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School bench message said too religious
Marietta Daily Journal (MJD) online edition ^ | Wednesday, July 6, 2005 3:06 AM EDT | David Burch

Posted on 07/11/2005 11:13:58 AM PDT by Terriergal

School bench message said too religious

Wednesday, July 6, 2005 3:06 AM EDT
E-mail this story to a friend | Printable version

By David Burch

Marietta Daily Journal Staff Writer

MARIETTA - A simple message greets students arriving at Marietta High School - Jesus Loves You!

The words are inscribed on a bench located outside of the school's cafeteria and near the spot where school buses drop off and pick up students. Private donations from the school's PTA paid for the bench as part of a larger fund-raising campaign more than four years ago at the school, located on Dallas Highway just west of downtown Marietta.

While school officials say the bench has been in its current location for several years, one Marietta parent is now raising questions about the "overly religious" message it conveys.

David Bernknopf - a former CNN producer and media consultant whose son and daughter attend nearby A.L. Burruss Elementary - said he recently noticed the bench and asked Marietta City Schools officials to look into the legality of having a religious message displayed at a public school.

"I saw it, I questioned it and I asked them what their stance was on it," he said.

The controversy comes just a week after the U.S. Supreme Court issued two divergent rulings relating to displays of the Ten Commandments at courthouses in Kentucky and Texas.

No lawsuit is planned at this point, Bernknopf said, and he has "no issue so far" with the bench. But he said his stance on the bench will depend on the legal opinion provided by the school system about the bench's presence at the school.

"I think its best at this point to give them to opportunity to figure out where they stand," Bernknopf said.

Marietta Superintendent Dr. Emily Lembeck said her office now is in the process of investigating who specifically donated the money to install the bench, how long it has been at the school and whether the message inscribed on the bench complies with the law. Attorney Clem Doyle represents the Marietta School Board.

So far, Dr. Lembeck, who officially assumed her post July 1, said her investigation shows the bench was first funded as part of a Marietta High School PTA fund-raising event in 2000 or 2001 and has been at the school since the new campus opened in August 2001 under then-principal Gordon Pritz. Who specifically commissioned the bench as part of the fund-raising drive remains uncertain, Dr. Lembeck said.

"That bench has been there for years," she said.

Two years ago, the Marietta school board approved a policy governing the names of individuals placed on benches, rooms or in others locations in local schools in exchange for a private donation. The district, however, has no policy regarding the types of messages that private groups can display in exchange for a donation, Dr. Lembeck said.

"This really has never come up before," she said. "It boils down to what the law tells us, and until we see what the law tells us and we get all that together, we can't take a position."

Asked about the issue on Tuesday, Marietta school board members said they were unaware that the bench with its "Jesus Loves You!" message even existed at the school until Bernknopf questioned it.

But if the situation came down to using school system funds to defend the bench in court, many board members said preserving the bench would not be their top priority.

"I don't want to take away from our main core purpose, which is educating our children," board chairwoman Irene Berens said. "We have tried not to focus on those things as an issue in our schools because we want to focus on the education of our children."

"I'm a Southern Baptist from way back and I believe that Jesus loves me, but I also believe that my job is to educate students," she said. "I hate for this issue to take away from what we need to be focusing on. There's a time and a place for everything."

School board member Tom Smith agreed, saying that he would not want to use money earmarked for education to fund a lawsuit to protect a religiously-themed bench at the high school.

"My biggest fear is that this is going to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal cost that otherwise might go to education," he said.

But Smith also said he worries about the possible First Amendment debate on the other side of the issue and whether the group that originally donated the bench could claim that their rights to free speech and religious expression are being infringed upon.

"The government cannot encourage religious expression, but it can't prevent it either," Smith said.

The neighboring Cobb County School District currently is embroiled in its own legal battle over the separation of church and state. The district is now appealing a federal court ruling requiring Cobb to remove stickers related to evolution placed inside district science books in 2002. The sticker reads that evolution is "a theory and not a fact," and opponents argued that the disclaimer was religiously motivated.

Like her district's board members, Dr. Lembeck said her primary goal would remain the education of Marietta children rather than defending the bench and its message.

"What we don't want is any kind of controversy that will take our attention away from kids," she said. "That's our primary obligation."

dburch@mdjonline.com


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; News/Current Events; US: Georgia
KEYWORDS: bigotry; christian; cnn; discrimination; jesus; pta; religiousoppression
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Rush Limbaugh commented "just change it to allah loves you."

That would probably have been fine with everyone. *sigh*

1 posted on 07/11/2005 11:14:33 AM PDT by Terriergal
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To: Terriergal
David Bernknopf thinks that his opinion regarding what is religious should prevail.

I see no reason to bow to his religious points of view and certainly see no reason for the state to enforce them.

2 posted on 07/11/2005 11:17:46 AM PDT by muawiyah (/sarcasm and invective)
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To: Eaker; habs4ever; Ditter; shaggy eel; dorben; Son of Rooster; Tennessee_Bob; Cyrano; ...

ping!

So when are those government buildings with all the religous messages in the architecture going to be condemned?


3 posted on 07/11/2005 11:18:06 AM PDT by Terriergal (What is the meaning of life?? Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him for ever.)
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To: muawiyah
I see no reason to bow to his religious points of view and certainly see no reason for the state to enforce them.

If the people want religious endorsement, for some reason, then the 'government of the people, by the people, for the people' doesn't seem to matter.

4 posted on 07/11/2005 11:19:38 AM PDT by Terriergal (What is the meaning of life?? Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him for ever.)
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To: Terriergal
David Bernknopf's simply one of those people seeking to suppress what he sees to be "religious expression" in public.

I thought the First Amendment did away with these control freaks when it came to religion, but apparantly it didn't.

5 posted on 07/11/2005 11:22:33 AM PDT by muawiyah (/sarcasm and invective)
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To: Terriergal

Some people have too much time on their hands. *sigh*


6 posted on 07/11/2005 11:22:39 AM PDT by blackie (Be Well~Be Armed~Be Safe~Molon Labe!)
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To: Terriergal
David Bernknopf - a former CNN producer and media consultant whose son and daughter attend nearby A.L. Burruss Elementary - said he recently noticed the bench and asked Marietta City Schools officials to look into the legality of having a religious message displayed at a public school....

Asked about the issue on Tuesday, Marietta school board members said they were unaware that the bench with its "Jesus Loves You!" message even existed at the school until Bernknopf questioned it.

This part I did think was pretty funny. The bench is out in front of the school and the school board members never noticed it before??

7 posted on 07/11/2005 11:22:40 AM PDT by retrokitten (www.takebackthememorial.org)
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To: Terriergal

This guy is an idiot!

It's pronounced "hey-zeus" not "gee-zuss"

There, no problemo!

Just reaching out to the Latin-American population in Texas!

R3


8 posted on 07/11/2005 11:30:51 AM PDT by RedRightReturn (Even a broken clock is right twice a day...)
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To: retrokitten
Pretty soon, atheists will say churches have to be walled as they find them offensive.

The polically correct are creating a religious underground.

9 posted on 07/11/2005 11:32:18 AM PDT by Sacajaweau (God Bless Our Troops!!)
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To: Terriergal
one Marietta parent is now raising questions about the "overly religious" message it conveys.

I'll bet if it said "Allah" or "Satan" loves you, this woman never would have said word.

I hope the local community shuns this busy body - big time! She's earned it.

10 posted on 07/11/2005 11:32:50 AM PDT by concerned about politics ("A people without a heritage are easily persuaded (deceived)" - Karl Marx)
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To: retrokitten

No surprise here that a former producer for CNN would be offended by the notion that "Jesus loves you." How inoffensive is that statement? And since the sign is paid for by private funds, there's a question here of whether individuals' freedom to speak violates some doofus's "freedom not to be offended."


11 posted on 07/11/2005 11:32:59 AM PDT by My2Cents (Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati [When all else fails, play dead])
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To: Terriergal

I consider myself a Christian woman, but think that bench as described in the article has no business at the entrance to the school. It is very different if a student has a visible locker with a religious bumper sticker, or a security guard has something personal and religious at his desk by the door.

That school is a PUBLIC school, NOT a religious school, and certainly many people who don't believe in Jesus will pass through. It certainly sounds like it is being made to look like it was placed there by some official act.

I don't think this is at all like including timely religious songs in a seasonal school concert. I have no problem with that. But this bench is an "in your face" religious demonstration by a group trying to circumvent the constitution's intent. I for one don't want to see "Jesus loves you", "Allah loves you", "Moses loves you" or "Confucious loves you" in an official looking place in my kids' PUBLIC schools.


12 posted on 07/11/2005 11:33:05 AM PDT by YankeeGirl (Certa bonum certamen)
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To: Terriergal

"But he said his stance on the bench will depend on the legal opinion provided by the school system"

He doesn't even have an opinion yet..

"I think its best at this point to give them to opportunity to figure out where they stand," Bernknopf said.

Because as soon as they do, then he'll know where he stands..


13 posted on 07/11/2005 11:36:17 AM PDT by dwntmpo
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To: Terriergal
"The government cannot encourage religious expression, but it can't prevent it either," Smith said.

The left wing communist groups are giving it their best try. They want Government to be God - and they'll do by force if necessary. It's their anti-Christ jihad (sound familiar?).

14 posted on 07/11/2005 11:37:22 AM PDT by concerned about politics ("A people without a heritage are easily persuaded (deceived)" - Karl Marx)
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To: Terriergal
So when are those government buildings with all the religous messages in the architecture going to be condemned?

The don't have to obey our laws. Our laws are just for the unwashed, tax enslaved peasants.

15 posted on 07/11/2005 11:39:59 AM PDT by concerned about politics ("A people without a heritage are easily persuaded (deceived)" - Karl Marx)
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To: My2Cents

Here's my crazy idea about how not to be offended by the Jesus Loves You bench- don't look at the bench.

I know..I know, it's revolutionary, but that's the kind of gal I am.


16 posted on 07/11/2005 11:43:08 AM PDT by retrokitten (www.takebackthememorial.org)
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To: Terriergal

Since when is telling someone JESUS LOVES YOU offensive? What is wrong nowadays with uplifting someone by letting them know that there is a God who loves them? With all that's going on in the world today, a bit of good cheer never hurt anyone.


17 posted on 07/11/2005 11:47:34 AM PDT by FeeinTennessee (www.saluteheroes.org.........www.peoplepolitical.org)
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To: Terriergal
Here's the most interesting comment about the former CNN producer:

"But he said his stance on the bench will depend on the legal opinion provided by the school system about the bench's presence at the school."

Hmm. Isn't that interesting. This producer can't yet indicate if he thinks it is ok or not ok? He needs someone to look at the law so he can discern whether there is something gruesomely offensive about a bench with the saying, "Jesus loves you" on it?

Well, he was a CNN producer. Brains and intellect don't seem to be a job requirement there.

18 posted on 07/11/2005 11:48:38 AM PDT by mattdono ("Crush the democrats, drive them before you, and hear the lamentations of the scumbags" -Big Arnie)
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To: Terriergal
The left bitches about separation of church and state yet they bitch about this!
Ministerial students/ministers are EXEMPT from the draft!
Sorry, but they're representatives of the Lord. The Lord isn't allowed in Government buildings. The left said so themselves!
19 posted on 07/11/2005 11:48:47 AM PDT by concerned about politics ("A people without a heritage are easily persuaded (deceived)" - Karl Marx)
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To: Terriergal
Marietta High School is my alma mater. Although it's been 20 years since I graduated, I still have close ties to the community and have reason to believe that little has changed since I was a student.

I'm not at all surprised MHS has a "Jesus Loves You!" bench on their campus. When I was there there were Jesus posters and stickers and flyers all over the place. The student body at MHS was/is overwhelmingly Christian from degrees ranging from very religious to those who go along with all the Christian activities just to be social. When I was there, there was a lot of peer pressure to join in specifically Christian extracurricular groups such as FCA and Young Life. Young Life in particular attracted a lot of kids who were more interested in having a place to hook up before going out to get drunk. People who didn't take part or at least pretend to take part in all of this were actually teased and said to be weird. I was an agnostic bordering on atheist in high school (no more - long story) and so I was pretty much one of those outcasts. I didn't care though - in fact, I took it as a kind of badge of honor. I never really resented it because it wasn't a position the school itself took. Teachers and admins there were quite even-handed. All the pressure came from the kids themselves.

I can't help but think it's funny that some liberal is now challenging the school's status quo. That's definitely a new experience for MHS. Sounds like the school board is going to handle it in a reasonable fashion, but the God Squad contingency is not going to be happy if that bench is removed or even moved from its place at the front.

20 posted on 07/11/2005 12:00:55 PM PDT by DGray (http://nicanfhilidh.blogspot.com)
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To: Terriergal
"My biggest fear is that this is going to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal cost that otherwise might go to education," he said.

Isn't this what the ACLU and others like them have hoped for all along, that Christians would just roll over and give up the fight? In fact, isn't that what terrorists everywhere hope for? Isn't that pretty much what Spain did a few months ago, and what many people in Britain and the USA are trying to convince us we should do?

C'mon people, if we don't do something soon, we don't stand a chance.

21 posted on 07/11/2005 12:01:24 PM PDT by Desert_Girl (teach Africa to fish)
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To: YankeeGirl

Agreed!


22 posted on 07/11/2005 12:01:55 PM PDT by DGray (http://nicanfhilidh.blogspot.com)
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To: YankeeGirl
It certainly sounds like it is being made to look like it was placed there by some official act.

It has been there for several years, before the Socialist started their separation of church and state propaganda. The Constitution says no such thing, which is why we need strict Constitutionalists in the SC.

23 posted on 07/11/2005 12:03:25 PM PDT by concerned about politics ("A people without a heritage are easily persuaded (deceived)" - Karl Marx)
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To: YankeeGirl

One can, however, argue the bench has historical significance, since the public schools were originally created so children could learn to read the Bible.


24 posted on 07/11/2005 12:03:30 PM PDT by Uncle Vlad
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To: Terriergal

OH MY GOSH. This is right across the street from my house.

I bet you nobody but this one liberal wacko even blinked an eye at the bench. My kids will go to this high school. Grrr.

I better make sure my kids don't associate with this guy's....unless my son is spouting the latest thing he learned on Rush Limbaugh. Heeheehee


25 posted on 07/11/2005 12:06:43 PM PDT by Politicalmom (Just one more reason to hate the government....)
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To: Politicalmom

Don't worry. The article said his kids are still in elementary school (A.L Burruss, if I'm not mistaken.)


26 posted on 07/11/2005 12:08:07 PM PDT by DGray (http://nicanfhilidh.blogspot.com)
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To: retrokitten

School board members do not "visit" buildings, as all of their meetings, at least for our schools, are held at the admin offices. And, board members are unpaid and elected positions, mostly held by local business owners.


27 posted on 07/11/2005 12:08:55 PM PDT by Cyclone59 (If you can read this thank a teacher... since it's in English, thank an American Soldier!)
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To: DGray

Yeah. MY children's school. Actually, I just realized we moved in to the street next door to these people three months ago.

*Sigh*


28 posted on 07/11/2005 12:10:22 PM PDT by Politicalmom (Just one more reason to hate the government....)
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To: Politicalmom
Oh, I see. You said your kids will go to MHS. I get it now. :D
29 posted on 07/11/2005 12:14:54 PM PDT by DGray (http://nicanfhilidh.blogspot.com)
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To: concerned about politics

Let's face a fact here: the left doesn't bitch about these things because it's somehow a violation of a constitutional "wall of separation" (which doesn't exist, btw), but because they can't stand the idea of God.


30 posted on 07/11/2005 12:18:11 PM PDT by My2Cents (Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati [When all else fails, play dead])
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To: concerned about politics
It has been there for several years, before the Socialist started their separation of church and state propaganda.

It's only been there a few years, not long enough to have any historical significance.

I thought the Framers wanted to separate church & state so there would be no appearance of a state sponsored denomination as in good old England. That bench smacks of a particular type of worship, and a particular way of relating to a deity.

Unlike most of our supreme court justices I don't see a constitutional issue in the 10 commandments in a legal setting. But "Jesus loves you" has nothing to do with education, it is a blatent and gratuitous religious message. I still say it has no place in a public school.

31 posted on 07/11/2005 12:24:56 PM PDT by YankeeGirl (Certa bonum certamen)
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To: concerned about politics

"I'll bet if it said "Allah" or "Satan" loves you, this woman never would have said word."

You may be right, however I'd bet there would be a LOT of complaints from other parents/students/busybodies if the bench said "Satan loves you" and that bench would be long gone.


32 posted on 07/11/2005 12:32:15 PM PDT by Ignatius J Reilly
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To: YankeeGirl
"That school is a PUBLIC school, NOT a religious school" With all due respect, it is a religious school, as it teaches evolution. evolution is indeed a religion weather the leftists want to admit it or not.
33 posted on 07/11/2005 12:41:59 PM PDT by Attredies
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To: Ignatius J Reilly
You may be right, however I'd bet there would be a LOT of complaints from other parents/students/busybodies if the bench said "Satan loves you" and that bench would be long gone.

You're right. It would be too left wing for ... everyone!!!!(as in more than one busy body)

34 posted on 07/11/2005 12:50:10 PM PDT by concerned about politics ("A people without a heritage are easily persuaded (deceived)" - Karl Marx)
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To: concerned about politics

bump with no comment


35 posted on 07/11/2005 12:58:21 PM PDT by Ciexyz (Let us always remember, the Lord is in control.)
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To: Terriergal

Tell 'em to sit on it.


