January 5, 2011
|THE CENSORED GHOST OF CHRISTMAS YET TO COME
By Craig L. Parshall, Sr. Vice President & General Counsel
“Ghost of the Future!” he exclaimed, “I fear you more than any
Spectre I have seen. But as your purpose is to do me good, and
as I hope to live to be another Man from what I was, I am prepared
to bear your company, and do it with a thankful heart.
Will you not speak to me?”
We are all familiar with Charles Dickens’ famous story, A Christmas Carol. It always seemed to me that it was that third ghost, the hooded grim reaper, who by means of his uncompromising images shown to Scrooge finally pushed the old miser into his final, moral repentance. But imagine for a moment that the censors slammed the book shut before Scrooge could get that final, full measure of truth. After all, aren’t such tales that are filled with warnings of death and judgment politically incorrect? Indeed, some modern commentators might even say that they are patently offensive to the 21st Century mind.
Fast forward to December 2010. Leave the printed page behind and shift gears to the new media technology. Enter the FCC. In the waning days before Christmas, the grim specter of censorship hung in the air as the Federal Communications Commission voted by a slim majority (3-2) to enforce a complex, yet viciously vague set of regulations to govern the Internet. I must admit, as I read the 89-page Report and Order “In the Matter of Preserving the Open Internet,” I had the sinking feeling that Dickens’ ghosts were about to be silenced; that despite the repeated assurances from those three, pro-web regulation Commissioners that these controversial rules were really for our own good – that the regulations would preserve “free expression” – in fact, the actual rules they have created provide a ghastly opportunity for anti-Christian censorship.
The regulations state that providers of Internet services can restrict, slow down, or even block any web content that they wish as long as they can argue that it constitutes “reasonable network management.” So, what does that mean? While the Commissioners waxed eloquently about such rarified concepts as “transparency,” and “end-user control” in their ruling, they gave only one single sentence regarding the possibility that citizens could have their free speech views censored over the web under these rules. The Commissioners stated that if an Internet provider discriminates, as an example, “by slowing traffic from a particular blog because the broadband provider disagrees with the blogger’s message,” well then, the FCC majority says, “we would be concerned….”
“Concerned?” Is that it? Exactly how “concerned” would the three FCC Commissioners be? We have no way of knowing. Their order provides little guidance and much confusion. In fact, they refuse to delineate exactly what will, or will not, constitute “reasonable” actions of censorship by providers of Internet service, choosing instead to decide such matters “on a case-by-case basis, as complaints…arise.” I wouldn’t be so mistrustful of the FCC’s ruling, except there are too many signposts littering the current cultural landscape, too many warnings letting us know of the pressures that will most certainly be brought to bear, attempting to censor Bible-based opinions off the Internet and off web-based platforms. Right now a clever video on YouTube is lampooning Apple’s CEO, Steve Jobs, depicting him as the dark lord of censorship for recently removing a Christian-based Manhattan Declaration off his company’s iPhone apps because of its biblical message. Because of this and similar threats, we have created the John Milton Project for Religious Free Speech in an effort to stop this push for blatant anti-Christian discrimination. Yet the irony is, that although John Milton, the 17th century poet and apologist for a Christian viewpoint, is the one who made the historic argument against tyrannical government censorship, those pundits who applaud him are the very same ones who seem to be saying that a little politically correct censorship might not be a bad thing after all. This week’s New York Times op-ed by law professor Stanley Fish, who takes the time to give a minor salute to Milton, nevertheless suggests that some of the opinions floating on the Internet need to be drained off, because we really can’t trust the truth to win out in the marketplace of ideas after all. In other words, viewpoints need to be managed on communications platforms. And carefully.
In the wake of the passage of federal hate crimes providing legal protection for sexual orientation and all of its variations, and Congress’ vote just before Christmas to strike down “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” do we really believe that in this political climate the FCC will not be lobbied to permit some form of anti-Christian censorship by Internet service providers regarding gay rights issues? On that score, I can only second Tiny Tim’s benediction, and prefer to make it a prayer: God bless us, every one.
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2011 World Watch List released today by Open Doors USA.
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Much Given…Much Required
By Dr. Ron Harris, Sr. Vice President of Strategic Partnerships
We’ve heard the scripture so often that we quote it by heart: “To whom much is given, much shall be required.” The Parable of the Talents also falls along those same lines. Do we use what the Master gives us, or do we bury it in the ground?
No matter how often we hear it…maybe we even tire of hearing it…Biblical truth is Biblical truth. God’s direction for our lives is still the best plan to follow. And those who apply this truth to investment in international ministry know how the Lord uses our obedience to bless those on both sides of the equation.
Some of NRB’s international broadcasters – like HCJB, TWR, and FEBC – have taken many individuals to see the broadcast needs in other lands, and to meet God’s faithful servants who labor in those distant and difficult vineyards. Those who go on these vision trips return with changed hearts and a clearer understanding of these truths.
NRB members who assisted with the Balkan Media Training in Romania last November also saw firsthand how valuable it is to share from our abundance to those eager to learn and grow. And you can experience this amazing opportunity, too.
Before you tune out…you don’t have to get your passport updated or clear out extra time. You can see the opportunity and meet dedicated international servants at the NRB Convention in Nashville, February 26 – March 1, 2011. And the best place to start is the International Exchange on Sunday, February 27th.
This event isn’t just for internationals. While it is an opportunity for our international guests to gather with others from their region and learn from each other, it is also a time for those of us who serve in the United States to learn of their work and see how God might let us be part of it.
There is no doubt that Christian broadcasters in the U.S. have been blessed abundantly. Though we have our challenges and needs, they are small compared to what is experienced by those in other countries. And if we have been blessed, God’s Word instructs us that something…much, to be exact…is required.
You are invited to come, visit, listen, learn, and see what God might have for you to do. Attend the International Exchange at NRB 2011, Sunday, February 27th, from 3:00-5:00 p.m. on the Delta Mezzanine. After a brief opening time, the group will break up into regional sessions for Asia, Africa/Middle East, Europe, and Latin American/Caribbean.
Come find your place at the International Exchange. Much given…much required.
Lest we forget, our brothers and sisters around the world are suffering for their faith in Christ. Today Open Doors USA released the 2011 World Watch List Rankings. This annual list ranks the top 50 nations that are the worst persecutors of Christians worldwide. For the ninth consecutive year, North Korea is ranked as the world’s #1 persecutor of Christians, a title that Open Doors says is well-deserved. Not only are Christians in North Korea denied the freedom to build churches or worship in homes, but the possession of Christian materials is punishable by death. Christians who are discovered are publicly executed or disappear into the prison system; it’s estimated that 50,000 – 70,000 Christians currently suffer in North Korean prison camps.
During this most recent reporting period (11/1/09 – 10/31/10), eight of the top ten countries on the World Watch List are Islamic nations (Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Maldives, Yemen, and Iraq). During the last year, Iraq has suffered the greatest deterioration of religious freedom, jumping from #17 to #8 since at least 90 Christians are known to have been martyred in Iraq during the last year. Yet the most heavily-documented losses were in Nigeria (#26), where 2,000 Christians were killed during the last year by riots caused by Muslim extremists. In Afghanistan (#3), Charisma News has reported that one Christian convert was told on December 31, 2010, that he had one week to renounce Christ or be sentenced to either 20-years in prison or to death. His sentence is expected any moment. “Being a Muslim Background Believer or ‘Secret Believer’ in a Muslim-dominated country puts a bulls-eye on the backs of Christians,” says Dr. Carl Moeller, President/CEO of Open Doors USA. “There is either no freedom to believe or little freedom of religion. And as the 2011 World Watch List reflects, the persecution of Christians in these Muslim countries continues to increase.” Click here to view the 2011 World Watch List, and here to learn more about Open Doors USA. Please pray for Christians around the world who are suffering all forms of persecution because they are not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ.
Compassion Radio: Praying for Peace
This Saturday, January 8th, an emergency summit of Iraq’s top religious leaders will be convened in Copenhagen, Denmark, in an effort to end the violence against Christians that has escalated in recent weeks. Dr. Norm Nelson, President of Compassion Radio, has been invited by The Rev. Andrew White (also known as The Vicar of Baghdad) to participate in the important four-day crisis deliberations. Members of The High Council of Religious Leaders in Iraq (HCRLI) will attend, and this council brings together the 10 most senior religious authorities from each of Iraq’s established religious communities – Muslim and Christian – along with government officials. After recently spending a week in Damascus, Syria, interviewing Iraqi Christian refugees, Dr. Nelson told Dan Wooding (ASSIST News Service) that “the ‘religious genocide’ occurring in Iraq is not getting the attention it deserves….It is gratifying,” continued Dr. Nelson, “to be a part of this desperately needed summit. The bombings, murders, kidnappings and other terrorist acts targeting the Iraqi Christian population threatens to drive Christianity – which has existed in this place since apostolic times – out of Iraq entirely. American Christians must not be uninformed or apathetic about this escalating tragedy....” Click here for more information about Dr. Norm Nelson and the ministry of Compassion Radio, and here to access the ASSIST News Service report on Saturday’s summit.
PHOTO ABOVE: Norm Nelson, President, Compassion Radio.
Expansion for Bott Radio Network
On Monday, December 27, 2010, the Bott Radio Network (BRN) expanded its FM coverage in Jefferson City, Columbia, and across mid-Missouri via a power increase from 18,000 watts to 50,000 watts at 89.9 FM. “For nearly 50 years, Bott Radio Network has served families with Quality Bible Teaching and Christian News and Information,” says Rich Bott, BRN President/CEO. “At 89.9 FM, this new powerful signal will help more people to grow in their faith and to know what’s happening in the world around them, from a Biblical Perspective.” In addition to Jefferson City/Columbia, BRN serves Missouri with 38 radio stations, and the entire network broadcasts on 83 radio stations in 15 states. Click here to learn more about the Bott Radio Network.
PHOTO ABOVE: Rich Bott, BRN President/CEO.
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Member Spotlight: The Steele Agency
The Ed Steele Agency was the lifework of broadcasting pioneer Ed Steele. The Steele Agency, with a heritage in Christian Broadcasting that goes back more than 50 years, continues in His service. Taking up his father’s calling, Nathan Steele returns to Christian broadcasting with a particular interest in Bible teaching ministries to help Christians grow in their faith and share the Gospel of salvation.
Nathan Steele brings with him more than 30 years of corporate experience working as a strategy and messaging expert with companies throughout the world. He is an author, speaker and trainer, teaching professionals how to build strategic plans. He has traveled to 40 countries and more than 2 million miles consulting with companies such as Microsoft, Intel and Cisco.
PHOTO ABOVE: Nathan Steele, President
Epicenter 2.0: Why the Current Rumblings in the Middle East Will Change Your Future
By Joel C. Rosenberg
First released in 2006 and now updated with new content, Epicenter 2.0 has been described as a “groundbreaking nonfiction book.” Author Joel Rosenberg “takes readers on an unforgettable journey through prophecy and current events into the future of Iraq after Saddam, Russia after Communism, Israel after Arafat, and Christianity after radical Islam.” Rosenberg includes exclusive interviews with leaders of all these nations, along with CIA and White House documents that were once classified. Click here to purchase Epicenter 2.0 from the NRB Store, and here to read New York Times bestselling author Joel Rosenberg’s interview with Mosab Hassan Yousef at NRB’s 2010 Convention & Exposition in Nashville, TN.
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