Jewish Note on God, Christmas Tree

Dinner Topics for Wednesday

Christmas Tree

Ben Stein: On God, Christmas Trees and symbols

keyI am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish.  And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees, Christmas trees.  I don’t feel threatened.  I don’t feel discriminated against. ~Ben Stein

I Only hope  we find GOD again before it is too late

The following was written by Ben Stein and recited by him on CBS Sunday  Morning Commentary (This was years ago before the media freaked out about mentioning the word “Christmas”.)

My confession:

chtreeI am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish.  And it does not bother me even a little bit when people
call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees, Christmas trees.  I don’t feel threatened.  I don’t feel discriminated against. That’s What they are, Christmas trees.
It doesn’t bother me a bit when People say, ‘Merry Christmas’ to me.  I don’t think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto.  In fact, I  kind of like it.  It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn’t bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu ..  If people want a creche, it’s just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

I don’t like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians.

I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period..  I have no idea where the concept came from, that America is an explicitly atheist country..  I can’t find  it in the Constitution and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat. Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from  that we should worship celebrities and we aren’t allowed to worship God as we understand Him? I guess that’s a sign that I’m getting old, too.

But there are a lot of us who are wondering where these celebrities came from and where the America we knew went to.

In  light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different:  This is not intended to be a joke; it’s not funny, it’s intended to get you thinking.

Billy Graham ‘s daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her ‘How could God let something like this happen?’ (regarding Hurricane  Katrina )..   Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful  response. She said, ‘I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we’ve been telling God to get out of our schools,  to get out of our government and to get out of our lives.  And   being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out.  How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?’
In light of recent events…   Terrorists attack, school shootings, etc.  I think it started when Madeleine Murray O’Hare (she was murdered, her body found a few years  ago) complained she didn’t want prayer in our schools, and we said OK.

Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school.  The Bible says thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself.  And we said OK. Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn’t spank our children when they misbehave,

Because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock ‘s son committed suicide).  We said an Expert should know what he’s talking about.  And we said  okay.

Now we’re asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don’t know right from wrong, and why it doesn’t bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and  themselves. Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out.  I think it has a great deal to do with ‘WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.’
Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world’s going to hell.  Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says.  Funny how you can send ‘jokes’ through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing.  Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and  obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion  of God is suppressed in the school and workplace.

Are you laughing yet?  Funny  how when you share this message, you will not send it to many on your address list because you’re not sure what they believe, or what they  will think of you for sending it. Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us. Share this if you think it has merit. If not, then just discard it….. No one will know you did.  But, if you discard this thought process, don’t sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is in.

My  Best Regards,  Honestly and respectfully,

Ben Stein

Christmas Gift Ideas: Young Adult Literature Relevant to Today, will Strengthen Faith and Family

 

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Thanksgiving Stories: Pilgrims and Mayflower

Dinner Topics for Wednesday

William Bradford

from History.com

plymouth-colony-A   William Bradford (1590-1657) was a founder and longtime governor of the Plymouth Colony settlement. Born in England, he migrated with the Separatist congregation to the Netherlands as a teenager. Bradford was among the passengers on the Mayflower’s trans-Atlantic journey, and he signed the Mayflower Compact upon arriving in Massachusetts in 1620. As Plymouth Colony governor for more than thirty years, Bradford helped draft its legal code and facilitated a community centered on private subsistence agriculture and religious tolerance. Around 1630, he began to compile his two-volume “Of Plymouth Plantation,” one of the most important early chronicles of the settlement of New England.

Born of substantial yeomen in Yorkshire, England, Bradford expressed his nonconformist religious sensibilities in his early teens and joined the famed Separatist church in Scrooby at the age of seventeen. In 1609 he immigrated with the congregation, led by John Robinson, to the Netherlands. For the next eleven years he and his fellow religious dissenters lived in Leyden until their fear of assimilation into Dutch culture prompted them to embark on the Mayflower for the voyage to North America.

Did You Know?

William Bradford’s descendants include Noah Webster, Julia Child and Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist.

The Pilgrims arrived in what became Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1621 with a large number of non-Separatist settlers. Before disembarking, the congregation drew up the first New World social contract, the Mayflower Compact, which all the male settlers signed.

bradfordwilliamBradford served thirty one-year terms as governor of the fledgling colony between 1622 and 1656. He enjoyed remarkable discretionary powers as chief magistrate, acting as high judge and treasurer as well as presiding over the deliberations of the General Court, the legislature of the community. In 1636 he helped draft the colony’s legal code. Under his guidance Plymouth never became a Bible commonwealth like its larger and more influential neighbor, the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Relatively tolerant of dissent, the Plymouth settlers did not restrict the franchise or other civic privileges to church members. The Plymouth churches were overwhelmingly Congregationalist and Separatist in form, but Presbyterians like William Vassal and renegades like Roger Williams resided in the colony without being pressured to conform to the majority’s religious convictions.

After a brief experiment with the “common course,” a sort of primitive agrarian communism, the colony quickly centered around private subsistence agriculture. This was facilitated by Bradford’s decision to distribute land among all the settlers, not just members of the company. In 1627 he and four others assumed the colony’s debt to the merchant adventurers who had helped finance their immigration in return for a monopoly of the fur trading and fishing industries. Owing to some malfeasance on the part of their English mercantile factors and the decline of the fur trade, Bradford and his colleagues were unable to retire this debt until 1648, and then only at great personal expense.

PilgrimsembarkationRobert_Walter_Weiroverall“Embarkation of the Pilgrims,” by Robert Walter Weir. William Bradford is depicted at center, kneeling in the background, symbolically behind Gov. John Carver (holding hat) whom Bradford would succeed.[1]

Around 1630 Bradford began to compile his two-volume Of Plymouth Plantation, 1620-1647, one of the most important early chronicles of the settlement of New England. Bradford’s history was singular in its tendency to separate religious from secular concerns. Unlike similar tracts from orthodox Massachusetts Bay, Bradford did not interpret temporal affairs as the inevitable unfolding of God’s providential plan. Lacking the dogmatic temper and religious enthusiasm of the Puritans of the Great Migration, Bradford steered a middle course for Plymouth Colony between the Holy Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the tolerant secular community of Rhode Island.

The Reader’s Companion to American History. Eric Foner and John A. Garraty, Editors. Copyright © 1991 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Socialism and the First Thanksgiving

 Dinner Topics for Monday

The Real Story of Thanksgiving

Rush Limbaugh

“Long before Karl Marx was even born, the Pilgrims had discovered and experimented with what could only be described as socialism.” And they found that it didn’t work.

The true story of Thanksgiving is how socialism failed.  With all the great expectations and high hopes, it failed.  And self-reliance, rugged individualism, free enterprise, whatever you call it, resulted in prosperity that they never dreamed of.

What is the story of Thanksgiving?  What I was taught, what most people my age were taught, maybe even many of you were taught, the Pilgrims got to the New World, they didn’t know what to do.  They didn’t know how to feed themselves. They were escaping tyranny, but they got here, and the Indians, who were eventually to be wiped out, taught them how to do everything, fed them and so forth.  They had this big feast where they sat down and thanked the Indians for saving their lives and apologized for taking their country and eventually stealing Manhattan from ’em.

But that’s not what really happened.

RushRevere9“The story of the Pilgrims begins in the early part of the seventeenth century … The Church of England under King James I was persecuting anyone and everyone who did not recognize its absolute civil and spiritual authority. Those who challenged ecclesiastical authority and those who believed strongly in freedom of worship were hunted down, imprisoned, and sometimes executed for their beliefs. A group of separatists first fled to Holland and established a community.  After eleven years, about forty of them agreed to make a perilous journey to the New World, where they would certainly face hardships, but could live and worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences.

“On August 1, 1620, the Mayflower set sail. It carried a total of 102 passengers, including forty Pilgrims led by William Bradford. On the journey, Bradford set up an agreement, a contract, that established just and equal laws for all members of the new community, irrespective of their religious beliefs. Where did the revolutionary ideas expressed in the Mayflower Compact come from? From the Bible. The Pilgrims were a people completely steeped in the lessons of the Old and New Testaments. They looked to the ancient Israelites for their example.

“And, because of the biblical precedents set forth in Scripture, they never doubted that their experiment would work. But this was no pleasure cruise, friends. The journey to the New World was a long and arduous one. And when the Pilgrims landed in New England in November, they found — according to Bradford’s detailed journal — a cold, barren, desolate wilderness. There were no friends to greet them, he wrote.  There were no houses to shelter them. There were no inns where they could refresh themselves. And the sacrifice they had made for freedom was just beginning. During the first winter, half the Pilgrims — including Bradford’s own wife — died of either starvation, sickness or exposure. When spring finally came, Indians taught the settlers how to plant corn, fish for cod and skin beavers for coats.

“Life improved for the Pilgrims, but they did not yet prosper! This is important to understand because this is where modern American history lessons often end. Thanksgiving is actually explained in some textbooks as a holiday for which the Pilgrims gave thanks to the Indians for saving their lives.”  That’s not what it was.

“Here is the part that has been omitted: The original contract the Pilgrims had entered into with their merchant-sponsors in London called for everything they produced to go into a common store, and each member of the community was entitled to one common share.” It was a commune.  It was socialism.  “All of the land they cleared and the houses they built belonged to the community as well,” not to the individuals who built them.

Socialism Didn’t Work Then, Either

“Bradford, who had become the new governor of the colony, recognized that this form of collectivism was as costly and destructive to the Pilgrims as that first harsh winter, which had taken so many lives. He decided to take bold action. Bradford assigned a plot of land to each family to work and manage.”  They could do with it whatever they wanted. He essentially turned loose the free market on ’em.  “Long before Karl Marx was even born, the Pilgrims had discovered and experimented with what could only be described as socialism.” And they found that it didn’t work.

“What Bradford and his community found was that the most creative and industrious people had no incentive to work any harder than anyone else,” because everybody ended up with the same thing at the end of the day.  “But while most of the rest of the world has been experimenting with socialism for well over a hundred years — trying to refine it, perfect it, and re-invent it — the Pilgrims decided early on to scrap it permanently.

What Bradford wrote about this social experiment should be in every schoolchild’s history lesson. ‘The experience that we had in this common course and condition,’ Bradford wrote. ‘The experience that we had in this common course and condition tried sundry years… that by taking away property, and bringing community into a common wealth, would make them happy and flourishing — as if they were wiser than God. … For this community [so far as it was] was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For young men that were most able and fit for labor and service did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense.'”

What he was saying was, they found that people could not expect to do their best work without any incentive.  So what did they try next?  Free enterprise.  “Every family was assigned its own plot of land to work and permitted to market its own crops and products. And what was the result? ‘This had very good success,’ wrote Bradford, ‘for it made all hands industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.'”
They had miraculous results.  In no time they found they had more food than they could eat themselves.  So they set up trading posts.  They exchanged goods with the Indians.  The profits allowed them to pay off the people that sponsored their trip in London.  The success and the prosperity of the Plymouth settlement attracted more Europeans, began what became known as the great Puritan migration.

And they shared their bounty with the Indians.  Actually, they sold some of it to ’em.  The true story of Thanksgiving is how socialism failed.  With all the great expectations and high hopes, it failed.  And self-reliance, rugged individualism, free enterprise, whatever you call it, resulted in prosperity that they never dreamed of. []

The Pilgrims left the Old World to find freedom of religion in the New World. Today, even in America, there is evidence of efforts to stifle the freedom of Christian worship. If we want to preserve our Judeo-Christian culture, we can only do so by teaching it in our homes. This collection of Christian Dinner Topics helps parents transmit Judeo-Christian traditions every day. Learn more

History Facts vs. Censorship of Thanksgiving History

History Facts vs. Censorship of Thanksgiving History

Why the Pilgrims matter

Jordan Chamblee

Painting above, The First Thanksgiving by Jennie Augusta Brownscomb, 1914

Painting above, The First Thanksgiving by Jennie Augusta Brownscomb, 1914

November 2016 – Turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, pecan pie, and all the trimmings. It’s almost here – the national holiday America takes pride in, and one that is intricately woven into the very fabric of American identity. But in recent generations, it seems the substance of the holiday has been watered down or replaced altogether in order to appease perceived social sensitivities.

In general, public school students are taught an entirely different Thanksgiving narrative than the one their grandparents grew up understanding. In today’s progressive version, the Pilgrims are no longer staunchly faithful pillars of Christian ideals, nor are the Wampanoag natives helpful and willing friends of the Pilgrims in times of trouble.

Stephen McDowell, president of Providence Foundation and prolific author, speaks to this decline in honesty and watering down of the true story of the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving.

censhorship-1st-amendmentAFAJ: What is the greatest threat today to the truth about the Pilgrims and their history?
McDowell: While some books and educators directly lie about the Pilgrims and their primary Christian motive for starting a new colony in America, the greatest threat to the truth about their story is what is left out when their story is told.

Revisionist history gives a false picture of these devoted Christians. For example, one elementary public school textbook gives 30 pages to present the story of the Pilgrims without once [making] any reference to religion; thus at the end of [the Pilgrims’] first year, they “wanted to give thanks for all they had.” But there is no mention it was God they were thanking.

Teaching about the Pilgrims without referencing God causes people to think that Christianity was not important to them. Revisionist history is a primary reason for the secularization of America. People are taught our history without mentioning Christianity, or if it is cited, it is often presented in a negative light, when in reality it is the most important influence in the birth, growth, and development of the nation.

AFAJ: Why do some contemporary educators revise U.S. history, particularly the story of Thanksgiving?
McDowell: Most teachers in our schools today are ignorant of the true story of Thanksgiving and the Pilgrims. They never learned it in school and few search out primary source documents so as to get to know the Pilgrims via their own writings.

William Bradford

William Bradford

William Bradford, governor of the Pilgrims for 33 years, wrote their history – Of Plimoth Plantation – which is one of the great historical and literary works of all American history, but few teachers have even heard of it, much less read it. You only need to read a few pages to see the sincere and deep faith of these men and women who served as “stepping stones” for those who would follow.

