Saturday, December 25, 2010

Have a holly, jolly Christmas

Isaiah 7:14: Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Matthew 1:23: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).

Luke 2:9-12: And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. (10) And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. (11) For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (12) And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

Luke 2:13-14: And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, (14) “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Micah 5:2: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times. ”

Isaiah 9:6-7: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (7) Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

"Prayer within a Festive Christmas," click here/here.
"Secularization of Christmas" "The anti-American grinch is trying so hard to stamp out those Nativity scenes"

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Astronomer discriminated against because he is an evolution skeptic

C. Martin Gaskell, who currently teaches at the University of Texas, says he is not a creationist but he does see problems with the theory of evolution. His belief regarding evolution was enough to alarm professors three years ago at the University of Kentucky.

In 2007, Gaskell was an astronomer at the University of Nebraska and was also a leading candidate uniquely qualified for the position of director at the University of Kentucky's MacAdam Student Observatory. In fact, he was at the top of a list of applicants considered by the search committee, one member of the committee calling him "breathtakingly above the other applicants."

However, he was not selected. Gaskell believes it is because of his religious faith and because they found statements of his that were perceived to make him a non-believer in the theory of evolution. Therefore, Gaskell has sued the university, claiming lost income and emotional distress, and he feels "one should not allow universities to get away with religious discrimination."

The story behind the non-selection of Gaskell

It seems after being passed over for the position, Gaskell later learned that professors had discussed his purported religious views during the search process. Some expressed that his Christian faith could conflict with his duties as a scientist, calling him "something close to a creationist" and "potentially evangelical." According to court records, they wrote each other in internal e-mails about Gaskell's faith and that it might affect the job, part of which is lecturing publicly on science.

The e-mails indicated the professors were on edge about hiring a Christian, partly because around this time a Bible-based museum in Kentucky had just opened. The museum asserted the authenticity of the Bible's creation story and was getting national attention. Biology professor James Krupa wrote to a colleague in an October 2007 e-mail, "We might as well have the Creation Museum set up an outreach office in biology."

In 1997, Gaskell, by invitation from the UK, had given a lecture called "Modern Astronomy, the Bible and Creation," which he developed for "Christians and others interested in Bible and science questions..." It outlined men of historical scientific significance and their interpretations of the creation story in the Bible. In his notes, Gaskell mentions evolution, saying the theory has "significant scientific problems" and includes "unwarranted atheistic assumptions and extrapolations."

Gaskell was asked about the lecture during his job interview and felt that the questions related to religion were "inappropriate." "I think that if I had a document like this and I was advocating atheism ... I don't think it would be an issue."

Maintaining a certain scientific image was also important to the professors at UK, and they didn't want that image damaged by Gaskell. An astrophysics professor, Moshe Elitzur, told the chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, Michael Cavagnero, in an e-mail that hiring Gaskell would be a "huge public relations mistake." He feared what the newspapers would print about hiring a creationist.

The case will go to trial

Once again, Gaskell said he is not a "creationist" and his views on evolution are in line with other biological scientists. In his lecture notes, Gaskell explains that Christians who believe the earth is a few thousand years old are basing their belief on "mostly very poor science."

Last month a judge rejected a motion from the university and allowed it to go to trial Feb. 8. U.S. District Judge Karl S. Forester wrote in the ruling, "There is no dispute that based on his application, Gaskell was a leading candidate for the position."

For original article with references, click here.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Penalty flag thrown at Ronnie Hastie because gesture of praise to God after touchdown was "unsportsmanlike conduct"

For original article, references, and video, click here.

The game was a state semifinal match between the Tumwater Thunderbirds and the East Valley Knights at the Tacoma Dome.

Tumwater High School running back Ronnie Hastie scored a touchdown on a gorgeous 23-yard run in the second quarter of the team's win (63-27) over East Valley in Washington.

After Hastie scored, he dropped to one knee and pointed to the heavens. Hastie later explained:

"It's my way of giving glory to God, not to myself. I want to give God the credit. He gives me the strength. He's the one who gives me these abilities in the first place....It's something I've done as a tradition."

The referee, whose purpose is to make sure the competitio­n is fair and safe, literally threw a penalty flag at him and said he was showing unsportsmanlike conduct. Unsportsmanlike conduct? Guilty of unsportsmanlike conduct because of a two-or-four-second celebration, which was deemed "excessive"?

It would appear, according to the official rules, that Hastie did not follow the "immediately must return the ball" rule, but he was not guilty of "unsportsmanlike conduct." NCAA Football Rule 9-2, Article 1(a)(1)(d) prohibits:

"Any delayed, excessive, prolonged or choreographed act by which a player (or players) attempts to focus attention upon himself (or themselves);" in addition, Rule 9-2, Article 1(a)(2) asserts that "After a score or any other play, the player in possession immediately must return the ball to an official or leave it near the dead-ball spot."

