do then is turn to your family and friends and say, ‘You heard Dr. Graham. What do you think? Would you like to invite Christ into your heart?’ Once the invitation is extended, then you just watch the Holy Spirit go to work.”

Franklin Graham said the event couldn’t come at a more important time in America’s history. He says America “is in trouble.”

“We have turned our back morally and spiritually on God,” Franklin Graham said. “Our churches are in trouble, too. We are so concerned about being relevant to the culture. God never called us to be relevant to the culture. Our Father in heaven has called us to be obedient to Him. We are to be faithful and true. But the fact this whole relativism has got a hold of our churches is troubling to me. We need to get back to what God has called us to do and that is to evangelize.”

The church, he said, is “losing our country.”

“We are not evangelizing,” he said. “We have all these religions coming into our country. We have opened up the door to Islam and Hinduism and all these other religions have come in. They are making great strides, but the church is asleep. We are praying that with My Hope this fall that churches would catch a vision for evangelism and they would see that evangelism works.”

When asked if there is still hope, Cahn said if there was no hope there would be no harbingers and no book called “The Harbinger.”

“Why would there be warnings if there was no chance to heed them,” Cahn said. “If I only looked at the direction in which American culture is heading, I would have no hope. But with God, there’s hope. The fact that so many of God’s people and leaders are feeling led to pray, to seek God’s face, and to repent is a good sign. It may even be taken as a sign of God’s grace.”

When people ask Cahn what the future holds for America – judgment or revival – he says he answers “there can be both.”

“In fact, revival can even come through judgment and national shaking,” Cahn said. “And the Lord can touch a remnant in the midst of national judgment. It’s interesting that these calls for prayer including that of 9/11: National Day of Prayer and Repentance converge around the time of the holy days of the Bible – the days which are linked to judgment, repentance and return to God.”

FBI To Internet Providers: Install Surveillance

The U.S. government is quietly pressuring telecommunications providers to install eavesdropping technology deep inside companies' internal networks to facilitate surveillance efforts.

FBI officials have been sparring with carriers, a process that has on occasion included threats of contempt of court, in a bid to deploy government-provided software capable of intercepting and analyzing entire communications streams. The FBI's legal position during these discussions is that the software's real-time interception of metadata is authorized under the Patriot Act.

Attempts by the FBI to install what it internally refers to as "port reader" software, which have not been previously disclosed, were described to CNET in interviews over the last few weeks. One former government official said the software used to be known internally as the "harvesting program."

Carriers are "extra-cautious" and are resisting installation of the FBI's port reader software, an industry participant in the discussions said, in part because of the privacy and security risks of unknown surveillance technology operating on an sensitive internal network.

It's "an interception device by definition," said the industry participant, who spoke on condition of anonymity because court proceedings are sealed. "If magistrates knew more, they would approve less." It's unclear whether any carriers have installed port readers, and at least one is actively opposing the installation.

In a statement from a spokesman, the FBI said it has the legal authority to use alternate methods to collect Internet metadata, including source and destination IP addresses: "In circumstances where a provider is unable to comply with a court order utilizing its own technical solutions, law enforcement may offer to provide technical assistance to meet the obligation of the court order."

AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Comcast, and Sprint declined to comment. A government source familiar with the port reader software said it is not used on an industry-wide basis, and only in situations where carriers' own wiretap compliance technology is insufficient to provide agents with what they are seeking.

For criminal investigations, police are generally required to obtain a wiretap order from a judge to intercept the contents of real-time communication streams, including e-mail bodies, Facebook messages, or streaming video. Similar procedures exist for intelligence investigations under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which has received intense scrutiny after Edward Snowden's disclosures about the National Security Agency's PRISM database.

There's a significant exception to both sets of laws: large quantities of metadata can be intercepted in real time through a so-called pen register and trap and trace order with minimal judicial review or oversight. That metadata includes IP addresses, e-mail addresses, identities of Facebook correspondents, Web sites visited, and possibly Internet search terms as well.

"The statute hasn't caught up with the realties of electronic communication," says Colleen Boothby, a partner at the Washington, D.C. firm of Levine, Blaszak, Block & Boothby who represents technology companies and industry associations. Judges are not always in a position, Boothby said, to understand how technology has outpaced the law.

Judges have concluded in the past that they have virtually no ability to deny pen register and trap and trace requests. "The court under the Act seemingly provides nothing more than a rubber stamp," wrote a federal magistrate judge in Florida, referring to the pen register law. A federal appeals court has ruled that the "judicial role in approving use of trap and trace devices is ministerial in nature."

A little-noticed section of the Patriot Act that added one word -- "process" -- to existing law authorized the FBI to implant its own surveillance technology on carriers' networks. It was in part an effort to put the bureau's Carnivore device, which also had a pen register mode, on a firmer legal footing.

A 2003 compliance guide prepared by the U.S. Internet Service Provider Association reported that the Patriot Act's revisions permitted "law enforcement agencies to use software instead of physical mechanisms to collect relevant pen register" information.

Even though the Patriot Act would authorize the FBI to deploy port reader software with a pen register order, the legal boundaries between permissible metadata and impermissible content remain fuzzy.

"Can you get things like packet size or other information that falls somewhere in the grey area between traditional pen register and content?" says Alan Butler, appellate advocacy counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center. "How does the judge know the box is actually doing? How does the service provider know? How does anyone except the technician know what's going on?"

An industry source said the FBI wants providers to use their existing CALEA compliance hardware to route the targeted customer's communications through the port reader software. The software discards the content data and extracts the metadata, which is then provided to the bureau. (The 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, or CALEA, requires that communication providers adopt standard practices to comply with lawful intercepts.)

Whether the FBI believes its port reader software should be able to capture Subject: lines, URLs that can reveal search terms, Facebook "likes" and Google+ "+1s," and so on remains ambiguous, and the bureau declined to elaborate this week. The Justice Department's 2009 manual requires "prior consultation" with the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section before prosecutors use a pen register to "collect all or part of a URL."

"The last time I had to ask anybody that, they refused to answer," says Paul Rosenzweig, a former Homeland Security official and founder of Red Branch Consulting, referring to Subject: lines. "They liked creative ambiguity."


2. Israel - God's Timepiece

Israel's Security Paradox: Never Safer And Never More Uncertain

As Israel enters yet another round of peace negotiations with Palestinians, the fundamental concern that will guide its decision-making is security. And that's one issue that creates a quandary unique to this moment in history.

