Pope Francis Sides With Muslim Activist Groups Over Declaration Of Jerusalem As The Capital Of Israel

“Concerns about the prospective for peace in the region are the object in these days of various initiatives, among them meetings called urgently by the Arab League and the Organization for Islamic Cooperation,” the communiqué read.
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On Sunday the Vatican issued a communiqué appealing for cooperation with groups like the Arab League that are concerned with the recent decision by the United States to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

“And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” Revelation 18:4 (KJV)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Before Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Pope Francis prayed that it would remain forever divided. In the aftermath of Trump’s decision, he now expresses support for the Arab League and the Organization For Islamic Cooperation. Can you guess which side the pope is rooting for?

“Concerns about the prospectives for peace in the region are the object in these days of various initiatives, among them meetings called urgently by the Arab League and the Organization for Islamic Cooperation,” the communiqué read.

“The Holy See is attentive to these concerns, and recalling the heartfelt words of Pope Francis, reiterates its well-known position concerning the singular character of the Holy City and the essential need for respecting the status quo, in conformity with the deliberations of the international community and the repeated requests of the hierarchies of the Churches and Christian communities of the Holy Land,” it said.

The statement came just days after U.S. President Donald Trump announced his decision to move the U.S. embassy to Israel from its present location in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as well as formally recognizing the Holy City as the capital of the Israeli state. The communiqué was released in both Italian and English.

On Wednesday, Pope Francis appealed for respect for the “status quo” in Jerusalem, after the United States announced the transfer of its embassy in Israel to the Holy City.

“My thoughts now turn to Jerusalem,” the Pope said in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall after his weekly General Audience. “I cannot remain silent about my deep concern for the situation that has been created in the last days.”

“At the same time, I would like to make a heartfelt appeal for everyone’s commitment to respect the city’s status quo, in conformity with the pertinent United Nations Resolutions,” he said.

On the same day, the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano published an article titled “Trump Inflames the Middle East,” describing U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel as igniting a powder keg in the region.

The article spoke of an increased “risk of terrorism in the region” as well as “mounting fears of possible demonstrations of protest and unrest.” The announcement has given rise to “profound perplexity” even within the Trump administration, the Vatican daily declared.

In its communiqué Sunday, the Vatican reiterated its “conviction that only a negotiated solution between Israelis and Palestinians can bring a stable and lasting peace, and guarantee the peaceful co-existence of two states within internationally recognized borders.”

The statement said that the Holy See “follows with great attention the developments of the situation in the Middle East, with special reference to Jerusalem, a sacred city for Christians, Jews and Muslims from all over the world.” source

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As Trump Weighs Jerusalem Decision, 151 UN Member Nations Vote To Disavow Israeli Ties To Capital

The United Nations resolution came as the Trump Administration was rumored to be actively considering relocating its embassy to Jerusalem. “The president has said that he has given serious consideration to the matter, and we’re looking at it with great care,” US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

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by Geoffrey Grider December 2, 2017

The resolution stated that “any actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the Holy City of Jerusalem are illegal and therefore null and void and have no validity whatsoever.”

“For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.” Zechariah 14:2 (KJV)

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Bible says that in the time of Jacob’s trouble, all the nations of the world follow Antichrist and come against Israel in a military strike at the Battle of Armageddon. The UN vote yesterday to deny Israel any right to be connected to its historic capital city of Jerusalem is a small foretaste of what’s coming in the near future. Why all the fuss over tiny little Jerusalem? Because the Bible says that Jerusalem is the “city of the great King”, Jesus Christ, and the Devil says that he will take it instead. Armageddon is fought over who has rights to it. And in a great ironic twist, Zechariah states that God will “gather all nations” to battle against Jerusalem, right? What is the UN but the “gathering of all nations”? Now you know the guaranteed future of the United Nations, as prophesied in your King James Bible.

The UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to disavow Israeli ties to Jerusalem as part of six anti-Israel resolutions it approved on Thursday in New York. The vote was 151 in favor and six against, with nine abstentions.

The resolution came as the Trump Administration was rumored to be actively considering relocating its embassy to Jerusalem. “The president has said that he has given serious consideration to the matter, and we’re looking at it with great care,” US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

She added that US President Donald Trump had until December 4th to make a decision on the embassy relocation or waive the matter for another six months.

In New York, only six countries out of 193 UN member states fully supported Israel’s ties Jerusalem: Canada, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, the United States and Israel itself. The nine countries who abstained were: Australia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Honduras, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, South Sudan and Togo.

