Posts Tagged ‘Prayer’
This quote from Obama’s book, The Audacity of Hope, tells you all you need to know about how Obama views the Christian faith:
“To survive, [the Churches] would have to make themselves ‘relevant’ to changing times–by accommodating church doctrine to science and by articulating a social gospel that addressed the material issues of economic inequality, racism, sexism, and American militarism.”
In other words, Obama believes that Christian churches must alter their theology to align with Leftist ideology.
Marx comes first, then Jesus. Anything that scripture says which does not align with Marxist ideology is ignored, thrown out, or twisted (like the constitution) into what they want it to mean. That is how Liberation Theology and it’s offshoot, Black Liberation Theology, got started. And that is the heresy that Obama took to heart while sitting in Jeremiah Wright’s church for 20 years.
In 2010, Obama promised Americans and Muslims in particular that their rights to worship as they see fit would not be infringed by his government. In 2012, he has told Catholic Americans–25% of America–that their freedom of association will be infringed by his government.
“As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country,” Obama said. “That includes the right to build a place of worship in a community center on private property in lower Manhattan in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable.”
“I can’t impose my religious views on another,” Candidate Obama wrote in The Audacity of Hope. (251)
That is, unless you are Catholic.
We have already seen how the political left uses the state to compel churches in Massachusetts, the District of Columbia, and Illinois, among others to abandon their state-supported adoption agencies because they will not accept placing children with homosexual couples. Many thousands of children will not be adopted at all now. They will languish in the “care” of child services.
Obama knows well that Catholic charities provide the lion share of social services in the United States. Indeed, nationally, Catholic Charities, with 1,700 agencies, is the country’s second-largest provider of social services after the federal government. And unlike the federal government’s “services,” the Catholic ones actually serve. When I was a boy living in Dorchester, MA, I used to watch the little Vietnamese girls go to the Catholic church near my grandparents’ home. Their non-English speaking, non-Catholic practicing parents explained to me and a Vietnamese friend that the Catholic schools, for all their problems, were infinitely better than the Boston public schools. My parents thought long and hard about sending me to such a school when I was young, though we were irreligious.
Obama must know all of this. He writes on page 242 of The Audacity of Hope that his own mother was irreligious, too, and yet that didn’t prevent her from sending Barry to catholic school. “My mother was less concerned with me learning the catechism… than she was with whether I was properly learning my multiplication tables,” Obama writes. Lest we dismiss that by concluding that Obama’s objections were simply to Indonesian publics schools, it’s worth recalling that he attended Punahou, a private school in Hawaii, from the 5th grade onward.
He knows Catholic charities run schools, adoption agencies, hospitals, and, of course, churches. He knows this because when he was a community organizer he worked for Jerry Kellman, a Catholic convert, dedicated to liberation theology. This brand of radical politics is about “trying to change the hearts of the masses.” Kellman, who spoke at the Democratic National Convention in 2008, was to be Obama’s Catholic face. Recall that it was only after Father Michael Pfleger’s incendiary comments that Obama left Trinity United Church. Yes, Obama knows the radical Catholic left very well. He writes about how the Catholic and Protestant churches need to change. “To survive, [the Churches] would have to make themselves ‘relevant’ to changing times–by accommodating church doctrine to science and by articulating a social gospel that addressed the material issues of economic inequality, racism, sexism, and American militarism,” Candidate Obama wrote in Audacity. (236) In other words, churches can only really be righteous by giving up their beliefs and subordinating them to progressivisms.
So why is Obama really picking a fight with the Catholics?
Because he understand that this fight of his choosing will put him one step closer to total control.
He must know that Catholics cannot and will not participate in such a regime. They will be forced by their conscience to dump their now uninsured onto the government-run health care exchanges. The ranks of the uninsured will swell and the cost to the federal government will increase as well. The public option will return, only this time it won’t be much of an option. It’ll be yet another mandate.
This is how mandates work. This is always how mandates will work. In a population as diverse as our own, there will always be some group that objects to something that the federal government does on religious grounds.
In Gaza, Christians are forbidden to celebrate Christmas or express their faith publicly.
In Pakistan and Iran, death-row Christians Asia Bibi and Youcef Nadarkhani are spending their third Christmas in prison, awaiting execution for “blasphemy” and “apostasy” because they refuse to convert to Islam.
In Egypt, Coptic Christians are being slaughtered in the streets by Radical Islamists. Their churches have been burned, their daughters have been kidnapped, raped, and forced in to “marriages” with Muslim men, their lives have been threatened.
In Iraq and Afghanistan, so many Christians have been killed or forced to flee religious persecution that there are virtually none left.
On Christmas day, Nigerian Islamic Radicals bombed Catholics leaving Christmas Mass, burning them alive:
A car burns at the scene of a bomb explosion at St. Theresa Catholic Church at Madalla, Suleja, just outside Nigeria’s capital Abuja, December 25, 2011. Five bombs exploded on Christmas Day at churches in Nigeria, one killing at least 27 people, raising fears that Islamist militant group Boko Haram – which claimed responsibility – is trying to ignite sectarian civil war. (REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde)
Bomb attacks on churches during Christmas services and a suicide blast in Nigeria killed at least 40 people amid spiralling violence claimed by Islamists.
A purported spokesman for Islamist group Boko Haram claimed responsibility for a bombing of a church outside the capital Abuja and other violence which stoked fear and anger in Africa’s most populous nation.
Nigeria’s national security adviser blamed Boko Haram for the horrific attacks that saw worshippers killed as they were leaving church and burnt inside their cars.
In spite of the flood of persecution that has been unleashed on religious minorities at the hands of Radical Muslims since the “Arab Spring,” the Obama administration is quietly shutting down the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom – just when it’s needed most. And the media is silent.
Now, whether you are a Christian or not, and whether or not you believe all or any of these things, the question that is before us with this Christmas, as every Christmas these days, is whether or not people should be allowed to believe these things freely, without being brutalized or discriminated against, if they live in Iraq, or Egypt, or Pakistan, or Nigeria, or Indonesia — and whether free people of all creeds and perspectives should defend their right to do so.
In those countries, Christians today are being kidnapped, imprisoned, wrongly arrested, beaten, and murdered — not because of anything they have done, but because they have dared to believe some of the things I have adumbrated above, beliefs that are considered blasphemous in authoritative Islam. And it is hardly better elsewhere in the Islamic world: nowhere in majority-Muslim countries today do people who believe these things enjoy full equality of rights with Muslims.
