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Posts Tagged ‘prayer’

America Relies on God: Public Days of Fasting and Thanksgiving During the American Revolution

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on November 24, 2016

god_bless_americaAs America has humbled herself before God and been obedient to His commandments, He has poured out His blessings upon this nation in innumerable ways. It was by God’s hand and for His purposes that America came into being as the world’s first Christian republic, but it was through the people who covenanted themselves with God that He was able to do His work. Almost all the people who colonized America, though they were from different denominations and Christian persuasions, embraced the Puritan doctrine of Divine Providence, seeing God in history as “directly supervising the affairs of men, sending evil upon the city . . . for their sins, . . . or blessing his people when they turn from their evil ways.”1 Looking to the Scriptures for the source of their law, both personal and civil, they firmly believed God’s blessings would come upon those who obey His commands and curses would come upon the disobedient (see Deuteronomy 28 and Leviticus 26). This is why during times of calamity or crisis both church and civil authorities would proclaim days of fasting and prayer; and when God responded with deliverance and blessing, they would proclaim days of thanksgiving and prayer. From 1620 until the American Revolution at least 1000 such days were proclaimed by governments at all levels, and many more by various churches.2 This continued during our struggle for independence, through our first century as a nation, and, in some measure, even up until today.

The First Great Awakening Beginning in the late 1730s and continuing for about two decades, a great awakening occurred in America. This revival of Christianity set on fire the hearts of the people all over the colonies, which in turn produced a greater morality and godliness than before existed in this nation. This was quite phenomenal for virtue had always permeated America.

One example of this is attested to by historian James Truslow Adams, who said, “I have found only one case of a colonial traveler being robbed in the whole century preceding the Revolution.”3 The Great Awakening had such an impact upon the colonies that in some towns almost the entire populace was converted to Christ. Benjamin Franklin wrote of this time period that “it seemed as if all the world were growing religious, so one could not walk thro’ the town in an evening without hearing psalms sung in different families of every street.”4 This revival of Christianity in the hearts of the people had “expression not merely in church attendance, but in all the activities of life.”5

Universities such as Princeton, Rutgers, Dartmouth and Brown were founded in order to supply all the colonies with learned and influential clergy. These universities produced not only Godly clergy but Godly leaders in civil government, business, and every other aspect of life. Providentially, this awakening occurred while our future Founding Fathers were young men. The men who won the Revolutionary War, formed our Constitutional Republic, and set our nation properly on course were thus equipped with the virtue, morality, self-government, and Biblical worldview necessary for their future stations.

Even the non-Christians, as Franklin and Jefferson, were affected in this way. Franklin said he “never doubted . . . the existence of the Deity; that He made the world, and governed it by His Providence;. . . that all crime will be punished, and virtue rewarded, either here or hereafter.”6 The ideas upon which our nation was birthed — the right of man to life, liberty, and property— had their origin in God. As they originated in God, they were also secured due to His blessings upon this nation. He blessed not only individuals, but the entire nation. As America humbled herself before God by obedience to His Word and acknowledgment of her dependence upon Him for success in the Revolutionary War and the formation of the new nation, God not only provided wise and virtuous leaders, but also supernaturally intervened on behalf of the American army on many occasions. From the initial conflict with Britain, the American Colonies relied upon God.

George Washington’s words to his wife upon departure to take command of the Continental army, reflected the heart of the American people: “I shall rely . . . confidently on that Providence, which has heretofore preserved and been bountiful to me.”7

To punish Massachusetts for its action at the Boston Tea Party, England closed the Boston port on June 1, 1774. The response of the colonies revealed in Whom they looked for help. The Virginia House of Burgesses, in resolves penned by Jefferson, “set apart the first day of June as a day of fasting and prayer, to invoke the divine interposition to give to the American people one heart and one mind to oppose by all just means every injury to American rights.”8 On that day large congregations filled the churches. This occurred not only in Virginia but throughout the colonies. Action followed this prayer as the colonists began to voluntarily provide aid and encouragement to Boston as that city’s commerce was cut off by the British blockade. This voluntary and universal action revealed that “beneath the diversity that characterized the colonies, there was American unity.”9 The American people recognized this unity came from a common Christian bond among the people of all the colonies.

In response to the charity that flowed into the city, the Boston Gazette of July 11, 1774, responded by writing, “my persecuted brethren of this metropolis, you may rest assured that the guardian God of New England, who holds the hearts of his people in his hands, has influenced your distant brethren to this benevolence.”10 A few months later, in September of 1774, the first Continental Congress assembled in Philadelphia. The first act of the first session of the Congress was to pass a resolution calling for the opening of Congress the next day with prayer by Rev. Duché. The next morning Rev. Duché did pray and read from the thirty-fifth Psalm, as Washington, Henry, Lee, Jay and others knelt and joined with him in prayer. John Adams wrote about this scene in a letter to his wife: “I never saw a greater Effect upon an audience. It seemed as if Heaven had ordained that Psalm to be read on that Morning. . . . It has had an excellent Effect upon every Body here.”11

God’s involvement in the founding of America is again seen on April 19, 1775. This day marked the battle of Lexington, of which Rev. Jonas Clark proclaimed: “From this day will be dated the liberty of the world.”12 It was his parishioners who shed the first blood of the Revolution, and it was on his church lawn that it occurred. God made certain that on this day His people had proper support, for on April 19, the entire colony of Connecticut was fasting and praying. On March 22, when the Governor of Connecticut, Jonathan Trumbull, proclaimed April 19 as a “Day of publick Fasting and Prayer,” he probably did not realize the significance of that date; but the One who rules heaven and earth and directs the course of history undoubtably knew and was able to direct the humble hearts of the colonists to pray. In part, Trumbull’s proclamation asked, “that God would graciously pour out His Holy Spirit on us, to bring us to a thorough Repentance and effectual Reformation, that our Iniquities may not be our Ruin; that He would restore, preserve and secure the Liberties of this, and all the other British American Colonies, and make this Land a mountain of Holiness and habitation of Righteousness forever.”13

Connecticut was not the only colony to lay the foundations of the War for Independence in prayer, for on April 15, 1775, Massachusetts officially proclaimed May 11 to be set apart as a “Day of Public Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer” — a day where all their confidence was to be “reposed only on that God who rules in the Armies of Heaven, and without whose Blessing the best human Counsels are but foolishness — and all created Power Vanity.”14 America continued to humble herself before God and show her reliance upon Him throughout the war. Frequent days of prayer and fasting were observed, not only by individuals and local churches, but also by the Continental Army, and all the newly united States of America.

Immediately after the Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence, they appointed chaplains to Congress as well as ordering chaplains to be provided for the army. These chaplains were paid with public funds. As God’s people and the nation humbled themselves and prayed, He moved mightily on their behalf. He gave wisdom to America to know when and how to respond to the injustices of Britain. He worked Christian character into the American people, her leaders, and her army so they could endure many hardships and not give up their fight for liberty, even in seemingly hopeless situations. He also controlled the weather and arranged events to assure eventual victory for the new nation.

One such miraculous event occurred during the summer of 1776. During the Battle of Long Island, Washington and his troops had been pushed back to the East River and surrounded by the much larger British army. Washington decided to retreat across the wide East River, even though it appeared doomed to fail. If it did fail, this probably would have marked the end of the war. Yet the God in Whom Washington and the nation trusted came to their aid. He caused a storm to arise which protected the American army from the enemy, then stopped it so as to allow the Americans to escape. He also miraculously brought in a fog to cover the retreat. In addition, He directed a servant, sent to warn the British, to those soldiers who would not understand him— German-speaking mercenaries. Thanks to God, 9000 men with all their supplies had miraculously retreated to New York. Here we see, as American General Greene said, “the best effected retreat I ever read or heard of.” This event was so astonishing that many (including General Washington) attributed the safe retreat of the American army to the hand of God.15

On October 17, 1777, British General Burgoyne was defeated by Colonial forces at Saratoga. Earlier, General Howe was supposed to have marched north to join Burgoyne’s 11,000 men at Saratoga. However, in his haste to leave London for a holiday, Lord North forgot to sign the dispatch to General Howe. The dispatch was pigeon-holed and not found until years later in the archives of the British army. This inadvertence, plus the fact that contrary winds kept British reinforcements delayed at sea for three months, totally altered the outcome at Saratoga in favor of America.16 In response to the victory, the Continental Congress proclaimed a day of thanksgiving and praise to God. In part, they stated, “Forasmuch as it is the indispensable duty of all men to adore the superintending providence of Almighty God, . . . and it having pleased Him in His abundant mercy not only to continue to us the innumerable bounties of His common providence, but also to smile upon us in the prosecution of a just and necessary war for the defence and establishment of our inalienable rights and liberties, particularly in that He hath been pleased . . . to crown our arms with most signal success: it is therefore recommended . . . to set apart Thursday, the 18th day of December, for solemn thanksgiving and praise.” They recommended for everyone to confess their sins and humbly ask God, “through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of remembrance” and thus He then would be able to pour out His blessings upon every aspect of the nation.17

This is the official resolution of our Congress during the Revolutionary War! No wonder the blessings of God flowed upon this nation. Similar resolutions were also issued by the Commander of the American army, George Washington. When Benedict Arnold’s treason was providentially discovered in September of 1780, both Congress and Washington acknowledged it was by the Hand of God.

Congress declared December 7, 1780, a day of Thanksgiving in which the nation could give thanks to God for His “watchful providence” over them. In a letter to John Laurens, Washington wrote, “In no instance since the commencement of the War has the interposition of Providence appeared more conspicuous than in the rescue of the Post and Garrison of West Point from Arnold’s villainous perfidy.”18 In Washington’s official address to the Army announcing Arnold’s treason, he stated, “The providential train of circumstances which led to it [his discovery of Arnold’s treason] affords the most convincing proof that the liberties of America are the object of Divine protection.”19

This Divine protection of the liberties of America was seen over and over again during the Revolution — at Trenton and the crossing of the Delaware; during the winter at Valley Forge; in France becoming America’s ally; during the miraculous retreat of the Americans from Cowpens; and at the Battle of Yorktown.20 Throughout all these events America consistently gave thanks to Almighty God, humbled herself before Him, and sought to obey Him in all spheres of life. This released the blessings and grace of God upon this nation which enabled America to be victorious in her struggle for freedom.

Some years later, God’s grace provided wisdom to establish the United States Constitution, and in so doing provide a Christian form of government through which the Christian spirit of this nation would effectively flow. For America to continue to be a citadel of liberty and prosperity, we must continually humble ourselves before Him who gave birth to this nation and acknowledge with George Washington in his first inaugural speech of April 30, 1789, that “no people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished, by some token of providential agency.”21

In 1787, a committee of all the states of the United States of America, gratefully looking back over all the preceding years, set apart October 19, 1787, “as a day of public prayer and thanksgiving” to their “all-bountiful Creator” who had conducted them “through the perils and dangers of the war” and established them as a free nation, and gave “them a name and a place among the princes and nations of the earth.” In that official proclamation they wrote that the “benign interposition of Divine Providence hath, on many occasions been most miraculously and abundantly manifested; and the citizens of the United States have the greatest reason to return their most hearty and sincere praises and thanksgiving to the God of their deliverance, whose name be praised.”22 God is the One who laid the foundation for America and the One Who assured her birth and growth as a nation. Apart from His continued influence, we cannot expect our nation to be maintained.

Stephen McDowell

End Notes 1. W. DeLoss Love, Jr., The Fast and Thanksgiving Days of New England (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1895), 41.

2. See Love, pp. 464–514 for a list.

3. James Truslow Adams, A History of American Life, Vol. III, Provincial Society, 1690-1763 (New York: The MacMillan Company, 1927), 161.

4. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, compiled and edited by John Bigelow (New York: Walter J. Black, Inc., 1932), 217.

5. Adams, p. 284.

6. The Autobiography of Franklin, p. 182.

7. William J. Johnson, George Washington the Christian (Milford, MI: Mott Media, 1976, reprint), 69.

8. The Christian History of the Constitution, Verna M. Hall, compiler (San Francisco: Foundation for American Christian Education, 1980), 336.

9. Ibid., pp. 338-339.

10. Ibid.

11. The Book of Abigail and John, Selected Letters of the Adams Family, 1762-1784 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1975), 76.

12. They Preached Liberty, Franklin P. Cole, editor (Indianapolis: Liberty Press), 39.

13. Copy of proclamation in The Christian History of the American Revolution, Consider and Ponder, Verna M. Hall, compiler (San Francisco: Foundation for American Christian Education, 1976), 495.

14. The Christian History of the Constitution, p. Id.

15. See Mark A. Beliles and Stephen K. McDowell, America’s Providential History (Charlottesville: Providence Foundation, 1991), 158-161.

16. America, Great Crises in Our History Told by Its Makers, A Library of Original Sources, Vol. III, Issued by Americanization Department, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, Chicago, 1925, p. 211.

17. B. F. Morris, Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States (Philadelphia: George W. Childs, 1864), 531.

18. Beliles and McDowell, 163-164.

19. America, p. 285.

20. See Beliles and McDowell, America’s Providential History, Chapter 11.

21. A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, James D. Richardson (Washington: Bureau of National Literature and Art, 1910), vol. 1.

22. B.F. Morris, 542-543.

 

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Atheist Group Loses Lawsuit Challenging Prayers at Florida City Commission Meetings

Posted by faithandthelaw on April 16, 2013

Downtown-Lakeland-FLLakeland, Florida – A Florida atheist group has lost their court challenge surrounding prayers that are offered during Lakeland’s City Commission meetings.

Atheists of Florida had filed a lawsuit against the City of Lakeland and its mayor, Gow Field, in 2010, contending that the prayers that preceded each meeting violated the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution. The organization states that it sat in on a meeting in March 2010 and complained that the prayer was clearly Christian. It requested that the City have a moment of silence instead.

In its lawsuit, the group noted that prayers at the meetings include phrases such as “in the name of Jesus Christ,” “our Savior,” “the King of kings” and “Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”

A month after filing in district court, officials opened up the prayers to all religions in an effort to end the dispute. However, a year later, Atheists of Florida stated that it was not yet satisfied as the prayers were still predominantly Christian. One Muslim and two Jews had reportedly participated in a year’s time.

A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit against the City, and Atheists of Florida appealed to the 11th Circuit. This week, the court upheld the ruling of the lower court, stating that the prayers — according to the new policy — were not unconstitutional.

“The selection procedures of the invocational speakers invited to deliver an invocation at Lakeland City Commission’s meetings pursuant to policies and practices initiated informally in March 2010, which were codified with the passage of Resolution 4848 in August 2010, do not support the AOF’s contention that Lakeland attempted to exploit the prayer opportunity to proselytize or advance or disparage any one faith or belief,” wrote Judge Arthur Alarcon on behalf of the panel. “Nor do those policies and practices have the effect of affiliating the Lakeland City Commission with any discrete faith or belief.”

“Accordingly, we are persuaded that the district court did not err in granting Lakeland’s motion for summary judgment with regard to Lakeland’s policies and practices for the selection of speakers since March 2010 and codified in Resolution 4848,” he concluded.

The judges advised, however, that they lacked jurisdiction to decide Atheists of Florida’s contention that the prayers were unlawful prior to the new policy.

“For the same reasons, the district court lacked jurisdiction, and we vacate that portion of the district court’s judgment addressing the merits of AOF’s challenge to the pre-March 2010 prayer practice and remand for the district court to dismiss that portion of the challenge as moot,” Alcaron wrote.

“We were elated to hear the news earlier today on the court’s ruling,” stated Lakeland Mayor Gow Fields following the decision. “I believe very strongly that this was a very important message to make: That the Constitution applies to those that want to exercise their right to offer an invocation for heavenly guidance for their elected officials.”

The Lakeland City Commission has been opening its meetings with prayer since 1951.

Courtesy of http://christiannews.net/2013/03/28/atheist-group-loses-lawsuit-challenging-prayers-at-florida-city-commission-meetings/

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God’s Great Cry to Every Generation: TURN! Because Everybody Plays the Fool

Posted by faithandthelaw on October 6, 2011

By Tim Rowe

One of the most amazing messages in the entire Bible that is constantly coming from the heart of God is for both the believer and the unbeliever to TURN. God is always crying out to turn away from the world, turn away from idols, turn away from sin, turn away from self, turn away from any path that God has not ordained and set for your life and turn to Him. TURN! TURN BACK TO ME! I, GOD ALMIGHTY, AM WAITING WITH ARMS WIDE OPEN FOR YOU TO TURN AND RUN TO ME!

The truth of turning is the essence of the good news that Christianity proclaims as there is only One Way, One Truth, One Life and you must turn to it and turn away from the worthless religions, philosophies, and ideas of the world.

Acts 14:15 (NIV): Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to TURN from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them.

The Apostle Paul preached for people to turn from their worthless idols to the living God. The truth of “turning” is an intricate part of the gospel as it is the beginning action necessary in believing the gospel and keeping the heart turned to God is necessary for the continual service of God in the gospel. We too should proclaim, “Friends why do you keep turning to everything but God. Isn’t it time you turn?”

Acts 25:13-18 (NIV); About noon, King Agrippa, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. 14 We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ 15 “Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’“ ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied. 16 ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. 17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and TURN THEM from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

This is the gospel that we have been commissioned by God and His Son Jesus Christ and sent into the world to proclaim and as we preach this Gospel and it is believed a great turning takes place. People’s eyes are opened and they turn from darkness to light. They turn from the power of Satan unto God. Before all turning, there is an opening of the eyes to see; the eyes are no longer blinded by the devil, the god of this world, but the power of the gospel opens people’s eyes and hearts to turn. What an awesome turning it is! When we turn to God, we are turning from darkness to light. When we turn to God we are turning from the power of Satan to God. Satan does not want you turn. His schemes are designed to get people to turn their back on God and keep turned toward his objects of delight. The Devil uses deception so you don’t think you have to turn.

Leonard Ravenhill in Why Revival Tarries: An unprecedented tidal wave of commandment-breaking, God defying, soul destroying iniquity sweeps the ocean of human affairs. Never before have men in the masses sold their souls to the devil as such bargain prices. “There is none…that stirreth up himself to take hold of Thee” (Isaiah 64:7). What hell-borned mesmerism hold them? How does the spell bind? Why don’t they wake and stir themselves.

They need to wake up and quit playing the fool and TURN.

Skip Moen in Spiritual Restoration: Ezekiel 33:11: “Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked TURN from his way and live. TURN BACK, TURN BACK from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?’” Ecclesiastes makes it very clear that there is no real hope in work, in progeny, in legacy or society. The Second Law of Thermodynamics applies: it all goes down hill. How can I have hope? I have reason to hope because GOD LIVES! He is not the God of the dead. He is the God of the living. When He comes to rescue He brings life with Him. Because He is alive, I can trust that He will make me alive. I don’t worship some past relic or ancient memory; I worship the here-and-now living God. God is right here and now alive…God voices our true condition-rotting away-and He proclaims our only solution, He lives! Do you realize because God lives everything else is possible? Do you not see that all that we are and all that we are meant to be is based on the living God? Put your hope there, and none else. Listen to Him, and nothing else… God wants restoration. God wants us to live! So God exhorts his sin-sick children to turn back. That is one of the most important themes in the whole Bible.

Romans set forth this desperate condition of men and women for a Savior which is rooted in the truth that they have turned away from God. In our generation, people are turning away from God at an alarming rate as society plunges into the darkness of godlessness and lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.

Romans 3:10-18 (NIV): 10 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. 12 All have TURNED AWAY, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” 13 “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.”14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 ruin and misery mark their ways, 17 and the way of peace they do not know.”18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

When we turn away from God and do not seek Him are lives become worthless and full of ruin, misery, bitterness, cursing, poison, deceit and destruction. We must turn God with a heart full of wondrous awe, love, respect, devotion and admiration.

The essence of the gospel is this message of turning. Repentance is a turning of the mind and thoughts away from the world and our former condition to God. The Gospel cries out day and night for people to “TURN!”

Acts 3:19 (NIV): 19 Repent, then, and TURN TO GOD, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.

Times of refreshing in the beautiful healing presence of the Lord only come when we turn to God. God wipes out our sins because we have turned to God and the wonderful accomplishments of His Son who lived, died and was resurrected for us that we might be born again and live the life of our new creation.

One of the first words that began the ministry of Jesus Christ as he began to teach was the word “repent” which in its basic meaning means “to turn.”

Matthew 3:20 (God’s Word Translation): TURN to God and change the way you think and act, because the kingdom of heaven is near.

On the great day of Pentecost Peter’s message from the heart of God was to TURN.

Acts 2:37-40 (KJV): Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 38Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call. 40And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.

To the universal cry of mankind “What shall we do?” God answers to TURN! Repent! Turn! Turn the entire thought, desires, purposes, dreams, and aspirations of your mind to God and confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead and you will absolutely be saved. Then as a born again believer continue to keep yourself turned to God and turned away from the wickedness of our generation.

God is always only a turn away.

Psalm 18:21 (NIV):

I have kept the ways of the Lord;
I have not done evil by TURNING from my God.

I Samuel 12:21-and do not turn aside to go after worthless (tohu) things which do not profit and do not deliver, for they are worthless (tohu).

Skip Moen in Spiritual Restoration: Tohu generally describes five related conditions. These are wasteland, desolation, lifelessness, futility and worthlessness. The common thread behind tohu seems to be a sphere that is alien to all life. It is ominous, chaotic, dark, destructive opposition to created order. Consequently it is filled with peril, menace and foreboding. It is the negation of God and His creation. If there ever was a word that described a place where life is sucked out of you, then tohu is the word…There is something about tohu that should send a shiver up your spine. In the Bible, tohu is contagious. Spend enough time around tohu and you will become infected…touch it often and you will feel its effect, sucking vitality out of you. Chase after its seductive ploys and you will find, perhaps too late, that you are among the walking dead. That’s Samuel’s point. Once you turn away from God, you turn away from life-no matter how attractive the prospects seem to be, the end is always tohu-waste, futility, desolation and death…The opposite of tohu is God, for God is order, fulfillment, satisfaction, well-being and life itself. So do a little tohu checkup. Are you turning aside to things that do not profit and do not deliver? Are your days directed at accumulating those things that have no future over the horizon of your life?…Tohu awaits all those who serve short-sighted ends. If your dreams and desires can be achieved this side of the grave, you might be infected already.

We become addicted to who or what we turn to in the course of life. Tohu awaits those who turn from God.

There is a crisis of turning in the spiritual leadership in the Body of Christ that is disturbing and alarming. The spiritual leaders of our churches are hemorrhaging profusely and falling away because they have allowed their hearts to be turned. According to John Maxwell, only one out of ten people entering the ministry will still be in at the age of 65. That’s a 90 percent dropout rate. Dr James Dobson estimates that there are 1500 ministers a month leaving the ministry. That is 18,000 a year. The rate of burnout and dropout is staggering. David Ravenhill in Surviving the Anointing says: “The Devil’s strategy is old and reliable. ‘Strike the shepherd and scatter the flock.”…God’s army of soldiers are “dying” at a faster rate than ever before.”

There is a devastating effect to the body of Christ and the witness of Christianity by these men and women of God falling by the wayside. Think about the children of Israel for a moment. When God called them to be a nation, he led over one million people out of Egypt and do you know how many made it to the Promised Land? Two!!! Just two men, Joshua and Caleb! The Israelites were surrounded by so many awesome wonders and supernatural works of God as the parting of the Red Sea, the pillar of fire and cloud to guide them night and day, the manna raining down from heaven and water flowing out of a rock. Yet only two people made it into the promise land. What was the problem? They turned. We need to take heed to this example as the hearts of Christian leaders have turned aside from God and turned unto idols. God is crying out, “Turn, Turn, Turn back to me and my loving arms.”

Even in Hosea God declares that the wretched condition of the spiritual man and the prophet among the children of God. Hosea 9:7: The prophet is a fool and the spiritual man is mad.” The spiritual leadership of Israel in the priests and prophets had turned away from God and were in desperate need to TURN back to Him.

The Bible is very clear on how quickly the heart can turn. It is full of examples of brilliant men and women and even angels with great callings and enormous potential for God that turned away from God in a short period of time and fell greatly into oblivion. Lucifer, Adam, Eve, Saul, Solomon, Judas, King Azariah and Demas are just to name a few.

Deuteronomy 9:11,12 (NIV): At the end of the forty days and forty nights, the LORD gave me the two stone tablets, the tablets of the covenant. 12 Then the LORD told me, “Go down from here at once, because your people whom you brought out of Egypt have become corrupt. They have TURNED AWAY QUICKLY from what I commanded them and have made an idol for themselves.”

The children of Israel in less than 40 days turned away from God to worshipping idols.

Jeremiah 5:20-25: (NLT): “Make this announcement to Israel, and say this to Judah:
21 Listen, you foolish and senseless people, with eyes that do not see and ears that do not hear. 22 Have you no respect for me? Why don’t you tremble in my presence? I, the LORD, define the ocean’s sandy shoreline as an everlasting boundary that the waters cannot cross. The waves may toss and roar, but they can never pass the boundaries I set.
23 But my people have stubborn and rebellious hearts. They have TURNED AWAY and abandoned me. 24 They do not say from the heart, ‘Let us live in awe of the LORD our God, for he gives us rain each spring and fall, assuring us of a harvest when the time is right.’25 Your wickedness has deprived you of these wonderful blessings. Your sin has robbed you of all these good things.

We rob ourselves of manifold blessings and enjoyment of life when we turn away and abandon God and fail to live in awe of Him. We must always have our spiritual radar on and be able to detect what direction we are turning.
We have all played the fool in life when it comes to God. To play the fool is to turn to anything, or anyone as first place in your life instead of God. The fool turns to anything but God. Saul came to this realization in his life too late and it cost him his kingdom and his life.

I Samuel 26:21-I have played the fool…I have erred exceedingly.

Saul played the fool and erred exceedingly with his life. Are we playing the fool with our life too? Look at the divine calling Saul had on his life as the first king of Israel and the wonderful potential he had if he would have stayed turned to God.

I Samuel 10:1,6,9-11,24 (NIV): Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his head, and kissed him, and said, Is it not because the LORD hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance? 6And the Spirit of the LORD will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man. 9And it was so, that when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart: and all those signs came to pass that day. 10And when they came thither to the hill, behold, a company of prophets met him; and the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them. 11And it came to pass, when all that knew him beforetime saw that, behold, he prophesied among the prophets, then the people said one to another, What is this that is come unto the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets? 24And Samuel said to all the people, See ye him whom the LORD hath chosen, that there is none like him among all the people? And all the people shouted, and said, God save the king.

Chronicles records the end result of Saul playing the fool with his life:

II Chronicles 10:13 (NIV): So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the LORD, even against the word of the LORD, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to enquire of it;
Saul turned to the witch of Endor for guidance from a devil spirit and turned to himself and his strength and his wisdom and turned to everything else in his kingship but God and it opened him up for spiritual attack that eventually took him out and all the wonderful potential he had to be a godly king.

We cannot allow ourselves to play the fool by being deceived to turn to other gods. Idolatry is very deceptive. Most of us have idols and never know we are serving other gods. Are we playing the fool in life?

Deuteronomy 11:16 (NLT): “But be careful. Don’t let your heart be deceived so that you TURN away from the LORD and serve and worship other gods.

From my new book on the heart hopefully to be released next year: “Most of Israel’s problems in their history with idolatry and turning away from God stem from their original failure to force these ungodly nations out of the Promised Land with all their false gods. It is a battle to keep the heart in the promised land of God’s will and aligned with God’s heart. It is a battle to keep the heart from becoming conformed to the pattern of this world. It is a battle to keep the relentless enemies of fear, worry, anxiety, disobedience, bitterness, unforgiveness and hatred from possessing territory in our heart. The enemy is always near the borders of our heart, subtly trying to gain entrance so he can establish a stronghold in the heart and exercise his devilish control and influence. We must be the constant border patrol of our heart and watch all the boundaries of our life so the enemy does not become an illegal occupant of our heart. We cannot passively allow the enemy to hang out and set up his tent in any part of the territory of our heart, for he is a master at turning our heart away from God. In order to enter the Promised Land and keep its borders secure, we must guard our heart with all diligence, protecting it from the schemes, strategies and plans of Satan’s kingdom devoting it wholeheartedly and passionately to God and His Word. Under the direction and guidance of God Almighty, our heart can set boundaries that will reflect His love, His grace, His mercy, His compassion and His peace and in this land we will fulfill God’s calling for our lives. We will not be betrayed by the boundaries coming forth from our heart and the map of our life will reflect the grace and glory of God.”

We cannot allow our turn away from Him to anything else. We must always be turned to His face, gazing in His eyes, looking at His presence and might and glory.

II Kings 17:15-By turning the eye to vanity, death to the ways of God enters the heart.

If we are not careful where we are turning, death to the ways of God will enter our heart and destroy our relationship with God. The Devil steals, kills and destroys as set forth in John 10:10a and his main objective is to steal your time with God, kill your desire for God and destroy your relationship with God. He does this by getting us to turn.

But God is always whispering to our ears and hearts to turn and walk in His way.

Isaiah 30:18, 19, 21 (NIV): Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! 19 People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. 21 Whether you TURN to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

God is always speaking and in order for us to accomplish His purpose for our life in our generation, we must hear his voice and turn around to see like the Apostle John did on the island of Patmos.

Revelation 1:9-18 (NIV): I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, 11 which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.” 12 I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man,[d] dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. 15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. 17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

Moses also had his burning bush experience where God was speaking to Him and He had to turn and see.

Exodus 3:1-5 (ESV): 1Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. 3And Moses said, “I WILL TURN ASIDE TO SEE this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” 4When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

Moses had to turn aside to see to accomplish His calling as the man of God who would lead the children of Israel out of the land of bondage in Egypt.

Joshua also was instructed by God Himself how to fulfill his calling to lead the children of Israel into the promise land. An essential part of God’s instruction was not to turn away from Him and His Word.

Joshua 1:5-9 (NIV): No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. 7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; DO NOT TURN from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Prophets that were speaking for God continued to herald forth the message to TURN!

Jeremiah 17:5-8 (NLT): 5 This is what the LORD says: “Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and TURN THEIR HEARTS AWAY from the LORD. 6 They are like stunted shrubs in the desert, with no hope for the future. They will live in the barren wilderness, in an uninhabited salty land. 7 “But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence. 8 They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.

Hosea 12:6: (KJV): Therefore TURN thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment and wait on thy God continually.

God has also set forth in His Word the remedy for our nation. It is not in the Republican, Democratic or Tea Party. It is not in a politician or a social or political philosophy. It is when God’s people humble themselves, pray, seek God’s face and TURN. Turning away from wicked things is an essential part of the formula for the healing of our land.

II Chronicles 7:14 (NIV): if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and TURN from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

We turn and run too much in our generation and in our churches.

David Ravenhill in Surviving the Anointing: Today we live in a society where the slightest little difficulty causes us to turn and run. We become so easily upset and discouraged, allowing self-pity to rob us of the opportunity of proving God in the situation. God is looking for men and women who believe His promises on overcoming the difficulties that face us. Jesus Christ had to overcome-overcome all the rejection, overcome all the pain, overcome all the sorrow, and sufferings along with the diabolical schemes of the devil himself. And yet nothing deterred him. He set his face like flint to go to Jerusalem and finish the course that God has set before Him. God is looking for overcomers that will follow the example of His Son.

Why would you ever want to turn to anything else but God? God needs us to stand in our calling as more than conquerors and keep
our faces turned like flint toward Him.

The fool thinks he is too wise to turn. The fool thinks he does not have to turn because he has everything. The arrogant fool is worshiped in our culture, but his ways end up in death and destruction.