Some educators who know the history yet ignore it, evaluate the Pilgrims through their own secular bias – that is, the Pilgrims may have had a deep faith, but God is a construction of the human mind and consequently is not relevant, so they do not need to mention God when recounting their story. Or they have such a dislike for God that they do not want to give Him any place in history.

AFAJ: Why is it important that we remember and pass on the truth about the Pilgrims?
McDowell: The Pilgrims’ story teaches us many lessons. We learn of the great sacrifice they paid to exercise their freedom of religion and to plant the early seeds of our nation. Half of them died the first winter after arriving at Plymouth, and most of the others suffered from sickness and hunger. At one time, only six or seven could get out of bed, but they toiled night and day to assist their brethren.

In the words of Bradford they “fetched them wood, made them fires, dressed their meat, made their beds, washed their loathsome clothes, clothed and unclothed them. In a word, they did all the homely and necessary offices for them which queasy stomachs cannot endure to hear named – and this willingly and cheerfully, without any grudging in the least.” Their care for one another reveals their Christian character and practical love, “a rare example and worthy to be remembered.”

Their motive to spread the gospel is evident from Bradford’s words (which are inscribed on his monument in Plymouth): “A great hope and inward zeal they had of laying some good foundation, or at least to make some way thereunto, for the propagating and advancing of the gospel of the kingdom of Christ in those remote parts of the world.”

Mayflower-compact-hero2-AThe Mayflower Compact, a document the Pilgrims drafted and signed before going ashore, shows their ability to reason biblically regarding civil affairs: “Having undertaken for the glory of God and advancement of the Christian faith … [we] do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God, and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic.”

Learning the unique covenant nature of our founding political documents is an important lesson in understanding why America was founded as the freest nation in history.

AFAJ: What is the most important aspect of the Thanksgiving story that parents can teach their children?
pilgrimprayingresizeMcDowell: The most important thing parents can teach their children about the Thanksgiving story is the most obvious: We call it Thanksgiving for a reason. Our Pilgrim forefathers, who are reflective of most of the founders of America, were firmly devoted to Almighty God and His Son Jesus Christ. In recognition of His gracious hand upon them, they set aside regular public days to give thanks and glorify Him.

This was not done merely once or twice but regularly throughout their entire lifetime. They set an example that was followed by those who came after them, even up until today. Throughout most of our history, Americans understood thanksgiving days were to thank God. The Pilgrims’ love and devotion to God, and their reliance upon Him in abundance and lack, are evidenced not only by their private lives but also by their public days of thanksgiving.

McDowell recommends:
Of Plimoth Plantation by William Bradford
Available at online and retail booksellers
Monumental, Restoring America as the Land of Liberty by Stephen McDowell
Available at providencefoundation.com
America’s Providential History by Stephen McDowell
Monumental, documentary DVD hosted by Kirk Cameron
Available at afastore.net or 877–927–4917

Thanksgiving Traditions

Thanksgiving Traditions

Parents, would you believe this?
Here’s a bit of nostalgia for you. I am a grandmother. I went to elementary school in the 1950’s, before the Supreme Court decree in 1963 that God was no longer allowed in the schools. I distinctly remember that we learned the following two hymns in the fourth grade. These hymns clearly refer to God as the Giver of the blessings of the harvest. Furthermore, we were taught grammar, diagramming sentences, how to write cursive (which apparently kids don’t learn anymore, because they text everything and don’t even have to spell right), and, simply, how to write. When taught writing, we were instructed to capitalize the names of Deity. Yes, in fourth grade, we were taught the meaning of Deity, and it was simply a given that we capitalized His name.

Both of these hymns are in my church hymnal. Every time we sing those, I’m taken back to my fourth grade class with Mrs. Moffit, more than 50 years ago, in California, no less. I am a great friend of technology, but I must admit I miss the substance we used to experience in the traditional education which included history and Character Education.

Enjoy the gratitude—which begets reverence—portrayed in these two lovely hymns. ~Christine Davidson

Hymns

Prayer of Thanksgiving (This hymn reflects upon the pilgrims who sought religious freedom—something which has been abridged in our schools today.)

We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens, and hastens his will to make known.
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing,
Sing praises to his name; He forgets not his own.

Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining his kingdom divine;
So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, wast at our side; All glory be thine!

We all do extol thee, thou leader triumphant,
And pray that thou still our defender wilt be.
Let thy congregation escape tribulation;
Thy name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!
~Anon. The Netherlands, ca. 1626, translated by Theodore Baker, 1851-1934

Come, Ye Thankful People

Come, ye thankful people, come; Raise the song of harvest home.
All is safely gathered in Ere the winter storms begin.
God, our Maker, doth provide For our wants to be supplied.
Come to God’s own temple, come; Raise the song of harvest home.

All the world is God’s own field, Fruit unto his praise to yield,
Wheat and tares together sown, Unto joy or sorrow grown.
First the blade, and then the ear, then the full corn shall appear.
Lord of harvest, grant that we Wholesome grain and pure may be.
~Henry Alford, 1810-1871

 

 

Judeo-Christian Culture: Free Will and Religious Freedom

Judeo-Christian Culture:

Free Will and Religious Freedom

Is religious liberty for everyone?

The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. This right is in its nature an unalienable right.

Ed Vitagliano

November 2018 – It has been observed that, in the Bill of Rights, religious liberty is literally the “first freedom.” Of the five rights listed in the First Amendment, religious liberty is listed first. The wording is simple, yet sublime: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. …”

With growing controversies over immigrants and refugees entering the U.S., both legally and illegally, Christians have struggled to answer this question: Does this first constitutional freedom apply to religions other than Christianity? There are good reasons to answer yes.

A right to disobey?


Most Christians are probably happy to include religious freedom among the collection of “natural” rights in the Declaration of Independence, rights that are according to “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” In one of the most well known sentences in the English language, author Thomas Jefferson famously stated:

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.

Ironically, this creates something of a paradox for the Christian who is loyal to God. On the one hand, the believer sees religious liberty as something that allows the mission of the church to proceed unhindered by government opposition.

On the other hand, it would appear that the Christian is also saying the God of the Bible has granted to every person the “natural right” to worship a false god, a million gods, or even the devil himself.

Religious liberty for all?


However, the answer to the paradox explains why the founders instituted religious liberty in the first place. They understood religious liberty as something congruent to the biblical teaching of “free will.”*

That is to say:

(1) because God has granted people free will, they can decide for themselves what God, god, or gods they will serve;

(2) because they are free before God to worship whomever they choose, our Bill of Rights guarantees freedom safe from government coercion;

(3) because true Christian conversion requires a commitment of faith in Jesus Christ, allowing Christians to proselytize and allowing unbelievers to reject the gospel is actually the most biblical approach to take.

James Madison, one of the most influential Founding Fathers, said in his tract Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments (1785):

The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. This right is in its nature an unalienable right.

The trigger for Madison’s tract was a bill he opposed in the General Assembly of Virginia that would have created from the state treasury a subsidy for Christian preachers. At the time, many were warning that piety and religious observance in Virginia were waning. The solution: government should promote the gospel so the detrimental trends could be arrested.

Not only should government not prefer one religion over another, Madison argued. Religious freedom must be available to everyone. He said:

Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other Religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other Sects?

It is reasonable to argue that a freedom which one Christian treasures for himself might also be a freedom that another Christian – or even a pagan – might equally treasure.

Coerced to become Christian?
It seems axiomatic for evangelicals today to assert that one can be forced to become a Christian. True, a person can be coerced to confess with his mouth that Jesus is Lord – or to demonstrate any number of outward signs of “conversion.” But Paul makes clear in Romans 10:10 that authentic outward expression must accompany faith in the heart for there to be true salvation.

Madison asserts that this is precisely why religious liberty must be granted to all:

James Madison

Whilst we assert for ourselves a freedom to embrace, to profess, and to observe the Religion which we believe to be of divine origin, we cannot deny an equal freedom to those whose minds have not yet yielded to the evidence which has convinced us. If this freedom be abused, it is an offence against God, not against man. …

Thus, the rebel who rejects the gospel is answerable to God; he is not and should not be answerable to the state for that rejection.

Moreover, the state cannot do what only the church, through Christ, can do – produce true converts. If the state attempts to empower government “magistrates” to coerce Christian conversion, Madison said, it becomes “an unhallowed perversion of the means of salvation.”

Against the darkness
It’s important to recognize that Madison is not arguing against Christians “voting their values.” Instead, he is declaring that government must not officially – and thus with coercive power – promote one religious view over another.

The Judeo-Christian worldview is part of the foundation of America. We should seek to convince our fellow citizens that the only way for our society to thrive is for Christian principles to be the bedrock of civic and cultural life.

In fact, it is quite biblical for Christians to warn non-believing Americans that God blesses nations for doing right in His sight and judges nations for committing evil (Jeremiah 18:7-10).

Followers of Christ are called to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16), and it is no exaggeration to state that, without that cultural influence, decay and darkness will ultimately triumph.

Nevertheless, while it is important for Christians to protect and promote religious liberty, both for themselves and for those with whom they disagree, it is equally important to remember that followers of Christ should not help false religions with their work. For example, they should not aid in the construction of Muslim mosques or otherwise contribute to the spread of Islam.

We believe that God has spoken through Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:1-2), and those who deny this are of “the spirit of error” and “the spirit of the antichrist” (1 John 4:1-6). New Testament writers were severe when warning against cooperating with false religions. In 2 John 10-11, the apostle emphasizes that false teachers should be neither welcomed nor aided:

If anyone comes to you and does not bring this [gospel] teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.

