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

Archive for July, 2011

ADF: Atheist attack on World Trade Center cross is rubble

Posted by faithandthelaw on July 27, 2011

ALBANY, N.Y. — An atheist group’s lawsuit that seeks to tear down the World Trade Center cross at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York City is completely out of step with the Constitution, according to attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund. ADF is currently fighting a different lawsuit filed by the same group that seeks to tear down roadside crosses honoring fallen state troopers in the state of Utah. That case is on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“One atheist group’s agenda shouldn’t diminish the sacrifice made by the heroes of 9/11,” said ADF Senior Counsel Byron Babione. “A cross like this one simply does not amount to a government establishment of religion under either the U.S. Constitution or the New York Constitution. The cross is not only known far and wide as a religious symbol, but also as a symbol of death, remembrance, and honor for the dead. Americans have long recognized this. Nothing in the Constitution authorizes atheists to scour the landscape on a mission to seek and destroy memorial crosses.”

American Atheists filed its lawsuit, American Atheists v. Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, in New York state court Monday. In 2005, the group filed suit in federal court to tear down roadside crosses honoring fallen Utah highway patrol officers. ADF, which represents the Utah Highway Patrol Association, has appealed that case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In April 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court concluded that a veterans’ memorial in the form of a cross in the Mojave Desert of California did not have to be removed. In that ruling, the court wrote, “The goal of avoiding governmental endorsement does not require eradication of all religious symbols in the public realm….  The Constitution does not oblige government to avoid any public acknowledgment of religion’s role in society.”“Crosses have been used to honor fallen heroes in this country since its founding,” said ADF Senior Counsel Tom Marcelle, based in Albany. “ADF stands ready to defend the World Trade Center Cross in any way that it can, just as we have defended many other cross memorials throughout the country.” 

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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Texas Governor Sued Over Upcoming Prayer Rally

Posted by faithandthelaw on July 22, 2011

A group of atheists has filed a lawsuit against the Texas’ governor for his coordinating and being an advocate for a prayer rally that the group says violates the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.

Gov. Rick Perry, 61, declared that August 6th be a day of prayer and fasting and invited governors from across the nation to be with him in Houston on this special day.

His office calls the celebration a “non-denominational, apolitical, Christian prayer meeting hosted by the American Family Association,” a organization that believes “a culture based on Biblical truth best serves the well-being of our country.”

The governor’s proclamation itself does not mention AFA or Christianity. It cites moments in history when leaders turned to prayer, such as in 1787 when Benjamin Franklin urged for prayer in an address before the Constitutional Convention.

Regardless, the Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a lawsuit on behalf of members residing in the state, accusing the governor of providing official recognition to a religious event.

According to the foundation, the governor is “giving the appearance that the government prefers evangelical Christian religious beliefs over other religious beliefs” and that “non-believers are political outsiders.”

In their 19-page complaint, the foundation seeks an “injunction prohibiting Governor Perry’s further involvement in the scheduled prayer rally, as well as an injunction against future uses of official indicia of the State of Texas in promoting and proclaiming the establishment of religion.”

A spokesperson for Perry told ABC in response to the lawsuit that the governor believes the rally is “an important opportunity for Americans to gather together and pray to God.”

Gov. Perry is the longest-serving governor in Texas history, chair of the Republican Governors Association, and a potential 2012 presidential hopeful.

Courtesy of http://www.christianlawjournal.com/featured-articles/texas-gov-sued-over-upcoming-prayer-rally

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Apologist Josh McDowell: Internet the Greatest Threat to Christians

Posted by faithandthelaw on July 19, 2011

Atheists and skeptics now have equal access to our children as we have, which is why the number of Christian youth who believe in the fundamentals of Christianity is decreasing and sexual immorality is growing, apologist Josh McDowell said.

“What has changed everything?” asked the apologist from Campus Crusade for Christ International as he spoke on “Unshakable Truth, Relevant Faith” at the Billy Graham Center in Asheville, N.C., Friday evening. His answer was, the Internet.

“The Internet has given atheists, agnostics, skeptics, the people who like to destroy everything that you and I believe, the almost equal access to your kids as your youth pastor and you have… whether you like it or not,” said McDowell, who is author of two books on Christian apologetics, More than a Carpenter and New Evidence that Demands Verdict.

