An elementary school is facing a lawsuit for targeting Christian students in this despicable way

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Christian students in America’s public schools are being targeted by the “progressive” left.

School administrators are using their positions of power to censor Christian conservatives or intimidate them into shutting up.

But what this school just did to Christian elementary school students is sickening.

At John R. Peterson Elementary School in Huntington Beach, California, students were banned from handing out flyers for “Bring Your Bible to School Day.”

The school district’s superintendent Gregg Haulk told Fox News that they “try to discourage flyers as much as possible” because they think “they’re not an effective tool of communication.”

However, now the school is facing a lawsuit on behalf of the students’ parents from a religious freedom group by the name of Freedom X.

Christian Headlines writes:

An elementary school violated the U.S. Constitution when it prevented students from passing out “Bring Your Bible to School Day” flyers during lunch and recess, according to a new lawsuit.

The students, who are brothers in the fifth and second grade, wanted to hand out the flyers to their friends at John R. Peterson Elementary School in Huntington Beach, Calif., but were told that both hours are considered “instructional blocks.”

Bring Your Bible to School Day is an annual event each October and sponsored by Focus on the Family.

“Plaintiffs believe that they have a constitutional right to distribute their Bring Your Bible to School Day promotional flyers at John R. Peterson Elementary School during recess, lunch and other non-instructional times,” says the federal lawsuit filed by the religious legal group Freedom X.

The suit was filed on behalf of their parents, Jason and Holly Bausch. It claims the school’s policy violates the students’ constitutionally protected freedoms of speech and religion.

“Students, regardless of grade level, have a First Amendment right to express a religious viewpoint to another student, including the right to distribute religious flyers, without fear,” said Freedom X president and chief counsel Bill Becker.

As the President of Freedom X correctly pointed out, the students have every right to hand out flyers during non-class time if they so please.

And whether or not the school administrators like it is neither here nor there.

But the fact that they would belittle their students by labeling what they’re doing as “ineffective” is just plain mean.

The reality is that if the students were handing out flyers for anything other than “Bring Your Bible to School Day,” the school wouldn’t bat an eye.

And surely the school wouldn’t have stopped a Muslim student from handing out flyers for “Bring Your Qu’ran to School Day.”

They would have praised that act as “brave” and “courageous.”

Sadly, the war on the Bible in schools is nothing new, however.

As we reported, students at a high school in Pennsylvania were even banned from handing out Bibles during non-class time.

These “progressive” school administrators don’t even try to hide its war on Christianity.

They take every chance they get to silence Christian conservatives from being able to speak out.

Do you think the Bible should be allowed in schools? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

64 COMMENTS

    • Anything against our Bibles and our God for it says on the money these people Get is in GOD we TRUST and We do not see them giving it back either and We have freedom of speech and our service men have died to protect it period

    • People have been trying to suppress for 3000 years and they haven’t succeeded yet. People trying to suppress Gods’ word are as ignorant as a rock,

    • These are the people leading our kids at a very vulnerable stage of their lives. Why can’t they be terminated and replaced with God fearing adults? They shouldn’t even be allowed near a shouldn’t just like child molesters. They have no place in society.

    • Liberals are not progressives, they are regressives. They hijacked the term to make them seem better. Don’t be fooled by what liberals call themselves.

      • There are many conservatives that had their hand in creating Man’s Laws over God’s Laws. Many serve on the SCOTUS. Foe example when a so called conservatives discover a family member that are apart of the LGBQT they then say we must accept all behaviors, regardless if they are sinful.
        I would rather live my life as if there is a God,
        And die to find out there isn’t,
        Than live my life as if there isn’t,
        And die to find out there is.

    • First of all, I want to say that I am Jewish and very proud to be a member of the group chosen by GOD to spread the word there is only one GOD. Next I want to say that there are many Jews who are secularly Jewish, but do not believe in GOD. Most of those people are Libs, progressives, communists. Whatever you call them, they are non-believers. However they likely would be against Bibles in schools. My children who are Christian tell me that there are many Christians who are that way too. I am glad that I know certain prayers from the bible because my home room teachers read the bible to us and with us each morning in school. I know the words to most Christmas carols and love to sing them. And, I am still proud to be Jewish and believe deeply in GOD. I love the idea of bibles being brought to school and read!

      • Marlene: I commend you! I love Jewish people, because GOD said “Those that bless Abraham I will bless; but those who curse Abraham I will curse!” I support a Jewish
        organization (what I mean by support, I give $$ ea. month) Because this Jewish organization helps the Jewish people not only in Israel, but in Ukraine, Soviet Russia & other places around the world, as well as ”Freedom flights (called “On Wings of Eagles”) bringing these people from the nations where they’re being harrassed/mistreated, back to Israel, where they house them, teach them Hebrew, Help them get socialized into Israeli society, Plus help the elderly Jewish holocoust (spelling)survivors w/food, medicine, heating fuel, blankets, etc,etc. I haven’t been able to go back to visit Israel again, since my first visit in Nov, 1985, but would love to go w/a church group from Eagle Mtn.International Church (EMIC) which is taking a group in May 25 -June 4, 2019. But, funds seems to not allowing me to go. I know it will be a great trip.

        • Dearest Betsy, thank you for being a “ Wings of Eagles 🦅 “
          Partner.
          You brought my heart full of great joy when I read your comment!
          It’s so important for us to support our Jewish Brethren.
          They are God’s chosen people and always will be.

          When the Bible began being removed from schools that’s when all the worlds problems increased to this unbelievable stupidity we have now.

          I’m not sure what is that people are afraid of in the Bible?
          The Quran is permitted and
          even portions of it taught
          in some places.

          It may , in the beginning, teach of peace but it blatantly tells you to lie,cheat,steal and kill to those non-believers.

          So what is the fear of the Bible?
          Truly? It speaks of everything. Anything you want to know about anything is in the Bible . Everything you SHOULD know is there. It’s not just
          “ basic instructions before leaving earth”

          It’s “ beginning instructions before living earth “ as well.

          God basically gave us His plans and we ( some do anyway) think they’re better than Him and attempt to best Him!
          Its done every time a “ new updated” version of the Bible
          is written.

          Bibles belong back in school. They should never have been removed to begin with.
          For all of children and even the parents. For all faiths.

          ( oh btw I’m a partner too!)

      • Absolutely!! There were more ministers who signed the Declaration of Independence than lawyers. Oh, for the days when America feared the Lord and kept to their studies out of the Bible. This country was founded on the Bible and freedom from a state religion.

      • I agree something needs tie change. I left the state of California in 1994 because I was intimidated and even threatened with the removal if my child from my home. I was instructed by the principal where my daughter attended 4th grade in Hanford California that I was to instruct he to stop praying over her food at lunch. I told them that is what I have taught her to do and I would not make her stop. They said that they could not actually stop her from praying but nobody should “know” that is what she was doing. I was to tell her to stop shutting her eyes and bowing her head or they would take action to stop her or separate her from other children at lunch. I refused. The principal went in to threaten theyhad the right to take my child since in California your children are actually PROPERTY of the STATE. I did not have to financial means to hire an attorney and it terrified me. End of school year u pack up my 2 youngest and moved. I now live in a state that still that still allows children to pray at lunch and carry a bible if they so choose. This is a war that God will win. Stand strong and fight.

        • You are a brave lady and mother, Christians must stand for the almighty God. God will judge 👩‍⚖️ every person on this world, rich and poor.

        • WHEN PRAYER & BIBLE READING WAS DELIBERATELY REMOVED FROM THE PUBLIC/GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS, THIS WAS THE EXACT TIME THAT WICKED & IMMORAL LIFE STYLES BEGAN TO PERMEATE OUR SOCIETY! GOD IS NOT MOCKED!!

      • The parents in that school district should vote out of office on the school board that support that Satan thinking principle and ask that the principle look for another job. People like this Satan supporter will allow the LGBTQ and the Muslims into the school.

  1. we should all pray for JESUS to give these brave young men strength to endure race they’re headed on! others in community should rally behind them & join the fight! how did we let devil creep into our nation’s education system? get involved in your children & grandchildren’s education! we have to put ALMIGHTY GOD back in America’s education system! people take back your city’s education! stand up for what’s right! this is destroying our children!

  2. Religion was banned on school property. The big question is Why are Mulims allowed to have their religion during class time and Christians are banned? ALL religion was banned, not just Christianity.

  3. Thank Obama for this crap. Hope the sue for billions. The want Muslims crap in schools but not God. Our founding fathers are probably rolling in their graves. Shame on adults with no honor or pride for America. America was built on God’s word not some dangerous evil rape happy group.

  4. Yes, Bibles should be allowed and they are permitted by the constitution. I wonder why these teachers are so afraid of their students reading the Bible.

    • Vicki dont the teachers Know that in the 1700.s 1800.s and part of the 1900.s the bible was used in the early American Schools as the most Read Text Book in America. Also the Churches were Used For the Schools in order for the Teacher’s to Have a Building to Teach in.

  5. This site needs to allow comments without the same thing happening as was the case in this Elementary School.
    Every time I make a comment on this site I am told that I already said that. Which I had never repeated any comment I wrote. Wake up before we all find out where you really stand. I am a Christian and a Patriot who is extremely Conservative, and I deserve to have my comments allowed.

    • i do believe you are a left winged watchtower for conservative thoughts as I am never allowed to post as it always comes up with…you have previously replied. Baloney

  6. Most of the so called administrators of our schools today should NEVER be allowed to even walk past any school let alone have the power to run things. in my opinion their all ASSHOLES. I hope the parents of these kids sue the hell out of these jerks and WIN BIG.

  7. All schools and school districts that are doing things like this, along with their TRANSGENDER CHILD ABUSE, MOSLEM INDOCTRINATIONS, ETC. should be sued out of existence. Class Actions could take all their money to form private schools.

    • I was actually thinking exactly what the parents attorney said. The hypocrisy of these schools and administrators excuse is ridiculous, they apparently think we are stupid for them to believe we buy their crap. I would bet my very last dollar that the Muslims are not treated the way they treat people of Christian faith. You would never, ever have a schools administration put restriction on their Quran!!

    • California is the first bastion of communism in the USA. I wish it were true that it is the first bastion of communism in the world. THen my parents and grandparents would not have had to go thru what they went thru in Russia during and right ater the Bolshevik Revolution , in order to escape and come to America. I am mighty glad that they made it here and that my sister and I were born and grew up here in this Land of the brave and the Free. It made us even more proud to be an American. My parents were proud citizens of the USA and grateful to have made it here. I am also glad they died before they could see what the communists are trying to do to America. WIth Donald Trump as our leader, we are getting rid of that idea.

  8. Before Jesus comes again, He said there would be persecution. The present culture is persecuting anyone who believes in God, the bible,etc. I think we are in the end times. We are living in a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah.

  9. What I believe is that a christian should be able to deny their property taxes going to support that school or any school that show hate against Christians. The schools do this because they believe the school system is a government inside a government and the taxpayers are a confined audience. I wish the Freedom X Good Luck. Here in my city they would say DO IT FOR THE KIDS!

  10. Does this school send home flyers for ANYTHING not school related such as Little League sign-ups, PTA and such? If there is a “Bring Your Bible to school Day”, why not send flyers out as a reminder? If this is the case, stop wearing anything religiously adorned. This would include head covers, face covers, long dresses (go to school uniforms) and make the teachers, principals and school board members do the same. Lead by example! God bless these hate mongering school officials for they know not what they do!

  11. If there were Bibles in schools AND more school teachers and administrators who supported this, there would be fewer mass shootings in schools. Liberals, take your pick…more Bibles or more guns in schools!

  12. Children should not be bringing religious books to a public school unless they are participating in a world religion class of some sort. There should be no special prayer rooms for any religious groups in a public school. Religious freedom is a right, but no religion should interrupt a class or be forced on anyone attending a public school.

  13. Prosyletizing is not the right of students, religious indoctrination is at the sole disgression of each individual child’s parents, is it not irritating and an infringement of peace of mind as it is with religious fanatics like the Witlesses going door to door spewing their nonsense, oh just remember if you do not embrace their dogma when rapture, the which I could never quite figure out if that is during and synonymous with the apocalypse and armageddon or after, regardless all based on the rantings of a man who was suffering from the effects of Dementia and under the influence of hallucinogenic mushroom spores and gasses from the marble mines of Patmos.

  14. most of the no god movements came under the rule of barack obama. the only church he ever attented was the church of rev. wright that hated america. if you hate america you must hate god. most of all ungodly events and rules was started by obama which i truly believe he is the one paving the way for the anti-christ.

    • I have actually said the exact same thing. I actually watched a video clip of Obama’s pastor Rev. Wright who was his pastor of 17 years so you can’t convince me he doesn’t share the same view point as his pastor Rev. Wright and I was appalled when I seen with my own eyes and heard with my own ears him standing at the pulpit saying “God Damn the white man”! I felt nothing but shock and disgust!

  15. ‪Expose, boycott, prosecute all these deep state treasonous NAZI commie liberal demoncrats post-haste,Patriots! Drain the rat infested swamp President Trump!‬

  16. The trash running the school should be fired – immediately! They should be black-balled and denied teaching positions in any school in the country.

  17. Bibles belong in school. American public schools were started before the Revolutionary War as a means for children to learn to read, mainly the Bible. Look up any of the Founding Fathers, search their journals, letters and other documents and you might be stunned to see how many of them consistently made it clear that the Bible and Judeo-Christian values were to be a continuous influence in our culture – through education, media and government. And they made these statements without ever calling for a theocracy. I especially love to hear their reasons why; crime would stay down, government would not get out of control, and such a society would be much happier. Have references, just not posting them at this time.

  18. You’re confusing the mere *absence* of religion in an area where it doesn’t belong or merely it isn’t state-sponsored with censorship! Of course the history of religion can be taught, as long as it’s a secular and academic study of religion.

    In 1995, a joint statement of current law regarding religion in public schools was published by a variety of religious and civil liberties organizations. This statement served as the basis for U.S. Department of Education guidelines intended to alleviate concerns about constitutional religious activities in schools.

    Here are general rules concerning what school personnel and students may do:

    The history of religion and comparative religion are permissible school subjects so long as the approach is objective and serves a legitimate educational purpose.

    Students may study the role of religion in the history of the United States.

    Schools may discuss various religious groups‚ beliefs about the origin of life on Earth in comparative religion or social studies classes.

    Students have the right to pray or to discuss their religious views with their peers so long as they are not disruptive.

    Students may express their religious beliefs in the forms of reports, homework and artwork so long as such expression meets the other criteria of the assignment.

    Religious or anti-religious remarks made in the ordinary course of classroom discussion or student presentations and that are germane are permissible, but students do not have the right to give sermons to a captive audience.

    Students have the right to distribute religious literature to their classmates, subject to reasonable time, place and manner restrictions.

    Students have the right to speak to, and attempt to persuade their peers about religious topics just as they do with regard to political topics.

    Student religious clubs in secondary schools must be permitted to meet and to have equal access to campus media to announce their meetings.

    Public schools may teach objectively about religious holidays and may celebrate the secular aspects of the holiday.

    Students may wear religious messages on clothing, just as they may wear religious attire, such as yarmulkes, crosses, crucifixes, and head scarves.

    Students may be released for religious instruction off school premises.

    Students may read the Bible or other religious literature during their free time at school.

    Faith groups that support the First Amendment and oppose government-sponsored prayer in public schools include:

    National Council of Churches; American Baptist Churches, USA; Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); The Episcopal Church; Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Friends Committee on National Legislation; Mennonite Central Committee USA; Presbyterian Church (USA); General Conference of Seventh Day Adventists; United Church of Christ; United Methodist Church; Unitarian Universalist Association; American Jewish Congress; Anti-Defamation League; Central Conference of American Rabbis; National Council of Jewish Women; North American Council for Muslim Women; Soka Gakkai International USA.

    Most religious denominations, across the theological spectrum, have issued formal statements supporting the Supreme Court’s prayer and Bible-reading decisions. These people of faith value the hard-won freedom of conscience that belongs to all of us.

    The majority trampling on the rights of the minority has happened before. In his 2003 book, Why the Religious Right is Wrong About Separation of Church and State, journalist Rob Boston writes:

    “Catholics did not start arriving on American shores in significant numbers until the late 1830s and 1840s and with the great waves of immigration in the post-Civil War era and early twentieth century.

    “The small numbers of Catholics who did choose to live in America could find life difficult. Guaranteed the right to worship by the Constitution, they no longer had to worry about their priests being shackled and thrown into prison or their churches being raided by agents of the state.

    “However, many overt forms of prejudice still existed, especially in employment. But the one area where Catholics encountered the greatest frustration was in the public school system…

    “Catholic children were not simply required to sit through religious exercises alien to them; they were often forced to take an active role in them.

    “Great insensitivity reigned in some parts of the country as the Protestant majority laid down the rules for religious exercises in public schools…

    “Things quickly got ugly. Even though the Catholic parents were not requesting that the religious practices be terminated–merely that their children not be required to sit through them–violence erupted…

    “During a similar flap over religious exercises in Philadelphia’s public schools in 1844… a riot broke out in that city that lasted three days. Violence erupted after the city’s Board of Education voted to allow Catholic children to be excused from mandatory religious exercises or use their own version of the Bible.

    “Again, all the Catholics were asking for was that their beliefs be respected, not that the Protestant practices be stopped entirely.

    “Catholic churches and the homes of Catholic parents were burned; thirteen people were killed.

    “In later years violence on a smaller scale broke out in other areas. In 1854 in Ellsworth, Maine, an outraged mob tarred and feathered a missionary priest, John Bapst, after he urged a parishioner to go to court and fight a school board regulation requiring children to read the King James Bible.

    “Abuses such as these led to the creation of the Catholic school system in America. Fed up with the overt Protestant flavor of the public schools and desiring a system that would inculcate their own values, American Catholics created one.

    “Early conflicts over religion in public schools led to court battles in several states. In many cases, the actions were filed by disgruntled Catholic parents–sometimes backed by Jews–who desired a secular educational system.

    “In light of this history, it is remarkable that today some conservative Catholics have joined the movement for a school prayer amendment. How easily some forget their own history!”

    Journalist Rob Boston writes in his 2003 book, Why the Religious Right is Wrong About Separation of Church and State:

    “Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in earthly allegiances. Their only duty, they say, is to God. They do not participate in secular government. They will not hold office or vote in elections. Also, they steadfastly refuse to recite oaths of any kind — including the Pledge of Allegiance — or salute the flag.

    “Saluting flags, they say, is a form of idolatry.

    “In 1940 the United States was on the brink of entering World War II, and a heightened sense of patriotism ran the the population. Many states had laws mandating the reciation of the Pledge of Allegiance and flag salute every day in public schools. Children of Jehovah’s Witnesses, who refused to participate in the exercises, were frequently expelled from school or otherwise punished.

    “Although their timing could not have been worse, the Witnesses took the pledge matter into federal court in the late 1930s. In 1940 the Supreme Court issued one of its wrst church-state opinions ever and held by an 8-1 vote that a Pennsylvania law requiring recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools was constitutional…

    “The High Court’s ruling..was followed by an outbreak of violence against Jehovah’s Witnessess across the country…What followed is one of the darkest and most disgraceful periods in American church-state history.

    “In Richwood, Virginia, the chief of police rounded up a group of Jehovah’s Witnesses, forced them to drink castor oil and paraded them through the streets before running them out of town. In Jackson,, Mississippi, members of a local veteran’s organization attacked a trailer park where many Witnesses were known to live and drove several from their homes.

    “The list gets worse: A Witness in Nebraska was lured away from his house and castrated by a mob. In Rockville, Maryland, local police assisted a marauding crowd that attacked a Witness church (called a Kingdom Hall) to break up a church meeting. In Kennebunk, Maine, an unruly mob charged the local Kingdom Hall and set it on fire, burning it to the ground…

    “By 1943 the Supreme Court had realized its mistake… The High Court accepted a new case dealing with mandatory flag salutes in public schools…and issued a decision strongly upholding relgious freedom…

    “Sadly, many Americans apparently do not agree with that reasoning. During the 1988 presidential race, George Bush attacked Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis because Dukakis, as governor of Massachusetts, had in 1977 vetoed a bill requiring recitation of the Pledge in the state’s public schools. Dukakis, pointing to the Barnetteruling, noted that the measure was clearly unconstitutional.

    “In the resulting furor, Bush accused Dukakis of being opposed to the Pledge, and one opinion poll showed a majority of Americans favoring mandatory recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools, even if some religious groups or individuals object.

    “Similarly, a number of states passed or tried to pass laws mandating recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance after the horrific terrorist attack of September11, 2001. In Minnesota, Govenor Jesse Ventura was criticized for vetoing one of those bills. Defending his action, Ventura pointed out that the law was clearly unconstitutional.”

    ****

    Several years ago, on one of his broadcasts, TV preacher Pat Robertson was quoted as saying, “We want a secular constitution, we want to make sure religious minorities are protected…” But he wasn’t talking about the United States–he was talking about Afghanistan… where Christians are a minority!

    Similarly, in the October 2006 issue of Church & State, the periodical put out by Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Gary B. Christenot, an evangelical Christian writes about his experience on the Hawaiian island of Wahiawa, where Christians are a minority “in this little v illage that was populated predominantly by people of Japanese and Chinese ancestry. Rather than a church on every corner, as is common in the continental 48 states, Wahiawa had a Shinto or Buddhist shrine on every corner.”

    Christenot notes that prayers before a high school football game were led “not by a Protestant minister or a Catholic priest, but a Buddhist priest who proceeded to offer up prayers and intonations to god-head figures that our tradition held to be pagan.”

    He concludes: “I would say in love to my Christian brothers and sisters: Before you yearn for the imposition of prayer and similar rituals in your public schools, you might consider attending a football game at Wahiawa High School. Because unless you’re ready to endure the unwilling exposure of yourself and your children to those beliefs and practices that your own faith forswears , you have no right to insist that others sit in silence and complicity while you do the same to them.

    “I, for one, sleep better at night knowing that because Judeo-Christian prayers are not being offered at my children’s schools, I don’t have to worry about them being confronted with Buddhist, Shinto, Wiccan, Satanic or any other prayer ritual I might find offensive.”

    ****

    Pat Goltz, one of the co-founders of Feminists For Life, and now a conservative pro-life Christian, saw all of the Supreme Court decisions against school prayer as a government hostile towards religion, rather than neutral or laissez-faire towards all religious belief AND disbelief.

    ALL social progress seems radical until absorbed into the mainstream. “Feminism” was once a dirty word. Today, conservatives like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann are even calling themselves “feminists.”

    Forty years from now, Republicans will all be vegan?

    In 2011-2012, when I was dating the beautiful Adeline Lopez, she said she wasn’t worried about Sarah Palin posing a threat to our democracy, saying Sarah Palin is a joke, and will never be president.

    But Addie said Michele Bachmann has a degree from an accredited law school, and, therefore, poses a real danger.

    (Addie also said she liked Bill Clinton, and that it would take Barack Obama a second term to undo the damage caused by George W. Bush!)

    This was a point I made on the Democrats-For-Life e-mail list in 2000. I said when it comes to talk about abortion, let’s “keep it secular.”

    Louis Shapiro ( Shapiro is a Jewish name, but he’s Catholic), a former Republican, disagreed.

    He said he and other Christian conservatives don’t want to impose their religion on others, but do want religion in the public square.

    He complained that because of radical secularism, “…we can’t even mention God at a football game.”

    My friend Greg, raised Catholic, and who first got me interested in religion and politics, reacted by asking in a phone conversation: what would a religious person be doing at a football game in the first place?

    I agreed with Greg: wouldn’t a religious person be leading a sheltered or cloistered life at temple, monastery, or nunnery? Or off somewhere meditating in the Himalayan mountains?

    What would a religious person be doing at a sporting event, an event which serves no higher purpose, only sense gratification?

    Dr. Larry Shinn observes:

    “…there is a similarity in the Krishna and the Catholic traditions in their stress on formal rituals, the abundant use of iconography, their hierarchical institutional/authority structure, their strong emphasis on the private prayerlife, and their ideals of the monastic life of full time religious service and personal piety.”

    Ironically, when complaining about not being able to mention God at a football game, Louis Shapiro was referring to a lawsuit which was brought by Mormons and Catholics in 2000 against Protestant bias in prayers being recited before football games.

    ****

    I’m not a Christian, nor a member of any of the Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, nor the Baha’i faith).

    I had a secular upbringing.

    My friend Greg , a gay Catholic, influenced by his older sister Claire, a born again Christian, used to preach to me in high school about the second coming of Jesus and the Rapture, and he first got me interested in religion and politics.

    As high school seniors, when I decided I felt uncomfortable going along with the Pledge of Allegiance every morning, Greg would say lightheartedly, “Salute the flag, commie!”

    I commented to Greg that nationalistic sayings like “God Bless America” exclude everyone else on the planet! It’s like saying, “God bless white people.”

    Does God love only some and not others?

    When I told Greg on one occasion that I would salute a United Nations flag, as more inclusive, Greg pointed out that not all nations on earth belong to the United Nations.

    “One Planet, One People…Please!” reads a Baha’i bumper sticker.

    Upon graduating from high school in 1981, however, I was slightly irked when one of the speakers referred to “Jesus Christ” during our graduation ceremonies.

    Greg understood my feelings in this regard (remember “do unto others…”?) , but said that as a Christian, he was glad the reference to God was included.

    In 2002, however, in the Newdow case, when the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, Greg and I both agreed the ruling, based on church-state separation, was correct!

    Senator Tom Daschle (D- South Dakota) called the decision “nuts”, and all the members of Congress made a public display of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance with the words “under God” in protest.

    “Those hypocrites!” exclaimed Rose Evans, a pro-life Episcopalian, and editor and publisher of Harmony: Voices for a Just Future, a “consistent-ethic” periodical on the religious left.

    Rose accepted written submissions from people of all faiths and those of no faith for her periodical, including atheists like Nat Hentoff and Jen Roth, Hindu spiritual masters like Eknath Eswaran and Buddhist spiritual masters like Thich Nat Hanh and the Dalai Lama.

    Rose felt Congress should address serious concerns.

    Public schools exist to educate, not to proselytize. Horace Mann, the father of our public school system, championed the elimination of sectarianism from American schools, largely accomplished by the 1840s.

    Bible reading, prayers or hymns in public schools were absent from most public schools by the end of the 19th century, after Catholic or minority-religion immigrants objected to Protestant bias in public schools.

    As early as the 1850s, the Superintendent of Schools of New York state ordered that prayers could no longer be required as part of public school activities.

    The Cincinnati Board of Education ruled in 1869 that “religious instruction and the reading of religious books, including the Holy Bible, was prohibited in the common schools of Cincinnati.”

    Presidents Ulysses S. Grant and Theodore Roosevelt called for “absolutely nonsectarian public schools.” Roosevelt stated that it is “not our business to have the Protestant Bible or the Catholic Vulgate or the Talmud read in those schools.”

    In McCollum v. Board of Education (1948), the Supreme Court struck down religious instruction in public schools.

    In Tudor v. Board of Education of Rutherford, the Court let stand a lower court ruling that the practice of allowing volunteers to distribute Gideon Bibles at public schools was unconstitutional.

    In Engel v. Vitale (1962), the Court ruled that prayer in public schools is unconstitutional. In Abington Township School District v. Schempp (1963), Bible reading and recitation of the Lord’s Prayer in public schools were ruled unconstitutional.

    Posting the Ten Commandments in classrooms was declared unconstitutional in Stone v. Graham (1980). In Lee v. Weisman (1992), the Court ruled that prayers at public school graduation ceremonies are an establishment of religion.

    Although state-sanctioned prayer in schools was found unconstitutional, the high court did not seek to remove all study about religion.

    In fact, in Abington Township School District v. Schempp (1963), the justices maintained that a student’s education is not complete without instruction on the influence of religion on history, culture and literature.

    Justice Tom Clark, representing the court, wrote: “Nothing we have said here indicates that such study of the Bible or of religion, when presented objectively as part of a secular program of education, may not be effected consistently with the First Amendment.”

    Clark added that government could not force the exclusion of religion in schools “in the sense of affirmatively opposing or showing hostility to religion.”

    The court’s ruling suggested merely that a student’s family, not government, is responsible for decisions about religious instructions and guidance. There was respect, not hostility, toward religion in the court’s ruling.

    Justice Clark concluded:

    “The place of religion in our society is an exalted one, achieved through a long tradition of reliance on the home, the church, and the inviolable citadel of the individual heart and mind.

    “We have come to recognize through bitter experience that it is not within the power of government to invade that citadel, whether its purpose or effect be to aid or oppose, to advance or retard. In the relationship between man and religion, the State is firmly committed to a position of neutrality.”

    Yes. Neutrality. The government must remain laissez-faire towards all belief AND disbelief.

    The First Amendment reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

  19. I believe that if you want to have a bible study you can have it before or after school. But no religion should be pushed on anyone, that means cults also. You should be able to practice your religion by praying when you want but not make it draw attention to yourself.

  20. Religious minorities are protected in a secular democracy. LGBTS, like members of alternative religious movements unfairly labelled “cults” are closeted and forced to practice underground. There ARE similarities.

    Years ago, for example, we were celebrating my birthday at Golden Lotus, a vegan Vietnamese restaurant in the heart of downtown Oakland, CA.

    The beautiful bhaktin Kim Grant merely made a passing reference to a couple of older guests, Walt and Johanna, about “…the temple in Berkeley where we worship,” without disclosing our religious identity…

    Even though Walt was an atheist and a political liberal, and Johanna, a follower of Muktananda’s Siddha Yoga, was previously vegetarian for eighteen years, and was still morally opposed to vivisection (animal experimentation).

    And we were dining at a vegan restaurant run by followers of Buddhist spiritual master Ching Hai.

    In a 1982 interview, George Harrison said, “I think it’s better that it is spreading into the homes now. There are a lot of ‘closet Krishnas,’ you know.”

    (The other side treats us as if we were a “cult,” and wonders why?)

    George Harrison said, “It’s a pity you don’t have restaurants or temples on all the main streets of every town and village like those hamburger and fried chicken places. You should put them out of business.”

    The followers of Buddhist spiritual leader Supreme Master Ching Hai now boast some two hundred vegan restaurants worldwide, and are enjoying the kind of success Krishna Consciousness enjoyed in the ’60s and ’70s, and even into the 1980s with Govinda’s Vegetarian Restaurant.

    But even Veg-News, a slick, trendy vegan periodical out of San Francisco, accused them of being a “cult,” rather than seeing them as allies in the spread of veganism, forcing Zen Buddhist spiritual master Dr. Will Tuttle, author of The World Peace Diet, to come to their rescue!

    Chanting the names of God is a universal religious practice.

    Dr. Harvey Cox, a liberal Protestant theologian at the Harvard Divinity School, observes:

    “Almost every religion I know of has formulae, prayers, chants or hymns, in which the repetition of sound, is used for a devotional purpose… But I think that these criticisms of chanting or repetition of prayers as somehow mentally destructive are frankly some of the most uninformed and ignorant of the criticisms I’ve come across.

    “These sorts of criticisms cannot possibly by made by people who know anything about the history of religions, unless they want to come right out and say that they’re against all religion, or all devotional practices, all prayer — which I think many of them are. At least they ought to be honest and not conceal their personal bias under allegedly scientific language.”

    Every genuine religious tradition in the world teaches that God’s names are holy and meant to be glorified. The Bible contains numerous references to glorifying God and His holy name. (Exodus 15:3; Deuteronomy 32:2-3; I Chronicles 16:8-36; Psalms 29:2, 47:1, 86:11, 91:14, 96:1-3, 97:12, 98:4-6, 113:3, 116:1-17, 146:1, 148:1-5, 13)

    The Lord and His name are praised throughout the Psalms. “I will praise the name of God with a song,” says King David. (Psalm 69:30) In other places we read: “All nations whom Thou hast made shall come and worship before Thee, O Lord: and shall glorify Thy name.” (Psalm 86:9)

    “O give thanks unto the Lord; call upon His name; make known His deeds among the people. Sing unto Him, sing psalms unto Him: talk ye of all His wondrous works. Glory ye in His holy name.”

    (Psalm 105:1-4)

    “…Praise Him with the timbrel and the dance; praise Him upon the loud cymbals.”

    (Psalm 150:4-5)

    Israel Baal Shem Tov (1699-1761), the great Jewish mystic, founded Hasidism, a popular pietist movement within Judaism, in which members dance and chant in glorification of God. The Hasidism were especially influenced by verses in Psalms calling for the joyful worship of the Lord through song. (Psalms 100:1,2, 104:33)

    According to The Jewish Almanac: “In the Jewish tradition the name actually partakes of the essence of God. Thus, knowledge of the name is a vehicle to God, a conveyor of divine energy, an interface between the Infinite and the finite… It is curious that a tradition that places such a strong emphasis on the One God possesses such a large number of names for the divine. Each name, however, actually represents a different quality or aspect of God.”

    When teaching his disciples how to pray, Jesus Christ glorified God’s holy name: “Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name.” (Matthew 6:9) Jesus also approved of his disciples’ singing joyfully in praise of God. (Luke 19:36-40) Of his own name, Jesus said: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there with them.” (Matthew 18:20)

    The apostle Paul told his gentile followers to speak to one another in psalms and hymns, to sing heartily and make music to the Lord. Ephesians 5:19) He further taught them to instruct and admonish one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. (Colossians 3:16)

    Paul wrote to his gentile congregation in Rome: “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13) According to the historian Eusebius, there was “one common consent in chanting forth the praises of God,” in the early Christian churches.

    The Gregorian chants, popularized in the sixth century by Pope Gregory and later by works like Handel’s masterpiece the Messiah, with its resounding choruses of “hallelujah” (which means “praised be the name of God” in Hebrew), are still performed and appreciated all over the world.

    In addition to praising the Lord’s name and glories through music, song, and dance, there has also emerged the practice of meditating upon God by chanting upon beads of prayer.

    St. John Chrysostom recommended the “prayerful invocation of the name of God,” which he said should be “uninterrupted.” (I Thessalonians 5:17)

    “Holy people are most loving and gentle in their dealings with their fellows, and even with the lower animals: for this reason it was said that ‘A righteous man is merciful to the life of his beast,’” explained St. John Chrysostom (AD 347-407). “Surely we ought to show kindness and gentleness to animals for many reasons and chiefly because they are of the same origin as ourselves.”

    Writing about the Christian saints and ascetics, Chrysostom said: “No streams of blood are among them; no butchering and cutting of flesh… With their repast of fruits and vegetables even angels from heaven, as they behold it, are delighted and pleased.”

    Chrysostom considered flesh-eating a cruel and unnatural habit for Christians: “We imitate the ways of wolves, the ways of leopards, or rather we are worse than these. For nature has assigned that they should be thus fed, but us God hath honored with speech and a sense of equity, yet we are worse than the wild beasts.”

    In a homily on Matthew 22:1-4, Chrysostom taught: “We the Christian leaders practice abstinence from the flesh of animals to subdue our bodies… the unnatural eating of flesh-meat is of demonical origin… the eating of flesh is polluting.” He added that “flesh-meats and wine serve as materials for sensuality, and are a source of danger, sorrow, and disease.” And St. John Chrysostom recommended the “prayerful invocation of the name of God,” which he said should be “uninterrupted.” (I Thessalonians 5:17)

    Reverend Norman Moorhouse of the Church of England writes:

    “The rosary is chiefly associated with Roman Catholics, but many members of the Church of England also use it. And there are many Russian orthodox Christians who chant the name of Jesus several hundred or thousand times every day…

    “In the Book of Psalms there are biddings to praise the name of the Lord and to sing…I remember that during the Second World War, I was in Greece for Easter, and it was a wonderful thing to hear all the people chanting and singing ‘Christos anesethe’—Christ is risen.”

    The repetition of the Jesus prayer (“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me”) became a regular practice among members of the Eastern Church. In The Way of a Pilgrim, a Russian monk describes this form of meditation:

    “The continuous interior prayer of Jesus is a constant, uninterrupted calling upon the divine name of Jesus with the lips, in the spirit, in the heart… One who accustoms himself to this appeal experiences… so deep a consolation and so great a need to offer the prayer always, that he can no longer live without it.”

    “Perhaps you’ve heard about Hesychasm, a technique of mantra meditation that was employed by Christians as far back as the third century after Christ,” says the Reverend Alvin Hart, an Episcopal priest in New York. “The method was the simple chanting of ‘the Jesus prayer,’ which runs like this: ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me.’ I personally have found great comfort in this mantra.”

    According to Reverend Hart, “Although it was recently popularized by the New Age movement…’the Jesus Prayer’ has a long and venerable tradition in the Philokalia, an important book on Christian mysticism. The word Philokalia literally means ‘the love of spiritual beauty,’ and I can say that the book definitely brings its readers to that level of appreciation…

    “The Philokalia also emphasizes the importance of accepting a spiritual master. The Greek words used are starets and geront, but they basically mean the same thing. The result of chanting under a proper master is theosis, or the ‘respiritualization of the personality.’”

    Reverend Hart says, “When we call on God — and we should learn how to do this at every moment, even in the midst of our day-to-day work — we should be conscious of Him, and then our prayer will have deeper effects, deeper meaning. This, I know, is the basic idea of Krishna Consciousness. In the Christian tradition, too, we are told to ALWAYS pray ceaselessly. This is a biblical command. (I Thessalonians 5:17)

    “In a sense, this could also be considered the heart of the Christian process as well. For instance, in the Latin Mass, before the Gospel is read, there is a prayer spoken by the priest: dominus sit in corde meo et in labiis meis, which means, ‘May the Lord be in my heart and on my lips.’ What better way is there to have God on one’s lips than by chanting the holy name? Therefore, the Psalms tell us that from ‘the rising of the sun to its setting’ the Lord’s name is to be praised. And Paul echoes this idea by telling us that ‘whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.’ (Romans 10:13)”

    Dr. Klaus Klostermaier notes that meditation and prayer are “important in the Christian tradition, at least for certain sects and monastic orders… In the Philokalia and in the path recommended by The Pilgrim, you find the…’Jesus Prayer,’ which may be unknown to most Christians today, but was very powerful in its time.

    “So people are aware of the potency of ‘the name’ and the importance of focusing on it as a mantra… But it must be done with devotion… The idea of logos, or ‘the Word,’ has elaborate theological meaning that is intimately tied to the nature of Jesus and, indeed, to the nature of God.”

    “All the basic principles of bhakti yoga are richly exemplified in Christianity,” writes Dr. Houston Smith in The Religions of Man. Dr. Smith is a Professor of Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His 1958 book is used as a standard text in major universities. Dr. Smith explains the fundamental principle of bhakti or devotion:

    “All we have to do in this yoga is to love God dearly — not just say we love Him but love Him in fact, love Him only (loving other things because of Him), and love Him for no ulterior reason (even from the desire for liberation) but for love’s sake alone…

    “…every strengthening of our affections toward God will weaken the world’s grip. The saint may, indeed will, love the world far more than the addict, but he will love it in a very different way, seeing in it the reflected glory of the God he adores.

    “How is this love of God to be developed?” asks Dr. Smith. “Japa is the practice of repeating the names of God. It finds a close Christian parallel in one of the classics of Russian Orthodoxy, The Way of a Pilgrim. This book is the story of an unnamed peasant whose first concern is to fulfill the biblical injunction to ‘Pray without ceasing.’

