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Add to Technorati Favorites A Time, Times, and a Half a Time: September 2007

September 30, 2007

Reining in Religious Education: the Roles of the Alliance of Civilizations, Javier Solana, and the Center for Inquiry

In the previous writings, I have demonstrated that the Alliance of Civilizations initiative is the global implementation of Javier Solana’s Barcelona Process. Its framework can be found written in the Dialogue between Peoples and Cultures in the Euro-Mediterranean Area. It has been given a face--an implementer--now known as the Anna Lindh Euromed Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures. Its aim is to create a “common civilization”. Henceforth, as I refer to the Alliance of Civilizations, I will be referring to both the United Nations and the European Union's efforts as one entity. I will make distinction where necessary.

Years ago, when I first read the Barcelona Process documents, I concluded that ultimately the war against religion would be fought under the guise of women’s and children’s rights. I believe that much more strongly today. Nearly every AoC document that I’ve read has identified youth as its primary target.

In the
Implementation of the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Religious Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief the UN has identified religious extremism as “each religion tends to believe that it is sole guardian of the truth and that it has a duty to make everyone bear witness to that truth. That does not always contribute to tolerance among religions. Moreover, each religion may be tempted to fight what it may consider to be deviance within its own ranks or around it. That does not always contribute to tolerance among religions…” It appears to escape the UN's attention that individuals in free societies generally desire and respect religious freedom.

As one considers the above statement, elements of the
initial founding declaration become even more troubling. A truth claim, such as what Christians believe in John 14:6, is considered to be intolerant which, according to the UN, is a violation of children’s rights and will not be tolerated. The declaration sees the child’s rights as such:

  • “Practices of a religion or beliefs in which a child is brought up must not be injurious to his physical or mental health or to his full development…”
  • “The child shall be protected from any form of discrimination on the ground of religion or belief. He shall be brought up in a spirit of understanding, tolerance, friendship among peoples, peace and universal brotherhood, respect for freedom of religion or belief of others…”
  • “…it is essential to promote understanding, tolerance and respect in matters relating to freedom of religion and belief and to ensure that the use of religion or belief for ends inconsistent with the Charter of the United Nations, other relevant instruments of the United Nations and the purposes and principles of the present Declaration is inadmissible
  • Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.”

To ensure that children are being raised with the proper religious upbringing, the UN proposes that a set of minimum common values for religious education be established and taught in primary and secondary schools.

The Alliance of Civilizations appears to be implementing these rules as the
Final Report of the High Level Group states that “the goal would be to provide base-materials that could be used by schools and religious training centers to teach about major faith traditions. Guidelines and mechanisms should be established to ensure that religious schools are registered with authorities and that their curricula do not foster hatred of other communities.” To protect women’s rights, the HLG proposed “such measures [gender equality] are most likely to succeed if supported by religious education that is based upon a sound interpretation of religious teachings.”

Apparently the Alliance intends to provide us with sound interpretation of religious teachings. The European
Dialogue between Peoples document poses the following questions and answers:

  • “Who should teach religion? Who can make a valid comparison between the different doctrinal elements of religions? We must beware of confusion here. A clear distinction needs to be drawn between religious education in the sense understood by adherents of a faith, which consists of transmitting the values, teachings and liturgy of their religion with a view to the proper practice of that religion (e.g., the catholic catechism), and the teaching of comparative religion which aims only to instill knowledge about religion and the history of religion. Only the latter forms one of the bases of learning for the intercultural dialogue through education. Religious education of the first kind is perfectly legitimate, but is not relevant to the objective under discussion. Comparative religion should therefore be taught by professional teachers capable of providing a comparative analysis of religions, regardless of their own religious choice, with the objectivity of an expert, not the passion of a devotee. This is an essential choice that will determine the success of the dialogue through education”

Apart from creation of a common culture, what is it that the AoC intends to accomplish by controlling religion? The same document also answers that “in addition to the effort that the religious communities have to make, it seems obvious to us that achieving this objective is conditional upon the implementation of an educational vision. Education as we understand it here makes it possible to view with equanimity the completion of the process of secularization, first of structures, then of society itself, as just one of several possible reflections of a modern way of life.

