Another Case of Excessive Force by Police?
Wednesday, December 10, 2014, 10:03 AM

622x350 300x280 Another Case of Excessive Force by Police?Since the events this past summer in Ferguson, Missouri, involving Michael Brown, or the more recent events involving Eric Garner on Staten Island, New York, much has been written and discussed about overly-zealous police officers.  The failure by two grand juries to indict police officers involved in these two cases has led to violence and large-scale protests, both in the United States and abroad, a situation encouraged by President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder.  As another recent example of excessive police tactics, Jacob Herrera, an eighth-grade student at Sam Houston Middle School in Amarillo, Texas, was arrested and detained overnight in late October. Prior to his detention, he was reportedly slammed face-first in the ground by a police officer during a school football game.  What was the young man’s crime?  He refused to remove his rosary beads from his neck.

Now one might wonder why Jacob’s rosary was so troubling to police officers.  According to the Amarillo Police Department, rosary beads are symbols for association with gang violence, and students in the Amarillo Independent School District are not permitted to wear them on school property.  However, Jacob’s rosary was given to him by his now-deceased brother, and it held great religious and sentimental value to him.  As a result, Jacob had prior approval from the school’s principal that allowed him to wear rosary beads underneath his clothing while in school or at school events.  But at the football game in October, Jacob was challenged by a police officer who told him to remove his rosary.  Reportedly, Jacob did not want to remove the rosary, and tried to explain to the officer that he had permission from school officials to wear his rosary.  But when Jacob refused to remove the rosary beads, police told Jacob to put his hands behind his back, which he then refused to do.  As a result, Jacob was arrested, and required medical attention at a local hospital from injuries inflicted by the police officer.

Jacob’s mother, Lori Martinez, told a local television station the following:

My son passed away two years ago, 2012, and he was teaching Jacob, you know about God and how you know, he should wear the rosary to protect him.  So Jacob believes that that rosary protects him and it is his remembrance to his brother.

Coming to Jacob’s aid, The Rutherford Institute, a Christian civil liberties law group, sent a demand letter to the Amarillo Independent School District on December 4, 2014, demanding that the district rescind its dress code policy that states that students may not wear anything deemed as “gang apparel” by local law enforcement.  The letter also asked the school district to encourage law enforcement to drop its criminal prosecution of Jacob.  Further, the lawyer letter asked the school district to issue a statement condemning the police department’s use of excessive force on young students.  The Rutherford Institute founder John Whitehead said in a recent interview with The Christian Post:

I think it was excessive force.  The school should not be allowing this to happen.  He is just an eighth grader.  I understand that this [could be seen as] a gang symbol, but you can’t repress the symbol.  It is a matter of religious freedom and is a First Amendment right.  I think that they are overreacting to the gang issues, and if you have somebody wearing it legitimately, yes, they should be allowed to wear it.  I think it is an important issue or we wouldn’t be involved.

The Rutherford Institute has given the Amarillo School District until December 12th to respond, but no lawsuit has been filed at this time.  I will continue to follow this story, but I do not think that most police are bad or racist, or that they are targeting black or Hispanic young men.  But I learned long ago, growing up in a major Midwestern city, not to argue with a police officer if you don’t want to get hurt.  I hope that Jacob will as well.



Mere Links 12.10.14
Wednesday, December 10, 2014, 10:00 AM

Most American Agree With Right-To-Die Movement
Dennis Thompson, Healthday

An overwhelming 74 percent of American adults now believe that terminally ill patients who are in great pain should have the right to end their lives, the poll found. Only 14 percent were opposed.

Abortion Is Out; Single Moms Are In
Nicole Russell, The Federalist

New data show fewer abortions and marriages, meaning many more single moms.Those who love life should start supporting good marriages and parenting.

College: Where Faith and Virtues Go to Die
Catherine Ruth Pakaluk, Aleteia

What kind of education are we giving our kids?

Not Just a Rape Culture: The University’s Rape System
Greg Forster, Public Discourse

Only political reform can fight the system that protects rapists on college campuses.



Mere Links 12.09.14
Tuesday, December 9, 2014, 10:00 AM

Church Giving Tops $50 Billion A Year In U.S.—And Its Future Is Not A Collection Plate
Ruth Graham, Fast Company

“Churches are no different than any other operation in that they need to be relevant and convenient,” said RaeAnn Slaybaugh, editor of Church Executive magazine, who has reported on new giving options. “The difficulty is in capitalizing on a moment of generosity.”

In Seven States, Atheists Push to End Largely Forgotten Ban
Laurie Goodstein, New York Times

Maryland and six other states still have articles in their constitutions saying people who do not believe in God are not eligible to hold public office. Maryland’s Constitution still says belief in God is a requirement even for jurors and witnesses.

