Faithandthelaw's Blog

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

Archive for January, 2014

ADF: Atheists’ lawsuit against national motto should be thrown out

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on January 28, 2014

In God we trustNEW YORK — Alliance Defending Freedom filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit Thursday in support of the use of the national motto, “In God We Trust,” on U.S. coins and currency. Last February, a group of atheists filed a lawsuit against the federal government that claims the use of the national motto on money is unconstitutional even though it is a practice that has deep roots in American history and federal courts have repeatedly upheld it as constitutional.

The Alliance Defending Freedom brief explains that merely being offended is not a sufficient legal cause (known as “standing”) on which to file a lawsuit attacking the national motto.

“Americans shouldn’t be forced to abandon their religious heritage simply to appease someone’s political agenda,” said Litigation Counsel Rory Gray. “Courts have repeatedly ruled that the national motto, ‘In God We Trust,’ is constitutional and can be used on U.S. currency, and that is the correct conclusion. In addition to the fact that numerous courts have already rejected the lawsuit’s claims, those bringing this suit can’t do so simply because they are offended by a historical phrase.”

As the Alliance Defending Freedom brief filed in Newdow v. United States of America explains, the government’s expenditure of tax dollars to create coins and currency is “a secular government function” that does not further any religious ends. The brief also notes that “ideological frustration” or “subjective feelings of offense and alienation” are not legitimate reasons to file a lawsuit. “Federal courts are not forums for the ventilation of public grievances,” the brief says.

“The emotional response of offended atheists does not amount to a violation of the Establishment Clause,” added Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “This lawsuit is based on a deep misunderstanding of the First Amendment. It should be dismissed.”
Joseph Ruta, one of nearly 2,300 attorneys allied with Alliance Defending Freedom, is local counsel for ADF.

Posted in Attack on Christianity, Hot Legal News, National Heritage, Religious Freedom | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

American Horror Story: Coven – Satanic Witchcraft Goes Mainstream

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on January 21, 2014

american-horror-story-coven-promo-Promotion-of-Witchcraft-and-the-occult-on-television-e1385635218699

2013 saw a sharp rise in the blatant promotion of the occult, black magic and satanic witchcraft in mainstream pop culture. What was once reserved for late night television or R-rated movies, has now become prime time viewing. No better example of this is seen than in American Horror Story: Coven, the primetime cable series on the F/X Network that has become a runaway ratings success as it openly promotes some of the most violent, depraved and satanic imagery on television. As society continues to move away from God, shun the name of Jesus Christ and reject the Bible, it is swiftly descending into satanic rebellion. And this year’s television season is an indication that the deception of the Devil is now becoming mainstream, especially for young adults and children.

American Horror Story: The Most Satanic Show on Television?

From the show’s website:

“American Horror Story: Coven tells the secret history of witches and witchcraft in America. Over three hundred years have passed since the turbulent days of Salem and those who managed to escape are now facing extinction. Mysterious attacks have been escalating against their kind and young girls are being sent away to a special school in New Orleans to learn how to protect themselves. Wrapped up in the turmoil is new arrival, Zoe, who is harboring a terrifying secret of her own. Alarmed by the recent aggression, Fiona, the long-absent Supreme, sweeps back into town, determined to protect the Coven and hell-bent on decimating anyone who gets in her way.” (source).

Coven tells the story of a group of young girls who have been recruited to a witch’s coven with fronts as a prestigious all-girls boarding school. The purpose of the coven is to train the young women to hone their occult powers and skill and protect them from the world which seeks to destroy them. There are various factions of witches who are both for and against the coven and as a result numerous conflicts ensue. The show uses this plot to show some of the most gruesome, violent and blatantly satanic scenes and imagery ever on television. Numerous animals are cut open, bled and burned for witchcraft and voodoo rituals. Eyes are gouged and burned out. Throats are slashed. Witches use telekinesis to smash the heads open of men they do not like (with the shattered skull and brain in full view). In just the first several episodes, American Horror Story: Coven features:
◾A teenage witch using her powers to cause a bus accident the leaves the young men on the bus dismembered and dead (with their dismembered bodies and severed heads shown up close).
◾A flashback scene focuses on Madame LaLaurie (who is one of the many historical references on the show), a wealthy slave owner, keeping slaves chained in the attic of her mansion where they are tortured. They have the skin peeled from their faces and organs dug out of their bodies with a metal hook. The “Madame” then uses their blood as make up on her face to maintain her youthful look and for an enchantment spell to keep her husband faithful.

◾Two of the witches enact a spell that requires a pledge to Satan in order to resurrect a young man who had inadvertently died in the bus crash. They take his severed limbs and parts from other victims of the crash to reassemble his body (all shown on-screen).
◾A mother sexually abuses her injured son in extremely graphic fashion while he is laying in bed.
◾A young witch in the coven has sexual relations with an undead human-animal hybrid.
◾Zoe, the star of the show, has the ability to kill any man she has intimate relations with as they suffer violent brain aneurysm and their eyes explode in a bloody mess (shown on-screen). She uses this ability, (again shown in graphic fashion) to murder a young man while he is in a coma in the hospital.

All the while the power of the witches and their air of superiority are on full display. The show makes every attempt to show that witches are genetically and intellectually superior to normal human beings and have no need to regard society’s rules. And certainly God has no role or say in anything they do in their lives. Because they are playing “goddess” themselves.”

