Church, Local, politics, Worship

An Open Letter to His Honor the Mayor Timothy Titus, of Paradise, California

Two thousand years ago, in his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus of Nazareth instructed his followers that they should not pray in public; only hypocrites pray in public, he said.

The National Day of Prayer was founded in 1952 during the Red Scare, as an attempt to ostracize progressives in the U.S. as un-American. It was not an effort to bring peace to this land, but an effort to bring division.

In In April 2010, a federal judge found the National Day of Prayer to be unconstitutional.

An extremist group called the Ridge Ministerial Fellowship has organized a local National Day of Prayer event on on May 2, 2013, at Terry Ashe Park, a municipal facility located in the heart of our dear town. It is publicly documented that this organization has had a history of pressuring His Honor the Mayor, concerning Proposition 8 and its so-called “impact” on the PUSD. We humbly request that you help us to take a stand against them as a matter of civic duty.

It is one thing to host religious organizations for lectures or faith-based initiatives which bring unity to the community. It is quite another to host worship services which bring division to those who either believe praying the way they do is unwholesome and hypocritical (such as people who believe Jesus’ teachings) or other faiths which believe the way they pray is even blasphemous.

Hosting the National Day of Prayer event in the public park implies (intentionally or otherwise) that the secular town government is partial towards certain religions; towards those who wish to pray for supernatural help—who condemn other lifestyles as immoral—over against those who wish to use reason and action to bring change. To put it another way, there are people who wish to hold humans accountable for their actions and neighborly duties on one side, over against those who wish to create division and invoke a supernatural entity to do his will in our land. Our government should promote democracy and accountability, and encourage these interfaith organizations to observe their practices on private land.

A petition has been started on Change.org regarding this issue.

UPDATE: 10:40 AM
After further investigation, we have decided to close this petition. While the so-called “National Day of Prayer” is itself unconstitutional, this group has a right to worship in the park. In similar instances, the ACLU has fought to defend the rights of churches to worship organizationally in a park. If we work to prohibit them from doing so, the ACLU will be against us on this. (See http://www.aclu.org/religion-belief/aclu-tn-successfully-advocates-behalf-student-preachers)

The problem is the National Day of Prayer itself. But I don’t see how it’s possible to force people to use a different name for it if they do it every May anyway…

Thank you for your support.

UPDATE 8:30 PM
The mayor decided to respond despite the cancellation of the petition. This is what he said: “Since the Town neither owns nor controls the Recreation Center, the prayer event is not subject to Town approval, nor are we a sponsor of the event.” So much for my first foray into local politics…

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Family, Parenthood, politics, Science, Scripture

The Ten Commandments of the Late Mr. Hitchens

It has been said, “Religion is doing what you are told, regardless of what is right, whereas morality is doing what is right regardless of what you are told.” As an acquaintance of the Schatz family this truth is hugely important to me. Christopher Hitchens produced the following for Vanity Fair:

  1. Do not condemn people on the basis of their ethnicity or color.
  2. Do not ever use people as private property.
  3. Despise those who use violence or the threat of it in sexual relations.
  4. Hide your face and weep if you dare to harm a child.
  5. Do not condemn people for their inborn nature.
  6. Be aware that you too are an animal and dependent on the web of nature, and think and act accordingly.
  7. Do not imagine that you can escape judgment if you rob people with a false prospectus rather than with a knife.
  8. Turn off that fucking cell phone—you have no idea how unimportant your call is to us.
  9. Denounce all jihadists and crusaders for what they are: psychopathic criminals with ugly delusions.
  10. Be willing to renounce any god or any religion if any holy commandments should contradict any of the above. In short: Do not swallow your moral code in tablet form.

See the whole article/video on Vanity Fair.

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Depression, Family, Parenthood, politics

Eleven facts about guns in the U.S.

Ezra Klein writes:

If roads were collapsing all across the United States, killing dozens of drivers, we would surely see that as a moment to talk about what we could do to keep roads from collapsing. If terrorists were detonating bombs in port after port, you can be sure Congress would be working to upgrade the nation’s security measures. If a plague was ripping through communities, public-health officials would be working feverishly to contain it.

Only with gun violence do we respond to repeated tragedies by saying that mourning is acceptable but discussing how to prevent more tragedies is not. But that’s unacceptable. As others have observed, talking about how to stop mass shootings in the aftermath of a string of mass shootings isn’t “too soon.” It’s much too late.

Read more: Eleven facts about guns and mass shootings in the United States.

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Local, politics, Social Justice

Holy Week starts off with acts of Christian terrorism

not really

(not really)

This morning a guy bombed a Planned Parenthood clinic in Wisconsin.

Then another guy took out his gun and went postal on all his friends at Oikos “University” in Oakland, a Dominionist institution that claims to provide “a Christian education that is based on solid Christian doctrine and ideology. Our main goal is to foster spiritual Christian leaders who abide by God’s intentions and to expand God’s nation through them.” That’s some scary shit.

“Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” – Jesus

Update April 3: KCHO reports the shooting in Oakland is “the deadliest school shooting in California history.” And The Post Crescent reports the PP bombing suspect has been identified, found, and arrested.

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politics

"The End of Christian America"?

Last month’s Time had Calvinism as the third of the top 10 ideas changing the world right now. This month, Al Mohler has some insight on the Newsweek cover story, which begins:

To the surprise of liberals who fear the advent of an evangelical theocracy and to the dismay of religious conservatives who long to see their faith more fully expressed in public life, Christians are now making up a declining percentage of the American population.

View article

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