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Archive for February, 2010

Bible Group Sends Soldiers Daily Dose of Hope

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on February 28, 2010

Every day, Pfc. Jason receives a one-minute phone call from a stranger in a soothing voice that tells him about the peace and hope found in God.

Jason had served as an American soldier in Afghanistan and thought his life would be better once he returned to the United States. But he suffered extreme loneliness, loss of purpose, and resorted to downing a bottle of whiskey to fall asleep once back in the States. He had Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“[Y]ou can’t get the war outta (sic) your head,” Jason writes in a posting on the Hope for the Heroes website. “I had all these images floating around in my dreams, night time was the worst.”

But “on a whim” he signed up for 411God Hope for the Heroes, a project by the ministry Back to the Bible. The messages are catered to American service members, many of which have PTSD, and are delivered each day as a one-minute phone call to give the listener encouragement from the Bible.

Soldiers can also choose to receive a text message instead of a phone call.

“[I]t brought me hope,” said Jason. “I started to get strength from that little phone call each day to start looking for a job, to move home and to share a little of what was going on in my head.”

Though the Afghanistan veteran admits he still has “horrible days,” the word of hope offers him something else to think about other than the war.

“I have something that gives me hope,” he stated.

Alicia Reisinger, the producer and voice behind 411God Hope for the Heroes, said the idea for the original 411God messages – which are made for a general audience and includes messages ranging from funny to sad – was inspired by a study done by the ministry’s research arm, the Center for Bible Engagement.

The study examined why many people have Bibles but do not read them. The head of the Center found a link between people who read the Bible and their behavior. He found that people who read the Bible more than four times a week had significantly less problems in emotional sickness, drug dependency, and marital woes. The center then set out to create tools that would make Bible reading easier for people, one of which is 411God.

Hope for the Heroes is the 411God version geared toward soldiers, their families, and returning soldiers that are struggling with PTSD.

The majority of people signed up for Hope for the Heroes are located in the United States. Most of the soldiers in war zones, such as Iraq or Afghanistan, are not allowed to use cell phones. But they can receive Hope for the Heroes messages through the ministry’s website, e-mails, or Facebook.

“A lot of the scripts that we created were actually born out of conversations we had with men and women that have return from Afghanistan or Iraq,” Reisinger explained to The Christian Post this week.

She shared that her brothers who returned from Afghanistan and Iraq are experiencing PTSD and alcoholism. The Hope for the Heroes producer noted it is understandable that soldiers have PTSD because many who serve in war zones have had to pick up body parts of their dead friends and place them in body bags.

“We believe that while the military can design powerful weapons of war, only the word of God can win the spiritual battle raging inside every person,” states the Hope for the Heroes website.

About the same number of people subscribe to the voice message as the text message, Reisinger said. Some people enjoy the emotions, music and sound effects in the voice version. But others prefer to be able to read the message throughout the day.

Back to the Bible is a Christian ministry that uses radio, Internet, TV and other media to share the Gospel message and help Christians grow to spiritual maturity through Bible teaching. The ministry broadcasts in more than 14 languages.

Courtesy of Christian Post http://www.christianpost.com/article/20100227/bible-group-sends-soldiers-daily-dose-of-hope/index.html

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N.Y. High School Sued for Disbanding Christian Student Club

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on February 28, 2010

Friday, February 26, 2010
By Lauren Green 

A “Christ-centered” legal group has filed a federal lawsuit against a high school in New York, accusing it of religious discrimination after it disbanded a student Christian club while leaving dozens of other clubs active.

The Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund claims the Christian club, called Ichthus, was cancelled without notice after being in operation for four years.

ADF filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Islip on behalf of a student at Half Hollow Hills High School East in the Long Island town of Dix Hills.

ADF attorney David Cortman said Ichthus was disbanded even though there was student interest in keeping it going.

“This is pure and simple a case of viewpoint discrimination against Christian students,” Cortman told Fox News. “This is a school that has 60 student clubs. They have, of course, a gay-straight alliance; they have a fashion club, which is important because we all have to look good; they have a future lawyers of America, which it is obvious why they didn’t cancel their club.

“They also have a club that deals with the Constitution, which is probably a good club for school officials to take.

“But what is interesting here is that [of] all those clubs, they decide to deny the Christian club.”

But Dr. Sheldon Karnilow, the district superintendent, denies that disbanding the club was a discrimination issue. He said the decision was strictly budgetary.