"Additionally, if a player's actions is considered 'unsportsmanlike conduct,' the result is dead-ball foul; a 'flagrant unsportsmanlike conduct' foul requires player ejection. If a player’s nonfootball-related act (e.g. taunting or cursing) causes an opponent to physically retaliate, it is considered fighting and both players are ejected."

Seeing as how the referee is given discretion to determine if a player's actions disrupt a game, this is one rule that is there to be intelligently enforced--best applied only if appropriately helpful to the circumstance. In this case, as there was no harm to the opponents or to the integrity of the game, enforcemen­t of the rule by the referee did nothing to aid the game. Penalty should not have been called.

Hastie was accused by the referee of drawing attention to himself, but actually that is an accusation more appropriately fitting to the referee. He is the one who interjected himself into a game where he was not needed.

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association will be taking another look to see if the referee's call made any sense. Since the rule is there, Hastie has already agreed that the next time he scores a touchdown this season, he will follow the rule (i.e., give the football immediately to the official) for the sake of the team in order to avoid the chance of penalty, "I'll just point to the sky once I'm off the field."

photo by Tony Overman

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Week is National Bible Week

The Bible: Born in the East and clothed in Oriental form and imagery, the Bible walks the ways of all the world with familiar feet and enters land after land to find its own everywhere. It has learned to speak in hundreds of languages to the heart of man.
Children listen to its stories with wonder and delight, and wise men ponder them as parables of life. The wicked and proud tremble at its warnings, but to the wounded and penitent it has a mother's voice. It has woven itself into our dearest dreams; so that love, friendship, sympathy, devotion, memory, hope, put on the beautiful garments of its treasured speech. No man is poor or desolate who has this treasure for his own.
When the landscape darkens, and the trembling pilgrim comes to the Valley named of the Shadow, he is not afraid to enter; he takes the rod and staff of Scripture in his hand; he says to friend and comrade, 'Goodbye; we shall meet again;', and, confronted by that support, he goes toward the lonely pass as one who walks through darkness into light. Henry Van Dyke

From Our American Forefathers: He who made all men hath made the truths necessary to human happiness obvious to all… Our forefathers opened the Bible to all. Samuel Adams "American Independence," August 1, 1776. Speech delivered at the State House in Philadelphia]

It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and Bible.
George Washington

The Bible is worth all other books which have ever been printed.
Patrick Henry

I have examined all religions, as well as my narrow sphere, my straightened means, and my busy life, would allow; and the result is that the Bible is the best Book in the world. It contains more philosophy than all the libraries I have seen. John Adams, December 25, 1813 letter to Thomas Jefferson

For more quotes from our Founders, click here.

After the death of Solomon and the division of Israel, the Scriptures were suppressed by many of the inferior kings. It was King Josiah (II Kings) who lead his people in a revival and made known the Scriptures which he read to them in the temple.
The scrolls he read from were carried away and survived their seventy years of captivity in Babylon.
When the Jewish exiles returned to their land in 536 BC, Ezra, the priest/scribe, gathered together all scrolls he could find and made them into one complete work. Most Bible scholars persuade that Ezra, motivated by the direction of God, made additions and updates to the scrolls as he worked on connecting them into one edition. He divided the one complete work into three sections: the Torah, the Prophets, and the Holy Writings.

The Jews combined several related books--such as I and II Samuel into Samuel, I and II Kings into Kings, and I and II Chronicles into Chronicles. They also joined Judges and Ruth, Ezra and Nehemiah, Jeremiah and Lamentations, and the twelve Minor Prophets.
Apparently, the Jews combined these books to reduce the number of scrolls in the Hebrew scriptures to twenty two, which is also the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet.
Although the number of books in our Old Testament and their arrangement today has changed from ancient times, the text itself has not changed...not one letter, not one jot or tittle... from the Hebrew Bible.

How the books got divided into Chapters: "About A.D. 1248 Cardinal Hugo de Santo Care, while preparing an index to the whole Bible, divided it into its present chapters, subdividing these into several parts by placing the letters A, B, C, D etc. in the margin at equal distances from each other. These divisions were later introduced into many printed editions such as Stephens' Greek New Testament of 1550, still without verse numbers.

Cardinal Hugo's divisions were used in many manuscript copies of the Latin Vulgate, and gradually found a place also in later Greek manuscripts written in Western Europe, and in the earliest printed and all later editions of the Greek New Testament.

