Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Court: Evangelism is free speech

A Christian pastor who ministers to Muslims has won a free-speech victory against Dearborn, Michigan.

The Thomas More Law Center's (TMLC) Richard Thompson reports that Sudanese Christian Pastor George Saieg ministered at the International Arab Festival in Dearborn for five years, until 2009. (See earlier story)

"The police department issued a ban on leafleting on the public sidewalks," Thompson reports. "As a result of that ban, the Thomas More Law Center sued the city of Dearborn and its police chief on behalf of Pastor Saieg."Link

The Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the pastor's constitutional rights were violated.

"The court said that basically, his right to free speech was violated when they restricted the manner in which he could exercise his rights to leaflet [or] pass out religious leaflets on the public sidewalks in Dearborn," the TMLC attorney explains.

READ MORE at One News Now

Pornography's destruction is infiltrating the church

Foes of pornography are losing, and an onslaught of sexual attacks likely will result, Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land believes, reports Baptist Press.

"We're losing this war. We haven't lost it, but we're losing it," Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said at a conference on porn and sex exploitation. "And if you don't think we're losing it, you spend time with college-age young people, and you'll find out we're losing."

He described hardcore, online pornography as "the greatest danger this country faces."

"[I]t is destroying our culture. It is destroying our families. It is destroying our children," Land said.

Sexually graphic material online is destroying men's lives especially, he said. "Their ability to be the husbands and the fathers God intended them to be is being shriveled and shrunk and stifled and twisted and distorted by exposure to ever more hardcore, Internet pornography," Land told conference participants.

The fall-out in the next decade from the problem could be devastating to women, he said

"I believe that we are looking at in the next 10 years truly an avalanche, a tsunami of sex crimes against women and girls, because we've got a generation of boys that have been exposed at an earlier and earlier age to hardcore pornography," Land said. "And the mathematics are a certain number who view it will become addicted to it, a certain number who become addicted to it will eventually act out what they've seen on screen."

Land gave his warning at the Convergence Summit, an April 13-14 meeting in suburban Baltimore focusing on the battle against sexual exploitation in a digital age. Government, business, education and religious leaders from across the United States gathered to address solutions to pornography via new technology such as mobile devices, as well as the related problems of prostitution and sex trafficking.

Christians and the Gospel ministry have not escaped the reach of porn, Land said.

"Internet pornography is in your church. If your church has got more than 50 members, it's in your church," he told the audience. "I can tell you hardcore pornography is on the seminary campus. It's on the Christian college campus. It's in the pastorate. It's on the staff."

Its prevalence among staff members has been disclosed when some churches have decided to begin daycare centers to reach out to their communities, Land said. In preparing to provide coverage for churches, insurance companies typically research what is being viewed online in the church's buildings.

"I can't tell you the number of broken-hearted pastors who have called me when they have discovered what some of their trusted church staff have been looking at on church computers," he said.

His wife, Rebekah, and fellow psychologists focusing on marriage and family counseling say pornography is the leading cause of divorce in the United States, Land said: "They just routinely now ask the question, 'What have you been watching? What have you been looking at?' And the men are so surprised: 'How did you know?'"

Statistics support Land's concern:

-- A 2008 study of undergraduate and graduate students ages 18-26 showed that 69 percent of the men and 10 percent of the women viewed pornography more than once a month. The study was published in the Journal of Adolescent Research.

-- A Pew Research Center Internet & American Life Project survey released in December 2009 showed that 15 percent of those ages 12-17 who own cell phones had received a "sext" message.

-- In 2009, the fourth-most searched word on the Internet for kids ages 7 and under was "porn," according to data by For all kids -- those up to age 18 -- sex was No. 4, porn No. 5.

-- A Time magazine story about a 2003 meeting of the American Academy of Matrimonial LinkLawyers showed that, of the 350 attendees, 62 percent said the "Internet played a significant role in divorces in the past year, with excessive interest in online porn contributing to more than half of such cases."

There is no debate about pornography's addictive nature, Land said.

READ MORE at Christian Telegraph

Are Americans Getting Comfortable With Immorality?

While the majority of Americans believe that the country’s morality is poor and lacking, the gap between those looking for the moral high ground and those who believe we are already morally good is closing.

A Thursday Gallup poll shows the number of Americans who believe the overall state of moral values in the U.S. is poor has dropped seven percentage points to 38 percent. Meanwhile, the number of those who believe the country's morality is excellent or good has risen eight percentage points to 23 percent.

Fewer Americans also believe the country's moral values are getting worse. Sixty-nine percent, down from 76 percent in 2010, say the state of moral values is worsening, while 22 percent, up from 14 percent, believe it’s getting better.

But just by looking at the media, it’s not apparent why more Americans have a positive outlook on U.S. morality today.

"If you look at our popular entertainment, you have a situation where Americans are essentially bombarded immoral or amoral messages," said Matt Philbin, the Culture and Media Institute's managing editor and editorial director.

From movies to animated series and feel-good shows such as "Glee," Americans are constantly met with inappropriate, ungodly, unpatriotic and sexual themes, he pointed out.

If Americans continue to accept and adopt the values portrayed in pop culture (what Philbin calls "Rihanna and Lady Gaga television"), then “you'll see a decline in modesty, in probity, in a lot of things we have always valued in our culture,” he said.

Richard Land, president of Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, shares the same concern. "The media is a detrimental influence," he remarked. "You would never know by watching American television that 61 percent of Americans say religion is very important in their lives."

For Philbin, one message in particular that the media is continuously throwing at Americans is that of affirming homosexuality and gay marriage.

A poll released by Gallup last week found that for the first time since 1996, more than half of Americans say marriage for gays and lesbians should be legal.

Philbin clarifies the data as the result of Americans being brow-beaten through various forms of media and being constantly sent a message that says "you're wrong, now change your view."

"I think frankly Americans are just tired of getting beat up over their resistance to it," he explained. "I think that at a certain point cultural fatigue sets in and you get tired of being told that you're backward, being told you're puritan troglodyte (a caveman) and a homophobe who hates people. So you shrug and say, 'yea, I'm for it' and go about your business."

Civilization, he lamented, is headed in a direction that devalues the family unit.

"If a family is just a group of people cohabitating or pooling resources, and ceases to be the very basis and building block of society, I think you're in a sort of moral quicksand where things lose meaning," Philbin cautioned.

According to the Gallup poll, Republicans make up the majority of those who hold a negative view of America's current state of morality. Moral issues that have concerned the GOP include national attacks on the Defense of Marriage Act and the nation's debt.

Land said these moral issues are rooted in the home. When morals are not instilled in children through the proper influence of a wedded father and mother, the consequences become evident in society.

READ MORE at the Christian Post

How to Witness Through Social Media

It’s been said that social media has changed the world in a dramatic way that has not been seen since the Industrial Revolution. At the very least it’s changed the way we’ve looked at communication.

People live on Facebook or Twitter. A lot of the time people use it to dump information about events or shamelessly self-promote, but as Christians, we must remember that we are called to be witnesses to others. Jesus calls us to live in the world -- in the culture that we are born into -- and witness to those around us. A large part of today’s culture is social media, and we need to treat it as the great opportunity it is to use our daily lives as a way to witness.

We need to show non-Christians, with all their stereotypes and negative experiences of Christians, what Christianity really is.

Twitter and Facebook are perfect media to do this. Christians can use social media to show the rest of the word what we're really about. Or, we can perpetuate the stereotypes we're fighting against. Here are some do’s and don’ts for witnessing through Facebook and Twitter.

Don’t: Fake being perfect. One of the stereotypes about Christians is that we are hypocrites who act like we live perfect lives because we have Jesus. We all know this isn’t true. We all know that we struggle just like everyone else. Let’s not pretend we are not broken just because we can edit our lives online.

Do: Talk about your struggles. Now, some people think your status is a place to post vague, depressing commentary on your life. I’m not saying we need to be downers, but we do need to be real. Talk about how you are struggling to find a job, but also talk about how you are praying on it. If we talk about our lives realistically, it gives us a way to show what God is doing in our lives. You can then go back and post about how God placed the right job in your lap or how your church family has been your support through a rough time.

Don’t: Hate on people. If you are a Christian in “real” life, you need to act Christian online. It’s easy to say things viciously or put others down online because it doesn’t feel as real. We would never say some of the things we say online in person. Remember: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” Ephesians 4:29.

Do: Praise the wonderful things Christians and churches are doing. Christianity gets enough bad press from fringe groups and fallen leaders. Make your page a place to show that not all Christians are like those that end up in the news.

Don’t: use Christian terms any more than absolutely necessary. Christians, like most groups, have our own terminology -- fellowship, edification, sanctification, etc. Try to keep this off of Twitter and Facebook. Non-Christians (and even some Christians) don’t know what these terms mean, so using them will only alienate people following you. Put your faith in plain language.

Do:Make sure that you are not being vulgar or cussing either. We want people to understand us but we do want to be examples of what God calls of us.

Don’t: Just dump Scriptures on your status. Many people will just throw some scriptures online. Many people will do this multiple times a day. This can be a good thing that will speak to someone, but for many out there, they will just ignore or unfollow you. If you are trying to use your social media to evangelize, try something a little different.

Read more at Wesleyan LIFE

No prayer at Texas graduation, federal judge says

SAN ANTONIO — A federal judge in South Texas has banned public prayer at a high school graduation ceremony after the agnostic parents of a senior went to court.

The ruling from Chief U.S. District Judge Fred Biery in San Antonio came as Medina Valley High School in Castroville prepares for Saturday’s graduation.

KNIGHT: Doomsday prophets who never say they’re sorry

Well, we’re still here despite doomsday evangelist Harold Camping’s warning of the end of the world on May 21 at 6 p.m. But wait. Mr. Camping says we’re not out of the woods. He announced last week that “spiritual” doom occurred May 21 and physical destruction of the world will happen on Oct. 21. If he still has any acolytes after this, it will give new meaning to the term “credulous.”

Here’s his spin: “We didn’t see any difference, but God brought Judgment Day to bear upon the whole world. The whole world is under Judgment Day, and it will continue right up until Oct. 21 - and by that time the whole world will be destroyed.”

Well, I won’t argue with Mr. Camping that God can’t be pleased with the way America is abandoning its Judeo-Christian moorings. Lady Gaga’s pansexual “Born This Way” video alone is ample evidence that we’re no longer slouching toward Gomorrah but have entered its gates.

But what Mr. Camping is doing is serious mischief. He is conjuring with the Bible. Does he really think Jesus did not know what He was talking about? In Mark 13:32, Jesus says of Judgment Day, “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.”

Doomsday prophets come and go. In 1988, Edgar C. Whisenant released a slim book, “88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988.” It was full of mathematical formulas ending in a September doomsday prediction. It got a lot of play all over the U.S., but especially in Southern California, where people are used to living on the edge waiting for the Big One. Whisenant, a former NASA engineer, went on to pen more books predicting later dates, but he never achieved the megasales that “88 Reasons” garnered. He died in 2001.

Mr. Camping’s earlier ventures included a book simply titled “1994?” that at least included the question mark. With age, he seems to have grown less humble about his seer abilities.

About the worst thing that happened is that a number of Mr. Camping’s followers sold everything, leaving them high and dry. That’s serious, but it’s nothing compared to the damage inflicted by the Hale-Bopp comet cult Heaven’s Gate back in the ‘90s. Thirty-nine of its members committed suicide in March 1997 in order to escape the imminent cosmic “recycling” of the earth.

With cameras planted on Mr. Camping’s doorstep on May 21, the media had a field day mocking his apocalyptic failure, but I would wager that 99 percent of serious Christians took it all with a grain of salt.

Before those who delight in false predictions that make Christians look foolish laugh any louder, they have a multitude of liberal misfires to live down.

Read more at Washington Times

Faith based organizations at heart of Joplin recovery

Despite what little remains of their church, those at Faith Assembly are meeting their neighbors needs before their own.

"The building, there is really not a whole lot that we can do at this point," Pastor Larry Griffen of Faith Assembly of God said, "but the entire church body is here working."

"It's amazing how many people want to help," Don Miller with the Assemblies of God said. "They want to touch this and wanting them to know that they are there for them."

Read more at KY3

24 arrested, 3 wounded in Jerusalem Day skirmish

40,000 join flag parade marking anniversary of Six Day War; despite controversial route through Sheikh Jarrah, protesters face off near Old City.

Over 40,000 people marched through the streets of Jerusalem on Wednesday afternoon in a show of patriotism honoring the 44th anniversary of the Six Day War.

Dozens were arrested during the annual Flag Day parade, which marched through the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in a departure from the route through the city center used in previous years.

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Despite the more controversial route, police said the biggest problems were in the area of the Damascus Gate and Rehov Hanevi’im, which are part of the permanent route used in previous years.

A total of 24 people were arrested for disturbing the peace, the majority of them Jewish, the police reported.

Three people were wounded from rocks thrown on Rehov Hanevi’im next to the Damascus Gate and Sultan Suleiman Street, one of whom was taken to the hospital with a head injury.

“In previous years we have also had problems and violence between the Arabs and the Jews, but in our opinion the number of arrests [this year] was not small, it was quite large,” Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said.

“Things were completely under control and different units responded in the way that’s appropriate, considering there were 40,000 people taking part. The streets in the Old City are very narrow, and tensions were high,” added Micky Rosenfeld, National Police spokesman.

The police had increased patrols of policemen, border police, undercover police and mounted patrols starting Tuesday morning.

The main route of the parade began in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood near the Shepherd Hotel. Thousands of participants thronged down Highway 1, waving flags and chanting “Am Yisrael Chai.”

Some participants chose to march into the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood on a parade route determined in cooperation with the police.

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