Heads, Sand. Some Assembly Required

 

…He’s free to address sin in my life, but not my society or nation?

Alan Sears of the Alliance Defending Freedom, reporting on a Pew Poll:

Only 40 percent of those responding to the poll said their pastor had referenced the importance of – or the growing threat to – religious liberty in America. Only 39 percent reported hearing a biblical perspective on homosexual and related behavior. And only 29 percent remembered their pastor saying a word about abortion.

Those results make for an interesting contrast with another Pew Researchers poll – one showing that three-fourths of the American public is concerned about the shrinking influence of religion on America life. And that nearly half of all Americans wish churches would take a more public stand on moral and political issues.

Not surprisingly, the polling data shows that those most eager to hear church’s address these issues are the people within the churches. In other words, for every parishioner who walks out murmuring “the pastor should mind his own business” … for every letter a pastor gets urging him to “keep your sermons out of the ballot box” … there are many, many others longing to know what the Bible has to say about these most pressing, controversial issues.

Where did we come upon the notion that God’s input and influence is restricted to certain aspects of our lives and culture – that He is not everywhere, all the time? That He’s free to address sin in my life, but not my society or nation?



I draw a very fine line on this, and please tell me if I’m wrong: The moral issues of the day in my country are a part of my ministry of pixels.  I’ll write, and do more to hold back what I think is an anti-freedom, anti-Christian movement to silince us in the public square.

I am not imposing my morality on others when I take a position in the public square which has been informed by my faith.  A generation ago, that statement would be obvious.

Additionally, I speak out against lawsuits, social media mobs and other actions designed to bully Christians into submission.  When a Christian is called a bigot, more often than not it is because a segment of our society has decided to stigmatize those who believe in God, morality and objective truth.

Some say Satan is behind it all.  Others say it’s just an atheist generation.  Others say evil is just a part of mankind, and it is growing in influence.  I say it should be opposed.  My God if free to address my sin, and my faith guides me to oppose the changes in my society and nation.

Yours in Christ, Dave Alexander

Heads, Sand. Some Assembly Required

Christian Churches for and Against Divestment

The Gatestone Institute (Chaired by former United States UN Ambassador John Bolton) takes note of churches seeking to influence Israeli policies regarding occupied territories. They’re free to act as they wish, and there is a legitimate argument to be had about the Israeli settlements and violence overall.

On the other hand, I think their membership should know what’s going on:

In breaking news yesterday, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America approved a resolution calling on the U.S. government to end all aid to Israel if Israel does not stop building settlements and “enable an independent Palestinian state.”

Several international Christian policy conferences this summer have produced a mixed bag of both blessings and curses — all aimed at Israel. The United Methodists, The Southern Baptists, The Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Unitarian Universalists are worth noting here.



United Methodists

From the quadrennial United Methodist General Conference (UMGC), the good news is that the four major divestment and boycott proposals were defeated in committee before ever reaching a floor vote.



Southern Baptists

In an even more comprehensive and positive move, the Southern Baptist Convention in its June gathering passed an anti-divestment resolution in support of Israel. The resolution declared “that the BDS movement seeks to isolate only the nation of Israel economically and socially.”



I edited the sections above.  The whole article is at the link.  Worth a read.

 

Christian Churches for and Against Divestment

Marine Court-Martialed for Refusing to Take Bible Verses Down

Can Marines have Bible verses at workstations?  Apparently not. Bible verses are not “religiously important.” What does that even mean?

From The Becket Fund for Religious Freedom:

Washington, D.C. – The military’s highest court ruled yesterday [August 10th] that men and women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces can be punished for exercising their religion if judges deem the practice not religiously “important.” The ruling upholds the government’s criminal prosecution of a U.S. Marine for refusing to discard personal notes that had Bible verses on them. The case may now be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 2014, Marine Lance Corporal Monifa Sterling was ordered to remove from her workstation three pieces of paper with a paraphrase from the Book of Isaiah, “No weapon formed against me shall prosper,” even though co-workers were permitted to keep nonreligious messages on their desks. She declined and was court-martialed. A lower court upheld Sterling’s court martial, rejecting her argument that her faith was protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

“This is a real-life example of why judges shouldn’t play theologians,” said Daniel Blomberg, legal counsel of the Becket Fund, which filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the Lance Corporal. “Here, a few judges concluded that keeping scripture nearby isn’t ‘important,’ even though more than half of the world’s population belong to religions that teach the exact opposite. Avoiding obvious errors like this is why RFRA protects all religious beliefs, not just beliefs that government officials deem ‘important.’” 




I’m pretty sure you can’t disobey an order from a superior officer, but this is clearly a balance between competing rights and responsibilities.  Veterans and service members will have more to add, and I hope they do in the underused comment section.

The other case I looked at this weekend is the Washington State football coach who was fired for praying after each game on the 50 yard line.  Look here.  

