LGBTQ Lessons in New Jersey Schools

LGBTQ Lessons in New Jersey Schools

Starting in the fall of 2020, all of New Jersey’s public middle schools and high schools will be required to teach LGBTQ lessons. The state is not requiring a separate class on the subject, but to incorporate LGBTQ into various subjects. Every course on history, economics, grammar, etc. must include three to four lessons on “social, political, and economic contributions of LGBTQ people.” The requirement for LGBTQ lessons in New Jersey schools follows a similar law in California.

Included in the curriculum, now being tested in twelve schools in four cities, is a lesson about a gay boy forced into “gay conversion therapy.” The education manager of Garden State Equality, the advocacy group leading the pilot program, said, “We want students to see themselves in the stories that are told.” LGBTQ promoters will serve as curriculum coaches making site visits and training teachers. The state will dictate to local school boards what policies, curriculum, and textbooks they must use to comply with the LGBTQ law standards.

As a public school teacher, I find it hard to understand why this would not add a level of conflict to the classroom. Having a “coach” who has an agenda invites more conflict. Knowing that there will be parents who have anti-LGBTQ plans will add another layer of conflict. A group called “The Family Policy Alliance of New Jersey” is collecting signatures on a petition calling the law a violation of religious liberties that “forces sexual ideology” onto children. The petition goes on to say, “This law violates the fundamental and constitutional rights of parents to direct the moral and educational upbringing of their children.”

We have discussed the LGBTQ issue before such as HERE and HERE. There is no justification for the abuse of any person based on sexual orientation. The problem with governments promoting moral laws for individuals is that they never tell the whole story. The Bible speaks against the gay lifestyle, and history indicates abuse both by and towards gays. It’s a fact that LGBTQ participants have a shorter life expectancy. Transgender persons need continual medical support, including a lifetime of hormone drugs. LGBTQ persons historically have a vastly higher rate of STDs. Will all of these facts be presented in the LGBTQ lessons in New Jersey schools?

What would happen if a state passed a law mandating that historical Christian values must be presented across classes by teachers and coached by Christian ministers? The history of the Christian belief systems would emphasize great accomplishments, but it would also reflect the bias of whoever did the coaching. LGBTQ lessons in New Jersey schools will possibly drive more and more people to charter schools and private schools, weakening the diversity of the public schools.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Source: USA Today, January 8, 2020, page 5A.

Why Homeschooling?

Why Homeschooling?

One of the challenges that parents face today, perhaps more than at any time in history, is the challenge of how to educate their children. The National Center for Education Statistics tells us that 1.7 million children are homeschooled in the United States. Why homeschooling?

There are many problems with homeschooling. Many times parents do not have enough education to do an adequate job of educating their child. Homeschooled children tend to have social issues because they have not interacted with a wide range of children with other abilities and beliefs. Perhaps the most compelling reason for homeschooling is to provide religious instruction for the child. That has become more necessary in recent years as churches have veered away from moral instruction and Bible teaching while using entertainment to attract students.

In the 2020 report by the U.S. Department of Education, the main reason given for homeschooling is safety, with bullying and school shootings being a significant concern. The government report said that for 34% of all homeschoolers, safety was the most important motivation. Religious instruction as a reason, has dropped 13% in four years.

Where you live has a major impact on whether you feel motivated to homeschool your child. Shootings can occur anywhere, and church buildings have been a primary target of shooters in recent years. Unfortunately, bullying is likely to occur at any age and in any situation. As an adult, I have faced bullying by people who claimed to be Christians attempting to stop my ministry. Having been bullied as a child has allowed my ministry to survive. I learned anti-bullying skills early. Parents maintaining good communication with their children and being proactive at stopping bullying is a better solution than trying to avoid it.

Why homeschooling? There is a place for homeschooling, but “training a child in the way they should go” (Proverbs 22:6) doesn’t always mean withdrawing them from the challenges of life.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Data from Christianity Today, March 2020, page 22.

Christian Martyr Data Discrepencies

Christian Martyr Data Discrepencies

We live in a time in which many people who wear the name “Christian” are being killed. Various groups who keep track of Christian martyr data have wildly different counts of how many have died for their faith.

The Center for the Study of Global Christianity says that 90,000 Christians were martyred in 2019. The International Society for Human Rights says that 10,000 were martyred. Open Doors puts the number at 4,305. The problem here is that the definition of a “martyr” is not the same for everyone.

The Nazis killed Dietrich Bonhoeffer in World War II because he was involved in a plot to assassinate Adolph Hitler. His Christian faith was the reason he became involved in the plot. Does that make him a martyr? Christians were killed in civil wars in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan. Should they be classified as martyrs? There is a monument in Bicknell Park in Montebello, California, in memory of one of the worst genocides of the 20th century. Between 1915 and 1921, the Turkish government killed 1,500,000 Armenian Christians. Does that make all of them martyrs?

Martyrs have always been held up as examples of faithfulness. In today’s world, there are many countries where converting to Christianity is a sure way to be executed. The early Roman persecution of Christians is undeniable and uncontested. Determining Christian martyr data in our modern world varies by how we define “martyr.”

Those of us who live in the United States should be thankful that, so far, we don’t have to be worried about being singled out or killed by the government because of our worship. That may change, but we should thank God for the freedom Christians enjoy now in the U.S. and other countries.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Data from Christianity Today, March 2020, page 23-24.

Potential Problems of Prayer in Public Schools

Potential Problems of Prayer in Public Schools

As a public high school science teacher with 41 years of experience, I have watched with interest the struggle over school prayer. We recently reported on the United States government easing restrictions. At the same time, we must be cautious about potential problems of prayer in public schools.

At one time, I taught at Jackson High School in South Bend, Indiana. The school was aware that I traveled on weekends giving lectures on why I believe God exists. They decided to allow the students an opportunity to hear my presentations. There were some atheist attempts to get me fired for doing that, but they had failed. Even though I traveled on weekends, I never missed a day of school because of the lectureships. I also never brought my material into the classroom. I was hired to teach physics, chemistry, and earth science, and that is what I did. I gave my presentations during what was called “mini-courses” during the homeroom period. The students could choose to hear me in the school auditorium, or use the swimming pool, or shoot baskets in the gym, or attend a class on ballroom dancing, or play cards in the cafeteria. The school enrollment was around 1600, and we had over 1000 who came to the auditorium.

Contrast that experience with what has happened in recent years. We have mentioned cases where students received disciplinary action for mentioning their faith in graduation exercises. Coaches have been fired for kneeling in silent prayer before or after a game. All of this has prompted the Family Research Council (FRC) to draw up what they call the “Declaration of Religious Rights in Public School.” The document says that students do not lose their constitutional rights of religious freedom and free speech when they step onto school grounds. As long as it does not interrupt instructional time:

1) Students can pray, read their Bible and other religious material, and talk about their faith at school.

2) Students can organize prayer groups or religious clubs and promote the meetings.

3) Students can express their faith in classwork and homework.

4) Teachers can organize prayer groups and Bible studies with other teachers.

5) Students may be able to go off campus to have religious studies during school hours.

6) Students can express their faith at a school event.

7) Students can express their faith at their graduation ceremony.

I’m sure that the FRC had lawyers involved in preparing this, and many of their ideas are very good. But they may be an invitation to potential problems of prayer in public schools. They may not understand what goes on in a public high school like James Whitcomb Riley High School in South Bend, Indiana, where I taught in for 41 years. For example, how do you control students going off campus? Maybe their religion promotes free love and rejection of parents. Are kids allowed to go for all religious classes? If not, which ones? Is the school facility going to be used to have meetings of religious clubs, and, if so, who is responsible for what goes on? If one student expresses their faith at a school event, do you have to allow every student who has a faith of any kind to share it? These are a few of the potential problems of prayer in public schools.

Jesus made it clear that the Church is not to be a part of the state (Matthew 22:21 ). If the state is providing education in math, English, science, etc., it cannot become an arena of religious conflict. A politician can have a religious faith, but the floor of the congress is not the place to promote doctrinal principles. The public school cannot be that either.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Blessing Nuclear Bombs

Blessing Nuclear Bombs

One of the great teachings of Jesus Christ is the separation of Church and State. The issue came up many times in His ministry and during the life of Paul. Christ’s enemies raised it directly to Him in Matthew 22:17-21. Jesus’ response was, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.” Secular rulers have often tried to use the Church to validate what they did. A classic example of how far astray things can go is blessing nuclear bombs.

Vladimir Putin has made the Russian Orthodox Church an arm of the state, and for some time now, he has had the priests blessing nuclear bombs. They do it by splashing “holy water” on the nukes. Previously the Church was doing the blessing on all arms as well as seeking divine protection for soldiers. A church commission has been set up by the Russian Orthodox Church to investigate whether weapons of mass destruction should be included in the blessings.

The Russian military is building a cathedral in a military park outside Moscow, further emphasizing the close connection between the state and the Church. Jesus did not confront the Roman authorities of His day. Paul taught the importance of Christians being subject in civil life to civil authority (Romans 13). The idea of Christians blessing war and destruction flies in the face of all Jesus taught.

Atheists can justifiably complain about abuses like this one, but we must separate what Jesus taught from what various denominations teach and do. We can defend everything Jesus taught and show its wisdom, but blessing nuclear bombs is not defensible.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Reference: The Week, February 14, 2020, page 9.

Government Easing Restrictions on Prayer in School

Government Easing Restrictions on Prayer in School

In 2003, the United States Education Department issued a document called “Guidance on School Prayer.” It contained very restrictive rules for prayer in a school setting. We have reported on some cases where a student was prohibited from giving a talk connected to an earned award because they insisted on including a prayer. Now, we see the government easing restrictions on prayer in school.

The 2020 release by the Education Department states that “student speakers can pray at assemblies or sports games as long as they were not chosen to speak based on their religious perspective.” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos says, “Our actions today will protect the constitutional rights of students, teachers, and faith-based institutions.”

The new rules also expand the ability of faith-based groups to participate in government programs, and it “aims to put religious groups on equal footing when competing for federal grants and other funding.” We have recently pointed out the problems with accepting government money when it means the government gets to decide what you can teach, preach, and do.

Since this new set of rules comes in an election year, some may impugn the motives of the government rule-makers. I am sure it will generate a lot of reaction from atheistic groups. At the very least, the government easing restrictions on prayer in school will move it away from a totally atheistic stance on the rights of young people.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Data from Associated Press, January 17, 2020.

You can read the new guidelines HERE.

Christian Seminary Students in Same-sex Marriages

Christian Seminary Students in Same-sex Marriages and Lawsuits

Yesterday we reported on the LGBT conflict which is breaking the United Methodist Church apart. The dispute over sexual morality is also affecting one of the oldest and most highly regarded theological seminaries in the United States–Fuller Theological Seminary. The conflict involves Christian seminary students in same-sex marriages.

Fuller has a “Sexual Standards Policy,” which states that the seminary “holds marriage to be a covenant union between one man and one woman.” The policy also says that “homosexual forms of explicit sexual conduct” are “inconsistent with the teaching of Scripture.” Two students, one man and one woman, were expelled because the seminary learned that they were in same-sex marriages. They are both suing the school for one million dollars each.

The problem here is that Fuller and many other Christian colleges and seminaries receive government assistance in scholarships and other educational funding. Title IX government funding rules bar “discrimination based on sex.” The original intent of this rule was that women could not be refused participation in educational programs just because they were women. Now LGBT supporters are mounting legal efforts to expand Title IX protections to gender identity and sexuality.

What happens here will have a profound effect on Christian colleges who participate in any scholarship program where government grants or loans allow students to get an education. This would include those with minority and military scholarships. It will also affect those schools and churches that use government commodities in benevolent programs or minority support programs.

Christian seminary students in same-sex marriages is only one aspect of a growing problem. It seems that the government’s beliefs about morality are dictating what Church programs can teach. The only option is for churches and schools not to use government support in any way, or else they must change their moral teachings.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

You can read about this on the Christianity Today website at THIS LINK.

Chinese Persecution of Christians

Chinese Persecution of Christians

Our materials have been used in China for many years. Our DVD series was translated into Mandarin, and many years ago, we helped arrange for a Chinese national to duplicate the DVDs in large quantities and distribute them throughout China. We are now hearing from our contacts in China about an increase in Chinese persecution of Christians.

For several years, churches have had to register with the government. Now the government is placing surveillance cameras in the churches to monitor congregants. Churches that refuse to allow the cameras are being shut down. All churches with a cross on their buildings have had those crosses taken down, and images of Christ are replaced with pictures of Xi Jinping.

In 2018, the Chinese government implemented a new law called “The Revised Regulations on Religion,” which forbids landlords from renting their premises to Christians for meetings. It also prohibits children and teenagers from attending church services.

One congregational leader expressed the dedication that our brothers in China have. When he was arrested, he told an American visitor, “I have lost my congregation, my freedom, and I am starting to lose my health. I have cried to God, ‘Why are You letting me go through this?’ I now see that the persecution is a formula for revival. As I read Exodus 3:7-8, I see God aware of the miserable bondage His chosen people endured for 400 years, but He was not indifferent to their sufferings. As we pray, we can rest in the fact that we are part of God’s wise and caring plan, no matter how inscrutable that plan may appear to human eyes.”

It isn’t only Chinese persecution of Christians. We hear similar stories from Nigeria, India, Eritrea, and Pakistan. Our prayers are with our brothers and sisters in these countries. New laws restricting and persecuting Christians are being considered in New York, California, Chicago, and Washington D.C. Satan makes a mistake when he uses these direct attacks on the Church because it will wake people up. The revival that results will defeat him. We are not revealing names or sources here for obvious reasons.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Why We Don’t Accept Government Grants

Why We Don't Accept Government Grants

We have received several letters from readers who appreciate what we are trying to do in our ministry. They say that they want us to be aware that there are grants for certain types of educational efforts that we can get from the government. We serve and educate hundreds of prisoners around the country. We have to explain why we don’t accept government grants.

Many years ago, Ohio Valley Christian College (now Ohio Valley University) erected an auditorium using a grant program from the government. The auditorium served the community and provided a venue for theatrical programs. The school conducted a short devotional at the beginning of each day as a part of the education of the students presenting the values of a Christian education. The government informed the school that they could no longer use the auditorium for that purpose because it could be interpreted as the government sanctioning religion. To the school’s credit, they returned the government grant.

I happened to share a motel room with the president of the school during that time and learned first-hand the dilemma it presented. The government is very inconsistent with this kind of control. When I was involved in atheism, we were able to use public facilities free of charge, with the government providing the facility and bearing its expense. Ten years later, when I was a Christian, we tried to rent a public facility in New York. We were refused because we were talking about God and the scientific evidence for faith.

Hillsdale College here in Michigan makes a point of stating clearly: “Hillsdale refuses to accept one penny from the government – not even indirectly in the form of federal or state student grants or loans. This is essential to our ability to remain independent and stay true to our educational mission.”

We applaud Hillsdale for that policy, and we fully understand it. That’s why we don’t accept government grants. Like Hillsdale, this ministry is totally funded by the generosity of those who believe what we are doing is essential. We will not use grants or loans that have government connections.

— John N. Clayton © 2019

Atheist In Foxhole Courage Award

Atheist In Foxhole Courage Award and the Ten Commandments

One of the most vocal atheist groups in America today is the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), which operates out of Madison, Wisconsin. They present a prize called the Atheist In Foxhole Courage Award. At their Pittsburgh convention in 2016, they gave it to Marie Schaub, who successfully sued the Valley High School in New Kensington, Pennsylvania. The court decision forced the school district to remove a six-foot monument of the Ten Commandments that stood in front of the high school.

The monument was erected during the Eisenhower administration in honor of veterans who graduated from the high school and who died defending America. In her acceptance speech, Schaub said that she was “confused and sickened” the first time she saw the monument. She referred to its removal as “righting a wrong that was committed so long ago.” And she said removing it “will provide a more welcoming environment.”

What is “wrong” with a series of statements about not murdering, not stealing, and not bearing false witness? It is hard to comprehend how removing admonitions to young people about right living makes the environment more welcoming. Reminding young people of their heritage, and that the high school has a history of heroes who defended America seems hard to criticize. If the basis of removing the monument was to avoid offending those who do not accept the historical underpinnings of this country, one might be able to make a case for the removal. Vilifying the Ten Commandments is a very different thing.

So the Atheist in Foxhole Courage Award is given to people who don’t have the courage to see something that makes them “sickened and confused” because they can’t accept what it says. The FFRF and other atheist organizations are dedicated to “removing every historical monument that mentions God from the public arena.” That will obliterate much of America’s history with no reasonable replacement.

— John N. Clayton © 2019

You can read or hear the full text of Ms. Shaub’s acceptance speech HERE.