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-Sacramento: “Too Many Churches Already”

by Dr. D ~ August 27th, 2014

Immigrant Christians Have Difficulty Getting Their Place of Worship Approved

Flag_of_Sacramento,_California.svg

Romanian Christians who left their home country because of persecution found a new kind of discrimination in Sacramento, California when they attempted to receive city approval for a place of worship. One of the reasons given for a permit refusal for their new location was that there are “too many churches already” in the city.

That is when the lawyers for Pacific Justice Institute went to work.  PJI’s Brad Dacus said the following about the case:

"Another reason given was that they said there were too many churches already," says Dacus, whose law firm is representing the church. "You know, it’s not the business of government to dictate how many churches we need." …

"They recognized clear similarities of the hostility that they had experienced in Romania, being persecuted as Christians, and they were having some of the same kind of resistance to be able to have a place to worship here in the United States."

Response: Fortunately PJI was able to obtain a favorable 5-0 vote from the city’s Planning Commission after threatening to take legal action.

Unfortunately cases like this in California are not at all rare except for the fact in this situation the affected church was comprised of Romanian Christians who fled their home country because of persecution only to face a surprising form of the same thing in the USA. Surprising because we are supposed to have a Constitution that guarantees religious freedom particularly when it comes to governmental interference.

Nevertheless, cities all over California and all across America are looking for ways to limit and regulate churches through their zoning and building codes. The major reason for this is the lack of tax revenue coming in to the city coffers from churches and places of worship. Undoubtedly this is why Sacramento bureaucrats complained and cited that there were already “too many churches” in their jurisdiction.

There was a time in America, and I remember it well, when churches were actually considered to be an asset for any community but this is no longer the case in our increasingly secular culture.            *Top

-Love Your Neighbor- It’s Good for Your Heart?

by Dr. D ~ August 26th, 2014
a picture of a heart

       (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Love your neighbor”…following this Biblical commandment could actually be good for you in a number of different ways- mentally, spiritually, and physically. There is recent medical research which indicates that good relations with your neighbors might actually be better for the physical condition of your heart:

"Having good neighbours and feeling connected to others in the local community may help to curb an individual’s heart attack risk," said a statement that accompanied a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. …

For the latest research, the University of Michigan team used data from 5,276 people over 50 with no history of heart problems…

At the start of the project, the respondents were asked to award points out of seven to reflect the extent to which they felt part of their neighbourhood, could rely on their neighbours in a pinch, could trust their neighbours, and found their neighbours to be friendly.

When they crunched the numbers at the end of the study, the team found that for every point they had awarded out of seven, an individual had a reduced heart attack risk over the four-year study period.

… study co-author Eric Kim told AFP, and described the difference as "significant".

<Read the who0le article>

Response: Most Christians have discovered that following the teachings of Jesus leads to a happier and more productive life. That evidence is largely anecdotal but this research isn’t.

The researchers don’t claim to understand how this works but having a better relationship with ones neighbor seems to be a predictor of better health. Maybe God knows something about what is best for his creation after all- Love your neighbor and and have a happier and healthier heart.            *Top

-New HHS Contraceptive Mandate Rules Fail Again

by Dr. D ~ August 25th, 2014
Logo of the United States Department of Health...

              (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Friday (Aug.22) the Obama administration issued new procedures (the 8th set of rules) for fulfilling their HHS Contraceptive and Abortifacient Mandate. However, the Baptists and the Catholic Bishops have already found the latest revision to be inadequate for maintaining religious freedom.

Here’s the story from the Baptist Press:

In a fact sheet accompanying the new regulations, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) said the rules provide a new option for notification by non-profit religious organizations that object to the mandate. The non-profit may notify HHS in writing of its religious objection. In response, the federal government will notify the insurer or a third-party administrator it is responsible for providing employees of the non-profit with payments to cover the services.  …

The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) was among the organizations that found the latest HHS revision unsatisfactory.

"Here we go again," ERLC President Russell D. Moore said in a written statement. "What we see here is another revised attempt to settle issues of religious conscience with accounting maneuvers. This new policy doesn’t get at the primary problem. The administration is setting itself up as a mediator between God and the conscience on the question of the taking of innocent human life."

<Read the whole article>

Here’s a reaction to the change from the Catholic bishops:

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said, in a statement posted on the USCCB Facebook page, the bishops would study the rules in depth but were disappointed at first look.

Kurtz said “the regulations would not broaden the ‘religious employer’ exemption to encompass all employers with sincerely held religious objections to the mandate. Instead, the regulations would only modify the ‘accommodation,’ under which the mandate still applies and still requires provision of the objectionable coverage.”

Response: The ‘new rules’ are really only an accounting dodge and still require organizations and employers who object to abortifacients to be ‘defacto’ agents in the process. After all, who is really initiating the insurance coverage in the first place and paying for the extended coverage?

The new procedure merely puts the government in the middle as the agent to contact and force insurance companies to provide the objectionable additional coverage ‘for free.’ In reality, insurance companies cannot be expected to pickup the tab without increasing their premiums to every one of their customers including the objecting parties in order to cover the additional costs. 

Meanwhile the 102 lawsuits against the HHS Mandate continue to work their way through the federal court system. The newest revision will probably not affect them in any way.          *Top

-HS Student in Trouble For Saying ‘Bless You’ After a Sneeze?

by Dr. D ~ August 21st, 2014

Bless You!

 

Here’s a report that a high school student got in trouble for responding with ‘bless you’ after a classmate sneezed. The teacher reportedly does not allow any ‘God speak’ in her class and ‘bless you’ is included on a list of forbidden classroom words and phases.

Here’s the story from WMCTV:

A young girl, who claims she was standing up for her religious beliefs in the classroom, was suspended…

When Dyer County High School senior Kendra Turner said bless you to her classmate, she says her teacher told her that was for church.

"She said that we’re not going to have godly speaking in her class and that’s when I said we have a constitutional right," said Turner.

Turner says when she defended her actions, she was told to see an administrator. She says she finished the class period in in-school suspension.

<Read the whole article>

Response: This type of thing is happening all too often in schools and school classrooms across America. The religious rights of students are being infringed upon by arrogant teachers and school administrators who are really ignorant about what is and is not legally permitted in public schools when it comes to religion.

The teacher claims that Kendra was being disrespectful in the way she responded to her censure.  However it sounds to me like the teacher may have created the problem in the first place by insisting on a classroom environment where the faith of the students was discounted and disrespected.             *Top

-Houston: Activists Publish Names On Petition Against Transgender Bathroom Ordinance

by Dr. D ~ August 20th, 2014
Official seal of City of Houston

               (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

LGBT activists have published the names of 31,000 citizens in Houston, Texas who signed a petition in opposition to the Transgender Bathroom Ordinance which also restricted religious liberty in the city.

Here’s the story from LifeSiteNews:

Backers of a Houston city ordinance banning discrimination based on “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” have published the names of 31,000 pro-family citizens who signed a petition opposing the ordinance because they believed it violated freedom of religion and conscience.

<Read the whole article>

Response: This is a continuing ‘bullying’ tactic used by the gay activists to target their perceived opposition. In the past folks like the former CEO of Firefox have lost their jobs or potential for promotion in companies like Chase Bank over similar outings. Also in the past, Churches including Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church and many others including the Mormons were targeted and picketed for their support of traditional marriage through Prop 8 in California.

Ironically, Christians working for the city and the schools who are exposed by this tactic are now vulnerable to possible discrimination themselves for opposing this so-called ‘discrimination’ ordinance.            *Top

-Believers Live Longer, Happier, and Healthier Lives?

by Dr. D ~ August 19th, 2014
English: Front cover of September 2007 issue o...

(British Journal of General Practice: Wikipedia)

“Religious faith remains by far the best predictor of a long, healthy life”

There are medical studies from the UK that seem to indicate that believers in God who attend worship services may live longer, happier, and healthier lives.

Here’s the story from the UK Telegraph:

…as Richard Scott, a family doctor, notes in this month’s British Journal of General Practice, religious faith remains by far the best predictor of a long and healthy life.

…The positive influence of church attendance is well recognised, but the findings of this overview are, he observes, “quite extraordinary”, with faith reducing the risk of a heart attack by two-thirds and being associated with improved survival of a stroke or cancer.

For mental health, the statistics are even more dramatic: those with depression recover faster, and those with schizophrenia function better, while alcohol and drug misuse is reduced.

“Faith in God,” he says, “is relevant to all diseases yet studied.” That belief could be, as so many nowadays maintain, illusory, but the beneficial effect in conferring “greater happiness, morale, optimism and meaning in life” is indisputably for real.

<Read the whole article>

Response: The researchers do not seem to know the reasons for this effect accept the lifestyles of the believers may be somewhat different and more hope filled than the general population. Faith seems to add an ingredient to life that brings hope and a positive attitude towards the future.

Anecdotally I have known many folks who have found God later in their lives. Nearly all have expressed how their new found faith changed them for the better resulting in far happier and healthier lives than before.             *Top

-UPDATE: Bibles Can Stay in Navy Lodges

by Dr. D ~ August 16th, 2014

ESV_Burgundy_Gideon-Bible

The US Navy has reversed its decision to have Bibles removed from guest rooms in their lodges around the world due to a huge outcry from American Christians. Here’s the story from the Christian Post:

The U.S. Navy has reversed its decision to remove Bibles from Navy rooms, and has noted that it would be reviewing its policy. Navy Exchange Service Command officials had previously said they would be removing all religious literature, following complaints from an atheist group.  …

The Navy’s decision to put Bibles back in its lodge and guest rooms came on Thursday, Navy Times reported. The reversal follows backlash from religious groups who had asked why the Navy is giving in to demands from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which filed a complaint against the Bibles earlier this year.

"A Bible in a hotel room is no more illegal than a chaplain in the military. They are there for those who want them," Chaplain Col. Ron Crews, USAR retired, executive director of Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, said in a statement earlier this week. "There is nothing wrong with allowing the Gideons to place Bibles in Navy lodges, which it has done for decades at no cost to the Navy.  …”

<Read the whole article>

Response: Great news. There was an overwhelming response from Christian groups when the news leaked out that Bibles were being taken out of the lodges. Christians are finally starting to pay attention to current anti-religious bias in the US military that seems to have escalated during the tenure of the Obama administration.             *Top