Faithandthelaw's Blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘Religion’

Southern Poverty Law Center Should Rename Its “Hate Map” to “Groups We Hate Map”

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on September 1, 2017


The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) admitted its fault and removed a town from its “Hate Map” this week. That map irresponsibly mixes religious organizations with violent hate groups. This time it included the town of Amana, Iowa because an unknown source alleged some people who might have been associated with The Daily Stormer met once in a restaurant for coffee. This is one of many inaccuracies and gross over-characterizations that can be found on SPLC’s map.

Amana, an innocent town, was blacklisted by the SPLC. People living there were brought under a cloud a suspicion because of the improper, sweeping accusation of the SPLC. The SPLC makes wide generalizations and then seeks to harm those within its self-proclaimed classification of others.

In a similar manner, the SPLC targets anyone who disagrees with them on issues related to the LGBT agenda. Then it claims civil disagreement as “evidence” for falsely classifying a peaceful organization as “hateful.” This is just as wrong and even more harmful than the SPLC’s mischaracterization of the city of Amana. If the SPLC were intellectually honest, it should re-title its “Hate Map” into “Groups We Hate Map.”

We have complied a comprehensive answer to SPLC’s false name-calling of our non-profit Christian ministry and its pro bono work in the legal field. In addition to our many ministries, Liberty Counsel has a humanitarian relief program and had been providing help to victims of Hurricane Harvey, regardless of their beliefs, status, background or actions.

“As a pastor, before becoming an attorney, my heart then and now is for hurting people,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. We exist to help other people. Right now, we are focusing resources on helping victims of Harvey. We believe that every person is created in the image of God and should be treated with dignity and respect. We are putting those beliefs into action in Texas.

In direct opposition to the SPLC’s false campaign, we are reaching out with kindness and truth to all Americans.

Courtesy of Liberty Counsel



Posted in Attack on Christianity, Faith Issues in Our Times, Tim's Blog | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Franklin Graham Says Tucson Memorial Service ‘Scoffed’ at Jesus

Posted by faithandthelaw on January 28, 2011

President Obama garnered praise from across the political spectrum for his moving speech last week at the memorial service for the Tucson shooting victims, including from his usual critics on the right. But don’t count the Rev. Franklin Graham as a fan of the event.

In a speech on Tuesday at John Brown University, a private Christian college in Siloam Springs, Ark., the son of the revered evangelist Billy Graham voiced “dismay” at the way the Tucson memorial service was conducted, arguing that it was not as explicitly religious — mainly “Christian” — as those following the Oklahoma City bombing and the 9/11 attacks.

Graham was particularly upset that the Tucson memorial featured a Native American who called upon “father sky and mother earth.”

Franklin Graham“There was no call for the name of God to put his loving arms around the people who were hurting, the people that were suffering,” Graham said. “Why? Why did they take God out of it? Why did they leave him out?

“Because the world scoffs at the name of Jesus Christ,” Graham said, his voice rising in anger. “They scoff when you say he’s the son of God.”

Graham went on to say that the scoffing and persecution against Christians is only going to get worse.

Initial reports of Graham’s speech indicated that he may have been including Obama in his critique, though a review of the video shows that Graham says he “felt sorry” for the president “because I knew he was uncomfortable in that situation.”

Graham was referring to the pep rally atmosphere and the prayers by the Native American, an associate professor of medicine at the University, Carlos Gonzales, who is a Pascua Yaqui Indian and fifth generation Arizonan. (Graham called him a native of “the Yuppie tribe or something, I didn’t quite get it.”)

Graham also stressed his empathy for the president in an op-ed in The Washington Times on Tuesday, saying he was “proud of Mr. Obama” in Tucson in contrast with how he viewed the rest of the event.

“The president read from the Scriptures, and a couple of others,” Graham noted in his speech at John Brown University. But also said that no one mentioned God at the Tuscon event, and he said that is the way things seem to be going in America.

“And I believe the memorial service that we saw in Tucson is the template for what you are going to see in a secularized world.”

The White House declined to comment on Graham’s remarks about the service.

As USA Today’s “Faith & Reason” blogger, Cathy Grossman, noted, Graham’s critique seems “odd” given that Obama’s speech — which many agreed sounded more like a sermon — cited the consolations of Psalm 46 plus the laments of Job.

Moreover, Department of Homeland Security head (and former Arizona governor) Janet Napolitano preceded Obama and read from Isaiah 40 and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder read from the Second Letter of Paul to the Corinthians.

A strong majority of Americans also liked Obama’s response to the Tucson shootings, with an ABC News-Washington Post poll this week showing 78 percent approval overall, and 71 percent approval from Republicans and conservatives.

The Tucson speech was actually fairly typical of Obama’s Scripture-based rhetoric, and The Los Angeles Times explored how the president consulted his Christian spiritual advisers in composing it.

“Yet,” as Grossman writes, “Graham believes the victims of the Tucson shooting, those who knew and loved them and all who wanted to show solidarity with them — Catholic, Jewish, Protestant and beliefs unknown — were scoffing at God as they wept and cheered the speakers.”

Franklin Graham, who has become something of a shepherd to Sarah Palin (she accompanied him to Haiti last month), is becoming known for rhetoric that is far edgier than anything his father ever said, even in Billy Graham’s haler days.

He has regularly disparaged Islam, calling it an “evil” religion, a blast that got him booted from official National Day of Prayer celebrations last year. And he once made fun of Hinduism’s deities, saying that “No elephant with 100 arms can do anything for me. None of their 9,000 gods is going to lead me to salvation.”

Franklin Graham took up some of those themes again on Tuesday at John Brown.

“Even in our government today, you can’t pray to Jesus in many public meetings. You can pray to God or a god. You can mention Buddha or the name of Muhammad, but you can’t pray to Jesus Christ,” Graham told the students.

