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

Archive for September, 2010

Teen Banned from Libraries Over Ignoring Requests to Quit Proselytizing

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on September 29, 2010

COLUMBUS, Ga. — A 16-year-old boy has been banned from all branches of the Chattahoochee Valley Regional Library system for six months for proselytizing.

According to a letter from Kirsten Edwards, acting manager of the North Columbus Public Library, Caleb Hanson repeatedly asked patrons “about their religious faith and to offer biblical advice.”

Caleb received the letter through his parents, Tim and Elizabeth Hanson, who are in Columbus on furlough from mission work.

He said he was given several warnings, since June, from the library on Britt David Road.

“At first (library employees) warned me not to do it,” he said. “Then they took me into an office and told me not to do it.”

He said he then began talking to people outside the library, and patrons continued to complain.

Claudya Muller, the director of the Chattahoochee Valley Regional Library system, said the ban “had nothing to do with what he was saying, but he was warned multiple times. … As people came in, he would approach them. He prevented people from simply using the library.”

In addition to the North Columbus branch, the system includes the Columbus, South Columbus, Mildred L. Terry, Cusseta-Chattahoochee, Lumpkin, Marion County and Parks Memorial public libraries. The ban was effective Aug. 28.

Caleb’s parents are ministers outside the United States. They are living with Elizabeth’s parents, Raymond and Janet Jacobs, who are retired missionaries.

Caleb is home-schooled and attends First Assembly of God in Phenix City, where he’s active in the youth group. He is the youngest of four children.

Last year, “he had a real encounter with the Lord and he wanted to witness for the Lord,” his mother said.

Ordinarily her son is shy, she said, but he began asking to be dropped off at stores and other locations to share his faith.

The letter from Edwards says Caleb’s library card has been blocked, and that if he returns before Feb. 28, he’ll be criminally trespassing.

Michael Broyde, professor of law and the academic director of the Law and Religion Program at Emory University in Atlanta, said the library’s decision seems appropriate. “My intuition is that this is reasonable,” Broyde said Monday. “It falls under the time, place and manner restriction.”

According to material from The First Amendment Center in Nashville, Tenn.: “Time, place and manner considerations are those that could act as restrictions on what would ordinarily be First Amendment-protected expression. For example, people have the right to march in protest, but not with noisy bullhorns at 4 a.m. in a residential neighborhood.”

Broyde said the restriction could apply to libraries. “In a place like a library, where silence is generally accepted, they can restrict unneeded pestering,” he said.

Elizabeth Hanson said she has contacted the American Center for Law and Justice, a Christian advocacy center in Washington, D.C., but has not gotten a response.

For his part, Caleb said he’s taking the library’s letter in stride.

“I don’t feel offended by it,” he said. “We’re still praying about what to do.”

Courtesy of http://www.eagletribune.com/worldnational/x1327127547/Teen-banned-from-libraries-over-ignoring-requests-to-quit-proselytizing

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Jury Acquits the Four Christian Evangelists Arrested For Proselytizing at the Dearborn Arab Festival

Posted by faithandthelaw on September 28, 2010

Monday, September 27, 2010

ANN ARBOR, MI – Late Friday evening, a jury of six Dearborn, Michigan residents returned a unanimous verdict of not guilty of breach of the peace charges, which were brought by the Dearborn Police Department against four Christian evangelists as they were peacefully proselytizing to Muslim youths during the Arab International Festival on June 18, 2010.  

The Thomas More Law Center, a national Christian public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, represented the evangelists, Dr. Nabeel Qureshi, Paul Rezkalla, Negeen Mayel and David Wood, at no charge. The jury returned its verdict after an hour and half of deliberations. Nageen Mayel was found guilty of failing to obey a police officer—a charge unrelated to the actual incident, which will most likely be reversed on appeal. 

Robert Muise, the Law Center’s Senior Trial Counsel, handled the five-day trial. The prosecutor placed seven witnesses on the stand including Chief of Police, Ron Haddad. 

Even after the acquittals, Dearborn’s mayor, Jack O’Reilly, continued his ongoing and unprecedented personal attacks on the Christian evangelists, accusing them of being anti–Muslim bigots. O’Reilly’s continuous anti-Christian rhetoric was clearly an attempt to curry favor with Dearborn’s large Muslim population, which also explains the Police Department’s alarming mobilization to arrest the four Christians.

Wood and Dr. Qureshi are co-founders of “Act 17 Apologetics, ” a ministry group that defends the Gospel of Jesus Christ. On June 18, Mayel and Rezkalla joined them in their missionary work. Dr. Qureshi and Mayel are converts from Islam to Christianity. After the verdict, the group praised the Thomas More Law Center and particularly Robert Muise, whom they described as sharing their emotional burdens and investing more time on the issue than even they did.  The group claimed that without the Thomas More Law Center, they would not have been able to defend themselves from persecution by the City of Dearborn.

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Law Center, commented, “Rob Muise did an outstanding job advocating on behalf of Free Speech rights protected by our Constitution, despite unsubstantiated police claims that peaceful conversations with Muslims were going to incite a disturbance.  The bottom line in the jury’s not guilty verdict: the Constitution, not Shariah law, still prevails in Dearborn, Michigan.”

Click here to see video 

Posted in Hot Legal News | 1 Comment »

Liberty Counsel Clears the Way for Gospel Tract Distribution

Posted by faithandthelaw on September 25, 2010

Note: John Jacob contacted my office about this problem and I referred him to Liberty Counsel and they did a wonderful job resolving this First Amendment issue.

Indianapolis, IN – Liberty Counsel has successfully negotiated the language of a police department Legal Bulletin in the capital of Indiana that will clarify the free speech rights of street evangelists for local law enforcement officers, who were prohibiting constitutionally protected activity. In Indianapolis, a group of Christians distributing gospel tracts in the public rights of way at major events were being regularly shut down by law enforcement.

John Jacob, along with a group from the Good Messengers, was distributing tracts during the NCAA Final Four outside Lucas Oil Stadium on a public sidewalk, well outside the stadium property. Two police officers approached and questioned him. After learning he was handing out gospel tracts, Jacob was told, “You need to come with us.” He was escorted into the stadium building, where he had his belongings searched and was accused of illegally soliciting on private property. He was instructed to sign a trespass form, which he refused to sign on the basis of being on public property. Later he found out the form falsely claimed that he had been asked previously that day to leave. Others who were leafleting were also asked to stop and were told that the NCAA secured a six mile “restricted zone” around the stadium, where there could be no distribution of anything. The police claimed their leafleting activities made them vendors, and such activity was barred without permission of the event organizers. Similar treatment occurred at other events, such as Ribfest and the 500 Festival Mini Marathon.

Jacob contacted Liberty Counsel asking for help. Liberty Counsel sent a letter explaining the law and how it was being improperly applied. While the City-County provided the NCAA a “restricted zone,” where no vendors were allowed within a three-mile radius of the stadium, that cannot be used to silence noncommercial, religious activity. The City-County’s attorneys assured Liberty Counsel that they generally agreed with LC’s assessment of the law and have educated their police on the rights of evangelists.

Mathew Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, commented: “The beauty of our Constitution is its protection of religious activity. Many times local law enforcement officials are misinformed about their duty to protect freedom of speech and religious expression. We congratulate the city of Indianapolis for realizing their error and encourage other cities to take note of their actions. Liberty Counsel will vigorously defend the constitutional right to religious free expression.”

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New Campaign to Defend Place of Christians in Public Square

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on September 24, 2010

LONDON – A Christian advocacy group has launched a new campaign defending the right of Christians to express their faith and beliefs in the public square.

The former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey is among the supporters of the nationwide “Not Ashamed” campaign launched by Christian Concern for Our Nation, based in London.

The campaign criticizes the discrimination some Christians have experienced in school or the workplace as a result of being open about their beliefs.

It points to the recent high profile cases of Gary McFarlane, a relationships advisor who was dismissed by Relate for refusing to counsel same-sex couples, and Shirley Chaplin, a nurse who was taken off wards after refusing to remove her crucifix.

As part of the campaign, the group is asking Christians to wear the “Not Ashamed” logo during Advent and on December 1, which it has declared “Not Ashamed Day.”

Lord Carey is writing a leaflet to accompany the campaign in which he explains why Jesus Christ is good news for all. Christian Concern is hoping to deliver the leaflet to every household in the country.

The group’s founder, Andrea Minichiello Williams, said the Pope’s visit to Britain last week had highlighted the attempts of some people to remove Jesus from public life and confine faith to the private sphere.

“This has meant that many Christians have felt unable to speak and live out their faith, or confused and bewildered at what they are allowed to say and do in public,” she said.

Williams said the campaign was about giving Christians at the grassroots the courage to stand up and be counted and to “fearlessly declare that they are not ashamed of who they are or what they believe in.”

“It is time for the Church to find her voice again,” she emphasized. “We are praying that this campaign will achieve just that by igniting a flame in Christians such that they find their voice and place in public life.

“The Not Ashamed symbol of the cross is designed to act as a reminder of the hope that is found uniquely and supremely in the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Courtesy of http://www.christianpost.com/article/20100923/new-campaign-to-defend-place-of-christians-in-public-square/index.html

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

ADF prepared to defend students prevented from praying in ‘See You at the Pole’ event

Posted by faithandthelaw on September 22, 2010

ADF assures students they cannot be silenced, offers participants free legal support
Tuesday, September 21, 2010

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Alliance Defense Fund attorneys are ready to defend, free of charge, students who are prevented by public school officials from participating in the “See You at the Pole” event Wednesday. In preparation for this year’s nationwide event, ADF attorneys drafted a legal memo informing all “See You at the Pole” staff and participants of their legal rights and precedents that entitle them to inform people about and take part in the annual student prayer event.

“Christian students should not be prevented from peacefully expressing their beliefs outside of class time. As the U.S. Supreme Court has indicated, they don’t abandon their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate,” said ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman. “Misinformed public school officials need to understand that the First Amendment does not prevent students from promoting or participating in ‘See You at the Pole.’ Instead, it prevents officials from blocking students from doing so.”

“See You at the Pole” is an annual student-led and -organized gathering held at school flagpoles across the U.S., where students peacefully pray for their school, friends, teachers, government, and nation outside of class time. In the past, some government school officials have unconstitutionally kept students and staff from sharing about and participating in the event, often erroneously stating that the U.S. Constitution prevents such an event, even though it actually does the opposite and protects the rights of students to participate in it.

According to the ADF legal memo, “Students have a constitutional right to participate in SYATP through prayer and worship activities. Furthermore, students have an individual constitutional right to inform their fellow students about the SYATP event as long as they do not materially disrupt the academic process while doing so. In addition, if the school allows individual students or student clubs to advertise events through school bulletin boards, school PA systems, general posting of school flyers, or other means, the school cannot forbid the same means of advertising for the SYATP event.”

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.

 

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Christianity gets flayed at home of Liberty Bell

Posted by faithandthelaw on September 21, 2010

A Christian chaplain has written to officials at the nation’s historic Independence Hall in Philadelphia asking them to provide a better experience for visitors after a tour guide there discounted the Christian beliefs of the Founders, saying, “Washington didn’t even go to church.”


Independence Hall in Philadelphia

The letter from Pastor Todd DuBord, now the chaplain for the enterprises of actor, martial arts champion and philanthropist Chuck Norris, was sent to the superintendent of Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, where some of the nation’s founding documents were assembled and where the Liberty Bell now is exhibited.

DuBord for years has worked with tours of patriotic citizens who have visited Washington and other locations to see the markers of America’s Christian heritage. He previously exposed when tour guides at the U.S. Supreme Court building were denying the multiple representations there of the Ten Commandments.

He also exposed the agenda at work in the District of Columbia when the replica of the Washington Monument capstone, which is engraved with “Laus Deo,” or “Praise be to God,” was positioned in the visitors’ center so observers were not able to see the inscription.

The situation was corrected after it was revealed.

Classic book on USA’s Christian heritage: New edition of 100-year-old treasure reveals nation’s true religious history

Chaplain DuBord was on a recent American heritage tour that included well-known Pastor Jim Garlow of Renewing America Leadership and history expert David Barton of Wallbuilders in Boston, Washington and Philadelphia. It was there he and others experienced what prompted him to assemble the letter, also published as a report on his National Treasures website.

DuBord at one point asked the guide, “Can you tell me about these men’s religious affiliation?”

The response was a series of statements that discounted the religious faith of the Founders, he wrote.

“The NPS guide went from being an expert on the Founders to someone who was fumbling to formulate his words and get even a coherent and accurate sentence about our Founders’ religion,” DuBord wrote. “It struck me from his initial utterances on their religious views that he knew very little if anything about the real issues at all – and that made me wonder how many presentations he had done over the years to school children and guests from all over the country and world without ever discussing the Founders’ religious nature with any accuracy.”

Among the guide’s statements that DuBord challenged:

  • “George Washington didn’t even attend church!”
  • “While the NPS guide physically hunched over, mimicked and mocked one carrying and swinging an oversized Bible in his hand, he said to the crowd: ‘Even if I said the founders were Christians, how could we really know? Just because people carry a big ol’ Bible in their hand, they can still be atheists!”
  • “Most of these men owned slaves. How could good Christians do that?”
  • “We know that Benjamin Franklin was a deist.”
  • “We don’t really know for sure about their religion. It’s open for interpretation. You’ll have to do your own study on that.”

“In the very house in which they adopted a Creator-filled Declaration of Independence, not one positive comment was made about any one of the Founders’ Christian faiths,” DuBord wrote.

He said the group was stunned, then ordered quickly by the guide into the next room.

But in the letter, DuBord said the statements just aren’t right.


Liberty Bell, with biblical quote: Leviticus 25:10

“Washington attended Christ Church (the first Episcopal Church) just a few blocks away from Independence Hall with Betsy Ross, John Adams (our 2nd president), Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Rush, Robert Morris and many other signers of our founding documents,” he wrote. “He also had reserved pews at two churches in Virginia, at Pohick Church near Mount Vernon and one at Christ Church in Alexandria.

“The NPS guide could have cited any of a number of examples in Washington’s life and even presidency,” he wrote, citing Washington’s reference as he took the oath of office in 1789 that, “we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the external rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained.”

He reported, too, that during Washington’s first inaugural, the president praised God, saying it would be improper “to omit in this first official act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe, who presides in the Councils of Nations … that his benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States.”

Ten years later, DuBord wrote, Washington addressed some Delaware chiefs, saying, “You do well to wish to learn our arts and ways of life, and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ. … Congress will do everything they can to assist you.”

Said DuBord, “Of all Washington’s speeches on religion and morality, however, one stands out among all others: his ‘Farewell Address’ as president”:

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation deserts the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

He said the mockery by the guide of the Founders’ Christian beliefs “was simply unbecoming.”


George Washington statue outside Independence Hall

“For the Founders, God and government were intricately linked. Even Thomas Paine, perhaps the most religiously exempt among the founders, echoed one year earlier, ‘Spiritual freedom is the root of political freedom … . As the union between spiritual freedom and political liberty seems nearly inseparable, it is our duty to defend both,'” DuBord quoted.

Regarding Franklin’s “deism,” he wrote that Franklin himself told Congress he believed “the Creator was very much involved and engaged in the affairs of men … . He echoed his belief as he appealed to the Constitutional Convention to remember the place the Lord had in the inception of America.”

There, Franklin said, “I have lived, sir, a long time; and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, That God governs in the affairs of men! And if the sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid?”

Regarding slavery, he wrote that the Founders struggled with what – at that time – was socially accepted and even expected.

Washington said, “There is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do, to see a plan adopted for the abolition of it.”

John Adams said, “I have, through my whole life, held the practice of slavery in … abhorrence.”

Wrote Benjamin Franklin: “Slavery is … an atrocious debasement of human nature.”

Alexander Hamilton: “The laws of certain states…give an ownership in the service of Negroes as personal property … .But being men, by the laws of God and nature, they were capable of acquiring liberty – and when the captor in war … thought fit to give them liberty, the gift was not only valid, but irrevocable.”

Continued DuBord, “Even Thomas Jefferson, hailed as the great separatist who fought against the tyranny of religious denominational sectarianism in the state (and vice versa), nevertheless endorsed the use of government buildings (like the Capitol) for church services, weekly attended the church services there while president, signed a treaty with the Kaskaskia Indians that allotted federal money to support the building of a Catholic church and to pay the salary of the church’s priests, and repeatedly renewed legislation that gave land to the United Brethren to help their missionary activities among the Indians. Can you imagine any president doing so today? He would be labeled a radical … .”

While the NPS could not be reached on the weekend for a comment on its procedures, DuBord documented that one minister and two sons of clergy were signers of the Declaration.

“Most signers of the Constitution were also Protestant Christians, except two … who were Roman Catholics.”

Christian testimonies have been found documenting the faith of Samuel Adams, Josiah Bartlett, Franklin, Elbridge Gerry, John Hancock, Samuel Huntington, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas McKean, John Morton, Robert Treat Paine, Benjamin Rush and others, he said.

DuBord also confirmed to WND he’s been in dialogue with the park service about the issues.

“While they told me just this past week, ‘We’re working on it and will let you know our course of action,’ the fact of the matter is nothing happens without a grassroots swell speaking up to these historical distortions,” he said.

He suggested America’s patriots should speak up by contacting the park to express their views.

His full letter is available on his National Treasures website.

“Then teach what you learn to your children and grandchildren, and be prepared to address any and all false statements at Independence Hall and all other U.S. historic parks that teach history about our republic, because America’s godly heritage is disappearing as fast in these places as it is in public schools’ textbooks!” he said.

WND has reported on a series of other efforts to remove mention of God and references to the religious faith and influences of the Founding Fathers from government grounds.

In 2008, an “oversight” at the nation’s $600-million-plus Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C., left the national motto “In God We Trust” absent from the historical displays and at one point prompted WND columnist and veteran actor Chuck Norris to ask if he could help correct the situation.

That “oversight” was fixed in 2009 after U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., and 108 members of Congress expressed concern the historical content was inaccurate, prompting the committee’s determination to make changes.

Also, WND reported in 2006 when DuBord told WND he was more than startled during his visits to the U.S. Supreme Court and two other historic locations to discover the stories of the nation’s heritage had been sterilized of Christian references.

He visited the courthouse and was surprised that what the tour guides were telling him wasn’t what he was seeing.

“Having done some research (before the trip), I absolutely was not expecting to hear those remarks,” which, he had told WND, “denied history.”

DuBord wrote to the Supreme Court and several other groups, asking them to restore the historic Christian influences to their presentations. He said he was most disturbed by what appeared to be revisionism in the presentations given to visitors at the Supreme Court.

There, he said, his tour guide was describing the marble frieze directly above the justices’ bench: “Between the images of the people depicting the Majesty of the Law and Power of Government, there is a tablet with 10 Roman numerals, the first five down the left side and the last five down the right. This tablet represents the first 10 amendments of the Bill of Rights,” she said.

“The 10 what?” was DuBord’s thought.

Dubord began researching and found a 1975 official U.S. Supreme Court handbook, prepared under the direction of Mark Cannon, administrative assistant to the chief justice. It said, “Directly above the Bench are two central figures, depicting Majesty of the Law and Power of Government. Between them is a tableau of the Ten Commandments.”

Further research produced information that in 1987 the building was designated a National Historic Landmark and came under control of the U.S. Department of the Interior. Under the new management the handbook was rewritten in 1988. The Ten Commandments reference was left out of that edition, and nothing replaced it.

The next reference found said only that the frieze “symbolizes early written laws.” Then in 1999, the handbook referred to the depiction as the “Ten Amendments to the Bill of Rights.”

“The more I got into [his research], the more I saw Christianity had been abandoned from history,”  DuBord said at the time.

Courtesy of http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=204965

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Principal Retaliates Against Christians and Suspends Them for Giving Teachers Fresh Doughnuts

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on September 21, 2010

Roswell, NM – A New Mexico School principal has retaliated against three Christian students by suspending them for giving fresh Krispy Kreme Doughnuts with Bible verses to each of their teachers. This school is already named in a pending lawsuit filed by Liberty Counsel on behalf of families and students who were bullied, and one suspended, for exercising their freedom of religion by distributing abstinence wristbands and plastic models of babies at 12 weeks gestation to bring attention to the life of the unborn.

About 25 Christian students in the group, Relentless in Roswell, expressed appreciation for their teachers by giving them dough nuts. Since the closest Krispy Kreme shop was in Texas, some of the group drove almost six hours round trip, stayed overnight, got up at 3:00 a.m. filled their car’s back seat with fresh doughnuts and got back to school on time to deliver the doughnuts. When the doughnuts were handed out, a scripture verse was included. One student was immediately sent home and two others were forced to spend a Saturday morning sitting alone in the classroom for four hours as a punishment.

In the past, the same student group had handed out sandwiches, hot chocolate, and candy canes to the student body and faculty. They helped staff with the trash and fellow students with their lunch trays. They also distributed rocks with affirming words like “U are wonderful’ painted on one side and “Psalm 139” on the other. When the plastic babies were handed out school officials said “It’s time to shut this down. Some people are getting offended.” That morning, one student had decided to take her own life because of her past decision to abort. When she received a model baby with the scripture “you are fearfully and wonderfully made” she cried and prayed with the students and her life was saved, both physically and spiritually with the forgiveness of God. However, the students were then pulled out of class and instructed by Principal Ruben Bolaños to cease their “Christian” acts because they had made their point. He later said, “I don’t like Christians. All they do is smile at you and then stab you in the back.”

Pastor Troy Smothermon with the affiliated Church on the Move said, “Our motives were not rebellious. If they were, we would have just bought a box of doughnuts down the street. The whole purpose was to encourage those in the school. We are challenging the constitutionality, but our motive here was to love. Faith without works is dead. We want them to know that we love them and that Christ loves them.”

Mathew Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, commented: “Some teachers are worried about their students giving them bullets, and this school suspends students over a Bible verse! These students are living their Christian beliefs by showing kindness. It is outrageous that the Roswell school officials are mean to these students solely because they are hostile to their Christian faith.” 

Courtesy of www.lc.org

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More Than 470 Schools Nationwide Now Using Bible Literacy Project’s Curriculum, The Bible and Its Influence

Posted by faithandthelaw on September 17, 2010

Texas now has 100 schools teaching Bible Literacy courses

FRONT ROYAL, Va., Sept. 15 /PRNewswire/ — Bible Literacy Project (BLP), publisher of the only student textbook designed for public school courses on the Bible, announced today that 470 schools in 43 states nationwide are now using its course. Texas leads the nation in implementation of Bible literacy courses, with more than 100 schools now using the textbook, while Georgia boasts 51 schools. (See a map of your state’s use of Bible literacy courses at www.bibleliteracy.org.)

Eight states now have more than 5% of public high schools teaching this course: Georgia (12.3%), Alabama (9.1%), Indiana (8.2%), Texas (7.5%), South Carolina (7.0%), Tennessee (6.0%), North Carolina (5.8%) and Kentucky (5.0%).

In addition, The Bible and Its Influence is achieving acceptance in larger districts. This fall, this course will be taught in 30 districts with enrollment of more than 20,000 students. “Larger school districts often require a district-wide curriculum review, with public review and comment on the curriculum and multiple layers of approval,” said Chuck Stetson, BLP’s CEO. “Our track record of successful implementation and strong community support has given larger districts confidence that our materials meet the educational needs of their diverse student populations.”

Among the new schools offering the course this fall are 15 pilot schools, which have received free textbooks from BLP to encourage the introduction of the textbook in their area. BLP plans to continue this program throughout the 2010-11 school year for districts that qualify.

This fall, Oklahoma implements HB 2321, a law encouraging public school districts to offer Bible literacy courses. BLP will be working with educators across the state to implement this course in their districts. Oklahoma joins Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas in passing legislation to support Bible literacy in public schools. While teaching about the Bible is legal nationwide, these five states have used legislation to raise public awareness and to promote statewide implementation of these courses.

During this school year, Bible Literacy Project will be attending 26 conventions nationwide to reach school board members, superintendents, curriculum developers, and English teachers with information about the textbook.

Because only seven states remain in the organization’s quest to be utilized in all 50 states, Bible Literacy Project is offering a free class set of textbooks to the first public school in Delaware, Iowa, Montana, Nevada, Rhode Island, Utah, and Wyoming ready to teach the course. “When one school implements the course, we quickly make contact with neighboring schools who want to try it too,” said Stetson. “We welcome the opportunity to show these remaining states the strength of our program.”

Bible Literacy Project is a non-partisan, non-profit endeavor to encourage and facilitate the academic study of the Bible in public schools. Along with the First Amendment Center, the Bible Literacy Project co-published The Bible and Public Schools: A First Amendment Guide, the historic  1999 statement that established guidelines for teaching about the Bible in public schools. The Guide was endorsed by 21 leading organizations, including the National School Boards Association and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. In 2005, the Bible Literacy Project published The Bible and Its Influence, the first student textbook for academic study of the Bible in public high schools in the last 30 years. Since its publication, this program has gained national recognition for its scholarly approach to teaching about the Bible in compliance with First Amendment guidelines. Designed for high school students in grades 9-12, and enjoyed equally by college students and adult learners, The Bible and Its Influence can be taught as an English, social studies, or humanities elective. Bible Literacy Project (www.bibleliteracy.org) is a division of Essentials in Education, an educational publisher.

Available Topic Expert(s): For information on the listed expert(s), click appropriate link.

Chuck Stetson

https://profnet.prnewswire.com/Subscriber/ExpertProfile.aspx?ei=97196

Sarah Jenislawski

https://profnet.prnewswire.com/Subscriber/ExpertProfile.aspx?ei=97227

RELATED LINKS
http://www.bibleliteracy.org

Courtesy of http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/more-than-470-schools-nationwide-now-using-bible-literacy-projects-curriculum-the-bible-and-its-influence-102939699.html

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The Cost of Being a Christian

Posted by faithandthelaw on September 9, 2010

Elaine Huguenin discovered there was a price to pay for exercising her religious beliefs

Photography is Elaine Huguenin’s vocation – her calling. Her artistic talent for capturing once-in-a-lifetime moments has generated many offers to photograph weddings not only in her home town of Albuquerque, but in greater New Mexico and other states, as well. But since Elaine’s artistry is framed by her own experiences, intuitions, and beliefs, in good conscience she can only embrace opportunities where she and her potential clients see eye to eye.

That’s the reason Elaine respectfully declined a request from a woman to photograph a same-sex “commitment” ceremony. Elaine knew that the message behind the ceremony that her photographs would communicate is neither biblical nor one she believes, and that taking the assignment would violate her sincerely held religious convictions.

“The message a same-sex commitment ceremony communicates is not one I believe.”
-Elaine Huguenin

 

Despite Elaine and her husband Jon’s constitutionally protected right to live – and run their business – according to their Christian beliefs, the woman filed a complaint with the New Mexico Human Rights Commission and charged them with violating the state’s “sexual orientation discrimination” law. Needing help, Elaine and Jon contacted the Alliance Defense Fund, which agreed to take on their case and cover all costs of litigation. Regardless of their solid legal case, the Commission ordered the Huguenins to pay $7,000 in fees to the couple. A New Mexico trial court upheld that ruling and ADF has appealed this compelled speech case, which is a clear violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution, to the New Mexico Court of Appeals.

With this ruling, the state is essentially saying: You will be punished if you don’t fully endorse or promote the homosexual agenda, whether you agree with it or not.

“If it becomes something where Christians are made to do these things by law in one state, or two, it’s going to sweep across the whole United States…and religious freedom could become extinct.”
-Elaine Huguenin

Much is at stake in this precedent-setting case that could go all the way to the United States Supreme Court – and ultimately impact your constitutionally protected right to freely exercise your religious beliefs. By God’s grace, and with the prayers and support of Ministry Friends like you, ADF will persevere to achieve victory in this and so many other religious freedom cases.

Free Exercise of Religion Under Attack

There is a nationwide movement by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and its allies to persecute and prosecute anyone who won’t be coerced into endorsing the homosexual legal agenda. More and more Christians, like Elaine and Jon, are learning firsthand that – despite the guarantees of the First Amendment – exercising your religious beliefs is no longer free.

What if the government dictated how you are allowed to express your creativity, which clients you have to take, when you can pray, and where you can share the Gospel – and then forced you to pay thousands of dollars for standing firm and living out your faith? Would you be willing to join ADF and other Christians in the battle to protect your God-given freedoms? The fact is these serious assaults on Christians are already happening across America – but there is hope.

Reclaiming Religious Freedom

ADF and its more than 1,800 allied attorneys are successfully defending your constitutionally protected rights in courtrooms from coast to coast. ADF has won three out of four cases litigated to completion, and by strategically selecting precedent-setting cases like Elaine’s, we can pave the way for victory in future lawsuits.

By the grace of God, ADF and our allied attorneys have reclaimed freedom for these and many other believers struggling to live out their faith in their homes, schools, workplaces, churches, and communities:

  • A group of Christians in California was ordered by county code enforcement officers to stop their home Bible study meeting.
  • Members of a Christian student group at Spokane Falls Community College in the state of Washington were threatened with disciplinary measures, including expulsion, if they chose to hold a pro-life event on campus without including a pro-abortion viewpoint.
  • A federal employee was suspended and transferred by the Federal Aviation Administration for talking about his faith while on a break at work.
  • An Arizona pastor was sentenced to jail for ringing his church’s bells.
  • Four Christians were arrested for sharing their faith during a so-called “Gay Pride” event at a public park in New York.

We must continue to persevere for the more than 500 legal matters currently open as well as for the countless future attacks on the free exercise of religion. Now is the time for the Body of Christ to stop the ACLU and its allies. Please prayerfully give your best gift today!

Courtesy of https://www.alliancedefensefund.org/Home/Detail/4333?referral=E0910B3F

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