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Thursday, September 22, 2011

The War Against Christians Heats Up

“It is not religion but atheism that requires a Darwinian explanation. It seems perplexing why nature would breed a group of people who see no purpose to life or the universe, indeed whose only moral drive seems to be sneering at their fellow human beings who do have a sense of purpose.” — Dinesh D’Souza

Remember when Rev Terry Jones burned a Quran and the Taliban went crazy by attacking a UN facility in Afghanistan and slaughtering 10 innocent aid workers? Remember the outcry from politicians such as Harry Reid and Lindsey Graham calling for restrictions of free speech. Even General Petraeus imposed similar restrictions on the U.S. Military in Afghanistan? Do you recall the outcry from the Muslim community and its mouthpiece CAIR over the opposition to the proposed mosque at Ground Zero?

There was no such outcry or even a mention in the main stream media when last Saturday a group of atheists tore up pages of the Bible on the Huntington Beach pier in Orange County, California. The Orange County Register posted a video report on its web site and stated:

“Members of a grassroots atheist group say they will tear out pages of the Bible at the Huntington Beach pier Saturday to point out what they say is immorality in the book many Christians base their faith on.”

Over the years, believers and atheists have had their fair share of spats. But, as time progresses, it seems that the tit for tat arguments that often season debates between the two parties are increasing in their ferocity.

Over the weekend, Backyard Skeptics, an atheist group out in Orange County, California, decided to rip apart photocopied pages of the Christian Bible in an effort to rail against the book’s “immoral” teachings. Beliefnet’s Rob Kerby has more:

“[The group] says the demonstration is based loosely on Thomas Jefferson’s Bible – an 86-page book that omits huge chunks of the New Testament, according the Religion News Service. Jefferson’s Bible, which the Smithsonian National Museum of American History is restoring, chronicles Jesus’ life but leaves out the Resurrection and all miracles the Bible says Jesus performed.”

Bruce Gleason, the group’s director, explained the Backyard Skeptics’ opposition to the holy book. “We’re not there to burn the Bible or desecrate,” he said. “But there are plenty verses in the Bible that if you did any of those things today, you’d be thrown in jail immediately.” He continued:

“We want to make this a better world for secular and humanistic values. We don’t believe prayer works. We don’t believe religion adds anything except a sense of false hope.”

In actions that the Washington Post’s Brad Hirschfield called “hypocritical” (after all, these are “free thinkers” who are purposely destroying something they disagree with), these non-believers decided to hold the very public demonstration to showcase their disrespect for Christian scriptures.

To make sure that people would see the event regardless of their location, Backyard Skeptics even aired it live on Below, find a report from an atheist involved in the event as well as some raw footage from the demonstration:

Hirschfield responds to all of this, writing:

“Fanatical atheism is no worse and no better than fanatical religion, though it may be more bitterly ironic. There is something pretty odd, dare I say hypocritical, about a bunch of people who call themselves “freethinkers” and “humanists” not only verbally abusing people of faith, but actually tearing up verses from the Bible as an act of protest.”

And in the Baptist Press, Kelly Boggs discusses the lack of media coverage the event has received:

“If the organization were Christian and ripping pages from the Quran or destroying the book “Heather Has Two Mommies,” it likely would have garnered media attention from sea to shining sea, with the Christians portrayed as insensitive bigots or intolerant censors.”

Considering the negative attention a Florida pastor brought upon himself over his Koran-burning exploits, it‘s a wonder this hasn’t warranted more media scrutiny.

In another related example and Orange County couple was fined $300 for hosting Bible study groups in their San Juan Capistrano home and could face another $500 files if they continue. (It should be noted that San Juan Capistrano is home to the second oldest mission in California.)

City officials in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. say Chuck and Stephanie Fromm are in violation of municipal code 9-3.301, which prohibits “religious, fraternal or non-profit” organizations in residential neighborhoods without a permit. Stephanie hosts a Wednesday Bible study that draws about 20 attendees, and Chuck holds a Sunday service that gets about 50.

The Fromms appealed their citations but were denied and warned future sessions would carry heftier penalties. A statement from the Pacific Justice Institute, which is defending the couple in a lawsuit against the city, said Chuck Fromm was also told regular gatherings of three or more people require a conditional use permit, which can be costly and difficult to obtain as it requires a costly environmental impact statement.

“How dare they tell us we can’t have whatever we want in our home,” Stephanie Fromm told the Capistrano Dispatch. “We want to be able to use our home. We’ve paid a lot and invested a lot in our home and backyard I should be able to be hospitable in my home.”

According to the Dispatch, the Fromms live in a neighborhood with large homes and have a corral, barn, pool and huge back lawn on their property, so parking and noise aren’t a problem.

“There’s no singing or music,” Stephanie said. “It’s meditative.”

The Dispatch reported a code-enforcement officer gave the Fromms a verbal warning about the meetings in May, then returned to issue citations in June and July. According to the paper, the city’s code-enforcement department is reactive, meaning they only respond to complaints.

I am sure if the Fromms hosted a pool party with 20 attendees there would be no visit from the code enforcement people.

In my third example I go to a case in Virginia where the ACLU has filed suit against a high school for posting the Ten Commandments as a historical document.

Earlier this year, the American Civil Liberties Union defended students’ right to post the Ten Commandments to their lockers — and The Atlantic smugly said that proved “the right’s antipathy toward the organization is misplaced.” But the ACLU still fails to see that the Ten Commandments might have a legitimate educational purpose in schools, that it might make sense to display the biblical legal code as a part of the history of Western civilization. The organization recently sued Narrows High School in Giles County, Va., for featuring the Ten Commandments next to other historical documents like the Declaration of Independence, the Magna Carta and the Mayflower Compact. As the blog of The Manhattan Declaration explains, it would seem ACLU barely has a case.

Claiming that a display of the Ten Commandments “promote a specific religious faith, but do not support a secular purpose,” the ACLU argument is weak on both counts. ACLU’s first argument, based on The Establishment Clause of the US Constitution, fails because the Establishment Clause merely states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, nor the free exercise thereof.

Somewhere along the line, this tiny phrase has been joined together with a private letter to a group of Baptist preachers, and now the ACLU is claiming that the mere posting of the Ten Commandments is the “establishment of a religion”. This line of thinking ignores the first tenet of interpreting law that the original intent of the law must be scrutinized and maintained. Anyone who has ever studied history and is even remotely aware of why the Colonies chose to unite and rebel against the most powerful nation in the world, could not even begin to make the leap that the forced acceptance of the king’s church is anywhere near the same thing as the mere posting of the Ten Commandments.

ACLU also argues that posting the Ten Commandments fails to promote a “secular purpose.” This is interesting in light of the rise in plagiarism, cheating on test scores and school violence. It would seem that a reminder to students of how to stay out trouble would certainly serve a “secular purpose.”

I question the efficacy of ignoring history. Nor do I think a school should have to display every moral, religious or legal code side by side to ensure it doesn’t inadvertently endorse the Ten Commandments over any other such code. Schools have limited display space, and, in fact, certain codes disproportionately influenced different cultures. It makes perfect sense for a school to focus on the history of the civilization and culture in which the school exists.

On some level, I can’t help but think the ACLU’s repeated protests of the Ten Commandments lend them special credence. By its objections, the organization implicitly acknowledges the compelling nature of the simple, time-tested formulations of right behavior.

At almost a daily rate there are reports of attacks by the courts and government policies against Christians. Christians are berated in the media for their beliefs on abortion and called right-wing fundamentalist. Christians are called stupid and mocked for their beliefs in Creationism. Christians are prohibited from demonstrating their traditions in the public square and public buildings. Christmas trees are and nativity scenes are banned in most municipalities. Christmas Carols are prohibited in public school Christmas pageants. Even the name Christmas has been stricken and replaced with holiday or winter celebration. To wish someone a Merry Christmas or exchange a Christmas card in a public school is an offense that can draw a suspension yet the same schools will allow celebrations of Ramadan and Christians will keep their mouths shut out of a sense of tolerance

No such attacks are permitted against Islam or even radical Islam. Even when talking about the attacks of 9-11 no mention is made of those who perpetrated the attacks.

Even Jews draw a pass in the media. When Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA 30) make a remark that the Jews are only protecting their wealth in regards to a recent Democratic defeat in New York’s 9th district, a heavily Jewish district, he draws no comment in the media for his blatantly anti-Semitic comment. It was Adolph Hitler who blamed Jewish wealth for Germany’s problems in the 1930s before he and his Nazi cohorts began confiscating that wealth and ultimately exterminating those Jews. Yet Waxman draws no criticism in the main stream media.

It is only the Christians who draw the fire of the media and the government. They are told to hide in the corner and keep their mouths shut. So what do these “militant” Christians do? They turn the other check as Jesus Christ commanded and pray for forgiveness for their detractors — a truly Christian thing to do.

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