Hate Groups and Anti-Hate Groups

Hate Groups and Anti-Hate Groups

In recent years, several hate groups have grown up in the United States. Most of us know the Ku Klux Klan history, but today there are neo-Nazi and white nationalist groups gaining publicity. There are “anti-hate” groups to oppose the hate groups. That may sound like a good thing, but some anti-hate groups paint anyone who stands for anything as part of a hate group. Sometimes hate groups and anti-hate groups are hard to distinguish.

A good example is the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). This organization claims to track and expose 940 active hate groups operating in the United States. They define a hate group as having “beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people typically for their immutable characteristics.” What they mean is that any group opposing same-sex marriage, radical Islam, or abortion they classify as a hate group. Their list of hate groups includes Christian organizations. Comparing a Church that opposes abortion to the Ku Klux Klan is absurd, but that is the case with the SPLC.

We face a crisis of free speech in America today. Anyone who presents negative facts about someone else’s beliefs or practices is likely to be threatened with lawsuits or arrest. In our periodical and on our websites, we have pointed out statements in the Koran that promote violence and abuse of women. We have called attention to the problems of abortion and how it fosters infanticide. We have given data showing that there are destructive and hurtful consequences to things the LGBTQ movement promotes.

Because we have printed those things, we receive threats of lawsuits and violence. In the past, we have had some violence and vandalism directed towards our ministry. We urge anyone who donates to hate groups and anti-hate groups to be sure you know what causes you are helping. For the anti-hate groups, find out who they are labeling haters. Both the hate groups and anti-hate groups oppose some of the teachings of Jesus Christ. In the words of Joshua to the Israelites, “Choose you this day whom you will serve, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). Practice love and follow the teachings of Christ, even if it leads to persecution.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Ignore the Evidence or Accept the Evidence

Ignore the Evidence or Accept the Evidence

One thing that impacts an apologetic program like ours is the attitude that evidence doesn’t count. We have seen that with COVID-19 during the past year. Some people are selective in whether they will accept the evidence or if they will ignore the evidence.

Nearly everybody in this country has, for many years, trusted the medical establishment. When we break a bone or have cancer, we go to a doctor or hospital. Most of us go to the medical establishment for problems such as arthritis, gastrointestinal issues, tetanus shots, and any number of pain issues. When the coronavirus pandemic began, many people chose to ignore the evidence presented by the medical establishment. As people started to die from the virus and hospitals were overrun, some people believed the whole pandemic was a hoax. Now that there are vaccines, people choose not to trust them.

This attitude of choosing to ignore the evidence if it inconveniences us has caused many people to reject God. I remember vividly when a young man came up to me after a lectureship at Purdue University. He said, “I can’t argue with anything you presented in your lecture, and I know the evidence for the existence of God is huge, but I’m not about to quit sleeping with my girlfriend.” That attitude has produced a society that promotes “survival of the fittest” and refuses to consider any possibility they should follow the Christian lifestyle.

The sad thing is the result of all this. I have friends who have lost a child, a parent, or a close friend and who stand there weeping as they say, “Why did this have to happen?” It didn’t have to happen!! How many of us are going to say as we stand in judgment before God and say, “Why do I have to spend eternity separated from God and everything good?” It doesn’t have to happen!! In Matthew 25:41-46, Jesus paints a picture of that very situation, and He simply reminds those who are lost that they refused to accept the evidence for God in the things they saw around them during their life.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Scared Straight, COVID-19, and Prisons

Scared Straight, COVID-19, and Prisons

For many years, we have been involved in a teen program called Scared Straight. The idea was that we could take a teenager who was obviously headed for a life of crime and let them see what it would be like to be incarcerated. Several ex-cons and prisoners have been involved in this very successful program. Unfortunately, the pandemic has put it on temporary hold.

The Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas has just released data on COVID-19 in Texas prisons. COVID-19 took the lives of 231 prison inmates and staff during 2020. Nine who had been approved for parole died before they could be released. Positive tests for COVID-19 among prisoners was 490% higher than among the Texas general public. Prisoners taking our correspondence courses tell us about over-crowding and conditions such as lack of masks, hand washing, and sanitation, making them more susceptible to the virus.

It is important to note that these numbers are for state prisons and do not include federal prisons or immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities. Those of us who go into prisons to present programs, teach classes, or meet with inmates look forward to the time when we can resume. To keep young people out of prisons, we need to reinstate programs like Scared Straight. Jesus commanded people who help those who are in prison. (See Matthew 25:36)

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Data source: Walking in the Light newsletter from King’s Crossing Prison Ministries, December 2020.

Safe Haven Baby Box

Safe Haven Baby Box

In the Dark Ages, nuns of the Roman Catholic Church would put a “baby box” near the door of the convent where they lived. They did this because people were leaving babies on the doorstep, frequently in unsanitary conditions. The baby boxes contained swaddling clothes and were kept clean. In America today, an organization called Safe Haven Baby Boxes has revived the baby box idea with some 21st-century technology.

The Safe Haven Baby Box is installed in an exterior wall of a fire station or hospital. It has an exterior door that automatically locks upon the placement of a newborn inside. There is an interior door that allows a worker to reach the baby from the inside. When someone places a baby in the box, it triggers an alarm, so workers know to pick up the baby. The boxes are temperature controlled to prevent risk to the baby, although the average wait time to pick up the infant is three minutes.

The baby box idea has had strong support from Willie Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame. It’s an obvious response to the abortion problem in America. It allows a woman who has a baby a “red tape free” way of making sure the child has a legal adoption while keeping the birth mother anonymous. Since the program began in April of 2016, there have been 52 baby boxes installed in Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio. Eight babies have been surrendered in Safe Haven Baby Boxes, and three were surrendered to firefighters at baby box locations. Also, Safe Haven has referred over 500 women to crisis pregnancy centers.

There are situations where a pregnant woman does not want to kill her child but wants just to be free of the situation. This is especially true of rape, but it can be a solution in other cases. New safe haven laws exist in various states, so counselors need to know what is available to help women who find themselves in a difficult situation.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Here is their contact information:

Supreme Court Will Hear Chike Uzuegbunam’s Case

Supreme Court Will Hear Chike Uzuegbunam's Case
Chike Uzuegbunam – Credit ADFLegal.org

This year, one issue not getting media attention is whether college officials can censor public speeches that promote religious issues on campus. In many cases, students promoting Christian values or Christianity as a life choice have been punished or expelled for doing so. Most of the cases have been settled out of court, but the U.S. Supreme Court will hear Chike Uzuegbunam’s case.

Uzuegbunam is a young man who was talking about his faith in Christ at Gwinnett College in Georgia. College officials stopped him and disciplined him for his words. The college maintains that the constitution does not protect speech sharing religious beliefs, and Chike Uzuegbunam filed a lawsuit against the school.

This denial of free speech is becoming increasingly common across the United States and many countries in Europe. The position of many colleges is, “If I don’t like what you are saying, I have the right to shut you down.” At Georgetown University, a club called Love Saxa, which promotes Christian views of sexual conduct, was eventually driven off the campus. In Finland, a lady who opposed Church participation in a Gay Pride event is being threatened with two years in prison for promoting what the government sees as “ethnic agitation.”

Uzuegbunam’s case will bring before the Supreme Court the question of whether universities can ignore the First Amendment and shut down religious speech on campus. This subject has enormous implications for the whole country. Does the government or universities have the power to stop religious proclamations in public?

In her 1903 book The Friends of Voltaire, Evelyn Beatrice Hall described Voltaire’s attitude toward a book he disliked in this way: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” That has become a mantra of freedom of speech, but that viewpoint is being challenged today. For Christians trying to follow the example and command to preach the gospel, this discussion is critical.

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear Chike Uzuegbunam’s case, and you can learn more about it HERE.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Black Lives Matter in the Bible

Black Lives Matter in the Bible

Skeptics seem to use every crisis or injustice to make false claims about the Bible. In several recent references, skeptics have claimed that the Bible does not accept black people as human. That simply isn’t true. Black lives matter in the Bible.

The word “cush” means “black” in Hebrew, and we find it in numerous biblical passages. Most frequently, it refers to a geographical area in Africa. English Bibles often translate references to the land of Cush as Nubia or Ethiopia, and a person from there is called an Ethiopian.

Archeologists have found a wide variety of remains of the Cushite people because they were excellent soldiers and masters of horses and chariots. In 701 B.C., Tirhakah, king of Cush, defended Judah against the Syrian invasion of Sennacherib. His help and God’s hand saved Jerusalem at that time.

The denigration of black people is a modern, western activity. Ancient Greeks, Assyrians, and Egyptians did not show the racism of recent times. The Greek historian Herodotus wrote that Ethiopians were the “most handsome of all men.” In Song of Solomon, there is a love song between Solomon and a Shulammite girl in which she tells Solomon not to love her just because she is black.

The Bible and the history of Israel and Judaism do not show any denigration of those with dark skin. The book of Jeremiah credits Ebed-Melech the Cushite as a hero for saving Jeremiah’s life (Jeremiah 38:7-13).

When we turn to the New Testament, we find more evidence that black lives matter in the Bible. In Acts 8:26-39, we read of the Holy Spirit sending evangelist Philip to an Ethiopian who was in charge of the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. He had come to Jerusalem to worship God and was reading the book of Isaiah as he traveled. Philip explained the gospel and baptized him.

Jesus made a point of dealing with the racial prejudice that existed at that time.
(See John 4.) Galatians 3:26-28 makes it clear that there were no racial, political, or gender boundaries in the early Christian churches–“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Black lives matter in the Bible just as much as every other life because we are all created in God’s image.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Reference Biblical Archaeology Review, winter 2020.

Faith or Lack of Faith in God

Faith or Lack of Faith in God

Yesterday we looked at the definition of the word “faith.” The Bible defines faith as the foundation (Greek “hupostasis”) of our lives (Hebrews 11:1). We mentioned that we all have faith in gravity. We also saw how the scientific faith that light is a wave and not a particle had to change as new evidence became available. All of us have foundations that rule our lives, and faith or lack of faith in God is one of them.

Even our understanding of what God is affects us in a variety of ways.* In the distant past, people thought of gods as physical beings that looked like humans. Roman and Greek gods were humans with superpowers of one kind or another. Some people today still view God as a human with human emotions and desires. Experiences in life can weaken or destroy that kind of faith. When someone rejects faith in God because of a tragedy in life, the root cause of that rejection is a flawed concept of what God is.

Faith or lack of faith in God can determine the foundation of our lives. The question that we must ask is, “What is the foundation (faith) on which I base my life?” For my father, who was an atheist, the foundation of his life was education. His father was a minister, and that faith did not appeal to him as a way to build his life. Instead, he pursued the highest level of education possible, achieving a Ph.D. in philosophy at Columbia University under one of the leading educators in his field. Then he became a full professor at Indiana University and was recognized as one of the top experts in his field.

After a long career with numerous awards and recognitions, my father retired. Did all of these achievements and recognitions provide a foundation for him? A regular activity for my father was to engage in a cocktail hour. He dealt with the stress and frustration of his work by drinking. My father was not socially active. He went to social affairs only because he had to, and alcohol was the foundation, the lubricant which enabled him to function socially.

Shortly after his retirement, my father developed leukemia. Going through the brutal treatments available at that time was tragic and agonizing to watch. The end of his life was a constant battle to survive, and the treatments eventually killed him. Death was the ultimate tragedy because he died without hope of anything better.

The other problem with my father’s faith was what his foundation did to and for my mother and my two brothers. My mother was forced to become the social director of the family. Social events were her life, and achieving recognition from her peers was her foundation. After my father died, she became the leader of the retirement center where she lived. She commanded the respect of everyone there, including the management and staff. This became her foundation, and her faith was that it would continue. When she suffered a stroke and was moved to the care center, she was not even allowed to eat with her peers, much less play a role in the retirement center’s social events. She was so mortified and miserable in her new situation that I had to move her 200 miles from the retirement center to a facility near me. She was miserable there as well.

My parents had a dependence on alcohol as a foundation for life and a faith that it would make everything else function normally. This rubbed off on the rest of the family. Like many people in today’s world, the negative destroyed not only my father’s faith but my mother and brother’s faith as well. Faith or lack of faith in God will determine the course of your life. In tomorrow’s discussion, we will look at how we can build a workable faith.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

*For John’s discussion on “What Is God?” go to DoesGodExist.tv and watch program 8 in the video series.

Does It Matter What People Believe?

Does It Matter What People Believe about Coronavirus?

For some of us, the tragedy of COVID-19 has really hit home. As I write this, my son is in the local hospital, fighting what may be a losing battle with the disease. As we have struggled to get Tim the help he needs, we have run into people who deny there is a pandemic. Many Americans believe that scams, lies, and conspiracies are behind claims that we are in a pandemic. Does it matter what people believe?

The University of Pennsylvania Annenberg Public Policy Center published the results of studies of what Americans believe about the pandemic in the journal Social Science and Medicine. According to their research, over 17% of all Americans believe that the pharmaceutical industry created the virus to boost drug and vaccine sales. Also, 24% believe that the government exaggerated the virus’s danger to damage Donald Trump politically.

There is no evidence to support those beliefs, and those of us who have family members dying from the virus certainly don’t endorse those claims. The Bible describes what happens when people change “the truth of God into a lie, and worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator.” The result is a culture in which people “do not retain God in their knowledge.” Instead, they are filled with “all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity, whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant breakers, …” (Romans 1:24-32)

Does it matter what people believe? Read those verses and then read the newspaper or watch the evening news. As faith in God and belief in the Bible have decreased, the use of lying and deceit has grown. We live in a society where lies and deception are a way of life. This ministry exists to change that by convincing people there is a God and that the Bible is a reliable guide to how we should live. Does it matter what people believe? Yes, it does matter.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

LGBTQ Rights, Children, and the Courts

LGBTQ Rights, Children, and the Courts

November started with a debate about religion, LGBTQ rights, children, and the courts. It began with Pope Francis saying that “gay people are children of God and have the right to be in a family.” In the past, the Pope has said that a “family” is a man, a woman, and their children. In 2016, the Pope said, “There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.” The issue becomes critical for Catholic social service organizations that refuse to place foster children with same-sex couples.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has been serving abused, neglected, and orphaned children for more than 200 years. Because of a court ruling that the Archdiocese was discriminating against gays by refusing to place children with them, they no longer are allowed to care for children in need. The Archdiocese is suing on the grounds that the government should not force them to violate their sincerely held beliefs. The suit has gone to the U.S. Supreme Court.

This issue will impact all religious groups that are involved in caring for children. Like many court cases, the decision is going to be based on secular research information. Do children need a mother and father image to have a stable and productive life? Those of us who work with children have seen the struggles that single-parent children have. Some do very well, but they struggle. Many secular psychologists and sociologists maintain that it makes no difference, and the courts have listened to their testimony. Those of us in the “trenches” would disagree.

There are no easy solutions to this dilemma. The constitution tells us that everyone has rights that are protected by the government. The problem comes when those rights collide with someone else’s rights, such as in the conflict between LGBTQ rights, children, and the courts. The real solution to this issue is to eliminate the need for agencies to provide child-care and protection. While that is not possible, every step to educate people and lead them to God’s plan will reduce the pain for all concerned.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

References: The Week 11/6/2020 and USA Today 11/3/2020.

Muslim Violence in France

Muslim Violence in France
French demonstration against Muslim violence in 2015

The current Muslim violence in France is a great argument for the validity of Christianity and its superiority over Islam. In early October of 2020, a young Muslim beheaded a French schoolteacher who had shown a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad to his class. A satirical magazine called Charlie Hebdo republished the images to mark a Muslim attack on the magazine in 2015. On October 29, 2020, a Tunisian man carrying a copy of the Quran killed three people in the city of Nice and riots continue with thousands of Muslims marching on the French embassy.

We must point out that not all Muslims endorse this kind of behavior and violence, and a few have even denounced it. The fact is that Islam was rooted in violence and the Quran endorses it. You can understand the Muslim violence in France and other countries when you read passages in the Quran like the following: “Fighting is obligatory for you” (2:216), “Retaliation is decreed for you in bloodshed” (2:178), “Those who avenge themselves when wronged incur no guilt” (42:42-43), “When you meet the unbelievers in the battlefield, strike off their heads” (47:3-5).

The teaching of Jesus Christ is in stark contrast to the Muslim teaching. You can’t read the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 and not see the contrast. Jesus told His followers to love their enemies, to turn the other cheek, to go the second mile, to return good for evil, and to live at peace. In addition to that, the Bible makes it clear that our battle is not with flesh and blood – not with the physical. Read Ephesians 6:12 and realize that unlike Islam the message of Christ is primarily spiritual, not political

Years ago, a statue of Jesus immersed in urine was circulated as a work of art. Atheists have circulated numerous cartoons of Jesus that were insulting and repulsive. There are numerous atheist periodicals that constantly abuse Christianity As we approach the Christmas season, we will even see billboards ridiculing the story of Christ. The Bible condemns retaliation and encourages love, peace, and tolerance. Violence over the Christian faith by Christians is minimal and only caused by people with other motives.

As we hear about the Muslim violence in France and elsewhere, we are reminded of the freedom we have in America because our founders were men who tried to follow the principles of Christ as a rule of law.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Reference: USA Today 10/31/20 and AP writer Isabel Debre.