Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Ten Commandments and the Supreme Court

By now you know that the Supreme Court weighed in on the Ten Commandments issue Tuesday. In a 5-4 decision, the justices approved the display of the Ten Commandments in a Texas courthouse, but found it unconstitutional to display the Ten Commandments in a Kentucky courthouse. The difference has to do with motivation. If the display of the Ten Commandments is religiously motivated, it is supposedly unconstitutional.

These rulings should strike fear into the hearts of every thinking American. For if the Supreme Court can suddenly find something unconstitutional that has been considered legal for the last 200 years, what else might they suddenly find to be unconstitutional? Given enough creativity, there is virtually nothing in the Constitution that couldn’t be redefined and struck down--and then our Constitution then becomes about as useless as the constitution in the old Soviet Union. This is precisely why it is so crucial for the president to appoint judges who will interpret what the Constitution actually says rather than creatively reading into it whatever happens to be compatible with current cultural trends.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

BTK and the death penalty

Last night ABC news played sound-bites of the confession of the BTK killer (Bind, torture, kill). He calmly explained how (to satisfy his sexual fantasies) he selected his victims, gained access to their homes, and killed them. The people of the state of Kansas will now get to spend tens-of-thousands of dollars to pay for this monster’s food, shelter, clothing, and medical expenses for the rest of his natural life. When the Kansas legislature voted against a death penalty many years ago, did they think it was a better use of tax-payers’ money to support monsters like this rather than to feed poor people, help struggling farmers, or to provide college scholarships for their kids? Someone responding to one of my earlier posts pointed out that the appeals process actually makes a death penalty more expensive than life sentences--but surly a more efficient appeals process for cases like this is possible, isn’t it? The State of Kansas has since re-established the death penalty--but not soon enough to apply to BTK.

Friday, June 24, 2005

The Air Force Academy and Intolerance

The results of an investigation into the U.S. Air Force Academy came out recently. It apparently found no institutional promotion of Christianity, no coercion by Christians, and no retributions by Christians, but the investigation did find that some individual Christians went too far in promoting their religion. These Christians apparently made a Lutheran chaplain and some people of other religions feel “uncomfortable.” Apparently our constitutional guarantee to not feel uncomfortable takes precedence over our constitutional guarantee to freedom of religion and speech. For those who are just waking up--there is no constitutional guarantee to not feeling uncomfortable! If there was, I would have sued one of the state schools I attended for creating a hostile anti-Christian environment when I went there.

I just got an e-mail a couple days ago in which a student at a state graduate school of library science said she was made to feel like Christians were not welcome. There are thousands of cases all over the country in which Christians are made to feel uncomfortable in public schools and state universities, but these cases never even make the local news, much less the national news! But when a few people at the Air Force Academy feel uncomfortable when some Christians exercise their constitutional right to freedom of religion and speech, the whole thing is condemned in the media as intolerance. It is intolerance--intolerance against Christians!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation (JAACD)

I usually don’t post twice in one day but today I’ll make an exception. I’ve just become aware of a new organization--Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation-- founded by Jews to respond to anti-Christian bigotry. The advisory board consists of several well known Jewish personalities David Horowitz, Rabbi and scholar Jacob Neusner, columnist Mona Charen, and radio talk show hosts Barry Farber and Michael Medved. All I have to say to this group is Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!!

Iraq and the United States

More and more members of congress are asking for an end-game strategy for getting out of Iraq. I may be na├»ve in my assessment, but this is one time I tend to agree with the Democrats who want to know what the current game plan is. Are we planning to stay until all opposition ceases? In that part of the world battles can go on for decades, if not centuries. No! Our continued presence in Iraq just fuels the opposition. I don’t think it would be good to set a deadline for withdrawal--that only tells our enemies how long they have to persevere--but I do think we should start pulling out of Iraq very slowly and force the new Iraqi government to stand in the gap and pick up the slack.

If we don’t gradually start pulling out, Iraq may never walk on its own two feet, so to speak. If Iraq cannot pick up the slack, we need to pressure our moderate Arab “allies” to step in and assist. But it seems to me that our military needs to slowly cut back because our presence will eventually hurt as much as it will help Iraq.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Racial and Religious Intolerance Act

Australia has a law called the “Racial and Religious Intolerance Act” which “outlaws religious vilification.’ Sounds like a good thing, doesn’t it? That’s apparently what Christians in Australia thought. Then two Christian pastors were convicted because Muslims didn’t like what the pastors were teaching about Islam--even though that teaching came right out of the Qur'an! Now, a convicted sex offender who practices witchcraft is suing the Salvation Army because they say negative things about witchcraft in one of their bible classes!

The fact is that “intolerance” can easily be defined to include any negative teaching about any group--even if that teaching is historical or factually true and verifiable. But why concern ourselves about this--It happened in Australia and that’s a long, long way away. True, but the same thing is also happening in Canada (and for the geographically challenged, that’s right next door! :-) But wait, lawyer David Bernstein has produced case after case to show that it is also happening in America (You Can’t Say That; The Growing Threat to Civil Liberties from Antidiscrimination Laws by David Bernstein). Bernstein even cites cases in which antidiscrimination laws have actually been held to trump our constitutional guarantee to freedom of speech! What?! You haven’t heard about this in the media? What a shocker!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The Qur'an and Guantanamo

Last Saturday, June 19, Fox’s Weekend Live reported that the United States provided 1,600 copies of the Qur’an as well as prayer rugs and prayer beads for the prisoners at Guantanamo. Can you imagine if the government had provided Bibles? The ACLU, People for the American Way and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State would have gone into convulsions over the use of government funds to promote religion! Are these groups really interested in keeping government and religion separate, or are they just out to suppress Christianity?

Monday, June 20, 2005

Pakistani culture and gang rape

Last weekend, (June 18, 2005), CNN reported the case of a Pakistani woman who was gang raped by villagers on orders from a local tribal chief, and was then forced to walk home naked before a jeering crowd. The report said that this was not an uncommon occurrence. But CNN seemed to have a very judgmental attitude in reporting this incident. Who are they to judge Pakistani or local Muslim culture? Shouldn't we be tolerant and accepting of other cultural values? I am, of course being extremely sarcastic, but my point is to show the shear stupidity of those who push a radical form of cultural relativism, as if we should tolerate all other cultures and never pass judgment. What utter nonsense! It would be evil not to condemn such horrendous actions as the rape and humiliation of women!

Friday, June 17, 2005

The CDC and an censorship

Yesterday I wrote about Christian persecution that mysteriously goes unreported by news magazines and television news, but that isn’t all that goes unreported. According to ReligionJournal.Com (left column of this blog) the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) conducted a massive survey of 12,318 people, costing $13 million dollars. The survey contained 46 very personal questions and covered people of ages 18 through 59. The results purportedly demonstrate that homosexuals are “almost twice as likely as heterosexuals to be booked for crimes.” The article in ReligionJournal.Com says that the CDC was required by law to release the results but failed to do so until the information leaked out. Time will soon tell whether the Religion Journal article is accurate since, according to the article, a forty-eight page study is scheduled to be published in the peer reviewed journal, Psychological Reports, two weeks from now. Regardless of what conclusions researchers, politicians, or special interest groups might draw from this study, it deserves to receive significant media attention. We’ll see if the media picks it up. I hope I’m surprised, but I’m not holding my breath.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Muslims and Intolerance

I recently read a book by a man who strongly criticizes conservative Christians for being so intolerant as to think that salvation is found only in Jesus. This author seems to think that tolerance consists of blindly accepting all religions as valid ways to God, and not criticizing other religious views (the author, however, has no trouble being criticizing conservative Christians). But this is ignorance, not tolerance. Let me show you what true tolerance is.

A woman and her husband once lived for many years as underground Christian missionaries in Muslim countries. Their goal was to demonstrate the love of Jesus to Muslims and to convince them that Jesus was the way to God. They developed a deep love for their Muslim neighbors and many of their Muslim neighbors reciprocated that love. In fact, this Christian woman believes that Muslim people are among the most compassionate and hospitable people she has ever known. Some of them even risked their lives by protecting these Christians from the Muslim governments which sometimes tried to persecute them.

This is actually a true story. The woman, Christine Mallouhi, wrote about it in her book, Waging Peace on Islam. I would suggest that this is a story of genuine tolerance, i.e. people who have strongly opposing beliefs, both trying to convince the other that they are right, but at the same time loving and respecting each other as individuals and human beings.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Michael Jackson and child molestation

By now everyone knows that Michael Jackson was found “not guilty” of all charges. CNN’s legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, said last night that you’re never guilty until the jury says you are. I know Mr. Toobin knows this, but just to be precise, the verdict does not necessarily mean that Mr. Jackson is innocent--It just means that the prosecutors did not demonstrate Jackson’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If someone committed a crime, he or she is in fact guilty regardless of the jury outcome.

Child molestation is a horrendous crime. The victims often suffer the effects for the rest of their lives. I sincerely hope that Mr. Jackson did not do what he was accused of doing, but if he did, conservative Christians would say that he may still face the prospect of terrible judgment before a God who will not be mocked. On the other hand, if those who deny the reality of hell are right, and if Jackson is truly guilty, then the victims could suffer the rest of their lives and never get justice, while the multi-millionaire superstar gets off scot-free with no concern for judgment either in this life or the next.

Of course this proves nothing about whether hell actually exists. The only point is that those who deny the reality of hell often think they are proclaiming a kinder, gentler gospel when, in fact, they are proclaiming a kinder, gentler gospel for those who oppress others.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Charlie Rangel and Adolf Hitler

It goes without saying that people get extraordinarily passionate about their politics and religion. I personally think there is a legitimate place for the heated rhetoric. Contrary to some modern opinions, both Jesus and Muhammad had some very heated or strong words for their opponents. I am concerned, however, that some political rhetoric is clearly going beyond what is appropriate. For example, while some of the criticism against Bill Clinton was well deserved, I thought the vicious Republican rhetoric against him was often out of bounds. More recently, Representative Charlie Rangel’s comparison of George Bush to Adolf Hitler was clearly outrageous (Rangel is only the most recent example, others have made similar statements). One radio commentator pointed out that even if the unlikely estimates of 100,000 civilians accidentally killed in the Iraq war were accurate, that hardly compares with the deliberate slaughter of 6,000,000 innocent Jews by Adolf Hitler!

I wouldn’t want to challenge Mr. Rangel’s patriotism, but his comparison is not only factually in error, it serves to pour fuel on the fire that America’s enemies would use to burn us. In fact, I’m sure statements like Mr. Rangel’s play quite well in organizations like Al-Qaeda and Hamas or in nations like North Korea, Syria and Iran.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Pharmacists and contraceptives

On May 10 (2005), I commented on the governor who would seek to force pharmacists to sell contraceptives and “morning after pills” against their consciences. The issue has now escalated to a higher level. A bill has been introduced in the U.S. Congress (S.809 / H.R.1652) that would force pharmacists to sell contraceptives. Personally, I don’t have a problem with contraceptives, but I have a huge problem with the government forcing a businessperson to sell anything that would violate his or her conscience. Have we really lost hold of freedom so much in this country that we are ready to have the government tell people what they must sell in their places of business?

The bill (S.809 /H.R. 1652) affirms an individual’s right to religious belief, but also affirms an individual’s right to legal contraception. The bill concludes that an individual’s right to religious belief cannot “impede an individual’s access to legal prescriptions, including contraception.” Excuse me, but people have a constitutional right to freedom of religion (or religious belief, as the bill calls it)--and while they have a legal right to contraception, this is not a constitutional right. If our laws can now trump the legal foundation on which those laws are based, i.e. the constitution, we might as will tear it up for all the good it is.

Second, just because a handful of pharmacists choose not to sell a product does not take away someone’s right to obtain the product elsewhere (online?). Don’t even think about arguing that some towns may only have one pharmacy. Most adults have a legal right to drive but that doesn’t mean the state should be forced to put a Department of Motor Vehicles in every tiny town in America. I think people should have access to contraceptives, but this issue is much bigger than contraceptives. If congress can tell private businesspeople what to sell in their own stores, and can force them to do so against their conscience, we are no longer a free people.

If anyone wants to read this bill, you can look it up on the “Thomas” link in the left column of this blog. If anyone would like to weigh in on this issue, you can look up the e-mail address of your senators and representatives on the "Thomas" link as well.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

ACLU and Americans United for the Separation of Chruch and State

Following-up on my last post about Temple University putting on a play depicting Jesus and his disciples having sex with each other: I could be wrong, but I don’t recall reading anything about the ACLU, People for the American Way or Americans United for the Separation of Church and State complaining about Temple’s violation church/state separation by putting on a play about Jesus. After all, I’m sure Temple U. is a huge recipient of government funds.

Apparently the ACLU et al. are only concerned when the state, or state supported institutions even remotely acknowledge religion--like having a tiny cross on a flag. I guess it must be OK with the ACLU et al. when a state funded institution violates a Christian’s civil rights, suppresses religion or engages in Christo-phobic bigotry and hate speech. Is it really any wonder that many of us think the real agenda of organizations like these is not really the separation of church and state, but the suppression of all positive religious expression and influence.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Marcavage v. Temple University

Once upon a time the School of Communication in a prominent university planed to put on a play which portrayed Jesus and his disciples as homosexuals engaged in sexual acts with each other. A Christian who opposed the event sought to put on an alternative event to tell the traditional story of Jesus. In one of his meetings with the university’s vice president of operations, the discussions reached an impasse and the Christian excused himself to go the restroom. The vice president actually came to the rest room a few minutes later and forcibly detained the Christian--physically tripping him and forcing him to a couch where he was restrained until the campus police were called. The campus police were told to handcuff the Christian and take him to the campus hospital for involuntary commitment for psychiatric evaluation.

No, this is not a story from the old Soviet Union or a far-fetched plot in some new movie. This actually happened a few years ago at Temple University in Philadelphia. But there is more. The Christian, Michael Marcavage took Temple University to court (Marcavage v. Temple University) for violation of his constitutional rights. Unbelievably, he lost the case, not because of the facts--the facts are not in dispute--but because he couldn’t “prove” that he was detained for his religious convictions. But no weapons, drugs or medication were found in his possession, he had never threatened to harm himself or others, at no time was he flailing or frothing at the mouth, he had no history of mental illness, and he was not harming himself when he was detained. Medical evidence from the psychiatric hospital--where the physicians found Marcavage calm and cooperative--was ruled inadmissible by the judge, who is an active alumnus of and instructor at Temple University.

So, although this man was forcibly confined to a mental hospital, with no evidence of mental instability, he looses the case because he can’t “prove” the motives? Excuse my cynicism, but I can’t help thinking that if the situation was reversed--that is, if the School of Communication was putting on a Mel Gibson passion play--and a gay activist protester was forcibly confined--that the national news media would have hyperventilated and we wouldn’t have heard the end of this for months! But since the play was an example of “Christo-phobic” bigotry and the protester was a Christian, my guess is that, unless you live in Philadelphia, you’ve never even heard of this case before. Fortunately, the case may be appealed.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Amnesty International and Guantanamo Bay

Last week, Amnesty International ripped on the United States, comparing treatment of the captives at Guantanamo Bay with Soviet gulags, which were very harsh forced work (torture) camps (Read Gulag Archipelago by Solzhenitsyn).

On the other hand, also last week, UPI reported that British officials have discovered Al-Qaida training manuals which instruct any Al-Qaida members who are captured to claim they were tortured, to spread rumors and to write statements that incite people against “the enemy” (Their tactic is working). This seems to be supported by a Pentagon investigation that discovered that about half of the alleged Qur’an abuses were by the inmates themselves, for example, one inmate urinated on a Qur’an.

This leads me to wonder if Amnesty International has simply become an anti-American mouthpiece for our enemies. With all the oppression and torture of so many innocent people around the world that really need Amnesty International’s voice, it is truly unfortunate that they would tarnish their credibility by making questionable (at best) allegations about U.S. treatment of terrorists.

I have an idea, though, to prevent future Qur’an abuse at Guantanamo. Let’s remove all copies of the Qur’an from the prison. If no one has a Qur’an, no one can desecrate it. Hmm, maybe we could replace them with Arabic New Testaments. I’m sure Amnesty International wouldn’t raise an eyebrow about someone urinating on a New Testament. In fact, I bet the mainline news media would herald it as a great victory for freedom of speech!

Friday, June 03, 2005

Tyranny and Freedom of Religion continued

As a follow-up to this morning’s post, I’d like to summarize an e-mail I just received. It says the Indiana Civil Liberties Union (affiliated, of course, with the ACLU) is suing the Indiana legislature to stop the practice of opening legislative sessions with prayer. According to the e-mail, the ICLU says that these prayers violate the “constitutional guarantee of religious freedom for all.”

The e-mail pointed out that such prayers have been going on since before the first Continental Congress met in 1774. Apparently those who ratified the Constitution and those who later added the bill of rights did not think such prayers violated the Constitution since they never made any effort to stop the practice.

What incredible double-speak--that the ICLU would seek to take away religious freedom in the name of freedom of religion! What was I saying about tyranny this morning?

Tyranny and Freedom of Religion

Just last week I heard someone on TV talking about the first amendment right to “freedom of worship.” NO! NO! NO! The first amendment does not say “freedom of worship” it says “freedom of religion.” Freedom of worship is just one part of freedom of religion. Some today who speak of “freedom of worship” would grudgingly grant us the right to worship in a church, a mosque, or synagogue, as long we don’t bring our religious convictions to the public arena or allow those convictions to affect our political decisions (as if that were possible).

For Christians who truly take their religion seriously, however, religion is not just something that happens on Sunday morning. Our faith affects every area of our lives --marriage, family, work, charity, politics, and yes, even our worship. When our forefathers (and foremothers) fled religious persecution in England back in the 1600’s they did not come to America just so they could worship in the privacy of a church. They came so they could fully live out the implications of their Christian faith in all areas of their lives.

If a time machine could transport our forefathers to 21st century America where the Ten Commandments can no longer be displayed in courthouses, crosses must be removed from flags or banners, nativity scenes can’t be placed on city property, songs of Jesus' birth can’t be sung in school Christmas programs, and teachers no longer have freedom to speak about their faith in a public classroom--it’s a fair bet those forefathers would call this tyranny!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Judges and tyranny

There has been a lot of talk about President Bush’s judicial nominees in the news lately. Many people don’t understand what all the fuss is about. Maybe I’m missing something but it seems quite simple. In this country congress was designed to create laws and the judicial system was designed to interpret and apply laws. In the past several decades, however, many judges have been reading rights and restrictions into the constitution that are simply not there. When they do that, these judges are, in effect, creating laws. The problem with this is that judges are not nearly as accountable to the people as congress is, so when judges create laws there is not much the people can do about it. The more this happens, the more we become governed by the new high priests of judicial authority and the more we lose our freedom. In short, we are trading our democracy for tyranny. The Bush appointees tend to believe that judges should interpret the law, not create law.

This is such a no-brainer, why is there even a controversy? It is because many people like the new rights and restrictions judges are creating. Take abortion, for example. There is no right to abortion in the constitution--read it for yourself, it is simply not there. An earlier Supreme Court read that right into the constitution. Many of those who want abortion to be a right are scared to death of judges who may tell the truth and declare that the right to abortion is not in the constitution. But this is very short-sighted. Judges who can arbitrarily create laws that you like now, can just as easily, and just as arbitrarily, create laws that strip you of your freedom later.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

The Media and the Qur'an

Many in the news media seem to be obsessed about the possible abuse of the Qur’an by the U.S. military at Guantanamo Bay. Some in the media are apparently very concerned about not offending Muslims. How ironic. Several years ago Andres Serrano displayed a picture he called “Piss Christ.” It was a picture of the crucified Jesus submerged in urine. As I recall, many in the media actually defended Serrano’s anti-Christian bigotry when outraged Christians complained about the use of tax money to fund such hatred.

So why is it that many in the media supported the use tax money to fund a picture of a crucifix submerged in urine, but raise a big stink about the alleged mistreatment of the Qur’an? Why is it OK to offend Christians but not OK to offend Muslims? Come to think of it, why is it OK to use tax money to fund anti-Christian hate speach but it is not OK--at least according to some--to use tax money to support faith-based charities?

Anyway, the “Piss Christ” incident happened several years ago. I’m sure the media today would be just as upset about the display of a crucifix in urine as they are about mistreating the Qur'an...Yeah, right.