More Flying Pigs

There must be more pigs flying around because I have read two articles on conservative websites and found that I agree more with the liberal, atheist side of the argument. I hope this does not mean that I am turning into a liberal.

 

flying_pigs_flipped

The first article is from breitbert.com’s Big Government and concerns a report that the Obama administration may force faith based organizations receiving federal grants to hire lgbtabcxyx people even if this happens to be against their religious scruples.

The Obama Administration is poised to require faith-based recipients of federal grants to accept applications from LGBT individuals, according to a report published today by the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-Fam).

By executive order last summer, President Obama amended the Johnson-era federal order on non-discrimination in hiring by federal contractors to include non-discrimination based on “sexual orientation and gender identity.” That order has roiled faith-based groups.

A confidential source tells C-Fam that the White House has directed federal agencies to include “sexual orientation and gender identity” as protected classes in all grant agreements.

What’s more, there are substantially more grant recipients than federal contract recipients. A law professor who works on these issues said, “For every contract recipient there are 50 receiving grants.”

The Johnson-era order was amended in 2002 by President George Bush to include a religious exemption so that faith-based groups would not be forced to hire those in opposition to their teachings. It is unclear whether grant recipients have similar protections. And even those protections are under assault by those who want all such exemptions ended.

According to C-Fam, federal agencies are now being pressured to make this change without a subsequent executive order and that the State Department legal office is telling the White House that this is not a legal matter but a matter of policy.

C-Fam’s source also said that some agencies are hesitant but because of pressure from the White House they are reluctant to object.

Faith-based groups, still grappling with the contracting question, are being caught off guard by this new policy on grants. None of the groups contacted by C-Fam were aware of the new policy.

The office of Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, who also heads the Bishop’s committee on religious freedom, wouldn’t comment. Neither would Anthony Picarello, General Counsel of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference. Catholic agencies would be hit particularly hard by such a change.

At the time of the executive order last summer, two Bishop-Chairmen of the USCCB said the order was “unprecedented and extreme and should be opposed.”

It  is unfortunate that the federal government is using these means to compel faith based organizations to act against the faith that inspires them to do good, but the fact of the matter is that the government has every right to attach whatever strings it wants to any grant money it gives out. This is a good reason why faith based organizations should neither accept federal grants to seek after federal contracts. No matter how much good they may be able to do with such funds, there is always the possibility that the government will attach conditions to the grants that they find onerous. Such dealings become a Faustian bargain with the Devil when you have a government increasingly hostile to Christianity and which seeks to diminish the influence of Christians in the public arena.

Next, from Christiannews.net, an Atheist group ruins a school field trip to a museum. They happen to be right this time.

Public school officials in Montana recently canceled a field trip to a local creation museum after a prominent church-state separation group threatened to file suit.

Approximately 100 third graders from Lincoln Elementary School in Glendive were scheduled to visit the Glendive Dinosaur and Fossil Museum on Thursday as they have done for the past seven years. The museum is stated to be the second largest in the state and contains “more than 23 full-size dinosaurs, numerous individual fossils and artifacts, informative exhibits explaining the origin of the geologic column and fossil record,” as well as a variety of other archaeological and historical displays.

Permission slips had been sent home to parents to allow their children to go on the trip.

But because the museum is operated by the Christian group Foundation Advancing Creation Truth (FACT)  and puts forth a biblical worldview about creation, the church-state separation group Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) sought to put an end to the trip. It sent a letter to school officials earlier this month asserting that it would be illegal for a public school to send children to the museum.

“We write to inform you that a school-sponsored trip to a creationist museum violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and ask that you cancel all such future trips,” it wrote.

“[The courts have] consistently and unequivocally held that religious views on the origins of life, such as creationism, ‘creation science,’ and ‘intelligent design,’ cannot lawfully be advanced by the public schools as alternatives to the scientific theory of evolution,” the letter continued.

But Principal John Larsen told reporters that it was his understanding that the museum put on a secular presentation for public school students that is void of any mention of creation or religion. Robert Canen, vice president of FACT, made similar statements to the Christian Post.

“While our museum is based on biblical history and all of our exhibits are set in that context, we provide a tour that focuses on the fossils displayed in the museum and the characteristics of those fossils,” he said.

“We mention complexity and design, but we stay away from any discussion of the Bible for public school tours,” Canen continued. “We understand that our signage refers to special creation and the biblical timeline, but we don’t draw attention to those signs for public school tours.”

The simple fact is that there is currently no debate within the scientific community over the age of the Earth or whether the theory of evolution is an accurate description of the development of life on Earth. A creation museum that presents such conclusions as mistaken or questionable is simply not presenting an accurate  perspective of current scientific knowledge. There is nothing sacred about the theory of evolution. It could be disproven tomorrow. If it is disproven it will not be because of the efforts of young earth creationists who know little or nothing about basic scientific methodology. The purpose of a creation museum, then, is not to educate people about the scientific facts about the history of the Earth but to proselytize for Christianity, or rather a particular branch of Christianity that holds to a literal interpretation of Genesis. They have every right to do thing, but a public school field trip to such a museum could be interpreted as using public resources to support or endorse their particular mission, even if they only participate in a nonreligious activity. Under the contemporary understanding of the establish clause of the first amendment, this is not permissible.

Having said this, it might have been best for everyone concerned if any parent who disagreed with this field trip had simply requested that their child not participate. Bringing in the Americans United for Separation of Church and State to threaten legal action can only create hard feelings among neighbors in a small town, even though that parent is legally in the right. I suspect that this would be a happier country if everyone were less interested in getting their own way and fighting for their own rights and more interested in accommodating their neighbors’ beliefs and scruples, as Paul directed in Romans 14:13-23.

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