“We don’t discriminate in any way, shape or form,” he said. “As long as it’s a legitimate club with student interest that is not harmful to students, we let a club run.”

Karnilow said the school principal is the one who decides which clubs to keep open, based on two criteria: student interest and the availability of a willing faculty adviser. He said the funding for Ichthus was cut “along with about 16 other clubs.”

Ichthus was created more than four years ago by a student who graduated last spring. But when the boy’s sister entered the school as a freshman in the fall and wanted to attend the club, she was told it had been canceled.

The girl’s mother, identified only as “Mrs. P,” told Fox News her daughter was devastated and said, “They have all this diversity … I don’t understand why they were picking on us.”

Mrs. P. said she went through nearly the same fight with her son to get the club established. She said the club was given the green light only when she threatened to take legal action.

This time, when complained to the school board and was told that the club would not be reinstated, she took immediate legal action.

Karnilow insists the Ichthus Club had only six or seven students attending regularly, and he says no staff adviser was available.

But Cortman says the club had 30 students who attended regularly, with about 55 students on the roster. In addition, he says, the student and her mother offered to find an adviser to lead the group.

Karnilow insists the school district was more than fair. He said it even offered to transport Mrs. P’s daughter to the district’s other high school, where the Ichthus Club has a more robust attendance.

But Cortman says, “The other 60 clubs do not have to get on a bus, leave their last period early, miss some work, travel to another school, find their own transport home.

“So first of all, it is discrimination no matter how you look at it, even if there is some sort of accommodation. That is no different than arguing it is OK to sit at the back of the bus, because you are going to get to your destination anyways.”

Mrs. P. also said that the district’s other high school said her daughter was not allowed to attend its Ichthus club.

Karnilow said that if there is sufficient student interest, the district will consider reinstating the club next year.

But the ADF is demanding that the club be reinstated immediately, and it says it will file an injunction in the next couple of weeks if it isn’t.

Courtesy of Fox News at http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,587508,00.html

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ACLU, Atheists and Agnostics Take Note: The Real Meaning of Separation of Church and State from Famed Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on February 28, 2010

       Justice Story was a famous and influential Supreme Court Justice for three decades from 1811-1845. He was appointed by President James Madison. He was also a professor of law at Harvard University. He wrote an extensive commentary on the United States Consititution which is well-respected today. It was meant as a textbook for the colleges and high schools so that the youth would understand the importance of the principles and law set forth in the Constitution. He elaborates with great wisdom and insight on the reason for the First Amendment protections and rights regarding the free exercise of religion and the State’s role. As he expounds this truth it seems the opposite of his wisdom is true today, as many courts and organizations have exalted to the sky the concept of “separation of church and state,” which is not in any part of the Bill of Rights, as a complete and hostile separation of everything concerning God from the public arena. This is not only bad history, it is bad law and completely against the original intent of the founders who drafted and passed the Bill of Rights. I have set forth a very enlightening excert below from his commentaries on the First Amendment.

                                      Chief Justice Story

                     ADVERTISEMENT TO THE ABRIDGMENT.

    The present work is an abridgment, made by the author, of his original work, for the use of Colleges and High-schools.  It presents in a compressed form the leading doctrines of that work, so far as they are necessary to a just understanding of the actual provisions of the constitution.  Many illustrations and vindications of these provisions are necessarily omitted.  But sufficient are retained to enable every student to comprehend and apply the great principles of constitutional law, which were maintained by the founders of the constitution, and which have been since promulgated by those, who have, from time to time, administered it, or expounded its powers.  I indulge the hope, that even in this reduced form the reasoning in favour of every clause of the constitution will appear satisfactory and conclusive; and that the youth of my country will learn to venerate and admire it as the only solid foundation, on which to rest our national union, prosperity, and glory.

    April, 1833.

§  984.    Let us now enter upon the consideration of the amendments, which, (it will be found,) principally regard subjects properly belonging to a bill of rights.

    §  985.    The first is “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition government for a redress of grievances.”

    §  986.    And first, the prohibition of any establishment of religion, and the freedom of religious opinion and worship.