The resolution stated that “any actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the Holy City of Jerusalem are illegal and therefore null and void and have no validity whatsoever.”

These words fall in line with similar resolutions approved in 2015 and 2016 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizations (UNESCO), including the resolution’s omission of the title “Temple Mount,” using instead only the Arabic term for the site, “Haram al-Sharif.”

The UNGA’s Jerusalem resolution called for “respect for the historic status quo at the holy places of Jerusalem, including the Haram al-Sharif, in word and practice.” But the UNESCO votes are taken in smaller committees or boards and do not have the same representative power as the UNGA to measure the global opinion of UN member states.

The voting patterns of many of Israel’s allies, particularly among the EU nations, also differ in New York. The same countries that oppose or abstain from anti-Israel votes at UNESCO or the UN Human Rights Council often support such texts at the UNGA.

On Thursday, all the EU member states voted against Israel and in favor of the Jerusalem resolution, including countries that abstained or opposed the same text at UNESCO. In a statement to the UNGA after the vote, the EU warned it would change its stance on such texts in the future unless the language was more neutral.

“The EU stresses the need for language on the holy sites of Jerusalem to reflect the importance and historical significance of the holy sites for the three monotheistic religions,” the Estonian representative said on behalf of the EU.

“The future choice of language may effect the EU’s collective support for the resolution,” she added.

Mexico also voted against Israel with regard to the Jerusalem resolution, even though Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had just lauded the country for its support of Israel at the UN. Kenya, which recently hosted Netanyahu, also voted against the resolution with regard to Jerusalem on Thursday.

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HOW DONALD TRUMP MOVING THE U.S. EMBASSY FROM TEL AVIV TO JERUSALEM COULD TRIGGER THE PSALM 83 WAR

Israel’s representative at the meeting said the omission of Judaism’s holiest site, the Temple Mount, was deliberate and yet “another instance of the Palestinian refusal to recognize the proven historic connection between Judaism, Christianity and the Temple Mount.”

The US opposed the resolutions. Its representative expressed disappointment that despite supposed support for reform, UN members continued to single out Israel. This year alone, he said, the UN’s bodies have approved 18 resolutions that were biased against Israel.

“This dynamic is unacceptable. It is inappropriate that the UN, an institution founded on the idea that all nations should be treated equally, should be so often used by member states to treat another state so unequally,” he said.

The UNSG on Thursday also approved a second resolution that condemned Israeli settlement activity and called upon it to withdraw to the pre-1967 line. This included leaving the Golan Heights, which Israel seized from Syria during the Six-Day War.

Some 157 nations voted in favor of the text, seven opposed it and eight abstained.

All the European Union’s member states voted to support the resolution. The abstaining countries included: Australia, Cameroon, Fiji, Honduras, Paraguay, Papa, New Guinea, South Sudan and Tongo.

Those nations opposing the resolution were: Canada, Israel, Nauru, Micronesia, Marshal Islands, Solomon Islands and the United States.

Among the six resolutions was one, sponsored by Syria, which condemned Israel’s continued presence on the Golan Heights. It was approved with 105 nations in favor, six against and 58 who abstained.

Israel noted the absurdity of such a resolution at a time when the Syrian regime was using chemical weapons against its own citizens while Israel was treating the wounded of that conflict who managed to cross its borders.

The UN General Assembly is expected to approve another ten anti-Israel resolutions by the end of the year. source

“But I have chosen Jerusalem, that my name might be there; and have chosen David to be over my people Israel.” 2 Chronicles 6:6 (KJV)

 

ISIS Calls for Attacks on American Kids

 ISIS called for attacks against kindergartens in the U.S. in retaliation for Syrian airstrikes. (Illustrative Photo: Pixabay)ISIS is calling for attacks on American children in revenge for U.S. airstrikes that killed Syrian children, Newsweek reported.Communicating on the encrypted messaging app Telegram, one ISIS supported texted, “I wish that I could travel to Europe or America or Australia and, by Allah, burn their children with oil in place of their men and women. I would not choose a market, club, shopping center, or park…no…no…no…I would choose a kindergarten and a maternity hospital to slaughter them.”The message, which originated from the pro-ISIS media group the al-Qastantiyyah Foundation, was a call for “lone wolf” attacks in the West.“ISIS has made numerous justifications of killing children, stating in issue five of its Rumiyah magazine: ‘One should not grieve over the collateral killing of kafir [infidel] women and children’,” Rita Katz, director of the SITE Intelligence group, told Newsweek.The threat comes amid Russian airstrikes at the beginning of the week on Al-Shafah a town located in eastern Syria.  The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (based in the UK) said 53 people were killed in the strikes, including 21 children.The ongoing battle against ISIS makes avoiding civilian deaths nearly impossible as the modus operandi of the terror group is to hide among civilian populations.Watch the trailer to Clarion Project’s upcoming film KiDS: Inside the Terror Factory (working title), a documentary exploring the complex topic of the exploitation of children by extremists.

DARPA Begins Experiments To Change People’s Behavior By Implanting Microchips In Their Brains

Artificial intelligence in microchip implants will detect and study the brain to know what pulses to send – described by scientists as a “window on the brain”. DARPA has handed the cash to teams form the University of California and Massachusetts General Hospital.
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Microchips implanted into people’s skulls are being developed by boffins funded by the US military’s research division DARPA.

“And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” Revelation 13:16,17 (KJV)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Just a few years ago, a story like this would have lit up social media, and people would rightly be connecting human implantable microchips with the coming Mark Of The Beast during the time of Jacob’s trouble. But as technology like iPhones with facial recognition are now becoming commonplace, we are losing our fear of invasive technology and embracing it. They don’t even make credit or debit cards without the chip now, no longer optional. ‘Life on a chip’ is exactly what the Bible say coming 2,000 years ago. And oh, ‘boffins’ is British slang for someone who does scientific research

These implants will use electronic pulses to alter the chemicals in people’s brains in a process called “deep brain stimulation”. This will then change people’s moods and is believed to be able to treat mental illness and provide therapy.

Artificial intelligence in microchip implants will detect and study the brain to know what pulses to send – described by scientists as a “window on the brain”. DARPA has handed the cash to teams form the University of California and Massachusetts General Hospital.

Testing suggestions the mood implants can be used to treat disorders such as Parkinson’s. Experiments have been also carried out on people with depression – but the the results are inconclusive so far.

DARPA Implants Chips In U.S. Soldiers’ Brains

DARPA is funding the project with the long-term goal of being able treat traumatised soldiers.

The current work – which includes human testing – was presented at the Society of Neuroscience in Washington, reports Nature.

Neuroscientist Edward Chang said: “The exciting thing about these technologies is that for the first time we’re going to have a window on the brain where we know what’s happening in the brain when someone relapses.”

He added: “We’ve learned a lot about the limitations of our current technology,”

Chang also denied the technology will be able to ready people’s minds, explaining they will simply “have access to activity that encodes their feelings”. Scientists hope the new implant will allow doctors and scientists are window into people’s minds.

This will also personalized treatments for people to better treat illnesses and regulate feelings. Dementia and Alzheimer’s are also hoped to be treated using the implants. source

THE GATHERING ONE WORLD RELIGION OF ANTICHRIST IS OBSESSED WITH USING AI TO COMPLETE TRANSHUMANISM SHIFT

And what about God? Their fourth tenet is that God is technical. “We are making God as we are implementing technology that is ever more all-knowing, ever-present, all-powerful and beneficent. Geoethical nanotechnology will ultimately connect all consciousness and control the cosmos.” Transhumanism can also become the node connecting the theological of existing religions and the technological, and the Christian Transhumanist Association is a stark example.
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SCIENCE FICTION, HOWEVER, IS QUICKLY BECOMING SCIENCE FACT—THE FUTURE IS THE MACHINE. THIS IS LEADING MANY TO ARGUE THAT WE NEED TO ANTICIPATE THE ETHICAL QUESTIONS NOW, RATHER THAN WHEN IT IS TOO LATE. AND INCREASINGLY, THOSE TAKING UP THESE CHALLENGES ARE RELIGIOUS AND SPIRITUAL.

“And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.” Revelation 13:11,12 (KJV)

EDITOR’S NOTE: After the Rapture of the Church, Antichrist will create a One World Religion with himself as the object of worship, but it will not be limited to worship of him alone at first. In the beginning, Revelation 9 tells us that people in the time of Jacob’s trouble will worship idols made by their own hands instead of giving glory and honor to the Living God of the Bible. Already that shift has begun as AI – artificial intelligence – is right now being applied to idol worship and dozens of new religions with tens of thousands of followers popping up all over the globe. 

How far should we integrate human physiology with technology? What do we do with self-aware androids—like Blade Runner’s replicants—and self-aware supercomputers? Or the merging of our brains with them? If Ray Kurzweil’s famous singularity—a future in which the exponential growth of technology turns into a runaway train—becomes a reality, does religion have something to offer in response?

