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HisDaughter
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« on: April 14, 2011, 11:19:46 PM »

Parents decry marketers who push sexuality on little girls
http://yourlife.usatoday.com/


Being a parent has never been an easy gig. From the terrible 2's to the trying teenage years, parents spend much of their lives saying "No."

No candy for breakfast. No candy up the nose. No rings in the nose.

Today, however, parents trying to raise healthy kids say they feel like they're doing battle with the culture, constantly trying to shelter their kids from an onslaught of trash from sugary sodas to violent videos.

By turning kids into pint-size consumers — often with their own cellphones — marketers are turning them old before their time and, too often, turning them against their parents, says Jean Kilbourne, co-author of So Sexy, So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids.

"It's a hard time to be raising children," says Susan Linn of the Boston-based Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. "No generation of parents in history has dealt with this $17 billion (children's product) industry working day and night to bypass parents and target children with messages that undermine parental values."

And just what are parents fighting?

Try padded, push-up bikini tops from Abercrombie & Fitch, designed for girls as young as 7 and 8. This is the same company that outraged parents by selling thongs for 10 year olds.

Then there's Wal-Mart's new line of makeup for 8- to 12-year-old girls, which has generated an uproar even before its official debut.

And don't forget the mini-skirted "fashion" dolls — from Bratz to Lollipop Girls and Monster High — that make Barbie look prudish.

And those are just the kiddie products.

Katy Farber, an elementary school teacher and mother from Montpelier, Vt., says she's even more worried about the growing number of small kids exposed to grown-up music and videos. Farber says she's seen girls as young as 5 trying to dress like Lady Gaga.

"When we were growing up, parents only had television to worry about," Linn says. "What parents are dealing with today that's unprecedented is the convergence of ubiquitous screen media and unfettered, unregulated commercialism. The market is so crowded today, with so many channels and so many platforms, that people have to be outrageous just to get noticed."

Saving Childhood

Marketers know that parents will resist buying many of these products.

That's why they aim their commercials straight at children, says James Steyer of Common Sense Media, which provides media education for families. And while children may not have much money, they can be incredibly effective at nagging, Steyer says. "Their goal is to get kids to force their parents to buy them stuff."

By encouraging kids to needle their parents, marketers are pushing 5- and 6-year-olds into "premature adolescent rebellion," Kilbourne says.

"Marketers have a phrase called 'pester power,' " says Lyn Mikel Brown, an education professor at Maine's Colby College and co-author of Packaging Girlhood. "So when parents say no, they are the ones kids react against."

Peggy Orenstein, mother of a 7-year-old, says she's tired of marketers turning every trip to the supermarket into a battle of wills or a "teachable moment." Orenstein says she drew the line when her daughter, then in preschool, asked for nail polish.

"I never expected, when I had a daughter, that one of my most important jobs would be to protect her childhood from becoming a marketers' land grab," Orenstein writes in Cinderella Ate My Daughter.

She argues that even the current "princess" craze — which earned $4 billion for Disney in 2009 — simply primes preschoolers for more sexualized imagery by encouraging them to focus on beauty, fashion and appealing to boys.

Yet Orenstein says it's hard to find clothes and toys that don't urge girls to feel "pretty" or "sassy," which Orenstein sees as a "code word for sexy."

"Why are we telling girls that they aren't good enough the way they are?" she says. "And that they should define themselves by how they appear to others?"

It's easy to see why "tweens" — a word coined by marketers, not developmental psychologists — are a hot market, Orenstein says.

Toy and clothing makers can create new markets by breaking childhood into imaginary segments, each with their own distinct needs and desires, Orenstein says.

But turning little girls into tweens forces them to grow up faster, Orenstein says.

Perhaps it's not surprising that doctors are now seeing anorexia in children as young as 8 or 9, says pediatrician Chris Feudtner of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

"It feels like the boundary between childhood and adolescence has eroded," Brown says. "There isn't really a childhood that is distinct anymore. It's all about looking like a grown-up girl."

Horses in high heels

Even the cartoon characters that today's moms recall from their own childhood — from Strawberry Shortcake to My Little Pony — are getting a makeover, Orenstein says.

These characters, once cute and chubby, now look older, taller, prettier — and skinnier, Orenstein notes. Playmates Toys even sells toy horses, called "Struts," that wear pink high heels. Disney's Tinker Bell — a favorite among the preschool set — wears a costume darn close to that of the Playboy Bunny.

Yet even vigilant parents can't guard against every negative influence.

Feudtner says his own 4-year-old daughter received a Barbie as a birthday present. Although he'd never paid any attention to Barbie's impossible proportions before, he now worries that she's not a good influence.

"I would never have bought her a Barbie," Feudtner says. "But I don't want to say, 'Dear, this isn't appropriate.' "

Images aimed at boys are no better, says Sharon Lamb, co-author of Packaging Girlhood and Packaging Boyhood.

Cartoons now are "teaching little boys that you bond by getting drunk," says Lamb, a psychology professor at University of Massachusetts in Boston. "In SpongeBob, they get drunk on ice cream. In Open Season, they get drunk on chocolate. In Kid Nation, when they win, they celebrate by doing root beer shots in the saloon."

Violent or sexual imagery can cause real damage, says Victor Strasburger, a professor at the University of New Mexico and spokesman for the American Academy of Pediatrics.

At least seven studies now suggest that kids who see the most sexual content at a young age may be twice as likely as others to have early sex, Strasburger says.

And kids watch a lot of media — 32 hours a week by preschool, Linn says.

Nearly 80% of children under age 5 use the Internet at least once a week, according to a new report from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, an education non-profit group. Children ages 8 to 10 spend about 5.5 hours a day using media — eight hours if researchers include the additional media consumed while multitasking.

Farber says she still tries to protect her 3- and 6-year-old daughters from harmful imagery. The girls don't watch TV and rarely go shopping.

"A lot of people would think we're extreme," Farber says. "But I want our girls to have this idea that they're beautiful in all kinds of settings. They're beautiful when they're in the pool. They're beautiful when they're doing science. They're beautiful when they're doing all the things that kids do, not just when they have a matching outfit."

Yet it's not fair to lay all the blame — or responsibility — on parents, Linn says.

Parents sometimes let kids stay inside and watch TV because they're afraid of the dangers outside, either from urban crime or child predators, Linn says.

"Parents are not alone in this," Linn says. "This is a societal problem, and we have to tackle it that way."
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« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2011, 11:20:56 PM »

People delaying religious commitment: study
www.canada.com


Not only are longer life expectancies allowing people to postpone retirement, they feel less rushed to make peace with God, a new study suggests.

Research out of the United Kingdom links the decline in religious participation in developed countries, where life expectancies are high, and the idea that time isn't running out as fast on people's chances to secure a place in heaven.

"Many religions and societies link to some degree the cumulative amount of religious effort to benefits in the afterlife," said Elissaios Papyrakis, an economist at the University of East Anglia and one of the study's authors. "We show that higher life expectancy discounts expected benefits in the afterlife and is therefore likely to lead to postponement of religiosity, without necessarily jeopardizing benefits in the afterlife."

In Canada, the percentage of people aged 15 or older reporting no religious affiliation whatsoever had grown to 16 per cent by 2001 compared to four per cent in 1971, according to Statistics Canada. Data also shows the proportion of people attending religious activities weekly had shrunk to 21 per cent by 2005 from 30 per cent in 1985.

Based on data from between 2005 and 2007, Statistics Canada said the average life expectancy in Canada is 80.7 years of age, up from 78.4 a decade earlier.

The study, published in the online edition of International Journal of Social Economics, noted that religious participation is high in less developed countries where life expectancies are low. For example, it said that 95 per cent of people in Nigeria attend church at least monthly, and that rate is 91 per cent in Pakistan. It said this kind of religious participation is at just 15 per cent in Britain.

Rev. Kevin DeRaaf, pastor of Faith Christian Reform Church in Burlington, Ont., said he's never considered a link between living longer and declining interest in religion, but said it could be a factor.

"When you have a good healthcare system, when people are able to manage crises very much through practical means, it can push some of the faith issues to the background," DeRaaf said.

The U.K. study said religious organizations looking to attract members should focus less on benefits in the afterlife, and more on what can be offered in one's worldly life from the Church. Such things could include expanding one's social circle, participation in various activities, spiritual fulfilment and guidance.

DeRaaf said he agreed with that notion to some degree, but added that consideration about the afterlife can't be dismissed, because it is so central to religion.

He added that churches across Canada have made efforts in recent years to become more involved in the practical matters of their communities. As an example, he said his own church is involved in social housing.

"The central story for us is the story of Jesus, who had a strong teaching and healing ministry," DeRaaf said. "He encountered people and made an immediate impact on their lives in the here and now, which drew them into the larger story of eternal issues."

Rev. Robert Dalgleish, executive director of ministry development for the United Church of Canada, said for him personally, religion has always been more about how to live currently rather than a preoccupation with heaven or hell.

"But I think the Church has not always made that clear to people, so I would agree with the (study) authors' claim . that the Church does need to make the case that religion is about life -it's about this life," Dalgleish said.
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« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2011, 07:47:07 PM »

People delaying religious commitment: study
www.canada.com


Not only are longer life expectancies allowing people to postpone retirement, they feel less rushed to make peace with God, a new study suggests.

Research out of the United Kingdom links the decline in religious participation in developed countries, where life expectancies are high, and the idea that time isn't running out as fast on people's chances to secure a place in heaven.

"Many religions and societies link to some degree the cumulative amount of religious effort to benefits in the afterlife," said Elissaios Papyrakis, an economist at the University of East Anglia and one of the study's authors. "We show that higher life expectancy discounts expected benefits in the afterlife and is therefore likely to lead to postponement of religiosity, without necessarily jeopardizing benefits in the afterlife."

In Canada, the percentage of people aged 15 or older reporting no religious affiliation whatsoever had grown to 16 per cent by 2001 compared to four per cent in 1971, according to Statistics Canada. Data also shows the proportion of people attending religious activities weekly had shrunk to 21 per cent by 2005 from 30 per cent in 1985.

Based on data from between 2005 and 2007, Statistics Canada said the average life expectancy in Canada is 80.7 years of age, up from 78.4 a decade earlier.

The study, published in the online edition of International Journal of Social Economics, noted that religious participation is high in less developed countries where life expectancies are low. For example, it said that 95 per cent of people in Nigeria attend church at least monthly, and that rate is 91 per cent in Pakistan. It said this kind of religious participation is at just 15 per cent in Britain.

Rev. Kevin DeRaaf, pastor of Faith Christian Reform Church in Burlington, Ont., said he's never considered a link between living longer and declining interest in religion, but said it could be a factor.

"When you have a good healthcare system, when people are able to manage crises very much through practical means, it can push some of the faith issues to the background," DeRaaf said.

The U.K. study said religious organizations looking to attract members should focus less on benefits in the afterlife, and more on what can be offered in one's worldly life from the Church. Such things could include expanding one's social circle, participation in various activities, spiritual fulfilment and guidance.

DeRaaf said he agreed with that notion to some degree, but added that consideration about the afterlife can't be dismissed, because it is so central to religion.

He added that churches across Canada have made efforts in recent years to become more involved in the practical matters of their communities. As an example, he said his own church is involved in social housing.

"The central story for us is the story of Jesus, who had a strong teaching and healing ministry," DeRaaf said. "He encountered people and made an immediate impact on their lives in the here and now, which drew them into the larger story of eternal issues."

Rev. Robert Dalgleish, executive director of ministry development for the United Church of Canada, said for him personally, religion has always been more about how to live currently rather than a preoccupation with heaven or hell.

"But I think the Church has not always made that clear to people, so I would agree with the (study) authors' claim . that the Church does need to make the case that religion is about life -it's about this life," Dalgleish said.

