Ohio school board votes to keep Jesus portrait up

An Ohio school district decided Tuesday night to keep a portrait of Jesus hanging in the school where it's been 65 years, denying a federal lawsuit's claim the portrait's display unconstitutionally promotes religion in a public school.
Associated Press
Feb 13, 2013

The Jackson City Schools board offered a constitutional justification of its own in voting 4-0 to keep the portrait up in its middle school, saying it must protect students' free speech rights. The vote drew cheers and applause from the dozens of people gathered in the elementary school gymnasium.

After huddling with attorneys in closed session for more than an hour, the school board said the portrait belongs to the student group that put it up, the Hi-Y club. The portrait's frame is inscribed with the club's name and the Christian-based service group is the portrait's owner, not the school, the board said.

The board said the portrait is part of a "limited public forum," and that the Jackson schools will allow other student clubs to hang portraits appropriate to their organizations.

"We're in a predicament where we have to balance things," said Superintendent Phil Howard said after the meeting. "We can't make that kind of endorsement (of religion) as a government entity. But we also can't infringe upon the rights of our student groups and our students."

An ACLU spokesman said it will want to see details of the board's position, but remains convinced the portrait is unconstitutional.

"Our position on this is clear: we believe the portrait is unconstitutional sponsorship of religion and should be removed," spokesman Nick Worner said.

The ACLU and another group filed suit last week in U.S. district court on behalf on an unidentified student and two parents in the school district.

Hiram Sasser, director of litigation for the Liberty Institute, a Plano, Texas-based nonprofit that advocates on behalf of public religious displays, and attorney David Shaw of Washington-based Covington & Burling researched the issue and advised the board. Shaw, whose firm is donating its services, said he couldn't guess how the plaintiffs would respond, but said the lawyers had earlier asked their attorneys to meet to discuss the case before the lawsuit was filed.

The portrait had generally been said to have been donated by the student group in 1947, but the school board Tuesday night disavowed ownership and said the Hi-Y club had asserted that it owns the portrait.

It hangs in a hallway, above a side entranceway that leads to the middle school auditorium of the school in Jackson City, a small town about 65 miles south of Columbus nestled in a mostly rural area in the state's Appalachian region. The building was the Jackson High School at the time the portrait was hung.

The challenge to the Jesus portrait began with a Jan. 2 letter to Howard from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which said it had received "a disturbing report" about the portrait, along with a photo showing it hanging in the school.

At a subsequent school meeting that drew hundreds of people in support of the portrait, Howard defended it as having historical significance, said it was donated by a student group, and added that it hadn't drawn previous complaints.

"I've been here for six years and nobody ever said anything about it," Howard told The Associated Press before Tuesday's meeting. "I think probably the vast majority of the people in the community want it to stay."

The plaintiffs are referred to only by "Sam Doe" in the lawsuit filed by The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio and the Madison, Wis.-based Freedom From Religion Foundation. A U.S. magistrate in Columbus ruled that the plaintiffs' names could remain publicly anonymous, while being filed under seal and provided to defendants' attorneys.

The plaintiffs' attorneys said in a court filing that their clients would face harassment and intimidation, citing threatening social media comments saying those disagreeing with the portrait should leave Jackson and go to another school.

The lawsuit against the Jackson schools contends that "maintenance and display of the portrait has the effect of advancing and endorsing one religion, improperly entangling the State in religious affairs, and violating the personal consciences of Plaintiffs."

It's the latest legal clash over religious displays in public places. A school district in nearby Adams County battled for years for a Ten Commandments display that courts ruled to be overly religious. However, federal courts including the U.S. Supreme Court have approved some displays if their main purpose was non-religious.

"The basic rule is that the government is not allowed to endorse religion," said Kermit Roosevelt, a constitutional law expert at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. "So there would be two questions here: Is the portrait an endorsement of religion — rather than, say, a recognition of some historical fact — and if so, is it attributable to the government — the school — rather than the students?"

 

Comments

jtmakse's picture
jtmakse

Awesome, that is one good thing for our rights. Thank you.

freedom12

We are a Christian Nation and we need to promote good values in our schools.

Phil Packer

That's Right! And I for one will not stand for the removal of a picture of our favorite Jew!

freethinker1

America is absolutely NOT a Christian nation, nor has it ever been. Our founding fathers were very explicit in their beliefs about the separation of church and State. Several of our most well-known early politicians were atheists or agnostics, including Franklin and Jefferson.

As documented in the Bible, the loving and merciful god was responsible for more than 2 million deaths, compared with only 10 by Satan (7 sons and 3 daughters of Job). I agree that schools should promote good values, however, it's pretty obvious that they already do a better job of that than Christianity does.

SamAdams

No, this is NOT a "Christian nation" and has never been so. Read the Constitution sometime. There's no mention of a god or gods anywhere to be found. Even the oath of office as constitutionally required doesn't include a religious reference (it was voluntarily added by George Washington, but it is NOT required).

I'd also note that Washington himself, in the Treaty of Tripoli (1787), specified that the United States "is in no way founded on the Christian religion." (The Muslims with whom the treaty was signed were worried about that.)

I assume you'll forgive me if I take Washington's word over yours seeing as how he was there at the time and all... And for the record, Washington was VERY religious, and VERY Christian yet denied that the country was either.

chongo

really, 3 people don't like it and everyone else has to go through this? this falls in the category of WHO CARES... these 3 ppl need to grow up a bit and deal with it..

2cents's picture
2cents

Good for you!

Yellow Snow

Sad when you sign on as Sam Doe in a lawsuit over your non-believer. If you're willing to take stand on an issue, put your name on it.

G-ra

Good for them, People who don't want religious belief around, that's their right, but they should not be able to force their belief on others. We all have are own opinions, but not to force it on another. This is what is wrong with the world today, People have to realize, no matter what you do, it is God and the Good Lord Jesus you will have to answer too! Without God it is hell! And that is why the world is the way it is. We keep taking God out of it.

Pterocarya frax...

Don't you see that you are doing exactly what you are accusing others of doing? You are trying to force your religious views on others, as are the people of this town in the story.

If you need Jesus in your life so much, why don't you get a graven image of him tattooed on your chest so he can be near to your heart all the time. Just keep it covered so I don't have to see it.

mikel

tsk tsk

freethinker1

But it's ok for the religious to force their belief on others, right? Like most atheists, I keep my views to myself, and have no problems with those who wish to believe in an imaginary friend in the sky. I have a conscience and live a moral life because I know it's the right thing to do, NOT because I'm afraid of being punished by god if I don't.

I contend that we are atheists: I just believe in one god less than Christians do. But seriously, religious people have no idea just how often they push their religion in the faces of those who have no use for such myths - it's ALL the time, and it gets weary. And when religion attempts to dictate national policy, as is the case with the Religious Right, we have a far bigger problem than a few atheists attempting to remove an old picture from one school.

luvblues2

I'm glad Jesus gets to hang out in a Cinnci school. He hasn't been well liked of late. Maybe when he comes around the second time, he'll have a better reception than the last time.

wiredmama222

Good for them. Its about time they acknowledged religion again. I wish they would allow those who wish a few moments of prayer in the morning when arriving at school to do so. Remember when you could do that? We used to be allowed to do so. I see nothing wrong with a few moments of silence in which those who wish to say a silent prayer may do so. Those who do not, do not have to, but please remain silent in deferrence to those who are praying. It would hurt no one.

And luvblues2....I hope he gets a better reception as well. And it ends better for him as well.

I would also like to see the Pledge of Allegence reinstated too.

Bluto

That's just it . The school is saying they are NOT acknowledging religion . They say they don't even own the portrait . If they're going to provide space to a special interest group perhaps they should charge a fee for the rental of said space . That way , at least they have a legitimate claim to why they are displaying it , but then I guess they would have to also cater to other groups as well .

wiredmama222

Fine, charge a penny for that portrait to hang there. Big deal. And what if they do have to have other items go up. So what? I still think this country cow towed to Madeline Murray O Hare and that stared a LOT of problems in this country. She got what she deserved as far as I am concerned.

Contango

@ wiredmama222:

So bein' murdered and buried in an unmarked grave gave MMO what she deserved?

Should the Inquisition and heretic burning be reinstated as well?

John Harville

wired... short-circuited is more like it. There is no provision against a group of students gathering to offer a prayer each morning. Many Ohio schools have prayer groups.
It IS a violatiion of law, however, for the SCHOOL to REQUIRE students to join in a group prayer OR a moment of silence.
And yes, let's force young Americans INVOLUNTARTILY to pledge their lives and property to a cause they (and you?) don't understand. After all the retiring Pope performed similarly as a youth....

rjk1915

As has been pointed out: it's not a portrait of Jesus. No one knows what he looked like. Very possibly Semitic. (The Shroud of Turin has been pretty well discredited.)

Señor Clown

It's not a portrait of Jesus: Jesus was black. You realize that putting your name on the lawsuit, instead of Sam Doe, might likely cause both students and parents to be ostracized from school, work, and social functions in a small town where nearly everyone believes that they have an imaginary friend that died for their salvation?

Bluto

You are correct . That is a portrait of Robert Powell , a British actor . Who else did you think white Christian America would worship ? ; )))

Informed

I hope this school is prepared to hang a Satanic symbol or a Wiccan symbol or a Muslim symbol if a student group wants to donate that.
And it doesn't matter if it was 300 people or 3 people that objected to the portrait--that is exactly what the Constitution was designed to do--protect every individual's freedom from the majority. That's why the Puritans left England, because they were persecuted for not following the majority.
And before any of you rattle off that I am what's wrong with our society, I am a Christian. But I respect the beliefs of others and do not feel a student who is not a Christian should have to be objected to blatant support of one religion in a public school that is supposed to be equal for all when it comes to religion.
This school board just opened a Pandora's box and they will be sorry.

Bluto

I urge any and all faiths or walks of life to donated their own portrait to this school for display . This is a great day for freedom . So ,bring your portraits of Mohamed , Buddha , Gay pride rainbows . Oh , pot symbols , and gang signs . And of course we can't forget your favorite Death Metal or Rap group . I personally would like to see the shocker symbol proudly hanging on those walls . ; )))

SamAdams

You're exactly right. I don't object to the portrait of Jesus. I object to the inevitable refusal of the school to permit the display of portraits of OTHER religious figures. Just watch. If somebody actually tries to form a club based on Wicca, or demands an image of Buddha be displayed to go along with their after-school group, just watch the hue and cry!

The school isn't really promoting any religion; the club is. But that school had best not dare refuse non-obscene displays by other clubs now! That'll be proof positive that local administrators are, indeed, taking a position on religion, and that is legitimately just about as unconstitutional as it gets. (I also question the obviously preferential position of the portrait, but that's neither here nor there in the current debate.)

Informed

Wired, I don't know how much you know about what goes on at school, but any student can pray silently and the Pledge of Allegiance is said daily at many schools.

wiredmama222

Many, but not all. That bothers me. We lost sight of the main respect for this country long ago. That really gets to me. I wish I could put my finger on exactly when that happened but I think I can almost remember when....sometime around the end of the Viet Nam war. Can you remember or are you too young for that? LOL

Contango

@ wiredmama222:

Yea, that lying, murdering SOB LBJ and then his "buddy" Nixon helped some members of a generation to distrust authority. IMO, it ain't improved much - they're still lying and murdering.

Trustafarian

I like to picture Jesus in a tuxedo T-Shirt because it says I want to be formal, but I'm here to party.

Contango

From a couple yrs. ago -

"The Real Face Of Jesus
Advances in forensic science reveal the most famous face in history."

http://www.popularmechanics.com/...

According to some surveys, more people believe in ETs than they do in God. When do the Raelists get their due?

Bluto

Jesus is an alien . He was not native to this plain of existence . If he ever comes back it would take him , like 15 to 20 years to get down that path to citizenship in America anyway . ; ))))

Contango

@ Bluto:

Think if he were around today. He'd be real popular on college campuses if he'd change water into beer.

The Bible infers that he was a good winemaker. Since beer is mostly water, it's probably easier.

There's your fast track to citizenship!

Bluto

Better yet , a nice single malt scotch ! He would definitely convert me then ; )))

John Harville

Sooo,. Leave it up to Popular Mechanics to come up with possibly the most accurate picture of Jesus.

thinkagain

This representation of Christ is bullying everyone that views it. It’s even been known to jump off the wall and smack people into salvation. It's a miracle that after 65 years this portrait hasn't destroyed Civilization.

Some people are passionate about believing in nothing. Standing for morals and values and believing there are such things as “truth” just drives some people crazy.

Given that our atheist commenters are intellectually unable to disprove theistic claims, they resort to displays of mindless derision. Cue the Christophobes…

Bluto

Jesus Smackdown on pay per-view !!! AWESOME !!!

Bluto

Triple H , Jesus on steroids .

Contango

Why pay more?

"Jesus vs. Santa Claus":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e...

Bluto

Indeed , What would Brian Boitano do ? That was cool !!!

Contango

Probably more interesting people in H*ll anyway.

Imagine sitting around singing and kissin' some diety's *ss for all eternity.

Little wonder that Lucifer decided to stir things up.

Contango

@ thinkagain:

Outside of the NT, there is no historical evidence whatsoever that Jesus even existed.

No "proof" is possible with only one flawed source.

shucks

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Remarks that discriminate based on age, race, religion, disability, etc..

John Harville

I think it's nice he hangs in the school's "Hall of Honor" with the alumni. Did Jesus graduate here?
How about that? A Jew in a public school in a Christian nation...

Darwin's choice

5 posts in 30 minutes Bluto............Strike a nerve?

Bluto

More like a funny bone . Love stirring the pot .

meowmix

Jebus loves me this I know--because that picture tells me so....
Bluto love your comments!

Bluto

Too much coffee and a twisted sense of humor are what get me through the day ; )))

Contango

"Life of Brian." Best MP movie ever!

"Blessed be the cheesemakers" and "What have the Romans ever done for us?"

Minimum two pots a day here - plenty of vitamins and minerals! Black only.

meowmix

If they wanted a real picture of christ hanging there they could have just put up a picture of Michael Jackson in a loincloth.

mikel

wow, coming into the holy season and these are the comments we read.

Bluto

I gave up serious comments for Lent . : )

mikel

lol

John Harville

Mikel... why do we have a 'holy season'? Shouldn't the entire year be a 'holy season'? Especially for true believers?

The Bizness

Wooo another long thread about this picture!

indolent indiff...

big mistake, go get em ACLU! if it was a picture of buddah or another religious figure the christians would be going nuts

indolent indiff...

i mean more nuts

meowmix

I'm giving up christianity for lent.
Actually though, maybe Jebus went to school there and that is his portrait taken by LifeTouch.

Floyd P

A wise, non-Christian child will pass this portrait every day and shake his head and sadly smile.

Kottage Kat

Forgive them Father for they know not what they do.

Contango

Religious dogma depends on it's sychophants. No proof needed.

"Blind Faith" - great 60s "Super Group."

Pterocarya frax...

You gonna take that KK? A day or 2 ago he called you ignorant, and now a sycophant! Fight back!

hilltop

According to Blaise Pascal:

•You may believe in God, and God exists, in which case you go to heaven: your gain is infinite.

•You may believe in God, and God doesn't exist, in which case your loss is finite and therefore negligible.

•You may not believe in God, and God doesn't exist, in which case your gain is finite and therefore negligible.

•You may not believe in God, and God exists, in which case you will go to hell: your loss is infinite.

Pascal wagered that it was better to believe than to not believe.

Personally, I would agree. As one of the 86% of Americans that believe in a Judeau-Christian religion, I think my taxes are well-spent displaying religious art.

Besides, there's no title on the lithograph, it's a painting by Warner Sallman of a bearded, long-haired man.

What's next, a ban on pictures of Billy Gibbons from Z.Z. Top?

Trustafarian

Seriously? Billy Gibbons? Everybody knows Clapton is God.

Contango

I don't disagree, but also: Todd is God.

Reads like polytheism.

Give me that "old time religion" - Druidism.

meowmix

@hilltop
"Pascal wagered that it was better to believe than to not believe"

In other words, it's better to be safe than sorry. Huh--so if I just go through the motions of PRETENDING to believe then all will be well with me if I die and there really is a Pearly Gate? Wow, whoda thunk the almighty would be so stupid as to fall for that trick???

Contango

C.S. Lewis:

“We are arguing like a man who should say, if there were an invisible cat in that empty chair, the chair would look empty; but the chair does look empty; therefore there is an invisible cat in it.”

meowmix

Heavy stuff there Contango. :}

John Harville

I thought Pres. Obama as sitting in that empty chair?....

SamAdams

"Pascal's Wager" represents the ultimate in hypocrisy. If you assume that the god you're pretending to believe in is omniscient, then it only goes to follow he knows you're just hedging your bets! I'm pretty sure that lying, especially for gain, is a sin. I'm just saying...

wiredmama222

I give up. Lent is here and we are getting ZZ top? What's next? Pontius Pilot and His Nail drivin 5 for Good Friday?

Trustafarian

PP & His Nail Drivin 5 were one hit wonders.

John Harville

Wired... if "PP and the ND5" will speak to yet another group that has been unimpressed...why not?
Of course Jesus was crucified because he dined with prostitutes and tax collectors and healed lepers and the blind and forgave the man who betrayed him AND his crucifiers.
I guess we shouldn't mount productions of "Godspell" since it dares to bring Jesus to the Gentiles as in the Gospel of Matthew - oh, but that was the responsibity Jesus gave to Paul.
And for some "Jesus Christ, Superstar" is blasphemy or heresy - but was the first time many people actually understood as approachable.
But songs like "if you think that you're so cool, walk across my swimming pool" gave voice to some of the dismay many have with the Biblical accounts... and made believers in the 'human' Jesus.

shucks

The following are satanic lies:

"Outside of the NT, there is no historical evidence whatsoever that Jesus even existed."
"No "proof" is possible with only one flawed source."

SamAdams

If those are "Satanic lies," may I assume that you're in possession of the "godly truth?" Please provide same. And don't bother quoting Josephus. That's long been known by scholars as a forgery.

shucks

The bible is a compilation of writings from different people like the encycopedia is a compilation of writings from different people.

Read the bible and become free.

SamAdams

Actually, I HAVE read the Bible. More than once. Have you? If so, please tell me how you determine which parts are true and which parts are not, or if you consider ALL parts of it to be true.

Inquiring minds want to know!

shucks

More than once and less than twice, right?
I've been reading the bible EVERY DAY continuously for over 6 years and I don't get tired of it, in fact, I crave it.

Matthew 4:4

New International Version (NIV)

"Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God."

Here, feed yourself.

http://www.gotquestions.org/sear...

John Harville

Matthew put those words in the mouth of Jesus... after Mark put red-letter words in the mouth of Jesus... and before Luke (WHO NEVER MET JESUS) put the red-letter words in the mouth of Jesus ... 60 YEARS BEFORE John declared for us that Jesus is God and God is Jesus and Jesus participated in the Creation.

Get over yourself, please.

shucks

John Harville

You didn't like my response to Sam Adams?
I was answering Sam Adams.

John Harville

I've never known life without the Bible. For that reason I know it's not infallible. Jesus often disputed the 'law' of the OT, most famously in his "you have been told an eye for an eye..." discussion and when he told the Pharisees it's okay to give your donkey water on the Sabbath.
And about that 'Sabbath' thing, Paul abolished the Sabbath in favor of the "Little Easter".
So what parts of the Bible do you follow? When is your Sabbath?
When is the Seventh Day (clue... look at your calendar)
This "Christian Nation" still operates on a Sunday througth Saturday calnedar.
Which of the TWO Genesis creation stories do you claim as the more accurate?
Waiting...

shucks

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).

thinkagain

Godly truth, simply put, is the Word of God, and Jesus Christ is the Word of God.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” “And the Word became flesh…”

I had never read one word from the bible before I became a Christian.

That being said, shortly after my new birth, I picked up a copy of the New Testament, read it cover to cover seven times (and the Old Testament once for good measure). I was amazed that it read like a handbook for my new personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Even if the bible didn’t exist, I would still be a Christian, thanks to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that all receive at the time of their new birth.

The promise of the Father was the Holy Spirit, not a Bible. Don’t exclude the Spirit at the expense of only studying the book.

Various outward rituals are not what saves a person. The Spirit of God touches people when and where He chooses. He might be speaking to your heart this very moment. Seek and the door shall be opened to you.

shucks

True, you don't have to read the Bible to be saved , but reading the Bible will help you get wise to put your faith in Jesus.

2 Timothy 3:15
New American Standard Bible (NASB)

" ... you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus."

Jesus read the Bible aka. Scriptures.

John Harville

Whooooooaa! "Jesus read the Bible".
REALLY? When? You mean when he read from the Torah in the Synagogue?...and then almost was stoned because he said he was the fulfillment of the prophecy?
Have you read the Apocrypha?

shucks

John Harville

Yeah, Old Testament = Scripture = Bible (before New Testament)
Yeah.
So?

Trustafarian

Shizzle is right. Jesus did & does exist. He waited on me at Casa Fiesta today as a matter of fact.

John Harville

Trustafarian... you might be right about Casa Fiesta. If Jesus truly fills the soul of the person who waited on you, then you met Jesus.

The Big Dog's back
44846GWP

If it were just put up in a new school I would agree it should be taken down. But since it has been there for 65 years, "grandfather" it in and let it stay.

arnmcrmn

Are you idiots really that afraid of a picture of Jesus?

44846GWP

More afraid of a picture of your mother.

arnmcrmn

Oh here comes the coward to throw out jabs.....mother jokes on a forum? what are you like 10? My 6 yr old could come up with a better one than that. Ive got a box of tampons for you if you wanna keep posting like a little girl.

thinkagain

Grow up

44846GWP

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).

goofus

The left is really afraid of Jesus and any other religion except Muslim, Obozo embraces it with his dealings with the Islamic Brotherhood and fighter jets.

44846GWP

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Remarks that discriminate based on age, race, religion, disability, etc. and Libel and defamation.

danbury dad

it is funny how many people really believe we are not a christian nation. but when there is any sort of crisis how quickly they return the church for answers. if it were not for the larger liberal cities this topic would not even be discussed. yes most of america is christian. get over it

John Harville

DDad. Are you serious? Do you really believe when someone asks us to 'pray for America' they mean 'pray to Jesus"?

In GOD we trust. With GOD all things are possible. "...under GOD,...". "GOD bless America"... "GOD of our Fathers" ...

...are endowed by their CREATOR...

Where is JESUS in all that?

meowmix

Goofus, danbury dad...sorry, not muslim nor am I afraid of Jesus. I was born and raised a Lutheran, saturday morning catechism and all for two years. Your intolerance of we non-believers just goes to show how shallow you are. America is not a christian nation..we are a nation that believes that we all have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Now, go read your bibull and smoke your sanctimonious pipe.

anthras

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

John Harville

soooo. Only MEN are created equal.

meowmix

Oh, and Danbury Dad, the last time I yelled "O, God" was not because of a crisis. It was valentine's day and I have a really nice husband who saw fit to show his love.

Pterocarya frax...

If hubby was that great, it would have been several times since Valentines! Just sayin ;)

John Harville

We who inspire "Oh God!" know that quality is preferable to quantity...

Kimo

.
The far-right believes in "majority" until the "majority" voted for Obama.
.

John Harville

Kimo0... ?????????????????????

John Harville

"...we can't infringe upono the rights of our students and student groups..." the superintendent is quoted.
Wonder if THAT will come back to haunt them when they bring in drug-sniffing dogs or institute random pizz checks or search cars?
Or will we see another example of selective protection of Constitutional rights?

shucks

@ John Harville

Since you have run through these posts like a bipolar monkey with a switchblade---What is the name of your spiritual belief system?

shucks

.

John Harville

Mark Twain once said, "I never allowed school to get in the way of my education."

Harville's paraphrase: "I never allow religion to get in the way of my faith."

Most of what I've read here is 'religion', with very little foundation in the individual's faith.

I never had to 'become' a Christian. I grew up in the presence of Jesus. Religion said I had to respond to an altar call making a public "acceptance" of Jesus before the believers in church or revival meeting; be baptized (the EUBs believed in "sprinkling" while the Baptists believed only immersion was acceptable - so I nearly drowned in a lake being "aceptable"; I have every major and minor religion in my background - and EVERY one of them has used the Bible as a weapon with which to beat people into submission.
Being an historian, I enjoy the Bible - and other 'holy' tomes - as a source of tracing religious evolution (uh oh! there's that word!).
The Torah/Pentetuch/Qu'ran are verbal history someone at some point decided to put in writing - centuries after the legends/stories began being passed down.
Studying Judeaeo-Christian religion reveals today's beliefs are based on a history of cheating, murder, war. Examples: Abraham is the 'father of us all' - who bore a bastard firstborn son with his wife's maid then through a miraculous conception bore a 'legitimate' son with his wife and sent the bastard and his mother to die in the desert. The second son Isaac married a woman who had twins and helped the younger one steal the birthright of his older brother Jacob;

John Harville

to continue: Are you following? Abraham; Ishmael/Isaac; Esau/Jacob; Jacob - whom God renamed, wait for it, Israel - wanted Rachael but was forced to marry her sister Leah and had 11 children (10 sons and a daughter) with Leah and her servants then finally got to marry Rachel (while still married to Leah - uh oh, adultery) and had two sons, Joseph and Benjamin. Benjamin is the one who becomes the ancestor of David via Ruth (a foreigner) and Mary and Jesus.
So let's see: adultery, attempted murder, denial of birthright (that's why the Arab descendants of Ishmael are so angry), theft of birthright, adultery, fornication, subterfuge, alien intermarriage, alias (Jacob aka Israel) - all long before we get to Moses.
Thus our Judeao/Christian religion (not faith) is all based on an oral tradition that says of all the men working the Earth at the time, God chose to speak to Abram aka Abraham. Only Abram could hear the voice of God and through a bit of good PR turned to his favor got folks to believe him.
The ONLY possible reason we have to believe this message is because it pops up in other 'religions'.
Then there's the whole burning bush thing wherein 'God' says "tell them I AM sent you"... remembering the Israelites were not allowed to speak Yahweh's name.
Along comes God in the 'flesh' to walk among the Creation and find a reason not to once again destroy us forever. Jesus gives a name to the Creator -- 'Father' -- and tells us "who has seen me has seen the Father" and gives a prayer as told in Matthew.

John Harville

4shizzle if this getting too long, you asked...

Paul told the Followers of The Way (nobody called the followers of the Jewish Messiah 'Christians') that Jesus would return 'before this generation has passed away'... Then Peter and most of the others started being executed and some got the idea they'd better record this story or it would be lost. Despite the order of the Old Testament, Mark began the Gospels by setting out to prove Jesus was the embodiement of OT prophecies. Matthew came next to establish the right of Jesus' claim to be descended from David and to relate his parables and give us 'The Lord's Prayer'; Luke came next with the intent of clarifying what those who knew Jesus (Luke never met the man) had written - and to give us the miraculous birth story to establish his 'Miraculousness' and to give us another version of 'The Lord's Prayer' clarifying it is a contract. Sixty years later as an old man imprisoned, John established the Trinity.
The 'early church' required non-Jews to become Jews (complete with circumcision of ALL males) before they could become 'Followers'. Then Paul (both Roman and Jew) got knocked off his horse, heard Jesus, and told Peter and James that Jesus wanted the 'church' extended to non-Jews without all the 'clipping'...thus the rest of The New Testament letters and Luke's "Acts of the Apostles".

John Harville

My Faith is in the Triune God who is among us and within us.
Jesus gave ONE commandment "...that you love one another as I have loved you." Know what? Iffen ya follow that one ALL the others fall into place.
Faith is the Triune God's law.
Religion is human law attempting to make our actions 'fit' Jesus' ONE law in such a way that we can justify what we do... and to have others justify what we do.
More inhumanity has been perpetrated 'in the name of God' than for any other reason.
Thus I adhere to no religion but have an immense faith.
And let us remember that the only time Jesus spoke in a building the people wanted to stone him.
Jesus taught in the open air, often to people no one else wanted to include. He welcomed everyone to find love and hope and inner peace.
Okay. You asked, I delivered.

shucks

Ok...You're not a Christian but a confused man.

shucks

You understand little.

John Harville

If you disbelieve, and there is a God, you will discover your error.
And have Eternity to contemplate your error - and maybe learn if there is a Hell.
If you believe, and there is no God, you'll never know.
Will you?

shucks

What is the name of your spiritual belief system?
OR
What were you raised in?

John Harville

Answered.
The Triune God.

shucks

"If you disbelieve, and there is a God, you will discover your error.
And have Eternity to contemplate your error - and maybe learn if there is a Hell"

You won't be "contemplating "(sounds so peaceful and stoic); you'll be moaning and nashing your teeth in torment knowing that you sent yourself to hell and that you will NEVER,NEVER,NEVER get out.

John Harville

In what med-induced stupor get the story of Hell? Jesus never spoke of it, did he? I think the fiery pit is in The Revelation.
And Jews don't believe in Hell.
That's a 'Church/Religion' rule, designed to keep the people in line and following the rules.

shucks

No Hell ?
That's why Jesus came.

John Harville

Was there a comment there? Or is that the space where you accused me of being 'off your meds'?

shucks

The bible according to John Harville.

Honestly , I feel sorry for you because you are so deep in darkness.