Friday, January 9, 2009

Anti-Gay Church Gets ACLU Help

The Fred Phelps’ Westboro Baptist Church is getting help from an unusual source. The Topeka-based church, known for protesting at soldiers’ funerals against gay rights, is suing the city of St. Joseph, Missouri for refusing to let members stage a protest. Now, the ACLU of Eastern Missouri is joining Westboro in its effort to get the ordinance declared unconstitutional. This past fall, an appeals court ruled the group has the right to picket at soldiers’ funerals in the state of Missouri.

Tim Tebow's Faith

Florida quarterback Tim Tebow led his team to a national championship last night by beating the Oklahoma Sooners. What many sports fans may not know is that Tim was homeschooled and has spent a lot of time in the Philippines (where he was born) with his parents doing missionary work. The family still makes annual pilgrimages to help the poor. Tebow has often spoke before gatherings of high school students about his Christian faith. Last year, he won the Heisman Trophy. But his siblings are doing big things as well: His sister, Christy, is a full-time missionary in Bangladesh and brother Robby is the area director for the Northeast Florida Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Brother Peter is an intern at the University of Florida’s Campus Crusade for Christ.

So Help Me God

The Senate Historical Office says President Washington never said So help me God during his inauguration. Historical editor Beth Hahn says she always assumed Washington said it. And even said so in a film called So Help Me God that you can watch on the website of The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. But after some research, she decided the first time was during the inauguration of Chester Arthur during 1881. However, she does admit it was often used to end oaths of office in Washington’s day.

While it may be debatable whether the first US president concluded his presidential oath with those four words, he did mention God in his speech.

Washington began with "fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe.. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good.. No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States."

He ended with "the benign Parent of the human race, in humble supplication..” and asked for God's "divine blessing" for the nation.

Clergy blessings have been a part of presidential inaugurations for more than two centuries without much attention.

Atheist Michael Newdow has filed a lawsuit in an attempt to prevent God from being mentioned during Barack Obama's inauguration.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

2nd Trimester Abortions

The University of Wisconsin plans to give women second-trimester abortions (between 13 and 22 weeks) at the Madison Surgery Center in Madison. All that’s needed is the Center’s board of trustees to approve the move later this month.

A conservative Christian legal group is protesting the move.
The Alliance Defense Fund questions the plan's legallity because a state law prohibits state or federal money from being used to pay doctors or clinics to perform abortions.

The Center says insurance and the patients will foot the bill for the abortions and not the state.

Neuhaus Dies

Richard John Neuhaus has died at the age of 72. The Catholic priest and theologian founded First Things and promoted conservative views in his writing. Neuhaus was battling cancer. TIME magazine put him on a list of America’s 25 most influential Evangelicals in 2005. More from the National Catholic Register.

Hall of Fame Inductees

These artists will be inducted into the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame this year:
  • Michael W. Smith: won three Grammy Awards and 42 Dove Awards during his two decades of creating contemporary Christian Music
  • Dolly Parton: a Kennedy Center Honoree as well as a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame
  • Bobby Jones: His Bobby Jones Gospel program first aired in 1976, won Grammy and Dove Awards along with a NAACP Image Award
  • The Dixie Hummingbirds: formed in 1928, sang with Paul Simon on Loves Me Like A Rock and Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions album .
  • Lari Goss: has worked with The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, The Gaither Vocal Band, Glen Campbell and many others

Library Lawsuit Settled

The Clermont County Public Library in Batavia, Ohio has settled a lawsuit with a couple who wanted to hold a financial planning seminar. The library turned them down because they wanted to use the Bible.

The library will pay George Vandergriff and his wife $2 and $1 will go to the Institute for Principled Policy which was part of the suit. But $10,000 will go to their attorneys. The library has also changed its policy and will no longer allow outside groups to use its meeting rooms.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Plagiarism by Best-selling Author

The man who wrote the best-selling series Conversations with God admits he borrowed someone else’s anecdote and presented it as his own. Neale Donald Walsch says he didn’t do it on purpose. Nevertheless, has taken down his blog on spirituality because he “failed to properly credit and attribute material from another author”. Here's the website's full statement.

Walsch told the story of his son playing in a Christmas concert where kids held up letters that spelled out Christmas Love. But one child held his m upside down changing the cards to read: Christwas Love. But this was Candy Chand’s story. She found the Walsch version through a search engine.

Inauguration Protests

The church that likes to protest against gays at military funerals plans to show up at Barack Obama’s inauguration. The US Park Service has granted a permit to the Westboro Baptist Church of Kansas for more than a dozen people. They will be located at the northeast corner of John Marshal Park.

There will be other protests as well. The Christian Defense Coalition expects several hundred to turn out at the Canadian Embassy on Pennsylvania Avenue, where the Coaltion has been granted a permit to protest against abortion.

The demonstrations will start at 7am on January 20th, Inauguration Day.

The Daily Show & the Church of Universal Love & Music

Attorneys for the Church of Universal Love and Music are asking a judge to not allow jurors see a segment of John Stewart’s Daily Show. The group claims to be a church and that the county is discriminating against it. But County officials say the organization shouldn’t get that status when it comes to zoning laws and a bit that ran on the Daily Show confirms it. During the program, Church of Universal Love and Music founder William Pritts told viewers, "God never said you can't party on." The county believes that was his real intention is not religious but promoting concerts. They denied him permits to hold his “services” featuring rock and jazz music. Pritts sued for $1 million, saying the concert ban violates his religious freedoms. Trial is set for next month.

See The Daily Show video