Sunday, April 17, 2016

The 3 - April 17, 2016

This week's edition of The 3, highlighting recent news and information impacting the Christian community, shines the spotlight on a decision not to replicate the entrance to a pagan temple in 2 major cities.  Also, there's a tribute to POW's and MIA's that features the Bible; and some military facilities have removed the Bible from their displays.  And, there will be a language change in the citizenship test that more accurately reflects the expression of faith.

3 - Plans to build replica of entrance to Baal Temple in New York & London scrapped

In a recent Front Room blog post, I shared information about plans to erect replicas of the arched entrance to the Temple of Baal from Palmyra, Syria in New York and London. had reported this, along with other news sites, and that website now relates that those plans have been suddenly--and rather inexplicably--cancelled.

The story says Charisma News writer Michael Snyder suggests that the sudden change in plans is perhaps due to the large amount of negative feedback the plans received when they were reported on news sites.  Snyder also submits that the “prayers of God’s people” were likely a driving force in the new plan not to make a replica of the Temple of Baal arch either in New York or in London.

Snyder says that the British news outlet, the Telegraph, has confirmed that no arch will be built in New York City, while an arch that is a replica of the Arch of Triumph in ancient Rome will be built in London in place of the arch of the Temple of Baal.

In my earlier blog post, I had quoted a CBN News report that the reproduction of the entrance to the Temple would be erected as a tribute to the original structure, which was 2,000 years old and destroyed by ISIS last year in Palmyra, Syria.  The story said that the reproductions would be made using a 3-D printer, producing a life-size model of the temple's entrance.

Roger Michel, executive director for the Institute for Digital Archaeology, had said, "We hope it is viewed as a constructive response to what has happened there." The Institute had expressed hope to build around 1,000 versions of the arch around the world.

2 - Bibles taken out of "Missing Man" displays remembering POW's 

The Missing Man table is solemn reminder of those who were Prisoners of War or Missing in Action, and was established during the Vietnam era, according to a story by Todd Starnes at, which says that the tables are typically displayed on military bases and VA clinics – and feature empty chairs for each of the five services, a red rose, an inverted glass, a yellow ribbon, salt sprinkled on a plate, a lemon slice, a candle – and a Bible. The official ceremony script says that, “The Bible represents the strength gained through faith to sustain us and those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God."

But Veterans' Administration officials in Youngstown and Akron, Ohio removed the Bible from displays at clinics in those locales, under pressure from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which, according to Starnes, believes the Bible’s presence on the Missing Man table represents a violation of the law."  The story points out that MRFF also reports that a VA clinic removed the Bible from a display in Houston, Texas.

And, in a separate incident, the Bible was also removed from a display at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.

A letter has been sent to Robert McDonald, secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, urging him to reinstate the Bible to the Missing Man displays. It was signed by representatives of Family Research Council, First Liberty Institute, Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, Liberty Counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom, and others. The article on offered these quotes from the letter:
“The removal of the Bible not only violates the integrity of these displays, but insults those returned POWs who gained daily strength from their faith in the prisons of our enemies,”
“When a governmental agency such as the VA removes any part of the display, it is a grave insult to the nation’s veterans who often gather together to honor those who have not returned, while also interfering with the message being expressed.”
1 - Citizenship test will reflect wording change, back to "freedom of religion"

There has been an ongoing discussion about the difference between the concept of "freedom of worship" and "freedom of religion."  There are those who would say that "freedom of worship" implies the activity that takes place inside a church building or house of worship, whereas "freedom of religion" refers to religious practice in a broader sense, throughout society.

The website reports that back in 2008, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) made a slight change in wording to the citizenship exam given to potential Americans, but that change had enormous political implications – it removed the phrase "freedom of religion" and replaced it with "freedom of worship," which the department deemed more inclusive.

The change in those testing materials was picked up by Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Lankford, who, after he was elected to the Senate in 2014, asked why the language had been changed. A little over a week ago, the senator's office announced DHS had made the decision to revert to the phrase "freedom of religion" in its testing and education materials.

León Rodriguez, director of the DHS's Citizenship and Immigration Services, wrote in a letter to Lankford, "We are in the process of revising our test study materials and Web content to reflect the change. Approximately 40 different internal and external Web-based and printed publications will be revised as a result of this decision."

Sen. Lankford is quoted in the Christian Examiner article as saying, "I applaud the Department of Homeland Security for listening to me and deciding to change their material to reflect our First Amendment right of freedom of religion," adding, "At first glance, it appears like a small matter, but it is actually an important distinction for the Constitution and the First Amendment. The 'freedom of religion' language reflects our right to live a life of faith at all times, while the 'freedom of worship' reflects a right simply confined to a particular space and location." He continued, "We live in a great nation that allows individuals to live out their faith, or have no faith at all. To protect freedom and diversity, we must carefully articulate this right throughout the federal government."

No comments: