Households throughout the United States are celebrating a presidentially designated Thanksgiving Day. It provides us an opportunity to reflect on the blessings we enjoy as a nation and personally.
The history of this holiday goes back to the arrival of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, Mass., in the late autumn of 1620. Although the New World saw intermittent European activity after the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492, in the minds of many, American history truly began with the Pilgrims.
Because most of the occupants of the Mayflower had belonged to a persecuted religious minority in England — Congregationalists, part of the dissenting church movement — they came seeking freedom to practice religion in concert with each individual's own conscience. But the Pilgrims' quest was by no means the only reason America came to be viewed as a shelter from religious persecution and intolerance.
An atheist airman at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada recently wasn't allowed to re-enlist because he refused to sign an oath containing the phrase “so help me God.”
Initially, Air Force personnel reported that enlistees used to be allowed to opt out of the oath's appeal to deity, but the provision had been withdrawn on Oct. 30, 2013. The Air Force claimed that only Congress could reinstate it.
However, when the American Humanist Association and the media became involved, the Air Force sought legal counsel and reverted to the former practice. But that didn't please some Christians.
On September 10, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral argument in Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) v. Lew. The judges focused on whether FFRF had standing to bring the case.
By Jason Hines – Today the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that Hobby Lobby and other closely held corporations can refuse to cover certain forms of contraception in the insurance plans they provide to employees because of their “religious beliefs.” Now I put religious beliefs in quotes because despite the Court's decision, I refuse to admit that corporations, created in order to separate themselves from the people who create them, can have religious beliefs.
Agape love is the central premise of Protestant Christian theology. According to The Oxford Handbook of Theological Ethics, “Luther's rediscovery of the primacy of agape was the linchpin of the Reformation and the rediscovery of genuine Christian ethics.” (See G. Meilaender and W. Werpehowski, The Oxford Handbook of Theological Ethics, 2007, p. 456.)
Many confuse the concept of agape love with the concept of caritas, or charity, but these are two separate ideas. The concept of agape love is the love of God reaching down to save humanity through grace, while caritas is about humans reaching upward toward God through works.
By Michael Peabody – Last November, a federal judge stuck a stick in a beehive when she found that a long-standing tax-exemption for clergy housing was unconstitutional. The case, Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) vs. Lew, is currently on appeal to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and religious organizations are out in force defending the exemption.
By James Coffin – In the United States, individuals and groups have a long history of discrimination against fellow humans.
But over many decades, legislators and judges have curtailed our freedom to negatively impact others' lives based on our own prejudices. Such government actions have been a great blessing to the targets of discrimination.
Although anti-discrimination laws limit our freedom to say by our actions that we view certain categories of our fellow humans as inferior, unworthy or evil, they also help ensure justice for all.
In a rare showing of bipartisanship, U.S. Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner and his predecessor, Nancy Pelosi, both Catholics, have both issued invitations for Pope Francis to address a joint session of Congress.
By Martin Surridge – When I accepted a position as a ninth and tenth-grade English teacher a little ways north of Seattle, the principal of my new public high school asked me quite good-naturedly, “Now, you won't have a problem coming from Christian school, teaching in the public system?” I explained to her that of course I would be very respectful and professional and that I anticipated no problems, which has been true.
By Loren Seibold – erhaps you've seen reports of the new United States $100 bill, with new and improved anti-counterfeiting features. I like it. I've been surprised at the number of people who've objected to it's colorfulness. "It looks too much like the Euro" many comment. Anything having to do with US currency brings out our paranoia, and the theory […]