“We know that we are going to be persecuted for standing up for the name of Christ.”

Courtesy of

Posted in Attack on Christianity, Faith Issues in Our Times | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Kentucky Supreme Court rules against Baptist university

Posted by faithandthelaw on April 25, 2010

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

Church-state issue clouds Indiana schools’ conversion

Posted by faithandthelaw on April 18, 2010


INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A plan to create what could be the first U.S. public charter schools run by a Roman Catholic archdiocese is meeting resistance from those who worry about whether religious messages and icons will really stay out of the classrooms and hallways.

Mayor Greg Ballard says the plan is an innovative way to keep schools open so they can fill the needs of families in the struggling areas surrounding the schools. Archdiocese officials saw an opportunity to keep the schools open despite a growing budget deficit.

“A good neighborhood school is always a good thing to have,” Ballard said. “These schools have been around for a while and obviously have trouble making ends meet, but they still provide a valuable service for these neighborhoods.”

The city approved the plan April 5 to convert St. Anthony’s and St. Andrew & St. Rita Academy in a move that would qualify the schools for nearly $1 million in state funding in the first year.

That means some changes: Crucifixes and statues of saints must be removed from every classroom and office at both schools. Bibles sitting on display tables in hallways and saint statues in stairwells at St. Anthony must go.

At St. Andrew & St. Rita, two large limestone crosses are part of the outside wall of the building. The board will have to get creative with those, said Connie Zittnan, director of the Mother Theodore Catholic Academies, which currently runs the city’s six urban Catholic schools.Both schools will end religious education classes during the school day, archdiocese spokesman Greg Otolski said.

Concerns about maintaining separation of church and state have already prompted a national watchdog group to write the mayor’s office with its concerns.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State said they are concerned about the archdiocese’s willingness to end all school prayer and remove religious icons, as well as how Catholic teachers who remain will be trained to understand the constitutional duties of public school teachers.

“We are certainly going to be watching the situation as closely as we can and making noise about it when we see things going on that should not be,” said Leona E. Balek, president of the group’s Indiana chapter.

A national group that authorizes charter schools and management officials say the plan would mark the first time in the country that an archdiocese would run public charter schools. Catholic church leaders in New York, and Washington, D.C., have converted parish schools into charter schools, but those were operated by secular organizations.

Charter schools are generally free of many of the curriculum, budget and other regulations imposed on traditional public schools. The Mother Theodore Catholic Academies will continue to manage the day-to-day operations of the two Indianapolis charter schools, but it will do the bookkeeping offsite so that there is no confusion between the finances of the private and public schools, which require different levels of accountability to the government, Zittnan said.

The two schools will be renamed this summer by parents. Each will have spots for 24 students per grade level. The schools will hold a lottery if applications exceed available spots.

Current teachers will have to reapply for their jobs, but Otolski anticipates many will return after the transition.

The archdiocese has long subsidized the schools because low-income families couldn’t afford full tuition. Principal Cindy Greer says the average family income is $14,000 a year at St. Anthony’s, where cramped quarters mean an all-purpose room in the basement serves as art, music and physical education space, as well as the cafeteria. A tiny clinic and offices are partitioned from the rest of the room by tall cabinets.

About 98 percent of students at St. Anthony qualify for free or reduced lunch, Otolski said. Some families could afford only $300 of the approximately $7,000 it costs to educate a child at inner-city schools each year.

Greer said most families are relieved that they’ll pay only book rental fees once the school converts to a charter.

Even so, Otolski said the decision to apply for charter status was “bittersweet.”

Parent Gloria Guillen said she wanted to keep her youngest child, Ivan, in Catholic school as long as possible, but she knew the cost would eventually force her to move him to public schools like his older siblings.

She is applying for the fifth-grader to return to St. Anthony next year. Even with the new rules for religious instruction, she said children would still learn Catholic values so long as their parents are involved at the school and keep their children active in the church.

Still, the schools will have to walk a careful line as they learn the rules for admissions, expulsions and accountability for funds for public schools, said Greg Richmond, president of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers.

“This switch goes far beyond saying, ‘Well, we’re no longer going to say prayers,'” Richmond said. “There is a whole set of obligations that public schools have to students and to the public that private schools do not have. 

“I think that’s a greater challenge than saying you’re going to take the religion out”

Courtesy of Fox News at

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

Bill Maher: Enlightened? Hardly. God is Always One Step Ahead

Posted by faithandthelaw on March 4, 2010

     I have to be amused at Bill Maher the other night as I watched a little of his show on HBO as his hatred of God and religion was on display for all to see. He is one of the proclaimed “new atheists” like Richard Dawkin who foolishly think God is a delusion and man is the sum total of all things. First of all here is a man who has never tried God, has never had a relationship with God and has never sought God and he is suppose to be one of modern culture’s self-proclaimed gurus on God and the subject of religion.  Maher calls the Bible a dangerous book, but I wonder just how much of it he has ever read. I am sure when he reads it he comes with a heart blinded with a hatred of God and  a heart bent on finding some flaw or verse to support his atheist views. He cares little to understand the spiritual truth revealed in the Bible, understands nothing about Hebrew or the Hebrew culture,  understands nothing about the words in the Bible and their great meaning. He is simply a talking head with no understanding of the greatness of God and His awesome nature and love. I can understand his distaste of religion because if he is simply using religion only as the standard to learn about God, he  will be bitterly disappointed. Religion is what man does to try to get to God.  God is the exact opposite of religion. Many things are done and said in the name of religion and God gets blamed or His name gets defamed and He had absolutely nothing to do with these things. Jesus Christ taught about the hypocrisy and hardness of heart of the Pharisees and Sadducees who looked so good on the outside with all their religious garb, rules and regulations, but there heart was a million miles away from God. It was the religious leaders who crucified Jesus Christ while the Roman rulers were trying to let him go. Religion is one of the number one tools of the Devil to turn men and women’s hearts away from God. True Christianity is not a religion, but God’s act of reaching out to mankind and offering complete redemption and righteousness through the finished work of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Religion is man’s attempt to reach God through his own works, actions, and deeds. Christianity begins with the word “done” and religion begins with the word “do.” Man-made religion is referred to as “the way of Cain” in the Bible and E.W. Bullinger explained it best when he said:

                                The way of Cain consisted of not believing what

                                God had spoken and inventing a “New” way of

                                his own…whatever may be the varieties involved

                                from man’s imagination they are all one in asserting

                                that man MUST do something…Man must be

                                something, feel something, experience something,

                                give something, pay something, produce something..

