Sunday, November 27, 2011

The 3 - November 27, 2011

This week on "The 3", a couple of stories involve religious expression, including developments regarding freedom of religion in the context of the U.S. military. Also, Presidential politics are found in this week-in-review feature, as some candidates enunciated their positions on certain family-oriented issues. And, with Thanksgiving being celebrated around the nation, we reflect on how American Christians can use this holiday as a opportunity of expressing their faith, as leaders have done in years past.

3 - Cross removed from Army chapel in Afghanistan, Marines face cross removal at Camp Pendleton

The use of religious symbols on U.S. military bases has come under scrutiny within the past few weeks. In the aftermath of a controversy at Camp Pendleton, a Marine base near San Diego, a cross that has provided inspiration for soldiers at an NATO base in Afghanistan has been removed.

First, the Camp Pendleton situation. According to The Christian Examiner, an atheist group called the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers (MAAF) has asked that a cross erected by Marines at Camp Pendleton to honor fallen troops be removed, citing it constitutes an establishment of religion.

The American Center for Law and Justice has become involved, sending a letter to the Camp's commanding officer, saying: "The Constitution does not prohibit honoring fallen troops through the use of a historic symbol merely because that symbol also carries religious significance. In fact, the Constitution forbids excluding religion from every aspect of public life, precisely the goal of the MAAF and other atheist groups.” The Marine Corps is reviewing the issue.

Meanwhile, half a world away, a cross was placed in front of a chapel at Camp Marmal, a German base housing NATO troops in Afghanistan. The interfaith chapel is under the supervision of the U.S. Army. The cross was an inspiration for troops, but the Army says it violates its regulations, which state: “The chapel environment will be religiously neutral when the facility is not being used for scheduled worship. Portable religious symbols, icons, or statues may be used within a chapel during times of religious worship.”

Here is the story from The Christian Post.

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council charged that the decision secularized a religious building. He said, "There’s a sole purpose of a chapel and it’s to worship."

Some service members quoted in a Politico story felt the removal of the cross was an attack on Christianity:

The two characterized the removal of the cross as an attack on their religion and noted that there had been no complaints from Muslims — there are two mosques on the base — or Jews, who had recently conducted a service in the chapel without incident.

“I really don’t understand why Christians are always attacked. If it was a crescent moon on top of a mosque, it would never be taken down,” said an Army serviceman.

“We would just like to know where the line is. The chaplains wear different religious symbols on their uniforms depending on which religion they are. Is that the next thing to be targeted?” added a second service member.

Without having a knowledge of military precedent, one has to wonder what is at play here. Certainly, as Perkins contends, if the purpose of a chapel is to worship, and Christianity is the religion that is practiced at the chapel, should there be any restrictions on the symbols? Now, if the military has a "no symbol" policy, then those in charge were following the proper regulations - but does enforcement of those regulations constitute the denial of the free exercise of religion?

When the Navy attempted to place inappropriate restrictions on prayer a few years ago, Congress stepped in an overturned the rule. One particular Navy chaplain, who had been court-martialed under the rule and removed from his duties, claims that, since the rule was rescinded, then any action taken against him should also be removed from his record. There are forces at work that would like to place undue restrictions on service men and women who wish to freely live out their faith. The area of religious liberties will probably continue to be a significant source of tension in the U.S. military in days to come, exacerbated by the removal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

2 - Presidential candidates sign pledges

Last week, I cited the Thanksgiving Family Forum as the top news story of the week. In the aftermath of that event, which featured 6 out of the 8 GOP candidates sharing their heart motivation on a variety of issues, 2 of the Presidential candidates, just this week, took steps to try to bolster their standing with regard to family issues.

CitizenLink reports that Texas Gov. Rick Perry became the latest candidate to sign a marriage pledge offered by the sponsoring organization for the Forum, The FAMiLY LEADER of Iowa, promising to stand up for the federal Defense of Marriage Act, remain faithful to his wife, appoint “faithful constitutionalists” to the bench, and reform elements in divorce, tax and welfare laws that currently don’t support marriage.

Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum have also signed the pledge, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has said he would like to sign it, but only if he can make a few modifications first.