Verses: The divisions made by Hugo with the letters of the alphabet, and those adopted by Pagninus in his Latin Bible of 1528, were inconveniently large, and Robert Estienne (better known to us as Stephens) introduced a system of numbered verse divisions in his Greek New Testament published at Geneva in 1551. For this he used as his model the short verses into which the Hebrew Bible had been divided by Rabbi Nathan in 1508, first printed in Venice in 1524. Henry Stephens, Robert's father, had introduced verse numbers in his 1509 edition of the Psalms." For more information write to:
Trinitarian Bible Society
Tyndale House, Dorset Road
London, SW19 3NN, England
Telephone: 0 181 543 7857

Monday, November 15, 2010

Prayers for a hurting world

Obama Praises Indonesia Let Us Pray. President Obama’s false praise of Indonesia is assumed a model of religious tolerance and should be condemned since violent Muslims have killed over 10,000 Christians in Indonesia between 1998 and 2003, and they have burned down over 1,200 churches in the last decade. We also pray You save Indonesia from their hatred towards Jesus and Christians, from IIPeter 3:9, that all will come to repentance because the Lord desires none to perish. God open the eyes of President Obama so he can stop telling lies about Islam and Indonesia, in Jesus Name, Amen.

Congresswoman Betty McCollum omits “Under God” from PledgeLet Us Pray. Almighty God, we are saddened by Democrat Congresswoman Betty McCollum from Minnesota who recently led the Pledge of Allegiance in Congress and intentionally omitted the words “Under God” even though she pretends to be a Catholic during campaigns. We are also sad she was re-elected last week, while she continues to disrespect the Pledge of Allegiance and thumb her nose at Almighty God. We pray from 1Timothy 2:4 that Betty would get saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, that Jesus is God and God should be honored, and never disrespected, in Jesus Name. Amen. ---

(In 2004, Jim McDermott omits 'under God,' during Pledge of Allegiance, click here.)

Pakistani Christian Sentenced to Death for Preaching JesusLet Us Pray. Almighty God, we are saddened by the death sentence that was handed down this week for Asia Bibi, who was accused and arrested in June of 2009 for "blasphemy" against "prophet" Mohammed, simply by proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. Now we pray for Asia and her lawyers to appeal this unjust death sentence. From James 1:5 we pray for wisdom, and from Matthew 5:12 we rejoice for Asia knowing her reward in heaven is great if she is persecuted for Christ’s name. Vindicate her stand for Jesus, in Jesus Name, Amen.

Pope Benedict Calls for Worldwide Prayer Against AbortionLet Us Pray. Almighty God, bless Pope Benedict XVI who issued an unprecedented declaration and request for prayers worldwide from all pro-life people against abortion. We agree and pray along with the Pope and all who are opposed to the slaughter of innocents, that abortion would no longer be accepted by any nation on earth. From Ecclesiastes 11:5, just as we do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, we know we cannot understand the work of God, but we affirm the creation of all life. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Planned Parenthood Sells Graphic Sex Guide for YouthLet Us Pray. Almighty God, we pray that You awaken the masses so they see the wrongdoing that Planned Parenthood continues to promote, including recently a brochure called “Healthy, Happy and Hot” which is aimed at young people and encourages casual sex with multiple partners, as well as oral, anal, and homosexual sex. Such rubbish pollutes the minds of our youth and makes it harder for them to understand and follow wholesome, healthy paths. From ITimothy 4:12, we pray that no one should look down on young people who should be examples of moral behavior in speech, life, love, faith, and purity. And we pray Lord, that You raise up and give strength to more young Christians in living lives in accordance with Your commandments, in Jesus name, Amen.

Amazon Stops Selling a Guide for Pedophiles
Let Us Pray. Almighty God, we thank you for the citizens that rose up and complained to for selling a self-published guide titled “The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure: a Child-lover’s Code of Conduct” by Phillip R. Greaves, and got that book removed. We pray now that God heals all who have been the victims of sexual abuse by pedophiles and for continual public awareness to speak out against this heinous sin. From Matthew 18:6 we warn that anyone who harms a child may be drowned in the depths of the sea, in Jesus Name, Amen.

Muslims Beat and Fire Christians in Bangladesh Let Us Pray. Almighty God, we pray You Bless Ayanal Hague, age 63, and his 22-year-old son Lal Miah, and their families in Bangladesh, who have refused to recant their faith in Christ, despite persecution from muslims who beat them and deprive them of work. Romans 8:18 declares, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Strengthen our brothers in the faith that know Your word to be true and who have suffered for their faith. Comfort and protect all now being persecuted, in Jesus Name, Amen.

Above adapted from the "Pray in Jesus name" project.
The views of Chaplain Klingenschmitt, who was honorably but involuntarily discharged from the Navy in 2007 after facing court-martial for praying 'in Jesus name' in uniform, (but was later vindicated by Congress), are his own personal views, not the views of any political party, government, or organization.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

November 14: International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted

For original article and references, click here.

Reports of Christian persecution around the world seem to be on the increase.

In Asia, a Christian man was sentenced to three years in prison for showing a film about Jesus Christ.

