Friday, April 25, 2008


This is a line in an article released by Christian Newswire today:
"Yoko Ono and others have now filed lawsuits challenging the film's use and critique of John Lennon's song Imagine." The film in question is Ben Stein's "Expelled". The movie apparantly uses a short clip of the song to illustrate a point. According to the story, "The brief clip - consisting of a mere 10 words - was used to contrast the messages in the documentary and was not used as an endorsement of EXPELLED."

Now here's the good part. The third verse of "Imagine" is as follows:

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

What does Ben Stein have to say? "So Yoko Ono is suing over the brief Constitutionally protected use of a song that wants us to 'Imagine no possessions'? Maybe instead of wasting everyone's time trying to silence a documentary she should give the song to the world for free? After all, 'imagine all the people sharing all the world...You may say I'm a dreamer But I'm not the only one I hope someday you'll join us And the World can live as one.'"

One final note of hypocrisy that I would point out is Yoko Ono's signature on the above pictured "Declaration of Nutopia". Evidently Yoko and John felt so strongly about the ideas contained in "Imagine" that they even formed their own country and requested recognition by the United Nations. Note that Nutopia has "no laws other than cosmic". I wonder which cosmic law allows for a lawsuit in regards to copyright infringement . . .

The Declaration of Nutopia is found here.

You can read the complete lyrics to John Lennon's, "Imagine" here.

You can read the complete Christian Newswire article here.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Church of the Vanity Plate...

The Associated Press is reporting that the State of Florida is considering a vanity plate that would feature the words, "I Believe" along with a picture of a cross and a stained glass window. Florida already makes provision for a variety of license plates with a portion of the revenue going to various charities represented by the license plate. The plate is, of course, highly controversial since it forces the discussion of church and state issues once again.

According to the AP article written by Jessica Gresco, "The problem with the state manufacturing the plate is that it 'sends a message that Florida is essentially a Christian state' and, second, gives the 'appearance that the state is endorsing a particular religious preference,' said Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida." Does it really? By that logic the ichthus fish on my rear window must mean that Toyota is a Christian car manufaturer. It's absolutely absurd! Anything on my car including my license plate (now that we allow vanity plates) is simply a statement of my values--not the states. Now if the only plate available featured the words, "I love Jesus", then you might have a point. But you don't have a point since you can get a whole variety of plates including the normal cheap one (my preference).

The article also states that, "Some lawmakers say the state should be careful. Rep. Kelly Skidmore said she is a Roman Catholic and goes to Mass on Sundays, but she believes the 'I Believe' plate is inappropriate for the government to produce. 'It's not a road I want to go down. I don't want to see the Star of David next. I don't want to see a Torah next. None of that stuff is appropriate to me,' said Skidmore, a Democrat who voted against the plate in committee. 'I just believe that.'" Great...and no one is suggesting that you put anything on your license plate except the expiration sticker. I, for one, see many symbols on cars without freaking out. I even pull up close to read the small bumper stickers that the liberal activists put on their cars (some are quite funny).

You'll really like this: "The bill creating the "I Believe" plate would also create an "In God We Trust" plate to benefit the children of soldiers and law enforcement officers whose parents have died. It also could face opposition as a violation of the separation of church and state.
An Indiana plate with the same "In God We Trust" phrase has been challenged by the ACLU, but the courts so far have deemed it legal, arguing that it is comparable with other specialty plates". don't want the national motto on a government issued license plate. What's wrong with these people?

Finally this: "Simon, of the ACLU, said approval of the plate could prompt many other groups to seek their own designs, and they could claim discrimination if their plans were rejected. That could even allow the Ku Klux Klan to get a plate, Simon said". First of all, the KKK is not a church, and therefore has nothing to do with this issue in Florida which revolves around church/state issues. Secondly, what's to keep the KKK from requesting a plate now? It seems that they can go through the same process that others have and request a plate if they desire which is precisely what the "I Believe" folks are doing.

