Category Archives: Faith

Republicans In North Carolina: School Prayer


I’ve mentioned in the past that I’m a little leery of the complete power the republicans have in North Carolina.  However, there are benefits to finally having the out party in control of the legislative process.

In this case, it’s prayer in our public schools:

Raleigh, N.C. — Legislation approved Wednesday by the Senate Education Committee reaffirms that students can pray in public schools, a right that some lawmakers and others say is being curtailed by teachers confused by the law.

Senate Bill 370 would allow students to pray silently at any time or out loud during non-instructional time as long as the prayer is initiated by students – not teachers or staff – and nobody is forced to participate. Also, any school employees present during a student prayer would be encouraged to “adopt a respectful posture.”

“Teachers and the schools don’t really understand current law. That’s the problem,” said Sen. Austin Allran, R-Catawba. “They’re telling students they can’t talk about God or anything else that’s religious.”

This, pure and simple, makes sense.

While I don’t agree with legislation that bans organized times of prayer, think before an athletic event or at graduation, allowing students to pray on their own certainly isn’t restricted by that law.

I personally pray over my food before I eat.  Can you imagine a school not allowing a student that discretion?  Or prayer during down time or private time, as mentioned above, that doesn’t interfere with instruction.

Maybe democrats here in Carolina would have gone with this view of the law, but they haven’t in all the time they’ve held the house, the senate or the governor’s mansion.

Religion In The State


My take on the separation of church and state is that we don’t want to create a national religion that would allow the leaders of the church to be the leaders of the state.  As was the case when folks first left England for the “new land”.  At that time, the King of England was also the head of the Church of England.

Of course, over time, here in America we have taken this concept and twisted it to all kinds of silly that now prevents us from offering a prayer before graduation, before a football game.  It prevents kids from singing Christmas carols during winter concerts.  Local governments are unable to display mangers.

Not, in my opinion, the intent.

Mississippi seems to be going the other way in an equal manner:

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant has signed a bill that could lead to student-led prayer over school intercoms or at graduations or sporting events.

It says all school districts must adopt a policy to allow a “limited public forum” at school events such as football games or morning announcements, to let students express religious beliefs. The policy must include a disclaimer that such student speech “does not reflect the endorsement, sponsorship, position or expression of the district.”

In the same way and manner that I don’t think that we should forbid coaches from holding a small prayer before hitting the hardwoods, I don’t think that we should be mandating a forum either.

However, when we begin to legislate stuff like this we end up with all kinds of twisted and tortured legislation that, when boiled down, is really meant to say, “Just leave me alone!”

My hope that this might just be a good common sense codified is the ACLU’s response:

Bear Atwood, legal director for ACLU of Mississippi, says the group will wait to see if there’s proselytizing in schools before deciding whether to file a lawsuit.

What else can ya expect from a dude named “Bear”?

Liberty And Faith

Pope Francis

I should note that I am not Catholic.  Like all good upper Europeans I am Lutheran, born and bred for generations.  In fact, it was Martin Luther that broke from the Catholic Church all those years ago when he nailed his issues to the church doors.

That being said, read on.

Not hours after being elected to head the Catholic Church, being the first Latino Pope and the first Pope to be elected from the Americas, the Facebook is aflutter with his views on homosexuality:

Let’s not be naive, we’re not talking about a simple political battle; it is a destructive pretension against the plan of God. We are not talking about a mere bill, but rather a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.

First I should point out there there was zero -NONE- hope that the new Pope would change course on the Catholic view of homosexuality.  Whatever your view  of homosexuality, folks who are gay or the rights of gay people in a government, to think that the Pope would come out and change direction is a totally pie in the sky hope or expectation.

That being said, I have no issue with people who view the issue of homosexuality as a binary proposition and chose to leave the church over their view.

But this gets to the heart of the matter.

In my understanding of Christianity as a whole, and certainly my personal belief, is that all of humanity is born into sin and cannot escape  our condition as imperfect people.  That our acceptance into heaven, and here I break with Catholics, is based on the Mercy of the Divine and not the merit of the creature.  In the same way I love my new born child, who has no cognitive ability to love at that moment, I accept that my inability to love my Creator in no way affects His love for me.