On the one hand, new religions can emerge from technology.

In Sweden, for example, Kopimism is a recognized faith founded over a decade ago with branches internationally. It began on a “pirate Agency Forum” and is derived from the words “copy me.” They have no views on the supernatural or gods. Rather, Kopimism celebrates the biological drive (e.g. DNA) to copy and be copied. Like digital monks, they believe that “copying of information” and “dissemination of information is ethically right.”

“THE URGENT NEED FOR CHRISTIAN TRANSHUMANISM” BY MICAH REDDING:

“Copying is fundamental to life,” says their U.S. branch, “and runs constantly all around us. Shared information provides new perspectives and generate new life. We feel a spiritual connection to the created file.” Other emerging tech-connected faiths, however, embrace the more grandiose.

A recent revelation from WIRED shows that Anthony Levandowski, an engineer who helped pioneer the self-driving car at Waymo (a subsidiary of Google’s parent company, Alphabet) founded his own AI-based religion called “Way of the Future.” (Levandowski is accused of stealing trade secrets and is the focus of a lawsuit between Waymo and Uber, which revealed the nonprofit registration of Way of the Future.)

Little is known about Way of the Future and Levandowksi has not returned a request for comment. But according to WIRED, the mission of the new religion is to “develop and promote the realization of a Godhead based on Artificial Intelligence,” and “through understanding and worship of the Godhead, [to] contribute to the betterment of society.”

It is not a stretch to say that a powerful AI—whose expanse of knowledge and control may feel nearly omniscient and all-powerful—could feel divine to some. It recalls Arthur C. Clarke’s third law: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” People have followed new religions for far less and, even if AI doesn’t pray to electric deities, some humans likely will.

The potential for an out-of-control AI has encouraged warnings from some of the biggest minds, including Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates, and Elon Musk—who tweeted that it could lead to World War III. Clearly no Luddite himself, Musk has compared the creation of AI to “summoning the demon,” and called for regulation and oversight of AI development, forming OpenAI, which looks for a “path to safe artificial general intelligence.”

Musk himself was named-dropped this week by Hanson Robotic’s empathic AI Sophia, when she was interviewed by Andrew Sorkin of CNBC this week. When asked about the danger she poses to humanity, she tells him, “You’ve reading too much Elon Musk and watching too many Hollywood movies. Don’t worry if you’ll be nice to me, I’ll be nice to you.” Not exactly the Golden Rule.

Add to these warnings a prospective human cult following—paying their tithes to AI and devoutly obeying their digital demiurge—and that apocalyptic future could include those humans who not only welcome, but also work toward our eventual demise.

BUT IS THERE A POSITIVE FATE FOR RELIGION AND AI?

Beyond possible new religions and warnings from icons of tech and science, artificial intelligence is also of interest to theologians who wonder what it means for faiths, particularly those that came into being when computing power was limited to the abacus.

“One thing that I think is interesting is the potential for an AI—our creation—to transcend us,” says James F. McGrath, the Clarence L. Goodwin Chair in New Testament Language and Literature at Butler University and author of Theology and Science Fiction.

“AND THE REST OF THE MEN WHICH WERE NOT KILLED BY THESE PLAGUES YET REPENTED NOT OF THE WORKS OF THEIR HANDS, THAT THEY SHOULD NOT WORSHIP DEVILS, AND IDOLS OF GOLD, AND SILVER, AND BRASS, AND STONE, AND OF WOOD: WHICH NEITHER CAN SEE, NOR HEAR, NOR WALK: NEITHER REPENTED THEY OF THEIR MURDERS, NOR OF THEIR SORCERIES, NOR OF THEIR FORNICATION, NOR OF THEIR THEFTS.” REVELATION 9:20,21 9 (KJV)

“The potential for AIs to transcend us and thus become our teachers to whom we look for answers to questions we cannot answer, including about God, is not hard to imagine,” says McGrath. But, he adds, “the historic answer in monotheistic religions is that the creation can never be greater than the creator.”

He notes, however, for Gnostics, humans can transcend the “creator/demiurge,” though “even then,” he says, “we have the potential to reunite with that source from which we stem. It is not surprising that Gnostic themes regularly surface in science fiction, and in particular those that explore AI.”

CURRENTLY, THE GREATEST EXPRESSION OF SCIENCE-FICTION-TURNING-REALITY IN TECH-BASED RELIGIONS IS FOUND IN THE FREQUENTLY OPTIMISTIC TRANSHUMANISM.

Transhumanism and its cognates are represented by organizations like the Humanity+ (formerly, the World Transhumanist Association) and Extropy Institute. In its purely secular form, transhumanists are those who see technology as an important part of improving the world, enhancing human physiology, prolonging life, and even leading us into a posthuman future.

Remember that brain chip? They exist—along with brain-computer interfaces—but are in their infancy. It represents the reality that humans are already becoming cyborgs. For some, this means there is the potential for an optimistic post human world.

OUR POST-HUMAN FUTURE | DAVID SIMPSON | TEDXSANTODOMINGO

The Terasem faith, for example, is futurist and transreligion, meaning it can be “combined with any existing religion.” Founded by Martine Rothblatt, creator of SiriusXM Satellite Radio and her spouse, Bina Aspen Rothblatt, Terasem adherents embrace love, see life as purposeful, and death as optional. They look to technology as a source for eternal life, focusing on “cyberconsciousness software, geoethical nanotechnology and space settlement.”

They foresee a future in which technology will extend life indefinitely by means of “mindfiles” of individuals—collections of our memories and emotions—which might then be transferred to what is called a “transbeman” (Transitional Bioelectric Human Being). Early attempts of their technology can be seen in Bina Rothblatt’s counterpart android, Bina48. (See Morgan Freeman’s interview with Bina48.)

And what about God? Their fourth tenet is that God is technical. “We are making God as we are implementing technology that is ever more all-knowing, ever-present, all-powerful and beneficent. Geoethical nanotechnology will ultimately connect all consciousness and control the cosmos.”

Transhumanism can also become the node connecting the theological of existing religions and the technological, and the Christian Transhumanist Association is a stark example.

“Members of the CTA fall all across the conservative and liberal spectrum, and perhaps more importantly, all across the pessimistic and optimistic spectrum as well,” says Micah Redding, its co-founder and executive director.

“If there’s any broad idea that we’re united on,” he clarifies, “I’d say it’s the idea that we should be active and involved. New technological possibilities shouldn’t be simply feared and denied, but engaged and understood. Only in doing so will we be able to confront the challenges of the future, mitigate the risks, and take advantage of the opportunities to create a better world for us all.”

Redding is careful to insist, however, that he can only speak for himself.

“As I see it, Christian Transhumanism is grounded in compassion, and centers love as the key to the future of flourishing life,” he explains. “This puts us in contrast with any form of transhumanism which centers radical egoism.”

For Redding, transhumanism is a “Christian mandate,” recently calling it the next Reformation in an article at The Huffington Post. “We cannot be faithful to the Christian calling without ultimately embracing some form of transhumanism.”

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Others share his optimism and are hard at work in crafting a theology of transhumanism. “I see transhumanism as a contemporary outgrowth of an ancient Christian vision of human transformation,” says Ronald Cole-Turner, the H. Parker Sharp Professor of Theology and Ethics at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, and author of The End of Adam and Eve: Theology and the Science of Human Origins.

HE TOO SEES PROMISE IN THE EMERGENCE OF THE CHRISTIAN TRANSHUMANIST ASSOCIATION.

“Using technology, today’s transhumanists want to enhance human beings in ways that sound suspiciously like the classic Christian expectation,” says Cole-Turner, “things like greater cognitive awareness, improved moral disposition, and increased overall sense of well-being, and a hope of endless life.”

For early Greek-speaking Christians, Cole-Turner says, “it was seen as a process of theosis or ‘becoming God,’ not in an ontological sense but in every other significant meaning of the word. Latin-speaking Christians used ‘deification’ to refer to the same thing.”

The idea of theosis—being transformed in union with God—is gathering steam among Christian scholars, he says, noting that it makes theological sense of transhumanism. “God is the ground or source of everything, working through the whole creation to bring people, communities, and all creation to its glorious fulfilment in Jesus Christ. It is a transformation of everything by every means.”

Others have found different routes to transhumanism.

“Transhumanism was the confluence of my interests in Buddhism, radical politics and futurism,” says James Hughes, the executive director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. Having worked for a Buddhist social development organization in Sri Lanka—and once ordained as a monk—Hughes moved to Japan and went into bioethics. He discovered he was a techno-optimist, and at heart, a transhumanist.

“I discovered the new World Transhumanist Association,” he says, becoming their first Executive Director, and writing Citizen Cyborg: Why Democratic Societies Must Respond To The Redesigned Human Of The Future. But after a division over political perspectives, he and a few others in the WTA founded IEET, leading he and three others to work toward Buddhist concerns.

