Atheist Attacks on Christmas

Bill O’Reilly asked this question on his Fox News program last week: “Why do I have to be the leader defending Christmas against its attackers?” O’Reilly was criticizing Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee‘s renaming his state’s Christmas tree a “holiday tree.”

 

Good question. It’s time for Christians to realize that their religion is under attack, and they had better start fighting to win the war for religious liberty in public opinion, in the courts and in the schools.

The war against Christianity has been waged by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Freedom From Religion Foundation and similar groups. Their tactics use the threat of litigation, with the hope that supremacist judges will accept their reinterpretation of the First Amendment, as Americans have understood it for over two centuries.

The re-election of Barack Obama has made this issue even more pressing. Throughout his first term, he waged a persistent campaign to secularize America, to push all religion behind church doors and to ban all mention of religion from every public place, park, building, military facility, school and speech.

The public schools have become the front line in this battle to banish Christmas from celebrations, songs and events, and anti-Christmas public school rulings have been accelerating. Here are a few examples.

Pennsylvania fourth-graders were prohibited from handing out religious Christmas cards to classmates, Massachusetts ninth-graders were told they could not create Christmas cards that depict a nativity scene, a Georgia school board deleted the word “Christmas” from the school calendar, Minnesota middle school kids were disciplined for wearing red and green scarves in a Christmas skit and for ending the skit with wishing all a Merry Christmas, and dozens of schools banned Christmas carols, in favor of songs such as “Frosty the Snowman” and “Winter Wonderland”.

A New Jersey second-grader was prohibited from singing the pop song “Awesome God” at an evening talent show, and a Colorado school counselor changed the words of the Pledge of Allegiance on the public-address system from “one nation under God” to “one nation under your belief system” (that was, fortunately, overturned). A Massachusetts elementary school censored God from Lee Greenwood’s famous song, changing the line “God bless the U.S.A.” to “We love the U.S.A.”

A first-grade girl in North Carolina wrote a poem for her school’s Veterans Day assembly honoring her two grandfathers who had served in the Vietnam War that included the sentences, “He prayed to God for peace. He prayed to God for strength.” The school censored the word God out of the poem before the kid read it. A Texas high school ordered the football coach not to bow his head or kneel when the team said a prayer before a game.

Cranston High School West in Rhode Island banned a prayer banner that had hung on the auditorium wall for 38 years without complaint. The banner read in part: “Our Heavenly Father, Grant us each day the desire to do our best … Help us to be good sports and smile when we lose as well as when we win. Teach us the value of true friendship. Help us always to conduct ourselves so as to bring credit to Cranston High West. Amen.”

A Plano, Tex. school banned an eight-year-old from handing out candy canes with Jesus’ name on them to classmates at a school holiday party, confiscated a girl’s pencils because they mentioned “God” and banned an entire classroom from writing “Merry Christmas” on cards to be sent to our troops serving in the Middle East. Litigation followed the action of a Texas high school that tried to forbid cheerleaders from displaying a banner at a football game with the Bible verse: “And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”

President Obama is a major part of the campaign to secularize America. For the fourth straight year, Obama again deleted God from his Thanksgiving Day address as he personally read it from the teleprompter into a camera.

Of course, there is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that requires this anti-Christmas nonsense. The purpose of all these actions is to mandate a religion of secularism, which is completely contrary to American history, heritage and constitutional law.

Christians had better wake up and realize the threat of the secularists to the First Amendment. Our answer to the ACLU and atheist lawyers who are trying to change America should be the favorite words of Scrooge in Charles Dickens‘ story, “A Christmas Carol”: “Bah, humbug!”

Phyllis Schlafly

Phyllis Schlafly  is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.

http://townhall.com/columnists/phyllisschlafly/2012/12/11/atheist_attacks_on_christmas/page/full/

Is the Culture at War With Christmas? By Russell D. Moore , Christian Post Guest Columnist

Flipping through magazines on an airplane the other day, I found  myself sighing with irritation. An advertisement for Budweiser was tagged with  the headline, “Silent Nights are Overrated.” A few minutes later, in a second  magazine, I came across an ad for a high-end outdoor grill, which read: “Who  says it’s better to give than to receive?”

My first reaction was one that I’ve critiqued in others, to take some sort of  personal, or at least tribal, offense: “Would they advertise in Turkey during  Ramadan with the line, ‘Fasting is Overrated?’ or by asking in India, ‘Who says everything is one with the  universe?'”

I was missing the point-and that matters.

Every year about this time, there’s a lot of hubbub about a so-called “war on  Christmas.” In some instances, there are legitimate questions of religious  liberty involved and complicated church/state questions that we ought to be  concerned about. More commonly, though, the outrage is directed toward the  commercial marketplace, for replacing “Merry Christmas”  with “Happy Holidays” and so on.

As Christians, we ought to recognize that a militant pull toward what Richard  John Neuhaus called a “naked public square” is bad for people of any and all  religious traditions. But there’s a difference between, for instance, standing  against a school system penalizing a child for writing “Merry Christmas” on her  “holiday card” and the kind of huffing and puffing we do when commercial  marketers don’t “get” our Christian commitments.

I should have thought about the fact that the advertising agencies behind  this beer company and this grill corporation are trying to sell products, not to  offend constituencies. Taking shots at any group’s religious beliefs isn’t good  economics, and that’s just the point. I’m willing to bet whoever dreamed up  these ad campaigns didn’t “get” at all that they might be making fun of Jesus  Christ.

Madison Avenue probably didn’t trace through that the song “Silent Night” is  about the holy awe of the dawning Incarnation in Bethlehem. It’s just a  Christmas song, part of the background music  in our culture this time of  year. Saying it’s overrated probably didn’t feel any more “insensitive” to these  copywriters than making a joke about, say, decking the halls or reindeer games  or Heat Miser and Cold Miser.

And they probably never thought about the fact that the statement “It is  better to give than to receive” is a quotation from Jesus (Acts 20:35). It  probably just seems like a Benjamin Franklin-style aphorism. It’s the same kind  of thing that happens when someone says “scarlet letter” without recognizing  Hawthorne or “to be or not to be” while not knowing the difference between  Hamlet and Shrek.

We ought not to get outraged by all that, as though we were some protected  class of victims. We ought to instead see the ways that our culture is less and  less connected with the roots of basic knowledge about Christianity. Many,  especially in the culture-making wing of American life, see Christmas in the  same way they see Hanukkah. They know about Menorahs and dreidels, but not about  the Maccabean fight.

That ought not make us angry. It ought to instead give us an opportunity to  understand how we look to our neighbors. They see us more in terms of our  trivialities than in terms of the depths of meaning of Incarnation and blood  atonement and the kingdom of Christ. They know something about “Silent Night,”  just as they know something about “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.” What  they don’t recognize is the cosmos-shifting mystery of Immanuel as God with  Us.

All that means is that we need to spend more time lovingly engaging our  neighbors with the sort of news that shocks angels and redirects stargazers and  knocks sheep-herders to the ground. That it seems increasingly strange is all  the better-because it is strange. A gospel safe enough to sell beer and barbecue  grills is a gospel too safe to make blessings flow, far as the curse is  found.

Christmas, then, isn’t about a fight for our right to party. It’s a reminder  that we, like every generation before us, live in a “land of deep darkness”  (Isa. 9:2). The darkness isn’t overcome by sarcasm or personal offense or  retaliatory insults. The light of Bethlehem shines in the darkness, and the  darkness has not, cannot, will not overcome it.

And that’s enough.

http://www.christianpost.com/news/is-the-culture-at-war-with-christmas-86306/#z8wHl1RrxZQAZtYx.99

NC Doctors Sue to End Mandatory Ultrasounds Before Abortions By Stoyan Zaimov , Christian Post Reporter

Physicians in North Carolina are challenging an abortion law in court that makes it a requirement for women to receive an ultrasound before terminating their pregnancy.

“There’s no medical basis to [the ultrasound requirement] whatsoever,” said Dr. Serina Floyd, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Duke Medicine and a plaintiff in this case, The Duke Chronicle reported. “It’s entirely ethical, moral and political and not in any way medically based.”

The Woman’s Right to Know Act law, which went into effect in Oct, 2011 and carries the ultrasound requirement, is intended to have mothers hear and see their unborn children before making a decision on whether or not to have an abortion. Groups such as Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights, who are backing the N.C. injunction against the law, are saying that the clause should be removed.

“There are alternatives to abortion, including keeping the baby or giving up the baby for adoption,” the state-mandated script reads. “If you decide to continue the pregnancy the father of the baby is liable to assist in the support of the child, even if he has agreed to pay for the abortion.”

U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles is going to be faced with making a decision in the trial, which is expected to begin in January. The case is specifically concerned with the ultrasound requirement of the cause, rather than the entire Woman’s Right to Know Act. The law passed in both the House and the Senate at a state General Assembly in June 2011. Gov. Bev Perdue‘s subsequent veto was overturned by the Senate, giving the law the green light for October.

Physicians like Floyd are insisting that the ultrasound clause only makes life more difficult for women who are already faced with a tough decision, and the law’s clear intent is to try and change their minds.

“The idea that we should take something that is already difficult and painful and say, ‘Not only is this difficult and painful, but we are really going to up the ante and make you pay psychologically by rubbing something in your face because we don’t like the decision you’re making,’ I think it’s damaging, paternalistic and imposing,” William Meyer, an associate clinical professor in the departments of obstetrics and gynecology and psychiatry, told The Chronicle.

Currently, 35 states require women to get some type of counseling before they can be allowed to undergo an abortion, while 26 states have a time period that the mother must wait before making a decision about her unborn baby.

Meyer said that the counseling could cause “psychological damaging effects” for the women and expressed his opposition to all mandated counseling.

“What might be right for one person might be damaging for another,” he said. “These are vexing and complicated issues and any attempt to simplify them and say, ‘What is right for one might be necessary for everyone’ – well, I don’t think we can go there.”

Floyd added: “All over the country, states are trying hard to further restrict access to abortions, and North Carolina jumped on that bandwagon when it passed the legislation.”

Supporters of the law, however, have said that the ultrasound helps the mother see the life and death decision she is about to make, both for herself and her baby, and helps women make informed decisions.

“The ultrasound is a window into the womb and the opportunity for this mother to get scientifically accurate information about a procedure that is going to have great consequences for her and for her child. It’s a life or death decision,” Barbara Holt, president of North Carolina Right to Life, said when the clause was passed last October.

Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, added that the purpose behind the law is to reduce the number of abortions in North Carolina.

“We don’t believe that information is really being provided,” Dollar said, according to WRAL.com. “By ensuring that information will be provided, women can make an informed choice.”

“Mothers and their unborn children are the victors today because this law would protect a mother’s right to receive vital information prior to making a life or death decision about her unborn child,” said Mary Spaulding Balch, director of state legislation for the National Right to Life Committee, when the law came into effect. “With final passage of this law, no longer will mothers in North Carolina be left to the one-sided sales-promoting information provided by an industry that is in the business of killing unborn children”.

North Carolina abortion statistics show that there were over 30,000 abortions performed in the state in 2010 – a number which has declined every year since the 35,000 such procedures in 2006.

http://www.christianpost.com/news/nc-doctors-sue-to-end-mandatory-ultrasounds-before-abortions-86404/

5 Signs Waiting Has Weakened Your Faith By Paul Tripp , CP Guest Columnist

When God asks you to wait, what happens to your spiritual  muscles? While you wait, do your spiritual muscles grow bigger and stronger, or  do they become flaccid and atrophied? Waiting for the Lord isn’t about God  forgetting you, forsaking you, abandoning the ministry he’s called you to, or  being unfaithful to his promises. It’s actually God giving you time to consider  his glory, grow stronger in faith, and grow in courage for ministry. Remember,  waiting isn’t just about what you’re hoping for at the end of the wait, but also  about what you’ll become as you wait.

So waiting always presents us with a spiritual choice-point. Will I allow  myself to question God’s goodness and progressively grow weaker in faith, or  will I embrace the opportunity of faith that God is giving me and build my  spiritual, pastoral, ministry muscles?

It’s so easy to unknowingly revisit your belief system when you’re not sure  what God is doing. It’s so easy to give way to doubt when you’re being called to  wait. It’s so easy to forsake good spiritual and ministry habits and to take up  habits of “unfaith” that weaken the muscles of the heart. Let me suggest some  habits of “unfaith” that weaken us during waiting.

1. Giving way to doubt. There’s a fine line between the  struggle to wait and giving way to doubt. When you’re called to wait you’re  being called to do something that wasn’t part of your personal or ministry plan.  Therefore you struggle to see it as good. Because you and I are typically  convinced that what we wanted was right and good, it doesn’t seem loving that  we’re being asked to wait. You can see how tempting it is then to begin to  question God’s wisdom, goodness, and love. Don’t be naive: there’s much doubt  that visits people in ministry.

2. Giving way to anger. It’s easy to look around and  begin to think that the bad guys are being blessed and the good guys are getting  hammered (see Psalm 73). There’ll be times when it simply doesn’t seem right  that you have to wait for something that seems so obviously good to you. It’s  tempting in your anger to give way to thinking you’re smarter than God, that  you’d be a better sovereign than the Sovereign. It all begins to feel like  you’re being wronged, and when it does, it seems right to be angry.

As a result, it’s important to understand that your anger isn’t so much about  people and circumstances. No, you’re angry with the One who’s in control of  those people and those circumstances. You’re actually giving way to thinking  that you’ve been wronged by him. I’ve been amazed over the years at how many  pastors needed to confess to me that they were more than disappointed with their  ministry life; they were angry with God.

3. Giving way to discouragement. This is where I begin  to let my heart run away with the “If only_____,” the “What if_____,” and the  “What will happen if____.” I begin to give my mind to thinking about what will  happen to me and my ministry if my request isn’t answered soon, or what in the  world will happen if it’s not answered at all. This kind of meditation makes me  feel that my life or ministry is out of control, when they’re actually under  perfectly wise and loving control. Rather than my heart being filled with joy,  my heart gets flooded with worry and dread. Worry and dread aren’t the seedbeds  of hopeful, courageous, persevering ministry. So I spend my free mental time  considering my dark future, with all the resulting discouragement that will  always follow.

4. Giving way to envy. When I’m waiting, it’s tempting  to look over the fence and long for the ministry life of someone who doesn’t  appear to have been called to wait. It’s easy to take on an “I wish I was that  guy” way of living. You can’t give way to envy without questioning God’s wisdom,  faithfulness, and love. Here’s the logic: if God really loves you as much as he  loves that other guy, you’d have what the other guy has. Envy is about feeling  forgotten and forsaken, coupled with a craving to have what your neighbor  enjoys. This is deadly, because you tend not to run to someone for help if  you’ve come to doubt him.

5. Giving way to inactivity. The result of giving way  to all of these things is inactivity. If God isn’t as good and wise as I once  thought he was, if he withholds good things from his children, and if he plays  favorites, then why would I continue to serve him? Maybe you don’t consciously  think these things, but you begin to stand with many pastors  who’ve lost both their joy in and also motivation for ministry. Maybe this  isn’t what I’m supposed to be doing after all; maybe I’ve been kidding  myself.

Sadly, this is the course that many people, even those in ministry, take as  they wait. Rather than growing in faith, their motivation for daily pursuing God  is destroyed by doubt, anger, discouragement, and envy. So the muscles of faith  necessary for productive people-helping, God-honoring ministry, that were once  robust and strong, now atrophy and grow weak.

In reality, waiting points us to God’s goodness. He’s wise and loving. His  timing is always right, and his focus isn’t so much on what you’ll experience  and enjoy, but on what you’ll become. He’s committed to using every tool at his  disposal to rescue you from you, to shape you into the likeness of his Son, and  to hone you for the work to which he’s called you. Waiting is one of his primary  shaping tools.

Habits of Faith

So how do you build your spiritual muscles during the wait? You must commit  yourself to resist those habits of “unfaith,” and with discipline pursue a  rigorous routine of spiritual exercise. You must run to your Savior of grace,  knowing his grace never gives up even though you’re often tempted to.