9 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About the Persecution of Christians
Rick McDaniel, OnFaith

Is discrimination against Christians an acceptable form of prejudice?

Chimpanzees Are Not Entitled to Human Rights, New York Court Says
Elizabeth Barber, Time

The chimpanzee at issue is not entitled to a writ of habeas corpus allowing him freedom from his cage.



Pro-Life Activists File Civil Lawsuit Against Violent Professor
Monday, December 8, 2014, 10:26 AM

1MireilleMiller Young 220x300 Pro Life Activists File Civil Lawsuit Against Violent ProfessorThis past September, I posted a blog on these pages about Professor Mireille Miller-Young from the highly prestigious University of California at Santa Barbara (“UCSB”).  Professor Miller-Young teaches feminist studies at UCSB, and her research interests include pornography and sex work.  Last March, two teen-age sisters and pro-life activists, Thrin and Joan Short, were in the “free speech zone” at UCSB and displayed photographs on posters of the aftermath of abortion to engage students in discussion about abortion and alternatives to abortion.  Professor Miller-Young, while walking past the young women, became deeply incensed at the pro-life literature and photos.  She forcibly took their posters, and later assaulted the sixteen-year-old sister.  A video of the assault is available here: a video of the incident here.  You will note in the video that one of the sisters pleads with Professor to return the signs, at one point calling the Professor a thief.  A smiling Professor Miller-Young replies, “I may be a thief, but you’re a terrorist!”  Afterwards, police were called, and Professor Miller-Young told police that she found the pro-life literature and graphic photos “disturbing” because she teaches reproduction rights.  She also reportedly told police that she had a “moral right” to steal and destroy the pro-life signs.  Following the police investigation, Professor Miller-Young was charged with multiple offenses. After trial in July, she pled “no contest” to grand theft, vandalism, and battery.  At her sentencing the following month, rather than a slap on the wrist, the Professor received a veritable butterfly kiss from Judge Brian Hill instead, which included 108 hours of community service to be performed in teaching conflict-resolution workshops (no, I am not making this up), ten hours of anger management classes, restitution of $493 to the Short sisters, and three years of probation.

Prior to sentencing, a number of letters of support were submitted by the Professor’s defense attorney.  Among the letters of support, one letter by UCSB history professor Paul Spikard stated that his colleague was the object of “an energetic smear campaign that seems to have little to do with her person or her actions, and a great deal to do with fomenting racial hatred and rallying right-wing political sentiment.”  Emphasis added.  (Yes, I do agree that the tens of millions of aborted black babies in our nation constitutes a manifestation of racial hatred, but I am unsure that Professor Spikard had that in mind.)  Another letter of support came from Dr. Eileen Boris, also from the UCSB Feminist Studies Department (her research areas of interest include gender, race, class, and social politics), who argued for a light sentence for her colleague.  In her letter, Dr. Boris wrote the following:

[S]he was at the stage of a pregnancy when one is not fully one’s self fully [sic], so the image of a severed fetus appeared threatening.  If she appears smiling on camera, she is “wearing a mask,” that is, she is hiding her actual state through a strategy of self-presentation that is a cultural legacy of slavery.

Emphasis added.  And in follow-up to this case, last month, the pro-life group Life Legal Defense Foundation (“LLDF”) has filed a civil lawsuit against Professor Miller-Young and UCSB on behalf of the Short sisters.  In the lawsuit, LLDF seeks compensation for physical battery, property theft, and civil rights violations.  Interestingly, educational bureaucrats at UCSB never reprimanded Professor Miller-Young for her actions.  But as a public service to my readers, I offer some worthwhile advice to pro-death activists and supporters: if you see pro-life proponents on your campus or in your neighborhoods, unless you wish to engage them in civil discourse, it is most prudent, in the unforgettable words of Pink Floyd, to leave them kids (and their stuff) alone.  I hope that Professor Miller-Young and the few remaining taxpayers in California will find that violations of the civil rights of women is expensive.  Wouldn’t this be a useful case study for the Feminist Studies Department at UCSB?



Mere Links 12.08.14
Monday, December 8, 2014, 10:00 AM

Talking About God in Public
Doug Sikkema, Comment

The former Archbishop of Canterbury offers an indispensable aid for anyone struggling to talk about God publicly.

A New Kind Of Death
Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon, Preachers Institute

However we are to treat the “necessity” Christ ascribes to his Passion, we should not speak of it as a physical necessity. It was not an mere instance of second law of thermodynamics.

