Frightening Polarization and Violence

Frightening Polarization and ViolenceFor 51 years, we have presented public programs on scientific evidence for the existence of God and the validity of the Bible. During that time, we have seen a lot of violence, going beyond verbal threats. I have had a pie thrown at me during a lecture. Someone smashed the windows of my truck with a hammer. Personal property at my home was set on fire. In a few situations, I have been shoved, pushed, or hit with a stick. Those incidents have always involved disgruntled individuals with an ax to grind who felt that I was persecuting them. In each case, the damage was minimal. Receiving threats is common for anyone who takes a strong position on God or politics. The frightening polarization and violence is a whole different matter if those threats are physically carried out.

We regularly get reports of violence against believers in God who are public about their faith and why they believe. We recently heard of a threat against Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos by Austin College professor Robert Rancho. He posted a statement that “.. I’d be ok if Betsy DeVos was sexually assaulted.” Nahweed Tahmas tells of being punched, kicked, and spat on for stating his patriotic beliefs because he is a conservative with a positive message about God. I want to emphasize that the problem is not that some people may not agree with the position of some public speakers. I don’t agree with some things these two people have presented. The problem is that we have reached the point in America today where it is acceptable to use violence when we disagree with a public speaker.

The frightening polarization and violence are being addressed by an organization called The Leadership Institute in Arlington, Virginia. Dealing primarily with incidents of campus violence, The Leadership Institute is organizing and recruiting people on all campuses to report abuses. While the Does God Exist? ministry does not have a political agenda, we do understand that we are all affected by the polarization of Americans that encourages militarism and physical retaliation for perceived injustices.

Years ago, I worked with a group in London, England, who were reaching the British people. They said they had arranged a public meeting for me, and they led me to platform in a city park. “Start telling your message,” they told me. As I spoke, a crowd gathered, and I wondered if I was physically safe. The group was polite, paid attention, asked good questions, and stated objections in a pleasant way.

I wonder if that could happen in America today? I suspect that in many places, it could not. A physical, political organization that encourages the use of force is not the answer. Jesus went up onto a hill, and people came to him (Matthew 5:1-2). When He had physical opposition in Nazareth, He simply passed through it and went on His way (Luke 4:16-30). We need to present our case as Jesus did, with patience, love, and consideration, not increasing the frightening polarization and violence in America today.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Religious Knowledge in America

Religious Knowledge in AmericaIn today’s anti-Christian climate, kids not only don’t know anything about Christianity or the Bible, but they are also profoundly ignorant about religion in general. In today’s world, religious knowledge is needed.

Pew Research Center has released some of its findings on what American kids know. Since a majority of kids go all the way through school with no education on religion of any kind, their ignorance of religious knowledge is profound. Here are some of the things the Pew Research Center found:

50% of high school students think that Sodom and Gomorrah were married.
A majority of Americans cannot name the first book of the Bible.
17% believe Ramadan is the Jewish Day of Atonement.
Many teens think “Moby Dick” is from the Bible.

This is not just a teen problem. George W. Bush was told about the Sunni and Shiite conflict in Iraq and responded by saying, “I thought the Iraqis were Muslims.” Jeff Stein of the New York Times reported that in his work with congressional leaders most didn’t have a clue about the difference. There have been attacks on Sikhs by people who thought they were attacking Muslims.

Atheists and secularists have been very successful at intimidating the leaders of education with threats of recriminations. The result is that the role of religion in America’s history has been lost in one generation. It isn’t a matter of separating church and state, but whether this purging has left modern Americans with a massive gap in religious knowledge. They don’t have an understanding of our country’s values and how faith in God has been a foundation that has produced the freedom we all enjoy.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Data from the Houston Chronicle, June 25, 2019 page F8.

Entrapped for His Faith

Entrapped for His FaithWe have previously mentioned Christian business owners who have been sued for refusing to do something that violated their Christian faith. One of the individuals we mentioned before is Jack Phillips who owns a business called “Masterpiece Cakeshop” in Colorado. Because some people didn’t respect his religious beliefs, they set up a plan so he would be entrapped for his faith.

The big issue here is whether a business owner has the right to refuse goods or services that violates that owners religious convictions. That battle is going on in the courts in various cases. When Mr. Phillps declined to design a cake for a same-sex wedding, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission prosecuted him, and the case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Mr. Phillips won against the Colorado Civil Rights Commission in the Supreme Court. Then someone set up a plan for Phillips to be entrapped for his faith. An attorney called Masterpiece Cakeshop and requested a cake that would be blue on the outside and pink on the inside to celebrate a gender transition. Mr. Phillips believes that God created us male and female and that humans have no right to change the way God created us. He declined to make the cake. The attorney then filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, and the Colorado government began to prosecute Mr. Phillips again.

It turns out that the attorney was not celebrating a gender transition. The request was an attempt to set Mr. Phillips up to be entrapped for his faith and dragged into court again. The question is whether individual freedom still exists in the United States. Can a person freely follow their faith and allow it to influence what they do professionally?

The information on this case comes from a legal organization called Alliance Defending Freedom in their August 2019, bulletin. More and more, Christians are being attacked for their faith both in the physical world and in the legal world. Thankfully the attacks cannot be made in the spiritual world in which we function.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Sexual Behavior and Civil Rights

Sexual Behavior and Civil RightsThe political arm of the GLBTQ lobby has caused the media and much of the American public to confuse sexual behavior and civil rights. They are telling us that presenting biblical views on moral issues is a violation of someone’s civil rights. But Christians cannot be silent on moral issues since the New Testament says more about moral issues than it says about religious ceremony.

Attacks on the Bible’s position on sexual issues are increasing and becoming more widely accepted by the general public. Sexual behavior and civil rights are not the same. It is totally erroneous to suggest that skin color is the same thing as GLBTQ choices for the following reasons:

1-Skin color is a biological condition that is not under the control of the individual. Whether you are black or white was not a choice you made. Any sexual act is a choice made by the individual. If it was not a choice, then it was rape or a criminal act made by someone else. Sexual behavior and civil rights for people of color cannot be compared.

2-Sexual preferences and sexual acts are two different things. Some men are sexually attracted to men, and some women are attracted to women. Guy Hammond’s book Caring Beyond the Margins (Illumination Press) deals with this problem. Hammond is a man with homosexual tendencies who is not acting on that preference. No matter what the cause of GLBTQ desires, just as any other sexual behavior, the individual chooses to act on those desires.

3-Racial prejudice is wrong and is condemned by the Bible because it is destructive. The fact that a person is black or white does not affect their life expectancy or quality of life unless violence or neglect results from the prejudice. The data is clear that most of the GLBTQ choices are destructive to people’s health and shorten their life expectancy. Transgender surgery, for example, condemns the patient to a life of drugs to sustain the hormonal condition and those drugs shorten life expectancy. Most homosexual acts have a negative effect on life expectancy. The life expectancy of GLBTQ participants is significantly lower than the national average.

God has given us instructions on how to use the gift of sex in the best and most productive way. Condemnation of alternatives to God’s instructions is because those alternatives violate the design God built into our bodies. Instructing someone in the best way to use a gift they have been given is not abusive. The individual still has the right to decide whether they will follow the instructions.

Passages like Genesis 2:24; and 1 Corinthians 7:1-17 make it clear what God had in mind when He gave us the gift of sex. We must lovingly encourage others not to reject God’s instructions. God has called Christians to love even those who reject and abuse us (Matthew 5:38-48). No Christian should ever practice abuse of a GLBTQ person. Our job is to teach in love.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

One Nation Under God

Hobby Lobby - One Nation Under GodOn July 3, 2019, Hobby Lobby took out a full-page ad in newspapers all over the country titled One Nation Under God. Hobby Lobby and Chick-Fil-A are two large companies in the United States that have consistently pushed a Christian agenda in the way they conduct their business and in the things they promote.

Chick-Fil-A closes on Sundays to allow their employees to attend Church and spend time with their families. Atheists groups have tried to prevent Chick-Fil-A from getting contracts at airports and public universities because of their Christian stand.

Hobby Lobby has also promoted the Christian faith and its values and practices. The One Nation Under God ad quotes Psalms 33:12, which says: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He chose for His inheritance.” The ad also quotes American presidents, founding fathers, Supreme Court justices and rulings, Congress members, educators, and even foreign opinions.

The quotes in One Nation Under God are worth reading, and they show America’s history in relation to the Christian faith. It would be interesting to see what difficulties the ad buyers of Hobby Lobby ran into when they tried to purchase space in some newspapers that are traditionally opposed to Christianity.

To see the ad and read the quotes, click HERE.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Most Hated Woman in America

Madalyn Murray OHair - Most Hated Woman in AmericaWhen I was active in organized atheism, the most visible atheist in America was a lady named Madalyn Murray. She started battling organized religion in the 1930s and was best known for her successful challenge to prayer in public schools. She married a U.S. Marine in 1965 and took the name Madalyn Murray O’Hair. Because of her work, she became known as the most hated woman in America.

As a young atheist, I was inspired by her debating skills, and I used her posters and many of her arguments in my atheist activities. Her business manager eventually murdered her. After she died, all kinds of stories surfaced about her activities. Robert Liston had several interviews with her, and some of her comments as he reveals them are interesting. Here are a few:

“I am more interested in having a good fight than I am in the separation of church and state.”

“I don’t really care that much about atheism. I’m not well-read in philosophy and theology. I’ve always been more interested in politics and social reform.”

“I love a good fight. I’ve always been like this all my life – and I’ve always won. I guess fighting God and God’s spokesmen is sort of the ultimate, isn’t it?”

The more you listen to her comments, the more you realize her primary motivation was not to destroy the abuses of religion and preserve the constitution of the United States. She seemed to enjoy being the most hated woman in America. Liston mentions that she once stated her intention of “carving out a job for myself.” The man who murdered Madalyn had embezzled quite a bit of money from her, so she must have done well at her job.

One of the reasons that all of our materials are free is that we don’t want to allow anyone to impugn our motives in doing this ministry. Contrary to what Madalyn and other atheists have said, there are a few of us who believe in God for reasons other than fleecing a lot of believers out of their savings.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Reference: Saturday Evening Post, July/August 2019, page 96.

Cross on Public Land Bladensburg, Maryland

Bladensburg Cross on Public LandIn 1925 a group of people erected a cross in Bladensburg, Maryland to honor 49 local men who died in World War 1. In 1961 the state bought the land and since that time it has maintained it, including the Bladensburg cross. Recently there have been court challenges to allowing a cross on public land.

During the first week of July 2019, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the cross could stay even though it was on public land. This decision is not really a victory for those who want Christian symbols on public land. The justification for the Court allowing the Bladensburg cross to remain is that it had taken on a secular meaning as a memorial, and was no longer a Christian symbol.

It should be evident that this ruling by the Supreme Court would not apply to most situations since most crosses are not part of a secular memorial. Religious people tend to twist the descriptions of their symbols to get around the law. When the Catholic Church objected to using the King James Bible in public schools, people who were pushing for the study of the Bible changed its classification to literature rather than religion.

Jesus Christ never told His followers to worship a cross or any other physical thing. It seems to many of us that a cross on public land or otherwise can easily become an idol. Perhaps it can become a twenty-first-century golden calf rather than an intelligent response to the needs of our modern culture.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

For more details on this, click HERE.

Laws Threaten Christian Ministries

Laws Threaten Christian MinistriesSometimes governments pass laws with good motives, but when the law is applied, it has terrible consequences. In recent times we have seen laws threaten Christian ministries. Those who are trying to help people in the name of Jesus Christ should not be punished for doing so.

A classic example is the Downtown Hope Center’s Women’s Shelter in Anchorage, Alaska. The Center serves both men and women in the daytime, but at night it only houses abused women. The women sleep in military type rooms with beds a few feet apart. Because virtually all of the women in the shelter have psychological issues from being, it is essential that no males be sleeping among them. The Center denied access to a man who claims to be a woman. The Anchorage city government told the shelter to get on board with the laws demanding equality or close its doors.

We are getting notice after notice of other Christian facilities who have similar threats. In some cases, they have been shut down by government officials. Washington State Senate Bill 6219 forces employers who offer employee insurance with maternity care to include abortion. The Cedar Park Church has filed a lawsuit against the state of Washington because the church is involved in a maternity care program that provides for foster care and adoption. By its very definition, it would seem that “maternity care” would not include abortion. Laws threaten Christian ministries by requiring them to fund abortion when that goes against their core beliefs.

The number of cases is growing at an alarming rate, much of it initiated by atheist groups. In most cases, churches are merely closing down ministries and shelters where this type of thing becomes an issue.

For more on this, go to ADFlegal.org.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Control of Higher Education in America

Control of Higher Education in America - HarvardWe continue to read and hear of abuse heaped upon various conservative and Christian groups by radical clubs and groups on university campuses. In our May 4 post, we mentioned control over commencement speeches in which valedictorians were told that they could not mention God or Christianity or their own faith. As universities give in to the radicals, they are losing control of higher education in America.

The Week magazine (May 24, 2019, page 12) published a report of Harvard University having to knuckle under to a student mob on a different issue. Ronald Sullivan is an African-American lawyer who teaches at Harvard. Sullivan is well known for representing poor clients with his most famous case being the lawsuit of Michael Brown’s family against the city of Ferguson, Missouri.

Harvey Weinstein, the man accused of sexual misconduct by dozens of women, requested that Sullivan work on his defense team. Sullivan accepted saying that in our system of justice, even a defendant accused of heinous crimes is entitled to a robust defense. Harvard students claimed that they were “traumatized” by Sullivan’s decision, and they staged demonstrations attacking Sullivan and the university. Harvard decided that Sullivan’s leadership had become “toxic” and he and his wife, who is also a professor at Harvard, have been banished by the university.

Whatever your view of what Sullivan decided to do, one thing is obvious. The lesson higher education in America is sending to young college students is that if they are loud enough and threaten violence, they can get their way. It isn’t just Christian groups that are being attacked now. It is the leadership of the universities themselves. It is becoming apparent that radicals are in control of higher education in America.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Christian Symbols Unconstitutional?

Christian Symbols Unconstitutional?Herman Streitburger is a Vermont resident who was held captive in a German prisoner of war camp during World War II. He donated a Bible to the Manchester VA Medical Center for use on a POW/MIA remembrance table. An atheist group filed a lawsuit demanding the removal of the Bible from the memorial saying the Bible’s presence was unconstitutional and “an outrage.” Are all Christian symbols unconstitutional?

A spokesman for the atheist group said that “the presence of the Bible in the memorial amounted to raising one faith over all the others.” He went on to say that the presence of the Bible was “a repugnant example of fundamentalist Christian triumphalism, exceptionalism, superiority, and domination.”

An organization called First Liberty Institute is representing the veteran’s group that created the memorial. They said: “Since the Vietnam War, our nation has maintained the sacred tradition of setting a separate table in countless Department of Defense and VA facilities to honor POW/MIAs. The table is decorated with several items, each carrying symbolic meaning used to help remember those who were captured or declared missing.”

First Liberty Institute has vowed to fight to allow POW/MIA displays to remember those killed, captured or missing with a display of their choosing. The Manchester VA Medical Center initially caved in to the atheist complaint and removed the Bible. Then it recently put the Bible back because of a letter from FLI and an outpouring of support.

If courts find all Christian symbols unconstitutional and require that they must be removed from anything having to do with the military or the government, then as one local atheist has said, “We need to remove every cross from every military graveyard in the world, beginning with Arlington.”

It seems likely that atheists will continue to attempt to remove any Christian symbols or artifacts that suggest Christianity from every cemetery and building that is supported by taxes. Christians must be aware and vocal about what happens to the graves of our loved ones who died in military service to America.
— John N. Clayton © 2019