    “He wanders through Russia and Siberia with a knapsack of dried bread for food and the charity of men for shelter, consulting many authorities only to come away empty-hearted until… he meets a holy man who teaches him ‘a constant, uninterrupted calling upon the divine Name of Jesus with the lips, in the spirit, in the heart… at all times, in all places, even during sleep.’

    “The peasant’s teacher trains him until he can repeat the name of Jesus more than 12,000 times a day without strain. ‘This frequent service of the lips imperceptibly becomes a genuine appeal of the heart.’ The prayer becomes a constant warming presence within him… a ‘bubbling joy.’ ‘Keep the name of the Lord spinning in the midst of all your activities’ is the Hindu statement of the same point.”

    In Islam, the names of God are held sacred and meditated upon. According to tradition, there are ninety-nine names of Allah, found inscribed upon monuments such as the Taj Mahal and on the walls of mosques. These names are chanted on an Islamic rosary, which consists of three sets of thirty-three beads.

    The Sanskrit literatures of ancient India are diverse and cover a vast body of knowledge. The one hundred eight principle Upanishads tend to focus primarily on spiritual wisdom, while the eighteen Puranas contain historical narrations from the distant past, when humans were pious, civilizations were more enlightened and the miraculous was ordinary. The Kali-santarana Upanishad emphasizes chanting:

    “Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna
    Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare
    Hare Rama, Hare Rama
    Rama Rama, Hare Hare”

    to counteract the ill effects of this present age of spiritual darkness, while the Brihan-naradiya Purana emphatically states thrice that there is no alternative for spiritual deliverance in this age other than chanting God’s holy names. Traditionally, the Lord is glorified congregationally, with drums, cymbals and dance, or He may be praised individually, in silent prayer, upon rosary beads.

    Dr. Guy Beck’s PhD thesis, Sonic Theology: Hinduism and the Soteriological Function of Sacred Sound examines the doctrine that the Word or divine sound can have a “salvific” effect. Examining the Vaishnava (worshippers of Lord Vishnu, or Krishna) practice of chanting God’s names upon beads of prayer, he observes: “…a work from the sixth century AD, entitled the Jayakhya-Samhita, contains… many early references to the practice of japa or silent prayer.

    “It says that there are three considerations in doing japa repetitions — employing the rosary (the akshamala), saying the words aloud (vachika) or repeating them in a low voice (upamshu). There are quite a few details in this text, garnered from early sources, and so a case can be made for a pre-Islamic, and even pre-Christian, use of beads or rosary in the Vaishnava tradition.”

    Because the Roman Catholics did not begin using rosary or japa beads until the era of St. Dominic, or the 12th century, Dr. Beck concludes, “the Vaishnavas were chanting japa from very early on.”

    Father Robert Stephens, a Catholic priest in Australia, considers Krishna “one of the many names of God.” He writes that he is “saddened at the narrowness and arrogance of many Christian fundamentalists;” “those who claim a monopoly on all truth or goodness;” “those who desperately cling only to external forms under the pretense of faith in God,” and “those who have turned their Sacred scriptures into mere weaponry against those who differ from themselves.”

    According to Father Stephens, we who engage in interreligious discussion “have firm support from the Catholic Church, especially the Second Vatican Council, and from such official bodies as the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and the Dialogue Commission of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India.”

    Father Stephens observes that “Because spiritual riches belong to all, dialogue and sharing are not an optional extra in a pluralistic society. We cannot live in a fortress of one-eyed people.” Father Gerald O’Collins SJ, similarly, is of the opinion that the Bible does not necessarily provide authoritative answers to new questions which arise in the life of the Church, and that the Bible is not that kind of “norm for every problem and every situation.”

    Father Bede Griffiths says of Bhagavad-gita, “For a Christian, this is a wonderful confirmation of God’s love contained in the Gospel.” Meister Eckhart wrote: “When we say God is ‘eternal,’ we mean God is eternally young.” This is Krishna Consciousness. God is an eternal youth.

    Matthew Fox’s statement that “God and God’s Son are ultimately attractive and alluring because of their beauty” is also consistent with Vaishnavaism. The name “Krishna” means “the all attractive one.”

    Dr. Harvey Cox, a liberal Protestant theologian at the Harvard Divinity School, favorably compares Krishna Consciousness with Christianity:

    “You can see the obvious similarities. Here you have the idea of a personal God who becomes incarnate… revealing what God is about and eliciting a form of participation in the life of God.

    “I think a Christian will have some natural sensitivity to Krishna devotion… devotion of the heart, that is, pietistic Christianity… We noted several surprising similarities between what you might call Appalachian folk religion and Krishna Consciousness. Both religions put a big emphasis on joy, the spiritual joy of praising God…

    “…both traditions emphasize puritanical values and practice certain forms of asceticism such as no drinking, no smoking, no non-marital sex and no gambling… Both seem to put more emphasis on a future life or another world.”

    According to Dr. Cox, “You have to remember that if you had been there at the early Methodist frontier revivals here in America… you would have seen some very ecstatic behavior… jumping up and down and singing. This sort of ecstatic religious behavior is, of course, associated with religious devotion from time immemorial in virtually every culture. We happen to be living in a culture which is very restricted, unimaginative, and narrow in this regard.”

    The Sikh religion is a blend of Hinduism and Islam. The Sikhs emphasize the name of God, calling Him “Nama,” or “the Name.” Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion, prayed, “In the ambrosial hours of the morn I meditate on the grace of the true Name,” and says that he was instructed by God in a vision to “Go and repeat My Name, and cause others to do likewise.”

    Rosaries are used in Buddhism. Members of Japan’s largest Buddhist order, the Pure Land sect, practice repetition of the name of the compassionate Buddha (“namu amida butsu”). Founder, Shinran Shonin says, “The virtue of the Holy Name, the gift of him that is enlightened, is spread throughout the world.” Followers believe that through the name of Buddha a worshiper is liberated from repeated birth and death and joins the Buddha in the “Pure Land.”

    Religions all over the world teach that God’s names are holy and meant to be glorified. A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada’s humble requests to the confused and alienated American youth of the late 1960s are especially relevant today:

    “…don’t commit suicide. Take to chanting this Hare Krishna mantra, and all real knowledge will be revealed… We are not charging anything… No. It is open for everyone. Please take it… That is our request. We are begging you — don’t spoil your life. Please take this mantra and chant it wherever you like… chant, and you’ll feel ecstasy.”

    “…and you can develop (love of God) so simply. You just hallow the name of the Lord. Jesus says, ‘hallowed be Thy name, my Father.’ And we are also hallowing the name of the Lord. We don’t even demand you say ‘Krishna.’ You can say ‘Jehovah.’ You can say ‘Yahweh.’ You can chant the names of God…”

    –Srimad Bhagavatam lecture, 1972

    “If one has become a lover of God, naturally he will be detached from material enjoyment. Love of God and love of the material world cannot go together. Lord Jesus Christ never advised going for economic development, for industrial development. He sacrificed everything for God. That is one test — ‘Here is a lover of God.’ Lord Jesus Christ was punished. He was ordered, ‘Stop this preaching.’ But he did not. So that is love of God. He sacrificed everything.

    “The idea is that Lord Jesus Christ and his followers must both be, at least to some extent, at that point. That is the test. So we say that you follow any religious path. Which one doesn’t matter. We want to see whether you are a lover of God. That is our propaganda…

    “But Jesus Christ never said that he is God. He said ‘son of God.’ We have no objection to chanting the holy name of Jesus Christ. We are preaching, ‘Chant the holy name of God.’ If you haven’t got any name of God, then you can chant our conception of the name of God, Krishna. But we don’t say only Krishna…

    “And it is such a simple thing. They don’t have to go to a church or temple. It doesn’t matter if they are in hell or heaven. In any condition they can chant the holy name of God… There is no charge, there is no fee, there is no loss. If there is some gain, why not try for it?…

    “So what more do you want? Therefore let us cooperate. Don’t think that it is against Christianity or that it is sectarian. Let us cooperate fully. Jointly let us preach all over the world, ‘Chant the holy names of God.’ Let us join together. That should be the real purpose of devotees of God. My students are preaching love of God. Why should others be envious of them? We don’t say that you must chant Hare Krishna. If you have a name of God, chant it.”

    —Room conversation, London, August 14, 1971

    As to Jesus’ words: “When you pray do not repeat and repeat as the pagans do,” some Bible translations appear to be attacking chanting or praying in “vain repetition.”

    Was Jesus attacking the *method* of prayer (chanting/repeating) as being pagan, or rather the *mentality* behind the prayer?

    Matthew 6:7 suggests Jesus was attacking chanting/repeating, or praying “in vain repetition” as a pagan practice.

    However, Jesus goes on to say in Matthew 6:31-32 (in the very same chapter!): “Do not, then, be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ For on all these things pagans center their interest, while your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.”

    Jesus told his followers there is no need to pray to God for material blessings or even necessities. (Matthew 6:8, 31-33; Luke 12:29-30)

    The *pagans* concern themselves with these things.

    When Jesus taught his disciples how to pray, he began by teaching them to hallow God’s name, and to pray to do God’s will on earth as it is in heaven — to be a servant of God. (Matthew 6:9-13)

    This is the Hare Krishna mantra, which can roughly be translated as, “O Lord, please engage me in Your service.”

    Repetition helps keep the mind focused on God, rather than on worldly distractions.

    “Haribol” (“praise Hari!”) is the Sanskrit equivalent to “Hallelujah” (which means “praised be the name of God” in Hebrew).

    George Harrison explained his putting the chanting of Hare Krishna in his 1970 hit song, “My Sweet Lord”:

    “Well, first of all, ‘Hallelujah’ is a glorious expression the Christians have, but Hare Krishna has a mystical side to it. It’s more than just glorifying God; it’s asking to become His servant…

    “Although Christ in my mind is an absolute yogi, I think many Christian teachers today are misrepresenting Christ. They’re supposed to be representing Jesus, but they’re not doing it very well. They’re letting him down very badly, and that’s a big turn off.”

    The late Reverend Janet Regina Hyland (1933 – 2007), raised Catholic, but went on to become an evangelical minister, a vegan, and author of God’s Covenant with Animals (it’s available through People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA), wrote me on July 21, 2007:

    “I also received your paper on Krishna Consciousness and Christianity (Points of Similarity). Being familiar with Christian monasticism, I always saw many similarities between the two. When Catholics say the rosary beads, they are repeating the same prayers, over and over…

    “When I was at the Assembly of God Seminary, we would attend revival meetings at local and rural churches… ecstatic behavior pretty much defined the services.”

    James Clovispoint comments:

    “Interfaith anything is an illusion.

    “Though I applaud anyone who deeply wants to see the world’s communities agree on human friendship, when it comes to religion, there is nothing more segregationalist and segregating than a religion; there is no way around that.

    “Each religion segregates those who have faith in a specific god from those who do not, those who practice the religion in a specific way from those who do not, and the list goes on; those who sit, kneel, instead of stand, on the right foot, the left foot, both feet. Those who hold a candle, a bowl, two candles, two bowls, from those who dance to the left instead of to the right… the list is too long.

    “All religions however put forth their good will to dialogue. Ah, dialogue!!

    “I once asked why, after all of this dialogue, over many years, why religions had not come to some compromise on the real nature of the universal god they all seem to believe in. I was told that one cannot compromise on THE truth that of course only one of them has.

    “This means that dialogue is a facade that leads to my trying to convert you to my truth; illusion and delusion is the result.”

    Mathematics professor turned novelty songwriter Tom Lehrer similarly sang:

    “Oh, the Protestants hate the Catholics
    “And the Catholics hate the Protestants
    “And the Hindus hate the Muslims
    “And everybody hates the Jews

    “But during National Brotherhood Week, National Brotherhood Week
    “It’s National Everyone-smile-at-one-another-hood Week
    “Be nice to people who
    “Are inferior to you
    “It’s only for a week, so have no fear
    “Be grateful that it doesn’t last all year!”

    On pilgrimage to a Krishna temple in Santa Cruz, CA with the beautiful bhaktin Kim Grant, I pointed out that there are so many different denominations within Christianity:

    Catholics, Baptists, Unitarians, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, Christian Scientists, etc…

    With differing views on the divinity of Jesus, the afterlife, grace Vs works, the Trinity, etc…

    So there’s no reason they can’t be accepting of Krishna devotees, too, as part of the American mainstream.

    “But they (the different Christian denominations) all hate each other!” Kim exclaimed.

    She’s right.

    It’s possible that without church-state separation, religious strife would have torn our country apart.

    A secular state is laissez-faire towards all belief and disbelief.

    It was Thomas Jefferson who established the separation of church and state. Jefferson was deeply suspicious of religion and of clergy wielding political power.

    Jefferson helped create the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom in 1786, incurring the wrath of Christians by his fervent defense of toleration of atheists:

    “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts as are only injurious to others. But it does no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”

    “This country (the United States) wasn’t founded by Christians…”

    –Ron McClellan, 1990

    A Roman Catholic priest, Reverend David K. O’Rourke, said, “Every religious group in the United States is a minority group. Some may be unhappy with this status and wish they had official standing. I am not unhappy with it. The Catholic Church, the largest of these minorities, has prospered greatly in this country where we separate church and state.”

    According to journalist Rob Boston of Americans United for Separation of Church and State: “We have a vibrant, multifaith religious society that, with the exception of a few fundamentalist Muslim states, is admired all over the globe. We have a degree of interfaith harmony unmatched in the world. Our government is legally secular, but our culture accommodates and welcomes a variety of religious voices. New faiths take root here without fear…

    “Some European nations have passed so-called anticult laws aimed at curbing the rights of unpopular new religions. Such laws would not be acceptable in the United States or permitted under the First Amendment.

    Children are no longer forced to pray in school or read from religious texts against their will, yet they are free to engage in truly voluntary religious worship whenever they feel the need. The important task of imparting religious and philosophical training to youngsters is left where it always belonged—with each child’s parents or guardians…

    “Americans remain greatly interested in religion and things spiritual—unlike their counterparts in Western Europe, where religion is often state subsidized but of little interest to most people…

    “Because the U.S. government is secular, religious groups are left to contend for members based solely on their own initiative. They create a free marketplace of religion that spurs competition and a vigorous religious life. This explains why the United States, which maintains church-state separation, retains a high degree of religiosity among its people.

    (On the other hand, as my friend and college roommate John Antypas noted in 1985, the deeply religious fled religious persecution in Europe and came to the United States because it was safe here, so, “We got all the nuts!” That’s John… always the cynic!)

    “In a multifaith society such as the United States,” observes Boston, “a type of religious marketplace does exist. Religious groups that aggressively seek converts, such as the Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses, are well aware that people in the United States are able and even willing to change their religious beliefs. To these groups, it’s well worth it to enter the marketplace and advertise their goods. Lots of people might buy them…

    “The more sophisticated and perceptive believers realize that the separation principle is a boon to their faith,” notes Rob Boston. “They see danger in any attempt by government to decide which religion is true and which is false. They know that a faith that is in favor with the government today can be out of favor tomorrow. These believers are thankful for the free marketplace of religion and the secular state that makes it possible. They understand that the way to get new members is through persuasion, not government aid.”

    In a secular democracy, there’s no reason we can’t merely respect and appreciate the similarities as well as the differences between each other’s faiths.

    “I understand something about the deep spiritual concepts which are upheld in India and I appreciate them,” said Pope John Paul II. “I’ve heard about Krishna. Krishna is great.”

    Srila Prabhupada was pleased when Southern Cross wrote a very favorable article about the Hare Krishna movement. He wanted Christians and Vaishnavas to cooperate and respect and appreciate each other’s faith.

    “The Hare Krishna movement should be a source of inspiration and move us Christians on to give closer attention to the very spiritual teachings of Jesus,” says Father Kenneth L. Robertson, a Roman Catholic priest in Nova Scotia, Canada. “My prayer is that this good work prosper and be appreciated by all men and women of good will for the greater good of mankind.”

    Father Robert Stephens, a Catholic priest in Australia, considers Krishna “one of the many names of God.” He writes that he is “saddened at the narrowness and arrogance of many Christian fundamentalists;” “those who claim a monopoly on all truth or goodness;” “those who desperately cling only to external forms under the pretense of faith in God,” and “those who have turned their Sacred Scriptures into mere weaponry against those who differ from themselves.”

    According to Father Stephens, we who engage in interreligious discussion “have firm support from the Catholic Church, especially the Second Vatican Council, and from such official bodies as the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and the Dialogue Commission of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India.”

    Father Stephens observes that “Because spiritual riches belong to all, dialogue and sharing are not an optional extra in a pluralistic society. We cannot live in a fortress of one-eyed people.” Father Gerald O’Collins SJ, similarly, is of the opinion that the Bible does not necessarily provide authoritative answers to new questions which arise in the life of the Church, and that the Bible is not that kind of “norm for every problem and every situation.”

    Father Bede Griffiths says of Bhagavad-gita, “For a Christian, this is a wonderful confirmation of God’s love contained in the Gospel.”

    Meister Eckhart wrote: “When we say God is ‘eternal,’ we mean God is eternally young.” This is Krishna Consciousness. God is an eternal youth.

    Matthew Fox’s statement that “God and God’s Son are ultimately attractive and alluring because of their beauty” is also consistent with Vaishnavaism. The name “Krishna” means “the all attractive one.”

    World Religions: From Ancient History to the Present, edited by Geoffrey Parrinder, states that one conclusion of Bhagavad-gita is:

    “…there is no rebirth when a man devotes his whole heart to the Lord. The wicked man who adores the Lord becomes holy; even women, vaishyas and shudras (are saved).”

    The Vaishnava tradition is described as a warm, devotional religion, drawing women and members of the low castes to itself… first announced in the Gita…destined for a long and fruitful career through Indian history.”

    World Religions explains: “The Vaishnava saints… wrote ecstatic poetry in praise of the Lord in the vernacular…”

    A key Vaishnavaite doctrine is that of prapatti, or throwing oneself completely on God’s mercy; feeling oneself completely dependent upon the Lord. One school of thought teaches that receiving salvation is comparable to the monkey, which carries its young clinging to its belly—the individual must properly use his free will for grace to assent. Another school of thought uses the analogy of the cat which carries its kitten by the neck—God’s grace requires no human effort.

    In Bhagavad-gita (“The Lord’s Song”), Lord Krishna reveals Himself as an incarnation of God to His disciple Arjuna. According to the Gita (11.48), one cannot come to know God personally by study of the scriptures, nor by performing sacrifices, nor by charity, nor by good deeds, nor by penances.

    The Gita (11.54-55) teaches that God can only be known through love and devotion. The Brahma-Samhita (34) says the ascetics and deep thinkers who try to understand God through their own abilities merely touch the outskirts of His lotus feet, and do not know Him intimately. The Gita (Ch. 12) explains one must lead a life of devotion to a personal God. Those completely devoted to God are not affected by worldly conflicts, concerns, and entanglements, and are very, very dear to Him.

    The Lord’s devotees are lifted by the Lord into a state of spiritual grace; free from the entanglements of the world and the flesh, because—by His mercy—they are able to serve Him personally. (Gita 14.26-27) One can understand God only by devotion. (Gita 18.55) Only through devotion can one enter into the kingdom of God. One must surrender oneself completely to God.

    By His grace (the exact Sanskrit verse is “tat-prasadat”) one receives everlasting peace and the spiritual Kingdom. (Gita 18.58-66)

    And this spirit of interfaith discussion and cooperation extends to people of other faiths and others as well (Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Jains, atheists, agnostics, Wiccans, Scientologists, etc.)!

    In 1974, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada asked Father Emmanuel Jungclaussen, a Benedictine monk, “What is the meaning of the word Christ?”

    Father Emmanuel replied, “Christ comes from the Greek word Christos, meaning ‘the anointed one.'”

    Srila Prabhupada said, “Christos is the Greek version of the word Krishna.”

    Father Emmanuel answered, “This is very interesting.”

    Srila Prabhupada explained: “When an Indian person calls on Krishna, he often says ‘Krishta.’ Krishta is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘attraction.’ So when we address God as ‘Christ,’ ‘Krishta,’ or ‘Krishna,’ we indicate the same all-attractive Supreme Personality of Godhead.

    “When Jesus said, ‘Our Father who art in heaven, sanctified be Thy Name,’ that name of God was ‘Krishta’ or ‘Krishna.”

    George Harrison similarly said in a 1982 interview, “Hallelujah may have originally been some mantric thing that got watered down, but I’m not sure what it really means. The Greek word for Christ is Kristos, which is, let’s face it, Krishna, and Kristos is the same name actually.”

    (Secular scholars and theologians dispute this interreligious claim!)

    A few years ago, when Kim and I were staffing a table at the World Vegetarian Weekend festival in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, we were seated next to the Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA).

    Kim immediately went up and introduced herself to Patricia Koot, an Adventist Christian, whose husband Dave is an ordained minister.

    Kim explained we’re all worshipping the same God, whether we address Him as “Christ,” “Krishna,” etc.

    Patricia didn’t know what to make of Kim’s attempts at interfaith harmony, but hey, that’s another story!

    I later told Dave, when he was saying grace over some vegan cuisine, that Srila Prabhupada taught us that saying grace is second-class, and that the highest standard is to offer one’s food to the Lord beforehand.

    Srila Prabhupada gave an example of guests seated at a banquet. He said the third-class man will immediately dig in and start eating without acknowledging the host who has provided the food. The second-class man will thank the host and then begin to eat, but the first-class man will say to the host, “You first,” and will eat only after the host has partaken.

    Similarly, I said, the highest standard of worship is to offer one’s food to God beforehand.

    Again, Srila Prabhupada wanted Christians and Vaishnavas to cooperate and respect and appreciate each other’s faith.

    There’s no reason why we, in a secular democracy, can’t give copies of the Bhagavad-gita to Dave & Patricia Koot, Reverend Cecil Williams of Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco, Reverend Barry Lynn of the United Church of Christ, etc.

    The same applies to pro-life and animal activism. This point was made clear in a 1989 interview with the now-defunct Animals’ Agenda by Reverend Andrew Linzey, an Anglican priest, author of Christianity and the Rights of Animals, and the foremost theologian in the field of animal-human relations.

    Christians have found themselves unable to agree upon many pressing moral issues — including abortion. Exodus 21:22-24 says if two men are fighting and one injures a pregnant woman and the child is killed, he shall repay her according to the degree of injury inflicted upon her, and not the fetus. On the other hand, the Didache (Apostolic Church teaching) forbade abortion.

    “There has to be a frank recognition that the Christian church is divided on every moral issue under the sun: nuclear weapons, divorce, homosexuality, capital punishment, animals, etc.,” says Reverend Linzey. “I don’t think it’s desirable or possible for Christians to agree upon every moral issue. And, therefore, I think within the church we have no alternative but to work within diversity.”

    Rodney King, who called himself a “poster child for police brutality,” asked in the aftermath of the Los Angeles riots of 1992:

    “I just want to say, you know, can we all get along? Can we get along?”

    Americans United
    for Separation of Church and State
    1310 L Street NW, Suite 200
    Washington, DC 20005
    (202) 466-3234
    americansunited@au.org

  21. Where is freedom of religion? If you don’t want a bible you say “no thank you” and move on. If you want one you take one. Easy Peasy.

  22. “Bring Your Bible to School Day is an annual event each October and sponsored by Focus on the Family.” Is it a recognized day in all public schools? Or Focus on the Family says let’s do it. If it is considered an annual event in public schools than it should be honored. But there is more power in watching students live the Christian life depicted in the Bible if the Christian Bible cannot be shared in a public school.

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