                                he must DO something…where they do differ is only

                               what the “something” is to be. It is this which accounts

                                for the vast number of different systems of religion

                               which evolved in the world’s history…However many

                                may be these differing forms, they are all one in doing,

                                while in true Christianity they are all one in Christ only…

                                Christianity is of God; and consists in a Person Christ;

                                Religion is of man, and is carried on for man, and his

                                interests. It consists of men’s forms, and rites, and

                               ceremonies, doctrines, and traditions, churches and

                               chapels, and synagogues, halls and rooms. Christianity

                               rests on what Christ has done; religion rests on what

                               man can do.

   Anyone who trusts in, follows, pursues and seeks the God of the Bible and the God of Christianity with all their heart will never, ever be disappointed. Bill Maher makes the common mistake of focusing on people and religion instead of simply seeking God with a pure heart. Atheists simply do not know what they are missing as nothing can compare to knowing God as your intimate friend and companion. New Atheists you are simply spinning your wheels in your campaign against God because who can fight against God and win?  Who can contend with the Almighty and come out on top? Don’t be so arrogant Bill, it is a losing battle and has been so since the beginning of time. You are worshipping the God of reason, the God of humanity, the God of intellectualism, and the God of ego, but in the end it is like chasing the wind and building your life on sinking sand. According to the Bible, a person’s life without God is like sour milk. You cannot accomplish all the wonderful things you were designed by God to be and to do. People are created in the image of God and are made to have intimate fellowship with your Creator. Bill, you can hide behind all the TV shows you want, but it will never take away or fullfill the God hunger that you have in the depth of soul. Only God can make your life complete and fill the empty void we all experience without Him. Once you really begin to discover and understand how good and magnificent God is you will pursue after Him with all your heart because you cannot get enough of Him. Maybe one day Bill after all the TV lights and microphones and movies are turned off, you will give God a try. Even though you have given up on Him, He has not given up on you.

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

Prophets of the New Atheism

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on February 28, 2010

By David Klinghoffer

Special to The Times

While the American cultural landscape includes many religions, it’s still fascinating to watch closely when we have the chance to observe a new faith being born. Consider, for example, a religious phenomenon that has been dubbed the “new atheism,” prominently represented by some bestselling books.

Can disbelief in God be considered “religious”? Sure. Just ask Zen Buddhists, who worship no deity. By religion, I mean any faith-based set of values that makes exclusive claims for its truth and explains the mysteries of the universe. Yes, atheism begins with a faith, namely that only material and physical (not spiritual) causes make the world run.

Two recent atheist gospels, by Richard Dawkins (“The God Delusion”) and Sam Harris (“Letter to a Christian Nation”), are the country’s top two bestsellers among “religion” books, according to Publishers Weekly. The books are outselling even a Christian megahit like Rick Warren’s “The Purpose-Driven Life.”

These leading lights contend that traditional religions are not only false, but dangerous and morally grotesque. The title of another hot atheist tract, by journalist Christopher Hitchens and forthcoming in May, says it all: “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.”

Who are the new atheists? While only 5.2 percent of Americans identify themselves as atheists, according to 2006 Baylor University polling data, it’s a privileged demographic category, disproportionately college-educated and affluent. Atheists tend to live on the West Coast or East Coast. In its polling sample, the Baylor study found not one atheist African American. Meanwhile, those of us from Jewish backgrounds are represented well out of proportion to our national numbers, with 8.3 percent rejecting belief in God.

You can see how influential atheism has become by noting how the media and academia deal with traditional faith. A recent New York Times Magazine cover story detailed the big debate among academic psychologists: Did God-centered religion evolve in prehistoric man as a useful adaptation or as a surprising byproduct of other evolutionary processes? The possibility that it developed in response to a living God was not considered.

The new religion has a scientific appeal, with orthodox evolutionary theory recruited to provide a rationalistic “proof” for atheist teaching. For this reason, Oxford University biologist Dawkins devotes the “central argument of [his] book” to an attempted refutation of intelligent design (ID), the alternative to neo-Darwinian evolution that has been spearheaded by Seattle’s Discovery Institute (where I work).

Unfortunately, Dawkins does not grapple with the latest arguments for intelligent design as formulated by their chief proponents. Harris is similarly preoccupied by ID, which evidently provoked the new atheism’s present evangelistic push.

Darwinism, of course, is hardly new. The novelty here lies in the new faith’s missionary fervor. Dawkins writes explicitly about making “converts.”

Another novelty: In the 18th and 20th centuries, respectively, the atheist French and Russian revolutions sought political power above all else, with terrifyingly violent results. Luckily, far from being politicians, the new atheists seek religious influence for its own sake.

Despite these novel features, in other ways the new atheism will be familiar to historians who have studied the trajectory of upstart faiths. A favorite strategy of such groups has long been to attack cartoon versions of older rival religions.

Dawkins, for his part, mocks the God of the Hebrew Bible as “arguably the most unpleasant character in fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

Such a wild caricature will be unrecognizable to any believer (like me) in the God of Israel. But Dawkins and Harris seem unfamiliar with religious tradition as biblical monotheists know it from personal experience and deep study. Frankly, the success of the new atheist faith would be hard to imagine without today’s soaring levels of societal religious illiteracy.

