Recently in Religion Category

This comment by Luis Kuhelj is one that I think deserves more prominence than buried at the end of a long string of comments, so I'm posting it here ... you may wonder why. I believe what he states is that those that found Mr. Watson's comments as bigoted made an implicitly bigoted slime against those that are less intelligent.

Louis Kuhelj said:

The outcry of those who are against the statement made by Dr. Watson clearly show how little value they place on a human being. Since when has the intelligence or the lack thereof been the sole determination of value of a human being or a particular racial group? It seems to me that even if he is right, it in no way diminishes the value of both the black community and the individuals comprising it anywhere in the world. They are as valuable as any white counterpart because we are all made in the image of Him who created us.

The Washington Post reports that the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has urged the State Department to close the Islamic Saudi Academy in Fairfax.

The commission does not specifically criticize the school's teaching materials; it said Saudi officials would not make them available. But it said it is concerned about the textbooks used in the school because those used by schools in Saudi Arabia promote violence against Christians, Jews, Shias and polytheists.

What astounding hypocrisy. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom wants a school shut down for exercising its religious freedom.

Disclaimer: I interviewed for a teaching position at ISA some 16 years ago. Despite my obvious "Caucasianness," I never felt unwelcome during the interview, and was even given a campus tour while classes were in session.

Despite that pleasant experience, I do not know whether ISA is promoting violence, nor do I care. Their religious freedom extends even that far.

I realize that many on the left think that religion should not even be allowed to offend anyone, much less promote violence, but religious freedom must extend to even the most vile ideas, because they are only ideas. Ideas should be combated in the open with other, better ideas, not with censorship.

When the ideas become plans to commit violence, then there is a problem.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm crazy, but then sometimes I think that regardless of what people think of me, they need at least a seed planted.
What would it take to convince you? Convince you of what, would be a good question. The answer though is startling: What would it take to convince you that your pet view of the world is wrong? For some, it might be what would it take to convince you that what you think the Bible says is not what it says. For others, what would it take to convince you that your view of civil rights in not what the constitution says.
Many of the "pet views" of people can be challenged in many ways. I'm going to address two categories, and for one, I'll address two different radical points of view.

One of the things as a country we generally approve is that competition breeds excellence. Competition between Firefox and Internet Explorer has made both better (well, okay, it has made IE better as the copy Firefox features and look and feel). Competition made Harley Davidson do better at making motor cycles; Japan finally got quality on the radar of American auto makers; telephone prices have come down, and telephone services have gone up (I remember $4 a minute for phone calls to California from Maryland before competition).

What about education? What choice do most people have for education? If you are rich, you can afford the taxes you already pay, and then the tens of thousands it costs for separate tuition. (Just one non-sectarian school charges upwards of $27,000/year Burke and there are others just as expensive.)

Proof of God?

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I heard a fascinating sermon on the Fourth Commandment yesterday.

For the heathen in our midst, the Fourth Commandment is in Exodus 20, verses 8-11:

8 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.

It has now been found that we are, if you will, designed to rest on the seventh day. Not just we, as in humans, but we as in living beings. According to recent research in chronobiology, a seven-day cycle has been observed in creatures, both plant and animal, all the way down to amoeba. We are even commanded to rest our cattle on the seventh day.

And thus God commanded us to rest on the seventh day, because it is good for us to do so.

"The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath...." (Mark 2:27)

I recently saw on TooConservative a comment on the Republican Party not responding well to what the people want. The lament was over politicians not paying attention to the citizens. While I understand the reasoning for that view (the immigration fiasco, the developer/taxpayer conflict, and such) I also am disheartened by the blatant liberalism of the post. Huh? TooConservative is posting liberalism? From my point of view, yes.

Congratulations to the current graduates from Loudoun County schools. I hope you continue in your pursuit for knowledge and obtaining a quality life. I am very concerned, though, for what is being taught to our children and whether we are creating a better environment for them to build upon. Let me explain to you why I am worried about this countrys' future.