We see this at Jihad Watch every day. We see jihadists attacking Christians with increasing fury. We also see the world largely yawning and indifferent as all this goes on. Christianity is a large and multifaceted thing, with so many different and various manifestations, but in the mind of the opinion makers of the West it is Western, white, suburban, wealthy, comfortable, oppressive, and oppressing. Christians are, in the little dramas that play out in mainstream media stories every day, a bit cracked, a bit sinister, a bit dangerous, a bit grasping, and sometimes fanatically jingoistic and xenophobic. They are never victims. Muslims, by contrast, are in the daily mainstream media playlets always cast as non-Western, nonwhite, poor, wise, serene, and oppressed.
And so when it comes to the specter of non-Western, nonwhite Christians being persecuted by Muslims, the mainstream media’s circuitry explodes. They can’t handle it. They have no paradigm for doing so. It violates every rule in their playbook. So they either ignore it or mask the identity and/or motives of the perpetrators, and try to cast the focus elsewhere.
And so remember this Christmas: if you are a free human being, whether or not you are Christian, those Christians who are being persecuted in Iraq, and the Philippines, and Nigeria, and Egypt, and Pakistan, and elsewhere in the Islamic world, are standing in your place. The jihadis would just as soon attack you as well, and will eventually if they get the chance. Remember that the Islamic supremacist program has you on its list. You may not be a Christian. You may not be a Jew. You may not be a Hindu. You may not wish to pay attention to the jihad at all. But the jihad is universal, and relentless. And you are on its list.
Jesus Christ is always a threat to those who want to deny or ignore their Creator and be their own gods, making up their own rules and moral standards. The very idea that we are all sinners in need of a Savior repulses them. That is why they hate the celebration of the Savior’s birth. To celebrate Him is to acknowledge that they need Him – and that they cannot do.
As a child growing up in Spanish Harlem in a run-down tenement building, Christmas always meant a time of good cheer to me regardless of our dire circumstances. My Jewish neighbors (yes, there are poor Jews) would always treat us with Challah bread, sweets and a bottle of Mogen David wine and wish us good cheer for the holidays. In our society’s war on Christmas, I hear snide remarks from fellow Christians blaming it on the Jews because some lawyer in the ACLU is bringing a suit against the city to ban crèches on public land. All Jews get tarnished by a brush that should be directed at secularists and atheists not by people of faith. Each year I get emails from my Jewish friends supporting the celebration of the Christmas season and decrying the negative attacks on our tradition. They ask “who’s behind this war on Christmas? It’s not us.”
I think it’s always wise for writers to follow that age-old adage and “walk a mile in another man’s moccasins” to see things from another point of view by imagining themselves in his situation. That means that I try to reflect on how I would feel living in a non-Christian country during one of their religious celebrations. If it meant that the season would be full of good cheer, gift giving from friends and strangers and general bonhomie. I’d join right in with the festivities regardless of the reason for them unless the deity being honored wanted me dead for not being a disciple.
So I wonder why Christmas has become so scary to so many people that they attempt to erase any vestige of the event in the public realm. Fox News anchors like Bill O’Reilly have been calling it a War on Christmas, John Gibson wrote a book titled. “The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday is Worse Than You Thought.”
Naturally, the Left’s jester, Jon Stewart, mocked Fox’s pro-Christmas campaign and proceeded to tout phony information that claimed Congress had met nearly every Christmas Day from 1789 to 1856. The ACLU made the same claim in its attack on Christmas and its source was a flawed magazine article; Stewart’s source was The Discovery Channel.
Stewart was later busted by the website Politifact which monitors political statements made in the public discourse. The site investigated congressional records which proved Stewart’s allegation was so totally wrong it awarded him their Pants-on-fire rating, their highest grade for lying.
So I have to ask again, “What is so scary about Christmas?”
This festive season used to be warm and fuzzy with Hollywood movies evoking tears and smiles and general schmaltz. Alas, no more. It’s all about making money so the big blockbusters are then scheduled to reap in the bucks from children out on holiday break. Commercials for shopping start around Halloween and they have become more ludicrous and groveling every year. When did a luxury car become the ideal Christmas present? Shouldn’t big ticket items be given for birthdays instead?
There’s a lot to be said about being poor making one appreciate the season more. You’d think with this economic crisis, Americans would clue into that sentiment but Black Friday had the usual crazed shoppers seeking bargains for gifts.
But instead of bemoaning the crass materialism of the season, I’d like to celebrate the signs that there are some people imbued with its true spirit. So here’s to those wonderful generous souls across the country who paid off the balances on strangers’ layaway bills at K-mart.
Here’s to that ex-con who found a $1000 in a lost wallet and turned it in to the cops.
There are many more gestures of kindnesses that don’t make the headlines just as there are more miracles that occur coincidentally as a result of fervent prayers.
Christians know that Jesus was probably not born on December 25th nor do we believe that Santa Claus climbs down a chimney with gifts for “nice” children. Nevertheless what we do revere is what the day represents — that God so loved the world that he gave us His only son who told us we should love one another.
How scary a message is that?
If you thought the attack on Nativity scenes was about separation of church and state, listen to this exchange between a Fox host and a spokesman from the rabid anti-religious activist group “Freedom From Religion Foundation“. You can hear it from his own lips: this truly is a war of hatred against Christianity itself.
But don’t believe your lying eyes and ears. According to the Leftist media, the “War on Christmas” is all in your head.
Every year, millions of Christians that celebrate the birth of their Savior are faced with the attacks on Christmas – “holiday trees,” atheist ad campaigns and even outright blasphemy in mocking nativity scenes. To Christians and conservatives, the evidence is overwhelming. But in recent years, the left and the mainstream media have actively denied that the war even exists.
From the hard left gang of current and former MSNBC personalities to CNN hosts to Huffington Post writers, the watch words have been “fake” and “phony” and “ridiculous.” With varying degrees ire, they’ve blamed Fox News and the “Christian right” for the “manufactured outrage” at attacks on Christmas.
2011: The Battle Continues
But just how “fake” is this war on Christmas? The Culture and Media Institute has compiled a short list of the attacks on Christmas that have occurred this year alone.
The most sacrilegious attack this year comes in the form of a Christmas television special set to air in Canada, that features the home-made porn star and household- name Pamela Anderson starring as the Virgin Mary.
The most widely-known U.S. attack on Christmas 2011 comes from none other than the governor of Rhode Island, Independent Lincoln Chafee. Sporting his political correctness cap this year, Chafee has renamed the state house Christmas tree a “holiday tree.” Chafee’s decision frustrated Rhode Island Republican state representative Doreen Costa, who called Chafee a “Grinch” and decided to erect her own Christmas tree to compete with his tree. “The governor defended his decision by arguing that it is in keeping with the state’s founding in 1636 by religious dissident Roger Williams as a haven for tolerance – where government and religion were kept separate,” the Daily Mail reported.
In upstate New York, one school district has declared that “Christmas and Hanukkah will no longer be celebrated in classrooms.” According to FOX/WROC, The Batavia City School District will no longer allowdecorations for either holiday to appear in classrooms as well as teachers are discouraged from writing or saying “Merry Christmas.” In Fairfax County, Va., grade-schoolers are treated to “winter celebration.”
In Texas, another school district has declared war on Christmas – this time, classrooms are not allowed to celebrate Santa Claus or exchange gifts. Even those in Santa hats that wish to do good are being discouraged – yes, Mills Fleet Farm Stores in Wisconsin have banned the Salvation Army bell-ringers because allowing them on property could “open the floodgates to others,” said company co-president Stewart Mills Jr. However, Mills later reversedthe ban, calling the initial decision “unfortunate.”
Even our “tolerant” Federal government is playing the Grinch card this year.According to FoxNews.com, “A group of Christmas carolers was thrown out of a U.S. Post Office in Silver Spring, MD, after the post office manager told them they were not allowed to sing Christmas carols on government property.”
There are plenty of examples from the recent past documented by the Culture and Media Institute. In 2009, Manhattan clothing retailer XOXOupped the Christmas raunch factor by displaying young models in “window theater” to attract buyers by undressing and dressing one another.
That same year across the pond an eco-celebration took place instead of a Christmas one, when a 33-foot cone was used in place of a Christmas tree in Poole, Dorset, U.K., in order to bring awareness to “health and safety” issues.
A year earlier, there was a pornographic display of the Virgin Mary in Playboy Mexico. The cover read “We love you Maria” and featured a model in nothing but a white sheet covering her head and breasts.
Comedy Central featured comedian Denis Leary in a one hour feature titled “Merry F-ing Christmas” in 2005 which Leary’s routine included references to alcoholism, drug use and sexual misconduct.
The list goes on, but it’s not enough for the secular liberal media to recognize a pattern. They prefer Denial and blame-shifting.
Not surprisingly, the media have gained their talking points from left wing blogs that suggested the “war on Christmas” has spawned from the imaginations of those on the right.
It’s enough to make your blood boil.
Nativity scenes don’t establish a national religion or force anyone to participate. Religious expression is protected by the 1st Amendment. The “right to not see or hear anything that offends me” is not.
The radical anti-religion activist group called the “Freedom From Religion Foundation” has been especially active this year.
Another day, another nativity scene drama. Atheists are mounting a full-out war on Christmas in Santa Monica, California — or so say those who support an annual, Christian-theme display.
For the first time in nearly six decades, there may be no “The Christmas Story” nativity scene in Santa Monica’s Palisades Park. Each year, a giant two-block long display offers visitors 14 nativity scenes that are presented in life-size form. But atheists, who are likely seeking to replace these images, are on the offensive.
This year, non-believers have reportedly vied for the open display spaces and, as a result, they have taken over much of the space that would be used for the nativity scene. The Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee, which organizes the annual nativity scene, isn’t happy about what its members see as an attempt to co-opt Christmas. They’ve apparently been left with three, small spaces.
“This has been a city tradition for nearly 60 years,” said Hunter Jameson, the committee’s chair. “These new groups applying for permits aren’t even Santa Monica residents, and they are just derogatory to organized religions.”
The controversy continues over a nativity scene and Christmas decorations in Ellwood City.
The nativity scene and decorations have gone up for the past 50 years without any problems, but this year is different.
A group, Freedom from Religion, is challenging the display, saying it’s unconstitutional.
Now, the group doesn’t want the nativity scene taken down. It wants Ellwood City to add a banner that states the group’s beliefs.
“No way on my watch is it going up. It’s offensive,” said Ellwood City Mayor Tony Court.
Channel 11 got a hold of the wording on the banner. It reads:
“At this season of the winter solstice, may reason prevail. There are no Gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”
Ellwood City residents are upset.
“That’s sick. They better not put it up. It will come right back down,” said Mike Mitchell from Ellwood City.
The borough manager plans to get the council together to look at it and then make a decision.
In Texas, another group of citizens is rallying to protect their annual Nativity display from politically correct censorship:
Christians in Texas fed up with efforts by atheist groups to remove Christmas nativity scenes from public squares have been rallying, perhaps more unified than ever, behind Henderson County’s decision to defend their manger display on the courthouse lawn from a potential lawsuit.
As the result of a threatening letter from the Madison, Wis.-based Freedom From Religion Foundation received on Monday, pastors from the area have decided that they will no longer be silent on the issue.
The FFRF has asked that the county in east Texas remove the display from the square located in the city of Athens. The group also plans to display a banner next to the nativity scene that states, “At this Season of the Winter Solstice, LET REASON PREVAIL.” The banner further describes religion as a “myth and superstition.”
Pastor Nathan Lorick of First Baptist Church in Malakoff, a neighboring town off Highway 31, told The Christian Post Friday that it’s time for Christians to defend their Constitutional right to express their faith and to not back down from the false claim that religious expressions tied to the government are not allowed based on separation of church and state.
Obama recently ordered officials abroad to consider the promotion of gay rights as a prerequisite for receiving federal aid money.
Religious rights, however – the unalienable rights enshrined in our first amendment – don’t appear to be a priority.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom is quietly being shut down, even as religious persecution is on the rise all over the globe – especially in the Middle East, where the “Arab Spring” has unleashed the scourge of Islamic Radicalism on religious minorities.
Where is the news coverage? Where is the outcry for the protection of human rights? Oh, that’s right. Religious minorities aren’t a politically correct special interest group for the Left to defend.
Time has run out for the cause of worldwide religious freedom. On November 18, 2011, America chose not to extend any further lifeline to persecuted religious minorities around the planet. On that day, the U.S. government shut down the work of an important and unique American effort: the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).
Oddly enough, the mainstream media does not seem to have covered this story. I certainly did not know about it. Did you? The only article about this appeared at CNS News.
In 1998, the U.S. government passed the Religious Freedom Act and this commission was one of the results. Since then, it has sent delegations abroad to meet with minority religious leaders in Africa, the Middle East, and central Asia, and released reports about their work. In 2011, their Annual Report covered countries such as Afghanistan, Belarus, Burma, China, Cuba, Egypt, Eritrea, India, Indonesia, and Iran.
In 2011, Nina Shea, the head commissioner, presented testimony before members of Congress about Christian minorities under attack in Iraq and Egypt. In this hearing, Shea reported:
USCIRF has found serious, widespread, and longstanding human rights violations against religious minorities as well as disfavored Muslims. Confronted by these violations, the Egyptian government has failed to take the necessary steps to halt the discrimination and repression against Christians and other minorities. Too often, it has failed to punish the violators.
Shea discussed the New Year’s Day bombing in Alexandria, which led to the worst attack targeting Christians in a decade. Carefully, without saying that Muslims or the Egyptian Muslim police were the perpetrators, she refered to the “Coptic Christmas shooting that killed six innocent Christians in Naga Hammadi.” Over the last two years, the Egyptian government, media, and network of mosques have systematically engaged in violence and in the coverup of that violence against Christians.