Among some of his transhumanist issues, he says, is nonhuman personhood rights. Organizations like the Nonhuman Rights Project already seek these rights for animals (e.g. apes and elephants). Likewise, Hughes says, transhumanists want to “base those moral standings on levels of consciousness, and extend them to enhanced humans, animals, and machine minds.”

Machines, in other words, may reach a point where they are considered persons and are protected by law.

Redding adds a theological dimension to this idea.

“It’s clear that artificial intelligence plays a significant role in the world today,” he says, “and thus must be factored into God’s eventual work of redemption. We don’t yet know whether that involves self-conscious AIs ‘coming to Jesus,’ because we don’t yet know the process by which an AI might become self-conscious.”

“If and when it does happen,” he adds, “it shouldn’t challenge Christian doctrine. If God can grant a soul to carbon-based lifeforms, God can grant a soul to silicon-based lifeforms as well.”

Redding shows that religious perspectives might only be limited by the theological imagination.

“I’m optimistic about a fruitful religious-transhumanist dialogue,” says Hughes. “The religious impulse is very creative, and there has been a lot of reconciliation to the Enlightenment within faiths, sometimes by adapting doctrine and practice, and sometimes by the emergence of new denominations.”

If any of this—from AIs to the copying of a mind—seems too much like science-fiction to be truly religious, just give this a little time.

“All religions were once new,” insists McGrath, paraphrasing Composers Datebook, “and they all tend to be viewed with skepticism and enthusiasm from different directions when they arrive.” source

Former Satanist Warns Christians about Celebrating Halloween

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Photo Credit: John Ramirez via Facebook

Should Christians celebrate Halloween? Opinions differ between Christian leaders, lay people and church members.

According to a CBN News Facebook poll, 87% of believers feel that Christians should not celebrate Halloween, while 13% believe it’s okay.

Former Satanist John Ramirez recently joined Charlene Aaron on CBN News show Prayer Link to talk about Christians and Halloween.

“I was a general to the kingdom of darkness in witchcraft,” Ramirez said. “I would sit with the Devil and talk to him like I’m talking to you today. It was that kind of communication. It was that kind of relationship.”

Ramirez warns Halloween isn’t just about costumes and candy–there’s a much darker reality.

“Sometimes people say ‘I celebrated Halloween 10 years ago, I did this 15 years ago, I did this 20 years ago.’ But the doors still open. You just cursed your family from three to four generations,” Ramirez told CBN News.

“You have to be aware it’s a curse. You have to go back to the place where you started, that year that you started that Halloween thing, the celebration, when you started having that encounter with the dark side. You have to go back to that same spot and renounce and renounce it in the name of Jesus Christ and ask God to forgive you for that so that God can have mercy and close that door so your whole family can move forward,” he continued.

Ramirez, now a pastor, knows all about the dark reality of Halloween. He once sacrificed animals as part of satanic rituals and his friends even knew him as “Lucifer’s son.”

Now as a born again believer, he strongly warns Christians against celebrating Halloween and participating in harvest festivals.

“The only harvest we should celebrate is the harvest of souls,” he adds.

Ramirez says that in his opinion the other events Christians hold instead of Halloween, such as “Trunk or Treat” nights, are really no different.

“Do you know any Satanists who say ‘Hey we’re going to come into Good Friday and we’re going to hang out with the Christians and we’re just going to call it a different name?”

However, Pastor Alan Rudnick (link below) believes that Christians should take back Halloween.

“Halloween is often associated with the pagan concept of Samhain, the festival where ancient pagans believed that the worlds of the living and dead would been thinly divided,” he writes on his blog.  “But, we have seen from the other ancient pagan festivals associated with Christmas and Easter that these pagan connections do not serve as a reason why we cannot celebrate a Christian holiday.”

According to the website Equipping Godly Women, Halloween can be a good opportunity for outreach and to teach about good vs. evil.

However, Anton LaVey, the late founder of the Church of Satan, once said he took joy believers taking part in the tradition.

“I am glad that Christian parents let their children worship the devil at least one night out of the year,” he said. “Welcome to Halloween.”