    How far any government has a right to interfere in matters touching religion, has been a subject much discussed by writers upon public and political law.  The right and the duty of the interference of government, in matters of religion, have been maintained by many distinguished authors, as well those, who were the warmest advocates of free governments, as those, who were attached to governments of a more arbitrary character.  Indeed, the right of a society or government to interfere in matters of religion will hardly be contested by any persons, who believe that piety, religion, and morality are intimately connected with the well being of the state, and indispensable to the administration of civil justice.  The promulgation of the great doctrines of religion; the being, and attributes, and providence of one Almighty God; the responsibility to him for all our actions, founded upon moral freedom and accountability; a future state of rewards and punishments; the cultivation of all the personal, social, and benevolent virtues; — these never can be a matter of indifference in any well ordered community.  It is, indeed, difficult to conceive, how any civilized society can well exist without them.  And at all events, it is impossible for those, who believe in the truth of Christianity, as a divine revelation, to doubt, that it is the especial duty of government to foster, and encourage it among all the citizens and subjects.  This is a point wholly distinct from that of the right of private judgment in matters of religion, and of the freedom of public worship according to the dictates of one’s own conscience.

    § 987.    The real difficulty lies in ascertaining the limits, to which government may rightfully go in fostering and encouraging religion.  Three cases may easily be supposed.  One, where a government affords aid to a particular religion, leaving all persons free to adopt any other; another, where it creates an ecclesiastical establishment for the propagation of the doctrines of a particular sect of that religion, leaving a like freedom to all others; and a third, where it creates such an establishment, and excludes all persons, not belonging to it, either wholly, or in part, from any participation in the public honours, trusts, emoluments, privileges, and immunities of the state.  For instance, a government may simply declare, that the Christian religion shall be the religion of the state, and shall be aided, and encouraged in all the varieties of sects belonging to it; or it may declare, that the Catholic or Protestant religion shall be the religion of the state, leaving every man to the free enjoyment of his own religious opinions; or it may establish the doctrines of a particular sect, as of Episcopalians, as the religion of the state, with a like freedom; or it may establish the doctrines of a particular sect, as exclusively the religion of the state, tolerating others to a limited extent, or excluding all, not belonging to it, from all public honours, trusts, emoluments, privileges, and immunities.

    §  988.    Probably at the time of the adoption of the constitution, and of the amendment to it, now under consideration, the general, if not the universal, sentiment in America was, that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the state, so far as it is not incompatible with the private rights of conscience, and the freedom of religious worship.   An attempt to level all religions, and to make it a matter of state policy to hold all in utter indifference, would have created universal disapprobation, if not universal indignation.

    §  989.    It yet remains a problem to be solved in human affairs, whether say free government can be permanent, where the public worship of God, and the support of religion, constitute no part of the policy or duty of the state in any assignable shape.  The future experience of Christendom, and chiefly of the American states, must settle this problem, as yet new in the history of the world, abundant, as it has been, in experiments in the theory of government.

    §  990.    But the duty of supporting religion, and especially the Christian religion, is very different from the right to force the consciences of other men, or to punish them for worshipping God in the manner, which, they believe, their accountability to him requires.  It has been truly said, that “religion, or the duty we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be dictated only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence.”  Mr. Locke himself, who did not doubt the right of government to interfere in matters of religion, and especially to encourage Christianity, has at the same time expressed his opinion of the right of private judgment, and liberty of conscience, in a manner becoming his character, as a sincere friend of civil and religious liberty.  “No man, or society of men,” says he, “have any authority to impose their opinions or interpretations on any other, the meanest Christian; since, in matters of religion, every man must know, and believe, and give an account for himself.”  The rights of conscience are, indeed, beyond the just reach of any human power.  They are given by God, and cannot be encroached upon by human authority, without a criminal disobedience of the precepts of natural, as well as of revealed religion.

    §  991.    The real object of the amendment was, not to countenance, much less to advance Mahometanism, or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity; but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects, and to prevent any national ecclesiastical establishment, which should give to an hierarchy the exclusive patronage of the national government.  It thus sought to cut off the means of religious persecution, (the vice and pest of former ages,) and the power of subverting the rights of conscience in matters of religion, which had been trampled upon almost from the days of the Apostles to the present age.  The history of the parent country had afforded the most solemn warnings and melancholy instructions on this head; and even New-England, the land of the persecuted puritans, as well as other colonies, where the Church of England had maintained its superiority, had furnished a chapter, as full of dark bigotry and intolerance, as any, which could be found to disgrace the pages of foreign annals.  Apostacy, heresy, and nonconformity have been standard crimes for public appeals, to kindle the flames of persecution, and apologize for the most atrocious triumphs over innocence and virtue.

