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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California State University system de-recognizes IVCF from 23 campuses

Princess Mandy posted this story from Christianity Today, and I am blogging it.

Excerpt: (links removed)

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) has been, in modern campus terminology, “derecognized” by California State University schools. Basically, they will no longer be a recognized campus organization on any of the 23 schools in that system. IVCF has been derecognized because they require their leaders to have Christian beliefs.

It’s not just InterVarsity that will be impacted. Following the same logic, any group that insists on requiring its leaders to follow an agreed upon set of guiding beliefs is no longer kosher (irony intended) at California’s state universities. This will impact many other faith-based organizations with actual, well, faith-based beliefs. Presumably, even People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals would have to allow Oscar Meyer to lead their campus chapters.

[...]Now, it’s not persecution. Christians are not banned. People can share their faith. But, now, what we once called “equal access” has taken another hit—people of faith do not have equal access to the university community, like the environmentalist club, the LGBT organization, or the chess club.

The university system has decided that speech with beliefs that undergird it—and shape how it is organized—has to be derecognized.

I asked Greg Jao, who is National Field Director & Campus Access Coordinator, what this actually meant. He explained,

Loss of recognition means we lose 3 things: free access to rooms (this will cost our chapters $13k-30k/year to reserve room). We also lose access to student activities programs, including the new student fairs where we meet most students. We also lose standing when we engage faculty, students and administrators.

And while they still have freedom to request a meeting spot in some buildings, they no longer have the status when other officially recognized groups request the same spot—even though they are, well, fee-paying students in a facility owned by the people of California.

Jao indicated the work is not done, explaining,

We still intend to minister on campus but loss of recognition is a significant impediment.

The bigger, and ongoing, issue is the continual sanitization of unacceptable religious voices from universities. It’s ironic—those who champion nondiscrimination, in the name of nondiscrimination, are creating rules that push out those who “discriminate” based on biblical belief statements.

A few years ago, I asked in the pages of USAToday, are evangelicals no longer welcome in the public arena? If that arena is a California state university, and those evangelicals want an official school organization, that answer is obvious.

This has already happened in other places, perhaps most notably at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. But, Vanderbilt is a private university. Now, state schools have decided that, due to their odd policies restricting belief based organization from requiring belief, students who have evangelical beliefs—and think the leaders of their belief-based campus organization should also have beliefs—are no longer welcome as a student organization.

Christian taxpayers in California are paying into this school system, thanks to the compulsory collection of taxes. So now Christian families will have less money to send their own kids to schools that actually allow freedom of association and equal access to Christians. We have to pay twice – once into a system that treats us as second-class citizens, and once into a private system that recognizes our fundamental rights. This is why we should be voting to cut off the money supply to the non-essential responsibilities of government. We need to keep our money to work around the discrimination of the secularists.

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If you want to annoy the left, then raise your children to be like Texas senator Ted Cruz

Texas Republican senator Ted Cruz

Texas Republican senator Ted Cruz

Here’s a profile in National Review of my one of my favorite senators.

Excerpt:

The party’s highest-profile Texans, George W. Bush and Rick Perry, tended to match inarticulateness with cowboy swagger and lend themselves to mockery as intellectual lightweights. Bush went to Yale and Harvard Business School, yet no one naturally thinks of him as an Ivy Leaguer. The two Lone Star State governors played into the Left’s stereotypes so nicely that if they didn’t exist, the New York Times editorial board would have had to invent them.

Cruz is different — a Princeton and Harvard man who not only matriculated at those fine institutions but excelled at them. Champion debater at Princeton. Magna cum laude graduate at Harvard. Supreme Court clerkship, on the way to Texas solicitor general and dozens of cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Cruz is from the intellectual elite, but not of it, a tea-party conservative whose politics are considered gauche at best at the storied universities where he studied. He is, to borrow the words of the 2008 H.W. Brands biography of Franklin D. Roosevelt, a traitor to his class.

Democrats and liberal pundits would surely dislike Cruz no matter where he went to school, but his pedigree adds an element of shocked disbelief to the disdain. “Princeton and Harvard should be disgraced,” former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell exclaimed on MSNBC, as if graduating a constitutionalist conservative who rises to national prominence is a violation of the schools’ mission statements.

[...]In a Washington Post column a year ago, Dana Milbank noted Cruz’s schooling and concluded that his tea-party politics must be a put-on, that he is, underneath it all, an “intellectually curious, liberal-arts conservative.” Note the insulting assumption that an interest in books and ideas immunizes someone from a certain kind of conservative politics.

One of the Left’s deepest prejudices is that its opponents are stupid, and Cruz tramples on it. At hearings, Cruz has the prosecutorial instincts of a . . . Harvard-trained lawyer. Watching Attorney General Eric Holder try to fend off Cruz’s questioning on the administration’s drone policy a few months ago was like seeing a mouse cornered by a very large cat.

Cruz hasn’t played by the Senate rules that freshmen should initially be seen and not heard. In fact, he joined the upper chamber with all the subtlety of a SWAT team knocking down a drug suspect’s front door.

For people who care about such things — almost all of them are senators — this is an unforgivable offense. At another hearing, as Cruz says that the highest commitment of senators should be to the Constitution, another senator can be heard muttering that he doesn’t like being lectured. Chairman Pat Leahy (probably the mutterer) eventually cuts him off and informs him he hasn’t been in the Senate very long.

Cruz lacks all defensiveness about his positions, another source of annoyance to his opponents, who are used to donning the mantle of both intellectual and moral superiority.

And here’s a quick review of where Ted Cruz came from:

Rafael Cruz, the father of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, invigorated the crowd during tonight’s FreedomWorks Free the People event.

Describing his own personal journey escaping Cuba and working hard to build a life for himself in the U.S., the elder Cruz noted comparisons that he believes exist between Fidel Castro’s governance and President Barack Obama’s executive actions.

Upon rising to power, he said that Castro, like Obama, spoke about hope and change. While the message sounded good at the time, it didn’t take long for socialism to take root in his home country. And he paid the price.

For his part in the revolution — one that many originally assumed would yield a more vibrant country — Cruz was punished while in Cuba.

“I was in prison,” he said. “I was tortured, but by the grace of God I was able to leave Cuba on a student VISA and came to the greatest country on the face of the earth.”

Cruz described his efforts working as a dishwasher in America and paying his own way through the University of Texas. From there, he built a life for himself — one that was filled with experiences that caused him to greatly appreciate the country that had given him so much.

His plight in Cuba colored his American experience

“You can’t understand a loss of rights unless you’ve experienced it,” Cruz told TheBlaze following the speech.

His unique perspective leaves Cruz with the ability, he argues, to see the troubling signs surrounding socialism. Young people in America today, he told TheBlaze, take for granted the rights and privileges that the U.S. has afforded them.

Fascinating.

Now people always complain when I say that I am trying to find a wife with the background, education, experience and temperment to raise effective, influential children. I have a whole list of influential people I want to clone, in fact. I want a William Lane Craig, a Wayne Grudem, a Michael Licona, a Guillermo Gonzales, an Ann Gauger, a Jennifer Roback Morse, a Scott Klusendorf, a Mark Regnerus, and… a Ted Cruz. And I’ve saved the money to be able to get at least a few of those, too. The truth is that I had some of the experiences that Cruz’s father had, and if he can make a Ted Cruz, then so should I be able to. They have to come from somewhere!

Now of course it’s hard to guarantee outcomes when it comes to raising children, but there are some things you can prepare for. You can study things you hate that are hard, and save your money for Ph.D tuition. You can go to grad school yourself and publish research. You can look for a wife who shows the ability to nurture people so that they get better and rise higher. And maybe, you might just raise the next Ted Cruz. I think the old adage “if you aim at nothing, then you will surely hit it” is a good saying for marriage. If you are going to put hundreds of thousands of dollars and decades of your life into a marriage, then you should aim at something. You might hit it. You’re not just there to make another person feel good – you’re there to make the marriage serve God. Raising influential, effective children is one way of doing that. But it doesn’t happen by accident. And it isn’t necessarily going to be “fun”.

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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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Massachusetts town goes after Christian college over sexual morality

Salem, MA Mayor Kimberley Driscoll

Salem, MA Mayor Kimberley Driscoll

From Campus Reform.

Excerpt:

The town of Salem, Mass., has pitted itself against Gordon College after the president of the private Christian school added his name to a public letter to President Obama asking for a religious exemption from a planned federal mandate.

The expected executive order would force any organization receiving federal funds, including religiously based organizations, to hire people whose sexual conduct may not fall in line with their beliefs. Gordon says the mandate would be an “infringement on religious liberty” and “the rights of faith-based institutions to establish a set of standards and expectations for their community.”

Gordon’s statement of faith and conduct defines marriage as the “lifelong one-flesh union of one man and one woman.” It also clarifies that the school is against “homosexual acts,” not “same-sex orientation,” and claims that it expects its students and faculty to “refrain from any sexual intercourse—heterosexual or homosexual; premarital or extramarital—outside of the marriage covenant.”

“Signing the letter was in keeping with our decades-old conviction that, as an explicitly Christian institution, Gordon should set the conduct expectations for members of our community,” Gordon College President Michael Lindsay said in a statement. “Nothing has changed in our position.”

[...]It was Lindsay’s signature that prompted Salem Mayor Kimberly Driscoll to publicly chastise the school, calling the small Christian college’s longstanding policies of expressly forbidding homosexual practices “offensive” in a statement released by the city. Driscoll went on to say that the city was revoking its contract with the college over the management of the city’s Old Town Hall facility.

“While I respect your rights to embed religious values on a private college campus, religious freedom does not afford you the right to impose those beliefs upon others and cannot be extended into a publicly owned facility or any management contract or a publicly owned facility, like Old Town Hall,” she said.

So the mayor has decided that she should punish Christians because they have beliefs that are different than hers. She is forcing her beliefs on Lindsay, and if he then agreed with her, she would remove the punishment. Isn’t it amazing how secular people are able to accuse others of doing something that they are doing themselves, and their heads don’t explode from the illogic?

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