SOURCE www.cbsnews.com by REBECCA KAPLAN

Pope Francis wasn’t willing to advise Catholics on whether to vote for Donald Trump, but on the subject of his religious life, the pontiff suggested Trump is “not Christian,” if some of the things he’s said on immigration are true.

“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not of building bridges, is not Christian. This is not the gospel,” Francis told reporters traveling with him back to the Vatican at the conclusion of a trip to Cuba and Mexico.

It’s not the first time Trump and the Pope have criticized the other through the media. Francis was responding to a reporter who asked about Trump’s recent comments that Francis is “very political” and that Mexico was using him to convince the U.S. to leave its southern border unsecured.

“Thank God he said I was a politician because Aristotle defined the human person as ‘animal politicus.’ So at least I am a human person,” Francis said. “As to whether I am a pawn, well, maybe, I don’t know. I’ll leave that up to your judgment and that of the people.”

While Trump has promised to build a wall on the Mexican border (and get Mexico to pay for it) and called Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals, Francis has openly shown support for migrants who have died trying to reach the U.S. During his trip, he walked along the U.S.-Mexico border fenceand said immigration is spurred by a “humanitarian crisis” at a mass in Juarez, just 50 years from the U.S. border.

The reporter also asked whether American Catholics should vote for someone like Trump.

“I am not going to get involved in that,” he said. “I say only that this man is not Christian if he has said things like that. We must see if he said things in that way and I will give him the benefit of the doubt.”

Just before the pope’s comments were made public, Trump had some nice things to say about him – even regarding his position on immigration.

“I heard the pope and I respect the pope and I love the pope in many ways. I love what he stands for and I like his attitude. He’s very independent and he’s very different,” he said in an interview on SiriusXM and Breitbart News Daily. “I really respect the fact that he sees both sides. You know a lot of people are inflexible – they won’t change.”

In the past, Trump has criticized the Pope for being “not Pope-like” by waiting to pay his own bill at the front desk of a hotel, but has otherwise been complimentary of the Holy See. In fact, he said Francis would be his first pick for his reality show, “Celebrity Apprentice,” if the person was guaranteed to say yes.

Christians Cringe at Donald Trump’s Sexy Past

Trump’s numbers with Evangelicals are up—but not all of them are singing his praises.

Evangelical Christians, at the moment, are totally enamored with a candidate who has profited off strip clubs, cheated on his wife, and appeared on the cover of the nation’s pre-eminent porn magazine.

And to top it off, Jerry Falwell Jr.—the heir of the Moral Majority mantle—just endorsed him.

There’s plenty of explanations for conservative Christians’ Trump-lovin’ ways, and recent polling shows he’s these voters’ favorite (a new NBC poll shows him with the most support of white Evangelical Republican voters, 37 percent).

But this trend has many Evangelical leaders irate, perplexed, and hankering for some below-the-belt attacks on Trump. The time for policy analysis is over, they say—now it’s about to get Biblical, Falwell be damned.

Minutes after The Washington Post broke news of the Liberty University president’s endorsement, Russell Moore, a powerful Southern Baptist leader, subtweeted Falwell with a link to the Southern Baptist Convention’s 1998 “Resolution on Moral Character of Public Officials.”

“[W]e urge all Americans to embrace and act on the conviction that character does count in public office, and to elect those officials and candidates who, although imperfect, demonstrate consistent honesty, moral purity and the highest character,” the statement reads.

Some Evangelical leaders hope Trump’s moral character will get a little more attention in the coming days. When it comes to the mogul, there’s a ton of material to work with—and attacks like these have worked before. Allegations of sexual harassment tanked Herman Cain’s insurgent-style campaign, and a scurrilous (and untrue) whisper campaign about an affair likely played a role in John McCain’s loss to George W. Bush in 2000. The fact that Ronald Reagan got divorced even once gave many conservative primary voters pause when he first telegraphed his presidential ambitions. And to this day, most Republican presidential contenders act like caucus-goers are voting for the winner of a Bible verse memorization contest.

trump-the-sinnerSo far, Trump’s top foes have largely steered clear of attacking him based on his sexcapades and scandals. Even while he and Rubio lob birther-esque attacks at Ted Cruz for being born in Canada, Trump has evaded any hard-hitting criticism for his multiple marriages, casino ownership, and appearance on the cover of Playboy magazine.

A series of tweets from Sen. Ben Sasse, a freshman Republican from Nebraska, may suggest that the days of giving Trump a pass over his New York-values personal life are over.

“You brag abt many affairs w/ married women,” the senator tweeted on Jan. 24, addressing Trump. “Have you repented? To harmed children & spouses? Do you think it matters?”

In The Art of the Deal, Trump boasted about bedding other men’s wives.

“If I told the real stories of my experiences with women, often seemingly very happily married and important women, this book would be a guaranteed best-seller,” he wrote.

Republican voters have forgiven a host of candidates for marital lapses. The process of sin, forgiveness, and redemption is an integral part of conservative Christian faith. Remember George W. Bush’s D.U.I.? Neither do Evangelical Christians—because he repented in a way they found authentic and sincere. But Trump has given zero indication that he’s sorry about his homewrecking ways. In fact, quite the contrary. The fact that at every stump speech, Trump boasts about a book wherein he boasts about sleeping with married women is—well, it’s the kind of thing that history suggests would give Iowa Republicans pause.

But, for whatever reason, Trump’s critics and questioners—Sasse exempted—have largely given him a pass on this. And many social conservatives are over it.

PLAYBOYThe fact that Trump-branded casinos have strip clubs is particularly troubling to some, including Penny Nance, who heads Concerned Women for America.

“I think respect for women is very important, and the idea that he profited from strippers and from exploiting women we find very disturbing,” she said.

In August of 2013, the struggling Trump Taj Mahal casino became the first casino in Atlantic City, N.J., to have an in-house strip club. Trump no longer operates that casino himself, but 2014 bankruptcy filings reported by The Wall Street Journal showed he held a 5 percent stake in the stock of the company that manages it, Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc.

“The seedy underworld of strip joints and sex trafficking and prostitution are often connected, and the idea that Donald profited from the exploitation of women directly is very discouraging to me,” said Nance. “It’s a serious issue. I’m not kidding.”

And Jeff Kubler, who heads the Oregon chapter of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, said Trump’s appearance on the March 1990 cover of Playboy—next to a model wearing only his tuxedo jacket—should cause him problems with Evangelical Christian voters.

“Obviously he wasn’t exhibiting,” Kubler said. “He was just on there as a businessman—he must have done an interview or something—but that he did such a thing—it’s something I wouldn’t have done.”

“There are a number of candidates who have really strong Christian testimonies, and I don’t think Donald Trump really has one,” he added.

TRUMPThere may be a reason Evangelicals aren’t up in arms about his appearance on the cover of a magazine famous for nude pics.

“I would hope that many of them wouldn’t know a thing like that, except secondhand,” said Colin Hanna, president of Let Freedom Ring USA.

“Why wouldn’t it come up in a debate, come up as a news item, and let him be called to task for it with 20 million people watching,” Hanna continued, of Trump’s infidelities. “It gets at the very matter of character, of sin, of forgiveness. A mature conservative Evangelical Christian should not hold confessed sin against someone, but unconfessed sin should be a problem—a theological problem. And unadmitted sin is sort of a step beyond unconfessed sin, isn’t it?”

Trump has even indicated that he thinks the fact that he cheated on his first wife, Ivanka, is fair game for his opponents. But so far, none have bitten. And that has some social conservatives—including John Stemberger, who heads the Florida Family Policy Council—irked.

“The great Bible says many many times, ‘Do not be deceived,’ over and over again, Old and New Testament,” Stemberger said. “And he’s deceiving us.”


Pledge of Allegiance of the United States: History of “Under God” – NO, it wasn’t always part of US pledge!


Have you noticed how students were required to salute the flag, similar to Hitler’s salute?


NO, it wasn’t always part of the US pledge!

The Pledge of Allegiance of the United States is an expression of allegiance to the Flag of the United States and the republic of the United States of America, originally composed by Colonel George Balch in 1887, later revised by Francis Bellamy in 1892 and formally adopted by Congress as the pledge in 1942. The official name of The Pledge of Allegiance was adopted in 1945. The last change in language came on Flag Day 1954 when the words “under God” were added.

Congressional sessions open with the recital of the Pledge, as do many government meetings at local levels, and meetings held by many private organizations. It is also commonly recited in school at the beginning of every school day, although the Supreme Court has ruled in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette that students cannot be compelled to recite the Pledge, nor can they be punished for not doing so.

According to the United States Flag Code, the current Pledge of Allegiance reads:

I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

According to the Flag Code, the Pledge “should be rendered by standing at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. When not in uniform, men should remove any non-religious headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Persons in uniform should remain silent, face the flag, and render the military salute.”

A number of states, including Ohio and Texas, have adopted state flag pledges of allegiance to be recited after this.


Balch and Bellamy pledges

The Pledge of Allegiance, as it exists in its current form, was originally composed in August 1892 by Francis Bellamy (1855–1931), who was a Baptistminister, a Christian socialist, and the cousin of socialist utopian novelist Edward Bellamy (1850–1898). However, there existed a previous version created by Colonel George Balch, a veteran of the Civil War who went on to become auditor of the New York Board of Education. Blach’s pledge, which existed parallel to the Bellamy version until the 1923 National Flag Conference, read:

We give our heads and hearts to God and our country; one country, one language, one flag!

Balch was a proponent of teaching children, especially those of immigrants, loyalty to the United States, even going so far as to write a book on the subject and work with both the government and private organizations to distribute flags to every classroom and school. Balch’s pledge, which predates Bellamy’s by 5 years, and was embraced by many schools, the Daughter’s of the American Revolution until the 1910s, and the Grand Army of the Republic until the 1923 National Flag Conference, is often overlooked when discussing the history of the Pledge.  Bellamy, however, did not approve of the pledge as Balch had written it, referring to the text as “too juvenile and lacking in dignity.” The Bellamy “Pledge of Allegiance” was first published in the September 8 issue of the popular children’s magazine The Youth’s Companion as part of the National Public-School Celebration of Columbus Day, a celebration of the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus‘s arrival in the Americas. The event was conceived and promoted by James B. Upham, a marketer for the magazine, as a campaign to instill the idea of American nationalism in students and sell flags to public schools. According to author Margarette S. Miller, this was in line with Upham’s vision which he “would often say to his wife: ‘Mary, if I can instill into the minds of our American youth a love for their country and the principles on which it was founded, and create in them an ambition to carry on with the ideals which the early founders wrote into The Constitution, I shall not have lived in vain.'”

Bellamy’s original Pledge read:

I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Students swearing the Pledge on Flag Day in 1899

 The Pledge was supposed to be quick and to the point. Bellamy designed it to be recited in 15 seconds. As a socialist, he had initially also considered using the words equality and fraternity but decided against it – knowing that the state superintendents of education on his committee were against equality for women and African Americans.

Francis Bellamy and Upham had lined up the National Education Association to support the “Youth’s Companion” as a sponsor of the Columbus Day observance along with the use of the American flag. By June 29, 1892, Bellamy and Upham had arranged for Congress and President Benjamin Harrison to announce a proclamation making the public school flag ceremony the center of the Columbus Day celebrations (this was issued as Presidential Proclamation 335). Subsequently, the Pledge was first used in public schools on October 12, 1892, during Columbus Day observances organized to coincide with the opening of the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois.

Bellamy’s account

In Francis Bellamy’s recollection of the creation of the Pledge, he recalled “At the beginning of the nineties patriotism and national feeling was at a low ebb. The patriotic ardor of the Civil War was an old story … The time was ripe for a reawakening of simple Americanism and the leaders in the new movement rightly felt that patriotic education should begin in the public schools.” James Upham “felt that a flag should be on every schoolhouse”, so the publication “fostered a plan of selling flags to schools through the children themselves at cost, which was so successful that 25,000 schools acquired flags in first year.”

As the World’s Columbian Exposition, also known as the Chicago World’s Fair, was set to celebrate the 400th anniversary the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Americas, Upham sought to link the publication’s drive to the event, “so that every school in the land … would have a flag raising, under the most impressive conditions.” Bellamy was placed in charge of this operation and was soon lobbying “not only the superintendents of education in all the States, but also worked with governors, Congressmen, and even the President of the United States.”[13] The publication’s efforts paid off when Benjamin Harrison declared Wednesday October 12, 1892, to be Columbus Day for which The Youth’s Companion made “an official program for universal use in all the schools.” Bellamy recalled that the event “had to be more than a list of exercises. The ritual must be prepared with simplicity and dignity.”


