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Women who answer God's call provide valuable local ministries (1/11/04)

Pastors predict bleak future if local casinos open (12/28/03)

Soap, figurines, candles keep books company in Christian stores (12/21/03)

In order to form a more perfect union (11/30/03)

Federal Marriage Amendment receives Fellowship’s endorsement (11/23/03)

Drug czar congratulates Teen Challenge (11/16/03)

Christian fiction no long back-shelf item (10/19/03)

DREAM3 benefits churches (10/19/03)

Youth rise to DC03 challenge (10/12/03)

Ministry uses drama, music to touch city for Christ (9/28/03)

Displeased viewers protest raunchy programs (9/21/03)

Grit, determination key to cities blocking cable pornography (8/31/03)

Economic slump doesn't always derail giving (8/24/03)

Ruling threatens family, Christian leaders say (8/17/03)

Anti-aging options require balanced approach to health, beauty (8/10/03)

Convoy of Hope reaches out to inner-city neighborhood (7/27/03)

Fight for the flag moves to nation’s schools (7/20/03)

Drama speaks volumes to alienated veterans (7/13/03)

Church's integrity well received following nightmarish ordeal (6/29/03)

Tornadoes cut wide swath across nation's midsection (6/22/03)

Accountability partners provide human feedback that filters don't (6/15/03)

Checking out your horoscope? God advises you to skip it (6/8/03)

Christian filmmakers pursue wider market success (5/25/03)

Intervention is key to preventing suicide (5/18/03)

Adoption often right decision for young expectant mothers (5/11/03)

Dallas-based ministry keeps inmates out of jail (4/27/03)

Medical analysis of Jesus' death generates interest (4/20/03)

Small-town church reaches community (4/13/03)

Young married couples lulled by false sense of security (3/30/03)

Virtual gambling days may be numbered (3/23/03)

Contemporary Christian music copes with its continuing success (3/16/03)

A/G prayer event set for gathering in nation's capital (3/9/03)

Volunteers give church voice in community (2/23/02)

Federal law protects churches in zoning battles (2/16/03)

Singles find cyberspace dating not always match made in heaven (2/9/03)

Predators often plan strategies long in advance (1/19/03)

The Cross and the Switchblade still makes impact 40 years later (1/12/03)

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2002 PE Report stories

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Fight for the flag moves to nation’s schools

By Timothy R. Callahan (7/20/03)

What is it about reciting a pledge to an American flag that causes one person to cry, another to turn her back and yet another to file a lawsuit to try to stop its use in public schools?

It is what the flag represents.

To Manhattanville College women’s basketball player Toni Smith, the flag reminds her of the inequities in this country, especially between rich and poor, and of a war she does not support. She has turned her back on the flag during the playing of the national anthem at games of the school in Purchase, N.Y.

To Michael Newdow, an atheist who sued the Elk Grove Unified School District in California on behalf of his daughter, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance is a government endorsement of religion, a violation of the First Amendment. A California district court dismissed the suit, but last year the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled 2-1 in Newdow’s favor, stating the words “under God” in the Pledge are unconstitutional because they take a “position with respect to the purely religious question of the existence and identity of God.”

Newdow says that, even though his daughter is not required to say the voluntary pledge, just listening to the words is a “daily indoctrination” of his child with “religious dogma.”

To the Bush administration, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling was a legal error that must be rectified. After a huge outcry from politicians and the public, the court stayed

its ruling in March, pending appeals. Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson filed a 30-page petition in May on behalf of the administration, asking the Supreme Court to overturn the lower court’s ruling. Olson stated that the Ninth Circuit Court ignored the fact the Supreme Court has long accepted the words of the Pledge, and that the Constitution “does not forbid the government from officially acknowledging the religious heritage, foundation and character of this nation. This is what the reference to God in the Pledge of Allegiance does.”

However, should the Pledge controversy concern Christians, whose allegiance is to a King and Kingdom not of this world? Does it matter if Christian children can say the Pledge? Are mottoes such as “In God We Trust” important if many Americans don’t trust in God?

Assemblies of God officials and ministry leaders say a Christian’s primary allegiance must be to God and His Son, Jesus Christ. They also say mottoes and pledges are necessary and important because they remind Americans of the nation’s godly heritage. Missionettes and Royal Rangers, Assemblies of God ministries to girls and boys, recite pledges of allegiance to the American flag, the Christian flag and the Bible.

“The Pledge of Allegiance represents honor for our country,” says Arlene Allen of the A/G national Women’s Ministries Department.

Allen says teaching patriotism is essential. “Many of our educational environments do not provide for a view of history that includes the faith and values of our founding leaders,” Allen says. “The family and church must provide this education.”

Reciting the Pledge of Allegiance or using other national mottoes or pledges invoking the name of God doesn’t violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, according to Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice.

“Nothing in the ‘God Bless America’ or ‘In God We Trust’ sign or the voluntary recitation of our nation’s Pledge of Allegiance accomplishes such an establishment of religion,” Sekulow says. “All are patriotic in essence.”

Lawyer Dennis Brewer Sr. of Irving, Texas, is amazed at the animosity God’s name can arouse in some Americans. He says a juror approached him after a trial to tell him she resented his “references to spiritual things” and that she did “not believe God had any business in the courtroom.”

Brewer, an Assemblies of God layman responded, “Then who did you raise your hand to and swear that you would a true verdict render?”

But can, as some non-Christians protest, tying Christianity with patriotism lead to discrimination against nonbelievers, whose dissent will be regarded as unpatriotic? Rutherford Institute President John W. Whitehead notes that the words “under God” were added to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954 out of fear that communism had infiltrated society.

“Who could save us?” Whitehead says. “The answer for many was ‘God.’ ”

Could the surge in patriotism in this country that resulted from the 2001 terrorist attacks cause another Red Scare?

Al Worthley, head of chaplaincy ministries for the Assemblies of God, says “blind patriotism” can be problematic. “As Christians, we believe that governments, as servants of God, are to bring order and we are to look to God — not government — as the source of all we need.” He says Christians need to have their priorities in order.

“Belief in God, good doctrine and an understanding of providence will help citizens keep patriotism in balance,” he says. “God judges nations just as He judges individuals.”

Worthley says the founding fathers had their priorities straight.

“They believed and had confidence in God,” he says. “The salute to the flag or pride in country was based on what God had done and was doing.”

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