    §  992.    It was under a solemn consciousness of the dangers from ecclesiastical ambition, the bigotry of spiritual pride, and the intolerance of sects, thus exemplified in our domestic, as well as in foreign annals, that it was deemed advisable to exclude from the national government all power to act upon the subject.  The situation, too, of the different states equally proclaimed the policy, as well as the necessity, of such an exclusion.  In some of the states, episcopalians constituted the predominant sect; in others, presbyterians; in others, congregationalists; in others, quakers; and in others again, there was a close numerical rivalry among contending sects.  It was impossible, that there should not arise perpetual strife and perpetual jealousy on the subject of ecclesiastical ascendancy, if the national government were left free to create a religious establishment.  The only security was in extirpating the power.  But this alone would have been an imperfect security, if it had not been followed up by a declaration of the right of the free exercise of religion, and a prohibition (as we have seen) of all religious tests.   Thus, the whole power over the subject of religion is left exclusively to the state governments, to be acted upon according to their own sense of justice, and the state constitutions; and the Catholic and the Protestant, the Calvinist and the Arminian, the Jew and the Infidel, may sit down at the common table of the national councils, without any inquisition into their faith, or mode of worship.

More quotes and text available at belcherfoundation.org at http://www.belcherfoundation.org/joseph_story_on_church_and_state.htm

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Faith and the Law Top Five Lists on Atheism

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on February 28, 2010

Every week on the Faith and the Law television show we do a top five list. Here are some of my favorites on atheism.

Top Five Reasons Atheist Billboards Don’t Work

1) Freethinkers?  No comment. LOL. 🙂 

2) Hard time getting IRS to grant tax-exempt status as a charity organization. —

3) Like trying to convince people that air does not exist. Arguments are so insane that they are comical. —

4) Those all night “there is no God” telethons just aren’t raising the money.  —

5) In Sacramento alone $6400 a month for a billboard to convince people not to believe in God?  Am I missing something? 

 
TOP 5 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD NOT JOIN AN ATHEIST COLLEGE CLUB
 
1) For a college, one of the most ignorant groups on campus
 
2) Who wants to worship Darwin or have faith in junk science
 
3) Pepto-Bismol not help that empty feeling have inside
 
4) Too hard to answer your own prayers
 
5) “Eat, drink and be merry” t-shirts are a bit pricey.
 
 
TOP FIVE REASONS WHY ATHEISTS ARE JUST A MESS
 
1) ENOUGH OF THIS NONSENSE. OPEN YOUR EYES AND LOOK AT THE WONDERS OF CREATION AND THE HUMAN BODY. ARE YOU TELLING ME A GENERIC, NO NAME, ETHEREAL, VAGUE, UNDEFINED CONCEPT OR PROCESS BROUGHT THIS PERFECT CREATION INTO EXISTENCE FROM NOTHING? WHAT ARE YOU SMOKING?
 
2) GOD LOVES YOU MORE THAN ANY OF YOUR COLLEGE PROFESSORS OR FELLOW NON-BELIEVERS.
 
3) SIMPLY SUBSTITUTING THE WORD “NATURE” FOR GOD DOESN’T GET RID OF YOUR CREATOR
 
4) YOUR STAR TREK SPOCK LOGIC JUST IS NOT ENOUGH TO OUTSMART GOD.
 
5) WOW! A BUS-BILLBOARD CAMPAIGN TO TRY TO GET PEOPLE NOT TO BELIEVE IN GOD. WHAT WILL YOU THINK OF NEXT?

Posted in Faith Issues in Our Times, Tim's Blog | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Atheist group Freedom From Religion Foundation to meet in Seattle

Posted by faithandthelaw on February 28, 2010

By Janet I. Tu

Seattle Times staff reporter

The nonreligious, by the numbers

Americans claiming no religious group: 34 million — about 15 percent of the population

Americans identifying as atheist or agnostic: 3.6 million — about 1.6 percent of the population

Source: American Religious Identification Survey 2008

When some 600 atheists, agnostics and other nonreligious folks gather in Seattle starting Friday for a Freedom From Religion Foundation convention, there will be an emphatically nonprayer breakfast.

Not to mention hundreds of provocative bus ads, including one with Santa saying: “Yes, Virginia … there is no God.”

The ads may seem in-your-face to some. But the Wisconsin-based organization has never shied from controversy. It has filed lawsuits on state-church separation issues and sponsored “Imagine No Religion” and “Reason’s Greetings” billboards in Seattle, Olympia and other cities.

Last winter, it put up an anti-religion sign in the state Capitol building that raised a furor, eventually involving FOX News personality Bill O’Reilly and prompting thousands of phone calls to the governor’s office.

All that publicity resulted in more members for the foundation, said co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor, who noted this 32nd annual convention, running through Sunday, filled up faster than any in the organization’s history and is sold out.

But even as the visibility of the nonreligious has risen dramatically in the past several years, what’s also becoming more visible is the debate within the community about whether such aggressive tactics and hard-line anti-religion stances are the most effective.

Some go so far as to say, in discussions or newly released books, that religion has its good points.

Greg Epstein, humanist chaplain at Harvard University, has written a new book, “Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe.” It explores the lives of those who live with purpose and meaning without relying on religion.

But Epstein also acknowledges that “religion can provide humans with good things: congregation, community, an organized way to pursue that which is meaningful in life.”

Phil Zuckerman, associate professor of sociology at Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif., said people are beginning to see that the nonreligious community is just as diverse as the religious community. Both the moderate and hard-line voices are “being more vocal and out,” he says.

Zuckerman himself is involved in the debate. Self-described as a culturally Jewish agnostic, he’s working on a book about why people leave their faiths. He’s a member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation and will be speaking at the convention on “the Goodness of Godlessness.” But he also thinks religion can serve some good.

And he’s not a fan of an increasingly prevalent tactic used by some atheist groups to get their viewpoint across: bus ads and billboards.

Some among the nonreligious “find billboards are wonderful tools to change minds,” Zuckerman said. “Others are ashamed of them,” seeing them as “emulating what we don’t like about popular religion” — the marketing.

Besides, he wonders about the wisdom of keeping the focus on religion.

“Most people who self-designate as atheist are still engaged in the religious debate,” he says. “They still feel the need to argue about religion, debunk religion.” But there are many more people who are simply indifferent to religion or identify as spiritual but not religious.

The debate over tactics played out recently among Seattle Atheists, a 200-member group that will, coincidentally, also be running bus ads starting this week. Their first Metro bus-ad campaign this spring focused on putting a positive face on atheism. But this time around, most members wanted a stronger, more strident message, said president Paul Case.

Hence their newer ads will feature such quotes as this from Thomas Jefferson: “Religions are all alike — founded upon fables and mythologies.”

Gaylor says her foundation’s members — about 14,000 nationwide, including some 900 in Washington — are for the strong stance taken by the group.

“Our members don’t think religion is a good thing — overall it’s more bad than good,” she said. “And they feel they shouldn’t be stifled in saying that. … We need to be everywhere, just like religion, (or else) we let religion win by default.”

Among the speakers at the convention will be radio-show host Ron Reagan and author Ursula K. Le Guin. The event will be at the Red Lion Hotel in downtown Seattle.

And that nonprayer breakfast?

First, the breakfast speaker will explain: “‘You’ve all been to gatherings where you’ve been told to bow your heads and have a moment of silence. Well, here’s your chance to fight back,'” Gaylor said.

Then there will be a “moment of bedlam,” when members hoot, holler and tap on glasses, making as much noise as possible, she said. “People look forward to it.”

Courtesy of nwsource.com and the Seattle Times at http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2010195429_atheist04m.html?prmid=obnetwork

Faith and the Law Note: How little they really know about how wonderful God is and His awesome, loving nature. They need to pick up a copy of my book, “The Magnificent Goodness of God and How it Will Transform Your Life.” It will answer all their questions. Available at Amazon.com at  http://www.amazon.com/Magnificent-Goodness-Will-Transform-Your/dp/1615795154/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1267281139&sr=8-1   As God so aptly said in Psalms, our life without God is like a cup of sour milk. 

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Prophets of the New Atheism

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on February 28, 2010

By David Klinghoffer

Special to The Times

While the American cultural landscape includes many religions, it’s still fascinating to watch closely when we have the chance to observe a new faith being born. Consider, for example, a religious phenomenon that has been dubbed the “new atheism,” prominently represented by some bestselling books.

Can disbelief in God be considered “religious”? Sure. Just ask Zen Buddhists, who worship no deity. By religion, I mean any faith-based set of values that makes exclusive claims for its truth and explains the mysteries of the universe. Yes, atheism begins with a faith, namely that only material and physical (not spiritual) causes make the world run.