 

 

Marine Court-Martialed for Refusing to Take Bible Verses Down

Moving into November

What do I do now?  

The Recovering Legalist has a group of fine bloggers covering things while he travels, and Susan Irene Fox has advice for the political season.

 

  1. Resist from watching or listening to talking head rants.
  2. Refrain from responding to or repeating social media rants, sarcastic comments and cartoons.
  3. Abstain from posting your own rants, sarcastic comments and cartoons that violate Matthew 5:21-22.
  4. Pray for our leaders whether we voted for them, intend to vote for them or not.
  5. Wear the label, “Follower of Jesus” above any other label.

 


 

21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother[a] will be liable to judgment; whoever insults[b] his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell[c] of fire. Matthew 5:21 -22



I was once told that some Democrats think Republicans are evil, and Republicans figure Democrats are just wrong.  This year, everybody is being called everything in the dictionary.

In fact, when the earth is just dust and memories, we will be most aware of how we treated others, and not how we voted.  I have political opinions, and concerns about the election, but hope that reconciliation will happen in America.  Based upon the actions and reputations of the candidates, that reconciliation make take a while.  Like, four and a half years, minimum?

Moving into November

The White House Press Office is Really Interested in Religious Freedom

The US State Department put out the report on religious freedom this week, and guess what?  There’s not much.  The White House put out a Fact Sheet dated Wednesday (8/10/16) which starts with this:

“[P]romoting religious freedom is a key objective of U.S. foreign policy. And I’m proud that no nation on Earth does more to stand up for the freedom of religion around the world than the United States of America.”

                 –  President Barack Obama, February 6, 2014

[I’ll get to this in a moment. – Dave]



Throughout the Obama Administration, the U.S. Government has prioritized efforts to promote freedom of religion globally as a universal human right, a strategic national interest, and as a key foreign policy objective.  The Administration has praised countries that have made strides to promote religious freedom, assisted governments in taking steps to address shortcomings, and denounced severe violators of religious freedom; provided support to individuals who have been persecuted on account of their beliefs, and advocated for the rights of religious minorities.  The Obama Administration has also worked closely with civil society organizations, including religious communities, in promoting freedom of religion or belief for all people.

The “Fact Sheet” didn’t have a picture, so I grabbed one from the web:

I’m not insinuating that this administration is slow-rolling the fight against ISIS, or that they could be doing more to save persecuted people around the world.  They’ve worked hard on this stuff. 

I do think that when the boss wants to send something out to show strength, leadership and commitment, it’s kinda important to include a fresh quote on the subject.

FACT.png

Maybe I’m just being cranky on this particular subject. Pray we find a solution to the slaughter of people at the hands of religious zealots.  Pray we can keep not only our Christian brothers and sisters safe, but that we can offer religious and personal freedom to the world. — Your in Christ, Dave Alexander

 

 

The White House Press Office is Really Interested in Religious Freedom

Educated into Imbecility

Thus did Western Man decide to abolish himself, creating his own boredom out of his own affluence, his own vulnerability out of his own strength, his own impotence out of his own erotomania, himself blowing the trumpet that brought the walls of his own city tumbling down, and having convinced himself that he was too numerous, labored with pill and scalpel and syringe to make himself fewer.

Until at last, having educated himself into imbecility, and polluted and drugged himself into stupefaction, he keeled over–a weary, battered old brontosaurus–and became extinct.”
Malcolm Muggeridge, Vintage Muggeridge: Religion and Society



At Concordia University by way of Campus Reform:

In an effort to help new students of color feel more adjusted and connected to the university, a pre-orientation session will be held on Saturday, August 27th from 4:00 P.M. to 5:30 P.M. in the music band room,” she writes. “All new students of color are expected to attend this meeting” (emphasis in original).Image result for blacks only

Chatman then goes on to elaborate that the purpose of the meeting is to introduce incoming students of color to the various resources and student organizations that are available “to ensure your involvement, satisfaction, and success during your years at [Concordia].”



In other Campus News, Yale President Has Appointed a Committee to Consider Name Changes on Campus Due to Historical Racism:

The charge of the Committee to Establish Principles on Renaming is to articulate a set of principles that can guide Yale in decisions about whether to remove a historical name from a building or other prominent structure or space on campus—principles that are enduring rather than specific to particular controversies.

One problem, though: Elihu Yale was a slave trader. 

h/t The Skeptics Society and Michael Shermer/Twitter, and The Wall Street Journal

In Still More Campus News:

Rohini Sethi, the University of Houston (UH) student body vice president who denounced Black Lives Matter, has seen the sanctions against her removed. 

Sethi posted “Forget #BlackLivesMatter; more like #AllLivesMatter” on Facebook hours after a gunman killed five police officers at a Black Lives Matter-inspired July protest in Dallas, Texas. Students, thinking that Sethi was ignoring racial inequities suffered in the black community, began using #RemoveRohini on Twitter, calling on student government officials to force her out of office. 

UH president Shane Smith released a joint statement Friday with vice president Rohini Sethi, explaining that the sanctions may not have been allowed under student government rules, though Sethi agreed to punish herself, The Daily Cougar reports.

[I shifted some paragraphs around here. – Dave]

Read it at Campus Reform 



Universities are run by the biggest liberals on the planet.  They claim to be smart. Of course since many have rejected God, I’ll ponder their wisdom.

153 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, these institutions are still stumbling around.  Should they treat all Americans alike?  Is it okay to invite only Latinos or only whites  to a school sponsored event?  Do names on buildings actually matter?  Do all lives actually matter?  

21st century, and the best and brightest, the deepest thinkers, have no idea.  

 

Educated into Imbecility

A Very Interesting Question

Do you have a freedom to worship or freedom of religion?

Dr. James Dobson asks:

I’m sure you know that the Pilgrims came to our shores in 1620, seeking freedom to worship as their consciences dictated. Their passion for Jesus Christ became ingrained in the American soul, and greatly influenced our Founding Fathers as they formed a new government in the 18th century. These men wrote and passed the historic U.S. Constitution, and added to it a Bill of Rights shortly thereafter. It consisted of 10 Amendments guaranteeing specific liberties for the American people. There has never been anything like it in the history of the world. The first of the 10 Amendments secured religious liberties for all citizens and provided the foundation for the other nine.”

I continued, “In recent years, however, there has been a growing assault on these rights, notably religious liberty. Our Supreme Court has struck down Bible reading in schools and even prohibited prayer to an unidentified God. Then, they banned the posting of the Ten Commandments on bulletin boards. From there, the limitation on religious liberties has become even more egregious.

“Most recently, President Obama and Hillary Clinton have been referring to ‘freedom of worship,’ rather than ‘freedom of religion.’ Do you understand their motive? They are suggesting that Americans are free to worship in their churches and synagogues, but not in the public square.”

In the opinion article, Dr. Dobson tells about his chance to ask Donald Trump a question, the response and his concerns about Christian media.

I admire the ability of some people to catch the rhetorical changes which mean so much.  Dr. Dobson is correct of course, that the opinions of Christians, Jews and other faithful people are being forced from the public square.

Oddly, this comes at exactly the same moment that the views of some more physically aggressive religious people (and they know who they are) are being enshrined in law in Europe and the UK.



Will you be chased into the shadows by those who think they can “let you” worship, but will force you to stay silent in the public square?  Do the lessons of faith and God inform you as a citizen?

 

A Very Interesting Question

I Have A Friend Who is Starting a Church

And he posted this to Facebook.  I ‘whited out’ the name of the church, just so nobody pesters him based upon my article.  What do you think?

Church

I don’t remember posters at St. Augustine’s Church with this message.  He’s not going to attract anybody with closed minds.  I think specifically offering love and attention to others shows an excellent understanding of Christ’s message.

On the other hand, the last thing you need at a pot luck dinner is an anarchist.

I Have A Friend Who is Starting a Church

Who Should We Vote For? Or Should We?

[If you are comfortable with our presidential choices, maybe you can skip this one.  The tone of today’s message is ambivalence mixed with melancholy.    — Dave]

He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. Daniel 2:21



Some very good thoughts from a blogger at Trusting or Tripping:

Here’s the deal, folks.  There is not now, nor has there ever been a perfect candidate for the office of President of the United States.  Democracy is not God’s form of government, and even though we live in a privileged nation with a unique opportunity to be a part of the decision making process, your vote (or lack thereof) is one hundred percent between you and God.

2016 election

A well thought out article.  This stands out:

Because we are seeking to honor God in a broken system, we must always remember that God is in sovereign control.  He alone establishes kings, governments and systems and the person who is elected next to the office of President of the United States will be stationed there by God and God alone (Dan 2.21).  

He works out those plans in mysterious ways, and we would be wise to remember that there are times when He works the miraculous completely outside of our input and there are times that He utilizes our efforts towards His ends.



Romans 13:1
Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which is from God. The authorities that exist have been appointed by God.

James 1:5
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.


Some of our greatest frustrations can be our objections to God’s plan.  Really God?  This is the best we could do?  Is this the best You could do?  Except that in God’s plan, there is a beginning and an end.  Tough times come between, and there’s not much you can do to change that.  I know how this story will end, and I can’t be drawn under by negativity.

 

 

 

 

Who Should We Vote For? Or Should We?

Keep Praying: The World is Not Safe

This is what the front page of Morningstar News looked like this afternoon:

 

GOOD NEWS.png

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. – 1 Peter 4:12-14



And for those of us tempted to complain about the trials of our days, the brothers and sisters suffering because of these stories above deserve some of your prayer time.  Give thanks for their courage, and pray that their burdens are lifted.  – Yours in Christ, Dave Alexander

Keep Praying: The World is Not Safe