Photo: Smithsonian Channel

A so-called Gospel of Jesus’ Wife isn’t sending shock waves through the Christian world as some publications have reported. In fact, many are dismissing the ancient fragment as either insignificant or forged, reports The Christian Post. “This is sensationalism masquerading as scholarship,” said R. Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, in a commentary Thursday. Christian scholars largely are not fazed by the discovery. Sean McDonough, professor of New Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, told CP that he believes the papyrus “is simply the latest in a seemingly endless parade of sensationalist headlines obscuring sober historical thinking about the Bible. At best, we have a scrap of papyrus that perhaps (the fragmentary nature of the piece makes it impossible to have any clear idea what it is actually about) one person in the ancient world, who wrote about Jesus centuries after the fact (Karen King, the scholar who unveiled the piece, suggests late second century, but at this point this is speculation) suggested he had a wife,” McDonough contended. “As King herself says, it tells us nothing about the actual facts as to whether Jesus had a wife. Yet headlines continue to state that a ‘historical document’ says Jesus had a wife.” Dr. Christian Askeland, an expert in Coptic manuscripts, revealed that those who specialized in Nag Hammadi and early manuscripts are either “extremely skeptical” about the fragment’s authenticity or convinced it’s a fake. “The only historical documents about Jesus that can be reliably dated to the first century—namely the four canonical gospels—make no mention of Jesus having a wife,” said McDonough. “They fully support the traditional view that Jesus had no wife. The recent papyrus find does nothing to change this.” Mohler, meanwhile, raised suspicion about the motive behind all this. Though King expressed her desire to avoid sensationalism, Mohler pointed to the curious title she gave the fragment. “King was so concerned about avoiding sensationalism that she titled the fragment ‘The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife?'” he posed. The Southern Baptist theologian believes that those behind the new finding are trying to cast doubt on the New Testament. “The energy behind all this is directed to the replacement of orthodox Christianity, its truth claims, its doctrines, its moral convictions, and its vision of both history and eternity with a secularized—indeed, Gnositicized—new version,” he stated.

Other news:

  • A report by two U.S.-based religious freedom groups, Texas-based Liberty Institute and Washington-based Family Research Council, says anti-Christian persecution is on the rise in America, reports WorldNetDaily. The report says government agencies around the U.S. are trying to push Christian expression out the door. “It is dramatic,” says Liberty Institute Founder Kelly Shackleford, of the recent hike in reported incidents of persecution. “I have been doing these types of cases for almost 25 years now. I have never seen the levels of attacks like these and how quickly they are now proliferating.” Shackleford says government, from schools to social programs, is the ringleader. “There are children being prohibited from writing Merry Christmas to the soldiers, senior citizens being banned from praying over their meals in the Senior Center, the VA banning the mention of God in military funerals, numerous attempts to have veterans memorials torn down if they have any religious symbols such as a cross, and I could go on and on,” Shackleford said. A film on eroding religious freedom has been produced. Christian civil rights organization ACLJ senior counsel David French says the exact rate of increase is hard to determine, but many of the new cases come from colleges. “Our knowledge of incidents is only as good as the reporting,” French says. “However, it’s clear that—particularly on college and university campuses—we have seen a significant rise in attempts to silence Christian organizations by the misapplication of nondiscrimination laws.” French adds that many public facilities are also covering over Christianity. “One of the most strident examples: the misuse of the Establishment Clause to attempt to ban any mention of God from historical markers, monuments or even museum exhibits,” French says. “This represents an effort to whitewash God from American history and change our national identity.” Shackleford says the attacks are becoming violent too. “The recent attacks on the faith-based Family Research Council and the attack on the Sikhs are recent examples alone,” Shackleford says. He also remarked, “Religious hostility is the red light on the dashboard that tells us we have a problem and that violence will come next if not fixed.” “While the Obama administration launched its own unprecedented assault on religious liberty through Obamacare,” French notes, “the attack on Christian expression is the result of cultural changes that have been taking place for decades. . . . The trend began with advent of the sexual revolution and the mainstreaming of the 1960s counterculture. As leftist radicals have progressed through the academy, media, churches and government, the trend has only accelerated.” Shackleford adds that some key court cases may have accelerated the trend. “The seeds for these attacks were dropped in a Supreme Court opinions in the ’40s, and it really began to take off in the 1960s. The thing that is shocking now, and different, is that the attacks have dramatically picked up speed,” Shackleford says. “There can be as many as 100 new attacks in a month.” In other news, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said Thursday that a team at the White House is pursuing him and others on its “enemies list” in an attempt to quell dissenters in Washington, reports thehill.com. “Not since Richard Nixon have we seen a president who puts together an enemies list and has a whole team pursuing it, but that’s what’s happened in this administration,” Issa told Fox and Friends. “It’s sad, it’s not the America I want to have going forward. I sincerely hope after the election, regardless, the American people will have made a statement that we won’t tolerate this.”
