school agrees to permit Bible club
The principal of a Miami, Florida, high school agreed in mid-February
to permit a student-led Bible club to be photographed for the yearbook
after being threatened with a federal lawsuit by attorneys from
the AFA Center for Law & Policy (CLP).
Felix Varela High School principal Millie Fornell had told 17-year-old
Elizabeth Alboniga, a student leader of the schools Choose
Life Bible Club, that the group could not be photographed because
school policy prohibited religious or political clubs from receiving
school support. When Elizabeth learned that the schools Animal
Rights Club and its Gay-Straight Alliance club were photographed
for the yearbook, she contacted the CLP for help.
Senior trial attorney Brian Fahling wrote a letter explaining to
the school that it was in violation of the federal Equal Access
Act, and the principal reluctantly agreed to permit the club to
The principal then told Alboniga that, although the club could be
photographed, it could not use the name Choose Life
because students who support abortion might be offended. When Alboniga
explained that the name did not address abortion, but referred to
God setting before us a choice between spiritual life and death,
school board attorneys agreed to allow the name.
Alboniga has now expressed an interest in forming another club to
promote birth over abortion.
This is another case in which school officials simply did
not understand the law, said Fahling. The school boards
written policy was in compliance with the law but, obviously, the
principals decision was not. It is regrettable that religious
students must threaten litigation in order to be treated equally
under the law.
Florida statutes stricken
In early January, Federal District Judge John Antoon II struck down
two Florida statutes that restricted free speech rights of Christians
protesting the policies and practices of The Walt Disney Company.
Vicki Stites and Cheryl Bischoff challenged the state laws in 1998
after being threatened with arrest while distributing literature
critical of Disney on public traffic islands near the Magic Kingdom.
The literature informed customers of Disneys dedication to
the advancement of the gay agenda.
Three others were arrested and jailed under the statutes while Bischoff
and Stites looked on. When irate sheriffs deputies warned
the pair and all others that they would be similarly arrested if
the literature distribution did not cease, Bischoff and Stites abandoned
the traffic islands. Later, they went to federal court with the
aid of AFA attorneys.
CLP litigation counsel Michael J. DePrimo said the federal judge
struck down the statutes because the laws were employed to
shut down speech which offended the government or powerful corporate
interests. He also noted that the laws granted political campaigners
drops ABCs Are You Hot?
The Disney/ABC show Are You Hot? was too hot for a retailer
to handle, after members of OneMillionMoms.com (OMM) and OneMillionDads.com
(OMD) expressed concerns about the shows lewd content.
PayLess ShoeSource informed OMM and OMD members that they would
no longer sponsor Are You Hot? PayLess ShoeSource spokesman
Tim Clothier told OMD members that the retailers presence
as an advertiser on the Disney/ABC show was unintentional and regrettable.
Are You Hot? is a tribute to hedonism and self-obsession
at its worst, as judges interview, ogle and rate contestants to
choose the nations sexiest man and woman. Participants audition
in regional try-outs by showing skin and sensuous moves, sometimes
exhibiting near nudity, while the judges rate the various parts
of their bodies.
Network TV: More cussing, fewer protests
An article in The New York Times took note of a rather surprising
cultural phenomenon: While the amount of profanity is increasing
on television, fewer and fewer people seem to be complaining about
Broadcast television, under intensifying attack by saltier
cable competitors, is pushing the limits of decorum further by the
year, said Times writer Jim Rutenberg, and hardly anyone
is pushing back.
The article pointed to recent examples, such as the unedited use
of the f-word at the Golden Globe Awards on NBC; the use of the
s-word on ABCs notorious cop drama NYPD Blue; and the
increasing frequency of clearly decipherable, though bleeped, uses
of once verboten profanity such as the multiple uses of the
f-word on the American Music Awards (ABC).
Rutenberg said that, following each of those programs, [t]he
telephones hardly rang at the Federal Communications Commission
. He added, Though the changing standards of prime
time have evolved gradually, the pace has accelerated in recent
years. But the falloff in protests over those changes has been sudden.
Some see TV content as merely reflecting the culture, Rutenberg
said, so if peoples personal moral standards have become more
lax, then they are less likely to be offended when the networks
express similar beliefs through their programming.
Source: The New York Times, 1/25/03
Media show bias on evolution
Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis, a Christian apologetics
ministry, said the mainstream media is biased against presenting
anything that supports the creationist viewpoint of the origins
of life. Yet the scientists and activities that support the theory
of evolution are readily featured in the news.
He gave a typical example: When a meteorite from Mars was believed
to contain some form of life, the news resounded around the world.
