Monday, March 29, 2010

Valedictorian's mention of "God" and "Jesus" Forbidden in Graduation speech

Renee Griffith was forbidden to speak as a 2008 high school valedictorian because she was going to mention God and Jesus.

Griffith was asked, along with other students at Butte High School in Montana, to speak about what had gotten her through high school.

The students were required to turn in their speeches for approval prior to graduation.

School officials asked Griffith to replace the words “Christ,” “His joy,” and “from God with a passionate love for him” with just words like “my faith” and “a love of mankind.”

She refused to make the changes, and was not allowed to give her speech.

Griffith first filed a complaint with Montana’ Human Rights Bureau. When it was dismissed, she filed a complaint in the Montana Thirteenth Judicial District Court (Renee Griffith v. Butte School District No. 1)

However, at the end of February 2010, a judge ruled that her free speech rights had not been violated.

The Billings Gazette in Montana reported Judge Gregory Todd's statement. He did not feel the district’s actions were unlawfully discriminatory toward Griffith’s religious beliefs.

The statement went on to say the School District’s policy is to prohibit any religious references during graduation speeches in order to maintain “neutrality toward religion,” as required by the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

But according to the U. S. Department of Education’s release, Religious Expression in Public Schools, there is no such requirement. A student may deliver a faith-based speech when speaking on their own without encouragement or sponsorship of faculty.

Here is the “Official Neutrality” statement within this Document (bolding added):
Teachers and school administrators, when acting in those capacities, are representatives of the state and are prohibited by the establishment clause from soliciting or encouraging religious activity, and from participating in such activity with students. Teachers and administrators also are prohibited from discouraging activity because of its religious content, and from soliciting or encouraging antireligious activity.

The next bullet, “Student Assignments,” states:
Student assignments: Students may express their beliefs about religion in the form of homework, artwork, and other written and oral assignments free of discrimination based on the religious content of their submissions.

The District Court decision will be appealed to the Montana Supreme Court.

Educate your local School Board, superintendent of education, principals and teachers with this document, which has been circulated to schools several times since President Clinton was in office:
“Religious Expression in Public Schools”

The original version of this article, with more detail, is published here at the Underground Online Magazine.
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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

be still

20-20 Faith Sight is proud to offer this original poem from Guest Contributor Gina Burgess.

“be still”

I get to the screaming point.
I want to shout out the truth, but to no avail.
I work and work at trying to be what God wants me to be and I always fail.

Help me, Lord.
Carry me over the fjord.
The chasm is deep and
I weep.

Dry my tears.
Release me from my fears.
Carry the truth to those ears
that refuse to hear
the truth.

Put back that hair that I have pulled out.
Rub the steel bands that are supposed to be my shoulders
for I am done with things as they are, to no longer look back and pout.
Whisper my name, cause me to be still.

Tomorrow I shall go forward,
leaving behind the crumbs and the rust
of broken things.
Tonight I shall snuggle under Your wings
for it is only You that I trust.

© Gina Burgess

About Gina Burgess
Gina studied journalism in college, took a detour to raise two beautiful daughters, and graduated after twenty-five years. Gina’s first love is using her God-given talent to shine a light in a dark world. She is committed to bringing God glory with her writing.

She’s been an editor for several publications, including Lifestyles Editor at her home town's Picayune (Mississippi) Item Newspaper; a weekly column for; and an occasional column for Blogger News Network.

She's a book reviewer for several publishers, a member of Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, and has also taught Sunday School and Discipleship Training for…well, many years!

Check out Gina’s blog and book reviews at: and

Read more of 20-20 Faith Sight's poetry and biblically based insight by the website's author, Sheryl Young, by clicking here or the "Spiritual Things" Tab near the top.

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Monday, March 22, 2010

In-Home Bible Studies Outlawed in Gilbert, Arizona

In November, 2009, city officials in Gilbert, Arizona sent a “cease and desist” order to a pastor and his wife holding small group in-home Bible studies.

