The Brutality of ISIS Fighters

by Michael Avramovich

Last Friday, writing in The Wall Street Journal, the noted French writer Bernard-Henri Lévy, published a powerful jewel of an essay called “At a Monastery in Sight of Islamic State,” available here.  In his essay, he describes his visit to the fourth-century Mar Mattai monastery in the Kurdish region of Iraq.  ISIS fighters are no more than a few miles away.  Until recently, the monastery housed several dozen monks, but today, only four continue to live at Mar Mattai.  Mr. Lévy spoke with the monks about the savagery of ISIS.  Raban Yousiff, one of the monks said, “Of course we had problems with the Persians, Mongols, Arabs and Ottomans.  But never has this region seen such perversity as these men who, while claiming to be fighting in the name of God, are killing him.”  The monk went on to tell about the fall of Mosul in June 2014, and about the “Nazarenes” [Christians] who were given but a few hours to choose between conversion to Islam or death by the sword.  More than 300 families fled to the monastery.  Several months later, fearing that the monastery would be destroyed by the ISIS jihadists, these same families fled again.  Asked whether the nation might be cleansed of all Christians, the monk says, “Yes, barring a miracle, yes.  What sort of miracle?  That your countries come in to reinforce the brave Kurdish fighters who are protecting us, but who will not be able, by themselves, to liberate the plain of Nineveh.”  The monk concludes, “Didn’t our Lord Jesus Christ say that we would be persecuted to the end because of His name?”

In recent months, ISIS fighters continue to commit with wanton barbarity demonic atrocities.  A starving mother was fed her three-year-old child, ISIS “brides” have burned the breasts of Syrian women with hot coals, and hundreds of women are committing suicide to escape the sex slavery of ISIS.  In early August, ISIS fighters also tortured and killed eleven indigenous Christian missionaries, along with a 12-year-old boy, the son of one of the missionaries.  The missionaries, all converts from Islam and unnamed to us, had established nine house churches in the area.  The twelve victims were captured on August 7 in a village near Aleppo in Syria.  ISIS jihadists questioned the captives about whether they had converted from Islam to become Christians, a crime punishable by death under their sharia law.  The Christians admitted that they had been Moslems.  The jihadis demanded that they reconvert to Islam, but the Christians said that they could never renounce their love for the Lord Jesus Christ.

Of the twelve captives, four were identified as “infidels” and crucified in front of a crowd.  They were left on the crosses for two days, and no one was allowed to remove them.  But before they were crucified, one of the four, the 12-year-old boy had his fingers cut off as his father was forced to watch.  They told the boy’s father that they would stop cutting off his fingers if he would return to Islam.  When the father refused, this is when they were crucified.  The eight other missionaries were questioned in another village, and were beheaded after they refused to reconvert to Islam.  Two of the missionaries were young women.  Before the women were beheaded, they were publicly raped and beaten by jihadis.  Throughout their abuse, the women prayed continuously.  When the eight victims were forced to kneel for their beheadings, all eight prayed aloud.  Villagers forced to observe the beheadings said that the missionaries prayed in the name of Jesus; others heard the Lord’s Prayer, and some simply commended their spirits to the Lord Jesus.  It was reported that one of the women looked up and seemed to be almost smiling as she called out, “Jesus.”  Thus, like the first Christian martyr St. Stephen, they prayed loudly and proclaimed the Holy Name of the Lord Jesus Christ with their last breaths.  After the eight were beheaded, their headless bodies were also hung on crosses for several days.

Tertullian, the early Christian apologist, famously observed that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.  Even in this dangerous part of the world, many former Moslems are coming to receive salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Missiologists tell us that today millions of Moslems are coming to Jesus Christ each year; more are leaving Islam today than in any other period of its 1400 years of history.  As ISIS continues to gain control of more areas in Syria and Iraq, more former Moslems are at risk of being killed and brutalized by this terror group for violating the caliphate’s apostasy laws.  But even such a threat of persecution is not stopping Muslims from turning to Jesus Christ.  Please pray for the victims and their families, and pray that many Moslems can come to Jesus Christ.  And please pray for the vicious persecutors that they may, like Saul, meet Christ as Lord and Savior, and become His apostles just as the Apostle Paul was in his generation.

Voltaire on the Difference Between the Ideas of Newton and the Dung of a Mule

Excerpts from: Why Us? How Science Rediscovered the Mystery of Ourselves by James Le Fanu

Voltaire, despite his antipathy to established religion, held there to be nothing so self-evident as the two halves of human experience, of the material and the non–material, from which he could only infer the necessity for there being an “eternal and supreme” God. The most powerful evidence for the divine hand was (as ever), first, the wonders of the natural world, from “the meanest of insects . . . the disposition of a fly’s wings or the feelers of a snail”—and second, the rational human mind.

“We are intelligent beings: intelligent beings cannot have been formed by a crude, blind, insensible being: there is certainly some difference between the ideas of Newton and the dung of a mule. Newton’s intelligence, therefore, comes from another intelligence.”

The most obvious feature that distinguishes modern man from Voltaire and his contemporaries is the ascendancy of scientific materialism, and the loss of an appreciation of there being a non-material reality that transcends our everyday concerns. . . . We might now, thanks to science, comprehend the universe of which we are a part, only to discover that its properties, as evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins puts it, “are precisely those we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good—nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.” . . . We no longer appreciate what at one time seemed self-evident: the extraordinariness of possessing a mind whose powers of reason can distinguish truth from falsehood. There is nothing remotely scientific in denying the most certain thing we know, our sense of self; but “On the maps provided by contemporary science,” writes Brian Appleyard, “we find everything except ourselves.”

Nobody has the slightest idea how anything material [such as the brain] could be conscious,” observes the cognitive scientist Jerry Fodor. “Nobody even knows what it would be like to have the slightest idea about how anything material could be conscious.”

*This originally appeared in Salvo 19 to accompany a feature length article by Regis Nicoll, Intelligence Central: Just the Facts Even an Educated Atheist Can Understand. It begins, “In 2007, a slate of American presidential hopefuls was asked to indicate, by a show of hands, who among them did “not believe in evolution.” Although a few raised their hands, most appeared ill at ease with the question. And understandably so. What did the questioner mean exactly by evolution?” You know this question will be put forward to presidential candidates soon. This article explains why it isn’t the “gotcha” question that the questioners think it is.

The New Compassion: California Is the Fifth State to Legalize Physician-Assisted Suicide

John is an 18-year-old young man who has struggled with depression for most of his life. He has tried to commit suicide in the past. Now that he is an adult, he has decided to take his own life and end his struggle. He purchased a gasoline-powered water pump to poison himself with carbon monoxide.


Mark is a 40-year-old man who just received a diagnosis of terminal cancer. He has a wife and young children.  He would like the option to take a lethal drug that would allow him to die peacefully before his health declines to the point that he is in unbearable pain and a burden on his family.


Amos is an 81-year-old man who is in generally good health, but is unable to do some of the things he used to enjoy doing. He feels that he has led a good life and is ready to move on before he physically declines any more than he already has. He would like to go to a clinic in Europe to die.


Somewhere in the last twenty years, the idea of compassion changed. There was a time when compassion meant caring for the suicidal person, not enabling him to go through with it. Compassion used to mean stepping into a messy situation and convincing the person that he didn’t have to end it all, that his life still had meaning and value. Now compassion means providing a way for certain groups of suicidal people to end their lives because they want relief from physical, emotional, or financial pain more than they want to continue living.

In the above examples, John’s story is based on an incident out of Massachusetts in which a young man’s girlfriend, who lived 50-miles away, encouraged him to follow through with his plan to commit suicide over text messages and phone calls. Currently, there is a lawsuit to determine whether she is guilty of manslaughter.

Amos is a fictional character inspired by a nurse who decided that she did not want to grow old and physically decline. She was a healthy 75-year-old woman with a partner of 25 years and adult children who stay in contact with her. She didn’t want to age, and she didn’t want to be a burden on people. She went to Switzerland to die.

Mark is a fictional character loosely based on a man who chose to go to Switzerland to die after he found out he had cancer. In the real-life case, the man was not terminal, and his wife and daughters did not want him to go through with it.

These stories can help us understand the new legislation out of California. California is the fifth state to legalize physician-assisted suicide. Advocates tout the bill (ABX2 15, “End of Life Option Act”) as providing an option for terminally ill people who wish to end their lives peacefully and at a time that they desire. Detractors say that the bill opens the door for abuse and exploitation, and if other countries are any indicator, physician-assisted suicide will expand beyond the terminally ill.

The California bill is for people like Mark. Or, real-life people like Brittaney Maynard, the 29-year-old woman who was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. She died by assisted suicide last year after moving from California to Oregon where physician-assisted suicide is legal. Her case sparked a national debate over legalizing physician-assisted suicide in various states, including California.

In our three examples, the arguments for why it is okay to provide pills to let someone like Mark commit suicide could easily apply to John or to Amos. The argument for physician-assisted suicide is based on the newer version of compassion, one that elevates choice and autonomy over care and dignity. An argument from compassion could apply to John and Amos’s cases as much as it does to Mark’s case. Indeed, all three would qualify for assisted suicide in places like Belgium or the Netherlands where laws have expanded to include physician-assisted suicide for people with depression or for children over the age of twelve.

Advocates of physician-assisted suicide tell stories of their loved ones being placed on machines at the end of their life or undergoing painful chemo, suffering and in pain until the end. Often people will say that they never want to go through what one of their parents or a loved one went through before they died. To them, the option of a peaceful death via suicide keeps them from this bitter fate. However, there are other options that do not involve suicide and maintains the dignity of the individual. There is comfort care.

A quote attributed to Hippocrates reads that physicians should “cure sometimes, treat often, and comfort always.” In medicine there is an in-between state where the goals are no longer curing, but switch to comfort so that the person can still have meaningful interactions with her loved ones and not suffer unbearable pain. For example, a person can decide not to undergo chemo therapy and, instead, have a better quality of life for her last few months. A palliative care physician who taught one of my clinical ethics classes said that there have been great advances in palliative care therapy. People do not have to die in pain.

As to the fear of being hooked up to machines, there are times when a machine would be burdensome and yet due to its minor efficacy, should not be part of a patient’s treatment plan. This isn’t giving up on a patient. It is not negligence, and it is not physician-assisted suicide. It is recognizing that this machine will cause more harm than good by burdening the patient rather than helping him.

There are even cases when it would be ethical to withdraw machine support because the machine is doing nothing to help the patient’s condition and is not staving off the progression of the disease. This can be an ethically gray area where the clinical details make a difference, but in the cases when treatment is not working, then the patient is often weaned off of the machine and the goals are switched to comfort care as the untreatable disease finally takes the person’s life.

Often, the person who wishes to have physician-assisted suicide says that she does not want to be a burden on anybody. While this is a noble sentiment, it is wrong. Every one of us, from the moment we came out of the womb as a vulnerable, helpless baby, has been a burden on our loved ones and on society. That is part of being human. Even in the prime of our lives, we affect the people around us. We can burden them and we can help others carry their burdens. Indeed, love is often about helping someone carry their burden. As noble as the sentiment sounds, it dismisses what it means to be human and live in community.

However, there is one burden that a person does not have a right to require of someone. It is the burden of taking another life. The physicians who prescribe these medicines are asked to carry the burden of administering death, a burden that physicians were never meant to carry. Originally, the Hippocratic Oath said that a physician should not give poison to anyone even if asked to do so. Physician-assisted suicide changes the role of the physician from doing no harm to doing what the patient asks whether it brings him harm or not.

Governor Jerry Brown ultimately decided to sign the bill because he would want the option of physician-assisted suicide in the face of “prolonged and excruciating pain.” Not only does this fly in the face of medicine, but it ignores hospice and palliative care.

Rather than adopting legislation that would provide adequate comfort care to those populations that do not have access to it, something that is badly needed in our skewed healthcare system, the California bill and Governor Brown’s reasoning helps promote the notion that suicide is at best, as compassionate an option as palliative care, and at worst, the only option in the face of suffering at the end of life. In the midst of a terminal diagnosis in which a person’s life is already cut short, a truly compassionate perspective would seek to manage the pain and provide opportunities for more meaningful moments with loved ones, not eliminate suffering by eliminating the person.

New Research Proves Marriage Traditionalists Are Severely Mentally Ill

by Michael Avramovich

The Garden of Earthly Delights (detail) by Hieronymus Bosch

Saint Paul observed in his first letter to the Corinthian Christians that we are fools for Christ, and that to the world, the message of the Holy Gospel is foolishness. But now a new study by Professor Giacomo Ciocca and a number of other researchers, entitled “Psychoticism, Immature Defense Mechanisms and a Fearful Attachment Style are Associated with a Higher Homophobic Attitude,” published in the September 2015 issue of The Journal of Sexual Medicine, conclusively shows that those who hold traditional and biblical views about marriage and homosexuality are “psychotic.” Psychosis is a severe mental disorder in which thought and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality, and is typically accompanied by delusions and hallucinations. For those interested in reading the study, it is available here.

The study was based upon a questionnaire of 551 university students in Italy, who were between 18-30 years of age. The researchers sought to control for age, gender, partnership status (single or in a relationship), sexual orientation, political orientation, and religion (Roman Catholic or agnostic were the only two religious categories). The study found that those who oppose homosexual “marriage” are more likely to exhibit symptoms of psychoticism and immature defense mechanisms, and far more likely to show symptoms of neurosis, such as hyper-religiosity, discomfort with close relationships, above-average levels of anger, aggression, hostility, hyper-masculinity, and depression. Wow, I must be quite a mess!

Now this study is not without its flaws.   The study authors defined certain Christian views (such as those held by Christians, or non-Christians steeped in a traditional, Christian culture, such as in Italy, or even those with a worldview similar to a Christian worldview) as “homophobic.” In addition, those who held traditional, religious views were deemed to be psychotic. With those presuppositions, voilà, the researchers found that those who express traditional Christian views are clearly both homophobic and psychotic. Thus, anyone who believes that homosexuality is a sin, and/or that marriage should only be between one man and one woman, is a homophobe. Further, in the questionnaire, to avoid the label of homophobe, a respondent had to agree with the statement that political “organizations which promote gay rights are necessary.” Thus, we clearly see that circular logic is the best logic because it is circular.

The researchers claim that their study is the first and only one of its kind, and is final to this important issue. One of the researchers, Emmanuele A. Jannini, chair of Endocrinology and Medical Sexology at the Tor Vergata University of Rome, said in an interview, available here, that now “we have the final proof” that homophobia is a “disease.” Zachary Siegel recently described this study for his readers, available here, as follows:

These findings arrive at a time of great relevance and could provide us with a working gestalt of those who irrationally fear and are intolerant toward gay people. Consider the recent kerfuffle of Kim Davis and her ilk of cross-bearing presidential hopefuls. Given their intolerance and hostility toward gay people, is there a pathology behind their discrimination masquerading as religious freedom? Can one say, for instance, that Kim Davis . . . is operating on a diseased belief system?

Emphasis added. This past June, in Justice Anthony Kennedy’s Supreme Court opinion nationalizing homosexual “marriage,” he contended that opposition to homosexual behavior, and homosexual and lesbian “marriage,” could only be motivated by bigotry and animus. However, as was clear from the many amicus briefs submitted to the Supreme Court, and further based upon innumerable articles and books that make non-religious arguments in opposition to homosexual behavior and “marriage,” grounded in biology, sociology, psychology, anthropology, and yes, even philosophy, concluded that homosexual behavior is aberrant. In a recent article describing the modern face of atheism facing Christians, evangelist John M. Njoroge wrote:

The trademark of this new and continuing brand of atheism is its vitriolic attack on religion. To its advocates, religious beliefs are not only false; they are also dangerous and must be expunged from all corners of society. The pundits of the new atheism are not content to nail discussion theses on the door of religion; they are also busy delivering eviction notices to the allegedly atavistic elements of an otherwise seamlessly progressive atheistic evolution of Homo sapiens.

So now be forewarned: if you dare to dissent from today’s societally-mandated requirement to affirm homosexual “marriage,” as I do, you are no longer merely an irrational bigot deserving of criminalization. Now, as a result of this dispositive new study from Italy, homosexualists and their allies can prove that we are mentally ill as well. Of course, we learned just how accurate psychiatric diagnoses can be from the Rosenhan experiments and the Soviet psychiatric hospitals. See you all in the asylum or at the “re-education through labor” camps, dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

*Originally posted at Touchstone‘s Mere Comments.

From ADF: On the Top 10 Planned Parenthood Deceptions

Visit the Alliance Defending Freedom‘s website to see short videos debunking the claims of Planned Parenthood and their defenders.

The Planned Parenthood Deception

Deception 1: Planned Parenthood provides essential care women can’t get anywhere else

Deception 2: If Planned Parenthood loses funding, other clinics will be overwhelmed with new patients

Deception 3: Defunding Planned Parenthood would actually increase abortion

Deception 4: Planned Parenthood wants to reduce abortion

Deception 5: Planned Parenthood cares for poor women in rural and underserved areas

Deception 6: Only 3% of Planned Parenthood’s services are abortion
(Part 1)

Deception 7: Only 3% of Planned Parenthood’s services are abortion
(Part 2)

Deception 8: Planned Parenthood is the good-hearted non-profit

Deception 9: Planned Parenthood is relentless in screening for breast and cervical cancer

Deception 10: Planned Parenthood is needed to reduce sexually transmitted infections

Deception 11: Redirecting funds from Planned Parenthood to trustworthy care providers would create a women’s health apocalypse

Also, see this short video by Abby Johnson: So, about that 3%..