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Is a Boom in Religion Just Ahead?

Citizen Link - Sun, 04/28/2013 - 01:24

We know the sad, tired tale. Religion is declining, secularism is growing and there is nothing we can do about it. I have tended to think this myself and have written it a time or two.

But this is the conventional wisdom—and we know what they say about the conventional wisdom. There are two other explanations for what we’re seeing in the culture, both counter-intuitive and both of them highly encouraging. First: We may be on the verge of a significant upswing in religious participation. Second: The government may actually encourage it.

Both of these thoughts are continued in a new book by Frank Newport, editor in chief of the Gallup polling organization, and the findings are drawn from hundreds of thousands of interviews with Americans. Of course, since the author is trying to predict the future from the past, his findings are speculative, but nevertheless, the book title itself is bracing enough: God is Alive and Well. The author sees several significant trends on the horizon.

First, as people get older, they take faith much more seriously, starting at about age 60. And soon there will be a lot more people this age, given that the Baby Boom generation is nearing its retirement years. Newport isn’t shy about what he sees ahead as a result. “Churches will boom; religious literature will dominate bestseller lists; and religious programs will become mainstays on radio, television and the Internet.”

Secondly, it is a fact beyond dispute that religion makes people healthier—substantially so. Given that health care costs are rising chronically, it may be that discounts on health insurance may be offered for those who attend church regularly or who otherwise demonstrate their religious participation. Given the government’s increasing role in health care, tax incentives may be offered to encourage people to consider religion. Now, wouldn’t this be astonishing!

This one is a stretch, though. First of all, lawsuits would abound and the courts ultimately would have their say. Secondly, the political fight would be substantial, but it would be a struggle worthy of engagement.

Newport brings some other surprising observations to the fore. The first is that Americans generally are about as religious as they have always been, although a small decline is evident. More significant is the fact that people are changing the way they express themselves about religion. The growing number of young people who say “none” in response to a pollster’s question on religious identification, may not be less religious at all, only less familiar with the traditional ways people classify themselves.

For example, the word “Protestant” is losing its meaning in today’s culture because growing numbers of evangelical churches don’t bother to emphasize the term. Either those churches have long since parted company with formal denominations, or they have sprouted up without ever having associated with them. Today a Protestant may be a Protestant without even knowing it.

By the way, the author speculates that American people now are more religious than they were at the time of the country’s founding. Though polls weren’t done then, he cites the conclusions of sociologists Randy Starke and Roger Finke, whose exhaustive study of the era leads them to believe that the rate of church membership is far higher now.

What does all of this mean? If these trends bear out, will we be seeing more impact on the culture rather than less? Well, perhaps we will, if people who begin to embrace faith in increasing numbers decide to do what the pages of this magazine have always told them to do: “Let your voice be heard.”

Tom Minnery is the senior vice president of government and public policy. Do you know someone who’s bravely done the right thing in your community? Send your stories to [email protected].

Focus on the Family Citizen magazine sets the record straight on the issues that affect your family, your community and your church. You’ll read about local heroes and find practical steps to help you make a difference. If you want a nation that honors faith, family and freedom, Citizen is for you.

WE ARE SENT Movement

Citizen Link - Fri, 04/26/2013 - 17:35

Written by the North Dakota Family Alliance
April 25, 2013                                           

CitizenLink is proud to work with the Written by the North Dakota Family Alliance and other organizations across the country to stand for marriage, life and religious freedom.

Today we are going live with a new website to connect with young adults across the state.  We realize the importance of our younger generation in determining the future, and very much want them to be a part of the discussion and our NDFA mission.

The website will be structured to connect with the younger generation, including those commonly known as the millennials.  The blog will address the important issues of the day, with an opportunity for a healthy discourse on those issues.

Carly, from our NDFA office, will be the administrator of the site.  As a full fledged member of that young adult group, Carly has shared the first blog post on marriage.  Contact Carly with any suggestions for the new website.

While the site is open to all, we especially encourage sharing the site with family and friends who fall into that ‘younger adult’ age group. 

Here is the site www.wearesentmovement.com

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Learn more about the North Dakota Family Alliance.

Lawmaker Introduces D.C. Fetal Pain Bill

Citizen Link - Fri, 04/26/2013 - 17:31

A Republican lawmaker introduced legislation Friday that would ban abortions in the District of Columbia after the 20th week of pregnancy, when a preborn baby can begin to feel pain.

Rep. Trent Franks urged Congress to pass the D.C. Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. He said in a statement that abortionist Kermit Gosnell’s murder trial underscores the “brutal and torturous enterprise.”

“This trial brings to light the gruesome nature of what happens in abortion clinics all across the country,” the Arizona lawmaker added, “including our nation’s Capital where abortions are legal up to the moment of birth.”

Gosnell, 72, was charged with murdering seven newborn babies and one pregnant woman at his abortion business in Philadelphia. A 2011 Grand Jury Report says Gosnell delivered “live, viable babies in the third trimesters of pregnancy — then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors.”

“Congress must act immediately to protect children from the Gosnells of our nation,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List). “We praise Rep. Franks for his courage, and urge all members of Congress to vote in favor of protecting unborn children from the horrific pain of abortion.”