History of ‘In God We Trust’

Edna Dean Proctor wrote an ode for the event and “There was also an oration suitable for declamation.” Bellamy held “Of course, the nub of the program was to be the raising of the flag, with a salute to the flag recited by the pupils in unison.” He found “There was not a satisfactory enough form for this salute. The Balch salute which ran ‘I give my heart and my hand to my country, one country, one language, one flag.’ seemed too juvenile and lacking in dignity.” After working on the idea with Upham, Bellamy concluded “It was my thought that a vow of loyalty or allegiance to the flag should be the dominant idea. I especially stressed the word ‘allegiance.’ … Beginning with the new word allegiance, I first decided that ‘pledge’ was a better school word than ‘vow’ or ‘swear’; and that the first person singular should be used, and that ‘my’ flag was preferable to ‘the.'” Bellamy considered the words “country, nation, or Republic”, choosing the last as “it distinguished the form of government chosen by the founding fathers and established by the Revolution. The true reason for allegiance to the flag is the Republic for which it stands.” Bellamy then reflected on the sayings of Revolutionary and Civil War figures, and concluded “all that pictured struggle reduced itself to three words, one Nation indivisible.”

Bellamy considered the slogan of the French RevolutionLiberté, égalité, fraternité (“liberty, equality, fraternity”), but held that “fraternity was too remote of realization, and as equality was a dubious word.” Concluding “Liberty and justice were surely basic, were undebatable, and were all that any one Nation could handle. If they were exercised for all they involved the spirit of equality and fraternity.”

After being reviewed by Upham and other members of The Youth’s Companion, the Pledge was approved and put in the official Columbus Day program. Bellamy noted that, “In later years the words ‘to my flag’ were changed to ‘to the flag of the United States of America’ because of the large number of foreign children in the schools.” Bellamy disliked the change, as “it did injure the rhythmic balance of the original composition.”


A plaque, dated 1918, listing the Balch Pledge, which was used parallel to the Bellamy Pledge until the National Flag Conference in 1923.

In 1906, The Daughters of the American Revolution’s Magazine, The American Monthly, list the “formula of allegiance” as being the Balch Pledge of Allegiance, which reads:

I pledge allegiance to my flag, and the republic for which it stands. I pledge my head and my heart to God and my country. One country, one language and one flag.

In subsequent publication’s of the Daughters of the American Revolution, such as in 1915’s “Proceedings of the Twenty-Fourth Continental Congress of the Daughters of the American Revolution” and 1916’s annual “National Report” , the Balch Pledge, listed as official in 1906, is now categorized as “Old Pledge” with Bellamy’s version under the heading “New Pledge.” However, the “Old Pledge” would continued to be used by other organizations until the National Flag Conference established uniform flag procedures in 1923.

In 1923, the National Flag Conference called for the words “my Flag” to be changed to “the Flag of the United States”, so that new immigrants would not confuse loyalties between their birth countries and the United States. The words “of America” were added a year later. The United States Congress officially recognized the Pledge for the first time, in the following form, on June 22, 1942:

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Addition of “under God”

“Under God” redirects here. For the book, see Under God (book).

Louis Albert Bowman, an attorney from Illinois, was the first to initiate the addition of “under God” to the Pledge. The National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution gave him an Award of Merit as the originator of this idea. He spent his adult life in the Chicago area and was Chaplain of the Illinois Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. At a meeting on February 12, 1948, Lincoln’s Birthday, he led the Society in swearing the Pledge with two words added, “under God.” He stated that the words came from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Though not all manuscript versions of the Gettysburg Address contain the words “under God”, all the reporters’ transcripts of the speech as delivered do, as perhaps Lincoln may have deviated from his prepared text and inserted the phrase when he said “that the nation shall, under God, have a new birth of freedom.” Bowman repeated his revised version of the Pledge at other meetings.

In 1951, the Knights of Columbus, the world’s largest Catholic fraternal service organization, also began including the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. In New York City, on April 30, 1951, the Board of Directors of the Knights of Columbus adopted a resolution to amend the text of their Pledge of Allegiance at the opening of each of the meetings of the 800 Fourth Degree Assemblies of the Knights of Columbus by addition of the words “under God” after the words “one nation.” Over the next two years, the idea spread throughout Knights of Columbus organizations nationwide. On August 21, 1952, the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus at its annual meeting adopted a resolution urging that the change be made universal and copies of this resolution were sent to the President, the Vice President (as Presiding Officer of the Senate) and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The National Fraternal Congress meeting in Boston on September 24, 1952, adopted a similar resolution upon the recommendation of its president, Supreme Knight Luke E. Hart. Several State Fraternal Congresses acted likewise almost immediately thereafter. This campaign led to several official attempts to prompt Congress to adopt the Knights of Columbus’ policy for the entire nation. These attempts were eventually a success.

In 1952, Susan Anald wrote a letter to President Truman suggesting the inclusion of “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. Mr. Langmack was a Danish philosopher and educator who came to the United States in 1911. He was one of the originators of the Prayer Breakfast and a religious leader in Washington, D.C. President Truman met with him along with several others to discuss the inclusion of “under God” just before “with liberty and justice”.[citation needed]

At the suggestion of a correspondent, Representative Louis C. Rabaut (DMich.), of Michigan sponsored a resolution to add the words “under God” to the Pledge in 1953.

Rev. Dr. George MacPherson Docherty (left) and President Eisenhower (second from left) on the morning of February 7, 1954, at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church

Prior to February 1954, no endeavor to get the Pledge officially amended succeeded. The final successful push came from George MacPherson Docherty. Some American presidents honored Lincoln’s birthday by attending services at the church Lincoln attended, New York Avenue Presbyterian Church by sitting in Lincoln’s pew on the Sunday nearest February 12. On February 7, 1954, with President Eisenhower sitting in Lincoln’s pew, the church’s pastor, George MacPherson Docherty, delivered a sermon based on the Gettysburg Address titled “A New Birth of Freedom.” He argued that the nation’s might lay not in arms but its spirit and higher purpose. He noted that the Pledge’s sentiments could be those of any nation, that “there was something missing in the pledge, and that which was missing was the characteristic and definitive factor in the American way of life.” He cited Lincoln’s words “under God” as defining words that set the United States apart from other nations.

President Eisenhower had been baptized a Presbyterian very recently, just a year before. He responded enthusiastically to Docherty in a conversation following the service. Eisenhower acted on his suggestion the next day and on February 8, 1954, Rep. Charles Oakman (RMich.), introduced a bill to that effect. Congress passed the necessary legislation and Eisenhower signed the bill into law on Flag Day, June 14, 1954. Eisenhower stated “From this day forward, the millions of our school children will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural school house, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty…. In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource, in peace or in war.”

The phrase “under God” was incorporated into the Pledge of Allegiance on June 14, 1954, by a Joint Resolution of Congress amending § 4 of the Flag Code enacted in 1942.

On October 6, 1954, the National Executive Committee of the American Legion adopted a resolution, first approved by the Illinois American Legion Convention in August 1954, which formally recognized the Knights of Columbus for having initiated and brought forward the amendment to the Pledge of Allegiance.

Author Kevin Kruse asserts that the underlying movement behind inserting “under God” into the pledge was an effort by corporate America, despite being initiated by a private Religious Fraternity and references to God existing in previous versions of the pledge, to instill in the minds of the people that capitalism and free enterprise were heavenly blessed. Kruse acknowledges the insertion of the phrase was influenced by the push-back against atheistic communism during the Cold War, but argues the longer arc of history shows the conflation of Christianity and capitalism as a challenge to the New Dealplayed the larger role.


Students pledging to the flag with the Bellamy salute circa 1941.

Swearing of the Pledge is accompanied by a salute. An early version of the salute, adopted in 1887, known as the Balch Salute, (Which accompanied the Balch pledge) instructed students to stand with their right hand outstretched toward the flag, the fingers of which are then brought to the forehead, followed by being placed flat over the heart, and finally falls to the side.

In 1892, Francis Bellamy created what was known as the Bellamy salute. It started with the hand outstretched toward the flag, palm down, and ended with the palm up. Because of the similarity between the Bellamy salute and the Nazi salute, developed later, the United States Congress instituted the hand-over-the-heart gesture as the salute to be rendered by civilians during the Pledge of Allegiance and the national anthem in the United States, instead of the Bellamy salute. Removal of the Bellamy salute occurred on December 22, 1942, when Congress amended the Flag Code language first passed into law on June 22, 1942. Attached to bills passed in Congress in 2008 and then in 2009 (Section 301(b)(1)of title 36, United States Code) language was included which authorized all active duty military personnel and all veterans in civilian clothes to render a proper hand salute during the raising and lowering of the flag, when the colors are presented and during the National Anthem.


In 1940, the Supreme Court, in Minersville School District v. Gobitis, ruled that students in public schools, including the respondents in that case, Jehovah’s Witnesses who considered the flag salute to be idolatry, could be compelled to swear the Pledge. A rash of mob violence and intimidation against Jehovah’s Witnesses followed the ruling. In 1943, in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette the Supreme Court reversed its decision. Justice Robert H. Jackson writing for the 6 to 3 majority went beyond ruling that public school students are not required to say the Pledge on narrow grounds, but asserted that such ideological dogma is antithetical to the principles of the country, concluding with:

If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.

In a later case, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals held that students are also not required to stand for the Pledge.

First graders of Japanese ancestry pledging allegiance to the American flag (photo by Dorothea Lange)

Requiring or promoting of the Pledge on the part of the government has drawn criticism and legal challenges on several grounds.

One objection states that a democratic republic built on freedom of dissent should not require its citizens to pledge allegiance to it, and that the First Amendment to the United States Constitution protects one’s right to refrain from speaking or standing (also a form of speech). Another objection lies in the fact that the people who are most likely to recite the Pledge every day, small children in schools, cannot really give their consent or even completely understand the Pledge they are taking.

Many objections have been raised since the addition of the phrase “under God” to the Pledge in 1954. Critics contend that a government requiring or promoting this phrase violates protections against the establishment of religion guaranteed in the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

In 2004, linguist Geoffrey Nunberg criticized the addition of “under God” for a different reason. The original supporters of the addition thought that they were simply quoting Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. However, Nunberg said that to Lincoln and his contemporaries, “under God” meant “God willing” and they would have found its use in the Pledge of Allegiance ungrammatical.

Legal challenges

Prominent legal challenges were brought in the 1930s and 1940s by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, a group whose beliefs preclude swearing loyalty to any power other than God, and who objected to policies in public schools requiring students to swear an oath to the flag. They objected on the grounds that their rights to freedom of religion as guaranteed by the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment were being violated by such requirements. The first case was in 1935, when two children, Lillian and William Gobitis, ages ten and twelve, were expelled from the Minersville, Pennsylvania, public schools in 1935 for failing to salute the flag and recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

In a 2002 case brought by atheist Michael Newdow, whose daughter was being taught the Pledge in school, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the phrase “under God” an unconstitutional endorsement of monotheism when the Pledge was promoted in public school. In 2004, the Supreme Court heard Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow, an appeal of the ruling, and rejected Newdow’s claim on the grounds that he was not the custodial parent, and therefore lacked standing, thus avoiding ruling on the merits of whether the phrase was constitutional in a school-sponsored recitation. On January 3, 2005, a new suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California on behalf of three unnamed families. On September 14, 2005, District Court Judge Lawrence Karlton ruled in their favor. Citing the precedent of the 2002 ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Karlton issued an Order stating that, upon proper motion, he would enjoin the school district defendants from continuing their practices of leading children in pledging allegiance to “one Nation under God”.

bill, H.R. 2389, was introduced in Congress in 2005 which, if enacted into law, would have stripped the Supreme Court and most federal courts of the power to consider any legal challenges to government requiring or promoting of the Pledge of Allegiance. H.R. 2389 was passed by the House of Representatives in July 2006, but failed after the Senate did not take up the bill. This action is viewed in general as court stripping by Congress over the Judiciary. Even if a similar bill is enacted, its practical effect may not be clear: proponents of the bill have argued that it is a valid exercise of Congress’s power to regulate the jurisdiction of the federal courts under Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution, but opponents question whether Congress has the authority to prevent the Supreme Court from hearing claims based on the Bill of Rights (since amendments postdate the original text of the Constitution and may thus implicitly limit the scope of Article III, Section 2). Judges and legal analysts have voiced concerns that Congress can strip or remove from the judicial branch the ability to determine if legislation is constitutional.

Mark J. Pelavin, former Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, objected to court stripping in regard to the Pledge of Allegiance, “Today’s House adoption of the so-called “Pledge Protection Act” is a shameful effort to strip our federal courts of their ability to uphold the rights of all Americans. By removing the jurisdiction of federal courts, including the Supreme Court, from cases involving the Pledge, this legislation sets a dangerous precedent: threatening religious liberty, compromising the vital system of checks and balances upon which our government was founded, and granting Congress the authority to strip the courts’ jurisdiction on any issue it wishes. Today, the issue was the Pledge of Allegiance, but tomorrow it could be reproductive rights, civil rights, or any other fundamental concern.”

In 2006, in the Florida case Frazier v. Alexandre, a federal district court in Florida ruled that a 1942 state law requiring students to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. As a result of that decision, a Florida school district was ordered to pay $32,500 to a student who chose not to say the pledge and was ridiculed and called “unpatriotic” by a teacher.

In 2009, a Montgomery County, Maryland, teacher berated and had school police remove a 13-year-old girl who refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance in the classroom. The student’s mother, assisted by the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, sought and received an apology from the teacher, as state law and the school’s student handbook both prohibit students from being forced to recite the Pledge.

On March 11, 2010, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance in the case of Newdow v. Rio Linda Union School District. In a 2–1 decision, the appellate court ruled that the words were of a “ceremonial and patriotic nature” and did not constitute an establishment of religion. Judge Stephen Reinhardt dissented, writing that “the state-directed, teacher-led daily recitation in public schools of the amended ‘under God’ version of the Pledge of Allegiance… violates the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.”

On November 12, 2010, in a unanimous decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston affirmed a ruling by a New Hampshire lower federal court which found that the pledge’s reference to God does not violate non-pledging students’ rights if student participation in the pledge is voluntary. A United States Supreme Court appeal of this decision was denied on June 13, 2011.

All states except four (HawaiiIowaVermont and Wyoming) give time for the pledge to be recited as part of the school day.

In September 2013, a case was brought before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, arguing that the pledge violates the Equal Rights Amendment of the Constitution of Massachusetts. In May 2014, Massachusetts’ highest court ruled that the pledge does not discriminate against atheists, saying that the words “under God” represent a patriotic, not a religious, exercise.

Biblical Evidence Shows Jesus Christ Wasn’t Born on Dec. 25


History convincingly shows that Dec. 25 was popularized as the date for Christmas, not because Christ was born on that day but because it was already popular in pagan religious celebrations as the birthday of the sun.

But is it possible that December 25 could be the day of Christ’s birth?

“Lacking any scriptural pointers to Jesus’s birthday, early Christian teachers suggested dates all over the calendar. Clement… picked November 18. Hippolytus … figured Christ must have been born on a Wednesday … An anonymous document[,] believed to have been written in North Africa around A.D. 243, placed Jesus’s birth on March 28” (Jeffery Sheler, U.S. News & World Report, “In Search of Christmas,” Dec. 23, 1996, p. 58).

The biblical accounts point to the fall of the year as the most likely time of Jesus’ birth.

A careful analysis of Scripture, however, clearly indicates that Dec. 25 is an unlikely date for Christ’s birth. Here are two primary reasons:

First, we know that shepherds were in the fields watching their flocks at the time of Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:7-8).

jesus-birthShepherds were not in the fields during December. According to Celebrations: The Complete Book of American Holidays, Luke’s account “suggests that Jesus may have been born in summer or early fall. Since December is cold and rainy in Judea, it is likely the shepherds would have sought shelter for their flocks at night” (p. 309).

Similarly, The Interpreter’s One-Volume Commentary says this passage argues “against the birth [of Christ] occurring on Dec. 25 since the weather would not have permitted” shepherds watching over their flocks in the fields at night.

Second, Jesus’ parents came to Bethlehem to register in a Roman census (Luke 2:1-4).

Such censuses were not taken in winter, when temperatures often dropped below freezing and roads were in poor condition. Taking a census under such conditions would have been self-defeating.

Given the difficulties and the desire to bring pagans into Christianity, “the important fact then … to get clearly into your head is that the fixing of the date as December 25th was a compromise with paganism” (William Walsh, The Story of Santa Klaus, 1970, p. 62).

If Jesus Christ wasn’t born on December 25, does the Bible indicate when He was born?

The biblical accounts point to the fall of the year as the most likely time of Jesus’ birth, based on the conception and birth of John the Baptist.

Since Elizabeth (John’s mother) was in her sixth month of pregnancy when Jesus was conceived (Luke 1:24-36), we can determine the approximate time of year Jesus was born if we know when John was born. John’s father, Zacharias, was a priest serving in the Jerusalem temple during the course of Abijah (Luke 1:5). Historical calculations indicate this course of service corresponded to June 13-19 in that year (The Companion Bible, 1974, Appendix 179, p. 200).

It was during this time of temple service that Zacharias learned that he and his wife Elizabeth would have a child (Luke 1:8-13). After he completed his service and traveled home, Elizabeth conceived (Luke 1:23-24). Assuming John’s conception took place near the end of June, adding nine months brings us to the end of March as the most likely time for John’s birth. Adding another six months (the difference in ages between John and Jesus) brings us to the end of September as the likely time of Jesus’ birth.


Money: History of ‘In God We Trust’: NO, it wasn’t always on our money!



Those words do NOT belong on US currency

History of ‘In God We Trust’


Dear Sir: You are about to submit your annual report to the Congress respecting the affairs of the national finances.One fact touching our currency has hitherto been seriously overlooked. I mean the recognition of the Almighty God in some form on our coins.

You are probably a Christian. What if our Republic were not shattered beyond reconstruction? Would not the antiquaries of succeeding centuries rightly reason from our past that we were a heathen nation? What I propose is that instead of the goddess of liberty we shall have next inside the 13 stars a ring inscribed with the words PERPETUAL UNION; within the ring the allseeing eye, crowned with a halo; beneath this eye the American flag, bearing in its field stars equal to the number of the States united; in the folds of the bars the words GOD, LIBERTY, LAW.

This would make a beautiful coin, to which no possible citizen could object. This would relieve us from the ignominy of heathenism. This would place us openly under the Divine protection we have personally claimed. From my hearth I have felt our national shame in disowning God as not the least of our present national disasters.

To you first I address a subject that must be agitated.

As a result, Secretary Chase instructed James Pollock, Director of the Mint at Philadelphia, to prepare a motto, in a letter dated November 20, 1861:

Dear Sir: No nation can be strong except in the strength of God, or safe except in His defense. The trust of our people in God should be declared on our national coins.You will cause a device to be prepared without unnecessary delay with a motto expressing in the fewest and tersest words possible this national recognition.

It was found that the Act of Congress dated January 18, 1837, prescribed the mottoes and devices that should be placed upon the coins of the United States. This meant that the mint could make no changes without the enactment of additional legislation by the Congress. In December 1863, the Director of the Mint submitted designs for new one-cent cointwo-cent coin, and three-cent coin to Secretary Chase for approval. He proposed that upon the designs either OUR COUNTRY; OUR GOD or GOD, OUR TRUST should appear as a motto on the coins. In a letter to the Mint Director on December 9, 1863, Secretary Chase stated:

I approve your mottoes, only suggesting that on that with the Washington obverse the motto should begin with the word OUR, so as to read OUR GOD AND OUR COUNTRY. And on that with the shield, it should be changed so as to read: IN GOD WE TRUST.

Pledge of Allegiance of the United States: History of "Under God" - NO, it wasn’t always part of US pledge! CLICK IMAGE TO READ FULL ARTICLE

Pledge of Allegiance of the United States: History of “Under God” – NO, it wasn’t always part of US pledge!

The Congress passed the Act of April 22, 1864. This legislation changed the composition of the one-cent coin and authorized the minting of the two-cent coin. The Mint Director was directed to develop the designs for these coins for final approval of the Secretary. IN GOD WE TRUST first appeared on the 1864 two-cent coin.

Another Act of Congress passed on March 3, 1865. It allowed the Mint Director, with the Secretary’s approval, to place the motto on all gold and silver coins that “shall admit the inscription thereon.” Under the Act, the motto was placed on the gold double-eagle coin, the gold eagle coin, and the gold half-eagle coin. It was also placed on the silver dollar coin, the half-dollar coin and the quarter-dollar coin, and on the nickel three-cent coin beginning in 1866. Later, Congress passed the Coinage Act of February 12, 1873. It also said that the Secretary “may cause the motto IN GOD WE TRUST to be inscribed on such coins as shall admit of such motto.”

The use of IN GOD WE TRUST has not been uninterrupted. The motto disappeared from the five-cent coin in 1883, and did not reappear until production of the Jefferson nickel began in 1938. Since 1938, all United States coins bear the inscription. Later, the motto was found missing from the new design of the double-eagle gold coin and the eagle gold coinshortly after they appeared in 1907. In response to a general demand, Congress ordered it restored, and the Act of May 18, 1908, made it mandatory on all coins upon which it had previously appeared. IN GOD WE TRUST was not mandatory on the one-cent coin and five-cent coin. It could be placed on them by the Secretary or the Mint Director with the Secretary’s approval.

The motto has been in continuous use on the one-cent coin since 1909, and on the ten-cent coin since 1916. It also has appeared on all gold coins and silver dollar coinshalf-dollar coins, and quarter-dollar coins struck since July 1, 1908.

A law passed by the 84th Congress (P.L. 84-140) and approved by the President on July 30, 1956, the President approved a Joint Resolution of the 84th Congress, declaring IN GOD WE TRUST the national motto of the United States. IN GOD WE TRUST was first used on paper money in 1957, when it appeared on the one-dollar silver certificate. The first paper currency bearing the motto entered circulation on October 1, 1957. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) was converting to the dry intaglio printing process. During this conversion, it gradually included IN GOD WE TRUST in the back design of all classes and denominations of currency.

As a part of a comprehensive modernization program the BEP successfully developed and installed new high-speed rotary intaglio printing presses in 1957. These allowed BEP to print currency by the dry intaglio process, 32 notes to the sheet. One-dollar silver certificateswere the first denomination printed on the new high-speed presses. They included IN GOD WE TRUST as part of the reverse design as BEP adopted new dies according to the law. The motto also appeared on one-dollar silver certificates of the 1957-A and 1957-B series.

BEP prints United States paper currency by an intaglio process from engraved plates. It was necessary, therefore, to engrave the motto into the printing plates as a part of the basic engraved design to give it the prominence it deserved.

One-dollar silver certificates series 1935, 1935-A, 1935-B, 1935-C, 1935-D, 1935-E, 1935-F, 1935-G, and 1935-H were all printed on the older flat-bed presses by the wet intaglio process. P.L. 84-140 recognized that an enormous expense would be associated with immediately replacing the costly printing plates. The law allowed BEP to gradually convert to the inclusion of IN GOD WE TRUST on the currency. Accordingly, the motto is not found on series 1935-E and 1935-F one-dollar notes. By September 1961, IN GOD WE TRUST had been added to the back design of the Series 1935-G notes. Some early printings of this series do not bear the motto. IN GOD WE TRUST appears on all series 1935-H one-dollar silver certificates.

Below is a listing by denomination of the first production and delivery dates for currency bearing IN GOD WE TRUST:

$1 Federal Reserve Note February 12, 1964 March 11, 1964
$5 United States Note January 23, 1964 March 2, 1964
$5 Federal Reserve Note July 31, 1964 September 16, 1964
$10 Federal Reserve Note February 24, 1964 April 24, 1964
$20 Federal Reserve Note October 7, 1964 October 7, 1964
$50 Federal Reserve Note August 24, 1966 September 28, 1966
$100 Federal Reserve Note August 18, 1966 September 27, 1966


What Did Jesus Really Look Like?


Novelists, script writers and casting directors have piqued our interest. Jesus may be one of the best known and most talked-about people of ancient history. But what did Jesus look like? In “Painting a Portrait of Jesus,” D. Moody Smith examines the difficulties in answering this question.

Many ancient accounts of a person’s life give us a hint of the person’s physical appearance. For example, the Old Testament tells us that King David was ruddy and handsome. But the New Testament never goes near the question “What did Jesus look like?”

What did Jesus look like? This popular cover of the November/December 2010 issue of BAR juxtaposes two artistic representations of Jesus’ face. Photo: BBC Photo Library (left); Mosaic of Jesus from Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey/Photo by Pavle Marjanovic (right).

Actually, as Smith points out in his article below, we don’t know much about the personal life of Jesus either. We’re given some insight into his family: the Gospels name his mother and brothers—including James, who became a leader of the first-century church in Jerusalem—and mention unnamed sisters. John 1:45 refers to Jesus as “son of Joseph,” though after the Nativity narratives Joseph isn’t mentioned as a player.

Some of Jesus’ followers were women, including Mary Magdalene. The Gospel of John implies a close relationship, including her role in the resurrection story. Was Mary Magdalene the wife of Jesus, as envisioned by Nikos Kazantzakis in The Last Temptation of Christ and Dan Brown in The Da Vinci Code? Most Jewish men would have been married, but it seems not likely for Jesus’ contemporary John the Baptist. And the apostle Paul writes that he was single. So Jesus being single and celibate was very possible.

In the Roman catacombs we see our first representations of Jesus. But could they, in Rome, know the answer to the question “What did Jesus really look like?” There he was depicted as a beardless shepherd. By the fourth century, Jesus is shown with a beard, as we often see him represented today.

Since ancient times, gaps in Jesus’ story have prompted writers to imagine stories. The Infancy Gospel of Thomas tells of a child Jesus creating birds from clay. The Gospel of Judas gives a positive take on Jesus’ relationship to Judas Iscariot. D. Moody Smith asks below in “Painting a Portrait of Jesus”: Did any of these writers give us a clearer answer to the question “What did Jesus really look like?” Not really. That we’ll just have to imagine.

The Galilee is one of the most evocative locales in the New Testament—the area where Jesus was raised and where many of the Apostles came from. Our free eBook The Galilee Jesus Knew focuses on several aspects of Galilee: how Jewish the area was in Jesus’ time, the ports and the fishing industry that were so central to the region, and several sites where Jesus likely stayed and preached.