36 posted on 07/11/2005 1:01:57 PM PDT by DouglasKC
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To: Attredies
Don't tell me you are one of those fools who believes that the world began only a few thousand years ago.

Evolution is based on the scientific method, something that cannot be said about the Bible.

37 posted on 07/11/2005 1:02:19 PM PDT by Clemenza (Marry Me Rachael Ray!)
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To: Attredies

I don't consider myself to be a "leftist," but more of a republican-leaning conservative. I won't argue the point with you, but I will say I disagree with the statement that evolution is a religious belief.

I had a teacher in the 70s who would say, when class discussions got heated, "reasonable men can differ on this." Since it was an all girl hs, everyone would jump on him for being a sexist and then the tension in the room would disappear as everyone took a breath and relaxed.


38 posted on 07/11/2005 1:05:07 PM PDT by YankeeGirl (Certa bonum certamen)
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To: Clemenza
Evolution is based on the scientific method, something that cannot be said about the Bible.

"Science" has animal fossils (DNA), and they have human fossils (DNA). The only connection they have is that they look similar, but appearances can be used to easily deceive people.

39 posted on 07/11/2005 1:16:05 PM PDT by concerned about politics ("A people without a heritage are easily persuaded (deceived)" - Karl Marx)
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To: muawiyah

yep.


40 posted on 07/11/2005 1:23:31 PM PDT by Terriergal (What is the meaning of life?? Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him for ever.)
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To: blackie

and too much guilt on their consciences.


41 posted on 07/11/2005 1:23:53 PM PDT by Terriergal (What is the meaning of life?? Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him for ever.)
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To: blackie

on the other hand, maybe not enough!


42 posted on 07/11/2005 1:24:12 PM PDT by Terriergal (What is the meaning of life?? Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him for ever.)
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To: RedRightReturn

That thought did occur to me too. There are probably lots of "Jesuses" around.


43 posted on 07/11/2005 1:25:14 PM PDT by Terriergal (What is the meaning of life?? Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him for ever.)
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To: Sacajaweau

you got it. House church is going to become the only place to find real Christians eventually.


44 posted on 07/11/2005 1:25:47 PM PDT by Terriergal (What is the meaning of life?? Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him for ever.)
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To: concerned about politics

Yeah. Or 666 or "allahu akbar" or whatever.


45 posted on 07/11/2005 1:26:11 PM PDT by Terriergal (What is the meaning of life?? Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him for ever.)
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To: Terriergal

guilt ( P ) Pronunciation Key (glt)
n.
The fact of being responsible for the commission of an offense. See Synonyms at blame.
Law. Culpability for a crime or lesser breach of regulations that carries a legal penalty.

Remorseful awareness of having done something wrong.
Self-reproach for supposed inadequacy or wrongdoing.
Guilty conduct; sin.




[Middle English gilt, from Old English gylt, crime.]

I don't use it. ;);)


46 posted on 07/11/2005 1:27:02 PM PDT by blackie (Be Well~Be Armed~Be Safe~Molon Labe!)
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To: My2Cents
No surprise here that a former producer for CNN would be offended by the notion that "Jesus loves you." How inoffensive is that statement?

Yeah, if you don't believe in Jesus, then as my sister said to me, it's like saying "the tooth fairy loves you" -- so why take it down? Conscience problems seems to be the real explanation, but they of course rationalize it with this 'right not to be offended' garbage.

47 posted on 07/11/2005 1:27:43 PM PDT by Terriergal (What is the meaning of life?? Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him for ever.)
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To: Terriergal
you got it. House church is going to become the only place to find real Christians eventually.

That only happens in Communist Red China, right? Right?

48 posted on 07/11/2005 1:27:52 PM PDT by concerned about politics ("A people without a heritage are easily persuaded (deceived)" - Karl Marx)
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To: muawiyah

For David Bernknopf we'll build a small companion bench that says "Jesus doesn't believe in you either" ;)


49 posted on 07/11/2005 1:28:33 PM PDT by Libertina (nonewgastax.com We WON!!!!!!!!!!!)
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To: YankeeGirl
I consider myself a Christian woman, but think that bench as described in the article has no business at the entrance to the school.

Have you read John Macarthur's "Ashamed of the Gospel"? You should. (keep in mind the publisher changed one paragraph at the beginning of Chapter 6 which made it sound like he endorsed works-righteousness and he issued a clarification to be fixed in subsequent editions)

50 posted on 07/11/2005 1:29:21 PM PDT by Terriergal (What is the meaning of life?? Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him for ever.)
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