It’s another busy week as Deidre and I are traveling to Charlottesville, VA, for the ODACS conference. We are looking forward to being there and meeting more educators. Before leaving tomorrow, we have some thoughts for you.
Have you been following the stories in the news lately concerning the punishments of anyone in a position as an educator/coach or even a student athlete for showing a belief in the Christian God? No one is using a prayer rug, bowing towards the East, or sacrificing a chicken, but anyone who bows, points to the sky, or utters a brief prayer of thanksgiving can now be in big trouble. For example, Joe Kennedy, Bremerton (WA) High School’s assistant football coach received a “cease and desist” letter Sept. 17 of this year from school administration telling him to avoid kneeling, bowing his head, or doing anything that could be viewed as religious or endorsing religion. At the end of October, he was placed on paid administrative leave for silently praying on the 50-yd line following the Oct. 23 game, where he was voluntarily joined by players and their families. This was a tradition he had begun when he was employed in 2008. Now all of a sudden it is unacceptable – why? I submit it is because a small group of people whose atheistic beliefs are insulted by others who publicly display theirs in God are actively working to prohibit any such display. It reminds me how one woman – Madalyn Murray O’Hair – described as an American atheist activist, succeeded in removing prayer from the public schools in 1963.
Another example is Pedro Banda, a top running back from Dysart High School, AZ, who was penalized and ultimately ejected (it was his second penalty) from a football game when a referee threw a flag for his excessive celebrating after a touchdown. His action: a brief look to the sky while he pointed up! Really!!!! It’s time for those of us who are Christians to realize that our time to pay for our religious beliefs has come as the intimidation, harassment, and even, persecution is upon us. As we wrote in our book, “everything is acceptable in this inclusionary culture except anything Christian.”
Teachers have known for years that we must choose our words carefully if we work in a public school. Christian teachings could promote peaceful co-existence, forgiveness, and the Golden Rule, but mentioning the Bible, from which these ideas come is not allowed. The Gideon organization, which for many years gave away New Testaments to fourth graders, is not allowed to do so in many school districts today. Believe it or not, I still have mine, many years later. When we retired and moved back to rural WV, I was so pleased to see Christmas concerts advertised on school reader boards. That had not been the norm for a long time back in Hampton Roads, VA, with “Winter holiday music” listed instead. When I taught, I found a way to teach about Christmas in my social studies classroom because I added many other religious holidays to the study. I have always respected my students’ ability to make informed decisions once they have been provided with objective information. So my eighth-graders learned about Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and the Chinese New Year – in that order! Today I would probably be banned from teaching about the birth of the Christ child. What a sad situation! Be blessed this week as we move towards the holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas, which are so much more than cultural celebrations.
Sue – Voice II
THINK IT NOT STRANGE. The two incidents Sue described are just a miniscule representation of the many cases across America where it is not popular or even safe to openly display your Christian beliefs or your enthusiasm regarding salvation. Each week at The Potter’s House International Ministries in Jacksonville, Florida, my pastor offers a Tuesday “lunch” Bible study for anyone desiring to grow in God’s word by sacrificing lunch or their normal noon-day routine in order to feast on God’s Word. We have been studying the book of ACTS which is so appropriate to help us understand the times in which we are currently living. Throughout the book of Acts, you can read how repeatedly the boldness of Peter, John and Paul (later on in that same book) caused all three men to suffer persecution, beatings, and get put into prison because of how they taught and used the name of JESUS. Eventually, they did all die for the cause of Christ. Today, we are also forbidden to use the name of Jesus which supports and demonstrates the fact of just how powerful that name really is.
Christians began losing their rights to proclaim the Gospel from the very beginning because there is no other name whereby we can be set free from the penalty of sin. When Peter and John declared in Acts 4:20, “We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard,” it made people of authority and position angry because it revealed how powerless a finite man is when compared to the only infinite God. Likewise as current day Christians, our testimony must compel us to share the love of God and His plan of salvation with every person possible no matter what the cost is to our personal agendas. “For God I will live, and for God I will die” are no longer words we simply sing in a song. For every believer those words are the badge of courage that we wear daily and proclaim them as our way of life! When we proclaim Christ by how we live and act, the world will hate on us unto death. Are we really willing to die for the cause?
God’s plan for mankind’s redemption will never cease to grow, succeed or exist. His remnant, a few good men and women who will continue to obey Him regardless of what the masses are saying and doing, are here. It all has been demonstrated and witnessed throughout history. Of course today, is no exception.
With each new event of Christian persecution or death, that never-ending list will continue to expand. The proverbial line has long been drawn in the sand, but it is getting wider and deeper with each new day! Christians must choose and make the courageous decision to stand for Christ or they will inevitably fall. Without a proper understanding of who and whose you are, you may not be able to recover and get back up to a stable position. It is time for every determined child of God to speak up to Him with a sincere heart and mind in order to proclaim, “Here I am Lord, send me!”
Deidre – Voice I