Proverbs 26:12: Did you see a person who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

Skip Moen in Spiritual Restoration: There are plenty of people who think themselves wise. They believe they have life in their grasp. They are the “go for it guys.” Solomon tells quite sternly that these people have less hope of true relationships than the fool and the fool was pretty far gone. Because he knows the first step toward disaster is self reliance and self-sufficiency. If my dream is be my own man (or woman), if I resonate with Frank’s tune, “I did it my way,” then I as surely worse off than a fool…The man who thinks he is own god is doomed…Amazingly our culture idolizes the arrogant…We all want to be famous, free and fortunate. We love the tabloids, the celebrities and the rich and famous. Why? Because we put the self-made man upon the pedestal. We worship at the feet of those whom we believe grabbed life by the horns. Who is the bigger fool: the one who believes he controls his own destiny or the one who worships the arrogant man?

To turn we must deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Him.

Then Yeshua said to His disciples, “If any one wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Matthew 16:24

Deny – What does Yeshua’s statement mean to you? Do you think of denial in terms of turning away from pointless affluence, seductive pleasures or immoral behavior? Do you think that Yeshua intended us to refuse our own selfish desires in order to submit to God’s higher purposes? Perhaps we gain a deeper understanding of the nature of denial when we apply this instruction to the specific arena of money. Jacques Ellul helps us see this connection when he says, “When God attacks this power [money] that has us in its grip because it has aroused our love, when he tears away a treasure to which we have become attached, he is attacking us. God’s deliverance in not a stroke of a magic wand which leaves us intact, the way we were. It is a rescue of part of ourselves. Consequently we may have the impression , the feeling, of being amputated, diminished. God who is delivering us from the shackles of this power, is also destroying its roots which have taken hold of us.” In other words, the act of denial is an invitation to let God amputate. It isn’t simply refusing to do something we really want to do. It is asking God to cut it out of our hearts.The Greek verb aparneomai means “to renounce, to disown.” Yeshua reminds us that renouncing other lovers is a requirement of following Him. This is no different than the requirement of the first commandment. YHWH has exclusive right to the love of His children and He will tolerate no rival, even if that rival has roots deep within our own personalities.

Why do we sell our soul to another lover other than God? Why do we let God have rivals in our hearts? Why do we turn back to those things that we were delivered from? This only leads to us putting the chains on again and going back to slavery. There is no true satisfaction in anything but God. I Peter aptly describes it as a dog returning to his vomit.

Galatians 4:7-9 (NIV): 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. 8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. 9 But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are TURNING BACK to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?

If we turn back to those weak and miserable things instead of God we will be enslaved all over again.

Let’s look again at Solomon and the magnificent purpose that God had ordained for his life. He had far more wisdom, earthly riches and wealth than we will probably ever have.

II Chronicles 1:11-12: And God said to Solomon, Because this was in thine heart, and thou hast not asked riches, wealth, or honour, nor the life of thine enemies, neither yet hast asked long life; but hast asked wisdom and knowledge for thyself, that thou mayest judge my people, over whom I have made thee king: 12Wisdom and knowledge is granted unto thee; and I will give thee riches, and wealth, and honour, such as none of the kings have had that have been before thee, neither shall there any after thee have the like.

Even with such wonderful wisdom and even after he had built the temple for God, God still had to give Solomon a warning not to turn.

II Chronicles 7:17-22 (NIV): And as for thee, if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, and do according to all that I have commanded thee, and shalt observe my statutes and my judgments; 18Then will I stablish the throne of thy kingdom, according as I have covenanted with David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man to be ruler in Israel. 19But if ye TURN away, and forsake my statutes and my commandments, which I have set before you, and shall go and serve other gods, and worship them;20Then will I pluck them up by the roots out of my land which I have given them; and this house, which I have sanctified for my name, will I cast out of my sight, and will make it to be a proverb and a byword among all nations.21And this house, which is high, shall be an astonishment to every one that passeth by it; so that he shall say, Why hath the LORD done thus unto this land, and unto this house? 22And it shall be answered, Because they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, and laid hold on other gods, and worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath he brought all this evil upon them.

Solomon did not heed the warning and turned.

I Kings 11:1-9 (NIV):
1But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites: 2Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will TURN away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. 3And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives TURNED away his heart. 4For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives TURNED away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. 5For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. 6 And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father. 7 Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. 8And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods. 9 And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart was TURNED from the LORD God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice.

This is one of the most heart-rending sections of Scripture and its warning on the turning of the heart that screams out to every believer and child of God. Solomon’s heart was turned and bent away from God by these strange women and they got him to not only worship some of the most detestable gods of pagan culture, but he also built altars to them and sacrificed to them. Even the great Solomon in all his wisdom turned and how great was that turning. Do not think that we could not turn either. I Corinthians warns us that if we think we stand, we should take heed lest we fall. We must always be on watch that our hearts do not turn.

Skip Moen in Spiritual Restoration: Solomon also made a house for Pharaoh’s daughter whom he had taken. This verb take is used in the Bible to describe capturing, buying and acquiring, vengeance, and seizing an animal. It describes the heart be swept away…it is much more aggressive and hostile than we would like to see between a husband and wife…Solomon discovers that he cannot resist the temptation to have her. Perhaps his addiction to women is beginning to grow. Certainly he has forgotten God’s command for household purity. He takes her with all her foreign idolatry…in Ezekiel the word describes the flashing of lightening. Solomon is mesmerized. He must have her regardless of cost. In the midst of God’s bounty, he takes something for himself. It is a terrible mistake. Solomon never recovered from his addiction. It grew and grew until its insatiable lust destroyed him. But it started with taking something God did not give. It started by turning away from God and allowing his wives and women to turn his heart to other Gods.”

As wise as Solomon was, he never learned the lesson of turning. It is interesting the word “fool” is used 73 times in the Bible, but well over half (41) of these usages of “fool” are in the book of Proverbs and 12 of the usages are in Ecclesiastes that were both penned by Solomon. Solomon ended up playing the fool in his life like Saul did because he did not turn back to God. Solomon even declared in Ecclesiastes 2:15, “As it happened to the fool, so it happened to me.” He never learned the prime lesson of a fool. A fool turns to everything, but God.

II Timothy 4:3-7 (NIV): For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will TURN their ears away from the truth and TURN aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. 6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Will turn away (654) (apostrepho from apo = away from, a marker of dissociation, implying a rupture from a former association and indicates separation, departure, cessation, reversal + strepho = turn quite around, twist, reverse, turn oneself about) means literally to turn back or away.

Will turn aside (1624) (ektrepo from ek = out + trope = a turning) means literally to turn out (of the course) and so to turn aside (so as to avoid being involved). To turn away from, to swerve, to shun, to avoid meeting or associating with one. To turn a person off the road.

It can literally mean to twist out. In secular Greek medical literature described a dislocated joint, one that is sprained or wrenched! This meaning gives one a picture of the minds and hearts of those who reject God’s Truth as ending up spiritually “dislocated”, knocked out of joint, a far worse state than a physical dislocation!
When we turn away from God and His truth our lives become dislocated and out of joint.

Luke 9:62 (NIV): Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

If we want to serve God we can’t look back or turn to the things of this world or our former ways. If we do, we are not fit to serve God.

God is jealous God. He wants all of you.

Joel 2:12, 13 (NLT): That is why the LORD says, “TURN TO ME NOW, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. 13 Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the LORD your God,for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.He is eager to relent and not punish.

The time is urgent. Time is fleeting and passes by swiftly. God is crying out: “Turn to me now while there is time. Give me your hearts. Don’t let them be swept away. Return to the Lord your God.”

The great prayer of the prophet Elijah is my prayer for the church:

I Kings 18:36-37 (NASB): 36 At the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, today let it be known that You are God in Israel and that I am Your servant and I have done all these things at Your word. 37 Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that You, O LORD, are God, and that You have TURNED their heart back again.”

O Lord I pray that you turn the hearts of your saints, your church, your believers, your leaders back to you and away from all the deceitful lures of this world. I pray that our hearts turn and remain turned to you above all else. Let us not play the fool like Saul or Solomon by turning to idols and things that can never satisfy. I pray also for the world that you open their eyes that they may see the error of their ways and turn to you God, repent and receive and confess Jesus Christ as their Lord and deliverer. My we seek you with all our hearts and turn away from anything that interferes with our relation with you. May we turn in great anticipation to you with all our heart, with all our strength, with all our soul, with all our mind, with all our love and never forgetting the great truth of TURNING in the Bible. Let us never do evil by turning from our God.