Whether all earthly freedoms are granted to us or are denied, the Christian’s first allegiance is to Christ the King and His kingdom.

*For those who point to Scriptures such as John 3:1-8 and conclude that sinners are free to choose Christ only as the Holy Spirit changes their heart, this substitute might be preferable: For those who are granted the grace to become born again, religious liberty is a blessing that allows men and women to follow that conversion impulse with minimal hindrance from the government.

____________________
For more studies on freedom of religion in the U.S., consider The Bible: America’s Source of Law and Liberty, America’s Providential History, and other books and video resources by Stephen McDowell. Founder of Providence Foundation, McDowell is a highly esteemed historian who chronicles the nation’s Christian roots. Visit providencefoundation.com or call 434-978-4535 for more information.

Judeo-Christian Culture: Freedom of Religion Theme Quotes

Judeo-Christian Culture:

Freedom of Religion Theme Quotes

“A nation of well informed men who have been taught to know and prize the rights which God has given them cannot be enslaved. It is in the region of ignorance that tyranny begins. ~Ben Franklin

Human Liberty is the mainstream of human progress. ~Ezra Taft Benson

Freedom can be killed by neglect as well as by direct attack. ~Ezra Taft Benson

The loss of freedom with the consent of the enslaved, or even at their request, is nonetheless slavery. ~Marion G. Romney

American Covenant with God

by Jon McNaughton

If my people . . . shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

“No matter how serious the trial, how deep the distress, how great the affliction, [God] will never desert us. He never has, and he never will. He cannot do it. It is not His character [to do so]. . . .He will [always] stand by us. We may pass through the fiery furnace; we may pass through deep waters; but we shall not be consumed nor overwhelmed. We shall emerge from all these trials and difficulties the better and purer for them.” ~George Q. Cannon

This is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ. ~Ether 2:12

God made man free—and then gave him the commandments to keep him free. We cannot break the Ten Commandments. We can only break ourselves against them—or else, by keeping them, rise through them to the fullness of freedom under God. ~Cecil B. De Mille

I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise. Doctrine and Covenants 82:10

 

True to the faith that our parents have cherished,

True to the truth for which martyrs have perished,

To God’s command,

Soul, heart, and hand,

Faithful and true we will ever stand.

~Evan Stephens

I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure that it will cost us to maintain this Declaration and support and defend these states. Yet through all the gloom I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is worth more than all the means. ~John Adams

Divine covenants make strong Christians. I urge each one to qualify for and receive all the priesthood ordinances you can and then faithfully keep the promises you have made by covenant. In times of distress, let your covenants be paramount and let your obedience be exact. Then you can ask in faith, nothing wavering, according to your need, and God will answer. He will sustain you as you work and watch. In His own time and way He will stretch forth his hand to you, saying, “Here am I.” D. Todd Christofferson

And every nation which shall war against thee, O house of Israel, shall be turned one against another, and they shall fall into the pit which they digged to ensnare the people of the Lord. ~1 Nephi 22:14

Therefore my people are gone into acaptivity, because they have no bknowledge. ~ Isaiah 5:13

 

He that thinks absolute power purifies men’s blood and corrects the baseness of human nature, need only read history to be convinced to the contrary. ~John Locke

“Oh!  What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive,” warned Sir Walter Scott.

We do not believe that human law has a right to interfere in prescribing rules of worship to bind the consciences of men. . .the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience. We believe that religion is instituted of God; and that men are amenable to him, and to him only, for the exercise of it, unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others. ~D&C 134:4

There is a God. Evolution cannot explain Creation. A cat cannot  build a hospital and nver will. Not can a dolphin. Humanity is exceptional. And we each only get one life. Most people take it for granted. What is Life? How does it happen? Where does it come from? The answer is God .~Rush Limbaugh

“History repeats itself. It has to. No one is listening.” ~ Steve Turner, British poet

For behold, they do study at this time that they may destroy the liberty of thy people.

~Alma 8:17

And that great pit which hath been digged for the destruction of men shall be filled by them that digged it. ~1Nephi 14:3

Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein. ~Proverbs 26:27

Gallery

Judeo-Christian Culture: Search for Truth, Plan of Salvation, Cautionary Advice

Judeo-Christian Culture: Search for Truth, Plan of Salvation, Cautionary Advice Truth and the Plan By Dallin H. Oaks   When we seek the truth about religion, we should use spiritual methods appropriate for that search. Modern revelation defines truth as a … Continue reading

Election Day 2018: Issues Facing America—Democratic Party Platform vs. GOP Party Platform

Election Day 2018: Issues Facing America—

Democratic Party Platform vs. GOP Party Platform

 

10 key issues Facing America

November 2018 – HUMAN LIFE
Democratic Party
Democrats are committed to protecting and advancing reproductive health, rights, and justice. We believe unequivocally that every woman should have access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion – regardless of where she lives, how much money she makes, or how she is insured. We believe that reproductive health is core to women’s, men’s, and young people’s health and wellbeing. …We will continue to oppose – and seek to overturn – federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman’s access to abortion, including by repealing the Hyde Amendment.

Republican Party
The Constitution’s guarantee that no one can “be deprived of life, liberty or property” deliberately echoes the Declaration of Independence’s proclamation that “all” are “endowed by their Creator” with the inalienable right to life. Accordingly, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to children before birth.

PLANNED PARENTHOOD
Democratic Party
We will continue to stand up to Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood health centers, which provide critical health services to millions of people.

Republican Party
We oppose the use of public funds to perform or promote abortion or to fund organizations, like Planned Parenthood, so long as they provide or refer for elective abortions or sell fetal body parts rather than provide health care.

JUDGES
Democratic Party

We will appoint judges who defend the constitutional principles of liberty and equality for all, protect a woman’s right to safe and legal abortion, curb billionaires’ influence over elections because they understand that Citizens United has fundamentally damaged our democracy, and see the Constitution as a blueprint for progress.

Republican Party
We support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity of innocent human life. We condemn attempts by activist judges at any level of government to seize the power of the purse from the people’s elected representatives by ordering higher taxes.

RELIGIOUS LIBERTY
Democratic Party
Democrats know that our nation, our communities, and our lives are made vastly stronger and richer by faith in many forms and the countless acts of justice, mercy, and tolerance it inspires. We believe in lifting up and valuing the good work of people of faith and religious organizations and finding ways to support that work where possible.

Republican Party
We value the right of America’s religious leaders to preach, and Americans to speak freely, according to their faith. Republicans believe the federal government, specifically the IRS, is constitutionally prohibited from policing or censoring speech based on religious convictions or beliefs, and therefore we urge the repeal of the Johnson Amendment.

EDUCATION/SCHOOL CHOICE
Democratic Party
Democrats are also committed to providing parents with high-quality public school options and expanding these options for low-income youth. We support democratically governed, great neighborhood public schools and high-quality public charter schools, and we will help them disseminate best practices to other school leaders and educators. Democrats oppose for-profit charter schools focused on making a profit off of public resources.

Republican Party
We support options for learning, including home-schooling, career and technical education, private or parochial schools, magnet schools, charter schools, online learning, and early-college high schools. We especially support the innovative financing mechanisms that make options available to all children: education savings accounts (ESAs), vouchers, and tuition tax credits.

SEX EDUCATION
Democratic Party
We recognize that quality, affordable comprehensive health care, evidence-based sex education, and a full range of family planning services help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies.

Republican Party
We renew our call for replacing “family planning” programs for teens with sexual risk avoidance education that sets abstinence until marriage as the responsible and respected standard of behavior.

OBAMACARE
Democratic Party
Thanks to the hard work of President Obama and Democrats in Congress, we took a critically important step towards the goal of universal health care by passing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which has offered coverage to 20 million more Americans and ensured millions more will never be denied coverage on account of a pre-existing condition.

Republican Party
Any honest agenda for improving health care must start with repeal of the dishonestly named Affordable Care Act of 2010: Obamacare. …To simplify the system for both patients and providers, we will reduce mandates and enable insurers and providers of care to increase health care options and contain costs.

MARRIAGE
Democratic Party
Democrats applaud [the 2015] decision by the Supreme Court that recognized LGBT people – like every other American – have the right to marry the person they love. But there is still much work to be done. … Democrats will fight for the continued development of sex discrimination law to cover LGBT people. We will also fight for comprehensive federal non-discrimination protections for all LGBT Americans … .

Republican Party
We condemn the Supreme Court’s ruling in United States v Windsor, which wrongly removed the ability of Congress to define marriage policy in federal law. We also condemn the Supreme Court’s lawless ruling in Obergefell v Hodges. … In Obergefell, five unelected lawyers robbed 320 million Americans of their legitimate constitutional authority to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH
Democratic Party
Democrats believe we must accelerate the pace of medical progress, ensuring that we invest more in our scientists and give them the resources they need to invigorate our fundamental studies in the life sciences in a growing, stable, and predictable way. …We recognize the critical importance of a fully funded National Institutes of Health to accelerate the pace of medical progress.

Republican Party
We call for expanded support for the stem cell research that now offers the greatest hope for many afflictions – through adult stem cells, umbilical cord blood, and cells reprogrammed into pluripotent stem cells – without the destruction of embryonic human life. We urge a ban on human cloning for research or reproduction, and a ban on the creation of, or experimentation on, human embryos for research.