Promotion of Sinful Rebellion

Throughout the Bible, in particular in the Old Testament, a battle was constantly waged between the spiritual forces under Satan’s leadership, who sought to bring humanity into sinful rebellion and away from God and eternal life in Heaven. The occult was and is a major lure by Satan to seduce people into sin. Trying to access the spiritual realm in any way, apart from God (through prayer to the Lord, saving faith in Christ, etc) is witchcraft and a clear sin. In the book of Deuteronomy, the Bible goes into great detail is describing all the practices that are an “abomination” to The Lord:

When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch. Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee. Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God. – Deuteronomy 18:9-13.

American Horror Story Coven is satanic | Illuminati Antichist witchcraft and magic
The “Minotaur” character on the show bears a strong resemblance to the Baphomet.

Practicing witchcraft, using tarot cards and speaking with the dead are just some of the sins listed above that are all shown repeatedly on American Horror Show: Coven. The Bible is clear that demonic forces are real. And contacting them is an easy route to not just pull a person into sinful rebellion, but to being possessed by a demon themselves. Spirit beings are far older than human beings and this allows the Devil to use the same tricks over and over again to entice people into trying “magic.” But any temporary power or experience a magic practitioner may have is not worth spending eternity in hell and the Lake of Fire. This is why in the Old Testament law, practicing witchcraft was a capital offense: “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” (Exodus 22:18). This is how dangerous the practice of witchcraft, Wicca, or any black magic truly is.

Making The Occult Cool

Satan’s fate has already been cast. He will be judged and suffer forever. And now he is seeking to take as many people with him. 1 Peter 5:8 says: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” Satan wants to destroy humanity and though he does not have the power to do that outright, he does have limited authority to set up a system of sinful temptation. And pop culture has provided a powerful weapon for the Devil to make the occult, magic and rebellion “cool” and “what’s hot” right now. And to no surprise, young people are tuning into the show in droves. The first two episodes of American Horror Story: Coven were 2 of the top 3 broadcasts in the F/X network’s history. Additionally, it broke the record for any F/X broadcast ever in the highly-coveted 18-34 demographic. Young people are tuning into the show by the millions. Scripture says: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20). Hollywood is bombarding society with darkness and making it fun, exciting and even morally good.

And the more entranced by the occult a person comes, the easier it is to move away from God. In Scripture, King Saul, the first divinely appointed monarch of the nation of ancient Israel, was in constant sin against The Lord. His jealousy towards a young man named David (who would grow up to usurp him as King David) after his defeat of the Nephilim giant Goliath started his descent into evil. He plotted on numerous occasions to kill David, was willing to have his own son killed in his maniacal pursuit, performed divine sacrifices that were only supposed to be done by priests from the tribe of Levi (Saul was from the tribe of Benjamin) and repeatedly disobeyed God’s commands. The prophet Samuel, who served as a spiritual advisor to the king, reprimanded him sharply saying: “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.” (1 Kings 15:23).

So Scripture is clear that rebelling against God and witchcraft go hand in hand. After God’s Divine protection left him and the prophet Samuel died, Saul, who never repented for his sin, went to see a witch to help him rule his kingdom. It was this action that was the final straw and led to his death in the days following. And this is where coven wants to take its fanbase. The show encourages its many fans to send in their own photos of themselves dressed in black (as the witches in the show are instructed to do by the Supreme, the highest ranking witch). The pictures are then posted on the show’s Facebook page:

The Meaning of The Number 13

A coven is defined in the dictionary and the occult as a meeting of 13 witches. Why is there such an occult obsession with 13? God created all numbers, but that has not stopped Satan taking what God created and distorting it for his own purposes. And the Bible reveals all the “wiles of the Devil” for the reader to know and be warned. The number thirteen in Scripture is often aligned with spiritual rebellion. In fact the first time the word “rebel” appears in the Bible it is linked to the number: Genesis Chapter 10 describes the wicked Nimrod, the first emperor after the Flood, founder of Babylon and leader of the Tower of Babylon rebellion:

And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.
And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth. – Genesis 11:1-9.

The Tower of Babel was no normal building. It was an attempt to try and reach Heaven and replace God through occult means. And Nimrod was the King as the founder and ruler of Shinar (where the tower was located) was at the center of this effort. Nimrod’s name literally means “let us rebel.” And when you count the generations of humanity from Adam, the first man (the genealogy is provided in Chapter 10 of Genesis), Nimrod is in the 13th generation.

Some may find it odd to count generations of Old Testament patriarchs, but the Bible does it itself. Enoch, a Biblical patriarch who lived in the pre-flood world, was a believer in the Lord and was the first man to never die. Scripture tells us:

And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah: And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him. – Genesis 5:21-24.

Enoch was the first “Rapture.” Hebrews 11 confirms this: “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” And what is the numerical significance attached to him? We are told in the book of Jude: “ And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,”

So Enoch was a righteous believer, prophet and as raptured for his great faith. And the Bible makes the point of noting that he was in the 7th generation from Adam. Seven is a number repeatedly linked with God’s righteousness in Scripture. So we have a Biblical precedent for looking at the significance of numbers, even in generations. And Nimrod, who was in the 13th generation from Adam was clearly in strong rebellion against The Lord. He was the first conqueror, shedding blood in the post-flood world to establish his empire. He also made the first attempt at global government with the Tower of Babel project (a foreshadow of the Antichrist who will also set up a world government in the end times). His actions were so evil, that The Lord personally intervened and ended them.

In Genesis chapter 13 we see the first mention of Sodom and Gomorrah, two cities in open spiritual rebellion against The Lord. Genesis 13:13 says: “But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.”
In Genesis 14, the first use of the world “rebel” is also linked to the number: “Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled.” (Genesis 14:4).