  • Last year many Americans were shocked by reports about a pro-pedophilia conference in Baltimore, in which psychiatrists and other mental health professionals, representing institutions like Harvard and Johns Hopkins, sought to present pedophilia in a sympathetic and even positive light. Now a sympathetic article on the struggles of pedophiles is also causing shock waves. But why should we be surprised? asks a report in charismanews.com. Academic articles in scholarly journals have been presenting pedophilia in an empathetic light for years, and, as Matthew Cullinan Hoffman noted, the American Psychiatric Association released a report in 1998, “claiming that the ‘negative potential’ of adult sex with children was ‘overstated’ and that ‘the vast majority of both men and women reported no negative sexual effects from their child sexual abuse experiences.’ It even claimed that large numbers of the victims reported that their experiences were ‘positive,’ and suggested that the phrase ‘child sex abuse’ be replaced with ‘adult-child sex.’” Others have coined the more disgusting term “intergenerational intimacy.” The APA’s report was so disturbing that it drew an official rebuke from Congress, yet the pro-pedophile (or, pro-pederast) push continues. In fact, some psychiatric leaders, like Dr. Richard Green, who were instrumental in removing homosexuality from the APA’s list of mental disorders in 1973, have been fighting to remove pedophilia as well.
  • The American Civil Liberties Union has demanded a Georgia school district to deactivate its Web filter that currently blocks student access to websites in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender category, reports charismanews.com. The Alliance Defense Fund sent a letter Friday urging Gwinnett County Public Schools to reject the ACLU’s insistence, explaining that the district is well within its legal rights to keep the filter in place, especially since deactivating the filter would expose students to sites with sexually explicit content. “School districts shouldn’t be bullied into exposing students to sexually explicit materials,” says ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman. “This latest scare tactic—under the facade of illegal censorship—is just another act of intimidation designed to forward the ACLU’s radical sexual agenda for children.” The letter from ADF—a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith—provides the district with a list of sexually graphic sites, including sites with pornographic images and sex advice that would be accessible to students if the district agreed to the ACLU’s demand. The ACLU threatened to sue the district if it does not disable its LGBT filter and claims that it violates students’ First Amendment protected rights and the Equal Access Act. On the other hand, ADF attorneys argue that these allegations lack merit and that the district has broad authority over what materials students may access on the Internet. ADF also explains that the ACLU’s demand could result in the district violating the Children’s Internet Protection Act, a federal law that prohibits libraries receiving CIPA funds from allowing minors to access harmful sexual materials on the Internet. While the ACLU claims that the district should disable the LGBT filter because of the “epidemic of LGBT youth suicides and bullying,” the ADF letter points out that the ACLU’s letter threatening to sue identifies no instances of bullying or suicide at schools within the district and that such problems, when they do exist, are not solved by disabling Internet filters.
