This is such a fitting reminder that freedom has a blood price and that God is willing that all would be free. Historians do bear witness that before the Revolutionary war, churches were filled with soldiers and families and prayer for our nation. My heart breaks because this is not so today as we find ourselves in the midst of a cultural war- indeed a spiritual war- with our freedom hanging in the balance.
It doesn’t exactly look like a place of Total Revolution. Total Transformation. Freedom. Yet it is.
It is completely and utterly white. Puritan. No stained glass windows. No ornate decorations. Just a simple Meetinghouse built in 1761.
And I am standing in the same place that faithful patriots assembled one Sunday afternoon in order to pray before they marched off to Lexington Massachusetts to fight against England for freedom! As I glance around, I am reminded of the great ‘cloud of witnesses’ who have gone before me.
My home church is called the First Church of Christ because it was the first church gathered in Connecticut back in 1635. We still worship in the 18th century building and we are still embracing freedom. Are you?
Historian Lois Wieder explains that our forefathers and foremothers likened England’s persecution of her…
America’s new academic standards are failing our students. Despite what official transcripts say, I’m concerned many graduates did not earn their diploma.
As a seasoned high school teacher and college professor, I’ve seen enough students come and go to know the American education system is broken.
As I pondered my 14th graduation ceremony, I couldn’t help wondering how many students around the country will graduate with a high school or college degree, but not an education.
It’s no secret that we have a terrible literacy problem. My concern goes beyond the obvious and marches smack through the front door of an academic house of cards. Here’s what my colleagues and I see around the country: failing students propped up by failing academic standards.
It seems self-evident the primary purpose of attending school is to gain an education. Traditionally, course materials relevant to the course objectives are provided to facilitate learning. Of course, students must engage with these course materials, yet many students skip assignments.
Most colleges require courses to be kept on a class webpage hosted by a Learning Management System (LMS) whereby systems such as Moodle, Blackboard, or Edmodo give instructors the ability to monitor student activity in the course. Missed assignments get marked “never viewed.” Thus, we know which students ignore specific class resources. Those with a lot of “never viewed” notices typically perform poorly in class, but some hang on by a thread because educators feel pressured to keep these failing students in school.
Questionable Student Retention Policies
To make matters worse, schools are faced with a nationwide emphasis on student retention. Following the dysfunctional No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), signed by former President Obama in 2015, prides itself in retention goals such as high graduation rates and historically-low dropout rates.
ESSA goes a step further with the lofty goal that all students will graduate fully ready for college or a career. As part of the program, federal funding is awarded to schools for meeting retention goals.
Sounds great, right? Not so fast.
To accomplish these federal goals, many schools are forced to move the goalposts and operate under questionable moral standards.
Lowering the Minimum Standard for Grades Given
For instance, local school boards can set minimum grades for periodic report cards. As a high school teacher under NCLB, I once had a student earn an “8” for a 6-weeks grading period, but the grade was changed by the principal to a 62 in accordance with school board policy. Years later, it’s gotten worse. Reports around the country show that some schools mandate a minimum grade of 50– even if a student does no work at all.
Remember the costly academic-athletic scandal that embarrassed the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill recently? Some aspects of the scandal involved student athletes and other students who got credit for classes they never attended.
Is there really much difference between a student who receives 50 unearned points and one who receives credit for a class never attended? In both instances, students received credit for unearned coursework, which constitutes academic fraud.
Changing the Academic Grading Scale
As academic standards continue dropping, even minimum grade policies aren’t enough to keep students in school and graduation rates up. The goalposts are moving again.
Many k-12 schools, colleges, and universities are changing from a 7-point grading scale to a 10-point grading scale. At those institutions, students now earn course credit with what were once considered failing or poor grades.
For example, most schools considered a 77 average the minimum grade for a “C” and passing credit for a course. The new minimum standard at lots of schools just became 70. Think about that. A “C” is now just one point above the former failing mark.
With standards so low, how many graduates will receive a degree without an education?
Author’s note: This article may also be found at BarbWire.com.
New York State’s new abortion law is deserving of a millstone.
New York’s new abortion law deserves a millstone for its treatment of little children.
Like many of you, I enjoy hiking as a way to get away from it all and to yield to God’s tugging on my heart. Sometimes I imagine myself walking with the great thinkers of history, listening carefully to the echos of their wisdom.
On a recent hike through an abandoned millstone quarry, I was deeply moved by the verse ringing in my head:
“It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.” Luke 17:2 NIV
As a parent who prayed desperately for a child, a teacher who hears heartbreaking stories from students in despair, and as a Christian man, I love children. I suspect if you’re reading this, you love children too.
New York, take note. God loves little children. Your governor and 130 of your legislators, however, not so much.
In fact, New York’s radical new abortion law deserves a millstone for its treatment of its most vulnerable children.
What does New York’s New Abortion Law Do?
The new bill:
Allows abortions to be performed up to the point of birth
Enables physician assistants to perform surgical abortions
Enables nurse practitioners and licensed midwives to administer non-surgical medicinal abortions
Repeals protections for babies born after botched abortions
Enshrines abortion in New York’s Constitution
How did the Abortion Law get Passed?
With the New York legislature firmly in the hands of Democrat control, the Senate easily passed the Reproductive Health Act 38-24, while the General Assembly handily passed it 92-47. Then on Tuesday, the 46th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law.
Horrified outcry following the passage of the radical law on Wednesday shows that even those who are reluctant to speak out on social issues publicly realize they can no longer stay silent.
Nor should they. After all, the killing of children is an explicit abomination to the Lord.
How the New Abortion Law Provokes God’s Judgment
I imagine if I were hiking with the prophet Ezekiel through that millstone quarry today, he’d stick his finger into my chest and say with prophetic authority, “God sent his messenger to ‘Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it.’” (Ezekiel 9:4 NIV)
“What happens to those who don’t grieve and lament?”
“God sent the others with the messenger and told them, ‘Follow him through the city and kill, without showing pity or compassion. Slaughter the old men, the young men and women, the mothers and children, but do not touch anyone who has the mark. Begin at my sanctuary.’ So they began with the old men who were in front of the temple.” (Ezekiel 9:5 NIV)
“So responsibility falls on us- even those of us who don’t like the new law?”
God’s Judgment Will Come like a Millstone
I wonder what John, the writer of Revelation, would say if he hiked through that quarry with us.
He’d likely point out that nearly 2,000 years ago he wrote about a day such as this, “Then a strong angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, ‘So will Babylon, the great city, be thrown down with violence, and will not be found any longer.’” (Revelation 18:21 NIV)
Who among us will persuade God that New York’s abortion law is not deserving of a millstone?
The stakes are too high for Christians to remain silent in the face of such a detestable action.
As stern as these biblical warnings are, there is still hope.
As the moral battle over abortion rages, let us remember that the battle is not our own. It is the Lord’s (1 Samuel 17:47). We don’t fight such battles in our own strength and wit, but through the divine power of God that can demolish strongholds of evil (2 Corinthians 10:4).
God simply tells us to repent and turn back to him.
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV)
Will you join me and our fellow brothers and sisters in grieving, lamenting, and praying over New York’s anti-godly new abortion law?
Across America, “character education” programs mandated by law in K-12 schools are undermining the deepest threads of American culture and transforming its values.
What is “character education?”
According to Character.org, character education is an initiative to “help young people become responsible, caring, and contributing citizens.”
Many of the character traits taught in our public schools follow
traditional social norms of mutual respect and character development,
which allows its true agenda to go largely unnoticed.
Parents should be aware that school education programs are becoming
more dependent upon curriculum standards developed in conjunction with
UNESCO’s Global Education First Initiative (GEFI).
GEFI has three priorities:
Priority #1: Put Every Child in School.
Priority #2: Improve the Quality of Learning.
Priority #3: Foster Global Citizenship.
Priorities #1 and #2 seem harmless enough- that is until we examine priority #3.
Perhaps by now you’re familiar with the Clinton Foundation’s annual “Global Citizen Award” or the Global Citizen Festival. But did you know that our schools are actively aligning themselves with this movement?
What is Global Citizenship?
Global citizenship involves the recognition that one is part of a
larger, interconnected global community with certain shared values aimed
at accomplishing the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development goals
both now and in the future. The UN Agenda 2030 Plan for Sustainable
Development was officially signed by President Obama in 2015 and is an
official part of the US Global Development Policy.
To foster these values, GEFI uses education “to create a generation that values the common good.”
The problem is, who defines the common good?
“Deeply entrenched beliefs take time to change. But young
people are open to new perspectives, and schools are ideally positioned
to convey them.” -UNESCO, Global Education First Initiative, Priority
#3: Foster Global Citizenship
According to GEFI, “success will require support from a wide range of
stakeholders, including the highest levels of government.” Given the
current state of moral affairs in our nation, is this really a good
The Philosophy of Global Citizenship
By aligning itself with the UN’s Sustainable Development goals,
global citizenship is based upon a mix of philosophy which includes the
ethics of utilitarianism, socialism, and humanism.
Utilitarianism is concerned with the overall well-being or happiness
of the greatest number of people. In utilitarian societies, like
democracies, individual rights are subordinate to the rights of the
majority. This presents significant challenges to the existence of the
American republic, as I argue in an earlier article, “Democracies,
Republics, and Human Dignity.”
Socialism advocates a “just distribution of the world’s resources and fruits of labor.” Citizens of western nations should be doubly alarmed that in the context of utilitarianism, global citizenship, and Agenda 2030, this means both an increased worldwide distribution of the wealth they generate and a reduction in individual production and consumption.
Humanism envisions a world without God. “Without God” includes the
denial of a Creator which gave us any unalienable rights. Thus, to
global citizens the Declaration of Independence would be deemed
irrelevant, as would the US Constitution, which is built upon the
principle of inherent rights outlined in the Declaration of
Instead of individual rights endowed by a Creator, the UN will
dispense rights at its own discretion, as per Article 29, sections 2 and
3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
What happens if your values don’t match the values of a world without
God? What happens if you want teach your children the values for
citizenship in the kingdom of God rather than the anti-godly values of
proper “global citizens?”
“Teach them to your children, talking about them when you
sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and
when you get up.” – Deuteronomy 11:19 (NIV)
What if you advocate unsustainable values such as having multiple
children per couple, or a work ethic that generates more wealth than
your neighbors all over the world and allows you to have more “stuff”
The Danger of Global Citizenship
The danger of global citizenship is that it deeply undermines human dignity. It eviscerates individual rights, parental authority to raise children with religious values, and the entire framework of the American republic.
We must stop schools from using “character education” to brainwash our kids.
Tis the season for the heartwarming Christmas letters from the
Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) and the American Civil Liberties
Union (ACLU). You know the routine. Each holiday season these groups
send letters to municipalities threatening lawsuits if the recipient
municipality will not remove a nativity display from a particular public
Last Christmas I wrote an article explaining why it is frivolous to
remove nativity displays from government property. In that article I
observed that a nativity display is the antithesis of an apotheosis
To recap that article, a nativity display celebrates the moment in time God becomes a man, while an apotheosis display celebrates the moment in time man becomes a god.
I then pointed to the “Apotheosis of Washington” painted on the domed
ceiling of the U.S. Capitol rotunda by Constantino Brumidi. Ironically,
Brumidi was commissioned by the government to paint the Apotheosis for
$40,000. Next, I asked the rhetorical question, “Why is it
unconstitutional to have a nativity display on public property, but not a
government-commissioned apotheosis display?”
Now I want to explain why it matters that cities and towns across
America remain allowed to display nativity scenes on public property at
When Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, he
explained that our freedoms come from God. “All men are created equal,”
he says, and “they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable
rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of
happiness.” Jefferson also clearly stated that the purpose of civil
government was “to secure these rights.”
A nativity display on government property reminds us that all humans have unalienable rights- rights which cannot legitimately be taken away- because these rights come from God. A nativity display celebrates the source of our rights and reminds our government officials that it is their duty to help secure these rights.
Similarly, a nativity scene on government property reminds us that we
are a republic, not a democracy. Our republic acknowledges God as the
source of our unchangeable rights. A democracy is vastly different. The
rights granted in a democracy are determined not by God, but by the
ever-changing opinions of the majority of mankind.
Ultimately, the present battle waged by the FFRF and ACLU is a battle
over who gets to be God. Who will be acknowledged as the source of our
rights? Will it be God, or will it be man?
Given the nation’s present woes and injustices, it is altogether
fitting that nativity displays remain in the public arena as a guiding
light and reminder to all of the source of our freedoms.
Author’s note: This article originally appeared on Western Journalism, but that site no longer exists.
A nativity scene on Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina became yet another casualty in the war on Christmas in 2013.
The move follows a trend of systematically removing nativity displays from public property. Just ask residents in Santa Monica, Pittsburgh, Clarksville, Tennessee, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, Charleston, South Carolina, and Green Bay, Wisconsin about the recent controversies surrounding their public nativity displays.
“I expect to see religious emblems at houses of worship, not in government buildings.” – Barry Lynn, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
Apparently, the ACLU has never considered the painting called The Apotheosis of Washington adorning the ceiling of the U.S. Capitol rotunda.
Now it’s time for the tide to turn.
This Christmas, Christians will have a new, stronger argument in support of their traditional nativity displays. It’s time to stop the madness.
Let’s compare the Apotheosis of Washington to a nativity scene.
A Nativity and the Apotheosis of Washington are the antithesis of one another.
A nativity scene is simply a depiction of the moment in time God
became man. An apotheosis is a depiction of the moment in time man
becomes a god.
A nativity display is important to the Christian religion in the same
way an apotheosis display is important to the Mystery religions. Both
call upon the observer to contemplate a deeper religious message.
For contextual emphasis, the Apotheosis even has scenes depicting the
gods and goddesses of the Mysteries. In one scene, Benjamin Franklin is
included in the painting alongside the goddess Minerva of the Bacchic
This is the equivalent of a nativity scene depicting Washington and Franklin as characters in the Christmas story.
Where are the cries for Separation of Church and State? Where is the
outrage over excessive entanglement between government and religion?
In 1989, the Pittsburgh nativity display on the steps of the
Allegheny County courthouse was ruled unconstitutional because it was
prominently displayed without secular symbols. Since that time, other
municipalities have been forced to change their displays to include
Santas, reindeer, candy canes, or snowmen.
Why are there no Santas, reindeer, candy canes, or snowmen surrounding the Apotheosis of Washington?
Lynn and the ACLU are faithful to outline which nativity displays are constitutional and which are not. The ACLU recently approved a nativity display inside the Florida state Capitol rotunda because the display was privately funded and not government sponsored.
Taxpayer Funding of the Apotheosis is o.k., but not a Nativity Display?
In 2008, the ACLU was instrumental in causing Clarksville, Tennessee
to lose its live nativity display since the city paid two hundred
dollars in animal rental fees. Yet Congress commissioned Constantino
Brumidi to paint the Apotheosis of Washington in 1863 for a price of $40,000. Since that time, repairs to the Apotheosis have also been made at taxpayers’ expense.
Because the Apotheosis is the very antithesis of a nativity scene,
and since the Apotheosis appears in the same context in which nativity
displays are banned, under current interpretation of law, the Apotheosis should also be ruled unconstitutional.
Either the Court should order the Apotheosis of Washington
to be modified or removed, or else it should overturn precedent set by
similar cases. The simple solution seems to be to restore stand-alone
nativity displays and keep the Apotheosis.
Until the Apotheosis problem is addressed, perhaps it’s time
to stop the nonsense of censoring Christmas celebrations and return to
the uninhibited joy of Christmas.
When humanist bullies demanded the removal of a traditional Christmas
nativity display from their courthouse lawn, the citizens of Jackson
County, Indiana ignored them and refused to back down. Riding an
avalanche of support, the display was still there when I visited the
courthouse in Brownstown on December 28.
Remember Burgermeister Meisterburger from the 1970 children’s classic film, Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town?
Burgermeister Meisterburger was the ruthless mayor of a German town who
declared toys to be illegal, immoral, and unlawful, and decreed anyone
caught in possession of toys to be thrown into the dungeon.
The real-life Burgermeister Meisterburger bullies of Christmas are
back. But instead of searching for toys, these somber Christmas
villains search for any nativity display on public property. Wherever
stand-alone displays are found, the Burgermeisters request the display
be removed. If that doesn’t work, the threat of a civil lawsuit
When Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) got wind of a lighted nativity display on the Jackson County Courthouse lawn, they sprang into action. In Burgermeister-like fashion, FFRF complained that the county’s Christmas display violated the Constitution and requested that it be removed immediately.
While their bullying tactics often work, it appears FFRF picked on the wrong community this time.
As I made my way around Main Street across from the courthouse, I
asked the locals to tell me their opinion on the nativity display. They
each began, “Some out-of-town group wrote a letter . . .”
At Brownstown Hardware store, a high school student told me the
Jackson County nativity display has been there all his life. Two ladies
in Blondie’s Pizzeria and another inside the courthouse each confirmed
it has been there a really-long time. All four people expressed their
disdain that an out-of-town group from Wisconsin is interfering with the
county’s long-standing tradition. None of them wanted it gone.
So why is FFRF harrassing them?
“A manger scene depicts the legendary birth of Jesus Christ,
signaling the government’s approval of Christianity,” which, suggests
FFRF, violates the First Amendment.
According to a letter sent to Jackson County commissioners, FFRF believes “It is unlawful for the County to maintain, erect, or host a holiday display that consists solely of a nativity scene, thus singling out, showing preference for, and endorsing one religion.”
While it’s true the courts have ruled that stand-alone religious
displays are unconstitutional, that’s not the end of the story. The
Court has also admitted bad decisions are sometimes made and they can be
The current rule of thumb is to make sure some type of secular
display is included in the vicinity of the nativity scene. At the time
of my visit, I saw just a typical manger scene spread across the lawn.
That’s when it hit me. If FFRF pursues legal action against Jackson
County, the resolve of this small community could play a pivotal role in
securing religious freedom across the country.
It’s really quite simple.
FFRF correctly says that manger scenes depict the legendary birth of Jesus Christ. Christians might add that manger scenes depict the moment in time God became man.
Imagine if the roles were reversed. What if humanists erected
depictions of mankind becoming a god? Would that be unconstitutional?
To be clear, a man becoming a god is the antithesis of God becoming a
Such a depiction of a man becoming a god, called an apotheosis, marks the central belief of humanism: man is his own god, and there is no other God.
Would it be unlawful for the State to maintain, erect, or host a sole apotheosis display?
Adorning the domed ceiling inside the US Capitol building is a painting called the Apotheosis of Washington. Like any other apotheosis, the painting depicts the moment a man becomes a god.
In 1863, Congress commissioned Constantino Brumidi to paint the Apotheosis for $40,000. There are no Santa’s, candy canes, or Christmas trees to detract from the display. This stand-alone depiction of a man becoming a god is prominently displayed on government property and paid for by our government.
I believe this is why court cases which declare sole nativity displays unconstitutional such as City of Allegheny v. ACLU of Pittsburgh (1989) and Lynch v. Donnelly (1984) should be overturned:
Either Congress violated the Constitution when it commissioned the Apotheosis of Washington, or the Court is wrong.
Kudos to the citizens of Jackson County, Indiana for standing their ground.
Thanks for checking out my blog! Here you will find my articles, Bible verses that have special meaning to me, devotions, and stories from my travels.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.” — Proverbs 3:5-6
Mount Mitchell, North Carolina
I cherish alone time with God. Even Jesus had to break away from the crowds and be by himself. I guess that’s why I like to take journeys.
It’s no secret that I often take spontaneous road trips to random destinations. This week I headed west. That’s it. Just west. “It’s the journey, not the destination,” I thought. Besides, I craved alone time with God. No crowds, just Him.
Proverbs 3:5-6 had been stuck on repeat in my mind for three straight days. What is God trying to show me? I had questions; He has the answers.
Three hours later, I reached the summit of Mount Mitchell, North Carolina, the highest peak east of the Mississippi River. The abandoned parking lot brought forth a sigh of hopeful optimism. “This is perfect; now talk to me, Lord,” I whispered.
I jotted down my observations while I waited for God to speak. It was eerily quiet. There were no birds crying out above the treetops, no traffic noise, not even leaves rustling in the gentle breeze.
In the distance to the southwest I saw Clingman’s Dome, Tennessee. Grandfather Mountain posed for me in the east. Houses sparsely dotted the landscape below. I quickly jotted my thoughts. “view, unobstructed, clear, pinnacle, peak, alone.” It made sense. “I get it. You’re showing me your omniscient perspective- You alone can see the big picture of my life.”
The Journey Down the Mountain
“17 Miles to empty.” I’d just descended to the park entrance when my mountaintop experience itself descended into fear and worry.
I spent the next 45 minutes in fervent prayer: “Lord, please let me make it to a gas station!”
As I crept into the nearest gas station, I was met with this message on the gas pump’s screen:
“Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. Luke 2:14”
“Jehovah-Jireh, The-Lord_Will_Provide,” I smiled.
How often do we long for a mountaintop experience with God, yet fail to realize He is right there with us in the valley, inviting us to just trust Him completely?