The Antichrist, the satanically-empowered false Messiah who will rule over the Earth for the final 3 ½ years before the Second Coming of Christ, is described in detail in Revelation Chapter 13. And his city of operations, also known as “Mystery Babylon”, has the full name “MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH” (Revelation 17:5), which just happens to be 13 words. While it may seem like coincidence, consider that in the occult there is a major emphasis put on the number 13. To no surprise, real-life witches are celebrating the occult explosion in Hollywood.

Here is an excerpt from an article published in the Huffington Post, from a practicing witch:

“The numerological symbolism [of the year 2013] was obvious of course: 13 moons in a year, 13 fertility cycles, 13 witches in a coven. It’s a number considered unlucky and unlovely for so long, we’ve seemed to have forgotten why, while still obliterating it from our tallest buildings. And so it’s a number inherently bound up in feminine magic, and thus represents a deification of something persecuted; a profanity resacralized, unsullied and crowned.
The archetype of the witch is long overdue for celebration. Daughters, mothers, queens, virgins, wives, et al. derive meaning from their relation to another person. Witches, on the other hand, have power on their own terms. They have agency. They create. They praise. They commune with nature/ Spirit/God/dess/Choose-your-own-semantics, freely, and free of any mediator. But most importantly: they make things happen. The best definition of magic I’ve been able to come up with is “symbolic action with intent” — “action” being the operative word. Witches are midwives to metamorphosis. They are magical women, and they, quite literally, change the world.
Amazingly, though not surprisingly, as soon as I named 2013 the Year of the Witch, I began to see synchronicities and sympathetic signs all around me. This year marks the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and the 50th anniversary of The Feminine Mystique, two of the past century’s most quake-making reclamations of female power.” (source).

Grossman goes on to praise the new TV shows and movies promoting satanic witchcraft:

“And witch stories are being told all around us this year. Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, Beautiful Creatures, Oz the Great and Powerful, American Horror Story, Salem, and Witches of East End are just a few films and TV shows with 2013 releases. It’s not that we haven’t had centuries of these stories preceding us, but it seems we are witnessing a witchly tipping point.” (source).

These comments underscore a primary seduction of witchcraft and Wicca: it is seen as women’s empowerment. American Horror Story: Coven goes out of its way to emphasize a “women’s rights” angle to witchcraft. Equality in the workplace, politics and socioeconomic sphere is a valid and noble cause (as women have been historically denied this), but it should not come by being yoked with demonic forces. Jesus Christ said: “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26). Many women and young girls alike have been attracted to the occult for its offer of giving power and a means of leveling the playing field in a male-dominated world. However, this is all a lie as the cost of being yoked with the Devil is eternity in hell. Do not be deceived.

The Creators Of American Horror Story: Coven – Against Christianity

Ryan Murphy is the creator and writer of Coven. And he makes no bones about his stance against Biblical Christianity. We previously covered Murphy’s work as the creator of the hit musical show Glee and “The New Normal”, a sitcom about a gay married couple seeking to adopt a surrogate baby. Both shows have made blasphemous attacks on Christianity in particular The New Normal, whose episode “The Godparent Trap” devoted an entire show to mocking the Christian faith and blaspheming the name of Jesus Christ.

On American Horror Story, the lone Christian character, a neighbor named Joan Ramsey, is portrayed as an angry, semi-delusional woman who is mean to the ladies of the Coven from the onset and comes to their home clutching a Bible and telling them stay far away from her and her son. And once her son falls into a coma, she quickly abandons her faith and embraces one of the teen witches who has psychic abilities and is able to communicate with her unconscious son. The show in very clear fashion shows the lone Christian character giving up on prayer and her Bible in order to seek help from a witch who she then lovingly embraces and thanks for helping her.

More Witchcraft On The Way

As quoted above by the real life witch, there are indeed a number of occult-related programs debuting or set to debut in the near future. Witches of East End, a Lifetime show, which premiered in 2013, is about 2 sisters who discover in their 20s that they are powerful witches born into a family of witches. For centuries the two women repeatedly die and come back to life, forgetting their past history, as a result of a “curse of fertility” that was put on their mother. Though not as violent or vulgar as Coven, Witches of East End employs a great deal of real witchcraft, incantations and spells. To no surprise, the show has been a ratings success for Lifetime Network, and has been the network’s highest rated show ever in the 18-34 demographic.

The WGN Network is currently producing “Salem” a new TV series set in the 17th century during the time of the Salem witch trials. Like Coven, it uses real, historic witches as its basis. The lead character is Mary Sibley, a key player in the accusations which led to the witch trials, a series of trials and persecutions in Massachusetts in the 17th century that resulted in the execution of 19 alleged witches and one priest. Oz: The Great and Powerful a film released earlier in the year, starred James Franco who has strong connections to Satanism and the occult (as we detailed our article on his video for the song “Love In The Old Days” which features practicing warlocks and satanic rituals). The CBS Network is also planning a remake of the show Charmed.
Tune Out The Year Of The Witch

The Bible is clear that Satan will use any means to deceive and destroy humanity. In the midst of all of this occult promotion, the light of the Gospel still shines. God’s message is clear: no matter how deep a person has fallen into the occult, nature worship, Wicca or any type of mystical practice, they can be forgiven. While Satan wants believers to follow his Antichrist or burn in Hell, the Bible says that God: “…is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” TV shows like Coven and Witches of East End show powerful, intelligent, attractive women and young ladies who defy death through spells and incantations. All this ignores the truth: we are all going to die. The reason why reincarnation has to be constantly promoted in these programs is so that the viewer does not think about their sin and God’s impending judgment. The Bible says: “it is appointed unto men once to die, and then the judgment.” This life is our only chance to either choose God and eternal life or die in sinful rebellion like the many who have devoted their lives to the occult.