Two recent atheist gospels, by Richard Dawkins (“The God Delusion”) and Sam Harris (“Letter to a Christian Nation”), are the country’s top two bestsellers among “religion” books, according to Publishers Weekly. The books are outselling even a Christian megahit like Rick Warren’s “The Purpose-Driven Life.”

These leading lights contend that traditional religions are not only false, but dangerous and morally grotesque. The title of another hot atheist tract, by journalist Christopher Hitchens and forthcoming in May, says it all: “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.”

Who are the new atheists? While only 5.2 percent of Americans identify themselves as atheists, according to 2006 Baylor University polling data, it’s a privileged demographic category, disproportionately college-educated and affluent. Atheists tend to live on the West Coast or East Coast. In its polling sample, the Baylor study found not one atheist African American. Meanwhile, those of us from Jewish backgrounds are represented well out of proportion to our national numbers, with 8.3 percent rejecting belief in God.

You can see how influential atheism has become by noting how the media and academia deal with traditional faith. A recent New York Times Magazine cover story detailed the big debate among academic psychologists: Did God-centered religion evolve in prehistoric man as a useful adaptation or as a surprising byproduct of other evolutionary processes? The possibility that it developed in response to a living God was not considered.

The new religion has a scientific appeal, with orthodox evolutionary theory recruited to provide a rationalistic “proof” for atheist teaching. For this reason, Oxford University biologist Dawkins devotes the “central argument of [his] book” to an attempted refutation of intelligent design (ID), the alternative to neo-Darwinian evolution that has been spearheaded by Seattle’s Discovery Institute (where I work).

Unfortunately, Dawkins does not grapple with the latest arguments for intelligent design as formulated by their chief proponents. Harris is similarly preoccupied by ID, which evidently provoked the new atheism’s present evangelistic push.

Darwinism, of course, is hardly new. The novelty here lies in the new faith’s missionary fervor. Dawkins writes explicitly about making “converts.”

Another novelty: In the 18th and 20th centuries, respectively, the atheist French and Russian revolutions sought political power above all else, with terrifyingly violent results. Luckily, far from being politicians, the new atheists seek religious influence for its own sake.

Despite these novel features, in other ways the new atheism will be familiar to historians who have studied the trajectory of upstart faiths. A favorite strategy of such groups has long been to attack cartoon versions of older rival religions.

Dawkins, for his part, mocks the God of the Hebrew Bible as “arguably the most unpleasant character in fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

Such a wild caricature will be unrecognizable to any believer (like me) in the God of Israel. But Dawkins and Harris seem unfamiliar with religious tradition as biblical monotheists know it from personal experience and deep study. Frankly, the success of the new atheist faith would be hard to imagine without today’s soaring levels of societal religious illiteracy.

Which might sound like the new religion has a promising future. I doubt it. For one thing, God gives objective definition to our ideas of right and wrong, crucial for civilization. Equally important, he provides meaning to life itself.

Certainly, you can have an ethical individual atheist, an instinctively caring, generous person who happens to disbelieve in God. But an atheist society could not survive. It would first live on the fumes of ancient moral traditions. In the end, racked by despair at life’s apparent meaninglessness, its members would return to more nourishing faiths.

That’s what we see happening now in formerly communist Russia, with its Christian and Jewish revivals. The evaporation of atheist communism is a lesson worth pondering, and a sobering one, for the new atheists.

Courtesy of nwsource.com at http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/opinion/2003653502_klinghoffer06.html

Faith and the Law Note: The new atheists should tune into faith and the law for our weekly top five list. Here is a sample of some of the latest top five lists pertaining to atheists.

Top Five Reasons Atheist Billboards Don’t Work

1) Freethinkers?  No comment. LOL. 🙂 

2) Hard time getting IRS to grant tax-exempt status as a charity organization. —

3) Like trying to convince people that air does not exist. Arguments are so insane that they are comical. —

4) Those all night “there is no God” telethons just aren’t raising the money.  —

5) In Sacramento alone $6400 a month for a billboard to convince people not to believe in God?  Am I missing something? 

 
TOP 5 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD NOT JOIN AN ATHEIST COLLEGE CLUB
 

1) For a college, one of the most ignorant groups on campus.
 
2) Who wants to worship Darwin or have faith in junk science.
 