The FAMiLY LEADER has narrowed its field of candidates that it would consider endorsing to 4: Bachmann, Gingrich, Perry, and Santorum. Cain and Ron Paul were eliminated after the Forum last week.

Speaking of Cain, after been scrutinized for not signing a pro-life pledge from the Susan B. Anthony list, he actually signed it on Tuesday. The pledge includes promises to appoint strict constructionists as judges, selecting only pro-life people for key Cabinet positions, supporting legislation to permanently end taxpayer funding of abortion through Planned Parenthood and other agencies, and signing a Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act should such a bill reach his desk as president.

Cain had made comments in June, when he declined to sign the pledge, saying that he would sign any pro-life legislation passed by Congress, but that he could not, as president, “advance” it himself. Bachmann, Gingrich, Perry, Santorum and Texas Rep. Ron Paul have also signed the pro-life pledge; the only candidates still in the race who have not are former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman.

The Forum gave voters, many for the first time, the opportunity to hear from candidates regarding how their personal beliefs, including religious faith, played into their policy decisions. These are important elements as Christian voters attempt to prayerfully consider for whom they will cast a vote in the 2012 elections.

1 - Christians celebrate God's blessings on Thanksgiving Day

The Thanksgiving holiday gives Christians the distinct opportunity, in a collective sense, to give thanks to God for His blessings on us and His favor on our nation. When Presidents Washington and Lincoln issued Thanksgiving proclamations, they specifically encouraged Americans to express said thanksgiving TO GOD.

Heritage Foundation President Ed Feulner, in a recent Washington Times piece, recounted that
Washington, when he issued a 1789n proclamation, called on all Americans that day to observe a day of “public thanksgiving and prayer” devoted to “the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.” Lincoln, on the same day, October 3rd, some 74 years later, issued a proclamation, in the middle of the Civil War, calling on Americans to reflect on their blessings AND give thanks to Almighty God. Feulner writes:
Yet President Lincoln paused at this time of unimaginable crisis not only to urge Americans to give thanks, but to note how blessed our nation is. “The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies,” the first sentence reads. He lists those blessings in terms so strong and soaring one could almost forget this was one of our nation’s darkest hours.

He goes on to say that:

The second aspect of Lincoln's proclamation that is sometimes forgotten is the reason given for the holiday. To give thanks, yes, but not just in general - to give thanks to God. “No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things,” Lincoln wrote. “They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.”

So, we have a unique opportunity as Christians to inject gratitude to God into our national consciousness. Even as the priorities seemed to skew more toward staying up really late on Thursday to partake in Black Friday shopping experiences, we must be careful to remember Whom we worship and to give honor to Him. Some honored God by observing the Thanksgiving holiday by sharing in helping the poor and needy, and to provide encouragement to those who need to experience God's joy and peace.

And, Fox News analyst Todd Starnes took our current President to task, pointing out there was no mention of God in his Thanksgiving address. Starnes wrote:
The president said his family was “reflecting on how truly lucky we truly are.”

For many Americans, though, Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on how blessed and thankful they are.

The president said the “most American of blessings” is the “chance to determine our own destiny.”

He called the very first Thanksgiving a “celebration of community."

Mr. Obama did make the proper mention of the contributions of our military men and women, and emphasized the shared experience of living together as Americans. But I believe that the nature of the word, "thanksgiving", implies that there is someone to whom we give thanks, and in a nation founded on Judeo-Christian values and principles, I think it's important that we not shy away from the role of faith in the foundation and sustenance of our great nation.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The 3 - November 20, 2011

This week on "The 3", an emphasis on the Bible factors in to 2 of the 3 stories relevant to the Christian community, including the finals of the three-year-old National Bible Bee and a British observance of the 400th Anniversary of the King James Bible. And, the top story involves a unique display of 75% of the GOP Presidential candidates as they dealt with social issues and their process of making policy decisions in a forum in Iowa.

3 - National Bible Bee finals give young people change to demonstrate Bible knowledge

This weekend in Nashville, the finals of the third annual National Bible Bee were held, spotlighting Scripture memorization and Bible reading comprehension. Contestants had entered three categories: Senior - ages 15-18, Junior - ages 11-14, and Primary - ages 7-10. Over 5,600 students entered the competition from across the nation, and the final 300 gathered this week in Nashville.

The Bee is sponsored by the Shelby Kennedy Foundation, named after a young lady who died five years ago from cancer, and loved to memorize Bible verses. The Foundation provided some $260,000 in prize money. Winners included: Kari Erickson of South Dakota in the Senior category, Bethany Xiques of Florida in the Junior category, and Olivia Davis of Oregon in the Primary category.

According to The Christian Post, the National Bible Bee seeks “to help families strengthen their personal relationships with the Lord and dynamically impact the world as ambassadors of Jesus Christ.” All of the materials and events of the ministry are designed to be “enjoyable and family-centered as they encourage, recognize, and reward diligence in Bible study, Scripture memorization and prayer.”

The National Bible Bee is yet another effort designed to reinforce memorization and study of the Scriptures, challenging young people to learn God's Word. In this age in which Bible literacy has become an area of particular emphasis, events such as this bring a greater awareness about the importance of the Bible and the truths contained within it.Link
2 - Queen, British leaders celebrate 400th Anniversary of King James Bible

This entire year has been devoted to celebrating the 400th Anniversary of the King James Bible, commissioned by the British monarch in the early 17th Century, bringing together a group of scholars, translators, and theologians to craft a translation of God's Word that would bring a greater level of accessibility to the sacred text and become a crowning achievement of the reign of King James I.

This week at Westminster Abbey, Queen Elizabeth and other members of the royal family attended a special service featuring the Archbishop of Canterbury and some 2,000 worshippers. A copy of the "People's Bible", handwritten by some 22,000 people throughout the United Kingdom, was presented at the special service. Historic copies of the King James Bible were carried throughout the Abbey at the start of the service. The Christian Institute of Great Britain had this report.

According to the report, in the service the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, described the King James Bible as an “extraordinary text” which remains of “abiding importance”. The translation is notable in the way it communicated the message of the texts, as well as the ability to connect with the common people at large. It presented a mix of eloquence and ease of access, and has been established as the standard of accuracy for Bible translations. It's something worth celebrating, and gives another opportunity for an increased awareness of the power of God's Word.

1 - Thanksgiving Family Forum gives insight into faith, family issues

Numerous Republican Presidential debates, featuring the candidates in a variety of settings dealing with a wide range of issues, have given some, a rather limited, amount of insight into candidates' policy proposals. However, the fast-paced formats designed to accommodate a number of candidates leave little opportunity for someone to really see into the heart of those desiring to be elected to the nation's highest office.

So, with the Iowa caucuses approaching the first week of January, in a state where over a third of likely GOP caucus participants self-identify as born-again Christians, you would think that matters of faith would be important to the voters. A pro-family organization called The Family Leader organized a "forum" (not a debate), in order that candidates could answer questions about their belief systems, their factors in making decisions, and positions on issues important to evangelical voters. Moderated by noted focus group leader Frank Luntz, the event included discussions of a variety of what we might call, "heart", issues. 6 out of the 8 Republican candidates were present, the exceptions being Jon Huntsman, whose poll numbers did not meet the minimum threshold for an invitation, and Mitt Romney, who was campaigning in New Hampshire. Here's a report from Fox News.

CNN had this report on the forum.

Some of the conversations included Herman Cain's tearful recollection of his struggle with cancer, and his regrets about not being home more during his business career. Newt Gingrich, whose failed marriages have produced concern for some social conservatives, talked of going to God to seek reconciliation with Him in the aftermath of mistakes. Rick Santorum recounted the faith struggles he encountered after the birth of his now 3-year-old disabled daughter. Rick Perry mentioned the hole in everyone's heart that can only be filled by Jesus Christ. Michele Bachmann recalled her growing-up years and her parents' divorce. And, Ron Paul talked about his experience in "sharing new life" by delivering babies.

The plethora of Republican debates has been helpful for some, damaging for others, and has yielded plenty of sound-bite opportunities. But, if you want to know how these candidates will actually govern and their heart motivation for policy decisions, perhaps a venue like the Family Forum was satisfactory. You'll be able to watch the whole event at

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The 3 - November 13, 2011

This week on "The 3", a 24-hour period of prayer and fasting was conducted in Detroit beginning on Friday night, voters in the state of Mississippi rejected an amendment to their Constitution which would have defined an unborn child as a person, and Christians gathered in America and other parts of the world to reflect on and pray for the plight of the persecuted church.

3 - Thousands pray and fast during TheCall in Detroit

It does seem that wherever TheCall shows up, there is a dramatic, renewed emphasis on revival and spiritual awakening. I think back on the throes of the Proposition 8 contest in California, where over 30 thousand came together in San Diego to pray in order to release God's power on that vote to confirm traditional marriage. In 1999, Lou Engle, inspired by the Promise Keepers "Stand in the Gap" event, began to develop plans to bring hundreds of thousands of young people to the National Mall in Washington, and in September of 2000, an estimated 400,000 gathered to call upon God.

In 2007, on 07.07.07, over 75,000 people gathered in Nashville to pray and fast together for God to do a profound work. On 11.11.11, TheCall came to Ford Field in Detroit for 24 hours of prayer and fasting. The event began at 6:00 on Friday night and continued through 6:00pm Saturday. The Detroit News estimated the attendance at 25 to 30 thousand at 7:00pm Friday...that publication claims its reporters were not allowed inside. But, here is their report.

Even though there were some local ministers concerned because of what some referred to as an anti-Muslim sentiment, which obviously will raise eyebrows in an area with a significant Muslim population, TheCall's focus was to proclaim Jesus and to promote an avenue of healing, based on God's Word. The Christian Post provided this story. When thousands of God's people participate in this type of effort - what some would call radical, but I believe would best be termed Biblical Christianity - it can have an incredible effect, changing the hearts of those He calls His own, and bringing a sense of His presence to a community and region.

2 - Mississippi voters reject Personhood Amendment

The results are in, and the amendment that was on the ballot in Mississippi, defining "personhood" from the moment of fertilization, failed by a 58 to 42% margin. While this is the second state where such an amendment has failed, the margin was much closer than in Colorado, where a similar measure has been defeated twice. Here is a report from
Baptist Press had this coverage.

For many, the "personhood" concept presents a strong statement about the sanctify of life, and I think the whole process helped people to consider their view of the unborn. A number of pro-life, pro-family organizations, including Family Research Council, Liberty Counsel, the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, and the Mississippi Baptist Convention, supported the measure. Filmmakers gave their support, such as Jon and Andy Erwin of "October Baby", which was brought into theaters by the American Family Association to support the personhood vote, and Ray Comfort, whose ministry sent out 600,000 e-mails with a link to his provocative video, "180", depicting people changing their minds on abortion. One tweet Wednesday morning basically described "personhood" as a new civil rights movement.

But, as we experienced even in Alabama when a personhood measure was being considered by the Legislature, and in Mississippi and other states, there are a significant number of pro-life individuals and some pro-life organizations that are not on board with such an amendment. National Right to Life and American Life League are two of those. There are some that would fear unintended consequences, such as the case of a pregnant mother whose life is in danger and a pregnancy is terminated...would there be legal ramifications in that situation? Some opponents believe that the amendment would be certain to be struck down as unconstitutional, and fear that if such a case were to make it to the U.S. Supreme Court that it would not be strong enough for the justices to overturn Roe v. Wade, therefore strengthening that decision. A number of pro-life advocates fear sending strong pro-life measures to the court system because of the current judicial atmosphere. And, these are valid concerns.

Many embrace the strategy of electing more pro-life lawmakers into Statehouses and Congress, and electing a pro-life president who would be certain to appoint justices to the U.S. Supreme Court who would view Roe as a dubious decision with questionable constitutionality, and would vote to overturn it. To some, "personhood" represented an "all-or-nothing" strategy, while many pro-lifers believe that "incrementalism" more effective. Yes, there are valid points on both sides.

The upside of the defeat of the Personhood Amendment in Mississippi is that the visibility of the referendum, you would hope, brought a new awareness of the issue of when life begins, as well as a fresh view of the sanctity of life. And, as of Tuesday, there were 6 other states where pro-life advocates are working to put a Personhood Amendment on their ballots - Florida, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Nevada and California. A bill was pre-filed for the 2012 session of the Alabama Legislature that would include similar language to the Mississippi amendment.

This is a key issue in our culture, because our view of the sanctity of life will also color our positions on other issues, as well as the way that we regard others - if we believe that every life is beautiful, every life a gift of God, then the way we behave toward others can be radically transformed.

1 - International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church commemorated worldwide

The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, observed on Sunday, November 13th this year, is an opportunity to stand together in prayer for those who are facing suffering for the cause of Christ around the world. Open Doors is one of the leading sponsors, but there are many other organizations who are in partnership for this day to help bring awareness of the tremendous needs.

One of the dominant areas in which there is much concern for Christian persecution is in nations throughout the Middle East, where governments that are either fundamentally Islamic or lean that way routinely deny Christians their freedom to practice their faith. This has been seen in nations such as Iraq, where it is estimated that half of the indigenous Christians there have fled due to persecution and threats. Another nation is Eqypt, where the Coptic Christians have clashed with fundamentalist Islamic factions. And, we hear of reports out of Pakistan, where their blasphemy laws have placed some Christians under the threat of a harsh sentence for speaking out against Islam and converting to Christianity. And, in Afghanistan, even though their new constitution was framed with the assistance of the U.S. Government, there are many who embrace Sharia, or Islamic Law, which provides for a crime of apostasy, or converting from Islam to another religion.

On The Meeting House radio show this week, Mindy Belz, Editor of WORLD magazine, shared about Sayed Musa, who is now in exile in an undisclosed location, but was facing charges of apostasy. You can read the article here, and listen to the interview below.

Another high-profile area of persecution is on the continent of Africa, especially in and around the nation of Sudan. For years, the persecution of Christians has been prevalent inside Sudan, and now with the new nation of South Sudan that was established earlier this year, it was hoped that Christians could freely and safely practice their faith there. It came to our attention earlier this week from Samaritan's Purse that prayer was needed for over 20,000 refugees from Sudan that have entered the nation, and conditions are bleak due to a shortage of food and other supplies. Then, word came on Thursday that Sudanese extremists had dropped 4 bombs on the camp. Here is a report from Samaritan's Purse on this latest violence.

Open Doors has initiated the "One With Them" campaign to remind us to pray and stand with those who are facing various forms of persecution, including imprisonment and even death because they are Christians. Find out more at And, visit for more information on the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

The 3 - November 6, 2011

A wide variety of topics on this week's edition of "The 3", my week-in-review feature. Churches across America are joining with various organizations to bring awareness to the plight of orphans and the opportunities to help meet their needs through support and even adoption. Also, as so many are gearing up for National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child, beginning next Monday, November 14th, a rather disturbing series of events has emerged at the Air Force Academy. And, in the top slot, religious liberties became a topic before the U.S. Supreme Court, where the justices let stand a lower court ruling against privately-funded roadside crosses on state property.

3 - Churches commemorate "Orphan Sunday"

It was an effort that was inspired in the African nation of Zambia and has now spread to the United States and other parts of the world - an effort to increase the awareness, among Christians, of the plight of orphans. It's called "Orphan Sunday", marked by a special emphasis in churches in some 45 states and a special Sunday evening webcast.

The Christian Post shared this story.

"Orphan Sunday" was originated as the result of an American visitor's observation in a church service in Zambia, where the pastor passionately called the congregation to care for orphans in the local community, which had been ravaged by AIDS and poverty. Even though members of the church faced deep needs, they stepped forward to contribute to a special offering to care for orphans.

According to Christianity Today, "Orphan Sunday" has become a catalyst for what the publication calls a “burgeoning orphan care movement", quoting event organizers, who also cite the most recent "State of Giving Report" from the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), in which three of the top four categories for increased giving over the past two years have been directly related to adoption and/or orphan care.

"Orphan Sunday" is co-sponsored by the Christian Alliance for Orphans and Cry of the Orphan. A number of Christian organizations, such as Focus on the Family and Steven Curtis Chapman's effort, Show Hope, are involved in the observance. Across the nation, Christian families are embracing the call of Scripture, according to James 1:27 to "look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." (NIV)

2 - Operation Christmas Child out at Air Force Academy, turned over to chaplains

This is that wonderful time of year as churches are encouraging their members to participate in the tremendously effective effort to reach out to needy children around the world, Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan's Purse, an international relief organization headed by Franklin Graham. Samaritan's Purse has built a track record of being very efficient and prompt in its response to disasters all around the world.

Well, it seems that some of the leadership at the U.S. Air Force Academy, seeing the quality work that is being done through this annual shoebox effort, encouraged their students to participate, or at least made them aware of the opportunity. But, true to form, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation filed a complaint, saying that the Academy leadership crossed the line. The Academy backed down and issued an apology. The responsibility for administering Operation Christmas Child on the campus now rests with the chaplains, and in a sense, that's OK, because the amount of publicity this story is receiving may result in an even greater response that it would have been.

Todd Starnes of Fox News issued this report.

Here's how the local newspaper, The Colorado Springs Gazette, treated the story.

This year, Operation Christmas Child is expecting to reach 8 million children around the world. Apparently, the Foundation had a beef with the fact that a Christian message is included within the shoeboxes. On The Meeting House program on Friday, November 4th, Stuart Shepard of CitizenLink, an affiliate of Focus on the Family, based in Colorado Springs, discussed the way the so-called "Establishment Clause" of the First Amendment has basically been twisted to be interpreted as an "acknowledgement". In fact, check out the audio from Stuart.

Is it so outlandish for a Christian charity to presenting its Christian principles in the work that it does? The Air Force Academy was not "establishing" anything by announcing the opportunity or even encouraging this effort. But, there has become such a stigma with a government entity being associated with anything religious. So even the mere presence of a gospel message, inserted in the shoeboxes during the distribution process, not by the cadets themselves, becomes, as the head of the organization said, "arrogance"? Can people not think for themselves, or does it take an organization like the MRLF to help filter religious information that they find inappropriate or in conflict with their own religious views? And, yes, those who attempt to silence Christians in the name of religious tolerance are, in effect, establishing their own religion - the religion of secular humanism - and are denying the free exercise rights of Christians and those who choose to support them, which, you know, can include government-related organizations.

1 - Supreme Court rejects appeal, Utah roadside crosses must come down
"Today the [Supreme] Court rejects an opportunity to provide clarity to an establishment clause jurisprudence in shambles..."A sharply divided Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit has declared unconstitutional a private association's efforts to memorialize slain police officers with white roadside crosses, holding that the crosses convey to a reasonable observer that the state of Utah is endorsing Christianity. The 10th Circuit's opinion is one of the latest in a long line of 'religious display' decisions that, because of this court's nebulous establishment clause analyses, turn on little more than 'judicial predilections."
Those are the words of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarance Thomas, calling for a review of the application of the so-called "Establishment Clause", in light of the hodgepodge of court rulings involving religious expression. The 10th Circuit decision served to prohibit the display of the Utah roadside crosses by a private organization, and the Supreme Court decided not to review it.

Here is's analysis of Thomas' dissent and some insight into religious liberty cases.

The phenomenon of different types of rulings from different appeals courts can be seen in the issue of student-led prayer, which has flared up again in Alabama in two different school districts, where complaints have been filed seeking to eliminate prayers on the P.A. systems prior to high school football games. Appeals court decisions in the Santa Fe case out of Texas, and even the Chandler case out Alabama, indicate that prayers prior to football games, even it student-led and student-initiated are not constitutional, if the taxpayer-funded P.A. system is used. Eric Johnston of the Southeast Law Institute discussed the issue in a recent appearance on The Meeting House.

In fact, the high Court has rendered differing decisions on displays of the 10 Commandments in separate cases. You have to wonder if the application of the Utah decision regarding roadside crosses could also affect the display of crosses in cemeteries nationwide, such as the hallowed ground of Arlington outside Washington. Again, we're facing a redefinition of "establishment" to mean "acknowledgement". And this is the thinking of those who are attempting to remove the words "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance and to choose another national motto, rather than "In God We Trust" - that motto, by the way, was upheld this week by practically the entire U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 396-9. Because there is such as strong influence of the secular humanism agenda that has been embraced in so many corners of our government, including the courts, there has been an erosion of the religious liberties of students and others who would want to speak about their faith publicly in events that are sponsored by these entities. And, school districts, for instance, that are cash-strapped, do not have the budgets to defend themselves against the small number of complainers, so they capitulate. In order to have some definitive answers, it takes governmental officials who have the courage, the resources, and the public support, to stand up against this erosion.