Which might sound like the new religion has a promising future. I doubt it. For one thing, God gives objective definition to our ideas of right and wrong, crucial for civilization. Equally important, he provides meaning to life itself.

Certainly, you can have an ethical individual atheist, an instinctively caring, generous person who happens to disbelieve in God. But an atheist society could not survive. It would first live on the fumes of ancient moral traditions. In the end, racked by despair at life’s apparent meaninglessness, its members would return to more nourishing faiths.

That’s what we see happening now in formerly communist Russia, with its Christian and Jewish revivals. The evaporation of atheist communism is a lesson worth pondering, and a sobering one, for the new atheists.

Courtesy of at

Faith and the Law Note: The new atheists should tune into faith and the law for our weekly top five list. Here is a sample of some of the latest top five lists pertaining to atheists.

Top Five Reasons Atheist Billboards Don’t Work

1) Freethinkers?  No comment. LOL. 🙂 

2) Hard time getting IRS to grant tax-exempt status as a charity organization. —

3) Like trying to convince people that air does not exist. Arguments are so insane that they are comical. —

4) Those all night “there is no God” telethons just aren’t raising the money.  —

5) In Sacramento alone $6400 a month for a billboard to convince people not to believe in God?  Am I missing something? 


1) For a college, one of the most ignorant groups on campus.
2) Who wants to worship Darwin or have faith in junk science.
3) Pepto-Bismol not help that empty feeling have inside.
4) Too hard to answer your own prayers.
5) “Eat, drink and be merry” t-shirts are a bit pricey.


Posted in Attack on Christianity, Faith Issues in Our Times | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Study on religion finds young adults less affiliated but not less believing

Posted by faithandthelaw on February 23, 2010

By Mitchell Landsberg, Los Angeles Times 

February 22, 2010

Is faith losing its grip on the young?

That would be one way to read a new report by the respected Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, which found that more than one-quarter of Americans age 18 to 29 have no religious preference or affiliation, and fewer than one in five attend services regularly. That makes them easily the least religious generation among Americans alive today, perhaps the least religious ever.

Or does it?

The Pew study found that, although young adults — the so-called Millennial generation born after 1981 — are shunning traditional religious denominations and services in unprecedented numbers, their faith in God and the power of prayer appears nearly as strong as that of young people in earlier generations.

“If you think of religion primarily as a matter of whether people belong to a particular faith and attend the worship services of that faith . . . then millennials are less religious than other recent generations,” said Alan Cooperman, associate director of research for the Pew Forum, a Washington-based think tank run by the nonprofit Pew Research Center. “But when it comes to measures not of belonging but of believing, they aren’t so clearly less religious.”

The report, “Religion Among the Millennials,” relied on surveys that Pew and other research organizations have done since the 1970s, and compared the Millennial generation to four previous generations, which it labeled and defined as Gen Xers, born from 1965 to 1980; Baby Boomers, born from 1946 to 1964; the Silent Generation, 1928 to 1945; and the Greatest Generation, born before 1928. The report shows steady erosion in religious affiliation from generation to generation. All but 5% of the oldest group reported an affiliation with some religious tradition, whereas 20% of Gen Xers and 26% of today’s young adults said they had no such ties.

“Millennials are coming of age less affiliated than any recent U.S. generation,” Cooperman said. “And . . . I would say there’s no reason to think that they’re going to become more affiliated.”

Although participation in religious activities and belief in God tend to increase with age, affiliation with a religious faith appears to stay largely the same, he said.

The report does show sharp differences in religious belief among generations. In one 2008 survey, just 53% of young adults said they were certain that God exists, compared to 71% of the oldest group. And although faith does tend to grow with age, recent generations have not reached quite the same levels of belief as their predecessors. Interestingly, though, there is almost no difference among the generations when it comes to other markers of religious faith. Roughly three-quarters of Americans believe in an afterlife, for instance, and there is little difference among people of different ages. Even more people — 79% — believe in miracles, and again, young people are just as likely as their elders to hold that view.

The Pew study shows significant differences in belief and practice among religious denominations. It tracks a decline in younger members of mainline Protestant denominations, such as Presbyterians, Episcopalians and Methodists, while African American and evangelical Protestant groups have stronger affiliation among the young.

Alexander Astin, a professor emeritus of education at UCLA who has studied the attitudes of college students since 1966, said the conclusions of the Pew study largely mirror what he has found about the religious views of young people.

“You have very high rates of skepticism and nonbelief among unaffiliated people,” Astin said.

But evangelical Christians have very high levels of belief in God and participation in church activities, and their numbers are grow- ing.

So, he said, “The nonbelievers have increased, but so have the believers. So the net result of that is probably not a great change in the proportion of people who believe in God.”

// Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times

 Courtesy of the Los Angeles Times at,0,7143343.story


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

Reactions Cool to Year One of Obama’s Faith-Based Office

Posted by faithandthelaw on February 21, 2010

President Obama’s Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships will mark its first anniversary Friday, but it’s hard to determine whether the office has been successful or not.

The office, in an update Wednesday on its blog, looked back on the past year and said it carried out President Obama’s vision to help the federal government partner with faith-based and non-profit groups to better serve Americans.

Specifically, the office said it helped advance the president’s fatherhood agenda, implementing strategies to address the challenge of absent fathers in communities. It has also built partnerships between federal agencies and local nonprofits on key issues, brought together people across religious lines to work for the common good, and helped local organizations respond to the economic crisis, according to Joshua DuBois, the office’s director.

In his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast Thursday, President Obama mentioned the faith-based office, saying it has built “effective partnerships” on a range of issues, including helping people of different faiths “find common ground.”

