Who were the Pilgrims that we remember every Thanksgiving? What factors led them to leave behind their lives in England and Holland? To what extent do the religious freedom motives that many in our country assign them actually factor into their motives to start the Plymouth colony? Answering these questions is the heart of Wheaton history professor's Tracy McKenzie's latest book, "The First Thanksgiving," where he attempts to set the record straight about our country's beloved, and at times misunderstood, holiday.
Interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Can you take us through some of the ways that the Pilgrims defy or exceed the expectations that we have historically put on them? more >>
A Florida Christian school has given a 12-year-old student a week decide to cut her hair or leave the school.
After Vanessa VanDyke reported that she had been bullied by classmates for her hair, the Orlando-based Faith Christian Academy (FCA) told the middle schooler that she could not keep it as is.
VanDyke, who has been attending FCA since she was eight, has no intention or desire to modify her hair to fit her school's wishes. more >>
In 2008, under the leadership of Governor Bobby Jindal, Louisiana launched an educational scholarship program in New Orleans. The Louisiana Scholarship Program, similar to Alabama's new scholarship program created by the Accountability Act, is designed to provide low-income students zoned for underperforming schools with opportunities to attend qualified private schools within the State. In 2012, Governor Jindal prioritized expansion of the program that is now available to students anywhere in the State. Over 5,000 students took advantage of the program in its first year.
In August, the U.S. Department of Justice petitioned a federal court to block the distribution of scholarships in Louisiana school districts that are restricted by desegregation orders. Out of Louisiana's 69 school districts, 34 are still operating under desegregation orders put in place during the Civil Rights Era. These decades-old orders evolved from lawsuits over segregation in public schools and require that school districts meet a variety of racial quotas and proportions in student body and administration. The court orders have no definitive end and are monitored by both the federal judge originally assigned to the case and the U.S. Department of Justice. However, there is very little readily available information on the status of these orders and school districts seeking relief face an uphill battle in even knowing where to begin the daunting process of seeking release.
The Justice Department's August filing asked the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Louisiana to stop the State from awarding any school vouchers or scholarships to students attending school in districts operating under federal desegregation orders unless and until the State receives authorization from the Court. In essence, the U.S. Department of Justice chose to prioritize the stringent, and in some cases arbitrary, race-based requirements of a nearly 40-year-old court order over the immediate opportunity for a low-income child to have a chance to pursue a better education outside of his or her assigned failing school. The irony is that a State-based study on the racial effects of Louisiana's scholarship program concluded that the school choice program either improved or had no impact on racial ratios within the schools. more >>
One of my favorite times of year is Thanksgiving. What a great tradition---where we gather together to recount the Lord's blessings. I love the statement from columnist Mark Steyn: "Speaking as a misfit unassimilated foreigner, I think of Thanksgiving as the most American of holidays." Consider its history as a holiday.
A year before the Pilgrims even landed, in 1619, Jamestown (the first permanent British settlement in North America) had the first Thanksgiving celebration.
Captain John Woodlief declared on December 4, 1619: "We ordain that the day of our ship's arrival at the place assigned for plantation in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God." more >>
Pastors in a county in the heart of South Carolina are expressing their opposition to a local government proposal that would remove the zoning buffers between bars and houses of worship.
Richland County Council is presently considering a move to drop the buffer system, which would allow bars to be built and to operate right next to churches. At a Council meeting held Tuesday evening, churches from multiple neighborhoods protested the possible removal of a 500-foot buffer between bars and churches in the Richland area.
The Reverend John W. Culp, pastor at Virginia Wingard United Methodist Church in Columbia, told The Christian Post that "our ground is sacred too." "A bar shouldn't be near a church that has a nursery or a preschool. I have an AA that meets in my church. Why should I want a reformed alcoholic coming out and there he is facing a bar?" said Culp. "I have a Montessori School that meets in the basement of my church, I got an AA that meets in my church and they were trying to say that church only meet at 11:00 on Sunday which is ridiculous." more >>
NYC megachurch pastor and influential author Timothy Keller was recently asked "why sex outside of marriage is so destructive" and in his response spoke personally about the intimacy he has enjoyed with his wife over the years.
"Sex inside of a committed marriage is magic," said Keller. "It's like blowing on the coals of this incredible beautiful and powerful flame. Sex outside of marriage is just a way of not giving yourself, but of receiving fulfillment and pleasure."
Keller, who shares three sons with his wife, Kathy Keller, gives his perspective on sex and marriage briefly in a video interview with spoken word artist and author Jefferson Bethke, who recently launched a new YouTube series called "Ask a Leader," featuring discussions with pastors, authors and musicians. more >>