The Weekend Web

January 6, 2008  •  From
Historic groundbreaking ceremony in Edmond; plus the Pentagon submits to Islam and Congress lies to get votes!

On the first Sunday of 1934, January 7, Herbert W. Armstrong began his ministry in the smallest of ways—a half-hour radio program on a small station in Eugene, Oregon, with a barely beaming signal of only 100 watts. Fifty-two years later, again on January 7, Mr. Armstrong appointed his successor. When Mr. Armstrong died on Jan. 16, 1986, he left behind a church with 725 congregations in 57 countries around the globe and a powerful work going out to the world. It had a weekly worldwide attendance of 120,000 people, and another 210,000 outside the church donated money regularly. The World Tomorrow could be seen on 382 television stations—far more markets than any other religious program in America—as well as 36 radio outlets around the world. The Plain Truth magazine had a worldwide circulation of more than 8 million.

Herbert W. Armstrong was the world’s leading televangelist and one of the most prominent religious leaders of the 20th century, watched, read and followed by millions worldwide. But his legacy of Bible-based humanitarianism came under attack after he died. The cabal of leaders who took control of the church he founded, after pledging to “follow in his footsteps,” methodically destroyed all he had built. The true story of this shocking betrayal is recounted in Raising the Ruins.

Since late 1989, the organization behind this website has been hard at work resurrecting the many publications, operations and activities of Herbert Armstrong’s multi-faceted, worldwide work. To support this effort, we established Herbert W. Armstrong College in 2001. Two years ago, we graduated our first senior class. Ten of those graduates now work for us full time.

And even as the college facilitates a more expansive work, we continue upgrading and expanding the college itself. With the completion of the new dormitory/academic center in July 2006, we doubled our classroom space and have enough accommodations on campus for about 90 students.

Also in 2006, we completed a set of architectural drawings for a $15 million, 800-seat auditorium we intend to build and dedicate to God. I wrote at the end of Raising the Ruins that we hoped to break ground on God’s house sometime in 2007.

Today, on the first Sunday in 2008, we did it. On a gorgeous spring-like day, with temperatures topping 70 degrees, about 500 people joined my father in a 45-minute ceremony kicking off this historic project. For an up-to-date view of the construction site, go here.

As an interesting side note, the previous location of God’s house has been pummeled with torrential rains this weekend. California opened its emergency operations on Friday in anticipation of mudslides and flooding. Flash flooding was expected to be especially prevalent in the barren territories that were scorched by the wildfires in October.

Ignoring Their Roots

Of course, if not for the high level of importance we place on our historical roots, there never would have been a Herbert W. Armstrong College—or a groundbreaking ceremony to kick off construction on Armstrong Auditorium. Unlike so many educational institutions in this world, Herbert W. Armstrong College teaches its students that life’s most vital lessons come from knowing and learning from our history.

In September, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute surveyed more than 14,000 college freshmen and seniors and found that some of America’s most prestigious universities were among the worst in teaching their students about American history. “Higher education is a $325 billion business where at many prestigious universities presidents earn half-a-million dollars a year or more,” says Josiah Bunting iii, chairman of isi’s National Civic Literacy Board. “Ironically, based on our research, the lowest gains in knowledge in America’s history and institutions are found at many of these elite universities where their presidents are simply not doing enough to help preserve our traditions of freedom and representative government.”

Overall, the study found, college freshmen averaged a failing grade of 50.4 percent on a basic U.S. history exam and graduated four years later with a minimally improved mark of 54.2 percent. Some of America’s best-known schools, like Yale, Cornell, Princeton and Duke, actually turn out graduates who know less about history than when they arrived as freshmen!

What a sorry system. Parents of Yale students fork out $180,000 for their children’s “education” and they graduate four years later even more ignorant about history than when they finished high school.

It’s difficult to believe that many Ivy League schools were actually established as religious institutions. The Bible, of course, has long since been abandoned. And today, most students can graduate from an Ivy League school without ever having to take a course in history.

That is pathetic.

