Religion

Ancient forbidden Christian text of Jesus’ ‘secret teachings’ to his ‘brother’ found

Biblical scholars have discovered the first-known original Greek copy of an ancient forbidden Christian text that purportedly describes Jesus’ secret teachings to his “brother” James, an early leader of the Church. Geoffrey Smith and Brent Landau, religious studies scholars at The University of Texas at Austin, located the rare text in Oxford University archives earlier this year. The experts found several fifth- or sixth-century A.D. Greek fragments of the First Apocalypse of James, one of the books from an ancient collection known as the Nag Hammadi library. Previously, the text was thought to be preserved only via translations in the Egyptian Coptic language. Only a small number of texts from the Nag Hammadi library, a collection of 13 Coptic Gnostic books discovered in Egypt in 1945, have been found in Greek, their original language of composition. Also known as the “Gnostic Gospels,” the books are seen as key documents for understanding Gnosticism, an ancient belief system. The First Apocalypse of James, like the other books in the Nag Hammadi library, was deemed heretical or forbidden by the church because it fell outside of the fourth-century religious boundaries that defined the 27-book New Testament. Experts were thrilled by the discovery of the ancient fragments, which are owned by the Egypt Exploration Society. “To say that we were excited once we realized what we’d found is an understatement,” said Smith, an assistant professor of religious studies, in a statement. “We never suspected that Greek fragments of the First Apocalypse of James survived from antiquity. But there they were, right in front of us.” The document is said to describe Jesus’ secret teachings to his “brother” James. Details of the “heavenly realm” and future events, such as James’ inevitable death, are revealed, according to The University of Texas at Austin. “The text supplements the biblical account of Jesus’ life and ministry,” Smith added. There are a number of interpretations of references to Jesus’ siblings in biblical texts. The Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Mark, for example, refer to Jesus’ brothers, including James. James, also known as “James the Just” was a leader of the early church – one interpretation of “brother” may thus be a close spiritual relationship as opposed to a fraternal biological link. The First Apocalypse of James describes James as not Jesus’ brother “materially.” Other interpretations describe James as Jesus’ step-brother or cousin. The manuscript, which uses neat, uniform handwriting and words separated into syllables, was probably a teacher’s model used to help students read and write, according to the experts. “The scribe has divided most of the text into syllables by using mid-dots. Such divisions are very uncommon in ancient manuscripts, but they do show up frequently in manuscripts that were used in educational contexts,” said Landau, a lecturer in the UT Austin Department of Religious Studies, in the statement. Landau notes that the teacher who produced the manuscript likely “had a particular affinity for the text.” The document, he explains, appears to be a complete copy of the forbidden ancient text.

Fascinating!!    🙂

Starnes: Jesus banned from buses in DC, but gay hookup ads allowed

The Archdiocese of Washington wanted to extend an invitation to commuters to find the perfect Christmas gift by advertising on city buses, but the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) threw up a roadblock. The advertisement depicted silhouettes of three shepherds walking at night with tall canes and sheep beneath a shining North Star. Emblazoned across the ad is the phrase: “FIND THE PERFECT GIFT.” But the transit authority rejected the ad because it “depicts a religious scene and thus seeks to promote religion,” according to a federal lawsuit filed by the Archdiocese of Washington against the WMATA. “To borrow from a favorite Christmas story, under WMATA’s guidelines, if the ads are about packages, boxes or bags… if Christmas comes from a store… then it seems WMATA approves,” spokesman Ed McFadden said in a statement. “But if Christmas means a little bit more, WMATA plays Grinch.” The transit authority might have reconsidered its ban on the Catholic Church’s advertisement had they been selling goods and services, the lawsuit alleges. However, as we all know – the perfect Christmas gift cannot be bought. The perfect gift came from a much Higher Authority. The WMATA issued this statement: “In 2015, WMATA changed its advertising space to a nonpublic and prohibits issue-oriented advertising, including political, religious and advocacy advertising. The ad in question was declined because it is prohibited by WMATA’s current advertising guidelines.” WMATA’s revised advertising guidelines prohibit “advertisements that promote or oppose any religion, religious practice or belief,” the Archdiocese alleges. “We believe rejection of this ad to be a clear violation of fundamental free speech and a limitation on the exercise of our faith,” general counsel Kim Fiorentino said in a statement. “We look forward to presenting our case to affirm the right of all to express such viewpoints in the public square.” And while the Archdiocese of Washington may not be welcome to advertise on public buses, the transit authority is more than happy to promote other enterprises – like gay hookup websites. In 2016 the transit authority defended its decision to allow Squirt.org to advertise citing First Amendment rights, CNS News reported. In other words, the transit authority’s decision to banish the Archdiocese is not nice – and definitely naughty.The Archdiocese of Washington wanted to extend an invitation to commuters to find the perfect Christmas gift by advertising on city buses, but the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) threw up a roadblock. The advertisement depicted silhouettes of three shepherds walking at night with tall canes and sheep beneath a shining North Star. Emblazoned across the ad is the phrase: “FIND THE PERFECT GIFT.” But the transit authority rejected the ad because it “depicts a religious scene and thus seeks to promote religion,” according to a federal lawsuit filed by the Archdiocese of Washington against the WMATA. “To borrow from a favorite Christmas story, under WMATA’s guidelines, if the ads are about packages, boxes or bags… if Christmas comes from a store… then it seems WMATA approves,” spokesman Ed McFadden said in a statement. “But if Christmas means a little bit more, WMATA plays Grinch.” The transit authority might have reconsidered its ban on the Catholic Church’s advertisement had they been selling goods and services, the lawsuit alleges. However, as we all know – the perfect Christmas gift cannot be bought. The perfect gift came from a much Higher Authority. The WMATA issued this statement: “In 2015, WMATA changed its advertising space to a nonpublic and prohibits issue-oriented advertising, including political, religious and advocacy advertising. The ad in question was declined because it is prohibited by WMATA’s current advertising guidelines.” WMATA’s revised advertising guidelines prohibit “advertisements that promote or oppose any religion, religious practice or belief,” the Archdiocese alleges. “We believe rejection of this ad to be a clear violation of fundamental free speech and a limitation on the exercise of our faith,” general counsel Kim Fiorentino said in a statement. “We look forward to presenting our case to affirm the right of all to express such viewpoints in the public square.” And while the Archdiocese of Washington may not be welcome to advertise on public buses, the transit authority is more than happy to promote other enterprises – like gay hookup websites. In 2016 the transit authority defended its decision to allow Squirt.org to advertise citing First Amendment rights, CNS News reported. In other words, the transit authority’s decision to banish the Archdiocese is not nice – and definitely naughty.The Archdiocese of Washington wanted to extend an invitation to commuters to find the perfect Christmas gift by advertising on city buses, but the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) threw up a roadblock. The advertisement depicted silhouettes of three shepherds walking at night with tall canes and sheep beneath a shining North Star. Emblazoned across the ad is the phrase: “FIND THE PERFECT GIFT.” But the transit authority rejected the ad because it “depicts a religious scene and thus seeks to promote religion,” according to a federal lawsuit filed by the Archdiocese of Washington against the WMATA. “To borrow from a favorite Christmas story, under WMATA’s guidelines, if the ads are about packages, boxes or bags… if Christmas comes from a store… then it seems WMATA approves,” spokesman Ed McFadden said in a statement. “But if Christmas means a little bit more, WMATA plays Grinch.” The transit authority might have reconsidered its ban on the Catholic Church’s advertisement had they been selling goods and services, the lawsuit alleges. However, as we all know – the perfect Christmas gift cannot be bought. The perfect gift came from a much Higher Authority. The WMATA issued this statement: “In 2015, WMATA changed its advertising space to a nonpublic and prohibits issue-oriented advertising, including political, religious and advocacy advertising. The ad in question was declined because it is prohibited by WMATA’s current advertising guidelines.” WMATA’s revised advertising guidelines prohibit “advertisements that promote or oppose any religion, religious practice or belief,” the Archdiocese alleges. “We believe rejection of this ad to be a clear violation of fundamental free speech and a limitation on the exercise of our faith,” general counsel Kim Fiorentino said in a statement. “We look forward to presenting our case to affirm the right of all to express such viewpoints in the public square.” And while the Archdiocese of Washington may not be welcome to advertise on public buses, the transit authority is more than happy to promote other enterprises – like gay hookup websites. In 2016 the transit authority defended its decision to allow Squirt.org to advertise citing First Amendment rights, CNS News reported. In other words, the transit authority’s decision to banish the Archdiocese is not nice – and definitely naughty.

Definitely a double standard being exercised by the WMATA.  Thanks to veteran culture warrior Todd Starnes for bringing this story to our attention.

Opinion: Christ Church Should Be Ashamed

Christ Church is a historic religious institution in Alexandria, Va., that has had some very important parishioners. George Washington was a member and regular attendee at the congregation. Most churches, I reckon, would be honored by this, but Christ Church, the Washington Times reported, has suddenly grown embarrassed: ” This week the church announced it was pulling down a memorial to its one-time vestryman and the country’s first president, saying he and another famous parishioner, Robert E. Lee, have become too controversial and are chasing away would-be parishioners. “The plaques in our sanctuary make some in our presence feel unsafe or unwelcome. Some visitors and guests who worship with us choose not to return because they receive an unintended message from the prominent presence of the plaques,” the church leaders said.” Christ Church is a private religious institution, and it can do what it wants with the Washington monument. The First Amendment right to religious freedom allows churches to do whatever foolhardy thing they choose. I would have it no other way. Still, we are likewise free under the First Amendment to criticize this harebrained decision to disrespect the nation’s first president. Christ Church should be ashamed of itself. For starters, Washington actually freed his slaves after he died, the only major Founding Father to do so. Reverend Richard Allen, who cofounded the African Methodist-Episcopal Church, eulogized Washington in 1799, shortly after his death, as a patron of black Americans: ” To us he has been the sympathizing friend and tender father. He has watched over us, and viewed our degraded and afflicted state with compassion and pity — his heart was not insensible to our sufferings.” Washington, of course, could have freed his slaves earlier in his life. He did not, and it is fair to criticize him for this (his posthumous manumission certainly indicates a guilty conscience). But it is awfully punctilious for Christ Church to target Washington’s memory.

Indeed..  This is a follow up to the story we posted earlier today (scroll down three articles).  Christ Church in Alexandria SHOULD be ashamed of itself for this affront to the memory of our first President, and our American heritage.  Anyway, to read the rest of this article by author Jay Cost, click on the text above.  Awful…

George Washington’s Church Says Plaque Honoring First President Must Come Down

Leaders at the church that George Washington attended decided that a plaque honoring the first president of the United States must be removed. Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia will take down a memorial marking the pew where Washington sat with his family, saying it is not acceptable to all worshipers. “The plaques in our sanctuary make some in our presence feel unsafe or unwelcome,” leaders said, a reference to the fact that Washington was a slaveholder. “Some visitors and guests who worship with us choose not to return because they receive an unintended message from the prominent presence of the plaques.” “Many in our congregation feel a strong need for the church to stand clearly on the side of ‘all are welcome- no exceptions,'” they concluded. A memorial to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee will also come down. The decision comes in the wake of renewed controversy over whether statues honoring Civil War figures should be no longer honored. The debate broke out again over the summer after a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia killed one and injured others. President Trump expressed concern that the censoring of Confederate generals would lead to dishonoring Thomas Jefferson and George Washington as well.

Clearly he was right…  This erasing (or revising) of our American history is very dangerous stuff.  George Washington DID own slaves.  That’s true.  The perpetually offended should get the hell over it.  That was just something that happened back then.  We don’t excuse or condone it.  We simply acknowledge it as a fact.  Washington also was our nation’s first President (a title he never wanted), and lead our country’s war for independence against the British.  He held our country together when it almost fell apart. Instead of erasing our heritage, we need to celebrate these contributions by our founding fathers.  Shame on this church for caving to the whining of a few tourists, who probably wouldn’t go back anyway, and denying the rest of us the opportunity to be awed by this piece of American history.  Unreal..

Starnes: Texas Teens Stand up to Atheists and Defend Christian Flag

The red, white and blue has flown outside LaPoynor High School in LaRue, Texas for as far back as anyone can remember. But instead of 50 stars on a blue field, this flag bears a cross – a symbol of the Christian faith. The Christian flag flies alongside the Texas flag and Old Glory. And that’s a big problem for a bunch of out-of-town atheist agitators — a mighty big problem. The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based group of atheists, agnostics and freethinkers, sent a letter to the local school district demanding the flag be removed. “It is unconstitutional for the school to display the Christian flag,” FFRF attorney Sam Grover wrote to Supt. James Young. “The display of this patently religious symbol by the District confers government endorsement of Christianity, in violation of the Establishment Clause.” The perpetually offended atheists told the school district they must be inclusive to minority religions and non-religious people. “The District must immediately remove the Christian flag from school grounds,” Grover wrote. “In addition, the District must ensure that its staff members are not organizing, promoting, or participating in religious events while acting in their official capacities.” The school superintendent told local news reporters they were reviewing the demand letter – but have yet to make any sort of announcement. But while the adults in LaPoynor wrangle over what to do — students at the high school have taken matters into their own hands — they’ve decided to stand up to the atheists. Several youngsters purchased Christian flags and mounted the banners on their pickup trucks. It was quite a scene in the high school parking lot — a convoy of trucks adorned with the Christian flag — waving in the Texas breeze. “They can try to take it, but we’re going to fight for it,” junior Jared Sanchez told Nexstar Broadcasting. And at a recent school board meeting, local residents offered their two-cents worth. “The Freedom From Religion organization really has a distorted and inaccurate view of the separation of church and state in the First Amendment,” one resident told television KLTV. “Matter fact I’d like to say that their viewpoint is probably void and alien to that of our founding fathers.” It sounds like there are lots of great patriots in LaPoynor — young and old — and reckon those Wisconsin atheists are about to learn why it’s best not to mess with Texas.

Indeed..  Here at The Daily Buzz, we stand steadfastly with the students and parents of LaPoynor High School.  The so-called “establishment clause” merely says that Congress may not write a law that recognizes a specific religion.  It ALSO says that Congress may not write a law that prohibits “the free exercise” of religious expression or practice.  That has NOTHING to do with what states and local communities may or may not do.  The fact that a local community, or local school, choses to fly a certain flag is their right.  So, we again, we support the good folks in LaRue who are standing up to these atheist lawyer bullies.  Thanks to culture warrior Todd Starnes for bringing this story to our attention.

Report: 75% of Victims of Religious Persecution Are Christians

A grim new report on Christian persecution around the globe suggests that rather than improving, the situation of Christians worldwide is worsening, a fact whitewashed by mainstream media. “Christians are the victims of at least 75 percent of all religiously-motivated violence and oppression,” declares the 2015-2017 report from Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), and moreover “the extent of this persecution is largely ignored by our media.” In their report titled “Persecuted and Forgotten?”, ACN noted that in Iraq more than half of the country’s Christian population have become internal refugees, while in the Syrian city of Aleppo, the Christian population has fallen by more than 75 percent. Up until 2011 Aleppo was home to the largest Christian community but in just 6 years numbers have dropped from 150,000 to just over 35,000. “In terms of the number of people involved, the gravity of the crimes committed and their impact, it is clear that the persecution of Christians is today worse than at any time in history,” said John Pontifex, the Report’s editor. In the 13 countries where Christians suffer the most intense persecution, the situation has worsened in all but one—Saudi Arabia—in the last two years, and conditions there have stayed the same. “In almost all the countries reviewed,” the report reads, “the oppression and violence against Christians have increased since 2015 – a development especially significant given the rate of decline in the immediate run-up to the reporting period.” In communist North Korea, for example, Christians have undergone “unspeakable atrocities,” the report states, “including extra-judicial killings, forced labour, torture, persecution, starvation, rape, forced abortion and sexual violence.” According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide, documented incidents against Christians include “being hung on a cross over a fire, crushed under a steamroller, herded off bridges, and trampled underfoot.” One estimate suggests that three quarters of Christians in the camps die from the harsh punishments inflicted on them. But the second part of the report’s title—“forgotten”—is also key to understanding the situation of persecuted Christians worldwide. Particularly in the Middle East where Christians have been undergoing a systematic genocide, virtually no help has been forthcoming from Western (predominantly Christian) countries or from the United Nations. “Governments in the West and the UN failed to offer Christians in countries such as Iraq and Syria the emergency help they needed as genocide got underway,” ACN’s website relates. “If Christian organisations and other institutions had not filled the gap, the Christian presence could already have disappeared in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East.” In the forward to the report, Melkite Greek Catholic Archbishop John Darwish of Lebanon noted that up to the present, “the UN and other humanitarian organizations have provided no aid” leaving the oppressed Christians to fend for themselves. John Pontifex told the Tablet that the “pc agenda” among western governments and mainstream media is preventing the attention that the Christian community requires. “The UN and western governments send strong messages of support – but that’s not matched by action.” Pontifex said. “To date, the response of the UN has been too little too late. For example, Iraqi Christians from Mosul and Nineveh who ended up in Erbil were just given tarpaulins; people need homes, medicines and pastoral support.” One exception to the systematic neglect from Western governments has been the central European country of Hungary, which in 2016 established a Deputy State Secretariat for the Aid of Persecuted Christians, making it the only nation in the world with a department of this nature. So far, the new secretariat has sent assistance of more than four million euros to rebuild homes, churches and schools so that Christians can stay in their homes in the Middle East. They have also granted dozens of scholarships to Christian students in Africa and the Middle East who lost everything to militant Islamic terror groups. Last week, the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán called together key Christian leaders from the Middle East for a three-day summit in Budapest to discuss targeted assistance to persecuted Christians.

Good on Hungary for taking such a leadership role.  Hopefully other nations will follow that lead.  Thanks to ISIS and other evil, Islamo-fascist organizations, Christianity in countries like Iraq and Syria have undergone genocide.  Awful…  Thanks to Dr. Thomas D. Williams, PhD for this sobering report.

Federal court upholds prayer in Congress

A federal court ruled Wednesday that Congress can continue to open its sessions each day with a prayer, and upheld the House’s ability to pick and choose who’s allowed to lead the prayer. U.S. District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer, a Bush appointee who sits in Washington, D.C., rejected a challenge by Daniel Barker, co-president of Freedom From Religion Foundation, who said he was not permitted to give an opening invocation, even though other guest chaplains have been permitted. Judge Collyer said House rules didn’t permit him to lead the prayer because he had left his faith. Judge Collyer also said an opening prayer has been a tradition in this country for more than two centuries, and the Supreme Court has ruled it doesn’t violate the Establishment Clause. “To decide that Mr. Barker was discriminated against and should be permitted to address the House would be to disregard the Supreme Court precedent that permits legislative prayer,” Judge Collyer wrote in her opinion on Wednesday. Mr. Barker said her ruling was tainted by personal bias against nonreligious people. “The judge’s acquiescence in this inequity sends a crystal clear message that our government, founded upon our entirely secular Constitution, may discriminate with impunity against atheists and freethinkers,” he said. But House Speaker Paul D. Ryan applauded the ruling. “Since the first session of the Continental Congress, our nation’s legislature has opened with a prayer to God. Today, that tradition was upheld and the freedom to exercise religion was vindicated,” said Mr. Ryan, Wisconsin Republican. He added the return of Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise, Louisiana Republican, who was shot earlier this year by a left wing zealot, reminded Congress of the power of prayer.

Indeed..  This ruling was spot on, and with precedent from the Supreme Court.  This idiot from FFRF got slapped down, and rightfully so.  This is a small, yet important, victory for religious freedom, and for freedom of speech.  As we’ve documented on numerous occasions here at The Daily Buzz… The whole notion of a “separation of church and state” is bs.  There is no such thing.  That phrase originated in a letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote to the members of a church where he raised the idea in a philosophical sense.  That’s it.  Nowhere in our founding legal documents (i.e. The U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights, etc.) is that phrase found.   Our founders intended freedom OF religion; NOT freedom FROM religion.  Kudos to Judge Collyer for her spot-on analysis, and excellent ruling!