New web address for this blog!

There are no more updates to this site - please continue to follow us at our new address:

Monday, December 26, 2005

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

It's been fun (and, for me, educational) rolling out the Pray Connecticut blog and website in 2005. Thanks for your support and encouragement along the way. The crack staff and I are going to take off a few days and will resume blogging right after the New Year.

Have a great 2006!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

6th Circuit says enough already to ACLU

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals struck terror into the hearts of the ACLU today by paying attention to what the Constitution actually says on the matter of church and state.

Specifically the Court noted

The First Amendment does not demand a wall of separation between church and state.

The ACLU had sued to prevent Mercer County, Kentucky from displaying historical documents which included the well-known subversive text, the Ten Commandments. In a rare display of "I've had enough," one of the judges said that the ACLU's

repeated reference 'to the separation of church and state' ... has grown tiresome.

This is a victory and early Christmas present for those of us who have actually read the Constitution (and yes, your author
is a lawyer, before anyone asks) and know that the First Amendment was designed to prevent there being established an official government supported church or denomination. In this vein it will interest you to know that Connecticut had an official state religion supported by tax dollars until 1818 - the Congregational Church. Note that 1818 is almost 20 years after our current Constitution went into effect. That will scramble your mind a bit if you think about the implications for Federalism, etc. But that is a story for a different blog.

Get the full opinion of the case, entitled ACLU v. Mercer County, here.

Tags: , , ,

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Top religious trends in '05 ... where do we go from here?

George Barna, perhaps the leading church researcher in the U. S., has come out with his review of the top trends in the church world in 2005. Among the more alarming things he mentions is the rise of Biblical illiteracy, particularly among youth, which he traces in part to the decline in family devotions.

Let's work and pray to reverse that trend, which could lead our nation to become like Europe, completely secularized and without hope to pass on to the next generations. Seeking purpose and meaning in life, some ethnic Europeans are converting to radical Islam - one Belgian girl, Murielle Degauque, even blowing herself up as a suicide bomber in Iraq recently.

Chuck Colson writes in a recent "Breakpoint" commentary:

This shocking incident reminds us that Islam is no longer confined to oppressed and angry Arabs. It is in our midst and deadly dangerous. But there’s something else going on: that is, the cultural setting in which people like Degauque make their choices....

The effects of European secularism, you see, are not limited to the children of Muslim immigrants. A culture where barely half the people believe in God, and far fewer practice any religion at all, cannot compete with Islam’s vitality. While Europeans have ceased believing in God, they and their children have not stopped needing Him: Their need for meaning and purpose has not gone away. They have just been convinced that these will not be found inside a Christian church.

I don't believe this has to be our future; indeed, there are signs of life for the American Church. Nor does the weakeness of faith in Europe negate what God is doing all over the world, shaking Asia, Africa, and Latin America with powerful revivals. Let's press in together in prayer to see a mighty outpouring of God's grace in our region in 2006 and beyond!

Tags: ,

Monday, December 19, 2005

Some Media Insensitivity in Nilan Murder

Because of the emphasis of this blog I typically wouldn't comment on particular crimes except as they highlight the need for prayer for a particular region or a situation in the State. However, I was provoked when I read about the death of jogger Judith Nilan and saw the insensitivity on the part of some of the press. First, it's debatable whether we need all the lurid details. It may be our CSI-crazed society that wants to know or picture these things, but a little self-policing can hurt no one.

A second aspect: as most will have heard, Ms. Nilan's body was discovered on property belonging to Carroll Spinney, who plays Big Bird on
Sesame Street. So it was more than a little disturbing to see Yahoo! News pick up a story from E! Online with a headline that read, "Body Found at Big Bird's Nest." Imagine this being your loved one found in such a state and then encountering that. Headline writing can be difficult, but certainly one could have incorporated the fact of Mr. Spinney's ownership of the property, if it were necessary, without resorting to such a stunt. Will anyone apologize for this?

, ,

Ronald Reagan on Christmas

"Our coins bear the words 'In God We Trust.' We take the oath of office asking his help in keeping that oath. And we proclaim that we are a Nation under God when we pledge allegiance to the flag. But we can't mention his name in a public school or even sing religious hymns that are non-denominational. Christmas can be celebrated in the school room with pine trees, tinsel and reindeers but there must be no mention of the Man whose birthday is being celebrated. One wonders how a teacher would answer if a student asked why it was called Christmas."

Nothing I can add to that.

