This week's edition of "The 3", my week-in-review feature, includes an instance of a taxpayer-funded art that was removed this week from the Smithsonian, the response to a study involving gays in the military, and an iPhone app from a Christian organization that was removed because it allegedly was offensive.
3 - Smithsonian pulls display viewed as offensive to Christians
It seems that the world of modern art needs to learn a bit about religious sensitivity. We have had a string of incidents involving taxpayer-funded art that has in fact portrayed Jesus and/or Christianity in a negative light. I think that this highlights that the gatekeepers of culture (as they are regarded in their own estimation) do not have a clue with regard to some of the sacred, traditional values that have existed in and driven our nation for hundreds of years. And, as we will see later, in the #1 story, these enlightened ones don't seem to think twice sometimes when trying to remove expressions of these principles from the public discourse.
Now, the situation at the Smithsonian is especially ingredious not only because of the objectionable content, but also because this is a public, government-funded institution. The backstory: there is an exhibit there that was apparently intended to show the blight on society that is the AIDS virus - well, in attempting to illustrate this, one of the artists displayed a video that included Jesus on a crucifix covered in ants. There were some other offensive expressions, as well, including "art" that was described as "homoerotic". The video including the disturbing images of Jesus was removed, along with a bit of a disclaimer by the museum's director.
Here's the story from CNSNews.com.
This follows on the heels of the reopened debate with regard to taxpayer funding of National Public Radio, which fired commentator Juan Williams for honest remarks that he made that were characterized as being negative toward Islam, but has turned its head the other way when some Christians or Christianity have been denigrated. Those with oversight over these taxpayer-funded organizations have to look at the fact that certain material can be offensive and therefore reserve Federal dollars from going to projects that do not represent the deeply-held values of large groups of Americans.
2 - Study on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" released, Christian and pro-family groups challenge findings
The debate regarding allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the military continues to rage on Capitol Hill, as Senate leadership is attempting to bring the matter for a vote soon, and some military leaders, such as the Secretary of Defense, are pushing for a repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy while others, including the the Commandant of the Marine Corps and Chief of Staff of the Army, are calling for the ban on open homosexuality in the military to remain in place. Others in military leadership might favor a repeal, but say now is not the time for a change.
A study released earlier this week shows a number of areas of concern on troop cohesion and effectiveness. Those who commissioned the study say that any negative impact of lifting the ban would be short-lived, but fail to define for how long the negative impact would last. A closer look at the statistics show that many, especially those are actively involved in combat, have seen a negative impact from having known homosexuals serving together with them already, with many believing that a reversal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" would have a negative impact. There is an apparent disconnect between the raw data and the way that the data has been reported, and the negative impact is far greater than those communicating the survey results would have the public believe.
A number of Christian and pro-family organizations have spoken out on the matter and are urging Congress to leave the ban in place. CitizenLink offered this analysis based on the survey results.
The Family Research Council has been very active this week in attempting to paint a clearer, truer picture of how the repeal of DADT would affect the military, even offering the result of a survey that they commissioned. More information can be found here.
Up-to-date information on the issue of open homosexuality in the military can be found on the new website, www.missioncompromised.org.
1 - Manhattan Declaration app removed from IPhone store
The Manhattan Declaration is a document designed to represent a unified viewpoint of Christians in 3 critical areas: the sanctity of life, the sanctity of marriage, and religious freedom. The Declaration has garnered over 480,000 signatures since it was announced late last year, and has become a valuable tool in communicating a basic Biblical worldview on these key issues. It was drafted by 3 well-respected Christian voices: Chuck Colson of Prison Fellowship, Dr. Robert George of Princeton University, and Dr. Timothy George of Beeson Divinity School.
In October of this year, an app for the Apple iPhone was released for the Manhattan Declaration, enabling users to read the declaration, to take a survey, and to search for more information. Recently, it was discovered that Apple had removed the app from its store.
When asked about the removal, Apple responded by saying that it had been determined that the Manhattan Declaration was offensive to "large groups of people". Well, perhaps those large groups refer to the website change.org, which gathered just under 8,000 signatures on a petition to remove the app. Never mind that the Declaration had almost a half-million signatories. The leadership of the Manhattan Declaration has written an open letter to Apple CEO Steve Jobs, and now is asking people to sign an online petition in support of the app - go to www.manhattandeclaration.org to learn more.
And, here's the point that the self-proclaimed, enlightened gatekeepers of the culture don't get - when you attempt to not offend a small group of people who are determined to be irritants, you may find yourselves offending an even larger group. This principle seems to occur time and again when attempting to restrict religious speech - more specifically, Christian speech - in the culture.
We see the same principle at work in the so-called "war on Christmas" - in attempting to not offend small groups who some retailers or government leaders think might be offended by religious expression (such as the greeting of "Merry Christmas"), you end up offending larger groups. That may explain why companies like Best Buy and Dick's Sporting Goods began this Christmas season without references to Christmas, but changed their tunes after realizing that offending Christians was bad for business. (Not that appeasing Christians should be seen as a business decision, but in the retail world, the bottom line rules above all.)
Unfortunately, as Christians, I believe we have lost ground in the arena of public religious expression because intimidated leadership has backed down in the face of a small, but vocal minority. Our willingness and courage to speak up in the face of hostility to our faith can hopefully lift up Jesus and make a statement to a world that needs to know Him.
A closing note: a new Rasmussen poll shows that 7 out of 10 of those surveyed prefer "Merry Christmas" to "Happy Holidays". Here are the findings, as reported by Liberty Counsel.
Noah's Ark replica to be built at Creation Museum in KY
Football player flagged for expressing faith