Why Christians Care About Sex
Andrew Walker, First Things

A new study out this week shows widening gaps in how different demographics in America approach sexuality and family. The Relationships in America study, produced by the Austin Institute, looks at “how social forces, demography, and religion continue to shape attitudes about family and intimate relationships.”

Pope Francis: Demotion of Burke not ‘punishment’
Crux

Pope Francis has denied that removing American Cardinal Raymond Burke as head of the Vatican’s highest court was a “punishment” for his outspokenly conservative views at a recent summit of bishops, saying instead he wanted a “smart American” to serve as patron of the Order of Malta.



Now’s the Time for Salvo: Special Offer
Friday, December 5, 2014, 11:05 AM
Salvo31 228x300 Nows the Time for Salvo: Special Offer

Salvo Issue 31

Modern Society celebrates (almost) everything: Love, Sex, Drugs, No-Fault Divorce, Women’s Reproductive Rights, Multi-Partner Marriages (and more) are all part of this “new millennial sexual revolution.”

SALVO Magazine unblushingly offers an honest, rational, and respectful response to hard questions about sex, science, and society. SALVO’s Christian worldview offers the perspective that takes up the conversation where many are afraid to go. Check it out at SALVOMAG.COM.

Subscribe today or “gift it” by December 31, 2014 to get a DISCOUNT plus a FREE bonus issue on Science and Faith. You surely know a young person or two who should be reading SALVO!

Order on-line here at SalvoToday.com and enter the code DEC14 to receive the discount and the FREE issue. Or call 1-800-283-8333 and give the code DEC14.

You will receive the new Winter 2014-2015 issue as your first issue. It and the Science-Faith issue are already packed in envelopes ready to be mailed out to you! Order today.

 



Mere Links 12.05.14
Friday, December 5, 2014, 10:00 AM

What It Means to Listen: Free Speech from the Perspective of the Abrahamic Religions
Dominic Burbidge, Public Discourse

The Abrahamic religions provide a radical interpretation of the importance of speech: it is the primary way in which God reveals himself. Because persons of faith believe that God has spoken, they are called to develop and deepen their capacities for listening.

From Hell to Oprah: What Happened to Rob Bell?
Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Religion News Service

The former megachurch pastor exchanged his evangelical bona fides for the blessing of Oprah.

Should Christian Historians Appeal to Providence in Their Interpretations?
Justin Taylor , The Gospel Coalition

Although Christian historians may disagree among themselves regarding the precise nature or extent of God’s providence, all affirm its reality and importance as those who trust in the God who has decisively revealed himself through Christ in his authoritative Word and who is at work throughout history. And yet there is a debate about how providence should be used in the writing of history, especially before the academy.

Fury at the Cross(roads): The Gospel in the Violence of History
Will McDavid , Mockingbird

The most religious film many moviegoers will see this year will not be an inspirational story from a faith-based production company; it will be writer-director David Ayer’s WWII tank combat epic Fury. And in some ways Fury is also a more compelling narrative about redemption than many of the sermons preached from Church pulpits on any given Sunday.



Mere Links 12.03.14
Wednesday, December 3, 2014, 10:00 AM

What the Holy Spirit Preserves Only in the Church
Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon, Preachers Institute

God’s gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church is not only original, unique, and exclusive, it is also permanent. This gift is as irrevocable as the Incarnation itself. Much as the event of the Word’s enfleshment irrevocably links the Second Person of the Holy Trinity to the human race, the event of Pentecost joins the Third Person of the Holy Trinity permanently to the Church. Both conjunctions are irreversible.

More Pastors Embrace Talk of Mental Ills
Jan Hoffman, New York Times

Evangelical leaders are increasingly opening up about family suicides, their own clinical depression and the relief they have received from psychiatric medication.

Church of England could select first woman bishop
BBC

The first woman bishop in the Church of England could be selected this week. Candidates for bishop of Southwell and Nottingham are being interviewed on Tuesday and Wednesday.

1 in 3 Americans want a divorce between clergy and civil marriages
Cathy Lynn Grossman, Religion News Service

Should clergy divorce themselves from civil marriage? Such a church-state split — already endorsed by some Catholic and evangelical leaders — is showing surprising popularity in two new surveys released Tuesday by LifeWay Research.



Mere Links 12.02.14
Tuesday, December 2, 2014, 10:00 AM

The Farce of Feeling Forgiveness
Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon, Preachers Institute

It may be the case that we have heard the plainest words of Holy Scripture so often that we no longer really hear them.

Francis rolls out ‘social gospel’ case for Catholic/Orthodox unity
John L. Allen Jr., Crux

Sometimes what a pope doesn’t say can be just as important as what he does, and such was the case in Turkey on Sunday as Pope Francis laid out his vision for unity between Catholics and Orthodox Christianity.

Prayer in the Facebook Age
Mark Bauerlein, First Things

We are in danger of losing these replenishing, corrective moments of solitary faith. Silence and seclusion are harder to find, and fewer people seek them out.

Ecumenism After 50 Years
Timothy George, First Things

In retrospect it is clear that the Second Vatican Council was the most momentous religious event of the twentieth century—and not only for Catholics.



High School Senior Sues Government School
Monday, December 1, 2014, 10:38 AM

I hope that my American readers had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and that many were able to worship God and give thanks for His gracious bounty and innumerable blessings on our nation.  This past weekend, I was speaking with some of the younger children in church, and they told me that in their government schools they were not taught the history of Thanksgiving.  While we know little about the first Thanksgiving that the Pilgrims celebrated in Plymouth, we do know that it took place in 1621 after the autumn harvest.  William Bradford, the governor of the colony wrote that after a “sad and lamentable” first months that brought great sickness and many deaths to the colonists, the first harvest left them with “all things in good plenty,” including corn, cod, bass, and other fish, waterfowl, venison, and a “great store of wild turkeys.”  The Pilgrims also celebrated with their Indian neighbors.  Edward Winslow, one of the Pilgrims, wrote the following in his letter dated December 11, 1621:

. . . after we had gathered the fruits of our labors; [four fowlers] in one day killed as much fowl, as with a little help beside, served the company almost a week, at which time amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.

Emphasis added.  Of course, the “God” part of Thanksgiving is troubling to many in our nation.  As one more recent example of the hostility against Christians in our nation, and particularly in the government-run schools, Michael Leal, a devout Christian believer and a senior at Cascade High School in Everett, Washington, is in danger of being expelled.  What was the grave infraction?  He believes that he has a God-given responsibility to share his Christian beliefs with others.  As a result, Michael has been suspended three times, and has been threatened with expulsion for sharing his Christian faith through printed tracts and his own testimony.  However, high school officials have claimed that Michael’s tracts, such as one called “How to Know God,” and other Christian messages, “may be offensive.”  Moreover, the high school only permits students to distribute “literature” to other students only at the school entrances and exits before and after school, and the literature must be written by a student.  (I suppose Michael couldn’t distribute a copy of the Constitution either, but I digress.)  Subversively, Michael has distributed Gospel tracts to fellow students, and has audaciously engaged others in conversation about his Christian faith during lunch.  Imagine this: Michael has also spoken about his faith at a bonfire for the school, at a school open house, and yes, even at a volleyball game.

In response to Michael’s grave affronts, the high school administration issued a Notice of Disciplinary Action (“NDA”) that charged Michael with “boisterous conduct of religious material impinged on rights of other students and failure to comply with multiple administrative requests to stop activity.”  (Of course, high school administrators might want to brush up a bit on writing narrative English-language sentences.)  Yet, one NDA was not enough and there were additional NDAs that ultimately led to a series of suspensions.

As is common now, a lawsuit by Michael was filed last week against the high school district, and his complaint names as additional defendants Superintendent Gary Cohn, high school principal Cathy Woods, and the assistant principals Robert Aguilar and Laura Phillips.  In Michael’s complaint, he alleges that the principal Woods:

instructed [Michael] that she must give him permission to hand out tracts, and further that she needed to monitor him.  She attempted to justify her position by stating that if she allowed [Michael] to “hand out tracts and to talk about Jesus she would be breaking the law.”  Attempting to understand the principal’s position clearly, Leal asked to confirm that “if you allow me to hand out tracts and to talk about Jesus, then you would be breaking the law?”  [Cascade Principal Cathy Woods’] response was an unqualified “yes.”

Michael’s complaint concludes:

[The defendants] have prohibited him from distributing literature outside of the narrow confines [of a policy rule], even when performed during non-instructional time and in a non-disruptive manner.  Further, they have meted out punishment against [Michael] for exercising his speech rights.

As we know from the teachings of St. Paul, yes, the Gospel of the Lord Jesus and the Cross of Christ are deeply offensive to those who perish.  Michael Leal is being represented by attorneys for the non-profit Pacific Justice Institute (www.pacificjustice.org).  Please pray for Michael and his family, and his attorneys, during this trying time, but above all, please pray that the Lord Jesus Christ will be honored and magnified.  Michael, notwithstanding his youth, powerfully echoes the words of St. Paul in his letter to the Romans, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.”  Christians know that the Holy Gospel stirs up devils and provokes evil persons for those who hate the Gospel’s powerful message of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ are enemies of the cross.  If you wish to send a polite email to Principal Woods, you can find her at cwoods2@everettsd.org.  I am sure she would enjoy hearing from you.


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