There is a way to eternal life and it does take supernatural power. But that power belongs to Jesus Christ. Christ took on human form to offer Himself, the just dying for the unjust, as a sacrifice to take the punishment we all deserve, not just for the occult, but for lying, stealing, blaspheming God’s name, racism, sexual sin and all the other ways we have violated God’s law. Jesus Christ chose to suffer on the cross and endure God’s wrath so that we would not. And it does not take any action on our part to receive this blessing of forgiveness. It just takes a humble heart to recognize our own sin and faith to believe in God’s way of restoring us.

Courtesy of http://beginningandend.com/american-horror-story-coven-satanic-witchcraft-goes-mainstream/

Posted in Tim's Blog | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Arizona’s Appeal for 20-Week Abortion Ban

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on January 15, 2014

pro-life-marchersThe Supreme Court declined Monday to hear Arizona’s appeal against a lower court’s ruling that determined its ban on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy was unconstitutional. The lower court’s ruling thus remains and the state’s ban on abortion after 20 weeks has been struck down.

The Supreme Court justices declined to provide a reason as to why they won’t be reviewing the case. In May 2013, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that Arizona’s ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy violated the legal precedents set by Roe v. Wade in 1973, and was therefore unconstitutional.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed the 20-week abortion ban into law in 2012. The law has been considered to be one of the strictest pieces of pro-life legislation in the country, only allowing abortions after 20 weeks in the case of medical emergencies. Those who opposed the legislation argued it was stricter than other states with similar laws because the method for determining a gestation period barred abortions two weeks earlier than other states with 20-week abortion bans.

The governor’s spokesperson, Andrew Wilder, released a statement Monday decrying the high court’s decision to not hear the case, calling it “a clear infringement on the authority of states to implement critical life-affirming laws.”

“Governor Brewer will continue to fight to protect Arizona women, families and our most vulnerable population: unborn children.”

The Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life political action committee, also released a statement defending the state’s 20-week abortion ban and the highly debated argument that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks of gestation. “Arizona legislators, led by pro-life State Rep. Kimberly Yee, were acting on the will of the people when they enacted this compassionate, common sense legislation to protect babies at 20 weeks,” Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in the statement.

Follow us Get CP eNewsletter ››

“Twenty weeks is more than halfway through pregnancy and the point at which babies have all their organs, hear and respond to their mother’s voices, and can even feel pain. A growing number of Americans simply reject the horror of late abortion and believe a reasonable line should be drawn. The 9th Circuit Court clearly erred. The law should reflect our natural recoil from this type of brutality.”

Pro-abortion groups heralded the Supreme Court’s decision, but also criticized the growing number of strict, anti-abortion bills being passed in states. “The Supreme Court soundly declined to review the Ninth Circuit’s sound decision that Arizona’s abortion ban is clearly unconstitutional under long-standing precedent,” Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement.

“… But women should not be forced to run to court, year after year, in state after state, to protect their constitutional rights and access to critical health care,” Northup continued, adding that women’s rights must not be “legislated away by politicians who are hell-bent on restricting access to the full range of reproductive health care.”

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will begin hearing oral arguments regarding the 2007 Massachusetts law that blocks pro-life protests within 35 feet of an abortion clinic. Those opposing the “Buffer Zone” law argue it violates their constitutional rights to free speech. A U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit previously upheld the state law, and those who support the law argue it ensures public safety for women seeking an abortion and abortion clinic employees.

Dana Cody, an attorney and executive director of Life Legal Defense Foundation, told MassLive.com that the law specifically targets those who oppose abortion. Her pro-life group has filed an amicus brief opposing the law. “It’s content-based discrimination,” Cody said. “This is about limiting opposition to abortion in a public forum.”

Courtesy of http://www.christianpost.com/news/supreme-court-refuses-to-hear-arizonas-appeal-for-20-week-abortion-ban-11257

Posted in Faith Issues in Our Times, Hot Legal News | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Court Says Church Cannot Keep Tithes

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on January 14, 2014

tithesOn December 16, 2013 the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a bankruptcy court’s decision and ruled that a church had to turn over to a bankruptcy trustee the tithes and offerings it received from a couple because they filed for bankruptcy. Shortly after the couple filed for bankruptcy, the trustee in charge of the bankruptcy went after the church to which the couple had given their tithes for the previous two years. The trustee claimed that the law, under 11 USC 548(a)(1)(B), authorized him to recover all the contributions made by the couple to the church in 2008 and 2009 because the couple contributed more than 15% of their gross annual income to the church (Word of Life Christian Center). The church agreed that the couple gave more than 15% but also held that the law protected the church from having to forfeit 100% of the contributions to the trustee. The church cited section 548(a)(2) and claimed that it was required to return only the portion of the contributions that exceeded 15% of the couple’s gross annual income. The court disagreed with the church. It ruled that the language of the law was plain; that even if the contributions exceeded 15% of the couple’s annual gross income by just one cent, the church would have to forfeit to the trustee all of the contributions it had received from the couple. Most churches in America do not know that the law allows bankruptcy trustees to render void the tithes that churches receive from its members if the member later files for bankruptcy if the members tithes and offerings combined is greater than 15% of their income. We will teach what a church should do to avoid the potential consequences of this law at our conferences.

How the courts calculate gross annual income

In this case, the court had to figure out whether the couple gave to the church more than 15% of their gross annual income. To make that determination the court examined the following:

In 2008, the couple earned $28,836.00, of which $22,036.00 came from Social Security benefits. The couple donated $3,478.00 to the church. That amounted to approximately 12% of their income.
In 2009, the couple earned $30,651.00, of which $23,164.00 came from Social Security benefits. The couple donated to the church $1,280.00, which amounted to approximately 4% of their income.
When you average out the two previous years, the couple gave approximately 7% of their income.
It appears that the couple never gave more than 15% to the church, yet the court said that the couple did give more than 15% because it ruled that income from Social Security benefits could not be counted as gross annual income under section 548 in calculating the couple’s gross annual income.

Tithes and offerings received are not always safe

This court case reminds us that the current bankruptcy laws leave open the possibility that a court-appointed trustee can recover offerings received by the church if the donor files for bankruptcy. This can cause severe financial disruptions to a church in cases of large donors that end up filing for bankruptcy.

Congress passes law to protect churches, but falls short

In 1998, Congress passed the Religious Liberty and Charitable Donation Protection Act. This law was designed to protect churches that have received tithes and offerings from members who later file for bankruptcy protection. Before this law, appointed trustees would go after churches, seeking to recover all of the tithes and offerings they had been given (by members now in bankruptcy) in the past. This caused a lot of grief and pain to churches. When the Religious Liberty and Charitable Donation Protection Act was passed it provided protection because it says that the giving of up to 15% of gross annual income is safe from bankruptcy trustees. Congress added this provision because many people tithe and also give additional funds to churches for building campaigns, missions, and other church programs. Yet the law falls short on two provisions, as shown below.

1. The law failed to clearly define what would happen if a person gave more than 15%. It just protected someone who gave less than 15%. Now the court has interpreted that if a person gives one cent more than 15%, the bankruptcy trustee can confiscate the entire amount of the contributions given to the church.

2. The law never defined gross annual income (GAI). In determining the definition of gross income for the purposes of section 548, the court leaned on current bankruptcy laws and ruled that Social Security income does not count as gross income. This leaves a gaping hole in the law. If a person tithes whose sole source of income comes from Social Security benefits, then 100% of his/her giving to a church is subject to confiscation if he/she files for bankruptcy.

The court went on to say that “the statute establishes a bright-line rule-donations not exceeding 15% of GAI are protected; donations exceeding 15% are not. While the statute may place a burden on churches and other religious and charitable organizations which may be faced with potentially having to turn over donations they receive to a trustee” . . . “its remedy lies with Congress, not this court.”

The defense argued “voiding entire transfers above 15% of a debtor’s gross annual income would place an undue burden upon churches. If the entire donation amount is voided churches would be obligated to investigate a donor’s financial background in order to use funds within two years of receipt.”

Courtesy of https://www.startchurch.com/blog/view/name/court-says-church-cannot-keep-tithes-part-1

Posted in Faith Issues in Our Times, Hot Legal News, Religious Freedom | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

37 Muslim Nations Persecuting Christians

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on January 12, 2014

persecutionThe number of Christian martyrs was twice as high in 2013 as the year before, and radical Islamist governments and groups are responsible for the vast majority of deaths and persecution around the world, according to the 2014 World Watch List.

As WND reported, Open Doors USA, which assists the persecuted church around the world, compiled the World Watch list and reports 2,123 Christians were killed for their faith last year, compared to 1,201 in 2012. In fact, the killings in Syria alone (1,213) trumped the total from a year earlier.

“The target of violence is mainly taking place mainly from rebel groups who are Islamic extremists, so these are jihadists practicing extreme Islam and are targeting Christian areas,” said Emily Fuentes, communications director at Open Doors USA. “Many of these Christians have had to flee, and these towns have essentially become ghost towns because they’ve cleared Christians out. In October of last year, there was a massacre in one of these towns where more than 45 people died and hundreds were injured just because it was a Christian-dominated town.

“Syria is experiencing a whole new level of persecution and violence of Christians,” said Fuentes, noting that Syria is now the third worst persecutor of Christians, skyrocketing from the 36th spot it held just two years ago.

While Syria is the most deadly spot on earth for Christians, Fuentes said it fits a pattern in the Islamic world. She noted, of the 50 worst nations for persecution, 37 of them are Muslim. Fuentes said another disturbing twist is the melding of radical Islam with communist and other totalitarian ideologies.

“Some of (Christians in persecuted nations) experience different forms of persecution or combined forms of persecution. An example would be some of the central Asian countries, like Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and all those. You might still see persecution that comes from the the former days of the USSR, a little bit of lingering communism, where the government is sending officials to monitor churches and monitor any Christian activities and secretly spying on Christians and using governmental tactics,” Fuentes said.

“But you’re also seeing extreme Islam blended into that. So not only are they worried about the government, but they’re worried about sections of the government that are Islamic extremists or groups that are Islamic extremists coming in to attack them,” she said.

Nine of the worst 10 nations for Christians are Islamic. In addition to Syria in third slot, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Maldives, Pakistan, Iran and Yemen are among the worst of the worst.

But for 12 years running now, the communist North Korean regime is at the top of the list, and Fuentes said things there are only getting worse there.

“It is the most hostile place to be a Christian. It is an act punishable by death in North Korea to be a Christian, either by execution sometimes on the spot or execution very soon after finding out about your faith,” said Fuentes, who explained that those who are not killed are sent to Nazi-like concentration camps. She also said the pain inflicted by the regime goes far beyond the Christians themselves.

“The moral dilemma that North Korean Christians have that’s unlike any other place in the world is that if their faith is discovered, not only them but up to three generations of their family could be forced to go to these labor camps. So that’s their parents, their children, their grandchildren, all because of their faith in Christ,” she said.

The biggest movers on this year’s list were the Central African Republic, leaping to 16th after not even being on the list last year, and Mali, which dropped from seventh in 2012 to 33rd this year. Fuentes said although it is a majority Christian nation, Islamic groups have infiltrated the cities and have been targeting Christians for death. She said 13 pastors have been slain there in just the past couple of months.

Mali is the opposite story. International military action rooted many radical Islamists from that nation and greater religious freedom has emerged, although Fuentes hastens to add that any nation on the list is a nightmare for believers.

Fuentes said the annual World Watch List is designed for multiple purposes, including the desire to attract more media attention to the surge of persecution around the world, alert public officials to address these problems and inform pastors and believers around the nation. However, she said all of those take a backseat to the No. 1 goal.

“The No. 1 thing that persecuted Christians ask for in every country is our prayers. It’s not Bibles. It’s not money. It’s prayers, and they know that prayer is the most powerful thing. It can change the hearts of leaders who may not be as drawn to sharing the message of persecuted Christians. It can even change the heart of dictators like Kim Jong-Un,” Fuentes said.

The following is the full list:

1) North Korea
2) Somalia
3) Syria
4) Iraq
5) Afghanistan
6) Saudi Arabia
7) Maldives
8) Pakistan
9) Iran
10) Yemen
11) Sudan
12) Eritrea
13) Libya
14) Nigeria
15) Uzbekistan
16) Central African Republic
17) Ethiopia
18) Vietnam
19) Qatar
20) Turkmenistan
21) Laos
22) Egypt
23) Myanmar (Burma)
24) Brunei
25) Colombia
26) Jordan
27) Oman
28) India
29) Sri Lanka
30) Tunisia
31) Bhutan
32) Algeria
33) Mali
34) Palestinian Territories
35) United Arab Emirates
36) Mauritania
37) China
38) Kuwait
39) Kazakhstan
40) Malaysia
41) Bahrain
42) Comoros
43) Kenya
44) Morocco
45) Tajikistan
46) Djibouti
47) Indonesia
48) Bangladesh
49) Tanzania
50) Niger
Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2014/01/37-muslim-nations-persecuting-christians/#UoW1f248ls5re7r4.99

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

Police Arrest US Street Preacher in Scotland for Calling Homosexuality a Sin

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on January 11, 2014

tony-mianoAmerican street preacher Tony Miano was arrested earlier this year in July. Christian Concern, a British legal group, helped Miano avoid paying a fine and receiving a ‘Caution’ after he was detained.

Scottish police arrested Tony Milano, a U.S. preacher and former Los Angeles Deputy Sheriff, for breach of the peace and for using “homophobic” language in the condemnation of sin.

“It is indicative of the suppression of the freedom to speak and live out the words of Jesus Christ in public and present the teachings of the Bible,” Andrea Minichiello Williams, chief executive of the British organization Christian Concern’s Christian Legal Centre, said about the arrest Wednesday night.

Milano’s colleague, Pastor Josh Williamson of the Craigie Reformed Baptist Church in Perth, pointed out, “Tony wasn’t focusing just on homosexual practice – it was about all sin.”

Milano, the second street preacher to address lunchtime shoppers on Wednesday, was preaching about sin in general. He then turned to mention sexual sin, including adultery, promiscuity, and homosexuality.

As Milano started preaching about sin, a woman reportedly yelled at him, shouting that her son was gay. Williamson said she tried to smash the camera he was using to film Milano’s preaching. The woman threatened she would get the preachers arrested, and proceeded to call the police.

The police arrived as the street preachers were packing up, and the woman kept shouting at Milano. “The female officer saw we had a camera and lunged for it,” Williamson recalled. “Then the male policeman grabbed it and threw it in the police van.”

According to Williamson, the male officer interviewed the woman and her friend, and then immediately arrested Milano, without questioning him or explaining the reason for his arrest. “I asked why he was being arrested and was told it was for a breach of the peace and for using homophobic language,” Williamson reported.

Williams noted that the incident “adds to the number of arrests of Christian street evangelists for preaching from the Bible,” and warned that it was a sign of the suppression of religious freedom.

Milano was arrested for a similar “crime” in London last July. “The officers that detained me specifically said the concern was the use of ‘homophobic hate speech,'” the retired deputy sheriff told Christian radio talk show host Frank Sontag during a segment on KKLA. Christian Concern helped him avoid paying a fine and receive a “caution” after he was detained.

“I was expositing 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8, where the apostle Paul admonishes the Thessalonians to abstain from all forms of sexual immorality,” the street preacher explained. “I began to preach from that text by describing different kinds of sexual immorality, from addiction to romance novels to pornography, fornication, sex outside of marriage, lust of the heart, lust of the mind, lust of the eyes and homosexuality.”

While spending seven hours in jail, he said police interrogated him about his faith in Jesus Christ. “I was asked if I believe homosexuality is a sin,” Milano recounted. “I was asked what portion of the Bible I was reading. I was asked that if a homosexual was hungry and walked up to me, would I give them something to eat.”

Milano explained he began street evangelism eight years ago when he realized “that I love myself more than I love lost people.” He admitted that “I was more concerned about me than where they would spend eternity – I was more concerned about what they thought of me instead of what they think of Christ.”

“There’s nothing more loving we will do for another human being than explain to them that God’s wrath abides upon them and that same God that will send them to hell is also the only that can save them from self through faith in Jesus Christ,” Milano declared.

Courtesy of http://www.christianpost.com/news/police-arrest-us-street-preacher-in-scotland-for-calling-homosexuality-a-sin-112366/

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

Hawaii Churches Prevail Against Atheists Baseless’ Lawsuit

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on January 10, 2014

Hawaii sealHONOLULU — A Hawaii court has dismissed two churches from a lawsuit that two atheists brought against five congregations in the Aloha State. Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys represent the two churches, One Love Ministries and Calvary Chapel Central Oahu, which the atheists falsely accused of defrauding the government.

The suit claimed the churches committed fraud by paying substandard rent to the public schools in which they meet even though the school districts agree that the churches have consistently paid all agreed-upon rents. The court found that atheists Mitchell Kahle and Holly Huber failed to sufficiently allege any evidence of fraud.

“Congregations serving the neediest in their communities should be welcomed, not driven out by bogus accusations resulting from a clear hostility to churches,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley, who argued before the court last month. “The churches have been completely honest and have paid all required rent to the schools. The court has rightly thrown out this lawsuit and its invented claims against our clients.”

“These churches have not only faithfully paid all of their rent, they’ve given even more in service and funding to the schools and communities they love,” added co-counsel James Hochberg of Honolulu, one of nearly 2,300 allied attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom. “Honestly, these churches are the exact opposite of how they are being characterized in this baseless lawsuit. It has been a shameful attack upon people completely undeserving of such animosity.”

Kahle and Huber filed their suit, Kahle v. New Hope International Ministries, with Hawaii’s Circuit Court of the First Circuit under the state’s False Claims Act. The law allows “whistleblowers” with inside information to expose fraudulent billing by government contractors; however, the lawsuit failed to sufficiently allege that the churches submitted any false statement to defraud the government. The two atheists can amend their complaint within 45 days of the dismissal order if they are able to cite any such fraud.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.

Courtesy of http://www.adfmedia.org/News/PRDetail/8721

Posted in Faith Issues in Our Times, Hot Legal News | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Christian Woman Sentenced to Hang for Blasphemy Writes Pope: ‘Only God Will be Able to Free Me’

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on January 6, 2014

aaa1_456(CNSNews.com) – Asia Bibi, a Catholic Pakistani mother of five who was sentenced to death by hanging in 2010 for blasphemy, wrote a letter to Pope Francis sending Christmas greetings and adding that, even though in a Pakistan prison, she also “celebrated the birth of the Lord.” Bibi has been in prison in Multan, Pakistan for four-and-a-half years and currently is waiting for the conclusion of her appeals to the court.

“To His Holiness Pope Francis: in the name of our almighty and glorious Lord, I, Asia Bibi, would like to express my deepest gratitude to God and to you, Holy Father,” the imprisoned mother wrote in her letter, which was published in the Italian newspaper Tempi on Dec. 31.

“I hope that every Christian has been able to celebrate the Christmas just past with joy,” Bibi wrote. “Like many other prisoners, I also celebrated the birth of the Lord in prison in Multan, here in Pakistan.”

She continued, “I am very grateful to all the churches that are praying for me and fighting for my freedom. I do not know how long I can go on and on. If I am still alive, it is thanks to the strength that your prayers give me. I have met many people who speak and fight for me. Unfortunately, still to no avail. At this time I just want to trust the mercy of God, who can do everything, that all is possible. Only God will be able to free me.”

The mother of five thanked the “Renaissance Education Foundation” for bringing her husband and children to her prison in Multan so that she could see them at Christmas, calling it a “dream come true.”

“I would have liked to be in St. Peter’s for Christmas to pray with you,” she wrote to the Pope, “but I trust in God’s plan for me and hopefully it will be achieved next year.”

Regarding her prison conditions, Bibi wrote, “I am facing many problems this winter: my cell has no heating and no door for shelter from the bitter cold, the security measures are not adequate, and I do not have enough money for daily needs and am very far from Lahore so my family cannot help me.”

“Holy Father, I want finally for you to accept my best wishes for the New Year. I know you pray for me with all your heart. And this gives me confidence that one day my freedom will be possible,” she wrote.

Asia Bibi was arrested in June 2009 after an incident where she drank from a cup at a well. Bibi’s Muslim co-workers claimed that her use of the well made it “unclean” because she was a Christian. An argument ensued, and witnesses testified at her trial that she insulted the Prophet Mohammed.

A few days later a mob came to her house and beat her and her family, and she was then arrested by the police under Section 295 C of Pakistan’s Penal Code (the “anti-blasphemy” law), as reported by CNN.

In November 2010, Bibi was sentenced to death for blasphemy. She has remained in prison since then, enduring a lengthy appeals process.

Suzan Johnson Cook, the U.S. ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom, during a May 20, 2013 press conference said: “In terms of Pakistan, there’s a new government, there’s a new leadership, and I think it remains to be seen how people handle it. As to the question previously, blasphemy is very important to us, and there are many who are being held in prisons still – Asia Bibi and others – about 20 others who are in prison because of their belief. So we have to see what this new government will do. We certainly encourage him and will urge him to again hold accountable the perpetrators of violence and to make sure that there’s protection of religious minorities. And so that’s going to be very important. Human rights is a very high priority for this Administration.”

See more at: http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/barbara-boland/christian-woman-sentenced-hang-blasphemy-writes-pope-only-god-will-be#sthash.A7YdQ0oa.dpuf

Posted in Attack on Christianity, Religious Freedom | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Top 10 Church-State and Religious Liberty Developments in 2013

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on January 6, 2014

sepaby Howard Friedman

As the new year approaches, here is my annual attempt at picking the most important developments of the past year. My nominations for the 2013 Top Ten Church-State and Religious Liberty Developments are:

1. The U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Windsor strikes down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act in an opinion by Justice Kennedy that triggers judicial and legislative expansion of marriage equality to a total of 18 states and the District of Columbia by the end of 2013.

2. Judicial challenges by Catholic- and conservative Christian-owned small businesses to the Affordable Care Act contraceptive coverage mandate generate an intense legal debate over whether corporations have religious exercise rights. The U.S. Supreme Court grants certiorari in two cases raising the issue.

3. A decision by the New Mexico Supreme Court in Elane Photography requires a commercial photography business to serve same-sex couples on the same basis as opposite-sex couple, despite the photographer’s religious objections to same-sex marriage. A preliminary Colorado administrative decision takes the same approach on wedding cakes. In a related development, Britain’s Supreme Court holds that its anti-discrimination laws require Christian hotel owners to rent rooms to same-sex couples.

4. U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments in Town of Greece case. The Court will decide on the constitutionality of opening city council meetings with sectarian prayers.

5. Numerous challenges by religiously-affiliated colleges and social service agencies to a compromise that was intended to accommodate their objections to the Affordable Care Act contraceptive coverage mandate raise the issue of how to define a “substantial burden” on religious exercise under RFRA. Courts have reached differing conclusions.

6. European Court of Human Rights decides four cases from Britain on religious accommodation of Christian employee’ religious beliefs. Decisions call for a case-by-case balancing approach.

7. Egypt continues to struggle with the future role of the Muslim Brotherhood (which the government now brands a “terrorist” group) and with what its constitution should say about the role of religion.

8. Federal district court strikes down most of Utah’s anti-polygamy law.

9. A variety of recent cases and legislative initiatives in the U.S. and elsewhere raise the question of what qualifies as a “religion”– Scientology, yoga, Humanism, Naturism.

10. Federal district court holds Internal Revenue Code parsonage allowance provisions violate Establishment Clause.

Courtesy of http://religionclause.blogspot.com/2013/12/top-10-church-state-and-religious.html

Posted in Faith Issues in Our Times, Hot Legal News, Religious Freedom | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

VA hospitals nix Christmas to ‘protect’ veterans

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on January 4, 2014

istock_000021585363smallThe ongoing attack on religious expression at Christmas spilled into three Veterans Administration (VA) hospitals in Georgia, Texas, and Iowa last month. The hospitals claimed the VA’s handbook required them to censor Christianity out of Christmas in order to protect veterans.

Students from Alleluia Community School in Augusta, Ga., headed to Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in late December to sing Christmas carols for hospitalized veterans, just as they had done the previous two years. But when they arrived, a hospital representative handed them a list of 12 secular Christmas songs it had “deemed appropriate for celebration within the hearing range of all Veterans,” the Athens-Banner Herald reported. Hospital spokesman Brian Rothwell said the choir was offered the option sing its religious Christmas songs in a private chapel, so veterans of other faiths wouldn’t be offended. The disappointed group left without singing.

“Our nation’s veterans have time and again faced and defeated dangerous threats to the liberties we cherish as American citizens—children singing Christmas carols is not among them,” Jeremy Tedesco of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) said in a statement. “By banning these Christmas carols, the VA is trampling the very religious freedoms our veterans have sacrificed so much to defend.” ADF sent the hospital a letter explaining it is unconstitutional to exclude religious carols from a public facility.

In Iowa City, Iowa, the VA hospital told American Legion representatives they could not pass out Christmas presents if the wrapping paper said “Merry Christmas” or had other religious references. In the end, the group “filtered” presents with religious wrapping through the VA chaplain.

An official at the VA hospital in Dallas refused to accept handmade Christmas cards from 52 school children hoping to encourage injured vets and thank them for their service. The reason for the ban: The cards had religious references like “Merry Christmas” and “God bless you,” and some had scriptural references.

Susan Chapman, the teacher in charge of the card giveaway, hired the Liberty Institute to look into “unlawful viewpoint discrimination.” Jeff Milligan, director of the VA North Texas Health Care System, responded by releasing a statement apologizing for the misinformation and affirming VA hospitals do indeed accept religious Christmas cards. “Our Chaplains distribute them by asking patients on a one-on-one basis if they will accept a holiday card with religious references,” Milligan said.

The Christmas conflict raised the ire of several veterans’ groups.

“First of all, VA’s decision to prohibit the delivery of Christmas cards that mention Christmas is ludicrous,” said American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger on the group’s website. “Second of all, VA has been down this road before, and recently. VA has been warned through a federal court decree to stop denying freedom of religious expression at its facilities.”

In 2011, a federal court banned the VA from religious discrimination, ordering it “not to ban religious speech or words, such as ‘God’ and ‘Jesus,’ in condolence cards or similar documents” given by non-VA volunteers. It also ordered the VA “not to ban, regulate, or otherwise interfere with the giving of gifts, including gifts that contain a religious message or viewpoint.”

Courtesy of http://www.worldmag.com/2014/01/va_hospitals_nix_christmas_to_protect_veterans

Posted in Attack on Christianity | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »