Tag: Religion

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

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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

Lc.org

 

Franklin Graham Says Tucson Memorial Service ‘Scoffed’ at Jesus

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 http://www.politicsdaily.com/2011/01/20/franklin-graham-says-obama-tucson-memorial-service-scoffed-at/

Kentucky Supreme Court rules against Baptist university

Church-state issue clouds Indiana schools’ conversion

 

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 http://www.foxnews.com/us/2010/04/14/church-state-issue-clouds-ind-schools-conversion/

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

     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.

Prophets of the New Atheism

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 nwsource.com at http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/opinion/2003653502_klinghoffer06.html

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? 

 
TOP 5 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD NOT JOIN AN ATHEIST COLLEGE CLUB
 

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.

 
 
TOP FIVE REASONS WHY ATHEISTS ARE JUST A MESS
 
1) ENOUGH OF THIS NONSENSE. OPEN YOUR EYES AND LOOK AT THE WONDERS OF CREATION AND THE HUMAN BODY. ARE YOU TELLING ME A GENERIC, NO NAME, ETHEREAL, VAGUE, UNDEFINED CONCEPT OR PROCESS BROUGHT THIS PERFECT CREATION INTO EXISTENCE FROM NOTHING? WHAT ARE YOU SMOKING?
 
2) GOD LOVES YOU MORE THAN ANY OF YOUR COLLEGE PROFESSORS OR FELLOW NON-BELIEVERS.
 
3) SIMPLY SUBSTITUTING THE WORD “NATURE” FOR GOD DOESN’T GET RID OF YOUR CREATOR
 
4) YOUR STAR TREK SPOCK LOGIC JUST IS NOT ENOUGH TO OUTSMART GOD.
 
5) WOW! A BUS-BILLBOARD CAMPAIGN TO TRY TO GET PEOPLE NOT TO BELIEVE IN GOD. WHAT WILL YOU THINK OF NEXT?

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

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.”

mitchell.landsberg@latimes.com

// Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times

 Courtesy of the Los Angeles Times at http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-beliefs22-2010feb22,0,7143343.story