Faithandthelaw's Blog

The law as it relates to Christians and their free exercise of religion

Archive for May, 2010

Some Things Are Worth Fighting For

Posted by faithandthelaw on May 31, 2010

By Tim Rowe

Memorial Day is a wonderful holiday full of family gatherings, outdoor activities and sporting events, but so often in the busyness of the holiday, the message and purpose of Memorial Day can escape us. Some things are worth fighting for. Most of us may never fully understand the sacrifice these men and women have made on the battlefield so that we can enjoy the blessings of liberty. Some of these soldiers were young men and women barely out of high school that made the ultimate sacrifice of their lives so that freedom could ring throughout our country. Many of these soldiers had wives, husbands and children at home, yet they chose to take up arms to defend our country against its enemies and paid the price with their precious lives. These brave soldiers gave up the special moments of life so we could live and breathe free. Many never saw the birth of their child, the memorable growth of their child, their child graduate from high school, or college or take the oath of marriage. Many never celebrated a wedding anniversary, enjoyed a new house or planned for retirement. There was an empty seat at so many special moments of life because some things are worth fighting for. These soldiers were thrust into a waging war far from home and with courage they faced the ultimate challenge before them. At times there heart was lonely crying out for home and their family. At times they were scared as bullets whizzed by them and they had to fight against a fercious and relentless enemy who continued to attack them day after day after day. But some things are worth fighting for. I try in my mind to fathom such a sacrifice, but I was not on the battlefield, not in the trenches, not in enemy territory and not in the waging war. In the comfort and routine of our lives, we so often forget and do not honor these men and women who answered the call and ran into battle only to lose their lives. Some things are worth fighting for. I think of the words of our Lord in the gospel of John;

John 15:13

Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life

for his friends.

What love of country, what love of Americans, what love of liberty that drives a man or woman to lay down his life for their friends. What an incredible sacrifice, but some things are worth fighting for. These men and women understood duty and honor to their country, They understood bravery and courage in the face of the most difficult challenges and circumstances. They chose to march forward often while we slept so that we could remain free. Freedom is not free. It has a cost. The blood of these young and old warriors throughout the history of America has been a banner of honor to this country since its beginnings. Let us take a moment this Memorial Day to reflect on the ultimate sacrifice of these men and women and thank God that they believed in duty, honor and courage to their country. We would not have the United States of America without you. Thank you that you had the vision to realize that there is some things worth fighting for. Let us hope that you never died in vain for we still remain free and we live in the greatest country in the world. Let us never forget the men and women who died so we could be free in this country to have life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Let the words of General Douglas Macarthur ring true today:

“It is my earnest hope – indeed the hope of all mankind – that from this solemn occasion a better world shall emerge out of the blood and carnage of the past, a world found upon faith and understanding, a world dedicated to the dignity of man and the fulfillment of his most cherished wish for freedom, tolerance and justice.”

God bless America and God bless the families of all those who made such an incredible sacrifice.

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Pro-life Activists to Challenge Planned Parenthood Ban on the First Amendment in Washington, D.C.

Posted by faithandthelaw on May 31, 2010

WASHINGTON, May 28 /Christian Newswire/ —  Planned Parenthood has put up a fence around public property and threatened to arrest  members of the pro-life community who attempt to pray and counsel on the public sidewalk and property.
 
(See Pictures here.)
 
For years, people were allowed to pray, counsel and maintain a pro-life witness on the public property and sidewalk surrounding Planned Parenthood.
 
The Christian Defense Coalition has applied for a permit to hold a prayer vigil on the public sidewalk leading to the entrance of  Planned Parenthood.

The date for that prayer vigil is, Tuesday, June 8 at 11:00 A.M. at Planned Parenthood 1108 16th Street NW in Washington, D.C.
 
The activists would rather risk arrest than surrender their First Amendment rights and they want to make it clear they will not be bullied into silence.
 
Sadly, the actions of Planned Parenthood show they have no respect for the law, the First Amendment or social justice.
 
The activists are being represented by the American Center for Law and Justice.
 
For more information or interviews call:
 
Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney at 540.538.4741   202.547.1735

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Should Christians Be on Facebook?

Posted by faithandthelaw on May 30, 2010

By R.C. Sproul Jr.

