Recently the atheist organization, Freedom From Religion Foundation, sent a letter to a school board complaining about a before school Bible study group for first and second graders. The school, in Bartlett, Tennessee, shut down the club, causing outrage among parents. Dan Barker, spokesman for FFRF, said "Thereís a difference between free speech and government speech. When those teachers are at the school, they are the government. There are families who wish to protect their children from the depravity and the violence thatís in the Bible."
Mr. Barker does not speak for the majority. According to an analysis in 2010, there are 5.8 billion religiously affiliated adults and children around the globe, representing 84 percent of the 2010 world population of 6.9 billion. These people believe in some kind of supreme being. Atheists don't believe in any god. That would include our Judaeo - Christian God, Buddhist gods, Allah, the Hindu god and the Great Spirit. Presumably, Native American schools on reservations cannot teach tribal beliefs since teachers are government employees. Not to quibble, but public school teachers in the U.S. are employed by the state, not the Federal government.
Our Mr. Barker has evidently spent some time reading the Bible. One would assume that he had given equal time to the Quran, Buddhist and Hindu scriptures and the sacred texts of our indigenous people. And to complete the picture, his readings should include sorcery, astrology and devil worship or anything that smacks of the spirit world. As to organized religions, maybe he could find time for a trip to Saudi Arabia or Pakistan or Africa to enlighten them on the dangers of corrupting children with religious ideas or tribal customs. But alas, a visit to the FFRF website reveals that his focus is on America, which translates to anti-Christian.
According to Pew Research, atheists are only about 3% of the American population. There are another 20% who are agnostics, deists, and nonbelievers of various descriptions. Of the believers, Pew says only 21% pray every day. So chances are pretty good that you might be asked sometime why you believe the way you do. Peter tells us, "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." 1 Peter 3:15. Giving reasons for our faith (apologetics) is neither an option nor a late feature of the Christian faith. Rather, it is an essential element of the biblical Christian witness. Why are you a Christian? A simple question that needs only a simple answer. It might even be something you learned in the first or second grade. Like "Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so."
From Pastor Sandra
With the theme, "We Walk By Faith, Not By Sight," the SC Annual Conference will be held June 4-7 in Greenville. Annual Conference is a time when lay and clergy members gather for a multiday session to pray, worship, fellowship and ultimately decide the business of the UMC in this state. This yearís event will include a host of items, such as passing the 2018 conference budget; a vote on five constitutional amendments approved at the denominationís global General conference 2016 in Portland, Oregon; a vote on a least 7 resolutions on topics ranging from lynching to disaffiliation from the UMC; new health plan packages; ordination and licensing of new clergy; retirement and memorial services and more.
The resolutions are: Healing from the Legacy of Lynching
. This encourages every UMC in the state to have a ritual of forgiveness and reconciliation at the site of any lynchings in their community and place a memorial at this site. Resolution Against a Muslim Ban
: This calls on the conference to condemn profiling, stereotyping, persecution and/or banning of any person based on their race, ethnicity, religion or country of origin. Resolution Against the Dakota Access Pipeline, in Solidarity with Standing Rock:
This calls on the conference to reject the Dakota Access Pipeline as proposed. Resolution for the Realingment of the SC Conference of the UMC and Its Disaffiliation from the Structures of the UMC
: This calls for the Bishop to appoint a Task Force to disaffiliate the SC Conference from the UMC. Resolution Supporting, Recognizing and Honoring the Services of Law Enforcement Officers.
This calls for support for and solidarity with law enforcement agencies. Resolution to Oppose Human Trafficing and Help End Suicide and Homelessness among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Youth.
Among other things, this calls upon clergy to provide counseling and emotional and spiritual assistance to families of LGBTQ youth. Welcoming the Migrant in Our Midst
: This calls upon the conference to work toward eliminating racism and violence directed toward newly arriving migrants from all parts of the world.
The five amendments are:
- Proposed Amendment I: deals with wording of Para. 5 & 6 in the Book of Discipline, Division One regarding racial justice and adding gender justice.
- Proposed Amendment II: Changes Para 4, Article IV of Book of Discipline to modify gender equity language.
- Proposed Amendment III: Attempts to fix what the rationale calls "unduly vague" language about delegates to General Conference needing to be elected not appointed.
- Proposed Amendment IV: This add language about episcopal elections being held in the same manner for central conferences as in jurisdictions.
- Proposed Amendment V: This enables the Council of Bishops to hold its individual members accountable for their work.
This is taken entirely from the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, June, 2017, editor Jessica Brodie. For more information please contact The Advocate: