Archive for May, 2006

Legislation to Bar Protesters From Military Funerals Heads to Bush’s Desk

Thursday, May 25th, 2006

Well done, Congress, Well done!!

WASHINGTON — Demonstrators would be barred from disrupting military funerals at national cemeteries under legislation approved by Congress and sent to the White House Wednesday The measure, passed by voice vote in the House hours after the Senate passed an amended version, specifically targets a Kansas church group that has staged protests at military funerals around the country, claiming that the deaths were a sign of God’s anger at U.S. tolerance of homosexuals.

The act “will protect the sanctity of all 122 of our national cemeteries as shrines to their gallant dead,” Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said prior to the Senate vote.

“It’s a sad but necessary measure to protect what should be recognized by all reasonable people as a solemn, private and deeply sacred occasion,” he said.

Under the Senate bill, approved without objection by the House with no recorded vote, the “Respect for America’s Fallen Heroes Act” would bar protests within 300 feet of the entrance of a cemetery and within 150 feet of a road into the cemetery from 60 minutes before to 60 minutes after a funeral. Those violating the act would face up to a $100,000 fine and up to a year in prison.

The sponsor of the House bill, Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said he took up the issue after attending a military funeral in his home state, where mourners were greeted by “chants and taunting and some of the most vile things I have ever heard.”

“Families deserve the time to bury their American heroes with dignity and in peace,” Rogers said Wednesday before the Hosue vote.

The demonstrators are led by the Rev. Fred Phelps of Topeka, Kan., who has previously organized protests against those who died of AIDS and gay murder victim Matthew Shepard.

In an interview when the House bill passed, Phelps said Congress was “blatantly violating the First Amendment” rights to free speech in passing the bill. He said that if the bill becomes law he will continue to demonstrate but would abide by the restrictions.

Sen. Pat Roberts, a Republican from Kansas, said the loved ones of those who die have already sacrificed for the nation and “we must allow them the right to mourn without being thrust into a political circus.”

In response to the demonstrations, the Patriot Guard Riders, a motorcyle group including many veterans, has begun appearing at military funerals to pay respects to the fallen service member and protect the family from disruptions.

More than a dozen states are considering similar laws to restrict protests at nonfederal cemeteries. The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against a new Kentucky law, saying it goes too far in limiting freedom of speech and expression.

Original Article.

What Does the U.S. Constitution Actually Say About Religion?

Thursday, May 25th, 2006

We have heard, for years now, how there is a “wall of separation” or “separation of church and state” between the government and religion, and how also the government, or even individuals in the “public square” are forbidden from “endorsing” a particular religion. Is that true? Let’s a take a look at what the Constitution of the United States actually says about religion.

Click Here to Read the Article.

Pro-Family Leader Pleased to Find Ohio at Bottom of Homosexuals’ List

Wednesday, May 24th, 2006

I think this statement from Phil Burress hits the nail on the head:
Opposing the homosexual activists’ agenda is “what they call intolerance.”

(AgapePress) – An Ohio pro-family activist says the state should consider it a point of pride that a radical homosexual rights group has ranked Ohio last in the United States in terms of providing special rights to homosexuals and similar groups.

A pro-homosexual group calling itself Equality of Ohio recently published a nationwide study about so-called discrimination against “gays,” lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered individuals. The study rated the state of Ohio dead last in protecting the “equality” of those groups.

But Phil Burress of the Cincinnati-based pro-family group Citizens for Community Values (CCV) says one has to understand what homosexual activists mean when they talk about equality. What they are really talking about, he asserts, is “special rights” for homosexual, bisexual and transgendered people.

“You would be surprised what it is that they really want,” Burress says. “What they call equality is for everyone to accept their behavior and for them to have access to our children at a very early age, promoting homosexuality as normal.” Opposing the homosexual activists’ agenda is “what they call intolerance,” he contends.

Equality of Ohio recently conducted a Lobby Day in Columbus, hoping to persuade Ohio lawmakers to support a bill that would give individuals special rights based on their sexual orientations and prohibit “discrimination” on that basis.

“What they’re complaining about,” Burress asserts, “is … that they don’t have rights and privileges that override the rest of us who are average working families and people here in the state of Ohio. They want special privileges.”

Also, the pro-family advocate says, homosexual activists want access to the educational system and government sanction of same-sex marriage. “They want to have all the things that the people and the governments and the laws have said that they can’t have,” he says.

And because the majority of the people and their pro-family representatives are opposed to all these things the homosexual activists are demanding, Burress adds, “they feel like we’re intolerant. So I guess we should wear that as a badge of honor.”

Groups like Equality of Ohio want to force acceptance of their behavior and to promote it as normal, Burress points out; but he says the citizens of the state have apparently been resistant to that agenda. He feels Ohioans should be proud to come in last on the pro-homosexual group’s list of states advancing “special rights” for homosexuals and other groups.

Original Link.

Mexico’s Threatened Lawsuits ‘Ludicrous,’ Says Attorney

Wednesday, May 24th, 2006

This is pretty much what I thought too.  It was almost a laughable comment from Mexico.

(AgapePress) – A constitutional attorney with the American Family Association says the recent threat of a lawsuit against the U.S. by the Mexican government over border security is absurd.

The threatened lawsuit is in response to President Bush’s pledge to use National Guard troops along the U.S.-Mexico border to bolster the efforts of the Border Patrol, primarily in support roles such as logistics and medical support. The Pentagon has stated that the bulk of personnel for the mission would be taken from National Guard troops in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas — the four border states.

Following the president’s announced intentions, a representative for Mexican President Vicente Fox stated that if the National Guard troops detain Mexican citizens crossing the border illegally, the Fox government will file lawsuits. Steve Crampton, chief counsel for the Center for Law & Policy and a constitutional expert, says while such a lawsuit is technically possible, it is not likely.

“What you have is Mexican nationals leaving their nation in droves, seeking to come to the free and prosperous nation of the United States on a permanent basis,” he says. “And so, for Mexico to sue because of some actions of our National Guard troops within our own borders, in policing those borders, is basically ludicrous.” And any lawsuits would be without merit, he adds.

The attorney believes the threat of lawsuits is meant simply to send a message. “The Mexican government wants to communicate to the U.S. government and to the world that they object to what’s going on [along the border],” says Crampton. He contends they have a purpose in sending that message. “They want to make waves and try to work, I think, an agreement and a treaty whereby the Mexican government can profit from our own internal unrest and dissension on the issue of immigration.”

This is not the first time Mexico has voiced such threats. Officials with the Mexican government have threatened lawsuits against the group known as the Minutemen Project when they started patrolling the southern U.S. border earlier this year.

Original Link.

Liberal Clergy’s Opposition to Marriage Amendment No Surprise, Say Conservatives

Wednesday, May 24th, 2006

Take a look at my article “Falling Away” of the Church.  These are perfect examples of denominations that no longer hold to Biblical Truth and Moral Absolutes.

(AgapePress) – Clergy opposed to a constitutional ban on same-sex “marriage” say religious conservatives who support the proposed federal marriage amendment are bigots. But those conservatives don’t appear to be overly concerned about the left-leaning clergy’s lobbying efforts to derail the proposed constitutional amendment.

Several dozen Christian and Jewish leaders held a news conference on Capitol Hill, where they are lobbying senators to reject the amendment when it comes up for a vote about two weeks from now. Involved in that coalition were United Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Lutherans, United Church of Christ, Reformed Jews, and others.

The proposed amendment that protects marriage as defined in the Bible, as the union of a man and a woman, is supported by Roman Catholic bishops and the Southern Baptist Convention. But Rev. Paul Simmons, a Baptist minister and University of Louisville professor, said the amendment “has the smell and feel of Salem,” comparing its supporters to the colonial Puritans who burned witches.

Simmons says he and many other clergy oppose a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. “There is a broad and profound opposition to the proposed amendment among religious people,” he noted. “The thunder of the Religious Right should be resisted as misguided and prejudicial.”

And Rev. Kenneth Samuel, a United Church of Christ pastor and NAACP chapter president in Georgia, said black pastors who oppose homosexual marriage have turned their backs on civil rights. “A lot of what goes on is also tied on to the faith-based initiative money,” Pastor Samuel said, “and I am sorry to say that many of our African-American clergy have been bought out.”

Gary Bauer of the Campaign for Working Families is not concerned about the coalition of religious leaders who are lobbying against the marriage amendment. “I believe they’re way out of step with church-going Americans who, every study shows, overwhelmingly support keeping marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” he says. Every state that has considered a marriage amendment to its constitution has seen decisive majorities of voters — as high as 70 and 80 percent — approve the measure.

And Rob Schenck of the National Clergy Council says he is not surprised to see these groups and other liberal denominations speaking out against defining marriage as it is taught in the Bible. “This is completely predictable for this bunch,” says Schenck. “Every time anyone anywhere asserts traditional moral values or traditional biblical positions on anything — and most especially marriage and human sexuality — you can predict that this same group will parade out and oppose it.”

Schenck says these groups are not only on the wrong side of Christian doctrine and the wrong side of what he calls “the moral divide,” but also on the wrong side of history. He believes that is why such groups are losing members. “While it’s lamentable, while it’s predictable, in the end it only makes them even more irrelevant than they are,” he states.

Effect of Legalized ‘Gay Marriage’ on Traditionalists
Meanwhile, the president of The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty says churches and Christian schools that oppose same-sex marriage will face government pressure if it is legalized. Anthony Picarello says they could be barred from firing employees with same-sex spouses, forced to give them marital benefits, or lose charitable and property tax exemptions if they refuse.
Picarello and other legal experts took part in a recent panel discussion at the Heritage Foundation. Maggie Gallagher, a columnist who heads the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, offered grim predictions about people and churches who oppose same-sex unions, should they be legalized.“Once a court goes to rule gay marriage is a civil right, people who have an older, conjugal vision of marriage as inherently the union of husband and wife are going to be treated like racists in the public square,” she offered.

And as for churches that believe homosexual marriage is immoral? “The temptation will be … [to] simply mute your marriage theology,” said Gallagher, opining that many people will find it hard to resist that temptation. “If you are just quieter about it … as long as you’re not too loud about this and keep your nose clean, you’ll stay out of trouble.”

She believes recent events have shown why a federal marriage amendment is needed. “Leaving it to the states right now is leaving it to state judges, not to the people in states,” she noted. “We’ve already had judges in two states overturn state marriage amendments that were passed by more than 70 percent of the people.”

In essence, said Gallagher, unless the U.S. Constitution is amended to protect traditional marriage, judges will probably force states to legalize homosexual marriage.

Original Link.

Migration from BlogSpot Blog to New Web Site Blog

Wednesday, May 24th, 2006

Sometime towards the middle of June, I plan on retiring the blogspot blog and moving all blogging activities over to the blog I have installed on our web site. It has always bothered me that on the blogspot blog, one mouse click away could be someone promoting a value that is not within the Christian atmosphere I am trying to promote through our blog. I understand that if someone wants to see these types of things, they can still get to them very easily, but at least our blog will be in our domain where it would take some effort.

I have enjoyed the blogspot blog and would still recommend it to someone who wants to start blogging. It requires very little computer knowledge and has a very good audience.

The way I plan to do this transition, is to post on both blogs. The blogspot one will have a brief description of the article and a link to the same article on the new blog. No comments will be allowed on the blogspot blog. I will also add a link at the top of the page to the new blog.

Since all the content of the blogspot blog is in the new blog, eventually, I will take the blogspot blog down completely. I was relying on it to be a search source for the blog, but I noticed today that Google already shows the new blog.

I appreciate the support all of you have shown me, and I’ll try to make this transition as seamless as possible.

God Bless!!

-Steve

Pat Boone rips Dixie Chicks for Bush bash

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2006

The Dixie Chicks just can’t get it through their heads that nobody cares what they think about President Bush.

Music legend Pat Boone is ripping into the Dixie Chicks for withdrawing their apology for a previous attack on President Bush.

“I have four daughters, and I taught them to respect their elders, even if they weren’t president of the United States,” Boone told Fox News host Neil Cavuto today. “I think it’s outrageous for any of these performers to be bashing our president the way they are.”

At a London concert in 2003, Dixie Chicks singer Natalie Maines sparked controversy by stating, “Just so you know, we’re ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas.”

She later apologized for the remark, but is now taking her apology back.

“I don’t feel that way anymore,” Maines told Time magazine for its issue hitting newsstands this week. “I don’t feel he is owed any respect whatsoever.”

Boone, who is also a columnist for WorldNetDaily, says what seemed like a momentary misstep by Maines now begins to look like a flaw in her character.

“If I were the president of Iran, if I were Osama bin Laden or any of the terrorist organizers and I could have my wish list totally,” Boone said, “I couldn’t ask for anything better than for America’s entertainers to bash their president, denigrate him, make him seem like an idiot and a self-serving fool, and then have the media go along with it and promote it like crazy and try to undermine the whole war effort.”

He continued, “We are at war, and you don’t tell even a quarterback in a football game that he’s nuts and you don’t respect him. You try to pull for a win, and that’s what we should be trying to do. … You can disagree. You can express your disagreement, but don’t attack the man who is your elected leader and say he’s not owed any respect at all.”

Original Article

Google dumps news sites that criticize radical Islam

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2006

No media bias here…Yeah Right!

Search engine giant Google has cut off its news relationship with a number of online news publications that include frank discussions of radical Islam – the New Media Journal becoming the latest termination, as its owner just discovered.

Frank Salvato, who began the agreement with Google News last September, said he received a reply from the company’s help desk Friday indicating there had been complaints of “hate speech” on his site, as first reported by media watchdog Newsbusters.org.
The e-mail, which cited three articles that dealt with radical Islam and its relationship to terrorism, read:
Hi Frank,
Thanks for writing.
We received numerous reports about hate content on your site, and after reviewing these reports, decided to remove your site from Google News.
We do not allow articles and sources expressly promoting hate speech viewpoints in Google News (although referencing hate speech for commentary and analysis is acceptable).
For example, a number of the complaints we looked at on your site were found to be hate content:
http://www.newmediajournal.us/staff/peck/05102006.htm
http://www.newmediajournal.us/staff/stock/05082006.htm
http://www.newmediajournal.us/guest/imani/04222006.htm
We hope this helps you understand our position.
Regards,
The Google Team

Newsbusters says it has observed a pattern of intolerance toward conservative sites that deal with radical Islam and terrorism.
Rusty Shackleford, owner of The Jawa Report, received a similar e-mail message March 29 informing him: “Upon recent review, we’ve found that your site contains hate speech, and we will no longer be including it in Google News.”
Two weeks later, Jim Sesi’s MichNews.com was cut off, with Google providing three examples of “hate speech” by conservative writer J. Grant Swank, Jr.
Newsbusters commented: “At first blush, one can easily ignore such business decisions by the most powerful company on the Internet as being routine. However, on closer examination, such behavior could give one relatively small technological corporation (when measured by the size of its workforce) a degree of political might that frankly dwarfs its current financial prowess.”
The media watchdog noted columnist and blogger Michelle Malkin wrote in February 2005 her difficulties in becoming part of Google News. Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs had a similar complaint. 

When Google News launched its beta site in April 2002, it said its mission was to construct an unbiased news engine free of human intervention using new methods of aggregating news from sources worldwide.
According to the April Nielsen/NetRatings report, 49 percent of all searches conducted in the U.S. in March 2006 were carried out on Google.
Along with the dropping of conservative news providers, Google has received other complaints of liberal bias.
Last June, a conservative book publisher said Google rejected his ad for a book critical of Bill and Hillary Clinton while continuing to accept anti-Bush themes. Eric Jackson, CEO of World Ahead, said his ads for “Their Lives: The Women Targeted by the Clinton Machine” were rejected, without further explanation, due to “unacceptable content.”
As WND reported, 98 percent of all political donations by Google employees went to support Democrats.
CEO Eric Schmidt gave the maximum legal limit of donations to Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry and to primary candidate Howard Dean. Schmidt also contributed the maximum amount to Sen. Clinton, whose role in helping her husband intimidate his female accusers is addressed in the new book.
In May 2005, Google rejected an attempt by the conservative activist group RightMarch.com to run ads critical of Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., while continuing to run attack ads against besieged House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas.
Also, Google agreed to allow the communist Chinese government to have the search engine block “objectionable” search terms such as “democracy.”
In addition, the company came under fire for an editorial decision to rank news articles in search results by “quality,” giving preferential placement to large and predominately liberal media outlets such as CNN and the BBC over conservative news sources, even if they are more recent or pertinent.

Original Link

Idaho Resident: Remove Sexually Graphic Books from Children’s View

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2006

I really don’t see the problem with this. The Idaho residents aren’t asking the library to remove the books from circulation, only to remove them so that children cannot see them. Doesn’t seem like a big request, but then again, we are dealing with liberal librarians.

(AgapePress) – Parents in an Idaho city want their local public library to remove from the shelves several books containing graphic images of heterosexual and homosexual sex and place them out of the eyesight of children.

 At question are nine books in the non-fiction section of the Nampa Public Library, including titles such as The New Joy of Sex, The Joy of Sex Toys, and The Joy of Gay Sex.

Nampa resident Randy Jackson filled out a complaint form at the library and even addressed the library’s board of directors in January, but the board said the books would remain so that the needs of the whole community would be represented. Jackson, who recently brought his concerns before the Nampa City Council, says parents are especially horrified with the book The Joy of Gay Sex. “There’s a chapter entitled ‘Daddy-Son Sexual Fantasies’ where it talks about two people having sex while pretending that they’re father and son,” the local resident explains. Another chapter in the book that he finds disturbing teaches teens how to surf the internet for homosexual sex — and then cover their tracks. “They have a chapter entitled ‘Teenagers,'” he continues. “It explains to teenagers how they can go into online chat rooms on the Internet and how to meet people for sex in online chat rooms. It encourages them to learn to [delete] their web browser history so their parents won’t be able to find out where they’ve been to on the Internet.”

Jackson says the presence of the sexually explicit books is even more troubling given the recent rash of child enticement cases in the western Idaho community. He adds that a city council member plans to meet with the library board in June in hopes of resolving the issue of the books’ accessibility to children.

Now what really bothers me is that the book is not only passing off the gay lifestyle as normal and good, but also teaching teens how to be liars and deceivers against their parents.  Somehow this is supposed to be considered normal and good?  I have a feeling that even non-religious parents will have a problem with this.

Original Link 

Judge Blocks Prayer at High School Graduation

Monday, May 22nd, 2006

I am very proud of the students of this school, and also the administrators for their stand.  I’m going to put together a page for the web site that will point out what the Constitution says about prayer and government.  It is obvious that the majority of people disagree with this activist judge.  If you folks are upset with him, you can get him removed.  It will be a shame if you don’t at least try.

RUSSELL SPRINGS, Ky. (AP) – The senior class at a southern Kentucky high school gave their response Friday night to a federal judge’s order banning prayer at commencement.About 200 seniors stood during the principal’s opening remarks and began reciting the Lord’s Prayer, prompting a standing ovation from a standing-room only crowd at the Russell County High School gymnasium.The thunderous applause drowned out the last part of the prayer.

The revival like atmosphere continued when senior Megan Chapman said in her opening remarks that God had guided her since childhood. Chapman was interrupted repeatedly by the cheering crowd as she urged her classmates to trust in God as they go through life.

The challenge made the graduation even better because it unified the senior class, Chapman said.

“It made the whole senior class come together as one and I think that’s the best way to go out,” said Chapman, who plans to attend the University of the Cumberlands with her twin sister Megan.

The graduation took place about 12 hours after a federal judge blocked the inclusion of prayer as part of Russell County High School’s graduation ceremonies.

U.S. District Judge Joseph McKinley granted a temporary restraining order sought by a student who didn’t want prayer to be part of the graduation exercises at the south-central Kentucky school, about 110 miles southeast of Louisville.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky filed suit on behalf of the unidentified student on Tuesday.

ACLU attorney Lili Lutgens said she was pleased with the judge’s order and “very proud of my client for standing up for the Constitution.” Lutgens said prayer would be unconstitutional because it would endorse a specific religion and religious views.

“He did not feel that he should have to sit through government-sponsored prayer just to receive his diploma,” Lutgens said of the student.

The student, through his attorney, had previously appealed to Russell County High principal Darren Gossage to cancel the prayer, a request Lutgens said the principal denied.

Keith Ellis, an assistant principal at Russell County High School, said the school has a long tradition of prayer at graduation, something that will change with the judge’s ruling.

“It will definitely change what we’ve done in the past,” Ellis said.

Russell County School Superintendent Scott Pierce called himself a “person of faith” and said he was pleased with the response to the ruling by the senior class.

“This was a good learning process for them as far as how to handle things that come along in life,” Pierce said. The response of the students showed an ability to be “critical thinkers.”

“They exhibited what we’ve tried to accomplish in 12 years of education – they have the ability to make these compelling decisions on their own,” Pierce said.

Chapman said the ceremony turned out better than it would have without the controversy.

“More glory went to God because of something like that than if I had just simply said a prayer like I was supposed to,” Chapman said.

Before the graduation ceremony, some students said they weren’t upset with the classmate that brought the legal challenge, just disappointed that there wouldn’t be a sanctioned prayer during the ceremony.

“There’s no hard feelings toward him whatsoever. That was his opinion and it was something that he felt,” graduating senior Mandy Chapman said.

Gabe McNeil said during a rehearsal on Thursday, other students booed the student suspected of filing the challenge when he walked across the stage.

“They’ve been giving him crap,” McNeil said.

A sign across the street from the high school at a garden center declared “We believe in prayer” in response to the judge’s ruling.

“In our little town, we’ve always had that prayer at commencement,” said Brenda Hadley, owner of Anna’s Garden. “Why not? That’s part of our everyday life.”

Garden center employee Angela Dick put up the sign. Dick said student prayer has always been a way of life at commencements in the rural county that bumps up against Lake Cumberland, a popular recreation area.

“I’m disappointed in a judge who won’t hold up the Christian values that our country was founded on,” said Dick, who was wearing a gold cross on a chain around her neck.

Original Article.

Porn Industry Insiders Undone Over ‘Rule 2257’

Monday, May 22nd, 2006

Rule 2257 says that a Porn “star” must be at least 18 years.  Apparently the porn industry has a problem with this.

People need to understand just how destructive porn is.

(AgapePress) – Lawyers defending the smut industry are concerned about “Rule 2257” (18 U.S. Code 2257) which requires pornographers to provide physical evidence that porn performers are of age (18 years or older). The newly updated federal code effects video, still images, and Internet content produced since July 3, 1995.

Jeffrey Douglas of the Free Speech Coalition — a porn industry advocacy legal group — feels the law places an “undue burden” on the industry. The group has filed a lawsuit in a Denver court asserting the code violates the industry’s First Amendment rights.

Porn industry lawyer Paul Cambria conducted a seminar earlier this year at the Sands Convention Center in Las Vegas instructing industry producers of the nuances of Rule 2257. Adult Video News reports that during the seminar Cambria explained that “performers in sexually explicit material need to provide government-approved forms of identification.” He also clarified the difference between the “primary” and “secondary” producers as it pertained to the newly updated code.

Comments by District Court Judge Walker D. Miller indicate that the thrust of the newly updated federal code is generally in compliance with the court’s opinion. Walker indicated that the industry coalition has yet to establish “a strong likelihood of success in their First Amendment claim” (Wall Street Journal>). It is generally understood that the Justice Department will begin to enforce Rule 2257 after years of stonewalling by the porn industry.

Dr. Judith Reisman, author of the upcoming Kinsey’s Attic: The Shocking Story of How One Man’s Sexual Pathology Changed the World (WND Books, November 2006), recalls that the U.S. Commission on Pornography recommended in 1986 that adult performers should be 21 years or older. However after several years of debate, Congress lowered the age to 18. Reisman believes that U.S. agencies “that have pledged and are paid to protect the health and welfare of the American public have failed us.” In making a case for a lower age of consent, pornographers can exploit and entice young girls who are desperate and in need of money so that they perform in adult venues, explains Reisman.

After Congress passed the consent and identification law in 1988, it was soon challenged by the porn industry. It has taken more than 17 years of legal challenges to get to the point where the law might finally show some teeth. According to the Wall Street Journal, “first-time violators can face prison sentences up to five years.”

U.S.C. 2257 derives from the Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act of 1988.

See the original article here.

Re-Post: Why Ears Itch for the Theology of The Da Vinci Code Film

Monday, May 22nd, 2006

Analysis by Dr. Marc T. Newman
MovieMinistry.com
May 19, 2006

[Note: This analysis of the film The Da Vinci Code contains spoilers. Discussing these plot points helps to uncover some of the persuasive devices at play in the film, but those who wish to be surprised should print this out for reading later, or revisit the site.]

(AgapePress) – Da Vinci Code director Ron Howard was given a tall order. First, how do you make a talky thriller work when nearly your entire pre-sold audience has already read the book, and therefore knows the ending? The Da Vinci Code is not like the films made from the Bourne books, which can sustain their tension on action alone. Let’s face it, Dr. Robert Langdon, the “symbologist” protagonist of Dan Brown’s bestseller, is no Indiana Jones. Second, your supposedly “fact-based” source material that had faded into relative obscurity is now back on the front pages and everyone is reminded that it is a hoax. The answer? Make significant plot changes to keep ’em guessing and deny, deny, deny.

What is important for Christians to know, if they are thinking of using The Da Vinci Code film as an opportunity to talk about their faith, is that some of the plot changes are rhetorical devices designed to make the arguments in the film appear even more persuasive than in the book. Through these changes, Howard has tried to preempt the hoax criticism, use the conversion of a respected, yet hostile-source, character to bolster the credibility of the film’s arguments, and try to blunt reaction from Christians by giving them a place (albeit a much smaller place) at the theological table — all the while making everyone else feel good about themselves.

Preempting Criticism
When a book as popular as The Da Vinci Code claims that aspects of its story are based on fact, it may as well have thrown down a gauntlet to relentless hordes of apologists and historians. The response didn’t take long. The major source material for The Da Vinci Code is Holy Blood, Holy Grail, a book that was dismissed by historians as pseudo-history shortly after its publication in 1982. The entire Priory of Sion hoax had been exposed — the “organization” did not date from 1099, but from the 1950s, built from thin air by Pierre Plantard and “supported” by forged documents surreptitiously deposited in the Bibliothèque nationale de France in the early 1960s. By the time filming began, the filmmakers must have decided that their two fictional scholars, Langdon and Sir Leigh Teabing, would not be ignorant of the hoax claim.

Unlike the book, in which Langdon is depicted as a collaborator with Teabing, the film version of The Da Vinci Code paints Langdon as an unaffiliated lapsed Catholic skeptic who challenges Teabing’s conspiratorial assertions about Church history. After Teabing explains to police cryptologist Sophie Neveu about the shadowy Priory of Sion, Langdon explodes, forcefully asserting that the Priory had been exposed as a hoax. Teabing, matching Langdon’s intensity, replies, “That’s what they want you to think.” Of course, he never identifies who “they” are. I guess that the conspiracy now extends to such “friends of the Church” as all of mainstream academia, the New York Times, and the BBC. Using such an argument, Teabing places the conspiracy beyond dispute. Anyone with counter-evidence is merely a part of the cover-up. It is a classic form of the Begging the Question fallacy. It tries to provide cover for those who want to use these arguments to disparage Christianity.

The Reluctant Convert
Another way that the film attempts to make its arguments more compelling than the book is to cast Langdon as a reluctant convert. In the book, when Langdon brings Sophie to meet Teabing it is out of the respect Langdon has for Teabing’s mastery of Holy Grail lore. In other words, Langdon is a fan. But in the film, Langdon and Teabing are portrayed as debaters trying to convince Sophie of alternate views of Church history. And while Langdon is not exactly championing the cause of the Church, he constantly throws cold water on Teabing’s conspiratorial assertions by at least presenting the other side.

That the Church’s position was given any credibility in the film was a surprise. But to have Langdon making these claims — even lukewarmly — was a shocking deviation. It seemed designed to let Christians in the audience breathe a little. But I had read the book, so I knew how this would end.

As I watched the film, I could not discern the precise moment that Langdon becomes a convert, but the longer the film runs, the more Langdon begins talking as if Teabing’s assertions now have his Seal of Approval. There is something especially persuasive in seeing a respected person move from hostile source to confederate. It’s as if to say, “If someone of Langdon’s stature is convinced, then why can’t I be more open-minded toward these ideas?”

The Unfulfilling Smorgasbord of Postmodernism
But Howard and company keep hedging their bets. They want to have it both ways, and apparently think that New Age polytheism will be okay as long as Christians have a place at the table. By the end of the film Langdon is waffling — trying to incorporate a personal religious experience with Jesus into this newfound world of goddess worship. What Langdon essentially says is, “Maybe it’s all true. Maybe the human is the divine. All that matters is what you believe.” Howard’s argument is a perfect example of what New York University professor Thomas de Zengotita describes in his book, Mediated: “Name a topic and, presto, everyone has an opinion, everyone can speculate, everyone has a ‘take,’ as we say nowadays — implicitly acknowledging that no one has time for much more than that — so, what the heck. Mine could be as good as the next one. To each his own worldview. Once again, it’s all about you.”

Christianity’s exclusive claims are odious to those who demand an “inclusive” spirituality. The Bible claims truth, and many in the West echo Pilate, asking dismissively “What is truth?” Christ did not come to soothe the world but to save it. It is a demanding process; it cost Jesus His life. No watered-down version will do. The message of the Gospel is not compromise, but loving, “seasoned-with-salt” confrontation.

The Draw
What is it about these kinds of conspiracy-theory, Gnostic tales that people find so compelling? For some it is just the lure of a good, fast-paced thriller — which is actually in short supply in the film. But I think that some devotees of the book (who are most likely to see the film early) like the idea that they can vicariously be a part of something larger than themselves. By sharing secret knowledge they enter the “in-group” — joined to the luminaries of the Priory of Sion: Newton, Da Vinci, and Victor Hugo. If they are especially gullible, it might even make them feel smart.

The Opportunity
Despite the bad theology, false history, rhetorical attempts to make the film’s arguments more compelling, and the uninspired filmmaking, The Da Vinci Code still represents a unique opportunity for Christians to engage their culture. Just last night, while checking in at a hotel for an academic conference, I spoke for about 30 minutes with a young hotel desk clerk. She was a Da Vinci Code fan, and said that she planned to take her mother to the film today. She thought there was something to the claims in the book, particularly concerning the authenticity and accuracy of the Bible. I introduced her to arguments I learned more than 30 years ago in From God to Us, by Norman Geisler and William Nix. She had never encountered those ideas before. The odds the conversation would have arisen in that lobby would have been small were it not for the presence of The Da Vinci Code to drive it.

In order to take advantage of this theatrical gift, it is not absolutely necessary to endure the film — people in your sphere will talk about the film and the book. But reading the book and/or seeing the film will heighten your credibility and give you a greater appearance of objectivity when you discuss it. Now you aren’t a crank, you are a fellow reader and viewer. But you must be prepared.


Order The Da Vinci Delusion featuring Dr. D. James Kennedy
There are a number of excellent books and articles that Christians can read to have the answers to the questions that arise from The Da Vinci Code. Greg Koukl, from Stand to Reason, and Dallas Theological Seminary both have outstanding articles and resources. MovieMinistry.com has created a Bible study designed for the film that goes beyond the factual debate. It can be used as an outreach to explore the itchy-ear syndrome that has affected a culture that will not endure sound doctrine, and challenges Christians to do something about it.

Films come and go, but the theater screens remain. Before long, and perhaps not too long, The Da Vinci Code will move from the cinema to the video store and other films will take its place. But Hollywood has seen that films with religious content (not necessarily accurate) can attract an audience. These movies will stir people, anger them, make them thoughtful, and (most important) provoke conversation about spiritual issues that might not arise in other contexts. Christians need to remain on the alert so that we can take advantage of every opportunity.
Marc T. Newman, PhD (marc@movieministry.com) is the president of MovieMinistry.com — an organization that provides sermon and teaching illustrations from popular film, and helps the Church use movies to reach out to others and connect with people.

Original Article

Re-Post: No fear: Overcoming Bible trauma by Bob Just

Friday, May 19th, 2006

I’ve been a writer for many years, working on all kinds of projects from screenplays to corporate speeches to playwriting to academic essays to journalism and commentary. As a former English teacher, I’ve read all kinds of writing but never anything that comes even close to the Bible. In fact, as I will explain from a writer’s perspective, the Bible is not possible. And yet, ironically, this amazing book is taken for granted.

Most Americans have at least one Bible in their home. Most don’t read it, or don’t read it very much. In all likelihood that means you, or someone you know. Strangely, polls have shown that a huge percentage of Americans believe the Bible is the word of God but don’t have time to read it. No kidding. Either we must think God has nothing to say to us, or something else is going on.

First off, be assured I am not going to ask you to become a Bible scholar. I am not going to ask you to take umpteen Bible study classes, or memorize chapter and verse. All of those are good things – but they’re not for everyone. Most of us need a simpler approach.

The Bible is about relationship. It’s about you (with all your discouraging flaws) – and about God (who seeks to encourage you). We should go to the Bible as we go to an old friend, or to a loving parent. But that’s not reality for most people.

Let’s face it: That “big thick book” intimidates us. We act like it’s a school book and we’re going to be tested on everything we read – as if being “saved” meant being a “scholar.” Our fear of fears is that if we don’t understand the Bible, then there’s something deeply, spiritually wrong with us – maybe even that God doesn’t love us, but saves His love for the learned. Yet, the opposite is true. Jesus thanks His Father for making the Faith for regular people.

Ironically, considering all our fears, this ancient spiritual manuscript called the Bible is not some high-toned, intellectual textbook, but rather a storybook full of very human adventures, full of heroes as well as people who continually make a mess of things – and often the two together! It’s actually fun to read once you get past your Bible trauma. Here’s the key:

Don’t worry if the Bible is hard to understand. What you need for now will be there for you and will be understandable. Don’t expect some big revelation though. It may be only some small insight or oddly interesting bit of history. But on some level, it will feed your desire to relate to God. After all, it is His-story. Eventually, you’ll want to know more. So let me repeat this essential point: Don’t worry about what you don’t understand. If you read 10 verses and understand only one – you win! A little goes a long, long way.

Ultimately, the Bible is amazing because truth is amazing. The Bible is not only adventurous; it’s also touching, meaningful, instructive, ironic, sarcastic, humorous, gentle and stern – and ultimately both spiritual and human at the same time. It is also strangely modern despite its ancient text.

The Bible has been called God’s love letter to us, and yet, the majority of Americans don’t read it. If this is true for you, consider the following. The Bible could become something entirely different for you – something that can change your life in the most wonderful ways.

The impossible Bible

The main thing you really need to know is that the Bible is a “living thing” with an ability to relate to you personally – on the basis of your current needs. Simply put, the Bible is a miracle. I am not exaggerating. Let me prove it to you.

The first question a professional writer asks when given an assignment is, “Who am I talking to?” It is the key to getting started. In fact, you can’t get started if you do not know the answer to that one simple question. Unless you know who your reader is going to be you can hardly know how to approach your assignment.

If an editor tells me to write an article about love, that’s clear enough as far as the general subject, but the assignment changes completely depending on the reader. If I know I am writing to teenagers or if I am writing to middle aged married couples, my writing style changes – and so does my content. The less you know who your audience is, the more difficult the assignment. You can’t even be sure how to choose your words properly. Are you writing to highly educated people or are you writing to someone with an eighth-grade education? Or how about the references you make in writing? Are you writing to city or country folk? Sound difficult? Believe me, it is. Well, let’s make it harder.

Now imagine this editor tells you he wants you to write about love in a way that works not only for Americans but works even when translated for people of other countries. You’re thinking Europe with its Judeo-Christian roots, but your editor is more ambitious. He wants your article to work in all foreign lands, wherever he can sell it. Consider the difficulty of this: Asian cultures, African cultures, Islamic cultures, Buddhist cultures, Hindu cultures – and regional cultures within those cultures must also be considered. You must write for them all – and write effectively!

Impossible you say?

Fine, but your editor is not moved by your objections. He has other demands. Not only should everyone in today’s world understand your book (he’s decided it should be a book), he also wants you to write something that will be relevant a hundred years from now. In fact, he really wants something timeless, but even he knows that’s impossible. Can you even imagine what American culture will be like in 100 years? How about 1,000 years from now? Now imagine writing for people living many thousands of years from now, and it will give you a little idea of why I tell people that from a writer’s perspective the Bible can’t be written in any normal human way. Nor can it be read “normally.”

It is truly a miraculous document.

Consider that the Bible was written for all people, of all backgrounds, of all education levels. It was written for all races, colors, creeds and cultures. It was written for people thousands of years ago and for people who will live many years into the future.

But even more!

It is also written for you as you are now, as you were when you were a teenager, and as you’ll be when you are old. It’s written for all the personalities of all the billions of people in all of existence. God wouldn’t leave anyone out, would he?

The Bible is amazing, and all the more so because it was written over the course of about 1,500 years – by many different people. This is not the work of a single human being with a single personality and vision. The Bible has at least 40 different authors, from all different backgrounds and walks of life – and they write in three different languages. There are almost 40 books in the Old Testament and almost 30 in the New Testament. And yet, the result is a singular Holy book, tried and true, tested by millions of readers over thousands of years. This is a book capable of befriending anyone at anytime with just the right wisdom for our needs. As I said, the Bible isn’t possible.

The Bible is written to reach you when you are happy and when you are sad. When life is good and full, and when it’s empty and unbearable. So how should you read the Bible? Go to it as old friend, one who loves you and is patient with your progress.

So don’t worry about what you don’t understand. Read it for what you do understand, and in joyful expectation that more will come in good time – when you need it. If you need it! This is not just a book. This is a Holy Book, a miracle God created for you – capable of covering all your needs in good time.

It is a living document because the God who guides you is a Living God. His Holy Spirit is always with you, if you will only listen. And the Spirit that guides you in reading the Bible is the same Spirit that guided the men who wrote it. No wonder the Bible can speak to us on our terms and in anticipation of our needs.

Hard to believe? Yes, of course! All miracles are hard to believe, even when they happen to you – as this one will. That’s right. The Bible was written for you, to reach you, to revive you, to nourish you and to inspire you to seek its Author. It asks only one thing of you. Treat it as you would a loving parent and not as a homework assignment. Remember, those scholars who sent Jesus to His death knew the Bible cold. The secret isn’t knowledge. The secret is love.

It’s about process not results. Leave the results to God. Just make sure you read the Bible – read little parts, or big parts – read a sentence here, a paragraph there. Just open the Bible and let the adventure begin. Yes, many of us find the Bible intimidating. But that’s not God’s fault. It’s our fault.

The “Good Book” is a handbook on truth. It is a living document, a spiritual thing, meant to minister to your needs over a whole lifetime, no matter who you are – or where you live – or what language you speak. We can all speak the language of truth. God helps us to know it’s His Book by writing it in such an impossible way. Start by believing He wrote it for you – as a matter of faith. Stop thinking that God is a boring, uncaring teacher! In your heart you know that’s not true.

So get that book on your shelf right now. Don’t think about it. Just do it. Start reading anywhere you like. And do it again tomorrow. Don’t give up. You might start with something toward the end of the book. The New Testament is a little easier to grab on to – but decide right now that it won’t matter to you if you don’t understand what you read. Let what you do understand come as a complete surprise – part of the continual fun of picking up that ancient book and seeking the treasures within.

Do this on a regular basis, and your life will never be the same. And remember, there are thousands and thousands of churches – and neighbors and friends who will be glad to give you any help you want. In the end, that’s the real lesson.

You are not alone. You are loved. The Bible is proof of that.

Bob Just is a WorldNetDaily columnist, editor-at-large of Whistleblower magazine, a veteran national radio talk-show host and founder and president of the Oregon-based “Concerned Fathers Against Crime” and “Concerned Mothers Alliance for Children.” His television appearances include “Hannity & Colmes,” “Politically Incorrect” and “Fox & Friends,” he speaks publicly on various topics and can be reached through his website, BobJust.com.

Senate Panel Approves Federal Marriage Amendment

Friday, May 19th, 2006

Are the Republicans finally waking up to the fact that they are the majority?

(CNSNews.com) – The Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The 10-8 vote, along party lines, followed a showdown between committee Chairman Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.).
Feingold refused to take part in the session and even walked out after complaining that the public did not have enough access. “If you want to leave, good riddance,” Specter told Feingold. “I’ve enjoyed your lecture too. See you later, Mr. Chairman,” Feingold replied before leaving, according to Reuters.
The amendment now goes to the full Senate, where a vote is expected June 5, to the delight of conservatives, who have been pushing for a traditional definition of marriage – one man and one woman – to be constitutionally mandated.
“This Amendment will permit the American people an opportunity to rein in activist judges who have stripped the right of voters to protect marriage,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, in a statement. He thanked Specter for scheduling a vote on the amendment.
“The threat to traditional marriage is alive and well. Just this week, a Georgia state court declared void the voice of Georgia voters. Let us also remember the decision by a federal judge declaring unconstitutional Nebraska’s popularly supported state amendment preserving marriage as being between one man and one woman,” Perkins said.
The fact that the amendment was passed by a party line vote “illustrates a stark contrast between those who would allow an activist judiciary to redefine the institution of marriage and those committed to a representative form of government that relies upon the people to determine the great social questions of our day,” he said.
“I call upon the U.S. Senate to approve the Marriage Protection Amendment. As the states move to ratify the marriage amendment, only then will the voice of the American public be heard and preserved,” Perkins concluded. Constitutional amendments require a two-thirds approval in the U.S. House and Senate, plus ratification by three quarters of the nation’s state legislatures.

Opponents of the marriage amendment view it as discrimination.
As Cybercast News Service previously reported, the group Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) has launched a postcard campaign urging senators to vote no on the Federal Marriage Amendment. PFLAG characterizes it as “the first step in writing discrimination” into the U.S. Constitution “by denying marriage equality to same-sex individuals.”
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the Judiciary Committee’s top Democrat, said the amendment is a waste of time for the committee, which he said should be focused on more urgent matters. He mentioned the president’s judicial nominations or the National Security Agency’s wiretapping program as examples, Reuters reported.
“I didn’t realize marriages were so threatened. Nor did my wife of 44 years,” Reuters quoted Leahy as saying.

Senate Approves English As ‘National’ Language

Friday, May 19th, 2006

I’m wondering if this is a repercussion from the recent illegal immigrant protest.

(CNSNews.com) – An amendment to the Senate immigration bill would make English the “national language of the United States.” The Senate voted 63-34 to adopt the amendment, which was offered by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.)
The measure declares that there is no affirmative right to receive services in languages other than English, except where required by federal law. In other words, the amendment is mostly symbolic — it will not change the way the government prints documents or conducts business.
Also on Thursday — confusing the issue — the Senate also voted 58-39 in favor of a second, weaker amendment, offered by Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.). The Salazar amendment declared English to be “the common and unifying language of the United States.”
Inhofe’s strong amendment is getting the most attention, however.
Critics, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, called the Inhofe amendment racist, regardless of its intent. Sen. John McCain worried about making English the “official” language. “It gives the idea that any other language is excluded,” he said.
But advocacy groups such as U.S. English and English First hailed passage of the Inhofe amendment.
“Today’s vote heeded the voices of the vast majority of Americans who believe that English is a crucial part of being an American,” said Mauro Mujica, chairman of the board of U.S. English.
He said Thursday’s “historic” vote making English the national language corrects a longstanding oversight.
U.S. English points to a 2005 Zogby International poll showing that 79 percent of Americans support making English the official language of the United States, including more than two-thirds of Democrats and four-fifths of first- and second-generation Americans.
Even President Bush has embraced the importance of immigrants learning to speak English. In his address to the nation Monday night, President Bush said, “The success of our country depends upon helping newcomers assimilate into our society and embrace our common identity as Americans.”
Bush called the English language “the key to unlocking the opportunity of America.”
“The debate on the Senate floor today contained many different viewpoints, but the senators were unanimous in their belief that English is the unifying factor and the key to opportunity in the United States,” said Mujica.
He said a diverse country must focus on thing that bring it together: “Without a common language, we are not a nation of immigrants, but instead groups of immigrants living in a nation.”
U.S. English, founded in 1983 by the late Sen. S.I. Hayakawa of California, describes itself as the nation’s oldest and largest non- partisan citizens’ action group dedicated to preserving the unifying role of the English language in the United States.

‘Weathervane senators’
Another advocacy group, English First, called the Inhofe amendment “the only serious approach to the language issue.”
English First criticized the 25 U.S. senators who voted for Inhofe’s amendment – then immediately undercut their votes by also approving Salazar’s amendment.
“These weathervanes may thing they have fooled their constituents back home by voting both for and against the Inhofe amendment. We’ll see,” said Jim Boulet Jr., Executive Director of English First.
Republicans accused of undermining the Inhofe amendment include Brownback (Kan.), Chafee (R.I.), Coleman (Minn.), DeWine (Ohio), Graham (S.C.), Hagel (Neb.), McCain (Ariz.), Murkowski (Alaska), Snowe (Maine), Specter (Penn.), Voinovich (Ohio), and Warner (Va.).
Legislation pending in the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R. 997) also would make English the official language; that bill now has about 150 co-sponsors.
More than half of the states have passed laws making English the official language. The American Civil Liberties Union has successfully challenged some of those laws on the grounds that they unconstitutionally deny non-English speakers “fair and equal access to their government .”
Official language laws make non-English speakers second-class citizens, the ACLU has argued.

Christian Fraternity’s Suit Moves UNC to Revise Nondiscrimination Policy

Friday, May 19th, 2006

The anti-Christian bias found in the education system these days is remarkable!!

(AgapePress) – A Christian legal alliance says a federal lawsuit has prompted the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill to drop its ban on a religious fraternity. UNC officials have reversed course after initially denying recognition to Alpha Iota Omega because the fraternal organization required that its members be Christians.
The university originally refused to recognize Alpha Iota Omega because the administration said the Christian fraternity’s religious requirement violated UNC’s nondiscrimination policy. But after the student group filed a lawsuit against the university, UNC revised its policy to allow political and religious groups to exclude members on the basis of beliefs.
David French is an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, the legal group that represented Alpha Iota Omega in court. He says religious student organizations obviously should have the right to make faith-based decisions, just as other groups make decisions based on their beliefs and values or philosophies.
“What the university is doing,” French says, “is like saying to the College Democrats, ‘You can’t discriminate on the basis of political beliefs,’ or saying to an environmentalist group, ‘You can’t discriminate on the basis of feelings about the environment.’ It’s just absurd.”
But the university persisted in its unreasonable stance, the attorney contends, in part because the University of North Carolina has an extensive record of trying to eject Christian groups from campus. “This is a school with a long history of violating the rights of students and a long history of trying to single out and target Christians,” he says.
A judge recently tossed out Alpha Iota Omega’s lawsuit, declaring there was no need to proceed since the fraternity has been reinstated and the school had already changed its nondiscrimination policy. However, French feels UNC needs to be continually monitored, despite its apparent compliance with the fraternity’s wishes.
“We’re going to be watching North Carolina very closely to make sure that they’re respecting the rights of their students,” the ADF-affiliated lawyer notes. The school officials are respecting the rights of Alpha Iota Omega right now, he adds, “but if that changes at all we will once again, I’m sure, head back into court against UNC Chapel Hill.”
French says ADF is pleased that the Christian fraternity’s lawsuit has caused UNC-Chapel Hill to revise its policy and change its treatment of religious student organizations on campus. The new anti-discrimination policy is “far from perfect,” the attorney admits; however, he says its interpretation by the university is “a vast improvement” over the previous policy that denied religious student groups their constitutional rights.

Pro-Family Critics Blast Overturn of Georgia Marriage Amendment

Friday, May 19th, 2006

More nonsense from activist judges.

(AgapePress) – Pro-family and conservative leaders are criticizing a state trial court judge’s decision to throw out an amendment to the Constitution of Georgia defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Nevertheless, many traditional supporters believe that, despite the court’s ruling, traditional marriage in Georgia will ultimately be protected.
Attorneys with the pro-family legal group Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) say Judge Constance Russell, the trial court judge who declared the Georgia’s “Amendment One” unconstitutional, misused a technicality known as the “single subject rule” that says amendments may not deal with multiple issues and must address one subject only. However, ADF senior legal counsel Mike Johnson believes the judge’s contravention of the will of Georgia’s voters, who approved the marriage amendment in November 2004, cannot stand for long.
“Georgia’s Amendment One has one purpose: to protect marriage from attack,” Johnson asserts. “The 76 percent of voters in Georgia who voted ‘yes’ to the single subject of protecting marriage from all contemporary threats deserve to have their vote respected and not dismissed by radical judges,” he says.
The ADF spokesman points out that a situation similar to this judicial reversal in Georgia happened in another state not long ago, when a district court struck down the Louisiana Defense of Marriage Amendment on the same grounds as were used to strike down the Georgia amendment. In both cases, he notes, the trial judges ruled that the amendments were invalid because they addressed two topics — marriage and civil unions.
Johnson helped defend Louisiana’s marriage amendment from that attack. In the case known as Forum for Equality PAC v. McKeithen, the Louisiana Supreme Court unanimously overturned the state district court judge’s decision and reinstated the marriage amendment, and the ADF senior counsel is convinced that a similar scenario will eventually play out in Georgia.
“This ruling will be appealed,” the pro-family litigator contends, “and the Georgia Supreme Court will understand, just as Louisiana’s high court did, that the sole objective of these amendments is to protect marriage and that the language of the amendment is crucial in achieving that single goal.”
The state trial court judge who threw out Georgia’s Amendment One may try to claim that civil unions and same-sex “marriage” are different subjects, Johnson adds; “but the people of Georgia,” he insists, “know better. They understand that protecting marriage means protecting it from all imitations.”

Bauer: State Controversy Proves Federal Amendment Needed
Conservative activist Gary Bauer of the group American Values agrees that Russell’s ruling was a seriously flawed piece of jurisprudence. But while the judge’s conclusion was based on “a contorted view” of Georgia’s single subject law, Bauer observes, the state’s political leaders appear to be united in their defense of traditional marriage.
The American Values spokesman notes that even the Democratic Attorney General of Georgia, Thurbert Baker, is calling the trial court judge’s ruling “wrongfully decided.” Meanwhile, the state’s Republican governor, Sonny Perdue, has vowed to appeal the decision. He says he will call a special session of the state legislature to consider putting another marriage amendment on this year’s ballot if the Georgia Supreme Court does rule on the issue by August 7.
Judge Russell’s action striking down the Georgia marriage amendment is “just one more example,” Bauer asserts, “of why we desperately need a federal marriage protection amendment.” The United States Constitution is the “supreme law of the land,” he contends, “and our public servants in Congress should act now by sending a federal marriage amendment to the states for ratification so the people, not unelected judges, can decide the meaning of marriage in America.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee took a meaningful first step today (May 18) toward that end when it voted to approve a constitutional amendment that would outlaw homosexual “marriage.” The vote fell along party lines, with ten Republicans voting in favor of protecting traditional marriage and eight Democrats voting against the measure. The approval clears the way for the full Senate to vote on the matter, which is expected the week of June 5.

Alabama Christians Urge Support for State Marriage Amendment
In the meantime, the battle over marriage continues in other areas around the nation. Even now, the Christian Coalition of Alabama is encouraging pro-family voters across that state to turn out in strong numbers next month for a vote on a state marriage amendment.
Senate Bill 109, also known as the Sanctity of Marriage Act, would preserve the definition of traditional marriage as being only between one man and one woman through a constitutional amendment. State law already prohibits same-sex marriage in Alabama, but many conservatives feel the amendment is needed to prevent activist courts from striking state marriage law.
John Giles, president of the Christian Coalition of Alabama, says a big turnout would help the cause tremendously. “When pro-family groups go to lobby the legislature for and against legislation,” he notes, “it pretty well lets legislators know who’s back home.”
By coming out en masse to support biblical marriage, church members can demonstrate to lawmakers just what a “good Christian, conservative audience we have that are part of the voting electorate,” Giles points out. With sheer numbers believers can show that they want marriage protected, he says, “and it certainly helps our job in passing good legislation and stopping bad legislation.”
The Christian Coalition of Alabama spokesman notes that with courts all across the U.S. issuing conflicting decisions about the definition of marriage, it is important for a state to have its own laws clearly established. When states like Alabama and Mississippi enshrine the definition of traditional marriage in a constitution as being between one man and one woman, those states can more easily refuse to recognize unions from other jurisdictions that do not fit the traditional definition of marriage.
Also, Giles adds, having marriage protected in a state constitution “makes it stronger in the court cases as well.” He says Alabama’s marriage amendment vote takes place June 6, and pro-family supporters are praying that the proposal will get at least 85 percent of the vote.

Christian Attorney Predicts Attempt to Block Graduation Prayer Will Succeed

Friday, May 19th, 2006

Every year we have to go through this. It’s funny that those who demand tolerance are the most intolerant of all. Maybe if the student doesn’t want to sit through a prayer, then he/she need to leave. Even with the injunction, the school, court and everyone else is powerless to deny a speaker the right to say what they want. So if a speaker just decided to pray as part of their speech, but didn’t ask anyone to join, there is absolutely nothing anyone can do about it.

(AgapePress) – A constitutional attorney fears the American Civil Liberties Union may succeed in it attempt to get prayer banned at a high school graduation in Kentucky on Friday.
The ACLU has filed a federal lawsuit to stop officials at Russell County High School from saying a prayer during tomorrow’s graduation ceremony. The organization filed the suit on behalf of an unidentified student who, according to an ACLU attorney, “doesn’t feel he should be forced to sit through prayer.” According to an Associated Press report, the principal of the school refused to guarantee that nobody would pray at Friday’s ceremony.
Steve Crampton is chief counsel for the American Family Association’s Center for Law & Policy (CLP). He says it is unfortunate that the ACLU often has the upper hand in such cases.
“Of course the Constitution doesn’t say anything about offering up a 30-second prayer at a high school graduation,” says the constitutional attorney, “but we have this history of crazy court decisions that have kind of created an illusory wall separating students and folks who are voluntarily attending these events from any kind of recognition or acknowledgement of God. It’s really just an absurd state of affairs.”
Those court decisions, he says, have erected a “horrific double-standard” in the law by frequently protecting a single atheist who objects to school prayer. He explains that observation.
“Put the shoe on the other foot for a minute,” says Crampton. “Consider what deeply religious Christian students are forced to endure in the classroom setting itself: countless hours, in most cases, of pro-homosexual propaganda; graphic teachings on sex; untold numbers of anti-Christian diatribes — all offered in the name of tolerance or educational necessity.
“Very rarely are [those students] given an opportunity to opt out,” he notes.
The AFA attorney says although the overwhelming majority of Russell County residents support prayer at graduation, he believes Judge Joseph McKinley is likely to grant the ACLU a preliminary injunction to stop the prayer.

‘Da Vinci Code’ Actor: Bible Should Have ‘Fiction’ Disclaimer

Thursday, May 18th, 2006

Whew-eee!! Did this guy step in it or what? He is going to get seriously blasted from a lot of people about this comment.

If “The Da Vinci Code” was already feeding the flames of controversy with its challenge to the basic tenets of Christianity, actor Ian McKellen managed to pour a refinery tank’s worth of gasoline on the fire on this morning’s ‘Today’ show, asserting that the Bible should carry a disclaimer saying that it is “fiction.” Video: Windows Media or Real Player, Plus audio MP3
Matt Lauer, in his second day “On The Road With The Code,” was in Cannes for the film festival, where the Code will have its debut. It has already been screened to some critics, who have given it decidedly mixed reviews.
As I reported here, NBC reporter Melissa Stark yesterday dipped a timid toe in the sea of controversy when she interviewed Code director Ron Howard, asking how he reacted to the controversy the movie has created . . . for the Church! Sounding more like a sensitivity trainer than a Hollywood director, Howard offered up some ambiguous prose about it being healthy thing for people to engage their beliefs.
Lauer took the bull of controversy more directly by the horns when he interviewed the cast and director Howard today. Said Lauer:
“There have been calls from some religious groups, they wanted a disclaimer at the beginning of this movie saying it is fiction because one of the themes in the book really knocks Christianity right on its ear, if Christ survived the crucifixion, he did not die for our sins and therefore was not resurrected. What I’m saying is, people wanted this to say ‘fiction, fiction, fiction’. How would you all have felt if there was a disclaimer at the beginning of the movie? Would it have been okay with you?”
There was a pause, and then famed British actor Ian McKellen [Gandalf of Lord of the Rings], piped up:
“Well, I’ve often thought the Bible should have a disclaimer in the front saying this is fiction. I mean, walking on water, it takes an act of faith. And I have faith in this movie. Not that it’s true, not that it’s factual, but that it’s a jolly good story. And I think audiences are clever enough and bright enough to separate out fact and fiction, and discuss the thing after they’ve seen it.”
With the camera focused on McKellen, one could hear a distinctly nervous laugh in the background, seeming to come from either actor Tom Hanks or director Howard. McKellen’s stunning bit of blasphemy is likely to test the adage that all publicity is good publicity.

Update: MRC’s Brent Baker has noted that ABC’s World News Tonight has picked up on the story.
Jake Tapper: “Today at the Cannes film festival in France, the creators of the film tried to quell the controversy.”
Tom Hanks: “This is not a documentary. This is not something that is pulled up and says, ‘these are the facts. And this is exactly what happened.'”
Tapper: “Though one actor’s comment seems likely to only inflame matters.”
Ian McKellan on NBC’s Today: “Well, I’d often thought the Bible should have a disclaimer at the front saying, ‘this is fiction.'”
Finkelstein, recently a guest on the Lars Larson Show, lives in the liberal haven of Ithaca, NY, where he hosts the award-winning public-access TV show ‘Right Angle’. Contact him at mark@gunhill.net

GOP Could Lose Congress, White House on Immigration

Thursday, May 18th, 2006

It does appear that this is the issue that will decide if the Republicans stay in power or not. Maybe they’ll get the message in time. Maybe not…

(CNSNews.com) – Many Republicans and some media outlets are praising the immigration proposals outlined by President Bush. But some conservative leaders warned Tuesday that the administration’s insistence on a so-called “guest worker” program for illegal aliens could cost the GOP control of Congress later this year and that the alleged arrogance behind the proposal could put a Democrat in the White House in 2008.
President Bush’s plan, explained in a nationally televised speech Monday night, included a “guest worker” program for illegal aliens and the use of National Guard troops along the border until more Border Patrol agents can be trained and deployed.

Many Republican leaders complimented the president.
“He understands the issue possibly better than just about anyone given his experience as governor of Texas,” Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R-N.Y.) told the New York Sun.
“The President’s plan is a serious and important first step in rebuilding the confidence of the American people that we can secure our border,” Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) told The [Tennessee] Chattanoogan.
But Richard Viguerie — the chairman of ConservativeHQ.com, who is credited with creating the political direct mail industry that helps fund the conservative movement — told Cybercast News Service what the president calls a “guest worker” program is just amnesty for illegal aliens, and that “conservatives feel that they have been insulted by the president.
“He may get his way, but he won’t get it this year. He may get it next year because the conservatives will be so angry at the Republican leadership – starting with the president, but the congressional Republicans also – that I’d be surprised if many, many don’t stay home, turning the congress over to the Democrats,” Viguerie cautioned.
“And, of course, the Democrats, next year, would give the president what he wants because then they’ll be able to govern America for the rest of the 21st Century [with the support of former illegal aliens who had become newly-legalized voters].”
In his “End of Day” daily email newsletter to supporters, former Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer, who now heads the “American Values” conservative advocacy group, summarized the reaction of his constituents to Bush’s proposal.
“I understand the overnight ‘snapshot’ polling data on the president’s proposal was pretty good, but I cannot say the same for the reaction of conservatives,” Bauer wrote. “Your messages to me were overwhelmingly negative, suggesting you view this plan as little more than a ‘dressed up amnesty’ bill.”
Steve Elliott, president of Grassfire.org, an online network of grassroots conservatives with more than one million participants, also believes support for the Bush proposal could cost Republicans in the short and long term.
“If the Senate chooses to resist the voice of the citizens of this country and pass an amnesty bill, there will be repercussions that I think will extend to November and beyond,” Elliott predicted.
Viguerie rejected the notion that Democrats, if they regained control of Congress, could do more damage to the conservative agenda than a less-than-supportive president.
“We can’t go through life living as if the ‘boogey man’ is going to get us, which is what the big-government, left-of-center Republicans are always saying,” Viguerie said. “We’re just sick of that, and I’m just tired of that, being treated like a child … I’ve been hearing that all my life.”
As for conservatives’ ultimate ‘boogey man’ in the coming presidential election, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), Viguerie rejects that threat, as well.
“We won’t have lost this country if Hillary becomes president,” Viguerie concluded. “It will be those who have betrayed and lied to their supporters. They will bear the responsibility, not those who were true to their principles.”

Bush ‘A.W.O.L.’ on conservative agenda
President Bush continues to insist that his “guest worker” proposal does not offer amnesty to illegal aliens.
“[W]e must face the reality that millions of illegal immigrants are here already,” the president said. “They should not be given an automatic path to citizenship. This is amnesty, and I oppose it.”
Elliott accused Bush of exhibiting a trait more commonly associated with former President Bill Clinton.
“They’re playing with the language,” Elliott said, recalling President Clinton’s famous quote debating the meaning of the word “is.”
“Amnesty is any program that grants legal status to people who are here illegally, whether that’s citizenship or a guest worker program, that’s amnesty,” Elliott insisted. “That’s what the American people call amnesty and the American people oppose amnesty.”
Viguerie believes President Bush’s words and actions on the immigration issue are symptomatic of a larger problem in the administration.
From a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman, to limiting the power of the federal government over religious institutions, to overturning the Supreme Court’s Roe versus Wade decision legalizing abortion at all stages of pregnancy, Viguerie feels Bush has abandoned the conservative agenda.
“Where is he? He’s A.W.O.L. in this,” Viguerie said. “Where are the evangelicals in this administration? Where are the religious right types?
“This president has surrounded himself with long-term, friendly, big-business types,” Viguerie continued. “I just don’t think he’s done anything except what his father did, which was give us lip service.”
Conservatives, Viguerie argued, must shift their focus from changing the minds of Republican leaders to replacing them with individuals who share, and will fight for conservative ideals.
“It’s just time that conservatives focus on building the conservative movement and taking over the Republican Party from those who have hijacked it,” Viguerie said. “We’ve done it before and we can do it again.”