Painting a Portrait of Jesus

by D. Moody Smith

We are awash in Jesus fiction. It’s not surprising. Jesus is the best-known figure of history, but in many ways he is also the least known. This makes a great subject for the novelist.

Most ancient bioi (Greek plural of the word for “life”), like modern biographies, describe the subject’s appearance. Even Old Testament descriptions of King David, for example, allude to his physical attractiveness (1 Samuel 16:12; 17:42). But the New Testament Gospels contain no reference to Jesus’ appearance, much less a description of him. We don’t know what he looked like.

This strange omission conforms to the New Testament depiction of Jesus generally. We are told little of his personal life or relationships. The one exception is his family. His mother, brothers and sisters figure in the gospel story (Mark 6:1–6). His brother James, who had not been a follower, evidently claimed to have seen the risen Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:7). James then became a major leader in the earliest church (Galatians 1:18–19; 2:9). But Joseph does not appear during Jesus’ ministry, and Jesus is rarely called “son of Joseph” (John 1:45). From antiquity it has been inferred that Joseph had died before Jesus’ ministry began. That is quite possible, although we are not told in the New Testament itself. Joseph is simply absent.

Moreover, we learn nothing about Jesus’ relationship with women, other than that women were among his followers (Mark 15:40–41; Luke 8:1–3). Prominent among them was Mary Magdalene. In the Gospel of John she alone sees Jesus outside the tomb after he has risen from the dead (John 20:11–18). This touching scene presupposes a close relationship not otherwise revealed in the Gospels. Was their relationship intimate? Did Jesus beget progeny by her?

That he did is the thesis of the popular novel by Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code. The ostensible facts about Jesus “revealed” in the course of the book’s narrative are actually fictitious. The view that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene had already been suggested in Nikos Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ.

Was Joseph Jesus’ biological father? If not, who was Jesus’ biological father? Andrew Lincoln examines what early Christians thought about conception and explains how views about this subject have changed over time.

Of course, any normal Jewish man would have been married. But was Jesus “normal,” or were the times normal? In fact, it is improbable, on strictly historical grounds, that Jesus was married. Jesus’ mentor was John the Baptist. The Baptist’s diet, dress and wilderness venue scarcely befitted a married man (Mark 1:4–6). Like the Jewish inhabitants of the Qumran (Dead Sea Scrolls) community, the Baptist lived in the wilderness practicing an ascetic life and awaiting God’s intervention in ordinary history.

Jesus’ apostle Paul of Tarsus, himself a Jew, was also single and counseled believers to remain as he was because the time of crisis was at hand (1 Corinthians 7:25–31). Jesus himself spoke of those who had become eunuchs (celibate) for the sake of the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 19:12), probably alluding to his own practice.

The earliest apparent representations of Jesus are in the Roman catacombs. The art is stereotypical as are other portraits of this period. In these portraits Jesus is portrayed beardless, as the Good Shepherd. By the fourth century, however, he has grown a beard and begins to look more familiar.

There are large lacunae, blank spaces in the Gospel descriptions of his life that are inviting to fiction writers, ancient as well as modern. The Infancy Gospel of Thomas (not the same as the Nag Hammadi gospel attributed to Thomas) tells the story of the five-year-old Jesus making 12 birds from the clay in a stream, presumably unaware that it was the Sabbath. Joseph rebukes the child, whereupon Jesus claps his hands and the birds fly away. The so-called Gospel of Peter depicts in fantastic and obviously mythic terms the emergence of the risen Jesus from the tomb. The recently published Gospel of Judas supplies a story of Jesus’ positive relation to Judas Iscariot that accounts for his betrayal as, in effect, an act of obedience to Jesus. Recent books and films continue to fill these gaps. Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code is only the most famous.


Painting a Portrait of Jesus” by D. Moody Smith originally appeared in Biblical Archaeology Review, March/April 2007.

I am no longer a God Damned Christian

i-am-no-longer-a-chirstianA must see video. Feel free to share it too! Why I am no longer a God Damned Christian. Flee Damnation!

Why I am no longer a God Damned Christian. Flee Damnation!!!!!!

Posted by DeborahYah Yisrael on Saturday, January 17, 2015

Melbourne MP’s ‘black Jesus’ doll sparks complaints for being ‘offensive to Christians’


A little doll in a nativity scene has caused a huge fuss, deemed as ‘offensive to Christians’.

Melbourne MP Lizzie Blandthorn has received calls of complaint from residents who claim her dark-skinned baby Jesus is inaccurate… and offensive.

Ms Blandthorn has hit back at the complaints saying they are ‘naïve’.

“They don’t understand,.. I’m Christian myself and I think it’s good,” she told 7 News.

“It doesn’t matter at all, when we cut our skin we’ve got blood there… I think that’s more important… how he was, what he did for us”.

Most people have agreed with her however a small group of people is making a lot of noise about the issue.

Experts claim given that Jesus was from the Middle East it’s highly unlikely he was Caucasian.

Reverend Father Josalito Asis said Jesus would want people to picture him as someone ‘like themselves’.

“He would be very happy to be identified with the people,” he said.

The Black Nazarene is a dark skinned depiction of Jesus which has been worshipped for 400 years.

Catholic priests have defended Ms Blandthorn who displayed the black Jesus in her electoral office window.

Ms Blandthorn said she has no intention of removing the doll or changing her display.

However she did cover up parts of it when someone pointed out ‘he’ was actually a ‘she’.

But residents maintain their view the doll is offensive to Christians.

Ms Blandthorn’s display also has a duck and a garden gnome, which aren’t in traditional nativity scenes… but no one has complained about them yet.



For many Latino families, the holidays – and the gift-giving season – aren’t over yet



For many Latino families, the holidays – and the gift-giving season – aren’t over yet.

The 12 Days of Christmas are in full swing and will culminate on January 6, Día de los Reyes Magos, or Day of the Magi. Children are preparing for the arrival of the Three Kings by decorating baskets in which they will leave treats for los reyes, or hay for los reyes’ camels. But what the children look forward to the most is actually the night before the day also known as the Epiphany, when they set out their shoes in hopes that the Magi will be generous and leave a little gift for them to discover the next morning.

Some families place greater emphasis on this holiday for gift-giving than they do on Christmas, while others prefer to give smaller, more personal gifts. Here are a few fun ideas for educational gifts to give on Día de los Reyes Magos:
Epiphany (Koine Greek: ἐπιφάνεια, epiphaneia, “manifestation”, “striking appearance”) or Theophany (Ancient Greek (ἡ) Θεοφάνεια, Τheophaneia meaning “vision of God”), which traditionally falls on January 6, is a Christian feast day that celebrates the revelation of God the Son as a human being in Jesus Christ. Western Christians commemorate principally (but not solely) the visit of the Magi to the Baby Jesus, and thus Jesus’ physical manifestation to the Gentiles. Eastern Christians commemorate the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, seen as his manifestation to the world as the Son of God.

