Liberty Counsel: Stimulus Bill a “War on Prayer”

Fox News carries an interesting article based on a Liberty Counsel press release about the current “stimulus package” being debated in Congress.  In a section designating funds for schools, the legislation says that funds may not be used for

modernization, renovation, or repair of facilities (i) used for sectarian instruction, religious worship, or a school or department of divinity; or (ii) in which a substantial portion of the functions of the facilities are subsumed in a religious mission.

Interestingly, Fox News chose to put a picture of the US Naval Academy Chapel as the article’s illustration.  Liberty Counsel maintains that the restriction is discrimination based on viewpoint, while Americans United for the Separation of Church and State calls it “Constitutional.”

A Harvard Law professor is quoted as saying there are certainly Constitutional concerns with the legislation, but given the current judicial direction it is unlikely the Liberty Counsel would prevail.

“How do I become a fighter pilot…?”

While ChristianFighterPilot.com has seen recognition among jurists, activists, soldiers, civilians, Christians and atheists from all points of view, it also remains a source of information for those asking some more basic questions:

How do I become a fighter pilot in the Air Force/Navy/Marines?

Questions on becoming a fighter pilot, from medical qualifications to the pilot lifestyle, remain one of the most often addressed topics (as are questions on fighter pilot lingo).  Much of the answer is available in the FAQ (and new questions are added as they are asked).  Believe it or not, there are actually few reliable sources of information on how to become a fighter pilot.  Even the official military sites can be confusing, incomplete, or contradictory, often because the information changes faster than the websites.

An internet search for “become a fighter pilot” will likely find the website of Marine fighter pilot Ed Rush, who has made a virtual living answering this question. His website, http://www.becomefighterpilot.com/, features teases of dramatic “top secret” ways to virtually guarantee being selected as a fighter pilot.  He sells a “fighter pilot power pack” (the “current” price is $97) that claims to have the “tips and tricks” to give his customers an advantage over everyone else. Read more

Opposition to Warren Inflated

Several news sites have reported on the results of a Gallup Poll that indicates the media may have generated a perception of “controversy” where none existed.

The poll indicated that, contrary to recent news stories, less than 10% of Americans disapproved of Obama’s choice of Pastor Rick Warren for his inaugural invocation.  In fact, even among liberals and Democrats, Warren’s approval was far higher than his disapproval.  By far the greatest number of respondents replied that they “didn’t know enough to say.”  This led Gallup to conclude that

News media accounts of negative reactions…reflect…vocal positions of interest groups [rather] than an opinion…shared by the majority of the American public.

Ironically, Warren himself said in December that he believed the media was responsible for “the demonization of differences” that is polarizing and destructive to America:

The media often fans controversy and conflict to create a story and we start yelling at each other so much, nobody listens to each other anymore.

In short, the news media limited its reporting to vocal activists, because outside of those groups, there wasn’t a story.  Some might say the on-again, off-again coverage of the military-religious “controversy” bears similar hallmarks.

Congressman Advocates for Chaplains’ Prayer

Congressman Walter Jones (R-NC, 3rd District) has introduced a bill that would

ensure that every military chaplain has the prerogative to close a prayer outside of a religious service according to the dictates of the chaplain’s own conscience.

Similar legislation failed previously, though it caused negotiations that ultimately resulted in the rescinsion of military “guidelines” that had restricted the content of Chaplains’ prayers.

Mitch Lewis, an Army Methodist Chaplain, wrote an interesting commentary in November 2007 (and recently revisited) on this very subject, presenting a reasoned view that prayers at military ceremonies Read more

President Proclaims “Religious Freedom Day”

President Bush has made the annual proclamation of “Religious Freedom Day” for 16 January 2009.  As noted in his proclamation, it is a recognition of the 1786 Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, written by Thomas Jefferson and passed on January 16th, 1786.  Notably, this was before the Constitution (signed in 1787), of which Jefferson had no part, and the Bill of Rights (passed in 1789), of which Jefferson was one of the leading proponents.

Interestingly, the President also notes

Freedom is not a grant of government or a right for Americans alone; it is the birthright of every man, woman, and child throughout the world. No human freedom is more fundamental than the right to worship in accordance with one’s conscience.

While some point to the Constitution as the origin of our freedoms, the President emphasizes that these are human liberties, whose “origin” is not restricted to “a grant of government.”

Religious Freedom Day is also advocated by a private organization at ReligousFreedomDay.com.

Tony Dungy Retires from Coaching

Tony Dungy, the head football coach of the Indianapolis Colts and outspoken Christian advocate, has retired from coaching. (ESPN, Colts, ChristianPost)

The news reports follow a consistent theme:  Dungy has always said that coaching was a career, not a “life mission.”  His faith, family, and football were his priorities–in that order.  He considered his position as a public platform for his faith.  He wrote a book, Quiet Strength, that described those efforts in his life to put God first in a world where that wasn’t often rewarded.

His example of a man in an awe-inspiring, enviable position–and the example he gave of a Christian in that field–was a model for Christians in many places, including those in the military.  He won an Air Force award, and his perspective on life priorities was previously discussed here.

In one of his more interesting quotes, Dungy said the accomplishment of which he was most proud was

proving to the NFL that there was more than one way for a successful coach to behave. In a sport that venerates the sleepless control freak, Dungy was a man apart, unfailingly positive, eschewing the dour countenance so prevalent on the sideline.

Dungy truly is a man apart.

Book Review: Stories from a Soldier’s Heart

Alice Gray and Chuck Holton
Multnomah Publishers, Sisters, Oregon, 2003.
Topic: Inspirational

Excellent collection of military stories, most in the first person, with a Christian perspective.

Recommended for those who enjoy inspirational military vignettes. Not specifically geared for fighter pilots.

This book is available from Amazon.

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Championship Winner’s Witness Criticized

As noted at the ChristianPost, Tim Tebow (as discussed previously) donned a new verse on the blacks under his eyes during his victory in the 2009 College Championship football game: John 3:16.

An atheist blogger had this initial (unedited) response:

I just want to watch a football game; I don’t want to be prosetylized to.

While he later qualified his own cynicism, he demonstrated an interesting and increasingly common prejudice toward public expressions of Christianity. Read more

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