A coalition between the anti-immigration Austrian People’s Party and the anti-establishment Austrian Freedom Party, was sworn into office on December 18. It is poised to catapult Austria to the vanguard of Western Europe’s resistance to mass migration from the Muslim world. The massive demographic and religious shift underway in Austria, traditionally a Roman Catholic country, appears irreversible. Austria has also emerged as a major base for radical Islam. “We have a lot in common with Israel. I always say, if one defines the Judeo-Christian West, then Israel represents a kind of border. If Israel fails, Europe fails. And if Europe fails, Israel fails” according to Heinz-Christian Strache, leader of the Austrian Freedom Party. The anti-immigration Austrian People’s Party and the anti-establishment Austrian Freedom Party have reached a deal, creating a new coalition to govern Austria for the next five years.
Chancellor-elect Sebastian Kurz, 31, who won Austria’s national election after campaigning on a promise to halt illegal immigration, will govern with Heinz-Christian Strache, 48, the Freedom Party leader, who has warned that mass migration is “Islamising” Austria. Under the agreement, Strache will become the vice-chancellor; the Freedom Party will also take control of the ministries of defence, interior and foreign affairs. Kurz has been a strong critic of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door migration policy, which has allowed more than a million mostly male migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East to enter the country during the past two years. During his time as foreign minister, Kurz was instrumental in garnering parliamentary approval of a ground-breaking new law that regulates the integration of immigrants.
The so-called Integration Law, which bans full-face Muslim veils in public spaces and prohibits Islamic radicals from distributing the Koran, establishes clear rules and responsibilities for recognized asylum seekers and refugees granted legal residence in the country. The new law requires immigrants from non-EU countries to sign an “integration contract” which obligates them to learn written and spoken German and to enrol in courses about the “basic values of Austria’s legal and social order.” Immigrants are also required to “acquire knowledge of the democratic order and the basic principles derived from it.” Previously, Kurz was instrumental in reforming Austria’s century-old Islam Law (Islamgesetz), governing the status of Muslims in the country. The new law, passed in February 2015, is aimed at integrating Muslims and fighting Islamic radicalism by promoting an “Islam with an Austrian character.”
It also stresses that Austrian law must take precedence over Islamic Sharia law for Muslims living in the country. Austria’s Muslim population now exceeds 700,000 (8% of the total population), up from an estimated 340,000 (4.25%) in 2001, and 150,000 (2%) in 1990, according to data compiled by the University of Vienna. The massive demographic and religious shift underway in Austria, traditionally a Roman Catholic country, appears irreversible. In Vienna, where the Muslim population now exceeds 12.5%, Muslim students already outnumber Catholic students at middle and secondary schools. Muslim students are also on the verge of overtaking Catholics in Viennese elementary schools. At the same time, Austria has emerged as a major base for radical Islam.
Austria’s Agency for State Protection and Counterterrorism has warned of the “exploding radicalization of the Salafist scene in Austria.” Salafism is an anti-Western ideology that seeks to impose Islamic Sharia law. “The immigration seen in recent years is changing our country in a negative way,” said Kurz. “Uncontrolled immigration destroys the order in a country.” Strache, a supporter of Israel who has distanced his party from the rhetoric of the far right, insists that anti-Semitism has no place in his party and has urged a common front against Islamists. He has also pledged “to ensure that boycotts against Israeli products get taken off the agenda.” During a visit to the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, at the invitation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Strache said: “It’s important to act against anti-Semitism, Islamism, and terrorism. Anti-Semitism often emerges anew from Islamism and from the left.
“We have a lot in common with Israel. I always say, if one defines the Judeo-Christian West, then Israel represents a kind of border. If Israel fails, Europe fails. And if Europe fails, Israel fails.” Strache has called Merkel “the most dangerous woman in Europe” because of her migration policies, and has repeatedly said that Islam is “not part” of Austria. Strache has also warned that the “uncontrolled influx of migrants who are alien to our culture, who seep into our social welfare system … makes civil war in the medium-term not unlikely.” A Eurosceptic, Strache has called the European Union a “bureaucratic monster” and has said that Britain will “probably be better off after Brexit.” At Strache’s insistence, Karin Kneissl, an independent Middle East expert who speaks eight languages, including Arabic and Hebrew, will become Austria’s new foreign minister.
Kneissl has been a vocal critic of EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, whom she has described as the “Caesar of Brussels.” She has also criticized Merkel’s migrant policy as “grossly negligent.” Kneissl has said that most of the “refugees” arriving in Europe are overwhelmingly males between the ages of 20 and 30 who are “economic migrants controlled by testosterone.” On Austrian television, Kneissl said that one of the main reasons for the revolts in the Arab world was “many young Arab men can no longer find a wife because they have neither work nor their own home, and thus cannot achieve the status of a man in a traditional society.” Freedom Party Chairman Herbert Kickl, a close confidant of Strache, will become interior minister, while Mario Kunasek, a professional soldier, will run the defence ministry. Of the 16 future government ministers, only Kurz has Cabinet experience.
A 180-page document explains the new government’s agenda between now and 2022. It promises to crack down on political Islam; to crack down on illegal immigration; to speed up asylum decisions and to sponsor an EU summit on immigration when Austria holds the EU presidency in the second half of 2018. The document also pledges to give Austrians more opportunities to vote in referendums, although it explicitly refuses to allow a referendum on the country’s continued membership in the European Union. In addition, the document promises to: require migrants to learn German; require migrant kindergartners who have insufficient German language skills to repeat kindergarten before progressing to the first grade; increase the legal penalties for sexual crimes; strengthen Austrian defence; hire more police officers; reduce the bureaucracy and not raise taxes.
At the same time, however, the document pledges a strong commitment to the European Union: “Only in a strong Europe can there be a strong Austria in which we are able to take advantage of the opportunities of the 21st century.” Some observers have said that Kurz’s professed commitment to the European Union was aimed at calming worries in Europe about the Freedom Party’s Eurosceptic and anti-Islamization policy objectives. Others have described Kurz as a pragmatist “who is anti-establishment and establishment at the same time.” Kurz has nevertheless pledged to reject the European Union’s compulsory migrant quota. “I will work towards changing this erroneous refugee policy,” he said. “Without the proper protection of the external borders of the EU, we will not come to grips with the problem of illegal migration.”
CANADIAN SCHOOL DISTRICT QUITS OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD OVER SAME-SEX MARRIAGE STANCE
Operation Christmas Child, the annual Christmas outreach event organized by Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse, which ships off hundreds of thousands of shoe boxes containing gifts for children in struggling nations around the world, has been an accepted means for those in rich nations to assist the poor and needy in a practical expression of Christian love for many years. A school district in Canada has ended its participation in the Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child after complaints were received about the Franklin Graham-led evangelical organization’s stance on human sexuality. The Canadian Press reports that the 259 schools in the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District can no longer participate in Operation Christmas Child, a Church-driven annual drive in which donors fill thousands of shoeboxes with small gifts and toys that are eventually delivered to children in need around the world.
After receiving complaints about Samaritan’s Purse’s views on marriage and sexuality, the school district’s board of trustees voted to end the district’s participation in the program. “This organization is on record with its statement of beliefs that it requires its co-ordinating volunteers to sign statements of faith that are in direct conflict with our inclusive philosophy, particularly as it pertains to the LGBT community,” Director of Education Tony Stack said. Stack added that school involvement with Samaritan’s Purse could pressure children of lesbian and gay couples to participate in Operation Christmas Child just to fit in with their classmates. “For example, a child with two mums or two dads, unfortunately, has been put in the position of choosing between fitting in and partaking with other classmates in an activity, or supporting an organization opposed to the very existence of that very child’s family unit.”
According to The Canadian Press, Stack assured that the district is involved in other charities that help children in developing countries. “Additionally, trustees directed staff to develop guidelines for schools regarding their interactions with outside or third party organizations who wish to participate or organize activities within district schools,” the district stated in a press release. The move comes as Samaritan’s Purse requires volunteer leaders who represent the organization to sign a statement of faith that expresses that marriage is only a union between a man and a woman. “We believe God’s plan for human sexuality is to be expressed only within the context of marriage, that God created man and woman as unique biological persons made to complete each other,” the statement reads.
“God instituted monogamous marriage between male and female as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one genetic male and one genetic female. Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5-6; Mark 10:6-9; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9.” Samaritan’s Purse amended the statement of faith in 2016 to include the language on marriage and abortion. Headlines were made that May when a pro-choice and pro-LGBT Canadian who had volunteered with the organization since 1998 had been denied a leadership position after she refused to sign the amended copy. “They told me that I couldn’t be in a leadership role with Samaritan’s Purse unless I was on the same page as the rest of the group,” Kay Cossar of Newfoundland said at the time.
The amendment to Samaritan’s Purse statement of faith came after the United States Supreme Court ruled in 2015 to legalize same-sex marriage. “The amendments include a specific mention that ‘human sexuality is to be expressed only within the context of marriage,’ that a marriage by Biblical definition is between ‘a genetic male and genetic female,’ and that ‘human life is sacred from conception to its natural end,'” Samaritan’s Purse Canada spokesperson Jeff Adams told The Canadian Press in May 2016. “We included these specifics NOT because our views on these issues had changed, but simply because the world’s views on these has changed to the point where we felt the need to again remind our volunteers that our organization accepts the Bible as the inspired and infallible word of God.”
U.S.HOUSE INTRODUCES PARENTAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION
Republican Randy Hultgren introduced legislation in the U.S. House to propose a Parental Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Hultgren’s House Joint Resolution 121 had 15 original co-sponsors at its introduction. A parallel resolution was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Lindsey Graham in August. “The freedom for parents to direct the upbringing, education, and care of their children is an American tradition once established beyond debate,” said Rep. Hultgren. “Yet every day, families are broken apart by state actors who presume they are able to make a better decision for a child than a parent can. With recent state laws and court decisions threatening this American value, it is time parental rights are enshrined as fundamental rights and therefore protected under the Constitution.”
“We are grateful to Representative Hultgren for taking up this vital issue before Congress,” says President Jim Mason, a proponent of the resolution. “Parental rights is a crucial battle that too few are talking about. Every other question, whether of politics, religion, values, or ideology, hinges on the right of good parents to raise their children in a way that is true to them.” The Amendment, which would provide that “the liberty of parents to direct the upbringing, education, and care of their children is a fundamental right,” requires a two-thirds vote in each house of Congress to go to the states for ratification. This means bipartisan support will be necessary for its passage.
“Parental rights affect us all, regardless of race or belief, across every community or demographic,” says Detroit-area family law attorney Allison Folmar. “Absolutely, this Amendment should have bipartisan support. In fact, it should have universal support.” The NFL’s 2005 Most Valuable Player Shaun Alexander is also among those supporting the Amendment effort. Alexander said “I am still amazed with how much authority the courts have over parents’ rights today. With the Parental Rights Amendment now introduced in both houses of Congress, we can begin to push back and win for all parents’, authority for how to raise their own children. The Parental Rights Amendment will protect the greatest team ever assembled, the family.”
METHODIST CHURCH IN BRITAIN SET TO ORDAIN FIRST TRANSGENDER MINISTER
A university chaplain has become the first transgender minister to be ordained by the Methodist Church. Joy Everingham, 46, who serves at St Peter’s in Canterbury, spent decades secretly wearing women’s clothes before telling her wife what she had been doing. Everingham said: “We were sitting in bed and I said ‘I’ve got something to tell you’. “I started crying and couldn’t breathe. It was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. “I thought she was going to leave me, or kick me out, but she said ‘I’ve got to think about this’.” The minister said while her wife was prepared to help her explore her identity, she was “adamant that if I transitioned to a woman she wouldn’t stick around’.” The couple donated all of Everingham’s female clothes to charity in 2002 after the birth of their second son but not being able to live as a women sent her into a spiral of depression.