Go to the Source

Historian David McCullough knows how serious the problem is in higher education. In a speech he gave on Febr. 15, 2005, McCullough criticized teachers today who don’t know their subject well enough to inspire their students. “You can’t love what you don’t know,” he said. Then there are the dry, boring, “hilariously politically correct” textbooks students are expected to study. Forget all that and go straight to the source, McCullough says. “Let’s begin with Longfellow, for example. Let’s begin with Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, for example. These are literature.”

David Barton made a similar point in his book Original Intent: “There is an unhealthy tendency in many current books on the Founders—a tendency confirmed in their concluding biographies—to cite predominantly contemporary ‘authorities’ speaking about the Founders rather than citing the Founders’ own words. Such evidence is termed ‘hearsay’ and would never stand up in a court of law.”

Go to the original source, Barton says. McCullough concluded in his speech that if children are to learn anything about their own history, parents will have to assume the task of teaching them. We must teach our children who we are and where we are headed, he said. “We have to value what our forebears—and not just in the 18th century, but our own parents and grandparents—did for us, or we’re not going to take it very seriously, and it can slip away. If you don’t care about it—if you’ve inherited some great work of art that is worth a fortune and you don’t know that it’s worth a fortune, you don’t even know that it’s a great work of art and you’re not interested in it—you’re going to lose it.” McCullough said,

The teaching of history, the emphasis on the importance of history, the enjoyment of history, should begin at home. We who are parents or grandparents should be taking our children to historic sites. We should be talking about those books in biography or history that we have particularly enjoyed, or that character or those characters in history that have meant something to us. We should be talking about what it was like when we were growing up in the olden days. Children, particularly little children, love this. And in my view, the real focus should be at the grade school level.

Teach them to love history while they are young. Otherwise, when they grow up, they may well end up lost.

U.S. Should Learn From the Fall of Rome

One final note about history and then we’ll move on. Last week, the Financial Times listed its top 10 most-read stories from 2007. At the top of the list is this one by Jeremy Grant: “Learn from the fall of Rome, US warned.” Here are a few excerpts:

The US government is on a “burning platform” of unsustainable policies and practices with fiscal deficits, chronic healthcare under-funding, immigration and overseas military commitments threatening a crisis if action is not taken soon, the country’s top government inspector has warned.

David Walker, comptroller general of the US, issued the unusually downbeat assessment of his country’s future in a report that lays out what he called “chilling long-term simulations”.

These include “dramatic” tax rises, slashed government services and the large-scale dumping by foreign governments of holdings of US debt.

Drawing parallels with the end of the Roman empire, Mr Walker warned there were “striking similarities” between America’s current situation and the factors that brought down Rome, including “declining moral values and political civility at home, an over-confident and over-extended military in foreign lands and fiscal irresponsibility by the central government”.

“Sound familiar?” Mr Walker said. “In my view, it’s time to learn from history and take steps to ensure the American Republic is the first to stand the test of time.”

Mr. Walker’s views carry weight because he is a non-partisan figure in charge of the Government Accountability Office, often described as the investigative arm of the US Congress.

The Pentagon Submits to Islam

The Pentagon just sacrificed a good man in an effort to pacify radical Muslims.

Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon R. England and his close Muslim aide, Hasham Islam, lead Pentagon efforts to court Muslim groups in community outreach programs. Trouble is, some of those groups have Islamist roots. At least one is a front group for the extremist Muslim Brotherhood.

This is more damning evidence of Washington’s deeply flawed effort to “wage war” on “terrorism” by treating Islamists as “rational actors” who can be coaxed out of their extremism.

Stephen Coughlin, the Pentagon’s “most knowledgeable specialist on Islamic law and jihad terrorism,” did the nation a favor by exposing this dangerous outreach program. Bill Gertz of the Washington Post broke the story here and then followed it up here. He reported:

Mr. Coughlin wrote a memorandum several months ago based on documents made public in a federal trial in Dallas that revealed a covert plan by the Muslim Brotherhood, an Egyptian-origin Islamist extremist group, to subvert the United States using front groups. Members of one of the identified front groups, the Islamic Society of North America, have been hosted by Mr. England at the Pentagon.

For his service in speaking the truth, Coughlin last week received an unusual gesture of appreciation: The Pentagon fired him.

Gertz reported:

Mr. Coughlin was accused directly by Mr. Islam of being a Christian zealot or extremist “with a pen,” according to defense officials. Mr. Coughlin appears to have become one of the first casualties in the war of ideas with Islamism.

Islam scholar Andrew Bostom correctly asserts that the DoD’s sacrificing Coughlin exposes “the intellectual and moral rot plaguing our efforts to combat global jihadism.”

One of our readers, a source working with Defense Department officials and frustrated by the Islamist agenda creeping into department policy, tipped us off to the story. She wrote,

This is living proof that the Pentagon has succumbed to true dhimmitude and America doesn’t even know it .… [Islamists] have successfully won the war of speech, in that they have shut down any dialogue regarding Islam and/or jihad.

Dhimmitude, of course, is the status of a non-Muslim living in a Muslim state but voluntarily submitting to Muslim law so as to be permitted to live. U.S. officials have deluded themselves into believing that such a state of servitude actually constitutes taking the offensive in the “war on terror.”

Spain to Vatican: Back Off

The Trumpet has often noted how Roman Catholic leaders are becoming more aggressive in expressing their political views. At least a few others are noticing the trend with some concern.

Last week, 2 million people joined in a pro-family rally in Spain. The Spanish government says there were only 160,000. What is not under dispute is the fact that 40 of the demonstrators were Roman Catholic bishops.

Spanish leaders have called on the country’s bishops to apologize for getting so involved in political affairs. Organizers say there was no politics—they were just trying to voice their pro-family views.

The Day After

Two of the Weekend Web’s favorite commentators, Dore Gold and Caroline Glick, recently took part in a discussion at about what the world will face once Iran gets its hands on nuclear weapons. The entire discussion is well worth the read. This comment by Glick is especially interesting in light of the threat she says Iran poses to Europe:

Here again, it is important to note that Israel’s neck isn’t the only one on the line—although it is first in line. A defeat of Israel—which can also take the form of simply rendering Israel vulnerable to annihilation—will be the greatest victory the forces of global jihad have ever experienced. If this is added to an unspoken US acceptance of Iranian hegemony in Iraq, then the position of Western nations will be imperiled. Iran already has missiles capable of reaching Europe. Indeed, the Iranians tested a new ballistic missile that can reach Europe the day of the Annapolis conference. With their terror proxies already set up in the US, Canada and Latin America, and with their strategic partnership with North Korea which already possesses intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching California, an Islamic world empowered by an Israeli defeat will manifest a danger to the free world which could actually surpass the dangers of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. When the jihadist rejection of the sanctity of human life in favor of martyrdom is taken into consideration, the level of threat the jihadists manifest is arguably even more lethal than that manifested by the Soviet Union. As the frontline state in this war, the role of Israel’s leaders is to point out these truths to the world and to their citizens. Olmert, Livni and their associates have obviously failed in this most crucial task.

Elsewhere on the Web

Every week seems to produce a collection of articles on the gloomy forecast for the economy. Here is another one from the Financial Times. Here is one about Brits being turned down for credit cards. And one more about the dollar’s decline against the Japanese yen.

The Associated Press has provided an itinerary here for President Bush’s upcoming trip to the Middle East. Max Boot makes some noteworthy points about the trip here.

Evidently in response to Berlin expelling an Iranian diplomat from Germany last summer, Iran has recently responded in kind, Deutsche Welle points out.

The New York Times has an excellent piece about the deadly legacy of Benazir Bhutto here, which ties in with what wrote about last week.

And Finally …

If you haven’t read much about the bloated, pork-barrel omnibus bill passed by Congress last month, you can read some good stuff about it here, here and here. This article, however, is especially noteworthy. Imbedded within the multiple layers of pork in the new spending bill is this little tidbit of treachery: “Nothing in this paragraph shall require the secretary of homeland security to install fencing, physical barriers, roads, lighting, cameras and sensors in a particular location along an international border of the United States, if the secretary determines that the use or placement of such resources is not the most appropriate means to achieve and maintain operational control over the international border at such location.”

Thus, after passing the Secure Fence Act during the election year of 2006, Congress quietly removed the legal requirement to build the fence the following year.

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