According to Jonathan Racho of International Christian Concern, another anti-Christian incident occurred recently in India:

"A group of Hindu radicals severely beat a pregnant Christian woman while she was attending the funeral of her infant daughter in Orissa, India. Orissa is the same state where in 2008, radicals killed 100 Christians and forced 55,000 Christians from their homes. Another attack had occurred a week earlier in Eritrea, which borders Ethiopia. Eleven Christians were arrested and taken to unknown locations."

Christians arrested in India endure much suffering. Racho relates that they are "imprisoned in metal shipping containers, military barracks, and underground dungeons -- and many die due to torture and harsh prison conditions."

Last summer in Pakistan, two Christians, a pastor and his brother, were shot and killed on courthouse steps.

They had been found innocent after standing trial on accusation under Pakistan's blasphemy law. The brothers supposedly had written and circulated a pamphlet that denigrated Muhammad.

Racho commented that the "Muslims know the law and whenever they want to persecute a Christian, any Christian, they simply go ahead and accuse the Christian of blasphemy." Innocence doesn't matter. "If a Christian is accused of blasphemy, even if the Christian has not done it, and even if the police have proved that the person hasn't done it, it doesn't matter for them."

A forensic analysis of the handwriting showed that the brothers could not have written the document.

"The police came up with an expert witness and the expert testified that the handwriting on the pamphlet doesn't match Rashid or Sajid's handwriting. So obviously, someone else must have written it and put the brother's names and phone numbers on it."

"Christians in Pakistan are treated like third-class citizens, and it's almost on a daily basis that the Christians in Pakistan face discrimination, and it's very common for Christians to be killed, for Christians to face a blasphemy charge without committing any blasphemy actually."

Intelligence analyst Bill Warner, Center for the Study of Political Islam, is not surprised by  shootings of Christians found innocent.

"The killing of a blasphemer is pure Shariah and is Sunna, the perfect example of Muhammad....Muhammad repeatedly had people murdered, assassinated and executed for nothing more that disagreeing with him. When he conquered Mecca he issued death warrants for all the intellectuals and artists who had opposed him. To disagree with Muhammad was and is a capital offense."

Jonathan Racho agrees and adds that the Pakistani government is trying to get the U.N. to adopt its blasphemy law as part of the International Declaration of Human Rights and other international agreements.

"Petition to United Nations to award Refugee Status to Pakistani Christians," click here. "We wish to draw your kind attention on rising violence against Christians on pretext to blasphemy law, enforced conversion, kidnap and gang rape of Christian women, vandalism of Churches, desecration of Holy Bibles, attacks on homes of Christians, killing of innocent Christians and destruction of Christian properties in Islamic Republic of Pakistan."

•Pastors and church staff can call 1-800-422-5441 to receive a free kit of information, presentations, and videos about the persecuted church

Friday, November 5, 2010

Woman sued for seeking Christian roommate, and ADF came to her defense

A 31-year-old nursing student advertised on her church bulletin board for a Christian roommate to share her 900 sq. ft. house.  Someone took the ad down from the bulletin board and reported it to HUD.  HUD told her she was in violation of the law, needed to attend classes to learn how not to be discriminatory, and had to pay a fine.  ADF lawyers took up her cause.

For original articles and references, click here/here.

HUD has been given authority to enforce the Fair Housing Act (FHA) of 1968 which prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, and religion. Protected classes were expanded in 1974.

 (The FHA exempts owner-occupied buildings with no more than four units, single-family housing sold or rented without the use of a broker, and housing operated by organizations and private clubs that limit occupancy to members. It is illegal for anyone to advertise a preference based on the protected classes listed above.)

Tag:  Alliance Alert relatedHUDTwitter Religious Liberty World News
"This prohibition against discriminatory advertising applies to single-family and owner-occupied housing that is otherwise exempt from the Fair Housing Act."
"Fair Housing is the right of individuals to obtain the housing of their choice (rent an apartment, buy a home, obtain a mortgage, buy homeowners insurance, etc.), free from discrimination based on the protected classes."

If someone violates the Fair Housing Act, then HUD can require the offender to compensate for actual damages.
 Apparently, a 31-year-old Christian woman who wanted a Christian roommate violated the Fair House law by advertising for a roommate on a bulletin board at her church, stating, "Christian roommate wanted."

Since the ad "expresses an illegal preference for a Christian roommate, thus excluding people of other faiths,” according to the complaint filed by the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan, she is in violation of the law.

The case was turned over to the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.

Depending on the outcome of the case, the woman could face several hundreds of dollars in fines and “fair housing training so it doesn’t happen again.”

What kind of law says a woman cannot express in advertising the kind of person she is looking for as a roommate based on any criteria she wishes?

The Alliance Defense Fund has taken on her case:

"Christians shouldn't live in fear of being punished by the government for being Christians. It is completely absurd to try to penalize a single Christian woman for privately seeking a Christian roommate at church -- an obviously legal and constitutionally protected activity. Not content to just lock Christians and their beliefs into the four walls of their church or home, some groups also want to invade those walls and force their own ideas upon them by force of law."

"The First Amendment guarantees us Freedom of Religion, and we have the right to live with someone of the same faith. The Michigan Department of Civil Rights is denying her rights by pursuing this complaint."

A letter has been sent to the state asking the authorities to dismiss the case as groundless.

Nancy Haynes of the Fair Housing Center agreed the woman has every right to seek and live with a Christian roommate. She just can't advertise it publicly.

For real?

The state wants the woman to get training in federal law, and they want her to reimburse the Fair Housing Center $300 for the time it took to investigate the complaint.

According to Joel Oster of the ADF:
---"Well, oddly enough if you look at this statute, it does not provide even an exception based upon gender," states the attorney. "So according to this statute, she can't even discriminate based upon gender. If you look at this, this lady would have to accept a male roommate of an opposite or an opposing religious belief into her house. It's preposterous."
"Oster believes the rule needs to be clarified, and says his client is considering a lawsuit to bring about that change if necessary."

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 20:35
ADF President and CEO Alan E. Sears writing at Inside the Issues: "If you have any doubts that things are changing in America today, consider the case of a single woman in Grand Rapids, Michigan, who posted an advertisement for a roommate on her church bulletin board. As a Christian, she stipulated that she’d like the roommate to be a Christian, too . . . Unfortunately, even though the complaint was dismissed, the problematic 'anti-discrimination' housing law – which states that a person cannot seek out renters based on gender or religion – is still in effect. ADF is considering filing a lawsuit to strike down this problematic law, based on how it was applied in this case."

"She is not prohibited by either federal law or state law from seeking a Christian roommate. Neither Title VII of the US Fair Housing Civil Rights Act of 1968 nor the Elliot Larsen Civil Rights Act No. 453 prevents a woman like [her] from seeking a Christian roommate."

HUD's application of the law is a violation of the First Amendment right to freely associate.

Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) Senior Legal Counsel Joel Oster called the attempt to criminalize Rowe's effort to seek a Christian roommate "nothing short of absurd."

ADF attorneys sent a letter on behalf of the single woman. They asserted that the complaint was groundless and that any government interference would be a blatant violation of Rowe's First Amendment rights to freedom of association.

After an investigation, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a dismissal stating that there was no reasonable cause for the allegation.

Oster of ADF stated:
"This complaint should have never been brought. It is borderline frivolous to suggest that a single lady can be fined by the government simply for seeking a Christian female roommate to share her 900-square-foot house."
"HUD did the right thing through its dismissal of the frivolous complaint. Anti-religious groups wanting to confine Christians and their beliefs within the four walls of their church or home cannot also invade those very walls by forcing their own ideas upon Christians through threats of severe punishment.”

The Michigan Department of Civil Rights said that its probe revealed "legal issues that involved questions of federal and possibly U.S. constitutional law, which required that we coordinate with HUD to assure uniform application nationwide."

ADF made clear that even though the complaint was dismissed, the "anti-discrimination" housing law is still in effect. The law states that a person cannot seek out renters based on gender or religion.

ADF may decide to file a lawsuit to strike down the law as it was applied in the church bulletin board case.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Apartment managers fired because of Christian artwork they displayed

For original article and references, click here.

Employment and housing discrimination case: Liberty University Counsel at the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals requested that a trial court’s summary judgment be reversed.

Daniel and Sharon Dixon were fired by The Hallmark Companies from managing a Florida apartment complex for being “too religious.” They were also evicted from their apartment.

Why does Hallmark consider them to be too religious? Because of a 26 inches by 50 inches stained glass artwork with the phrase, "Consider the lilies...Matthew 6:28," which was displayed in the rental office.

After asking if and learning that the artwork referred to Scripture, Hallmark supervisor Christina Saunders told Mrs. Dixon to remove it immediately. Mrs. Dixon was willing to discuss the matter with the supervisor and with her co-manager husband; and as she briefly left to find Mr. Dixon, the artwork was removed by the supervisor.

Upon their return, the supervisor told them not to bother looking for the stained glass piece because they were fired for being "too religious" and had to vacate their apartment within seventy-two hours. Saunders had removed the artwork, entered the Dixons' apartment without their permission, and placed the artwork there.

This happened in 2008 after the Dixons had managed an apartment complex owned by Hallmark in Florida for eight years. They also had worked for Hallmark Companies previously for a couple of years, managing two different complexes. Their artwork was displayed at each of those offices without complaint.

The Dixons filed a federal action claiming discrimination based on religious beliefs.

A federal district court judge ruled summarily against them saying there was no need for a jury to hear the case since no reasonable jury could possibly find any discrimination against the Dixons.

It is hard to understand how a judge could rule this way when they were fired for no reason but religion and Title VII and Title VIII clearly prohibit discrimination in employment and housing on account of religion.

"Employment discrimination occurs when an employer adversely singles out employees or job applicants on the basis of age, race/color, gender, disability, national origin, religion, pregnancy, or veteran status."

Mathew D. Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel, commented:

“Hallmark cannot sweep religion from the workplace. While The Hallmark Companies can choose the d├ęcor of the workplace, their supervisors cannot fire employees solely because they are ‘too religious.’ When a jury hears this case, it will be clear that The Hallmark Companies crossed the line.”

Saunders denied allegations that she told the couple they were "too religious." Yet they were not fired for job performance.

On October 28, 2010, Horatio Mihet, Senior Litigation Counsel for Liberty Counsel, presented oral arguments:

"The artwork was displayed in the leasing office, right next to prominent disclaimers that Hallmark does not discriminate in housing decisions against anyone."

A ruling by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals is expected later this year.

Mihet is certain that the court will reverse the summary judgment, remand action back to district court with instructions to move the case to a jury trial, and that a jury will find that Hallmark did indeed unlawfully fire the Dixons for being "too religious."

"Hallmark’s counsel actually admitted during argument that, had Hallmark asked him whether the picture should be removed, he would have advised that it should stay on the wall."

Christians fired for displaying Bible verse in workplace
Let us pray. Almighty God, we pray you restore Daniel and Sharon Dixon, who were fired and evicted from managing an apartment complex by a man who said they were “too religious,” because they displayed, in the rental office, a small stained glass artwork with flowers and the phrase "Consider the lilies... Matthew 6:28." God we pray the 11th Circuit Court of appeals enforces the law, since Title VII and VIII prohibit discrimination in employment and housing on account of religion. From Matthew 5:10, bless the Dixons who are persecuted for righteousness sake. In Jesus name, Amen.  
From Pray in Jesus name project: Chaplain Gordon James Klingenschmitt

America was founded upon Christian tolerance of religious faith yet that very faith that gave birth to tolerance is itself not tolerated in today's America. We have gone from Pilgrims seeking religious expression of their Judeo-Christian beliefs to discrimination against those same beliefs in the name of tolerance. This is progress?

"It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For that reason alone, people of other faiths have been afforded freedom of worship here."
-- Patrick Henry

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Salem Witchcraft Trials of 1692

'Cotton Mather played a prominent role in the Salem witchcraft trials by virtue of his position as head of the Puritan church in Boston. Although his 1689 essay, "Memorable Providences Relating to Witchcraft and Possessions," had fostered much of the hysteria surrounding the trials, Mather, like his father, Increase, did attempt to exclude "spectral evidence" from the trials and to induce the courts to hand down lenient punishments.' Source

Samuel Parris was a merchant who also served as a pastor in the town of Salem, Massachusetts, a growing town which was undergoing the stress of rapid economic and political transitions. 

Upon his return to his home in Massachusetts from a business trip in Barbados, he brought back two slaves.  One of these slaves, Tituba, was designated by him to take care of his nine-year-old daughter Elizabeth and his eleven-year-old niece Abigail.

Parris allowed the girls virtually no entertainment, and so they found the stories of Tituba quite fascinating as she told them about the voodoo practices of her native island.  The girls told some of their village friends, including Ann Putnam; and all of them started playing with the voodoo Tituba described.  They even began to engage in fortune-telling.

Then in January 1692, Elizabeth (Betty) and Abigail started having mysterious fits.  During a church service Betty screamed, and she started writhing on the floor.  Then the other girls fell to the floor and started having similar types of fits while making strange, sometimes animal-like noises.

A doctor became convinced their pain was caused by witchcraft.  As belief in witchcraft was not uncommon throughout the 17th century America and Europe, the townspeople became alarmed.  They begged the girls to tell them who was causing the torture.

The young girls finally thought of three names to cry out: Tituba the slave, Sarah Good--a homeless woman, and Sarah Osborn--a sickly old woman who had married her servant.  These women were arrested and moved to the Boston prison where Sarah Osborn died. 

Thus, a tragic chain of events in public hysteria had begun.

Samuel Parris called in more authorities to determine if the girls' affliction was indeed caused by witchcraft.  Although Betty was sent away and did not participate in the trials, the other girls were coached by women to stage public demonstrations of their affiction when in the presence of 'witches.'

Both Sarah Good and Sarah Osborn before her death had held to their innocence, but Tituba confessed of being a witch after a beating by her master Parris.  She said she had been ordered by a black dog to hurt the girls and that she could ride through the air on a pole to attend the witch's meetings.  She further told the magistrate that there were other witches in Salem led by a tall man who had a white beard.  With Tituba's story of there being other witches, pressure was placed on the girls to give out more names of witches in their midst.

Ann Putnam, directed by her mother, pointed at Martha Corey, a member of the Salem Village congregation.  During her trial, Martha maintained her innocence but the girls in attendance cried out in fits of supposed torment and anguish.  Believing the girls, her own husband testified against her. 

Rebecca Nurse, a prominent member of the church and also a grandmother to four-year-old Dorcus Good, was accused directly by Ann Putman's mother.  Rebecca's family had been involved in disputes with the powerful Putnam family.  Before she was executed, she was heard to say, "Oh Lord, help me!  It is false.  I am clear.  For my life now lies in your hands...."  Shortly after Rebecca died, the small child Dorcus was accused as well and would spend months chained to a wall in the town jail.

The court allowed testimony against accused witches that they were seen at night as spirits or in a personal vision.  Though such accusations could in no way be verified or be converted into common sense, victims lost their lives.

Local tavern owners John and Elizabeth Proctor had been vocal about their opposition to the trials; they were soon accused of being witches themselves.  Rebecca Nurse's sister Sara Cloyse was also accused.  While these three awaited trial, arrests were made of Mary Warren, Bridget Bishop, and Abigail Hobbs. 

Giles Corey was also arrested but refused to stand trial.  He was pressed to death under a pile of rocks.

Abigail Hobbs was known to be mentally unwell but the magistrates still accepted that she was a witch, and they believed her accusations against Nehemiah Abbot, William and Deliverence Hobbs, Sarah and Edward Bishop, Mary Ester, Mary Black, Sarah Wilds, and Mary English.  These nine were arrested in April.  Accusations against Nehemiah Abbot were later dropped.

The psychological madness began to include people who were not familiar with any of Salem's local grudges; and the accusations continued to grow into a powerful force of Salem until they finally reached the wife of a new Governor from England, Sir William Phips.  With this blow, suspicions began to rise about whether or not the accusations were genuine. 

Increase Mather (father of Cotton who wrote, 'If a Drop of Innocent Blood should be shed, in the Prosecution of the Witchcrafts among us, how unhappy are we!) forcefully argued that it would be better that ten witches go free than the blood of a single innocent be shed.  The other ministers took a strong stand; and the trials were halted.  Those still in jail were later acquitted or given reprieves.  Almost as fast as it had started, the witch hunt ended.

In all, nineteen people were hanged at Gallows Hill, one pressed to death, and four others died in prison awaiting trial   Many of those accused had lost their property, their money, and retained the stigma of being a witch for the rest of their lvies.

Ann Putmam was the only one of the girls to publicly stand in front of the Salem congregation to apologize.  She said it was a great delusion of Satan that made her act as badly as she did.

Cotton Mather was a scholar who struggled through and tried to explain the superstitions of his time. 
Excelling in his entrance exams in Latin and Greek, he began Harvard at only 12 years of age. After receiving his M.A. at age 18, he wished to become a pastor but delayed because of a terrible stutter.  He turned his mind to medicine and is recognized as having been a progressive medical advocate for his day.
Before the outbreak of accusations in Salem Village, Mather had already published his account, Remarkable Providences (1684), outlining clinical symptoms of being possessed.  He actually took a child into his home to make a more intense study of the phenomenon. Later scholars have suggested that his book described the symptoms of clinical hysteria. His publication, Curiosa Americana, proved him an accomplished scientist and earned him election to the prestigious Royal Society of London, England.
"Although Mather was not directly involved in the proceedings of the Salem witch trials, he wrote a letter to one of the magistrates in the trials urging caution in the use of spectral evidence. Mather was also the author of the "Return of the Several Ministers," a report sent to the judges of the Salem court. This document advised caution in the use of spectral evidence, saying that the devil could assume the shape of an innocent person. However, the final paragraph of the document appears to undercut this cautionary statement in recommending "the detection of witchcrafts". Thus the courts interpreted the letter as Mather's seal of approval for the trials to go on." Source

On the brighter side:  Halloween Poem, click here

The patriotic ghosts, click here.    SNL parody, click here.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Christian flag ordered to be taken down. Citizens fight peaceably and effectively against decision.

Someone contacted the ACLU and the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State this past August because he had to point out a flag which has flown for years over a Veterans Memorial at a passive park in King, North Carolina.  He simply didn't want the townfolk to suffer the imposition of a religion.

The Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (AU) and the ACLU both sent letters to the City threatening lawsuits if the flag was not taken down. Because lawsuits would cost an estimated $300,000 to fight, the City Council voted to take down the flag. The vote was 3-1 to remove the Christian flag on the advice of City Attorney Walter W. Pitt, Jr. According to Manager John Cater:

"The City received inquiries from the ACLU and the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State suggesting that the Christian flag flying over the Veterans Memorial at Central Park violates the Establishment Clause of the 1st amendment to the U.S. Constitution. At the advice of the City Attorney, the City Council voted to take down the Christian flag at last night's City Council meeting citing the enormous cost associated with fighting a potential law suit on the issue."

So the ACLU and AU proudly bullied a small town of about 6,000 reluctant residents into taking down a Christian flag from a Veterans Memorial, 'All gave some, and some gave all.' Little by little, they (ACLU/AU) erase any sign of Christianity from public property and proclaim they are performing a service for the good of the nation. Do they hope that by erasing Christian symbols from our nation that they will erase the Christian spirit as well?

Mike Marshall was awakened to realize he should have been flying a Christian flag all along. He is owner of Divine Catering located across the street from the memorial; and in response to the ordeal, he erected a 35-foot flag pole to fly the Christian flag. He explained, "We just thought it would be a good way to show people what we think about the whole thing. I know its not city hall, but its as close as we could get."

His idea caught on. The sales of Christian flags skyrocketed in King, and they are being flown high and wide throughout the area. Mike Marshall again commented:

"They were talking about one obscure flag in the back corner of the park. All of a sudden, there's flags on every porch, on every business and in every yard. It really brought a lot of awareness to the fact that this is a Christian community."

According to the Winston-Salem Journal:

"The controversy surrounding the removal of a Christian flag from the town's Veteran's Memorial is helping Gullion's Christian Supply Center -- so many people have bought Christian flags that the store has ordered 300 more to satisfy demand."

Rally and Prayer Walk

Reverend Kevin Broyhill, pastor of Calvary Baptist, said that his church will raise money to officially fight the lawsuit.

“I believe that the citizens of King are upset about that the flag was taken down. It means something to them. It represents their heritage. People give to what they believe in.”

Working with Ron Baity, pastor of Berean Baptist Church, and Return America, he will organize a rally this month over the issue.

An online Christian evangelical ministry called Running the Race for the Prize held a peaceful prayer walk at Central Park this past Sunday. “We choose to go to the Lord in prayer," said Brent Daniels, founder of the ministry.

Original article with references, click here.   Addendums to article, click here.

Compromise on Christian flag    Winston-Salem Journal    Christian flag taken down   No compromise
War veterans guarding Christian flag

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Somali Christian killed, His four children kidnapped to be trained as soldiers

No longer wanting to be a muslim, Osman Abdullah Fataho converted to Christianity and became a member of an underground Christian movement. Because of his conversion, al-Shabaab used that as an excuse to murder him in front of his wife and children at his home located about 19 miles from Mogadishu, Somalia.

They took Fataho's children to be brainwashed in the ways of the Koran and trained as soldiers. Upon surrender of the children and because the assailants were not sure of her religion, the mother was let go.

Al-Shabaab is an Islamist insurgency group with ties to al-Qaeda and which pledges allegiance to Osama bin Laden. It describes itself as waging jihad against "enemies of Islam," including the UN and Western non-governmental organizations that distribute food or other aid in Somalia.

Al-Shabaab controls large parts of central Somalia and enforces Islam most strictly. For example, they recently banned football, BBC broadcasts because they carried the “agenda of the crusaders” and “opposed an Islamic administration” and also bell ringing that signals the end of school classes “because they sound like church bells.”

The transitional government in Mogadishu has been fighting insurgents to retain control of the country. However, that would not necessarily be good news for Christians in the area as President Sheikh Sharif Sheik Ahmed, considered a moderate, also believes in the death penalty for those who willingly leave the Islam faith.

The Somali President believes his job is the most difficult in the world. His country has suffered 20 years of civil war and has experienced little progress as he rules little more than a few blocks in Mogadishu. Yet even that is threatened by former allies in Somalia's Islamist movement. His country is considered the world's most failed state, and its continued chaos allows a home for terrorists, including pirates.

Sharif admits he is a strict Islamist but he asks for help from the West:
"Without leaving our Islamic principles, we can have relations with the West. I believe my government can succeed in reducing the gap."
"My dream is to see peaceful, prosperous Somalia where everyone can get his rights, freedom and livelihood without harming others."

"The Pentagon is looking for ways to expand the aid it is already providing the African nations, including additional training, equipment, logistical support and transportation for the troops there."

Names of kidnapped children
For those who wish to include the abducted children in their prayers, they are:
Ali Daud Fataho, 5 years old
Fatuma Safia Fataho, 7 years
Sharif Ahmed Fataho, 10 years
Nur Said Fataho, 15 years

Somali Christian Killed, Four Children Kidnapped
Let Us Pray. Almighty God, we believe 2 Timothy 3:12, “…everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution," as we pray today for four children, Ali Daud (5), Fatuma Safia (7), Sharif Ahmed (10), and Nur Said (15), who were abducted by muslims in Somalia, to be brainwashed and trained as Islamic soldiers, after the muslims murdered their father and took their mother. Lord, protect the minds of these children, so that they would know and remember that Jesus is the only way to heaven, and not Islam. In Jesus Name, Amen.  
prayer adapted from CHAPS

For original article and sources, click here.

Worldwide persecution of Christians, click here.

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