  • In the wake of its call for the arrest of an American pastor, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton believes Egypt is no longer a trusted American ally, reports onenewsnow.com. Egypt has issued an arrest warrant for seven Egyptians and an American pastor for their participation in making a recent controversial anti-Islam film. According to the BBC, Egypt’s public prosecutor maintains seven Coptic Christians—one woman and seven men—and Florida pastor Terry Jones will be tried by a criminal court on charges of “insulting the Islamic religion, insulting the prophet, and inciting sectarian strife” in the Innocence of Muslims film made in California. The filmmaker is also known for angering Muslims in 2010 by threatening to burn the Koran. John Bolton, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, said he is not surprised at the aggressive posturing of Egypt’s new Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi. “He’s replaced some of the top defense officials with Muslim Brotherhood sympathizers,” notes the ambassador. “I think people are surprised at how aggressive Morsi has been.” A lawyer who came to prominence for his full-throated defense of a subsequently convicted terrorist was quietly promoted to the No. 3 slot at the Department of Justice last month, a post that puts him in charge of the administration’s policy regarding Guantanamo Bay detainees. The move has raised red flags on Capitol Hill and elsewhere among national security stalwarts who argue that the promotion could imperil the country’s longstanding war on terrorism, reports freebeacon.com.
  • An expert on China believes a recent report that the country is ending its forced abortion and sterilization policy isn’t true. The initial report came from one organization that confirmed a memo to that effect, but it was just in one town, not countrywide. Reggie Littlejohn told onenewsnow.com that  China has stated before it is not conducting forced abortions and sterilizations, but maintains it has done them for over three decades and will continue to do so. “I just think that this is propaganda that the Chinese Communist Party is using to deflect the tremendous turmoil that happened over the forced abortion of Feng Jianmei,” she said. “She’s the one who was forcibly aborted in June and her picture came out with her forcibly aborted seven-month baby [laying] next to her. So I think that this is sort of the aftermath of that, and that the Chinese Communist Party is trying to save face and that’s all it is.” Littlejohn stresses that the document in question only referred to late-term abortions and said nothing about ending forced early and second-trimester abortions. She adds the previous false report has already had an effect. “What it does is it makes people think that this is no longer a problem,” she indicates. “They won’t be praying about it. They won’t be signing petitions and putting their political will behind stopping it.”
  • Nearly 6 million Americans–-most of them in the middle class—will face a tax penalty for not carrying medical coverage once President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul law is fully in place, congressional budget analysts said Wednesday, reports Fox News. The new estimate amounts to an inconvenient fact for the administration, a reminder of what critics see as broken promises. The numbers from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office are significantly higher than a previous projection by the same office in 2010, shortly after the law passed. The earlier estimate found 4 million people would be affected. The difference—2 million people—represents a 50 percent increase. That’s still only a sliver of the population, given that more than 150 million people currently are covered by employer plans. Nonetheless, in his first campaign for the White House, Obama pledged not to raise taxes on individuals making less than $200,000 a year and couples making less than $250,000. And the budget office analysis found that nearly 80 percent of those who’ll face the penalty would be making up to or less than five times the federal poverty level. Currently that would work out to $55,850 or less for an individual and $115,250 or less for a family of four. Average penalty: about $1,200 in 2016. “The bad news and broken promises from Obamacare just keep piling up,” said Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, who wants to repeal the law.
  • After the White House for the first time Thursday explicitly called the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya an act of terror, President Obama ducked an opportunity to clear up the confusion about the ever-changing narrative—appearing to hold firm to the story that an anti-Islam film was to blame, according to Fox News. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, for the first time, called the attack terrorism. “The notion this video is involved in the Benghazi attack is inaccurate,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. “It’s increasingly being debunked.” Rubio called it a coordinated terror attack. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, R-Calif., said he believes it’s now clear the story has changed and that the administration is “walking away” from their first version of events claiming the attack was spontaneous. One of the suspects in last week’s attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans is a likely al Qaeda member who was released from Guantanamo Bay in 2007, thehill.com and Fox News reported Wednesday. Sufya Ben Qumu, a Libyan, was released into Libyan custody under the agreement that he would remain in custody, unnamed “intelligence sources” told Fox. He is believed to have participated in, or maybe even led, the attack that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and the three others. Qumu has ties to people who financed the Sept. 11 attacks and his alias is “found on a list of probable Al Qaeda personnel receiving monthly stipends and family support,” according to Fox. Meanwhile, freedomoutpost.com reports that the State Department “spent seventy grand of taxpayer money to have the Secretary of State and the President of the United States apologize for a film they ‘allegedly’ had nothing to do with.”
