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Week Ending March 12, 2004
March 12, 2004 4:11PM EST



After several days in Morocco on an official fact finding trip, I arrived here in the Holy Land last Saturday on Shabbat. I attended a Messianic Jewish service at Esther House in Tel Aviv. The first person I ran into at the service was one of the two brothers the RFC has previously tried to help because they are under a death sentence by the Palestinian Authority. This brother has been accused of being a "collaborator" or maybe just of converting to Christianity from Islam, it's hard to tell, but as a result he can't return to the West Bank even to visit his family.  (See photos)

The congregation was celebrating the Jewish holiday of Purim and the kids put on a play based on the book of Esther to explain the holiday. It was cute--very Jewish and very Christian and at the same time revealing the power of the Word of God.

The next day I visited the Samaritans of Mt. Gerizens. There are only 672 souls left with just five family names. Those are in perhaps 60 or 70 total households. These families have been forced out of their traditional home of Nablus by the current violence and half have moved to Tel Aviv. The rest, about 30 households, moved to their sacred mountain Mount Gerizins (Mount of Blessings) which they believe is where Abraham offered his son as a sacrifice.

The Samaritans are struggling back from an all time low of just 114 people prior to Israel declaring statehood. They wanted independence from Israel, but after the Oslo Accords came along and it looked as if they would all be stuck under Palestinian Authority rule, they changed their minds and requested Israeli citizenship. They are not Jews, yet have Synagogues. They believe only in the Books of Moses, the first five books of the Bible.

During the past week I have held meetings with several Christian leaders in Israel and the West Bank including Avi Mizrachi who is the pastor of the congregation at Beit Esther in Tel Aviv. While Christian leaders in Israel sometimes feel social pressure because of their faith, Christian leaders in the West Bank face far worse. The situation for Christians in the West Bank is deteriorating daily. More and more families are fleeing to Holland which is now accepting Christians who are fleeing the Palestinian Authority. (The United States will not give asylum to Christians fleeing Islamic oppression.) There are some Christian leaders in the West Bank who have sold out their brothers in Christ for the sake of property and power and publicly support terrorist Yassar Arafat. Unfortunately it is these men who care little for the persecuted faithful who are often quoted by the liberal media.

I also traveled to the Lebanese border which is now very tense. Terrorists constantly fire rockets into nearby Israeli cities located close to the border. At Metula one kindergarten has been continually fired on by snipers and a special bullet proof wall had to be built around it. Another kindergarten was leveled by a rocket just 15 minutes before school was to start.

A Christian brother who lives in Kiryat Shmona guided us along the Lebanese border to within just a few feet of the fence. We stood on the Lebanese front where a vacationing soldier was recently shot while taking pictures. There are unfinished buildings on the Lebanese side that make excellent snipers' nests. In another area I was able to take photos of the headquarters of Hezbollah which sits next to a United Nations camp. There are no barriers between the UN camps and the camps of the terrorists. For the last kidnapping of Israeli soldiers the terrorists "borrowed" a UN vehicle to capture them. Since most of the UN soldiers here are from Muslim nations, the cooperation between them and the terror groups is not unusual.

Just yesterday I visited a Christian school in the West Bank supported by the Religious Freedom Coalition and I have some really good news. The school looks great. For two years the RFC has been paying for a grounds keeper and for repairs at the school and the results really show. All the windows have been repaired as have broken doors. Fixtures in the rest rooms have been either repaired or replaced. The big change has come in the kitchen which had fallen into great disrepair. A complete new floor and cabinets have been put into place and a dishwasher is soon to be added. A wall with a service window has been installed to separate the eating area from the actual kitchen. I can say that the kitchen and student dining area have been brought up to standards similar to those in American schools.

The school, which has 150 students, now has a complete computer lab. The exterior grounds are very well kept. As a result of our support over the past two years the school has been able to finish placing bars on all windows which has stopped the break-ins which had been occurring on weekends.

The school does face a huge challenge with the security wall being built by Israel. The wall will separate the school from the rest of Beit Jala and Bethlehem. We are not sure at this point how close a gate will be to the school or if there will be a gate at all. In established Christian neighborhoods the fence is taking a toll. A small Christian owned hotel will have the fence run through its parking lot. As a result the hotel and restaurant will have no parking. It would not matter anyway. Most of their guests came from Israel, but now the hotel complex will be on the Palestinian Authority side and what is left of the parking lot will be in Israel proper. The hotel restaurant which once employed more than a hundred people now has no employees and the owners have to sleep on the property to keep away thieves. This is what Yassar Arafat's Intifada has caused, the economic destruction of the Palestinian people and the ruin of individual families. (Anyone wishing to help this family should contact me.)

Travel has been difficult for the past 24 hours because the area I am in is under a high security alert. Three bombers have been captured in the last 24 hours, one from a village near where I am staying. There was a huge military presence as I drove today from meetings in Jerusalem to the Jewish settlement of Ariel. I plan on using material from this update, last week's update and additional material to write a white paper on the differences and the similarities between Israel, the West Bank and Morocco with regard to religious freedom.


(In Mr. Murray's absence, Peggy Birchfield, Religious Freedom Coalition Legislative/Executive Director, wrote the following report from Capitol Hill)



The Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act of 2004 (HR 3717) passed the House on Thursday with an overwhelming 391-22 vote. This bill was sponsored by Congressman Fred Upton (R- MI), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Telecommunications & the Internet. The bill was introduced in response to the public's outrage caused by the offensive and inappropriate half time show which Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake performed during the Super Bowl this past January.

Congressman Upton introduced the bill on January 21st to increase the financial penalties which the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) can impose on broadcasters who air obscenity, indecency, and profanity on television and radio. Currently the FCC can impose fines of up to $27,500 per violation but they must wait for a second offense to enforce the penalty. Upton's bill increased the current penalty caps and allows fines up to $500,000 per violation on the first offense.

The White House said the House vote will make broadcasting more suitable for families. The FCC has received more than half a million complaints, while legislators received thousands of calls and e-mails complaining about the Super Bowl show. This more than needed bill will answer pleas from parents around the world wanting a curb on broadcast filth.

There is no date set for the Senate bill (S 2056) sponsored by Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC). The Senate version is slightly different than that of the House, and could result in license revocation along with the fines given.


This is the statement made by Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R- MO) when urging House passage of H.R. 339, the Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act. The House of Representatives on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved the "Cheeseburger Bill" legislation that would protect taxpayers and small business owners from frivolous lawsuits. This bill, sponsored by Congressman Ric Keller (R-FL) is about common sense and personal responsibility when it comes to eating. One order of fries or more is a personal choice. One's own health is determined by his or her eating habits, not by the court system. Obesity is a huge health problem in America, but fast-food companies cannot be blamed. A certain amount of common sense should be applied when people stuff themselves with hamburgers, french fries and a shake. The Senate has an identical bill, "The Commonsense Consumption Act", S. 1428 which is sponsored by Senator Mitch McConnell, (R-KY). No date has been set for the Senate to take up this bill for a vote.



The California Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Thursday, March 11 to stop the issuing of marriage licenses to same-sex couples. This ruling will halt same-sex marriages until a later hearing takes place to determine whether they are legal.

Per the most recent Gallup Poll results, the opinion of Americans regarding same-sex marriage remains quite negative. The opposition to legalized same-sex marriage has remained steady. HAVE YOU SIGNED OUR MARRIAGE PETITION? Please support the definition of marriage by signing our petition.


Also on March 11, legislators in the state of Massachusetts convened to address the dilemma of same-sex marriage. The state constitutional convention, consisting of both the Massachusetts House and Senate, was convened because the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court had ordered the state legislators to legalize homosexual marriage, starting May 17th. No defining measures were taken on Thursday; however, the legislators are working to introduce a constitutional amendment that will ban same-sex marriages while allowing civil-union benefits. However, these rulings will not prevent the same-sex marriages from taking place starting May 17 because the process of passing an amendment is long. Any amendment to the state constitution would not take effect until 2006 at the earliest. There are a few activist legislators who have promised to do what they can to block the May 17th date of permitting homosexual marriages in Massachusetts.


The liberal elite Massachusetts judges demand proof (as if any sane person needed more proof) that marriage will be harmed by legalizing gay unions. The majority of the state's Supreme Court could find "no rational reason" for defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Maybe they should just look to the example of the "progressive" socialist countries of Scandinavia which have had marriage-like "registered partnerships" for same sex couples for more than a decade.

Marriage is becoming rare in Sweden, Denmark, and Norway, with over half the children now born out of wedlock in those countries. In some of the most socially liberal districts, like Norway's Nordland County, 80% of first born children have unmarried parents. Although many factors have contributed to the decline of marriage, including the generous government welfare payments to single mothers, part of the blame goes to legalized homosexual unions for severing the connection between marriage and parenthood and cheapening the definition of family.

Hoover Institution research fellow Stanley Kurtz carefully researched the Scandinavian experiment and found gay activists who admitted that their goal was never marriage; it was social approval of homosexuality. Kurtz says the irony is that "They achieved that goal, but now there is little social approval for marriage."

Most Scandinavian moms now seem convinced that a government welfare check is an adequate substitute for a dad in the home. But countless troubled youngsters in our urban ghettoes could have told them that this is not the case.


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