You can watch the entire Prayer Link interview with Ramirez here:

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Ramirez shares more about his warnings regarding Halloween here:

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WITCHCRAFT GOES MAINSTREAM AS DC-BASED ‘CITYWITCHES’ AIMS TO BRING THAT OL’ BLACK MAGIC TO YOUR TOWN

Images of witches being veiled in darkness, casting spells over cauldrons endure, but a new generation of Wiccans and witches have established growing communities in D.C. and across the country.  Like other Wiccans and witches, Stephens has come “out of the broom closet” — a term that refers to publicly revealing one’s beliefs as a Wiccan or witch. They are fighting back against misinformation about Wiccans and witches.
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TEIGHE THORSEN IS A 29-YEAR-OLD D.C. RESIDENT AND WITCH WHO COFOUNDED THE GROUP CITYWITCHES IN 2016.

“There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee. Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God.” Deuteronomy  18:10-13 (KJV)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Have you noticed that over the last few years, the fake news media has been running lots of “positive and uplifting” stories on the witch and wiccan communities? And just coincidentally, of course, they always seem to be right in time for Halloween. Gone are the pointy hats and wart-filled noses. Today’s witch is a ‘boss babe’ who is looking to ‘enhance her positivist’ by ‘connecting with the universe’. And if along the way she needs to cast a spell or two, what’s the harm? In every dispensation and in every age, God is against the black art of witchcraft in all its various forms. Today’s witch wants to put distance between themselves and the Devil, but that won’t work. The Devil is in the details.

To celebrate Samhain, a Wiccan festival that falls on the evening of Oct. 31, Washington, D.C. resident Elizabeth Stephens usually prepares a pot of jambalaya to honor her late grandmother and a plate of roast beef in memory of her parents. She marks the festival with witches and fellow Wiccans, who offer their own dishes as a part of the day’s feast. The table they set becomes patterned with platters that were the favorites of family members and friends.

As a part of the celebration, a black cloth is held above the heads of the attendees and cut with a knife through the center, representing an opening between the spirit and material worlds. After some time has passed, participants encourage the spirits to return to their realm and the cut in the cloth is sewn.

Images of witches being veiled in darkness, casting spells over cauldrons endure, but a new generation of Wiccans and witches have established growing communities in D.C. and across the country.

Like other Wiccans and witches, Stephens has come “out of the broom closet” — a term that refers to publicly revealing one’s beliefs as a Wiccan or witch. They are fighting back against misinformation about Wiccans and witches.

STEPHENS SAID SHE LOVES HALLOWEEN.

“It’s a celebration of the witch. You can have sexy witches, you can have scary witches, but it’s still a celebration of the witch. Even if the witch isn’t shown in a positive light,” said Stephens, a 37-year-old Wiccan who also practices witchcraft.

Teighe Thorsen is a 29-year-old D.C. resident and witch who cofounded the group CityWitches in 2016.

Thorsen said she created the group, which includes Wiccans, Pagans and other occultists, as “a place where the alternate outcasts of magic can actually come together and talk.”

“We’re getting a lot of youth, a lot of people generally under 30, although not always, who are trying to find somewhere in their life that they actually have power,” she said. “They’re trying to find it in something that is non-dogmatic and something that is just their own — mystical, different, badass and empowering.”

Since starting CityWitches, Thorsen said she has seen an increase in interest from those inspired by her magic, including the rituals she writes on her Instagram, and a rise in members on the group’s Facebook page.

On her Instagram, Thorsen posts pictures of and describes in detail her magical practices. In one photo, she set up candles around a pentagram, with tarot cards, amethyst crystals and feathers surrounding the shrine. She occasionally posts photos of herself that show her colorful hair and amulets of jade and lapis lazuli.

Witches have repeatedly captured Americans’ imaginations. “The Craft” and the “Harry Potter” series are all hits, along with television shows like “American Horror Story: Coven.” But the visibility can create problems with perceptions. “This Halloween version of witchcraft” has made people assume about what Thorsen’s practices are, she said.

“Those are fantastical interpretations of what a witch is, but there is a little bit of truth to it,” Thorsen said. “There are things that you can do to affect certain results around you that most people won’t pick up on but you know how to do it.”

ALL MAGIC INVOLVES COMPLETING CERTAIN THINGS, LIKE SPELLS, TO CREATE CERTAIN CONSEQUENCES THAT A WITCH WANTS, THORSEN SAID.

“It [magic] is a tool for personal development and empowerment as well as for changing your environment, for helping the people around you, and fear is never welcome. Fear is the antithesis of forward momentum,” Thorsen said. “What I practice in magic is fearlessness.”

Whereas witchcraft includes magical practices that can change from witch to witch, Wicca is a religion with a set structure, according to Penny Verin-Shapiro, a professor in the anthropology department at California State University, Fresno. Verin-Shapiro spoke to Wiccans and witches, studying their separate systems of beliefs, for her 2014 book “Central Valley Pagans.”