After being diagnosed with gender dysphoria, she explained: “Sometimes I felt like God had cursed me, but I had to trust in a god that loves me, whatever I am.” While training to become a minister, the couple decided to tell their sons and church that Everingham planned to transition, before becoming ordained last summer. It is the first time a transgender person has been appointed as a minister in the church with the church’s knowledge. The parent-of-two says she first knew she was different aged just five, and ‘didn’t fit in with everyone else’. She said “I wasn’t like the boys, I was always more like the girls.” She now lives as a woman full-time and 18 months ago started taking cross-sex hormones. The minister said her wife “loves me for who I am, but she’s still attracted to men”. She added: “I’m not sure she is really attracted to me sexually anymore, but we’re still in love and we’re still best friends.”
9 KILLED OVER 50 INJURED IN CHURCH BOMBING IN PAKISTAN
On Sunday, 17 December, a suicide bomber targeted a Methodist Church in Quetta, Pakistan leaving nine dead and more than fifty injured. According to reports, though two attackers targeted the Bethel Memorial Methodist Church only one managed to detonate his vest. The second attacker was killed by security forces. It is believed that more than 400 worshippers were attending the worship service during the time of the attack. A group affiliated to the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the incident. “We condemn this inhuman attack in Quetta and call on the Pakistani government to take all steps necessary to provide adequate security to Christians,” said Godfrey Yogarajah, the Deputy Secretary General of the World Evangelical Alliance. “We pray for God’s healing mercy upon those injured in the attack and God’s presence to be with those grieving the loss of loved ones,” he added.
* that those perpetrating violence against Christians in Pakistan would experience a change of heart, repent, and turn to Jesus Christ.
* for God’s healing upon those injured in the attack and God’s comfort upon families grieving the loss of loved ones.
* that the Pakistani government would step up security measures for churches, ensuring the safety of Christians.
CHARISMATIC RENEWAL PIONEER LARRY CHRISTENSON DIES AGED 89
Rev. Larry Christenson, a leader of the charismatic renewal in mainline denominations, has passed away, 5 days after a fall on ice put the 89-year-old in a coma. In the 1960’s Christenson was a Lutheran pastor in San Pedro, California, who came to believe that Jesus Christ still heals the sick today as He did 2,000 years ago. That belief led Christenson to accept that the other gifts of the Holy Spirit were also still available. He himself had an experience of the Spirit at a local AOG church he visited in 1961. Christenson decided to stay in his Lutheran denomination, where he became an advocate for and leader of the charismatic renewal sweeping through mainline churches. His own San Pedro church became so popular that it could well have become a mega-church as Lutherans curious about his teaching flocked there. But he always encouraged them to return to their own congregations to be a strength and light.
Christenson had memorized the entire Book of Ephesians, and praying from that book was a major part of the four-hour prayer walks he did daily. It was on such a walk two months away from his 90th birthday that he slipped on ice December 21, the fall that led to his five-day coma and then death. He was married to his wife, Nordis, for 66 years and is survived by her, four children, 18 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
ETHNIC CLEANSING EQUALS GENOCIDE FOR MYANMAR’S ROHINGYAS
What name was the Pope forbidden to say on his recent visit to Myanmar? Rohingya. Just the mention of it could have devastating effects. Who are they? The Rohingyas are a Muslim minority that has lived for generations in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar (Burma). Now, however, they are called a stateless people since Myanmar’s harsh regime has denied them citizenship. They have been tortured, raped, and murdered by the country’s security forces carrying out “clearance operations.” Out of 1 million Rohingyas, more than 630,000 have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh. That country is overwhelmed by the sudden influx of refugees. Please pray for Almighty God to intercede from heaven on behalf of the suffering Royingyas: “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear”