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
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.
We hear about these attacks often, and in most cases the young person backs down. They fear that continuing to battle the school will result in serious consequences for their future.
Here is an excellent question to ask candidates for political office:
Are our institutions of higher learning becoming so atheistic that a person who believes in God cannot get an education? What will you do about it?
— John N. Clayton © 2019
Data from ADFlegal.org/StudentFreedom.
We were sitting on a rock at the bottom of the Grand Canyon talking about how different the world looked in that setting than it does in the realm of politics and human affairs. My friend told of a statement he heard explaining why democracy without God will not work.
The statement was “democracy without moral underpinnings is simply mob rule.” He went on to say, “Suppose you had a society made up of three men and two women. One of the men proposes a new law which says it is acceptable for men to abuse women. The new law is put up to a vote, and the law passes 3 to 2. Is this a democracy? The answer is, ‘No, it is simply mob rule.'”
It is ironical that in the world today the whole human rights issue seems to be integrated with the idea that democracy is the answer to all political problems. While the United States is pushing for democracy overseas, the basis of making democracy work is being systematically removed in America. The only way a balanced, stable, functional political system can work is for everyone to agree on what is right and what is wrong. There was very little controversy about what was right and wrong 200 years ago because people accepted the Bible as a guide for moral conduct. The system was not perfect because people still did things they knew the Bible condemned both on a personal and a political level. But democracy without God will not work.
Today we can’t decide what is right and what is wrong. Much of our population considers all sexual behavior acceptable. People who murder or steal are excused based on bad childhood experiences or chemical problems. The majority of Americans are close to accepting the idea that it is okay to kill an unwanted baby or elderly person.
If you don’t believe in God and in the Bible as God’s plan for how we should live, then what do you use? The answer is mob rule whatever the majority is willing to tolerate. The majority already tolerates abortion, and a landslide of other behaviors are being forced upon us.
If democracy without God will not work, it becomes vital for us to convince our fellow citizens that God does exist. They need to know that they can logically and rationally believe in Him and His Word. It is also vital that we show our young people that the Bible system is not a negative wall of “do not’s” but a positive guide to happiness and successful living.
What is right and what is wrong cannot be left to the legislators and lawyers. It must come from the Bible — a proven standard. We encourage you to join us in teaching and motivating others to adopt to a positive, active, productive belief system that enables democracy to exist.
— John N. Clayton © 2019
In Germany, when you fill out your tax forms for 2019, you are required to mark what religion you belong to. The state then collects a tax which is about 9% of the person’s income tax and distributes the money to the relevant church or synagogue. If you refuse the German religious tax, you will be denied access to church schools or day care centers, and you can even be denied communion or burial services.
The problem with this arrangement is that many religious groups do not register as public corporations, and groups such as Islam or the Church of Christ don’t have a national church system. The founder of a liberal mosque in Berlin, Seyran Ates, wants to establish a “democratic Islamic Council” but conservative Muslims want no part of such an idea. Groups like the Church of Christ which do not have a national board or assembly are opposed to any solution on very much the same idea.
The German religious tax is not biblical. Jesus told His followers to render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s (Matthew 22:21). However, the Bible also makes giving a personal decision that is between the giver and God (2 Corinthians 9:7). When those guidelines are not followed, the chaos that results will eventually destroy religious freedom.
–John N. Clayton © 2019
During most of my military service, I was assigned to the 524th Batallion of the 38th Division of the National Guard in Bloomington, Indiana. Because I was a survey and recon specialist, I got to interact with men and women who were part of other battalions who told me about what was going on in their areas of service. Every summer we spent two weeks in summer camp doing military exercises. Since we were an artillery unit, we were always receiving new techniques and new materials. There were interesting stories related to the National Guard and UFOs.
The 38th Division of the National Guard spent their summer in camps in Grayling, Michigan and Camp McCoy, Wisconsin. Every summer we would hear about strange sightings near where we were drilling. People in these remote towns were not used to seeing Honest John Rockets fired high in the air. The flares we used gave sights that local people were unaccustomed to, but with small communities near the summer drills, not a lot of people were affected.
In 2017 however, there were more than 40 UFO sightings in and around Kokomo, Indiana. Bright lights were doing strange things, and even a string of lights sighted by several observers. On April 16, 2008, 911 dispatchers were inundated with 146 phone calls within a 15-minute time frame. That’s about 120 more than usual. Over 1000 people heard an incredibly loud explosion, and police started to search for a downed plane. This whole thing was reported on Discovery Channel’s “Investigation X” and History Channel’s “UFO Hunters.”
The National Guard has now revealed that the lights and sounds were from training exercises for National Guard aircraft stationed in Fort Wayne. The string of lights came from flares dropped several thousand feet above the ground. That is a technique used by jets to evade heat-seeking missiles. The sonic boom was just that, from jets training in the airspace known as Hilltop Military Operations Area. That area spans from West Lafayette to Logansport and includes parts of Howard and Tipton counties close to Kokomo and Bunker Hill Air Force Base just north of Kokomo.
There are several lessons here related to the National Guard and UFOs. One of them is NOT that there is no life in outer space. That question remains to be solved and has no biblical connections at all. What we do need to learn is that just because a story is on the Discovery channel or the History channel that does not automatically mean it is true. We need to remain open to new evidence and to how those discoveries relate to what the Bible actually says.
–John N. Clayton © 2019
Source: South Bend Tribune, January 5, 2019, page A-3.
Our printed journal for the fourth quarter of 2018 contained an article titled “Lessons From the Fire.” In it, we pointed out that the California wildfires in 2018 were the result of human mismanagement of the forest, and not some “act of God” as the media has sometimes reported. In the article, we gave three biblically-based lessons that we should have learned from the fire. You can read it HERE.
We have received responses from people who live in the fire area. Here is a recent email comment:
“I drive past the ruins from this fire when going to the doctor and have observed that houses are being rebuilt in the same location using the same materials. Nothing has been learned from the past experience. Besides this, lawyers are having a field day getting clients to sue the local utility company. One of them has had a half page ad in the local paper every day since the fire. It’s true that the company power lines were responsible for some of the fires…but not all of them.”
The fact is that the start of the fires was not the issue. The real problem was the biomass that provided fuel for the flames once they started. There has been almost no discussion in the media about managing the other forests in California that are tinderboxes waiting for a spark to repeat what happened this fall.
God didn’t cause the California wildfires, and He will not prevent catastrophe from resulting from human stupidity, mismanagement, and greed. God told Adam, “take care of the garden of Eden, dress it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15). The basis of that command surely applies to us today. It is up to us to take care of what God has loaned to us.
–John N. Clayton © 2018
The apparent solution to all of the lawsuits and negative publicity about Christmas displays on public property is to allow atheist and Satanic seasonal displays. In South Bend, Indiana, where our ministry is located, the Northern Indiana Atheists have erected a display titled “Oh Come All Ye Faithless.” On the grounds of the Michigan Capitol a Satanic group called “The West Michigan Friends of the Satanic Temple” is attempting to repeat the “Snaketivity” display that was erected last year by the Satanic Temple’s Detroit chapter. It featured a red snake coiled around a black cross with a pentagram on it with a sign that read “The Greatest Gift is Knowledge.”
Our ministry agrees with the free speech of all of these displays, even though we disagree with their belief system. There is an adage that says “I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to my death your right to say it.” As a veteran, I firmly support that statement.
I agree with the Northern Indiana Atheists that there should be a separation of Church and State. It is interesting that this atheist group is a non-profit and thus takes advantage of the same rights that churches have. Jesus said to render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. The government has no right to interfere with religious freedom or to persecute religions that are trying to serve and help others. Unfortunately, government restrictions and attempts to control religious belief are increasing in America as we have shown in our posts during the past year.
The view that knowledge is a great gift is not contestable. Calling it “the greatest gift” is an opinion that is poorly supported. However, Proverbs 8 talks about wisdom and Romans 1:18-32 extols the importance of knowledge. Atheist attacks on the Bible and the concept of God are demonstrations of bias, hatred, ignorance, and prejudice – all of which fly in the face of knowledge. This ministry is an educational program trying to present knowledge that can be helpful in addressing the problems in the world and individual lives. Atheist and satanic seasonal displays do nothing to solve those problems.
These displays remind us of Paul’s discourse to the intellectuals in Athens in Acts 17:21-33. He said, “I found an altar with this inscription ‘to the unknown god.’ Whom, therefore, you ignorantly worship, Him I declare to you.” More sharing and listening on the part of all of us will result in less conflict and more cooperation. We need to address the real problems humanity faces in today’s world, and Christianity does that.
–John N. Clayton © 2018
Data from South Bend Tribune December 4, 2018, page A1 and December 8, 2018, page A-2.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has just released its latest annual report on American life expectancy. The report shows that for the third year life expectancy in the United States has not grown and has declined. The last time that this happened was in World War I when a flu pandemic killed 675,000 people.
The report says that drugs and suicide are the main culprits now with the overdose rate up 356% since 1999. The 2017 death toll is 70,237 far outstripping the total American fatalities in Vietnam.
It is interesting that everyone studying this life expectancy issue seems to agree on what the cause is, and what the solution is. The NationalReview.com says that “we are facing not so much a drug problem as a heartbreak problem.” An AARP study found that one-third of Americans report chronic loneliness and conclude that isolation is a state “about as deadly as smoking.” David Brooks writing in the New York Times says “It’s not jobs, jobs, jobs or better welfare programs that will save us from this ongoing social catastrophe; it’s human relationships and a society that cares about people more than money.”
We suggest that people need to read and follow the example in Acts 2:41-47. People had a common faith in God, and they took care of each other. They “CONTINUED DAILY WITH ONE ACCORD” and spent time together focusing on meaningful relationships. The result was that “they had favor with all the people.”
This reminds me of a comment I heard Carl Sandburg make when someone asked him what he thought about Christianity. His response was “I don’t know, I have never seen it tried.” Christianity is not a legalistic way of restricting human behavior. It is a way of life that blesses everyone who is a part of it and everyone around those who live it.
–John N. Clayton © 2018
Reference: The Week, December 14, 2018, page 17
Yesterday we reported on Harvard University’s policy of forcing women’s organizations to either accept men or be driven out of existence. They are doing that to be “gender neutral.” Now we are learning about more Harvard hypocrisy.
On October 16, 2018, the Wall Street Journal published an article by William McGurn titled “What Hillsdale Can Teach Harvard.” The article documents Harvard’s discrimination against Asian-Americans. To conform to federal guidelines, Harvard is requiring higher SAT scores and adding personality traits like “kindness” and “likability” to justify the exclusion of Asian-Americans.
Hillsdale College here in Michigan has forgone federal grants and aid. In that way, it can ignore federal requirements on programs and enrollment policies. Harvard receives millions of federal dollars each year by conforming to federal guidelines for its courses and admissions. McGurn quotes a Harvard defense of their SAT and psychological requirements:
“This case involves a private university, which has a weighty academic-freedom interest, protected by the First Amendment, in choosing its students, and in determining how they are educated (including through the judgment about the educational benefits flowing from a diverse student body).”
Larry Arnn, the president of Hillsdale College, has said, “Any time anyone from Harvard would like to see how a college can maintain its autonomy and its values, our door is open.”
In past years we have reported on cases were Christian students at Harvard were pressured to reject their Christian beliefs in order to stay in school. Yesterday we quoted the administration’s commitment to “making Harvard a campus for all of its students.” Harvard’s hypocrisy and its 39-billion-dollar endowment seem to dictate what students have to do and believe to be accepted.
–John N. Clayton © 2018
Homeopathy is a medical system based on the belief that a substance that causes disease in a healthy person can cure a sick person if it is diluted enough. Homeopathic medicine was invented in the late 1700s by a German named Samuel Hahnemann (pictured).
Some religious groups embrace homeopathy or the related naturopathy believing that God created all life with the ability to heal itself. They frequently quote Genesis 9:1-3 as the starting point for the need for plants and minerals to sustain human health, because the meat now included in human diets would not meet the medical requirements. They also quote Acts 10:9-16 as part of the change that took place in the human diet that made it necessary for plants and minerals to provide supplements.
We would suggest that the hermeneutics of using those passages in that way is dubious. There is no doubt that nutrition is a part of good health, and supplements can be useful in maintaining health. But whether a plant or mineral could replace the effectiveness of penicillin or modern antibiotics is debatable. Some today are making claims about homeopathic medicine for curing disease with no scientific support. CVS is the largest pharmacy chain in the United States with 9800 stores, and they promote homeopathy by placing homeopathic remedies on their shelves alongside scientifically-proven medications.
The Center for Inquiry (CFI) on June 29, 2018, filed a lawsuit against CVS. They told the Superior Court of the District of Columbia that homeopathy is a pseudoscience and that CVS is in violation of the Consumer Protection Procedures Act. They are demanding that CVS provide “corrective advertising, marketing, labeling.” The suit says that CVS persists in deceiving its customers about the effectiveness of homeopathic products. “Homeopathics are shelved right alongside scientifically proven medicines, under the same signs for cold and flu, pain relief, sleep aids, and so-on.” An example given by the CFI is Arnicare Arthritis which I have seen in drug stores as providing relief for arthritis pain. Tests have shown that a placebo gave as much relief as Arnicare Arthritis.
Some religious groups in our area have stores that sell homeopathic medicine and make claims that are not backed up by scientific testing. Greed and a lack of integrity among promoters of homeopathic cures have caused a lot of pain and a few deaths among religious people who think homeopathy is a biblical injunction. Read all labels carefully and pay attention to data offered by medical organizations before trusting any drug or supposed medication.
–John N. Clayton © 2018
Data from Skeptical Inquirer, November/December 2018, page 5-6.