“In Good We Trust?”

Article reflects opposing view from American Humanist website.

Article “In Good We Trust,” Says New Humanist Billboard

Washington, DC, April 12, 2010

Last week the American Humanist Association (AHA) unveiled a new billboard in Moscow, Idaho, the latest of a series of billboards that have appeared in the in area since last year. The new billboard features the familiar image of a U.S. quarter–but with one important revision: in place of the national motto, the coin reads “In Good We Trust.” The AHA’s website address also appears in bold letters to the right of the coin’s image.

“This billboard nicely sums up two of the main messages of the American Humanist Association,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the AHA. “First, that you don’t have to believe in God to be good–in fact, humanists and other nontheists see being good as one of the most important of responsibilities in our one and only life. Second, that church and state should remain separate for the benefit of us all.” Speckhardt argued that “In Good We Trust” is a more inclusive and appropriate sentiment than the “In God We Trust” motto, which runs afoul the First Amendment.

The display is the fifth such billboard that has gone up in the Moscow area, following billboards which have read, “Don’t Believe in God? You are Not Alone,” “Want a Better World? Prayer Not Required,” “Million are Good Without God” and “No God? No Problem!” All are part of an extensive advertising campaign to spread awareness about being good without God. An image of the display can be found here: http://americanhumanist.org/system/storage/29/1499/ingoodwetrust-sky.jpg .

“Too many think that morality is the exclusive domain of the religious–we’re here to prove that assumption wrong,” said Speckhardt. “We also want to reach out to other nontheists to let them know there is a community out there for them.”

The billboard will run on Highway 95, just south of Moscow near the Sweet Avenue cross street, facing northbound traffic.

David Niose, president of the American Humanist Association, pointed out that the official national motto had an unsavory beginning. “The adoption of the ‘In God We Trust’ motto came at the height of the Cold War and McCarthyism in the 1950s, and it is unfortunate that we still cling to such religious rhetoric today. E pluribus unum, the Latin phrase for ‘out of many, one,’ would be a much more appropriate motto. It reflects the true character of American society and government.”

The American Humanist Association billboard campaign is part of a larger effort to spread awareness about nontheism. Other like-minded organizations such as the United Coalition of Reason have placed billboards in numerous cities across the country. In addition, the AHA ran bus ads that read “No God? …No Problem!” in Washington, DC, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco during the 2009 winter holiday season.

The American Humanist Association (www.americanhumanist.org) advocates for the rights and viewpoints of humanists. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., its work is extended through more than 100 local chapters and affiliates across America.

Humanism is the idea that you can be good without a belief in God.


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Update: Defending the National Day of Prayer

Article: ACLJ

Defending National Day of Prayer

We are once again in federal court defending the constitutionality of the National Day of Prayer.  This time representing members of Congress in a critically important amicus brief filed in a federal appeals court.  As you know, a federal district court in Wisconsin recently ruled in favor of the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s claim that the National Day of Prayer violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

This ruling is clearly flawed and out of step with more than 200 years of history, Supreme Court precedent, and multiple acts of Congress.

The case is now before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.  We filed an amicus brief on behalf of 67 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate – both Republican and Democrat.  We’ve also filed on behalf of thousands of members of the Committee to Protect the National Day of Prayer.  This brief clearly demonstrates that the district court’s ruling should be overturned.

While it seems absurd that the National Day of Prayer could have been found unconstitutional in the first place, it is vital that the appeals court overturns this lower court decision. This is a case that is being followed closely and the ramifications of the outcome of this case will have dramatic ramifications – the future of the time-honored tradition of a national day to pray for our nation hangs in the balance.

Our brief includes a lengthy appendix detailing the robust history of prayer proclamations, including presidential proclamations dating back to George Washington.  It’s also significant to note that James Madison, who authored the First Amendment that is at the center of this challenge, himself issued four similar proclamations of prayer.

You can read our amicus brief here.

History and the law are clearly on the side of the National Day of Prayer.  We will continue fighting to make sure that the courts recognize this fact.

