Yesterday morning, I awoke to discover you spoke to me directly on your nationally syndicated, award-winning talk show. I was stunned and humbled because I believe you are such an incredibly gifted comedian with a God-given gift to entertain and make people feel genuinely valued. You also have a megawatt smile that simply makes people feel happy.
You concluded your remarks to me and the audience by saying, "The only way I'm trying to influence people is to be more kind and compassionate with one another." That's one of my goals as well, and in that same spirit, can I appeal to you to consider some thoughts although we share different worldviews? more >>
On January 12th, I attended Supreme Court oral arguments in a case—Reed v. Town of Gilbert—which will determine how easily the government can restrict signs giving directions to church services. Specifically, the Court is set to decide whether, under free speech protections of the First Amendment, a local government's mere assertion that its sign code (despite on its face discriminating based on content) lacks a discriminatory motive renders the sign code content-neutral and justifies the code's differential treatment of signs pointing the way to a church's meeting location.
In this case, the Town of Gilbert had divided signs up based on whether they were ideological, political, or directional—and imposed different restrictions on each category of sign. Good News Community Church in Gilbert, Arizona, and its pastor, Clyde Reed, sued, claiming that signs pointing the way to their Sunday morning service (which contained religious speech and directions, and thus resulted in them being placed in the directional sign category) were treated less fairly and that this unfair treatment violated the First Amendment.
At oral arguments, both sides received their fair share of questions, but the justices were noticeably more skeptical of the town's argument—especially its claim that it could severely restrict a sign containing ideological content announcing an event if the sign also included directions to that event, while at the same time easing restrictions on a sign containing the same exact ideological content and yet lacking directions. more >>
In one of its final acts of 2014, the small town of Winfield, Alabama, unanimously passed a resolution declaring the municipality of about 4,700 residents as a "city under God."
In an age where many institutions and humanist groups are working to remove the words "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance, the resolution was passed after Mayor Randy Price called on city council members to stand up for Jesus Christ.
"I feel like we need to take a stand for what is right," Price told AL.com. "Our forefathers said 'One nation under God' and we went so far away from that. There are not enough godly people involved in day-to-day decisions." more >>
Apparently, The New York Times is in favor of faith in the public square -- if the purpose is to mock it. Editors at the Times poured gasoline on the fire of Atlanta's latest controversy with an editorial that should shock even their most liberal readers. Just when you thought the media couldn't sink any lower, the Times takes on the same First Amendment that gives it the freedom to print these vicious attacks on Christians.
In a stunning column yesterday, the newspaper argues that men and women of faith have no place in public management of any kind. The piece, which shows a remarkable disinterest in the facts, claims that Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran didn't have permission to publish his book on biblical morality. Not only did Cochran have permission from the city's ethics office to publish his book, but he only distributed it in his personal capacity at church -- where a handful of his coworkers attend.
But the shoddy journalism didn't end there. Editors insisted that Cochran's book was full of "virulent anti-gay views" -- when in fact, the 162 page book only mentioned homosexuality twice. And both times, the conversation merely echoed the Bible's teachings on the subject. For that -- privately espousing a faith that a majority of Americans share -- Kelvin was fired. more >>
Sociologist Mark Regnerus recently penned an essay for Public Discourse in which he discusses two competing understandings of human dignity. Dignity 1.0, as he calls it, "refers to the idea that humans have 'inherent worth of immeasurable value that is deserving of certain morally appropriate responses.'" This kind of dignity is essential. It precedes the individual. It makes demands upon us. When a person acts "undignified," it is this first kind of dignity that they have violated. Dignity 2.0, on the other hand, "entrusts individuals to determine their own standards." This kind of dignity is the kind that results from "being true to yourself." It is a product of individualism; a byproduct of authentic expression that answers to nothing and no one outside itself, consequences be damned.
I found myself thinking on this distinction when I came across an article discussing a new reality television series called "Born in the Wild," which will document the experiences of women who choose to give birth unassisted and outdoors. According to a Lifetime network executive, "These are all people who have already had babies in hospitals who had unsatisfying experiences and who are choosing to have different experiences. This is something people are doing and we set out to document it."
He is correct. This is something people are doing. In the past decade or so, there has been a small but statistically significant move away from hospital birth towards midwife-assisted home birth. It has become a powerful and persuasive movement, particularly among middle to upper class white women. I do not doubt the sincerity and best intentions of women who choose this route, but I do believe that it is a misguided and reckless choice based upon the wrong motives. This trend is only possible in a culture that views motherhood through the lens of Mark Regnerus's "Dignity 2.0" paradigm, instead of viewing childbirth as a profound responsibility in which the health and welfare of the baby is of primary importance. more >>
"Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson revealed that showrunners removed the words "in Jesus' name" from his family's prayers on the series because the name might offend other religious groups including Muslims.
The Robertson family is well known for their Christian beliefs, and family prayer is commonplace on A&E's "Duck Dynasty." However, when the television series first began in 2012, producers prevented audiences from hearing the name Jesus in what Robertson called "spiritual warfare" in a past interview.
"When we prayed, we said 'In Jesus' name, Amen,'" he explained to Sports Spectrum during a taped interview. "I don't have any verse that says you must always pray in the name of Jesus, but it's a very good idea I think. So they would just have me say 'Thank you Lord for the food, thank you for loving us, amen.' I asked, 'Why would you cut out 'in Jesus' name?' They said, 'Well, those editors are probably doing that, they don't want to offend some of the Muslims or something.' more >>