Tags: ,

ABC News spotlights students praying for Supreme Court

View this video from ABC's Nightline about student interns in Washington, D.C. praying for the Supreme Court and asking God to intervene in our nation. Includes an interview with Lou Engle, author and founder of their prayer ministry, known as Justice House of Prayer. It's rare to see a news spot that doesn't make all believers, especially the ardent ones, look like they're off their rockers.

Tags: , , ,

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Revamped Pray CT Website Launches!

It's not that I can't make up my mind, I just want the site to look nice and be easy to use. So, with those two principles in mind, we relaunched our website Saturday night.

Just one glitch that I am aware of: the Church Google Map does not work properly in Firefox browsers. Internet Explorer seems just fine, though. Please let me know if you spot anything else squirrely.

Thanks to all of you who have encouraged and complimented us on the site and this blog. I'm praying they will grow into a great resource for Christians in our State in 2006!

, ,

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Christmas notes from The Christmas City... and services for the depressed

From the "It Had To Come to This Eventually" Department: A California Methodist church is holding a
"Blue Christmas" service for people who get depressed during the holidays.

Pastor Barbara Smith says, "It's designed for all of us to acknowledge in the midst of all these activities that we have this sadness."

In the same vein, and closer to home, the First Congregational Church of Kent will hold an alternative Christmas service tomorrow.

“The purpose of this worship service,” explains the church’s pastor, the Rev. Melinda Keck, “is to provide a setting where people can come together, acknowledge their pain, be reassured that they are not alone in their feelings and to experience the message of God’s unconditional love, which is at the heart of this season.”

Not a bad idea to be sure, but I can't help wondering how many people would be helped a bit in their emotions if the entire society would embrace the joy of Christmas, instead of turning it into the annual war it has become.

What do I mean? Read this touching and nostalgic piece by Bill Stanley in the Norwich Bulletin about the days when Norwich was called the Christmas City. And have a Merry Christmas!

Tags: , , ,

Christian education gets a boost

More signs of warming towards the evangelical community: some favorable press for Grace Christian School in Stamford. Grace Christian is the only independent, non-denominational Christian school in lower Fairfield County, drawing from a population base of 300,000 or more. Pray for this school and all the Christian schools in the State, especially in areas lacking any significant evangelical representation.

Tags: , ,

Thursday, December 15, 2005

A few money notes

A few items of interest on the State's economic front for prayer and reflection:

Lost wages

Connecticut has the highest wages in the country, with a median household income of $56,409. This is good news, although as we all know, it is certainly not distributed very evenly. Still, we give thanks. As a State we are bored with the fact that we are richer than our cousins, so the media was more excited about the fact that Fairfield County (usually called the Gold Coast in these stories) dropped to No. 3 in income, behind Middlessex and Tolland Counties. Cute comments:

We'll pray for them," quipped Fred Carstensen, director of the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis. "Obviously Fairfield County should probably file for some emergency relief."

I'm glad to see that Pray Connecticut is having such an impact on society!

"Hard times down here is when people buy the 500 series BMW instead of the 800 series BMW," said defense attorney Mickey Sherman, who has represented some of the area's well-heeled residents.

The funny thing is, he's right.

Window Windfall

New London picked up a cool $400,000 from the sale of a Tiffany window. They'll use the money for police cruisers. Or legal bills from eminent domain cases, I guess.

This isn't news to some of us ...

Turns out the Stamford-Norwalk metro area is the second most expensive in the country, beat only by San Francisco. You have to make just over $60,000 to afford a two-bedroom apartment. So if you are not making $29 an hour, forget it.

Sub fight veterans back to fight for jobs

Continue to pray for the economy of the eastern shore, as Electric Boat is facing the loss of about 2400 jobs.

Tags: , ,

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Close your eyes, kids... we're getting onto 91!

Peter Wolfgang is blogging over at the Family Institute of CT about the profusion of so-called "adult" billboards in our State in recent years. He also talks about Kingdom Life Church evicting a bookstore selling the stuff. Let's pray against these over-the-top ads and the effort in society to make all this normal. Not sure that such imagery hurts anybody? Read this by the Canadian Insitute for Education on the Family.

Tags: , ,

New Haven clergy uniting to do good

Pastor Todd Foster from Church on the Rock - New Haven and other area pastors were inspired to work together in the aftermath of Katrina and decided to continue to do good "near and far." Pastor Todd has launched a blog connected to the effort called New Haven 828. Check it out; this looks like a noble work. What force in society is equal to the compassion of Christ Jesus within His Church?

Tags: , , ,

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Or do we? Keeping the flu away...

At the risk of drawing some chuckles from our more secular readership, it's important that we as a State begin to pray and claim the promises of Psalm 91, particularly where we are promised that "no evil shall befall you, neither shall any plague come near your dwelling." (Ps. 91:10) What's up? Simply this: more and more little outcroppings of the bird flu.

A ninth man has died in Indonesia from the virus, and some continue to fear the bug will mutate into something easily transmissible between human beings.

Closer to home, the New Britain Herald had a great piece about how plain awful things were around here the last time there was a flu pandemic, including this terrifying bit:

In Connecticut, approximately 8,500 people died in a four-month span, between Sept. 1 and Dec. 28, 1918. More locally, 466 people lost their lives in New Britain during this time frame, more than 200 in Middletown died and more than 100 died in Bristol, according to the Connecticut Health Bulletin, A Journal to Promote Public Health, dated April 1919, which was put out by the state’s public health department.
Read the whole story here.

In 1918 our State population was approximately 1.4 million, so 8,500 deaths would equate to a proportional death toll of about 25,000 today. This is truly frightening and requires the thoughtful prayers of every believer in the State.

For more on bird flu in general, check out the BBC's flu page here.

Tags: , , ,

Monday, December 12, 2005

At least we've got our health...

A mixed bag of blessings this week, as they say, in the news that we are the seventh-healthiest state in the US. Read the very interesting snapshot, which includes the bad news that child poverty is up about 20% - bringing our rate up to about 12%. On the brighter side, teen pregnancy seems to have dropped subtantially.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Danbury Mayor spearheading immigration push

Danbury's Republican mayor Mark Boughton has been gaining increased visibility over his efforts to bring immigration issues to the forefront of our political discussions. This past week, Mr. Boughton, together with the Democratic County Executive of Suffolk County (Long Island), announced the formation of a coalition to push for reforms. Boughton has recently claimed that Danbury's population is not really 70,000 but actually 90,000 owing to the presence of numerous undocumented workers from central and South America.

The left-leaning blogger ctblogger has posted this video of the press conference on Google.

Let's pray for wisdom and solutions to these issues, both in Connecticut and nationwide.

Tags: , ,

Animal Mutilations Mystify DEP

No, there aren't any chupacabras in Connecticut, but what is killing animals in Bethany? Theories abound, but nothing is certain yet.


Monday, December 05, 2005

Notes from here and there...

  • Despite running a surplus that some are estimating at $500 million, the Governor says state government cannot contribute its full share towards the funding of teachers' pensions. Right now the fund's liabilities exceed its assets by over $5 billion dollars. Pray for wisdom for this situation, which looms in our fiscal future.
  • The US Justice Department is accusing Connecticut of taking $750 million under the No Child Left Behind law without while trying to avoid the requirements of the law. Federal officials said, "Now, on the eve of the deadline for implementing one of the central conditions of the act, the state seeks - first through a set of waiver requests and now through this lawsuit - to keep the funds while jettisoning the accompanying obligations." Pray for wisdom on this one as well.
  • Mrs. Rell will be pleased to know that she has been determined to be the most popular Governor in the US. She probably received a big boost from the fact that she is not John Rowland, but she does have her own strengths or else she would not have maintained that spot. Let's pray that she will use her political capital wisely. (If you were wondering, Gov. Bob Taft of Ohio is the lest popular governor, with an approval rating of 18% compared to Mrs. Rell's 77%.)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Fined for cussin'

The Hartford Police are actually fining students for using bad language while they defy their teachers.

One girl, a sophomore at Hartford Public,

said she was ticketed for shouting an expletive in an officer’s face while handcuffed for taking a swing at him. “It’ll stop me from swearing,” she said. “Well, it won’t stop me from swearing, but I won’t cuss at the teachers.”
The AP has picked this up and is running it all over the country. I am curious as to whether people think this is a good thing or a bad thing, but it seems interesting enough to newspaper editors to carry it. The story has a certain Rudy Giuliani - no graffiti - no broken windows quality to it. However, as usual, the slices of life the press shows of Hartford do not enhance our State's reputation. Keep praying!

Big name political figures hit UConn

The firebrand conservative writer and speaker Anne Coulter stirs up trouble before even getting to U Conn. Cindy Sheehan is also coming. It's not dull up in Storrs.