We’re delighted to represent 67 members of Congress in this brief at the appeals court level.  We want to thank Rep. Randy Forbes of Virginia for taking the lead on this Congressional effort.  Rep. Forbes and Rep. Mike McIntyre of North Carolina co-chair the Congressional Prayer Caucus.  The complete oflist is posted in alphabetical order below:

Rep. Randy Forbes

Sen. Sam Brownback

Sen. James Inhofe

Sen. Mike Johanns

Sen. Roger Wicker

Rep. Robert Aderholt

Rep. Todd Akin

Rep. Rodney Alexander

Rep. Michelle Bachmann

Rep. Spencer Bachus

Rep. Gresham Barrett

Rep. Roscoe Bartlett

Rep. Rob Bishop

Rep. Marsha Blackburn

Rep. John Boehner

Rep. John Boozman

Rep. Kevin Brady

Rep. Paul Broun

Rep. Eric Cantor

Rep. Michael Conoway

Rep. Geoff Davis

Rep. Lincoln Davis

Rep. Mary Fallin

Rep. John Fleming

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry

Rep. Virginia Foxx

Rep. Trent Franks

Rep. Scott Garrett

Rep. Phil Gingrey

Rep. Louie Gohmert

Rep. Gregg Harper

Rep. Wally Herger

Rep. Pete Hoekstra

Rep. Bob Inglis

Rep. Walter Jones

Rep. Jim Jordan

Rep. Steve King

Rep. John Kline

Rep. Doug Lamborn

Rep. Robert Latta

Rep. Donald Manzullo

Rep. Kevin McCarthy

Rep. Michael McCaul

Rep. Thaddeus McCotter

Rep. Patrick McHenry

Rep. Mike McIntyre

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers

Rep. Gary Miller

Rep. Jeff Miller

Rep. Jerry Moran

Rep. Sue Myrick

Rep. Randy Neugebauer

Rep. Pete Olson

Rep. Mike Pence

Rep. Joe Pitts

Rep. Ted Poe

Rep. Tom Price

Rep. Phil Roe

Rep. Jean Schmidt

Rep. Heath Shuler

Rep. Adrian Smith

Rep. Lamar Smith

Rep. Glenn Thompson

Rep. Todd Tiahrt

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland

Rep. Joe Wilson

Rep. Frank Wolf


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UPDATE: Four Christian Missionaries Arrested at the Dearborn, Michigan Arab Festival

ANN ARBOR, MI – The arraignment of four Christian missionaries on criminal charges will take place on Monday, July 12, 2010 at 8:00 a.m. in the 19th Judicial District Court located at 16077 Michigan Avenue in Dearborn, Michigan. This is the next step in what has been described as police enforcement of Sharia law in a city dominated by a large Muslim population.

To the jeers and shouts of “Allah Akbar” by the Muslim crowd, the four Christian missionaries were arrested and thrown in jail on June 18, 2010 by Dearborn Police officers at the Annual Arab International Festival held in Dearborn.  One of the arrested missionaries was Dr. Nabeel Qureshi, MD, who was engaged in peaceful dialogue with several Muslim youths.  The other three missionaries, who were merely videotaping the conversation, had their cameras and other equipment illegally seized before police arrested them as well.

Police refused requests by the missionaries to view the video at the scene of their arrest, which the missionaries claimed would completely exonerate them of any wrongdoing.

The Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan is representing all of the Christian missionaries.  Because District Judge Mark W. Somers required that all four defendants personally appear before him for the arraignment, the Law Center assisted with the costs of their travel from different parts of the country.

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, commented, “It’s evident that the Dearborn Police department was more interested in placating Muslims than obeying our Constitution.   These Christians were exercising their Constitutional rights to free speech and the free exercise of religion, but apparently in a city where the Muslim population seems to dominate the political apparatus, Sharia law trumps our Constitution.”

Thus far, police and prosecutors have refused to return the illegally seized cameras and video tapes.  They have also refused to provide the Law Center with the police reports of the incident despite repeated requests.

Arrested on charges of Breach of the Peace are Negeen Mayel, Dr. Nabeel Qureshi, Paul Rezkalla and David Wood.  Mayel, an eighteen-year old female whose parents emigrated from Afghanistan and a recent convert from Islam to Christianity, was also charged with failure to obey a police officer’s orders. She was at least 100 feet away and videotaping Qureshi’s discussion with the Muslim youths when police seized her camera.

Thompson added, “Not all police officers approve of the way their department treated these Christians.”

Robert Muise, Senior Trial Counsel with the Law Center, will represent the Christian missionaries at the arraignment on Monday.


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Can’t Preach in Public…in America?

A Philadelphia evangelist has once again found himself behind bars.

This past weekend, Repent America President Michael Marcavage, along with fellow evangelists Mike Stockwell and Ken Fleck, were sharing the gospel and singing hymns outside an Islamic mosque in Philadelphia. The three were approached by a security guard from the University of Pennsylvania who told them they could not preach on the public sidewalk.

“I told him that this is what we do…I’ve been here before, and that we should have the entitlement to be here,” Marcavage accounts. “So he decided he would radio the University of Pennsylvania police, which cover that area, because this mosque is nearby to the University of Pennsylvania. He ultimately had radioed in more security and more police officers.”

Michael  MarcavageMarcavage and Fleck were arrested and charged with two summary offenses for preaching disorderly conduct and obstructing a highway, and the Repent America president claims the police erased a video of the episode.

He adds that this type of situation is unfortunately not unique to Philadelphia.

“This is becoming all too commonplace, not only in Philadelphia, but across the United States,” he laments. “We’re finding more and more Christians who are being cited for bogus things while they’re out there sharing their faith with people in the public square.”

The evangelists’ trial date has been set for August 10.


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Pastor Refused To Exclude Jesus From His Prayers


A Winston-Salem pastor who was asked to offer the North Carolina legislature prayer each day for a week says he was barred after the first day when he refused to change his prayers to exclude the name “Jesus.”Dr. Ron Baity, pastor at Berean Baptist Church, said he was asked to open the May 31 through June 3 sessions.”I was made to feel like a second-class North Carolinian when I was told that my services would no longer be needed if I could not offer the opening prayer in the manner prescribed by the House of Representatives, rather that in the manner my biblical faith requires,” Baity said.

The Christian Law Association, an organization that offers free legal defense and counsel to churches, helped Baity draft a nine-page letter to House Speaker Joe Hackney asking for an apology and the ability to return to offer another prayer.Hackney released a statement late Thursday afternoon.”It has been our practice in the North Carolina House of Representatives for many years to request, but not require, that our guest chaplains deliver a nonsectarian prayer. This is intended as a show of respect for all the religions practiced by the members of the House and the people we represent,” the statement read.”In this instance, we allowed Pastor Baity to deliver his prayer, without interference, even though it was sectarian in nature. Nonetheless, we will review our procedures and guidelines concerning guest chaplains, and we will make sure we abide by applicable constitutional procedures.

The House will adjourn within the next few days, but the results of this review will be publicly available whenever it is complete.”CLA attorney David Gibbs said the legislature doesn’t have the right to keep Baity from praying in any way he wishes.”The First Amendment promises all Americans the free exercise of their religion, which includes the right to pray as their faith requires, even when they are invited to open state legislative sessions with prayer,” Gibbs said. “We trust that the North Carolina House of Representatives will realize its mistake and will offer Pastor Baity another opportunity to pray without requiring him to use a prayer that is mandated by government.”Gibbs said there is no Supreme Court precedent that allows a legislature to censor a private citizen’s prayers. However, a federal magistrate earlier this year ruled that the use of prayer at public meetings violates the First Amendment.

That lawsuit was filed several years ago on behalf of two Forsyth County residents, Janet Joyner and Constance Blackmon, who objected to the use of prayer before county commissioner meetings.Forsyth County commissioners voted in February to appeal the judge’s decision.American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina legal director Katy Parker said the Forsyth County case, as well as others, make it clear that prayers offered before public meetings must be sectarian.”When you are doing an opening legislature prayer, you are acting as the government mouthpiece, not as a private citizen,” Parker said. “The government has an obligation to stay neutral on matters of religion so that all citizens in North Carolina are included by their government.””If Pastor Baity were speaking as a private citizen on the street and he were told he couldn’t pray in Jesus’ name, the ACLU would be the first to defend him,” she said.Parker said oral arguments in the Forsyth County appeal are expected to be heard in October in Richmond, Va.Baity said he’s given Hackney 10 days to respond to his letter.”If the speaker were to say, ‘I will not allow people of a certain race to pray,’ everyone would say that’s discrimination,” Gibbs said. “Or if he said, ‘I’m going to evaluate people’s sexual orientation,’ people would scream discrimination. Well, what’s the difference?”


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Christian Groups Required To Allow Opposing Views

Yesterday, June 28, the Supreme Court ruled in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez that a university could require a Christian student group to open its voting membership and leadership to those who disagreed with the group’s statement of faith or refused to abide by its code of conduct.  The Court upheld Hastings College of Law’s “all-comers” policy for student groups, a policy that requires each student group on campus to be open to every student.  Under such an all-comers policy, Jewish groups would be open to Muslim leadership, African-American groups would be open to white supremacists, and a Prius club would have to be open to Nissan Titan owners like, well, me.

It was hardly surprising to see the Court’s most reliably liberal members (Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor, Stevens, and Breyer) rule against the Christian group.  They often have an expansive view of government power – including when government actions implicate fundamental First Amendment freedoms.  And in this case, these justices characterized the Christian Legal Society’s efforts to meet in empty classrooms and to share their faith on campus as nothing more than an effort to enjoy various government benefits.

But four justices are not enough.  To fashion a five-vote majority, the Court’s liberal wing had to win over Justice Kennedy.

Unfortunately, they succeeded.  Because of the critical importance of Justice Kennedy’s vote, his brief concurring opinion is arguably the most important opinion in the case, and that opinion contains a poison pill for religious liberty.  Reading the entire concurrence, one gets the impression that Justice Kennedy simply did not like the Christian Legal Society at Hastings, viewing its effort to maintain doctrinal fidelity through a statement of faith with extreme suspicion, if not disgust.  Kennedy dismisses CLS’s convictions in a single sentence: “The era of loyalty oaths is behind us.”

This sentence is Exhibit A for the notion that Supreme Court justices substitute their own highly individualized and sometimes prejudiced judgments for the judgment of individual citizens.  The era of loyalty oaths is behind us?  Really?

Didn’t each justice take an oath when they joined the Court?

What about this oath, the one I took when I joined the United States Army Reserve, and repeated when I was promoted to captain mere days before my deployment to Iraq?

Or what about the Apostles Creed, the historic declaration of my Christian faith, which I have recited hundreds of times at church and other religious gatherings?

Or what about my marriage vows, a profound form of “loyalty oath” to my wife – a promise of lifelong fidelity?

No one was forced to agree with CLS – indeed, small student groups don’t have the power to compel any citizen to do anything against their will.  Those who disagreed with CLS were free to form their own group, to condemn CLS loudly (which they did), or to advocate for the abolition of faith declarations entirely.  Indeed, no one could reasonably argue that Hastings Law School suffered from lack of opposition to (or debate about) CLS’s “loyalty oath.”

In fact, CLS’s convictions are increasingly driven from the public square.  Its very existence is in jeopardy, and its statement of faith an empty document – drained of any meaning or force within the organization.  Why?  Because a single justice declares – without any foundation in law or fact – “The era of loyalty oaths is behind us.”

Tens of millions of people of faith in this country will attend churches and synagogues this weekend and state their allegiance to a Creator God.  Are their liberties now in danger as well?  Because, after all, if the “era of loyalty oaths” is over on campus, is it not over everywhere?  Can the government not condition the receipt of its “benefit” of tax exemptions for churches on the abandonment of creeds, of statements of faith?

So when or if you go to church this weekend, and if you stand up and recite the Apostle’s or Nicene creed, remember that your era is over and new ideas must take their place.

Why?  Because the Supreme Court says so.


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Good Heavens! Bible Class Officially OK For School


Good heavens! Bible class officially OK for school

District gives students option to learn from divinely inspired text

Posted: July 06, 2010
8:20 pm Eastern

By Chelsea Schilling
© 2010 WorldNetDaily

Students in a California public school district will upgrade their textbooks this year – to the divinely inspired Word of God.

The Chino Valley School District in Chino, Calif., voted 5-0 in June to adopt a a year-long Bible course titled “Bible as/in Literature and History.”

“It is my belief that better understanding the Bible will help all students with their decision-making process,” Fred Youngblood, president of the Board of Education, told OneNewsNow.

The course will be available as a social-studies elective to 12th-grade students this school year and fulfill general requirements for admission to California State University and the University of California.

Get the No. 1 best-seller that champions the absolute truth of Scripture and reveals your spectacular, personal destiny that’s rarely ever mentioned in church! “Shocked by the Bible: The Most Astonishing Facts You’ve Never Been Told”– autographed!

According to course description provided by the district, “The course is a survey of the Bible with emphasis on its historical, literary, geographical, artistic, and cultural aspects. The course offers insight into the many historical events of the Bible. It treats the Bible as a great literary work in itself as well as a primary source of allusions found in countless works of literature, art, and music.”

Students will study the content and history of the Hebrew scriptures of the Old Testament in the first semester of the class and move on to the New Testament in the second semester. The curriculum will familiarize students with the influence of the Bible on law, history, literature and the culture of Western civilization.

Read More: http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=175369

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Teen Fights for Pledge

With a line of military service in his family dating to the War of 1812, Sean Harrington sees the Pledge of Allegiance as something he owes to the men and women who have died fighting for this country.“It’s a living and breathing statement that basically strengthens a bond a person has with their country,’’ said the 17-year-old Arlington High School student.

