Believing in a Higher Power Shouldn’t Be a Prerequisite to Becoming a Boy Scout

Tom Krattenmaker, author of The Evangelicals You Don’t Know, has written a column for USA Today in which he brings up the other question we’re all asking about the Boy Scouts of America:

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The Other I.R.S. Scandal

***Edit***: This post went up with words clipped and shortened. I’m not sure why, but the intended draft is below. Sorry for the weirdness.

Yesterday, President Obama rightly disciplined two I.R.S. employees for unfairly targeting conservative groups and the IRS’ acting director Steven Miller resigned. Wonderful. I’m glad someone’s taking the fall. (***Edit***: Looking back, it’s unclear what role Miller had in any of this, so while it’s good to see action, this is really more symbolic than anything else.)

However, there’s another scandal that’s been taking place at the IRS and it’s gone completely under the radar.

Last October (and years before that, too), on “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” more than 1,500 pastors endorsed a candidate for President during church in complete violation of the law. They did it openly and proudly, people documented them doing it, the material was sent to the I.R.S. … and nothing happened.

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Caught Spreading a False Story, Christian Writer Tries and Fails to Cover Up His Mistake

Earlier this month, I posted about Columbus High School athlete Derrick Hayes. Hayes ran the anchor leg of his track team’s 4 x 100-meter relay and they had qualified for the state tournament… until he made a special gesture:

Long story short, Christians were quick to call this religious discrimination… until Hayes and his family admitted religion had nothing to do with it.

So that’s that, right? Derrick learned a lesson the hard way. The refs did what they were supposed to do. Let’s move on.

Enter Dr. Jerry Newcombe. Writing for Truth in Action Ministries a week after all of this transpired, Newcombe didn’t get the memo that this wasn’t religious discrimination:

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The Young Women Who Are Speaking Out Against the Mandatory Christian Assembly at Their Public High School

On April 9, students at Northwest Rankin High School in Mississippi attended a mandatory assembly featuring representatives from nearby Pinelake Baptist Church. The performers told the students how they needed to accept Jesus in their lives. They even showed a video:

In the video, two young men were interviewed who had once led “troubled” lives. To find hope, the men described various behaviors such as turning to drugs, sex, cutting, suicide, and the like. They then explained how turning to Jesus Christ solved their problems and recommended that other people turn to Jesus Christ as well.

According to the American Humanist Association, even when students tried to leave the Performing Arts Building so they wouldn’t have to listen to the preaching, they “were harassed by a principal and told to sit down.”



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High School Principal Encourages Christian Teachers to Teach Creationism and Proselytize to Students

Last Thursday, the newly-formed Louisville Area Christian Educator Support (LACES) group in Kentucky held a meeting for Christian Jefferson County Public Schools faculty members.

So far, that’s perfectly legal. They even paid rent to the district for the meeting space.

Last week’s kickoff meeting for LACES served as a strategy session for the 150 attendees, with organizers sharing ways to spread the good word at work without breaking the rules laid down by separation of church and state — and Kentucky law.

Again, that all sounds fine.

But is it really possible for teachers to “spread the good word” at work without breaking any laws…? Southern High School Principal Bryce Hibbard addressed that concern directly:

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