Signs of the Times (11/8/12)

Election Roundup: Slippery Slope Leading Over the Cliff

President Obama’s reelection means more socialism and less freedom – and, most significantly, much less Godliness.

  • Gay marriage supporters won in all four states where it was up for a vote. Voters in Maine approved for the first time in history a measure that gives the right to same-sex couples to marry, while in Maryland voters also made history by upholding a new law allowing same-sex couples to marry in the state. Washington voters also legalized same sex marriages. Minnesota rejected a constitutional amendment banning gay unions.
  • Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational use of marijuana Tuesday night, setting up a battle between the states and the federal government, which prohibits use of the drug
  • $6 billion later, we are stuck with same leaders who failed last year to strike a deal on raising taxes, cutting spending and reducing the budget deficit. Now they are stuck with each other once again through 2014,with the so-called ‘fiscal cliff’ of automatic spending cuts and expired tax breaks hitting the fan on January 1st.

Are these results surprising? Not in the least. Scripture teaches that the end-times will demonstrate increasing lawlessness and decreasing righteousness – and a great ‘falling away’ of the saints.

Catholics Voted for Obama, Evangelicals for Romney

Catholics voted for Barack Obama over Mitt Romney by 50 to 48 percent, while Protestants preferred Romney by a 15-point margin — 57 to 42 percent, the Religion News Service reports. Obama won 70 to 26 percent among Americans with no religious affiliation, 69 to 30 percent among Jews and 74 to 23 percent among other religions. Evangelicals voted for Romney 78 to 21 percent — the same rate as Mormons. Additionally, those who said they attend worship weekly preferred Romney by 20 points, 59 to 39 percent, while those who said they attend less frequently went for Obama by 25 points.

Ten Commandments Judge Restored to Chief Justice of Alabama Supreme Court

Roy Moore, known as the “Ten Commandments judge,” edged out his Democratic opponent Tuesday to win back his seat as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, the Christian News Network reports. Moore, the predicted favorite over Democrat Bob Vance, had been removed from the position in 2003 when a state panel expelled him from office for failing to comply with a federal court order to remove a two-ton granite monument of the Ten Commandments that he had placed in the Alabama Judicial Building in Montgomery. Moore argued he had a right to acknowledge God and that following the order would have been a violation of his oath to the Constitution. “Most people see him as a godly man with strong convictions,” said Republican state party chairman Bill Armistead.

Election Does Not Bode Well for Israel

Throughout his first four years in office, President Obama steadily distanced himself from the Jewish state and made no visits as the leader of the Western World. Shortly after taking office on January 20, 2009, Obama made every effort to visit Muslim countries, including two trips to Indonesia and Afghanistan and one each to Turkey, Iraq, Saudi Arabia (where he was caught on camera bowing to King Abdullah), and to Egypt. It was there that he delivered a speech designed to “seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world.” The president has yet to set foot in Israel since taking office. In his Cairo speech, he stated unequivocally that, “America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.”

  • The Jerusalem Prayer Team warns that, “It seems that Mr. Obama was and still is dedicated to the proposition of a fifty-fourth Muslim country. With the creation of a Palestinian state, Israel would be completely isolated—an island in a sea of fanatical Muslim enemies.”

Winter Storm Follows Superstorm Sandy

Winter Storm Athena brought gusting winds, rain, snow and the threat of flooding to the already pummeled northeast. It menaced travelers with icy roads, snarled the Long Island Rail Road and knocked out power to people who had only recently gotten it back after Superstorm Sandy.” Residents from Connecticut to Rhode Island generally got slammed with 3 to 6 inches of snow on Wednesday. There were 13 inches measured in Freehold, N.J., and a foot in Manchester Township. Worcester, Mass., had 8 inches of snow, although a number of other communities threatened to exceed that accumulation. New York’s Central Park received a record 4.3 inches of snow, which was the city’s earliest 4-inch snowfall on record.

Covering a snow storm nine days after covering a hurricane is something I’ve never done before,” said meteorologist Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel, reporting from Trenton, N.J. Under ordinary circumstances, a storm of this sort wouldn’t be a big deal. But large swaths of the landscape were still an open wound, with the electrical system highly fragile and many of Sandy’s victims still mucking out their homes and cars and shivering in the deepening cold. As the storm picked up in intensity Wednesday evening, lights started flickering off again. More winds are expected through Thursday and commuters may have to brave lingering snowfall.

  • End-time weather will continue to grow more severe

U.K. Government Regulates Church Communion

A government agency that oversees charities in the United Kingdom has decided that a local Christian congregation cannot be registered because it does not open its communion services to just any outsider. The decision by the U.K.’s Charity Commission is being reported by The Christian Institute, which has been working on the case of the Plymouth Brethren assembly in Devon. Without registration, the group would be subject to a number of government restrictions that do not apply to other charity organizations. The decision “would have a huge impact on the group’s tax relief and would also have other implications,” said the institute in a report.

  • Just another example of the many insidious ways Christianity will be persecuted, prosecuted and discriminated against in the near future.

Study: Churchgoing Teens Go Further in School

Sociologists from Brigham Young University and Rice University found religiously-affiliated youth are 40 percent more likely to graduate high school than their unaffiliated peers and 70 percent more likely to enroll in college, Phys.org reports. The study of data from more than 8,379 teens from across the country found that Catholic teens, mainline Protestants and black Protestant congregations are twice as likely as unaffiliated teens to finish high school and about 80 percent more likely to enroll in college, and that Jewish and Mormon youth have the highest odds of graduating high school and enrolling in college.

Economic News

Californians approved a measure Tuesday that raises taxes on the wealthy and hikes the state sales tax. It is expected to bring in $6 billion a year, on average, over five years. Its approval prevents massive budget cuts to the state’s public schools and universities.

Californians were more open to tax increases than their peers elsewhere on Tuesday. Arizona residents turned down a proposal making a temporary sales tax increase permanent to raise money for education, while South Dakota voters rejected a sales tax increase that would have funded education and Medicaid.

Claims for unemployment benefits fell last week, as Hurricane Sandy led to power outages and closed offices on the East Coast and kept many people from filing claims. About 355,000 people filed for first-time unemployment benefits in the week ended November 3, down 8,000 from the previous week. That level is the lowest in a month, but economists say the fall is almost entirely due to the extreme weather conditions.

The clock is ticking on a tax break that saves struggling homeowners from paying thousands of dollars to the IRS. If the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 does not get extended by Congress by the end of the year, homeowners will have to start paying income taxes on the portion of their mortgage that is forgiven in a foreclosure, short sale or principal reduction. Should the tax break expire, a large number of mortgage borrowers could be affected. More than 50,000 homeowners go through foreclosure each month.

Eurozone

Europe’s leading central banks kept interest rates unchanged Thursday despite a worsening near-term outlook for the region’s economy. The European Central Bank held its main interest rate at 0.75%, while the Bank of England kept rates at 0.5% and said it would not be adding to its £375 billion program of quantitative easing.

Europe’s economy is still reeling and unemployment could remain high for years in spite of the progress made in solving the debt crisis, the European Union warned Wednesday as it downgraded its forecasts for the 27-country bloc. The European Commission revised its forecast for the economy of the entire region, saying that it now expected gross domestic product to contract by 0.3 percent on an annual basis this year,

The Greek parliament early Thursday narrowly adopted a new round of austerity cuts that are required for Greece to receive the next installment of a crucial international economic bailout. The cuts have provoked protests by Greeks furious about the effects of multiple rounds of belt-tightening, which have resulted in cuts to pensions and pay. They have seen unemployment soar to more than 25%.It is Greece’s fifth year of recession. The nation of Greece came to a screeching halt again Tuesday. Unions called for a 48-hour general strike ahead of the anticipated vote by the Greek government on yet another round of austerity measures. Greeks are furious about the effects of multiple rounds of belt-tightening, which have resulted in cuts to pensions. Critics of austerity have called for economic stimulus programs instead, like those implemented in the United States.

