Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Victory for American atheists as Christian symbol is declared unconstitutional

The American Atheists, Inc., the 'premier organization laboring for the civil liberties of Atheists' has been dedicated and working hard since 1963 to keep our separation of church and state rights from being violated. Following is just one example of their promotion efforts to erase Christianity from the public.

In 1998, the Utah Highway Patrol Association (UHPA) in a gesture of memory and gratitude began putting up 12-foot high crosses near places where Utah highway patrol officers died in the line of duty. Each cross showed the Highway Patrol Officer's insignia as well as his or her name.

The crosses are paid for by the Utah Highway Patrol Association with private dollars. They are privately owned and maintained. According to Lt. Lee Perry, U.H.P. Section One Commander, when someone drives by, they will recognize the crosses as symbolic for a person who died.

The crosses were the idea of Perry and his friend, former police officer Robert Kirby, now a columnist for The Salt Lake Tribune. Though the cross is not commonly used by Utah’s dominant religion, the LDS Church, they chose it because it could convey quickly to motorists a 'message of death, sacrifice, and honor.'

The program was implemented in freedom without interference from the State of Utah which "neither approves or disapproves of the memorial marker." If allowed to continue, the practice could through the years spread to other states as a reminder for highway safety in dedication for fallen officers. (See Washington State Patrol, Service with humility.)

"I can't tell you how much this means to the memories of these 14 men and their families," said UHP Capt. Ron Ostler.

American Atheists, Inc., can't believe that crosses are not necessarily Christian as an acceptable symbol of burial. They argued in Utah federal district court that the white crosses weren't chosen simply to honor comrades but that since those crosses have official Utah Highway Patrol logos and were on public property, they were therefore a government endorsement of Christianity.

In late 2007, the court decided that while the cross retained a religious meaning when in a religious context, it was understood and used by all as essentially a secular symbol representing death and/or burial when used as a memorial:

"...the cross has attained a secular status as Americans have used it to honor the place where fallen soldiers and citizens lay buried, or had fatal accidents, regardless of their religious belief. And the progression of the cross from a religious to a secular symbol continues as crosses are increasingly used to symbolize death in advertising campaigns, films, television, and seasonal holiday decorations -- frequently having nothing to do with religion or a particular religious belief. Consequently, the court finds a reasonable observer, aware of the history and context of the community would not view the memorial crosses as a government endorsement of religion."
American Atheists didn't buy the argument but believe that every time they have to look at one or more of those crosses, then their separation of church and state rights are being violated. They appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, and the Tenth Circuit sided with them.

A three-judge panel said in its 38-page ruling (American Atheists v. Duncan (08-4061) that a "reasonable observer" would conclude that the crosses indicate Christianity was being endorsed by government and to "fear that Christians are likely to receive preferential treatment from the UHP."

Though many roadsides show crosses placed by private individuals honoring a dead relative killed in car accidents, the court stated:

"The mere fact that the cross is a common symbol used in roadside memorials does not mean it is a secular symbol. The massive size of the crosses displayed on Utah's rights-of-way and public property unmistakably conveys a message of endorsement, proselytization, and aggrandizement of religion that is far different from the more humble spirit of small roadside crosses."

David Silverman, the Vice President and National Spokesperson for American Atheists, Inc, said that his organization didn't want this fight but "How anybody could say crosses are not Christian is beyond all of us. It's completely inappropriate."

When Silverman heard the ADF might take this fight to the Supreme Court, he thought it was the wrong thing for them to do, "If they bring it to the U.S. Supreme Court to have the Court decide if crosses are not Christian, that will be a waste of time and a waste of Utah's money!"

The crosses will remain up until all appeals are exhausted.

Let Us Pray. Almighty God, we ask from James 1:5 that You would grant wisdom and victory to the Alliance Defense Fund attorneys who will be appealing the Tenth Circuit Court ruling that favored American Atheists Inc, and ordered the removal of crosses from the roadside memorial that honored fallen Utah troopers, saying that any Christian symbol on government property violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. God help the Supreme Court overturn this, so we don’t have to fear removal of the crosses at Arlington Cemetery next. We pray for a victory for the ADF, in Jesus Name, Amen. (taken from CHAPS)

Based on precedent, the ADF will most probably win at the Supreme Court as shown last April in regard to the Mojave cross, (Salazar v. Buono), a Latin cross which was placed atop a prominent rock outcropping in 1934 to honor war dead.

After that ruling, vandals sneaked out into the desert to cut down and steal the cross.

Fortunately, after Utah's crosses are allowed to stay, they won't be so easy to make disappear.

For original article and references, click here.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Christian-related News Events in America

Court Says College Can Expel Christian Student
Let Us Pray. Almighty God, We pray for Julea Ward, who is now a former graduate counseling student at Eastern Michigan University because a judge ruled a college could expel her because she is a Christian and has refused to counsel homosexual clients. Judge Steeh agreed with the University saying that she could only remain in the program if she went through “remediation” so she could “see the error of her ways.” From 1Peter 4:14 bless Julea Ward with Your Spirit of glory, for she has been persecuted for Your truth, in Jesus name, Amen.

Charges Dropped Against Man Arrested For Praying
Let Us Pray. Almighty God, we thank you for the great news that criminal charges were dropped against Joe Holland who was the first person arrested under the “Bubble Zone Ordinance” outside of an abortion clinic because he was praying on a public sidewalk. Thank you for using the Thomas More Society to defend Holland, and for letting this be an illustration of 1Peter 3:12 which says, “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” In Jesus Name, Amen. 

The “bubble law,” adopted in a number of cities including Denver, Chicago, and Oakland, California, applies to any health-care facility, including hospitals and immediate-care clinics. It usually surrounds one of the nation’s most polarizing subjects: abortion.

The ordinance in Chicago states: "No person shall knowingly approach another person or vehicle within eight feet of such person or vehicle, unless such other person consents, for the purpose of passing a leaflet or handbill to, displaying a sign to or engaging in oral protest, education or counseling with such other person or vehicle in the public way or sidewalk within the radius of 50 feet from any entrance door to a health-care facility."

It is important to understand that the law does not give any door a bubble, it gives people a bubble that cannot be approached within.

The law was patterned after the Denver law which was challenged in the U.S. Supreme Court, and for which the Supreme Court backed in restrictions on anti-abortion protests. Scalia dissented, called the ruling "one of many aggressively pro-abortion novelties announced by the court in recent years."

Kennedy's dissenting opinion said, "Today's decision is an unprecedented departure from this court's teachings respecting unpopular speech in public areas," while Stevens explained the Colorado law:

"is not a regulation of speech. Rather, it is a regulation of the places where some speech may occur. The 8-foot restriction on an unwanted physical approach leaves ample room to communicate a message through speech. Demonstrators can stand on the sidewalk at clinic entrances and hand leaflets to those entering the clinic as they pass by."

The decision marked the first time the Court reviewed a state's attempt to regulate anti-abortion demonstrators outside health clinics.

According to Eric Scheidler, Executive Director of Pro-Life Action League, "The Chicago bubble zone isn’t just an attack on pro-lifers in Chicago. Planned Parenthood is eager to shut down sidewalk counseling across the country, and this is just a first step."

The first arrestee under the ordinance was Joseph Holland, a Northwestern University graduate student. He was arrested outside a Planned Parenthood's facility in July after the facility's staff called the police to say he was breaking the ordinance as he was praying on their public sidewalk.

Witnesses claimed and a video (see first video below) showed Holland praying; but since he was not leafleting, sidewalk counseling, engaging in oral protest, or displaying a sign, he was not breaking the ordinance. He should not have been arrested.

The Thomas More Society secured a dismissal of all charges. Peter Breen, Executive Director and legal counsel remarked:
"We are pleased that the City of Chicago has dismissed these false and baseless charges against Joe Holland. The First Amendment protects prayer on a public sidewalk in Chicago the same as in any other city in the country. We hope that the city will cease the suppression of pro-life speech under the 'bubble zone' ordinance and dismiss the lone remaining case, brought against David Avignone, who was arrested a few days after Joe."

The Thomas More Society will also represent David Avignone, the second 'bubble zone' arrestee, arrested the same week as Holland. Avignone's first court appearance is August 30.

Chicago is one of more than 170 cities in 45 states 'joining together for the largest and longest coordinated pro-life mobilization in history,' September 22 - October 31, 2010, for 40 Days for Life with prayer, fasting, peaceful vigil, and community outreach. "We are praying that, with God's help, this groundbreaking effort will mark the beginning of the end of abortion in our city -- and throughout America."   For original article and more information, click here.

Wikileaks tied to angry homosexual In the Military
Let Us Pray. Almighty God, once again we have seen how the lives of military people are at risk as evidenced by the act of sedition that Bradley Manning, PFC, reportedly engaged in when he handed over thousands of classified documents to Wikileaks.  He was upset over a break up from his homosexual boyfriend and the 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell' policy. Manning now reportedly wants a sex change after leaking the military secrets on the Internet. Lord, bring justice in Jesus Name, Amen.

Catholic Professor Kenneth Howell Reinstated by University of IllinoisLet Us Pray. Almighty God, thank you for answering our prayer from July 23, 2010, for Dr. Kenneth Howell who was fired from his job because he agrees with the Catholic teaching on natural law, which condemns homosexuality at unnatural. Thank you for the Alliance Defense Fund’s work in defending his rights and restoring Dr. Howell to his job again, for in Hebrews 11:6 you reward those who seek you. Give Dr. Howell tenure, and use him mightily for Your good purposes at the University of Illinois, and silence those who hate righteousness, in Jesus Name, Amen.

Study Shows Homosexual Parents Raise Homosexual ChildrenLet Us Pray. Almighty God, thank you for the research of Dr. Trayce Hansen who exposed how pro-homosexual researchers concealed findings that show between 8% to 21% of children parented by homosexuals are far more likely to engage in homosexual behavior compared to less than 1% of the general population. This evidence proves a mother and father is the best way to raise children, and why Jesus repeated Moses’ teaching in Mark 7:10 that we are to honor our fathers and mothers.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

70,000 Saved In Dominican Republic
Let Us Pray. Almighty God, we thank You for the nearly 70,000 souls saved in the Dominican Republic through the outreach of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association's My Hope ministry, and for the members of more than 5,500 churches who opened their homes for 59,000 meetings and events that included TV sermons and testimonies from Reverend Billy and Franklin Graham. God’s will in 2 Peter 3:9 is that no one should perish, but that all should come to repentance, here demonstrated through the efforts and prayers of those hearts willing to share God’s love with others. In Jesus Name. Amen.

850 Rabbis Rebuke Israel for Recruiting Homosexuals
Let Us Pray. Almighty God, thank you for the 850 American Rabbis who are rebuking the Israeli Minister of Tourism for funding a 6 month outreach effort to attract homosexual tourists from France and Germany, which violates the teaching of the Torah in Leviticus 18:22-30, “Let not the land vomit you out for having contaminated it (with such abominations).” And as Israel also promotes homosexuality in Jerusalem in an ultra-religious neighborhood, constituting the spiritual rape of the Holy Land. God we pray for the peace of Jerusalem, in Jesus Name, Amen.

Monday, August 9, 2010

In memory of the Ten-member medical team ambushed and killed by Taliban fighters

We grieve the following 10 medical team members by name - six Americans, two Afghans, one Briton and a German - that were gunned down Thursday after finishing a two-week unarmed mission to provide medical care to impoverished villagers in remote Nuristan province of Afghanistan. All of the expatriate medical personnel were unpaid volunteers to serve the Afghan people.

The gunmen marched the aid workers into the forest, stood 10 of them in a straight line, seven men and three women, and shot them. The police found their bodies Friday.

The mission's team leader, Dr. Tom Little of Delmar, N.Y., an optometrist who had been working in Afghanistan for the past four decades and is a fluent Dari speaker.

Brian Carderelli of Harrisonburg, Virginia, a freelance videographer who worked as a public relations manager for the International School of Kabul. He was recruited by the school shortly after he graduated from James Madison University in 2009. "Brian quickly fell in love with the Afghan people and culture," the school said in a statement.

Daniela Beyer of Chemnitz, Germany, was a linguist and a translator in German, English, and Russian. She also spoke Dari and was learning Pashto. She joined the eye camp so that she could translate for women patients.

Dr. Thomas Grams quit his dental practice in Durango, Colorado, four years ago to work full-time giving poor children free dental care in Afghanistan and Nepal.

Dr. Karen Woo, lone Briton among the dead, gave up her job with a private clinic in London to work in Afghanistan. "The effort is worth it in order to assist those that need it most." She was a general surgeon and went on the trip to bring treatment to mothers in the remote parts of Nuristan.

Dan Terry, who had lived in Afghanistan since 1980 with his wife, rearing three daughters while working with impoverished ethnic groups, trying to make connections between aid organizations and the government to improve services in remote areas. "He had a heart for the rural areas of Afghanistan," International Assistance Mission (IAM) said in a statement.

Glen Lapp, a trained nurse from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, had come to Afghanistan in 2008 for a limited assignment but decided to stay, serving as an executive assistant at IAM and manager of its provincial eye care program, according to the Mennonite Central Committee, a relief group based in Akron, Pennsylvania. "Where I was, the main thing that expats can do is to be a presence in the country...treating people with respect and with love." He also previously helped with medical response to hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Cheryl Beckett, daughter of a Knoxville, Tennessee, pastor, had spent six years in Afghanistan and specialized in nutritional gardening and mother-child health. She was her high school valedictorian at a Cincinnati-area high school and held a biology degree, had also spent time doing work in Honduras, Mexico, Kenya, and Zimbabwe.

Mahram Ali, an Afghan from eastern Wardak province, had worked as a watchman with NOOR eye hospital in Kabul since 2007. He guarded the team's vehicles as they left them to trek more than 100 miles into Nuristan. He leaves behind a wife and three young children.

Jawed, an Afghan from Panjshir province, worked as a cook at a government eye hospital in Kabul and had been given time off to go with the IAM team. The organization said Jawed, who had gone on a number of similar trips with the IAM eye doctors to Nuristan, was well-loved for his sense of humor. He also helped the doctors hand out eyeglasses.

The police said the aid workers - eye doctors, nurses and technicians - were hiking into one of the toughest areas of the country to provide services. They were advised there was no Taliban active in the area.

The expedition set out three weeks ago to reach the northeastern corner of Nuristan province, traveling by foot with pack horses to carry their medical equipment, and hiking over a 16,000-foot pass into the Parun Valley.

The lone survivor was their Muslim driver who said the missionaries were killed because they were “preaching Christianity” and the Koran teaches muslims to “kill the infidels” in Surah 9:5.

According to the Taliban, 'They were not actually here to provide medication for people but were here for spying," he said. "The punishment for spying is death."

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in Washington, "We are heartbroken by the loss of these heroic, generous people." She condemned the Taliban for the deaths and what she called a "transparent attempt to justify the unjustifiable by making false accusations about their activities."

As we pause a moment in honor of these great men and women, we offer a short prayer to our heavenly Father that You would comfort the grieving families with Your comfort, as the dead receive a martyr’s reward in heaven, in Jesus Name, Amen.

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