Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Thursday, September 13, 2012

EU Lenders Demand Saturday Work in Greece

The Eurozone is demanding that Greece change its work rules to include a six-day workweek as part of the strong austerity measures required for the next round of financial relief. The requirement means that Greek citizens would have to work on God’s Sabbath day by law to help relieve the economic crisis. Whether concessions for Jews and other Sabbath keepers will be made, which would likely be very unpopular, is unclear.

The “troika” of creditors involving the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund sent a letter to Greece’s finance and labour ministries ordering a bevy of radical labour market reforms, which include the nationwide six-day workweek.

The letter said the Greek government was to “increase the number of maximum workdays to six days per week for all sectors…”

Other intrusive measures have to do with work schedule flexibility, minimum wage, minimum daily rest, leave rules, overtime, etc. The leaked letter also calls for the labour inspectorate to be put under European supervision.

Though Antonis Samaras’ government is “pleading for more time – four years rather than two – to fulfill debt reduction targets and spending cuts,” which would require more assistance from Greek lenders, there is little appetite for more financial rescues.

Greece is an Orthodox and Roman Catholic country, and its law already forbids working on Sunday. “Employees are entitled to a minimum continuous period of rest of at least 24 hours per week, including Sunday as a rule, depending on the labor law provisions in force for each category of employees.” Because of this law, which isn’t likely to be changed, the extra day of work would be on Saturday. Workers who refuse to work on Saturday would be in violation of the law if concessions are not made for personal beliefs.

While the Greek government may seek to negotiate a way around the Saturday work requirement, or it may exit the eurozone, it is clear that the underlying thinking of the eurozone is to impose Saturday work.

The Catholic Church, along with some protestant churches, trade unions and other civic organizations have been trying to get EU-level laws passed that would require Sunday rest. This would also put pressure on employers and employees to work on Saturday.

It is not difficult to see that the EU views a six-day workweek as part of the solution to the economic crisis. We can now see that laws are likely to be made requiring Saturday work and Sunday rest, making it difficult for Sabbath keepers to make a living, earn a wage or a salary, or conduct business.

Sunday rest laws are the foundation of Sunday worship laws. The Bible clearly portrays the idea that Sunday worship will become the mark of the beast and that a Sunday worship law will eventually be imposed on the whole world.

While the EU “troika” did not insist on Sunday worship laws in its letter to the Greek government, it is essentially insisting that Saturday work should be part of the measures required for the next Greek bailout.

It may be that anti-Sabbath laws, such as laws requiring Saturday work could precede Sunday worship laws if the economic crisis gets bad enough.

Speaking of the coming Sunday worship laws the Apostle John says: “And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. 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 13:15-17

The foundation for the Sunday law crisis may well be in the making.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Pope says Sundays must be a day of rest dedicated to God and family

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The demands of work can't bully people out of needed time off, Pope Benedict XVI said.

Sunday must be a day of rest for everyone, so people can be free to be with their families and with God, the pope said.

"By defending Sunday, one defends human freedom," he said during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square June 6.

In his catechesis, the pope told an estimated 15,000 pilgrims and visitors about his trip June 1-3 to Milan for the seventh World Meeting of Families.

He thanked everyone who made the "unforgettable and wonderful event" possible and praised the willingness he witnessed of people striving to live a "Gospel of the family."

"Humanity has no future without the family," he said. Young people need to be born and raised in "that community of life and love that God himself wanted," that is, a family based on marriage between a man and woman, he said.

He reminded young people that they, too, have a responsibility to contribute to the well-being of the family, such as by saying "yes" to God's will, working hard in their studies, being generous to others, being active in the community and using their talents to better the world.

The pope said when he met government representatives in Milan, he reminded them of the importance of policies and laws that protect the family. The most essential is the right to life, "whose its deliberate suppression can never be allowed." The identity of the family, based on marriage between a man and a woman, needs recognition, too, the pope said.

During an evening vigil of testimonies, the pope answered the questions of five families from different countries because "I wanted to show the open dialogue that exists between families and the church, between the world and the church," he said.

He said he was quite taken by people's testimonies, which dealt with "hot-button issues" such as the difficulties families experience because of separation, divorce, the economic crisis and long hours on the job.

The pope said he wanted to come to the defense of free time, which is "threatened by a kind 'bullying' by the demands of work."

"Sunday is the day of the Lord and of man, a day which everyone must be able to be free -- free for the family and free for God."

Family, work, rest and celebration are gifts from God and important aspects of human life that must find a "harmonious balance" in order to build a more humane world, he said.

He said the World Meeting of Families was a way to send a message to the whole world that "it is possible and joyful, even if it takes work, to live love faithfully forever and be open to life" and that it's also possible for the whole family to take part in the mission of the church and help create a better world.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Let's make Sunday a day of rest, for God’s sake

Spiritual disciplines are the habits we keep that connect us to God. They come from the Jewish conviction that action shapes and reveals what we ultimately believe. Our faith might come and go, but our actions should never waiver. This can be true for people of all faith claims.

We dance in rhythm with God when we keep the Sabbath. The reason we are called to take a day of rest is simple. Humans tend to forget that we did not make the world and thus, that the world does not depend upon us.
Barbara Brown Taylor tells a story about a friend, David, growing up in Atlanta and what he taught her about fidelity to God:

When I was a junior in high school, my boyfriend Herb played on the varsity basketball team. He was not the star player however. The star player was a boy named David, who scored so many points during his four-year career that the coach retired his jersey when he graduated. This would have been remarkable under any circumstances, but it was doubly so since David did not play on Friday nights.

On Friday nights, David observed the Sabbath with the rest of his family, who generously withdrew when David’s gentile friends arrived, sweaty and defeated, after Friday night home games.

Following each Friday night game, David’s friends came to his house to describe the game in great detail. “Blow by blow” the gentiles were allowed to speak and create worlds in David’s living room. Someone in the room asked if it bothered him to sit at home while his team “was getting slaughtered in the high school gymnasium.”
“No one makes me do this,” he said. “I’m a Jew, and Jews observe the Sabbath.” Six days a week, he said, he loved nothing more than playing basketball and he gladly gave all he had to the game. On the seventh day, he loved being Jewish more than he loved playing basketball, and he just as gladly gave all he had to the Sabbath. Sure, he felt a tug, but that was the whole point. Sabbath was his chance to remember what was really real. Once three stars were visible in the Friday night sky, his identity as a Jew was more real to him than his identity as the star of our basketball team."

It is essential for Christians to create regular, intentional spaces of time in which we do not work, e-mail, fax, clean, or do laundry.

A time when we allow our hearts to settle and the voices to hush. Sabbath is a time when we remember that God made the world and rested; that He calls us to rest with him, to hear his voice, to be aware of his presence.
And it is a time to remember, according to the Hebrew Testament teaching on Sabbath and Jubilee, that there will be a day when all peoples of the world will rest—not just the ones who can financially afford to take a day off.
Sabbath-keeping reminds us that we are pilgrims in a foreign land, awaiting the world to become what the world was meant to be.

We remember vividly that, although God made the world, the world is not the way God made it.
When we keep Sabbath, we proclaim to the rest of the world that God is about the business of making things new. God needs a way of reminding us that we are no longer in Egypt, stacking bricks for the Empire. If busyness and idolatry plague our collective life, Sabbath is a means by which we can become more like the person God created us to be.

For the last few years, I’ve rigorously worked to keep a full Sabbath day in my weekly schedule.
It hasn’t always been easy.

Deaths, births, tragedies, miracles, and mundane duties of life show little regard for my personal desire to rest.
Slowly, over time, when those things occur on Sabbath, I’m tempted to jump in and fix everything. Sometimes, when the circumstances demand, I have to get involved. Most of the time, however, keeping Sabbath convicts me that the world can run just fine without me. I see a clear role for myself in the divine story. I am important in this narrative, but I’m not the main point or the main character. Sabbath teaches me this.
Whole. Rested. Listening. Attentive. Cleansed.

This is what Sabbath is about. It creates the space in our lives for us to remember who we are. To remember that we are players in a different story.

Americans work hard. Maybe too hard.

This is an invitation to Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Atheists, Agnostics, Buddhists, and Christians.

One day a week. Rest. For God’s sake.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Trade Unions in “Holy Alliance” with Catholic Church

Calling it a “holy alliance” the Catholic Church and all three of Italy’s main trade unions joined together to campaign against the liberalization of work rules that protects Sunday for families. The March 4, 2012 protests across Italy were part of a Europe-wide push to support Sunday rest. Union members picketed outside a shopping centre in Rome while street parties were held in Florence, Milan and Pisa. Sunday shop opening, said the unions in a statement, would lead to “worse economic conditions.”

 “Liberalising businesses by opening them seven days a week does not increase consumption but it has an impact on the material conditions of workers with ever harsher shifts and increased demands on flexibility,” said Susanna Camusso, the leader of Italy’s biggest trade union, CGIL.

