Saturday, April 21, 2007

In the Wake of Virginia Tech, commentators call for more Bible Study

The Tribune (CO): A guest commentator and local pastor believes that if Virginia Tech gun man, Cho Seung-Hui, had been raised with biblical morals and not "a solid diet of secular humanism," tragedy would have been prevented.

The commentator references historian David Barton when claiming that after the Supreme court ruled in 1961 that Bible study was not permitted in the classroom "there was an immediate increase in societal problems, including violent crime, divorce, unwed pregnancies, dropping test scores at all academic levels, etc."

Barton vehemently opposes the separation of church and state. He speaks with numerous state legislatures about their commitment to biblical values and has written amicus briefs in cases at the U.S. Supreme Court (see here, here, and here). Times magazine lists Barton as one of the 25 Most Influential Evangelicals. His website, lists as its goals:

" exert a direct and positive influence in government, education, and the family by (1) educating the nation concerning the Godly foundation of our country; (2) providing information to federal, state, and local officials as they develop public policies which reflect Biblical values; and (3) encouraging Christians to be involved in the civic arena."

The Republican National Committee employs Barton's services to mobilize the Christian vote. As Barton told "I show them the Biblical basis for pastors being involved in civil government."

Christian Broadcasting Network (VA): Another version of the argument that the Bible shaped the minds and moral character of generations of young Americans, including those who formed the constitution. An excerpt:
"And with secular beliefs replacing scriptural doctrines, today it's widely assumed that man stands atop the evolutionary ladder, proud master of his own fate -- free from having to answer to anyone. Many Americans today seem to think that the path to freedom is to be free of God and the command of His holy Scriptures. But the Founding Fathers believed that the only true freedom comes from knowing this God and knowing His holy Word."

CNN: Texas legislators decided to make a course on the Bible optional, instead of mandatory. "I think the committee got the message that families and churches don't want the government to tell our children what to believe about the Bible," said Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network.

UPDATE: An Australian court found the man who had rapped a woman for studying the Bible guilty. The Australian media caught the attention of BibleBending for referring to the case as the "Bible rape case."

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Could a Bible course have prevented the Virginia Tech Massacre? and other Bible bending news

Inside Bay Area (CA): M.F. Chester Palesoo, a trustee in the Ravenswood School District, believes massacres like the one on Monday at Virginia Tech can be averted, if students are exposed to the Bible as teens. Palesoo has been advocating for school board members to get behind the Bible Literacy Project as a way to squelch the violence in East Palo Alto (CA). "Our community is overwhelmed with shoot-outs and crime," he said Tuesday. "The Bible will help them develop a spiritual relationship between them and their parents and other students on school sites."
Many Christian organizations have been on hand to offer support and now International Bible Society/Send the Light (IBS/STL). "You're not just handing them a full Bible and challenging them to work through it on their own," said Rich Blanco, Director of Outreach for IBS/STL. "It's giving them daily thoughts to think about and a place to journal some of their ideas. And at the end of the booklet it just continues to draw them closer to that point of making a decision for Christ."

Lincoln Courier (IL):
Gov. Rod Blagovevich vows to keep legislation in session as long as necessary to pass his sweeping health care proposal declaring that Illinoisans have a "God-given right" to health care. "In Ecclesiastes, there's the famous statement that there's a season for all things," he said. "Today in Illinois, in this spring, 2007, this is the season to provide comprehensive health care to every citizen in our state. ... I am determined to make this happen, and we will stay as long as it's necessary to provide health care to all families in Illinois and do what's right."

The Spoof (U.K.): The British satirical newspaper announces: "New Immigration Legislation Requires 40 years in the Desert!"

St. Cloud Times
(MN): A letter to the editor asks what would Jesus would do about immigration. The writer apparently feels he would urge his congress person to adopt Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

La Crosse Tribune (WI): Members of the Amish community in Wisconsin are protesting a new law that requires marking livestock. The 200 Amish daily producers who met with state officials recently say the Bible prohibits them from buying or selling numbered animals, and consider it the "mark of the beast."

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Bible-bending Billboards

A new campaign from Jesus Metropolitan Community Church of Indianapolis, with help from Faith In America and Metropolitan Community Churches this week began blanketing the Indianapolis area with billboards challenging Christian assumptions about homosexuality.

According to Faith in America, the five billboards (pictured) direct viewers to a website that provides support for the claims made on each.

Bible-bending headlines and other news

Australian headlines found a variety of ways to connect the words "rape" and "Bible" to a story of a Muslim woman who converted to Christianity after she was allegedly raped as punishment for reading the Bible. Some headlines for the stories that covered the on-going trial:
In other Bible-bending headline news, copy-editors had a field day coming up with headlines for the story of a jail guard accused of attacking an inmate with the Bible:
  • "Jail Guard Accused of Bible Thumping -- Literally" WLKY (KY)
  • "Guard in hot water for Bible belting" West Country Times (CA)
Los Angeles Times (CA): Carl Amari, A Chicago entrepreneur, is hoping his 20-disc word-for-word dramatic reading of the New Testament will be a holiday sensation next Christmas. The audio-book features the voice of Jim Caviezel, star of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of Christ," Terence Stamp as God, Michael York as the narrator, Luke Perry as Judas and Marisa Tomei as Mary Magdalene.

The L.A. Times reports that a team of Bible scholars was brought in to fret over every inflection and pronunciation and to ensure that every line is true to the St. James Version of the Bible. "When it comes to the Bible, you really can't get it wrong," Amari said. "You'll have people burning down your building. You don't want to get these people mad."

Amari hopes that the famous voices and dramatic touches such as the sounds of swords clanging, fires of hell burning, and ocean waves crashing will lure new audiences to the Bible. He is still however looking for the voice of Satan.

Jamaica Observer
(JAMAICA): Dr. Al Miller, head of Whole Life Ministries, accused Dr. Philip Phinn of using his "gifts of prophesy" to "manipulate" rather than "influence" the democratic Process. Phinn publicly declared last week that God has ordained Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller will rule another seven years in Jamaica. Miller said that Phinn's prophesy did not follow biblical regulations for announcing God's will since he should have done so privately.

(UK): Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the spiritual leader of the world's 77 million Anglicans, told theology students in Toronto that anti-gay judgments were not in accordance with the Bible. Rowan pointed to a passage in Paul's letter to the Romans which warned of becoming self-righteous in condemning those who sin.

This interpretation will do little to quell the theological crisis now threatening the Communion who disagree on whether to embrace homosexual individuals into the community. Rueters reports:
"[This reading] would not help pro-gay liberals, he said, because Paul and his readers clearly agreed that homosexuality was 'as obviously immoral as idol worship or disobedience to parents.' [It] would also upset anti-gay conservatives, who have been "up to this point happily identifying with Paul's castigation of someone else," and challenge them to ask whether they were right to judge others, he added."

Christian News Wire (press release) (DC): The 18th annual U. S. Capitol Bible Reading Marathon will begin at 8:00 PM on Sunday, April 29, 2007. For 90 continuous hours beginning with the reading of Genesis 1:1, every word of the Bible will be read aloud and without comment, culminating at 2:00 PM on Thursday, May 3 with the reading of the final chapters of Revelation. During those five days, hundreds of Bible believers will gather on the West Front of the U. S. Capitol to read a portion of the Bible, to listen and to pray. The U. S. Capitol Bible Reading Marathon began in 1990, the year proclaimed by a Joint Congressional Resolution and Presidential Proclamation by President George H. W. Bush as the International Year of Bible Reading. The event serves to honor the Bible and the Holy Word of God, celebrate religious freedom and unite the diverse branches of Christianity around the Bible.

The State
(SC): Chick-fil-A founder and owner S. Truett Cathy explains how someone can be religious and also successful in business:
"I see no conflict between good business and good biblical principals. The Bible teaches you have to treat your employees and customers the way you want to be treated. That’s the only lesson we need to learn. People like to eat in a place where they are respected and treated kindly."
The U.S. chicken sandwich chain is also famously closed on Sunday's because of the biblical imperative to honor the Sabbath.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Biblically-based Sex Programs Encouraged in Africa

True Love Waits International, a sub-group of LifeWay Christian Resources, has pledged to donate nearly $1 million to fund abstinence-only programs in Africa as part of the effort to control the spread of HIV. This announcement follows a study by the RAND Corporation which found that "HIV-positive people who say religion is an important part of their lives are likely to have fewer sexual partners and engage in high-risk sexual behavior less frequently than other people with the virus that causes AIDS."

True Love Waits (TLW) provides resources for community leaders to utilize "positive peer pressure" to encourage "moral purity by adhering to biblical principles." The organization has funded programs throughout Africa and claims success in countries like Uganda where the infection rate has dropped from 30 percent to 6 percent since the TLW was introduced 13 years ago.

However, despite the optimistic tone of the article in Chinese Christian News, TLW has over-looked the findings of the RAND study which emphasized that although it found a coorelation between religion and safe sexual practices, it was not an endorsement of abstinence programs:

“These are some significant findings about the role of religiosity in the lives of people who are HIV-positive,” said Frank H. Galvan, lead author of the study and assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior with the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles. “The next step is to find out how can we use this information in a way that can help lower the rate of spreading HIV to others.”

Religion remains a dominant force in America today, but the main focus of many faith communities is sexual abstinence, rather than examining how else religious beliefs may help to prevent the spread of HIV, Galvan said.

“This study suggests that there's a role for religious institutions to play in the fight against the spread of HIV,” Galvan said. “They have these core belief systems that do have a positive impact on the lives of people who are HIV-positive and who are sexually active. Religiosity is an untapped resource in the whole struggle against HIV and AIDS, and should be looked at more thoroughly.”

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Tennessean (TN): Residents of Blackman, TN are considering a proposal to build a $150-200 million "Bible Park USA." Marcille Durham, a spokeswoman for SafeHarbor, said the park would emphasize "the history and archeology of Biblical times." A similar park called "The Holy Land Experience" is already in operation in Florida.

News Leader (MO): "Sex has never been more important to the national [U.S.] conversation, with such issues as gay marriage and abortion playing significant roles in political debate. The Bible is often used to defend each side of any sexual issue, but most people really don't know what the Bible says specifically about sex." Drury University professor Theresa Hornsby hopes that her new book, 'Sex Texts from the Bible' could change that. "If you look at the section of the book on marriage ... I really don't think people would want to make the argument that we want to use the Bible as a model for modern marriage," Hornsby pointed out.
On a related note, Salema Hayek recently told the magazine Marie Claire that although she believes in God and Jesus Christ, she does not like the Bible because of the way it portrays women.

Houston Chronicle (TX): The U.S. Supreme Court will consider the case of a man on death row who believes his impending execution is a satanic conspiracy to prevent him from preaching the gospel. Scott Panetti was sentenced to the death penalty after shooting his mother and father in-law in September 1992. After three years in confinement, Panetti believes God cured him of his mental illness and he now preaches the gospel to fellow inmates. The Supreme Court will consider whether or not to execute a man who does not connect the crime he committed to the punishment.

WCCO (MN): Minnesota's U.S. Attorney Rachel Paulose is answering questions regarding her qualifications amid the controversy surrounding the removal of several U.S. attorneys and their replacement with what critics are calling GOP "cronies." Among other allegations, Paulose has come under fire for quoting the Bible in her opinions and urging staff to attend Bible study.