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Teachers Told Not to Bow Heads or Pray in Public: Run and Hide if you Want to Pray

Posted by faithandthelaw on September 28, 2011

A Tennessee school district is under fire after a group of middle school football coaches were reprimanded for bowing their heads during a post-game prayer and teachers were warned to hide from students if they chose to pray during a nationally organized prayer event.

Sumner County school officials sent guidelines to staff members in advance of today’s “See You At the Pole” prayer event. Christian teenagers around the nation are gathering around their campus flag poles before class to pray for their schools, the nation and each other.

“When a teacher or administrator participates in events such as See You at the Pole, it is possible for a student to confuse a teacher or administrator’s personal speech with their official speech,” read a portion of the guidelines obtained by The Tennessean.

Teachers have not been banned from praying, but if they do – it must be done out of sight and earshot of students, the newspaper reported.

Sumner County school officials declined multiple requests for interviews.

“To tell the teachers that they cannot attend ‘See You At The Pole,’ which occurs before school hours, just doesn’t seem to be constitutional,” David Landrith, pastor of Long Hollow Baptist Church, wrote on his blog. “This is the United States of America.”

Landrith said he is a “pro-school” pastor and typically doesn’t get “fired-up” about politics. However, he decided to speak out once he began hearing reports that rights of Christian students and teachers have been under attack.

“Teachers have expressed to me that it is being communicated to them that they cannot do certain things: things like wear or display a cross, have a Bible on their desk in their office, have Scripture verses displayed in their personal work space, listen to Christian music in their office, or participate in a prayer at a Christian organization such as FCA or Bible study,” Landrith said.

He also alleged that one high school has forbidden students from handing out fliers about a Bible Study.

“You can’t ban people from practicing their faith in the marketplace – whether it’s a Muslim, Buddhist, or a Christian. Christianity should not be favored over other religions. However, Christians should have the same rights as everyone else.”

The prayer warning came just days after a group of football coaches at Westmoreland Middle were reprimanded after they joined their players for a student-led post-game prayer in the end zone.

The coaches were summoned to the principal’s office after someone witnessed the coaches bowing their heads – and notified school authorities.

“The idea that a coach or teacher cannot bow their head out of respect for student-led prayer is, quite frankly, ridiculous,” Landrith wrote.

However, an attorney for the school district told Fox News Radio there is not a ban on teachers or coaches bowing their heads.

“They were not told to not bow their heads,” David French, an attorney with the American Center for Law and Justice. “They were reminded that student-led events must remain student-led. Teachers cannot give the appearance of endorsing the student’s message.”

The school’s new policy prohibits staff members from engaging in “any conduct that creates an appearance of endorsement of the organization’s or club’s messages or ideas.”

The policy was written in response to a lawsuit filed last May by the American Civil Liberties Union, alleging the school district has endorsed Christianity and violated the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The American Center for Law and Justice is representing the school district in the lawsuit. The ACLU declined to comment for this story.

“This whole tempest is the poisonous fruit of the ACLU tree,” French said, suggesting the school system is being especially cautious in light of the lawsuit. “It’s easy to imagine in a scenario where they are dealing with this incredibly aggressive attack from the ACLU that a public prayer would cause people to question it.”

The four coaches who bowed their heads were required to sign a letter stating that they understood the school’s policy. French said it was not a formal reprimand.

“There was no admonition against bowing,” he said. “They were asked to sign their understanding of school board policy regarding student participation.”

However, according to a copy of the letter obtained by Fox News Radio, the coaches were threatened with losing their positions of they violated the policy.

“If I fail to follow board policy, then I realize that I will not be allowed to serve as a coach,” the letter read.

So, are teachers and coaches allowed to simply bow their heads and join students in prayer?

“It’s a gray area,” French said. “It’s very contextual. With those guidelines in place, the staff members have to be cognizant of their surroundings and appearances and perceptions.”

The key, French said, is the student’s free speech rights.
“This is a policy that protects religious expression,” he said. “It doesn’t inhibit it.”

But that’s not how many Christians in the community feel about the rules.

“The House and Senate open with prayer,” he said. “The White House sponsors a National Day of Prayer,” Pastor Landrith said. “Good grief, even our presidents are sworn into office with their hands on a very visible Bible. But somehow in Sumner County our teachers cannot be a part of a student-led prayer effort?”

Courtesy of
http://radio.foxnews.com/2011/09/28/christian-teachers-coaches-under-attack/?test=latestnews

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Campaign Encourages Return to Public Prayer Life for America

Posted by faithandthelaw on September 11, 2011

When the jobs vanish, the banks close, the government cash-dispensing programs dry up and the world seems to be crumbling, where should Americans turn?

As they have in past times of crises, to God, according to a campaign that is dedicated to raising prayer to the heavens from every county across the nation.

It’s the “Cry Out America” effort that explains that American Christians already know that “hope is not found in government, nor is it found in finances.”

This weekend is the 10th anniversary of the Islamic terror attacks that rocked the continent and cost nearly 3,000 lives in Washington, D.C., New York City and Pennsylvania. So the Awakening America Alliance is staging its fourth annual “Cry Out America” prayer program, encouraging prayer at county courthouses across the nation on Sunday.

Explore the origins of the Lord’s Prayer, with “A Prayer to Our Father.”

“The Awakening America Alliance believes that America could be on the verge of a sweeping move of God’s spirit that will touch every state, every county and every heart,” organizers explain.

“There is an obvious sweeping move of God across America through these nationwide 9/11 Cry Out America prayer gatherings that know no age, gender, denominational or race boundaries,” a spokesman said in an email to WND.

They report that partners have promised prayer events in at least one county in every state of the union, as well as in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. In South Carolina, every county has at least one prayer event being planned.

Billy Wilson, chairman of the Awakening America Alliance, told WND the “attacks on our nation on Sept. 11, 2001, were the wakeup call of a lifetime for all of us.”

“On this 10th anniversary we invite believers across America to unite with us in issuing a spiritual wakeup call for a new Christ awakening in our generation during countywide prayer gatherings and by praying in their local churches on 9/11 during the Cry Out America initiative,” he said.

Wilson said that so far there are more than 2,300 official prayer points in more than 1,300 counties set up for Sunday. That’s more than one-third of all the nation’s counties.

The effort gets its marching orders from the Old Testament prophet Joel: “Over 2,600 years ago, God prescribed in Joel 1:14 how we are to return: ‘Consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly. Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord.’

“In obedience to the Lord, we have gathered here on this occasion to do exactly that,” the organization says.

Wilson told WND “some gatherings will have over 3,000 people present and others will be as small as a handful.”

“Last year we had one gathering with one person praying on the steps of the Reno, Nev., courthouse and another with just two people gathered.”

He said the average is about 100 people.

WND has reported on numerous efforts in the U.S. in recent months to restrict Christian prayer. Wilson noted that the “greatest struggles have been for local organizers to help local officials understand that this is not only legal but a protected right for public assembly.”

“Overall, there is a resistance to prayer in public space, but our county coordinators have proven themselves courageous and shown spiritual savvy in getting things done,” he said.

The Awakening America Alliance hopes that this is only the beginning of a spiritual awakening across the country.

“Most impressive to me have been several accounts where politicians, first-responders, service personnel, ministers and Christian believers have all literally lain on their face in the public square and in public view to say to God that we are humbling ourselves, repenting of our wicked ways and asking for His gracious help and for a new awakening. If this were to happen across the nation and in Washington we would see a huge turnaround in this nation,” Wilson told WND.

Wilson said he hopes to encourage grassroots Christians to call for more public prayer. According to the Star-Tribune of Chatham, Va., there were 500 people on the courthouse steps in a recent show of support for a decision by the county board of supervisors to continue allowing prayer at meetings.

Supporters sang hymns and held signs that read, “We Support Praying in the Name of Jesus Christ.”

The ACLU started the controversy by sending a letter to the county last month warning board supervisors that Christian prayer violates the First Amendment.

Said Rev. Doug Barber, “We’ve gotten off the pews tonight and we’re standing up for Jesus.”

Wilson said that 10 years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks “our nation needs God’s protection and grace more than ever.”

“We welcome every concerned believer to join us in prayer for America during their Sunday services and united in countywide prayer gatherings,” he said. “Together I believe we can see America turn around and witness a new spiritual awakening in the 21st century.”

A year ago, there were prayer events in about 1,000 counties.

Read more: What if government can’t fix America’s troubles? http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=343401#ixzz1Xg6gZ9sO

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Prayers at School Board Meetings Struck Down

Posted by faithandthelaw on August 8, 2011

A Delaware school board’s practice of reciting prayers before public board meetings is unconstitutional, a federal appeals court has ruled.

The unanimous decision by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, in Philadelphia, comes at a time of renewed attention to prayers in the public square. Prayers before city council and county board meetings have come under greater legal scrutiny, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s decision to lead a prayer rally this past weekend raised concerns among civil libertarians.

Prayers before school board meetings are commonplace in the United States, though certainly not everywhere.

The 3rd Circuit case involves the 8,400-student Indian River school district in Delaware, which has had prayers at its board meetings since its founding in 1969, court papers say. In 2004, the district formalized its board meeting prayer policy, which calls for board members to rotate in leading a prayer or moment of silence to “solemnify” formal meetings. The policy says prayers may be sectarian or non-sectarian, “in the name of a Supreme Being, Jehovah, Jesus Christ, Buddha, Allah,” or any other entity.

Court papers say that in practice, prayers have almost always been Christian.

Two families challenged the board prayers as a violation of the First Amendment’s prohibition against government establishment of religion. A federal district court upheld the practice. But in its Aug. 5 decision in Doe v. Indian River School District, the 3rd Circuit court panel said the board’s policy and practices cannot be squared with the establishment clause.

The court said the key question was whether the school board’s meetings and prayers were closer to the legislative prayers upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1983 case of Marsh v. Chambers, or more like other school events in which the high court’s cases have limited school-sponsored prayers.

The court noted that students are frequently present at board meetings, including student government representatives who regularly advise the Indian River board, as well as academic and sports team members who are recognized by the board.

The 3rd Circuit concluded that the board meetings are closer to other school events, such as graduation ceremonies, in which school-sponsored prayers have been held to have a coercive effect on students.

“Regardless of whether the board is a deliberative or legislative body, we conclude that Marsh is ill-suited to this context because the entire purpose and structure of the Indian River School District revolves around public school education,” the opinion says. “The First Amendment does not require students to give up their right to participate in their educational system or be rewarded for their school-related achievements as a price for dissenting from a state-sponsored religious practice.”

The 3rd Circuit decision covers Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The court noted that one other federal appeals court has addressed prayers before school board meetings. In a 1999 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, in Cincinnati, held that prayers before board meetings in Cleveland were barred by the establishment clause.

While some courts have extended Marsh to permit prayers before city council and county board meetings, the educational emphasis of school boards distinguishes them from those other local bodies, the 3rd Circuit court said.

The court closed its opinion by quoting an observation from the Supreme Court’s 1962 decision striking down official prayer in the New York state schools, Engel v. Vitale.

“[I]t is neither sacrilegious nor antireligious to say that each separate government in this country should stay out of the business of writing or sanctioning official prayers and leave that purely religious function to the people themselves,” the high court said in that case.

Courtesy of http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/school_law/2011/08/a_delaware_school_boards_pract.html

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Commissioner asks for, gets promise of prayer before meetings

Posted by faithandthelaw on January 14, 2011

By Bob Unruh
© 2011 WorldNetDaily


Peggy Littleton

The reports about diminishing Christianity’s presence have been legion in recent months, when a Florida school district cracked down on Christians, when activist Muslims demanded that prominent Christian leader Franklin Graham be censored, when the courts ruled music can be banned if it even sounds religious, how an ex-Supreme Court justice said those who pray “in Jesus name” properly can be prevented from a prayer rotation at public meetings, and how the Park Service seems to believe dissing Christians just dandy.

So what’s going on with newly elected Commissioner Peggy Littleton in El Paso County, Colo., where Colorado Springs is located?

According to reports in the local media including the Colorado Springs Gazette, Littleton’s first request when she joined the commission this month was to call for more prayer.

“I’d like to encourage my colleagues to have, at a minimum, prayer together every Tuesday and expand it to leaders, elected officials and citizens who would like to express their blessing over the board,” the Gazette reported Littleton said.

And so it was done.

The newspaper said because her request was not a policy issue, all the support it needed was an informal agreement by three commissioners. The commission chair has control of the agenda, so it now is scheduled.

Amy Lathen, the chairwoman of the commission, told the newspaper that starting next week, probably every Tuesday and Thursday, meetings will include prayer.

While a large number of government bodies in the state and across the country routinely open their session with prayer, when requests have come concerning the issue in recent months, it’s mostly been the other direction.

That’s even though the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled prayer is permissible without violating the U.S. Constitution.

In El Paso County, the report said, commissioners have had an invocation periodically. Commissioner Sallie Clark was the chairwoman starting in 2006 and added them to the agenda.

She told the newspaper it was important to “invite different clergy to ask for guidance from a higher being.”

But the schedule has varied over the years, so the request for an increase in prayer time was welcomed by Lathen, the chairwoman.

“I account to God first. I can’t do this by myself; it’s a big job we’ve got,” she told the Gazette. “We have the invocation, then the pledge. God, then country.”

Darryl Glenn, who won a commission seat in the November election, also told the newspaper he supports the move.

“This is really the people’s government, and it shows how open and diverse we are because we rotate it around,” he told the newspaper.

Littleton said she took her inspiration from Benjamin Franklin, who in 1787 told the Constitutional Convention, “The longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth – that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?”

Littleton told the newspaper she’d like to have the commission follow that principle “and start out truly with God first, country second and service as our third most important item we do.”

Littleton previously served on the State Board of Education and she’s taught in various education settings, including homeschooling her own children and working on the faculty of the Cheyenne Mountain Charter Academy.

She also has conducted professional staff development seminars nationwide. She holds a B.S. from Regents University.


Independence Hall in Philadelphia

Headlines reveal, however, that the move isn’t always toward adding prayer to the public life. In Florida, a years-long battle has been raging after a school district cracked down on Christian statements by faculty or their spouses – even off-campus.

During the last National Day of Prayer events, activist Muslims were successful in having the government attempt to silence prominent Christian leader Franklin Graham.

Courts have been in action, ruling that music can be banned if it even sounds religious, and when a new $600 million plus visitor center was finished in Washington, it originally left out the nation’s motto, “In God We Trust.”

Even a former former Supreme Court Justice, Sandra O’Connor, opined that a city could exclude someone who wants to pray “in Jesus name” from a rotation list of volunteers who lead invocations.

And at the Constitution Hall historic site, Park Service employees were caught denigrating Christianity during the formulation of the United States.

There have been other efforts to remove mention of God and references to the religious faith and influences of the Founding Fathers from government grounds.

WND reported in 2006 when Chaplain Todd DuBord, who works with the enterprises of famed martial arts champion and actor Chuck Norris, told WND he was more than startled during his visits to the U.S. Supreme Court and two other historic locations to discover the stories of the nation’s heritage had been sterilized of Christian references.

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

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

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

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

“The 10 what?” was DuBord’s thought.

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

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

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

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

He has documented his findings on his NationalTreasures.org website.

Read more: Commissioner asks for, gets promise of prayer before meetings http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=250773#ixzz1B1ygKswQ

 

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America’s Moral Decline

Posted by faithandthelaw on May 18, 2010

by Rit Nosotro

From her earliest days, America existed as a Christian nation. Perhaps this was due to the fact that most of her first settlers came for the purpose of being free to express their Christian beliefs in accordance with their own consciences. Yet it is undeniable that America has changed greatly since that time, forsaking moral values, and grower colder and colder towards Christianity. Throughout the centuries, there have been many events which have been turning points of decline, decline which has occurred in mainly the churches and schools of America.

Perhaps one of the first major turning points of decline occurred in the church. Before 1662, in order to be a full-active member of a Congregational (Puritan) church, one was required to provide a testimony of their salvation before becoming a member who was allowed to take communion, be baptized, and vote. However, as less and less people could do so, the church attempted to boost their numbers by authorizing the Halfway Covenant. This allowed for those whose parents or grandparents could give a testimony to be members and be baptized, while keeping the rule of not allowing these people to take communion or vote. Eventually though, in 1700, as long as one was a good-standing member of the community, they were allowed the full benefits of membership, without any interrogation. Thus, not only did the church fill with people who were not true Christians, but also enabled folks to enjoy these community benefits without the effort previously required, and thus the standard of excellence, even among church-goers, declined rapidly.

Three men that lived and worked in the nineteenth century would have a profoundly detrimental effect on America; Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud, and Julius Wellhausen. The publishing of Charles Darwin’s book, The Origin of Species, in 1859, laid the foundation for the an even greater corruption of thought in America through the theory of evolution. No longer was it necessary to believe in a Creator, for things could somehow “create” themselves out of nothing! Sigmund Freud went on to develop his own ideas based on logical conclusions from Darwin’s theory, and building these ideas into the sciences of psychology and psychiatry. From this man came the notion that we can understand ourselves through our feelings, and this still impacts society today, as we are told to do what makes us feel good. Thus, we wouldn’t want to believe in a God who hates sin, because sin can be pleasing to us.

While the aforementioned men affected the areas of science and education, Julius Wellhausen, a German scholar, affected the church. He proposed that Moses did not write the Pentateuch and instead it was compiled years after the events took place, by various men who pieced it together. This was a major step towards a belief in the fallibility of the Bible. Today, many in Christian churches have chosen to reject the Bible’s claims and cling to the “scientifically accurate” claims of evolution. Thus the works of Charles Darwin and Julius Wellhausen brought about a decline in the church as well.

It is no coincidence that the founder of the modern public education system, John Dewey, was also one of the signers of the Humanist Manifesto. This public education system took children away from the traditional setting of homeschooling and church schools, and placed them in the daily care of a state who rejects God. There they could be trained in the ideas of humanism, and the country’s youngest citizens could be trained in self-confidence, in direct opposition to scripture which states “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth.”

In 1963, prayer was removed from schools in yet another attempt to rid America of any reference to God. President Ronald Reagan recognized the danger of this act when he said:

“Our Pledge of Allegiance states that we are ‘one nation under God,’ and our currency bears the motto, ‘In God We Trust.’ The morality and values such faith implies are deeply embedded in our national character. Our country embraces those principles by design, and we abandon them at our peril. Yet in recent years . . . Americans . . . [have] for the sake of religious tolerance . . . forbidden religious practice in the classrooms. The law of this land has effectively removed prayer from our classrooms. How can we hope to retain our freedom through the generations if we fail to teach our young that our liberty springs from an abiding faith in our Creator?”

Thus if we look to the words of the early founders, we see that their desire and conviction was to build a nation who would fear and honor the Lord. However, soon the people of America would forget their reasons for coming to the new world. With each passing generation, America’s people became less and less God fearing. Tolerance lead to acceptance of many Christian denominations and sects, and this in turn laid the foundation for tolerance of many non-Christian religions. J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur, a late eighteenth century author, described America as a land where “religion demands little of [one]” and as a place where all manner of religions could blend together smoothly. He notes how “Children will therefore grow up less zealous and more indifferent in matters of religion than their parents,” and concludes by proudly acknowledging how “all sects are mixed together as well as all nations; thus religious indifference in imperceptibly disseminated from one end of the continent to the other. . .”.

Thus, another declining step was made as America’s citizens began to accept the beliefs of others as equal truths. Toleration lead to the declassification of homosexuality as a mental illness in 1973. Now it is promoted in public education through “celebration of diversity” curriculum. Laws against sodomy are were forced out of state legislation by the ACLU. Sex before marriage became acceptable through implementing standards of “Common Law Marriage” and the convenience of abortion. While Americans cry out against weapons of mass destruction, abortion claims millions of lives. Dullness of heart compounds the dullness of mind as with each generation, the new citizens of America became more unable to “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.”  How can they defend hope which they no longer have?

In conclusion, it is interesting to note that early Americans were facing a land of emptiness; their future and all their well-being held no security. Therefore, these people recognized their daily need for God, and their circumstances kept them dependent on Him. However, we may note that as America grew more established and economically stable, her people began to forsake God, not recognizing their constant need for Him. The words of Jesus ring true, as he stated that “And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” More importantly, they began to disregard their need for a Savior, and turned away from God. Now religion is yet another thing that people may seek to make themselves happy, and thus is may be pursued in any way shape or form. Scripture makes it quite clear what must be done to reverse the tide of evil, yet many Christians wonder why America is in such a dire situation, while at the same time disregarding God’s admonition. “If My people, who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, the I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Courtesy of http://www.hyperhistory.net/apwh/essays/cot/t4w32usmoraldecline.htm

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Little League coach stays after prayer complaint

Posted by faithandthelaw on May 5, 2010

MEDFORD, OR – Little League officials in Medford, Oregon, have voted to keep a coach who led his team in prayer and remove a board member who complained about it.  

Medford National Little League President Kathy Meyer told the Mail Tribune over the weekend that the board is “100 percent” behind coach Chris Palmer.
Mike E. Miles had pulled his 10-year-old daughter from the Indians team, complaining that Palmer forced religion on the kids by leading them in prayer and quoting Bible verses. Palmer said no one was forced to join in the prayers, which were very brief.

A spokesman for the National Little League says the issue of prayer is left to local boards.

Miles acknowledged that he and Palmer had a disagreement over playing strategy, including a play Miles taught the team which featured a player pretending to be hurt.

Courtesy of http://www.onenewsnow.com/Culture/Default.aspx?id=999756

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California city may face legal action over prayer vote

Posted by faithandthelaw on April 16, 2010

LOS ANGELES — LOS ANGELES (AP) – When Lancaster’s flamboyant mayor R. Rex Parris calls the City Council to order at its next meeting, it’s a good bet he’ll open the proceedings with a prayer.

A controversial measure calling on residents to allow the City Council to continue beginning its meetings with heads bowed passed by a vote of more than 3-to-1 in Tuesday’s municipal election.

The issue seems far from resolved, however.

Peter Eliasberg, managing attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, said Wednesday the ACLU is considering taking Lancaster to court if the prayers keep singling out Christianity over other religions.

Parris, who was up for re-election, had exhorted people to vote for the prayer initiative even if they didn’t want to vote for him.

Apparently quite a few listened, as he won re-election over four challengers by collecting 57 percent of the vote. Voters also extended the mayor’s term from two to four years beginning in 2012.

Nonbinding Measure I, the prayer measure placed on the ballot by the City Council, put the spotlight on the dusty, high-desert community of 145,000 located 70 miles northeast of Los Angeles.

City officials say clergy of different faiths are invited to lead the opening prayer, but critics have complained that Christian prayers are usually delivered. The Antelope Valley Press reported in February that 11 of 14 prayers over one stretch invoked the name of Jesus Christ.

Parris said Wednesday that isn’t surprising, estimating that as much as 90 percent of the community’s faithful is Christian. But the mayor, a prominent litigation attorney, said he is confident the measure will hold up in court. He said city officials were careful to phrase it in a way that gives all religious groups the opportunity to take part in leading some prayers.

Eliasberg said there is precedent for allowing nondenominational prayers at a public meeting, but that constitutional boundaries protecting religious freedom are crossed when such prayers almost always advocate a particular religion.

“We don’t allow the voters to decide what’s the official religion in the city of Lancaster,” he said.

The controversy was fueled in part by Parris’ statement earlier this year that he was “growing a Christian community” in Lancaster. He later apologized, saying he realized his words had offended non-Christians. He said Wednesday he’s proud that some of his most ardent supporters are members of Lancaster’s Sikh community.

Courtesy of http://www.vcstar.com/news/2010/apr/14/calif-city-may-face-legal-action-over-prayer/

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