The belief or worldview, McDowell said, forms values, which in turn drive one’s behavior. The worldview “is where we are falling down the most anywhere in the world.” So what is the prevalent worldview in America today? “There is no truth apart from myself,” that’s what even many young “evangelical, fundamental, born-again Christians” believe, he said.

While 51 percent of evangelical Christians did not believe in absolute truth in an earlier survey, the percentage escalated to 62 in 1994. In 1999, it jumped to 78 percent. “You know what it is now?” asked McDowell. “One of the most staggering statistics in history of the church… 91 percent said there is no absolute truth apart from myself.”

Another study, added McDowell, showed that only six percent of all teenagers in America, including Christians, said there isn’t any truth apart from myself. There was a difference of only five percent between believers and non-believers, he noted. Moreover, less than four percent of evangelical born-again Christians believed the Bible was infallible in every situation, and 63 percent of them believed He is “a” Son of God and not “the” Son of God, he added.

“Now here is the problem,” said McDowell, “going all the way back, when Al Gore invented the Internet [he said jokingly], I made the statement off and on for 10-11 years that the abundance of knowledge, the abundance of information, will not lead to certainty; it will lead to pervasive skepticism. And, folks, that’s exactly what has happened. It’s like this. How do you really know, there is so much out there… This abundance [of information] has led to skepticism. And then the Internet has leveled the playing field [giving equal access to skeptics].”

McDowell, who lives in southern California with his wife Dottie and four children, said atheists, agnostics and skeptics didn’t have access to kids earlier. “If they wrote books, not many people read it. If they gave a talk, not many people went. They would normally get to kids maybe in the last couple of years of the university.” But that has changed now.

Around 15 years ago, the apologist added, when Christian youth ministries were raising money for youth projects, the big phrase was, “If you don’t reach your child by their 18th birthday, you probably won’t reach them.” What is it now? “If you do not reach your child by their 12th birthday, you probably won’t reach them.”

The Internet is weakening Christian witness and “we better wake up to it because it’s just beginning.” McDowell added that his greatest asset, value-wise, used to be his time until a year and a half ago. “My greatest asset now is my focus. There is so much out there just one click away, what am I going to focus on?”

McDowell, who considered himself an agnostic before accepting Christ, warned that the sexual immorality through the Internet was “marginalizing the maturity of the witness of Christ…all over the world.” It’s an “invasive, intruding immorality… that is all just one click away.” He said the majority of questions young people ask him are about sex, mainly “oral sex.”

The majority of all the 2.2 billion people who go to the Internet daily are between 15 to 25 years of age, he said. And there are 4.2 million pornographic sites. “Do you know how many pornographic emails would be circulated just today? 2.5 billion…just one click away.”

The Campus Crusade staff also said around 90 percent of the 16-year-olds, according to the latest statistics, had viewed pornography. And 80 percent of 15- to 17-year-olds had had exposure to hardcore pornography. In a recent study, teenagers were asked if pornography was acceptable, and 67 percent of the men and 59 percent of the women said “yes,” he added. “For 47 percent of Christian families, pornography is a major problem. Association of Divorce Lawyers came out and said that over 50 percent of divorces were directly related to pornography.”

How can this be checked? You can use the content control on a computer, but what about their cellphone, and their friends’ computers? “Folks, you can’t isolate your kids.”

McDowell proposed three ways to deal with the problem. “First, we have to model the truth. If you don’t model what you teach your kids, forget it. If they don’t see it, they won’t believe it… Second, we have to build relationships.” Just as truth without relationship leads to rejection, rules without relationship lead to rebellion, he said. “Kids don’t respond to rules. They respond to rules in the context of a loving, intimate relationship.” And third, he said, we have to use knowledge. “You better arm yourselves to answer your children’s and grandchildren’s questions…no matter what the question is…without being judgmental.” Kids’ greatest defense, he said, was the knowledge of truth.

However, McDowell said, as many as 85 to 90 percent of the evangelical Christian parents in America are not equipped to handle their kids. Christians, he urged, needed to understand the time, quoting 1 Chronicles 12:32: “Of the sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do…”

Courtesy of http://www.christianpost.com/news/apologist-josh-mcdowell-internet-the-greatest-threat-to-christians-52382/

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Iran tells Christian pastor: recant or face execution

Posted by faithandthelaw on July 18, 2011

WASHINGTON (BP)–Iranian pastor Yousef Nadarkhani faces execution unless he renounces his faith in Christ, a written verdict from the country’s supreme court has confirmed.

Baptist Press reported July 8 that Christians in Iran were challenging news reports that Nadarkhani’s death penalty had been annulled. The Christian Solidarity Worldwide human rights organization reported July 14 that the court’s written verdict had been released, confirming that Nadarkhani faces execution unless he renounces his faith.

The original verdict on charges of apostasy was based on “fatwas” by Iran’s most powerful religious leaders — Ayatollahs Khomeini, Khamenei and Makarem Shirazi — meaning the Supreme Court may have been reluctant to overturn the verdict for fear of inviting controversy, CSW advocacy director Andrew Johnston said in a press statement.

Following reports of the verdict, the U.S. State Department issued a statement expressing “dismay” over the situation, according to Fox News. Human rights advocates, however, say apostasy isn’t even identified as a crime under Iranian law.

“From a human rights perspective, you can’t criminalize someone’s choice of religion, much less execute them for that,” Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, told Fox News.

Other religious groups also face persecution for their beliefs in Iran, the State Department pointed out. Seven Baha’i leaders have been sentenced to 20 years in prison for practicing their faith, and hundreds of members of Islam’s Sufi sect have been flogged in public because of their beliefs. Iran has been fairly tolerant of the country’s Armenian and Assyrian Christian groups, which date from the early days of Christianity, but Muslims who profess faith in Christ have been pressured.

Nadarkhani was arrested in October 2009 while attempting to register his church. His arrest is believed to have been due to his questioning of the Muslim monopoly on the religious instruction of children in Iran, according to news reports. He initially was charged with protesting; however, the charges against him were later changed to apostasy and evangelizing Muslims.

Johnston said Christian Solidarity Worldwide is urging “the Iranian regime to respect the stipulations of international treaties to which it is party, including the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights, which guarantees freedom of religion and freedom to change one’s religion or belief…. The international community must act urgently to press Iran to ensure … that Pastor Nadarkhani in particular is acquitted of a charge that is not in fact recognized under Iranian civil law.”

Courtesy of http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=35761

Editor Note: Please pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ in Iran. Also pray for God to show his mighty arm for pastor Yousef Nadarkhani.

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Judge Rules for Pro-Life Girls Shackled, Strip Searched

Posted by faithandthelaw on July 15, 2011

A federal judge has ruled in favor of pro-life advocates, including college-aged girls, who were shacked and strip searched after peacefully protesting abortion in Maryland in 2008. The multi-faceted case has been ongoing for years and some of the defendants have settled.

Maryland state troopers handcuffed and arrested 18 pro-life advocates for sharing a peaceful pro-life message along a Bel Air, Maryland public street in August 2008. Among those arrested were three young women who were later shackled, strip-searched, and detained overnight by other police.

On Tuesday, Hon. Richard D. Bennett of the federal district court for the District of Maryland issued a 49-page opinion in a civil rights action filed by attorneys with the American Catholic Lawyers Association in 2009. The decision, following extensive motions for summary judgment by both plaintiffs and defendants, holds that the First and Fourth Amendment rights of the seven pro-life advocates who are the plaintiffs (as well as two pro-life advocates represented by the Alliance Defense Fund) were violated when the state troopers arrested and jailed them.

The plaintiffs’ First and Fourth Amendment claims against the Troopers will proceed to a jury trial for the assessment of damages only, according to pro-life attorney Christopher Ferrara, who is handling the case.

“[A] reasonable police officer faced with the facts confronted by the Defendants would have known that, in ordering the demonstrators to leave Harford County, he would violate the Plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights,” the court ruled. “Moreover, arresting the Plaintiffs for exercising those rights was a violation of the Plaintiffs’ Fourth Amendment rights. In engaging in this manifestly unlawful behavior, the individual officers could not have reasonably misapprehended the law, nor can it be said that they made a bad guess in a gray area.”

