Christians Can’t Have Literature on a Public Street

In the United States, Chr

San Jose Mercury News

A federal judge today denied an evangelical Christian group’s request for permission to hand out literature on sidewalks at an Arab festival in the heart of the Detroit area’s Middle Eastern community.

U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds denied Anaheim, Calif.-based Arabic Christian Perspective’s request for a temporary restraining order.

The group describes itself in its court filing as “a national ministry established for the purpose of proclaiming the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ to Muslims … (that) travels around the country attending and distributing Christian literature at Muslim festivals and mosques.”

A lawyer for the group said it would seek a permanent injunction against the city of Dearborn.

“It’s not over,” said Robert J. Muise of the Thomas More Law Center, an Ann Arbor-based Christian rights advocacy group.

Another lawyer on the case said the Dearborn officials action could be part of what he described as a broader Muslim legal attack on critics of Islam in our “Judeo-Christian nation.”

“Muslims are using the courts in this country to stop our free speech rights,” said William J. Becker Jr., a Los Angeles attorney who has represented a number of prominent critics of Islam.

Weekend Funny

A man, who had garnered a lot of wealth in his life, wanted to take it with him. He talked to God about it and finally God told him, yes, he could bring whatever he wanted.

The man decided that checks, cash, and savings bonds wouldn’t work, so he transferred most of his assets to gold, packed his suitcases, and got to take them with him.

When he arrived at the Pearly Gates, St. Peter said, “Wait. No one brings anything in.”

“No,” the man said. “God told me I could bring this. It’s really important to me and I didn’t want to be without it.” He opened his suitcase so that St. Peter could see his amazing treasure.

“Pavement? You brought pavement?”

This joke brought to you from Dr. B at my son’s congregation.

Blessings and Absolution

Working on a chapter on the Civil War. I cried as I read about Father William Corby who prayed over the entire battalion and gave them absolution before the battle of Gettysburg. It is said that everyone, atheist and Catholic alike, fell to their knees as he made the sign of the cross.

His is the only statue at Gettysburg honoring a chaplain.

Handicapped Access

One thing I am just beginning to realize is the limits of handicap access. The place that most caused me to sit up and take notice (after my parents’ two story home) was their church. Handicap access means more than a few parking spaces and cut-out curb, or at least it ought to mean more than that.

The church where my parents have attended for years opened a new worship center today. They have 8 spaces for wheelchairs or walkers. This is in a church of 2000 at least. Probably more.

And their new worship center has space for 8 wheelchairs or walkers.

One was taken up with the video camera.

One space was available, but there was someone sitting in the seat next to the space, so that you couldn’t sit with your handicapped family member… Basically, there were no handicapped spaces left when we arrived 10 minutes before church started.

I parked my dad’s wheelchair at the end of a row that did not have a row across from it. That meant that while people had to go around his wheelchair, he wasn’t blocking aisle access. I assume the opposite side of the room had a similar situation, so technically there would be room for ten wheelchairs.

If you ignore the fact that the baby boomers, like my daddy, are aging and more likely to need those spaces, there are other problems too.

First, all the seats are in the back. How many of those people used to sit in the front, would like to sit in the front, but can’t because to sit in the front they would have to block the aisle? I don’t know. But it’s something to think about.

Something else to think about is the fact that most churches nowadays forgo songbooks and use the overhead projector (if they do congregational singing of any kind). But, when people stand up to sing, very common at my parents’ church, the person in the wheelchair cannot see the words. For older songs, this might not be an issue, although even high-singing churches (like the Church of Christ) have many people who need the words for the songs. So the lack of visual reference might not be an issue for older songs… But what about when the congregation is learning a new song? The people in the wheelchairs can’t see it.

Now, I’m hoping my dad won’t be in a wheelchair forever. And probably most people who are in wheelchairs are older…. But think about a teen in a wheelchair. Do they want to come to church and sit in back when all the rest of the teens are in the front? A handicapped teen could not come to my son’s church, because all the teen functions are on the second floor and there are no elevators.

Yes, curbs that let people who are having trouble walking or who are in wheelchairs get up and in are great.

Handicap parking with space for pulling a wheelchair up are wonderful.

Bathrooms with doors wide enough for wheelchairs are essential for these folks. Those are now mandated by law. But they aren’t really enough.

I never knew what all was necessary or useful for a person temporarily or permanently confined to a wheelchair.

Private bathrooms or family bathrooms are also good. What would I do if my dad needed to go to the bathroom at church? I can’t go into the men’s bathroom and my dad cannot get to the toilet on his own.

Places where they can sit without blocking the aisle is good too.

At a restaurant, it would be good to have tables that are a bit bigger than average to allow them to park their wheelchair underneath the table without hitting everyone else.

Stairs anywhere are bad. My folks’ home has four stairs into the back and twelve or so into the front. My dad can’t come in the front door. He has to have metal ramps up the back and one of the ramps isn’t a perfect fit, so you have to bring Dad up backwards and “bounce” him over the last bit. If you bring him in forward, he’s liable to bounce onto his face.

It’s something I noticed today.

Don’t we want our churches to be as friendly to people wanting to come, even people with mobility issues, as possible?

My heart is heavy and I (and/or the Holy Spirit) weep.

What is happening in our nation tells me that democracy is losing. Christianity is losing. Freedom on all fronts is losing. And we voted for it ourselves and I am unable to stop it.

Holy Father, Son of an earthly mother, Spirt that lives within us, please save my nation from itself and bring us to you with open arms.

How America is like Leningrad

The government is trying to legally control the churches. Well, the CT govt is trying to legislate how churches may be organized.

Positioning abortion as a good thing for only political, not scientific reasons.

I have dropped most of my political blogs. However, when the pain is severe enough, even those blogging other things will cry out.

Holy God, do not unto us as we deserve. Deliver us in thy mercy. Grant us peace. Help us to do thy will in all our ways.

The Lord is my shepherd.
I shall not want.
He helps me rest in a safe haven when I am weary.
He blesses my soul with refreshment.
He restores the broken places of my soul.
Even though the way around me seems fraught with danger and peril,
I will fear no evil, for my God is with me and if my God is with me, who then shall I fear?
Your strong arm and your rescuing arm comfort me.
You prepare blessings for me even as my enemies plot and dance.
You make my life a fount of good things.
I have far more wonder and beauty in my life than I would ever have expected.
Surely your love and mercy have followed me all the days of my life and will continue to do so until my days end. Thank you for that.

Psalm 23 for March 11

The Lord is my shepherd.
I shall not want.
He helps me rest in a safe haven when I am weary.
He blesses my soul with refreshment.
He restores the broken places of my soul.
Even though the way around me seems fraught with danger and peril,
I will fear no evil, for my God is with me and if my God is with me, who then shall I fear?
Your strong arm and your rescuing arm comfort me.
You prepare blessings for me even as my enemies plot and dance.
You make my life a fount of good things.
I have far more wonder and beauty in my life than I would ever have expected.
Surely your love and mercy have followed me all the days of my life and will continue to do so until my days end. Thank you for that.

Jesus and the Atheist

Is the age of miracles over? I don’t think so. Neither does an atheist who was on his way to commit suicide when a deer broke his car, he got a flat tire, someone threw a dog out of the car… It is the story of the Hounds of Heaven hastening after a man who had been hurt. You should read Jesus and the Atheist.

Biblical worldview?

Barna Research did a survey on Americans and their worldviews.

For the purposes of the survey, a “biblical worldview” was defined as believing that absolute moral truth exists; the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches; Satan is considered to be a real being or force, not merely symbolic; a person cannot earn their way into Heaven by trying to be good or do good works; Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; and God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the world who still rules the universe today. In the research, anyone who held all of those beliefs was said to have a biblical worldview.

That would mean I have a biblical worldview by their definition. Although by other people’s definitions that would mean I am a fundamentalist and bad, bad, bad. (I just read a paper yesterday where terms were misused and fundamentalists were described as pathological and unconcerned about reality. I’m having a hard time with a dialogue with these people because of that.)

So how many Americans have biblical worldviews? Not very many. Not even very many of the born again adults.

One-third of all adults (34%) believe that moral truth is absolute and unaffected by the circumstances. Slightly less than half of the born again adults (46%) believe in absolute moral truth.

Half of all adults firmly believe that the Bible is accurate in all the principles it teaches. That proportion includes the four-fifths of born again adults (79%) who concur.

Just one-quarter of adults (27%) are convinced that Satan is a real force. Even a minority of born again adults (40%) adopt that perspective.

Similarly, only one-quarter of adults (28%) believe that it is impossible for someone to earn their way into Heaven through good behavior. Not quite half of all born again Christians (47%) strongly reject the notion of earning salvation through their deeds.

A minority of American adults (40%) are persuaded that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life while He was on earth. Slightly less than two-thirds of the born again segment (62%) strongly believes that He was sinless.

Seven out of ten adults (70%) say that God is the all-powerful, all-knowing creator of the universe who still rules it today. That includes the 93% of born again adults who hold that conviction.

The one that I might see answering a little differently is the question on Satan. I believe that Satan is a real entity. I also believe that we use that identifier for more than Satan, so I guess I could see another answer on that one being legitimate.

I am appalled that 7% of born again Christians don’t believe that God is omnipotent and omniscient.

The survey is here.

Africa Needs God

Now a confirmed atheist, I’ve become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people’s hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.

from a Time Online UK column

Go read it all. Fascinating stuff.

found via The Common Room

Separate but equal

No, not races, religions.

British teenager banned from wearing her Christian chastity ring at school because it is “dangerous.” Muslim girls may wear their scarves, the British courts ruled, but Christian girls may not wear their chastity rings.

And a Christmas play is being cancelled until the New Year because it conflicts with Eid al-Adha, a Muslim religion.

Ring story via Stop the ACLU

Play story via Right on the Left Coast

An abortion doctor becomes pro-life.

And he became pro-life at great expense to himself and his family, who lost jobs and educational opportunities.

Stojan Adasevic, who performed 48,000 abortions, sometimes up to 35 per day, is now the most important pro-life leader in Serbia, after 26 years as the most renowned abortion doctor in the country.

“The medical textbooks of the Communist regime said abortion was simply the removal of a blob of tissue,” the newspaper reported. “Ultrasounds allowing the fetus to be seen did not arrive until the 80s, but they did not change his opinion. Nevertheless, he began to have nightmares.”

In describing his conversion, Adasevic “dreamed about a beautiful field full of children and young people who were playing and laughing, from 4 to 24 years of age, but who ran away from him in fear. A man dressed in a black and white habit stared at him in silence. The dream was repeated each night and he would wake up in a cold sweat. One night he asked the man in black and white who he was. ‘My name is Thomas Aquinas,’ the man in his dream responded. Adasevic, educated in communist schools, had never heard of the Dominican genius saint. He didn’t recognize the name”

“Why don’t you ask me who these children are?” St. Thomas asked Adasevic in his dream.

“They are the ones you killed with your abortions,” St. Thomas told him.

A satirist’s take on God, life, and death

I wouldn’t have expected an op-ed essay on God to be in the LA Times, but it is. Perhaps because they think the whole thing is a satire, they included it.

The essay is well worth reading, but this part made me, a teacher, laugh.

But God, Sir, in Your manner of teaching us about life’s consequential nature, isn’t death a bit … um … extreme, pedagogically speaking? I know the lesson that we’re studying is difficult. But dying is more homework than I was counting on. Also, it kind of messes up my vacation planning. Can we talk after class? Maybe if I did something for extra credit?

It is a serious subject. I don’t think he is being profane. I think he is approaching serious subjects with the laugh that lets us look them full in the face.

I laughed out loud when I read:

I have, of all the inglorious things, a malignant hemorrhoid. What color bracelet does one wear for that? And where does one wear it?

Articles to read on Belief and Homeschooling

Look Who’s Irrational Now:

“What Americans Really Believe,” a comprehensive new study released by Baylor University yesterday, shows that traditional Christian religion greatly decreases belief in everything from the efficacy of palm readers to the usefulness of astrology. It also shows that the irreligious and the members of more liberal Protestant denominations, far from being resistant to superstition, tend to be much more likely to believe in the paranormal and in pseudoscience than evangelical Christians.

Corbis
The Gallup Organization, under contract to Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion, asked American adults a series of questions to gauge credulity. Do dreams foretell the future? Did ancient advanced civilizations such as Atlantis exist? Can places be haunted? Is it possible to communicate with the dead? Will creatures like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster someday be discovered by science?

The answers were added up to create an index of belief in occult and the paranormal. While 31% of people who never worship expressed strong belief in these things, only 8% of people who attend a house of worship more than once a week did.

Unschooling, also titled by bloggers as “Giving Homeschooling a Bad Name”:

Benny’s never heard of un-kindergarten though. That’s because I made up the term last night.

We were out with friends having drinks. Benny was with us, as usual. We’d hit that lull time around nine o’clock, post happy hour and pre-late night revelers when New York City bartenders don’t seem to mind five-year-olds playing with cars and sipping cranberry juice near the bar.

Homeschooling is no longer (and probably never was) just a bunch of Bible-thumping Seventh Day Adventists
Our friends have no kids, but were curious about our decision not to send Benny to school. They’re aware enough to know that homeschooling is no longer (and probably never was) just a bunch of Bible-thumping Seventh Day Adventists who teach their kids at home in order to avoid the heathens at public school. Our friends also understand that parents homeschool their kids in different ways and for different reasons.