A Florida elementary school principal has been targeted by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFR) for promoting a regular prayer gathering at his school. On October 11 the Wisconsin-based secular watchdog group sent a letter to Ben Wortham, superintendent of the Clay County school district near Jacksonville, to complain about the weekly “Prayer Around the Flagpole” meetings that principal Larry Davis was allowing at Clay Hill Elementary School. FFR was particularly alarmed that Davis had promoted the prayer meeting, which is led by local pastors, in a school newsletter to staff members.

“Our prayer around the school’s flagpole event is to pray for the nation, for each other, and for the school,” Davis explained in the newsletter. The principal referred to a Pastor Steven Andrew of USA Christian Ministries, whom he said was “calling Christians nation-wide to bring back the Holy Bible and Christian prayer to schools.”

In the memo, Davis quoted Andrew as saying that the First Amendment was meant “for Christianity, not other religions,” and that America’s Founding Fathers “fought for God’s unalienable rights of Christian life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Declared Andrew in a September press release, “Freedom comes from obeying God. Let’s get active to bring back the Holy Bible and Christian prayer to schools.”
 

The debate over sex education in public schools has always been contentious, but the often-graphic new sex-ed curriculum being taught in New York City public schools — declared by even the New York Times to be in violation of parental rights — is raising the bar on some of that controversy.

The curriculum, designed by NYC school chancellor Dennis Walcott, was recommended for the school system’s new sex-education classes, which were mandated for the first time in nearly two decades.

Walcott said of the curriculum, “We have a responsibility to provide a variety of options to support our students, and sex education is one of them.”

The New York Times reports that the new mandate “is part of a broader strategy the Bloomberg administration announced last week to improve the lives of black and Latino teenagers. ... According to city statistics, those teenagers are far more likely than their white counterparts to have unplanned pregnancies and contract sexually transmitted diseases.”

Students from a public high school in Hartford, Connecticut, walked out on a school assembly after realizing that the play they were seeing had a homosexual theme and included a kiss between two boys. The play, entitled Zanna, Don’t, is a musical set in a universe where homosexuality is normal behavior, while heterosexuals must remain “in the closet” with their relationships. According to Baptist Press News, the play, which was produced by a local community theater and included high school and college actors, was performed for the student body at Hartford Public High School, “and kids weren’t given the option ahead of time not to watch it.”

Hartford Public High School is divided into four different academies based on student interests and aptitudes, and the play was performed for students in the “Nursing” and “Law and Government” academies. Adam Johnson, principal of the Law and Government school, told the Hartford Courant that he had no second thoughts about compelling the kids to see the salacious play. “This is as important of a topic to discuss as anything in math, anything in social studies,” he said. “I’m completely glad that we did it.” Similarly, while Nursing Academy principal David Chambers said he had considered sending a letter home allowing students to opt out of the objectionable play, he decided to forgo the courtesy to students and their parents because, he reasoned, as health care workers his students would be exposed to a wide variety of people.

Back in the 1920s, the intelligentsia on both sides of the Atlantic were loudly protesting the execution of political radicals Sacco and Vanzetti, after what they claimed was an unfair trial. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote to his young leftist friend Harold Laski, pointing out that there were "a thousand-fold worse cases" involving black defendants, "but the world does not worry over them."

Holmes said: "I cannot but ask myself why this so much greater interest in red than black."

To put it bluntly, it was a question of whose ox was gored. That is, what groups were in vogue at the moment among the intelligentsia. Blacks clearly were not.

The current media and political crusade against "bullying" in schools seems likewise to be based on what groups are in vogue at the moment. For years, there have been local newspaper stories about black kids in schools in New York and Philadelphia beating up Asian classmates, some beaten so badly as to require medical treatment.

But the national media hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil. Asian Americans are not in vogue today, just as blacks were not in vogue in the 1920s.

It’s 1943 and you find yourself in Germany. A Nazi officer is pointing a gun at you and demanding that you hop on a bulldozer and use it to bury hundreds of Jewish families who have been shot and are piled up in a huge pit. But among the dead are some individuals who are still living, crying out for mercy. What would you do, knowing that if you refuse to bury these people alive you will be gunned down yourself?

This is one of the thought-provoking questions that noted Christian apologist Ray Comfort asks a group of “pro-choice” individuals in the new online video 180, a movie that many in the pro-life movement argue is poised to radically change the debate about abortion.

In the movie, Comfort subtly juxtaposes the Hitler-led horror known as the Holocaust — which, by some accounts, stole the lives of more than six million Jews — with America’s own abortion holocaust, that, conservatively, has claimed the lives of over 53 million unborn babies over the past 38 years.

The responses of the “pro-choice” individuals to the bulldozer question are varied. “I don’t know,” responds one lady with emotion.

A federal judge has ruled that individuals who signed a petition seeking the repeal of a 2009 Washington State law expanding homosexual partnerships have no right to keep their names private. The ruling prompted fears that radical homosexuals will follow through on promised retaliation against the individuals.

U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle ruled October 17 that Protect Marriage Washington (PMW), the conservative, pro-family group that had organized the petition drive, had not demonstrated “serious and widespread threats, harassment, or reprisals against the signers of R-71, or even that such activity would be reasonably likely to occur upon the publication of their names and contact information.”

Referendum 71, which would have overturned the Washington law that gave domestic partners all the rights of married couples, was ultimately rejected by state voters by a 53 to 47 percent margin. “In the weeks after the referendum, several groups requested copies of the R-71 petition, which Protect Marriage used to place the referendum on the ballot,” reported Courthouse News. “The initiative’s conservative supporters sued Washington in 2009 to keep the names of 137,000 people who signed its petition secret, saying the release under the Washington’s Public Records Act violated their civil rights and there was a ‘reasonable probability’ that signees would be harassed.”

Newt Gingrich emerged as the winner of the October 22 Iowa Faith and Freedom Forum, if measured by the level of audience applause. The Christian-right audience gave the thrice-married Gingrich several rounds of loud applause and an enthusiastic standing ovation at the end of his address.

Gingrich — a former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives who began the presidential race with a devastating resignation by much of his campaign staff — had been judged not a viable candidate. He was even parodied several times on Saturday Night Live as a "curio from a bygone era." Yet Gingrich has gradually risen in the polls after performing well in recent debates, and has been scoring in the high single digits in national polls in recent weeks.

The national Faith and Freedom Coalition is run by former Pat Robertson functionary Ralph Reed, who served as head of Robertson's Christian Coalition. Both the Christian Coalition and the Faith and Freedom Coalition focus upon social issues such as the sanctity of marriage, abortion, and opposing the homosexual agenda.

The additional irony of the strong crowd enthusiasm for Gingrich (other than his personal life) is that the former House Speaker's record is far from the conservative crowd's well-known small government preferences. Gingrich's record has proven he's no friend of limited government, even though much of his rhetoric sounds good. As a Congressman, Gingrich voted with President Jimmy Carter to create the U.S.

Where does Herman Cain stand on abortion? In an October 19 interview with Piers Morgan on CNN, the GOP presidential candidate managed to paint himself into a corner on the issue, causing some conservative voters who had supported him to wonder if the self-described pro-life candidate is really subtly pro-choice.

Cain began the interview solidly enough, answering Morgan’s query, “What’s your view of abortion?” by declaring: “I believe that life begins at conception, and abortion under no circumstances.”

But then things began to go badly. Feigning disbelief at Cain’s response, Morgan baited the rookie politician, wondering, “No circumstance?” adding, “… because some of your fellow candidates qualify that — rape and incest, and so on. Are you honestly saying that … if one of your female children, grandchildren was raped, you would honestly want her to bring up that baby as her own?”

Cain told Morgan that “it’s not the government’s role or anybody else’s role to make that decision.” Using rhetoric that pro-life observers said made him sound like an abortion activist, Cain added that “it ultimately gets down to a choice that that family or that mother has to make. Not me as president, not some politician, not a bureaucrat. It gets down to that family. Whatever they decide, they decide. I shouldn’t try to tell them what decision to make for such a sensitive issue.”

The Vatican on October 19 sent a message to Hindu leaders asking them to resist “hateful propaganda” against Christians and allowing Christians to practice their faith in peace. A principal cause of conflict is the conversion to Christianity of Dalits or “untouchables.” The aggression against Christians stretches across much of India, from the eastern state of Orissa to the southwest state of Kerala.

Christian outreach to untouchables in India is well over one hundred years old.  Christianity, like Islam, places no special value on the circumstances of birth. The government of India sets aside certain benefits for Dalits, a form of welfare for a still-despised group. Yet the same government programs deny benefits to Dalits who become Christian or become Moslem, because — the argument goes — their denial of the Hindu caste system means that they no longer consider themselves in the sub-caste (or “casteless”) position of “untouchables.” This does not apply, however, to Dalits who become Buddhists or Sikhs, although those conversions also would mean a rejection of the caste system.

Christianity also grants women a higher status than Hinduism (which historically does not regard a woman as possessing a soul until she marries) or Islam (which creates a distinctly inferior status for women). As a consequence, Christianity has a profound appeal for the most hopeless Indians, “untouchable” women. The message of Christian love finds an eager ear among the “untouchables” of India.

A classic example of the blind faith in scientific speculation required by Scientism is on display in a discussion of the role of comets in the origin of life.

Speculation about a possible connection between comets and the origin of life has been around for decades. The discovery of a cloud of debris near a star 60 light years away has been the latest occasion for such speculations. Headlines have described the discovery in quite sensational terms; for example, FoxNews.com brazenly declared, “Strong Evidence Life Spread by Comets, Astronomers Say.” However, the finding, though intriguing, is far less dramatic.

The discovery of a band of dust around Eta Corvi hundreds of trillions of miles from Earth has led astronomers to speculate how that band was formed. NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope was responsible for spotting the band, and the facts were more modestly described by the American space agency:

Now Spitzer has spotted a band of dust around a nearby bright star in the northern sky called Eta Corvi that strongly matches the contents of an obliterated giant comet. This dust is located close enough to Eta Corvi that Earth-like worlds could exist, suggesting a collision took place between a planet and one or more comets. The Eta Corvi system is approximately one billion years old, which researchers think is about the right age for such a hailstorm.
 

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