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Christians stand tall under fire

October 3rd, 2015 1 comment

Yesterday a crazed gunman walked into a college classroom and asked students if they believed in global warming. If they answered in the affirmative, he shot them in the head. Nine students were killed.

OK, my sarcasm meter is broken over this. I’m torn between (a) being pissed off over another “gun free zone” shooting (as if nut jobs and criminals obey the signs) and (b) being pissed off over a president who spouts off about needing more gun control before the facts of the case have even been ascertained.

So for now I’ll go with (c) praying for the families of the victims.

After the shooting in Oregon, one mom said it before I could: To the Moms Whose Children Were Killed in Oregon for Being Christians

He killed nine of your children, Mamas. Do you know what that means? That means eight of your brave children saw one of their own take a bullet in the head for claiming Christ and they said yes anyway.

They said yes anyway. They said yes anyway. They said yes anyway.

Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

Nine times yes.

For my atheist/agnostic friends: For which of your beliefs would you knowingly take a bullet?

Categories: Christianity, Religion Tags:

Notable Quotables #18

April 29th, 2014 No comments

The old generation of bigots that once burned crosses has been replaced by a new generation of bigots that bans them.

Mike Adams

It should be further noted that both groups are…Democrats.

Categories: Christianity, Liberalism, Quotes, Race Tags:

Judaism’s Sexual Revolution: Why Judaism (and then Christianity) Rejected Homosexuality

April 4th, 2013 No comments

In his ever erudite manner, Dennis Prager explains in great historical and philosophical depth why Judaism and Christianity are simply incompatible with homosexuality…and why that matters to modern society.

Drawing from both religious and secular sources, his argument is long, rather detailed, and well worth your time regardless of your position on the “gay marriage” debate.

Categories: Christianity, Conservatism Tags:

More Answers Liberals Won’t Like

October 8th, 2012 No comments

USA Today ran a timely piece on the ugliness that overshadows much of Chicago.

The levels of violence and depredation are truly heartbreaking. The authors as well as the sociologists, authorities, and politicians they interviewed—including, sadly, those identified as Christian—have all kinds of great ideas. Education. Stricter rules and enforcement. Positive activities. Increased parental involvement. All good things.

None of which will work.

You see, their common failure is to acknowledge the root of Chicago’s ills: sin. And the only cure for that disease was crucified, buried, and resurrected almost 2,000 years ago. But it’s not politically correct to point that out.

And so the darkness continues…

Categories: Christianity, Conservatism Tags:

As dense as…

March 23rd, 2012 No comments

You have to love God’s sense of humor. In Matthew, Jesus is running all over the place performing miracles–healing the sick, raising the dead, twice feeding thousands with a handful of fish and bread–all the while teaching in His inimitable way through parables interspersed with incisive “Shock and Awe” indictments of the pious but unholy Pharisees.

Some time shortly after leaving the second Preachin’-and-Po’boys Picnic with the disciples and 4,000 of their closest friends–but without the seven baskets of leftovers, mind you–He has another dust up with the religious elites and warns the disciples about the yeast of the Pharisees. Puzzled, they say to each other, “It’s because we didn’t bring any bread.” (Matt. 16:5-12)

I don’t care who you are. That there’s funny! These guys are seriously dense, and Jesus lets them have it.

Just as I begin to snicker, I have a Homer Simpson, “D’oh!” moment. Yeah, He’s talking to me, too. The disciples may have been simple peasants who were a bit slow on the uptake, but once they got it, they REALLY got it. So well, in fact, that all but two would die rather unpleasant martyr’s deaths.

Maybe some of those “slow” folks–you know, the ones who have less education, haven’t traveled the world, and only think of grammar as the old gal who still bakes pies with real sugar in the filling and butter in the crust–have something to teach us sophisticates about a real, abiding faith that carries you through to the end. Maybe I can drop my pretenses long enough to learn something from them. Just maybe.

Categories: Christianity Tags:

A Guarded Mind

February 28th, 2012 No comments

[An open letter to my teenage kids.]

Dear Wade and Kandace,

As I rode in to work this morning, I came across one of the many popular but inane bumper stickers regarding closed minds. It set me to thinking of you two–not because your thought processes are deficient, but because you are fast approaching adulthood in a society which inundates you with foolishness cloaked as non-judgmentalism and rejects Biblical morality as quaint, archaic, and irrelevant. The moral relativism to which you are subjected on television, over the radio, and in the classroom has a tempting “feel good” quality to it that is hard to resist. But you should resist it, and for that effort the condition of your mind is paramount.

It may seem obvious that a “closed” mind is undesirable. A closed mind is incapable of growth or correction. Rejecting without serious consideration anything which conflicts with already-held notions, it can neither expand its domain nor examine and shore up its foundations. The closed mind is imprisoned–for better or worse–in stasis. Human nature being what it is, this is usually for worse.

Unfortunately, those who decry the “closed” mind far too often open theirs in the extreme. Like an uncapped bin behind the local Goodwill store, such an “open” mind accepts donations from whomever happens by. Occasionally the items are valuable, but usually they are not–and will be replaced at first opportunity by the next ones that drop in. Sadder still, the modern version of open-mindedness is open to absolutely everything except Biblical teaching.

Better than either is to have a guarded mind (Proverbs 4:23). Trite and overused as the term has become, being “teachable” is a necessary trait (Job 22:22 and throughout Proverbs). We all have gaps in our knowledge and understanding which can best be filled by paying attention to the wisdom and experience of others. The key is to exercise discernment in choosing sources. Examine everything you hear or read and consider it in light of what God tells us through scripture (1 Timothy 6:3-4 and 20-21). Sometimes you will even find it necessary to reject things you are taught in church or by leaders who claim to be teaching Biblical truth (Matthew 16:11-12). Remember that all of your instructors are human. Some may deliberately lead you astray; others may do so inadvertently because they, themselves, are not in line with God’s word. You will have a good head start toward a healthy, guarded mind if you, “Test everything. Hold on to the good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21)

You are both growing–all too quickly in your mom’s estimation–into incredible young adults. As you do, keep one bedrock truth firmly in your hearts: as much as your mom & I want the best for you, God desires it even more. His moral instruction will not saddle you with limitations, but rather will open up for you a life of the greatest freedom you could possibly know. My prayer for you is that you internalize Luke 11:9-13 and seek truth in Him. He promises it will be found.

I love you,
Dad

Categories: Education, Religion Tags:

Religion for Everyone

February 20th, 2012 No comments

Over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal published an excerpt from Alain de Botton’s upcoming book “Religion for Atheists: A Non-Believers Guide to the Uses of Religion.” If this snippet is representative of the whole it should be an interesting read, particularly for those of us who are not atheists.

Botton recognizes the valuable contribution of religion to society and even acknowledges that secular attempts to replace it have fallen far short—all the while heading down a dead end in an attempt at such a replacement. Seeing the good that comes from some of the trappings of faith—such as a real sense of community and the breaking down of economic and racial divisions—he nevertheless makes the classic atheist mistake of confusing causation and correlation. The societal benefit of “religion” isn’t a result of shared ritual, important and valuable though that may be. It comes from the underlying acknowledgment of a power greater than we, to which we are commonly accountable and without which the ritual is meaningless.

Sadly, he misses the reason secular humanism has failed to replace faith. You can’t replace a personal relationship with God by community meals or any other human construct. The purpose of the Eucharist and Passover is not to create a sense of community, but to remind each of us what God has done for us. Botton’s “Agape Restaurant” tries to reproduce a side effect of the ritual while removing its very core ingredient. Without that direct connection the ritual he so admires is merely a sort of collective psychological masturbation. There may be some pleasure in it, but its benefit is entirely transitory and fleeting. It can never be a substitute for the real thing.

Categories: Religion Tags:

Supreme Court Upholds Church Autonomy

January 11th, 2012 No comments

This story is not getting nearly the airplay it deserves.

In a very rare unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled—against Obama’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission—that religious organizations do, in fact, have the authority to determine who they employ and are protected by the First Amendment from government interference in this vital function.

First, the background. A Lutheran church in Michigan which runs a private school employs two types of teachers: called and lay. A called teacher must be a minister of the church, completing a specific course of theological study and being designated as an official church minister. Lay teachers have no such ministerial designation, and do not even have to be members of the Lutheran Church.

A called teacher developed narcolepsy, and was unable to teach for an extended period of time. The church, in the meantime, filled her position with a lay teacher. When she was ready to return to teaching, the church notified her that the position had been filled. Contrary to church rules for Lutheran ministers, which require that a minister with a complaint take such to an internal arbitration board, she threatened to (and eventually did) file suit in court. The church, in accordance with longstanding policy, removed her calling and terminated her employment.

To complicate matters, the teacher in question was originally hired as a lay teacher. She later specifically accepted the designation as a called teacher—a minister of the church. She spent six years of study, lay work, and church examination to attain that designation. She also claimed a special ministerial tax exemption for a housing allowance.

But I digress. The teacher, with the backing and legal representation of the Obama EEOC, claimed her employ was illegally terminated in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The church contended the firing was the result of violation of church policy regarding lawsuits vs. arbitration. The lower court sided with the church, but on appeal the EEOC prevailed with the argument that the ADA trumped the church’s First Amendment protection. The Supreme Court ruled against the appeals court in favor of the church.

The full decision is here. It’s very much worth a read, as the court eviscerates the EEOC case in under 40 pages while still managing to provide important historic context, precedent, and original arguments for the decision. Any time the SC hands out a unanimous decision against the administration, you know the White House has failed to grasp the meaning of the Constitution. This, of course, comes as no surprise to most of us.

If you refuse to read the whole decision, you should at least read Justice Roberts’ majority opinion. Thomas and Alito filed concurring opinions (with Kagan joining Alito—will surprises never cease!), but Roberts writes a masterful piece. Those of you on the Left who like to bash conservatives for their ignorance, lack of education, blah blah blah, should read Roberts’ decision and note that all of the liberals on the court (save Kagan) joined him with nary a comment. His portion goes back to the Magna Carta, and gives a masterful exposition on religious freedom over the ensuing millenium.

For those of you too lazy to read the court’s full decision, let me pull out some juicy snippets. (These are, by very nature, out of context. If you have a beef, read the dang thing!)

  • The First Amendment provides, in part, that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Familiar with life under the established Church of England, the founding generation sought to foreclose the possibility of a national church. By forbidding the “establishment of religion” and guaranteeing the “free exercise thereof,” the Religion Clauses ensured that the new Federal Government—unlike the English Crown—would have no role in filling ecclesiastical offices.
  • […] it is impermissible for the government to contradict a church’s determination of who can act as its ministers.
  • Requiring a church to accept or retain an unwanted minister, or punishing a church for failing to do so, intrudes upon more than a mere employment decision. Such action interferes with the internal governance of the church, depriving the church of control over the selection of those who will personify its beliefs. By imposing an unwanted minister, the state infringes the Free Exercise Clause, which protects a religious group’s right to shape its own faith and mission through its appointments. According the state the power to determine which individuals will minister to the faithful also violates the Establishment Clause, which prohibits government involvement in such ecclesiastical decisions.
  • The Court cannot accept the remarkable view [of the EEOC] that the Religion Clauses have nothing to say about a religious organization’s freedom to select its own ministers.
  • The present case […] concerns government interference with an internal church decision that affects the faith and mission of the church itself.

You must not miss this one:

  • Any suggestion that Hosanna-Tabor’s asserted religious reason for firing Perich was pretextual misses the point of the ministerial exception. The purpose of the exception is not to safeguard a church’s decision to fire a minister only when it is made for a religious reason. The exception instead ensures that the authority to select and control who will minister to the faithful is the church’s alone.

Read that again. Its impact is vital to religious freedom in our nation!

  • By forbidding the “establishment of religion” and guaranteeing the “free exercise thereof,” the Religion Clauses ensured that the new Federal Government—unlike the English Crown— would have no role in filling ecclesiastical offices. The Establishment Clause prevents the Government from appointing ministers, and the Free Exercise Clause prevents it from interfering with the freedom of religious groups to select their own.
  • The “scrupulous policy of the Constitution in guarding against a political interference with religious affairs,” Madison explained, prevented the Government from rendering an opinion on the “selection of ecclesiastical individuals.”
  • the First Amendment “permit[s] hierarchical religious organizations to establish their own rules and regulations for internal discipline and government, and to create tribunals for adjudicating disputes over these matters.”

To mollify Leftist readers, from (conservative) Roberts’ opinion:

The case before us is an employment discrimination suit brought on behalf of a minister, challenging her church’s decision to fire her. Today we hold only that the ministe- rial exception bars such a suit. We express no view on whether the exception bars other types of suits, including actions by employees alleging breach of contract or tor- tious conduct by their religious employers. There will be time enough to address the applicability of the exception to other circumstances if and when they arise.

This is not carte blanche for religious organizations to discriminate against anyone for any reason at will.

Continuing:

  • Religious groups are the archetype of associations formed for expressive purposes, and their fundamental rights surely include the freedom to choose who is qualified to serve as a voice for their faith.
  • When it comes to the expression and inculcation of religious doctrine, there can be no doubt that the messenger matters.
  • A religion cannot depend on someone to be an effective advocate for its religious vision if that person’s conduct fails to live up to the religious precepts that he or she espouses. For this reason, a religious body’s right to self-governance must include the ability to select, and to be selective about, those who will serve as the very “embodiment of its message” and “its voice to the faithful.”

Kudos to our Justices for that rare instance in which ALL agree in favor of the religious freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment.

Categories: Religion Tags:

Supreme Court Upholds Church Autonomy

January 11th, 2012 No comments

This story is not getting nearly the airplay it deserves.

In a very rare unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled—against Obama’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission—that religious organizations do, in fact, have the authority to determine who they employ and are protected by the First Amendment from government interference in this vital function.

First, the background. A Lutheran church in Michigan which runs a private school employs two types of teachers: called and lay. A called teacher must be a minister of the church, completing a specific course of theological study and being designated as an official church minister. Lay teachers have no such ministerial designation, and do not even have to be members of the Lutheran Church.

A called teacher developed narcolepsy, and was unable to teach for an extended period of time. The church, in the meantime, filled her position with a lay teacher. When she was ready to return to teaching, the church notified her that the position had been filled. Contrary to church rules for Lutheran ministers, which require that a minister with a complaint take such to an internal arbitration board, she threatened to (and eventually did) file suit in court. The church, in accordance with longstanding policy, removed her calling and terminated her employment.

To complicate matters, the teacher in question was originally hired as a lay teacher. She later specifically accepted the designation as a called teacher—a minister of the church. She spent six years of study, lay work, and church examination to attain that designation. She also claimed a special ministerial tax exemption for a housing allowance.

But I digress. The teacher, with the backing and legal representation of the Obama EEOC, claimed her employ was illegally terminated in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The church contended the firing was the result of violation of church policy regarding lawsuits vs. arbitration. The lower court sided with the church, but on appeal the EEOC prevailed with the argument that the ADA trumped the church’s First Amendment protection. The Supreme Court ruled against the appeals court in favor of the church.

The full decision is here. It’s very much worth a read, as the court eviscerates the EEOC case in under 40 pages while still managing to provide important historic context, precedent, and original arguments for the decision. Any time the SC hands out a unanimous decision against the administration, you know the White House has failed to grasp the meaning of the Constitution. This, of course, comes as no surprise to most of us.

If you refuse to read the whole decision, you should at least read Justice Roberts’ majority opinion. Thomas and Alito filed concurring opinions (with Kagan joining Alito—will surprises never cease!), but Roberts writes a masterful piece. Those of you on the Left who like to bash conservatives for their ignorance, lack of education, blah blah blah, should read Roberts’ decision and note that all of the liberals on the court (save Kagan) joined him with nary a comment. His portion goes back to the Magna Carta, and gives a masterful exposition on religious freedom over the ensuing millenium.

For those of you too lazy to read the court’s full decision, let me pull out some juicy snippets. (These are, by very nature, out of context. If you have a beef, read the dang thing!)

  • The First Amendment provides, in part, that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Familiar with life under the established Church of England, the founding generation sought to foreclose the possibility of a national church. By forbidding the “establishment of religion” and guaranteeing the “free exercise thereof,” the Religion Clauses ensured that the new Federal Government—unlike the English Crown—would have no role in filling ecclesiastical offices.
  • […] it is impermissible for the government to contradict a church’s determination of who can act as its ministers.
  • Requiring a church to accept or retain an unwanted minister, or punishing a church for failing to do so, intrudes upon more than a mere employment decision. Such action interferes with the internal governance of the church, depriving the church of control over the selection of those who will personify its beliefs. By imposing an unwanted minister, the state infringes the Free Exercise Clause, which protects a religious group’s right to shape its own faith and mission through its appointments. According the state the power to determine which individuals will minister to the faithful also violates the Establishment Clause, which prohibits government involvement in such ecclesiastical decisions.
  • The Court cannot accept the remarkable view [of the EEOC] that the Religion Clauses have nothing to say about a religious organization’s freedom to select its own ministers.
  • The present case […] concerns government interference with an internal church decision that affects the faith and mission of the church itself.

You must not miss this one:

  • Any suggestion that Hosanna-Tabor’s asserted religious reason for firing Perich was pretextual misses the point of the ministerial exception. The purpose of the exception is not to safeguard a church’s decision to fire a minister only when it is made for a religious reason. The exception instead ensures that the authority to select and control who will minister to the faithful is the church’s alone.

Read that again. Its impact is vital to religious freedom in our nation!

  • By forbidding the “establishment of religion” and guaranteeing the “free exercise thereof,” the Religion Clauses ensured that the new Federal Government—unlike the English Crown— would have no role in filling ecclesiastical offices. The Establishment Clause prevents the Government from appointing ministers, and the Free Exercise Clause prevents it from interfering with the freedom of religious groups to select their own.
  • The “scrupulous policy of the Constitution in guarding against a political interference with religious affairs,” Madison explained, prevented the Government from rendering an opinion on the “selection of ecclesiastical individuals.”
  • the First Amendment “permit[s] hierarchical religious organizations to establish their own rules and regulations for internal discipline and government, and to create tribunals for adjudicating disputes over these matters.”

To mollify Leftist readers, from (conservative) Roberts’ opinion:

The case before us is an employment discrimination suit brought on behalf of a minister, challenging her church’s decision to fire her. Today we hold only that the ministe- rial exception bars such a suit. We express no view on whether the exception bars other types of suits, including actions by employees alleging breach of contract or tor- tious conduct by their religious employers. There will be time enough to address the applicability of the exception to other circumstances if and when they arise.

This is not carte blanche for religious organizations to discriminate against anyone for any reason at will.

Continuing:

  • Religious groups are the archetype of associations formed for expressive purposes, and their fundamental rights surely include the freedom to choose who is qualified to serve as a voice for their faith.
  • When it comes to the expression and inculcation of religious doctrine, there can be no doubt that the messenger matters.
  • A religion cannot depend on someone to be an effective advocate for its religious vision if that person’s conduct fails to live up to the religious precepts that he or she espouses. For this reason, a religious body’s right to self-governance must include the ability to select, and to be selective about, those who will serve as the very “embodiment of its message” and “its voice to the faithful.”

Kudos to our Justices for that rare instance in which ALL agree in favor of the religious freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment.

Categories: Religion Tags:

NY Times Continues Attacks on Christian Conservatives

December 9th, 2011 No comments

No real surprises here. Yet another hit piece to brand Christian Conservatives as knuckle-dragging bigots. There’s nothing quite like sprinkling your piece with phrases such as,

So long as a candidate makes bland, predictable affirmations of religious faith, he or she has adequately punched the religion card.

to make your bias crystal clear. And the author’s portrayal of many Christians’ view of Mormonism betrays his ignorance of Christianity. Mormonism is a cult, and Mormons are not Christians. You can decry that statement as “utterly distasteful” but that won’t change its inherent truth.

Categories: Conservatism, Religion Tags:
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