But one member of Obama’s faith advisory council questioned whether in an effort to find common ground council members were expected to water down their faith.

“It’s been my honor to work with all these folks, but to be honest it’s been a mixed experience,” said council member Frank Page, former Southern Baptist Convention president, to the Washington Post.

Page served on the fatherhood task force, which he said is an issue that people can easily find common ground on.

“But even within that, you have to leave your faith at the door in a lot of these discussions,” Page said. “You can’t say here’s why fathers ought to do better, this is what encouragement comes from the Bible, how being a better father is a godly, right and biblical thing to do.

“When you have 25 people from such a wide range, you’re virtually reduced to a neighborhood group of folk,” he said.

Page, arguably the most conservative Christian on the advisory council, said he wonders if he was a token member.

When the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships was launched, the president talked about abortion reduction as one of the priorities for the council to tackle, Page said. But the contentious issue was “quickly taken off the table,” the Southern Baptist leader added.

If he was asked again to serve on the council, Page said he would have to think hard about accepting.

But many members believe it is too early to determine how effective the council is.

Council member Eboo Patel, director of Interfaith Youth Core, told the Post that the council’s effectiveness depends on a draft of recommendations on fatherhood, interreligious cooperation, economic recovery and other issues that will be given to the president in early March.

“The question of impact depends largely on what’s done with the report,” Patel said. “We won’t know until the report is sent.”

One thing for certain though is the faith-based office under President Obama has been a lot less controversial than that of his predecessor.

Under the Bush administration, the faith-based initiative receive nearly seven times as much coverage in the first six months of 2001 as it did during the same period in 2009, according to the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

The difference in the amount of coverage is due to several reasons including the newness of the program under Bush and the very different situation of the United States in 2001 compared to 2009.

After eight years, Americans became more comfortable with the idea of a faith-based office. Besides comfort level, Americans were also preoccupied with an economic crisis and fighting two wars, resulting in differences in media coverage.

The Pew study found 281 stories about the faith-based office from January to June 2001 in eight major national and regional newspapers. By comparison, there were 50 stories on Obama’s faith-based initiative from January to June 2009.

Courtesy of Christian Post at

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

Vandalizing Bookstores and Censoring Books in the Name of Darwin

Posted by faithandthelaw on February 11, 2010

Just in time for Academic Freedom Day, Feb. 12 (aka Darwin Day), graduate student Michael Barton at Montana State University boasts of regularly going into his local bookstore and purging books critical of Darwin from the science section of the store and reshelving them in the religion section. This past Sunday Barton posted a report about his most recent act of vandalism:

Today I moved [Michael Behe’s] The Edge of Evolution and [Benjamin Wiker’s] The Darwin Myth away from the shelve directly under where copies of Dawkins’s The Greatest Show on Earth were, and placed them next to–I just had to–the Adventure Bible and the Princess Bible in the religion section.

Whatever Barton claims, his actions constitute censorship, pure and simple. Barton is trying to hide books he doesn’t like in order to prevent others from being exposed to views with which he disagrees. Indeed, he is apparently so insecure about the ability of Darwinists like Dawkins to make their case that he thinks he has the duty to vandalize private bookstores in order to keep the books of Darwin’s critics away from the public. Barton’s activities are not only juvenile, they may well be illegal.

Censors like Barton aren’t doing Darwinian evolution any favors. They merely prove to the public just how bigoted and intolerant the Darwinist establishment has become. Much like certain global warming fanatics, Darwinist ideologues increasingly place themselves above the law and try to exempt themselves of any sort of real accountability.

Ironically, Darwin himself was a lot more fair-minded than his latter-day defenders. Writing at the beginning of On the Origin of Species, Darwin acknowledged that “a fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question.”

Courtesy of the Discovery Institute at

Posted in Faith Issues in Our Times | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

James Madison and the Importance of Religion in the Public Arena

Posted by faithandthelaw on February 10, 2010

David Barton – 09/2002
In recent days, Michael Newdow – infamous for his successful initiation of the ruling striking down “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance – has broadened his efforts and has filed suit against the use of chaplains in the U. S. House and Senate. In his public appearances defending this newest pursuit, Newdow cites James Madison’s quotes from his “Detached Memoranda” as his authority in opposing chaplains. Did Madison actually oppose chaplains in Congress? Yes, and no.

Madison’s religious views and activities are numerous, as are his writings on religion. They are at times self-contradictory, and his statements about religion are such that opposing positions can each invoke Madison as its authority. An understanding of Madison’s religious views is complicated by the fact that his early actions were at direct variance with his later opinions. Consider six examples of his early actions.

First, Madison was publicly outspoken about his personal Christian beliefs and convictions. For example, he encouraged his friend, William Bradford (who served as Attorney General under President Washington), to make sure of his own spiritual salvation:

[A] watchful eye must be kept on ourselves lest, while we are building ideal monuments of renown and bliss here, we neglect to have our names enrolled in the Annals of Heaven.[1]

Madison even desired that all public officials – including Bradford – would declare openly and publicly their Christian beliefs and testimony:

I have sometimes thought there could not be a stronger testimony in favor of religion or against temporal enjoyments, even the most rational and manly, than for men who occupy the most honorable and gainful departments and [who] are rising in reputation and wealth, publicly to declare their unsatisfactoriness by becoming fervent advocates in the cause of Christ; and I wish you may give in your evidence in this way. [2]

Second, Madison was a member of the committee that authored the 1776 Virginia Bill of Rights and approved of its clause declaring that:

It is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity toward each other. [3] (emphasis added)

Third, Madison’s proposed wording for the First Amendment demonstrates that he opposed only the establishment of a federal denomination, not public religious activities. His proposal declared:

The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established. [4] (emphasis added)

(Madison reemphasized that position throughout the debates. [5])