In conclusion, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances". Alright...let's think about it: Does allowing tax payers to purchase for an additional fee a vanity plate that says, "I believe" in any way establish a religion? I'll answer for you--no! A slogan on a plate does not a religion make. Secondly, is it possible that by allowing some messages and censoring others (the religious type), that the state is prohibiting free speech and practicing descrimination on the basis of religion? Yes--it's quite likely. Wouldn't it be interesting if the ACLU began to spend as much time on the "free exercise" clause as they do on the "establishment" clause?

I think that I'll go out to the garage and move my fish sticker to my license plate just to see if anyone notices.

You can read the entire AP article here.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Revolutionary Pastor Muhlenberg...

Rev. Peter Muhlenberg was conducting the worship service in his usual way on Sunday morning, January 21, 1776. The text for his message was from the book of Ecclesiastes, chapter 3:1-8,

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the
heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time
to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to
break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time
to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather
stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time
to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to
rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to
love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace . . ."
Having read this final phrase, Muhlenberg then began removing his clerical robe to reveal his continental army uniform. He then declared, "And this is the time of war!" The next day he led 300 men from his community to form the 8th Virginia Regiment.

He would later serve in both the U.S. House of Representatives and in the U.S. Senate. His statue stands in the U.S. Capitol in the House Rotunda.

You can read more about Rev. Peter Muhlenberg at Wikipedia here.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Thomas Jefferson on Church & State...

Thomas Jefferson has been credited with coining the now controversial phrase, "a wall of separation between church and state". In reality, Roger Williams (founder of the First Baptist Church in America) used the phrase prior to Jefferson. But did you know that Jefferson was a proponent of the clergy serving in civil government? Thomas Jefferson spoke against the Virginia Constitution's prohibition of clergy serving in elected office. According to David Barton, "The church speaking into the civil arena was a long-standing practice in America, as was the practice of ministers serving directly in the legislature. In fact, it was Thomas Jefferson himself who encouraged the lifting of restrictions against ministers and clergy that had been imposed in his own state of Virginia: 'I observe...(in the Virginia) Constitution an abridgment of (a) right...I do not approve. It is the incapacitation of a clergyman from being elected.' Thomas Jefferson wished to see clergymen possess the same rights as others" (David Barton, The Role of Pastors & Christians in Civil Government, p13-14).

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Ministers & Politics...

I've had the opportunity on two different occassions this past year to hear presentations by David Barton. I have, in the past, been quite sceptical of Barton's research. I have suspected that he has, at times, stretched the facts somewhat to make his particular point. I still have my suspicions, but I've found that there is plenty that he has to share that I can buy in to. Barton has clearly demonstrated with his historical research that the clergy played a central role in the beginning of our country. The clergy were extremely influential at the time of our nation's founding and through the use of sermons as well as their own example, they provided some of the passion that fueled our independence. I've been reading Barton's book, The Role of Pastors & Christians in Civil Government, and I want to share some of what I'm learning. Let me begin with a paragraph from early in the book that summarizes the role of ministers in the nation's founding.

"Who were the leaders most responsible for the movement in America that led to our independence? Today, we hear names such as Samuel Adams, the 'Father of the American Revolution'; Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the Declaration; John Hancock, the President of Congress with his bold signature on the Declaration; and John Adams, who not only signed the Declaration but who also negotiated and signed the Peace Treaty with Great Britain to secure our independence. These were indeed important political leaders behind our independence, but previous generations also knew about other important leaders. John Adams himself declared that the Rev. Dr. Jonathan Mayhew and the Rev. Dr. Samuel Cooper were two of the individuals 'most conspicuous, the most ardent, and influential' in the 'awakening and revival of American priciples and feelings' that led to our independence. Other minsters whose influence and leadership were also important included the Rev. George Whitefield, the Rev. James Caldwell, the Rev. John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg with his brother the Rev. Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg, and many more" (p8).

I intend to dig a little deeper in the next few posts and provide some insights into just who these ministers were that David Barton references. Stay tuned.

Check out David Barton's website here.