Israel has arguably never been safer than today. At the same time, the country's strategic position beyond this moment looks hazier than ever.

Israel's enemies have, for the moment, set aside the obsessive attention they normally expend on the Jewish state and have focused on more urgent matters of revolution and civil war. For its foes, Israel is a secondary issue right now. That provides a measure of security, however temporary.

Today, the Arab Middle East, Israel's neighborhood, is in turmoil, distracted from its anti-Israel sentiment. Iran, meanwhile, has seen its principal allies, Syria and Hezbollah, coming under enormous pressure. but Hamas is weaker than ever. Syria is self-destructing. The Muslim Brotherhood is on its heels. As a result, Israel is the quietest, most stable, safest country in the region. But in the region more broadly, the only certainty is change.

The extent of Israel's willingness to compromise with Palestinians will be determined in part by how its leaders perceive the state's strategic position in the midst of this paradox. If Israel is safer than ever, and they believe this is a relatively long term condition, the idea of withdrawing Israeli forces from the West Bank and letting the territory come under the control of a new country, the not particularly friendly or strong Arab country of Palestine, will seem a more tolerable risk. If, on the other hand, Israeli leaders view the country as encircled by an increasingly threatening maelstrom, they and the Israeli population -- which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promises will have a vote on any deal -- will become more resistant to risky withdrawals.

From the day of its founding, the Jewish state has faced complicated security challenges. Every major political, diplomatic and military move has been viewed as potentially life-and-death decision. A mistake, Israelis believe, could lead to the end of their country. For decades polls have shown a majority of Israelis support the creation of Palestinian state. Underneath that support, however, lies a gnawing fear about whether a Palestinian state would become a base of operations against Israel, and potentially a key player if a major war breaks out, or if Iran attacks.

Israel's strategic position has already been transformed. On the northern border -- Syria, a country with which Israel has fought several wars and is still technically at war -- President Bashar al-Assad is in the midst of a brutal civil war. The conflict has left more than 100,000 Syrians dead. It has also torn the country apart, decimating Assad's military machine. Assad's forces obviously measure up to the opposition, but undoubtedly two years of fighting has degraded the Syrian army, with countless losses of armament and personnel.

The decision by Lebanon's Iran-backed militia Hezbollah -- one of Israel's most bitter foes -- to jump into the Syrian fray on Assad's side has also exacted an enormous cost. Hezbollah Chief Hassan Nasrallah concluded that Assad's fall would be catastrophic for his organization. By openly siding with Assad, he destroyed the group's once-mighty reputation in the Arab world. His participation has helped Assad stop rebel advances in Syria, but it is killing scores of Hezbollah fighters, using up their weapons stockpiles, and sharply eroding their support in and out of Lebanon.

Another militia that has fought open warfare with Israel, the Palestinian group Hamas, which rules the Gaza strip, has seen its strategic position crumble as a side-effect of the Arab uprisings.

Hamas is a Palestinian outgrowth of the Muslim Brotherhood. When Muslim Brotherhood parties started winning the first wave of post-uprising elections, Hamas greeted the development with jubilation. But practically everything has gone wrong for Hamas since then.

Hamas expected that the toppling of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his replacement with a Brotherhood-dominated government would bring an open border between Gaza and Egypt. Instead, the Egyptian military, even under the now-deposed Mohammed Morsi, flooded the smuggling tunnels linking Gaza to Egypt's Sinai desert. When Egyptian soldiers started getting killed in the Sinai, the pressure on Gaza and Hamas increased.

Things have only gotten worse for Hamas from there. Now Egypt is under the rule of the profoundly anti-Brotherhood army. A large segment of the population shares the sentiment, and many blame Hamas at least partly for Egypt's troubles.

Making matters worse, Hamas's decision to move away from Syria's Assad when it looked like he was about to fall cost the group the vital support of Damascus and Tehran. Hamas is now left without a patron and has greater difficulties rearming. Israelis worried about the rise of the Brotherhood, but for now that fear has generally abated. The Brotherhood is fighting for its life in Egypt and is under pressure elsewhere in the region.

The shape, the attitude, and the ideology of the Arab states that will emerge in the coming years, unknowable today, will go a long way in determining Israel's security situation, creating a particular challenge for military and political strategists -- and for peace negotiations.

Syria, which holds massive stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, may come apart. It could become a failed state, with jihadi enclaves dominated by ideologues with sharply anti-Western, anti-Israel views, just across the border from Israel. Assad's fall could bring a moderate democracy, but it could just as easily bring something much more ominous.

Egypt is still in play, and the only other Arab country with which Israel has a peace treaty, Jordan, is hardly a sea of tranquility.

Israel's greatest security worry, however, lies further East, in Iran. President Hassan Rouhani has raised hopes in some quarters that a deal with the West could at last be reached ending nuclear enrichment. But, in fact, Iran may have just bought itself more time to move ahead with the banned program. The outrageous Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has moved off the scene, bringing an end to the most incendiary rhetoric, but the real power in Iran rests with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, whose viscerally anti-Israel views remain unchanged.

The relationship between uranium-enriching Iran and Lebanon's Hezbollah, just across the border from Israel, is as close as ever, and Hezbollah continues to desire Israel's destruction.

As they scan the horizon and consider their choices in talks with Palestinians, Israeli strategists will have to weight countless unknowns and decide how to make the most of this period during which Israel is, in fact, safer than it has ever been. Even if the future looks unclear, there is no better place from which to negotiate than from a position of maximum strength. The real goal is finding the best way to make security permanent.
Israel Fears Next War With Hezbollah Will Hit Civilians Harder
As tensions escalate along Israel’s northern border, a senior military official warned that the next war with Hezbollah would be far more painful for Israeli citizens than any previous experience.

“What we witnessed in 2006 is the very tip of the iceberg,” said the official, referring to the 33-day war between Israel and the Lebanese-based Shiite militia Hezbollah. In that case, a third of the country was forced into bomb shelters for a month while rockets rained down on northern Israel.

The official spoke to reporters Wednesday on the condition that his name not be used, in keeping with Israeli military practice.

In the 2006 Second Lebanon War, nearly 4,000 rockets were fired into Israel, killing more than 40 civilians and causing widespread devastation to property and the economy.

Hezbollah is now believed to have 60,000 to 100,000 rockets that boast longer ranges, improved accuracy and larger warheads.

“This will be a whole new ballgame,” the official said.

Israeli officials fear that as many as 2,000 rockets a day could be released against all parts of Israel. Most of the launching sites are in southern Lebanon, where Hezbollah militants use private homes and farms in about 100 villages.

Hezbollah’s rocket capacity has turned Israeli civilians into the preferred front in the next conflict so public fear will put pressure on the Israeli military, the official said.

Though Israel does not have enough Iron Dome missile-interception systems to prevent a barrage of rockets from Hezbollah or others, it has focused on improving civilian defense through mock drills and emergency planning.

Nevertheless, only 60% of Israelis have chemical-weapons protection kits, in part due an inter-governmental squabble over funding. Nearly one-third of Israelis don’t have quick access to bomb shelters.

State Funding For Temple Institute To Build Third Temple Stirs Controversy In Israel

The state has been subsidizing nonprofit organizations that advocate the building of the Third Temple atop Jerusalem’s holiest site, an Army Radio expose revealed on Sunday.

Over the course of the last decade, the Education Ministry and the Culture and Sport Ministry have transferred between NIS 300,000 and 700,000 to a non-government organization known as The Temple Institute. Just last year, the group received NIS 282,000 from the Education Ministry and another NIS 134,000 from the Culture Ministry.

“The Institute is dedicated to every aspect of the Biblical commandment to build the Holy Temple of God on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem,” the group’s website reads. “Our short-term goal is to rekindle the flame of the Holy Temple in the hearts of mankind through education. Our long-term goal is to do all in our limited power to bring about the building of the Holy Temple in our time.”

Anyone browsing the group’s website could see images of models of the Third Temple, with the Muslim holy places like the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque conspicuously absent from these illustrations.

Army Radio also discovered that aside from subsidies, the state also permits young women who opt to forgo compulsory military service to perform national service as unpaid tour guides and instructors with the institute. The women are also sent to schools and kindergartens around the country to speak about their experiences as well as the educational programs the institute has to offer.

The Education Ministry responded to the Army Radio report, saying: “The nonprofit meets criteria for receiving subsidies that go toward instructing students who visit the institute, and this has been the case for over 10 years now.”

“The Temple Institute deals with research, and it is supported by the ministry in accordance with professional criteria that has nothing to do with directly supporting the individual who heads it,” a Culture and Sport Ministry spokesperson said in response.

“Thus far we have found nothing that would raise suspicions of incitement or anything unusual as it relates to the temple. In light of the Army Radio report, it is the ministry’s intention to bring this matter to the attention of our legal department.”

“For over 25 years the Temple Institute has stood at the forefront of research, education and preparation towards the time of the rebuilding of the Holy Temple,” a spokesperson for the Temple Institute told The Jerusalem Post. “The Institute's efforts have been recognized and awarded by Israel's Ministry of Education. Its trailblazing educational materials and scholarly publications have revolutionized these difficult areas of Torah knowledge for young and old alike.”

“Over one million people from all over the world, of every background and religion, have visited the Institute's exhibition located in Jerusalem's Old City," the spokesperson said. "The Temple Institute's website is the most popular and educational web site on the subject of the Holy Temple in the world."

"The rebuilding of the Holy Temple, called by the prophet Isaiah a 'house of prayer for all nations,' is a positive commandment, and the vision of the Temple's rebuilding, which will usher in an unparalleled era of world peace and harmony, is the central theme of the entire Torah. The Temple Institute is proud to represent the concept which has been heartfelt prayer of the Jewish people for two millennia.”


5. Apostate Christianity

The Coming Collapse Of The Presbyterian Church (USA)

The Presbyterian Church (USA) recently released the findings of its “Religious and Demographic Profile of Presbyterians 2011”. More than 6,000 clergy and members of the PC (USA) were asked to participate in the study for a three-year period. The goal was to sketch a broad landscape of the denomination in demographic and theological terms. In many respects the report is grim reading. In fact, it points to the coming collapse of the PC (USA)—demographic and theological realities will force the denomination to accept a new, diminished future.

The report reveals, perhaps unsurprisingly, that the PC (USA) is old and white. 94% of the randomly selected members reported their race as “white or Caucasian,” as did the randomly selected Ruling Elders. Of clergy, 91% of pastors and 89% of specialized ministers (chaplains, professors, etc) reported their race as white. For all categories of respondent, more than 90% were born U.S. citizens. The study notes, most alarmingly, that the racial-ethnic makeup of the denomination has remained virtually unchanged in the last forty years. This discontinuity makes the future of the denomination untenable since it has not reached either immigrant communities or people of color in any meaningful way. While there are flickers of light in the 1001 New Worshipping Communities initiative, it seems to be rather too late for this to significantly offset coming losses.

The denomination also continues to age. The median age of members rose from 60 to 63 between 2008 and 2011. That means that if you were to list the ages of each of the member respondents, half of them would be older than 63 and half younger. The number is similar—62—for ruling elders. The report also indicates that almost 50% of church members are not employed, while only 7% of members report being “full-time homemakers.” Could it be that almost half of our church members are retired? Perhaps the PC (USA) should be called the AARP at prayer?

Pastor median age is 55 whereas for specialized ministers it is 57. As a point of comparison, the median age of the United States (as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau) is 36.8, a significant difference. If we isolate for race and report only non-Hispanic whites, the median age is still only 42.3.

This does not bode well for the future. Over the last forty years, the make up of our nation has changed considerably. That this change is all but absent in the profile of the PC (USA) suggests that it has been unable to effectively carry out the very essence of its stated mission—bearing witness to the kingdom of God in there here and now—which includes both ethnic and age diversity under the gospel.

What does the report show us about the devotional practices of members and clergy of the PC (USA)? 80% of pastors reported praying privately “daily/almost daily.” For members the number was less, 56%. It is, of course, difficult to discover a cause for this lack of attention to prayer. I’m sure there are numerous reasons, but it is alarming to think that one of the chief means of grace is so absent in the life of church members and even clergy.

The church is also not attending well to Scripture. Only 39% of members report reading the Bible weekly. For ruling elders the number is higher—49%. This is a serious problem. Where professed Christians are failing in the practice of prayer and of reading the Scripture, we can be sure that a sense of “cheap grace” will also be present. Scripture and prayer—both individually and corporately—shape us to follow Christ. Where they are absent, or unattended to, other voices and influences will exert power to form us.

This reality may contribute to the fact that 46% of members agree with the statement, “An individual should arrive at his or her own religious belief independent of any church.” At play here is an autonomous individualism that cheapens the value of community in the formation of Christians. It’s promising, however, that 76% of pastors disagreed with this statement although that number really ought to be higher.

In terms of giving insight into the current battles raging within the PC (USA) and the exodus of evangelical churches, the report is quite helpful. Consider the following statement: “only followers of Jesus Christ can be saved.” Among pastors, 45% disagreed or strongly disagreed. 41% agreed or strongly agreed. Among our clergy, there is a clearly demonstrable variance about a fundamental tenet of Christian belief that is central to the mission of the church—the proclamation of the Gospel.

Again, in terms of theological self-identification the report helpfully shows that pastors are split on how they identify themselves. 33% report that they are “very conservative or conservative” theologically. 33% report that they are moderate. 34% report that they are “very liberal or liberal.” That clergy leaders of the church express such fundamental disagreement suggests that the future of the PC (USA) as a single denomination is untenable. These beliefs are irreconcilable, which suggests that the best way forward is amicable separation or perhaps some degree of negotiated toleration of evangelical belief and practice in certain PC (USA) congregations.

Such divisions often come to light while discussing the nature of marriage and the increased support for same sex marriage in parts of the country. Incidentally, the PC (USA) is smallest in states that have approved same sex marriage. It is largest in the south, where states have repeatedly defended traditional marriage. Interestingly, church members are less enthusiastic about the potential of same sex marriages in the church. Respondents were asked whether they favored the PC (USA) permitting pastors to officiate at such services where provided for by state law. Only 30% of members and 33% of ruling elders favored this. Only 44% of pastors favored it, and 56% of specialized ministers favored it.

The narrative around the church’s discussions of same sex marriage has painted it as something supported by most and almost inevitable. This contention is demonstrably false. More likely is a mixture of ambivalence, ambiguity, and uncertainty in most that—when mixed with a healthy dose of culture’s laissez-fare mentality—produces the absence of any firm conviction or resolve to doctrinal purity.

God alone knows the future. Yet, in looking at the numbers there is much that ought to concern us about the future of the PC (USA). It is hard to imagine a future that does not include a significant diminishing of the cultural influence of the denomination. This influence has steadily been diminishing over the last forty years.

What is different about the future as forecasted by extrapolating the data in the study is that it is no long clear that the denomination can exist in any form resembling the PC (USA) we have known till now. In fact, it is likely that tomorrow’s PC (USA) will be a fraction of its present size. It’s financial resources will be stretched the breaking point. Young clergy will suffer as the Board of Pensions is forced to materially alter the terms of their retirement and insurance packages. As older clergy retire it cannot be taken for granted that paid clergy will fill those vacant pulpits. Yet, the denomination seems to be incapable of taking the drastic steps required to alter this possible future. In the end, this is a failure both of theological integrity and of organizational leadership.


6. The Rise of Islam

Radical Islam's New Training Ground As Muslim Prison Population Jumps 200%

The number of Muslim convicts in British prisons has surpassed the 11,000 mark for the first time, according to data included in a new report produced by the British Parliament.

The statistics -- from a July 29 House of Commons research report entitled, "Prison Population Statistics" -- show that the number of Muslim inmates in England and Wales jumped to 11,248 in 2012, up from 3,681 in 1997. Stated another way, over the past 15 years, the number of Muslims in British prisons has jumped by more than 200%.

The rate of increase of Muslim inmates in British prisons is eight times faster than that of the overall prison population, and the numbers show a clear overrepresentation of Muslim convicts: Muslims, who make up roughly 5% of the British population as a whole, now make up 13% of the British prison population (compared to just 6% in 1997).

The growth in the number of Muslim inmates is fueling fears that British prisons are becoming hotbeds for Islamic radicalization.

Although most of the Muslims in British prisons are immigrants from Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, an increasing number of Muslim inmates are converts to Islam.

According to a research report recently commissioned by the British Ministry of Justice, many non-Muslim inmates in British prisons are being bullied into conversion or are embracing Islam in exchange for promises of protection from physical assault.

The study examines the Islamic "gang culture" inside the Whitemoor Prison in Cambridgeshire, which houses around 500 of the most dangerous prisoners in Britain. Researchers from the Cambridge Institute of Criminology who wrote the report found that more than one third (39%) of the prisoners at Whitemoor are Muslims.

Prisoners told the researchers that they had felt overwhelming pressure to convert. In some instances, they said, Muslim inmates had left Islamic literature in their cells and ordered them to "read this." In other instances, inmates were promised that if they converted to Islam, they would be safe from physical assault.

The report states that if loners, including sex offenders, converted to Islam, fellow Muslims would defend them; they could thereby gain safety from a large and dominant group. Others used their newly acquired faith as a tool for status in establishing influence.

Non-Muslims and prison officers inside Whitemoor described Islam as an "organized gang" and a "protection racket," which "glorified terrorist behavior and exploited the fear related to it."

Prison guards said there were "proper Al-Qaeda" members in the prison who were regarded with "awe" by younger inmates. Some prisoners described Whitemoor as a "recruiting drive for the Taliban" and fertile ground for hatred and a new generation of extremists.

Guards also said they had a policy of "appeasement" towards the powerful and growing Islamic prison population, particularly convicted terrorists who were feared to be recruiting future extremists.

The report states: "The threat of assaults motivated by religious fanaticism or extremist ideology added weight to the atmosphere at Whitemoor," and continues: "The new population mix, including high numbers of Muslim prisoners, was disrupting established hierarchies in the prison. Social relations among prisoners had become complex and less visible. Too much power flowed among some groups of prisoners, with some real risks of serious violence. There were high levels of fear in the prison. In particular, there were tensions and fears relating to 'extremism' and 'radicalization.'"

The report concludes: "More prominent, in practice, were pressures (and temptations) felt by some prisoners to convert to Islam. Conditions in the prison made participation in Islamic practices the most 'available' option for those looking for belonging, meaning, 'brotherhood,' trust and friendship."

Meanwhile, British media recently reported that Dale Cregan, a notorious quadruple murderer who is serving a life sentence at the Manchester Prison, is being targeted by extremist Muslims who want to convert him to Islam.

Cregan, who is of Irish Catholic background, is said to be afraid of rival gang members who have offered a bounty to anyone who attacks him in prison. Muslims have offered to protect Cregan if he converts to Islam. According to prison officials, Cregan is so well known that if he converts to Islam, it would be seen as a way to further increase the influence of Muslim gangs inside the prison.

The growing problem of Muslim gangs taking over British prisons was the topic of a recent BBC investigation. The program includes an interview with a former inmate named Jay, who says, "Muslims run it. Muslims run the prisons and there's nothing the screws [British slang for a prison guard] can do about it. For a Muslim you'd say it's good but for a non-Muslim, it's very, very bad."