Here are the things that he’s designed for you that will build the muscles of  your heart and strengthen your resolve: the regular devotional study of his  Word, consistent and candid fellowship, looking for God’s glory in Creation  every day, putting yourself under excellent preaching and teaching of Scripture  (even preachers need to be regularly taught), investing your quiet mental time  in meditating on the goodness of God (for example, as you’re going off to  sleep), reading excellent Christian books, and spending ample time in prayer. All of these  things will result in spiritual strength and vitality.

Do these things seem obvious to you? You’d be surprised how many pastors have  confessed to me a lack of good spiritual habits. It’s sad to think of how many  pastors live in functional isolation, not putting their hearts in places where  they can be watched, warned, protected, and nourished. Without daily meditating  on God’s glory and grace, all you’re left to meditate on are the struggles  within you and the problems outside you. No wonder our pastoral muscles grow  weak.

Is God, in grace, asking you to wait? If so, what’s happening to your muscles  while you wait?

http://www.christianpost.com/news/5-signs-waiting-has-weakened-your-faith-86332/#QOyBjYj5kch80h4q.99

Breaking The Spin Cycle

“[Satan] was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. . . . He is a liar and the father of it.” John 8:44

Politicians are adept at “spinning” the details of a story to advance their own agenda. During a political campaign, spin doctors massage stories to ensure that their candidate is cast in a positive light—often at the expense of the truth. This leaves us with serious questions about what the real truth is.

According to Jesus, Satan is the “spin doctor” of hell—the master deceiver who “speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar” (John 8:44). He casts himself as the one who wants to give us unfettered freedom and pleasure, carefully masking his plan to steal, kill, and destroy us (John 10:10). He even spins the loving laws of God by claiming that God’s boundaries are restrictive, simply intended to take all the fun out of living. When we buy into Satan’s damaging lies, we will eventually find ourselves empty and broken—sidelined in our journey with God.

Thankfully, Jesus warns us. He says that Satan is the father of lies. And we know Satan is lying when what he tells us contradicts God’s Word. Jesus, on the other hand, is the truth (John 14:6). So, when it comes to sorting out the spin, our only defense against the spin doctor of hell is to listen constantly for the voice of Jesus as we pray and study His Word. And that’s the truth!

The devil is crafty, deceptive, and sly; He cleverly tricks us to swallow his lie. But his cunning methods we’re sure to discern If we make God’s warnings our daily concern. —D. De Haan

God’s truth stops the spin of Satan’s lies.

http://getmorestrength.org/daily/breaking-the-spin-cycle/

Individuality

Jesus said to His disciples, ’If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself . . .’ —Matthew 16:24

Individuality is the hard outer layer surrounding the inner spiritual life. Individuality shoves others aside, separating and isolating people. We see it as the primary characteristic of a child, and rightly so. When we confuse individuality with the spiritual life, we remain isolated. This shell of individuality is God’s created natural covering designed to protect the spiritual life. But our individuality must be yielded to God so that our spiritual life may be brought forth into fellowship with Him. Individuality counterfeits spirituality, just as lust counterfeits love. God designed human nature for Himself, but individuality corrupts that human nature for its own purposes.

The characteristics of individuality are independence and self-will. We hinder our spiritual growth more than any other way by continually asserting our individuality. If you say, “I can’t believe,” it is because your individuality is blocking the way; individuality can never believe. But our spirit cannot help believing. Watch yourself closely when the Spirit of God is at work in you. He pushes you to the limits of your individuality where a choice must be made. The choice is either to say, “I will not surrender,” or to surrender, breaking the hard shell of individuality, which allows the spiritual life to emerge. The Holy Spirit narrows it down every time to one thing (see Matthew 5:23-24). It is your individuality that refuses to “be reconciled to your brother” (Matthew 5:24). God wants to bring you into union with Himself, but unless you are willing to give up your right to yourself, He cannot. “. . . let him deny himself . . .”— deny his independent right to himself. Then the real life-the spiritual life-is allowed the opportunity to grow.

http://utmost.org/individuality/