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Showing posts with label Religious Freedom. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Religious Freedom. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

South Carolina Charter School Reverses Ban on Christmas Carols; Alliance Defending Freedom Sends Letter to 13,000 School Districts Explaining "Free Exercise" of Faith is Still Permitted

Letter explains First Amendment protections for Christmas expression, participation

This Rock Hill, South Carolina charter school has reversed a previous ban on Christmas carols.
Alliance Defending Freedom issued a letter Wednesday to more than 13,000 school districts nationwide to explain constitutional protections for religious Christmas carols that some districts have censored due to misinterpretations of the First Amendment. The letter also backs up the legitimacy of schools participating in community service projects sponsored by religious organizations and offers free legal assistance to districts that need help.

“Schools shouldn’t have to think twice about whether they can celebrate Christmas,” said Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “School districts can and should allow religious Christmas carols to be part of their school productions, and they can lawfully help impoverished children through community service projects such as Operation Christmas Child.”

The letter cites recent examples of school districts in Wisconsin and New Jersey that wrongly censored Christmas carols in school productions and then changed their positions in response to public outcry and letters from Alliance Defending Freedom explaining that the inclusion of religious carols is permissible.

As the letter explains, “every federal court that has examined the issue has determined that including traditional Christmas carols and other religious music in school music programs fully complies with the First Amendment….”

Most recently, a South Carolina charter school reportedly cancelled its participation in Samaritan Purse’s Operation Christmas Child, a toy drive for needy children, after a humanist group threatened the school with legal action.

“Public schools’ confusion about this issue and the legalities of celebrating Christmas in other ways has been largely caused by inaccurate information about the Establishment Clause spread by certain groups opposed to any religious expression occurring in public,” the nationwide letter states. “Alliance Defending Freedom has produced a Christmas Memo and a Christmas and Public Schools Myths/Fact Sheet that dispel these misconceptions….

Providing students an opportunity to put together a box of gifts for impoverished children throughout the world does not become unlawful just because the toy drive is sponsored by a religious organization.”

“The Constitution both allows and protects the celebration of Christmas in public schools,” added Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot. “We hope the materials we are providing to school districts will help clear up the misinformation that groups attempting to cleanse all traces of religion from the public square have spread for far too long.”

A December 2011 Rasmussen poll found that 79 percent of American adults believe public schools should celebrate religious holidays.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Religious Freedom and the Need to Wake Up

By Archbishop Charles J. Chaput

“IRS officials have, of course, confessed that they inappropriately targeted conservative groups — especially those with ‘tea party’ or ‘patriot’ in their names — for extra scrutiny when they sought non-profit status. Allegations of abuse or harassment have since broadened to include groups conducting grassroots projects to ‘make America a better place to live,’ to promote classes about the U.S. Constitution or to raise support for Israel.

“However, it now appears the IRS also challenged some individuals and religious groups that, while defending key elements of their faith traditions, have criticized projects dear to the current White House, such as health-care reform, abortion rights and same-sex marriage.”

Terry Mattingly, director, Washington Journalism Center; weekly column, May 22

Let’s begin this week with a simple statement of fact.  America’s Catholic bishops started pressing for adequate health-care coverage for all of our nation’s people decades before the current administration took office.  In the Christian tradition, basic medical care is a matter of social justice and human dignity.  Even now, even with the financial and structural flaws that critics believe undermine the 2010 Affordable Care Act, the bishops continue to share the goal of real health-care reform and affordable medical care for all Americans.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Prime Minister Stephen Harper to Name Canada’s First Religious Freedom Ambassador

We hope Canada's good Prime Minister and Her Canadian Majesty's new ambassador will begin their defense of religious freedom by applying pressure on the intolerant, Marxist regime south of their border.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper will unveil the government’s long-awaited Office of Religious Freedom on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper will unveil the government’s long-awaited Office of Religious Freedom and name Canada’s first religious freedom ambassador at a Toronto-area Ahmadiyya Muslim community centre on Tuesday. 

The announcement at Tahir Hall in the Toronto suburb of Vaughan will fulfil a two-year-old promise that has seen its fair share of controversy since it was first proposed during the 2011 federal election. 

 The government has pointed to a growing body of literature linking religious freedom with democratic rights and societal well-being to justify making the safeguarding of religious minorities abroad a key tenet of Canadian foreign policy.

Read more at National Post >>

Saturday, June 16, 2012

From the Pastor - Religious Freedom

A weekly column by Father George Rutler.

The bishops of the United States have called for daily prayer leading up to the 4th of July to safeguard freedom of religion in our country. That freedom is tenuous these days. There seems to be a conscious attempt by the federal government, in speech after speech, to replace freedom of religion with freedom of worship. That is not as subtle as it seems, for while permitting ritual acts of devotion within the walls of a building, it would limit the right to express one's religious beliefs in public discourse. This applies to everything from displaying religious symbols to preaching and publishing outside the confines of a house of worship. In Orwellian semantics, soon enough even the commandment to love the sinner but hate the sin becomes “hate speech.” There are some religions, like some governments, that intrinsically are hostile to freedom of religion. Recently, a Christian in Tunisia was martyred for converting from Islam, and his killers chanted prayers against “polytheists” as they call Christians, while slowly slicing off his head. While this happens frequently, our own federal government and much of the media are conspicuously silent, for while they may not be interested in religious creeds, they demur from what the Second Vatican Council's Declaration on Religious Freedom called “immunity from coercion in civil society.”

That Council said, “The Truth cannot impose itself except by virtue of its own truth.” To guarantee freedom of religion is not to suggest that “all religions are the same.” Such indifferentism is deaf to Christ, who declares that He is the Truth itself. God proposes Himself to us, without imposing Himself. “Choose this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15). But once one makes that free choice, the intrinsic power of Christ goes to work. Thus He can say without any compromise of our free will: “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you” (John 15:16).

In art, impressionism depicts how an object is perceived. Another school of modern art called Expressionism shuns objects altogether and uses distortion to express the artist's emotional state. Some secularists, even in high places of our culture, think of religious belief as expressionism, like Matthew Arnold who called religion “morality touched with emotion.” Soon enough, the morality goes, and all that is left is emotion, and shouting replaces creeds. The truth of Christ frees believers from the tyranny of emotion, and defies imperious attempts to exploit human need by replacing Mother Church with the Nanny State. Cultural expressionists may genuinely think that belief in God is just wishful thinking. This ignores the fact that Christ chooses us before we choose Him, as He took St. Paul by surprise. So the Apostle, among the first in a long line of martyrs, would say, “I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you” (1 Corinthians 11:23).

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Pope Sees Religious Freedom Eroding in US

Pope Benedict XVI issued a solemn warning about the erosion of religious freedom in the United States, in a January 19 address to visiting American bishops.

The Holy Father told the American prelates, who were making their ad limina visits, that “it is imperative that the entire Catholic community in the United States come to realize the grave threats to the Church’s public moral witness presented by a radical secularism which finds increasing expression in the political and cultural spheres.” He added: “The seriousness of these threats needs to be clearly appreciated at every level of ecclesial life.”

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Obama Administration Has Not Designated a Single Violator Under Int’l Religious Freedom Act

Despite the strong urging of Washington’s religious rights watchdog, the Obama administration has not designated a single “country of particular concern” (CPC) for religious freedom violations since taking office 27 months ago.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Fundamental Path to Peace

Pope Benedict XVI’s defense of religious freedom
By George Neumayr

The pagans of Rome cast the early Christians as bad citizens, a charge which reappears today in both the West and East: secularists in the Americas and Europe gradually move to marginalize a Christian presence in public life while Islamic extremists and totalitarian regimes use starker measures to purge Christians from society altogether.

Pope Benedict XVI drew attention to these violations of religious freedom in his January address to members of the world diplomatic corps stationed at the Vatican. He began his survey by remembering the plight of Christians in Iraq, the terrorism in Egypt that “brutally struck Christians as they prayed in church,” Pakistan’s anti-Christian blasphemy law, the attacks on Christians in Nigeria during Christmas, and the trials and difficulties Christians still face in Communist China.

Turning to the West, he noted that its violations of religious freedom assume a more subtle character, often appearing in countries “which accord great importance to pluralism and tolerance.” He said that Christian doctors, nurses, and legal professionals have seen their right to conscientious objection wither. He decried “the banning of religious feasts and symbols from civic life under the guise of respect for the members of other religions or those who are not believers.” And he expressed dismay at the tendency of Western societies to harass Christian social, educational, and charitable agencies even when they “contribute to society as a whole.”

Friday, July 2, 2010

Chuck Colson Sounds the Alarm about 'New Speak'

Chuck Colson is sounding the alarm: The government—at the highest levels—may be attempting to redefine the very meaning of religious freedom. If what Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said in a recent speech reflects a new direction in government policy, it seems the aim is clear: To kick faith out of the public square, to send Christians into the closet.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Obama Fills Key Religious-Freedom Post

From Catholic World News

Nearly 17 months after taking office, President Barack Obama announced his appointee for the position of ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom on June 15. Dr. Suzan Johnson Cook, who has served as the senior pastor of Bronx Christian Fellowship Baptist Church in New York, advised the Clinton administration on race relations. Some religious freedom advocates expressed disappointment that President Obama did not appoint an ambassador with foreign policy experience.

Source(s): these links will take you to other sites, in a new window.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Senior Bishops Call for End to Persecution of Christians in Britain

Christians in Britain are being persecuted and "treated with disrespect", senior bishops have said.

From The Telegraph
By Jonathan Wynne-Jones

Nurse Shirley Chaplin with the cross she has been told she must remove at work. Photo: APEX

Six prominent bishops and Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, describe the "discrimination" against churchgoers as "unacceptable in a civilised society".

In a thinly-veiled attack on Labour, they claim that traditional beliefs on issues such as marriage are no longer being upheld and call on the major parties to address the issue in the run-up to the general election.

Their intervention follows a series of cases in which Christians have been dismissed after seeking to express their faith. They highlight the plight of Shirley Chaplin, a nurse who was banned from working on hospital wards for wearing a cross around her neck. This week she will begin a legal battle against the decision.

Christians are also increasingly concerned that the Government is ignoring their views on issues such as sex education and homosexuality when introducing new legislation.

A group of 640 head teachers, school governors and faith leaders have signed a separate letter to this newspaper warning that compulsory sex education in primary schools will erode moral standards and encourage sexual experimentation.

They call for the dropping of legislation that will see children as young as seven taught about sex and relationships.

In their letter, the bishops urge the Government to stop the persecution of Christians.

"We are deeply concerned at the apparent discrimination shown against Christians and we call on the Government to remedy this serious development.

"In a number of cases, Christian beliefs on marriage, conscience and worship are simply not being upheld.

"There have been numerous dismissals of practising Christians from employment for reasons that are unacceptable in a civilised country."

In addition to Lord Carey, the letter has been signed by the Rt Rev Michael Scott-Joynt, the Bishop of Winchester; the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Bishop of Rochester; the Rt Rev Peter Forster, the Bishop of Chester; the Rt Rev Anthony Priddis, the Bishop of Hereford; the Rt Rev Nicholas Reade, the Bishop of Blackburn; and the Rt Rev Jonathan Gledhill, the Bishop of Lichfield.

Mrs Chaplin will take the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust to an employment tribunal this week after she was told last year that she must hide or remove a small cross on her necklace if she wanted to continue working on hospital wards.

While the trust refused to grant her an exemption, it makes concessions for other faiths, including allowing Muslim nurses to wear headscarves on duty.

Mrs Chaplin, 54, has spent all of her career at the Exeter hospital and had never been challenged before over the necklace, which she has worn since her confirmation 38 years ago.

The bishops criticised the way in which Mrs Chaplin had been treated and stated that she should not be prevented from expressing her faith by wearing her cross.

"This is yet another case in which the religious rights of the Christian community are being treated with disrespect," they say.

"To be asked by an employer to remove or 'hide' the cross is asking the Christian to hide their faith.”

The bishops said that it was “deeply disturbing” that the NHS trust’s uniform policy permits exemptions for religious clothing, but appears to regard the cross as “just an item of jewellery”.

They also expressed surprise that the court has asked for evidence to be submitted to verify that Christians wear crosses visibly around their neck.

Mrs Chaplin is being represented by leading human right’s barrister Paul Diamond, who also advised Caroline Petrie, the nurse who was suspended for offering to pray for a patient. She was later reinstated.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, founder and director of the Christian Legal Centre, described the treatment of Mrs Chaplin as “scandalous”.

“This is yet another case of double standards for Christians,” she said.

“It would seem the Exeter Hospital would rather use its money to deny Christians their rights than using its scarce financial resources to treat patients.

“It is ridiculous that in our country with such a great Christian heritage the court requires evidence to prove that the cross is a Christian symbol whilst not applying the same standards to other faiths."

Lynn Lane, the human resources director for the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust, said: "The trust has fully acknowledged that this has become an important issue for Mrs Chaplin which is why we offered her a number of different options in the hope that a mutually acceptable solution could be agreed.

"For the trust this has always been about compliance with our agreed uniform policy and the safety of staff and patients."

Shami Chakrabarti, the director of Liberty, the human rights group, said: "Whether personal faith motivates the wearing of a cross, turban, head scarf or Star of David, it is fundamentally illiberal to require people to check such an important part of themselves at the workplace door for no justifiable reason."

" Freedom of thought, conscience and religion should protect people of all faiths and none.

"We look forward to the Supreme Court demonstrating this by overturning the Court of Appeal in Nadia Eweida's case against BA."

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

School Prayer Order 'Blatantly Unconstitutional'

From OneNewsNow
By Bill Bumpas

school prayerA school prayer case in Florida has elevated into "nuclear war," declares one Christian attorney.

Liberty Counsel is representing Christian Educators Association International (CEAI) in a lawsuit against the Santa Rosa County School District after a federal judge denied CEAI's request to overturn a consent decree requiring faculty and staff to stop expressing their faith in public schools.

Matt StaverMat Staver with Liberty Counsel tells OneNewsNow that the superintendent caved to pressure applied by the American Civil Liberties Union, and now this consent decree is putting the clamps on religious expression.

"A teacher, if she or he gets an email from a parent and the parent has 'God bless you' or scripture anywhere in the email, the teacher is prohibited from responding to that email without first taking out those words," Staver explains.

He adds that in another instance "one of the administrative assistants said that they are afraid to even pray with each other in their own cubicles for fear that they will be targets of contempt under this order."

The Liberty Counsel attorney calls the order "blatantly unconstitutional” and is confident that it will be overturned by an appellate court.

Cardinal George: Mormons, Catholics Must Defend Religious Liberty

Speaking before a crowd of 12,000 at Brigham Young University, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago delivered an address on “Catholics and Latter-day Saints: Partners in the Defense of Religious Freedom.”

“I'm personally grateful that after 180 years of living mostly apart from one another, Catholics and Latter-day Saints have come to see one another as trustworthy partners in the defense of shared moral principles,” said the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, citing the defense of marriage and family life, conscience protection of health-care professionals, and anti-pornography and anti-poverty.

Lamenting the “quasi-fascist tactics” and “thuggery” against supporters of traditional marriage, Cardinal George emphasized that religious freedom includes “the right to exercise influence in the public square.”

Source(s): these links will take you to other sites, in a new window.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Canadian Court Hands Christians a Religious Freedom Setback

From Mission Network News

A court decision in western Canada reveals the tenuous state of religious liberty in Canada.

Adele Konyndyk with Voice of the Martyrs Canada explains. "Saskatchewan's Court of Queen's Bench upheld the ruling that said marriage commissioner Orville Nichols did not have the right to refuse to marry a same-sex couple in April 2004 on the basis of his Christian beliefs."

The tribunal had also ordered Nichols to pay the complainant $2,500 in compensation. According to Voice of the Martyrs Canada sources, Nichols appealed the May 23 ruling, arguing that his religious beliefs should be protected under Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Justice Janet McMurty dismissed his argument, however, in her 39-page ruling dated July 17, concluding that the human rights tribunal was "correct in its finding that the commission had established discrimination and that accommodation of Mr. Nichols' religious beliefs was not required." Nichols has 30 days to appeal the decision. He has not indicated whether he will do so.

There is hope that the Saskatchewan government will introduce legislation allowing marriage commissioners to refuse to perform same-sex marriages for religious reasons. The government has referred two versions of new legislation containing a religious exemption to the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal to rule on their constitutionality.

In the meantime, Konyndyk notes that the ruling sets a chilling precedent for evangelical Christians. "Essentially the message that this sends is that his religious beliefs are to be kept private, and that he cannot make a decision in line with his religious beliefs."

Could it be a legal precedent under hate crimes? It's the beginning of a slippery slope. "There is a concern that Christians could be forced to stay silent and not be able to share publicly their beliefs on Scripture and their religious convictions."

It's also a wake-up call. Konyndyk says, "Pray that Christians in Canada will recognize when their religious rights are being violated and rely on the Lord to guide them as to how to respond to such challenges."

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Christians, Here Come the Lions

From WorldNetDaily
By Pat Boone

WARNING: This column is written for, and addressed to, America's Christians only. Well, maybe devout Jews as well, but no one else. People of other faiths, or no particular faith at all, probably won't comprehend the looming danger or see anything to be concerned about.

But this is a three alarm, red alert wake-up call for people who are serious about their Judeo-Christian religion.
The end of our religious freedom in America could be at hand.

Can you believe it? In "the land of the free, the home of the brave," the one country in human history whose original purpose was to create and preserve absolute religious freedom for all? The nation whose foundational documents, its Declaration of Independence and Constitution, and its subsequent Bill of Rights, specifically guaranteed that government would absolutely keep its grubby hands off its citizens' freedom to exercise their faith however, whenever and wherever they choose?

Read the rest of this entry >>

Friday, June 5, 2009

400 Students Defy ACLU and Stand to Recite Lord's Prayer at Graduation

From LifeSiteNews
By John Jalsevac

Nearly 400 graduating seniors at Pace High School stood up in protest against the ACLU and recited the Lord’s Prayer during their graduation ceremony last Saturday. Many of the students also painted crosses on their graduation caps to make a statement of faith. (To watch a video of the prayer, click here)

The prayerful protest by the students comes on the heels of a lawsuit the ACLU filed against the Santa Rosa County School District (FL), claiming some of the teachers and administration endorsed religion. The suit was filed on behalf of two students, who said that the teachers were promoting their views of religion.

The two teachers at Pace High School were Principal Frank Lay and school teacher Michelle Winkler. The ACLU alleges that during a dinner event held at the school, Principal Lay asked the athletic director to bless the meal. In another incident, the ACLU alleges that Michelle Winkler’s husband, who is not a school board employee, offered prayer at an awards ceremony

According to the ACLU lawsuit, graduation ceremonies during the past five years at Central, Jay, Milton, Navarre and Pace High Schools in the Santa Rosa District have included prayers by students – often members of groups like the Fellowship of Christian Athletes or the Christian World Order. The graduation ceremonies at Santa Rosa Adult School and Santa Rosa Learning Academy also have included prayers.

Leading up to the graduation ceremony, the ACLU demanded that Pace High School censor students from offering prayers or saying anything religious. In the end, members of the student body were not permitted to speak at the graduation.

The graduating class at the school, however, decided to react against the ACLU bullying by taking a stand at graduation. As soon as Principal Lay asked everyone to be seated at the ceremony, the graduating class remained standing and recited the Lord’s Prayer.

ACLU attorney Benjamin Stevenson told ABC Channel Three after the event: "Our feeling is that it's regrettable that the students took over the ceremony to impose their religious views on the audience who may not have shared the same religious views.

"School officials have a responsibility to protect the silently held religious views of others."

Stevenson said that something should have been done to stop the recitation of the Lord's Prayer and that it is too early to know whether the ACLU will pursue further legal action.

Mathew D. Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, commented: “Neither students nor teachers shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate. The students at Pace High School refused to remain silent and were not about to be bullied by the ACLU.

“We have decided to represent faculty, staff and students of Pace High School,” he said, “because the ACLU is clearly violating their First Amendment rights. Schools are not religion-free zones, and any attempt to make them so is unconstitutional.”

Friday, May 22, 2009

British Churches to be Forced to Hire Active Homosexual Youth Workers under Equality Bill

From LifeSiteNews
By Hilary White

British churches will be forced to accept practicing homosexuals or "transsexuals" in positions as youth workers and similar roles, under upcoming equality legislation, the government has said. The Labour government's Equality Bill will prohibit churches from refusing to hire active homosexuals even if their religion holds such behavior to be sinful, said deputy equalities minister Maria Eagle.

The legislation is due to come into force next year, and churches fear that it will force them to act against their religious convictions in a broad range of areas. Eagle indicated at a conference called "Faith, Homophobia, Transphobia, & Human Rights" in London, that the legislation "will cover almost all church employees."

"The circumstances in which religious institutions can practice anything less than full equality are few and far between," she told delegates. "While the state would not intervene in narrowly ritual or doctrinal matters within faith groups, these communities cannot claim that everything they run is outside the scope of anti-discrimination law.

"Members of faith groups have a role in making the argument in their own communities for greater LGBT acceptance, but in the meantime the state has a duty to protect people from unfair treatment."

The bill allows a religious exemption for roles deemed to be "for the purposes of an organised religion" but restricts this definition to those who conduct liturgical celebrations or spend their time teaching doctrine.

The Daily Telegraph quoted Neil Addison, a Roman Catholic barrister and expert on religious discrimination law, who said that the bill will leave churches powerless to defend the fabric of their organization. "This is a threat to religious identity. What we are losing is the right for organizations to make free choices," he said

Equality commissioners include the homosexual lobbyist, Ben Summerskill, the head of the leading British homosexualist activist group Stonewall. Summerskill has called for churches to be forced to employ homosexuals and for the police to stop Christians who were peacefully protesting against 'gay rights' laws outside Parliament.

Tony Grew, a homosexualist activist and the former editor of, wrote recently that the Equality Bill will "entrench gay rights in all aspects of public life." Grew wrote on PinkNews that the bill will open unprecedented opportunities for homosexuals.

The bill, he said will cover central government departments, local authorities, education bodies, NHS bodies and the police service, plus a wide range of other public and private bodies, including churches and church-run institutions. It will impose the "Equality Duty" on all organizations providing public services, he said, such as residential care homes that "would have to consider the needs of same-sex couples."

Friday, May 8, 2009

Black Ministers Arrested on National Day of Prayer


Although President Obama did not host a National Day of Prayer observance, two African-American ministers prayed outside the White House today, even though it led to their arrest.

The Rev. Johnny Hunter and the Rev. Stephen Broden, both longtime pro-life activists, were taken into custody briefly after holding a "prayer picket" outside the White House to publicly oppose the president's decision not to participate in the National Day of Prayer (NDOP). They were released after just a few hours.

"[It's] the National Day of Prayer, and the president refuses to participate in it?" said Hunter, who leads the Life Education and Resource Networks (LEARN) in Fayetteville, N.C. "Before at least presidents were nice enough to open their doors and let some Christians come in and pray. ... Not this one. So since he wouldn't do it, we took the prayer to him."

The ministers said they knew they were risking arrest but held signs saying: "Jesus Christ Is Our Lord and Savior. BHO is not" to protest what they see as a dangerous trend toward broader abortion access and acceptance of homosexuality that has occurred under the Obama administration.

"We believe this republic is under great duress right now and stress, and we believe prayer is the means by which we can change things here in America and in this government," said Broden, pastor of Fair Park Bible Fellowship Church in Dallas.

"We prayed that God would either stay the hand of judgment or quicken the hearts of men and women of faith for them to recognize that they need to come to the streets, they need to come to the public square and make it clear that we are not in favor of same-sex marriage, we are not in favor of this scourge ... [of abortion], we are not in favor of the kind of trickery and gamesmanships that are being played in the house of Congress and the house of the Senate. We are fed up, and we are tired of what this nation is doing and what our leaders are doing relative to their role and responsibility for protecting our freedoms."

The ministers joined some 2 million Christians, who met in at least 40,000 venues nationwide to pray for the U.S. A national service was held this morning in Washington, D.C., led by NDOP Task Force Chairman Shirley Dobson, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson and Bible teacher Beth Moore.

The event was broadcast live on GOD TV, Sky Angel and at the NDOP Task Force Web site. It will re-air at 7:30 p.m. PDT during another prayer event in Los Angeles.

"The fact that up to 50,000 communities will have public observances of prayer is strategically very important because it points to the awakening of the believing body of Christ that is going on," said Gary Bergel, president emeritus/editor of Intercessors for America in Washington, D.C.

"That's what we know we're laboring for, the restoration of the church as the ongoing daily house of prayer for all people. ... Not only for all men and women to come to know freedom and redemption through Jesus Christ but all in authority, all heads of state, that we could live quiet, peaceable, worshipful, enterprising, free lives here"

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said President Obama would pray privately on the NDOP. The president also issued a proclamation recognizing the day and calling on Americans to "to pray in thanksgiving" for the nation's freedoms and blessings and "to ask for God's continued guidance, grace, and protection for this land that we love." (Read President Obama's proclamation.)

Christian leaders widely decried Obama's decision to break from President George W. Bush tradition of holding an official observance.

"We are disappointed in the lack of participation by the Obama administration," Shirley Dobson said. "At this time in our country's history, we would hope our president would recognize more fully the importance of prayer."

In addition to praying for the nation, faith leaders and members of Congress were to hold a bipartisan press conference today to affirm America's Christian heritage.

"America was birthed in a prayer meeting led by our Founding Fathers," said Mathew D. Staver, founder of the law firm Liberty Counsel and dean of the Liberty University School of Law.

"After dissention arose among the Revolutionary leaders about the proper form of government, and when all hope seemed lost, Benjamin Franklin arose and said: ‘Have we now forgotten that powerful friend? Or do we imagine that we no longer need His assistance?' The Founders convened a three-day prayer meeting and America was born."

Twenty-four members of Congress were to join Staver at the press briefing, including Rep. J. Randy Forbes, R-Va., who on Monday introduced the America's Spiritual Heritage Resolution to recognize the role prayer played in the nation's history. The measure also calls on Congress to designate the first week in May as "American Religious History Week."

The legislation and the press conference are aimed at countering Obama's recent statement that Americans "do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation. We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values."

"The United States Supreme Court has acknowledged that America is a ‘Christian nation,' that we are a ‘religious people,' and that our ‘institutions presuppose a Supreme Being,'" Staver said in a statement. "Yes, Mr. President, America was born on a Christian and Judeo foundation. At critical times like these, we ought to heed the words of Benjamin Franklin and humbly ask almighty God to bless America."

Last week, prayer leaders Cindy Jacobs and Dutch Sheets called on Christians to help "turn the nation back to God" by praying on April 30. On that day in 1863, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation calling the nation to humble itself "before the offended Power," to confess its national sins and to pray for "clemency and forgiveness."

The prayer effort was to continue through the NDOP, when intercessors were asked to intensify their prayers for national healing and renewal.

"Let's come into agreement with what President Lincoln said and let's make a statement to this nation, to the spiritual powers that are trying to steal from us our Christian heritage, and let's say: ‘The war isn't over. We are not going to give this nation away, and the culture war isn't over,'" said Sheets, pastor of Springs Harvest Fellowship in Colorado Springs, Colo. "God is going to help us reform this nation. We are going to get it done."

This year is the 58th annual NDOP, which President Harry Truman signed into law in 1952 after the Rev. Billy Graham led a crusade in Washington, D.C. In 1988 President Ronald Reagan set the observances on the first Thursday in May.

In March, the Obama administration asked that a lawsuit claiming the NDOP violated church-state separation be dismissed, the Associated Press reported. The administration argued that the tradition dates back to 1775 and that most presidents have invoked faith in a higher power.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Britain's Naked Public Square

From First Things
By Peter C. Glover

A series of high-profile legal battles and workplace rulings during the past several months has kept Christianity, or its lack, in the headlines in Great Britain. Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, caused outrage last year when he suggested that Shari’a law might replace British common law in some cases. But the piecemeal persecution of Christians in Britain is even more damaging—and it has now become routine.

The growing crime rate and out-of-control teenage pregnancies (the highest percentage in Europe and rising) are among the social problems that have created national anxiety. But what has caused the recent headlines are the major legal battles and workplace problems that reveal the existence of anti-Christian bias in Britain—a bias manifested by censorship in public debate and a media antagonistic to all things Christian. Is it too much to think that the social problems and the bias are related? By making Christian practice difficult, if not outright illegal in public life, the British courts and public authorities have contributed to an increasing awareness that a vacuum exists where the nation’s Judeo-Christian spine used to be.

Read the rest of this entry >>

Sunday, March 29, 2009

State Department Releases Religious Freedom Blacklist

From The Christian Post
By Ethan Cole

The State Department headed under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released this week the religious freedom violator blacklist designated by the Bush administration in January before leaving office.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice re-designated the same eight countries named in 2006 – Burma, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, the Peoples Republic of China, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Uzbekistan – as “Countries of Particular Concern” (CPC) on Jan. 16.

Read the rest of this entry >>

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Christian Law Group Ordered to Admit Anti-Christians

From the San Francisco Chronicle
By Bob Egelko

UC Hastings College of the Law can deny recognition and funding to a Christian student group because it excludes gays, lesbians and non-Christians, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.

The San Francisco law school is entitled to require official student organizations to "accept all comers as members, even if those individuals disagree with the mission of the group," the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled. It said the school's policy is "viewpoint-neutral" and does not violate the rights of the Christian Legal Society.

The brief ruling cited the court's decision last year allowing a Washington state high school to deny recognition to a student Bible club that required members to endorse its religious creed. Last week, the club asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review that case.

Both rulings allow public schools to "require religious organizations to include people in their groups who disagree with what the religious groups believe," said attorney Jeremy Tedesco of the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal organization that is involved in both cases on behalf of the student groups. "That's a violation of the First Amendment, free speech and freedom of religion."

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