Fourth, in 1789, Madison served on the Congressional committee which authorized, approved, and selected paid Congressional chaplains. [6]

Fifth, in 1812, President Madison signed a federal bill which economically aided a Bible Society in its goal of the mass distribution of the Bible. [7]

Sixth, throughout his Presidency (1809-1816), Madison endorsed public and official religious expressions by issuing several proclamations for national days of prayer, fasting, and thanksgiving. [8]

These were the early actions of Madison. In later life Madison retreated from many of these positions, even declaring in his “Detached Memoranda” his belief that having paid chaplains and issuing presidential prayer proclamations were unconstitutional. Recent Courts have made a point of citing Madison’s “Detached Memoranda” in arguing against public religious expressions. [9]

Significantly, the “Detached Memoranda” was “discovered” in 1946 in the papers of Madison biographer William Cabell Rives and was first published more than a century after Madison’s death by Elizabeth Fleet in the October 1946 William & Mary Quarterly. In that work, Madison expressed his opposition to many of his own earlier beliefs and practices and set forth a new set of beliefs formerly unknown even to his closest friends. Since Madison never made public or shared with his peers his sentiments found in the “Detached Memoranda,” and since his own public actions were at direct variance with this later writing, it is difficult to argue that it reflects the Founders’ intent toward religion.

There were fifty-five individuals directly involved in framing the Constitution at the Constitutional Convention, and an additional ninety in the first federal Congress that framed the First Amendment and Bill of Rights. Allowing for the overlap of nineteen individuals who were both at the Constitutional Convention and a part of the first Congress, [10] there were one hundred and twenty-six individual participants in the framing of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The records of the Constitutional Convention demonstrate that James Madison was often out of step with these Founders. The other delegates rejected Madison’s Virginia plan in preference for Roger Sherman’s Connecticut plan and voted down 40 of Madison’s 71 proposals (60 percent). [11] Nevertheless, today Madison is cited as if he is the only authority among the Founding Fathers and the only expert on the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights.

Was Madison responsible for the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights? Definitely not. In fact, during the Constitutional Convention, it was Virginian George Mason that advocated that a Bill of Rights be added to the Constitution, [12] but the other Virginians at the Convention – including James Madison – opposed any Bill of Rights and their position prevailed. [13] Consequently, George Mason, Elbridge Gerry, Edmund Randolph, and others at the Convention refused to sign the new Constitution because of their fear of insufficiently bridled federal power. [14]

Mason and the others returned to their home States to lobby against the ratification of the Constitution until a Bill of Rights was added. As a result of their voices (and numerous others who agreed with them), the ratification of the Constitution almost failed in Virginia, [15] Massachusetts, [16] New Hampshire, [17] and New York. [18] Rhode Island flatly refused to ratify it, [19] and North Carolina refused to do so until limitations were placed upon the federal government. [20] Although the Constitution was eventually ratified, a clear message had been delivered: there was strong sentiment demanding the inclusion of a Bill of Rights.

When the Constitution was considered for ratification, the reports from June 2 through June 25, 1788, make clear that in Virginia, Patrick Henry, George Mason, and Edmund Randolph led the fight for the Bill of Rights, again over James Madison’s opposition. [21] Henry’s passionate speeches of June 5 and June 7 resulted in Virginia’s motion that a Bill of Rights be added to the federal Constitution; and on June 25, the Virginia Convention selected George Mason to chair a committee to prepare a proposed Bill of Rights, [22] with Patrick Henry and John Randolph as members. [23] Mason incorporated Henry’s arguments as the basis of Virginia’s proposal on religious liberty. [24]

Although Madison had opposed a Bill of Rights, he understood the grim political reality that without one, it was unlikely the new Constitution would receive widespread public acceptance. [25] Consequently, he withdrew his opposition, and in the federal House of Representatives he introduced his own versions of the amendments offered by his State.

Very little of Madison’s proposed religious wording made it into the final version of the First Amendment; and even a cursory examination of the Annals of Congress surrounding the formation of that Amendment quickly reveals the influence of Fisher Ames and Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, Samuel Livermore of New Hampshire, John Vining of Delaware, Daniel Carroll and Charles Carroll of Maryland, Benjamin Huntington, Roger Sherman, and Oliver Ellsworth of Connecticut, William Paterson of New Jersey, and others on that Amendment. [26]

The failure to rely on Founders other than Madison seems to imply that no other Founders were qualified to address First Amendment issues or that there exists no pertinent recorded statements from the other Founders. Both implications are wrong: numerous Founders played pivotal roles; and thousands of their writings do exist.

However, if critics of public religious expression believe that only a Virginian may speak for the nation on the issue of religion (they usually cite either Madison or Jefferson), then why not George Mason, the “Father of the Bill of Rights”? Or Richard Henry Lee who not only framed Virginia’s proposals but who also was a Member of the first federal Congress where he helped frame the Bill of Rights? Or why not George Washington? Perhaps the reason that these other Virginians are ignored (as are most of the other Framers) is because both their words and actions unequivocally contradict the image portrayed by the one-sided picture of Madison given by those who cite only his “Detached Memoranda.”

George Washington provides a succinct illustration. During his inauguration, Washington took the oath as prescribed by the Constitution but added several religious components to that official ceremony. Before taking his oath of office, he summoned a Bible on which to take the oath, added the words “So help me God!” to the end of the oath, then leaned over and kissed the Bible. [27] His “Inaugural Address” was filled with numerous religious references, [28] and following that address, he and the Congress “proceeded to St. Paul’s Chapel, where Divine service was performed.” [29]

Only weeks later, Washington signed his first major federal bill [30] – the Northwest Ordinance, drafted concurrently with the creation of the First Amendment. [31] That act stipulated that for a territory to become a State, the “schools and the means of education” in that territory must encourage the “religion, morality, and knowledge” that was “necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind.” [32] Conforming to this requirement, numerous subsequent State constitutions included that clause, [33] and it still appears in State constitutions today. [34] Furthermore, that law is listed in the current federal code, along with the Constitution, the Declaration, and the Articles of Confederation, as one of America’s four “organic” or foundational laws. [35]

Finally, in his “Farewell Address,” Washington reminded the nation:

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness. . . . The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. [36]

Washington – indisputably a constitutional expert – declared that religion and morality were inseparable from government, and that no true patriot, whether politician or clergyman, would attempt to weaken the relationship between government and the influence of religion and morality.

Or why not cite the actions of the entire body of Founding Fathers? For example, in 1800, when Washington, D. C., became the national capital and the President moved into the White House and Congress into the Capitol, Congress approved the use of the Capitol building as a church building for Christian worship services. [37] In fact, Christian worship services on Sunday were also started at the Treasury Building and at the War Office. [38]

John Quincy Adams, a U. S. Senator, made frequent references to these services. Typical of his almost weekly entries are these:

[R]eligious service is usually performed on Sundays at the Treasury office and at the Capitol. I went both forenoon and afternoon to the Treasury. October 23, 1803. [39]

Attended public service at the Capitol, where Mr. Ratoon, an Episcopalian clergyman from Baltimore, preached a sermon. October 30, 1803. [40]

The Rev. Mannasseh Cutler, a U. S. Congressman (as well as a chaplain in the Revolution and a physician and scientist) similarly recorded in 1804:

December 23, Sunday. Attended worship at the Treasury. Mr. [James] Laurie [pastor of the Presbyterian Church] alone [preached]. Sacrament [communion]. Full assembly. Three tables; service very solemn; nearly four hours. Cold day. [41]

By1867, the church in the Capitol had become the largest church in Washington, and the largest Protestant church in America. [42]

There are numerous other public religious activities by the Founding Fathers that might be cited, and Madison participated and facilitated many of them. Yet Madison later privately renounced his own practices, thus distancing himself from his own beliefs and practices as well as those of the other Founders. Therefore, to use Madison’s “Detached Memoranda” as authoritative is a flagrant abuse of historical records, choosing a long unknown ex post facto document in preference to those concurrent with the framing and implementation of the First Amendment.

Newdow’s use of James Madison is typical of most revisionists: it gives only the part of the story with which he agrees and omits the part with which he disagrees. If Newdow wants to take the position that the “Founding Fathers” (plural) opposed the use of chaplains, then he must provide evidence from more than one Founder; he must show that the majority of the Founders opposed chaplains – something that he cannot do.
WallBuilders has a resource that provides comprehensive information on the Founders views on the Constitution (see Original Intent).


[1] Letter of Madison to William Bradford (November 9, 1772), in 1 James Madison, The Letters and Other Writings of James Madison 5-6 (New York: R. Worthington 1884).

[2] Letter of Madison to William Bradford (September 25, 1773), in 1 James Madison, The Papers of James Madison 66 (William T. Hutchinson ed., Illinois: University of Chicago Press 1962).

[3] The Proceedings of the Convention of Delegates, Held at the Capitol in the City of Williamsburg, in the Colony of Virginia, on Monday the 6th of May, 1776, 103 (Williamsburg: Alexander Purdie 1776) (Madison on the Committee on May 16, 1776; the “Declaration of Rights” passed June 12, 1776).

[4] 1 The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States 451, 1st Cong., 1st Sess. (Washington, D. C.: Gales & Seaton 1834) (June 8, 1789).

[5] 1 Debates and Proceedings 758-759 (1834 ed.) (August 15, 1789).

[6] 1 Debates and Proceedings 109 (1834 ed.) (April 9, 1789).

[7] Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States 1325, 12th Cong., 2nd Sess. (Washington: Gales & Seaton 1853) (“An Act for the relief of the Bible Society of Philadelphia. Be it enacted, &c., That the duties arising and due to the United States upon certain stereotype plates, imported during the last year into the port of Philadelphia, on board the ship Brilliant, by the Bible Society of Philadelphia, for the purpose of printing editions of the Holy Bible, be and the same are hereby remitted, on behalf of the United States, to the said society: and any bond or security given for the securing of the payment of the said duties shall be cancelled. Approved February 2, 1813.”)

[8] 1 James D. Richardson, A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 1789-1897, 513 (Published by Authority of Congress 1899) (July 9, 1812), 532-533 (July 23, 1813), 558 (November 16, 1814), and 560-561 (March 4, 1815).

[9] See, for example, Lee v. Weisman, 505 U.S. 577, 617 (1992); Marsh v. Chambers, 463 U.S. 783, 791 (1983); ACLU v. Capitol Square Review, 243 F.3d 289 (6th Cir. 2001); Sherman v. Cmty. Consol. Dist. 21, 980 F.2d 437 (7th Cir. 1992); American Jewish Congress v. City of Chicago, 827 F.2d 120 (7th Cir. 1787), and others.

[10] Ten members of the Constitutional Convention also served in the first federal Senate (William Few, Richard Bassett, George Read, Pierce Butler, William Paterson, Robert Morris, Oliver Ellsworth, William Samuel Johnson, Caleb Strong, and John Langdon) and nine members of the Convention served in the first federal House (Abraham Baldwin, James Madison, Hugh Williamson, Daniel Carroll, George Clymer, Thomas Fitzsimons, Roger Sherman, Elbridge Gerry, and Nicholas Gilman).

[11] Forrest McDonald, Novus Ordo Seclorum: The Intellectual Origins of the Constitution 208-209 (Lawrence, Kansas, 1985), compiled from The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787 (Max Farrand, ed., New Haven: Yale University Press, 1911), Vol. I, 216, 373, and Vol. II, 45, 306, 324-325, 345, 440, 500, and 617.

[12] 3 James Madison, The Papers of James Madison 1566 (Henry D. Gilpin, ed., Washington: Langress and O’Sullivan, 1840) (Wednesday, September 12, 1787); see also 2 George Bancroft, Bancroft’s History of the Formation of the Constitution 209-210 (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1882), and 2 Farrand’s Records of The Federal Convention 588 (September 12, 1787) and 637 (September 15, 1787).

[13] 1 Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution 306 (Jonathan Elliot, ed., Washington, 1836) (September 12, 1787).

[14] Dictionary of American Biography, s.v., “George Mason,” “Edmund Randolph,” “Elbridge Gerry.”

[15] Elliot’s Debates, Vol. III, 652-655, Virginia Ratification Debates, June 25, 1788.

[16] Elliot’s Debates, Vol. II, 176-181, Massachusetts Ratification Debates, February 6, 1788.

[17] Joseph B. Walker, A History of the New Hampshire Convention (Boston: Cupples & Hurd, 1888), 41-43, June 21, 1788.

[18] Elliot’s Debates, Vol. II, 413, New York Ratification Debates, July 26, 1788.

[19] Collections of the Rhode Island Historical Society (Providence: Knowles and Vose, 1843), Vol. V, 320-321, March 24, 1788.

[20] Elliot’s Debates, Vol. IV, 242-251, North Carolina Ratification Debates, August 1-2, 1788.

[21] Elliot’s Debates, Vol. III, 616-622, James Madison, Virginia Ratification Debates, June 24, 1788.

[22] Rowland, Life of George Mason, Vol. I, 244.

[23] Elliot’s Debates, Vol. III, 655-656, Virginia Ratification Debates, June 25, 1788.

[24] Patrick Henry, Life, Correspondence and Speeches, William Wirt Henry (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1891), Vol. I, 430-431; see also Rowland, Life of George Mason, Vol. I, 244; see also Elliot’s Debates, Vol. III, 659, Virginia Ratification Debates, June 27, 1788.

[25] 1 Debates and Proceedings 448-450 (1st Cong., 1st Sess) (June 8, 1789); see also Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 U. S. 38, 93-99 (1985) (Rehnquist, J., dissenting).

[26] See 1 Debates and Proceedings 440-948 (1st Cong., 1st Sess.) (June 8- September 24, 1789, for the records chronicling the debates surrounding the framing of the First Amendment).

[27] 4 Washington Irving, Life of George Washington 475 (New York: G. P. Putnam & Co., 1857); Mrs. C. M Kirkland, Memoirs of Washington 438 (New York: D. Appleton & Company, 1870); Charles Carleton Coffin, Building the Nation 26 (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1882); etc.

[28] 1 Richardson, Messages and Papers 51-54 (April 30, 1789).

[29] 1 Annals of Congress 29 (April 30, 1789).

[30] Acts Passed at a Congress of the United States of America Begun and Held at the City of New-York, on Wednesday the Fourth of March, in the Year 1789, 104 (Hartford: Hudson & Goodwin, 1791) (August 7, 1789).

[31] 1 Debates and Proceedings 685 (1st Cong., 1st Sess.) (July 21, 1789, passage by the House), and 1 Debates and Proceedings 57 (August 4, 1789, passage by the Senate).

[32] Constitutions (1813) 364 (“An Ordinance of the Territory of the United States Northwest of the River Ohio,” Article III).

[33] For example, State constitutions across the decades reflecting this requirement include the 1803 Ohio Constitution (Constitutions (1813), 334, Ohio, 1802, Article 8, Section 3); the 1817 Mississippi Constitution (The Constitutions of All the United States According to the Latest Amendments (Lexington, KY: Thomas T. Skillman, 1817), 389, Mississippi, 1817, Article 9, Section 16); the 1858 Kansas Constitution (House of Representatives, Mis. Doc. No. 44, 35th Cong., 2nd Sess., February 2, 1859, 3-4, Article 1, Section 7, of the Kansas Constitution); the 1875 Nebraska Constitution (M. B. C. True, A Manual of the History and Civil Government of the State of Nebraska (Omaha: Gibson, Miller, & Richardson, 1885), 34, Nebraska, 1875, Article 1, Section 4); etc.

[34] See The Constitution of North Carolina 42 (Raleigh: Rufus L. Edmisten, Secretary of State, 1989) (Article 9, Section 1); Constitution of the State of Nebraska 1-2 (Lincoln: Allen J. Beermann, Secretary of State, 1992) (Article 1, Section 4); Page’s Ohio Revised Code Annotated 24 (Cincinnati: Anderson Publishing Co., 1994) (Article 1, Section 7).

[35] United States Code Annotated 1 (St. Paul: West Publishing Co., 1987) (“The Organic Laws of the United States of America”).

[36] George Washington, Address of George Washington, President of the United States . . . Preparatory to His Declination 22-23 (Baltimore: George and Henry S. Keatinge, 1796).

[37] 1 Debates and Proceedings 797 (6th Cong., 2nd Sess.) (December 4, 1800).

[38] Hutson 89; see also 1 John Quincy Adams, Memoirs of John Quincy Adams 265 (Charles Francis Adams ed., Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co. 1874) (October 23, 1803).

[39] 1 John Quincy Adams, Memoirs 265 (October 23, 1803).

[40] 1 John Quincy Adams, Memoirs 268 (October 30, 1803).

[41] 2 William Parker Cutler & Julia Perkins Cutler, Life, Journals, and Correspondence of Rev. Manasseh Cutler, LL.D. 174 (Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Co. 1888).

[42] James Hutson, Chief of the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress, Religion and the Founding of the American Republic 91 (Washington, D. C.: Library of Congress 1998).

Courtesy of Wallbuilders at

Posted in National Heritage | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »