Freedom from Religion

‘Freedom from Religion’ Atheists Ignorant of the Constitution

The Freedom of Religion Foundation seeks to impose its values and restrict the free exercise of religion guaranteed in the First Amendment.

 

Freedom from religion was not what those who fled the oppression and persecution of European monarchies sought and not what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they wrote the Constitution.  Yet the Freedom of Religion Foundation seeks to impose its values and restrict the free exercise of religion guaranteed in the First Amendment.

Its latest targets are high school football camps in Arkansas, where, presumably, you are allowed take a knee to protest our racist flag but cannot take a knee in thanks to the Creator the Declaration of Independence notes endowed us with our unalienable rights:

It’s not just illegal for public schools to host pre or postgame prayer sessions. They can’t do it at summer football camps, either.

At least that’s the stance of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), which has sent a letter to the Danville (Ark.) Public School District citing a Constitutional violation related to the comments made to high school football campers by a local pastor named Konnor McKay.

The FFRF letter, which you can see here, insists that Danville, “not allow its football program to be used as a captive audience for evangelists.” That came in response to this social media post by McKay himself, celebrating his speech to a group of high school football players at Waldron High School.

In the ongoing struggle for religious liberty, constitutional conservatives like to say the Constitution was written by those fleeing from religious persecution and that the First Amendment guaranteed freedom of religion and not freedom from it.  The FFRF begs to differ.

One of the atheist group’s recent targets were the athletes at West Branch High School in Beloit, Ohio who liked to gather in prayer at their games:

A southern Mahoning County school district is no longer saying a prayer before sporting events.

The school’s superintendent says it all stemmed from a local complaint that got a national organization involved.

West Branch Superintendent Tim Saxton said he received a complaint letter from The Freedom From Religion Foundation, an anti-Christian organization, based out of Madison, Wisconsin.

The letter claimed a prayer performed at a public school sporting event violates the constitution and does not provide for a separation between church and state.

The FFRF is on a crusade to expunge religious expression from the public square, and the group gets the meaning of “separation of church and state,” a phrase that appears nowhere in the Constitution, all wrong.

This isn’t the first time its target has been high school football.  The FFRF went ballistic not long ago over the baptism of an on-the-field high school football coach in Villa Rica, Georgia.  Attendance was voluntary, and the students who attended did so on their own time and of their own free will.  When the FFRF saw a video of the ceremony, it fired off a letter of righteous indignation to the Carroll County School superintendent:

“It is illegal for coaches to participate in religious activities with students, including prayer and baptisms,” attorney Elizabeth Cavell wrote.  “Nor can coaches allow religious leaders to gain unique access to students during school-sponsored activities.”

They called the full emersion [sic] baptisms an “egregious constitutional violation.” …

“I believe we live in a free country,” the pastor said.  “These people that are trying to say you can’t do that – well – they’re taking away freedom.  When did it become illegal to bow your head and pray?  When did it become illegal to say I’m a Christian?”

Indeed, one would think publicly baptizing a high school football coach, rather than threatening the constitutional foundations of our democracy, is covered under the “free exercise thereof” clause in the First Amendment.  The irony here is that the FFRF on its website touts itself as “the largest free thought association in North America.”  It seems it depends on what you’re thinking about to these thought police.

Expressions of religion in sports are not uncommon, from the baseball pitcher pointing heavenward after a big strikeout to the singing of “God Bless America” in the 7th inning of baseball games after the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001.  Such expressions of religious liberty guaranteed by the Constitution are not always well received by those seeking to expunge all expressions of religious belief from the public square.

NFL quarterback Tim Tebow believed, as was written in the Declaration of Independence, that we are endowed, not by government, but by our Creator, with inalienable rights.  Tebow believed that his talents and opportunities, as well as his rights, come from that Creator, and for that, he was roundly mocked by his secular critics.

lawsuit filed on December 27, 2012 by the FFRF concerned sermons considered by the political left political speech by tax-exempt organization in alleged violation of federal law.  These sermons, which can contain commentary on issues of the day in a religious context, are considered electioneering by the atheist left.

The FFRF sought enforcement by the IRS of the 1954 Johnson Amendment, which states that tax-exempt groups, including churches, are not allowed to endorse political candidates.  But the FFRF stretches that law to interpret churches taking positions from the pulpit in opposition to, say, the redefinition of marriage or the Obanacare mandates on providing contraceptive coverage as support for political candidates, albeit unnamed, who might share that opposition.  The FFRF even asked the IRS to monitor and regulate religious speech.

Investor’s Business Daily, in a biting July 31, 2014 editorial, ripped apart the FFRF’s faulty logic:

But is the Catholic Church “politicking” when it proclaims its “Fortnight for Freedom” dedicated to opposing ObamaCare’s contraceptive mandate and the government’s forcing schools and charities it considers an extension of its faith to include it in insurance coverage or face crippling fines?

Are Protestant and evangelical churches “politicking” when they participate in “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” this year on Oct. 5 to encourage congregations to “vote their faith,” which they consider to be an exercise of free speech and freedom of religion?

The FFRF says that such events at “rogue churches” have “become an annual occasion for churches to violate the law with impunity.”  But doesn’t the Constitution say that Congress can make no such laws?

The Constitution if fact guarantees freedom of religion, not freedom from it.  Thomas Jefferson, source for the “separation of church and state” phrase often invoked by liberals, also said, “I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against any form of tyranny over the mind of man.”

That should apply to those who speak their mind from the pulpit or on a high school football field as well.

As Investor’s Business Daily editorialized, those opposed to the free expression of religion and free speech get the establishment clause and church and state thing all wrong:

The phrase “separation of church and state” in fact appears nowhere in the Constitution but in a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1802 to a group of Danbury Baptists assuring them that the First Amendment prohibited Congress from establishing a national church, such as the Church of England.

Imposing political correctness upon the Tim Tebows of the world is tyranny.  Thomas Jefferson feared what the British Crown tried to do: impose a state church on all the American people.  The fact is that in Jefferson’s time, the state and the church were inextricably linked.

The Founding Fathers did fear the possible establishment of a national church like the Church of England, and to prevent it, they wrote the First Amendment to say “Congress” shall make no laws regarding the establishment of religion, meaning any particular religion.  But it says nothing about the states, and it also says Congress shall make no laws restricting the free exercise thereof.

Anyone who wants to know what the Founding Fathers intended with their words should analyze their actions.  As Yale’s Prof. Jon Butler writes:

[T]he 1780 Massachusetts constitution authorized ‘towns, parishes, precincts and other bodies politic to levy taxes ‘for the institution of public worship of God, and for the support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion and morality.’ …

Connecticut and New Hampshire had similar laws.  Virginia, on the other hand, moved rapidly after the Revolutionary War to disestablish the Anglican church and separate the state from formal religious institutions.  Curiously, no framer of the Constitution ever declared that Massachusetts, with its state-supported religious education, or Virginia, with its official secularism, were guilty of violating the 1st Amendment or any other fundamental constitutional principle.

The Constitution mandates government’s neutrality to religion, but its alleged desire to avoid any endorsement of religion has mutated into an unmistakable hostility.  Perhaps the most egregious example occurred in April 1995, when the Murrah Federal Building was bombed and  attorneys for the Clinton administration were ready to deny churches the same disaster assistance that every other building with collateral damage received because of the alleged separation of church and state.  It took special congressional action to prevent this absurdity.  I don’t think this is what Thomas Jefferson had in mind.

We have drifted a long way from the Founding Fathers’ clear intent about the relationship between the free exercise of religion and government.  People are no longer free to apply their religious beliefs to their businesses, as the vendetta against Hobby Lobby demonstrates.  The Obama administration went to court to force the Little Sisters of the Poor to provide contraceptive coverage to their workers.  Bakers were forced to bake cakes for same-sex ceremonies in violation of their religious beliefs.

As the late Francis Cardinal George of Chicago, former head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, once observed, President Obama’s idea of religious liberty, an idea shared by many liberals, differs little from Josef Stalin’s:

“Freedom of worship was guaranteed in the Constitution of the former Soviet Union,” Chicago’s Francis Cardinal George recently wrote.

“You could go to church, if you could find one.  The church, however, could do nothing except conduct religious rites in places of worship – no schools, religious publications, health care institutions, organized charity, ministry for justice and works of mercy that flow naturally from a living faith.  We fought a long Cold War to defeat that vision of society.”

Indeed, we did.  Our country was founded by those seeking freedom of religion and the free speech and free exercise that come with it.  Forgive those who think otherwise, including the FFRF, for they know not what they do.

 

 

 

Daniel John Sobieski is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine, and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications

 

 

 

Source: ‘Freedom from Religion’ Atheists Ignorant of the Constitution

 

 

 

 

Charles Stanley – Let Christ Bear Your Burdens

 

Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus’ compassion is displayed repeatedly throughout the Gospel accounts, and in today’s passage, He shows loving concern by inviting us to come to Him for relief. Is there anything more needed in this world than the feeling of being set free from whatever is weighing us down?

Jesus invites us to come, take His yoke upon us, and learn from Him. At first glance, a yoke may sound like an additional burden, but to understand what Jesus means, we must look at these verses from their historical context. A yoke was a bar that fit over the neck and shoulders of two animals. When a heavy load had to be transported, two oxen were yoked together, thereby distributing the weight evenly between them.

What our Lord is describing is a lifelong process that encompasses coming to Him for salvation and learning to know Him—His perfect character, His priorities for life, and His plans for us and the world. Jesus is asking us to place ourselves under the yoke of His lordship. He promises that a life of submission will fit us well and provide relief.

Our Savior offers to be with us in every trial we face. Sometimes He removes the difficulties that weigh us down, while at other times, He lifts the burdensome feelings that accompany our trials. But there will be occasions when He walks with us through the hardships and suffering, giving us the grace and strength to endure. Even then we will discover that His yoke is easy and His burden is light because His compassion and mighty power carry us through.

Bible in One Year: Proverbs 29-31

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread – No Co-signer required

 

Read: Hebrews 6:13–20 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 16–17; Acts 20:1–16

People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said. Hebrews 6:16

When a person without a long history of paying his or her bills on time wants to obtain a loan to purchase a home or car, lenders are often reluctant to take the financial risk. Without a track record, that person’s promise to repay what he borrows is insufficient for the bank. The would-be borrower usually resorts to finding someone who does have a history of making good on their debts, asking them to put their name on the loan too. The co-signer’s promise assures the lender the loan will be repaid.

When someone makes a promise to us—whether for financial, marital, or other reasons—we expect them to keep it. We want to know that God will keep His promises too. When He promised Abraham that He would bless him and give him “many descendants” (Hebrews 6:14; see Genesis 22:17), Abraham took God at His word. As the Creator of all that exists, there is no one greater than He; only God could guarantee His own promise.

Abraham had to wait for the birth of his son (Hebrews 6:15) (and never saw how innumerable his offspring would grow to be), but God proved faithful to His promise. When He promises to be with us always (13:5), to hold us securely (John 10:29), and to comfort us (2 Corinthians 1:3–4), we too can trust Him to be true to His word.

Lord, thank You for being so trustworthy. I need no other promises but Your word. Help me to trust You more and more each day.

God’s promises are sure.

By Kirsten Holmberg

INSIGHT

In Hebrews 6:19, the metaphor of an anchor is used to describe the believer’s secure hope. This metaphor was a common one in Greco-Roman literature and was used to describe a person’s security and hope based on their good character.

But the author of Hebrews does not describe the believer’s “anchor”—their hope (6:11–12)—as based on their own character. Instead, the author says our hope is found “behind the curtain” (v. 19)—alluding to the “holy of holies” in the temple. In the past, this was the primary place where God’s people could fully experience God’s presence. Only the high priest could enter, and only once a year.

But now Jesus, the One both fully God and fully human, is our priest, the One who gives access to God. Because He has conquered sin and death, our rock-solid hope is anchored in Him. Through Christ we experience the very presence and power of God (v. 20).

Monica Brands

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Revealing Mysteries

A favorite scene from the story of Jesus’s birth is of the far-seeing elderly Simeon reaching for the child in the young Mary’s arms, content now to die for having seen the Messiah with his own eyes. His words to Mary, more eerie than most mothers could graciously accept, always seemed a cryptic little note from a strange and saintly old man. Simeon walks up to Mary and says to the infant as much to the mother:

“This child is destined for the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed.”(1)

I have long tried to imagine how I might hear his words as a mother. I have tried to imagine what Mary might possibly have said in response to those words, her newborn’s fingers wrapped around her own. Surely, the elderly Simeon’s reaction must have taken her breath away.

So I had spent much time considering this exchange. But the prophetic words of the old man never struck me as the very pivotal introduction to the gospel writer’s story itself. Is Simeon the prophetic voice that initiates Luke’s overarching motif of suffering throughout his telling of the story of Christ?

Starting with Simeon, theologian Roy Harrisville draws out this side of Luke that surprised my reading of his Gospel and passion narrative—if only the surprise of seeing plainly something I’d never noticed.(2) Again and again Luke points out the necessity of Jesus’s suffering, long before Jesus is approaching the cross. Nonetheless, I was left with a plaguing question perhaps less for Harrisville than for God—or Jesus along the road to Emmaus: Why was it necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into glory, as he tells the men as they walk toward Emmaus? Why was Christ’s suffering a matter of “divine necessity”? Why did he need to suffer?

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Revealing Mysteries

Joyce Meyer – God Will Give You Truth When You Ask for It

 

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. — 1 John 4:8

Adapted from the resource Trusting God Day by Day Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

I spent many years of my life as a very unhappy, dissatisfied person, and I wasted a lot of time thinking my unhappiness was someone or something else’s fault. Thoughts such as, If I just had more money, I would be happy, or If people did more for me, I would be happy, or If I did not have to work so hard, I would be happy, or If I felt better physically, I would be happy filled my mind. The list of reasons that I thought caused my unhappiness seemed endless, and no matter what I did to entertain myself, nothing worked for long.

As I grew in my personal relationship with God, I literally became desperate for peace, stability, true happiness, and joy. That kind of hunger for change usually requires facing some truth—maybe some unpleasant truth or things we don’t like to admit—about ourselves, and I have learned that if we really want truth, God will give it to us. As I began seeking God for the root cause of my unhappiness, He showed me that I was very selfish and self-centered. My focus was on what others could and should do for me, rather than what I could and should do for them. That was not easy for me to accept, but doing so was the beginning of a life-changing journey with God.

God helped me begin to see myself as a person who could give and help. I had to change my thinking from, What about me?, to What can I do for you? I would like to say this was an easy change to make, but the truth is that it was very difficult and took a lot longer than I like to admit.

Everything God does is for our good; all of His commands are intended to help us have the best lives we can possibly have. He commands us to love and be kind to others, which means taking the focus off of ourselves, silencing the voice that asks, “What about me?” and learning to follow Jesus’ example of being kind, generous, and loving toward others.

Prayer Starter: Father, please show me the root causes of any unhappiness in my life—show me truth. As I grow in You, help me to be less me-focused and more concerned with how I can bless others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – No Hurt in Second Death

 

“Let everyone who can hear, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches; He who is victorious shall not be hurt by the Second Death” (Revelation 2:11).

I find great comfort in the promises of God’s word, and this is another that makes a positive assurance to use: we shall not be hurt by the Second Death.

But just what is meant by the term Second Death? It would seem to mean that the conqueror shall not have anything to fear in the future world. The punishment of hell is sometimes called death – not in the sense that the soul will cease to exist, but because death is the most fearful thing we know about, and there is a striking similarity in many respects between death and future punishment.

As death cuts us off from life, so the second death cuts one off from eternal life. Death puts an end to all our earthly hopes, and the second death to all hope forever. Death is accompanied by terrors and alarms, which are only faint emblems of the coming terror in the world of woe.

This promise of no harm for us in the second death really is all that is necessary to sustain us in our trials. Nothing else is needed to make the burdens of life tolerable but this assurance that the end of our earthly journey will bring us to the close of suffering. No power can harm us beyond the grave.

We have no promise that we shall not die, but we do have this glorious assurance that nothing beyond that will ever hurt us. Meanwhile, we are expected to listen – and to be faithful.

Bible Reading:John 8:21-25

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Knowing that nothing beyond the grave will ever hurt me, I will make this present life count for Christ and His kingdom.

 

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Work With Enthusiasm for the Lord

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

What if everyone worked with Ephesians 6:7 in mind? “Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.”  Suppose no one worked to satisfy self or please the bottom line but everyone worked to please God.  Many occupations would instantly cease– drug trafficking, thievery, prostitution, nightclub and casino management.

Certain behaviors would cease as well. If I’m repairing a car for God, I’m not going to overcharge his children. Imagine if everyone worked for the audience of One. Every nurse, thoughtful. Every officer, careful. Every teacher, hopeful. Every lawyer, skillful. Impossible? Well, not entirely. All we need is someone to start a worldwide revolution. Might as well be us!

Read more Cure for the Common Life

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – Trump–Putin summit begins: How to navigate volatile times

When the World Cup began a month ago, Argentina was favored to defeat Brazil in the final. France was predicted to lose in the knockout stage; Croatia was not expected to get that far.

As half the world watched yesterday, France defeated Croatia to win the title.

Before Saturday morning, few people had heard of Angelique Kerber, while Serena Williams has been recognized as the greatest tennis player of all time. Then Kerber defeated Williams to win the Wimbledon championship.

This time last year, Novak Djokovic was out of tennis and dealing with an elbow injury that required surgery. Yesterday he won the men’s Wimbledon title in straight sets.

Now the world is watching as Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin prepare for their summit in Helsinki, Finland. According to Fox News, the two are expected to discuss Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election, Putin’s forcible annexation of Crimea, sanctions imposed by the US in response to that annexation, the conflict in Syria, and nuclear arms control.

However, it is impossible to predict what will actually come from their meeting.

Facing an unpredictable future

Continue reading Denison Forum – Trump–Putin summit begins: How to navigate volatile times