Friday, May 29, 2009
LONDON - The Church of Scotland has approved the appointment of an openly homosexual minister - the latest case of tensions over sexuality to prompt division in the Anglican Communion.
The church's ruling body voted Saturday by 326 to 267 to support the appointment of the Rev. Scott Rennie, 37, who was previously married to a woman and is now in a relationship with a man.
Rennie was first appointed as a minister 10 years ago, but has faced opposition from some critics since he moved to a church in Aberdeen, Scotland, last year.
The case threatens to divide Scottish religious leaders and follows tensions within the worldwide 77 million-member Anglican Communion. About 900 elders and ministers took part in a debate on Rennie's case, but many chose to abstain from casting a vote.
Anglicans have conducted lengthy debate over sexuality issues since the Episcopal Church - the Anglican body in the U.S. - consecrated the first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire in 2003.
Rennie said he believed religious conservatives were behind attempts to oust him from his post. "The same talk was about when women were ordained and I think that argument suits those that don't want any change," he told Britain's Sky News television on Saturday.
Following the vote to back Rennie, Scotland's Equality and Human Rights Commission said the Church of Scotland had proven itself to be "a modern church for a modern Scotland."
Protesters had lobbied the Kirk - the Church of Scotland's ruling executive - over Rennie's case, saying his appointment was not consistent with the teachings of the Bible.
"We are absolutely opposed to that on the basis of what God has to say about homosexuality in the Bible," one opponent, Pastor Jack Bell of the Zion Baptist Church in Glasgow, Scotland, said.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Usually May is the time of the year when students are fitted for the cap and gown, count their credits, pay their school bill and plan the parties. With a firm handshake and a costly piece of paper, they will start their lives in the real world.
That won't be true for Julea Ward, who used to be a graduate student at Eastern Michigan University until she was kicked out for her religious beliefs.
Ms. Ward was enrolled in a graduate program at the school and as part of her education was required to enroll in a counseling practicum. In that practicum, she was assigned a case involving a homosexual who needed help. Ms. Ward did not feel that she could affirm the student's homosexual lifestyle because of her Christian beliefs, so she asked her supervisor what she should do. His advice was to refer the student to a counselor who had no qualms with affirming homosexual behavior. That is what she did, and it was all done before she saw the student. There was no counseling that took place between the two, there was no confrontation between the two, and there was no condemnation of homosexuality -- just an honest confession of her deeply held religious belief. But the story doesn't end there.
Julea was summoned to appear before a disciplinary hearing and told that if she wanted to continue on with her graduate program, she would have to submit to a "remediation" program so that she could see "the error of her ways." She refused to be forced into a re-education program designed to convert her from biblical faith, and as a result, she was kicked out of school. There's your tolerance.
Now, remember, Julea didn't demand that the student be denied help, she didn't get in his face and tell him he's condemned to hell, she didn't even roll her eyes and give a general impression of disgust. She simply told the truth, obeyed what her supervisor told her to do, and carried on with her life.
Does it scare you that the people overseeing her program weren't content with the fact that she acted properly and with integrity? Does is scare you that they wanted her to change not just her actions, but her religious beliefs?
If you have a child in a publicly funded college or university, this should make all kinds of alarms go off in your head. Any parent who takes their faith life seriously, no matter what brand, should be very concerned.
Publicly funded colleges and universities, and even private schools, used to pride themselves on being open forums, encouraging diversity of beliefs and philosophies. They still think that is what they are, but the truth is becoming clear: they are open to some ideas, as long as they are not from an evangelical Christian worldview, and as long as you don't practice what you preach.
Now the government is getting into the act of criminalizing your Christian conscience. Two pieces of legislation heading for Congress are sure to be used to turn what used to be religious principles into a crime. The administration is moving to repeal the "conscience clause" that protects healthcare workers from performing procedures that violate their beliefs, and protects faith-based healthcare facilities (think Catholic hospitals) from being sued for not performing abortions and the like. If the conscience clause is overturned, following your faith-informed conscience will no longer be constitutionally protected, and may well become a criminal act.
The second piece of legislation that attacks Christian faith is the so-called "hate speech" rule (H.R. 1913 / S. 909). Under this proposed law, cloaked in the guise of "protection," it is possible to see courts prosecuting any people of faith from speaking out against homosexuality, abortion, fetal stem-cell experimentation, and a host of other issues not deemed politically correct.
Maybe we need to change our national motto from "In God We Trust" to "Trust in God at Your Own Peril."
by Phil Weingart
In the world of Christian apologetics, the question “Why do Christians worship God,” comes up usually as a challenge from scornful atheists who view God as a narcissistic megalomaniac who demands attention to feed his weak ego. Of course, their idea is anthropomorphic (it assigns human characteristics to God) and therefore invalid. However, discounting the unwarranted scorn, it’s a fair question, and one that I’ve had difficulty answering in the past, other than to say “Because God says to do it.” So, I examined that part of my life a bit more carefully, and developed a more robust answer.
There are actually several reasons why we worship, all arising out of different parts of our relationship to God. Since our relationship to God changes as we mature, our reasons for worshiping change over time as well. The categories I’ve discovered are:
- Natural worship, or the natural response to God as creator;
- Instructional worship, or the required response to God as parent;
- Battle worship, or the necessary response to God as liberator;
- Intimate worship, or the voluntary response to God as intimate companion.
The first and last are natural responses of the individual, and are not commanded by God; the second and third are commanded by God, but for our benefit, not His.
Today I’m going to describe Natural Worship. I’ll follow up in the coming days with separate installments explaining what I mean by each of the other three terms.
Natural worship: the response to God as creator
A little after 3 PM on January 15, 2009, US Airways flight 1549 took off from Laguardia airport in New York only to fly through a flock of geese, rendering both engines mostly inoperable. Without enough lift to stay aloft in the wake of the freak incident, pilot Chesley Sullenberger turned the plane around, determined that he would not make it back to Laguardia, and after checking unsuccessfully for alternative runways on which to land, laid the plane gently onto the Hudson River in one piece, at a point within easy reach of three major docks. Because of his level-headedness, preparation, and flying skill, 155 people were rescued unharmed who could easily have been involved in a fatal crash. The nation responded by making “Sully” a hero for a few weeks, and properly so.
Why is it, do you suppose, that we all automatically praise excellent performance, as we did Captain Sullenberger’s? This is clearly a human characteristic, not a cultural trait; every culture on the planet has some form of recognition for jobs done well, as they count jobs done well, and for the people who do them. It’s so much a part of us that we never wonder about it. Of course we praise those who do well. Doesn’t everybody? This is as natural a part of being human as are eating and sleeping.
Every one of us has experienced the same feeling while looking at a sunset, or at a vista of enormous mountains, or at a storm on the horizon over the ocean. The power of nature is awesome, and the recognition of it is a common human theme, a stock topic for poetry and song. I submit to you that this is the same impulse as the impulse to praise those who have done well; we recognize what is excellent, and we respond by first feeling, then expressing its excellence. The only question is, whom or what are we praising?
Praising nature itself is like praising a remarkable feat itself without knowing who performed it. When we see something remarkable take place, we naturally want to know who, what, and why. While the feat is remarkable, it’s the person who performed it that deserves the praise. And by the same token, Scientific Materialists speak of praising the excellence of nature as an end in itself, but the Christian does them one better; the Materialist can feel awe at the creation, but the Christian feeling the same awe knows Whom to commend. It’s great to enjoy a work of inspired engineering; how much better, to enjoy close friendship with the Engineer?
I’ve been taught at various Christian meetings that praise is commanded, with reference to the Psalms, vis: “Praise God in His sanctuary! Praise Him in the power of His creation!” (Psalm 150) I think the ministers who teach this are misreading the Psalms. This is no more a command to praise than a dinner bell is a command to eat. This sort of praise is not commanded because it does not have to be. It’s a natural response. When one sees greatness, one praises it.
The only part of natural worship that requires anything approaching a command is the exhortation to notice. Allow me to illustrate: I find that I enjoy road trips, driving excursions that require me to drive on the interstate highways in the US, particularly on clear days when the traffic is not too heavy. I enjoy it because it’s an occasion where I get to view the horizon. During ordinary days when I’m not driving, my focus is on a computer screen, on my lawn, on cooking utensils, and so forth; it takes a special occasion, like a road trip, to force me to look at the horizon and remember the exquisite world I live in. In the same manner, the Psalmist encourages us to look up and notice; and once we notice, praise comes naturally.
What I’m calling “natural worship” progresses as the Christian gains maturity. It begins by recognition of nature, but as the Christian grows, his or her awareness of God’s acts grows as well, and praise naturally follows. Thus Christians with a little more experience will find themselves praising God because, for example, a check arrived in the mail at a moment when it was particularly needed. The natural response to good fortune (”sweet!”) converts into gratitude (”Thanks, Jesus”), and with gratitude comes recognition of God’s sovereignty (”God is amazing.”) And then, as the Christian matures even more and this sort of interaction becomes the norm, comes a sort of intimacy with God that I will discuss later in this series as intimate worship. Natural worship grows in proportion the Christian’s awareness of the work of God in his or her ordinary life; it never needs to be commanded.
It appears that this sort of praise is designed into us for the purpose of identifying and recognizing God. If that’s true, then atheists’ questions on the order of “If God exists, where is He?” are at least partially answered by nature.
We can infer from the design, from the natural impulse to praise and from the naturally-occurring objects that evoke praise, that God recognized that we humans would be plagued by what I call the “Fish Problem.” The “Fish Problem” arises when one considers how difficult it would be to explain to a fish in the ocean that there exists such a thing as an ocean. The fish has a problem understanding (suspending such obvious problems as language and intelligence, of course) not because it cannot see the ocean, but because it has never experienced anything but the ocean. There’s no background against which the ocean appears in the foreground. By the same token, humans cannot see God in our universe because there’s no part of the universe that is not an active, ongoing work of God. God is never the foreground in our universe because everywhere, God Himself is the background. It’s not that God is nature (that would be Pantheism,) nor is it that God started nature and then stepped away (that would be Deism,) but it’s more that God wearsnature, like a glove on His hand (this is an analogy; God is not a spatial being). Every event in nature that is not touched by human will is an act of God in some sense.
Thus, the literally correct answer to “Where is God?” is “Where isn’t God?” But because we have this foreground/background problem, God designed into us and into our world both the impulse to worship naturally, and the natural object of that worship; looking up, noticing, and offering praise to the creator of what we see is a natural response, as natural as eating or sleeping. So the correct answer to the atheist who asks “Where is God?” should be, “Look up and take notice,” because the atheist is someone who has somehow lost the natural ability to wonder at the immensity of nature and praise Whomever made it.
Modern evolutionary theory is based upon the idea that human beings are “designed” (their term) to be promiscuous. The basic idea is that women have sex with multiple men until they find one with the best genes. And men have sex with various women until one chooses him to father her child. Men are seen as being driven by the desire to pass their genes on to the next generation, so they search out women who will give them the greatest opportunity for success.
A recent book by the founder of the Medical Institute for Sexual Health, Dr. Joe McIlhaney and his co-author Dr. Freda McKissic Bush, calls this theory into question. Their book Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex is Affecting our Children shows that just the opposite is the case. Rather than being “designed” for promiscuity, human beings are actually designed to be sexually monogamous with one mate for life.
What lead them to this conclusion? The primary reason is the recent data that has come to light regarding the inner-workings of the brain. The authors conclude: “But now, with the aid of modern neuroscience and a wealth of research, it is evident that humans are the healthiest and happiest when they engage in sex only with the one who is their mate for a lifetime” (p. 136). So, what specifically has brain research revealed?
The most important sex organ is the brain. It is the most complex physical structure in the known universe. Despite common misperceptions, the brain is not fully mature until around age 25. Thus, our decisions, behavior, and thoughts actually form the physical structures of our brains as we develop. The brain is composed of neurons (the primary cell of the brain), support cells (that strengthen the neurons), synapses (which generate communication between neurons), and neurochemicals. Thus, premarital sex and activities such as viewing porn short-circuit the proper functioning of the brain, and can damage to proper human development.
For example, one of the key neurochemicals in males is vasopressin, known as the “monogamy molecule.” Vasopressin has two primary functions in relationships—bonding to the spouse and attachment to the offspring (p. 41). Vasopressin is the primary cause of bonding between a man and another woman of whom he is in close contact. It has been studied in prairie voles (small mammals that live in the grasslands of the Midwest and are amazingly monogamous). Studies have shown that when the flow of vasopressin is blocked, male voles did not bond to females with whom they were sexually active. However, when the brain is flooded with vasopressin, as is supposed to happen in mating, the male vole shows increased attention and attachment to the young (p. 42). Vasopressin is the neurochemical that generates bonding, attachment, and commitment between a male and his mate. Multiple sex partners (as well as pornography viewing) short circuits the proper release of vasopressin and leads to the inability to bond with one spouse. Those who have multiple sex partners, says Hooked, “risk damaging a vital, innate ability to develop the long-term emotional attachment that results from sex with the same person over and over” (43).
Rather than being “designed” by nature for promiscuity, it seems that the brain is actually intelligently designed for sexual monogamy. Hooked clearly demonstrates that the further individuals deviate from this behavior, the more problems they encounter, whether STDs, nonmarital pregnancy, and emotional problems including damaged ability to develop healthy connectedness with others, including future spouses.
Sex is not the accidental by-product of evolution that helps us pass on our genes to the next generation. It is the purposeful creation of a loving God who has set out the guidelines through which it is best experienced.
WorldNetDaily: “The use of violent threats and criminal behavior to make a political point should never be acceptable in America,” said Gary McCaleb, ADF senior counsel. “Bash Back! revealed how dangerous the homosexual agenda is to our first liberty, religious freedom. ADF filed this suit to stop Bash Back! and other activist groups from invading churches, disrupting worship, silencing pastors, and terrifying adults and children who attend religious services.”
Thursday, May 14, 2009
The attempt to prove that homosexuality is determined biologically has been dealt a knockout punch. An American Psychological Association publication includes an admission that there's no homosexual "gene" -- meaning it's not likely that homosexuals are born that way.
For decades, the APA has not considered homosexuality a psychological disorder, while other professionals in the field consider it to be a "gender-identity" problem. But the new statement, which appears in a brochure called "Answers to Your Questions for a Better Understanding of Sexual Orientation & Homosexuality," states the following:
"There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles...."
That contrasts with the APA's statement in 1998: "There is considerable recent evidence to suggest that biology, including genetic or inborn hormonal factors, play a significant role in a person's sexuality."
Peter LaBarbera, who heads Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, believes the more recent statement is an important admission because it undermines a popular theory.
"People need to understand that the 'gay gene' theory has been one of the biggest propaganda boons of the homosexual movement over the last 10 [or] 15 years," he points out. "Studies show that if people think that people are born homosexual they're much less likely to resist the gay agenda."
Matt Barber with Liberty Counsel feels the pronouncement may have something to do with saving face. "Well, I think here the American Psychological Association is finally trying to restore some credibility that they've lost over the years by having become a clearly political organization as opposed to an objective, scientific organization," he states. (Hear audio report)
With the new information from the APA, Barber wonders if the organization will admit that homosexuals who want to change can change.
"It's irrefutable from a medical standpoint that people can leave the homosexual lifestyle," he argues. "Homosexuality is defined by behavior. Untold thousands of people have found freedom from that lifestyle through either reparative therapy or through -- frankly, most effectively -- a relationship with Jesus Christ."
LaBarbera agrees. "Change through Christ is possible -- and it's one of the most heartwarming aspects of the whole gay debate," he shares. "Many men and women have come out of homosexuality, mostly through a relationship with Jesus Christ. The fact that these professional organizations will not study that, will not acknowledge that, shows how 'in the tank' they are for the homosexual movement."
LaBarbera stresses that even though elites will not recognize the change, that does not mean the change does not exist. In fact, both Barber and LaBarbera believe that God changes people through Christ -- regardless of the sin.
NY Daily News: “The state Assembly gave its approval to same-sex marriage Tuesday night but the issue’s fate in New York remains uncertain.”
Reuters: “The measure, introduced last month by Governor David Paterson, passed by a margin of 89 to 52 in the state’s lower house, where Democrats have a comfortable majority.”
NY Times: “Conservative religious organizations were mobilizing as well. In the hours leading up to the Assembly vote, lobbyists for New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms and the Alliance Defense Fund, an Arizona-based group that has sued the state for recognizing same-sex marriages performed elsewhere, were holding meetings with lawmakers.”
Roll call and text of the bill: A07732
This opposing measure is pending in the Assembly: A03000 Makes a marriage absolutely void if contracted by two persons of the same sex.
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Alliance Defense Fund attorneys filed suit in federal court Wednesday against a radical anarchist group that openly advocates the use of riots and crime to further its views in favor of homosexual behavior. ADF attorneys filed the suit on behalf of Delta Township’s Mount Hope Church against the group “Bash Back!,” which invaded the church’s building during a worship service on Nov. 9 of last year.
“The use of violent threats and criminal behavior to make a political point should never be acceptable in America,” said ADF Senior Counsel Gary McCaleb. “Bash Back! revealed how dangerous the homosexual agenda is to our First Liberty, religious freedom. ADF filed this suit to stop Bash Back! and other activist groups from invading churches, disrupting worship, silencing pastors, and terrifying adults and children who attend religious services.”
The Bash Back! Web site, which features a banner photo of members dressed in terrorist-like garb and wielding various objects as weapons, states on one page of the site that the group’s activities include “Riots, Sex Work, Crime, Insurrection, you know the fun stuff we do.” The Lansing chapter of the group targeted Mount Hope Church because of the church’s well-known Christian views on marriage and homosexual behavior. Through another page of its Web site, the group covertly recruited participants for its plans on Nov. 9, seeking some who would be willing to maintain “a more ‘militant’-looking presence out side [sic] of the building.”
“I can tell you that we are targeting a well-known anti-queer, anti-choice radical right wing establishment,” the page said. “However, we cant [sic] give you really any detailed information due to the cop who’s [sic] ridiculous job it is to do surveillance over this blog…. ‘ONLY ONE DIRECTION! TRANS AND QUEER INSURRECTION!’ - Bash Back! Lansing”
On Nov. 9, members of the group dressed in militant garb staged a protest outside the church during a worship service to distract security personnel, blocking access to the building and parking lot at various times. Other members of the group dressed in plain clothes then deceptively entered the building. At a coordinated time, they sprang up to disrupt the service, terrifying many attendees. The group shouted religious slurs, unfurled a sign, and threw fliers around the sanctuary while two women began kissing near the podium. The group pulled fire alarms as they ran out of the building. After the incident, the group bragged about its activities on its Web site and, on a separate page, explained its choice of Mount Hope: “This church is nothing short of a disease in the community, and in the minds of those who attend.”
Federal law imposes penalties upon anyone who “by force or threat of force or by physical obstruction, intentionally injures, intimidates or interferes with or attempts to injure, intimidate or interfere with any person lawfully exercising or seeking to exercise the First Amendment right of religious freedom at a place of religious worship.”
- Sample of images from Bash Back! (WARNING: Content may be considered highly offensive)
- Complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan in Mount Hope Church v. Bash Back!
ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
The District of Columbia Council has voted 12-1 to recognize homosexual "marriages" from states where homosexual marriage is now legal - Massachusetts, Iowa, Vermont and Connecticut.
The bill now goes to the U.S. House and U.S. Senate for their approval. If approved by both, it will then go to the president for his signature. If Congress does not act on the bill by June 6, it automatically becomes law.
It appears that Democrats will not allow a vote on the bill. By doing this, they will keep their members from having to go on record as being for or against recognition of homosexual marriage. All Democratic members of Congress can then go back to their districts and tell their constituents that they would have voted against the bill if they had been allowed to vote.
Take Action - Time is Short
1. Send an E-mail your representative and two senators today and tell them you want a recorded vote on the D.C. homosexual marriage bill. Tell them if no vote is allowed, then it is clear the Democratic Party is promoting homosexual marriage despite President Obama's public announcement that he is opposed to homosexual marriage.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Gay marriage could soon become the law of the land across New England--except in Rhode Island. Last week Maine became the fourth state in New England to legalize same-sex marriage, and New Hampshire's governor is deciding whether to sign similar legislation. Vermont lawmakers established gay marriage last month, following a path already set by Massachusetts and Connecticut.
The pace remains slower in Rhode Island, the nation's most heavily Roman Catholic state. Gay marriage bills have been introduced in the Statehouse for a decade, but none have advanced. State courts also seem unlikely to legalize gay marriage. A court refused in 2007 to grant a divorce to a lesbian couple married in Massachusetts.
The Pacific Justice Institute is suing a California school district after students were addressed by a lesbian pastor.
"A lesbian minister was invited to guest lecture for math and science classes," he explains. "At that time, she shared her personal views on homosexuality, including a discussion of her lesbian wedding, the homosexual prom, and other such events and things that many parents were very concerned about once they heard this had taken place."
Parents requested information on what her teaching entailed, and the high school and district refused to share the information.
"So we at the Pacific Justice Institute have filed a lawsuit against that school district on behalf of the parents to defend their rights under the Ppublic Records Act to have access to that information as to exactly what the teacher said, what did she do, and how the students responded," Dacus says.
Dacus also contends the district ought to develop a written policy to make sure parents are informed in advance so they can opt to have their children removed from the environment.
Desiring to take a high visibility position in the promotion of the homosexual agenda, including same-sex marriage, PepsiCo has agreed to sponsor the New York Gay Pride Parade June 27. AFA has asked PepsiCo to be neutral in the culture war regarding the homosexual agenda and the legalization of homosexual marriage, but PepsiCo has adamantly refused to do so.
PepsiCo has given homosexual groups more than a million dollars in the last two years. It has refused to give one penny to organizations such as Parents and Friends of Ex-Gay and Gays (PFOX) that work to help individuals change their sexual behavior.
In addition to sponsoring the New York Gay Pride Parade, PepsiCo’s shareholders recently voted down a shareholder proposal seeking to make public how much money Pepsi is giving to homosexual groups. However, the proposal did gain 5% of the vote, surpassing the 3% needed to bring the resolution up again next year. All total, 75 million individual shares voted to make Pepsi justify their donations to activist homosexual groups.
• Sign the Boycott Pepsi Pledge. After signing the pledge, please call Pepsi (914-253-2000 or 1-800-433-2652) and tell the company you will boycott its products until it stops promoting the homosexual agenda.