 “Workers are stressed out by unworkable shifts and the unimaginable difficulties of spending time with their families and taking Sundays not just as a day of rest but of personal reflection,” said an editorial in the bishop’s journal Avvenire. The great time of trouble in the last days includes religious laws as well as violence and chaos. As they unite with the Roman Catholic Church to promote her projects, trade unions will become more aggressive and fierce. “

…The trade unions will be one of the agencies that will bring upon this earth a time of trouble such as has not been since the world began.” Manuscript Releases, Vol. 4, page 88

 A “holy alliance” with the Catholic Church does not bode well for God’s people.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Santorum and Romney: Opposites on Separation

Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney, two Republican Presidential contenders, have completely different positions on separation of church and state. Santorum, whose views settle well with evangelical Protestants but not so well with Catholics, says that the churches and religion should have a say in government, suggesting that Santorum, who is Catholic would permit his church leaders to influence his thinking in policy decision-making.

Mitt Romney, on the other hand, when confronted with questions about how much his Mormon faith would influence his decisions as President, recently said ““Let me assure you that no authorities of my church, or of any other church for that matter, will ever exert influence on presidential decisions.” This is similar to what John F. Kennedy, the first and only Catholic to serve as President of the United States, said on his presidential campaign tour in 1960. “Their authority is theirs,” said Romney “within the province of church affairs, and it ends where the affairs of the nation begin.”

Santorum has caused concern because of his rather puerile statements of revulsion of Kennedy’s speech. He said that reading it makes him “want to throw up [vomit].” Such an extreme expression suggests that Santorum’s policy-making decisions would be heavily influenced by his Catholic faith and probably church leaders, and would open the door to even more encroachment by the bishops on U.S. policy than already exists. It also suggests that Santorum is not measured and well-considered in his attitude toward religion, and could be easily reigned up to undermine the separation of church and state even more than it already has been.

Santorum went on to say that the current efforts by the state to place restrictions on religion amount to war. “Rather than promoting freedom of religion by limiting its entanglements with politics, Santorum says the intent was to banish religion from the public square.”

Government in the United States is already far too influenced by religion and religious leaders. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in particular, has by far the most influence. And while government leaders have been far more influenced by religion in recent years, strong secular elements supporting a range of irreligious or secular causes have enflamed the debate over their role of religion in politics. Though at times separation of church and state have been taken to extremes by judges, particularly, though not exclusively by liberal judges, the balance has always been difficult to achieve.

Romney’s statement, though not as eloquent as Kennedy’s, nevertheless supports the U.S. constitutional principle enshrined in the first amendment. While that doesn’t mean that he will uphold it, he is nevertheless more in line with its principles.

Presidents have the right to choose their faith just like anyone else in the United States, but the danger in the present polemic environment is that they will not keep the balance of separation of church and state.

History testifies of her [the Papacy’s] artful and persistent efforts to insinuate herself into the affairs of nations; and having gained a foothold, to further her own aims, even at the ruin of princes and people… And let it be remembered, it is the boast of Rome that she never changes… While they are bent upon the accomplishment of their purpose, Rome is aiming to re-establish her power, to recover her lost supremacy. Let the principle once be established in the United States that the church may employ or control the power of the state; that religious observances may be enforced by secular laws; in short, that the authority of church and state is to dominate the conscience, and the triumph of Rome in this country is assured. Great Controversy, page 580 and 581


Note from blogger: I know I haven't been making new posts for the past two months, I was working on other blogs and busy with school.

Monday, January 2, 2012

With Reservations, Obama Signs Act to Allow Detention of Citizens

In his last official act of business in 2011, President Barack Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act from his vacation rental in Kailua, Hawaii. In a statement, the president said he did so with reservations about key provisions in the law — including a controversial component that would allow the military to indefinitely detain terror suspects, including American citizens arrested in the United States, without charge.
The legislation has drawn severe criticism from civil liberties groups, many Democrats, along with Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, who called it “a slip into tyranny.” Recently two retired four-star Marine generals called on the president to veto the bill in a New York Times op-ed, deeming it “misguided and unnecessary.”
“Due process would be a thing of the past,” wrote Gens Charles C. Krulak and Joseph P. Hoar. “Current law empowers the military to detain people caught on the battlefield, but this provision would expand the battlefield to include the United States – and hand Osama bin Laden an unearned victory long after his well-earned demise.”
The president defended his action, writing that he signed the act, “chiefly because it authorizes funding for the defense of the United States and its interests abroad, crucial services for service members and their families, and vital national security programs that must be renewed.”
Senior administration officials, who asked not to be named, told ABC News, “The president strongly believes that to detain American citizens in military custody infinitely without trial, would be a break with our traditions and values as a nation, and wants to make sure that any type of authorization coming from congress, complies with our Constitution, our rules of war and any applicable laws.”
One official explained that President Obama does believe, however, that American citizens can be temporarily detained, and that the military has the right to capture and hold any citizen who is engaged in conflict against the United States. If various provisions in the law prove unworkable, the president could go back to Congress to ask for changes.
“The president is going to adhere to the policies that he has held over the last three years, making sure that none of these congressional provisions impede the ability of the counterterrorism and military professional from keeping the country safe,” the official said.