“We are gratified by the court’s comprehensive decision, and we are preparing to move ahead to a final resolution of this case,” Ferrara, the president of the American Catholic Lawyers Association, told LifeNews in a statement.

The pro-life advocate plaintiffs in the case, Ames, et al. v. Colonel Terrence Sheridan, are represented by Ferrara while ACLA attorneys Denis Brenan and Howard Walsh, III, assisted by local counsel Matt Paavola, are also involved. Another plaintiff in the action, the organization Defend Life, Inc., is represented by attorneys Tom Brejcha and Pat Gillen of the Thomas More Society in Chicago.

In January, the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals rejected an appeal taken by defendant police officers in a suit brought by Defend Life, a  Maryland pro-life group that sponsored the event featuring pro-life  signs held along a busy street. The court granted a motion to dismiss  the appeal filed by Thomas More Society’s special counsel.

The appeals court dismissed the appeal on the grounds that material  questions of fact were presented as to whether the police defendants  acted in good faith. Indeed, plaintiffs already adduced compelling  evidence of bad faith, including legally baseless arrests followed by  failure to prosecute belated criminal charges, needless strip searches  of fully peaceable, nonviolent demonstrators, and 911 tapes and police  recordings. The recordings showed how police enforced a “heckler’s veto”  (acting on phone calls objecting to the content of protest signs) in  making the arrests, and showing deep police bias — with officers  commenting “…they can sit in a cell for an hour … or three or four and  rot.”

During the initial event, the pro-life people were arrested without  warning by Harford County State Troopers during their multi-city protest  featuring abortions signs. At least a dozen police officers arrived in  more than seven marked vehicles.

They had started their peaceful pro-life event along a public road in  Harford County but relocated to the town of Bel Air after being told by  officers to leave the county for not having a county permit to engage  in free speech activities. The officers then arrested them in Bel Air  without explanation.

Once in custody, three young women among the group arrested–two of  whom were teenagers–were subjected to two rounds of strip searches. Only  after the strip searches and a night spent in jail were they told why  they were arrested.

The first search took place in the police station parking lot in  front of other males. A female officer pulled out the young ladies’  shirt collars to inspect their breasts before reaching down their pants  to feel around their waistlines.

The Harford County Detention Center administered the second strip  search after the pro-life participants were transferred there. A female  officer took the women one by one into a bathroom with a partially open  door and ordered them to lift up their shirts and brassieres. Officials  cast the pro-life participants in leg irons, denied them permission to  call parents until after midnight.

A week after their release, the state dropped the charges ultimately filed against them: loitering, disorderly conduct, and  failure to obey a lawful order. None of the participants were ever  charged with any sort of permit violation.

Courtesy of http://www.lifenews.com/2011/07/14/judge-rules-for-pro-life-girls-shackled-strip-searched/

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God’s Personal Message to America

Posted by faithandthelaw on July 13, 2011

By Robert L. Cobb

Righteousness exalteth a
nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.

Proverbs 14:34

Introduction:

Most of us place a high value on “personal”
messages.  Form letters and mass mailings are the norm in our day, so it is very
refreshing to receive a “personal” note from a person or organization.  Some
have made a concerted effort to make their mailings seem to be “one-of-a-kind.”
Today it is difficult to tell what is personal correspondence and what is “mass
mailing.”  Sometimes it may seem the same with scripture.  While many preachers
apply passages written for Israel to America, our text IS to
America!  In fact, it is a blanket statement to ANY nation!  What
would God say to America, if He spoke audibly to us this Fourth of July
holiday?  I believe He would remind us of this verse.
Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any
people. 
These truths still hold true for any
nation today.  History is littered with the echoes of failed nations.  Nineveh,
the Egyptian Dynasty, Greece, the Roman Empire…. Today, the United States is a
proof text for this verse!  Let us see how this is so as we divide the thoughts
into four sections.

I.    The
Righteousness of a Nation

“Righteousness…”

The first word of our verse is “righteousness.”
It is a word seldom uttered outside of conservative churches today.  You don’t
hear our politicians speak about righteousness.  You don’t hear the news media
say anything about it.  There are at least three implications of the word,
righteousness.