On Monday, pro-life leaders will hold a prayer vigil and news conference outside the Philadelphia courthouse where closing arguments in the Gosnell case will be held that day.

The Rev. Patrick Mahoney, who will spearhead the event, said participants will pray that these “acts of violence against women and children be brought to justice,” so that we would “never have to witness atrocities like this again.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Watch pro-life representatives speak out on the Gosnell case.

Read “The truth about the Kermit Gosnell trial.”

Watch 3801 Lancaster, a documentary following the Gosnell case as it unfolds.
Warning: Contains graphic images.

Watch “CitizenLink Report: Exposing the Abortion Industry.”

Family Research Council Releases Video of Attack at its D.C. Headquarters

Citizen Link - Fri, 04/26/2013 - 17:25

Family Research Council (FRC) posted video of a gunman who shot a security guard in its lobby last August. The video also shows an FBI interrogation where the suspects admits he chose FRC as a target based on the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) website labeling it as a “hate group.”

Floyd Lee Corkins had a semi-automatic pistol, 100 bullets and 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches in a backpack. He shot FRC building manager Leo Johnson. Johnson then tackled the shooter and held him until police arrived. Corkins later pleaded guilty to three charges, including committing an act of domestic terrorism while armed — the first such charge in D.C.

“The SPLC’s reckless labeling has led to devastating consequences,” said FRC President Tony Perkins. “Because of its ‘hate group’ labeling, a deadly terrorist had a guidemap to FRC and other organizations. Our team is still dealing with the fallout of the attack that was intended to have a chilling effect on organizations that are simply fighting for their values.”

Corkins has said that he wanted to “kill people in the building and then smear a Chick-fil-A sandwich in their face … to kill as many people as I could.”

He told the FBI that the SPLC lists “anti-gay groups” online. “I did a little bit of research, went to the website.”

Perkins said the SPLC needs to change.

“The Southern Poverty Law Center, which has now been linked to domestic terrorism in federal court, should put an immediate stop to its practice of labeling organizations that oppose their promotion of homosexuality,” Perkins explained.

What we need, he added, is to engage in honest discussions.

“In a civil society, shutting down debate is not how reasonable people and organizations operate,” Perkins said. “Intimidating and bullying others shreds the ‘ordered liberty’ of which they advocated, and places all of us in jeopardy of losing our sacred rights as militant extremists claim the public square exclusively for themselves.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Watch the video here.

Abortion Access Bill Returns for Another Hearing

Citizen Link - Thu, 04/25/2013 - 18:18

Written by Research Assistant Lori Arnold for the California Family Alliance
April 23, 2013

CitizenLink is proud to work with the Written by the California Family Alliance and other organizations across the country to stand for marriage, life and religious freedom.

The concerted effort to expand abortion in California returns to the forefront Tuesday as the Assembly Health Committee takes on a plan by Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) to lower the medical standards required to perform abortions statewide.

Two weeks ago Atkins’ Assembly Bill (AB) 154 passed through the chamber’s Business, Professions and Consumer Protection Committee by a partisan 9-4 vote. Atkins is hoping that the recent passage in that committee bodes well for her measure since a similar measure authored by former Sen. Christine Kehoe last year failed to advance out of that same committee.

As we proved last year, however, constituent pressure can still derail some of the most progressive legislative proposals. It is not too late to apply that same pressure. To help make the process easier, we’ve included a list of Assembly Health Committee members below.

If Atkins’ bill is ultimately approved by lawmakers and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown any nurse practitioner, physician’s assistant or nurse midwife could be certified to perform surgical abortions in California. It is imperative that legislators understand the grave risks upon women should the notion of wider access trump established medical standards.

In addition to the abortion bill, the Legislature this week continues with its push for the normalization of homosexuality with proposals that would mandate LGBT cultural competency and sensitivity for all court employees and volunteers, and residential care administrators. Of course, with forced normalization comes forced silencing of religious expression and rights of conscience.

A committee will also consider a plan to formally expand gambling by legalizing sports wagering for non-California teams.

Regarding issues of human life and children, lawmakers last week passed out of committee three proposed bills with adverse impacts: AB 714 (Wieckowski, D-Fremont), which provides $2 million in funding for embryonic stem cell research for spinal cord injuries, AB 926 (Bonilla, D-Concord), which allows women to be paid to “donate” their eggs for research, and AB 1266 (Ammiano, D-San Francisco), which forces school districts to accommodate perceived gender for all student activities. See the action list below for more specifics on the votes.

While there continues to be a wave of questionable legislation emanating from the Capitol, there are some bright spots on the docket this week. A series of good bills designed to protect children include a pair requiring background checks for those involved in youth sports, increased penalties for removing GPS devices, improved evaluation and discipline standards for teachers, and a plan to expand “criminal gang activity” to include human traffickers and to limit their access to children after their release.

On another positive note, Senate Bill (SB) 160 (Lara, D-Long Beach), a child protection measure for school districts and charter campuses, was unanimously approved in the Senate Education Committee last week. Lara’s bill requires administrators to notify the state Department of Education when a classified employee accused of misconduct, including child abuse, leaves the district through resignation, termination or retirement before the investigation is completed. The department must also provide that information to requesting school districts as part of pre-employment screening.

On the horizon, SB 323 (Lara, D-Long Beach), the measure that would punish the Boy Scouts and any other non-profit youth organizations that ban open homosexuality by yanking their tax-exempt status, will be heard next week in the Senate Appropriations Committee. The bill has already passed through the Senate Governance and Finance Committee with a 5-2 vote. The committee list for the Appropriations Committee is also listed below.

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Learn more about the California Family Alliance.

Rhode Island Senate Approves Marriage Redefinition Bill

Citizen Link - Thu, 04/25/2013 - 18:12

The Rhode Island Senate approved a bill Wednesday that could create same-sex marriage in the state. The House will have to vote on the legislation once more before it gets sent to the governor.

“The House already approved it by an overwhelmingly majority,” Scott Spear, an advisory board member for Rhode Island for Marriage (RI4M) told CitizenLink. “The new hearing is to reconcile some insignificant differences between the two bills.” The vote is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday.

This is the first time lawmakers have voted to redefine marriage in the state. Sponsors of the bill tried to do so in 2011, but were unsuccessful. Also that year, Gov. Lincoln Chafee signed a civil union bill into law.

Rhode Island will join the District of Columbia and nine states — Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Iowa, Washington, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts and New York — which have all redefined marriage.

What’s the next step for RI4M?

“There’s nothing that can be done to stop this train,” Spear said, “it’s out of the station. But we can prepare to lay the protective groundwork to minimize the damage this bill will cause. Its level of protection is not sufficient to protect business owners and parents who will be negatively impacted.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Learn more about Rhode Island’s same-sex marriage bill.

Pray for America Takes Place Next Week

Citizen Link - Thu, 04/25/2013 - 18:05

Millions of people across the country will gather in thousands of separate events to worship and pray next Thursday in honor of the annual National Day of Prayer (NDP).

Greg Laurie, senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship, will serve at the Honorary Chairman of 2013 Pray for America. He will deliver the keynote address at the National Observance in Washington, D.C. Laurie has also written a special prayer to be simultaneously read throughout the nation that day at noon, ET. GOD TV will broadcast the D.C. event live from 9 to noon, ET.

“Our country is at a place where we have many things we need to pray about,” NDP Director of Public Relations Dion Elmore told CitizenLink. “With attacks on marriage, the sanctity of life and religious freedoms, we need to rise up in our nation and pray.”

This year’s theme, Pray for America, is inspired by Matthew 12:21: “In His name the nations will put their hope.” The theme emphasizes the need for people to “place their faith in the unfailing character of their Creator, who is sovereign over all governments, authorities, and men,” according to the NDP website.

This year’s event will probably have the greatest turnout NDP has seen, Elmore said.

“Last year, we had 40,000 (prayer) events in thousands of communities with millions of people participating — we are expecting even more this year,” Elmore explained. “The impact of NDP is growing each year as people rise up and bring these petitions before the Lord.”

Carrie Gordon Earll, senior director of CitizenLink, encourages individuals, states and communities to set aside time for prayer Thursday.

“Recent events remind us of our nation’s vulnerability and that our nation is vulnerable to attack and in desperate need of a touch from God,” Gordon Earll said. ”From public safety and economic insecurity to moral decay and fractured families, uncertainty surrounds us. We recognize that people of faith pray every day yet a day of national prayer speaks to our dependence on God as a nation.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Learn more about the National Day of Prayer.

Read Greg Laurie’s 2013 National Prayer.

Find a Day of Prayer event near you.

Red Flags Raised as States Contemplate Online Gambling

Citizen Link - Thu, 04/25/2013 - 15:52

As some states move toward legalizing Internet gambling, one New York senator is raising concerns for his home state.

New York State Senator, Tim Kennedy (D-Buffalo), warned fellow legislators and the NY State Gaming Commission, in a press statement (4-19-13), about the dangers of Internet gambling, the inability of states to prevent criminal activity and he urged deeper investigation of “bad actors.”

According to the Examiner,

Kennedy says New York is currently unable to regulate the companies that are licensed in New Jersey, yet these sites will have easy access to New York customers through illegal middle-men who can set up “virtual private networks” to host “online casinos” in New York. The technology is very simple and could easily be manipulated to prey on those with gambling addiction across the country – often charging over-the-top fees.

… Another large player in the online gaming industry is 888.com, which has been operating from offshore locations for years, has a history of taking illegal bets and offering no protection for minors and other individuals who would be harmed by online gambling.

Online gambling operators recall well the date: April 15, 2011 – or Black Friday. This FBI site seizure of online gambling sites represents a notoriously infamous day for Internet gambling, and it served as a warning to government officials and the public regarding online gambling’s vulnerability to corruption. Three of the largest online-poker sites that were intentionally violating U.S. law – PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker – were accused of money laundering, bank fraud, illegal gambling, which operated through a complex criminal strategy that involved U.S. banks and Web-based payment systems. Another FBI sting (May, 2011) seized 11 bank accounts around the globe and 10 online gambling sites.

William Winter, Special Agent in Charge of ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Baltimore commented on the press release:

“The proceeds from illegal Internet gambling are often used to fuel organized crime and support criminal activity. ICE HSI will work diligently to uncover illicit transactions involving these types of financial crimes.”

Meanwhile, the online gambling giant, PokerStars, bought out their competitor, Full Tilt, and, more recently, PokerStars purchased the declining land-based Atlantic Club Casino Hotel in New Jersey (one of only twelve casinos). Not surprisingly, the PokerStar-Atlantic-Club deal occurred just two months prior to Gov. Christie signing a bill to legalize Internet gambling in New Jersey. Read more about PokerStars troubled, corrupt and criminal past in the NJ.com article here.

Is there any online gambling operator without a criminal background or a sorted past?

You’ll have trouble finding one.

Should Nevada, Delaware, Illinois, Pennsylvania and New Jersey officials feel comfortable doing “business” with disreputable, online vice operators?

Knowing online gambling’s sorted history, should ANY credible state or federal official trust these online vice operators?

 

Dig Deeper …

Gov. Brownback Signs Kansas Preservation of Religious Freedom Act

Citizen Link - Wed, 04/24/2013 - 17:36

Written by the Kansas Family Policy Council
April 10, 2013

CitizenLink is proud to work with the Written by the Kansas Family Policy Council and other organizations across the country to stand for marriage, life and religious freedom.

Topeka- Today, Governor Sam Brownback signed into law the Kansas Preservation of Religious Freedom Act (HB 2203) which codifies important legal standards to be used in legal cases involving religious liberty concerns before Kansas Courts.

The Kansas Senate overwhelmingly approved the measure by a vote of 34 to 4 on March 21st.  The Kansas House of Representatives followed suit approving the legislation by a vote of 109 to 12 on March 25th.  

“Kansans can now rely on permanent, statutory protection of their religious liberties,” stated Robert Noland, Executive Director of the Kansas Family Policy Council. “Kansas has a long history of protecting religion and rights of conscience. The Kansas Preservation of Religious Freedom Act continues that rich tradition by codifying the current judicial standard requiring a compelling government interest must be proven before state or local law can require any Kansan to act (or not act) in any manner that violates their deeply held religious beliefs.  

“The wide margin of support in both the Kansas House of Representatives and Senate demonstrates a willingness to continue the tradition of reverence and respect accorded to religious liberty in Kansas. Current pending legal challenges to controversial federal mandates for healthcare impacting religious organizations and individual religious liberties illustrate how important these protections are at the federal level. Passage of HB 2203 is a significant step in statutorily implementing these same protections here in Kansas.”

The Kansas Preservation of Religious Freedom Act was authored by Representative Lance Kinzer (R-Olathe) and enjoyed the support of 40 other cosponsors in the Kansas House of Representatives.  

The bill codifies for Kansas courts the same strict legal protections for religious liberty that currently exist in the federal judicial system. The stricter standards have been in place at the federal level since Congress passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) in 1993 in response to weakening judicial standards protecting religious liberties. RFRA passed the US House of Representatives unanimously and won approval in the US Senate by a margin of 97 to 3 before President Clinton signed it into law.  

The federal law initially provided the same strict standard regarding religious liberty cases for the individual states until 1997 when the Supreme Court struck down the act’s ability to mandate such protections in state courts.

Because the federal court ruled that RFRA standards could not be mandated in state courts by Congress, it then became incumbent upon each state to act on its own to implement the stricter judicial standard to be used in cases involving challenges to religious liberty.  

To date nearly 20 states have enacted similar protections for religious liberty.

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Learn more about the Kansas Family Policy Council.

Federal Judge Rules in Favor of Missouri House of Worship Protection Law

Citizen Link - Wed, 04/24/2013 - 17:27

A federal judge on Friday ruled in favor of a Missouri law protecting houses of worship from profane, rude or indecent behavior or noise intended to disrupt a service. A secular law firm had filed suit against the law claiming it violated state and federal free speech rights.

Gov. Jay Nixon signed the Missouri House of Worship Protection Act into law last year. It protects any church, synagogue, mosque, or any other public or private place used for worship, religious instruction or other religious purpose.

“We are grateful to (state officials) and all Missouri legislators who helped enact this important measure to safeguard the integrity of worship services and the security of houses of worship,” said Joe Ortwerth, president of the Missouri Family Policy Council.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed the lawsuit on behalf of two activist groups that protest outside Catholic churches. The groups claimed in their lawsuit that the provisions in the statute did not allow them to share their message with members of religious congregations.

U.S. District Judge E. Richard Webber ruled that the law did not violate the First Amendment because it is content neutral, meaning it only restricts speech “when it is disruptive because of its manner, not its content…. The Court finds that the State’s purpose for regulation here, to protect the free exercise of religion, is unrelated to the content of the individual’s speech.”

Webber’s decision was not surprising, Ortwerth said, since he denied a request in September  to postpone enforcement of the law.

The Missouri Family Policy Council developed the language in the act, with help from the Alliance Defending Freedom.

“Missourians who value the practice of their faith should be able to worship God freely in their houses of worship without fear of intimidation or harassment in the sanctuary of their own churches,” Ortwerth said. “We thank God for Judge Webber’s decision, which helps ensure that the hostile efforts of those who would deny others the free exercise of their religion will be met with the force of law.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read the complaint in the case.

Learn more about the Missouri House of Worship Protection Act.

Lawmakers in 5 States Consider Same-Sex Marriage Legislation

Citizen Link - Tue, 04/23/2013 - 18:32

As lawmakers in five states are considering bills that would redefine marriage, a poll shows a majority of Americans support the institution as a union between one man and one woman.

It found 57 percent of likely voters in states where same-sex marriage is not recognized would oppose such a measure. Thirty-four percent they would support it. Harper Polling conducted the automated phone survey last week of 1,741 likely voters for Conservative Intelligence Briefing.

“The poll reflects what we know, that most people understand that marriage unites a man and a woman and any children they will have,” said Jeff Johnston, CitizenLink marriage analyst. “They look around and understand that all our experiments with marriage — no-fault divorce, cohabitation, single-parenting — have been disastrous. They’ve learned from that and don’t want to try yet another experiment with marriage.”

Legislators in five states are considering marriage redefinition bills:

  • Delaware: The House approved a bill today that could create same-sex marriage. It would still have to be passed by the Senate and signed into law. Under the legislation, no new civil unions would be performed after July 1, and existing civil unions would be converted to marriages.
  • Rhode Island: The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 7-4 today to send a same-sex marriage bill to the full Senate. The House approved the bill in January. It would create same-sex marriage. Civil unions would become marriages on Jan. 1, 2014.
  • Illinois: The Senate approved a same-sex marriage bill on Feb. 14. A date has not been set for the full House vote on the legislation.
  • Minnesota: Legislation that would create same-sex marriage has not yet reached the floors of the House or Senate. A bipartisan group of legislators introduced the bill in February. It would repeal a 1997 law defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
  • Nevada: Lawmakers passed a resolution Monday in the Senate that could redefine marriage. If the entire Legislature approves it this session, they will need to do so again in 2015. Voters would have to approve it in 2016.

The District of Columbia and nine states — Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Iowa, Washington, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts and New York — have all redefined marriage.

Thirty-one states have amendments defending marriage.

FOR MORE INFORMATION
View the poll results.

Learn more about Delaware’s HB 75.

Learn more about Rhode Island’s H 5015.

Learn more about Illinois’ SB 0010.

Learn more about Minnesota’s HF 1054.

Learn more about Nevada’s SJR 13.

The Tightrope of People Pleasing

Citizen Link - Fri, 04/19/2013 - 16:39

By Callie, Minnesota college student

As Christians, one of the biggest challenges we face in life is stabilizing our identity in Christ. Being created for relationship, we crave acceptance and love from the people surrounding us. Yet Christ calls us to crave his approval, not that of our peers. Galatians 1:10 states, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” 

We often walk this tightrope between Christ and the world. The problem is, when we walk this tightrope, we are constantly straining ourselves and putting pressure on our joints. We think that by walking this line we can get the best of both worlds, but we are beating ourselves up in the process. We’re not truly belonging to either side, but just straining ourselves in the middle. We want each side to see us and admire our strength and poise. The problem is, the two sides find very different qualities admirable. It is impossible to please both.

If I base my identity off of what other people think about me, my life is going to be built on insecurity. With this identity, our worth is built on shallow acceptance that can change in a second. We will eventually just wear ourselves out trying to please every person that comes into our lives! We won’t truly understand who we are because we are constantly changing to please different people.

As Christians, we can’t live to please people—nor find our sense of self-worth in their acceptance— because we are also constantly running into people who have different beliefs than we do. If we want to please them, often this means we need to agree with them— and when their beliefs conflict with our deeply held spiritual beliefs, this will without a doubt mean sacrificing our devotion to God.

I’ve definitely found this to be true in my own life. I have always wanted to be liked by everyone and take it personally when I run into people who don’t. When I began to take classes completely online, my social system became the people that I worked with; I was no longer surrounded by peers who shared my faith. Being a people-pleaser who tries to make everyone happy doesn’t bode well when those around you have very different beliefs regarding God and morals. I found myself walking this tight rope, and I was absolutely miserable. I was terrified of speaking up for my own beliefs, knowing they’d be ridiculed by my peers. In effect, my relationship with God suffered. It made me realize that it is impossible to please both God and men. You need to make the decision about whose opinion truly matters.

In reality, Christ’s gave his life to make us worthy. It’s this simple fact on which we can to build our acceptance and self-worth. We need to make the choice to identify ourselves with Christ and find our worth in his everlasting and unchanging love.  As the famous hymn says, “On Christ the solid rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand.”

Speak Up, Stand Up and Stand Out

Citizen Link - Tue, 04/09/2013 - 16:49

By Lauren, Michigan college student

When I was in high school, there was no such thing as the Day of Dialogue, therefore Christians were often left trying to figure out how to respond to the homosexual-themed Day of Silence. They were often faced with the dilemma of: “Do I act out against it or do I just not say anything at all?”  Let me explain:

Chaos. If I had to sum up my experience with Day of Silence in high school, this is the one word I would use to explain it.  A good portion of my school participated and either wrote ‘Day of Silence’ on their hand or wore duct tape across their mouth. In response to this, there was a group of students who had T-shirts made with the words, ‘Make Some Noise.’ This specific group brought in noisemakers when they came across a person who was an active participant in Day of Silence. Some would shake the noisemaker and scream in their face. Needless to say, I saw this act as hateful and unnecessary; even though I did not agree with the Day of Silence participants, I do not believe this was the correct response. The ‘noise’ group did not represent Christians, although some Christians did take part. From my perception, the reason some Christians did participate was because they didn’t know how else to voice their opinion.

I had a very unique perspective on the event because I was a leader of the Christian club in my high school. Our group consisted of students from nearly every clique including the jock, the thespian, the prep, the math wiz, the emo, the band geek, etc. As the leader I had a relationship with each of them and heard their perspective on numerous occasions. On Day of Silence, about half of the Christian group chose to participate because they were against the bullying and harassment of homosexuals, and there were also some who carried the noisemakers and reacted to the silence because they didn’t agree with the promotion of homosexuality. The day was so chaotic and disorderly that my school principal called an impromptu assembly to address the issues at hand. In the end, the ‘noisemaker’ group was threatened with suspension if they did not turn in their shirts and noisemakers, whereas the ‘silent’ group was allowed to continue in their protest.

As a Christian, I must say that I was confused as to where I stood between the two extremes.  I obviously am against the promotion of homosexuality, but am also strongly against the bullying and harassment of homosexuals. I would not be silent on that day because it was seen as a day to support a homosexual activist movement, but I also would not wear the ‘Make Some Noise’ shirt because how would I be living out the gospel if I was blatantly disrespecting and ‘hating’ on those who are trying to show love?  In the end I decided I did not have to choose one extreme or the other, but I could continue through the day as any other day and continue living out the life Jesus exemplified by demonstrating love and respect for each of the groups in my everyday life. After all, in Matthew 5:9, Jesus states, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”

I addressed it at the next Christian club meeting and stated very openly that I am against promotion of homosexuality, but I am also against the hatred of the homosexual person. I believe in order to effectively be that peacemaker and respond to Day of Silence, we need to consider Ephesians 4:15, “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”

The Day of Dialogue is an incredible opportunity for Christian students to learn ways of getting conversation started and living out Ephesians 4:15.  It helps to give these students the confidence they need to act on their beliefs and a place to stand up and say, ‘I have a voice!’ ”

Win Day of Dialogue Wristbands!

Citizen Link - Wed, 03/13/2013 - 15:46

Want a chance at winning Day of Dialogue® wristbands for you and friends? If you share a heart for Day of Dialogue’s goals & principles—then this contest is for you! 

How Do I Win?

You can win this contest by: 1) Submitting the most compelling written statement—no more than 3 sentences—of how your group will use the wristbands to share Day of Dialogue’s message and God’s redemptive truth with classmates! And …

2) By Friday, April 12, getting at least 5 student participants from the same high school or college (including yourself) registered for the Day of Dialogue event sponsored by Focus on the Family! (See below for info on how to enter & register.)

How do I Enter the Contest & Get Me & My Friends Registered for the Event?

Just take these simple steps:

1)  Submit your name, mailing address, phone number, and email address to [email protected]

2)  In your email entry, include the written statement of how you and your friends plan to use the wristbands to share Day of Dialogue’s message and God’s redemptive truth with classmates. The statement must be no more than 3 sentences.

3)  Get at least five students from the same high school or college (including yourself) to register for the Day of Dialogue event sponsored by Focus on the Family. To register for Day of Dialogue, each person should complete the form at this link. Or click on the “Register Today” button at the top righthand corner of www.dayofdialogue.com and complete the registration form.

IMPORTANT!! When filling out the registration form, be sure that each person completes the “Name of High School or College” section of the registration form at this link. Otherwise, your registrations will not be credited toward the contest.

What’s the Prize?

Winners will receive 100 Day of Dialogue wristbands. (You can request less than 100.) The wristbands display the words “DayofDialogue.com” and “Let’s Talk!”

How Many Winners Will There Be?

Day of Dialogue will select 2 winners.

Who’s Eligible to Participate?

High school and college students who, as of the date of entry, are at least 13 years old and under the age of 25.

Each entry must be submitted under one person’s name—and only that person will receive the prize if selected as a winner. Group entries are not permitted.

Note: Winners’ names, ages, home states and written statements may be featured in Day of Dialogue, Focus on the Family and CitizenLink outlets. Photos of the student winners and other participants may also be requested and featured in these outlets.

What are the Contest Guidelines?

Winners will be selected based on:

 If they have first sent an email indicating they are participating in the contest.

 If at least 5 students from their same high school or college (including the student who entered the contest) have registered at the Day of Dialogue registration site: https://focusonthefamily.webconnex.com/dayofdialogue  (To count toward the contest, these registrations must be done within the contest period of March 13, 2013 and April 12, 2013).

 Having the most compelling written statements (no more than 3 sentences per entry).

Their statement submission reflects sincere support of Day of Dialogue’s mission, goals and themes. This statement should be a true and accurate representation of themselves and their groups’ plans to use the wristbands.

What’s the deadline?

All entries must be received no later than April 12, 2013. To be counted toward the contest, students registrations must have been completed between March 13, 2013 and the deadline on April 12, 2013.

View the official rules here.

 

 

 

 

FOCUS ON THE FAMILY DAY OF DIALOGUE WRISTBAND CONTEST OFFICIAL RULES

Citizen Link - Wed, 03/13/2013 - 15:30

IF YOU DO NOT RESIDE IN THE 50 UNITED

STATES OR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA YOU ARE NOT ELIGIBLE TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS CONTEST.

 

 

Participation in the Focus on the Family Day of Dialogue Wristband contest (the “Contest”) is contingent on your full and unconditional agreement to and acceptance of these Official Rules. The Contest is sponsored by Focus on the Family, 8605 Explorer Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80920 (“Sponsor”).

 

1.         NO PURCHASE IS NECESSARY.

 

2.         CONTEST.  The contest will be held between 12:01 a.m. Mountain Time (“MT”) on March 13, 2013, and 11:59 p.m. MT on April 12, 2013 (the “Contest Period”).

 

3.         ENTRY.  To enter the Contest, you will need to do to things: (1) Submit an original, written statement, of no more than three sentences, telling how your group will use the wristband prizes to share Day of Dialogue’s message and God’s redemptive truth with classmates.  The written statement must be submitted to: [email protected] by April 12, 2013. (2) Get at least five students from the same high school or college (including yourself) to register for the Day of Dialogue event. The registrations must be made during the Contest Period through this site: https://focusonthefamily.webconnex.com/dayofdialogue. The registrants must complete the name of your high school or college in order for you, the Contest entrant, to be credited. If more than one Contest entrant is from the same school, each will receive credit for the registrations.

Additional Contest instructions may be found by visiting www.dayofdialogue.com .

The written statement must be your original work and must not have been previously published in any form.  It may not be offensive or defamatory as determined by Sponsor.  No automated entry devices and/or programs permitted. All entries become the sole and exclusive property of Sponsor and will not be returned.  Receipt of entries will not be acknowledged. Sponsor is not responsible for lost, late, illegible, stolen, incomplete, invalid, unintelligible, misdirected, technically corrupted or garbled entries, which will be disqualified, or for problems of any kind whether mechanical, human or electronic. Only fully completed entries are eligible. Proof of submission will not be deemed to be proof of receipt by Sponsor. By entering, you agree to the terms and conditions of these Official Rules and to the display of your entry, in whole or in part, in any manner and media.

 

3.         ELIGIBILITY.  Participation in the Contest is open to individuals who are between ages 13-24 (inclusive) as of the date of entry, and who are legal residents of the fifty United States or the District of Columbia.  Proof of eligibility may be required. Void outside of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia, and where prohibited, taxed or restricted by law. Employees, officers & directors of Focus on the Family, its Contest advertising and promotion agencies, and their immediate families (parents, children, siblings, spouse) or members of the same household (whether related or not) of such employees/ officers/ directors are not eligible to enter. Entrant must be an individual person; group entries are not permitted.

 

           3.1  A limit of one (1) entry per person is allowed.  Additional entries determined to be submitted from the same individual will invalidate all entries from that individual.

 

 4.         WINNER SELECTIONS.  All Entries will be screened for compliance with these official rules by Sponsor’s panel of judges. Sponsor will choose two winners from among all eligible entries, based upon the following criteria:  Appropriateness of written statement to theme and originality. Sponsor’s decisions are final.

 

5.         PRIZES & APPROXIMATE RETAIL VALUES.  Each winner will receive 100 Day of Dialogue wristbands valued at approximately $125.00.  Sponsor will award 100 wristbands unless a winner requests fewer.

Prize may not be assigned, transferred, changed, or redeemed for cash, except at Sponsor’s sole discretion.  No cash alternative will be offered. No substitutions of prize, except that Sponsor may substitute any portion of a prize with something of equal or greater value, in Sponsor’s sole discretion. Any portion of a prize not accepted by a winner is forfeited.  All federal, state and local taxes are the sole responsibility of the winner.

 

6.         NOTIFICATION. The potential winner will be notified by telephone, mail or email no later than two weeks after the end of the Contest Period.  The potential winner (Or parent/legal guardian, if a minor) may be required to sign and return an Affidavit of Eligibility and/or Liability/Publicity Release, and a W-9 form for tax reporting purposes, within ten (10) days of receipt.  If a potential winner cannot be contacted within five (5) calendar days of first notification attempt, if any prize or prize notification is returned as undeliverable, if a potential winner rejects his/her prize, if potential winner does not sign and return the requested forms within ten (10) days of receipt, or in the event of noncompliance with these Official Rules, the prize will be forfeited and Sponsor reserves the right to select an alternate winner from all remaining eligible entries. Upon prize forfeiture, no compensation will be given.