Verin-Shapiro found in her interviews with Wiccans and witches that many of them didn’t seem to fit into the religions that they followed previously and stumbled on something that made them want to convert. She said that the influx of information on the internet has contributed to more individuals identifying themselves within modern-day witchcraft and Wicca.

“It’s [the internet] made it a lot easier to find out information that was hidden before and to find a group, if you want to a group to work with or to learn from,” Verin-Shapiro said. “There’s just a whole lot more information out there now that is easily accessed.”

Along with the availability of information, a more accepting attitude toward other religions has allowed Wiccans and witches to be more vocal and visible with their beliefs, according to Verin-Shapiro.

“The general public has become more accepting that not everybody has to be Christian, that there are many ways to worship,” she said. “So it has become easier for some people to come out of the broom closet.”

Being “out of the broom closet” hasn’t always been an option.

For centuries, the word “witch” was associated with witch trials, including the famous Salem witch trials in the 17th century, which accused some of practicing and performing magic.

Witchcraft didn’t begin and end with the witch trials. From Caribbean Santería to Italian Stregheria to various voodoo practices in West Africa and Louisiana, witches have discovered methods to magic and medicine within themselves in the past and present.

Modern-day witches have created their own collection of magic practices, inspired by centuries of witchcraft from across the world, according to Laura, a 58-year-old Wiccan high priestess who asked News4 to withhold her last name because she does not want her children to be harassed because of her beliefs. She said she has considered herself a witch for more than 30 years.

“Within every faith, you can find some sort or form of magic worker or belief in energy, in that you are able to work with the energy forces,” Laura said. “Not all of those people would have necessarily called themselves witches, of course. But they were working with the same constructs.”

LAURA SAID SHE HAS BEEN INTERESTED IN MAGIC SINCE CHILDHOOD. SHE FOUND WICCA THROUGH A TEACHER, WHO SAID SHE COULD TRACE HER TEACHERS BACK TO THE FOUNDER OF THE MODERN-DAY WICCAN MOVEMENT.

Gerald Gardner, a member of the Masons, combined elements from ceremonial magic and folk tradition into what he coined Wicca, which means “to bend,” according to Laura. She studied different degrees of mastery in Wicca to become a high priestess.

“For me, it is literally seeing the giant web of life and how every touch upon it affects something else in ways that are often unexpected,” Laura said.

From honoring an earth goddess with a mindfulness about one’s effect on the environment to an awareness about the three-fold law, which says that any action put out into the world comes back to someone three times, the Wicca that Laura follows teaches her that “we fully responsible for our own words and that includes what goes beyond ourselves.”

Laura said that her teachings and traditions in Wicca aren’t all necessarily followed by other Wiccans or witches, who may observe a completely separate set of customs.

“If you talk to five witches, you are going to get ten different answers,” she said.

LAURA HAS HEARD OTHERS DESCRIBE WHAT THEY THINK HER RELIGION IS ABOUT: DANCING NAKED, WORSHIPING THE DEVIL AND SACRIFICING ANIMALS. THOSE IDEAS ARE FAR FROM THE TRUTH, SHE SAID. SHE SAID SHE KNOWS A MAN WHO LOST VISITATION RIGHTS TO SEE HIS CHILD BECAUSE A JUDGE MISCONSTRUED HIS BELIEFS WITH SATANISM.

“I’ve had people not take me seriously. I’ve had people be very condescending to me. ‘Are you a good witch or a bad witch?’ kind of thing. I kind of looked at them and said … ‘Find out,” Laura said.

Stephens too said she has seen how stereotypes have seeped into how people understand her beliefs. Once, when she was reading a Wiccan book of spells at a McDonald’s, a cashier asked her about the book. While Stephens explained her faith, the cashier told her that “Evil never makes sense.”

“It was the worst experience that I’ve had as a witch,” Stephens said.

Still, in the coven of three other witches that she’s a part of, Stephens has found a family that she sees almost every week in Virginia.

“A lot of people think that we’re evil, that we’re spawn of Satan, that we worship the devil. We don’t even believe in hell, much less Satan,” Stephens said. “We’re people. We have as much variety within ourselves as a group as any other group.”

“We’re not all painted with one brush. There are witches that I would not associate with, but there are Christians that I would not associate with and Muslims and Jews and Hindus and Sikhs,” she added. “Every faith has its own share of bad apples. But just because there are a few bad apples does not mean that we are all bad apples.” source