“Earlier this month Americans United for Separation of Church and State sent out 84,000 letters to church leaders to warn them against speaking about politics from the pulpit according to IRS tax-exempt restrictions. Responses so far have not been so enthusiastic.
AU says they attempted to be “respectful” in their reminder and claim they are merely trying to protect organizations’ tax exempt status. In a blog post the group’s assistant director of communications, Simon Brown, explained that they only want churches to “follow the rules” and “stay out of partisan politics”:
“We merely want houses of worship to follow the rules, stay out of partisan politics and keep their tax exemption. And when we explain to clergy what the law requires, we do so in a respectful way.”
Despite their “respectful” tone, the church and state watchdog told The Blaze that they’ve already received about 45 fiery responses, and expect more in the days to come.
One church sent back AU’s letter with the simple statement “Drop Dead” written in marker across it. Another response was a brief letter, addressed to the executive director of the group, which concluded by asking to be removed from his mailing list and saying he could take his “solicitude regarding our legal well-being” and “shove it up your fat white a__.”
Here are two shots of the messages (via The Blaze):
ISIS Snuffs Out Ancient Christianity
by Raymond Ibrahim • November 1, 2014 at 5:00 am
In Egypt, a young Coptic Christian man, accused of blaspheming Islam for simply "liking" an Arabic-language Facebook page, was sentenced to six years in prison.
One of the intruders in Uganda was shouting, "Today we shall kill you [for converting to Christianity] — you… are not respecting our prophet’s religion." He then heard his 12-year-old-girl’s cries as the Muslim intruders were strangling her. Then they seized him.
Muslims in Germany were granted their own section of the cemetery. Now these same Islamic communities are demanding that, during Islamic funerals, Christian symbols and crosses in the cemetery be removed or covered up.
Sister Utoor Joseph (left) and Sister Miskintah, are nuns who disappeared on June 28 in Mosul, Iraq, and are believed to have been kidnapped by Islamists.
During the Islamic State’s June invasion and consolidation of Mosul, Iraq — where Christians have been present since the first century — countless atrocities against them were committed. Accordingly, the region is now reportedly empty of Christian presence.
The Islamic State, among other acts, reinstituted the collection of jizya, the "tribute" conquered Christians (and Jews) were historically required to pay in order not to be killed in accordance with the Koran (9:29).
In one instance, three Islamic State members burst into the home of a Christian family, demanding the jizya-money. When the father of the house pleaded that he did not have the money, the intruders raped his wife and daughter in front of him. The man was reportedly so traumatized that he committed suicide. Four other Christian women were killed for not wearing the Islamic veil.”
Good morning, Jesus.
Here we are again,
At the beginning of a new day.
Can you feel me?
Here I am in Your Great Heart,
Reaching for You with my heart.
I feel Your eyes upon me.
You are perfume to my senses.
You are the touch of sweetness
I taste wafting on the breeze of Spirit.
You sound in my heart
With the beating of Yours.
Ever near, ever dear, everlasting,
Song of my soul.
Good morning, my Jesus.
Hold me here,
On the brink of eternity.
©2014 Joann Nelander
“The contemporary attacks on Christianity, moral and political, are redolent of the Decian persecutions, and yet an instinct of much of the secularist media is reluctance to report, let alone condemn beyond formulaic protocols, the beheading of Christian infants, the crucifixion of Christian teenagers, the practical genocide of Christian communities almost as old as Pentecost, and the destruction to date of 168 churches in the Middle East. Very simply, this rhetorical paralysis betrays a disdain for Judaeo-Christian civilization and its exaltation of man in the image of God with the moral demands which accrue to that. Their operative philosophy, characteristic of those who are empirically bright but morally dim, is that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” There is, for instance, the alliance of the inimical Pharisees and Herodians to entrap Jesus (Matt. 22:15-16). That is the logic of the asylum where very smart people are also very mad. For Christ the Living Truth, it is worse than clinical insanity: it is, using his dread word, hypocrisy.
Many European sophisticates, such as the “Cliveden Set,” promoted the Nazis. Even some prominent Jewish voters and other minorities supported them, until the Nuremburg Racial Laws of 1935. This was so because the Nazis were seen as a foil to the Bolsheviks and a means to social reconstruction. Conversely, many Western democrats over cocktails supported the Stalinists because they were perceived as the antidote to the Nazis. The U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union, Joseph Davies, 1936-1938, wrote a book Mission to Moscow that whitewashed the blood on the walls of Stalin’s purges. In 1943, with the active cooperation of President Roosevelt, Warner Brothers made it into a film that was hailed in the New York Times by Bosley Crowther as a splendid achievement, praising the ambassador’s “Acute understanding of the Soviet system.” If the Nazis seemed an antidote to the Bolsheviks and vice versa, those unleashed bacilli nearly destroyed the world. Satan is a dangerous vaccine.
Secularists play down Islamist atrocities because they seek to eradicate the graceful moral structure that can turn brutes into saints. Heinous acts are sometimes dismissed as “workplace violence.” There even are those in high places who pretend that Islamic militants are not Islamic and foster the delusion that false gods will not demand sacrifices on their altars. These elites are like Ambassador Davies who said, “Communism holds no serious threat to the United States.” Naïve religious leaders who live off the goodwill of good people, will even say that Christians and those who oppose them share a common humane ethos, a similar concept of human rights, an embrace of pluralism, and a distinction between political and spiritual realms. Secularists who imagine good and evil as abstractions, do not consider the possibility that hatred of the holy will take its toll in reality. By ignoring the carnage committed by the twentieth century’s atheistic systems, they fit the definition of madness as the repetition of the same mistake in the expectation of a different result.
That mad kind of intelligence is offended by the precocious audacity of Winston Churchill writing in The River War at the age of twenty-five: “were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it [Islam] has vainly struggled, the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.” For the secularist whose religious crusade against religion does not understand the world or its history, prophecy is the only heresy, and his single defense against false prophets is feigned detachment. Indifference is the fanaticism of the faint of heart. By not taking spiritual combat seriously, and by seeking an impossible compromise with the opposite of what is good, human wars cannot be avoided. There are different kinds of war, and only prudence tempers both pugnacity and pacifism. James Russell Lowell opposed the Mexican War and approved the Civil War, but with a sane intelligence: “Compromise makes a good umbrella, but a poor roof; it is temporary expedient, often wise in party politics, almost sure to be unwise in statesmanship.”
If some unruly Presbyterians had flown airplanes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, secularist observers would have eagerly been searching Calvin’s “Institutes” to find the roots of such misanthropy. Instead, in our present circumstance, confronting the abuse of truth and reason by the enemy of their enemy, secularists would rather sink into denial, like Ambassador Davies telling his wife, Marjorie Merriweather Post, that the gunshots coming from the Lubyanka Prison were just the sound of street repairmen. To deny the ultimate truth of Christ, who suffered for others in an inversion of the habit of carnal men to make others suffer, is to deny the economy of salvation itself. The Qu’ran (Sura 4: 157-158) says of Jesus, “they killed him not.” St. Paul says, “For many walk, of whom I have told you often (and now tell you weeping), that they are enemies of the cross of Christ” (Phil. 3:18).”
Good morning ,dear Savior.
Here I Am,
Yours, at the break of new day.
Joyously, I look to You,
You, Who smiles upon me.
I open my eyes looking for You,
You, Who have guarded Your beloved in her sleep,
And loved me as mother and father.
I have slept, secure in Your great arms,
Nestled beneath Your “Abundant Breast.”
Receive my heart
As I offer it to You, anew.
Kisses, my King.
All for You!
Copyright 2014 Joann Nelander
God bless you, as you read this. May we, who struggle here,
Laugh together in heaven. Glory to God!
Today the Prophet Isaiah and the Gospel employ the image of the Lord’s vineyard. The Lord’s vineyard is his “dream”, the plan which he nurtures with all his love, like a farmer who cares for his vineyard. Vines are plants which need much care!
God’s “dream” is his people. He planted it and nurtured it with patient and faithful love, so that it can become a holy people, a people which brings forth abundant fruits of justice.
But in both the ancient prophecy and in Jesus’s parable, God’s dream is thwarted. Isaiah says that the vine which he so loved and nurtured has yielded “wild grapes” (5:2,4); God “expected justice but saw bloodshed, righteousness, but only a cry of distress” (v7). In the Gospel, it is the farmers themselves who ruin the Lord’s plan: they fail to do their job but think only of their own interests.
In Jesus’s parable, he is addressing the chief priests and the elders of the people, in other words the “experts”, the managers. To them in a particular way God entrusted his “dream”, his people, for them to nurture, tend and protect from the animals of the field. This is the job of leaders: to nuture the vineyard with freedom, creativity and hard work.
But Jesus tells us that those farmers took over the vineyard. Out of greed and pride they want to do with it as they will, and so they prevent God from realizing his dream for the people he has chosen.
The temptation to greed is ever present. We encounter it also in the great prophecy of Ezekiel on the shepherds, which St Augustine commented upon in one his celebrated sermons which we have just reread in the Liturgy of the Hours. Greed for money and power. And to satisfy this greed, evil pastors lay intolerable burdens on the shoulders of others, which they themselves do not lift a finger to move.
We too, in the synod of bishops, are called to work for the Lord’s vineyard. Synod assemblies are not meant to discuss beautiful and clever ideas, or to see who is more intelligent… They are meant to better nuture and tend the Lord’s vineyard, to help realise his dream, his loving plan for his people. In this case the Lord is asking us to care for the family, which has been from the beginning an integral part of his loving plan for humanity.
We are all sinners and can also be tempted to “take over” the vineyard, because of that greed which is always present in us human beings. God’s dream always clashes with the hypocrisy of some of his servants. We can “thwart” God’s dream if we fail to let ourselves be guided by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit gives us that wisdom which surpasses knowledge, and enables us to work generously with authentic freedom and humble creativity.
My Synod brothers, to do a good job of nurturing and tending the vineyard, our hearts and our minds must be kept in Jesus Christ by “the peace of God which passes all understanding” (Phil 4:7). In this way our thoughts and plans will correspond to God’s dream: to form a holy people who are his own and produce the fruits of the kingdom of God.