A Film Pre-Screening Tonight in Support of the Abedini Family
Monday, May 12, 2014, 9:51 AM

On these pages, I have written a number of blogs regarding the plight of Pastor Saeed Abedini.  Many of my readers know that Pastor Abedini, an American citizen, is currently serving eight years in prison in Iran.  Pastor Abedini was arrested in July 2012 while working on an orphanage project, and was accused by Iranian Islamic authorities of “threatening national security.”  Inspired by his story, a new film will be released this summer based upon an Americanized version of his story.  For a variety of reasons, I don’t often attend films.  Primarily it is because there are few that hold any interest to me.  In fact, the last film I saw in a theater was the French silent film classic by Carl Theodor Dreyer of The Passion of Joan of Arc, first released in 1928.

“Persecuted,” the new political thriller will be pre-screened tonight (May 12, 2014) at 7 PM at the Rancho Mirage 16 Theater in Palm Springs, California.  (In a shameless commercial plug, tickets are only $10.)  The screening will take place in partnership with Joshua Springs Calvary Chapel, with proceeds from the screening to support the Abedini family.  The Chapel has raised over $190,000 to date, and hopes to raise enough money to buy a home for the family.   Daniel Lusko, writer and director of “Persecuted,” recently said:

We’re honored to stand shoulder to shoulder with such a courageous family.  Movies come and go, and filmmakers like me don’t face much persecution.  But men and women like the Abedinis face persecution and death every single day.  I hope the news of our standing with Pastor Abedini, and his wife and children, reaches him in his prison cell and gives him strength and courage to keep fighting for truth and freedom.

“Persecuted” tells the story of a modern-day evangelist named John Luther, played by James Remar.  Luther is the last holdout to support sweeping “reforms” to our 1st Amendment freedom of speech.  In the film, as the government is mandating political correctness, it is also covertly waging a war against religious organizations.  (Crazy plot, eh?)  A U.S. Senator, portrayed by Oscar-nominated actor Bruce Davison, and his political allies create a sinister plan of denial and scandal to frame John Luther for murder.  Suddenly his once normal life is turned upside down as he becomes a fugitive vowing to expose those responsible.  It is a mission that brings him face-to-face with the coming storm of Christian persecution that will threaten the moral ethics and freedoms in America.  Of course, it is only a movie and such things could never happen here, could they?

The cast of “Persecuted” includes Dean Stockwell, former senator Fred Thompson, Brad Stine, Raoul Trujillo, Natalie Grant, and Gretchen Carlson of Fox News.  You can view the trailer here.  The film is scheduled for release on July 18th on 600 screens across the United States.  I am looking forward to viewing this film this summer.  And if you are in the Palm Springs area this evening, it is a good opportunity to watch an interesting film and to support a persecuted Christian family.  Please continue to pray for Pastor Abedini and his family, along with our other persecuted Christian brothers and sisters in Iran.

Happy Mother’s Day 2014
Friday, May 9, 2014, 3:13 PM

This coming Sunday is Mother’s Day in the United States, and in a number of other nations.  Today, in fact, is the 100th anniversary of the first national Mother’s Day proclamation signed by President Woodrow Wilson on May 9, 1914.  As is the case with many things in our nation’s history, the roots go back to the efforts of a devout Christian woman, Ana M. Jarvis.  Ana M. Jarvis deeply loved her mother, Mrs. Ana Reese Jarvis.  Mrs. Ana Reese Jarvis was a pastor’s daughter and a Sunday School teacher in her Methodist church in Grafton, West Virginia.  When Mrs. Jarvis died in 1905, the Sunday School superintendant in her church asked Ana to arrange a memorial service for the women who had been so influential to so many in that church.  This led Ana to think that children then did not often show appreciation to their mothers during their lifetimes.  The Grafton church held a special memorial service on the second Sunday of May 1907, which was the anniversary of the passing of Mrs. Jarvis.  The following year, Ana convinced her church in Philadelphia to hold a Mother’s Day memorial service on May 10, 1908.  For that service, Ana supplied her church with white carnations, which had been her mother’s favorite flower.  After the great success of that memorial service, Ana began to write letters advocating for a national Mother’s Day.  Six years later, after many letters and much hard work, on May 8, 1914, both houses of the United States Congress passed resolutions establishing a national Mother’s Day.  The next day, exactly 100 years ago today, President Wilson issued the following proclamation:

Now, Therefore, I, Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the said Joint Resolution, do hereby direct the government officials to display the United States flag on all government buildings and do invite the people of the United  States to display the flag at their homes or other suitable places on the second Sunday in May as a public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country.

So thanks to the effort of one Christian lady seeking to memorialize the strong Christian witness of her mother, Mother’s Day is now observed on the second Sunday of May.  It is also celebrated in other countries as well, including Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Turkey, and various other nations of Africa and South America.  This year, as we celebrate Mother’s Day and give thanks to God for our mothers, please remember to pray for the countless mothers around the world who sacrifice everything to follow our Lord Jesus Christ.  In particular this year, please remember the mothers of the kidnapped young women in Nigeria, and the mothers of the thousands of murdered victims of the radical Islamic terrorist group, Boko Haram, in Nigeria.

Chinese Christians Lose Their Church Buildings
Tuesday, May 6, 2014, 10:59 AM

chinese church1 300x208 Chinese Christians Lose Their Church BuildingsLast month on these pages, I wrote about how thousands of Chinese Christians mounted an extraordinary, round-the-clock defense of Sanjiang Christian Church in Wenzhou, China.  The Christians, including the elderly and disabled women, occupied the church to prevent demolition teams from moving in to bulldoze their church building, which dominated the city’s skyline.  The 24-hour guard began weeks ago when a demolition notice was posted on the newly-constructed church that took six years to build and cost up to 30 million yuan (approximately $4.8 million).  Chinese Communist officials declared that the church had been built illegally and posed “serious safety risks,” and further used red paint on the towering white façade to write “Demolish” and “Illegal construction.”  However, church officials said that the construction plan and design were approved by the Wenzhou municipal government, and in fact, was cited as a “model project” by the local government when the church was completed late last year.  Despite the acts of civil disobedience by the Chinese Christians, as of April 28, 2014, the church building has now been demolished.  In addition, media reports indicated that other smaller churches in the same province have also been demolished.

Prior to demolition of the Sanjiang Church, Communist officials removed the Christians defending the church building, and arrested more than twenty Sanjiang Church leaders, as well as some neighboring pastors supportive of the Sanjiang Church.  Some have surmised that the worldwide publicity from this incident caused petty local Communist officials to lose so much face that action had to be taken to avoid appearing weak.  To the unbridled utter foolishness of Communist officials, this has led to a complete rupture of the little remaining trust between Chinese Christians and their government, and will drive Chinese Christians deeper underground.  Further, rather than stopping the growth of Christian faith in China, history teaches us that we can expect even faster growth in the future for, as Tertullian observed long ago, the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.  In fact, one could easily imagine that the cadres’ actions could lead to an ultimate collapse of China’s Communist Party’s monopoly of unchecked political power.  Please pray for the Christians of China, and in particular, for the worshippers at the Sanjiang Christian Church.  They had sought a peaceful resolution to this dispute, but now, they are literally left with ashes.  To see a short video containing comments by Bob Fu, founder and president of Texas-based China Aid (www.Chinaaid.org), please see this link.  And if you wish to write to the Chinese Ambassador to the United States about this matter, you can reach him at the following address:

The Honorable Cui Tiankai
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China
3505 International Place, N.W.
Washington, D.C.   20008