According to a Gilbert city law, assemblies of religious groups and private schools are not allowed in private homes. Reasons such as the city’s Land Development Code, zoning, building and parking codes are being cited.

The Bible study group, from Oasis of Truth Church, consists of seven people. The Church holds Sunday services at a school.

This month, attorneys from the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) filed an appeal on behalf of the church group.

According to World Net Daily, spokespeople from ADF said the law doesn’t prevent Cub Scouts meetings, Monday Night Football parties with numerous attendees or large business parties from being held regularly in private homes. news radio in Phoenix carried a statement from Senior ADF legal counsel Douglas Napier. Napier said the group was not cited for any specific ordinance violation; there were no neighborhood complaints and no traffic violations.

In an ADF Press Release, Litigation Counsel Daniel Blomberg stated, “Christian church groups shouldn’t be singled out for discrimination and banned from meeting in their own homes.”

Attorneys from ADF will appeal by using the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment Free Exercise and Freedom of Speech clause, alongside Arizona’s own Free Exercise of Religion Act (FERA). They will argue that the town’s zoning code doesn’t authorize banning in-home church gatherings while other groups are approved.

Both World Net Daily and KTAR report that in responses from the city, the town council does find the ordinance troubling and has scheduled it for review at a council meeting.

Because of misunderstandings about the First Amendment among city officials, and the mythical phrase “separation of church and state” which doesn’t exist, incidents like this have been occurring around the country for some time.

For additional information and links on this in-home Bible studies restriction, see a more detailed version of this article here at The Underground Online Magazine. Sheryl Young, author of this 20-20 Faith Sight blog, is a regular contributor to The Underground.
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Monday, March 15, 2010

AUTHORS CORNER: "The Little Pot" Children's Book by Dawn Stephens

Authors Corner here at 20-20 Faith Sight has grown in popularity. So we are now doing two Christian writer/author profiles per month! Expect to see new posts about authors, their books and other up-n'-coming writers revealed here around the 15th and 30th of each month.

As an elementary school teacher and mother of three daughters, Dawn Stephens gained a love for books and was convinced she'd be a teacher forever. But she found herself thrust into the business world. With this changing career path, she searched to understand God's plan for her life, and wrote The Little Pot as part of this quest.

The Story of The Little Pot
Soon after a potter lovingly forms a new pot and declares that he has important plans for his creation, the little pot begins to wonder what its purpose will be. Will it be used to hold important documents? Great riches? Beautiful flowers? As various expectations prove wrong, the little pot is cautioned to wait and see. Gradually, Little Pot comes to realize that its creator knows best and has the most wonderful of all uses planned for it.

Through serving God in many different capacities, Stephens sees her own true purpose to bear “fruit” from whatever “The Potter” gives her. Likewise, she hopes young readers will realize that the same is true for them: that, like Little Pot, they were designed to be vessels that bear “fruit.”

Her warm illustrations beautifully enhance this charming allegory about patience and fulfillment. A valuable teaching tool for parents and educators, The Little Pot's simple but timeless message can be enjoyed by all generations, and many more to come.

Signed copies of The Little Pot can be purchased at Dawn Stephens' website. It is also available on Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, and Borders. Little Pot also has a Fan Page! Go here at Facebook.

Stephens has helped several school systems develop fun, developmentally appropriate curriculum and teaching materials for state tested standards.

The author of this blog, 20-20 Faith Sight, has also written a book, "What Every Christian Should Know about the Jewish People." See information in column at right.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Casual Sex, Premarital Sex Damages the Brain - New Research

Guest Column by April Lorier

You've heard it said that the brain is the most important sex organ. Drs. Freda Bush and Joe McIlhaney, authors of Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex is Affecting Our Children explain how science bears that out. They tell how the powerful chemicals dopamine and oxytocin are released during intimacy, causing men to want to repeat the action and women to desire bonding with her partner. They warn that when you attach and unattach with multiple partners, you weaken your brain's ability to stay attached.

Research using brain scans now shows powerful chemicals are released during sex that should create a powerful, everlasting bond.

"When women are skin-to-skin with a man, their brain secretes oxytocin that causes them to bond emotionally to that man. Men secrete a hormone called vasopressin when they're having that kind of intimate behavior. And that hormone has even been called 'monogamy hormone' for men. And it bonds them to the woman," McIlhaney explained.

This oxytocin is so overwhelming in a woman's brain that just a 20-second hug can cause a female to become bonded to a male.

Both sexes get addictive doses of the pleasure-chemical dopamine as well during intimate behavior. That works out well for couples out to create lifelong marriages and stable families.

"They're addicted to sex, and babies result from that. They're bonded to each other," McIlhaney said.

Sleeping Around Weakens Bond
But that bonding, which acts like adhesive tape or Velcro, is weakened when people tear away at its power by breaking off with a sexual partner and moving on from one to another to another. So when it does finally come time to bond permanently with a spouse, the ability to bond is damaged.

So those of us who teach abstinence before marriage might not be as ridiculous as some would have you believe. Surely you want your own children's brains to be able to accept that deep emotional level that's vital to a successful marriage?

These are excerpts from the original article, “Research Shows Premarital Sex Damaging To The Brain” at April Lorier’s Perspective. See more of Lorier here at 20-20 Faith Sight’s Authors Corner, too.

The research in Bush and McIlhaney’s “Hooked” also relates to or confirms information in previous posts here at 20-20 FaithSight: Boys and Sex and Teen Trends: Hugging, Sexting and Hooking Up.

Photo: U.S. National Institutes of Health, public domain.
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Friday, March 5, 2010

New Archaeology discovery could be part of Solomon's Temple

In February, 2010, an archaeological excavation in Israel uncovered a gate, tower and wall that could verify the existence of Solomon’s Temple 3,000 years ago.

The structures, near the Temple Mount outside Jerusalem, are currently being verified as dating back to the tenth century B.C. This would place them at the time of the first temple built by King David’s son Solomon, as recorded in 1 Kings 5 of the Old Testament.

If so, it would provide another piece of the puzzle beside the Wailing Wall (aka Western Wall, which may be from Solomon's original temple or the re-build by Herod).

According to Associated Press, the lead archaeologist is Eilat Mazar from Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She stated this to be her most significant find.

However, the Israeli online publication Haaretz reports that Mazar has her critics within the archaeological and rabbinical community – those who feel that most biblical events are myth and she is trying to make things connect.

Skeptics have tried to disprove biblical events since the days in which they occurred. Some items found during numerous excavations bear evidence that stand the test of time.

For example, the Dead Sea Scrolls—more than 800 documents found between 1947 and 1956 in caves near the sea. They’ve been used to authenticate previous archaeological discoveries from 600-700 A.D, including the writings of the prophet Isaiah. Paleontologists confirm those Dark Age parchments to be from before Christ’s day.

Two popular current-day writers, Josh McDowell and Lee Strobel, individually set out to prove the Bible wrong and false some years ago. But both men—McDowell an agnostic and Strobel an atheist—ended up becoming believers in the Bible as truth and in Jesus Christ as Lord. They've written about it ever since their realizations.

McDowell, in his first such book Evidence that Demands a Verdict Volume I, gathered writings and statements of several famous archaeologists for their takes on the Bible as history.

In his Chapter 4, The Reliability of the Bible, McDowell quotes one of the most well-known archaeologists, William F. Albright:
There can be no doubt that archaeology has confirmed the substantial historicity of Old Testament tradition.
And Nelson Glueck, a Jewish archaeologist:
It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a biblical reference.

Even with over 2,000 years worth of evidence, there is no amount of proof that will convince everyone. Sometimes, it just takes faith.

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1, NIV).

Artwork: Engraving by E. Challis, 1860, after an etching by W.H.Bartlett, 1844. Public Domain.
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