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-Must Public Officials Give Up Their Religious Liberty?

by Dr. D ~ December 30th, 2017

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Must public officials give up their religious liberty? In past generations this question would have seemed to be ridiculous in the face of the First Amendment but over and over again those serving in public office are now being challenged to conform to secular and atheist notions of ‘Church and State’ rules of conduct that never came up or existed before.

A few months ago, an atheist group demanded that Sen. Marco Rubio stop tweeting Bible verses claiming that it was against the Constitution. Then there was the ‘religious test’ attempted to be applied by Sen. Sanders against the appointment of a Christian over his very normal Christian views on eternal destiny and salvation. Another case in point is the doctor who lost his job as a state public health official because of some things he said in a sermon given in a church.

Then there is the case of Atlanta’s former fire chief, Kelvin Cochran, who was fired for publishing a Christian devotional. Both sides claimed victory last week in the court case over that dismissal. From Christianity Today:

In Cochran v. City of Atlanta, the US District Court for the Northern District of Georgia said that the city’s restrictions on non-work speech, which were used to terminate Cochran, “do not set out objective standards for the supervisor to employ” and do not “pass constitutional muster.”

Judge Leigh Martin May backed Cochran’s claims related to the policy’s prior restraint and unbridled discretion being in violation of the First Amendment. However, she sided with the city and against Cochran over claims of religious discrimination.

“The government can’t force its employees to get its permission before engaging in free speech,” said Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Kevin Theriot, who represented the former Atlanta official.

A spokesperson for the Atlanta mayor’s office told local news that the judge ruled “in the city’s favor on all major constitutional issues, and specifically rejected Mr. Cochran’s claim that the city violated his due process and other First Amendment rights of freedom of association, free speech, and free exercise of religion.”

<Read the whole article>

That case will probably continue to the next level. At stake is whether Christians with a traditional view of marriage can continue to serve in public office if they publically or even privately enunciate those Christian views in print or in speech intended for friends or in a church or religious context and venue?

Even more startling this past week or so was the report of an atheist group demanding that a public official cease serving as a ‘bell ringer’ for the Salvation Army. Here’s the story from the CT Post:

Deep in the heart of Trump country, the Salvation Army’s ubiquitous red kettle is turning into a cauldron of controversy for Sen. George Logan.

An Ansonia Republican, Logan’s volunteer work as a bell-ringer outside a Walmart in Naugatuck for the Salvation Army, which is a Christian charity, has drawn opposition from a secularist group.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation called on Logan to keep up the separation between church and state. The group wrote to him Tuesday to voice its objections to him ringing the bell outside the big box store twice this week, including an appearance scheduled for Saturday at noon. …

     “We urge you to consider supporting only secular charities in the future,”

the Madison, Wisc., group wrote Logan.

This will ensure that representatives do not give the appearance of promoting an overtly Christian mission and will prevent citizens from feeling ostracized by their elected representatives because of their religious beliefs or sexual preference.”

<Read the whole article>

Response: The implications of the FFRF letter are rather far reaching. It really is saying that public officials must give up all of their affiliations and service in Christian organizations or churches which have ‘an overtly Christian mission,’ which would include basically all churches and specifically conservative ones who maintain a Biblical view of marriage and sexuality.

To most of us in the conservative Christian community this would seem to be a violation of the First Amendment and hopefully there are still some conservative judges who would continue to rule according to the original understanding of the Bill of Rights. However, in today’s America there are also an increasing number in legal circles who really do believe that public officials need to serve in an entirely secular context and give up their religious convictions and service in the process.

Occasionally I make a practice of reading editorials and views on the Internet from ‘the other side’ in order to get an understanding of where we may be heading in the future.

There is a prevailing understanding among atheists and secularists that public officials must be forced to give up their religious liberty in the assumption and service of their offices. Particularly, there is the notion being kicked around that conservative Christian should be barred from office and public positions if they continue to hold to traditional Christian views on marriage and sexuality. We would contend that this position is directly against the Constitution and First Amendment.

However, many atheists and secularists now contend that since the Supreme Court ruling has established same-sex marriage as the law of the land, those who maintain a traditional view of marriage now hold an ‘illegal’ view which should no longer be tolerated when it come to those serving in public office. So there is a growing support for the notion among progressives that public officials must indeed be forced to comply and give up their religious liberty when it comes to Biblical views on marriage and sexuality. It is their view that this should no longer be considered a ‘religious test’ but should be viewed as a demand and expectation that public officials rightfully support the ‘law of the land.’

Look for the battle to continue and actually intensify over this issue in 2018.

A major battleground will be over President Trump’s appointments to the federal bench. The Senate in 2018 is turning towards the left and it will be much harder for conservatives to be approved next year. Having said that, the ‘war’ over religious liberty would have already been over if Hillary had won.

Also follow the Supreme Court. A number of interesting cases on the freedom of religion front are coming before them and their ruling (or non-ruling) could be crucial in determining the future direction of religious liberty in America. In addition, any possible changes in the make-up of the court itself would result in a major battle and religious liberty would probably be one of the major issues considered in that selection and approval process.                *Top

(Reprinted from Answers for the Faith main page)

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-Merry Christmas 2017

by Dr. D ~ December 24th, 2017

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                                                              (Image via Wikipedia)

Merry Christmas to you and yours and may God truly bless you this Day.

The Real Christmas Story

When our children were growing up it was a family tradition to read about the ‘real’ Christmas story in the Bible on Christmas Eve.

You’ve probably seen a dozen or so ‘Christmas stories’ on TV in the last couple of weeks but the real Christmas story is found in Matthew (Matt. 1:18-2:18) and in Luke (Luke 1:26-56, 2:1-40). However, Isaiah should never be ignored:

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

Matthew gives us the story largely from the perspective of Joseph, including the dreams that he had and his family genealogy. In this gospel the ‘Kingship’ of Jesus is the major topic. Starting with the Davidic Kingly genealogy through Joseph and the coming of the Magi (Wisemen) who are looking for the new king. Also King Herod’s reaction is in Matthew.

The events in Luke are given to us from Mary’s view. The angel Gabriel appears to Mary and announces the coming of the child. Mary’s genealogy is also given in Luke (Luke 3:23-38), she was also a descendant of David, but not in the ‘Kingly’ line. Chapter 2 begins with the Christmas story that everyone is familiar with:

1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

However, nothing explains the real reason for the season better than John 3:16-17:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  -KJV

*Top

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-Is Jesus Merely a Myth Like Santa Claus?

by Dr. D ~ December 14th, 2017

04567_Christmas_nativity_scene_at_the_Franciscan_church_in_Sanok,_2010220px-20121123_SantaClaus-Chicago

Is Jesus merely a myth like Santa Claus?

This is the season when millions of Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and millions of children believe in a ‘magic’ coming of Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. Adults all know that Santa is a fun myth perpetrated on young children this time of the year but lately atheist billboards have claimed that the story of Jesus is in the same category.

Also in the last 10 years or so a number of articles and books have championed the idea of a non-historical ‘mythical Jesus’– that there never was a real man called Jesus of Nazareth. Therefore they contend that the whole Nativity story is nothing more than an elaborate hoax or myth?

However, there is ample historical evidence supporting the existence of a real man called Jesus of Nazareth- the real ‘reason for the season’ after all. Whether he was actually born on December 25 is a different question entirely but the story of his birth can be found in Matthew (Mt 1:18-2:18) and in Luke (Lk 1:26-56, 2:1-40).

The fact remains that most actual scholars in the related historical fields about  Christian origins and 1st century Roman Judea continue to accept that there was a real historical man called Jesus who lived in 1st century Judea. Though there are major disagreements over what he actually might have done, what he said, and who he really was— just a man, a religious leader, a prophet, The Messiah, or the Son of God.

Here’s a great article about what real scholars in the field actually think about the historicity of the man Jesus and those who claim he is nothing more than a myth. I found it on Dr. Ben Witherington’s blog:

    “Why the “Mythical Jesus” Claim Has No Traction with Scholars” by Larry Hurtado

Here’s the opening paragraph from the article:

The overwhelming body of scholars, in New Testament, Christian Origins, Ancient History, Ancient Judaism, Roman-era Religion, Archaeology/History of Roman Judea, and a good many related fields as well, hold that there was a first-century Jewish man known as Jesus of Nazareth, that he engaged in an itinerant preaching/prophetic activity in Galilee, that he drew to himself a band of close followers, and that he was executed by the Roman governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate.  …

<Read the whole article>

Note:   Dr. Larry Hurtado is a New Testament scholar, historian of early Christianity and Emeritus Professor of New Testament Language, Literature and Theology from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland           

 *Top

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-Happy Thanksgiving 2017

by Dr. D ~ November 23rd, 2017

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("The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth": Wikipedia)


Happy Thanksgiving 2017 to you and yours. Our traditional Thanksgiving message follows:

Thanksgiving is an uniquely American celebration that began nearly four centuries ago with a deeply religious people, the Pilgrims, giving thanks to God for preserving them though a very hard year and bringing them their first bountiful harvest which they gratefully shared with their indigenous neighbors.

It was our first President George Washington who proclaimed that our first official national day of public thanksgiving should be dedicated by observing and:

“…by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God.

In recent years the ‘politically correct’/secular crowd has rewritten the history of the first Thanksgiving placing an emphasis upon the hand that the indigenous American Indians played in helping the original Pilgrim community to survive. In the process they have redirected the emphasis on thanks towards neighbors and friends and away from the providence of Almighty God.

While it is always good to be thankful for others who have enriched our own lives and certainly that has a good part to play in the celebration. Nevertheless the major emphasis of Thanksgiving should always be upon God as it was on that very first occasion.

For my family and I, we will be praising and thanking the Lord God Almighty for the bounties and the providence that he has bestowed upon us this year in the name of his Son Jesus Christ. May Our Heavenly Father bless your family today and continue to bless all of us and this nation during this holiday season and in the year to come.           *Top

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–Happy Reformation Day! Celebrating 500 Years

by Dr. D ~ October 31st, 2017

Wittenberg Door

       (Wittenberg Door: Wikipedia)

Happy Halloween –Happy Reformation Day!

I know. October 31st is known for witches, goblins, pumpkins, and trick or treat.

It is amazing to me how in the last 20 years or so Halloween has gone from a one night ‘celebration’ to become an entire ‘holiday’ season of it’s own with parties and decorations that span nearly an entire month. Plus it has become an excuse for every TV station to flood the air with the worst horror movies of all time.  Not a genre that I am particularly fond of.

However, this is also the anniversary of a real earth shaking -game changing- historical event that altered the face of Europe and forever changed the Christian Church. 500 years ago on this day- October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany starting The Reformation.

The enemy (Satan) likes to use this day for propagating his dark agenda but on this day 500 years ago a genuine move of God was initiated that still continues. The beginning of a revival right in the face of the enemy on his own day.

Let’s redeem this dark day and pray for God to continue to reform and revive his church.  Let’s also in remembrance of the original Reformation pray today for a new awakening to begin in America. May a new door of renewal and revival open in America that no man can shut.  In Jesus name, Amen           *Top

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