Email: chinaembpress_us@mfa.gov.cn


More Tragedy in Nigeria
Monday, May 5, 2014, 9:57 AM

The other morning a dear brother in Christ in Nigeria emailed me that there had been another bombing in Abuja, Nigeria, the scene of some of the worst terrorism against Christians in the world today.  Late last week, the car bomb attack killed at least 19 people and injured 60 more in Nyanya, a suburb of Abuja, close to the bus station where at least 70 people died in another bomb blast on April 14.  In last Thursday’s attack, the Islamic terrorists targeted a police checkpoint near the bus station.  In the April 14 attacks, the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram claimed responsibility.  No group has yet claimed responsibility for last Thursday’s attack; however, Boko Haram terrorists are again the primary suspects.  Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is evil” in the local Hausa language, has staged a wave of terrorist attacks in northern Nigeria in recent years, and more than 1,500 persons have been murdered by the terrorists this year alone.

Also on April 14, Boko Haram terrorists abducted 276 teenage girls from a high school in Chibok, Borno State, in northeast Nigeria.  In a video released in May 2013, Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, threatened to kidnap female students with the express purpose of treating the captured girls as slaves.  The kidnapped girls, overwhelmingly Christian, are now being sold as “wives.”  Under Islamic sharia law, lawful enslavement can only occur when a person is captured in “war,” presuming that the prisoner is not Moslem, or by giving birth during slavery.  Thus, the Boko Haram terrorists adhere to the evil Islamic belief that women captured during war are slaves with whom their “masters” can have sex.  The students were about to take their final year exams, and thus, the young women are all between 16 and 18 years old.

For my readers in the Washington, D.C. area, tomorrow, Tuesday, May 6, 2014, from 10:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M., there will be a rally organized by the Nigerian diaspora and our good friends at Jubilee Campaign (www.jubileecampaign.org), at the Embassy of Nigeria, located at 3519 International Court, NW, in Washington, D.C.  If you can, please come to pray and support the kidnapped students.  And wouldn’t it be a powerful signal to Christians and other peace-loving people around the world if Mr. Obama, after yucking it up at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner on Saturday night, made a strong statement in support of the kidnapped young women and in opposition to the Islamic war on women?  Remember that these girls could be your daughters, sisters, or cousins.  One day, the kidnapped women might be in our communities.  At that time, who will speak for us?  Please pray for the safe return of these young women.  Please pray also that the Nigerian government shows courage to find the girls and return them to their families.  If you wish to write to the Nigerian Ambassador to Washington, D.C., about this matter, you can write to him at the following address:

His Excellency (Prof.) Adebowale Ibidapo Adefuye
Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
3519 International Court, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Tel: (202) 986-8400, Ambassador Adefuye’s direct line is extension 1091 or 1097
Fax: (202) 362-6541
Email: info@nigeriaembassyusa.org

In Memory of the Martyred Seminarians of Buta, Burundi
Wednesday, April 30, 2014, 10:44 AM

During the Rwandan Genocide of 1994, the dominant Hutu majority killed as many as one million Tutsi and other Hutus.  The Genocide killed 70 percent of Tutsis then living in Rwanda, representing 20 percent of Rwanda’s population.  However, for a number of years afterwards, there was a spillover into other nations from the Genocide.  Among those, on this date, April 30, 1997, a group of Hutu terrorists from the Orwellian-named “National Council for the Defense of Democracy” attacked the Roman Catholic Seminary in Buta, southern Burundi, at daybreak.  The Hutu terrorists then murdered 36 seminarians, along with eight members of the seminary staff.  The seminarians were ordered to separate into two groups, Hutu and Tutsi.  It was clear that the terrorists wanted the Tutsis to die.  The seminarians refused to come apart and, as a result, all were martyred.   Eight of the seminarians were from Rwanda, six were from Congo, and one was from Nigeria, while the others were from Burundi.

The seminarians had just completed an Easter season retreat weeks before their martyrdom.  Father Nicolas Niyungeko, rector of the Sanctuary of Buta, wrote the following regarding the seminarians:

At the end of the retreat, this class was enlivened by a new kind of spirit, which seemed to be a preparation for the holy death of these innocents.  Full of rejoicing and joy, the word in their mouths was “God is good and we have met Him.”  They spoke of heaven as if they had just come from it, and of the priesthood as if they had just been ordained …. One realized that something very strong had happened in their hearts, without knowing exactly what it was.  From that day on, they prayed, they sang, they danced to church, happy to discover, as it were, the treasure of Heaven. The following day, when the murderers surprised them in bed, the seminarians were ordered to separate into two groups, the Hutus on one hand, the Tutsi on the other. They wanted to kill some of them, but the seminarians refused, preferring to die together.  Their evil scheme having failed, the killers rushed on the children and slaughtered them with rifles and grenades.  At that point some of the seminarians were heard singing psalms of praise and others were saying “Forgive them Lord, for they know not what they do.”  Others, instead of fighting or trying to run away, preferred to help their distressed brothers, knowing exactly what was going to happen to them. Their death was like a soft and light path from their dormitory to another resting place, without pain, without noise, nor fear.  They died like Martyrs of the Fraternity, thus honoring the Church of Burundi, where many sons and daughters were led astray by hatred and ethnic vengeance.

The seminary in Buta is what is referred to as a “minor” seminary.  It offered basic education and religious formation to younger men of high school age, who were considering vocation to the priesthood before moving to a “major” seminary.  As to their courage, great love, and deep faith, the seminarians showed that they were already in the majors for they taught us God’s love and courage far beyond their years.  Jesus taught us in the Gospel of John, chapter 15, verse 13, that “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”  Almighty God, You call Your witnesses from every nation and reveal Your glory in their lives.  Make us thankful for the example of the Martyrs of the Christian Fraternity of Burundi, and strengthen us by their example, that we, like them, may be faithful in the service to Your kingdom unto death, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.  May God give great peace to the memory of the martyred seminarians of Buta, Burundi, who went into the presence of our Lord Jesus on this day seventeen years ago.

National Day of Prayer
Monday, April 28, 2014, 10:11 AM

Thursday, May 1st, 2014, will be the National Day of Prayer.  The annual observance is held on the first Thursday of May, and has been designated by the United States Congress as a day when people are asked to “turn to God in prayer and meditation.”  This year’s theme is taken from Romans 15:6, “so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Traditionally, the president signs a proclamation in which he encourages all Americans to pray on behalf of our nation.  As one example, President Reagan declared in his 1983 proclamation:

From General Washington’s struggle at Valley Forge to the present, this Nation has fervently     sought and received divine guidance as it pursued the course of history.  This occasion provides     our Nation with an opportunity to further recognize the source of our blessings, and to seek His     help for the challenges we face today and in the future.

Although this specific national day of prayer goes back to 1952, days of prayer, repentance, and public humiliation have been called since at least 1775.  In David McCullough’s masterful book, 1776, he narrates how God’s Providence was invited and welcomed, and clearly present, in the first year of the founding of the United States.  In recent decades, however, regular readers to my blog, as well as readers of Touchstone and Salvo are acutely aware of how God’s presence has been removed day by day, and today, many tens of millions in our nation walk in great spiritual and moral darkness.  And yet, we know that God’s righteous judgments are true and righteous altogether, as President Lincoln reminded us in the immortal words of his second inaugural address of March 1865, as he quoted from Psalm 19, verse 9.

On that day, many will gather to pray throughout our nation for local and national leaders, and for those in our civic institutions of influence, such as educators, police, firemen, and other emergency responders, the military, our business leaders, and our nation’s clergy, and others.  Some churches will be open throughout the day for people to gather and pray.  Although the constitutionality of a congressionally-authorized national day of prayer has been challenged in the courts, so far at least, it has been found to be constitutional.  An interesting aspect of this year’s National Day of Prayer is its international expansion; Australian prayer leaders have called for 100 nations to join together in 48 hours of prayer and fasting on behalf of the United States during April 30th and May 1st.  Here is a short video in which Dr. Erwin W. Lutzer, senior pastor of the historic Moody Church in Chicago, prays for our nation.  To find a gathering place for prayer in your community, please see this link here.  If you are unable to attend a particular event, you can also join in this year’s national observance, available here that will be broadcast live on Thursday morning, from 9 A.M. until noon, EST.

