Every 5 minutes, a martyr

State Representative Rebecca Hamilton (OK) reports an alarming statistic:

According to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, one hundred thousand Christians have died for their faith each year in the last decade. That works out to 11 Christians martyred for their faith every hour for the past ten years.

Can you imagine the outcry if this was one the groups that fashion says we should care about? Just consider the sentence 100,000 _______ were murdered because of they were ______ each year for the past ten years. Supply the name of any group whose rights we hear daily that we are supposed to care about.

Right, nobody cares when Christians get murdered, except of course for hundreds of millions who do care, and especially all those liberals who are clamoring for an end to all religious persecution regardless of who the victim is. Sheesh. But what about that statistic? 100,000 Christians murdered for their faith every year for the past 10 years? One new Christian martyr every five minutes? The recent church bombing in Pakistan killed about 80-some Christians, and that was big news because 80 seems like (and is) a lot. One million murdered Christians, just since 2003, seems a bit high.

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Some Christians abandoning Boy Scouts

The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reports that some Christians, irate over the Boy Scouts’ failure to discriminate against gays, are leaving the organization to try and start their own initiatives.

Scott Scarborough, a former Boy Scouts volunteer and committee member under the South Plains Council, resigned his position with the organization on Sept. 1 and is bringing an emerging faith-based alternative to West Texas.

This is great news for the Boy Scouts. Without the influence (financial and otherwise) of the narrow-minded bigots, the Scouts will have a much better chance of growing into the kind of helpful, mind-broadening, and character-building organization it ought to have been all along. Someday they might even admit *gasp* atheists.

Meanwhile, the bigots are forming a “faith-based” alternative to the Boy Scouts (and thus unintentionally beginning to turn “faith-based” into the kind of term that “fundamentalist” has become). Their shirts will likely be brown, and they will boldly and prophetically announce their mission as being the oppression of gays, atheists, and anybody else who differs from the ideal white male Christian patriarchy. Oh wait, no, that’s a secret. Better let some non-whites in too, to keep it from being too obvious.

I wish them every bit of the kind of luck they deserve.

The needs of the narrative

One of the problems with trying to live in a worldview instead of in the real world is that the needs of the narrative become preeminent over everything else. I ran across a good example of this on Christian talk radio (where else?) when the hosts reported a story about someone vandalizing a local cancer center by spray-painting “Christian-oriented” slogans on it, including “Jesus saves” and just “Jesus.” The hosts were offended, if not downright outraged, by the fact that secular reports implied that a Christian was likely to have done this. The nerve! How dare they suggest that a Christian would do such a thing? Whoever did this was NOT a Christian, in fact they were probably an atheist who was just trying to embarrass Christians. And so on and so on.

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“Gateway Pundit” fails to grasp First Amendment basics

In a post melodramatically entitled “WAR ON GOD,” The Gateway Pundit wails:

A Christian ministry has been ordered by the Feds to remove all of their religious symbols if they want any federal assistance feeding the poor.

Yup, to absolutely no one’s surprise, another “faith-based initiative” got caught proselytizing poor people at taxpayer expense, and were told to stop. Scientologists aren’t allowed to use government food programs to lure people in to Scientology sessions, Muslims aren’t allowed to use them to bring people in to hear about Mohammed and the Qur’an, and Christianity is likewise constrained from turning government aid programs into taxpayer-funded evangelistic ministries, even “passively.”

And equally unsurprising, the perpetrators and their supporters are completely stunned and outraged at this blatant compliance with the requirements of the First Amendment.

Daly and her staff sat in stunned disbelief as the government agents also informed them that the Christian Service Center could no longer pray or provide Bibles to those in need. The government contract also forbade any references to the ministry’s chapel.

This is precisely why faith-based initiatives are a bad idea. When Christians are invited to participate in the delivery of government aid, they naturally assume that they are being given permission to turn a secular government program into an evangelistic ministry, taking advantage of both the needs of the poor and the generosity of the state to create a captive audience who knows that their food supply is in the hands of people who want to see some evidence that their ministry is saving souls. That’s flat out wrong, and even Christians ought to oppose it. Why would you want to fill your church with fake believers who are only pretending to love Jesus so they can get the basic nutrition the government set aside for them?

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97 Percent Prophetic Pastors Are Quacks, says “Apostle”

Every now and then something catches my eye that makes me realize that Christianity outside America is very different from Christianity inside America. Like this report, from Ghana.

The Founder and Leader of Cornerstone Bible Church International located at Tech a suburb of Kumasi in the Ashanti Region Apostle Godless Boateng has descended heavily on prophetic pastors alleging that they are quacks who are portraying themselves as men and women of God saying all sort of prophesies that are not in line with the word of God.

He averred that as followers of Jesus Christ, “we have been blessed and when the Son sets you free from any tribulations and spiritual bondage, there is no amount of lesser gods which can overcome you.”

Hmm, come to think of it, apart from naming himself “Godless” and despite a certain lack of monotheism, he doesn’t sound all that different. I’m guessing “Godless” is supposed to mean “ex-polytheist,” despite his lingering conviction that other gods are out there trying to overcome you.

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At last, a convincing argument

This week on our local Christian talk radio show, they had a guest discussing the recent court case in New Mexico where the state supreme court ruled that a photography business could not claim a First Amendment right to discriminate against gays. (And by the way, the guest also had a book to sell.)

Like the photography business, the guest and the talk show hosts all framed their argument around the idea that the photographer’s decision was not discrimination because it was based on the lesbian couple’s behavior rather than on their status. The court didn’t buy that one, and so the Christians were outraged. How absurd! Giving an entire class of people special privileges just because of their behavior? That’s ridiculous!

And you know, I think they’re exactly right. It is absurd, and completely unjustifiable, to give an entire class of people a special privileged and protected status just because of their behavior, just because their sexual behavior happens to be oriented towards the opposite sex. Separating out heterosexuals, and making them the only class of people who are entitled to the privilege of getting married to one another, is indefensible. The only way to avoid the trap of giving people unearned privileges based on the orientation of their sexual behavior is to grant everybody the same rights and privileges regardless of sexual orientation.

It’s the first time I heard a really cogent and coherent argument from the “traditional marriage” folks, and it’s a shame they believe and practice the exact opposite of what their own argument requires.

The “benefits” of faith

You have to have faith, or so I’m told. People who don’t have faith are somehow deficient, missing out on all that life has to offer, and maybe even morally suspect.

Why is that? What’s so great about faith? What do you get from being faithful that you don’t get from being skeptical? There are a lot of answers to those questions, but the most accurate ones aren’t as flattering as the PR might have you believe.

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