Javier Solana and the United Nations have placed much importance on the role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in global governance. One such organization has stepped up to the plate to assist in the secularization of the civilization. The Council for Secular Humanism has recently reported in an article,

Religion and Child Abuse, that the Center for Inquiry (an NGO that receives special consultative status) intends to address the issue of children’s rights at is October 2007 meeting in China. The Center for Inquiry (CFI) view child abuse as:
  • “Such abuse begins with the involuntary involvement of children in religious practices from the time they are born. All religions, through ritual, preaching, and religious texts, seek to bring children into day-to-day religious practice.”
  • “In one form or another, all religions violate the rights of children.”
  • “…the time has come to debate the participation of children in religious institutions. While some might see it as a matter better left to parents, the negative influence of religion and its subsequent contribution to child abuse from religious beliefs and practices requires us to ask whether organized religion is an institution that needs limits set on how early it should have access to children.”

An interesting aspect to the CFI is the division called the Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion (CSER) which develops programs which promotes "the public understanding of religion in an international context.”

Presently among the Committee’s to-do list is the trial of Jesus set to commence December 2007. The trial is being conducted through The Jesus Project . According to the CSER chair, “we are not neutral, let alone willfully ambiguous, about the objectives of the project itself. We believe in assessing the quality of the evidence available for looking at this question before seeing what the evidence has to tell us…We believe the mixing of theological motives and historical inquiry is impermissible. We regard previous attempts to rule the question out of court as vestiges of a time when the Church controlled the boundaries of permissible inquiry into its sacred books. More directly, we regard the question of the historical Jesus as a testable hypothesis, and we are committed to no prior conclusions about the outcome of our inquiry. This is a statement of our principles, and we intend to stick to them.” Presently, the CSER is in the process of collecting evidence -- not only for the Jesus Project but also Islamic texts.

Perhaps the Jesus Project is similar to the Alliance of Civilizations' High Level Group's exercise in truth--a truth they intend to provide to all.
I could never have imagined that I would write of the war against religion and the building of a common culture, women’s and children’s rights, and another trial of Jesus all within the same article. Yet, these things are connected for the advancement of the AoC's goals. Things most definitely are going to get ugly.
May the Lord have mercy on us all.

September 15, 2007

Zapatero and the Alliance of Civilizations: Working to Remove the Obstacles of Christianity & a Sovereign United States

It was Spain’s Prime Minister, José Luís Rodríguez Zapatero, who introduced the Alliance of Civilizations initiative to the United Nations. This initiative duplicates the framework of the EuroMed Partnership’s Dialogue Among Cultures. The Dialogue Among Cultures, tasked with combating religious fundamentalism and the creation of a common civilization within the Euro-Med neighborhood, operates within the framework of the Barcelona Process. The Barcelona Process was started in 1995 by the European Union’s Javier Solana and had amongst its goals to combat religious fundamentalism worldwide. Zapatero has served as the messenger who carried this global aspiration to the international body of the UN.

Zapatero is a willing participant who rather enjoys
stormy relations with the church for he has publicly called religion the tobacco of the people. Spain’s Concept Paper for the Alliance of Civilizations has identified the AoC’s goal and enemies as such:

  • "to counter the influence of those who feed on exclusion and claim sole ownership of the truth.”

The AoC, in its Hearings with the International Community & Civil Society, agrees. Since the AoC has defined religion as anything that does not cause division but rather fosters interdependencies, it has adopted Spain’s proposal. To implement it, the AoC intends for:

  • “Non-governmental organizations representing different religions and multi-religious coalitions are an important part of civil society, and because of their mainly grass-roots character, their proximity to people and communities, and their symbolic-spiritual force, are well placed to help to devise balanced and effective policies, to detect and prevent conflicts and, in any case, to help to control their damage and, eventually, to solve them. In other words, religions and the institutions that represent them cannot be banned from the public sphere but must be brought in under the leadership of the international civil bodies when it comes to questions concerning mutual recognition, universal justice, and lasting peace.”

Here we see that the AoC intends to bring all local-level religious organizations under its control. Also note that the AoC sees the NGO’s and multi-religious coalitions as important symbolic spiritual forces. Reading a bit further the report shows that “symbols can be very effective tools in advancing a cause. The creation of a house or temple of religions or civilizations in as many cities as possible will be a tangible and important step in this direction.” I personally believe that the Alliance’s symbol will become more than an Alliance temple—one that leaves no question of who is allied and who is not.

Religion is not the only aspect Zapatero has involved himself. He has also been effecting political and civilizational change. In 2005, he was given participant status in South America’s integration process in the Guayana Summit. One objective of that summit was to use oil as an axis to redraw the geopolitical map. Two noteworthy items came out of the summit:

  1. Zapatero was able to embed the Alliance of Civilizations initiative into the summit’s outcome document—the Ciudad Guayana Declaration; and
  2. The creation of a civilization alliance with Latin America and the Arab League.

The civilization alliance resulted in the signing of the Brasilia Declaration which included a condemnation of both Israel and the US. The purpose of the alliance is to counter the influence of the United States. This is interesting because it is consistent with the European Union’s 1995 Barcelona Conference objective to dislodge the United States as a competing superpower.

Some of the alliance participants have been vocal about destabilization of the dollar. Some members of this alliance are now are now shifting away from using the petro-dollar to the
petro-euro. Also read about it here and here. Seeing the writing on the wall, China has also been quietly dumping dollars in exchange of euros. I am not an economist, but it appears to me that the United States economy is on shaky ground.

It is prophetic that all nations enter into the global system controlled by the antichrist and, as the Alliance of Civilizations sees it, we are still standing in the way. It is my hope and prayer that God continue to restrain for yet another day.

September 7, 2007

We're In the Way

It’s about Israel. This became apparent to me as I read the initial reports coming out of the Alliance of Civilizations. The High Level Group’s (HLG) final report strengthened this notion as I read that they consider the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to be the source of tensions throughout the entire world. They further identified the problematic players to be the adherents of the three monotheistic faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. But they offer a solution—an imposed solution. They have said that they’ve conducted an exercise in truth and intend to enforce their concluded truths on all of us. Those, they say, who reject their truths are extremists and fundamentalists. Let’s start by taking a look at some of the Alliance of Civilizations' truths. According to the AoC:

  • “…it is our view that the Israeli-Palestinian issue has taken on a symbolic value that colors cross-cultural and political relations among adherents of all three major monotheistic faiths well beyond its limited geographic scope”. - Final Report
  • “…The HLG [High Level Group] must assume the responsibility of dealing with the Palestinian case as a priority…it represents the sum total of all the difficulties and all the risks, but it is central.” - Israeli-Palestinian Conflict White Paper
  • “The objective of the HLG [High Level Group] is to enforce an Alliance of Civilizations against all those who…by ignorance, fanaticism or ideological choice, give prevalence…to a logic of division and confrontation.” - Israeli-Palestinian Conflict White Paper

Before the Alliance of Civilizations can effectively deal with the Israeli-Palestinian problem, they’ve identified some obstacles that they first must remove--specifically, a sovereign United States and Christianity. As I read their words, I couldn’t help but envision a picture that is worth 1000 words. This picture was used by Iran’s President Ahmadinejad in his World without Zionism conference held in October 2005.

Notice that the United States has been ejected from the earth and lay smashed at the bottom of an hour glass. Israel, suspended in mid air, soon follows. This call for Israel’s destruction has not only been made by Ahmadinejad, but also Iran’s past president and Alliance of Civilizations High Level Group member Mohammad Khatami. This has caused tremendous concern for both the United States and Israel in light of Iran’s uranium enrichment activites. Noteworthy, Eurpoean Union’s High Representative Javier Solana has been supportive of Iran’s uranium enrichment program under Khatami’s leadership, citing that Khatami was interested in peace. Subsequently, the EU3 condemned Iran for its covert nuclear activity. Yet, Solana continues to support Iran’s nuclear development under Ahmadinejad’s leadership.

The Alliance of Civilizations International Security and Cosmopolitan Democracy report’s words strongly resemble the above picture. As mentioned earlier, AoC identified a sovereign United States and Christianity as obstacles that must be removed before it can deal with the Israeli-Palestinian problem. For example, the HLG alerts us that:

  • “American neoliberalism supports the revival of religion in the US, but in fact it is not a real religious comeback but a political recourse to the religious as a means to secure imperial dominance.”
  • “…the political weight American Protestantism had under the Bush administration, rather showed an America that would most likely support Israel unconditionally in its continued colonialism.”
  • “…with the US left as the only superpower, politically, economically and militarily highly superior to any other, the multilateral system faces the difficulty of enforcement of International Law vis-à-vis an invincible power, which is naturally tempted to submit is sovereignty under the rule of the UN only where it matches its interests.”
  • Regarding UN reform, “…one faces the dilemma of how such a reform can possibly be adopted with the consent of the only superpower if it aims to force that very superpower under the rule of law…the unique opportunity of the process of UN Reform must be taken advantage of to make multilateralism accountable to stand up even to superpowers…a reasonable reform of the Security Council would have to abolish the veto and expand the Council .”
  • “…due to the current distribution of power, there are in practice different measures for the US and for the rest of the world. UN Resolutions are being applied or not depending on whose interests are affected by the envisaged actions.”
  • “sovereignty is susceptible to instrumentalization. This leads to an erosion of International Law…But transnational relations need a legal frame, of which the source cannot be the states themselves…it is in fact the limitation of (national) sovereignty that guarantees democracy.”

UN Reform (to manifest itself in the form of the Alliance of Civilizations initiative) intends for the sovereignty of nations—especially the United States—to be redefined. I have become accustomed to hearing Israel’s condemnation within the assembly of the UN Human Rights Council as well as concurrent calls for the elimination of the veto. But what I find more significant is that a major power, the assembly of the Western European Union (the 10-nation military alliance of the EU), seeks the same thing. In Recommendation 735 on a European initiative to strengthen the role of the United Nations in promoting peace and security, the assembly commits to the following:

  • “…provide a European contribution to United Nations reform which should contain inter alia a common position on how to reform the Security Council.”
  • “…it has to be said that because the permanent members of the Security Council have a right of veto, some cases of genocide or flagrant violations of human rights will never appear on its agenda. Similarly, it sometimes happens that in the case of certain infringements of international law, a permanent member uses its veto for protectionist purposes (this happened recently in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.)”
  • "Two interesting currents of thought are emerging in the UN as regards international security: one calling for a greater role for international courts in the settlement of conflicts and the other advocating a regional approach to conflict management. Regarding the first, a major step forward at the beginning of this century has been the creation of the International Criminal Court despite the fact that the United States and a number of European countries have differing views as regards immunity for their citizens and in particular for their armed forces engaged in peacekeeping operations.”

It appears the Alliance of Civilizations and the Western European Union are cooperating very closely. This is not surprising as it was the European Union who first developed the framework for a common civilization. Both have indicated that they know and intend to provide us with the truth. And as for the Alliance of Civilizations HLG’s absolute truth they have said:

  • “…WE, the HLG, KNOW AND TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR LETTING EVERYONE KNOW THE PRICE AND WEIGHT OF THESE SIXTY YEARS OF MISUNDERSTANDING, STIGMATIZATION, OF HIDDEN OR MISUSED TRUTHS…This exercise in truth (pedagogical and ideological) initiated by the United Nations will restore all their meaning and all their chances to the rebuilding and normalization of the relations between Islam and the rest of the world…” [emphasis not mine]

I expect the HLG’s truth to follow that of the Human Rights Council’s—a condemnation of Israel. In this blog post I’ve shown what the AoC intends to do about their obstacles. Next post I will write of how they propose to do it.

Selected Scripture:

“Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. 3And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.” - Zechariah 12;2-3

“And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent”. – Revelation 12:7-14