In an interview with PJ Media, Shea said,
With the onslaught of the Arab Winter and the threat of newly politically empowered Islamists suppressing the freedoms of religious minorities and even carrying out religious cleansing campaigns against them, USCIRF is needed more than ever. Its voice carries official weight and it has vigorously and consistently raised it within and outside the government on behalf of a broad array of persecuted minorities and individuals around the world. At this time, USCIRF is winding down its work, as it is legally bound to do, since its authorization ends on December 16. As reported in the Congressional Quarterly, Senator Durbin of Illinois has blocked the USCIRF reauthorization for several months, reportedly in order to get an earmark to fund a prison in his state. He has been intractable. President Obama — who served with Mr. Durbin in the Senate before becoming president and who has expressed an interest in using the prison at issue for holding detainees from Guantanamo Bay – must speak up, if USCIRF is to continue. President Obama can make this happen and I appeal to him to do so.
Why would the American government shut down USCIRF now? Some might say that we are in an economic recession and must care fo our own before we can help others. Some secular Americans might simply want freedom from religion rather than of religion. They may not care about the choice to practice one’s religion or whether or not people are being persecuted for doing so. And some Americans may agree with the UN view that Muslims and Islam are not to be criticized and that any accurate portrayal of Muslim behavior may be treated as a crime.
Next: The USCIRF’s opponent still pursues its totalitarian aims with the blessing of the global community…
The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the Durban Follies, constitutes a permanent delegation to the UN. The OIC was established in 1969. Its position is as follows: it seeks to
pursue as a matter of priority a common policy aimed at prevented defamation of Islam perpetrated under the pretext and justification of the freedom of expression in particular through media and internet.
In 2011, the 38th Conference, held in Kazakhstan, stated “deep concern over any activities carried out by certain governmental and non-governmental organizations supported by governments in order to attack OIC member states for political purposes and to further their foreign policy objectives in international forums.” The conference also denounced “media campaigns and fabrications made by some quarters in non-member states regarding the mistreatment of non-Muslim minorities and communities in the OIC member states under the slogans of religious freedoms and so on.”
In other words, attempting to help a Christian escape genocide in Egypt, Iraq, or Pakistan would be outlawed as would all work that reports on religious persecution. What I’m writing here would be criminalized. The Muslims who drafted this document want to do their gender cleansing without being exposed, stopped, or held liable for it. That’s the OIC at the UN.
The United States, to its credit, shunned the UN’s Durban III conference. However, in 2009, the Obama administration eliminated the phrases “Islamic extremism,” “Islamic terrorism,” and “terrorism” from national security strategy documents. We have also seen a quantum increase in fears about a non-existent “Islamophobia” and a similar quantum decrease in “official” fears about an escalating anti-Semitism which in the Middle East is potentially genocidal.
Many European politically correct/anti-racist governments agree with the OIC Conference. For example, European governments have prosecuted “thought crimes” which involve criticism of Islam or any objective presentation of Islam (honor killing, honor related violence, forced marriage, daughter and wife beating, etc.) that some Muslim somewhere finds offensive — in Holland, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Iceland etc. I myself have called this the death of free speech in Europe.
Recently, I was involved in the case of a Pakistani apostate, Khalid Saheed, who sought and was denied political asylum in Sweden. Predictably, he and his family have received death threats from Islamic fundamentalists. If Saheed and his family are sent back to Pakistan, they will be murdered for leaving Islam. This is the true state of religious tolerance in the Muslim world. There is no such freedom and USCRIF has boldly exposed and published this truth.
Finally: What does Dick Durbin have to do with the death of the USCRIF?
Perhaps there are simpler reasons involved in the death of USCRIF. The bill to continue funding it was held up by just one man, Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill). Durbin may not necessarily oppose aiding religious minorities as much as he is in favor of delivering pork barrel to his constituents. Thus, unbelievably, only until or unless the Thomson Correctional Center in northwest Illinois is funded and/or funded for the purpose of holding Guantanamo Bay detainees, there can be no funding for religious freedom anywhere else on earth.
Politics is a decidedly unfunny business. I usually tell people that a politician is, by definition, a thief and a liar, but that he or she is also a balancer, a compromiser, someone who is always in a position to sell one cause for the sake of another, to help one person and not another, to borrow from Peter in order to pay Paul. This is both how democracy works and how things get done in non-democratic countries as well. Cronyism, greed, arrogance, intolerance, injustice, occasional mercy, occasional do-goodism characterize how humanity in the aggregate behaves.
We know that most Muslims are not friendly toward any infidel religion, including Christians, Hindus, Jews, Buddhists, etc. Christians have been — and still are — savagely persecuted in Muslim lands. I and many others have often written about this. Author and apostate Nonie Darwish and ex-Muslim secularist Ibn Warraq have both spoken out about this burning issue.
Christians are being savagely persecuted in Egypt and all across the Middle East and Islamic world.
In Pakistan, Christians have literally been crucified, teenaged Christian girls have been kidnapped, raped, and then forced to marry their rapists and convert to Islam. In 2010, a Muslim mob attacked a Christian man and slaughtered him with pick-axes for refusing to convert to Islam.
Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Afghanistan do not allow Christians, Jews, or other “infidels” to pray openly or to build any new houses of worship.
The Arab Muslim Middle East is almost completely “Judenrein” (free of Jews) since more than 800,000 Arab Jews were exiled or forced to flee their countries between 1948-1968.
Mina Nevisa is an Iranian Muslim convert to Christianity who wrote a book about her experiences. Both she and her female cousin were attending an underground Christian church in Teheran which put them in danger. Nevis fled Iran together with her husband. Her cousin was not so lucky:
She was arrested on charges of apostasy and taken to Evin prison, where she was raped, tortured, and then killed by a firing squad. Their pastor was also killed.
Muslim apostates in Europe also face perilous challenges. Egyptian-Italian Magdi Cristiano Allam, who was converted to Catholicism by the pope, lives with six round-the-clock bodyguards. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-Dutch-American apostate-secularist, also requires a full-time security detail. People who do not have public profiles, who are not academics, intellectuals, politicians, or public speakers, also face similar danger.
Tomorrow, the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission hosts a hearing on the “Worsening Plight of Egypt’s Christian Copts.” Nina Shea, the head commissioner of USCRIF, is a keynote speaker. Clearly, USCIRF provides invaluable information concerning the injustices levied against religious minorities in the Middle East and in the Islamic world. Congress must reinstate the US Commission for International Religious Freedom — to do otherwise would be immoral, dangerous, un-American, and unacceptable.
Here we go again…
Atheists must be the most fragile peaches in the basket.
They’re always getting bruised by the slightest exposure to public displays that remind them of Christmas, God, the Ten Commandments — or worst of all, Jesus.
