Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

City of Houston demands that pastors hand over all sermons on homosexuality

Houston's openly gay mayor, Annise Parker

Houston’s openly gay mayor, Annise Parker

Fox News has the story and the backstory, too.

Excerpt:

The city of Houston has issued subpoenas demanding a group of pastors turn over any sermons dealing with homosexuality, gender identity or Annise Parker, the city’s first openly lesbian mayor. And those ministers who fail to comply could be held in contempt of court.

“The city’s subpoena of sermons and other pastoral communications is both needless and unprecedented,” Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Christina Holcomb said in a statement. “The city council and its attorneys are engaging in an inquisition designed to stifle any critique of its actions.”

ADF, a nationally-known law firm specializing in religious liberty cases, is representing five Houston pastors. They filed a motion in Harris County court to stop the subpoenas arguing they are “overbroad, unduly burdensome, harassing, and vexatious.”

“Political and social commentary is not a crime,” Holcomb said. “It is protected by the First Amendment.”

The subpoenas are just the latest twist in an ongoing saga over the Houston’s new non-discrimination ordinance. The law, among other things, would allow men to use the ladies room and vice versa.  The city council approved the law in June.

The Houston Chronicle reported opponents of the ordinance launched a petition drive that generated more than 50,000 signatures – far more than the 17,269 needed to put a referendum on the ballot.

However, the city threw out the petition in August over alleged irregularities.

After opponents of the bathroom bill filed a lawsuit the city’s attorneys responded by issuing the subpoenas against the pastors.

The pastors were not part of the lawsuit. However, they were part of a coalition of some 400 Houston-area churches that opposed the ordinance. The churches represent a number of faith groups – from Southern Baptist to non-denominational.

“City council members are supposed to be public servants, not ‘Big Brother’ overlords who will tolerate no dissent or challenge,” said ADF attorney Erik Stanley.  “This is designed to intimidate pastors.”

Mayor Parker will not explain why she wants to inspect the sermons.

Why is it that people on the secular left are so comfortable with bringing in the government to threaten, intimidate and coerce those who disagree with them? Could it be that they know that what they are doing is morally wrong, and have to force others to celebrate it so their guilty consciences will be appeased? After all, you don’t see chaste people marching around in pride parades, or demanding government force people to celebrate chastity. We know we are right, and opposition to chastity doesn’t bother us. Our consciences are clean.

Well, the ADF is on this Houston case, and that’s a good thing. Seems like anywhere Christians are under attack, the ADF is there to defend us. If you want to keep up with this story, I recommend subscribing to the Alliance Defending Freedom podcast and the Family Research Council Daily and Weekly podcasts.

 

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If militant atheists formed their own country, what would it look like?

Here is a story about North Korea from the UK Telegraph about a government run by atheists, for atheists.

Excerpt:

Christian missionaries have set up an extraordinary network of front companies – including tour agencies, bakeries, factories, farms, schools and orphanages – in order to spread the Gospel inside North Korea.

For nearly two years, Kenneth Bae, a father of three and an American citizen, ran a successful travel company offering tours of North Korea.

But as the 44-year-old passed through the Wonjong border crossing in November 2012, he was suddenly arrested. Convicted of “hostile acts” towards North Korea, he is currently serving 15 years in a labour camp.

What exactly happened remains a mystery. Mr Bae had taken at least 15 other tour groups into North Korea without incident. However, it seems clear that his mission to spread the Christian gospel was at least one major factor that landed him in trouble.

Mr Bae is not alone in using his company, Nations Tour, to evangelise inside North Korea. While precise numbers are impossible to pin down, the network of well-financed front companies, missions operating as businesses, is extensive.

North Korea, the most hostile country in the world to organised religion, has a strong pull for a certain stripe of evangelical Christians, and the 288 sq mile “Special Economic Zone” outside the city of Rason, where Mr Bae was detained, is Ground Zero for these modern apostles.

[...]According to one American who once travelled with Mr Bae, but who asked to remain anonymous, their group was able to carry bibles with them into the zone. Possession of bibles by North Koreans can lead to imprisonment, torture and perhaps even death.

The source said a delicate dance had played out on their arrival, with their bibles being counted by the border guards on their way in and then again when they left to make sure none had been distributed.

At the final inspection, the guards even flipped through each copy to make sure no pages had been ripped out and left behind.

Before arriving at the border, the 15-member group was told by Mr Bae not to discuss politics or carry out any overt proselytising. The two or three pastors travelling with them were not to be addressed by their titles.

Once inside North Korea, they were accompanied by government minders at all times. On group hikes with these “tour guides”, the source said they sang Christian songs, but hummed key verses to avoid saying “God” out loud.

“That was our way of worshipping and praising in our hearts, even if we could not say it,” the source said. “Talking about God directly, that would be asking for a death sentence.”

This is the dream of militant groups like the Freedom From Religion Foundation. North Korea has an official state religion of atheism. Is that a factor in their horrible record for human rights? Well, according to the The Black Book of Communism, published by Harvard University Press, over 100 million innocent people were killed in atheistic, communist regimes like North Korea in the last century.

I have been working on a theory about what militant atheists mean when they say that religion causes a lot of wars. My theory is that they are actually talking about themselves. They mean their religion. They are boasting that they are number one at killing innocent people. A person can justify killing very easily if you believe that no one is watching you and no one will hold you accountable when you die for what you’ve done.

Of course there are lots of atheists in the Judeo-Christian West who live more peacefully, because they are living in a background of objective morality and human rights provided by Western religions. But in countries like North Korea, with a state religion that cannot ground free will or objective morality or human rights or judgment after death, there are fewer restraints.

Even here, we have already seen over 50 million unborn children killed since abortion became legal. And I can guarantee you that it’s not authentic Christians who are having these abortions. As a group, atheists tend to be among the most radical in favor of abortion rights. The Secular Census of 2012 found that 97% of atheists vote for abortion.

The idea of the strong killing the weak for pleasure is the law of the jungle, and it’s not surprising to me that those who think that humans are just animals would act this way with vulnerable children. If you only have 80 years to be happy in an accidental universe, then anything goes. No one is there to hold you accountable. If the weak get in your way, kill them all. That’s atheist morality. You don’t have to go to North Korea to see it.

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Christian NHS worker charged with “bullying” for praying for Muslim co-worker

From the UK Telegraph. (H/T Well Spent Journey)

Excerpt:

A Christian health worker has begun a legal challenge after being disciplined by the NHS for praying with a Muslim colleague.

Victoria Wasteney, a senior occupational therapist in one of the country’s most racially diverse areas, was also accused of bullying the colleague after giving her a book about a Muslim woman who converts to Christianity.

In addition, senior managers told Miss Wasteney that it was inappropriate to invite the woman to a community sports day organised by her church.

The complaints led to Miss Wasteney being suspended on full pay for nine months.

Three charges were upheld against the 37-year-old Christian at an internal disciplinary hearing in February and five charges were found to be unsubstantiated. She had to accept a final written warning at work which will remain on her records for 12 months, as well as accept a range of other requirements designed to stop her discussing her faith and beliefs with colleagues.

Miss Wasteney said she was challenging her employers in court because political correctness in the NHS was stifling ordinary conversations about faith.

[...]The young Muslim woman was appointed as a newly qualified occupational therapist in a team of 30 managed by Miss Wasteney at East London NHS Foundation Trust.

I do not recommend speaking to Muslims about anything other than work at work, because of cases. If you want to say something, come home and blog what you want to say under an alias. We are not in the same world we were in 50 years ago. The things we used to do then are no longer safe. You can still have an impact, you just have to be smarter about how you do it.

 

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Evangelical student wins free speech case against Thomas Nelson Community College

Campus Reform has the story:

Virginia taxpayers are footing a $25,000 bill after a public community college stopped a student from preaching on campus.

According to Christian Parks, who identifies as an evangelical Christian, campus police officers at Thomas Nelson Community College stopped him from preaching in a central courtyard on two separate occasions last semester. Campus police cited a policy from 1968 which said that only organizations which were recognized by the college would be allowed to demonstrate on campus. These groups would also be restricted to designated areas.

However, last week in a U.S. District Court, a judge ruled that the Virginia Community College System designates outdoor areas on campus as “venues for free expression,” thus ruling in favor of Parks. The 23 community college campuses that make up the system are therefore not allowed to place limits on free speech.

The Virginia Community College System will have to pay $1 in nominal damages and $24,999 in legal fees to the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a Christian conservative nonprofit organization, which sued Thomas Nelson Community College on Parks’s behalf.

“Students at 23 community college campuses have greater free speech,” Travis Barham, the lawyer on the case, told Campus Reform. “Because one student took a stand at Thomas Nelson [Community College], students at 23 difference campuses have greater free speech as a result.”

According to Barham, the Virginia Community College System served as a prime example of colleges and college systems should work to make their policies better benefit students.

“The folks at Virginia Community College System really serve as a model of what colleges should do,” Barham said, praising the system for having “pleasant and fruitful” conversations with ADF.

The lawsuit, filed in March, took only three months to resolve.

Alliance Defending Freedom is where you turn for help when you face free speech violations on campus.

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Narendra Modi (BJP) election win good for Indian economy, but scary for Christian minority

Map of India

Map of India – Modi was the leader in Gujarat state

From Asia News.

Excerpt:

“The electoral result, declared so far, indicates a landslide win for the BJP, which should propel the stock markets to new heights,” said Clifton Desilva, director of Altina Securities Pvt Ltd, as he spoke to AsiaNews about India’s election results and the BJP victory.

According to the latest projections, Modi’s party has 277 seats out of 543. The BJP and its coalition partners together now hold 336 seats. However, “Now that the BJP is likely to attain a sweeping mandate it does not have to depend on allies as was the case with the UPA government,” Desilva said. The UPA or United Progressive Alliance was the Indian Congress Party-led coalition that lost the election.

What is more, the BJP “has the reputation of being a business-oriented party,” Desilva noted. Thus, “all the big reforms that the UPA could not implement it is hoped that the BJP will implement them. [. . .] In fact the last five to six years we have seen the stock market sliding to new lows with the GDP [growth] slipping from 9.5 per cent to 4.5 per cent”.

Under a BJP administration, “it is expected that the investment cycle, which was stalled for various reasons, will get a kick start.” As a result, “projects worth over Rs 6 trillion (US$ 100 billion) that were stalled are likely to be revived, which will have a positive impact on reviving the growth of the Indian economy”, especially in terms of infrastructure, capital goods and banking sectors.

As soon as the BJP victory appeared to be a foregone conclusion, foreign governments rushed to congratulate the new leader.

But, Religious Freedom Coalition reports a concern.

Excerpt:

Advocacy officials say policies of the influential Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has contributed to an atmosphere of hatred towards Christians. The BJP is the ruling party in three of the five Indian states with laws that forbid forced religious conversions.

The legislation is frequently used to shut down churches or intimidate Christians who speak about their faith, according to rights activists.

The party has proposed stiffer penalties in one of those states, Madhya Pradesh, India’s second-largest.

Narendra Modi, chief minister of Gujarat, another BJP-ruled state with anti-conversion laws on the books, is “the poster child for India’s failure to punish the violent,” said Katrina Lantos Swett, vice chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, and Commissioner Mary Ann Glendon in a joint November opinion column.

While under BJP rule, Karnataka state had the country’s highest rate of attacks against Christians from 2010 through 2012, according to Christian estimates.

[...]National parliamentary elections are scheduled for May, and Narendra Modi is the BJP’s candidate for prime minister.

Hindu militants have expressed anger over the spread of Christianity in India, a predominantly Hindu nation of over 1 billion people.

In a reaction, the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) made clear it was closely monitoring the situation saying it had urged believers to “Pray for God’s protection over all Christians living in Andhra Pradesh” especially “for pastors and Christian workers…that they would continue to place their trust in the Lord and engage in missions in spite of the present situation.”

It was also important to “Pray that the Lord would grant repentance to those who are instigating violence against Christians,” stressed the WEA, which claims to represent some 600 million evangelical Christians in 128 countries.

I want India to do well, and Modi’s pro-business record in Gujarat cannot be questioned. However, I am worried about his Hindu Nationalism and the price that Christians might pay for evangelizing, which is a normal part of the Christian faith. Hinduism is a non-cognitive religion, so they are not used to arguments and evidence. It’s a community/family/culture thing. So they don’t understand how a person can evangelize except by non-cognitive means, e.g. – bribes. I am worried especially for the Dalits and other low-caste Indians in this environment.

Please pray for Christians in India. Do it now.

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