But when it was agreed, even by secular scientists, that no life
existed in the rock, the secular media were scarcely to be found.
It has even become necessary for those embracing the creationist
philosophy to produce their own scientific journals, said Ham, because
no matter how scientific our scientists are, if they come
from a creationist perspective, [the evolutionists] wont publish
And then they turn around and tell the public [it] cant
trust creationists because they dont publish reputable papers
in scientific journals, he added.
Public radio station ousts God
Though its slogan touts diverse programming for a multi-cultural
world, National Public Radio affiliate KSUT in Ignacio, Colorado,
apparently doesnt live up to that claim.
The Durango Herald (Colorado) reported that Glenn Rutherford, a
Pagosa Springs dentist, was told by KSUT officials that they were
discontinuing the broadcast of a radio spot promoting his practice
because it contained the word God.
Gently Restoring the Health God Created is the motto
for Rutherfords practice. The dentist, a devout Christian,
said he uses the slogan in other print and electronic media sources
without problems. Ironically, he noted that one reason he chose
KSUT to promote his practice was to share in the free interchange
of ideas which we believed was the mission of public radio.
AFA Chairman Don Wildmon said this is a typical example of National
Public Radios bias against Christianity. He said since public
radio stations like KSUT are supported by tax dollars, they, in
essence, engage in a form of government-sponsored censorship.
2/7/03; AgapePress, 2/18/03
enters cable pornography business
Troubled cable television company Adelphia has changed its course
from a family-friendly company, opting instead to begin distribution
of adult programming.
The move is primarily about money. In a December 2002, internal
memo obtained by AFA, CEO Erkie Kailbourne says the motive behind
offering adult sex pay-per-view programming is based on enhancing
stakeholder value. Kailbourne told managers and vice-presidents
that Playboy TV and other pay-per-view movie channels would become
part of the companys programming offerings beginning in early
Last year, Adelphia was the largest cable company in America that
refused to offer pornography. Adelphia executives have abandoned
a moral obligation to our families and theirs, said AFA Chairman
Don Wildmon. He said Adelphias decision is an indication of
how corporate executives have placed their personal careers ahead
of their wives and children, and he wonders how many other families
will be affected by the results of Adelphias porn distribution.
Pornography has two primary effects, Wildmon said. It
inherently teaches boys and men to devalue and disrespect a woman
as a person, and it causes married men to lust after someone who
is not their wife.
Citizens concerned about Adelphias decision can voice their
opinions to company officials by calling Adelphia headquarters at
Also, AFA is urging its members to send a direct E-mail letter to
CEO Kailbourne. Kailbournes personal E-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Britain mulls banning
pedophiles from Internet
British authorities are considering ways to protect children from
convicted pedophiles in light of some 1,600 arrests spurred by a
probe that began in the United States. One idea has pedophiles being
banned from using the Internet.
The nationwide hunt for people suspected of trading and downloading
child pornography, known as Operation Ore, began when U.S. officials
alerted U.K. police about credit cards being used on a U.S.-based
site for child pornography. Some 6,500 names are being investigated
by British authorities, and officials say it could be another year
or two before the investigation is complete.
Jim Gamble, assistant chief constable of Britains National
Crime Squad, has urged authorities to find ways to restrict or even
ban pedophiles use of the Internet. I think there are
opportunities to further tighten legislation in respect of how we
intrusively maintain surveillance of the online activity of known
pedophile offenders, he said.
As a result of the investigation, at least 40 children in Britain
have been taken into state custody in order to protect them from
While Operation Ore continues, a move is on in some European countries
to change the term child pornography to child
abuse pictures. The move is supposed to put more attention
on the victims in the photos and to eliminate the commercial connotation
of the word pornography, according to The New York Times.
A lot of people say, I was just trading pictures,
said Lars Underbjerg, a child pornography investigator with the
Danish National Police. We say, No you werent.
They were child abuse images.
Source: BBC News, 2/5/03; The New York Times, 2/9/03
a confusion of spiritualities
R. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary,
painted a fairly bleak picture when asked his views on the spiritual
state of America. Mohler, in an interview with Focus on the Family,
said he believes it is a mixed picture.
Although Americans continue to demonstrate high levels of religious
participation and even claims of religious belief, he said, they
are obviously having difficulty in their everyday lives in applying
the beliefs they claim to hold.
Postmodern America is such a confusion of spiritualities that
authentic Christianity unfortunately appears to be just one option
among the others, Mohler said. It gives a whole new
meaning to being salt and light in the midst of this
Part of the problem, he said, is with professing Christians who
blend in with the culture: [T]here clearly is a great deal
of compromise and accommodation in the church. Liberal denominations
have bought into the premise that accommodation (to worldly views)
is the only way to minister to this society, Mohler said.
candy canes lead to lawsuit
Massachusetts high-school students who were suspended for passing
out candy canes that contained Bible verses have filed a federal
lawsuit against their principal and district superintendent.
The L.I.F.E. Bible Club members at Westfield High School were told
they could not hand out the candy canes because the Christian message
attached might be offensive to other students. Both Principal Thomas
Daley and Superintendent Thomas McDowell refused the clubs
request to distribute the candy during non-class time.
Florida-based Liberty Counsel has asked a federal court to strike
down the literature-distribution policy.
According to president and general counsel Mat Staver, students
in public schools have the right to communicate verbally, as well
as in writing, to one another during non-class time.
UMC dismisses charges
against heretical bishop
A committee of United Methodist Church (UMC) bishops has dismissed
charges against a fellow bishop who denies the basic teachings of
the Christian faith.
Many United Methodist members have expressed outrage over the publicized
beliefs of Bishop Joseph Sprague of Chicago. In a speech made at
the UMCs Iliff School of Theology in Denver last year and
in his book, Affirmations of a Dissenter, Sprague said he believes
that the virgin birth is a myth, Jesus Christ was not physically
raised from the dead, the blood atonement is nothing but superstition,
and that faith in Jesus Christ is not the only way of salvation.
Based on those beliefs, a group of about 30 Methodists filed charges
against Sprague late last year, calling for his removal. However,
a committee of bishops that dealt with the charges has dismissed
them. They said that after reviewing the case, they are convinced
that Sprague knows Christ as Lord and Savior, has faith in
Christs saving and transforming power, and is obedient to
According to United Methodist News Service, the committee stated
that the theological and doctrinal issues raised by Sprague are
already a matter of considerable public debate within
the United Methodist Church. In fact, the only criticism to arise
from the committees report was directed against those who
filed the complaints. The committee said their charges should not
have been made public.
Bishop Spragues heretical statements were made public
by his own volition, and I think theres nothing wrong with
church leaders challenging him in public, said AFA Chairman
Don Wildmon, a UMC minister. I think Methodists in the pew
expect their leaders to take a firm stand against teachings that
are nothing less than the spirit of antichrist.
News Service, 2/18/03; AgapePress, 2/19/03
do better in school
Taking your kids to church may be one of the best ways to improve
their performance in school. A recent study conducted by researchers
at the University of Notre Dame concluded that students perform
better and are less likely to drop out of school when their families
regularly attend church.
The study, which examined Hispanic families, further revealed that
parents who go to church with their kids are more likely to help
them with homework, and to become involved in extracurricular school
Public schools need to realize that there is a tremendous
reservoir of resources in the religious community, said Edwin
Hernandez, who heads the universitys Center for the Study
of Latino Religion.
One important way churches can be of help to schools is through
concrete activities that are educational, such as parents
reading and discussing the Bible
with children, and children
reading and memorizing the Bible, learning to sing in a choir, and
so on, the study concluded. Also, many churches provide tutoring
for children and organize trips and outings that involve educational
activities such as attending museums and cultural events.
News in Focus, 1/29/03; www.nd.edu/-latino
New school prayer rules
bring praise, criticism
Advocates of school prayer are pleased with the new federal guidelines
released in early February. Conversely, those supporting the separation
of church and state are not happy.
The key thrust behind the new guidelines is language that declares
in the manner in which students are able to engage in secular
expression, they must be allowed to engage in religious expression,
according to Mat Staver, president and general counsel of Liberty
Staver said the new guidelines also address the rights of
teachers to be able to engage in religious activities if the context
makes clear that theyre not acting in their official capacity.
One bone of contention for those advocating the separation of church
and state is that the guidelines say schools not allowing students
to pray outside the classroom will jeopardize receipt of federal
funds. For example, schools barring graduation prayers or religious
speeches at student assemblies could lose federal money.
The Bush administration is clearly trying to push the envelope
on behalf of prayer in public schools, said Barry Lynn, executive
director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
Quoted in USA Today, Lynn said the funding threat is a harassment
tool designed to force public schools into following these flawed
However, Staver said, Schools that want to receive federal
funds under the No Child Left Behind Act must now comply and stop
discriminating against students religious expression
and also allow teachers the freedom to engage in certain religious
activity, during school and, indeed, even after school.
USA Today, 2/11/03;