Just as pathetic are the atheist enablers who are complicit in doing away with any reminders of America’s Christian heritage, even secular symbols. For example, the Hollings Cancer Center in Charleston, South Carolina, recently decided that a visit by Santa Claus might upset nonbelievers. Perhaps they feared that it could lead to heart attacks, an Inquisition or perhaps even inspire local militant imams to issue a fatwa (death threat). You can never be sure what kind of chaos a visit by Santa could unleash.
After the public rebelled, the center said that Santa can squeeze down the center’s chimney, but we’ll have none of that overtly religious stuff such as crèches, angels, Christmas greetings — anything that brings joy to the world.
On Nov. 18, the Christian legal group Liberty Counsel sent a letter [PDF] reminding Center Director Andrew S. Kraft, M.D., about how freedom of religion works in America under the Constitution and how his actions constitute viewpoint discrimination. Let’s hope Dr. Kraft will grow a big heart like the Grinch did in Whoville.
The secular virus has been spreading for years in public and private zones. Shopping malls, which would go broke without Christmas, try their best to attract Christmas shoppers without mentioning Christmas. Hence, we get generic “happy holidays” and color schemes with blue and silver snowflakes cold enough to freeze the socks off Grandfather Frost. He’s the former Soviet Union’s made-up patron saint who took over giving gifts to children after the commissars bumped off St. Nicholas. It’s rumored (just starting it now) that the Christmas-phobic ACLU tacks up portraits of Grandfather Frost in back offices to inspire them during that darned holiday season that Dare Not Tell Its Name.
Driving the whole mess is the growing fear Not to Offend. The war on Christmas, part of the ongoing trend to eradicate anything Christian in the public square, is also driven by a profound misreading of the First Amendment, which says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
To the ACLU and other pro-atheist groups, that means the government must be hostile to any public expressions of belief that offend atheists. That makes atheism the de facto official religion, something the Founders went out of their way to prevent.
Genuine conflicts do arise, and the courts have found ways to keep religiously themed items legal on public property — as long as they fulfill a secular purpose. In 1984, the Supreme Court in Lynch v. Donnelly ruled that the presence of a crèche amid other seasonal displays — a Santa Claus house, a Christmas tree, and a “Seasons Greetings” banner — erected by the city of Pawtuckett, Rhode Island, was not an unconstitutional establishment of religion.
The secular purpose? Government was acknowledging the cultural significance of a traditional holiday celebrated by the vast majority of Americans. In what became the “reindeer test,” the Court said that religious elements are okay if secular elements are present. So if you dust off a Bambi, put a red nose on it and place it next to the baby Jesus, all is right with the world. Previous generations didn’t need this kind of “cover,” but we’re in a different place now.
The court also noted that, “The Constitution does not require complete separation of church and state; it affirmatively mandates accommodation, not merely tolerance, of all religions, and forbids hostility toward any.”
In early November, the Supreme Court declined to hear a case involving roadside cross memorials to fallen Utah state troopers. The American Civil Rights Union filed an amicus brief arguing for a new constitutional standard. The “Coercion Test” would evaluate whether a policy, practice, or action involves coercion in regard to religion. The framers meant to prohibit coercion, but they did not intend to prohibit voluntary, public, religious speech, or religious expression or symbolism, which do not involve coercion. This test might have helped the state-supported cancer center folks see that barring Santa was a silly idea.
In Allegheny County v. Greater Pittsburgh ACLU (1989), the Court clarified the holiday standard by forbidding stand-alone nativities but not Christmas trees or menorahs. So the National Christmas Tree is safe — for now. Wonder if the Ban Christmas crowd knows that a decorated fir is not really a Christmas tree unless crowned with a star or an angel? Hillary Clinton’s National Tree had a purple, sparkling planet atop it one year. Make of that what you will.
Please don’t tell the ACLU about the stars and angels, though. Grim-faced volunteers will be fanning out with ladders to grab them and fling them into the nearest dumpster to save us from the Reason for the Season.
Last year, atheists in Loudoun County, Virginia, upped the price of having a crèche at the county courthouse by erecting signs with diatribes against Christianity and belief in God. When you see this stuff, keep in mind that the devil can’t create anything. He can only pervert what is good. And he’s especially adept at enlisting atheists for his schemes, because, as Psalms 14 and 53 say, “the fool has said in his heart that there is no God.”
Fortunately, since we’re all prone to foolishness of one kind or another, that same God loves us anyway and gave us the ultimate gift, which is why we celebrate Christmas.
This Thursday, millions of families will celebrate Thanksgiving with roasted turkey, buttery mashed potatoes, and (with only a slight amount of guilt) another piece of pumpkin pie. But in early America, days of Thanksgiving weren’t always about food.
Reflecting American religious practice, Presidents and Congresses from the beginning of the republic have from time to time designated days of fasting and thanksgiving (the Thanksgiving holiday we continue to celebrate on the third Thursday of November was established by Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War).
Following a resolution of Congress, President George Washington proclaimed Thursday the 26th of November 1789 a day of “public thanksgiving and prayer” devoted to “the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.” In setting aside a day for Thanksgiving, Washington established a non-sectarian tone for these devotions and stressed political, moral, and intellectual blessings that make self-government possible, in addition to personal and national repentance.
Although the First Amendment prevents Congress from establishing a religion or prohibiting its free exercise, Presidents, as well as Congress, have always recognized the American regard for sacred practices and beliefs. Thus, throughout American history, Presidents have offered non-sectarian prayers for the victory of the military and in the wake of catastrophes. Transcending passionate quarrels over the proper role of religion in politics, the Thanksgiving Proclamation reminds us how natural their relationship has been. While church and state are separate, religion and politics, in their American refinement, prop each other up.
Therefore this Thursday, in the words of Washington, let us:
[T]hen unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.
The Thanksgiving tradition began with our early Americans, the English colonists–known as Pilgrims–who were celebrating days of thanks for the success of their first harvest. This was all part of their religion. These were days of mostly prayer, not just days of feasting.
This time of year as the weather turns brisk, the trees begin to lose their last leaves, and travel plans are made to go home and be with loved ones, we can see striking similarities between those who gave us our first Thanksgiving and us today.
No doubt the Pilgrims survived the difficulties of all that came before their first harvest season–bad weather, illness, and sometimes even the death of a loved one. They took risks, stepped out into the unknown, formed relationships with people who were different than themselves and were a great example of hard work, courage, and a real trust in God to provide for their needs.
Like all of us today, they faced sadness, disappointment, stress, and both physical and emotional pain. What they did at that first Thanksgiving provides a great example to all of us that no matter what difficulties we have in our own lives and within our families, in the end we should always remember to thank God first.