Jay, who has been in and out of prison for most of his life, openly admits helping to convert non-Muslim inmates to Islam, and has meted out violence against anyone who dares to "disrespect" his religion.

According to Jay, "It hurts as a Muslim to have someone disrespect my religion. If we deal with him one time, with violence, and show him what time it is, he will never disrespect our religion again."

Jay first went to prison when he was 15 and says there were hardly any Muslims inmates back then. "At the beginning not many knew about Islam. There weren't many converts. The mosque was empty, but nowadays jails are run mostly by the Muslims," he says.

"There are certain brothers that convert purely on the basis that they read Islam and they want to believe in something that does good for them. Then other people because they want to be looked after. I've been in jail five times," he says, "and on my last occasion, I've seen jails being run by Muslim inmates. Muslim prayers on a Friday are very, very busy. In some prisons there's no space. In one jail I was in, they do the prayers in two sessions because there's no space."

The BBC investigation also includes an interview with the national chairman of the Prison Officers Association, Colin Moses, who says: "People are being radicalized, forcibly radicalized by these gangs. We see it as a real danger, now and for the future of prisons."

Moses says that those who are in gangs or have converted to Islam often do it to carry out criminal activities. "As the Muslim population grows, the gangs are becoming more and more prevalent by the week and they fight to take control of the drug trade and the dealing of mobile phones in prison. This will make our prisons even more violent," he says.

Speaking anonymously, a former prison officer who worked at the Long Lartin Prison in Worcestershire talks about cases where non-Muslim prisoners were seriously assaulted and intimidated for refusing to abide by unofficial rules imposed by Muslim gangs, for example about eating pork or listening to Western music.

Writing in the July 2013 issue of the prisoner's magazine, Inside Time, a "long serving prisoner" at Long Lartin has this to say: "We are able to cook our own food here but if we attempt to cook pork in the communal kitchen it is deemed dangerous, even a threat to your life. The kitchen is usually occupied by 90% Muslims and we have been told if we cook pork we will be stabbed. There have been incidents here where people have been targeted and pressured and bullied into converting to Islam."

He adds: "I am writing to inform people of these radical extremists views in this prison where I see no official steps being taken to combat them. Young Muslim men are being radicalized in here and one day they may commit acts of terrorism in this country. There seems to be nothing being done here to stop it and people are scared to speak out. I hope we get some feedback from this; it needs to be sorted out."

Textbook Jihad - Pro-Islamic Textbooks Infiltrate Florida Schools

School officials in Florida are defending a textbook that declares Muhammad as the “Messenger of God” after critics accused an Islamic education group of launching a stealth jihad in American public school classrooms.

The Prentice World History textbook being used in Brevard Public Schools includes a 36-page chapter on Islam but no chapters on Christianity or Judaism.

According to a copy obtained by Fox News, The ninth grade textbook declares that Muhammad is the “Messenger of God” and instructs students that jihad is a duty that Muslims must follow.

“Jihad may be interpreted as a holy war to defend Islam and the Muslim community, much like the Crusades to defend Christianity,” the book states.

The textbook published large passages from the Koran, but failed to include any Scripture from the Bible. And while the book makes declarations about Muhammad being God’s messenger, it does not make declarations about Jesus being God’s son.

“Some believed he was the messiah,” the textbook noted in an entry about Jesus. The book noted that He was later executed, but failed to mention His resurrection.

Brevard Public Schools defended the textbook and said it provided a balanced view of world religions.

“An analysis of one textbook cannot provide a balanced understanding as to what the students in Brevard Public Schools are learning throughout their academic careers,” spokeswoman Michelle Irwin said in a statement.

She said the Prentice Hall World History textbook incorporated a review of the origin of Christianity and Judaism – subjects covered indepth in sixth grade classrooms.

She also pointed out the book was among those approved by the state of Florida and that parents as well as community members were given the opportunity to review the textbook before it was adopted.

The book has been used in the classroom for the past three years without any complaints – until now.

Susan Aspey, a spokeswoman for the book’s publisher, told Fox News the textbook is balanced.

“Pearson and its authors adhere to the highest editorial standards when creating course materials, which undergo a rigorous review process,” she said. “A review of the book shows there is balanced attention given to the beliefs of Islam, Judaism and Christianity.

William Saxton, the chairman of Citizens For National Security, testified before the Brevard, Fla. School Board, warning them that the book rewrites Islamic history and presents a biased and incorrect version of the Muslim faith.

“They promote Islam at the expense of Christianity and Judaism,” Saxton told Fox News. “It blew my mind to see the kind of propaganda, the pro-Islam information that’s in this book – at the expense of Christianity and Judaism.”

Saxton said he believes the inclusion is deliberate and he placed the blame an organization that was once called Council on Islamic Education. The group works with education officials and publishers to produce chapters on Islam for American textbooks.

But today, the Council on Islamic Education is known as the Institute on Religious and Civic Values. It’s founder, Shabbir Mansuri, is listed as an academic reviewer on the textbook used in Brevard County.

In 2001 the OC Weekly newspaper in California interviewed Mansuri about comments former Second Lady Lynne Cheney made lamenting the amount of time schools were spending teaching cultures that were not American. Mansuri took her comments as a personal attack.

“For the past 11 years, Mansuri has waged what he calls a ‘bloodless’ revolution: promoting an increased emphasis on world cultures and faiths – including Islam – inside American junior high and high school campuses,” the newspaper reported.

Saxton said he is highly suspicious of Mansuri’s organization and questioned why they changed their name.

“These people are dedicated to getting this language into the textbooks,” he said, noting their new name is “benign and does not sound “threatening or Islamic. “But the same people are running it.”

Saxton said they are hearing from concerned parents across the country – and the complaints have generally been the same: public school textbooks that favor Islam over other world religions.

“It’s a form of stealth jihad,” he said. “(Jihad) is not just blowing up buildings. It’s more subtle. I began to understand that one of the ways the bad guys are trying to threaten our way of life is through our children. The Islamists want to get to the hearts and minds of our kids.”

Saxton’s all-volunteer organization launched a nationwide study in 2009 to root out what they believed to be Islamic bias in American school textbooks. He said they found as many as 80 textbooks that overtly promoted Islam.

Last year, the Citizens For National Security was able to get a similar book removed from the classroom in Palm Beach County.

“In short, you are using an Islam-biased, flawed textbook that has neither partially nor fully been corrected,” he told Brevard County school leaders.

A spokesman for IRCV told Fox News they would agree to an interview but never returned repeated calls.

In 2009 Mansuri found himself facing similar accusations of promoting and glorifying Islam – accusations he strongly denied in an Orange County Register interview.

“IRCV is recognized within the education community for our expertise in teaching about world religions,” he told the newspaper. “This expertise stands from our long-standing interest in religious liberty, religious pluralism and the practice of faith within a civic social framework.”

He blamed the criticism on “children of 9-11,” who were miseducated, the newspaper reported.

Saxton said the Prentice Hall textbook is riddled with errors. He especially took issue with their definition of jihad. The book called it a personal duty for Muslims and a way to defend their faith.

“Violent Islamic groups have used jihad for centuries,” he said. “The 9-11 attacks were an example of jihad as terrorism, not self-defense. Declarations of jihad have been made for purposes of violence against Christians, Jews, Americans, British and fellow Muslims hundreds of times.”

The textbook also alleges that “Muslims consider Jews and Christians to be ‘People of the Book.’”

Saxton said in practice, Jews and Christians have been subjected historically to violence and murder by Muslims.

“Christians and Jews are permitted very few of the rights and freedoms that the Muslim majority is allowed,” he said.

The textbook said under Islamic law women are spiritually equal, although they may have different roles and rights.

“This content is confusing at best and intellectually dishonest at worst,” he said. In Egypt and other Arab countries, women may not be employed in the private sector because they belong in the home. Women are stoned to death under Sharia law in Iran for adultery.”

School Board member Amy Kneessy told Fox News she had a chance to read the textbook and she was especially troubled by the section about how Muslims treat women.

“I was really disheartened,” she said. “To see such a blatant misportrayal of how women are treated in Muslim countries, I found disconcerting.”

Kneessy said there seems to be a double-standard and found evidence of bias in a number of passages – especially when it came to religious wars.

“When wars were involving Jewish people or Christians, some very hard adjectives were used – like ‘massacre,’” she said. “Whereas when it was a Muslim group, it was ‘occupy’ or a very innocuous term.”

She said the school has an obligation to be fair and balanced when teaching history.

“War is never clean and tidy,” she said. “Wars are bloody. People die and bad things happen. The facts need to be reported fairly from all perspectives.”

Kneessy said she plans on asking the entire school board to reevaluate the textbook.

“I am concerned it is more ammunition that continues to water down what this country was founded on,” she said. “This country was founded with Christian values. God was very much a part of our government. When you take the religious context out of it, then you take away the very heart of what this country was founded on.”


7. Increase in Knowledge/New Technologies

Conditioning The Next Generation - Palm Scanning Technology Becoming The Norm For School Cafeterias

The School Nutrition Department takes a high-tech approach to assist students with meal purchases in the Muscogee County School District.

Now, high school students can buy their lunch with a simple scan of the palm using Meral Computing Services (MCS) software with Fujitsu PalmSecure hardware, which uses the same near-infrared technology that comes in a television remote control or Nintendo Wii video game.

The device takes a super high-resolution infrared photograph of the vein pattern just below the skin. The image, between 1.5 and 2.5 square inches, is recorded and digitized.

When a student comes through the lunch line, he or she can hold a hand over a black box, which scans the palm and links it to the child's meal account.

"It's a quick and easy way to help expedite the time spent in the lunch line to purchase meals and helps to ensure accurate, efficient identification of students, funds, and reports," says School Nutrition Director Marian Bone.

With the use of the new technology, it takes approximately four seconds to complete each sale with 99% accuracy.

"In the past, if a child did not have their student ID, the cashier would have to search for the student's name and account number, which could take up to a minute or longer," Bone added.

The palm scan capability increases the time available to eat lunch for students by reducing unnecessary time in the lunch line. In addition, it is hygienic.

Participation is voluntary. Parents may opt out by notifying the school in writing. Students who do not use palm scan must bring a student ID to the cafeteria to purchase a meal.


8. Christian Worldview/Issues

Army Chaplain Assistant Threatened With Reduction In Pay And Rank Over Facebook Post Calling Homosexuality A Sin

For those fearing alleged crackdowns on military personnel who support traditional marriage, an unnamed soldier’s story will raise some eyebrows.

A female Army chaplain’s assistant recently came forward, telling conservative commentator Todd Starnes that she was reprimanded for posting a message on her personal Facebook page. In it, she called homosexuality a sin and spoke out against pastors who support same-sex relationships.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the 26-year-old told Starnes that, as a result of her post, she was accused of creating an environment that was both hostile and antagonistic. But the boldest claim she makes is that her commander gave her a choice: Either take the message down or be knocked down in both rank and pay.

As an evangelical Christian, though, she’s refusing to remove it.

“I haven’t taken it down and I won’t take it down,” she told Starnes. “It is frustrating that people are trying to silence me — for something that I believe in. We fight for the freedom that I can’t enjoy right now. That’s not right.”

The unnamed soldier apparently posted her message online after watching a documentary about a pastor who endorsed same-sex marriage. Frustrated by what she saw, she did what millions of other Americans just like her do: She aired her opinion openly on social media.

“A lot ticked off, now to all my gay friends you know I care about you so don’t think otherwise. I’m watching this documentary and this gay guy went to a church and the Pastor was telling him that he needs to embrace his way and know that it is not a sin,” she wrote. “Ok umm wow, dude it is. I’m sick of people making Gods word what it’s not. Yes God loves you as a person but He hates the sin. Tired of hearing about Pastors being ok with homosexuality.”

The woman, who has served in the Army for six years, believes she was targeted and reported by people in her unit. She was purportedly sent to her commander’s office and given the aforementioned ultimatum after the post was discovered.

“I have a good record. I’ve never gotten in trouble for anything,” she said. “And there’s nothing hostile or antagonistic in the post.”

The unnamed soldier refuses to be silenced and is willing to go to court if need-be to defend herself. Read more about her story.

These claims come as chaplains and other Christian leaders fear recrimination in the ranks for those who support traditional marriage. In June, we reported that, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s landmark rulings on gay marriage, opponents of same-sex unions are voicing concern over the eventual impact that the decisions might have.

Among those sharing worries over the potential fallout is Ron Crews, executive director of the Chaplains Alliance for Religious Liberty. During an appearance on CNN earlier this year, the faith leader expressed concern over how the overturning of a key provision in the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) could spell trouble for military chaplains who stand firmly opposed to gay unions.

“Chaplains have been protected by the Defense of Marriage Act in saying ‘no’ to same-sex couples for marriage counseling, for going on marriage retreats,” Crews explained. “Most of chaplains come from evangelical, orthodox backgrounds who hold to the belief and understanding that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.”

Crews’ Chaplains Alliance for Religious Liberty has offered to support the soldier in this most recent Facebook flap.

Legislating The Church Underground - Church of England To Be Sued For Refusing To Perform Same-Sex Marriages

A gay couple in Great Britain has announced plans to pursue legal action against the Church of England for refusing to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies, less than one month after the country officially legalized gay mariage, but explicitly excluded the Church from being forced to conduct the ceremonies as they go against biblical teachings.

Barrie Drewitt-Barlow and his partner, Tony, have been considered by many in Great Britain to be the "poster couple" for same-sex marriage legalization, as they became the first gay parents in 1999 through surrogacy, and have since had five other children through surrogacy. The couple had a civil partnership ceremony in 2006, and own a surrogate center in Chandlers Quay, Maldon.

The gay marriage legislation approved in Great Britain earlier this year, known as the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, included a "quadruple lock" meant to protect the Church of England and other religious institutions from being forced to perform same-sex marriages against their faith. Under the current law, churches may "opt-in" to perform same-sex marriages, but they cannot be forced to conduct ceremonies.

Despite that highly-publicized safeguard being included in the legislation, many critics believed that gay activists would ignore that exclusion and continue to push for churches to be forced to participate in gay marriage ceremonies against their will. Now just weeks after the legislation was passed, it appears those fears were well-founded; Drewitt-Barlow and his partner argue that they wish to "test" this protection in court. The couple have claimed that they are practicing Christians and they want their children to see them wed in a church ceremony.

"We are happy for gay marriage to be recognised – in that sense it is a big step. But it is actually a small step because it is something we still cannot actually do," Drewitt-Barlow told the Essex Chronicle in a recent interview, adding he and his partner "need to convince the church that it is the right thing for our community for them to recognise as practicing Christians."

"It upsets me because I want it so much – a big lavish ceremony, the whole works, I just don't think it is going to happen straight away," Drewitt-Barlow continued, adding "as much as people are saying this is a good thing I am still not getting what I want."

The couple told Gay Star News that they have been speaking to the legal counsel at Cannon Law experience, which believes the couple may in fact have a case.

Additionally, the couple contends that some of the "biggest critics" of their decision to sue the Church of England have been members of the gay community, who have reportedly told the couple that they "should be grateful for what we have and telling us we should not feel we are representing the gay community as a whole." The couple argues, however, that this is a personal decision and they are not doing it on behalf of the same-sex community.

When introducing the "quadruple lock" plan for same-sex marriage in December, England's culture secretary Maria Miller assured the Church of England, the Catholic Church, and other religious groups that the new law would protect them from being forced to perform same-sex ceremonies. The law bans the Church of England and Church in Wales from performing same-sex marriages, and requires other religious organizations to "opt-in" in order to perform gay wedding ceremonies.

However, Justice Minister Crispin Blunt admitted in June 2012 that the Same-Sex Couples Act's protection of churches could possibly be challenged in court.

"We're seeking to protect, indeed, proscribe religious organizations from offering gay marriage," Blunt, who is openly gay, said in June 2012.

"That may be problematic legally, but the proposal the Government are putting forward is that marriage should be equal in the eyes of the state whether it's between a same-sex couple or between a man and a woman. We'll have to see what happens with that," Blunt added.

The Church of England and the Catholic Church both spoke out at the time, arguing that they were suspicious over whether the promised safeguards granted to religious groups would hold up in courts, and they feared that churches may eventually be forced to perform same-sex marriage unions to avoid discrimination lawsuits. Others argued such a development would force churches to stop performing all marriages as they would not be permitted by church rules to perform same-sex ceremonies.

Colin Hart, director for the Coalition for Marriage, a pro-biblical marriage advocacy group, told the Daily Mail that the Church of England's previous concerns regarding their protection are warranted.

"The ink's not even dry on the Bill and churches are already facing litigation. We warned Mr. Cameron this would happen, we told him he was making promises that he couldn't possibly keep," Hart said. "He didn't listen. He didn't care. He's the one who has created this mess."

"Mr. Cameron's chickens are coming home to roost and it will be ordinary people with a religious belief who yet again fall victim to the totalitarian forces of political correctness," Hart continued.

"We now face the real prospect of churches having to choose between stopping conducting weddings, or vicars, and priests defying the law and finding themselves languishing in the dock," Hart added.

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 cleared parliament earlier in July and was officially signed into law by Queen Elizabeth II on July 17. The first same-sex weddings are expected to commence in summer 2014.


9. Other Events To Watch

Sun's Coming Magnetic Field Flip Raises EMP Threat

The sun is about to flip its magnetic field, at the peak of its 11-year solar cycle or at the half-way point of what scientists call a solar maximum – when it is at its most violent in terms of solar flares and the Earth is most vulnerable to an electromagnetic pulse.

That’s the surge of sun energy that scientists say could in an instant return the developed world to an agrarian society, essentially without any electronics, and leave millions dead.

This mid-way point is expected in about four months – a December/January time frame – putting Earth in a position of greatest vulnerability even as the solar maximum diminishes well into 2014.

Scientists for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA, have said the sun will reach its most intense period this year and well into next.

Others have suggested that even until 2020 Earth still could be exposed to solar flares that if they hit Earth directly could knock out the U.S. national grid system and fry electronic components and automated control systems not only in the U.S. but in other industrialized countries.

“It looks like we’re no more than three to four months away from a complete field reversal,” according to Todd Hoeksema, director of Stanford University’s Wilcox Solar Observatory. “This change will have ripple effects throughout the solar system.”

NASA officials say that as the magnetic field shifts, the “current sheet” which is a surface that radiates billions of kilometers from the sun’s equator, becomes very wavy.

Since Earth orbits the sun, it dips in and out of these waves of the “current sheet.” NASA officials said that the transition from a wave to a dip creates stormy space weather around Earth.

Scientists say that the change also can provide some shielding from dangerous cosmic rays, which are high-energy particles created by supernova explosions and travel at the speed of light of approximately 186,000 miles a second or, to be exact, 299,792,458 meters per second.

However, cosmic rays are not the same as the solar flares which spew from dark spots on the sun’s surface.

Indeed, solar flare activity on the sun recently has increased as sun spots begin to shift and are aligned on a direct path toward Earth.

The solar flares create an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, effect that can wipe out electrical grids and communications systems and fry electronics.

Some of these solar flares can be more than 20 times the size of the Earth.

Experts say that Earth experienced the largest recorded direct solar flare in 1859, which is called the Carrington Event. At the time, the only pieces of electrical equipment were the telegraph and the first parts of the trans-Atlantic cable.

The direct hit from the solar flare burned the telegraph wires, creating fires and explosions. The effects felt round the world last for three days. At the time, the trans-Atlantic cable was just being laid but also had to replaced due to the impact of the EMP on the equipment.

Since then, countries have come to be dependent on electricity, electronic components and automated control systems to survive as a society.

Experts say that a Carrington-type EMP event occurs every 100 years. However, it’s been 154 years since that event, making Earth overdue for a similar event but with more catastrophic effects on critical infrastructures due to their dependency on electricity.

A direct hit from the EMP from a solar flare not only would knock out all unprotected electronics but could subject 90 percent of world’s population to starvation and death, particularly in urban areas.

This is due to the fact that all critical infrastructures on which a technological society such as the United States depends would fail in a cascading effect once the grid is knocked out.

These critical infrastructures include telecommunications, financial and banking systems, food and water delivery, emergency services and petroleum deliveries, among others. No cash registers would work, no fuel pumps, no trucks to deliver food, no networks like phone, power and water systems — in essence, a return to an agrarian society.

In addition to the 1859 Carrington event, other notable solar flare-documented EMP events have occurred.

In 1972, a major solar flare knocked out the long-distance phone communications across some states, including Illinois, according to NASA. The event caused AT&T to redesign its power system for transatlantic cables.

In 1989, a powerful solar flare set off a major power blackout in Canada that left six million people without electricity for nine hours, The flare disrupted electric power transmission from the Hydro Quebec generating station and even melted some power transformers in New Jersey.
Another Sign In The Heavens? "Comet Of The Century" To Light Up Heavens On Hanukkah
All eyes on the sky that can do so will be pointing toward Comet ISON soon, as a massive international observing campaign gets underway to watch what could become the "comet of the century," scientists say.

Comet ISON was discovered in September 2012, and is due to swoop in close to the sun in November. When it does, it may become as bright as the full moon, visible to the naked eye even in daylight. Or, it may not.

What will happen to Comet ISON is an open question to scientists, who hope to learn more about what causes certain comets to flare brightlyand others to fizzle out and evaporate under the sun's radiation.

Uncertain fate

"We don't have anything to directly compare to ISON," astronomer Matthew Knight of the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Ariz., said Thursday here at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory during a two-day workshop on observing ISON. Based on historical records, he said, very large comets tend to survive their encounters with the sun, while smaller ones evaporate or break into pieces under the harsh solar radiation. Comet ISON is a mid-sized comet, and its fate is very uncertain.

ISON is thought to originate in the Oort cloud, a large spherical cloud of small planetary fragments that is thought to surround the sun and extend up to a light-year out. The comet was first discovered in September of 2012, and belongs to a class of bodies called sungrazing comets that skim in close to the sun's atmosphere.

Under the banner of a coordinated observing program called the NASA Comet ISON Observing Campaign, dozens of observatories on the ground, in space, and even on sounding rockets and high-altitude balloons, will watch the comet's progress toward the sun this fall.

Starting at Mars

One of the first major series of observations will be taken from orbit around Mars, which will have a view of ISON as it moves toward the inner solar system. NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), plans to snap photos of ISON on Aug. 20, when the comet makes its closest approach to the Red Planet.

"The Aug. 20 observations might give you all an early indication of just how bright the comet has become, at least at this time and place," said Richard Zurek, chief scientist of the Mars Program Office at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

In addition to MRO, NASA's Mars rovers Curiosity and Opportunity will try to take photos of Comet ISON as it appears in the Martian sky overhead.

After ISON zooms by Mars, it will soon approach Mercury, the innermost planet in the solar system. There, NASA's Messenger probe orbiting the tiny planet will make observations of the comet.

And finally, as it nears the sun, three solar observatories will switch into high gear mode to watch ISON rendezvous with our star, where it will make its closest approach on Nov. 28. NASA's SOHO (Solar & Heliospheric Observatory), STEREO (Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory) and SDO (Solar Dynamics Observatory) spacecraft will all turn their sights on the possible "comet of the century."

Observing throughout the spectrum

Space telescopes that specialize in observing through certain wavelengths of light will each have their special roles to play in the campaign. NASA's Swift satellite will photograph ISON in gamma-ray light, while the Spitzer Space Telescope will observe in infrared light and the Chandra Observatory will look in X-rays.

Not to be outdone, dozens of telescopes on the ground will also contribute to observations of Comet ISON, including the Lowell Observatory, the Arecibo radio dish in Puerto Rico, and the Submillimeter Array in Hawaii, just to name a few.

This coordinated effort will help scientists catch ISON in action, as its transformation during its close encounter with the sun could be rapid.

"ISON isn't up for very long in any one area — not enough to characterize it," Knight said. "We'd like to combine observations from around the world — as many longitudes as we can get — and collect them all. You get roughly 24-hour coverage. From that we may be able to piece together what's going on."

Dedicated missions

While many observatories will be diverting from normal work to observe ISON, some missions have been designed for this comet specifically.

One project is a small sounding rocket mission dubbed FORTIS (Far-ultraviolet Off Rowland-Circle for Imaging and Spectroscopy) that will measure ultraviolet light from Comet ISON during a short 5-6 minute observing window while the rocket flies up to the edge of space and back.

Another mission dedicated to ISON is the BRRISON (Balloon Rapid Response for ISON) mission, which will loft a telescope on a high-altitude balloon designed to travel 120,000 feet (37,000 meters) up to Earth's stratosphere, where it can observe in infrared and near ultraviolet/visible wavelengths.

"I don't need to tell this audience why ISON is such an unusual opportunity," said BRRISON's principal investigator, Andrew Cheng of the Applied Physics Laboratory. "It's a sungrazer, unusually bright, it's also an Oort cloud comet, probably on its first visit to the inner solar system, preserving icy material that was formed in the very early days of our solar system."

Note from Prophecy News Watch: November 28, 2013 is when Comet Ison will be at it's brightest in our skies. This also marks the first day of Hanukkah 2013, according to the Hebrew lunar-based calendar. Is there some greater significance to the arrival of this extraordinary comet at this time? Learn more about other signs in the heavens coming in the next year and the possible significance to Israel and the world at our special report page.