  • President Barack Obama told an Hispanic audience Thursday that his “biggest mistake” was not passing a large-scale amnesty of illegal immigrants, reports dailycaller.com. The statement comes amid a continuing decline in the percentage of Americans who are working, and amid a rapid increase in government debt to $16 trillion. Radio host Rush Limbaugh, meanwhile, is predicting a disaster scenario for America if Barack Obama is re-elected, reports moneynews.com. “We’re doomed,” Limbaugh recently said on his talk show. “If Obama’s re-elected, it will happen. There’s no if about this. And it’s gonna be ugly. It’s gonna be gut-wrenching, but it will happen. The country’s economy is going to collapse if Obama is re-elected. I don’t know how long: a year and a half, two years, three years.” Limbaugh thinks California will collapse first, setting off a disastrous chain of events. “California is going to declare bankruptcy, and you know what Obama will do? He’ll go to states like Texas or Arizona, Florida to bail them out. That’s what he’ll do, and that’s gonna precipitate this stuff. California is showing where we’re headed in every which way,” Limbaugh said. Limbaugh continued his attack on the president’s policies, stating, “We’re on an unsustainable course. You simply can’t pay people who aren’t working. You just can’t. You cannot pay them anything, much less full-fledged incomes, lifetime healthcare and lifetime pensions. You can’t do it. Even if you wanted to, even if that was your definition of fairness and equality, you can’t do it. The money isn’t there.”
  • Is Netanyahu gambling on a Romney victory in November? A political TV advertisement featuring Prime Minister Netanyahu and the slogan “The world needs American strength, not apologies” is likely to fuel claims that the Israeli prime minister is interfering in the U.S. presidential election in support of Republican candidate Mitt Romney, reports guardian.co.uk. It comes increasing during anxiety that Netanyahu has overplayed his hand in displays of warmth and enthusiasm for Romney while his relationship with Barack Obama grows more antagonistic. Some say Netanyahu is gambling too heavily on a Romney victory on Nov. 6 and that if Obama is re-elected, the potential blowback could be damaging not just for the prime minister but for Israel itself. In other news, political strategist Karl Rove Wednesday said recent polls show President Barack Obama in “desperate shape” in some key states he carried in 2008 and urged Republicans not to be discouraged by polls suggesting Mitt Romney has been wounded too severely by campaign missteps to recover, reports newsmax.com. Rove said the media tends to “endow” political polls “with a false scientific precision that they do not have. They do not necessarily predict the outcome of an event that`s going to take place 49 days from now.” As an example, Rove pointed to the 1980 Reagan-Carter campaign, noting that Ronald Reagan was down significantly in the polls through September and October and came back in the final days to beat President Jimmy Carter in a near landslide. He said that election was similar to the one playing out now between Obama and Romney. “People were saying, ‘You know what, this guy [Carter] is so bad. We have got double-digit inflation, double-digit unemployment, we got double-digit interest rates. . . Why is Ronald Reagan losing to Jimmy Carter?'” Rove said, adding, “Everyone said, ‘Oh my God, we are going to lose. And, of course, we didn’t.”
  • A legal battle to give Americans more information about their own Commander-in-Chief has attracted some unlikely bedfellows. Representatives of the conservative-leaning watchdog organization Judicial Watch appeared Tuesday at the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. to argue that the contents of White House visitor logs should be made available and accessible to the public. Judicial Watch first sued the Secret Service over the logs in 2009, arguing that the administration was fighting transparency and the peoples’ right to know by keeping the logs classified. The organization’s senior attorney Jim Peterson, who spoke with Human Events this week, said that the White House’s steadfast refusal to make the logs available epitomized a lack of transparency that has been characteristic of this administration. “This is one of the best examples of that,” he said.
  • Are we headed for the next Dust Bowl? That’s the question on the minds of many midwestern farmers as rumors surrounding the historic disaster of the 1930s grow louder, reports cattlenetwork.com. Triple-digit heat waves and extensive drought plagued the nation’s heartland this summer, sending crop yields plummeting to 122.8 bushels per acre, the lowest average yield since 1995. Sixty-four percent of the continental United States is in now moderate to exceptional drought, according to the latest Drought Monitor, nearly 26 percentage points higher than reported in early May.