Eastern Churches following the Julian Calendar observe the Theophany feast on what for most countries is January 19 because of the 13-day difference today between that calendar and the generally used Gregorian calendar.

Since 1970, the rule for the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church is: “The Epiphany of the Lord is celebrated on 6 January, unless, where it is not observed as a Holy day of obligation, it has been assigned to the Sunday occurring between 2 and 8 January.”

In the Church of England also, the feast may be celebrated on the Sunday between January 2 and 8 inclusive[citation needed] although the official date of epiphany in the UK is always January 6.

A separate celebration of the Baptism of the Lord was introduced for Latin Rite Roman Catholics in 1955. Initially, this was to be held on January 13, previously the octave day of the Epiphany, but in the 1969 revision of the General Roman Calendar the date was changed to the first Sunday after January 6.[9] In countries where in a particular year the Epiphany falls on January 7 or 8, the feast of the Baptism of the Lord is celebrated on the following Monday. In the Church of England, the same custom may be followed. In the Episcopal Church in the United States, the feast of the Baptism of the Lord is always the Sunday after January 6.

Alternative names for the feast include (τα) Θεοφάνια, Theophany as neuter plural rather than feminine singular, η Ημέρα των Φώτων, i Imera ton Foton (modern Greek pronunciation), hē hēmera tōn phōtōn (restored classic pronunciation), “The Day of the Lights”, and τα Φώτα, ta Fota, “The Lights”.
Puerto Rico
In Puerto Rico, it is traditional for children to fill a box with fresh grass or hay and put it underneath their bed, for the Wise Men’s camels. The three kings will then take the grass to feed the camels and will leave gifts under the bed as a reward. These traditions are analogous to the customs of children leaving mince pies and sherry out for Father Christmas in Western Europe or leaving milk and cookies for Santa Claus in the United States.SOURCE

EXTREMIST WHITE CHRISTIAN MEN AND GOP: A Brief History of Deadly Attacks on Abortion Providers


The fatal shooting of three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs on Friday was the latest incident in a long history of violent attacks on facilities or doctors providing abortions in the United States and Canada.

At least 11 people have been killed in attacks on abortion clinics in the United States since 1993, including the Colorado attack. The most recent victims were Garrett Swasey, a police officer at the University of Colorado – Colorado Springs and a part-time church pastor;Ke’Arre M. Stewart, a former Army specialist who served in Iraq; and Jennifer Markovsky, a woman from Hawaii who was at the clinic with a friend.

Authorities identified the gunman in the attack as Robert L. Dear Jr., saying that he opened fire with an assault-style rifle at the facility, setting off an hourslong standoff and gun battle that also wounded nine people. The police have not described the gunman’s motive, but authorities said that he spoke of “no more baby parts” in a rambling interview after his arrest.

Here is a brief look at the history of deadly violence against abortion clinics, their staff members, patients and their guests in the United States and Canada.

Michael Griffin watches as the jury is selected in February 1994. CreditPool photo by Steve Mawyer

Michael Griffin watches as the jury is selected in February 1994. CreditPool photo by Steve Mawyer

The First Abortion Doctor Killed: David Gunn

Dr. David Gunn was shot and killed by an opponent of abortion during a protest outside his clinic in Pensacola, Fla. His death was the first known killing of an abortion provider in the United States, according to the National Abortion Federation, an advocacy group.

The gunman, Michael F. Griffin, shot Dr. Gunn three times in the back as he approached the rear entrance of the clinic, and Mr. Griffin turned himself over to the police just moments later, telling them, “I’ve just shot Dr. Gunn.”

Mr. Griffin was convicted of the murder in March 1994 and was sentenced to life in prison.

The murder of Dr. Gunn was not the first time that Pensacola had been the site of anti-abortion violence, and it would not be the last. On Christmas Day in 1984, two doctors’ offices and a clinic were bombed by opponents of abortion who were later arrested, convicted and jailed.


Paul Hill on death row in Florida in September 1995.CreditGene Bednarek/Silver Image for The New York Times

Paul Hill on death row in Florida in September 1995.CreditGene Bednarek/Silver Image for The New York Times

Former Pastor Kills a Doctor and Clinic

Anti-abortion violence returned to Pensacola one year after the death of Dr. Gunn when Paul J. Hill, a well-known anti-abortion protester, shot and killed Dr. John Bayard Britton and a clinic volunteer, James H. Barrett, outside a women’s health center in July 1994. Mr. Barrett’s wife, June, was also wounded in the shooting.

Mr. Hill, a former minister, was well known for advocating violence against abortion doctors, and he had praised the killing of Dr. Gunn. He was arrested shortly after the shooting as he tried to flee the scene, the police said at the time.

He was convicted in December 1994 of first-degree murder and was sentenced to death.

In the interview before his execution in 2003, Mr. Hill said that the killing of Dr. Gunn in 1993 had inspired him to kill Dr. Britton.

“I believe in the short and long term, more and more people will act on the principles for which I stand,” he said. ” I’m willing and I feel very honored that they are most likely going to kill me for what I did.”

The casket of Dr. George Tiller is loaded into a waiting hearse after his funeral at College HIll United Methodist Church in Wichita, Kansas. Credit Steve Hebert for The New York Times

The casket of Dr. George Tiller is loaded into a waiting hearse after his funeral at College HIll United Methodist Church in Wichita, Kansas. Credit Steve Hebert for The New York Times

George Tiller, Twice a Target, Is Killed in 2009

Dr. George Tiller, one of the few doctors in the United States who provided abortions late in pregnancy, was a frequent target of anti-abortion violence and was killed in 2009 by Scott Roeder as he stood in the foyer of his church.

A witness who was serving as an usher alongside Dr. Tiller at the church that day told the court that Mr. Roeder entered the foyer, put a gun to the doctor’s head and pulled the trigger.

At trial, Mr. Roeder admitted to killing Dr. Tiller and said he did it to protect unborn babies. He was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. At his sentencing, he told the court that God’s judgment would ”sweep over this land like a prairie wind.”

Dr. Tiller was shot once before, in 1993, by Shelley Shannon, an anti-abortion activist who compared abortion providers to Hitler and said she believed that “justifiable force” was necessary to stop abortions.

Ms. Shannon was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the shooting of Dr. Tiller and later confessed to vandalizing and burning a string of abortion clinics in California, Nevada and Oregon.