Monthly Archives: February 2012

10 Commandments judge seeks his old job back

English: The Ten Commandments monument install...

The 10 Commandments Monument installed in Alabama by Judge Roy Moore. Image via Wikipedia

c. 2012 Religion News Service
Reprinted with permission

MOBILE, Ala. (RNS) You might think a candidate’s ouster from the post he is seeking to regain would play a central role in a statewide election.

Yet Republican Roy Moore‘s forced exit, almost a decade ago, as Alabama’s chief justice over a Ten Commandments monument seems only a murmur on the campaign trail.

Voters don’t often ask about it, and the other two candidates in the March GOP primary hardly ever talk about it.

Roy Moore (right) and his wife Kayla after hearing the Nov. 13 verdict that stripped Moore of his position as Alabama Chief Justice. Photo by Charles Nesbitt.

Moore plunged Alabama into a showdown in 2003 when he erected a 5,280-pound granite monument to the Ten Commandments in the Alabama judicial building in Montgomery. A federal judge declared the monument to be a violation of the separation of church and state and ordered Moore to remove it.

When Moore refused, a special panel of retired state judges voted unanimously to remove him from office for violating a higher-court order.

But now, the episode hardly comes up. University of Alabama political scientist William Stewart said Moore’s two opponents, incumbent Chuck Malone and Presiding Mobile County Circuit Judge Charles Graddick, must play a careful balancing game.

“They don’t want to alienate people who like Moore and his stand,” Stewart said. “I think they hope people would factor that into their deliberations.”

Moore said many people misunderstood his position at the time. It was not about the monument, he said, but his right to acknowledge God. He said he refused to comply with the federal order because doing so would have required him to violate his oath to the Constitution.

The federal judge could have ordered the building manager to remove the monument, Moore said, and he would not have stood in his way.

“They would still have been wrong constitutionally, but they would have had their order carried out in the proper manner,” he said.

Moore’s two opponents have said they would comply with orders from a higher court, but they shied away from overt criticism of Moore.

“The public’s going to determine that,” Graddick said when asked. Said Malone: “I think that’s up to each voter.”

Moore went on to run for governor in 2006 and 2010 and lost. His name was also floated as a presidential candidate in 2004 and 2008 for the Constitution Party but he never ran.

Even now, Moore said he has no second thoughts about the stand he took.

“You always regret getting removed from office. But I don’t regret the fact that I stood up for the Constitution of the United States and the First Amendment,” he said.

If returned to his old job, Moore said he has no plans to reinstall the monument.

“I have said repeatedly that I would not,” he said, “not because it’s illegal to do so, but because it would confuse the issue. And most people don’t understand what the issue was.”

Stewart, the political scientist, said it is fair to wonder if Moore would defy the court on a different issue. But Moore said that is unlikely.

“I can’t envision a set of circumstances or an order that would cause me to be in conflict with a higher court,” he said. “This is the only conflict I’ve had with a higher court, and I can’t envision another conflict.”

Ultimately, Moore’s position may boil down to simple politics, Stewart said, noting the state’s high number of evangelical voters who believe in the literal truth of the Bible.

“The candidates just don’t want to appear on the liberal side of anything,” he said, “in politics or religion.”

(Brendan Kirby writes for The Press-Register in Mobile, Ala.)

One Brave Christian Experiment: Day 8, I have a dream. . .

Editor’s Note: Contributor Christine Moughamian is blogging each day of Lent about her progress becoming “one brave Christian.” Follow her experiment on Twitter @1bravechristian.

By Contributor Christine Moughamian

“A goal is a dream with a deadline.”

I saw that affirmation yesterday, written on the North State Storage billboard. I was driving back from Carolina Beach, pondering the topic for today’s post. I’d already addressed two aspects of Sam Teague’s program: schedule and service.

“How about goals?” I thought to myself.

“A goal is a dream with a deadline,” the billboard answered.

The synchronicity was magical.

During my brave Christian meditation this morning, I considered what I’d written down “to build and develop my life.” Just like in construction, you start from the foundation and you build your way up stone by stone. In the same way, I wanted to find a strong spiritual foundation in my life.

– Foundation: integrity.

– First stone: Truth.

“What is the second stone?” I asked myself.

“Dedication,” I heard.

I wrote down: “Second stone: dedication.”

Then I prayed for today’s post: “Please, God, write it for me. It’s much easier that way.”

By then, I was done with Teague’s early morning practice. I closed his booklet, sat cross-legged, spine erect, thumbs and index fingers touching. I focused my eyes on a candle-flame for the type of meditation that works best for me: one-pointed mind concentration.

Then I repeated my mantra, a loose translation I did of the “Bhagavad Gita” chapter 6, verse 19.

“Such as the flame of a candle in a windless place, so too, the mind of the Yogini does not waiver but remains steady on the transcendental self.”

When I shared it with my mother a while back, she said to me: “Isn’t it a bit long for a mantra?”

“Yes,” I said, “but that’s what it takes to keep me focused.”

This morning, I didn’t have to stay focused too long before I was flooded with images for “dedication,” my second building stone.

English: Photograph of Rosa Parks with Dr. Mar...

Rosa Parks in 1955 with Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the background. Image via Wikipedia

A street sign I saw off Carolina Beach Road flashed into my mind: “Rosa Parks Ln.” I couldn’t help but think of the courageous black woman who stood her ground on a segregated bus. With her strong yet simple stance, Rosa Parks started the civil rights movement of the sixties.

I thought it a shame our community’s tribute for such a dedicated activist is but a short dirt road.

From Rosa Parks Lane, my mind jumped to Martin Luther King Parkway. On the last day of Black History month, I heard the leader’s voice loud and clear:

“I have a dream…”

Rev. King was another citizen dedicated to his vision who did not set out to start a revolution but to build his life one stone at a time.

Finally, the ultimate example of dedication came to me with a line from

Deutsch: Mutter Teresa (26.8.1919-5.9.1997); 1...

Mother Teresa in 1986 in Germany. Image via Wikipedia

Mother Teresa of Calcutta:

“We cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.”

“I have a dream,” I thought to myself. “And it has a deadline.”

I opened my eyes, wrote in my booklet:

“Today, I dedicate myself to inspire people to greatness by writing with great love!”

Belief Bytes: Wednesday Religion News Roundup

Here is your Religion News Roundup for today:

c. Religion News Service 2012
Reprinted with permission

“As you’ve probably heard, Mitt Romney won big in Arizona and eked out a narrow victory in his native state of Michigan on Tuesday.

Santorum bested Romney among evangelicals in Michigan 51-35, but lost non-evangelicals, including Catholics, in Michigan and Arizona.

Mark Silk’s take: “Those numbers suggest that come next week’s Super Tuesday contests, Santorum should have no trouble picking up Tennessee and Oklahoma, where the evangelical portion of the GOP primary electorate was 73 percent and 72 percent respectively in 2008. But unfortunately for him, he couldn’t manage to make it onto the ballot in Virginia, where, with an evangelical vote of 46 percent, he’d have had a shot. And Georgia appears to be Newt’s last hurrah. So the key state will be Ohio, where the evangelical vote was 44 percent last time around.”

For what it’s worth, Santorum now says he wants to take back that line about JFK’s speech making him want to throw up.”

Read the rest of this article here:

-Samantha Freda, Wilmington Faith and Values news intern

At March event, diners eat soup to help feed others

By Marita Bon
Copyright StarNews 2012
Reprinted with permission

When area residents take their places in a soup line this spring, they’ll replicate a situation that has become a matter of routine for thousands of local individuals and families in need.

All proceeds of Empty Bowls 2012, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. March 23, support Good Shepherd Center and Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard, local nonprofits that provide meals and groceries to the area’s hungry.

Jane Radack of Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard, who’s spearheading Empty Bowls’ sponsorship drive, said hunger is not restricted to stereotypes – it afflicts people of all ages and backgrounds.

“The face of hunger in Wilmington may be the mom of three teenage boys whose hours were cut from 40 to 20 by a boss trying to keep all his employees in at least a part-time job,” she explained. “Or it could be the retired grandfather down your street who suddenly finds himself responsible for feeding his grandkids.”