People are delaying everything - marriage, having children, and especially growing up and being responsible. So it isn't surprising they delay involvement with religion.
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« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2011, 12:32:06 AM »

People are delaying everything - marriage, having children, and especially growing up and being responsible. So it isn't surprising they delay involvement with religion.

Hello Brother Rhys,

It's great to hear from you. AND, you're right.
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« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2011, 02:26:02 PM »

Jesus Facebook Page Beats Out Lakers, Bieber, Gaga
christianpost.com

So what’s more engaging than Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Twilight, and apparently the Los Angeles Lakers?

Jesus Daily, to be exact.

Taking the top spots in All Facebook’s – the unofficial Facebook resource page – weekly rankings, religious pages continue to dominate and infiltrate the charts.

Pages like “Jesus Daily” and “The Bible” fall above American pop stars and much beloved sports teams as the “Most Engaging Pages,” demonstrating that religious faith is still much a part of the culture today, regardless of what many believe or rather, don’t believe.

With over 5,108,270 fans and 2,127,067 interactions, “Jesus Daily” maintains the number one spot for a second week in a row, with “The Bible” close behind at second, moving up rapidly on the list, recording over 7,015,719 fans and 1,119,413 interactions.

The goals of both pages are similar, with the former challenging others to “strive to follow Jesus daily by contemplating His sayings daily,” and the latter hoping to see the Word of God shared across Facebook.

Mark Brown, founder of “The Bible,” shares his vision on YouTube and provides testimonies of how the simple page is touching people’s lives.

Started just two years ago in 2009, Brown wanted to encourage people to go deeper into God’s presence and into a deeper relationship with God. He knew that one clear way this could be accomplished was through reading and being immersed in Scripture itself.

“In [these] pages you don’t encounter just words, you encounter the Holy Spirit. God works through those words, with the power of the Holy Spirit transforming us,” Brown relayed. “The Bible isn’t about information, it’s about transformation – us being more of what God wants us to be.”

Seeing the potential in Facebook two years ago and desiring to go where people would be, the Australian CEO of Bible Society New Zealand, started the page where he and now several other volunteers all over the world post small passages of Scripture throughout the day.

Simple right from the beginning, the page remains the same two years later and has grown tremendously since.

Brown, also an Anglican priest, attributes all the success to God, whom he genuinely believes has blessed the page and grown it for one purpose – to glorify Him.

One of the aspects of the page the Aussie absolutely loves is that it is filled with people who are full of questions, people who constantly challenge his and many others’ faith.

“I want them to be here. What a wonderful opportunity. We don’t have to go out and find people asking questions about our faith; they’re coming to the page in droves.”

“There are lots and lots of people who ask questions, some of them ask very challenging questions [and] some of them can be very rude. [But] at the heart of it, they’re struggling [or] ... they might just be having an intellectual exercise, having fun.”

Sharing a testimony relayed to him by a volunteer, Brown recalled how one of those questioners entered the page to “have a go” at the Christians and to challenge what the skeptic thought were “silly thoughts.”

But the more questions he asked, the more answers he received which resounded as something genuine and real about the Christian faith. Eventually, the man gave his life to the Lord, through the simple Bible page and through his questioning.

“This is the vision,” he expressed. “To draw people deeper into God’s presence and to see people grow in their relationship.”

Brown’s goal for the page is to reach 10 million fans, “not for any sense of numbers, whatever that means, but to influence a generation to grow deeper in their relationship with God and to share the good news of Jesus.”

Started the same year as Brown’s page, “Jesus Daily” also began in 2009, founded by Dr. Aaron Tabor who was motivated by a similar desire.

“Two years ago, I saw a need on Facebook for a page that focused on Jesus Christ – the other pages focused broadly on Christianity,” Tabor told The Christian Post.

“For me, the excitement comes from a personal relationship with Christ. Focusing on His Words daily is the inspiration behind ‘Jesus Daily.’”

With a more specific goal in mind, Tabor shared with CP that his mission is to help 50,000 people annually accept Christ as their personal Savior.

“We focus on bringing in Seekers through the viral nature of Facebook by asking Jesus Daily members to LIKE, SHARE, and COMMENT on the content we post. This spreads the message to their Friend’s List and spreads further from there.”

Having recently begun to measure the number of those who have come to know Christ through their website, Tabor reported of 1,434 salvation decisions made, just in the past 10 days.

“People are hungry for a relationship with God, particularly during these rough economic times, wars, uncertainties, and the breakdown of a family unit. People are wounded emotionally and need Christ to heal their broken hearts.”

As a physician himself, Tabor understands the need for healing, not just spiritually, but physically and emotionally as well. “Jesus Daily” offers visitors the chance to post their prayer requests, which the group together “lifts up to the Lord.”

Though many support the page, as evidenced by the growing number of followers, several people have attacked and continue to harass the site and the people on it as well.

Nonbelievers have littered the wall with pornographic images and pictures of starving children, and mock those who request prayers for illnesses.

“I’ve been shocked at how mean the Atheists are that attack our site,” the Johns Hopkins graduate wrote to CP. “It just shows how dark the human spirit is and verifies Biblical truth that mankind loves darkness more than light.”

Regardless of all of the hateful acts that permeate the site, however, Tabor is confident that God is using Facebook to spread the Gospel.

“We hope that Jesus Daily is the Light on social media to fulfill the Great Commission by sharing the Good News globally.”

Currently, there are over 600,000 members in the Philippines and Indonesia, and hundreds of thousands more in Africa.

The page has also just released a free iPhone app where people can enjoy Scriptures, prayers and praises “on the go” worldwide.

Whether or not the increasing number of fans on pages like “The Bible” and “Jesus Daily,” or even others like “Jesus Christ” and “Dios Es Bueno!” which stand lower on the list, is a true indicator of the number of those being saved, no one is certain. But many are praying and hoping so.
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« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2011, 02:26:48 PM »

Americans cut back on donations and tithing to churches
christianpost.com

Americans have cut back on donations and tithing to churches as the economic downtown tests generosity levels of donors, a new study found.

The latest study released Tuesday by Barna Research shows three out of 10 Americans are reducing their giving to churches, virtually unchanged from figures in January of last year when non-giving was at an all-time high since the economic crisis.

Thirty percent of respondents to the April survey said they reduced their giving to a church or religious center within the past three months, compared to 29 percent in January 2010. In the immediate aftermath of the economic crisis in November 2008, only 20 percent said they had cut back giving to a church or religious center.

Regarding contributions to non-profits other than churches, the percentage of Americans who reduced donations dropped 9 percentage points from 48 percent in January 2010.

Those who were most likely to reduce donations to churches were Baby Boomers, lower income households, Northeastern residents, and those who identify themselves as Christians but are only moderately involved with a church, according to the study.

About a quarter of Americans, 24 percent, shut their wallets altogether and stopped all giving to churches. Another 17 percent have reduced their giving by half.

"The economic downturn influenced donations later than it affected other aspects of our spending," David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group, commented on the study.

"Once it kicked in, though, donors have cut back significantly in their giving to churches and nonprofits. Now, even as the economy shows some signs of improvement, donors are still reluctant to return to their previous levels of generosity. They may be less shell-shocked than 15 months ago, but they are still cautious," he observed.

Many of the adults surveyed had a dim outlook on the economy with three-quarters of Americans now believing the economy will take at least two years or more to recover. Nearly half of adults (47 percent) said they expect the economy to take three more years to recover.

The Barna study also reported that fewer Americans are tithing amid the tough economic times.

Only four percent of Americans give 10 percent of their income to churches, a drop from last year's rate of seven percent. The national tithing rate has typically been five to seven percent of Americans over the past decade.

"Most Americans think of their giving as secondary to their survival," said Kinnaman. "Yet, from a biblical perspective, generosity should be part of Christians' fundamental response to the downturn."

An April survey by the National Association of Evangelicals found that a majority of its leadership doesn't think tithing is required by the Bible.

Among the NAE board of directors, 58 percent said they did not think a 10-percent tithing of income to the church is mandated by the Bible compared to 42 percent who believed tithing was a duty of believers.

Despite differing on the biblical teaching on tithing, the overwhelming majority of NAE leaders, 95 percent, said they give at least 10 percent. Many noted in their response that although tithing is an Old Testament legal model, New Testament Christians should give out of generosity.
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« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2011, 02:27:40 PM »

VeggieTales Creator: When God Kills A Dream
christianpost.com

With a sharp sense of humor and storytelling skills befitting the creator of the beloved VeggieTales films, Phil Vischer told a crowd of Christian journalists Wednesday that bankruptcy humbled him and helped him to pursue God instead of a dream.

“Suddenly I found myself facing a God I had never heard about in Sunday school. A God that apparently wanted me to let go of my dreams,” shared Vischer, the keynote speaker at the Evangelical Press Association’s opening banquet.

After dropping out of seminary school Vischer co-founded Big Idea Productions and created the talking vegetable children’s animation series VeggieTales in 1993. Quickly, word of mouth spread among Christians about the cute talking cucumber and tomato that taught biblical values and millions of copies of VeggieTales videos were sold.

Big Idea Productions quickly grew from three staff members to over 200 workers by 2000 and was the largest animation studio in the nation, recalled Vischer. People were asking out loud if Vischer would be the next Walt Disney and approached him with ideas to expand the VeggieTales enterprise.

But at the height of his professional success, everything went wrong. His staff members were arguing, video sales stopped, he had to fire over half his staff, and a former distributor sued him. The court ruled in favor of the distributor and Vischer lost everything and had to file bankruptcy.

Amid all of these difficulties, a woman Vischer didn’t know was emailing him regularly congratulating him on his success but concluding her emails by warning him to keep an eye on his pride.

After his bankruptcy, his mother handed him a cassette of a preacher who asked the question, “What does it mean when God gives you a dream and the dream comes to life and God shows up and without warning the dream dies?”

The preacher shared the story of the Shunammite woman in 2 Kings 4 who served the prophet Elisha and was given a son in her old age. But suddenly her son, who was the dream God gave her, dies. Elisha then lies on the boy and prays to God and the boy becomes alive again.

“What was the point of that? Why put the woman through that exercise?” asked Vischer.

If God gives a person a dream, breathes life into it and then it dies then God might want to know what is more important to the person – the dream or God, he said.

“The Shunammite woman’s response was clear. She headed straight to Elisha. He is the man of God and she wanted to be as close to God as she can,” explained the Christian animator, who pointed out that she refused to leave Elisha even though she didn’t understand what was happening.

“She is going to hang onto God no matter what.”

Similarly, God tested Abraham when he asked him to kill his dream and the promise of God, Isaac.

“You can imagine how much Abraham loves Isaac. He was not only the son, but he is the promise, he is the dream, he is how God is going to use him to change the world. He is everything,” said Vischer.

But God told Abraham to put his beloved son Isaac on the altar and kill him.

“And what God learned about Abraham that day is that Abraham would let go of everything before he would let go of God,” said Vischer. “God said, ‘OK, now I can use you.’”

“Why would God want us to let go of our dreams? Because anything that you are unwilling to let go of is an idol and you are in sin,” explained the VeggieTales creator. “I realized that my good works had become an idol that defined me. Rather than finding my identity in my relationship with God, I was finding it in my intense drive to do good works.”

In 2005, Vischer founded Jellyfish Labs, named to remind him of the lessons he learned through his painful experience with VeggieTales and the bankruptcy. A jellyfish cannot choose its own course but it is dependent on the current to carry it where it needs to go, he explained.

“I realized at Big Ideas I was a big studdly barracuda,” said Vischer. But now he understands that he is a “spineless, brainless, bag of goo. I get my form, my purpose only when I am suspended in the current of God’s will and trusting that God’s will will carry me where He wants me to be.”

Through Jellyfish Labs, Vischer developed “What’s in the Bible,” a video series that helps Christian kids and families to understand the basics of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.

“Seven years ago my dream died and I discovered once all the noise faded away what I had been missing all along,” he said. “The impact that God has planned for us does not occur when we are pursuing impact. It occurs when we are pursuing God.”

“I have no idea what my business strategy will be in two years, and that is OK because God does,” said Vischer. “So let go of ego. Let go of outcomes and put your plans in God’s hands and let Him direct your steps.”
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« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2011, 10:18:43 AM »

Anti-Israel Protestors Disrupt Cornerstone Church Service
christianpost.com


Ardent pro-Israel evangelical pastor John Hagee was disrupted recently by a dozen pro-Palestinian protesters while delivering a sermon.

The San Antonio Police Department issued a criminal trespass warning to the 11 protesters. It was the first time that Sunday service at the estimated 19,000-membered Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, was interrupted.

“Each and every time Israel’s supporters see such disruptions, we are reminded of the hypocrisy of those who claim to support free speech, but seek to deny others the opportunity to express their views,” said David Brog, executive director of Christians United for Israel.

Hagee is the founder of CUFI, which seeks to advocate for Israel to the U.S. government.

“Of course Israel’s not perfect. And of course reasonable people can debate Israeli policy. But to disrupt a Christian worship service to slander Israel with accusations of apartheid and genocide is the height of intolerance,” Brog added.

The protesters attended the 11 a.m. worship service and some sat in the main section while others in the balcony area, according to an open letter by Hagee to TV personality Glenn Beck . When Hagee stood to deliver the sermon, dedicated to the “memorial imperative of standing with the Jewish State of Israel,” a protester in the balcony area began to throw down anti-Israel propaganda leaflets that partially read, “We stand in solidarity with Palestinians and demand an end to U.S. support for Israeli occupation, apartheid and violations of the human rights of Palestinians.”

The leaflet also contained the picture of a mother burying her child with the caption, “Your tithes are responsible for this!” Later, protesters one after another shouted pro-Palestine slogans, such as, “Free Palestine! Israel is apartheid. Israel has no right to the land.”

None of the protesters were Palestinians, but they were activists in the local community. One of the protesters, identified only as G.R., told The San Antonio Express News that the group chose to protest on May 15 because it is “al nakba,” or the day Palestinians remember their displacement after the state of Israel was founded.

Other than the trespass warnings, no other legal actions were taken so far.

Hagee was likely targeted because he is the founder of CUFI and arguably the most recognizable Christian Zionist. He has been criticized by some Christians for his seemingly unconditional support for Israel and opposition to dividing Israel, which critics point out would call into question the two-state solution.

The Texas megachurch pastor and face of Christian Zionism believes that God made an everlasting covenant with the Jewish people regarding the promised land and it should never be divided. He also believes that those who bless Israel will be blessed, and those who curse Israel will be cursed, which is a major reason behind his strong support for the Jewish nation.
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« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2011, 10:20:19 AM »

Gay columnist: let’s face it, we want to indoctrinate children
lifesitenews.com


As the same-sex “marriage” battle heats up again in New York, one writer at a prominent gay news source is questioning why his lobby refuses to admit that the gay agenda involves “indoctrinating” schoolchildren to accept homosexuality.

Queerty contributor Daniel Villarreal criticized the homosexual movement’s knee-jerk reaction against accusations of meddling in public schools. Villarreal pointed to a recent National Organization for Marriage (NOM) ad launched in New York that points out how homosexual indoctrination has been introduced in Massachusetts and California schools.

Two of the books designed to teach children about homosexuality in a positive light.

While gay activists usually deny that they want to indoctrinate children, said Villarreal, “let’s face it—that’s a lie.” “We want educators to teach future generations of children to accept queer sexuality. In fact, our very future depends on it,” he wrote.

Villarreal pointed to the tactics of a gay activist group FCKH8, which fought a recent Tennessee bill prohibiting classroom discussion of homosexuality in grade school by “hiring some little girls to drop F-bombs” in their controversial online ad campaign, and handing out gay paraphernalia to schoolchildren. “Recruiting children? You bet we are,” he said.

“Why would we push anti-bullying programs or social studies classes that teach kids about the historical contributions of famous queers unless we wanted to deliberately educate children to accept queer sexuality as normal?”

In fact, Villarreal said that his dream of increasing not only the acceptance, but the future practice of homosexuality among youngsters was common among those in the gay lobby.

“I and a lot of other people want to indoctrinate, recruit, teach, and expose children to queer sexuality AND THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT,” he wrote.

New York is seeing a renewed push for same-sex “marriage,” with supporters hoping to see passage of a new marriage definition before the end of the legislative session on June 20.

A similar initiative had failed in 2009, but gay rights strategists are hopeful that power shifts in the legislature since then, including two more senatorial seats in favor of gay “marriage,” will result in a different outcome. Supporters also cite rising support for gay “marriage” in polls among New Yorkers, with 58 percent reportedly saying they back the change in a recent poll.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg lobbied lawmakers in Albany on Tuesday to overturn the traditional definition of marriage in the state.
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« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2011, 10:24:00 AM »

Girl Scouts, No Longer a Family Friendly Organization for 2 Sisters
christianpost.com


Two sisters are fighting to stand up for what they believe in, even if it means leaving everything they’ve worked for during the past eight years.

After discovering disturbing connections and curricula of Girl Scouts of the USA, Sydney and Tess Volanski decided to leave their beloved Girl Scout Troop after eight years of involvement, compelled not only to quit, but also to spread the truth about the highly acclaimed organization.

The two Houston siblings share their reasons for leaving in their recently launched site called “SPEAK NOW: girl scouts” and reveal several ways in which Girl Scouts has been promoting Planned Parenthood, promiscuity and abortion to their members.

Trusting that Girl Scouts was a wholesome organization, both Sydney and Tess were extremely hurt when they realized beginning in March of 2010 that they had been unknowingly supporting and promoting a group whose views were in direct contrast with their pro-life, pro-family, Christian views.

The first “eye-opening and jaw-dropping” example of their difference in values occurred in March, when GSUSA allowed Planned Parenthood to distribute brochures containing sexually explicit material.

Entitled “Healthy, Happy, and Hot – A Young Person’s Guide to Their Rights, Sexuality and Living with HIV,” the pamphlet was given to young girls attending a Girls Only Workshop in New York – part of the annual United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.

However, a spokesperson for Girl Scouts denied the allegations and stated, “Girl Scouts does not take a position on abortion or birth control. The national umbrella organization, Girl Scouts of the USA does not have a relationship with Planned Parenthood on a national level and does not plan to have one.”

Sydney, in turn, stated in an interview with Concerned Women for America, “Even though they denied this involvement ... we wanted to make sure that we knew what we were supporting by being a Girl Scout, so we continued to research the connection.”

“We found shortly after this ‘Healthy, Happy, Hot’ issue, that The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts also called WAAG, which is the international organization that Girl Scouts is a part of, had a post on their website demanding safe, affordable, and accessible abortions for women as young as I am, 15.”

At that point, both Tess and Sydney decided to remove themselves from Girl Scouts because it was not compatible with their deeply held beliefs and continued to search for the truth, because so many of their friends were involved in the organization and because Girl Scouts was listed as a ministry in their church.

“Leaving Girl Scouts was not a casual, easy, or convenient decision,” they state on their site. “Girl Scouts was a huge part of our lives that included a bond with our best friends.”

“While we recognized the many good things about Girl Scouts, we had to ask ourselves: Will we stand for our beliefs, for the dignity of life, the sanctity of marriage, modesty, purity? Or will we remain true to Girl Scouts? We cannot see any way to truly do both.”

Motivated to spread the information they learned so as to prevent the same heartbreak for other girls and their families, Sydney told CWA that GSUSA had broken its promises of not taking a stand on such issues as girls’ sexuality, abortion or political affiliation by its connection not only with Planned Parenthood but with other anti-life, anti-purity, anti-family organizations.

“There is a lot of material that is in direct contrast with a pure message and the sanctity of life and the sanctity of marriage,” she added. “Their CEO proudly admitted to partnering with Planned Parenthood in 2005, and the statement has never been retracted.”

Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood clinic director, also confirmed the connection between Girl Scouts and Planned Parenthood, stating that most of Planned Parenthood’s adolescent health material is sponsored by GSUSA.

“Girl Scouts’ support of radical, pro-abortion groups is in direct conflict of the Church’s teachings,” Tess told The Christian Post. “Abortion is the greatest injustice in our society today and we cannot stand with an organization that approves such a gross atrocity.”

“Also, by their endorsing of this issue through their printed material and their website, Girl Scouts is leading the young women that are involved with Girl Scouts directly to the doors of Planned Parenthood.”

Asking Tess how, at such a young age, both she and her sister were able to stand up for their beliefs, she shared, “Being devout Christians, determined to spread God’s truth, we got practice speaking out for what we believed in at a young age. I think the combination of our parents’ support, God’s urging to share His teachings with others, and the amazing, inspiring lessons of our church youth group have devoted us to our faith.”

Active members of the local parish and involved in the youth group at their church, both sisters commit themselves to turning their beliefs into action and “encourage others to stand up for the sanctity of life in a way that would truly make a difference.”

“We recently took our commitment to the pro-life movement to a new level by joining a local right-to-life group with whom we stand and pray with on the sidewalk of a Planned Parenthood,” Tess revealed to CP.

Though they have received various dismissive and negative comments from within the Girl Scouts organization, Tess affirmed, “This, while not particularly encouraging, will not deter us from spreading the truth.”

“We do our part by sharing the facts and leave the rest up to God.”

Challenging supporters to help share the truth about Girl Scouts with families everywhere, the sisters conclude with one question: “Are you ready to speak now?”
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« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2011, 10:27:06 AM »

The Failure of the Pizza and Video Game Gospel To Our Youth
christianitytoday.com


A few years ago I volunteered at an event put on by a national youth ministry.

The evening was fun but grueling. We bobbed for apples, captured flags, and raced eggs across the floor using only our noses. The games culminated with a frigid indignity: I laid on my back and let three giggling teenagers make an ice cream sundae on my face.

As I toweled chocolate syrup from my chin, a leader ordered the teens into a semicircle. It was time for the devotional, which included a gospel presentation—but it was a gospel presentation that made me want to stand up and scream.

"Being a Christian isn't hard," he told the group. "You won't lose your friends or be unpopular at school. Nothing will change. Your life will be the same, just better."

Maybe his words would have slipped by me if they hadn't been such blatant reversals of Jesus' own warnings about the offensiveness of his message or the inevitable hardships of following him.

I glanced at the teens. One was flicking Doritos chips at a friend. Others whispered to each other or stared at the floor. None of them seemed to be listening. And why should they? I wondered. Who cares about something that involves no adventure, no sacrifice, and no risk?

Unfortunately what I witnessed that night is hardly unique. Often ministries, especially youth ministries, are heavy on fun and light on faith. It's fired up entertainment and watered down gospel.

Amused to death

The entertainment emphasis can be traced at least a generation, and perhaps nowhere was the impact felt more profoundly than in youth programs. Instead of stressing confirmation of faith—youth ministry's original raison d'être—the focus shifted to attracting more and more kids to the ministry (which inevitably involved entertaining them). Not necessarily bad goals, but there were some ugly unintended consequences.

Today some youth ministries are almost devoid of religious education. They are "holding tanks with pizza," as church researcher Ed Stetzer has called them. Some use violent video game parties to attract students through the church doors on Friday nights.

Over the past year I've conducted dozens of interviews with 20-somethings who have walked away from their Christian faith. Among the most surprising findings was this: nearly all of these "leavers" reported having positive experiences in youth group. I recall my conversation with one young man who described his journey from evangelical to atheist. He had nothing but vitriol for the Christian beliefs of his childhood, but when I asked him about youth group, his voice lifted. "Oh, youth group was a blast! My youth pastor was a great guy."

I was confused. I asked Josh Riebock, a former youth pastor and author of mY Generation, to solve the riddle: if these young people had such a good time in youth group, why did they ditch their faith shortly after heading to college?

His response was simple. "Let's face it," he said. "There are a lot more fun things to do at college than eat pizza."

Good point.

If our strategy is to win young people's allegiance to church by offering better entertainment than the world, then we've picked a losing battle. Entertainment might get kids to church in their teens, but it certainly won't keep them there through their twenties.

And recent studies confirm that they're leaving in droves. The Barna Group estimates that 80 percent of those reared in the church will be "disengaged" by the time they are 29. Barna Group president David Kinnaman describes the reality in stark terms:

"Imagine a group photo of all the students who come to your church in a typical year. Take a big fat marker and cross out three out of every four faces. That's the probable toll of spiritual disengagement as students navigate the next two decades."

Most of us don't need a "big fat marker" to see this phenomenon play out. We've had a front row seat to the exodus.

Failure to form

In his book UnChristian, Kinnaman reports that 65 percent of all American young people report making a commitment to Jesus Christ at some point in their lives. Yet based on his surveys, Kinnaman concludes that only about 3 percent of these young adults have a biblical worldview.

Whether or not we accept Kinnaman's definition of what constitutes a biblical worldview, few would argue that anywhere near 65 percent of young adults in the U.S. could be described as active followers of Jesus. We may have done a good job of getting young people to sign a pledge or mutter a prayer, but a poor job of forming them into devoted disciples.

Perhaps we've settled for entertaining rather than developing followers of Jesus.

Of course there's nothing wrong with pizza and video games. The real problem is when they displace spiritual formation and teaching the Bible. And ultimately that's the greatest danger of being overly reliant on an entertainment model. It's not just that we can't compete with the world's amusements. It's not only that we get locked into a cycle of serving up ever-increasing measures of fun. Rather it's that we're distracted from doing the real work of youth ministry—fostering robust faith.

Jim Rayburn, the founder of Young Life, liked to say, "It's a sin to bore a kid with the gospel." A generation later, that philosophy morphed into an entertainment based gospel that has actually produced entertainment numbness and an avoidance of the gospel's harder teachings. Somehow we thought we could sweeten the gospel message for young people to make it easier for them to swallow, but it turns out that they're choking on our concoction.

In the end, pizza and video games don't transform lives. Young people are transformed by truth clearly presented. They're drawn to a cause to live and die for. In other words, they want the unvarnished gospel. When we present that gospel, with all its hard demands and radical implications, we'll be speaking the language they long to, and need to, hear.

Signs of life

I don't want to be too hard on youth pastors. I was one. I know how tough it is. Teenage attention spans are short. Pressure to get numbers up is constant. But it's possible to instill a more dynamic faith if we change our focus, even if that decision comes at the expense of our conventional metrics of "success."

Thankfully there are youth ministries trying to turn the tide. Faithbridge church in Houston, Texas, is one example. "We don't pour much effort into planning big hoorah events," says lead student pastor Dylan Lucas. "We're really focused on the Word and leadership training."

The ministry pairs small groups of five to seven teens with adult leaders, and then provides those leaders with intensive training. "We equip these leaders to teach. The youth pastor can't do it all," says Lucas.

Follow-up is another focus. "Our job doesn't end at graduation," Lucas says. "We call that 'Day One.'" Each graduate leaving for college receives a $10 Starbucks gift card with the following instructions: go find a spiritual mentor on campus to take out for coffee.

"We keep tabs on them," Lucas says. "We have relationships with their families, and we bring them back to help lead the next generation."

Of course not all graduates stay on the straight and narrow. "When we see someone go off, we don't ignore it," Lucas says. "You have to pick up the phone and make that awkward call."
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« Reply #11 on: May 28, 2011, 12:47:37 PM »

High School Students Flock to Public Bible Club 
cbn.com

School Bible clubs face many challenges these days, ranging from uninterested students to legal questions of whether such clubs are even constitutional.

But the Redbank Valley High School Bible Club in the small western Pennsylvania town of New Bethlehem certainly doesn't face such problems.

Two-thirds of the student body shows up for the 10:02 a.m. Monday weekly meetings. So many kids attend that students claim it is by far the world's largest Bible club in any public school.

The Key? Have Fun

Five years ago when they started, Club leaders hit on a wildly winning formula.

"Being a Christian is fun; it's the best way to go," Danielle Barlett, Bible Club vice president, recalled saying at the time. "So, let's bring some fun into the community."

Since then, these student leaders have spent thousands of hours across the years making sure the Monday meetings entertain and appeal to kids.

"It's not like going to church and just sitting there listening to a lesson. We get games and activities and videos," Bible Club president Ashley Reefer told CBN News

One of the highlights of the Bible Club is skits.

In one of them, the students created a lively, noisy game show where a contestant guessed the price paid for various products. The last "product" to appear was a fellow student, and it was revealed the price paid for him was the blood of Christ.

Communicating God's Love

The Redbank Valley High Bible Club always makes sure to present a loving message to the hundreds of students who throng to the meetings.

"Obviously God is the best person to cling to," Barlett said.

She then summed up the spiritual appeal of the Club's main message to students.

"I think when they're looking for something to cling to, and hey there's Somebody that loves you and Somebody who cares for you, that's the whole deal right there," she said.

"We've actually had some salvation lessons, and people have come to Christ through what we're teaching them," Reefer pointed out.

Maggie McCauley told CBN News about the day the Bible Club had real paramedics stage a rescue by rushing in the school to save a student.

McCauley, who was just 15 years old at the time, then gave a lesson.

"There are different ways that we can save lives physically, but the only way we can really save your life spiritually is by bringing you to God," she said during that lesson.

She then led a prayer for salvation, and to her astonishment, 43 hands went up.

"Kids in a high school accepting Christ in front of all their peers during the school day -- that doesn't happen anywhere else," she said.

McCauley believes public school is the perfect place for such happenings.

"Jesus calls us to go everywhere and to spread His word," she said. "And I know that public school is the best place because you're with all your friends and there's different cliques going on."

And if we can all come together as one and be the Body of Christ, that's an amazing thing," she said.

Coming to a School Near You?

Many Christian students feel they couldn't do something like this in their school. But the Redbank Valley High Bible Club members point out this their constitutional right.

Students have the freedom to talk about God and enjoy Him every day no matter where they are, and that includes school, they say.

The Club kids are careful, though, to make sure their meetings don't stray across any legal lines. For instance, no teacher or school official runs these religious gatherings, which might suggest state sponsorship.

"It's totally student-led and we do all the lessons ourselves and the prayers and everything like that," Reefer assured CBN News.

After a while, the Christian kids at Redbank decided what they had was working so well, they wanted to spread their model around.

They've been advising other schools on how to get started. To their delight, Bible Clubs are popping up in nearby communities.

"It's nice to see how the other schools who didn't think they could do it to begin with, now they are," said a jubilant Doug Gundlach, next year's Club president.

Club Bible Giveaway

Back in their own town, the Bible Club decided to really live up to their name by being a constant source of Bibles to all who need them.

Club members worked with others in the community and raised thousands of dollars to buy hundreds of Bibles that they pass out for free at their public school.

Club Treasurer Elena Kunselman has been keeping track.

"We've given out 300 Bibles to the students in the past couple of years," she said.

"You're walking down the hall and you see all these Bibles everywhere," Barlett marveled. "And it's a great thing to see in a public school."

"I pray that we can be a light to others and we can be a good witness," she said while leading prayer at a recent Bible Club meeting.

Bible Club Bursting at Seams

So far, that witness has led to tremendous growth. When the Club first started, it was just a tiny Fellowship for Christian Athletes meeting that gathered in a corner of advisor Joe Harmon's history and civics classroom.

So few students were coming, members decided to throw it open to the entire student body. And it began to grow by leaps and bounds.

Soon the Club had to move to the much bigger band room, then to the theater-sized auditorium.

"Now we're filling up over half of the auditorium," one student said.

Of the school's 600 students, 393 showed up for the Bible Club meeting that CBN News attended. It's grown so popular, it's now beginning to attract outside Christian talent to tiny New Bethlehem.

In April, the Bible Club put on an Open House for the entire community that featured the Christian comedy duo, The Skit Guys.

New Bethlehem has fewer than a thousand residents, but more than a thousand people showed up on a Monday night for the standing room only Open House.

Barlett isn't surprised at all this success.

"We're so loving. We're so accepting, and again, it's a small town so we're all friends, we're all family," she explained.

"And once you're talking to somebody and you're saying 'God's really doing some things in my life,' that catches their interest," she added. "And it just starts spreading."

"We know that it is the Spirit leading us," Reefer said. "And it's amazing what He's doing here at Redbank." 
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« Reply #12 on: May 28, 2011, 01:20:23 PM »

Physician accused of 'pushing religion' will fight reprimand

churchtimes.co.uk

A Christian general practitioner is fighting a reprimand from the General Medical Council (GMC) after he talked about God with a patient.

Dr Richard Scott, a partner in a medical centre in Margate, where all the doctors are Christian, saw the patient last year, at the request of the patient’s mother. At the end of the consultation, Dr Scott and the patient discussed religion. The patient has continued to seek treatment from the practice, but his mother filed a complaint, claiming that Dr Scott had tried to “push religion” on her son.

Dr Scott, a former missionary, then received a letter from the GMC threatening to put an official warn­ing on his file. He has refused to accept this, and has chosen to fight the case with support from the Christian Legal Centre and a human-rights barrister, Paul Diamond.

Dr Scott said: “I only discussed my faith at the end of a lengthy medical consultation, after explor­ing the various interventions that the patient had previously tried, and after promising to follow up the patient’s request appointment with other medical professionals.

“I only discussed mutual faith after obtaining the patient’s per­mission. In our conversation, I said that, personally, I had found having faith in Jesus helped me, and could help the patient. At no time did the patient indicate that they were offended, or that they wanted to stop the discussion. If that had been the case, I would have immedi­ately ended the conversation.

“This complaint was brought to the GMC not by the patient, who has continued to be a patient at this practice, but by the patient’s mother.”

The medical practice at which Dr Scott works is well known in the community for having Christian partners, and the NHS Choices website states that the practice is likely to discuss spiritual matters with patients during consultations.

Dr Scott worships at St Paul’s, Cliftonville, and says that he has shared his faith with thousands of patients over his 28 years in medi­cine. He said that he often invited people to Alpha courses at his church: out of eight he might invite, two might come, and one might have his or her life transformed as a result, he mentioned.

He said that the GMC’s accusation that he had harassed a vulnerable patient was “disgraceful”. “I offered a needy patient a way out of the situation.”

He has written articles in the past on whether GPs should evangelise. In one, he wrote: “Christian GPs are in a unique position to reach the lost in their local area. Sharing the gospel with patients is not an abuse of trust because God himself gives us the authority, and salvation is their greatest need.”

The chief executive of the Chris­tian Medical Fellowship, Peter Saunders, has backed Dr Scott’s case, and has accused the GMC of acting disproportionately. “Good doctors do not treat their patients solely as biological or biochemical machines.

“Rather, they practise ‘whole-person’ medicine that is not concerned solely with physical needs, but also addresses social, psychological, behavioural, and spiritual factors that may be contributing to a person’s illness.

“Here we have the case of a doctor who has talked to many patients about faith matters, and who has had only a very small handful of complaints. . .

“From the facts of the case as reported, it appears that the General Medical Council has acted with inappropriate and disproportionate force, and appears to have applied its very reasonable guidance in a selective and unbalanced way.”

The founder and director of the Christian Legal Centre, Andrea Minichiello Williams, called on the GMC to back Dr Scott, and not bow to “political or emotional pressure”. “He acted within their own guidelines, and his unblemished record should not be tarnished —even by a letter on his file.”
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