This year, let us again join together in prayer for the United States.  Let us pray, in the words of 2 Chronicles 7:14, that our nation and its people repent of our pride, wickedness, and self-idolatry, and beg God to enter our government, legal system, churches, families, education, military, business, media, and the arts.  Even more importantly, let us pray that the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ would reject her often lukewarm, superficial, uncaring, and trivial attitude, and arise to her God-given responsibilities to the Lord Jesus Christ, and return to her first love for God, as we read in Revelation 3.  May God bless the United States of America, but far more importantly, may the people of the United States bless God and His Holy Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Some Thoughts On Martial Law
Friday, April 25, 2014, 9:29 AM

The mostly conservative columnist George Will observed in a recent interview, “I’m quite certain that we’re going to rebel against this abusive government.”  Was that statement merely an explosive comment from a reasonable and thoughtful observer of the modern American scene who sees something unusual in our nation?   In the past few weeks, many Americans have been watching with great interest the events unfolding in Nevada involving approximately 200 heavily-armed Bureau of Land Management agents and rancher Cliven Bundy and his 400 head of cattle grazing on land that his Mormon pioneer ancestors first ranched in the 1870s.  Fortunately, in the end, the federal land managers backed down, and Mr. Bundy got most of his cattle back.  But it would have taken little for the entire scene to explode into violence and death.  And it was certainly unhelpful when the Majority Leader of the United States Senate labeled supporters of Mr. Bundy as “domestic terrorists,” rather than the militarized government bureaucracies that increasingly wreak havoc on non-violent citizens.  (Incidentally, John Fund recently observed that today dozens of federal agencies have Special Weapons and Tactics (“SWAT”) teams, including the Department of Education, the Department of Agriculture, the Railroad Retirement Board (really?), the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Office of Personnel Management, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  (I guess that the FBI and Secret Service weren’t quite enough.)  Last week Dr. Benjamin Carson opined:

For our nation to once again be a thriving metropolis of freedom and innovation, the people and the government must peacefully coexist in an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect.  This can only occur when laws are equally enforced and political favors are a thing of the past.  When obvious governmental corruption is discovered, it must be swiftly and openly dealt with, and the perpetrators must face easily verifiable punishment. . . . We the people of the United States are the only ones capable of preventing uncontrolled government expansion and abuse. Like the ranchers in Nevada, Americans must find the courage and determination to maintain a free and vibrant nation. Government should be our friend and ally. When it is, we should support it wholeheartedly.

Yet increasing numbers of Americans have grown leery of the accumulation of power by the federal government under this president, and his willingness to limit individual liberty.   In a recent Rasmussen poll, 37% of likely voters now fear the federal government, while another 17% are not sure.  (Count me among the fearful.)  Late last month, a Homeland Security document was leaked that revealed details of a joint Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) and Federal Emergency Management Agency national exercise.  In the exercise, martial law is imposed on the United States following a major earthquake in Alaska.  One of the components involved in the exercise, beginning at page 125, is an effort to counter online dissent by a disgruntled group called “Free Americans Against Socialist Tyranny.”  A copy of that leaked document is available here.

Further, DHS is buying 704,390,250 rounds of ammunition over the next four years.  Based upon its 70,000 DHS agents and officers, this would be roughly 2,500 rounds per agent per year.  Quite a bit of target shooting, no?  This led me to think of some events from 100 years ago, which are mostly unknown today.  The majority of Americans are unaware that martial law has been imposed in many parts of the United States on a number of occasions.  In the fall of 1913, Colorado Governor Elias Ammons ordered the National Guard into the coalfields to preserve peace by striking miners.  Exactly 100 years ago, on this past Easter Sunday, April 20, 1914, troops fired on a striking miners’ colony in Ludlow, Colorado, killing 20, including seven miners, two women, and eleven children.  President Woodrow Wilson then ordered federal troops into the Colorado coalfields to restore order.

Several months later, on June 23, 1914, the Miners Union Hall in Butte, Montana, was dynamited.  This led to seven years of martial law in that area.  In 1920, mine guards fired upon striking miners, killing two and wounding another dozen, and again, federal troops were called in to restore order.  Both governors acted in accordance with a 1909 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Moyer v. Peabody, 212 U.S. 78 (1909), which gave the government broad authority to imprison without probable cause citizens of the United States, and to deny citizens the right of habeas corpus.  That broad authority was later cut back in another Supreme Court decision called Sterling v. Constantin. 287 U.S. 378 (1932).  Then, in 1934, a national strike by more than 400,000 textile workers took place.  The National Guard was called out in Connecticut, Georgia, Maine, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and South Carolina.  In Georgia, 100 picketers were held in a former World War I prisoner-of-war camp for trial by a military court.  Ultimately, President Franklin Roosevelt intervened, and the workers returned to work following the recommendations of the newly-formed National Labor Relations Board.

More recently, in 1955, the Indiana National Guard was called to a dispute between the Perfect Circle foundry in New Castle, Indiana, and the United Auto Workers.  The Indiana governor declared Henry County a military district under military rule.  National Guardsmen set up roadblocks around the city, searched automobiles, and seized firearms and liquor.  Individual rights were curtailed.  Rights to bear arms, to peacefully assemble, to be secure against unreasonable search and seizures were restricted by the military.  Merchants authorized and licensed to sell liquor or firearms were forbidden to do business.  Even the right of licensed persons to carry concealed weapons was denied.  In effect, civil process was supplanted by an authoritarian military government.

There is, at best, a tenuous relationship between the American, and his federal and state government, and it is the tendency of all governments to encroach upon the liberties of the people.  Thomas Jefferson’s immortal words in The Declaration of Independence noted that “Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”  Even Barbie from Toy Story 3 knew that “authority should derive from the consent of the governed, not from the threat of force!”  So be forewarned: such has happened before.  Even George Will and Barbie are seeing something unusual in our country today, but it has all happened before.  So, please remember, as our Lord Jesus taught us, to watch and pray.

More Stupid Teachers and Principals
Tuesday, April 22, 2014, 10:41 AM

Last week, I wrote on these pages about two boys in Apple Valley, California, whose teachers, Mrs. Stormy DeHaro and Mrs. Julie Manker, confiscated the Bible coins placed in the children’s St. Valentine’s Day cards for their classmates.  Following an investigation, the school district properly found that the teachers violated the boys’ First Amendment constitutional rights to freedom of speech and expression, and freedom of religion.  In the boys’ case, the school district did the right thing and acknowledged that the boys’ constitutional rights were violated, and that they will be able to distribute their Bible coins in the future.

In a similar case, J.A., a first grade student, was prohibited from distributing St. Valentine’s Day cards to his classmates because the cards contained a note that mentioned God, and included the Bible verse from the Gospel of St. John, 3:16, after a sentence about the history of St. Valentine.  I think that many of my readers will recognize that verse from the Bible.  J.A.’s parents helped him assemble the cards that included a note that stated the disconcerting and radical observation, “Happy Valentine’s Day!  St. Valentine was imprisoned and martyred for presiding over marriages and for spreading the news of God’s love.  In honor of St. Valentine’s Day, I want you to know that God loves you!!!  ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but have eternal life.’ John 3:16.”

Of course, when the dangerous first grade student arrived with his cards at Floyd R. Shafer Elementary School in Nazareth, Pennsylvania (Really? Nazareth?  Truly, a Prophet is not honored in his hometown!), he was stopped. His teacher noticed the faith-based notes and brought them to the attention of the school’s principal, William Mudlock.  Dr. Mudlock ordered them removed immediately because of their religious nature and because they contained a Bible verse.  At a meeting with J.A.’s parents, Dr. Mudlock told them that the Bible verse could be “offensive” to others.  Moreover, Dr. Mudlock explained that the child’s note sought to “establish the supremacy” of his Christian faith over others, as prohibited by school district policy.  Mudlock appealed to authority citing NASD Policy 220 on “Unprotected Student Expression,” which states that the school officials can prohibit student expression that seeks “to establish the supremacy of a particular religious denomination, sect or point of view.”  So, stupid principal Mudlock believes that NASD Policy 220 trumps the U.S. Constitution.

Unlike the much smarter administrators in Apple Valley, these bullies wanted to go to war over the St. Valentine’s Day cards.  As a result, the school district refused to change their policy, and a lawsuit was filed.  The complaint filed in J.A. v. Nazareth Area School District, is available here.  Interestingly, the same U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania struck down an identically worded policy at another Pennsylvania school district in 2008, saying that such policies “restrict what effectively amounts to all religious speech, which is clearly not permissible under the First Amendment.”  I am only sorry that the learned Dr. Mudlock and the boy’s teacher were not personally sued. Anyway, perhaps the school district will reduce their salary to pay for the defense of this lawsuit.

Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Matt Sharp, noted:

Public schools ought to encourage, not suppress, the free exchange of ideas, including those communicated through Valentine’s Day cards.  A Bible verse and a reference to God does not make such a card unconstitutional.  Religious expression is just as protected by the First Amendment as other messages that students communicate.

It is abundantly clear that the school district’s censorship of a Christian message is exactly the type of hostility to religion forbidden by the First Amendment.  Please pray for little J.A. and for his family during these difficult days. And in this post-Mozilla world, my readers in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, might want to fire William Mudlock.  It is the only way to teach the real bullies at J.A.’s elementary school.

An Invocation for Resurrection Sunday
Thursday, April 17, 2014, 9:45 AM

Our Loving Heavenly Father, today we gather to worship You as we celebrate the most important event in human history and Your greatest miracle: the resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  We remember the horrible sufferings that Your Son endured on the cross for each of us.  We remember the torture of Your Son by the Roman soldiers, by the mob, and by the wicked leaders of Rome and Jerusalem, preceding and during Our Lord’s crucifixion.  For us, Your Holy Son experienced hellish torment with all of the venom, enmity, and hatred of Satan.  And yet, we remember Our Savior’s prayer as He was dying on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  We now see that the people in that day did not know fully what they were doing as they drove those ghastly, hideous, and ugly nails through His hands and feet.  Just as today, we do not realize what we do when we reject You and Your ways in our hearts and lives.  We do thank You, Lord Jesus, that on that first Resurrection morning, You paid the debt of Adam’s sin for each one of us, that the shedding of Your precious blood on the cross cleared away the darkness of sin by Your magnificent and radiant resurrection.  We thank You that on the first Easter morning, You broke the bonds of death and rose from the grave as Conqueror, reconciling Heaven and earth, and reuniting a sinful mankind with a holy God.  None of us had any hope of eternal happiness before You redeemed us through the blood of Your Son Jesus.  The miracle of Your resurrection has washed away our sins, gives us the opportunity and privilege to be restored to a right relationship with You, and brings us great joy and peace.  We pray, Our Lord and Savior, that You will preserve, bless, and protect Your servants gathered in churches throughout the world, who today gather together in the enjoyment of this Easter happiness.  We think in particular of our brothers and sisters in Christ in other lands, many of whom worship You under terrible persecution, poverty, and suffering.  We ask that Your presence will be particularly close to them on this holy day through Your Holy Spirit.  For we ask this through the precious name of Jesus Christ Our Lord, Who lives and reigns with God The Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, forever and ever.  Amen.

As we read in I Peter 1:3, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In his great mercy, He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”  I wish my readers and your families a blessed and holy Easter with the promise of good conquering evil.  Maranatha!

Constitutional Violations Against Children at Apple Valley, California
Monday, April 14, 2014, 9:23 AM

Apple Valley, California, a small community of about 70,000 residents, lies on the southern edge of the Mojave Desert.  This desert community is best known for being the home of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans (my younger readers should just wiki them), and their museum was originally established in Apple Valley.  Among the town’s elementary schools is the Desert Knolls Elementary School, where third grader Steven Peterson, age 8, and his brother, fourth grader Patrick Peterson, age 10, attend.  They are two sweet and lovely young boys who love the Lord Jesus Christ, and want their classmates to know Him as well.  As a result, the boys have sometimes handed out coins that quote two Bible verses: John 3:16 (“For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.) and John 3:36 (“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”)  The reverse side of the coin asks the important question, “Where will you spend eternity?”

On a number of occasions during 2013 and 2014, teachers reprimanded the boys for bringing their Bible coins to school.  Patrick’s teacher, Mrs. Stormy DeHaro, said she “hated” the coins, and told Patrick not to bring the coins to school again.  Steven’s third grade teacher, Mrs. Julie Manker, noticed the coins in his St. Valentine’s Day cards for all of his classmates.  Ms. Manker then removed the coins from each child’s St. Valentine’s Day card, placing the coins in a zip-locked bag with a note for his parents saying that the coins were “in violation of the Ed Code,” and returned them to Steven.  Steven said that he felt sad after this St. Valentine’s Day incident.  Ms. Manker said that she believed that bringing the coins with Bible verses violated state law.  Of course, that view is wrong, even in California.  In fact, Ms. Manker’s conduct violated the California Constitution’s free speech clause, and free exercise and enjoyment of religion clause, and even violated the California Education Code section 220, which provides that no person shall be subjected to discrimination on the basis of their religion.

Then adding insult to injury, the school principal, Mrs. Crystal Schinhofen, failed to address the discriminatory behavior by the teachers, and unlawfully insisted “that she must be informed in advance of any religious items being distributed on campus.”  (How stupid do you have to be to be an elementary school principal in California?  But I digress.)  As a result of their conduct, the Peterson family sought legal advice, and the boys were represented by William Becker of Freedom X (www.freedomxlaw.com), a Los Angeles-based public interest law firm.  Following the allegations, the school district investigated, and on April 4, 2014, issued its long, confidential report, available here.  The investigators determined that the school teachers did in fact violate the boys’ First Amendment constitutional rights to freedom of speech and expression, and freedom of religion.  (It looks to me that the investigation and preparation of this confidential report cost the taxpayers of California lots of money based upon the numerous interviews.  Oh, and if you read the report, you can see just how sweet and loving the boys are.)  Although the investigation did suggest a number of remedial and corrective steps for the teachers, none of the recommended corrective actions call for discipline against Mrs. DeHaro, Mrs. Manker, or Mrs. Schinhofen.  District Superintendent Thomas E. Hoegerman wrote in a letter to Attorney Becker that the results of the investigation:

make it clear that although no violation of the children’s rights was intended, a teacher was mistaken as to obligations under the law.  I can assure the Petersons that corrective actions are underway.  The District will use the finding as a learning opportunity to teach staff about the rights and obligations of the students at school and provide guidance as to how to support student rights to freedom of expression at school, including religious expression.

It is good that the school district admitted that it was wrong.  However, in this post-Mozilla world, it seems to me that it is completely appropriate that the two teachers and the principal should be immediately terminated from their positions for their thuggish behavior in violating the constitutional rights of Steven and Patrick Peterson, and for wasting California taxpayer money.  Only in this way can the district teachers truly be forewarned, in the words of Superintendant Hoegerman, to “support student rights to freedom of expression at school, including religious expression.”  In this Holy Week, may God continue to richly bless the Peterson family.  Great job, Mr. Becker, in defending and protecting the fundamental constitutional rights of these boys.  For eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.  And shame on you, Mrs. Stormy DeHaro, Mrs. Julie Manker, and Mrs. Crystal Schinhofen for what you have tried to do to these young boys.

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