1.   It Implies
Sovereignty.
If there is such a
thing as righteousness, then Someone sovereign must determine what it is.
Humankind has a varied idea of righteousness.  We could never in a million years
agree on what is righteous and what is unrighteous.  God, however, is an
authority on righteousness.

Psalm 71:19 Thy righteousness also, O
God, is very high, who hast done great things: O God, who is like unto
thee!
  Psalm 98:2  The LORD hath made known his salvation: his righteousness hath he
openly shewed in the sight of the heathen.

2.   It Implies a
Standard.
  Society today does not want a
standard; they will not even acknowledge that one exists.  This is the main
reason that the Word of God has been attacked and ridiculed by unbelievers.
Psalm 119:40  Behold
,
I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness.
Psalm 119:142
Thy righteousness is an everlasting
righteousness, and thy law is the truth.
  At the
funding of our nation, the Bible was held in high esteem.  There are both direct
and indirect quotations in the correspondence of the founding
fathers.

3.   It Implies a
Straightness.
   It is one thing to admit that
there is a standard, it is quite another to make that standard your own.  The
word in our text intimates a personal righteousness, a personal morality.  The
Judeo-Christian ethic has guiding our nation from its founding up until the
generation in which we live.  Our forefathers chose the righteousness of the
Bible as it’s guiding light.  Notice the words of God to Israel after the
Exodus:

Deut. 4:5-9
5  Behold, I have taught
you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should
do so in the land whither ye go to possess it.

6  Keep
therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the
sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this
great nation is a wise and understanding people.

7  For what
nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is
in all things that we call upon him for?

8  And what nation is
there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law,
which I set before you this day?

9  Only take heed to
thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine
eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life:
but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’
sons;

II.  The
Reward of a Nation 
“…exalteth a
nation…”

Who can doubt that America has been exalted among
the nations?  Some Americans, like Nebuchadnezzer in the book of Daniel, take
the credit for such exaltation.  The mentality is that we somehow deserve the
greatness and power of our past.  That is a sad mistake to make.  America has
been exalted because of it’s citizens goodness and personal holiness!  America
has been exalted because of the churches that have carried out the great
commission both at home and abroad!  It is because of past obedience and
humility that we now enjoy a preeminent place on the world scene. Let us examine
the word “exalteth” a little more closely to determine just what God means in
this most glorious promise:  “Righteousness exalteth a nation…!”

1.   The Exalted Nation is
Set-Apart.
One of the meanings of the word “exalt” is “to be lifted up, to be made high.”
(Wilson’s Word Studies, pg. 151)   The Bible teaches us that God Himself is
exalted, the scripture is exalted, and Israel is exalted above the nations.  But
in this verse we find a promise that the righteous nation also will be lifted up
and made high. Ps 46:10  Be
still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be
exalted in the earth.
  Ps 37:34 Wait on the LORD, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to
inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it.
Surely there is no nation in the history of the
world which has been lifted up and exalted more than America!  The United States
has dominated history throughout the 20th century.

2.   The Exalted Nation is
Safe.
   Another sub-meaning of the word “exalt” is “to raise high as
an inaccessible fortress, out of the reach of danger.”  Psalm
32:7
Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt
preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of
deliverance.
   Ps 119:114 Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word.
Many nations have been destroyed by their enemies
or by God Himself through natural disasters.  Plagues, pestilence, war, and
unbelief have destroyed many countries.  But America celebrates her 225th
birthday this July 4th.  What a testament to God’s protection and
preservation!

3.   The Exalted Nation is
Strong.
  Another shade of meaning of the word “exalt” is “to triumph
over enemies.”  A mere glance at the history of America will
reveal the hand of God’s protection watching over us in war and in peace.  Think
of the odds of the colonies defeating the most powerful nation in the 18th
century world, the British Empire.  Yet, it happened.  We take for granted our
victory in the Revolutionary War.  We assume that our power then resembled our
power today.  Not true!  It was a miracle from God that America gained her
freedom from England.  Why did the Civil War not tear this nation apart?  Could
it have been the protection of God?  In World War II, America took on much of
the world essentially single handedly and assured freedom throughout the globe.
There was a time when our citizens proudly said, “America has never lost a
war!”  We must give God the glory for past victories for He has protected us.
Ps 144:1 
Blessed be
the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to
fight:

III.   The
Revolt of a Nation   
“…but sin…”

We now come to the depressing aspects of God’s
promise to “any nation.”  As surely as righteous- ness exalts a nation, sin
destroys it.  God says so in the very same verse!  Today, many people want a
“buffet-style” religion.  They want a God who is merciful, loving and kind.  The
God of Christianity fulfills that desire.  But the God of mercy and love is also
the God of judgment and damnation.  People turn away from such a God.  But here
is a problem.  This verse is a couplet, having two parts.  The parts are
opposite and contrasting.  But one cannot be accepted without the other.  They
stand together as a testimony of God’s unapproachable holiness.  The truth is
that God WILL judge sin!  He will not wink at it, forget it, or misplace His
records.  To understand this truth, let us examine the meaning of the word
“sin.”

1.   Sin is an
Undisciplined Aim.
  To sin is “to miss the mark, as an archer misses
his target.” (Wilson’s Word Studies, pg. 395) Psalm
2:1
  Help, LORD; for the godly man ceaseth;
for the faithful fail from among the children of men.
Mankind is
bound to fail, seeing we are only flesh.  But our sinful nature is not an
excuse.  Missing God’s mark is the result of an undisciplined aim, a careless
shot at God’s perfection.  America does not demand greatness of itself anymore.
We do not honor what is good and right.  Contrariwise, we honor and reward the
evil and the froward.  Look at our culture.  The “bad guy” is now the norm;
the “good guy” is the potential hypocrite who bears watching.  A fitting
illustration can be found in the sporting world.  Former Atlanta Braves pitcher
John Rocker made international headlines when he spoke out against homosexuals
and other perverted lifestyles in a magazine.  He was assailed as intolerant and
a bigot.  His teammate, Chipper Jones, was engaged to be married, but
impregnated a Hooter’s waitress and reportedly tried to talk her into an
abortion.  She refused, had the baby, and Jones’ fiancé called off the
marriage.  Yet Chipper Jones was sought out by the media to comment on Rocker’s
verbal transgressions.  The “bad guy” has been turned into the “good guy.”  Such
is society’s undisciplined aim at righteousness!

2.   Sin is an Unwise
Assurance.
 Another meaning of “sin” is “to stumble, to err from the
path.”  Again, it seems that we have a built in excuse.  Which of us has not
stumbled from the path through no fault of our own?  It is human nature to fail,
to stumble.  Our stumbling and erring from the path comes from a false
assurance, a careless attitude.  America has taken for granted the blessings of
God, assuming that He will continue to bless and protect us in spite of our
sin.    Psalm 59:12 For the
sin of their mouth and the words of their lips let them even be taken in their
pride:

3.   Sin is Ungrateful
Actions.  
The final meaning of “sin”  is “an
outright transgression, rebellion.”

Daniel 9:11
Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy
law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse
is poured upon us…because we have sinned against him. 
1John 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is
the transgression of the law.

IV.   The
Reproach of a Nation  
“…is a
reproach…”

The first mention of the word “reproach” in our
English Bible can be found in Genesis 30:23: “And she
conceived, and bare a son; and said, God hath taken away my reproach:”
Eve had borne a son whom she expected to be the
promised Messiah.  Her “reproach” was the curse that God placed on her because
of Adam’s sin.  Sin brings a reproach, whether it is in the life of the
individual or in the timeline of a nation.  Again we examine the different
meanings of our text.

1.   Disgraced.
One definition of reproach is “to be brought low, to
go from the heights to the depths.”

(Wilson’s Word Studies, pg. 350)  In
Nehemiah 1:3, Nehemiah reported, 
“The remnant
that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and
reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are
burned with fire.” 
Israel’s sin had caused them
to go into captivity and now their capital city stood in ruins.  The remnant was
brought low by their sin.  We too, have been brought from the heights to the
depths by the sins of our people.  God is bound to judge sin.  He will not turn
a blind eye to America’s folly.  As he judged Israel and the heathen nations, He
will also judge us.

2.
Dishonored.
Another definition of “reproach” is
“to be ridiculed, to rail on, to revile.”  In 1 Samuel 17:26   young David
said,
 “…What shall be done to the man that
killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel? for who is
this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living
God?  
Israel was powerless in the face of
Goliath and the Philistines.  Certainly they were ridiculed and reviled by their
inability.  Goliath mocked the army of Israel and the whole nation.  America
knows something about such disgrace.  We are the richest and most developed
nation in the world, but we are reviled by much of the world.  The Muslim
nations and Communist China have little respect for our system of government or
our culture.  We were reviled and ridiculed by the former Soviet Union until God
brought them low.  Don’t think that the same thing cannot happen to
us.

3.   Defeated.
The final definition of “reproach” means “to pluck or strip away all that is
good.”  Our culture is in the process of doing just that.  Our defeat has not
come at the hands of a foreign invader.  It has come at our own hands.  The
“silent majority” that Richard Nixon spoke of years ago has been splintered into
competing special interests.  Politicians pit one group against another to keep
us divided.  Ai was a little speck on the map of the Israelite army.  After the
great victory at Jehrico, Ai would be a simple campaign, a “mopping up”
exercise.  But the sin of one man brought defeat.  I believe that the sin that
is defeating America is found in the church rather than the culture.  Yes, our
culture is rotten; our society is eaten up with evil.  But the Christian Achans
are hoarding up the world’s gold and garments and allowing the gospel witness to
fall silent.

Conclusion:
America has been great because of God.  If we
fall, it will be because of our failure to honor God as our Sovereign Authority
and Lord.  Must we watch our beloved land become mired in the slough of
compromise and fearfulness?  It is the Christian that must stand up for what is
right!  We must not fear the wrath of man or the condemnation of sinners.  They
hated Jesus, so if we are the light which exposes their evil, they will hate us
as well.  What would God’s personal message to America be if He spoke to us
audibly in this day?  I believe he would say,
Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any
people. 
Let us pray for our land and resolve to
do our best to make America great again.  If we achieve anything, it is God
which must accomplish it!

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Religious Freedom Restored In Florida School District

Posted by faithandthelaw on July 1, 2011

After months of litigation against the ACLU and the Santa Rosa County School District, and on the eve of Independence Day, a Christian legal defense organization has restored freedom to the District’s teachers, staff, students, and members of the community.

Faced with an imminent trial and surmounting evidence of their constitutional violations, the ACLU and the District agreed to settle Liberty Counsel’s federal lawsuit, challenging their Consent Decree on behalf of students, teachers, parents and community members. The Consent Decree that led to criminal indictments against school employees for prayer and banned “God Bless” in Santa Rosa County schools will now be gutted and revised.

“We are pleased that freedom has been restored to Santa Rosa County,” said Mathew D. Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law. “It is appropriate to celebrate these restored freedoms as America celebrates Independence Day. From the beginning we contended that this Consent Decree went too far and swallowed up the rights of teachers, staff, students and members of the community. The Constitution is not some relic that can be discarded at will.”

The amended Consent Decree will restore dozens of constitutional religious freedoms that were previously denied. In addition, Liberty Counsel and Christian Educators Association International will be awarded $265,000 in attorney’s fees and costs from an insurance provider, not the taxpayers, to compensate them for the litigation caused by the ACLU and the District.

“This is a huge step in the right direction and a victory for the citizens in Santa Rosa County,” said Liberty Council in a statement. “The notice of settlement was filed with the court this morning and awaits official approval by the school board and the court. As a result, the teachers will now be able to pray at school during their break times, pray during school events in a nonofficial capacity, attend and fully participate in baccalaureate services, have a Bible on their desk, wear religious jewelry, and assign readings from the Bible to students when relevant to nonreligious academic assignments.” The Consent Decree further acknowledges students’ right to voluntarily pray, submit religious answers in homework, and freely participate in private, after-school religious programs.

Liberty Counsel and its 24 clients will be hosting a Victory Rally and Celebration on Wednesday, July 6, 2011, 7-9 p.m. at Pace Assembly Ministries, 3948 Highway 90, Pace, FL. This event is open to the public, but free tickets are required and can be ordered at www.LC.org.

Courtesy of http://www.christianlawjournal.com/featured-articles/religious-freedom-restored-in-florida-school-district/

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