Gay or straight.

My issue with people who take the position that homosexuality is a sin isn’t so much with their verdict, my personal take is that I have no earthly idea what the Almighty will consider, but with their treatment of the individual.  In the same way that we love, tolerate and pray for all people, I would expect that the church an its followers would extend the same love and compassion to members who might be gay or who might in other ways and manners exhibit sinful behavior.

Lastly, I would like to add that being Catholic is a personal choice.  Their beliefs and tenants are their own.  I may not agree with every group of people in their own private missions, but I don’t begrudge them for having them.

Faith and the World

I would have thought the number to be smaller:

Hard numbers are often scant in questions of faith. But a new report from the Pew Research Centre, a self-described “fact tank” in Washington, DC, on the state of religious belief in 2010 provides some welcome light. It estimates that 5.8 billion adults and children—around 84% of the world population in 2010—have some kind of religious affiliation.

Of the 1.1 billion unaffiliated, many profess some belief in a higher power. Asia has by far the largest number of people who claim to have no religion; China’s official atheism explains much of that. But 44% of unaffiliated Chinese adults say they have worshiped at a graveside or tomb in the past year. And China has the world’s seventh-largest Christian population, estimated at 68m.

But I’m glad I would have been wrong.



I’m in danger.

I’m in danger of moving on from the horrors of the world and living my self absorbed life.  I have my family, my job and my concerns to keep me busy and focused.  Absorbed.

I’m in danger of letting Connecticut become a statistic.

And the only way out is to visualize the scene.  To imagine being the teacher in that class.  Being the father of that student.  Being the husband of that principal.

But I can’t do that every day, every night.  I can’t stop moving to keep this day fresh; the point isn’t that.  The point is to internalize and to move on.  To remember, to be sure, but move past the shade.

For me, the lesson from this tragedy is that the world is an imperfect place full of people who are, well, human.  We live among men who are full of failings, constantly striving to be better, but just as often failing.  The world is a harsh harsh place.

The natural response to this tragedy, and the others like it, is to say, “What can we do to ensure this never ever happens again?”  But that question isn’t based in the reality of that world in which we find ourselves.  Tragedy is going to find us again.  And it’s going to hurt.

I don’t think the answer lies in how we regulate our guns.  Rather, I think it’s in how we regulate our hearts.  How we can better love those close to us.  Those far from us and those around us.  Could that day 1 week ago have been avoided had more understanding or love been applied to that boy?  I dunno.  Could some of the tragedies that we live through be avoided were there more understanding?  More empathy?  More love?

I have to think so.

We’re not going to be able to regulate our way out of this.  We can’t let ourselves to think that this isn’t ever going to happen again.  But we can try, through the various options open to us, work to make the next time occur further in the future.  To reduce the number of next times.

And to make sure that those around us know that they are loved by us.


There Are No Words

Creation, Evolution, Democrats and Post Graduates

So, I’m just reading around when I came across a Gallup poll on creationism, evolution and who believes in what.  I grew up Christian, went to church almost every Sunday for 18 years, Sunday School ’till I graduated high school, sang in the choir and take my kids to church today – though not every Sunday.

I don’t think I can remember ever thinking, when I was old enough to begin to think independently, that God created humans in human form.  I certainly NEVER believed that science was wrong.  I’ve always accepted that rocks were very old, that people once couldn’t read, write and do the things we can today.

In short, I’ve always felt that evolution was very clearly how we got to where we are today.

So, I’m stunned, freakin’ STUNNED, to learn that a plurality, 46% of American’s, believe that God created humans in current form just 10,000 years ago.


The first thing that came to my mind was that it was that group of people that the Left loves to hate; the Tea Party:

Certainly republicans are leading the charge, but not by the margins I would have thought.  I mean, 41% of democrats think that God created, what I have to believe, is Adam and Eve in literal form.

Only slightly less surprising is the numbers that support my view that God guided evolution to get us where we are today [I’m not sure that we’re the finished form, by the way.  Which may explain my “meh” attitude on supposed crisis like overpopulation and global warming].  I would have thought that as education increased, the view that God guided evolution would decrease:

Nope.  In each case, high school, college and then postgraduate, the rate increased supporting God involved evolution.

I can’t explain it.

Anyway, no commentary, just cool.

Bigger Government – Higher Taxes: A Liberals Charity

For a long time now we’ve know that religious belief, political affiliation and charity correlate.  Certainly correlation isn’t causation but it does provide for interesting conversations.  Which brings me this story:

BOSTON — A new study on the generosity of Americans suggests that states with the least religious residents are also the stingiest about giving money to charity.

Like I said, this is well known and not surprising.  I would like to say that freedom loving individuals intuitively know that we need to care for our neighbors, but that legalized theft is not the way to do it.  However, I don’t think most people think it through like that.

But it would be fin to try and explain this:

The study released Monday by the Chronicle of Philanthropy found that residents in states where religious participation is higher than the rest of the nation, particularly in the South, gave the greatest percentage of their discretionary income to charity.

The Northeast, with lower religious participation, was the least generous to charities, with the six New England states filling the last six slots among the 50 states.

The study also found that patterns of charitable giving are colored in political reds and blues.

Of the 10 least generous states, nine voted for Democrat Barack Obama for president in the last election. By contrast, of the 10 most generous states, eight voted for Republican John McCain.

Whatever the reason, I think it has to do with how the brain works.  For example, there are studies that show people who “be green” are then more likely to be rude or less moral; at least for a time.  Scientist feel that by contributing to the health of their plant, that “need” in their mind has been met and they are now free to act less charitable.

In fact, I’ve always felt that liberals aren’t less generous, they simply feel that government is their charity.  I honestly feel that when a liberal lawmaker is successful in voting for someone else to build a school for the poor with someone elses money, they feel the same sense of accomplishment that someone who volunteers for Habit for Humanity and actually swings the hammer that builds the school, or house.

Not surprisingly I’m often called out for this line of “garbage” and am told that I’m simply looking at it through too simply and too bias a lens.  Perhaps.  Tribalism is tough and resentment is an unattractive date.  Which is why I was surprised to see this:

Alan Wolfe, a political science professor at Boston College, said it’s wrong to link a state’s religious makeup with its generosity. People in less religious states are giving in a different way by being more willing to pay higher taxes so the government can equitably distribute superior benefits, Wolfe said. And the distribution is based purely on need, rather than religious affiliation or other variables, said Wolfe, also head of the college’s Boisi Center for Religion and Public Life.

Wolfe said people in less religious states “view the tax money they’re paying not as something that’s forced upon them, but as a recognition that they belong with everyone else, that they’re citizens in the common good. … I think people here believe that when they pay their taxes, they’re being altruistic.

I’ll differ with the good professor a little bit here.  I don’t think it’s the act of PAYING the taxes that causes democrats to be less charitable than others, I think it’s the act of VOTING for more spending that causes liberals to be less charitable.

No one likes to pay taxes and even democrats avoid it when they can.

Faith, Hope And Charity

I came across this video the other day.  Someone I know posted it on Facebook and I took the two minutes to watch it:

It turns out that it wasn’t the first time that Freemasonry, Facebook and the Shriner’s Hospitals For Kids juxtaposed.

About 3 years ago a college roommate living in North Western Minnesota shared a link on Facebook.  It turns out that his brother, living in the same town as him, had a little boy; a son of about 11 years old.  This brother had just posted that he was outside the emergency room where his little boy had been taken and observed.

It turns out the kid had been complaining of knee pain for several days and was now complaining that it was dramatically more severe.  It became so bad that he had to be brought to the hospital.  The doctors couldn’t say for sure what the problem might be without further testing.  They wanted the young man to be brought back for MRI’s and some x-rays.  The boy’s folks wanted the best for their kid but were unsure of what the costs might be and where that money would come from.  Additionally, the strain of being away from work only added to the pressure.

By the time I saw the post it was long past “real-time” and was now of the type, “Keep my brother in your prayers.”  And it was 8:30 at night.

I called the Shriner’s Hospital in Minneapolis, explained that I was a Mason and requested that I be allowed to sponsor a patient.  I went on to describe the condition of the child as best I could from the information I had.  The nurse made an appointment for first AM Monday morning.  When I told her that the family lived near 4 hours away, she let me know that she could change it to 1:00 if that would be easier.

I hesitated but pressed on.  I mentioned that the family worked and may not be able to make the trip to Minneapolis and I would have to call back to confirm.  She cheerfully explained that they had arrangements with a lodge in that area of the state and that a Mason would be called and a ride, to and from Minneapolis, would be arranged.  It was hard to get my head around that.  Again, explaining that the family might be able to make it based on their circumstances, I asked for lodging near the hospital, the less expensive the better.  Again, she had an answer, “We allow families to stay on campus, we have rooms just for that purpose.”

One last thing…money might be an issue.  As she wished me a good night she reassured me that all services would be provided to the family free of charge; there wouldn’t be a financial obligation to the family.

I was reminded:

Freemasonry stands for the exercise of Faith, Hope and Charity, the three cardinal virtues in the Freemasons’ creed. These are the principal rounds of that many-staved ladder, of which every stave represents an active virtue, which links earth to heaven, and which, though invisible, is a reality to the true Mason. Indeed, no man can be a true Mason without the exercise of these virtues in his daily life, for having Faith in God and His promises, he has the Faith which banishes doubt. He has also Faith in himself. Faith in his fellow-man. Faith in the boundless possibilities for a regenerate humanity, Faith in the ultimate happiness of all mankind, Faith in the enjoyment of perfect bliss throughout an endless life. With this Faith in his soul, the consistent Mason has hope. Hope for that in which he has Faith, Hope for himself. Hope for his fellows, Hope for all mankind—Hope for the present, Hope for the future — a Hope so firmly rooted in his soul, that it is steadfast, immovable, enduring to the end. And Charity, that perfection of all virtues, the choicest, rarest of all the jewels which adorn the life of a perfect Mason, that too Freemasonry stands for, although each Brother well knows the difficulty of its full attainment in this world of conflict, error, sin and tears. To bring help to a suffering humanity, to relieve the distressed stricken in body or mind, to shelter those whom a censorious world has cast out, and to throw a veil over the faults and failings of all weak and over- tempted souls—that is the Charity placed before us in a Freemasons’ Lodge.

I so do love this noble fraternity.

Media Incompetence: Jon Stewart

To be fair, I don’t think that Jon Stewart, CNN or the reporter are bias in their reporting.  For his sake, Stewart is just running a clip that makes his point and probably just missed it.

But for CNN and the reporter, their mistake is a little bit more egregious.  Again, I don’t think there’s bias, rather, they think they have a story – they might well have- and they are just trying to push the numbers they have to make that story more compelling.

Watch.  Hint, it’s all over by 00:35

The error was in the numbers the CNN reporter was displaying.

Here is the graphic she used:

So the numbers and the graph are:

  • Correct
  • Off High

The graph accurately reflects the White unemployment.  The graph does NOT reflect AfricanAmerican unemployment.  In fact, it shows it lower.  Then again, the graph doesn’t show Hispanic unemployment correctly either, however it too shows the data as lower than the raw numbers.

Which is right?

Let’s listen:

… in the black community 14% compared to whites which is 7%.  Latino community 11% compared to white’s 7%.

In the dialogue we have white unemployment at 7%.  Both the data and the chart show it at 7.4%  She reports that black unemployment is 14% but the data shows 13.6% and the chart shows 13%.  Depending on which you believe, that’s a whole point.  Next she moves to Latinos.  In both comparisons she mentions 11%; consistent with the data but not the graph.

Again, I don’t think there is bias here.  Jon is setting the table for his bit.  But Lordy, how do we trust that these people are saying true things?