3) Pepto-Bismol not help that empty feeling have inside.
 
4) Too hard to answer your own prayers.
 
5) “Eat, drink and be merry” t-shirts are a bit pricey.

 
 
TOP FIVE REASONS WHY ATHEISTS ARE JUST A MESS
 
1) ENOUGH OF THIS NONSENSE. OPEN YOUR EYES AND LOOK AT THE WONDERS OF CREATION AND THE HUMAN BODY. ARE YOU TELLING ME A GENERIC, NO NAME, ETHEREAL, VAGUE, UNDEFINED CONCEPT OR PROCESS BROUGHT THIS PERFECT CREATION INTO EXISTENCE FROM NOTHING? WHAT ARE YOU SMOKING?
 
2) GOD LOVES YOU MORE THAN ANY OF YOUR COLLEGE PROFESSORS OR FELLOW NON-BELIEVERS.
 
3) SIMPLY SUBSTITUTING THE WORD “NATURE” FOR GOD DOESN’T GET RID OF YOUR CREATOR
 
4) YOUR STAR TREK SPOCK LOGIC JUST IS NOT ENOUGH TO OUTSMART GOD.
 
5) WOW! A BUS-BILLBOARD CAMPAIGN TO TRY TO GET PEOPLE NOT TO BELIEVE IN GOD. WHAT WILL YOU THINK OF NEXT?

Posted in Attack on Christianity, Faith Issues in Our Times | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Tony Perkins Disinvited to Military Prayer Breakfast

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on February 28, 2010

It looks like speaking out against the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell policy may have consequences. Just ask Tony Perkins.

The Brody File has learned that the Andrews Air Force base chaplain’s office rescinded their prayer luncheon invitation to Family Research Council President Tony Perkins just two days after Perkins criticized President Obama’s call for lifting restrictions on homosexuals in the military.

The National Prayer Luncheon takes place this Thursday Feb. 25 at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, D.C. The theme is “Getting Back to the Basics.” Perkins is an ordained minister and a Marine Corps veteran so he was asked to speak and accepted. He was planning to give a devotional message not a political one.

However, after President Obama called on Congress to lift restrictions on homosexuals serving in the military, Perkins forcefully spoke out against it. Two days later, Perkins got the letter from the Andrews Air Force Base chaplain’s office saying thanks, but no thanks — the invitation was stripped.

The letter referred to past statements by the Family Research Council, saying the group is “incompatible in our role as military members who serve our elected officials and our Commander in Chief.”

Tony Perkins calls it blacklisting and has this reaction:

“As one who took the oath to defend and protect our freedoms, I am disappointed that I’ve been denied the opportunity to speak to members of the military, in a non-political way, solely because I exercised my free speech rights in a different forum. It’s ironic that this blacklisting should occur because I called for the retention and enforcement of a valid federal statute.

I am very concerned, however, that this merely foreshadows the serious threat to religious liberty that would result from repeal of the current military eligibility law. Such legislation would not merely open the military to homosexuals. It would result in a zero-tolerance policy toward those who disapprove of homosexual conduct.

Military chaplains would bear the heaviest burden. Would their sermons be censored to prevent them from preaching on biblical passages which describe homosexual conduct as a sin? Would they remain free to counsel soldiers troubled by same-sex attractions about the spiritual and psychological resources available to overcome those attractions?

Any chaplain who holds to the millennia-old tradition of Judeo-Christian sexual morality could be denied promotion, or even be forced out of the military altogether understand the untenable situation that this creates for chaplains and the men and women in uniform. I urge Congress, the President, and the top leadership of our military to place the constitutional guarantee of religious liberty ahead of the fashionable political correctness of a special interest group.”

Perkins talked more about his reaction to this on Thursday’s The 700 ClubWatch that here.

Courtesy of CBN at http://blogs.cbn.com/thebrodyfile/archive/2010/02/24/exclusive-tony-perkins-disinvited-to-military-prayer-breakfast.aspx

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For the 1st time in US history, the church in the South is shrinking

Posted by faithandthelaw on February 27, 2010

Feb 25th, 2010 by J. D. Greear Print This Post

Guest Blogger: Mike McDaniel, Director of SendRDU

“Contextualizing the Gospel in the New South.” That’s the title for this year’s Advance Conference, April 26-27 in RDU. Last year we called for a resurgence of the local church. This year we’re focusing on the major issues that are standing in the way of that happening here in the South.