According to Radack, one-fifth of Mother Hubbard’s clients are children.

“The youngsters that come to us wake up hungry, attend school hungry and go to bed hungry,” she said. “While we do serve the homeless and the mentally ill, they represent less than 10 percent of the 2,500 people we serve each month.”

A majority of the agency’s clients are the working poor or folks who suddenly find themselves in some sort of financial crisis.

Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard distributed about a half-million pounds of food in 2011, a significant increase over prior years, while Good Shepherd’s soup kitchen served 77,588 meals in the past 12 months.

Due to the high demand, Empty Bowls planners strongly encourage purchasing tickets in advance. They will be available at: Blue Moon Gift Shop, First Baptist Activity Center, Good Shepherd Center, Grace United Methodist Church, Jester’s Java, New Elements, Spectrum Gallery and Temptations at the Porters Neck and Hanover Center locations.

Businesses and individuals can support Empty Bowls 2012 through sponsorship opportunities, Radack said. To find out more, call her at 793-9236.


Empty Bowls 2012

When: 11 a.m. -2 p.m. Friday, March 23
Where: First Baptist Activity Building, 1939 Independence Blvd.
What: For a $15 ticket, guests can dine on soup donated by more than 25 area restaurants and also take home a one-of-a-kind bowl created and donated by local potters. Take-out is also available.
Why: Proceeds support Good Shepherd Center and Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard.

Franklin Graham apologizes for questioning Obama’s faith

Evangelist Franklin Graham preaches during a recent crusade in Mobile, Ala. Religion News Service photo by John David Mercer/The Press-Register in Mobile, Ala.

c. 2012 Religion News Service
Reprinted with permission

WASHINGTON (RNS) Evangelist Franklin Graham apologized Tuesday (Feb. 28) to President Obama for questioning his Christian faith and said religion has “nothing to do” with Graham’s decision not to support Obama’s re-election.

Graham’s apology came after a group of prominent black religious leaders criticized the evangelist for saying he did not know whether Obama is a Christian and suggesting that Islamic law considers him to be a Muslim.

Graham, president of the relief organization Samaritan’s Purse and the son of famed evangelist Billy Graham, said he now accepts Obama’s declarations that he is a Christian.

“I regret any comments I have ever made which may have cast any doubt on the personal faith of our president, Mr. Obama,” he said in a statement.

“I apologize to him and to any I have offended for not better articulating my reason for not supporting him in this election — for his faith has nothing to do with my consideration of him as a candidate.”

Graham said he objects to Obama’s policy stances on abortion and same-sex marriage, which Graham considers to be in “direct conflict” with Scripture.

More than a dozen members of a religious subgroup of the NAACP had accused Graham of “bearing false witness” and fomenting racial discord.

“We can disagree about what it means to be a Christian engaged in politics, but Christians should not bear false witness,” the NAACP statement said. “We are also concerned that Rev. Graham’s comments can be used to encourage racism.”

When asked in a recent MSNBC interview if Obama was a Christian, Graham responded, “I cannot answer that question for anybody.” He went on to say that because Obama’s father was a Muslim, “under Islamic law, the Muslim world sees Barack Obama as a Muslim.”

By contrast, Graham said there is “no question” that GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum is a “man of faith” because “his values are so clear on moral issues.” Santorum has also faced criticism for saying the president has a “phony theology” that is unbiblical.

“By his statements, Rev. Graham seems to be aligning himself with those who use faith as a weapon of political division,” the NAACP said. “These kinds of comments could have enormous negative effects for America and are especially harmful to the Christian witness.”

Signatories of the open letter included presidents of the National Baptist Convention, USA; the National Baptist Convention of America; the

African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church

The seal of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Image via Wikipedia

Progressive National Baptist Convention; as well as bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church and the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church.

One Brave Christian Experiment: Day 7, Of Lenten chocolates, good deeds and roadkill

Editor’s Note: Contributor Christine Moughamian is blogging each day of Lent about her progress becoming “one brave Christian.” Follow her experiment on Twitter @1bravechristian.

By Contributor Christine Moughamian

Who said we had to give up chocolate for Lent to attain biblical wisdom?

Last night, a group of friends from my church met at our house for our weekly prayer circle. When we were done, we talked and drank hot tea. Then I passed around some French chocolate truffles.

Wrapped in curly paper, they’re called “papillotes.” I explained to my

French "papillotes" on a plate. Photo by Christine Moughamian

guests that “papillotes” are the French version of Chinese fortune cookies but made with rich dark chocolate.

I translated the quote that came with one of them:

“The one who renders a service must keep silent. It is for the one who received it to talk about it.” Seneca

Immediately, I thought of the Bible scripture I read in James 3:13:

“Who is wise among you and has training? Let him prove his words by his good deeds in the humbleness of wisdom.”

There it was, biblical wisdom echoed in a French chocolate candy!

I am committed to prove my words with deeds and “humbleness of wisdom” on my Lenten journey as one brave Christian. It ties in with Sam Teague’s daily requirement to do “one totally unselfish and unexpected act of kindness or generosity.”

I must admit that I join the participants in the experiment who find it difficult to choose ahead of time what they will do to serve and for whom.

It’s not that I can’t think of ways to help someone in need. Rather, it’s puzzling to set out unexpectedly on a “good deed crusade.”

For instance, yesterday on my way to the beach, I saw a dead opossum on the road. People continued to drive on pretty fast. They might have thought “it’s just a road kill.”

I chose to stop.

I got out of the car, walked back to that spot; then waited for traffic to clear. I must have waited for what seemed like an eternity. Before I could venture to the middle of the road, I had plenty of time to consider what I looked like. I was standing by the ditch, an old rag in one hand; a frown on my face.

But then I noticed something different.

Where cars zipped by before I stopped, now they slowed down, swerved away from the dead opossum to avoid running over it. To my left, the on-coming traffic stretched as far as I could see, like in a long funeral procession.

“There’s my good deed,” I thought to myself. “Drivers’ education.”

If, from that brief encounter, only one person learned to respect life, that opossum would not have died in vain.

When traffic cleared, I ventured to the middle of the road. Then I did what I usually do in such cases. I pulled the corpse – still warm – off the street, laid it by the ditch under the bushes. I cut a branch off a tree, covered the animal’s head with it and said a prayer.

When I meditated with Sam Teague’s booklet yesterday, I had no idea what my “unselfish and unexpected act of kindness” would be. I did not answer that question.

The universe filled in the blank.

Losing your religion in college?

After Rick Santorum’s comments recently about college education and its affect on faith loss, we at WilmFAVS were wondering:

Did your faith practice lapse in college? How long did it take you to regain it? Or had your faith changed after college?

Take our survey!

Belief Bytes: Your Tuesday Religion News Roundup

Here’s Your Religion News Roundup excerpt for today:

RNS archive word jumble for Lent.

c. Religion News Service 2012
Reprinted with permission

“Verizon is dropping Bridges TV, a pioneering television network that seeks to challenge stereotypes of Muslims and create understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims.

Unkind cuts: a debate over Medicaid cuts for circumcisions sparks a debate in Colorado and elsewhere.

And an Orthodox Jewish high school in Texas will have to forfeit its game in the state basketball semifinals because the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools said it could not reschedule the Friday night game to avoid playing on the Sabbath.

If you want an antidote to that tale, read this one about a Division III college hoops game and a special player and a special moment. Really, just read it.

Finally, wonder what folks are giving up for Lent? And what that word cloud above is? Christianity Today connects the dots.”

Read the rest of the article here:

-Samantha Freda, Wilmington Faith and Values news intern

Experts challenge Santorum’s remarks linking college to faith loss

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on Februar...

Rick Santorum speaking at CPAC last year. Image via Wikipedia

c. 2012 USA Today
Reprinted with permission

WASHINGTON (RNS) Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum‘s claim that U.S. colleges drive young Christians out of church is facing scrutiny from Protestant and Catholic experts.

Santorum told talk show host Glenn Beck on Thursday (Feb. 23) that “62 percent of kids who go into college with a faith commitment leave without it.” He also has called President Obama a “snob” for wanting more Americans to attend college.

“There is no statistical difference in the dropout rate among those who attended college and those that did not attend college,” said Thom Rainer, president of the Southern BaptistsLifeWay Christian Resources research firm. “Going to college doesn’t make you a religious dropout.”

A 2007 LifeWay survey did find seven in 10 Protestants ages 18 to 30 who went to church regularly in high school said they quit attending by age 23.

The real causes: lack of “a robust faith,” strongly committed parents and an essential church connection, Rainer said.

“Higher education is not the villain,” said Catholic University sociologist William D’Antonio. Since 1986, D’Antonio’s surveys of American Catholics have asked about Mass attendance, the importance of religion in people’s lives and whether they have considered leaving Catholicism.

The percentage of Catholics who scored low on all three points hovers between 18 percent in 1993 and 14 percent in 2011. But the percentage of people who are highly committed fell from 27 percent to 19 percent.

“Blame mortality,” D’Antonio said, “The most highly committed Catholics are seniors, and they’re dying out.”

Dennis Prager, a conservative writer on religious and political issues, decried secularism in Western universities in the National Review in April. He concluded, “With all the persecution that Judaism and Christianity have survived over the centuries, an argument that cites America’s Top 310 Colleges as a first order adversary is hard to credit.”

(Cathy Lynn Grossman writes for USA Today.)

Louis Farrakhan blasts Jews, Obama

Minister Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, addresses a crowd in Los Angeles in 2002. Just as it did a decade ago with the Million Man March, an Oct. 15 event on the National Mall spearheaded by Farrakhan is prompting both support and criticism from African-American clergy across the country. Photo by Ted Parks.

c. 2012 Religion News Service

(RNS) Jewish leaders on Monday (Feb. 27) denounced Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan after he delivered a four-hour speech on Sunday that was laced with anti-Semitic statements about Jewish control of the media.

Speaking to thousands of supporters during the 82nd annual Saviors’ Day celebration in Chicago, Farrakhan accused “Zionists” of trying to push America into war with Iran and dubbed Al-Jazeera, the Dubai-based news channel, as Al Jew-zeera.

“I’m not anti-Semitic, I’m just telling the truth,” Farrakhan asserted, alleging that Jews were responsible for a controversial 2008 cover of The New Yorker that depicted President Obama in Muslim garb.

“In 100 years, they control movies, television, recording, publishing, commerce, radio, they own it all,” Farrakhan added.

Farrakhan also alleged that 9/11 was carried out by the U.S. government, criticized Obama for letting down blacks and Muslims, and warned the president about being influenced by Satan.

Deborah Lauter, civil rights director at the New York-based Anti-Defamation League, said she wasn’t surprised by Farrakhan’s remarks. “If there’s any surprise, it’s that he continues to attract a following,” she said.

Farrakhan also used the annual address, which commemorates the birthday of the group’s founder, Wallace Fard Muhammad, to bemoan the ongoing Arab Spring protests, which last year claimed the life of his “good friend” Moammar Gadhafi, the longtime Libyan dictator.

“The Arab Spring didn’t start in the Muslim world. It started from plans in the United States to take over the Middle East, its natural resources,” Farrakhan said.

Ticking-off a long list of inflammatory statements made by Republican politicians against Obama, Farrakhan suggested that President Obama would be a target for assassination — possibly at the hands of an unwitting Muslim dupe.

“If an atmosphere of hatred is being created for Obama, then what is the next step?” Farrakhan said.

While Nation of Islam members call themselves Muslims, mainstream Muslims reject the group’s racist overtones and its belief that the late Elijah Muhammad was a messenger of God.

Farrakhan also warned against going to war against Iran over its nuclear ambitions or threats to Israeli security.

“If America goes to war with Iran, all the young people in the Nation, I’m telling you, you do not fight in America’s wars against another Muslim country. We are all conscientious objectors,” he said.