Warren Jeffs, self-described “prophet” of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), sits behind bars in a state prison in the east Texas city of Palestine.
But even though he’s serving a 120-year sentence for sexually abusing minors, Jeffs, critics say, still manages to run an isolated community of more than 6,000 people that straddles the Utah-Arizona border.
It’s a place unlike any other in America because, dissidents charge, it operates under a veritable theocratic form of government.
Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., known collectively as the Short Creek community, are home to a radical polygamist splinter group of the Mormon church. Members of the FLDS live in what is widely considered to be their stronghold in the desert.
For years, little was known about the secretive religious group. Members shunned publicity and planned their community on a border so they could move from one state to another if trouble arose.
But now Short Creek finds itself targeted by a national spotlight - and what’s being uncovered isn’t pretty.
Right wing watch recently found something that might be of interest to you. Rafael Cruz, the father of Ted Cruz, has apparently been listening to the American far right’s favorite “historian.” No surprise, really, unfortunately.
Yes David Barton is such a great “historian.” Maybe the real reason that it’s not taught in any of our public schools, is because it’s baseless and only the uneducated believe it. Rafael, if you really want to educate yourself, do yourself a favor, start reading the work of people like Chris Rodda instead, who has successfully debunked Barton on multiple occasions. Like Barton, you are either incredibly ignorant or a liar. Secularism wasn’t something that was just made up by “evil liberals” to suppress Christians. Groups like Americans United For the Separation of Church And Sate, defend our religious liberty, not persecute Christians or suppress Christianity. Also Rafael, like it or not, as Americans, secularism is a part of our county’s history. Our nation was not founded on Christianity or any other religion for that matter, and that’s a good thing.
Yes a group that is trying to “educate” Florida Public School students about what the constitution says, don’t think the establishment clause says what it says, which would mean that Bryan Fischer would love them, as long as he regards them “Christians.” The group calls itself “the National Center For Constitution Studies,” and it obviously doesn’t live up to its name. Anyone who really studied the constitution would disagree with them.
It seems Florida public school students have been handed a pocketful of lies about church-state separation thanks to a state judge who arranged for the distribution of mini copies of the Constitution from a right-wing group with theocratic beliefs.
Americans United has successfully foiled plans by a county council in Washington state to hand over thousands of taxpayer dollars to a Christian fundamentalist group that targets young children for conversion.
Americans United sent a letter Monday to officials on the Pierce County Council warning them that their proposal to give $7,000 to Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) could result in legal action.
According to KING-TV 5 News in Seattle, the grant, which would have given CEF funds to be used for space rentals at local fairs, was added to the county’s proposed 2014 budget at the last minute. Council member Jim McCune seemed to believe that CEF’s services could somehow help “at-risk” youth, the news station reported.
Just what services does CEF provide, you may wonder? Nothing of a secular nature, that’s for sure.
On its website, CEF describes itself as a “Bible-centered worldwide organization that is dedicated to seeing every child reached with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, discipled and established in a local church.”
The group runs several ministries both nationwide and internationally that are targeted at children; it also trains ministers and distributes Bibles.
Based in Warrenton, Mo., CEF is controversial because of programs it runs in many public schools after hours. Critics say the organization zeroes in on young children and seeks to lure them into an extremely conservative form of fundamentalist Christianity. CEF is so intent on converting youngsters to fundamentalism that it has produced “wordless books” aimed at children who don’t yet know how to read.
Read more at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.
Original article and resignation letter: Why I Don’t Want to Be a West Point Graduate
I do not wish to be in any way associated with an institution which willfully disregards the Constitution of the United States of America by enforcing policies which run counter to the same. Examples of these policies include mandatory prayer, the maintenance of the 3rd Regiment Shield, awarding extra passes to Plebes who take part in religious retreats and chapel choirs, as well as informal policies such as the open disrespect of non-religious new cadets and incentivizing participation in religious activities through the chain of command.
How would a prayer at city council meetings in California hold up if the invocation mentioned Tom Cruise or Scientology, a 9th Circuit judge asked.
“What if someone has an objection, not to Jesus Christ, but to Abraham or Mohammed or Martin Luther, Confucius, Buddha?” Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain asked. “I mean we can make a long list, Tom Cruise and Scientology. Where do we draw the line?”
The judge put the amusing hypothetical to a lawyer fighting the recitation of prayers referencing Jesus at the start of every city council meetings in Lancaster, Calif.
Shelly Rubin and Maureen Feller filed suit over the practice in 2010, but a federal judge in Los Angeles ruled last year that the prayer survived the test laid out by the Supreme Court in 1983.
Claims about a prayer that makes a single reference to Jesus would require the court to analyze the content of the prayer, but that is barred under Marsh v. Chambers, according to the court.
“Because plaintiffs do not even claim the April 27 invocation was ‘exploited to proselytize or advance any one, or to disparage any other, faith or belief,’ this court cannot properly perform such an analysis,” U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer wrote.
Rubin and Feller’s attorney, Roger Diamond of Santa Monica, fine-tuned the claim last week before a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit.
Saying that a pre-meeting invocation is fine, generally, the plaintiffs say that Lancaster violated the establishment clause by more commonly choosing Christian prayers over those of other denominations.
“In a period of about a year, and the council meets every two weeks, 20 prayers were given in the name of Jesus Christ,” Diamond said. “If it were an isolated situation then we might have a different case.”
He added that the appeal does not challenge an isolated event, but rather a city practice that led to repeated references to Jesus Christ.
The judges split 7-3 on Monday in favor of the plaintiffs.
“Regardless of the purpose of school administrators in choosing the location, the sheer religiosity of the space created a likelihood that high school students and their younger siblings would perceive a link between church and state,” according to the 34-page lead opinion authored by Flaum. “That is, the activity conveyed a message of endorsement.”
High school graduations are ubiquitous in American life - a compulsory school event for all practical purposes - a factor that heabily increases the chances that non-Christian attendees would feel like outsiders to a favored religion, the court said.
“True, the district did not itself adorn the church with proselytizing materials, and a reasonable observer would be aware of this fact,” Flaum added. “But that same observer could reasonably conclude that the District would only choose such a proselytizing environment aimed at spreading religious faith … if the district approved of the church’s message.”
A church environment could also coerce students to accept Christianity, the judges found.
“The only way for graduation attendees to avoid the dynamic is to leave the ceremony,” Flaum wrote. “That is a choice … the establishment clause does not force students to make.”
In November 1991, the Supreme Court heard argument in Lee v. Weisman, on the question of whether a prayer recited by a member of the clergy at a public high school graduation violated the constitutional separation of church and state. The vote after argument was 5 to 4 to allow the prayer. Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist gave the opinion-writing assignment to Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.
Some months later, Justice Kennedy sent a note to Justice Harry A. Blackmun, the senior justice on the dissenting side. He had changed his mind, Justice Kennedy said; the argument against allowing the prayer was the better interpretation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. Justice Blackmun, now the senior justice in the majority, had the prerogative of reassigning the opinion. He told Justice Kennedy to keep writing.
When the 5-to-4 decision to prohibit graduation prayers was finally announced on June 24, 1992, it was huge news. From today’s perspective, it may not sound like a big deal. But Lee v. Weisman was one of the hot-button cases of the 1991 term, perhaps second only to Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the abortion case that challenged the continued validity of Roe v. Wade.
President George H. W. Bush was running for re-election, and having put both David H. Souter and Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court, he was eager to show the religious right that he was the rightful heir of his predecessor, Ronald Reagan. His solicitor general, Kenneth W. Starr, made the unusual move of filing a brief asking the court to take the case, even though as a legal matter the federal government’s interest in the outcome was far-fetched. As an administration official explained to me at the time, the strategy was to provide a vehicle for Justice Souter to declare himself lowering the church-state barrier (a profound misjudgment of this Yankee Republican, who voted with the majority).
The Bible has thousands of passages that may serve as the basis for instruction and inspiration. Not all of them are appropriate in all circumstances.
The story of Saul and the Amalekites is a case in point. It’s not a pretty story, and it is often used by people who don’t intend to do pretty things. In the book of 1 Samuel (15:3), God said to Saul:
“Now go, attack the Amalekites, and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.”