Syria

In another sign of cracks in the Syrian government’s armor, seven army generals defected to Turkey on Tuesday, Turkish media reported. The generals were allowed to enter Turkey through the southern Hatay province under tight security measures. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has lost a stream of high-level government and military officials in recent months as his forces continue battling rebels seeking an end to four decades of al-Assad family rule. Opposition members met in Qatar for a third day Tuesday in an effort to unify and strengthen Syria’s rebellion.

Adding to the allegations of overt Western backing for the increasingly sectarian rebel fighters in the ongoing Syrian Civil War, Russian Gen. Nikolai Makarov said that his government has “reliable information” about rebel fighters having acquired US-made Stinger missiles, a shoulder-mounted anti-aircraft weapon. weapons exported abroad have a way of finding themselves in the hands of third parties, as Swiss officials discovered over the past year, with Syrian rebels using Swiss-made hand grenades that were sold to the United Arab Emirates, then given to Jordan for “anti-terror” operations, then “somehow” wound up in Syrian rebel hands. Turkey will imminently lodge an official request with NATO asking the military alliance to deploy Patriot missiles along its border with Syria to guard against violence spilling over, a senior Turkish foreign ministry official said on Wednesday.

Iran

The U.N. nuclear chief said Monday that Iran is not cooperating with an investigation into suspected secret work on nuclear weapons. Yukio Amano told the U.N. General Assembly that talks between the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran have intensified this year after an IAEA report in November 2011 said it had “credible information that Iran had carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device,” he said. “However, no concrete results have been achieved so far,” Amano said. “Iran is not providing the necessary cooperation to enable us to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities,” Amano said. “Therefore, we cannot conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities,”

France

French ministers grappled Wednesday with the issue of same-sex marriage and adoption rights as the Cabinet approved a draft bill in the face of fierce resistance from the Roman Catholic Church and social conservatives. Extending the right to marry and adopt to same-sex couples was one of President Francois Hollande’s electoral pledges in campaigning this year. The bill is expected to go before the National Assembly and Senate in January, and is likely to be voted on in February or March. An opinion poll released Wednesday found 65% of those surveyed support equal marriage rights for same-sex couples.

China

Those who think the U.S. electoral college is a complicated system for choosing a leader should take a look at China right now. Thousands of senior officials from around the world’s most populous nation have gathered in Beijing amid heavy security for a week of lengthy speeches and jargon-heavy meetings that began Thursday. At the end of it all, the once-in-a decade process will unveil a new set of top leaders to the world. The major outcomes of the ruling Communist Party’s 18th National Congress, as the event is known, have been determined in advance after months of secretive maneuvering and deal-making among senior party figures. The method may be arcane, but the results matter around the globe to nations trying to decipher what the Asian giant’s growing international clout means for them.

Earthquakes

A 7.4-magnitude earthquake rocked Guatemala on Wednesday, killing at least 48 people in two provinces as it toppled thick adobe walls, shook huge landslides down onto highways, and sent terrified villagers streaming into the streets of this idyllic mountain town near the border with Mexico. One hundred people were missing, and hundreds were injured. The quake, which hit at 10:35 a.m. in the midst of the work day, caused terror over an unusually wide area, with damage reported in all but one of Guatemala’s 22 states and shaking felt as far away as Mexico City, 600 mile to the northwest.

Weather

Flooding in southern India in the wake of a tropical cyclone has killed 25 people in the past few days and driven tens of thousands of others from their homes, authorities said Tuesday. The severe weather has caused flooding affecting 2,000 square miles of agricultural land in the state of Andhra Pradesh. About 70,000 people in Andhra Pradesh, which is north of Tamil Nadu, have been relocated to temporary shelters. The full extent of the damage to crops won’t be known until after the flood waters recede.

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