Religion Posts

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  • CNN has posted a history of bias against Sikhs - more reason for people to learn about religions before they attack anyone:...

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  • Hackers group Anonymous takes down Vatican website:

  • WGN-TV calls doomsday prophecies "an illusion":

  • RT @graceishuman: Really,? Asking people JUST LEAVING the service how they felt about it? Tacky, tacky, inappropriate

  • Whitney Houston's funeral service really took the world to church. Love Pastor Winans' honesty, very moving.

  • #teacher ? Here are appropriate responses to situations with your Jehovah's Witness student:

  • #Teachers: Want to know why your Jehovah's Witness student won't say the pledge and how to respond?

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In late May, the Texas State Board of Education voted on 213 amendments to state education standards. They approved new social studies curriculum standards (final vote 9-5) to be put into effect in the 2010-2011 school year. According to their Web site, the Texas State Board of Eduaction manages the textbook adoption process and oversees development of the state’s curriculum, among other tasks.

So why is everyone up in arms?

The board approved new standards that will:

- Ensure Texas textbooks state that the Founding Fathers were guided by Christianity
- Ensure Texas textbooks would make positive references to the National Rifle Association
-Require U.S. history students in Texas to learn about leading conservative groups from the 1980s-90s (though they aren’t required to learn about liberal groups).

Initially, the board also wanted to minimize Thomas Jefferson’s role in founding the country because he pushed for separation of church and state. In the end, the board put reference to Jefferson back in the curriculum – but minimized separation of church and state by pointing out that it wasn’t in the Constitution.

The board consists of elected members – a majority of whom are conservatives. Those who stood against the changes claimed the board was pushing a conservative Christian agenda. Agenda or no agenda, it can be difficult to ignore one’s own religious upbringing when making decisions for a diversity of schoolchildren. One member, Cynthia Dunbar, R-Richmond, did not check her beliefs at the door; she opened the board meeting by stating that the United States is a “Christian land governed by Christian principles.”

Some board members claimed these changes should balance out the liberal teachings that they believe dominate American classrooms.

Why should you care?
Texas will have to revise their textbooks and lesson plans for the next school year to begin teaching the new required standards. Texas children will begin learning just one side to some complex issues involving religion while students in other states will learn either the liberal side or the unbiased version (depending on your political leanings).

For other states, if any politicians follow Texas’s example, there’s a chance that politicians could be editing out what they don’t like in our nation’s textbooks and replacing it with wording they DO like.

Of course, editors edit out what they don’t think is appropriate all the time. But the goal of education is to inform students about the facts.

It is important, then, to have truths from both sides of the table in our historical accounts. Otherwise we are telling kids they HAVE to believe that all founders were Christians (see American Gospel by Jon Meacham) and they should NOT appreciate or even accept separation of church and state. Both sides of the political fence should be actively working to keep true accounts in textbooks and let students decide whether they like the way history played itself out. Should we eliminate the Great Depression from our textbooks because it was a hard time? Or tell only one side of the Crusades? History needs to be recorded in its actuality so we can draw our own conclusions.

Furthermore, we should continue to work toward diverse representation in our government, school boards, etc. so that all religions and political beliefs are represented in these types of debates.

Created by Religion Transcends, 2010

Following the retirement of Protestant John Paul Stevens from the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court will include no Protestants. Elena Kagan, awaiting confirmation to replace Justice Stevens, is Jewish. That puts the count at 6 Catholics and 3 Jews on the court:

Catholic Justices: John G. Roberts, Jr. (chief justice), Anthony M. Kennedy, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Sonia Sotomayor

Jewish Justices: Stephen G. Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan (awaiting confirmation)

Per the U.S. Constitution, religion cannot be a factor in the choice for who will fill a government office. But people certainly think about it. With Kagan in place, the court will no longer have a Protestant voice – a fact some consider scary and others consider hopeful. For those in the latter category, they say it’s great that justices are no longer pigeon-holed into the “woman” or “Jewish” category but are welcomed into the court even if they don’t have a stereotypical role to play. They say it’s exciting that we’ve become diverse enough that we it doesn’t matter whether we have a Protestant in place. Not to mention the Supreme Court existed for almost 50 years before adding a Catholic to the bench and it took another 80 years beyond that to include a Jew.

Those on the other side say the Protestant voice isn’t going to be heard at that level and decisions won’t be made that fit within Protestant values (particularly related to abortion, marriage, etc.). Given that half the United States claims to be Protestant, the lack of a Protestant justice is, at the least, surprising.

The Wall Street Journal speculated as to why more Catholics and Jews than Protestants are becoming justices.

Of course, representation for everyone would be ideal. The court now includes African American and Hispanic justices, women and men, Jews and Christians. But how can we as a nation sit back and question the lack of a Protestant justice when the court is also lacking Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Atheist, LGBT, and Asian-American representation?

Perhaps when it’s time to choose the next justice, we should be considering all genders, all races, and all religions. And for now, we can sit back and be proud of the diversity we have attained so far.

Read biographies of the justices on the Supreme Court site.

Created by Religion Transcends, 2010

On April 15, US District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled that the law authorizing a National Day of Prayer in the U.S. is unconstitutional and violates the First Amendment (which prohibits a federal endorsement of religion). The National Day of Prayer has been a lawful celebration since 1952 and would have been celebrated this year on May 6.

In this article, Crabb said she didn’t want to suggest prayer is wrong; rather, she wanted to send a message that the government cannot endorse any one religious message from any religion.

President Obama’s role
President Obama did not put an end to the National Day of Prayer. Initially he had said he would proclaim the day but would pray privately (instead of publicly, as the day calls for). Crabb’s ruling stops him from being able to call for the celebration. Obama’s administration says it will appeal the ruling.

The American Center for Law and Justice has also filed an amicus brief to have the decision overturned. The group represents 31 members of Congress.

The Graham issue
The National Day of Prayer Task Force had organized an event at the Pentagon for the National Day of Prayer. Franklin Graham, son of Christian evangelist Billy Graham, was set to speak at the event. But after 9/11, Graham had called Islam a “wicked religion.” So Muslims called for him to be removed from the National Day of Prayer event, and the Pentagon withdrew his invitation. Following the withdrawl, the National Day of Prayer Task Force backed out of the Pentagon event.

Their anger hasn’t died down. But it all seems kind of moot if no one will be able to publicly celebrate the National Day of Prayer.

It seems both sides could be argued – of course Americans would like their freedoms protected without having government tell them what to believe. But does removing a long-held celebration suggest that what’s being celebrated is wrong? What do you think?

Created by Religion Transcends, 2010

Talk about diversity.

NorthWood Church, a Baptist congregation in Keller, Texas, recently combined services with the local Jewish temple and an Islamic Center. Over the course of four days, congregants from all three houses of worship met at the Temple Shalom, NorthWood, and the Dallas mosque to hold three separate services highlighting similarities among the religions.

The idea was to create understanding, an opportunity for dialogue, and ultimately cooperation. The pastor admits to receiving criticism about “watering down Christian doctrines” but says each religion does (and should) hold onto its own beliefs as the singular truth. It’s more about the religions opening up to each other to talk about their similarities and differences.

Want the rest of his answer to criticism? Check it out on the Ministry Today site. Religion Transcends applauds this minister’s attempts at love, peace, and understanding. He has transcended criticism and anger and hatred, seeking only to love those around him and to open his doors to them.

Disagree? Think it’s a bad idea?

Created by Religion Transcends, 2010