The South is changing. Urbanization and the vibrant growth of our cities have transformed the cultural landscape. Cities like RDU have become new centers of business and education, places where culture is being formed and made. And yet as our cities are advancing, the church is shrinking. For the first time in its history, the church in the South is declining at a rate faster than anywhere else in the country.

See for yourself. This map shows you where evangelical Christianity is growing in the U.S. (Pink indicates growth. Blue indicates decline).

Where the church is shrinking/growing in the U.S.

Where the church is shrinking/growing in the U.S.

And this isn’t just a problem in the cities, either. These changes are felt in small towns, where small town southern values are clashing with new urban postmodernity, and religion is often more prevalent than the gospel. There may be churches on every corner, but most are plateaued or declining to the point where they will be empty in 20 years.

As we stand at this critical turning point, we must be prepared to respond. We believe that the decline of the church is not due to external factors, but internal failures of the church to faithfully communicate the Gospel and engage the changing culture around us. That is the vision behind the title Contextualizing the Gospel in the New South. We want to equip pastors, lay leaders, and members to respond by engaging the changing culture of the South with the unchanging message of the gospel.

This year we’ve moved the conference to the Summit to be able to offer it the cheapest price possible. Right NOW you can get tickets for a ridiculously cheap early bird rate of $50.

Speakers include: Mark Driscoll, Ed Stetzer, Johnny Hunt, David Platt, Tullian Tchividjian, Matt Carter, J.D. Greear, et al

You can register at www.advancethechurch.com.

Courtesy of betweenthetimes.com at http://betweenthetimes.com/2010/02/25/advance-10-contextualizing-the-gospel-in-the-new-south/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+BetweenTheTimes+(Between+The+Times)&utm_content=Google+Reader

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Anthem wars

Posted by faithandthelaw on February 27, 2010

We’re certainly getting our fill of “The Star Spangled Banner” from the Winter Games, but a private college in Indiana will soon begin playing the National Anthem before sporting events for the first time.

The most solid coverage comes from the Goshen News and Associated Press. Here’s the AP take on how the college recently announced that it will begin play an instrumental version of the “Star Spangled Banner” before campus sporting events.

The decision to reverse the ban on the anthem is aimed at making students and visitors outside the faith feel more welcome, but it has roiled some at the 1,000-student college who feel the song undermines the church’s pacifist message and puts love for county above love for God.

Since college President Jim Brenneman announced the decision in January, more than 900 people have joined the Facebook group “Against Goshen College Playing National Anthem,” hundreds have signed an online petition protesting the move, and letters sent to administrators and the campus newspaper have overwhelmingly voiced opposition to the change.

I do wish reporters didn’t feel like they have to point to a Facebook page to make you feel like there’s tension involved. In a few years, it’ll come across as “OMG, look at the AOL chat forums that are forming.” In a column, Mark Tooley writes about a seemingly more substantial dissent from people outside of the college, including Duke University’s Stanley Hauerwas.

Even without a larger controversy, the story is still compelling. Other reporters should take note how reporter Carly Everson does a nice job of fitting the God vs. country ideas in a larger context.

Mennonites, whose church is rooted in a 16th-century movement in Europe known as Anabaptism, also believe singing a “hymn of allegiance” like the national anthem implies a deeper loyalty to country rather than to God, Roth said. However, Mennonite Church USA—which represents the largest and most mainstream group of Mennonites in the U.S.—does not specifically prohibit the anthem.

Goshen College officials say discussions about whether to change the policy began in September 2008 when the athletic department asked Brenneman to reconsider the school’s stance. Brenneman said the teams often bore the brunt of criticism about the policy because the anthem’s absence is most visible at sporting events, where it has become part of American culture.

Of course, colleges generally don’t overturn decades-old traditions for no reason. The reporter connects the decision to conservative talk show host Mike Gallagher, who featured the issue on his show. However, the reporter does not explain what was said on the show, so I suppose we’re supposed to guess?

Nevertheless, I’m glad the story is being covered because it involves ideas about higher education, love of country, love of God, and then where they fit in some hierarchy. I’d love to know whether other Mennonite high schools or college play the Star Spangled Banner or how they’ve resolved this issue. The Chronicle of Higher Education and Insider Higher Ed merely mention the hullabaloo, but where’s the substance from the higher ed pros?

Courtesy of getreligion.org at http://www.getreligion.org/?p=27403

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