On 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.
When 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.
In 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.
Sometimes 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.
We 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.
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.”
We are into what should be a joyous time of year as graduating students enjoy a celebration of years of hard work. Whether it’s a commencement, a pinning ceremony, or some other ceremony to acknowledge the completion of their training, students should be free to express their gratitude. Unfortunately, commencement speech freedom is becoming a thing of the past.
The constant attack of skeptics and atheists has threatened administrative officials. They are afraid that a student will make some statement in a speech that will get the school in trouble. The result is not only the censoring of speeches but the insistence that all references to Christianity must be excluded.
A situation like that happened to a young lady named Karissa Langner. She was chosen to speak at her nursing program’s pinning ceremony at Colorado Mesa University. In her speech, Ms. Langner acknowledged the role that faith plays in her life. She closed her talk with: “These things I have spoken to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage, I have overcome the world.”
The college officials discovered that this is a quote of John 16:33. They threatened Ms. Langner with “repercussions” if she refused to change her speech. They insisted that their “nursing program will not tolerate any one religious slant.” Ultimately Mesa was threatened with a lawsuit, and commencement speech freedom was granted to Ms. Langner when she gave her speech as she wished.
San Antonio, Texas, and Buffalo, New York have kicked Chick-fil-A out of their airports for “aiding and abetting Christian organizations.” What is especially ironic is that it’s the charity work of Chick-fil-A that those cities object to. Are Christian moral standards a crime?
Chick-fil-A is accused of “anti-equality giving.” They gave significant amounts of money to the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and a home for troubled young men in Vidalia, Georgia. The main problem, according to those challenging Chick-fil-A is that these organizations promote a traditional Christian understanding of sex and marriage.
In 2012 Dan Cathy who was the CEO of Chick-fil-A made statements endorsing traditional marriage. This was his personal belief and not a statement of corporate policy. There has been no activity in this area by anyone connected with the company since that time. The fact that they close their restaurants on Sunday continues to cause attacks on them. The programs that Chick-fil-A contributed to were sports camps and school programs for inner city kids.
The Salvation Army has a budget of about two-billion dollars which it uses to provide aid for the homeless, anti-trafficking programs, disaster relief, etc., but not for policing LGBT civil rights. The Fellowship of Christian Athletes asks its leaders not to engage in homosexual or heterosexual acts outside of marriage as well as pledging not to use drugs, alcohol or tobacco. Once again, it isn’t carrying on an anti-LGBT campaign.
We have reached a point in America where anyone who has strong moral standards and Bible-based beliefs is being denied the opportunity to own a business? Are Christian moral standards a crime? We need to be informed about what is going on in America.
We have learned about a very useful resource called Essentials in Education. That organization states as their mission, “We encourage high character through standards-based, instructionally sound, and high quality educational materials.” They have produced what they call the Bible Literacy Project.
Essentials in Education claims that they want to address issues beyond the academy and beyond the walls of the church. Because they are not church sponsored, they have had some success in areas others have not. One thing they have done is to publish a textbook titled The Bible and Its Influence. It was first published in 2005 and updated since then. The student textbook is a hardcover, full-color, 373-page volume that covers the content of Genesis to Revelation.
In 2006 a bill was signed into law in Georgia requiring elective Bible courses statewide. Other states have passed laws allowing academic Bible study. The textbook The Bible and its Influence has provided instruction to 125,000 students in 625 public high schools in 43 states. The Bible Literacy Project has not received a legal challenge.
The textbook was produced with input from 40 leading scholars and religious leaders. It presents biblical content including the narratives, characters, plots, poetry, letters, events, parables, prophecies, and proverbs in the Bible. Because the book is non-denominational and non-sectarian, not all preachers and teachers will like all of its content. However, it has been widely accepted by schools for use as a semester-long or year-long course. Special features include Abraham Lincoln and the Bible, Handel’s Messiah, The Bible and Emancipation, Shakespeare and the Bible. The Bible Literacy Project’s website states that “without an understanding of the Bible, today’s youth cannot fully understand literature, art, history, music, or culture.”
For the website of Essentials in Education click HERE. For the Bible Literacy Project website click HERE. To learn more about their academic materials click HERE.
An organization called Open Doors monitors the persecution of Christians in all denominations around the world. Their data for 2018 shows that in the top 50 countries on the watch list Christians experienced a 14% increase in high levels of persecution. Those of us living in the United States have no idea how much violence is brought against believers in Jesus on a worldwide scale. Open Doors reported this data of persecution of Christians in 2018:
4136 Christians were killed for faith-related reasons. That’s 11 Christians murdered every day.
2625 Christians were detained without trial, arrested, sentenced and imprisoned because of their faith.
1266 Churches or Christian buildings like orphanages or hospitals were attacked.
The #1 country in terms of persecution of Christians is North Korea where atheism is the state religion and worship of any kind is not tolerated.
The # 2 (Afghanistan), #3 (Somalia), #4 (Libya), #5 (Pakistan), and #6 (Sudan) countries on the list are Muslim controlled. In those countries, the government encourages violence against Christians.
We tend to trivialize the few media reports of severe persecution of Christians. However, the media seriously under-reports the violence, especially against Christian women. At the same time, our media over-reports abuse that takes place in American churches. Persecution of Christians in 2018 affected one in nine of our brothers and sisters worldwide.
Open Doors is a major source of information and help to those who are being oppressed. You can read more on their website OpenDoorsUSA.org.