Giving out Gospel tracts becomes a federal case
-- Political website cited for crime of 'offending'
-- Texas senator feels heat for imams prayer
-- New 'Bible' says Christ born of gorilla, not virgin
-- IRS to church: Shut up – Church to IRS: No way
| 67-year-old man jailed 2 days for violating 'parade' ordinance
August 24, 2007 © 2007 WorldNetDaily.com
A federal civil rights lawsuit has been filed on behalf of a 67-year-old Georgia man who was arrested, held in jail for two days and convicted without being given access to a lawyer for passing out Gospel tracts on a public street.
The action was brought by the Alliance Defense Fund on behalf of Fredric Baumann, who was arrested on the orders of police chief Mike Eason.
The ADF said a Georgia Superior Court earlier this month agreed to its request to overturn the conviction of Baumann, "a Christian man whom Cumming police arrested in April for passing out religious literature on a public sidewalk."
"Christians have the same First Amendment rights as anyone else in America and cannot be treated as second-class citizens," ADF Senior Legal Counsel David Cortman said. "The government should not force them to get special permission before practicing their constitutional right to free speech.
"The fact that the court dismissed the charges against Mr. Baumann is not just significant for him but for all citizens who cherish their First Amendment rights," he said.
A spokesman in the Cumming police department told WND there would be no comment on the case.
The case bears a number of similarities to a case about which WND also has reported, when two members of Gideons International were arrested for handing out Bibles on public property in Key Largo, Fla. The ADF also was involved in that case, and has reported a Florida judge dismissed all counts against the Gideons.
Bauman had been arrested April 22 for handing out the tracts outside the City of Cumming fairgrounds. Police told Baumann he was violating a city ordinance requiring organizations to obtain a permit prior to such activities.
However, the ADF said, the permit lacked definitions for its provisions, and then said it only applied to private organizations or groups of three or more persons.
The man asked several times to see the ordinance, but was refused. He then served two days in jail and was convicted before a municipal court judge, who sentenced him to time already served.
The trial came without notification to Baumann, so he had no opportunity to seek legal counsel, the ADF said.
"City officials not only acted illegally when they arrested Mr. Baumann, they denied him his constitutional right to due process under the law," Cortman said. "We are glad that this injustice has now been reversed and that Mr. Baumann's right to free speech has been affirmed."
The subsequent civil rights action, then, seeks to have the ordinance, which prosecutors later admitted did not apply to Baumann, struck down. It also is seeking compensatory damages as well as punitive damage from the city.
"The city denied Mr. Baumann his constitutional right to free speech and due process under the law. We are filing a civil lawsuit to have the city's unconstitutional ordinance struck from the books so this doesn't happen again to Mr. Baumann or anyone else," Cortman said.
The complaint alleges violations of free speech, due process and equal protection provisions as well as false arrest and false imprisonment.
The actual city rule reads, in its pertinent part: "Every private organization or group of private persons who wishes to use public property or public roads within the municipal limits of Cumming, Georgia, for private purposes in holding a parade, assembly, demonstration, road closing, or other activity is hereby required to have a permit from the City for the privilege of engaging in any such activity within the City, unless such a permit is prohibited under State law or the activity is otherwise exempted by law, ordinance, or other valid regulation."
It also defines "private organization or group of private persons" as "any firm, partnership, corporation, association, or group of individuals more than three in number, or their representatives, acting as a unit."
The law firm said besides the constitutional issues, the law on its face didn't apply to Baumann as an individual.
The lawsuit said Bauman handed out tracts to people willing to take them, without using any amplification or hindering traffic in any way.
"At approximately 1:15 p.m., Mr. Baumann observed Chief of Police Mike Eason speaking to Mr. Baumann's acquaintance who was distributing religious literature on the public sidewalk near Gate C. Mr. Baumann approached the pair and learned of Chief Eason's demand that the two men immediately leave the vicinity for 'demonstrating without a permit,' Mr. Baumann politely inquired of Chief Eason as to whether the two men possessed a constitutional right to peaceably distribute religious literature on the public side," the filing said.
"Chief Eason, visibly irritated at Mr. Baumann's inquiry, abruptly stated: 'Well, I guess he wants to get arrested.' Immediately Chief Eason ordered Mr. Baumann to be placed under arrest for 'demonstrating without a permit' so as to constitute an 'illegal demonstration.'"
The case said Baumann never was informed of his right to obtain counsel, nor did he have an opportunity to post bail.
"While incarcerated, Mr. Baumann requested use of his his reading glasses so that he could read his Bible ...; this request was denied," the filing said. He also was denied an opportunity for exercise "to offset a medical condition that causes chest congestion when he remains sedentary."
Then without advance notice, he was taken to court where he asked the charges to be dismissed. Instead, the court listened to Eason's testimony and convicted Baumann.
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website cited for crime of 'offending'
'All it takes is for someone to say my feelings were hurt'
Posted: July 25, 2007 By Bob Unruh © 2007 WorldNetDaily.com
A website featuring comments by, for and about "principled conservatism" is being investigated by the Canadian government, and could be fined or ordered shut down for some postings about Islam and homosexuality.
Connie Wilkins, who with Mark Fournier runs Canada's Free Dominion site and posts articles, comments and blogs on a wide range of issues, said she just was notified by the nation's Human Rights Commission about the investigation.
The Human Rights Commission is appointed to investigate complaints that "hate speech" or other illegal activity has been detected, and issue rulings or recommendations to the national Human Rights Tribunal, which has yet to find any defendant innocent in such a case.
The scenario bears a close resemblance to the situation feared by opponents in the United States should a pending "hate crimes" legislation be approved by Congress and signed into law by the president. It would essentially provide an enhanced penalty for a range of crimes if someone perceives they are being targeted for being part of a recognized population segment, such as the homosexual community.
As such, Christians fear simply expressing their biblical belief that homosexuality is immoral could be classified a "hate crime."
As WND has reported, that legislative plan has been moving forward in Congress, with U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., recently adding his version to a pending defense spending bill.
Supporters say it would address only crimes, but opponents fear the actual results would be similar to Canada's, where a printer was fined several years ago for refusing a pro-homosexual printing contract that he said violated his traditional Christian beliefs.
Or, as in the current case, comments about homosexuality or Islam could be classified as illegal.
Among the statements cited in the complaint are posts from Bill Whatcott, who said: "I can't figure out why the homosexuals I ran into are on the side of the Muslims. After all, Muslims who practice Sharia law tend to advocate beheading homosexuals."
Whatcott earlier had been targeted by Saskatchewan's human rights tribunal for distributing a flyer featuring a copy of a classified ad soliciting young boys, "age unimportant."
The Canadian commission, Wilkins told WND, is "incredibly powerful, and they don't have to sort of follow the rule of law, the way a court would. Essentially once they decide that they're going to target you, you're guilty until proven innocent."
Under the standards set up by the commission, in Canada "it is a crime to offend someone," she said. "That's the way it is here," she said. "I've made the argument many times, the 'hate crimes' laws are wrong. It puts more value on victims of crimes when somebody judges the crime was perpetrated because they hated them."
She said she was notified of the complaint on July 17, with a deadline for a full response to the charge by July 18. She had never been sent an original complaint, and the notice simply was to remind her of deadline she hadn't been told about.
"There was a thread on Free Dominion, and [a woman] complained, using this thread as an example of discriminatory material," Wilkins said. The offending material included a link to a picture of a flyer that a Free Dominion contributor released discussing dangers of radical Islam.
The complaint from Marie-Line Gentes, a teacher at a Canadian college, "was that we were propagating this hate material," Wilkins said. "I really think at this point her motive was to try to shut down Free Dominion rather than get offensive material removed."
"We are definitely not a hate site," Wilkins told WND. "There's a whole variety of opinion on our site."
"Right now, our lawyer is looking over the paperwork. We've set up a defense fund," she said. "We're going to have to spend some money on lawyers. We don't know how much."
The group also has requested additional time to review the complaint about an incident that dates back more than a year already.
Wilkins told WND such cases are becoming more common. Recently a fraternal organization was sued when it objected to a homosexual wedding in a building used for rentals.
Another man was sued simply for writing a letter to the editor expressing his opposition to having teachers instruct children in homosexuality at public schools, Wilkins said.
The problem is the wide open door the standards leave for interpreting whether something is a crime.
"The problem is there are so many grey areas. If somebody posts on our site, and someone else, a member of an ethnic group, religion or identifiable minority of any kind reads it, we have no way of knowing if that is going to be perceived as a hate crime. All it takes is for someone to say my feelings were hurt."
The process then, is that, "if the tribunal believes their feelings were hurt, that's it for you."
Canada's commission refused to return a message from WND asking for an explanation on the conflict between a Christian exercising his faith and a homosexual's protection from any statement, including a quote from the Bible, of condemnation.
However, a lawyer for the printer, Scott Brockie, in that case pointed out the difficulty.
"Mr. [Ray] Brillinger can live his life the way he wants to," lawyer Philip McMullen said of the homosexual activist who had brought the complaint. "But my client has to take his religion off like a housecoat and leave it hanging behind the front door when he goes out in the mornings."
Wilkins said the full details of the specific concerns have yet to be explained.
"The nature of this upset has yet to be entirely revealed, but apparently somebody took offense to the concept that Muslim theology is more stridently opposed to homosexuality than any aspect of western society," the organization said.
"It's really a warning for you in the United States to look at this and see what's happening," Wilkins said. "You have to fight this with all that you have."
She said her operation's computer server actually is located in the United States, simply to prevent when happened in an earlier case involving a similar complaint in England – authorities simply shut down the site and erased its data files.
The government organization said it can issue rulings for discrimination based on race, national origin, color, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status and family status or physical or mental disability or criminal record.
The government commission, in fact, has lamented the fact that it has jurisdiction only within Canada.
"It is true that website material … can still be posted on websites and by persons that are beyond the Commission's jurisdiction. This limitation stems from both the nature of the Internet and jurisdictional limits of Canadian law," the commission says. "Nevertheless, a decision under section 13 or a conviction under the hate promotion provisions of the Criminal Code are of great importance in indicating that hate promotion … is not permissible in Canada."
It also has a huge campaign to "prevent discrimination," a section that Christians fear if applied in the U.S. would make even their opinions and beliefs subject to penalty.
Under that assignment from the government, the commission "works with community groups, employers, and others … to get the word out through the media, through public service announcements, speaking engagements and public events."
The goal is to "ensure that as many people as possible, from coast to coast, have access to information about human rights," it said. The information is important, because its broader strategy is to help put in place "a culture of human rights."
"The Commission is proposing … internal responsibility systems dealing with conflicts in the workplace are consistent with human rights. Employers should train managers and employees , and ensure strong workplace policies and awareness of human rights standards and remedies to prevent human rights abuses."
Former White House insider Chuck Colson, in his Breakpoint commentary, has labeled such a provision proposed in the United States a "Thought Crimes" plan.
Some segments of society are showing strong support for the plan, even though the White House already has suggested the proposal is unneeded and a veto would be in order if it is approved.
But Mathew Staver of Liberty Counsel told WND the most recent move, to add the plan to a defense spending bill, is a political maneuver to create an issue for President Bush, who is seeking the defense bill but opposes the "hate crimes" plan.
Joe Glover of the Family Policy Network said the move is "shockingly manipulative."
"It is a shameless attempt to push the homosexual agenda on the American people by exploiting American soldiers who are currently in harm's way around the world," he said.
WND columnist Janet Folger wrote the idea of arresting people for stating their religious beliefs that homosexuality is wrong is no longer something that "may" happen in the future.
"Here's the Cliff Notes of what so called 'hate crime' legislation has already done IN AMERICA," she wrote. "This is no longer up for debate. Here are the facts."
Madison, Wisconsin. David Ott, a former homosexual, was arrested for a "hate crime" for sharing his testimony with a homosexual at a gas station. He faced a $10,000 fine and one year behind bars. Seven thousand dollars in legal fees later, [he] was ordered to attend re-education classes at the University of Wisconsin conducted by a lesbian.
St. Petersburg, Florida. Five Christians including two pastors were arrested at a homosexual rally for stepping onto the public sidewalk instead staying caged in their officially designated "free speech zone."
Elmira, New York. The Elmira police arrested seven Christians for praying in a public park where a homosexual festival was getting started.
Crystal Lake, Illinois. Two 16 year old girls are facing felony "hate crime" charges for the content of their flyers.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Arlene Elshinnawy, a 75-year-old grandmother of three, and Linda Beckman, a 70-year-old grandmother of 10 (along with nine others), were arrested for sharing their faith on the public sidewalk.
Folger said the testimony from the grandmothers can be seen and heard at the Stop Hate Crimes Now website.
"Just how many cases do we need to cite before America stands up and stops the bill that will criminalize Christianity?" she asked.
Rev. Rick Scarborough, president of Vision America, said the plan will "punish Christians for preaching certain biblical principles and lead to pastors being jailed in violation of their First Amendment rights as we have already witnessed in Europe."
A pastor in Europe already has served a prison term for preaching that the Bible condemns homosexuality.
Peter Sprigg, vice president for policy for the Family Research Council, said even with the U.S. version and its "speech protections," there are grave dangers.
"We've seen it in states, with the Philadelphia 11, where they used ethnic intimidation laws. Intimidation is a broad term, it does not require any act of violence and intimidation is included in the definition of hate crime," he told WND.
The American Family Association earlier issued an "Action Alert" about the pending proposal.
And the Alliance Defense Fund, a leading advocate for freedom of speech in the U.S., analyzed the proposal and concluded "it is entirely constitutional for a person's speech to be used to prove a crime was committed."
"And one's speech (including reading materials, websites visited, sermons heard and preached) is particularly relevant when a component of the crime itself is politically incorrect motive," the analysis said. "The chilling of speech that may result from such a regime is self-evident, whether the First Amendment is implicated or not."
Bob Unruh is a news editor for WorldNetDaily.com.
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| IRS to church: Shut up – Church to IRS: No way
Pastor under investigation says he 'will not stop preaching God's word'
June 2, 2007 By Bob Unruh © 2007 WorldNetDaily.com
A Christian church in Kansas has told the Internal Revenue Service that it will not stop teaching and preaching God's Word, "even if it relates to contemporary issues in the world," after the federal agency demanded answers to 31 questions about its beliefs and warned about "political" activity.
Spirit One Christian Center Pastor Mark Holick told WND that the IRS, perhaps, should brush up on the freedoms assured U.S. citizens regarding religion and speech before making such demands in the future.
An announcement about the IRS crackdown on moral statements by the church
He said the issues the church addressed – and will continue to address – concern issues that the Bible addresses, such as killing and protecting the defenseless.
The response came to a series of questions from the IRS questioning whether the church was involved in "political" activity. In specific, Holick said, the IRS cited a sign that read: "Sebelius accepted $300,000.00 from abortionist Tiller, price of 1000 babies."
But that, he said, was just part of a responsibility on the part of a Christian church to comment on abortion, a red-hot topic in the church's home city of Wichita.
That's also the location of the abortion business of George Tiller, whose political connections in Kansas have been documented by Operation Rescue, a pro-life organization, and reported by WND.
A Christian organization needs to be able to talk of the moral issues of the day – including abortion, Holick noted. The sign just told of Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' connections to the abortion industry.
Holick told WND that the IRS letter challenged a variety of the church's activities, including the posting of various pro-life messages on the building marquee.
"They felt like they had a reasonable concern that we had been involved in political activity," he said.
But politics are of no interest to the church; issues of moral character addressed in the Bible are, he said.
One of the signs on the Spirit One church marquee
"The church does not intend to engage in political intervention activity as prohibited by federal law and the United States Constitution," he told the IRS. "But the church will not stop communicating its Biblical message, even if it relates to contemporary issues in the world.
"Thus," Holick continued, "the church cannot agree to not engage in any activity that may favor or oppose a candidate. Simply preaching the word of God on a moral issue which a candidate is opposed, may be deemed to oppose a candidate. While it is the church's policy not to oppose or endorse a candidate for office, it will not stop preaching God's word."
He continued: "The United States Constitution guarantees that Spirit One will be able to freely exercise its religion, and that Congress will not pass any law restricting that right. This is all Spirit One wants to do – communicate God's word.
"The 1st Amendment of the Constitution is a respected and renowned oracle celebrated all over the nations of the world. It is quite specific and clear; 'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press...,'" Holick said.
He said the IRS also raised questions about a voter information guide that was handed out in Wichita, although his church did not sponsor it, as well as an abortion-issue related e-mail he had forwarded.
He said he didn't know who would have filed a complaint about his church with the IRS. "We're a very vocal pro-family, pro-life church," he said. "That creates enemies."
"These are not political issues, these are Gospel issues, Christian issues," he said.
He noted that the IRS even wanted to know whether Phill Kline, the Republican state attorney general who was defeated in his re-election bid in 2006, had ever spoken at the church, and what were the details of his address.
"It's crazy," Holick told WND.
"Please provide a detailed explanation of Mr. Kline's speech. Include details such as the topic of the speech, whether he solicited votes during this speech to the congregation, whether he discussed the election during the speech, and whether he discussed other candidates in the election during the speech," the IRS wrote.
"He ministered from the Bible, mostly the book of Genesis, and on truth. He did not speak about elections or political candidates. But because it was so long ago (2003 and 2004), the church does not remember any more specific details," Holick responded.
To another question about whether certain signs were "political," Holick wrote:
"The signs were not political activities, but rather, were examples of how Spirit One communicates its religious message. The signs all pertained to respect for life and family, a key and fundamental teaching of the scriptures (see Ps. 139:13-15, Jer. 1:4-5, Lk. 1:41-44, Lk. 1:15, Ge. 25:23, Gal. 1:15, Ge. 1:27, Job 10:12, Pr. 24:11-12, Jr. 7:2, Jr. 22:3, 17, Ex. 23:7, Ex. 20:13, Rv. 21:8, Ge. 9:6, 2 Ki. 17:16-20, Jr. 32:35, Jr. 7:31, Mt. 19:5.)."
Holick said the congregation of about 100, meeting as a church for 16 years already, has been strong throughout the challenge by the federal government.
Holick also told the IRS that the signs all "are spiritual messages that communicate God's truth, or are directly related to messages in the Bible." And to the question "why," he said: "The purpose is to obey the Lord, proclaim His Word (the Gospel), and establish His kingdom."
"The following are just a few of the many Scripture references related to the purpose of the signs:
-to lift up Jesus (Ps. 24:7-9)
-to rebuke sin (Lk. 3:8)
-to destroy the works of the devil (1 Jn. 3:8)
-to save babies (Lv. 20:1-5)
-to be honest (Is. 59:14)
-to take a righteous stand (Ps. 9:8)
-to rescue the weak and needy (Ps. 12:5)
-to demonstrate true religion by loving preborn neighbors (Jm. 1:27)
-to call a wicked city to repent (Ex. 23:7)
-to educate and inform about Jesus who IS truth (Jn. 14:6)
-to obey the call to preach, including rebuking (Acts 16:10)
-to stand in the gap against evil (Ez. 22:30)
-to confront hypocrites (1 Ki. 18:17-18)
-to confront immoral politicians (1 Ki. 18)
-to declare the whole counsel of God (Jn. 14:26)
-to disciple children (Pr. 22:6)
-to save America (Dt. 28)
-to stop the shedding of innocent blood (Jr. 22:17)
-to not allow the city to be comfortable while babies are murdered (Pr. 1:32)
-to glorify God (Ps. 86:12)
-to destroy the works of the devil (1 Jn. 3:8)
-to make the Pastor’s calling and election sure (2 Pe. 1:3)
-to work out the Pastor’s salvation with fear and trembling (Ph. 2:12)
-to take dominion for King Jesus over this wicked city (Dn. 7:14)
-to promote the fear of God, for it is the beginning of wisdom (Pr. 9:10)
-to spark a Revival (Jl. 2:12-13)
-to separate the wheat from the chaff in this church and other churches (Is. 40:24)
-to obey Ephesians 5:11 and reprove the fruitless deeds of darkness (Ep. 5:11)
-to act like a Christian (Jm. 1:27 – what the Bible calls true religion)
-to train others how to act and speak (Jm. 2:22)
-to expose and confront evildoers (Ez. 20:4)
-to prophesy against wickedness (Is. 58:1)
-as an act of worship (Jn. 14:15)"
Bob Unruh is a news editor for WorldNetDaily.com.
Texas senator feels heat for imam's prayer
Constituents outraged over anti-Christian comments
April 7, 2007 © 2007 WorldNetDaily.com
A state senator in Texas is feeling the heat from constituents "and trying to apologize" for arranging to have a controversial Muslim imam deliver a prayer to open the state Senate that excluded both Christians and Jews.
"Imagine the outcry if a Christian or Jew had offered a prayer that excluded all other religions to open the state Senate!" said S. Newman. "This state and nation were established and have been sustained on a foundation of Biblical principles and practices. The only reason to attack the foundation of any structure is to initiate the process which leads to ultimate destruction."
This week, Imam Yusuf Kavakci of the Dallas Central Mosque opened the state Senate with a plea for protection from those who do not follow Islam.
"Oh, Allah, guide us to the straight path, the path of those whom you have favored, not of those who have earned your wrath or of those who have lost the way," he said.
Islam, of course, teaches that Jews and Christians both have earned the wrath of Allah by failing to follow Islam, and also have lost the way by following the teachings of the Torah for the Jews or the Bible for Christians.
His appearance in the halls of state government had been arranged by state Sen. Florence Shapiro, who has begun responding to constituents who are unhappy with her work.
"I believe that an explanation is due the citizens of our great state … as to why you invite an imam who offers a prayer to open the state Senate that excluded both Christians and Jews," Newman wrote.
Initially, Shapiro responded with a non-answer.
"To Whom It May Concern: Thank you for sending me your thoughts and opinions. I appreciate hearing from my constituents on issues of importance to you and your families. Due to the large number of e-mails my office receives, we are only able to respond by US post mail to those who provide a complete and current mailing address. If you did not include a mailing address, please resend your correspondence with a complete mailing address, so that we can respond to your concerns in a timely manner. Thank you, Florence Shapiro."
Unsatisfactory, said Newman.
"I don't believe a single word in your 'Out of office' auto reply. This is just a way to dampen the reaction to your questionable actions. Yes, I will be looking forward to your US Postal letter reply…," he wrote.
The state senator then followed up with a letter, apologizing if her actions offended anyone.
"Thank you for your correspondence regarding Imam Dr. Yusuf Kavaci (sic). I appreciate your perspective. I want to make it clear that my intentions were never to offend anyone. If I did so, I apologize," she wrote.
"The Freedom and Justice Foundation contacted me with the request for Dr. Kavakci to follow the protocol set two years ago during their legislative day, when Imam Moujahed Bakhach of the Islamic Association of Tarrant County opened the Texas House with a blessing. Having worked with Dr. Kavakci on legislation, and seeing his resume and extensive inter-faith experience, I honored his request."
Kavakci opened by introducing what he would do: "We will pray by reading from first chapter, opening chapter, Al-Fătehah, from holy Quran, followed by recitation, traditional way of recitation of text from holy Quran, with an addition."
Then he prayed:
In the name of god, Allah, the beneficent, the merciful. All praise is for Allah, our lord, the lord of the worlds, the compassionate, the merciful, master of the day of judgments. Oh, god, Allah, you alone we worship, and you alone we call on for help. Oh, Allah, guide us to the straight path, the path of those whom you have favored, not of those who have earned your wrath or of those who have lost the way. Our lord, have mercy on us from yourself and guide us in our efforts, strivings, and works."
Harris County Republican Party chairman Jared Woodfill also was criticial, telling KTRH radio, which posted a recording of the prayer, that there should have been given some consideration to the Christian faith, which is celebrating its holiest day this weekend, the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday. Woodfill says someone of the Christian faith should have given the prayer on the Senate's last day in session before the break.
The imam concluded "with an Islamic chant that sounded eerily like it was coming over the loudspeakers in Tehran," according to a statement from the U.S. Pastor Council. "Ironically, it was a Jewish Republican, Sen. Florence Shapiro who invited the imam to give the prayer that specifically excluded those of her faith as well as Christians."
"Imagine if an evangelical Christian pastor prayed in Jesus name, ONLY FOR CHRISTIANS, before the government of Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, etc., during Ramadan," the statement said.
Pastor Ross Cullins, of the executive committee for the Houston Area Pastor Council, said Christians should let legislators know their concerns.
"Appreciation of diversity in people is not tantamount to acceptance of their gods," he said.
The day he appeared, Shapiro posted a promotion for Kavakci on her state website.
"He is a Turkish-licensed attorney and has been a law professor at Istanbul University and Ataturk University in Turkey. He is currently the resident Islamic scholar for the Dallas Central Mosque…" she said. "He serves on the Peace Institute Advisory Board at Richland Community College in Richardson, and is a member of the Richardson ISD Religious Practices Advisory Board as well as the Religious Community Task Force of Dallas Independent School District."
The Dallas-Forth Worth chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations had promoted the occasion as a huge step forward.
"Don't miss the next milestone event for the Texas Muslim community!' DFW-CAIR's announcement read. "On April 4, 2007, the first Muslim imam will open the Texas Senate with an Islamic prayer."
WND reported in 2005 on the nonpartisan Freedom House report documenting Saudi-sponsored hate literature, originating with the government and Saudi-financed sources that reflected "extremist Wahhabi ideology," being disseminated through mosques in the U.S.
One of those mosques, according to a critical editorial in the Dallas Morning News, was Kavacki's:
"The mosque's imam, Dr. Yusuf Kavakci, has publicly praised two of the world's foremost radical Islamists, Yusuf Qaradawi and Hasan al-Turabi, as exemplary leaders. Dr. Kavakci also sits on the board of the Saudi-backed Islamic Society of North America, described in congressional testimony as a major conduit of Wahhabist teaching. Yet Dr. Kavakci tells The Dallas Morning News he rejects Wahhabist teaching. Something doesn't add up," said the editorial.
New 'Bible' says Christ born of gorilla, not virgin
Posted: March 2, 2007 By Jay Baggett © 2007 WorldNetDaily.com
'If Jesus was alive today, he would understand that his ancestors ... were beasts'
A new, lavishly illustrated book – described by its marketer as a "postmodern" edition of the Bible – takes Darwin's theory of evolution as gospel and presents Jesus as being born, "not to a virgin, but to a gorilla."
According to Ruth Rimm, Bronx school teacher and book artist, her version of the Scriptures – titled "Lost Spiritual World" – "explores the emergence of a new global spirituality that mixes the best of each wisdom tradition with the latest findings in psychology, quantum physics, neuroscience, and linguistics."
It is a "Bible for skeptics, seekers, and people of different faiths."
The first volume in the series – which will eventually present the Torah, Bhagavad Gita, Buddhist sutras, and Sufi mysticism – covers the Gospel of Mark.
Rimm, however, includes parables not found in Mark, such as the Parable of the Dolphin, the Parable of the Snow Leopard and the Parable of the Gorilla, which are illustrated in a series of irreverent videos to be made available on YouTube as part of the book's marketing campaign.
The Parable of the Gorilla begins with a Renaissance painting of Mary and baby Jesus. The voice over by a standup comedian begins:
He was born in a manger a long time ago – not to a virgin – but to a gorilla. What's so funny? Who did you expect his ancestors to look like, Tom Cruise?
But wait. I'm not making fun of Jesus. I'm not mocking religion. In fact, from the deepest wellspring of my heart, I'm despairing something we've lost in our scientific culture.
Yes, if Jesus was alive today, he would understand that his ancestors, just like ours, were beasts.
No, he wouldn't run around claiming he was born of a virgin.
And, brilliant rabbi that he was, he would likely ask us to understand the miracle stories metaphorically – as morality tales – but certainly not as literal truth.
"There may be a profound message behind the miracle stories, but the big bang and evolution implore us not to read things literally," Rimm said. "Most Americans would rather discover the spiritual truths behind the religious metaphors, especially given how fundamentalism is impacting public life with a narrow view of religion."
Despite it's focus on Mark's gospel, "Lost Spiritual World" includes quotes from the Dalai Lamai, Rabbi Michael Lerner and self-help gurus Wayne Dyer and Tony Robbins.
"We all want to be a part of a spiritual community and to do good works," said Rimm. "And science, for all its accomplishments, has yet to find a replacement [for religion]."
Rimms unconventional Bible is reflected in its design as well as its content.
"The rectangular format of most books just doesn't capture the majesty of the text," said Rimm.
"'The Lost Spiritual World' is unlike any book you've ever seen," she said on her website. "For one thing, it's not shaped like a rectangle. In Greek, the word orthodox means 'straight thinking.' But according to the fundamentalist thought police, I don't think straight. I'm a 'heretic.'
"That's why I created the wavy shape. It immerses you into the quantum field, showing you how to explore the interconnection of seemingly opposite perspectives. This is the mystical, the 'mysterium tremendum,' the divine spark that gave birth to our religions."
Jay Baggett is a news editor for WorldNetDaily.com.
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