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January 2002
David Barton - 01/2002

So many positive things have happened across America in recent months that this newsletter is dedicated to bringing you some of the news about which most Americans have heard little.

Elementary Schools

The U. S. Supreme Court recently rendered a significant 6-3 victory for religious liberties in Good News Club v. Milford Central School. The case originated in New York when the Milford Central School District prohibited a Good News Bible Club (one of 4,600 such clubs sponsored by Child Evangelism Fellowship) from meeting on an elementary school campus. Why was the club was prohibited? Because - according to the Supreme Court records - "the Club urges children who already believe in the Lord Jesus as their Savior to stop and ask God for the strength and the way to obey Him and it invites children who don't know Jesus as Savior to trust the Lord Jesus to be their Savior from sin."

Yet, despite these overtly Christian teachings by the club, the Supreme Court ruled that it could meet on elementary campuses. As Justice Clarence Thomas explained (writing on behalf of the six Justices), "There is no logical difference in kind between the invocation of Christianity by the Club and the invocation of teamwork, loyalty, or patriotism by other associations to provide a foundation for their lessons." That is, a Christian club has just as much right to advocate Christianity as a civic club does to advocate patriotism.

If you are interested in having a club on your local elementary school campus, contact:

Child Evangelism Fellowship

Fun with Faith Clubs

Abortion

The most recent in a series of Gallup Polls indicates that Americans are becoming more pro-life. In 1995, 56 percent of Americans called themselves "pro-choice" and 33 percent called themselves "pro-life"; this year, the number who called themselves "pro-life" had risen to 46 percent and those who called themselves "pro-choice" had fallen to 46 percent.

Education

Congress has now finished the nation's education bill, a process repeated every five years. This year's bill contains two new and important provisions: (1) federal educational funds will be withheld from any school that denies a student's right to pray, and (2) the Boy Scouts must be given the same access to school buildings as other groups are given (many schools have begun to prohibit the Boy Scouts from meeting on school premises in retaliation for the Scouts' ban on homosexual Scoutmasters).

Hate Crimes

Several States have enacted hate-crimes laws that include special protections for homosexuals. Why do homosexuals need special protection? According to homosexual advocates, homosexuals are frequently the victims of violent crimes simply for being homosexual. As proof, they quickly point to the 1998 death of homosexual student Matthew Shepard in Montana. However, facts now disprove the rhetoric behind the passage of many homosexual hate-crime laws.

According to information just released by the FBI:

  • Of every 20,000 murders committed, only 4 (that is, one-fifth of one percent) occur as "hate crimes" against homosexuals
  • Of every 80,000 rapes, less than 1 (only one-eighth of one percent) occurs as a "hate crime" against a homosexual
  • Of every 20,000 aggravated assaults, only 2 (one-tenth of one percent) are "hate crimes" against homosexuals

Crimes against homosexuals are publicized more than crimes against other groups; however, statistics show that many groups need more protection than do homosexuals.

An Historic Meeting

On December 4th, 2001, Congress did something it had not done in 227 years: it gathered to pray for us - the nation's citizens, and the nation. While Congress has often prayed with the nation (as during proclamations for national days of prayer), the last time that Congress gathered as a body to pray for the nation was on September 6, 1774, after America had been attacked by the British.

This recent prayer gathering occurred after Rep. Tom DeLay (TX) and Sen. Sam Brownback (KS) initiated the congressional resolution that:

The Rotunda of the Capitol is authorized to be used . . . for a National Day of Reconciliation where (1) the two Houses of Congress shall assemble in the Rotunda with the chaplain of the House of the Representatives and the chaplain of the Senate in attendance; and (2) during this assembly, the Members of the two Houses may gather to humbly seek the blessings of Providence for forgiveness, reconciliation, unity, and charity for all people of the United States . . .

This gathering - closed to the press and the public - was a sight to behold. Never have we seen the Rotunda as it was on that day - with the walls lined with prayer altars for the Members' use as they gathered for those two hours of prayer. This activity by our leaders may well have had spiritual significance in the heavenlies far beyond what we can imagine (Ephesians 6:12). As our leaders have prayed for us, we should remember to pray for our leaders. After all, 1 Timothy 2:1-2 exhorts us to pray for our leaders "especially." There is no where else in the Scriptures that we are told to pray "first of all," except in this passage about our leaders, so let's give our leaders the prayer that Scripture directs.

The Ten Commandments - and Nothing

In Ringgold, Georgia (a city of 2,000 near the Tennessee border), the town erected a new display in response to the September 11th attacks. The display consists of the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer - and an empty picture frame. Why an empty frame? According to councilman Bill McMillon, the empty frame "is for those who believe in nothing." McMillon hopes the unanimous approval of the display by the City Council will help bring back "good Christian values.''

"In God We Trust"

Mississippi passed a law requiring that the national motto "In God We Trust" be displayed "on an appropriately framed background" of at least 11 X 14 inches in the public school classrooms, cafeterias, and auditoriums of the State.

"God Bless America!"

On the day of the September terrorist attacks, the Members of Congress gathered on the steps of the Capitol and sang "God Bless America." Yet, when schools began to use that same phrase they were suddenly faced with legal challenges - something to which Rep. Henry Brown (SC) objected. As Brown explained, "To threaten a public school for showing the same type of patriotism that we all showed on the Capitol steps is the opposite of what this country is all about." Rep. Brown therefore introduced a resolution "Expressing the sense of the Congress that public schools may display the words 'God Bless America' as an expression of support for the nation." His resolution passed the House 404-0.

Football Games

Following the September tragedy, many school districts spontaneously reinstated the policy of prayer at football games despite last year's Supreme Court ruling prohibiting prayer at athletic events. For example, the official magazine of Texas State educators reported that the Friday night after the terrorist attacks "brought out the best efforts of patriotism imaginable. Crowds bathed in red, white, and blue enveloped most stadiums. Bands played stirring renditions of the "National Anthem" and "God Bless America." Trumpeters performed solo versions of "Taps" and "Amazing Grace." Teams stood side by side across the 50-yard line holding American flags as compatriots rather than competitors. Prayers were offered, not in defiance of the Supreme Court, but in search of solace and peace."

Promoting Religious Liberties

Following the terrorist attacks, Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee issued the following proclamation:

whereas, our nation has a long and rich heritage of seeking God in times of trouble; and . . .

whereas, the United States Supreme Court has said that school districts must allow religious speech on the same terms as they allow other speech; and

whereas, prayer is considered religious speech and is thus protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution; and

whereas, students have the same right to engage in personal or group prayer during the school day as they do to engage in other comparable activities; and

whereas, students have a right to distribute religious literature to their schoolmates on the same terms as they are permitted to distribute other literature; and

whereas, the United States Supreme Court has clearly recognized the right of students to organize and participate in religious clubs on the same terms as they are permitted to organize and participate in other clubs;

now, therefore, I, Mike Huckabee . . . do hereby proclaim October 2001 as "student religious liberty month" in the State of Arkansas.

Texas State Board of Education

The highest public education body in the State of Texas approved the following resolution:

whereas since the September 11th terrorist attacks on America and the subsequent anthrax attacks, evil forces have attempted to wreak fear in the hearts of all Americans; and

whereas our young people are particularly vulnerable to these unsettling feelings; and

whereas there has been a national rekindling of expressions of faith and patriotism; and

whereas our nation has a long and rich heritage of seeking God in time of trouble; and . . .

whereas from the very beginnings of our nation to the founding of our national government in 1774 - and from the Continental Congress to the Constitutional Convention and the years after the establishment of our Constitution - prayer has been a unifying and consoling force in times of trouble and uncertainty; and . . .

whereas today there are many misguided individuals attempting to pressure schools into restricting religious expressions which the Supreme Court has not prohibited and which are in fact constitutional;

therefore, be it resolved that the State Board of Education encourages each Texas School District to support and maintain the rights of students of faith to join with others in their school and community, as well as with millions of others throughout the State and nation, in exercising their constitutional right of voluntary, non-coercive prayer as well as their constitutionally-protected right to express their feelings of faith and patriotism. The Board directs that a copy of this Resolution be mailed to each Texas school district.

School Prayer

As State and federal leaders called the nation to prayer in the weeks following the terrorist attacks, and as that call was heeded in virtually every conceivable arena except that of public schools, Rep. Walter Jones (NC) introduced the following school prayer resolution declaring:

whereas Section 4 of Title 4, United States Code, establishes the pledge of allegiance to the flag and describes such pledge as including the phrase "one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all";

whereas in 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, referring to the reference to God in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag, said that the nation had reaffirmed "the transcendence of religious faith in America's heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country's most powerful resource in peace and war"; and

whereas President George W. Bush has asked the people of the United States to pray for those who suffered as a result of the atrocities committed against the United States on September 11th, 2001;

now, therefore, be it resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring) that it is the sense of Congress that schools in the United States should set aside a sufficient period of time to allow children to pray for, or quietly reflect on behalf of, the nation during this time of struggle against the forces of international terrorism.

This Resolution passed the House by the lop-sided margin of 297 to 125, reflecting the widespread support for school prayer. In fact, Texas Governor Rick Perry was present at a public school assembly in Palestine, Texas, where a prayer was offered. For saying "Amen!" to that prayer, the Governor was attacked and critics pointed out that he had violated the Supreme Court ruling. The Governor responded, "I fundamentally disagree with that [ruling]." He queried, "Why can't we say a prayer at a football game or a patriotic event like we held at Palestine Middle School? I don't understand the logic of that. I happen to think it was appropriate." As Perry noted, Congress and the Texas Legislature open their sessions with prayer, so "I don't know why our students can't." Governor Perry, who has pledged to work for a change in the national policy, knows it will be a tough battle to get the Supreme Court policy changed, but "Why not?" he said; "They took it out. They can sure put it back in."

Constitutional Protection

Clearly, there has been a widespread outpouring of religious expression across the nation, but with the increase in these expressions has been an accompanying increase in opposition. The ACLU has become unusually active in recent months - either from a sense of desperation that religious expressions are about to overtake the entire nation, or from the fact that there are now more religious expressions to sue. Regardless of the cause, as this hostility has increased, supporters of religious liberties have moved to seek greater legal protection. To this end, Rep. Ernest Istook (OK) has introduced a Constitutional Amendment to protect school prayers and religious expressions. That Amendment declares:

To secure the people's right to acknowledge God according to the dictates of conscience: neither the United States nor any State shall establish any official religion, but the people's right to pray and to recognize their religious beliefs, heritage, or traditions on public property, including schools, shall not be infringed. Neither the United States nor any State shall require any person to join in prayer or other religious activity, or prescribe school prayers.

This Amendment provides an excellent opportunity to turn back the religion-hostile decisions that courts have imposed on the nation over the last four decades. For more information about this Amendment, why it is needed, and how it can be passed, obtain our new booklet, Protecting School Prayer and Other Religious Speech, available through this newsletter or on our website at www.wallbuilders.com.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Congress has instituted many positive actions in recent months, but such actions may not continue much longer. The reason? Because citizens of faith who support these actions are becoming less active at the polls. In fact, Christian voter turnout has plummeted 40 percent since 1992!

If this trend is not reversed, not only will we not be sending any more Godly individuals to Congress but we will also lose many of those who now represent us. As President James A. Garfield (also a Christian minister) reminded us:

Now, more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature. . . . If the next centennial does not find us a great nation . . . it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces.

We who represent American enterprise, culture, and morality must again become active.

But while it is important that Christians become active in general elections, it is even more important that we become active in primary elections. It is at the primary level that we choose - whether we vote or not - the individuals who will eventually appear on the ballot in the general election. In nearly every party's primary, generally there is a solid God-fearing candidate on the ballot; and if that individual does not make it through the primary, then the more ungodly candidate will move forward. And even if a Christian does not claim a loyalty to a particular party, he or she still should examine the candidates in all the primaries, decide which candidate he would most desire to vote for in a general election, and then vote for that individual in the primary.

How can a voter learn about the views of candidates? One of the easiest ways is through voters' guides. These guides are produced by most national and State pro-family groups and simply report the candidates' own words about their views on issues of interest to faith-based voters. While these voter guides are often criticized by groups opposed to traditional religious and moral values, these guides have been upheld consistently by the courts as legal and constitutional. To obtain voter guides for races in your area, contact one of the national pro-family groups. (These groups are listed on our website, www.wallbuilders.com, under "Helpful Links;" then "Pro-Family Organizations".)

Christians must get back into the voting booths and choose candidates according to Biblical standards, or the warning given by Charles Finney during the Second and Third Great Awakenings will indeed become reality in our generations:

The time has come that Christians must vote for honest men and take consistent ground in politics . . . . God cannot sustain this free and blessed country which we love and pray for unless the Church will take right ground. . . . God will bless or curse this nation according to the course Christians take [in politics].

Christians must once again embrace their responsibility of choosing Godly leaders!

"Why sit we here 'til we die?"
11 Kings 7:3

"Occupy until I come." Jesus
Luke 19:13



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