Here’s an idea, lets stop having prayer in government and we wont have this kind of shit happening..
Is America a Christian nation?
Sarah Palin said on Friday that it’s “mind-boggling” to suggest otherwise.
But two groups dedicated to the separation of church and state are now speaking out against her, arguing that she is misreading the founders’ intent.
“It’s incredibly hypocritical that Sarah Palin, who disapproves of government involvement in just about anything, now suddenly wants the government to help people be religious,” Barry Lynn, the executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, told ABC News.
“It is wildly inconsistent with her views on limited government to get the government involved in matters of faith.”
Lynn was reacting to remarks Palin gave last Friday in Louisville, Ky., one day after a federal judge in Wisconsin ruled that the National Day of Prayer, created in 1952 by Congress, violated the First Amendment.
“We hear of a judge’s ruling that our National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional,” said Palin. “I think we’ll be challenging that one.”
“God truly has shed his grace on thee — on this country,” Palin told the Women of Joy conference. “He’s blessed us, and we better not blow it.”
The Utah Senate has joined the House in allowing homicide charges against expectant mothers who arrange illegal abortions.
The bill responds to a case in which a Vernal woman allegedly paid a man $150 to beat her and cause miscarriage but could not be charged. The Senate on Thursday approved HB12 on a vote of 24-4, criminalizing a woman’s “intentional, knowing, or reckless act” leading to a pregnancy’s illegal termination. It specifies that a woman cannot be prosecuted for arranging a legal abortion.
The measure now goes to Gov. Gary Herbert for final action.
Some Senate Democrats attempted a last-minute amendment to remove the word “reckless” from the list of criminal acts leading to miscarriage. They argued that criminalizing reckless acts leaves open the possibility of prosecutions against domestic violence victims who return to their abusers only to be beaten and lose the child.
“It’s part of the cycle of domestic violence,” said Sen. Luz Robles, D-Salt Lake City.
“I hope none of you ever have to face that situation,” she said after realizing the majority would pass the bill as is, “or have a daughter facing that situation, or a granddaughter.”
But the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, said the bill doesn’t target victims at all — only those who arrange to terminate their pregnancies illegally.
“I know it’s well-intentioned,” Dayton said of the attempt to lift “reckless acts” from the bill, “but I don’t think we want to go down the road of carefully defining the behavior of a woman.”
Robles and Sen. Ben McAdams said they had spoken to the bill’s original sponsor, Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman, just before the debate and believed he would support the change on behalf of domestic violence victims. Dayton, though, said Wimmer sent her a text message during the debate asking her to press on.
Wimmer later said he had been open to the Democrats’ suggestion, but it had come too late.
“I wasn’t about to hold the bill up,” he said.
WASHINGTON – The Obama administration on Monday came out strongly against efforts by Islamic nations to bar the defamation of religions, saying the moves would restrict free speech.”Some claim that the best way to protect the freedom of religion is to implement so-called anti-defamation policies that would restrict freedom of expression and the freedom of religion,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told reporters. “I strongly disagree.”
Clinton said the United States was opposed to negative depictions of specific faiths and would always fight against belief-based discrimination. But she said a person’s ability to practice their religion was entirely unrelated to another person’s right to free speech.
“The protection of speech about religion is particularly important since persons of different faith will inevitably hold divergent views on religious questions,” Clinton said. “These differences should be met with tolerance, not with the suppression of discourse.”Her comments came as the Organization of the Islamic Conference, a 56-nation bloc of Islamic countries, is pressing the U.N. Human Rights Council to adopt a resolution that would broadly condemn the defamation of religion.
The effort is widely seen as a reaction to perceived anti-Islamic incidents, including the publication in Europe of several cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.
Michael Posner, the assistant U.S. secretary of state for human rights, democracy and labor whose office prepares the religious freedom report, said the resolution “goes too far.”
“The notion that a religion can be defamed and that any comments that are negative about that religion can constitute a violation of human rights to us violates the core principle of free speech,” he said.
Posner was part of a delegation at the Human Rights Council that successfully negotiated with Egypt a compromise over another similar resolution that had aimed to condemn religion-related harassment or discrimination.
He said the administration wanted to differentiate between such harassment and defamation and would do so both in the Human Rights Council and the U.N. General Assembly.
“There are limits to free expression and there are certainly concerns about people targeting individuals because of their religious belief or their race or their ethnicity,” he said.
‘Violation of free speech’
“But at the same time, we’re also clear that a resolution, broadly speaking, that talks about the defamation of a religion is a violation of free speech.”
Clinton and Posner spoke as they released the State Department’s annual report on international religious freedom, which, as in years past, criticized Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Myanmar, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea and Sudan for violating religious freedom.
Since this is a free country… fuck all religions.
A Hillsborough public policy group whose Christian platform included a push for a state ban on gay marriage has embraced a new attack on an old target: the separation of church and state.
Ten billboard advertisements against what activist Terry Kemple called the separation “lie” are being put up across Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. Seven or eight of the billboard messages already are in place, and the rest will be by the end of this week, Kemple said.
For the next six months, they’ll be seen a million times a day, said retired businessman Gregg Smith, who rented the ad space for $50,000.
The message, as explained on www.noseparation.org, is that “America’s government was made only for people who are moral and religious.”
“The Judeo-Christian foundation that the Founding Fathers established when America began is the reason that this country has prospered for 200-plus years,” said Kemple, president and sole employee of the local Community Issues Council, which paid for the Web site.
“The fact is, for the last 40 years, as anti-God activists have incrementally removed the recognition of God’s place in the establishment of our country, we have gone downhill.”
Smith, 73, who spends half of the year at his Tampa home, brought the idea to Kemple’s attention as a “separate ministry” needing local support. For now, the initiative is just educational, though both men left open the opportunity for future work.
“Has the thought occurred that this may be the beginning of something bigger? Of course,” Kemple said. “There is no next step.
“We’ll just see what God ordains.”
The billboards showcase quotes from early American leaders like John Adams, James Madison and Benjamin Franklin. Most of the quotes portray a national need for Christian governance.
Others carry the same message but with fictional attribution, as with one billboard citing George Washington for the quote, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”
“I don’t believe there’s a document in Washington’s handwriting that has those words in that specific form,” Kemple said. “However, if you look at Washington’s quotes, including his farewell address, about the place of religion in the political sphere, there’s no question he could have said those exact words.”
Kemple, who was considered last year for the Republican nomination to replace a state representative, is not alone in fighting what Thomas Jefferson wrote was “a wall of separation” built by the “whole American people.”
Former Secretary of State Katherine Harris, while campaigning for the Senate in 2006, called separation of church and state a “lie we have been told,” adding that “God is the one who chooses our rulers.”
More recently, Christian separation critics have scoffed at President Barack Obama’s assertion in April that Americans “do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation.”
At the time, Kemple and Smith were beginning to plan for the billboards.
“I don’t think it’s coincidental,” Kemple said. “I think God had his hand in it.”
Drew Harwell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4170.
CORRECTION: Retired businessman Gregg Smith rented ad space for $50,000. Earlier versions of this story used in print and online incorrectly stated his role in the transaction.
Recession, religion’s one enemy (well, besides logic.. reason.. science.. etc)
GALLANT, Ala. — Camp Sumatanga has meant Bible stories and softball games for generations of Methodist families. Young and old alike come to the old church retreat for renewal in its quiet coves and chapels.
Today, though, the 1,700-acre retreat is in danger of shutting down.
Nestled in the Appalachian foothills, it’s among hundreds of church camps nationwide that are on the critical list. Years of declining usage and the recession have forced administrators to consider closing or cutting services.
The president of the Christian Camp and Conference Association, Bob Kobielush, said dozens of camps nationwide ceased operating in the last three years, and this could be the last summer for many more.
“I think this fall through Christmas we will see as many as 10 to 15 percent of camps decide they no longer can continue operating,” said Kobielush, whose organization has about 950 member camps. He estimates there are about 3,000 church-affiliated camps nationwide.
Leaders say Camp Sumatanga, operated by the United Methodist Church in north Alabama, could close at the end of the summer without $300,000 to make up a budget deficit. The possibility worries longtime visitors like Carol Glover, of Trussville.
Glover, 47, fondly recalls summers at the camp as a youth, and her 7-year-old son Kent now enjoys hiking there. Glover’s ties to Sumatanga run still deeper: Her 70-year-old mother, Anita Alldredege, helped raise money to build Sumatanga when she was young.
“The feeling of godliness is everywhere at Camp Sumatanga. It’s so peaceful, quiet and beautiful,” said Glover. “You can really feel God’s presence.”
Not enough people are sharing in the experience to make the camp economically viable, however.
“What we offer here is quiet, a place to be quiet,” said the Rev. Bob Murray, a former banker who has worked as director at Sumatanga for 18 months. “Not everyone values that as much as they once did.”
Construction began in 1948 at Sumatanga, located about 55 miles northeast of Birmingham. Religious camps were being built all over the country around the same time as World War II veterans started families and Christian churches flourished.
“There was a period of huge growth,” said Kobielush, who estimated that as many as 70 percent of the nation’s church camps were built in the late ’40s and 1950s.
The Baby Boom turned into a bust for the camps, though, and many began losing visitors as religious denominations began contracting, TV replaced the campfire and kids’ schedules were filled with Little League practices, music lessons and dance recitals. Declining revenues meant renovations and repairs never happened at many camps as they aged, Kobielush said.
Rather than relying solely on summer youth camps for revenue when bills had to be paid yearround, many camps built nice retreat centers to lure adults for church conferences and other gatherings.
At Sumatanga, the summer camp program for children and youth is healthy, leaders say. The money problems are linked mainly to sparse usage by adults and groups during the rest of the year.
Other U.S. church camps are having a tough year, too.
In Minnesota last month, directors of a 50-year-old United Church of Christ camp, Pilgrim Point, voted to close after summer because of declining use and the collapse of financial markets, which slashed its income from endowments. Supporters hope to save the camp through fundraising, but its future is cloudy.
Presbyterians in West Virginia this year formed a nonprofit group to support Bluestone Camp & Retreat, which also was threatened with closure.
The situation is brighter at Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center, located in central Florida, but the camp is facing an operating deficit this year, said director Don Sawyer.
“The economy is affecting everyone,” said Sawyer, president of the Southern Baptist Camping Association. “The larger (camps) may have to do some cutbacks and find ways to streamline things, but I don’t think they’re in danger of closing.”
No one knew how bad things had gotten at Sumatanga until recently.
A study that began last year after Murray’s appointment revealed a $300,000 annual budget deficit and a 30 percent drop in visitors since 2000. When the economy worsened, both churches and other groups quit coming as often, making the situation worse.
With a new business manager and the camp’s first-ever marketing director in place, managers at Camp Sumatanga are trying to improve services, renovate facilities and increase reservations, particularly at its modern, 62-room retreat center.
They’re also overseeing a long-term capital campaign and an emergency fundraising drive that has brought in $125,000 just to keep the doors open beyond summer.
“Every bit of money that comes in buys us a little more time,” said marketing director Bart Styes, who is preparing to move to a job in a Birmingham-area church while searching for a replacement at the camp. “Ultimately this money is a Band-Aid; it’s not fixing the problem. We’ve got to get more people here.”
Rebecca Anne Renshaw Brooks, 33, is pulling for the old camp. A resident now of Washington state, she grew up in Alabama and has fond memories of what it meant to her as a youth.
“I was an outcast, a loner in school,” she said. “But when you’re at camp, it doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, what you look like, or anything else that plagues kids day to day. We all come together as one in that place.”
Life grows more interesting by the day for officials of the West Bend (Wis.) Community Memorial Library. After four months of grappling with an evolving challenge to young-adult materials deemed sexually explicit by area residents Ginny and Jim Maziarka, library trustees voted 9–0 June 2 to maintain the young-adult collection as is “without removing, relocating, labeling, or otherwise restricting access” to any titles. However, board members were made cognizant that same evening that another material challenge waited in the wings: Milwaukee-area citizen Robert C. Braun of the Christian Civil Liberties Union (CCLU) distributed at the meeting copies of a claim for damages he and three other plaintiffs filed April 28 with the city; the complainants seek the right to publicly burn or destroy by another means the library’s copy of Baby Be-Bop. The claim also demands $120,000 in compensatory damages ($30,000 per plaintiff) for being exposed to the book in a library display, and the resignation of West Bend Mayor Kristine Deiss for “allow[ing] this book to be viewed by the public.”
The unanimous vote rejecting the Maziarkas’ challenge came after trustees heard several dozen comments for and against restricting the materials, as well as being presented with opposing petitions: 700 signatures on the petition circulated by West Bend Citizens for Safe Libraries, a group formed by the Maziarkas, and more than 1,000 on an anti-restriction petition from the newly formed West Bend Parents for Free Speech. Ironically, four of the trustees were denied reappointment in April as a rebuke from city council members for adhering to the library’s reconsideration process instead of complying immediately with the Maziarkas’ changing reconsideration requests. The trustees are serving until their successors are appointed.
Accusing the board of submitting to the will of the American Library Association and the American Civil Liberties Union, Ginny Maziarka declared, “We vehemently reject their standards and their principles,” and characterized the debate as “a propaganda battle to maintain access to inappropriate material.” She cautioned that her group would let people know that the library was not a safe place unless it segregated and labeled YA titles with explicit content. However, after the meeting board President Barbara Deter emphasized that it was the couple’s “freedom of speech” to challenge any individual library holding, according to the June 3 Greater Milwaukee Today.
For the immediate future, West Bend officials will be dealing with the CCLU’s legal claim. Describing the YA novel by celebrated author Francesca Lia Block as “explicitly vulgar, racial, and anti-Christian,” the complaint by Braun, Joseph Kogelmann, Rev. Cleveland Eden, and Robert Brough explains that “the plaintiffs, all of whom are elderly, claim their mental and emotional well-being was damaged by this book at the library,” specifically because Baby Be-Bop contains the “n” word and derogatory sexual and political epithets that can incite violence and “put one’s life in possible jeopardy, adults and children alike.”
The complaint points out that library Director Michael Tyree has “publicly stated that it is not up to the library to tell the community what is appropriate.” Citing “Wisconsin’s sexual morality law,” the plaintiffs also request West Bend City Attorney Mary Schanning to impanel a grand jury to examine whether the book should be declared obscene and making it available a hate crime.
I’m just going to start off by quoting the funniest line in this article:
A Christian youth worker told me how he thought the cult was childish. “It’s like a baby playing games,” he insisted. “Those people are holding on to a dream that will never come true,” he said.
At the base of a sacred volcano in an isolated corner of the South Pacific young men play the “Star Spangled Banner” on bamboo flutes.
Every February they parade in old US army uniforms with wooden weapons.
Others go bare-chested with the letters “USA” painted in bright red letters on their bodies.
Nearby, a giant Stars and Stripes flutters in the breeze from the main flagpole.
This is the heart of John Frum country on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu.
Villagers at Sulphur Bay worship a mystical figure who they believe will one day bring them wealth and happiness.
Time of upheaval
“John is our god,” declares village chief Isaac Wan, who beats his fists into the ground to emphasise his words.
“One day he will come back,” he says.
Believers are convinced that John Frum was an American.
The name could well have come from war-time GIs who introduced themselves as “Jon from America.”
Devotees say that the ghost of a mystical white man first appeared before tribal elders in the 1930s.
It urged them to rebel against the aggressive teachings of Christian missionaries and the influence of Vanuatu’s British and French colonial masters.
The apparition told villagers to do all they could to retain their own traditions.
Anthropologist Ralph Reganvalu told the BBC that the sect was a “cultural preservation movement” that was born during a time of upheaval.
“There was a whole period in history known as Tanna Law where the missionaries put in this series of rules about what people weren’t supposed to do and the movement emerged because of this oppression,” he said.
Homage to the US
World War II and the arrival of US troops on Vanuatu was a defining time for the movement. They had a name for their spiritual deity. He was John Frum.
Villagers believe that their messiah was responsible for delivering to them the munificence of the US military.
They were awestruck by the army’s cargo of tanks, weapons, refrigerators, food and medicine.
John Frum day is held annually on 15 February. This year’s celebration marks the 50th anniversary of the sect’s formal establishment.
It also recognises the day when villagers raised the US flag for the first time.
Through this homage to the US, disciples hope their ethereal saviour can be encouraged to return.
“It’s a little bit weird but it makes me feel really patriotic,” said Marty Meth, a retired businessman from New York, who had travelled to Tanna to see the festivities.
“It’s really nice to see Americans welcome here since in so many places in the world we’re not so welcome these days,” he added.
Waiting and hoping
Sulphur Bay lies in the shadow of Mount Yasur, an active volcano whose roar can be heard far away.
Many followers of John Frum believe his spirit lives deep within the volcano.
Every few minutes Yasur bellows.
Watching and listening from the crater’s edge is both exhilarating and frightening. A deafening growl is followed by the blasting of molten rock high into the sky.
These rumblings are a constant reminder for villagers that the spirit of John Frum remains as potent as ever.
About 20% of Tanna’s population of 30,000 follow the teachings of one of the world’s last remaining cargo cults.
Other islanders can barely disguise their contempt for it.
A Christian youth worker told me how he thought the cult was childish. “It’s like a baby playing games,” he insisted. “Those people are holding on to a dream that will never come true,” he said.
I put this view to Rutha, who’s married to Chief Isaac’s son. She was unfazed.
“I don’t care what they think,” she says gently without a hint of displeasure. “John is our Jesus and he will come back.”
The John Frum Movement is still trying to entice another delivery of cargo from its supernatural American god.
In the meantime his disciples continue to wait and hope.
What do Democrats Barack Obama and Joe Biden, and Republicans John McCain and Sarah Palin, have in common?
All four candidates for U.S. president and vice-president have made it clear, exceedingly clear, they’re proud Christians.
None is willing to follow the wishes of many annoyed Canadians and refrain from ending speeches with “God bless America.”
Religion, specifically Christianity, plays a much bigger role in American politics than it does north of the border. God talk just can’t be avoided down there — thanks to the overwhelming Protestant presence.
And even though it’s not unethical by definition to invoke a Supreme Being from a political stage, the practice can be manipulated. It can even be abused for demogoguery, through suggesting, for instance, questionable wars and policies reflect “God’s will.”
That doesn’t mean the word God doesn’t ever sneak into Canadian politics. Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who is quiet about his loyalty to the evangelical Alliance Church, will sometimes talk of his faith, carefully. Harper has also been known to declare “God bless Canada.”
Former Liberal PM Jean Chretien, a Catholic, occasionally mentioned God, including in this novel way: “God gave me a physical defect [a facial tic] . . . but I accepted that because God gave me other qualities and I’m grateful.”
Still, there are many fascinating reasons Canadian politicians are much less inclined than their American counterparts to, as typically skeptical Canadians might put it, “play the God card.”
I’ll cite a few of them.
The most obvious is the rising strength of white evangelical Protestants. They make up one out of four Americans.
They feel divinely motivated to convert others to their Jesus, and some are ready to use politics as part of that. Seventy-eight per cent of conservative white evangelicals voted for George W. Bush in the past two presidential campaigns. It made all the difference.
Conservative politicians north of the border don’t have this huge religious voting advantage because fewer than one out of 10 Canadians belong to evangelical churches.
And while many evangelicals quietly support Canada’s Conservatives — half of Harper’s caucus of MPs are evangelical — most don’t have any illusions they can openly bring most Canadians onside with their beliefs.
Canadians are like secularized Europeans that way. Of the world’s industrialized countries, the U.S. is the most religious and most Christian.
It wasn’t always this way.
In the early 20th century, Canada had a much higher percentage of the population attending churches than in the U.S., as North America’s leading historian of religion, Mark Noll (an evangelical), writes in A History of Christianity in Canada and the U.S.
Beginning in the 1950s, however, Canadian church attendance dropped off dramatically, as it did in Europe. At the same time, however, U.S. evangelical churches began to become more appealing, particularly to the middle classes.
The trend has caused many U.S. evangelical leaders to become carried away and aggressively declare theirs is a “Christian nation” — and always has been.