 

7.         CONDITIONS. Participation in this Contest and acceptance of a prize constitutes entrant’s permission for Sponsor to (a) use his/her name, address (city and state), likeness, photograph, picture, voice, biographical information, entry and/or any statements made by entrant regarding the Contest or Sponsor and (b) copy, edit, use in any medium and manner, in whole or in part, the entry submitted for any purpose without notice or additional compensation, except where prohibited by law. By participating, entrant agrees to release and hold harmless Sponsor and Sponsor’s advertising and promotion agencies and their respective parent companies, subsidiaries, affiliates, licensees, partners, representatives, agents, successors, assigns, and the employees, officers and directors of each of them, from any and all liability, for loss, harm, damage, injury, cost or expense whatsoever including without limitation, property damage, personal injury and/or death which may occur in connection with entrant’s participation in this Contest, or possession, acceptance and/or use, misuse or non-use of prize or participation in any Contest-related activity and for any claims based on publicity rights, defamation or invasion of privacy and merchandise delivery. Sponsor is not responsible if any prize cannot be awarded due to delays or interruptions due to acts of God, acts of war, terrorism, natural disasters, weather, acts of terrorism, or any other events outside of Sponsor’s control. Entrants who do not comply with these Official Rules or attempt to interfere with this Contest in any way will be disqualified.

 

8.         ADDITIONAL TERMS.  No automatic, programmed; robotic or similar means of entry are permitted. Sponsor, its affiliates, partners and promotion and advertising agencies are not responsible for technical, hardware, software, telephone or other communications malfunctions, errors or failures of any kind, lost or unavailable network connections, web site, Internet, or ISP availability, unauthorized human intervention, traffic congestion, incomplete or inaccurate capture of entry information (regardless of cause) or failed, incomplete, garbled, jumbled or delayed computer transmissions which may limit one’s ability to enter the Contest, including any injury or damage to entrant’s or any other person’s computer relating to or resulting from participating in this Contest or downloading any materials in this Contest. Sponsor reserves the right, in Sponsor’s sole discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify, extend or suspend this Contest should (in Sponsor’s sole discretion) virus, bug, non-authorized human intervention, fraud or other cause beyond its control corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness or proper conduct of this Contest or for any other reason Sponsor deems it necessary. In such case, Sponsor may, at its discretion, select the winners from all eligible entries received unaffected by the problem. Sponsor reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to disqualify any individual it finds, in its sole discretion, to be tampering with the entry process or the operation of this Contest or web site. Sponsor may prohibit an entrant from participating in the Contest or winning a prize if, in its sole discretion, it determines that said entrant is attempting to undermine the legitimate operation of this Contest by cheating, hacking, deception, or other unfair playing practices (including the use of automated quick entry programs) or intending to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other entrants or Sponsor representatives.

CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE ANY WEB SITE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THE CONTEST MAY BE A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS AND SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, THE SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK DAMAGES FROM THE PERPETRATOR TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. THE COLORADO COURTS (STATE AND FEDERAL) SHALL HAVE SOLE JURISDICTION OF ANY CONTROVERSIES REGARDING THIS CONTEST AND THE LAWS OF THE STATE OF COLORADO SHALL GOVERN THIS CONTEST. EACH ENTRANT WAIVES ANY AND ALL OBJECTIONS TO AND HEREBY SUBMITS TO THE JURISDICTION AND VENUE OF THESE COURTS.

 

9.         USE OF DATA. Sponsor will be collecting personal data about entrants online, in accordance with its privacy policy. Please review the Sponsor’s privacy policy at www.focusonthefamily.com/about_us/privacy_policy.aspx.  By participating in this Contest, entrant hereby agrees to Sponsor’s collection and usage of entrant’s personal information and acknowledges that entrant has read and accepted Sponsor’s privacy policy. By entering the Contest, you agree that Sponsor may send you advertising, promotional, and other informational material. You may opt out of receiving these materials at any time by notification to Sponsor.

 

10.       OWNERSHIP OF ENTRY.  By submitting an entry, you acknowledge and agree that: (a) Sponsor will own your entry, and (b) as between you and Sponsor, Sponsor will own all publishing rights in and to the entry. Each entrant hereby irrevocably grants, transfers, sells, assigns and conveys to the Sponsor, its successors and assigns, all present and future right, title and interest of every kind and nature whatsoever, including, without limitation, all copyrights, and all rights incidental, subsidiary, ancillary or allied thereto (including, without limitation, all derivative rights) in and to the entry and the written response submission(s) for exploitation throughout the universe, in perpetuity, by means of any and all media and devices whether now known or hereafter devised. Sponsor shall have the right, in its sole discretion, to edit, composite, morph, scan, duplicate, or alter, the entry for any purpose which Sponsor deems necessary or desirable, and each entrant irrevocably waives any and all so-called moral rights they may have in the entry submitted by him or her.

 

 11.       LIST OF WINNERS.  The identity of the winners (first name, state, age) will be available by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to “Winners List – Focus on the Family Day of Dialogue Wristband Contest, 8605 Explorer Drive, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80920, postmarked within sixty days after the end of the Contest Period.

 

 

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