By their example they paved the way for those who now embrace the proper order of priority in our own lives: God, family, country. Despite the unpredictable and often painful hardships, they trusted in God’s great wisdom for their good, and they thanked God for his assistance, protection and care.
This great tradition lives on!
Americans continue to experience tough times. The heartaches and the pain may be different ones, but the intensity is the same. Whether it is economic hardship, the loss of a loved one through illness or war, or a deep emotional pain, this season can be very difficult.
I know from the loss of my 10-year-old granddaughter, Haley, that when someone special is absent from the Thanksgiving table there is an unspoken wound–one that forever remains unhealed–in the confines of the heart. It changes your entire perspective all together.
But it also beckons within us the involuntary desire to define what is real and true in our existence–the ever present grace and love of God in our lives. Just like back then, he is here today to restore us from our grief, strengthen our resolve, and renew our hearts.
This Turkey Day before we begin our feast, may we, like the early pilgrims, first lift our hearts in praise and thanksgiving for the good in our lives, the future protection of America, and the peace and confidence in knowing that, in our personal loss and pain, while we may not always get what we want as an answer to our prayers, through God’s greater wisdom, we get what we need–and that is truly worth celebrating. Happy Thanksgiving!
FDR D-Day Speech June 6, 1944
View on YouTube
The Obama administration wants to keep Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s famous D-Day prayer from being included on the WWII Memorial, claiming that it would “dilute the central message” of the memorial.
That would certainly have been news to FDR!
President Barack Obama had bureaucrat Robert Abbey deliver an opinion to a U. S. House committee last week that adding Franklin Roosevelt’s D-Day prayer to the nation’s World War II Memorial would tarnish the elegance of the memorial and hamper visitors from being moved, educated, and inspired by the memorial, so reports Fox News.
Let’s underscore that Abbey said this about FDR’s D-Day prayer, which was delivered at the commencement of the invasion of Europe. D-Day was the pivotal event in the European theater in World War II. The invasion was fraught with terrific uncertainty. Roosevelt and Eisenhower, among the nation’s leaders, feared for the awful death toll in American and allied lives that the invasion would incur.
Abbey, who serves as the director of the Bureau of Land Management, made his remarks in reaction to a measure sponsored by Congressman Bill Johnson (R-OH) that would add FDR’s D-Day prayer to the World War II Memorial. Abbey sought refuge in the Commemorative Works Act, which Abbey claims prohibits a change.
The D-Day invasion offered great hope, in that if successful – and no one then was sure – it would be the beginning of the end of the European war. Americans knew upon hearing the news of the invasion that there would be an awful price paid in American and allied lives. FDR offered his prayer not to rally the nation – the nation was rallied – but to give succor through the call for Providence’s blessings.
Roosevelt’s prayer was no namby-pamby “bless everyone, even those poor, misguided, Jew-killing, hell-loosing Nazis.” No, Roosevelt said this:
They [American and allied troops] will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph. [Emphasis added]
No moral relativism in World War II. No moronic pleas for the Axis and the allies to – gosh darn it – just find some way to split differences and get along. Roosevelt’s prayer was a prayer of steely resolve, a prayer for an undisputed allied victory.
The secularist left, which Mr. Obama belongs, finds any prayer repugnant, but Roosevelt’s D-Day prayer must be particularly galling. A public prayer by the nation’s chief executive that so clearly calls for a military victory over an enemy… that just doesn’t fit with the left’s indoctrination of today’s Americans, who need to jettison primitive faith. And heaven knows – Opps! – no one can possibly label bad guys the enemy (look at the distortions that Mr. Obama and the left go through to avoid calling jihadists the nation’s enemies). Why, that’s just positively politically incorrect.
What a sad time in the nation’s history. How shameful when Roosevelt’s prayer to God for the triumph of good over evil should be objected to by a bureaucrat representing Roosevelt’s successor, Barack Obama.
Roosevelt’s prayer should be added to the memorial, and the next president – a Republican, let’s hope – should commemorate the event.
Someone find me the clause in the constitution that says you must give up your religious liberties in order to work as a government employee. They’re determined to make sure freedom of expression ends at your front door.
Several public high school football coaches in Westmoreland, Tenn. are in trouble for bowing their heads during a student-led prayer before a recent game.
According to local NBC affiliate WSMV, the coaches didn’t say anything aloud themselves, but bowed their heads in observance alongside the students.
Word got back to the principal and the school district, which found the coaches’ participation to be an uncomfortable mix of religion and public school.
“We’ve been telling our principals to kind of be looking for those things, because that is kind of a shift in how things have been done,” district spokesman Jeremy Johnson told WSMV. “It can in no way appear like it’s endorsed by Sumner County Schools personnel.”
When asked whether bowing one’s head was considered “endorsing,“ Johnson said it ”depends what it looks like.”
“That‘s where you kind of get into the gray area that we’re having to deal with,” he said.
The coaches weren’t disciplined, but were made to sign letters indicating they understood the school’s policy, which prohibits staff from appearing to participate in a student prayer in any way, even if it takes place after hours.
According to WSMV, the incident comes months after the American Civil Liberties Union sued the district for violating the separation of church and state, saying teachers led students in Bible studies, invited a pastor to come speak to students during lunch and at least one instructor displayed a 10-inch cross in their classroom.
But resident Tony Bentle, who has been refereeing football games in the town for years, said crackdown “blew [his] mind.”
“We’re just respectful, God-fearing people up here,” he said. “Nobody in this town is offended if you pray. Nobody.”
Further violations of the policy could lead to disciplinary action for the coaches.
“That’s a violation of their rights. We should be able to bow our heads in reverence to God, wherever we are,” Bentle said. “It’s time we draw a line in the sand and say, you know, this is ridiculous.”
Just a year ago, the Washington Post’s “On Faith” blog scolded Americans for apparently caring too much about President Obama’s religious practices and beliefs, or lack thereof. In a piece rhetorically asking the question they were more than happy to answer, “Does Your President’s Faith Matter?,” Post writer Elizabeth Tenety opened by citing the left’s favorite constitutional clause: “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States” (Art. VI, sect. 3).
It was the same refrain Americans heard during the 2008 presidential campaign when Sean Hannity went public with some revealing information about President Obama’s spiritual adviser and minister of 20 years, the racist, anti-American radical named Jeremiah Wright.
Liberal commentators and leftist media types around the country fell all over themselves in an attempt to downplay any significance or relevance Obama’s spiritual views might have on his character or leadership. In his movie Media Malpractice, independent filmmaker John Ziegler hilariously exposed CNN’s Anderson Cooper dismissing the importance of the Wright controversy 12 times in one short segment.
But fast-forward to today, introduce a handful of conservative Christians into the Republican primary, and be amazed at how quickly the spiritual beliefs become relevant.
Just one year after touting the constitutional prohibition against religious tests for federal officials, the Washington Post’s “On Faith” feature was wondering if Texas Governor Rick Perry should be “judged by the religious company he keeps.” Daily Beast/Newsweek writer Michelle Goldberg took time to alert the country to the possibility that both Perry and Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann might subscribe to “a theocratic strain of Christian fundamentalism known as Dominionism.” Yes, no doubt the man who recently proclaimed his desire to make “Washington, D.C. as irrelevant in your life as possible” will be instituting federally mandated baptisms in the National Mall’s reflecting pond if elected.
But perhaps the most glaring example of the left’s Tarsus Road conversion on the issue of religious tests comes from the New York Times’ Bill Keller, who actually produced a questionnaire for candidates (well, the Republican ones anyway) to fill out. After suggesting that a belief in Christian doctrine was equivalent to believing that space aliens walk among us, Keller attempted to justify his religious exam by writing, “This year’s Republican primary season offers us an important opportunity to confront our scruples about the privacy of faith in public life — and to get over them. We have an unusually large number of candidates, including putative front-runners, who belong to churches that are mysterious or suspect to many Americans.”
And though I do wonder where this spiritually inquisitive side to liberals like Keller was when Obama’s ears were being filled with black liberation theology, I have little interest in focusing merely on the hypocrisy. There’s just no sport left in pointing out the inconsistency of the left.
More importantly, I think this is an opportunity to find common ground. I actually agree with Mr. Keller and all these newly awakened, faith-conscious liberals: a person’s religious beliefs do matter when he or she runs for public office. Those beliefs tell us more about one’s judgment, values and integrity than perhaps anything else. Somehow pretending they are to be off-limits for voters seeking to make an informed choice about who they want to lead them is, and always has been, absurd.
It’s one of the reasons I have been so agitated by the contextual abuse of the “No Religious Test” ban by liberals for several decades. The point of the ban was never to bar the people from considering the spiritual merits of a candidate before casting their vote. Indeed, several of those who endorsed the ban had authored religious test oaths for their own state governments. The federal ban was enacted, just like so many other prohibitions in our founding documents, to prevent the encroachment of the national government into affairs belonging to the states or the people.
In other words, the job of judging whether a candidate’s spiritual health is acceptable to hold office is yours, not the feds’. In the late 18th century, Theophilus Parsons, Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court, explained it this way: “No man can wish more ardently than I do that all our public offices may be filled by men who fear God and hate wickedness; but it must remain with the electors to give the government that security.”
What that means is that Mr. Keller, Michelle Goldberg, and Anderson Cooper, as well as you and I, can each have our own completely constitutional religious tests for candidates. If Keller denies his vote to someone because that person believes in a literal 6-day creation of Earth, it’s his right. And if you deny yours to someone because he worships Allah or embraces black liberation theology, it’s your prerogative.
This has always been the appropriate understanding of religious tests. It’s nice to see the left finally getting it.
I always find it hilarious when Leftists accuse Christian conservatives of wanting to set up a “theocracy”. Is that what they think our founding father established? Because all we’re asking is to go back to the Constitutionally limited government based on Biblical principles that our founders gave us at the beginning.
But to them, this IS a religious war. Socialism is the secular cult of the Messianic Nanny State, and it cannot suffer any rivals to go unchallenged. It depends upon Atheism, Darwinism and Humanism to justify its existence. The Judeo-Christian God that free people worship declares Himself alone to be Jehovah Jirah (God our Provider), and that is a huge threat to the would-be monopolistic control of the Welfare State.
The fundamental facts of the presidential race at this moment are that unemployment is high, the economy is by far the most important issue to American voters, and President Obama’s handling of economic questions is overwhelmingly unpopular. Republican presidential hopefuls Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann and others are hammering the president daily on matters of job creation and economic growth.
Now some of Obama’s activist allies and supporters in the press are engaged in a sharply focused effort to change the subject. Even as economic anxieties continue to rise, some of the nation’s premier political journalists are consumed with the alleged influences of obscure religious philosophers on Republican candidates; on questions of creationism, evolution, and the age of the Earth; and on the fantasy that a Republican president might transform the United States into an Iranian-style theocracy.
For example, the Daily Beast/Newsweek recently published an article titled “A Christian Plot for Domination?” claiming that Perry and Bachmann are “deeply associated with a theocratic strain of Christian fundamentalism” known as Dominionism. A widely discussed article in the Texas Observer claimed that Dominionists — a “little-known movement of radical Christians” — are readying an “army of God” to “commandeer civilian government,” with Perry the “vessel” for their ambitions. Finally, the New Yorker published a long article claiming that Bachmann believes “Christians, and Christians alone, are Biblically mandated to occupy all secular institutions until Christ returns.”
Surveying those articles, the executive editor of the New York Times, Bill Keller, concludes that “an unusually large number” of Republican candidates “belong to churches that are mysterious or suspect to many Americans.” Perry and Bachmann, in particular, are connected to “fervid subsets of evangelical Christianity,” which Keller says “has raised concerns about their respect for the separation of church and state, not to mention the separation of fact and fiction.” Fearing that Perry or Bachmann could be a “Trojan horse” for a religious takeover of the government, Keller advocates strict questioning of candidates on doctrinal issues.
Put aside whether there is some bias against Christianity in these baseless charges, or whether liberals are proposing the kind of religious test for office that the Founders explicitly rejected. It has often been remarked that, given today’s terrible economy, Barack Obama cannot run in 2012 on the theme of hope, as he did in 2008. With his record, he’ll have to run on fear — that is, on convincing voters that Republicans are just too scary to elect.
This is what running on fear looks like. Could the president’s political strategists be anything less than delighted with the work of Keller and his colleagues?
Out on the campaign trail, Democratic activists are trying to maneuver the candidates into statements to feed the Republicans-are-religious-nuts narrative. For example, in New Hampshire a few weeks ago, a young boy approached Perry with a series of questions about science. How old is the Earth? the boy asked. As Perry answered (he said he didn’t know), the boy’s mother pushed her son to confront the governor. “Ask him about evolution,” she ordered the boy. “Ask him why he doesn’t believe in science.” Perry’s answer — that evolution is a theory that has “some gaps” — provided more material for Keller and the subject-changers.
Elsewhere on the trail, so-called “trackers” from the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, David Brock’s American Bridge, and other organizations follow Republicans around, sometimes posing out-of-the-blue questions in hopes of throwing a candidate off message. “It’s all about homosexuality, Islam, anything that is remotely sensitive socially,” says Ellen Carmichael, spokeswoman for frequent target Herman Cain. “That’s what they usually ask about.”
Not even the longest of longshot candidates is immune. Back in May, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson spoke at a Tea Party rally in Greenville, S.C., touting his record on job creation and cutting spending. After Johnson’s talk, a staffer for the Center for American Progress approached him with questions about Shariah law. Johnson was baffled.
Meanwhile, with the economy still tanking, some liberal commentators have worked themselves into a virtual panic over religion. On Wednesday alone, one Washington Post columnist declared flatly that “Rick Perry is a theocrat,” while another discussed the urgent task of “saving America from Rick Perry.”
Will these diversionary efforts succeed? Political journalists can talk about theocracy all they want, but Americans are still overwhelmingly concerned with jobs. The more hysterical the religious speculation becomes, the more voters will be able to spot an effort to change the subject.
The agenda to silence all public expression of faith never lets up.
In a remarkable 2-1 split decision, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals (which presides over the four states of the Carolina’s and the Virginias) invalidated the policy of Forsyth County, NC that allowed prayers to be offered before meetings of the County Council. The court acknowledged that the county policy was “neutral and proactively inclusive.” However, the court’s view of the Constitution places new limits on how a private citizen can pray finding that public invocations cannot have “sectarian references” that are too “frequent.”
The decision is troubling on many fronts. It is out of step with many other federal courts that have considered the validity of public invocations, including the United States Supreme Court. It ignores the religious heritage and history of our nation. But more troubling is the impact of the court’s decision on prayer itself. The court decision ignores a key purpose of a public invocation. It requires the government to censor private prayers and engage in comparative theology. The majority opinion punishes a county for the demographic make-up of the community and signals to people from many faith traditions that their prayers are not welcome.
In a series of short blogs I will explore some of the troubling aspects of the decision in Joyner v. Forsyth County, NC decided on July 29, 2011.
America’s founders opened public meetings with prayer that included express references to the Christian faith, and the County Commissioners of Forsyth County should be able to do the same. The 1983 decision of Marsh v. Chambers is the one and only case in which the U.S. Supreme Court considered the practice of opening public meetings of deliberative bodies with a prayer. The prayers reviewed by the Court were replete with “sectarian” references, but that did not matter to the Court. The Court looked to the history of this nation and noted that public prayers before meetings were a common practice long before the nation was formed and consistently practiced throughout the country. The Court found public invocations entirely consistent with the Constitution.
The Court also noted that the first Congress formed under the Constitution settled on the final language of the First Amendment exactly three days after voting to hire a paid chaplain to offer prayers before Congress that were often explicitly sectarian, a practice still in place today. The Fourth Circuit’s decision in Forsyth County implies that the Founders were violating the Constitution as they were writing it.
The words of the First Amendment have not changed. If the Constitution protects prayer, then it protects the rights of people to pray consistently with the dictates of their own conscience, even when praying at a public meeting. Nothing gives the government more power to establish religion than to have the government tell people how and to whom they should pray.
In the past four years, five different federal court cases have upheld public invocation policies like the one adopted Forsyth County. The decision of the 4th Circuit is out of step with these other federal courts and out of step with the U.S. Constitution.
As the 2012 presidential race gears up, leftist Christophobes are showing some signs of hysteria — or political opportunism; it’s sometimes difficult to tell.
The New York Times’ executive editor, Bill Keller, in a piece in The New York Times Magazine, argues that presidential candidates should be asked tough questions about their faith. Keller wants to know whether a candidate will place “fealty to the Bible, the Book of Mormon … or some other authority higher than the Constitution and laws of this country” and “whether a president respects serious science and verifiable history.” He wants to make sure “religious doctrine” does not become “an excuse to exclude my fellow citizens from the rights and protections our country promises.” His colleague, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, followed up with a hit piece on “Republicans Against Science.”
Keller is insatiably curious about whether Rick Perry subscribes to beliefs of certain pastors who endorse him and about Michele Bachmann’s “mentors who preach the literal ‘inerrancy’ of the Bible, who warn Christians to be suspicious of ideas that come from non-Christians, who believe homosexuality is an ‘abomination,’ who portray the pre-Civil War South as a pretty nice place for slaves and who advocate ‘Dominionism,’ the view that Christians and only Christians should preside over earthly institutions.”
It doesn’t bother me if the media vet presidential candidates on their religious beliefs and associations, provided equal scrutiny is applied to all of them, including closet secularists. One’s worldview invariably informs his political views, and information about those worldviews can’t hurt.
But Keller’s concern isn’t with the religious beliefs of all candidates, only Christians, and not all Christians, just those who take the Bible seriously. He doesn’t seem to have any problem with the religious beliefs of non-Christians or about charlatans who opportunistically pass themselves off as Christians. Wouldn’t an objective reporter have as much interest in someone fraudulently proclaiming a certain faith as he does in one who sincerely professes a faith he finds repugnant?
Did President Obama, for example, subscribe to the noxious political and religious beliefs of his pastor Jeremiah Wright? If not, why did he attend church there for 20 years and have his children baptized in that church? If so, shouldn’t Keller’s leftist ilk have followed up on why Obama agrees with Wright? Is it merely accidental that Keller’s candidate-faith anxiety is centered on conservative Christian candidates Bachmann and Perry?
Kellerian leftists shudder at the prospect of “irrational” and “reality-challenged” conservative Christians who question leftist dogma on global warming and evolution and who, they ludicrously believe, would turn America into a Christian theocracy. They want them nowhere near the seats of governmental power.
But what’s irrational is their fear that Christians are enemies of religious liberty and advocates of theocracy. Never mind the strong Christian influence on America’s founding. Never mind that most of America’s presidents have been professing Christians. Liberty has no greater ally than believing Christians of all stripes.
If reality is their concern, why don’t these leftists, instead of focusing on fantastic fears that a certain type of Christian president might shut down religious liberty, turn their attention to a president who isshutting down the economy? That’s reality. Why don’t they inquire into the realism of Barack Obama and his team of economic advisers, what’s left of them, stubbornly clinging to an economic agenda that is manifestly destroying our economy and bankrupting our nation? Why don’t they question the stability and rationality of a president who won’t take responsibility for his policies, continues to scapegoat his predecessor and is preparing yet another speech, even as we speak, to promote the very same reckless spending policies that have driven this nation into a financial ditch?
I doubt that Keller is much interested in the answers to the questions he demands be raised of Perry and Bachmann. He thinks he already knows the answers but wants to incite fear in us about them. He seems more interested in smearing certain candidates with the slanderous innuendo of his questions, such as the preposterous ones designed to suggest that certain candidates are theocrats who believe Southern slavery was a good thing.
The reality is that throughout our history, the halls of American government have teemed with Bible-believing Christians, and they’ve never pushed for theocracy. Ironically, it is leftists who are far likelier to use the power of government to selectively suppress political and religious liberties. They are the ones behind the Fairness Doctrine, network neutrality rules, campus speech codes and preventing certain ideas from being presented, alongside all others, in public classrooms.
Once again, our leftist friends are projecting. They are the ones showing their religious bigotry and proselytizing us to adopt their secularist worldview.