Islam vs Islamists On Fox Tonight

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[UPDATE: I just saw the ad on FNC and it appears the show tonight might be telling the same story as Islam vs Islamists but not play the same film. In any event, the story of this individuals is very compelling so I strongly recommend watching it.]

Free Republic has a notice that the documentary I wrote about in April, Islam vs Islamists, is going to air on Fox News Channel tonight at 9:00 pm. (There is some controversy because it was supposed to air last night, and so far it is not showing up on the Comcast guide.)

I highly recommend everyone watch this short film. It got pulled from PBS under questionable circumstances with the hint of pressure from Islamist advocacy groups.

There is only one possible, practical answer to the biggest problem of our age, and that is reform within Islam. This documentary tells the story of a few very brave individuals who are attempting to accomplish such reform. Don't miss it.

Religious intolerance and bigotry here in Loudoun county? You have to wonder. While most of the time people think of this in terms of the KKK, I have to wonder if the pendulum has swung to the opposite extreme. I hope not, and I hope our friend Loudoun Insider is wrong about the people of Loudoun. I hope we are collectively not a bunch of bigoted sods that would look at someone's religious views as disqualification from office. I cannot believe we have become so intolerant that we would take someone who is sincere about their faith--someone that is consistent--and pronounce them as unqualified for political office.

I personally believe all people would appreciate integrity; all people would appreciate consistency of belief. One of the things presently so distasteful to so many is the inconsistency of those that have signed pledges as delegates or candidates for the Republican convention here in Loudoun, and then reversed their position when they lost. We have all rightly said that is not acceptable behavior to say one thing, then do another. Would someone that is outwardly that religious do this? It certainly would not be in character.

For example, suppose I had decided that Gary Clemens should not have another term, and that even though he beat me in the convention, I felt I could beat him in the election. If I had run as an independent, I would expect that just mentioning that my position was contrary to my stated Christian beliefs would have me turning back to what is truly important (honoring God with all I do!) I have to put the election in God's hands; I have to live by my principles.

It appears those who do not value their word as bond could change what they do, or at least allow others to persuade them. I still hope for repentance on their part, but I have to believe they are not the "outwardly religious" people that LI states cannot be elected. Perhaps instead of deriding those that have character as unelectable, he should be pushing for more outwardly religious people to be running. It would suit his views on honoring signed pledges at the very least.

Brian Withnell on Pay and Reward

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[Continuing Loudoun Insider's worst nightmare, we have another great post from Brian Withnell as a comment on this post about whether it is appropriate to be paid for work in religion, health or education.]

I have only one major disagreement with this. A pastor is someone that cannot do any other task because God has called him to be a pastor. If someone could do anything other than be a pastor, they should not be a pastor. If someone thinks of being a pastor as a way to make money, they need to leave that "job" and get out of the church. The worker may be worthy of his wages, but those wages should be the median wage of the people attending his church.

As to teaching, I can say only that while I agree in principle, I find that I am constrained in much the same way. When I ran for Clerk, I actually had a strong hope that I would not win. I love teaching. It doesn't pay. (I paid more in taxes as an IT Director than the gross pay I receive now as a teacher.) But there is a reward in getting nearly every one of my students to pass the SOL this year. There are students that I tutored long into the evening, and other I came early to help in the mornings. And when I see those students passing what they thought they would not pass, it makes my day, week, month and year! I am sure that if things were different, I would be back to IT in a heart beat, but as it is, as long as I can stand the negative cash flow of being in teaching, I will. (I'm hoping that the increases in my taxes will eventually stop outpacing the yearly increases in salary, and that could eventually make it a "break even" proposition.)
Money is fun to have, seeing a student grasp a difficult concept (that is, seeing "the light bulb go on") is truly rewarding.

While that is true, I also understand that I'm the exception. Not many of the teachers I meet are converts from industry. Few in fact. I've not met any successful industry "convert" that wasn't dedicated to teaching. Having pay related to subject has been done in some areas, and from what I understand, it has had success. That said, I am still in a place where I'm paying forward what was given me, and more satisfied doing it than what the obvious lack of money would explain.

-- Brian Withnell

One of our socialist readers from Across the Pond posted an interesting comment yesterday. He concluded:

Three things should be eternally free from commercial interests - religion, education and health. Making money from any of those is morally contemptible.
-- Har Noah Neemus

I would like to address these seriatim.

Idle Hands

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Example: "It makes me nervous to see those kids outside just standing around; idle hands are the devils tools!"

"And Satan's apparent weapon of choice: Allowing illegal immigrants to cross the border."

Commie Atheist declares: "So there you have it, the core complaint: they're not going to become Republicans."

REDSTATE agrees: "That's a drastic redefinition of our country and the utter evaporation of the Republican Party. That is something we just can not allow to happen!"

And lastly, returning to the root in 1996: Immigrants Receive Help From Actual Devil

He meant a lot of things to a lot of people, but Jerry Falwell made his mark on just about every American.

Perhaps he should have spent more time thinking about loving his fellow man, but I respect his devotion to social conservatism, the Republican Party, and the gospel of Jesus Christ nonetheless.

RIP.

ADDITION: Those crazy protest people feel Dr. Falwell was too soft on gays apparently. T/H: Daily Whackjob

Presidential Religion Hokum

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This entire "controversy" over Mitt Romney's religion is yet another example of big media myopia. Does anyone still actually believe it matters one whit which faith our president (or any other public official, for that matter) supposedly subscribes to?

I submit that integrity, intelligence and world view are the sort of qualities that matter in a president. "Religion" is about as relevant as whether he or she is a Yankees or Red Sox fan.

The reason is: It is nothing more than a self-reported credential, an item on the resume below "Education" and above "Personal Interests."

When Bill Clinton was selling our country to China or debasing the Oval Office, I don't recall anyone saying "Well at least he's a Southern Baptist."

Now that George W. Bush is selling our country to Mexico and cutting the border patrol off at the knees, it isn't overly reassuring that he's a born-again Methodist.

It would have been better to have a Zoroastrian or even an atheist with an ounce of integrity over either of these bozos.

There are plenty of relevant questions to ask a candidate, such as what exactly he would propose to do about radical Islam or our nation's borders. Mitt Romney's religion should be the least of our concerns.

Ugh

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I think I just threw up a little in my mouth...

What is that denomination thinking?

That is precisely the question raised by the controversy surrounding the new documentary, Islam vs. Islamists. The one-hour investigative journalism piece was originally included in a project launched by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Like the other installments of the $20 million "America at a Crossroads" series, Islam vs. Islamists was produced with a large grant (in this case over $600,000 in taxpayer funds). Now, however, it has been buried by the CPB and its production outlet, PBS.

Why? Because the topic of the film is the question that so many of us have been asking since September 11, 2001: "Where are the moderate Muslims?" - and some don't like the answer one little bit.

Powerful interest groups, it turns out - some of whom govern a massive, oil-laden Arabian kingdom, some of whom simply do the kingdom's bidding, and some of whom blindly follow wherever the nose-ring of multiculturalism leads them - don't like the fact that the documentary reveals the extensive Saudi/Wahabbi money trail in the development of Islamic institutions in the U.S., and exposes the widespread conspiracy against Islamic reformers. Thus there has been pressure on PBS and the CPB to spike the film. At the moment, PBS refuses to broadcast Islam vs. Islamists, and the only way most Americans will ever see it is if CPB releases the rights so the film can be distributed through other channels. (See below on how to make that happen).

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Dr. Zuhdi Jasser (Muslim reformer): I still don't understand why the most simple thing that the militant Islamists are using is to get under the cover of a religion in America - they know that in our American discourse we really protect our faiths. Our forefathers came to America in order to be able to practice their faith freely. And it seems sometimes that the Islamists almost get that more than we do, because they use that to hide a political ideology. And what happens then is there's no discourse, there's no debate. We're almost six years since 9-11 and this debate is not happening yet.

Today in DC, the film's producers and two of its key subjects held a private screening and panel discussion. There will be a follow up here shortly, but first the basic message.

Bottom line: Moderate Muslims in Europe and North America are under unbelievable pressure to shut up. Leaders promoting the compatibility of Islam and democracy who speak out do so at the risk of their livlihoods and lives, and consequently the vast, silent majority of Muslims who are perfectly content in Western society have no choice but to "look at politics through an Islamist lens." Islamism - or political Islam - is the dominant ideology spread via the mosques and (maybe unwittingly) by the media. Those seeking a reformation in Islam are having a devil of a time getting their voices heard.

The stakes are high: The Islamist leaders interviewed in the film - all prominent, "mainstream" Muslim leaders in Europe and the U.S. - state unapologetically that their aim is to impose shariah law on western societies.

It is an amazing irony that modern "liberals" have been so slow to support the reformation within Islam. A key irony is that the media have allowed Islamists to import an immensely uncivil agenda under the auspices of supposed "civil rights." As one of the subjects in the documentary states, "the entire struggle is about the rights of women." Does anyone in the West actually need a slap in the face to appreciate this?

Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, Arizona cardiologist and chairman of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, and one of the true heroes of our age, issued a plea this afternoon


...from the majority in the West that understand what it is to separate religion and politics, that understand that somebody can be even more pious and more religious by not having government coerce what we believe, that understand our religion can be a source of law but not the source of law, all of these aspects that are part of the Christian Enlightenment or Western Enlightenment: I've been taught by my grandfather that it can happen in Islam.

There will be another screening of the film tonight, Wednesday, April 25, for our congressmen and senators. Please take a moment to send a note to your representatives encouraging them to go watch this documentary tonight at the Rayburn office building (they have received invitations with details). ASK THEM TO TELL THE CPB TO PUT IT ON THE AIR VIA PBS OR RELEASE IT FOR FURTHER DISTRIBUTION.

Contact your senator here.

Contact your congressman here.

More background:

Democratic Muslims

Curtain raised on documentary PBS shelved

Islam vs. Islamists

The Mainstream Media: Islamist Facilitators

Richard John Neuhaus in Washington DC

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UPDATE: Here's the full post.

The day started like any other, assuming one's days begin with Flip Romney waving hello on the street corner. I know a lot of mine sure seem to.


6:45 am on a cold Connecticut Avenue sidewalk: Tenacious is the first word that comes to mind for those anti-Romney folks. Damn if they ain't tryin'.

The early morning crowd for the prayer breakfast was loaded with local luminaries. I'm talkin' Chief Justice Roberts


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I'm talkin' Regular Justice Alito


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I'm talkin' ... whoa, those two are pretty young and pretty Catholic, are they not? Makes you think if there are people still worried about "Catholic Power" in America this might give some room for ...
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WHOA!, er, I mean "pause."

Now them's a lot of Catholics, many of them distressingly young, by the way.

Well be all that as it may, most were clearly here to see the President, who gave a typically enjoyable speech for this type of venue.


Give it a listen. You'll see that President Bush is largely likeable, pretty funny, and only covers about 4 policy points, three of which I agree with wholeheartedly and the fourth of which sends steam pouring out of my ears and makes me want to march on Washington with a mob wielding pitchforks and torches.

In other words, vintage W.

It's a short speech, go ahead and listen. At the very end you can hear the crazy protest lady who started screaming during the closing applause and who got hauled out by secret service right in front of me. I had seen her milling about beforehand, and except for what looked like bruises on her face and some shiny stickers on her blouse which I could not read she looked normal enough and I never thought to give a second glance. Apparently no one else did either.

Former Senator Fred Thompson was present but did not give a speech. He just waved to the crowd and kept an eye on the tot. That's parenthood for you.


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Which brings us back to the main event, Rev. Neuhaus, author of The Naked Public Square - one of the most important books about religion and society ever written - theologian, semi-sociologist, policy guy, cultural critic, and someone I have been reading since I was 22 years old (which means, well over 22 years).


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Rev. Richard John Neuhaus spoke on "Why I Am Not An American Catholic" at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast this morning.


I got to sit 15 feet from the podium. Personal highlight of the year so far. It's a speech worth listening to more than once.

WM Don't Need No Steenkin' Crosses

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I don't know about you, but when our family went about the college search for our young'uns, we always kept a wary eye out for nefarious influences around campus: dope dealing, graffiti, toy dog clubs, and anything at all that reeked of Christianity.

So I had no small amount of sympathy for the College of William and Mary's brave decision to remove the terrible, anachronistic, 18-INCH Wren Cross from the property. Our children did not end up attending the school, but the wife and I occasionally enjoy a visit to the historic town. And heaven help me if I'm going to allow the missus to set foot in a place with actual CROSSES out in public display - and 18-inchers, no less!

And if I did have a kid enrolled in William and Mary, I sure as heck wouldn't want to mosey down there for the weekend expecting a nice ongoing tete-a-tete with the local reenactors, perhaps a spicy sex show or three, these types of things - and suddenly walk around a corner to have a friggin' cross arm poke us in the eyes. GHAA! Can you even imagine?

But lo and behold, the Christers launch another assault, and not only does the abomination of desolations return, but the College actually wins an award for the episode.


The College of William and Mary's removal of a cross from a campus chapel has won the Virginia school this year's "Campus Outrage Award" from a conservative student group...

William and Mary President Gene R. Nichol said he asked for the 18-inch cross to be taken from Wren Chapel in October because of concerns about offending non-Christians, and that he had received complaints about it. The removal of the cross -- to make the chapel "equally open and relevant to all," Mr. Nichol said -- made headlines and stirred protests by students, faculty and alumni of William and Mary, the nation's second-oldest college after Harvard.

An online petition to reinstate the cross garnered 18,000 signatures. Threats by an unnamed donor to withdraw $12,000 of funding from the college forced Mr. Nichol to change his decision on March 7. Mr. Nichol has established a committee to study the role of religion at public universities.


Just goes to show: money talks, even though our children's very souls hang in the balance.

May Morgan have mercy on them all.

Christians In A Quandry Over Immigration

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The local paper of record reports Christians are torn:


Evangelical Christians say the issue of illegal aliens in the United States often creates a conflict between their allegiance to the Gospels and their loyalty to the government.

"On one hand, they really want to minister to people, but on the other hand, [illegal aliens] have broken the law -- and that's a problem for people," said John Clifford Green, a senior fellow at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.


I'm going to propose a third consideration for Christians: the people whose livlihood has been damaged by the influx of undocumented laborers and subsequent decreasing wages.

If you used to be able to sell a roofing job for $10,000 using legal workers, and a new subcontractor comes on the scene who can do the job for $5.000 using illegal workers, and you are thereby put out of the subcontracting business, you and your employees probably have a different perspective on the "Christian" attitude toward illegal immigration.

Christ, as far as I've read, did not command us to walk out to the street corner every Friday and hand over our week's earnings to the general public. He did not say, don't put bread on your kids' table, because you should be handing over your paycheck to others. He did not say, if a thief who is gaming the system uses an unfair advantage to keep your company from getting business, then verily your family should go hungry.

I don't remember which Gospel tells us that the carpenter who follows the government's rules by paying payroll taxes, insurance and benefits, deserves to be run out of business by those who don't.

If the "Christians," to the extent it makes any sense to speak of them as a bloc, are going to weigh in on this topic, they should take the time to learn about the world they are purporting to establish public policy for.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

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This just in

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85% of the 400+ people that bothered to watch Fox45, and bothered to sit down and send in a reply, responded "Yes" to this question. I guess it was a "hot button issue".

Amid protests, Pope Benedict XVI is visiting Turkey, and has refused wearing protective body armor, as well as other security measures.

...There's no doubt that Pope Bendict is putting himself in some danger, nevertheless, he looks at it like this: We need examples of bravery in our world today, and he's convinced that the vast majority of Muslims here in Turkey are peace-loving.

-Father Jonathan Morris

I pray he is correct, and I pray his method of peace-making is more effective than mine. God Bless the Pope.

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You can find all of the United States' Thanksgiving Proclamations here.

My personal favorite is President Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Day proclamation in 1863:

1863 Thanksgiving Day Proclamation

President Abraham Lincoln

The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. … We are prone to forget (that) they are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people …. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, … fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purpose, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.

We are all truly blessed; let us never forget by whom.

Pop culture gift idea?

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This is just terrible, and for the record I do not condone it. Heh.

Via the LA Times:

So this is the liberal Christianity that was supposed to be the Christianity of the future: disarray, schism, rapidly falling numbers of adherents, a collapse of Christology and national meetings that rival those of the Modern Language Assn. for their potential for cheap laughs. And they keep telling the Catholic Church that it had better get with the liberal program — ordain women, bless gay unions and so forth — or die. Sure.

An interesting read. If you'd like more... try The Myth of Religious Tolerance.

How have American protestant churches gone so far astray? As we enter the 4th of July holiday, Americans should take a moment to examine their lives, and ask if we are still honoring God, even at the lowest level in lipservice.

It's really sad to watch the Protestant denominations race to see who can become the most out of touch with their own parishoners. The Presbyterians and especially the Episcopalians are at it again.

UPDATE:

I'm still not sure if the Episcopalian leadership is listening, but it's a small step in the right direction.

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Will Vehrs has a post up at Commonwealth Conservative discussing the departure of five PHC professors for supposed restrictions on academic inquiry.

Marc Fisher and the Leesburg Today have more information, found here and here. The Leesburg Today article connects PHC to the local GOP Committee, saying:

Connections to conservatives are available, most locally with Paul Protic, chairman of the Loudoun County Republican Committee and director of the government apprenticeship program and instructor at Patrick Henry.

Do these recent issues at PHC have any implications on Loudoun's local political dynamics? Thoughts?

Happy Easter

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I hope everyone is enjoying their Resurrection Sunday. I know I am. God bless.

Since we're in the holiest week of the Christian calendar, I figured I'd post something Easter-centric. The Times-Dispatch seemed to have the same thing on its mind.

The article references a poll of Americans stating that a majority no longer believes in the resurrection of the body after death. Public opinion polls on complex theological subjects are hardly reliable anymore. Despite near unanimity in their belief in God, most Americans have stopped going to church regularly and do not have the doctrinal understanding to express a coherent viewpoint on issues of which they've probably never had a serious discussion.

This is another indication that the anti-church movement, run under the guise as the separation of church and state, is winning the war for people's minds. Long ago, they got prayer out of schools and evolution in. Currently, they're after the pledge of allegiance, our national motto, and the Ten Commandments in public. In the future, when they go after personal expressions of faith in public (like what's happening in Europe), we will be the only ones to blame.

My other thought about the article was: Why are they including the Muslim viewpoint in an Easter/Passover article? Did I miss an upcoming Muslim holiday that coincides with Easter/Passover? If so, my apologies to my monotheistic brothers.

In Jesus name?

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The Washington Post has an article discussing the ability of military chaplains to pray in Jesus's name during official events. This is part of a larger debate that has been going on for quite some time within the Christian community whether it is appropriate to end a prayer in the Lord's name in settings where non-Christians are involved especially if that involvement is involuntary. Personally, I believe that a chaplain of any faith should not have to sacrifice his religious practices in order to participate in an official prayer, and the command to pray in Jesus's is clearly laid out in the Bible. This is just another example of political correctness run amock.

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