I sometimes wonder if the devil doesn’t take great pleasure in irony, in watching us turn ourselves inside out while missing the point. While I am on Facebook, and therefore at least hold to a tentative conviction that such is allowable for Christians, there are any number of reasons to raise concerns over it. Privacy and the lack thereof, however, would likely be the last one I would raise. With Facebook’s very public and controversial announcement of its change in policy with respect to privacy, that, however, is what has many Christians concerned. How, I wonder, can a person take a technology that exists to say to the watching world, “Here I am. Come see about me” complain that the world is coming to see about them? Anyone who wishes more privacy can find such easily enough. Don’t use Facebook. If you already do, stop. We are in a moral uproar for all the wrong reasons. We are aghast at the owners of Facebook for daring to change their policy (which, remember, the original policy held out as at their discretion) rather than being appalled at ourselves for implicitly breaking the 8th Commandment. We think because we are a user of Facebook that such makes us an owner of Facebook, and so demand this and demand that from the real owners.

That said, here are some very real concerns I have about Facebook. First, has it become a god to us? When God commands that we have no other god’s before Him He doesn’t mean ranked higher than Him, but rather He means in His presence. If Facebook is too needful for you, you may need to stop. Second, has it become a graven image? Have you confused its reality with real reality? Do you really think you have 200 friends? Third, have you taken the Lord’s name in vain? That is, have you, in weaker moments, put a bad face publicly on your Christian witness? Are you laughing at your old sins with that old buddy from college or high school?

Fourth, is Facebook giving me the peace of the Lord, or agitating me? (And please note the very real difference between that peace that passes understanding and that “peace” we receive when we feed a habit, when we get a fix.) Am I jumpy when I don’t get to log on? Am I more keyed up after I’ve logged off? Fifth, am I honoring those in authority over me? Wives, are you failing to honor your husbands because you’re too busy reading about your friends? Children, are you failing to honor your parents because you’re too busy sending flair?

Sixth, is this technology honoring to life? The cyberworld can be a barren wasteland, not because it is filled with pornography and gambling, but because it isn’t real, because it is Gnostic. Seventh, are you loving your spouse on Facebook? Is the rush of nostalgia from finding long lost friends encouraging you to be dissatisfied? Are you secretly looking for that old girlfriend? Are you already caught up in adultery simply by wishing you could be sixteen again? Or do you not know that Facebook can all too easily devolve into relational pornography? The allure of porn is that you think you can have the joys of the sexual union without having to have a real relationship with a real person. The allure of Facebook is much the same. Eighth, are you stealing from your employer by not giving a full days work because you are moonlighting at Farmville, or as a Mafia Don? Or, simply because you are spending your hours at work at play?

Ninth, are you lying? That is, is the you you present on Facebook the real you? This technology has an insidious capacity to both hide reality and fool us into thinking we are both showing and seeing it. Why are our updates all about our victories- I just made cookies for the family; My son just hit the game winning home run; rather than our failures- I just shouted at my little girl; I left my computer on the airplane and it’s gone? Keep a particularly close eye on this one. And tenth, is Facebook encouraging contentment or resentment? Are you coveting your neighbor’s friend count? Are you jealous of how many “likes” there are for his posts compared to yours? And are you content with the real life you are shutting out while hunched over your keyboard?

Please don’t misunderstand this little thought experiment. I suspect we could walk through the Ten Commandments in light of our church, and find many of the same temptations. That doesn’t mean you should stay away from church. It does mean we ought to be deliberate enough to know what we are doing, and why we are doing it. And deliberate begins by affirming that our own hearts are not just desperately wicked, but deceitful as well. We don’t need to protect our privacy. We need instead to expose our sins to the light, the light of Scripture that we might repent and believe, that His face might shine upon us.

Courtesy of http://www.ligonier.org/blog/should-christians-be-facebook/

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Law Professor Faces Attacks over Prayer at Texas Board of Education Meeting

Posted by faithandthelaw on May 30, 2010

Cynthia Dunbar, assistant professor of law at Liberty University School of Law, caught national media attention last week as the Texas State Board of Education convened to adopt new social studies standards that will impact textbooks on a national level.

As a board member, she delivered an opening prayer at the May 21 meeting that referenced our foundation as a “Christian land governed by Christian principles” and our forefathers as Bible believers. Her prayer immediately sparked negative reports from several media outlets and organizations who purported she had used the prayer to boost her political stance.

But what her accusers did not know was that the prayer she delivered was not her own words; she revealed later in the day that she had simply read the same words that the late Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren used during a prayer breakfast in 1954 (see the full prayer below). Warren, who oversaw cases such as Brown v. Board of Education and Sherbert v. Verner, was actually considered to be on the left side of the political spectrum at the time.

“This is a huge story in that it exposes the bias of the liberal media and organizations that blasted me for saying ‘Christian land governed by Christian principles,’” Dunbar said. “These were not my words, but C.J. Earl Warren’s. TFN [Texas Freedom Network], a horribly liberal organization, tried to save face by saying that I had made a mockery out of religion. I beg to differ; I think the only thing of which I made a mockery were liberal organizations such as TFN, that simply do not know our nation’s history.”

After the invocation, TFN, which calls itself “the mainstream voice to counter the religious right,” exposed its far-left leanings in an article against Dunbar’s prayer, saying, “Even before the Texas State Board of Education took up its expected debate today over what students will learn about separation about church and state in their social studies classrooms, board member Cynthia Dunbar (R-Richmond) made her position clear. She offered the board’s opening prayer this morning and removed any doubt about what she and other far-right board members want students to learn: America’s laws and government should be based on the Christian Bible.” According to TFN, Dunbar laid out “in blunt language the ‘Christian nation’ vision of American history that the board’s powerful bloc of social conservatives espouses.” TFN pulled its original release from its website after it learned Dunbar’s words were not her own.

Later in the meeting, the board approved more conservative social studies and history curriculum, which, among other things, requires that students have a better understanding of their First Amendment freedoms contrasted with the misuse of separation of church and state. The efforts leading up to these highly publicized meetings were covered on Huckabee, Lou Dobbs and other shows creating opinions both nationally and internationally.

Dunbar came to Liberty in the fall as a visiting professor of law. She was elected to the Texas State Board of Education in 2006 to serve a four-year term through Dec. 31, 2010. This position is one of national importance as Texas often sets the national standard for public school textbooks. Her district encompasses 16 counties with approximately 1.5 million constituents. She will not seek re-election. 

  • Cynthia Dunbar appeared on CBN Newschannel’s morning program Monday, May 24, to discuss the board’s decision and the role of Christianity in U.S history. View the interview here. She has also appeared on FOX News’ “FOX & Friends” discussing the textbook issue.

Opening Prayer at the Texas State Board of Education Meeting
May 21, 2010

      Most gracious Heavenly Father, we come before you today and ask that you grant to us
     The ability to not be anxious for the Future;
     Wisdom and understanding for the Day;
     and Hearts of gratitude for the Past.
     As we look to our Past to guide us, let us reflect on the convictions of those who have gone before us.
   “I believe no one can read the history of our country without realizing that the Good Book and the Spirit of the Saviour have from the beginning been our guiding geniuses…whether we look to the first Charter of Virginia…or to the Charter of New England…or to the Charter of Massachusetts Bay…or to the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut…the same objective is present: a Christian land governed by Christian principles.
   I believe the entire Bill of Rights came into being because of the knowledge our forefathers had of the Bible and their belief in it: freedom of belief, of expression, of assembly, of petition, the dignity of the individual, the sanctity of the home, equal justice under law and the reservation of powers to the people.

    … I like to believe we are living today in the spirit of the Christian religion. I like also to believe that as long as we do so, no great harm can come to our country.”

Chief Justice Earl Warren
Prayer Breakfast, Mayflower Hotel, Feb. 1954

All this I pray in the name of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen.
 

Courtesy of http://www.liberty.edu/news/index.cfm?PID=18495&MID=19174

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Atheist Summer Camps For Children and Teenagers?

Posted by faithandthelaw on May 30, 2010

News out of Great Britain indicates that Richard Dawkins, perhaps the world’s most famous living atheist, is setting up a summer camp intended to help children and teenagers adopt atheism. As The Times [London] reports: “Give Richard Dawkins a child for a week’s summer camp and he will try to give you an atheist for life.”

The camp, based upon an American precursor, is to be financially subsidized by Dawkins. According to media reports, all 24 places at the camp have been taken.

AsLois Rogers of The Times reports:

Budding atheists will be given lessons to arm themselves in the ways of rational scepticism. There will be sessions in moral philosophy and evolutionary biology along with more conventional pursuits such as trekking and tug-of-war. There will also be a £10 prize for the child who can disprove the existence of the mythical unicorn.

The organizers of the camp are doing everything possible to emulate more traditional summer camps, generally organized by Christian groups or venerable organizations such as the Boy Scouts. Campers are to learn about evolution even as they go canoeing and swimming. Like their counterparts at Christian camps, these campers will sing songs around the campfire. As might be expected, the songs will be quite different.  “Instead of singing Kumbiya and other campfire favourites, they will sit around the embers belting out ‘Imagine there’s no heaven . . . and no religion too.’”

Camp Quest, established in the United States in 1996, has now expanded to six locations. While its numbers are small in terms of attendance, especially as compared to more traditional camps, the camps for atheists receive a good deal of media attention.

In this light, it appears that this announcement hardly adds to the reputation of Richard Dawkins. In the parlance of American popular culture, he appears to have “jumped the shark.” As this phrase indicates, some figures in the public eye become something like parodies of themselves. In this case, the recently retired Oxford University professor has thrown his public reputation behind an effort that appears to be profoundly unserious when it comes to reaching the masses. If Richard Dawkins is really so concerned to support atheism, it hardly seems that a summer camp limited to 24 children and teenagers represents a bold advance for his cause.

In recent months, Dawkins has spent his personal credibility on a project to put atheistic messages on London buses and, now, on this very small experiment in a secularist camp for children. The bus advertisement campaign became something of a joke, with the signs declaring only the claimed probability that there is no God. Londoners seemed more bemused than persuaded. Now, Professor Dawkins lends both his name and his financial support to an atheistic summer camp that will teach evolution to children by day and teach them to sing the songs of John Lennon by night. The Boy Scouts should not fear the competition.

At a deeper level, the existence of this camp in Great Britain and its sister camps in the United States indicates something of the intellectual insecurity of contemporary atheism and agnosticism. The effort to create a religion-free zone for summer camp makes for an interesting news story in the media, but it is not likely to draw the masses.

What comes after atheistic bus signs and a secularist summer camp? Time, as they say, will tell.

Courtesy of http://www.albertmohler.com/2009/06/30/richard-dawkins-jumps-the-shark/

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Join Me at the North American Christian Conference in Indianapolis July 6th-9th

Posted by faithandthelaw on May 29, 2010

I will have an exhibitor’s booth set up for Goodness of God Ministries selling my book “The Magnificent Goodness of God and How it Will Transform Your Life” at the North American Christian Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana July 6th through July 9th. We will also be talking about Faith and the Law. It will be a great time. Here is a promotional video for the event.

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Assault on Christianity Through the Overused and Unconstitutional Concept of Separation of Church and State

Posted by faithandthelaw on May 29, 2010

There is an assault going on — and the liberal social engineers have declared that Christians are the enemy. Amidst their cries of “diversity” and “tolerance” it has become fashionable to bash Christians, discriminate against them, and to deny the Christian roots of American democracy.

They resent how Christians pose constant reminders to them — and to an American society that is unsure about following them — that God has absolute standards of right and wrong.

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. [John 3:19-20]

These anti-Christian Socialist liberals want to achieve a new, Godless America where our children will be protected from outmoded Christian ideas and will enjoy freedom “from” religion – not freedom “of” religion.

Socialists throughout our government have made it clear that the foundations, the roots that have undergirded this nation are no longer considered valid.

“We are redefining in practical terms the immutable ideals that have guided us from the beginning.” – President Bill Clinton, Nov. 8, 1997

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

Make no mistake about it… these hate filled anti-American enemies of your family will not give up their evil schemes until your children are destroyed. They do not respect God’s definition of the family and are intent on discrediting His wisdom in raising children as they attempt to rewrite His guidelines for morality.

As the balance of power continues to swing towards a Godless agenda, Americans will be increasingly forced to adopt a new perspective of who we are: one based not on immutable ideals and values, truth, justice, personal freedom and the Constitution of the United States, rather one based on relative values, deceit, unequal justice, Marxism and a redefined globalist Constitution.

These social liberals believe man has the only answers for himself. They think that perhaps a new, man-made spirituality eventually may be useful in managing the populace — but frankly would prefer that it not be a moralistic religion with rules or absolute right and wrong. They certainly do not want the new society they are molding to hang onto any “biased” religion that proclaims Jesus Christ is the Only Way (John 14:6) or that all men and women are called by their Creator to have a warm, personal relationship with Him. We Christians irritate these social liberals when we proclaim the truth of God’s liberating love. We infuriate them when we remind them of our Lord’s true and steadfast faithfulness.

For those who know the Bible, this does not surprise us because Jesus told us…

“All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” [Matthew 10:22]

The Leftist social liberals supported by the Godless ACLU continue to harangue on the “separation of church and state” as justification for eliminating religious issues from public view.

The phrase “Separation of Church and State” has been bandied about for so long that many Americans believe that it is actually in the Constitution. In fact, those three words appear nowhere in the Constitution.

Oblivious to the irrelevance of their arguments, and at the same time refusing to acknowledge that no document of state, let alone the Constitution, has ever proposed such a concept, those on the Left have tried to convince the American people that our founding documents warned of the dangers of mixing politics and religion.

In the absence of Constitutional evidence, the mere opinion of private individuals or groups that there should be absolute separation of church and state hardly creates a ‘great American principle’. They have thus misled millions and worked against the public interest by damaging the commitment to ethics and moral values that come only through religious belief.

It must be remembered that neutrality is impossible. Some authority, whether it be God or man, is used as the reference point for all enacted laws. If a political system rejects one authority, it adopts another. If a biblical moral system is not being legislated, then an immoral system is being legislated. Any moral system that does not put Jesus Christ at its center, denies Christ:

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other…” [Matthew 6:24]

“He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters” [Matthew 12:30]

“Our standard of right is that eternal law which God proclaimed from Sinai, and which Jesus expounded on the Mount. We recognize our responsibility to Jesus Christ. He is Head over all things to the Church, and the nation that will not serve Him is doomed to perish” [James Henley Thornwell, The Collected Writings of James Henley Thomwell, Vol. IV, p. 517f.]

It was never the purpose of the Constitution to give religious content to the nation, rather, the Constitution was an instrument whereby already existing religious values of the nation could be protected and perpetuated.

  • In response to a request that all reference to religion be removed from government, the House Judiciary Committee Report March 3, 1854 said:

“Had the people, during the Revolution, had any suspicion of any attempt to war against Christianity, the Revolution would have been strangled in the cradle. At the time of the adoption of the Constitution and the Amendments, the universal sentiment was that Christianity should be encouraged, not any one sect. In this age there can be no substitute for Christianity. That was the religion of the founders of the republic, and they expected it to remain the religion of their descendants. The great vital and conservative element in our system is the doctrines and divine truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

  • John Quincy Adams, sixth president of the United States, said:

“The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.”

The First Amendment

The assault on America’s religious underpinnings is based on a distorted interpretation of the establishment and free-exercise clauses of the First Amendment.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”

Only a lawyer could claim not to understand the plain meaning of those words.

The Supreme Court has taken Jefferson’s “separation” clause (divorced from Jefferson’s own explanation of the phrase) and used it to create a new, and completely arbitrary, interpretation of the First Amendment.

In 1947, with the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Everson v. Board of Education, Justice Hugo Black construed the First Amendment in a more restrictive fashion, giving an absolute definition of the First Amendment Establishment Clause which went well beyond the original intent of the framers of the United States Constitution and paved the way for future cases that would further restrict religious expression in American public life. This ruling declares that any aid or benefit to religion from governmental actions is unconstitutional. As Justice Black said: “The First Amendment has erected a wall between church and state. That wall must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach.”

Hardly what Thomas Jefferson meant or what the constitution guaranteed!
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” had always meant that Congress was prohibited from establishing a national religious denomination, that Congress could not require that all Americans become Catholics, Anglicans, or members of any other denomination.

This understanding of “separation of church and state” was applied not only during the time of the Founders, but for 170 years afterwards. James Madison (1751-1836) clearly articulated this concept of separation when explaining the First Amendment’s protection of religious liberty. He said that the First Amendment to the Constitution was prompted because “The people feared one sect might obtain a preeminence, or two combine together, and establish a religion to which they would compel others to conform.”

The complete and radical disassociation between Christianity and the State that is sometimes advocated now is not what they had in mind. It’s clear that they had seen entirely too many religious wars and religious tyrannies in Europe, and thus that they did want to make sure that no specific church or creed had authority over the State.

Recognizing their failure to win their arguments on fact, the lastest tactic among liberals is simply to deny the very documents that contain the facts.

Schools and courthouses in eastern Kentucky are removing their displays of historical documents – including the Mayflower Compact, an excerpt from the Declaration of Independence, the national motto, “In God we trust”, and the preamble to the state’s constitution – to comply with an order from Federal District Judge Jennifer Coffman, who said the displays are a violation of the First Amendment. [Dr. Billy James Hargis, Christian Crusade, June 2000]

When the First Amendment was passed it only had two purposes.

  1. There would be no established, national church for the united thirteen states. To say it another way: there would be no “Church of the United States.” The government is prohibited from setting up a state religion, such as Britain has, but no barriers will be erected against the practice of any religion. Thomas Jefferson’s famous “wall of separation” between church and state comment was made in a letter to a group of Baptist clergymen January 1, 1802 in Danbury, Connecticut, who feared the Congregationalists Church would become the state-sponsored religion. Jefferson assured the Danbury Baptist Association that the First Amendment guaranteed that there would be no establishment of any one denomination over another. It was never intended for our governing bodies to be “separated” from Christianity and its principles. The “wall” was understood as one directional; its purpose was to protect the church from the state. The world was not to corrupt the church, yet the church was free to teach the people Biblical values. It keeps the government from running the church but makes sure that Christian principles will always stay in government.
  2. The second purpose of the First Amendment was the very opposite from what is being made of it today. It states expressly that government should not impede or interfere with the free practice of religion. The purpose of the separation of church and state in American society is not to exclude the voice of religion from public debate, but to provide a context of religious freedom where the insights of each religious tradition can be set forth and tested. As Justice Douglas wrote for the majority of the Supreme Court in the United States vs. Ballard case in 1944: The First Amendment has a dual aspect. It not only “forestalls compulsion by law of the acceptance of any creed or the practice of any form of worship” but also “safeguards the free exercise of the chosen form of religion.” The First Amendment was a safe-guard so that the State can have no jurisdiction over the Church. Its purpose was to protect the Church, not to disestablish it.

In the current debate over the separation of church and state, the choices sometimes lean too extreme on both sides. At one extreme are those who want to use the State as a vehicle to enforce their brand of Christian ideas on everyone. At the other extreme are those who say the Founding Fathers would have wanted a situation where one can’t mention God in any publicly sponsored forum, for fear of having the State appear to support religion. Somehow, between alternating volleys of quotations from devout Founding Fathers and anti-clerical quotations from Tom Paine, we’ve got to find a better approach.

Important Historical Documents

Courtesy of http://www.jeremiahproject.com/culture/ch_state.html

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Prayer is Always Subversive; In New England Especially So

Posted by faithandthelaw on May 29, 2010

This is a letter from one Roland Smith to the editors of The Rutland Herald:

Last fall a student of Fair Haven Union High School received permission from the principal to hold a “National Day of Prayer at the Flag Pole” event, which was attended by a number of students, staff and adults.

The students were very enthused with the results and asked the principal if they could continue once a week with these meetings. They have been meeting every Wednesday morning all through the winter, rain or shine, and have been faithfully praying for God’s presence in the school and in the lives of the students, for the nation and children in Sudan, etc.

Several weeks ago students participating were brought into the principal’s office, told there was a complaint, and that they could no longer continue and that adults should not have joined, although this was originally approved. Thinking that the adults were the main concern, they met again for prayer at the pole without them. They were again brought into the office one or two at a time with the principal and superintendent and told they could no longer continue. It seems the superintendent was concerned that some other group might want to use the area around the pole and the school would have to let them. The students asked to speak to the School Board. A meeting was held May 17.

At that meeting, the board and superintendent were asked if this action was precipitated by a complaint. They would not give a straight yes-or-no answer to this simple question and told the students it was irrelevant, saying it was a matter of policy and safety and offered the students a room to pray in out of sight.

Mind you, these students have been praying since last fall with no concerns or safety issues. Two days before the meeting a car wash was held in the same general area with adult participation.

It was quite obvious to everyone in attendance at this meeting (about 30 students and adults) that this action was precipitated by a complaint, which makes it a religious issue and not a safety issue, a reality the superintendent and the School Board want to avoid, but the truth is the truth.

It is a sad day when the students at FHUHS are going through a civil exercise to ask for their rights under the Constitution of America and the top educator in our system and the School Board can’t give an honest answer to a simple question.

It is also a sad day when the constitutional rights of people in this country are denied because they are Christians. These students now pray on a lawn next to the school. I pray for the day they can return to school property by the flag pole, a symbol of our freedom and our great nation.

ROLAND SMITH

If you click on the article link and peruse the comments, you will get a taste of the flavor of the community conversation on this kind of issue.

A personal note before I comment on this story: Roland Smith is a friend of mine. He’s a great guy with a fantastic testimony — he used to be the biggest drug dealer in Fair Haven, Vermont until Jesus hijacked him, and now he pastors a church there — and I love him.

Public prayer is always a subversive act. I don’t care if you’re in the churchgoer-thick of the Bible Belt or the post-Christendom wasteland of New England: praying to the Triune God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and John the Baptist in public announces to everyone that Jesus is King and our “Caesars” are not. It announces that our governmental Caesars are not sovereign and the great Caesar of Self — or the great “Pope Self,” if you prefer Luther’s twist — are not sovereign. This is a subversive act. Increasingly so in every part of the Western world.

But especially so here in the Northeast.

This means that push-back on public prayer should not surprise us. You can claim your rights and freedoms all you want; the second you declare there is a God who is sovereign over all and that his Son is the only Way to eternal life, even if you’re doing it with your eyes shut, head bowed, and mouth shut, you are telling anybody who disagrees not only that they’re wrong, but that they’re deadly wrong. And people don’t like that.

But push-back on public prayer should not deter us.

I do think American evangelicals conflate too often Christianity with American patriotism, which leads to wanting to fight battles the New Testament gives us no directive to fight. I don’t know exactly where Rev. Smith is going with his final words, but the American flag is no talisman for prayer. Your prayer doesn’t need it to reach God and your prayer doesn’t need it to offend unbelievers. (In many cases, I would think it would be an unnecessary offense. Why insist on the flag? Just persist in prayer.)

That said, telling kids they can’t pray of their own accord outside of class time at school, whenever it goes to court, has always been ruled unconstitutional. If they want to make a rule, they should make a “no loitering” rule around the flag pole for everybody. But telling kids not to loiter in gathering places at the school they’re supposed to be at by law is nonsensical.

I think the kids have the right to pray publicly. I just wish Christians wouldn’t put so much passion into prayer being recognized by the government. I think we can actually harm our witness by constantly crying about our rights and trying to throw our rapidly diminishing weight around. The Church isn’t growing in China b/c the government recognizes it and gives it freedom to do whatever it wants.

But of course that doesn’t mean restrictions on religious freedoms are okay or that we shouldn’t say anything about them.

Nevertheless the push-back on public prayer should not hurt us.

Prayer is recognized by the sovereign God of the Universe. That is sufficient.

Courtesy of http://gospeldrivenchurch.blogspot.com/2010/05/prayer-is-always-subversive-in-new.html

Posted in Attack on Christianity, Faith Issues in Our Times, Religious Freedom | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Don’t be Deceived: Evolution Can Never Explain the Beginnings of the Universe

Posted by faithandthelaw on May 28, 2010

We’ve written on evolution and beginnings for a while now, but the discussion doesn’t change much; debates over side issues continues to occur, while the foundations rarely receive much attention. For a sadly humorous read, find out what happens when evolutionary data1 is asked to be supplied, just about everything but scientific evidence for foundations pops up.

If overwhelming evidence and support for evolution proves it as fact, someone should be able to supply peer-reviewed, experimental data for the following (after all, evolution can’t begin, let alone complete, unless all four are true). We’ll give a tongue-in-cheek summary of the theory of beginnings and evolution, and then in parentheses give the scientific principle requiring experimental data.

  1. First there was nothing (matter comes from nothing).
  2. And then it exploded (explosions produce order. Mythbusters would have fun with this one).
  3. From the goo, to the zoo (abiogenesis — life comes from non-life. Another one for Mythbusters).
  4. To you (new species evolve from mutations).

If you don’t have all four of those, evolution doesn’t work. Period. Yet where are the scientific studies for those four items?

Remember the movie “Apollo 13” where Tom Hanks argues with his fellow astronauts about what needs to be done to get back to earth? Hanks states they’re arguing about step 2,214 while they’re on step two. That’s the way evolution “science” works; evolution attempts to ignore first steps and instead build their building without a foundation beginning on the 13th floor — with nothing but air under it supporting it.