IRAN
Democratic Party
We support the nuclear agreement with Iran because, if vigorously enforced and implemented, it verifiably cuts off all of Iran’s pathways to a bomb without resorting to war.

Republican Party
We consider the Administration’s deal with Iran, to lift international sanctions and make hundreds of billions of dollars available to the Mullahs, a personal agreement between the President and his negotiating partners. … Because of it, the defiant and emboldened regime in Tehran continues to sponsor terrorism across the region, develop a nuclear weapon, test-fire ballistic missiles inscribed with “Death to Israel,” and abuse the basic human rights of its citizens. A Republican president will not be bound by it.

*Full text of party platforms available at:
democrats.org/party-platform
gop.com/platform

History Heroes: U.S. Constitution, John Locke, and Founding Fathers

Dinner Topics for Wednesday

keyHe that thinks absolute power purifies men’s blood and corrects the baseness of human nature, need only read history to be convinced to the contrary. ~John Locke

John Locke’s Influence on the U.S. Constitution and Founding Fathers

signers3John Locke 29 August 1632 – 28 October 1704), widely known as the Father of Classical Liberalism,[2][3][4] was an English philosopher and physician regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers. Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, following the tradition of Francis Bacon, he is equally important to social contract theory. His work had a great impact upon the development of epistemology and political philosophy. His writings influenced Voltaire and Rousseau, many Scottish Enlightenment thinkers, as well as the American revolutionaries. His contributions to classical republicanism and liberal theory are reflected in the United States Declaration of Independence.[5]

Influence on Founding Fathers

The Constitutional Convention began deliberations on May 25, 1787.
Delegates used two streams of intellectual tradition, and any one delegate could be found using both or a mixture depending on the subject under discussion, foreign affairs or the economy, national government or federal relationships among the states. The Virginia Plan recommended a consolidated national government, generally favoring the big population states. It used the philosophy of John Locke to rely on consent of the governed, Montesquieu for divided government, and Edward Coke emphasizing civil liberties. The New Jersey Plan generally favored the small population states, using the philosophy of English Whigs such as Edmund Burke to rely on received procedure, and William Blackstone emphasizing sovereignty of the legislature.
The Convention devolved into a “Committee of the Whole” to consider the fifteen propositions of the Virginia Plan in their numerical order. These discussions continued until June 13, when the Virginia resolutions in amended form were reported out of committee.
All agreed to a republican form of government grounded in representing the people in the states.

Influence

Locke exercised a profound influence on political philosophy, in particular on modern liberalism. Michael Zuckert has argued that Locke launched liberalism by tempering Hobbesian absolutism and clearly separating the realms of Church and State. He had a strong influence on Voltaire who called him “le sage Locke”.

 His arguments concerning liberty and the social contract later influenced the written works of Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and other Founding Fathers of the United States. In fact, one passage from the Second Treatise is reproduced verbatim in the Declaration of Independence, the reference to a “long train of abuses.”

 

Such was Locke’s influence that Thomas Jefferson wrote: “Bacon, Locke and Newton … I consider them as the three greatest men that have ever lived, without any exception, and as having laid the foundation of those superstructures which have been raised in the Physical and Moral sciences”.[11][12][13] Today, most contemporary libertarians claim Locke as an influence.
But Locke’s influence may have been even more profound in the realm of epistemology. Locke redefined subjectivity, or self, and intellectual historians such as Charles Taylor and Jerrold Seigel argue that Locke’s An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690) marks the beginning of the modern Western conception of the self.[14]

Theories of religious tolerance

johnlockeLocke, writing his Letters Concerning Toleration (1689–92) in the aftermath of the European wars of religion, formulated a classic reasoning for religious tolerance. Three arguments are central: (1) Earthly judges, the state in particular, and human beings generally, cannot dependably evaluate the truth-claims of competing religious standpoints; (2) Even if they could, enforcing a single “true religion” would not have the desired effect, because belief cannot be compelled by violence; (3) Coercing religious uniformity would lead to more social disorder than allowing diversity.[15]

Locke also advocated governmental separation of powers and believed that revolution is not only a right but an obligation in some circumstances. These ideas would come to have profound influence on the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.

Continued

Dinner Talk: Definition of Classic Liberalism vs. Modern Liberalism

John Locke is called the Father of “Classic Liberalism.” The Founding Fathers were considered liberal at the time of the American Revolution because they were in favor of liberty, and they wanted to change the form of government to allow more liberty.Tories were considered to be conservative, because they wanted to conserve the Britiish monarchy.

Today these definitions have almost reversed. Today’s liberals want to change the U.S. Constitution (or destroy it) to decrease the amount of liberty, give more power to the federal government, and remove responsibility from the individual. Today, the Founding Fathers would be considered to be conservative, because they would want to conserve the U.S. constitution which they created, with limited government, and freedom of the people, balanced with individual responsibility.