Humanists went to federal court in Denver to prevent Colorado schoolchildren from being asked to put together Christmas gift boxes sponsored by an evangelical charity.
The hearing on Nov. 16 was the result of a suit filed by the American Humanist Association, a national organization of humanists, atheists, and freethinkers. They are representing three humanist families who say the constitution’s guarantee of the separation of church and state is violated when their suburban Denver school district asks their children to assemble Christmas gift boxes that include the “opportunity . . . to faithfully follow Jesus Christ.”
Jackson, who said her Christian faith is everything to her (it’s “the pie, not a piece of pie,” she said), talked to her minister as she wrestled with the morality of marijuana. “I’m a byproduct of the 1980s and ‘Just Say No,’ so I grew up thinking this was evil,” she said. Stacey Mobley, minister of the church of Christ of Colorado Springs, an independent, Bible-based congregation, said members support Jackson’s work.
“God made the plant, and said in Genesis 1:31 that everything he made was very good,” said Mobley, who opposes recreational marijuana.
A makeshift bomb placed outside a local chapter of the NAACP in Colorado went off yesterday, releasing smoke but failing to ignite a gasoline can placed beside it, Newsweek reports. There were no injuries.
The FBI has declared the bombing "deliberate," but is still investigating whether the NAACP was the intended target. The building's other tenant, a hair salon, does not appear to have been the target.
The media's slow-to-silent response to the incident has raised ire on Twitter, with many concerned that the bombing did not make news on mainstream outlets until today.
"Thankfully, no injuries were reported, but the fear it struck in the local community and in citizens concerned for issues of racial justice everywhere were felt immediately ... In a time when racial tensions in our country appear to be growing, the troubling nature of this act of domestic terrorism should be blatantly obvious, but the lack of mainstream media coverage of the bombing ... was downright disturbing," wrote Shaun King, staff writer for the Daily Kos.
According to Newsweek, the FBI has asked that anyone with information call its Denver tip line at 303-435-7787.
Entering its fourth week on the road, the Fast for Families bus continues its journey across the country getting closer to its final destination: Washington, D.C. on April 9.
Continuing the call for fair and humane immigration reform, fasters visited Arlington, Texas last week on the southern trail, connecting with members of Congress who shared their goals for immigration reform.
“The trickiest issue is what do you do with people that are here [undocumented]?” said Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, who is drafting his own immigration bill and hopes to introduce it in late spring or early summer. “We need to weed out the bad apples and send them back home or put them in jail. But the others whose only [unauthorized] act is coming to this country [undocumented], we sort them out and put them on a legalization path, and minors on a citizenship path.”
Air Force Academy cadets will no longer be required to include the words “so help me God” when taking their annual Honor Oath.
On Friday officials at the Colorado Springs, Colo., campus announced its 4,000 current cadets would be allowed to opt out of the final phrase of their honor code, which they reaffirm each of their four years of study and training.
“Here at the Academy, we work to build a culture of dignity and respect, and that respect includes the ability of our cadets, Airmen and civilian Airmen to freely practice and exercise their religious preference — or not,” said Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson, the academy’s superintendent, in a statement.
“So in the spirit of respect, cadets may or may not choose to finish the Honor Oath with ‘So help me God.’”
The current oath reads: “We will not lie, steal or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does. Furthermore, I resolve to do my duty and to live honorably, so help me God.”
Colorado became the eighth U.S. state to grant driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants on Wednesday. Applicants must show they live in Colorado, have filed a state income tax return, and provide proof of their identity from their home country. The Colorado law will go into effect on August 1, 2014, and licenses must be renewed every three years. Reuters reports:
"Our roads will be safer when we can properly identify everyone who drives on them," Democratic state Senator Jessie Ulibarri said. "We estimate that thousands more Colorado drivers will get insured because of this law."
Read more here.
The expansion of hydrofracking could strain water resources from Forth Worth to western Colorado. The New York Times reports:
“Given projected sharp increases” in the production of oil and gas by the technique commonly known as fracking, the report from the group Ceres said, “and the intense nature of local water demands, competition and conflicts over water should be a growing concern for companies, policy makers and investors.”
One option is to recycle the water used in hyrdofracking. However the water may contain chemicals, natural pollutants, or ever radioactivity and it is expensive to clean the water. Some companies are expanding their use of brackish, undrinkable water unstead of fresh water to lessen their environmental impact.
Read more here.
Marianne Williamson, a bestselling author and convener of the upcoming Sister Giant conference on women and politics, has called on President Obama and former Governor Mitt Romney to address “a meaningful array of topics” – including poverty, money in politics and incarceration rates in the U.S. – tonight during the first presidential debate.
Williamson talked to us earlier today about these issues, which are particularly pressing for Christians who take Matthew 25 seriously.
The interview was edited for length and content.
Q: What are you doing to get these issues out there?
A: Having a voice and creating your own platform is not all that difficult with today’s technology. I think what’s happening now is that, firstly, people are realizing that. Secondly, people are realizing that there are certain things that need to be said that simply are not being said as loudly as other things being said. When it comes to a politics of conscience, why wouldn’t we expect that during the debates there would be a conversation about the 23.1 percent of America’s children living in poverty, or the 34 percent of poor children, or the 46 million Americans living in poverty?
This morning I read and sang this canticle.
Come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us shout for joy to the rock of our salvation.
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving
and raise a loud shout to him with psalms.
For the Lord is a great God,
and a great king above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the heights of the hills are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands have moulded the dry land.
Come, let us bow down and bend the knee,
and kneel before the Lord our Maker.
For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture
and the sheep of his hand.
O that today you would hearken to his voice!
Psalm 95:1-7 (Venite)
Then I lamented. I lamented the work of human beings to tear down what God holds in God's hands. I lamented that my friends in the peace movement callously sent a press release decrying the gun lobby within what seemed like moments after the smoke cleared in Aurora. I lamented the inane anti-Darwinian posture of other Christians. We're all looking for something to blame. We cannot simply sit in our sackcloth and our ashes and lament ... lament our own failure, lament the actions of someone raised in church, lament our inability to protect the innocent, lament our powerlessness.
We cannot and will not lament our powerlessness. We need to learn how.
Bryan Fischer’s argument comes down to this. We teach kids in school that they’ve evolved from monkeys, and that survival of the fittest (or natural) celebrates the triumph of the strong over the weak. Combine this with loosened sexual teen morality and the public celebration of homosexuality, and you have fertile grounds for animal-like behavior, such as that involving shooter James Holmes.
Oh yes, the gay part. Fischer commented about some website (which he does not name) that supposedly was set up in conjunction with the London Summer Olympics to allow gays to engage in “random, frequent, anonymous” sex, which he calls “one of the characteristics of the homosexual community. It always has been; it always will be.”
So in his estimation, because of our sexual moral decay (as supported by the classroom and Olympic illustrations) and his consistent and ongoing attack on the virtues of evolution, James Holmes killed more than a dozen people in a suburban movie theater in Colorado.
“It was like a scene out of a movie.”
I’ve heard that phrase a few too many times in the past month.
On June 26, after the third consecutive 100-plus-degree day, residents of northwest Colorado Springs fled their neighborhoods with a few belongings shoved in their cars as a wildfire came barreling down the mountainside. The billows of smoke and inferno flames, calculated to be three stories high, could be seen from anywhere in the city. It was like a scene out of a movie.
In the early morning hours on July 4, I received the text that I had been dreading: “Cliffy is with Jesus.” After a six-year battle with cancer, my biggest cheerleader, friend, and mentor, Cliff Anderson, died in hospice. Two months prior, Cliff was sharing his wisdom and offering his typical words of encouragement at a retreat for GreenHouse Ministry, an intentional community that we started together in Colorado Springs. But shortly after that weekend the diagnosis became clear. This incurable type of cancer was going to win, sooner rather than later. Watching his decline felt like watching a tragic movie.
At the midnight premiere of the new Batman movie, Dark Night Rises, on July 20 in a suburb of Denver, a gunman opened fire on a packed theater, killing 12 and injuring more than 50 people Witnesses to the shooting said it was like something out of a movie. The scene was an eerie echo of another mass shooting in a different Denver suburb 13 years ago at Columbine High School. Could this really be happening again?
ThinkProgress reports on Mayor Bloomberg's comments on the subject of gun control:
"New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg doubled down on his call for stronger gun regulation in the aftermath of the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado, telling MSNBC Monday morning that both presidential candidates must explain how they will address gun violence.
“How anybody can run for the highest office in the country where 48,000 people are going to get killed in the next four years and not have a plan. Maybe they do, maybe they have a secret plan to end the war,” Bloomberg said and called for strengthening existing laws and closing loopholes."
Read more here
It's a sad day in Colorado. Our collective hearts hurt.
I didn't want to blog today. Blogging in response to everything that happens in the news can come across as knee-jerk, reactionary, self-serving, and exploitive. We're called to "pray without ceasing" — not to blog without ceasing. Sometimes reverent silence is what is needed.
The staff at Sojourners contacted me and invited me to write something in response to what just happened. So, I'm not writing a blog. I'm providing a Public Service Announcement.
Both President Obama and Mitt Romney cancelled campaign events Friday in the wake of the unfolding tragedy in Aurora, Colo., where a gunman opened fire in a crowded movie theater early today, killing at least a dozen people (members of the military among them, according to news reports), and wounding dozens of others. Both men made statements reacting to the massacre.
In a statement released early Friday morning, Romney said and his wife were "deeply saddened" by news of the shooting."We are praying for the families and loved ones of the victims during this time of deep shock and immense grief. We expect that the person responsible for this terrible crime will be quickly brought to justice," Romney wrote.
Speaking at an event in Florida, Obama said in part:
Now, even as we learn how this happened and who's responsible, we may never understand what leads anybody to terrorize their fellow human beings like this. Such violence, such evil is senseless. It's beyond reason. But while we will never know fully what causes somebody to take the life of another, we do know what makes life worth living. The people we lost in Aurora loved and they were loved. They were mothers and fathers; they were husbands and wives; sisters and brothers; sons and daughters, friends and neighbors. They had hopes for the future and they had dreams that were not yet fulfilled.
And if there’s anything to take away from this tragedy it’s the reminder that life is very fragile. Our time here is limited and it is precious. And what matters at the end of the day is not the small things, it’s not the trivial things, which so often consume us and our daily lives. Ultimately, it’s how we choose to treat one another and how we love one another.
It’s what we do on a daily basis to give our lives meaning and to give our lives purpose. That’s what matters. At the end of the day, what we’ll remember will be those we loved and what we did for others. That’s why we’re here.
I’m sure that many of you who are parents here had the same reaction that I did when I heard this news. My daughters go to the movies. What if Malia and Sasha had been at the theater, as so many of our kids do every day? Michelle and I will be fortunate enough to hug our girls a little tighter tonight, and I’m sure you will do the same with your children. But for those parents who may not be so lucky, we have to embrace them and let them know we will be there for them as a nation.
So, again, I am so grateful that all of you are here. I am so moved by your support. But there are going to be other days for politics. This, I think, is a day for prayer and reflection.
So what I’d ask everybody to do, I’d like us to pause in a moment of silence for the victims of this terrible tragedy, for the people who knew them and loved them, for those who are still struggling to recover, and for all the victims of less publicized acts of violence that plague our communities every single day. So if everybody can just take a moment.
(Moment of silence.)
Thank you, everybody. I hope all of you will keep the people of Aurora in your hearts and minds today. May the Lord bring them comfort and healing in hard days to come.
I am grateful to all of you, and I hope that as a consequence of today’s events, as you leave here, you spend a little time thinking about the incredible blessings that God has given us.
The Colorado wildfires are raging this week. I’m in Denver, and the grey haze over the mountains in the distance gives me a sick feeling. Countless trees on hundreds of thousands of acres have gone up in smoke. Hundreds of homes have been destroyed. Even human lives have now been forever lost to the flames. It’s tragic, and it’s not over yet.
But here’s what I believe. One day, when these fires have been extinguished, this land will be restored. People will do whatever it takes to reforest these hills and rebuild their homes. In a few years, mountainsides that are charred and blackened today will be green again. We have the will and the resources to restore our environment when it has been destroyed.
Two weeks ago I was in Haiti. Unlike the deforestation that has happened in Colorado in a matter of days, Haiti’s 98-percent deforestation has happened over centuries. The destruction to Haiti’s natural environment is almost complete. Birds are rare. Small animals are almost gone. Fish that once teemed in the waters around the island are barely there.
It gets worse.
It was an eventful night in the GOP primary race last night, with some surprises in the results.
See the best of the reaction to what happened right here:
In The New York Times, Rick Santorum’s trifecta of victories was called “another twist to an unruly nominating contest that has seen Republican voter veering among candidates and refusing to coalesce behind anyone.”
Former Senator Santorum’s victory has been put down to the voting preferences of “evangelicals and Tea Party adherents”, who make up a significant percentage of the electorate in all three states. One pundit noted that when it comes to voting:
“evangelicals, they get out. Cold, wind, rain or snow, they get out.”