Two sides to every story

This looked like an interesting First Amendment story: “Attorney for Pastor jailed in Arizona speaks out” (capitalization as in the original).

Last week we brought you a story about Michael Salman, a Pastor in Arizona who surrendered himself to authorities to face two months in prison. His crime? Holding bible studies in his home. Mr. Salman faced a judge today and things don’t appear to be getting any better. The prosecution is pushing for a harsher punishment for his alleged crime.

The attorney is John Whitehead, of the Rutherford Institute. Hmm, that’s inauspicious. Here’s his statement regarding his client’s case.

Mr. Salman was found guilty of one count of violating probation for holding bible studies of more than 12 people. Where she got the number baffles me. Maybe she got it from Jesus and the Disciples, but in that case it would be 13…

The danger of this case is the government is trying to establish what is and isn’t a church. When it does that they are overstepping the boundary. This violates the very foundation of that Amendment and the Establishment Clause.

Ok, a government trying to imprison people just for holding Bible studies in their private home. Whitehead is right, this is a flagrant and serious violation of the First Amendment. Or is it?

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Heh, publicity

The creationist lawsuit against the JPL is getting better and better: the Glendale News Press reports that lawyers for David Coppedge tried—unsuccessfully—to bar the press from their client’s religious discrimination lawsuit. [Update: No, I read that wrong, it was attorneys for JPL who requested the press ban, citing privacy concerns for the witnesses.]

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ernest Hiroshige denied their request without explanation as the trial delved deeper into the beliefs of the plaintiff, David Coppedge, and how the space exploration agency based on scientific research can accommodate employees who wear their faith on their sleeve.

Gonna be Dover all over.

Resistance is… persecution?

This is really not going to end well for the ID creationist community…

“David Coppedge alienated his co-workers by the way he acted with them, and blamed anyone who complained about those interactions,” according to JPL in their response. “He accuses his former project supervisor and line manager of making discriminatory and retaliatory employment decision, when they had in fact protected him for years.”

via CNN.com Blogs.

One of the problems with being reality-averse is that you also corrupt your ability to assess your own circumstances. I’m sure Coppedge went into this suit convinced that he was going to show the world how prejudiced and unfair everyone else was for resisting his attempts to convert them to his own beliefs. He should have learned his lesson from Bill Buckingham.

Crossing the government

This one seems pretty cut and dried.

The British government asserts that Christians have no right to wear a cross or crucifix at work and is eager to prove it in court.

The case was initiated by two British women Nadia Eweida and Shirley Chaplin, after they were punished for refusing to take off their religious symbols.

via Cross to bear? UK denies Christians right to wear crucifix — RT.

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Oh boy

As grieving parents, family and friends try to deal with the tragedy of the Chardon High School killings, at least one commentator is cackling with glee. For Todd Starnes of (where else?) Fox News, the killings give him the perfect opportunity to ask, “Why is school prayer only allowed during tragedies?

As police try to make sense of the senseless, the school superintendent called on people to pray.

It was a wise decision.

But perhaps lost in the chaos is the irony that in American public schools – people are not allowed to pray.

Liberals have successfully banished God from the classroom, replacing Him with the manmade god of secularism.

Yes, those darned liberals and their support for liberal handgun access. Oh wait, no, sorry, handguns are real, and aren’t really a liberal thing. Let’s blame an imaginary response by an imaginary God to an imaginary ban on people praying. Because everybody knows that if you don’t let God into the classroom, He gives handguns to emotionally unstable kids and tells them to go kill people—even when He’s not really banned from school.

Wabbit season

I remember the first time I saw it: Elmer Fudd stands by, gun loaded, as Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck rip signs off a tree, exposing a new sign underneath: “Rabbit Season!” “Duck Season!” “Rabbit Season!” “Duck Season!” “Rabb—ELMER Season!??” And Elmer has to run for his life from his former prey. Gotta love the classics.

Speaking of silly cartoons, here’s a columnist from the World Net Daily arguing—I kid you not—that Barack Obama, as President of the United States, officially declared an open season on Christians worldwide.

Here’s the relevant quote from the May 2009 press conference in Turkey:

“One of the great strengths of the United States is … we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation, or a Muslim nation. We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values.”

It is bedrock American tradition, as stated in the first amendment to the Constitution, that there is no government-established religion, that freedom of religion for each individual is guaranteed. The United States has no state religion, no government church. In that sense, the United States is, of course, not a “Christian nation”…

To the Muslim ear, Obama was saying that the United States would not protect Christian communities in predominantly Muslim countries because the U.S. was neutral on the issue of religion. An unfolding Christian bloodbath is the result.

So he admits that our Constitution specifies “no religious preference” for our government, and yet somehow that translates into “it’s ok to shoot Christians” when mentioned by Obama? If I made a cartoon that gave conservatives lines like this, they’d complain about being ridiculed. Or they might cheer. Who knows?

Ben Stein on Christmas trees

According to the UK’s Catholic Herald, it seems the War on By Christmas has enlisted a new recruit: Ben Stein.

There’s a story somewhere about Barack Obama referring to a Christmas tree as a “holiday tree,” which is apparently a worse form of persecution than denying Christians the right to marry one another, or something. In a vigorous and principled rebuttal on CBS Sunday Morning (which all good Christians will have missed because they’re in church where they belong), Stein says:

I am a Jew and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it doesn’t bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful, lit up, bejewelled trees, Christmas trees. I don’t feel threatened. I don’t feel discriminated against… It doesn’t bother me a bit when people say ‘Merry Christmas’ to me… In fact I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year.

Oh my God, Ben, which side are you on? How dare you refer to it as “this happy time of year” instead of calling it Christmas? Are you trying to take Christ out of Christmas? You do remember, don’t you, that this whole “war on Christmas” meme was originally concocted as an anti-Semitic propaganda campaign? That Jews were originally accused of writing secular holiday songs (like Jingle Bells) as an attack on Christmas as a holy day reminding us of the miracle of the incarnation of the Son of God?

Well, maybe he does, and he’s just kissing up. Or maybe he’s just being paid to shill for the conservative Christian majority. Wouldn’t be the first time, eh?

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Christian bigots unhappy over bad publicity

Writing for The New American, Dave Bohon seems unhappy about the negative publicity a certain Baptist university has been receiving lately.

A Baptist university in Georgia is receiving abundant media attention for a “Personal Lifestyle Statement“ it recently updated, that requires faculty and staff to adhere to a set of biblical standards that include shunning homosexual behavior. Employees have been told that they must either sign the statement as a pledge, or face termination.

It’s a private school and receives no federal funding, so there’s no legal issue here. If Christians want to say, “We’re bigots and you have to be a bigot to work here,” then they have that right. What Bohon seems to be unhappy about is the fact that so many people seem to see anti-gay discrimination as bad even when Christians do it.

On its “Gay Voices” page, the Huffington Post highlighted “happily out and proud gay” Rome, Georgia, native Jeffery Self, who recalled the joyful days he spent helping out in the theater department of the college around the corner from his boyhood home. While claiming to understand that, because Shorter is a Baptist college, “certain ‘lifestyle choices’ might not be within their ideas and beliefs,” the aptly named Self nonetheless took the liberty of referring to the school’s pledge as “outlandishly backward, despicable, disgusting, and in no way Christ-like….”

Ooo, “the aptly named Self”—bet that one hurt. But what Bohon fails to understand is that there’s no contradiction here. It’s entirely possible that Baptist doctrines might not allow homosexual “lifestyles,” AND that this anti-gay attitude might be outlandishly backward, despicable, and disgusting. Bigotry doesn’t magically become OK just because Christians do it, any more than raping altar boys becomes ok just because the perp is a priest.

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Archbishop defies president, society

Bit late, but I wanted to comment on this one. According to USATODAY.com, Archbishop Timothy Nolan (Grand Wizard head of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops) is putting pressure on President Obama to try and stop his senseless rush towards tolerance and civil rights for gays.

Dolan said the bishops are especially upset that the administration and opponents of DOMA are framing their argument as a civil rights issue, which he said equates “opposition to redefining marriage with either intentional or willfully ignorant racial discrimination.”

Right, because framing is something that only conservatives are allowed to do, for example by pretending to “defend marriage” and by refusing to address gay marriage as anything other than an attempt to “redefine” it.

Why can’t Catholic archbishops tell the truth about what they hate and what they’re doing to try and stop it? Simple: the Church is using sex to sustain Christianity, and they’re scared to death of losing control of it. That’s why they always refer to THEIR definition of marriage as THE definition of marriage. As soon as there’s any competition for the Catholic definition of marriage, the Church loses an important competitive advantage. They’ve spent literally thousands of years training people to assume that the Church controls their access to sexual fulfillment, and that only the church can provide them with a legitimate outlet for their sexual desires, through the “sacrament” of marriage. Break this monopoly, and disaster ensues, because without the threat of sexual frustration, what’s left to draw people into the faith? The Holy Spirit? Gimme a break!

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And on the other hand…

…sometimes common sense does prevail. A federal appeals court has ruled that a San Diego County school district does have the right to tell Christian teachers not to use their classrooms for proselytizing. The case at hand concerns a math teacher who wanted to establish religion by hanging “testimonial” banners in his class.

The two banners, each about 7 feet by 2 feet, contained references to God from U.S. documents and patriotic songs. One quoted the Declaration of Independence passage that all men are “endowed by their CREATOR” with unalienable rights.

The banners also trumpeted phrases such as “IN GOD WE TRUST” and “GOD SHED HIS GRACE ON THEE,” but do not seem to have imparted any concepts with any particular relationship to mathematics, the subject of the class. Predictably, the teacher complained about discrimination against Christians, effectively confessing that he was indeed explicitly promoting Christianity in the classroom. At first, this was a winning argument, but when the appeals court looked at what he was specifically complaining about, it reversed the lower court ruling.

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