But it’s not science–what experimental data exists for the foundation? Science should follow the following procedure, known as the scientific method:

  1. Observation and description of a phenomenon or group of phenomena.
  2. Formulation of an hypothesis to explain the phenomena. In physics, the hypothesis often takes the form of a causal mechanism or a mathematical relation.
  3. Use of the hypothesis to predict the existence of other phenomena, or to predict quantitatively the results of new observations.
  4. Performance of experimental tests of the predictions by several independent experimenters and properly performed experiments. http://teacher.pas.rochester.edu/phy_labs/appendixe/appendixe.html

Here’s how it (should) work—let’s pick abiogenesis (life springs from non-life). First, observe it. Hmmm, in trouble right there, no observations (perhaps in some college dorm-room refrigerator—“When potato salad goes bad”, but we digress). Struck out on the first pitch. But suppose it had been observed, then make a hypothesis (guess) as to how it happened. Then, make predictions, and finally test the hypothesis via experiment (reproducing it in the lab).

Wow. Doesn’t look like much “science” has occurred with abiogenesis. It’s still from the goo to the zoo to you … without any science. Without repeatable, verifiable, published and peer-reviewed experiments it’s not science! Evolution might be entertaining as philosophy perhaps, but definitely not science as it fails to follow the scientific method; first steps in evolution must be taken on faith as they lack data using … drum-roll please … the scientific method! It’s by definition unscientific.

Thus, we’re putting this discussion (you can still read articles on evolution2) on the back burner until they … you know, actually have science behind them we can discuss. If anyone has actual science for those foundational principles, please leave a comment so we can research them (please cite the journal/book/research paper, experiments, results, people involved, and dates so it’s easier to look up).

Philosophy might be interesting, but it’s not science.

CASE CLOSED.

Courtesy of http://www.dyeager.org/post/2010/05/evolution-beginnings-universe-case-closed

Posted in Tim's Blog | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

Arizona Pastor’s Worry: Criminalization of Ministry Work

Posted by faithandthelaw on May 28, 2010

A Phoenix-based youth pastor is worried that his ministry could face legal troubles under Arizona’s new immigration law.

“We don’t ask people for their documents to come hear about Jesus,” said Ian Danley, youth pastor at Neighborhood Ministries, during a conference call with immigration reform advocates Wednesday afternoon.

The evangelical pastor said regular ministry work, such as driving teens to worship events, could be “criminalized” under the new Arizona law if a church worker knowingly transports youths who are illegally residing in the United States.

“The local community here feels under attack,” Danley said. “Recent high school graduates in my youth group are looking at what should be a bright future with little hope.”

Danley was among a group of Christian leaders, businessman, researcher, and policy experts that spoke during the Conservatives for Comprehensive Immigration Reform conference call. The leaders updated participants on how the Arizona immigration law has affected local residents and the national public opinion about comprehensive immigration reform, and how members of Congress feel about taking up the issue.

In April, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed SB1070 – an immigration bill seeking the toughest laws against illegal immigrants in the nation.

Under the legislation, immigrants in Arizona are required to carry their alien registration documents at all times or face possible arrest. State police are given the power to interrogate, arrest and charge people suspected of illegally entering the country. And people are prohibited from knowingly transporting illegal immigrants.

Christian groups and leaders across the political and theological spectrum have strongly denounced the new Arizona law.

Earlier in May, conservative evangelical leaders – including Southern Baptist leader Richard Land, National Association of Evangelicals president Leith Anderson, and Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver – endorsed an ad published in “Roll Call” urging Congress to pass immigration reform.

Faith communities throughout the nation – soon after Arizona passed its new immigration law – held prayer vigils to call on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

Presently, as many as 17 states are considering to pass Arizona-type immigration law.

“We sympathize with so many who are frustrated in Arizona. But the solution is not piecemeal enforcement that targets Latino,” said the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. “We need a better solution to make us all safe.”

To Republican lawmakers, Rodriguez said true conservatism is not preserving the white majority but propagating the ideas of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

According to a recent national survey by Public Religion Research Institute, 56 percent of the American public oppose efforts to deport illegal immigrants back to their home countries. The survey also found that three-quarters of Americans agree that, given the opportunity, illegal immigrants would work hard to earn a chance at citizenship.

Courtesy of http://www.christianpost.com/article/20100526/ariz-youth-pastor-worries-work-could-be-criminalized/index.html

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