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Missouri Family E-News

October 15, 2013

                     
Student Told That God Is Off Limits   

 

An elementary school student in Tennessee was prohibited by her public school teacher from writing about God in a classroom assignment.

 

10 year-old Erin Shead is a student at Lucy Elementary in Millington, Tennessee.  She was fulfilling a class assignment in which students were asked to write about someone they looked up to as an idol.

 

Erin wrote about her admiration for God, saying:  "God is my idol...He will always be the number one person I look up to...He is the reason I am on this earth...Jesus is his earthly son.  I also love Jesus."

 

When Erin's teacher received her assignment, she told her she could not choose God as her idol, and must choose someone else.  She also told Erin that she must take her paper about God home because it was not allowed on school property.

 

Erin then decided to write about Michael Jackson, a figure that her teacher deemed acceptable.

 

Erin's mother, Erica, demanded an explanation from school officials, claiming that her daughter's freedom of expression was being censored because of her religious beliefs.

 

School officials investigated the matter, and agreed that there was no policy limiting "the expression of personal beliefs in personal classwork."  They termed the teacher's actions a "regrettable misunderstanding."

 

Students in Missouri schools have legal protection of their right to express their faith in classroom assignments and discussions.

 

Amendment 2, approved by Missouri voters in August 2012, includes a constitutional provision that states:  "Students may express their beliefs about religion in written and oral assignments free from discrimination based on the religious content of their work."

 

You can watch a video concerning this incident from the local CBS affiliate in Memphis by clicking this link:

Erin Shead 

             

 
8th Circuit OKs Bible Distribution

A federal appellate court has ruled that a Minnesota man has the right to distribute Bibles at a community event held on public property.

A panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided that the city of Minneapolis violated Brian Johnson's free speech rights when it prohibited him from passing out Bibles at the annual Twin Cities Pride Festival.

Johnson disseminated Bibles from a booth at the event in Loring Park from 1998 to 2008.  When festival organizers refused to grant Johnson a booth in the city park for 2009, he walked the festival grounds instead, distributing free copies of the Bible.

Johnson was then arrested by municipal police officers, despite the fact he was attending a public event in a publicly-owned park.

Johnson files suit against the city in federal district court.  In an effort to placate him, city officials and festival organizers offered him a booth outside the festival grounds.  U.S. District Court Judge Michael Davis ruled that the restriction was constitutional, denying a request for an injunction against the city.

The 8th Circuit panel ruled that Johnson had suffered a "loss of First Amendment freedoms" and that the city had failed to demonstrate any public safety concerns to warrant its ban on literature distribution.

The case has been remanded to Judge Davis, who has little choice now but to grant the preliminary injunction.

Nate Kellum, chief counsel for the Center for Religious Expression, cheered the appellate court decision.  "Fundamantal freedoms were at stake here.  In a public place during an event open to the public, Johnson has every right to share his views and contribute to the marketplace of ideas--just like everyone else."   
 
  

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New Scout Program Blazes Trail for Christian Principles 


Former Boy Scout leaders have formally launched a new national youth development program modeled on the original ideals of the Scouting program.   The new organization will go by the name Trail Life USA.  The program aims to provide boys with outdoor adventure experiences with a Christian foundation and emphasis.

The new character development program was unveiled last month at a convention in Nashville attended by more than 1200 former scoutmasters, Eagle Scouts, and leaders from Boy Scout councils across the country.  Organizers shared the vision of Trail Life USA, which is to grow young men to be responsible husbands, fathers, and citizens.

"Our vision is to grow young men to be responsible husbands, fathers, and citizens," says John Stemberger, one of the founders of Trail Life USA.  "We are excited to be part of this next chapter in the history of scouting in America."  Stemberger, an Eagle Scout, also serves as President of the Florida Family Policy Council, a sister organization to the Missouri Family Policy Council.

"Real men value truth over tradition," Stemberger told the cheering crowd at the Nashville gathering.  "Real men value principles over programs.  Real men value integrity over institutions."

The mission of Trail Life USA is straightforward:  "To guide generations of courageous young men to honor God, lead with integrity, serve others, and experience outdoor adventure."  In place of the Boy Scout motto to "be prepared," the motto of Trail Life USA is to "walk worthy," a reference to the Scriptural verse found Colossians 1:10.

The genesis of Trail Life USA was the recent decision by the Boy Scouts of America to abandon the central moral values of the Scouting program.  Under intense pressure from BSA executives, Scout leaders adopted a new policy stating that homosexual affections and conduct are no longer incompatible with the core principles of Scouting.

The new "inclusive" BSA policy stands in contradiction to the pledge made in the Scout oath that a young man will be "physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight."  The revised policy also stands in opposition to the ideals contained in the Scout Law that that a Scout will be both "clean and reverent."

BSA officials pushed the policy change despite an extensive program study which concluded that the current Boy Scout membership standards were in the continuing best interests of the organization.  Scout executives also ignored a broad-based survey of Scout leaders and parents which showed strong opposition to any change in the current policy on homosexuality. 

Under the new membership policy, professed homosexuals can be active participants in Boy Scout functions and outings.  However, BSA officials retreated from an initial proposal to allow adult homosexuals to serve as Scout leaders.  "Gay rights" activists and corporate donors to Scouting are now pressing for that change to be made as well.

The new name Trail Life USA was chosen from over 300 options with the help of marketing experts using surveys, focus groups, and social media feedback.  Stemberger says the name signifies more than the traditional Scouting activities of hiking and exploration.

"The 'trail' doesn't just refer to an outdoor pathway, but also symbolizes the passages of life where we have to make moral choices, and choose between the right and the wrong paths.  Our whole life is about the path we mark out in our journey with Christ."

While Trail Life USA is "undergirded by Biblical values" and "unapologetically reflects a Christian world view," the program welcomes any boy from kindergarten through 18 years of age regardless of religion, race, national origin, or socio-economic status.  Members make a commitment not to engage in or promote sexual immorality of any kind.

The group's Statement of Faith and Values reads:  "Members are called to live a life of holiness, being pure of heart, mind, word, and deed, reserving sexual activity for the sanctity of marriage--marriage being a lifelong commitment before God between a man and a woman."

Adult leaders, whether staff or volunteer, must subscribe to a Statement of Christian Faith.  Program leaders pledge to live lives of purity, stewardship, service, and integrity.  They agree to "love the Lord God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourself."

You can learn more about Trail Life USA by visiting their website below.  On the website you will find extensive information about chartering a local troop, including an excellent list of FAQ's that cover almost every topic relevant to traditional scouting participation, activities, and advancements.  You will also find a 39-minute video that provides a comprehensive overview of the program.

Here is the link to the Trail Life USA website:
Trail Life USA

It is remarkable how much groundwork has already been done in such a short time in efforts to get this new youth development program off the ground.   Please be praying that God continues to bless these efforts, and that its leaders remain focused in word and in deed on cultivating the Godly character of future generations of young men.

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