But Harrington’s fight to persuade Arlington officials to require the pledge be led in every school has been a frustrating lesson in freedom of speech.

Last week, Harrington, a senior, presented the Arlington School Committee with a petition, signed by more than 700 people, to require that the pledge be led in all the town’s schools each day. The committee deadlocked, 3 to 3, on a motion that would have required a daily, but voluntary, recitation of the pledge to be led over the intercom.

Yesterday, after a week of controversy in town, a compromise surfaced: The Arlington High principal said he’d lead the pledge in the lobby of Arlington High School every morning five minutes before school begins. Principal Charles Skidmore said anyone who wishes to say the pledge can do so in the lobby, and he believes the plan is a good compromise to Harrington’s proposal.

But Harrington, who wanted the pledge said in all of the schools, said the pledge belongs in the classroom, and he does not believe the principal’s idea of saying it before school in the lobby would work among students, who would then have to hurry to class.

Harrington, an associate member of Arlington’s Republican Town Committee and founder of the high school’s Teenage Republican group, said he “teared up’’ when his proposal failed.

Joseph Curro, School Committee chairman, who voted in favor of voluntary recitation of the pledge, said some members in the audience taunted the deadlocked committee.

“They told us to go back to our own countries,’’ Curro said.

Judson Pierce, a School Committee member, who voted against the proposal, said that while he honors the pledge, he wants to do more research into state and federal laws before passing a policy for the district. He wants to be sure that the rights of those who do not want to say the pledge are protected.

State law requires that teachers lead their classes in the Pledge of Allegiance each day, bit the state Supreme Judicial Court issued an opinion in 1977 saying that it would be unconstitutional to discipline a teacher or student who chose not to say the pledge. The US Supreme Court has also said that making students recite the pledge is contrary to the First Amendment.

But students and teachers should still be given the opportunity to say the pledge, said JC Considine, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.Continued…



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U.S. Supreme Court Denies Appeal Over Religious Items

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday denied an appeal from Plano parents who sought to reverse a decision in a years-long lawsuit sparked by candy cane pens in the Plano school district.

Some Plano ISD parents wanted the justices to overturn a lower court’s decision in December that upheld the school district’s policy regulating when students can pass out religious materials, such as the candy cane pens. The court, without comment, declined to hear their appeal.

Kelly Shackelford, president of the Plano-based Liberty Institute, which represented the parents, said he was disappointed by the court’s decision not to hear the case.

“We went as far as we could on that case,” he said. “We think that the Supreme Court really left chaos out there. The court is going to have to clear it up at some point.”

Charles Crawford, attorney for Plano ISD, said, “The district is very pleased that its policy has been upheld as constitutional.”

The candy cane case stems from a December 2003 school party. Thomas Elementary School officials stopped a 9-year-old boy from distributing candy cane pens with a religious message that read, in part, “The blood Christ shed for the sins of the world.”

A year later, the boy’s parents and several more whose children also were prevented from handing out religious-theme materials sued the school district.

The district revised its policy regulating when the materials could be distributed. The new policy permits students to circulate materials before and after school, at three annual parties, during recess and at designated tables in school. Middle and high school students also can hand out items in hallways and during lunch.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld that policy in December.

Despite the Supreme Court’s decision Monday, another part of the case is still unresolved. The appeals court has yet to issue a ruling on whether the district’s earlier policy regarding religious materials was constitutional and whether the principals violated the students’ free speech rights.


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Are You Willing To Risk It All?

While we declared our Independence on July 4th, 1776, we had to keep fighting to defend that declaration until 1783, over seven years of bloody struggle and ultimate sacrifice.  And while those who fought in the Revolutionary War knew what they were dying to protect, “we the people” didn’t adopt our Constitution until 1787, more than 11 years after those 56 men gathered in a room and signed their name to a piece of parchment that said there’s a better way for men and women to live:

In freedom.

The second sentence of the Declaration of Independence reads:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

The fight to live up to those 36 words continues to this day, as an ever expanding government is threatening to suppress the very freedoms our founders fought for. And while July 4th, 1776 was a major victory, let the date serve not merely as a day to remember how it all started – but also that freedom is fragile and vigilance is needed to preserve and protect it. Each and every one of us is responsible to make sure that freedom doesn’t vanish on our watch. This 4th of July, think about what the founders risked to make sure they and future generations lived free – their lives, the fortunes, and their sacred honor. And ask yourself, are you willing to do the same?

Source: Glenn Beck Program

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