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Last week a “humanist” group filed a lawsuit in Prince George’s County, Md., demanding the removal from public land of a 40-foot cross memorializing the 49 local soldiers who gave their lives in the First World War. Across the country in Lake Elsinore, Calif., a judge ruled against a proposed monument that would have depicted a soldier kneeling before a small cross marking the grave of a fallen comrade (something soldiers actually do, by the way).
In the same town, a mother recently removed a roadside cross honoring her son — killed in an accident — after secularists raised objections even to a small roadside memorial. Heartbreaking video of the mother removing the cross here.
Of course these are not the only cross cases. In fact, just last week the Second Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments on the American Atheists’ attempt to remove the famed Ground Zero Cross from a museum exhibit, claiming that its inclusion in the September 11 Museum and Memorial violated the Constitution. What’s next? Lawsuits against religious-themed paintings in public art galleries?
All of my adult life I’ve heard Christians mocked as too sensitive, how we just need to turn the channel or look away when confronted with even the most vile blasphemies. While I disagree that Christians are any more sensitive than other communities (in fact, I think we have thicker skins than most), it is correct that the response to bad speech isn’t censorship but to either ignore the bad speech or answer with a better argument. I have zero desire to censor speech I don’t like, even public speech I don’t like. Unless a government official or action is directly violating my rights (and I don’t have a right not be offended), my response to his or her bad actions is to use my own voice to protest and my own voice to advocate that fellow citizens vote them out of office. That’s constitutional democracy in action.
Unless, of course, you’re an offended atheist. Then, the same pop culture that mocks Christian sensibilities will treat seriously your utterly vile outrage at a mourning mother’s expression of love for her fallen son. Then, that means the same federal courts that have consistently held that outrage alone does not constitute a recognizable injury will grant “offended observers” special status to challenge displays of perceived religious symbols on public land. In other words, an atheist’s subjective discomfort is sufficient grounds for a federal lawsuit.
This is a travesty. And it’s a symbol of the reality that our culture is steadily abandoning the idea of the law as a neutral arbiter and instead fully embracing the idea that the law exists for the purpose of making sure that just the right sort of people win their cases.
And in 2014, the right sort of person is an angry atheist. Let the Christian mothers weep. Their tears are meaningless.
For nearly 90 years, a war memorial has stood proudly honoring American heroes who fought and paid the ultimate sacrifice defending our great nation in World War I.
Last month, the American Humanist Association sued to have this war memorial torn down. Why? Because the memorial is in the shape of a cross.
In 1925, the people of Prince George County, Maryland, erected a memorial to honor the 49 brave residents of their town who fought and died to preserve our freedom. The Bladensburg Cross, or “Peace Cross” as it became known, has stood since that day as a testament to the heroism, the sacrifice, that these brave young men displayed fighting for America – fighting for our freedom.
That is until one angry atheist, literally riding his bike around town, discovered the cross. He was “shocked” at the sight of the cross and “upset” that the cross could possibly be displayed to honor our nation’s veterans.
Yet, he and a couple of other angry atheists, along with the American Humanist Association, after the shock had subsided a bit I supposed (it took them since 1982 to finally do something about it), filed a federal lawsuit a couple weeks ago, calling the cross a constitutional violation and demanding that the cross be torn down.
The lawsuit actually alleges that because the war memorial is located on what they claim is public property near a busy intersection that at least one of the plaintiffs passes “about once a month” driving around town or on his bike, it “associates a Christian religious symbol with the State and gives the impression that the State supports and approves of Christianity, as opposed to other religions, and that the state may even prefer Christians and Christianity over other religions.” One of the plaintiffs actually says that he is “personally offended and feels excluded” because the cross honors our nation’s veterans.
In fact, the lawsuit states that he was “shocked when he first saw the cross and it upsets him whenever he passes it.”
Each of the plaintiffs complains of “unwelcome contact” with the WWI memorial cross and tell the court they “do not wish to encounter the Bladensburg Cross in the future.” In other words, they want it torn down.
It’s just one more example of angry atheists who become so easily offended by the very sight or even the existence of something they supposedly don’t believe in.
Of course the cross has long been a symbol of sacrifice and has stood in honor of war heroes for centuries. Imagine their “shock” if they ever visited Arlington National Cemetery a few miles away in Virginia.
In fact, the Supreme Court has recognized that “a Latin cross is not merely a reaffirmation of Christian beliefs. It is a symbol often used to honor and respect those whose heroic acts, noble contributions, and patient striving help secure an honored place in history for this Nation and its people.”
This could not be more true than in the case of this nearly 90-year-old WWI memorial, meant to honor 49 specific men of valor who gave their last full measure for a grateful nation.
The fact of the matter is that a war memorial, symbolized by a cross, does not constitute a constitutional crisis.
Every time an angry atheist sees a symbol with which he or she disagrees, their first step is to rush to court. They conflate their feelings with the Constitution. As I’ve said before, the Constitution is not an atheist manifesto.
To tear this war memorial cross to the ground because the idea of it hurts some atheist’s feelings does a disservice to the very ones who gave their lives for this nation. They gave their lives so that everyone could be free – so that anyone would be free to believe or disbelieve as they so choose. To tear down their memorial, dishonors their memory.
At the ACLJ, we will be filing an amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief in this case, defending the cross and honoring those for whom it stands.
In a bit of disturbing irony, when the angry atheists first demanded the cross be torn down, they wrote a letter to the managing authorities asserting, “When considering this matter, you will likely hear from a loud and self-righteous portion of the populace that seeks to see its particular religious symbols preferred by the state.”
It is in fact a small but loud and self-righteous portion of the populace who wish to eradicate any religious symbol in our society with which they disagree, regardless of who it hurts or dishonors, because they have deemed it “offensive.”
But if they want to hear a loud voice, I think it’s time they and their 24,800 members hear from the American people.
The veterans of WWI are no longer here to defend their memorial, yet the price they paid gives us the freedom to defend it for them. If you don’t want this WWI memorial torn down, sign onto our brief today.
The Christian Defense Coalition and Faith and Action sponsored the event in defense of religious freedom, but they were quickly shouted down by secularists protesting prayer on government-owned property, CNS News’ Katie Yoderfirst reported.
Protesters held signs that read, “Hi Mom, I’m an atheist” and “Keep your theocracy off my democracy,” and they shouted things like “God does not exist!” at the CDC’s Rev. Patrick Mahoney as he kneeled in prayer for the Supreme Court justices.
“The court opens with prayer,” he said. “The building across the street, the United States Capitol, opens in prayer. Our position is simple. Everyone should be allowed to express their faith values and views free from government interference or harassment.”
“We’re not isolationist, we’re not bigoted, we’re not narrow. We’re open” Mr. Mahoney told an interrupter.
A Facebook invite for the prayer vigil said that the case, which challenges a municipality’s practice of beginning each town board meeting with an invocation, “will have a major impact on Christian expressions of faith in the public square for the next generation.”
In the Town of Greece v. Galloway, two female residents of Greece, N.Y., argue that the specifics of their town’s policy of starting board meetings with a prayer violate the separation of church and state.
Atheists in California are trying to remove prayer at the opening of public meetings in a California city.
Alliance Defending Freedom sent a legal memo to Chico, Calif., Thursday after the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter demanding the city stop opening public meetings with a prayer.
The city’s policy allows various members of the community to offer the prayers. Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys are currently defending a New York town’s similar prayer policy at the U.S. Supreme Court.
“Americans today should be as free as the Founders were to pray,” says senior counsel David Cortman. “The Founders prayed while drafting our Constitution’s Bill of Rights, and the Supreme Court has ruled that public prayer is part of the ‘history and tradition of this country.’ The city of Chico, therefore, is on extremely firm ground to allow prayer before its public meetings.”
The letter explains, “Fortunately, Chico can not only look to the historical example of the U.S. Congress and clear Supreme Court precedent, but this past Spring the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has expressly reaffirmed the right of Cities to open their public meetings with a prayer.”
The letter additionally points out that the Ninth Circuit “went further to clarify the Cities need not censor the content of the prayers or prevent people from offering prayers that are distinctive to their own faith traditions.”
“A few people should not be able to extinguish the traditions of our nation merely because they heard something they didn’t like,” adds senior counsel Brett Harvey. “Because the authors of the Constitution invoked God’s blessing on public proceedings, this tradition shouldn’t suddenly be considered unconstitutional. It’s perfectly constitutional to allow community members to ask for God’s blessing according to their conscience.”
Switzerland is holding a competition to rewrite its national anthem because it currently focuses on God.
Over £7,000 is being offered as a prize for rewriting the song, which is called the Swiss Psalm.
The man in charge of the competition claims Swiss society is “religiously neutral”, but in a 2010 census two thirds identified themselves as belonging to a church.
Competitors are asked to include values from the Swiss constitution such as democracy and solidarity, and the tune could also be revised.
But Lukas Niederberger, who is in charge of the competition, told the BBC: “The real problem is above all the text.”
“Officially the anthem is a psalm, a prayer, but of course we have an open society, religiously neutral.
“We have atheists, no single god, so this anthem is a difficulty”.
He also said: “Many people are conservative and the anthem is emotional, but if a composer creates a super song, then we can change the tune too.
“But that’s a bit difficult for conservative people, so we say the contestants don’t have to change the music”, he said.
One verse of the current anthem, which dates back to the 1800s and was officially adopted in 1981, reads: “When the morning skies grow red / And o’er their radiance shed / Thou, O Lord, appeareth in their light.
“When the Alps glow bright with splendour, Pray to God, to Him surrender,
“For you feel and understand, For you feel and understand / That he dwelleth in this land. That he dwelleth in this land.”
The winner will be decided by a 25-member judging panel which includes people from the literature, sport and yodelling communities.
The competition will begin in January next year and run for six months. The prize – of 10,000 Swiss Francs – will be awarded in 2015.
According to the 2010 census, as well as those who identified as religious, 20 per cent said they had no religion.
Church seeks compensation for victims of Boko Haram
The church commended the implementation of emergency rule in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.
The Church of Christ in Nations, COCIN, has advocated for compensation to victims of the Boko Haram insurgents.
The church also pledged its total support for the steps taken by the federal government in restoring peace at the northeastern part of the country through emergency rule.
It stated its position in a communique made available to journalists on Saturday after COCIN’s 82nd annual general council meeting which held at its headquarters in Jos on Friday evening.
“COCIN applauds the bold step taken by the Federal Government in declaring a state of emergency in Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe States and prays that it will bring lasting peace. The general church council calls on the federal and various state governments to take proactive and definite measures to curb insecurity and the growing menace of the Boko Haram Islamic sect terrorist group.
“We reiterate our position against the proposed amnesty to Boko Haram as it will only mean rewarding and glorifying crime,” the church stressed.
The three page communique also frowned at the brutal killing of innocent people across the country by the Boko Haram.
“COCIN condemns in strong terms the brutal killings at Baga and Bama both in Borno State, Wukari in Taraba State, Alakyo, in Nasarawa State, Agatu in Benue State and that of Gombe and Kano States and of recent Katsina State. We condole the family and Christians in Borno State over the killing of the State CAN Secretary, Rev. Faye Pama, by the Boko Haram second,” it stated.
At the opening of the three day general council meeting on Wednesday, president of COCIN, Soja Bewarang, disclosed that insecurity in the northeastern states had forced the church to relocate some of its workers for their safety.
The church also called on the Federal Government to consider compensation for all victims of Boko Haram. Also, at the end of the meeting, the general church council approved creation of 17 new regional church councils and one provincial church council. Source
Nigeria: Militants Turning Country into Christian Killing Field
Atheist Condemns Christian Troops
WASHINGTON, USA (BosNewsLife)– While the Obama administration carefully avoids any religious connection between Islamic jihad and the Boston bombings, the president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation bluntly told Pentagon officials that Christian troops who proselytize are guilty of sedition and treason and should be punished.
“Someone needs to be punished for this,” said Mikey Weinstein. “Until the Air Force or Army or Navy or Marine Corps punishes a member of the military for unconstitutional religious proselytizing and oppression, we will never have the ability to stop this horrible, horrendous, dehumanizing behavior.”
Weinstein also said his Foundation has thousands of Protestant members who are only opposed to Christian fundamentalists. “As soon as we find a fundamentalist Muslim, atheist, Jewish person or anybody else, we will be happy to fight them, but so far they have been few and far between,” he said.
Surprisingly, Weinstein seems unaware that there are many fundamentalist Muslims who are willing to fight us all the way to the Finish Line of the Boston Marathon. After Weinstein went to the Pentagon to discuss the state of religion in the military, Tony Perkins, president of the Washington-based Family Research Council, wondered why U.S. officers were taking advice about religious freedom from one of the most rabid atheists in America. “That’s like consulting with China on how to improve human rights,” he said.
Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Jerry Boykin, an FRC executive VP, told Fox News that he sees a pattern of attacks on Christianity within the military. “Mickey Weinstein has a very visceral hated of Christianity and those who are Christians,” he said. “He’d like to see it eliminated from the military entirely.” However, that seems unlikely since military chaplains are an exception to the so called separation of church and state found in the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment; the Department of Defense must support the free exercise of religion by its service personnel and DoD employees because the Constitution proscribes Congress from enacting any law prohibiting the free exercise of religion, according to The American Center for Law and Justice. This is especially true when U.S. service personnel must deploy to parts of the world where the facilities to practice their respective faiths are not only unavailable, but non-existent, such as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which prohibits all public worship save Islam.
Iranian Christians face ‘systematic persecution and prosecution’
Iran’s treatment of its Christian minority has come under fresh scrutiny in recent months with some damning verdicts on the country’s human rights record.
Reports from the UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) and New York-based International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI) cite evidence of “systematic persecution and prosecution” of Protestants and Christian converts, as part of a widespread violation of international laws.
As national elections draw near (voters go to the polls on June 14), Iran is under increasing international pressure to improve its human rights record or face continued sanctions – sanctions ICHRI says are impacting the welfare of the Iranian people.
In its April report, A Growing Crisis: The Impact of Sanctions and Regime Policies on Iranians’ Economic and Social Rights, ICHRI says that, rather than damaging the Iranian regime, sanctions resulting from Iran’s nuclear program have “brought about a severe deterioration in the ability of the Iranian people to pursue their economic and social rights”.
‘Systematic persecution’ The UN’s Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran, Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, noted in September 2012 that more than 300 Christians have been arrested and detained since 2010, while at least 41 were detained for periods ranging from one month to over a year, sometimes without official charges.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in February that Iran “refuted” the UN’s claim of an increase in discrimination towards religious minorities, claiming “all people of Iran regardless of their religion or ethnicity enjoy equal citizenship rights”. READ MORE
Sudanese center says incidents of apostasy, atheism increasing in country
KHARTOUM (Sudan Tribune) – The chairman of the Islamic Center for Preaching and Comparative Studies, Ammar Saleh, said that cases of apostasy and atheism are on the rise in the country and accused authorities of negligence in addressing this issue.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Saleh claimed that the number of converts from Islam in Khartoum has reached 109 apostates, stressing that these figures are growing in a “continuous” and “scary” fashion, especially with the presence of atheists and homosexuals.
The Islamic figure slammed the government for not taking decisive action against missionaries operating “boldly” in the country. He said that anyone who denies the existence of proselytising or the increase in people converting to the Shiite faith are either “living on Mars” or are in denial.
Saleh appealed to the official bodies and the community to take a stand against Christianisation and find a long-term solution to the problem, arguing that government’s efforts in this regard are timid compared to missionaries’ efforts. He also accused the Orthodox Church of building a church in Ombadda without a permit in a “de facto” manner.
The former head of Ombadda People’s Committee, who is also a member of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP), Adam Mudawi, claimed that they have information indicating that there is an underground storage facility in the three-story church that contains a large cache of weapons. Mudawi also said there is a satellite dish inside the church and its function remains unexplained. He accused the church of exploiting poor citizens by providing financial support and assistance to aid its proselytising activities.