Friday, July 16, 2010

Land of the Free?

The United States of America has always been a nation of ideas; ideas publically shared and discussed, without condemnation or ridicule. We hold close to meaningful concepts; freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the freedom to remove corrupt officials from office.

At least that’s how our children were once taught in schools.

Today is different. Most Americans care nothing for ideas or the art of conversation, and are quick to ridicule any and all subjects unrelated to what fills their bellies or satisfies their desires. Our children are taught to condemn freedom of thought, religion, and speech. If your child is in a government school, do everything in your might to rescue him or her from that monstrosity!

Given these two divisions, those who hold ideas sacred and those who don’t; it is my unguarded opinion that the latter outnumbers the former.

As I present these handful of seemingly unrelated stories, perhaps you’ll see, as I did, how they are so very much related and connected in the end.

Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel and dean of Liberty University's School of Law presents us with what can only be described as a major setback to freedom of religion.

The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) was passed to provide churches the liberal freedom to locate and establish congregations and buildings wherever they wished, thus supporting in total the First Amendment.

Now, the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that local governments can restrict the zoning of churches and deny the building of churches and even forbid the meeting of congregations based on the “local communities' interest”.

To put this in plain English, if a diocese wishes to build a Catholic church in a mostly Muslim community, they can now be denied the permits to do so, solely based on the locals desire to keep the church out.

So, instead of our citizens sharing each others culture, which is the great American way, we must now become more balkanized and separated; the anti-freedom way.

Large cities, especially in the North, have always had a problem with separating into ethnic cliques and neighborhoods. We’ve all heard the stories; “don’t go into that part of town – it’s full of those hateful Irish”! : )

The South tends to live together and not separate into ethnic groups. I’m biased of course, being Southern, but I’ve always noticed this difference.

Well, the Seventh U.S. Court of Appeals agrees with those cities of the North now.

Speaking of the South; here in Florida, the Maitland-based Liberty Counsel filed a lawsuit to overturn a ban on Bible distribution on public school campuses in Collier County. According to the Liberty Counsel, the Collier County School Board allowed “World Changers” (a Christian group) to distribute free Bibles to students during off-school hours on Religious Freedom Day, but now the school officials claim that Bibles do not provide any educational benefit to the students and the distribution should stop. BTW, the Bibles are only given to students who accept them freely. They are not forced on anyone.

Thankfully, the Collier County School Board and District are being sued for this breach of religious freedom.

In another story;

A North Carolina pastor was relieved of his duties as an honorary chaplain of the state house of representatives after he closed a prayer by invoking the name of Jesus.

“I got fired,” said Ron Baity, pastor of Berean Baptist Church in Winston-Salem. He had been invited to lead prayer for an entire week but his tenure was cut short when he refused to remove the name Jesus from his invocation.

Baity’s troubles began during the week of May 31. He said a House clerk asked to see his prayer. The invocation including prayers for our military, state lawmakers and a petition to God asking him to bless North Carolina.”

“When I handed it to the lady, I watched her eyes and they immediately went right to the bottom of the page and the word Jesus,” he told FOX News Radio. “She said ‘We would prefer that you not use the name Jesus. We have some people here that can be offended.’”

For you foreign folk who may not understand, our Constitution confirms and establishes “freedom OF religion” as a God-given right of life. “freedom FROM religion” is completely un-American. The honorary Chaplain of a State House could have been a Muslim or Hindu. Yet, the person invoking the name of Jesus was condemned.

In Urbana, Ill. the University of Illinois has fired an adjunct professor who taught courses on Catholicism after a student accused the instructor of engaging in hate speech by saying he agrees with the church's teaching that homosexual sex is immoral.

Professor Ken Howell of Champaign, said his firing violates his academic freedom. He also lost his job at an on-campus Catholic center.

Howell has taught at the university for nine years, BTW, and was recognized by his department in 2008 and 2009 for being rated an excellent teacher by students.

Next, in the land of Shari’a Law, Dearborn, Michigan, police officers arrested four missionaries and confiscated their video cameras.

"These Christian missionaries were exercising their constitutional rights to free speech and the free exercise of religion, but apparently the Constitution carries little weight in Dearborn, where the Muslim population seems to dominate the political apparatus," said Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center.

Two opinions issued by Massachusetts Federal Judge Joseph L. Tauro represents an egregious example of judicial activism.

In them, he declared unconstitutional the federal definition of “marriage”—the union of one man and one woman. This traditional definition prompted the judge to opine that “there exists no fairly conceivable set of facts that could ground a rational relationship between [the federal definition of marriage] and a legitimate government objective.”

And Lastly,

A group of Christian students was allegedly ordered to stop praying outside the U.S. Supreme Court building on May 5 because a court police officer told them it was against the law.

The students were part of a junior high school American History class at Wickenburg Christian Academy in Arizona. After taking pictures on the steps of the Supreme Court building, their teacher gathered them to a side location where they formed a circle and began to pray.

According to Nate Kellum, senior counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, a police officer “abruptly” interrupted the prayer and ordered the group to cease and desist.

This is in D.C. folks, where our Rights are supposed to be held in high regard!

Later, D.C. was awakened in the night by an extremely rare earthquake. I doubt very seriously if they got the message!

The Observer

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