Bypassing the Bible

first_imgFor years, Diane Moore and her students have debated the implications of landmark Supreme Court decisions in her “Religion, Democracy, and Education” course at Harvard Divinity School (HDS). But they rarely get to dig past the scholarship to the actual names attached to those decisions — people like Ellery Schempp, a freethinking 16-year-old who, more than 50 years ago, decided to protest his suburban Pennsylvania high school’s mandatory daily Bible readings.As it turns out, Schempp, now 72, has been happily residing just a few miles away, in Medford, for the past 20 years. On Wednesday, he made the quick trip to the Center for the Study of World Religions to talk about his experiences as one of the last living symbols of a series of Supreme Court cases that banned state-sponsored displays of faith in public schools.“There are very few people who have won a Supreme Court case about First Amendment topics who come to Harvard Divinity School, and most of us are dead,” Schempp told his audience with characteristic bluntness.Schempp’s case, Abington School District v. Schempp (1963), effectively overturned laws in more than 30 states that endorsed or required Bible readings in public schools. Most of those laws were relics of late-19th-century anti-Catholic sentiment (Bible reading by lay people, such as teachers, was at the time a Protestant practice) and had gone largely unchallenged. But at the dawn of the 1960s, as the McCarthy era was ending and the Civil Rights Movement was beginning, cases like Schempp’s found their historical moment, said Moore, a senior lecturer in religious studies and education at HDS.“There was the sense of recognition that diversity in our country was a really important thing,” Moore said. And nowhere was the debate over religious expression more contentious than in America’s public schools. “Schools are representative of the values of a given society,” she said. “They’re symbolically, but also pragmatically, creators of and responders to our cultural values.”“There are very few people who have won a Supreme Court case about First Amendment topics who come to Harvard Divinity School, and most of us are dead,” Schempp told his audience with characteristic bluntness.One day in 1956, Schempp, who was raised a Unitarian Universalist, brought a Quran into the classroom and read it quietly during his class’s mandatory reading of 10 biblical verses.“I wanted to show that the Bible is not the only source of truth and not the only holy book,” he said. “But the Quran was really by accident. One of my friend’s fathers had a copy of it in his library.”After being sent to the principal’s office and then to a guidance counselor (who wondered if he had problems with paternal authority), Schempp wrote a letter to the American Civil Liberties Union, which eventually took up his case. Driving him, he said, was a teenage sense of injustice: It didn’t seem fair that his Jewish and Catholic friends would be deemed problematic students or less patriotic citizens for failing to adhere to the Protestant faith that his school endorsed.“The court’s decisions reaffirmed that our founders were confident that you do not have to belong to a church or participate in public prayers in order to be a good citizen and a good person,” he said.For an outspoken skeptic of theistic beliefs, Schempp is surprisingly amenable to organized religion. A retired physicist, he is an active member in a Unitarian Universalist congregation in nearby Bedford.“I think there’s a place for celebration and ceremonies,” he said after his talk. “And I wouldn’t call it worship — we don’t worship — but it’s nice to get together with friends to share ideas. I even like singing hymns.”Other First Amendment advocates from Schempp’s era weren’t as lucky. He told the audience of Madalyn Murray O’Hair, an outspoken atheist and controversial public figure whose case, Murray v. Curtlett, was consolidated with Schempp’s when it went before the Supreme Court.While Schempp’s family only endured minor harassment from their community — Schempp’s principal went out of his way to write “letters of dis-recommendation” to every college to which he applied, he recalled — Murray O’Hair’s family “suffered horribly.”“She was an atheist, but she was also a woman atheist,” Schempp said. “Women have so often been regarded as the repositories of faith that for her to be an atheist was a double whammy.”In 1964, Time magazine dubbed Murray O’Hair “the most hated woman in America.” Her children were beaten up; her house was firebombed. In response, the fire department responders took a “particularly circuitous route” that took them 40 minutes to get to the scene, according to Schempp.“The whole community of Baltimore rose up, pretty much in one voice, against her,” Schempp said. In 1995, Murray O’Hair, one of her sons, and her granddaughter were murdered. (In a curious quirk of American religious history, Murray O’Hair’s other son, William — on whose behalf she had brought her original lawsuit arguing against enforced Bible reading in Baltimore public schools — went on to become an evangelical Baptist preacher.)For Moore’s class, the talk provided a lesson in the burden of public scrutiny that is sometimes borne by individuals who are swept up in high-profile cases. That is important to remember, because the “global trend to regulate belief” continues, said Nate Walker, a student in Moore’s class and a Unitarian minister, who had invited Schempp to speak. Earlier this year, the Kuwaiti parliament passed a law allowing the death penalty for the crime of insulting God, the prophet Muhammad, his wives, or the Quran. In Indonesia, a man faces 11 years in prison for posting “God doesn’t exist” on Facebook.“Throughout the world, governments are struggling to define when and where to grant religious freedom, to whom, and based on what rationale,” Walker said.Indeed, even in the United States, believers and nonbelievers continue to battle over where to draw the line between acceptable expressions of faith and unacceptable religious coercion in public schools, Schempp said.“One of the things that’s so disappointing to me is that 50 years after the Supreme Court decision, we’re still fighting some of the same battles,” Schempp said. “You’d have thought they would’ve abated by now.”last_img read more

Elizabeth Ashley & Byron Jennings Join You Can’t Take It With You

first_img You Can’t Take It With You Ashley won a Tony for her performance in Take Her, She’s Mine and received additional nominations for Barefoot in the Park and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Her other Broadway credits include The Best Man (both in 2012 and 2000), August: Osage County, Dividing the Estate and Enchanted April. She received an Emmy nod for Evening Shade. Jennings has appeared on Broadway in shows including Macbeth, Arcadia, The Merchant of Venice, Inherit the Wind, Heartbreak House, Twelve Angry Men and The Man Who Came to Dinner. His screen credits include Lincoln, Julie & Julia and A Time to Kill. Show Closed This production ended its run on Feb. 22, 2015 View Comments Star Files Additional cast members include Mark Linn-Baker, Reg Rogers, Crystal A. Dickinson, Marc Damon Johnson and Patrick Kerr.center_img Tony winner Elizabeth Ashley and Byron Jennings are set for the Broadway revival of Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman’s You Can’t Take It With You. The two join a cast that includes the previously announced James Earl Jones and Kristine Nielsen, as well as Rose Byrne and Annaleigh Ashford. Ashley will assume the role of The Grand Duchess Olga and Jennings will play Mr. Kirby. Performances will begin on August 26 at the Longacre Theatre. Opening night is set for September 28. Related Shows The Pulitzer Prize-winning You Can’t Take It With You introduces audiences to the freethinking Sycamore family and the mayhem that ensues when their daughter’s fiancé brings his conservative, straight-laced parents to dinner on the wrong night. The show debuted at the Booth Theatre in 1936 and was last revived on Broadway in 1983. The new production is directed by Scott Ellis and will feature original music by Jason Robert Brown. Elizabeth Ashleylast_img read more

Montego Glover to Play Fantine in Les Miserables

first_img Related Shows Les Miserables Tony nominee Montego Glover will join the cast of Les Miserables on Broadway as Fantine beginning September 1. Newcomer Alex Finke will step into the role of Cosette beginning that same date at the Imperial Theatre. As previously reported Les Miz alum Alfie Boe will assume the role of Jean Valjean.Glover recently appeared on Broadway in It Shoulda Been You, which played its final performance on August 9. She earned a Tony nomination in 2010 for Memphis and made her Broadway debut in The Color Purple. She has appeared on screen in The Following, Hostages and Smash.Finke makes her Broadway debut with Les Miserables. She played Hope Harcourt in the 2012 national tour of Anything Goes and has also performed regionally at the Denver Center, Pittsburgh CLO and Music Theatre Wichita.Tony nominee Ramin Karimloo, Erika Henningsen and Samantha Hill will play their final performances as Valjean, Fantine and Cosette, respectively, on August 30.Glover, Finke and Boe join a cast that includes Earl Carpenter as Javert, Gavin Lee as Thenardier, Rachel Izen as Madame Thenardier, Brynnyn Lark as Eponine, Chris McCarrell as Marius and Wallace Smith as Enjolras. Show Closed This production ended its run on Sept. 4, 2016 View Commentslast_img read more

Colombian Ranger Course, 62 Years of Training

first_imgBy Yolima Dussán/Diálogo June 20, 2017 After 77 days of intense military training requiring huge physical, mental, and psychological demands to earn the spear that certifies them as Colombian Rangers, 78 officers and noncommissioned officers shouted out the words that sum up the values of this combat course, which is the most prestigious among the armies in the region. “Loyalty, bravery, and sacrifice” is the trilogy that fills the members of the Colombian Army with pride. To date, 425 of these courses have been held, 85 of which have included students from 22 countries. Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Spain, the United States, and Uruguay have all completed this training. Ecuador (116) and the United States (124) are the nations with the highest number of service members who have participated in the training at the Colombian Army War College, founded in 1955. In Colombia, the appearance of guerilla groups more than 60 years ago determined the Army’s need for new ways of fighting and strategizing. It was at Fort Benning, Georgia where the first group of Colombian service members took the Ranger Course, which is considered the most effective training for acquiring skills in asymmetrical warfare. Officers at the ranks of captain, first lieutenant, and second lieutenant attend this small-unit tactical level training for commanders of squads, platoons, and companies. Among the noncommissioned officers, there are sergeants, staff sergeants, corporals, and specialists. The reasons for its prestige “In Colombia, we measure the efficiency of the [Rangers] course because we put it into practice in real life,” Colonel Siervo Tulio Roa Roa, the commander of the Rangers School, told Diálogo. “The experience we have accumulated over so many years of asymmetrical warfare with guerilla groups, that have not achieved their objective by force of arms, shows the strength of putting our ranger combat units into action,” he added. In 1955, when the first group of officers and enlisted personnel to be trained in the Ranger course in the United States returned home, they did so accompanied by U.S. Army officials. That is where the Ranger School was born. Its name inspired by a small unit of valiant fighters who took part in the heroic liberation struggle of 1819. Sixty-two years later, its fundamentals remain the same but the scope of the training is broader; it is aligned with the objectives of a multimission army. Loyalty, bravery, and sacrifice The course motto is the ranger’s creed – the creed of the person who is expected to go the extra mile and give 110 percent. “As long as a commander has a ranger under his command, no operation is impossible. The level of commitment of the service members who take the course is very high. Whoever applies for the course knows what he is in for. Not everyone is able to pass it,” Major Ramón Raúl Royero, the academic inspector at the Ranger School, told Diálogo. In 2016, 1,058 students enrolled and 906 graduated. On average, 15 to 20 percent drop out. Through this training, which is reserved [for now] for men only, the trainees’ physical, technical, tactical, technological, psychological, and humanitarian capabilities are strengthened. “The program has several phases, with an initial three-day starting period during which the future ranger is put through psychological and physical trials on land and in the water. He is also put through medical exams and lab tests to determine his condition and skills,” Maj. Royero explained. Next, comes a 16-day adaptation phase through immersion in written operational planning and the study of technical subjects — communications, health, human rights, etc .— together with the fundamentals of weaponry, firing, air assault, obstacle courses, and hand-to-hand combat, among others. It is in this phase that the highest number of trainees drops out. The only constant is the daily physical training, which becomes increasingly rigorous, demanding, and nearly devastating. The final test The 22-day foundation of tactics phase is devoted to asymmetrical warfare doctrine that then goes into a live practice exercise with a mock enemy. This includes military planning at the squad level. Ten days of training are devoted to the mountain phase in Páramo de Sumapaz in the department of Cundinamarca. This is a rugged survival training in a harsh climate. Here, the practice exercises to be evaluated are at the platoon level. The jungle operations phase is conducted at Fort Amazonas 2, in the south of the country. In that inhospitable environment, with its humidity, its unfamiliarity, and its surprises, the rangers practice exercises that are evaluated at the platoon level. Later, they scale up their operations to the company level. Their study of survival skills is followed by the final trial, a march through the jungle that is as demanding as can be. Marching across 36 kilometers, carrying a 20-kilogram pack is a standard task for a ranger. This is a mock long-range mission, and it is the most difficult test. The operation involves solving unexpected situations during the exercise in which all of the training received is put into practice: skills on capturing, climbing up and down trees, shelters, the keys of isolation, jungle doctrine, combat encounters, mobile patrol bases, and making water crossings just below the surface of the water. After 22 days of jungle operations, the training will have concluded. Evaluations are conducted based on results. After a four-day waiting period, trainees receive their evaluation from their superiors. Then they attend a memorable graduation ceremony that certifies the men as Colombian rangers. They are “men who will never be the same again. They are service members who dominate special conditions and are used to responding effectively and knowledgeably, equipped with the ability to get through adverse situations, and strongly rooted in the well-being of civil society,” Col. Roa concluded.last_img read more

Suffolk: Brookhaven Resident Recovering from West Nile Virus

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Suffolk County health officials announced Thursday that a Town of Brookhaven resident infected with West Nile virus this summer is now recovering.The individual infected with the virus, who is over the age of 50, officials said, was the first reported human case of West Nile in the county this year.The patient was hospitalized for five days at a local hospital in August after experiencing symptoms consistent with the virus, the Suffolk County Department of Health Services said.The New York State Department of Health’s website says there have been two positive West Nile virus infections in Nassau County, but specific details regarding those cases haven’t been released.There’s been 158 positive mosquito samples collected in Suffolk and 32 in Nassau, according to local and state data.“West Nile virus is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito,” Suffolk health officials said. “It can cause serious illness and, in some cases, death.”It is common for most people infected with the illness to experience only mild symptoms, but others may develop more serve signs such as high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis.Those with a higher risk of infection are people 50 years or older or those with compromised immune symptoms.Health experts said residents can reduce the mosquito population around homes by eliminating stagnant water where mosquitos breed.Both Nassau and Suffolk reported 14 positive human cases of West Nile in 2012. Nassau reported one West Nile-related death last year.last_img read more

Credit union member sentenced for bank fraud

first_img 3SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr A U.S. District Court judge in East St. Louis, Ill., sentenced a former credit union member and small business owner to more than three years in federal prison last month for bank fraud and making 15 false loan applications over 14 months.Judge David R. Herndon also ordered Christopher William Kreider, 29, to pay $207,116 in restitution and to serve five years of supervised release following his 37-month prison term. continue reading »last_img read more

Funding at Ahold pension scheme remains flat despite 24% return

first_imgThe scheme also made a €72m profit after exchanging swaps with an expensive coupon for instruments with a cheaper coupon, an adjustment made when the market value of the swaps exceeded 5% of its balance sheet.However, the Ahold Pensioenfonds lost 4.5% on its 78% currency hedge through forward contracts.It reported a 12.6% return for its overall equity portfolio, with a 28.3% return on US holdings.European and emerging market stocks returned 7.3% and 13.1%, respectively.Fixed income generated 15.3% in total, while euro-denominated government bonds and global credit returned 13.7% and 18.3%, respectively.Last year, the pension fund put in place a dynamic hedge of 40-60% of the interest risk on its US dollar-denominated corporate bonds through listed interest forward contracts.However, because US interest rates fell, it incurred a loss of 0.8 percentage points.According to Erik van den Heuvel, the scheme’s director, the pension fund applied a dynamic investment policy based on a Risk Grid, which linked the ratio between equity and fixed income portfolios to the scheme’s coverage ratio.As a consequence, equity investments are to be reduced if funding falls below 130%, or if it increases to more than 150%.The annual report also showed that property investments returned 16.2%, with listed real estate delivering 31.6% and non-listed property 4.3%.Private equity returned 17%.The pension fund attributed a 8.3% loss on commodities to falling oil and metal prices.The scheme spent €70 per participant on administration and 0.37% and 0.12% of its assets under management for asset management and transactions, respectively.It said it was trying to cut costs by increasing efficiency through merging portfolios, reducing the number of asset managers and increasing passive investments.“We are also assessing how we can reduce costs by increasing the minimal scale of portfolios, as well as by reducing our diversification,” said Van den Heuvel.Without the additional costs for increased transparency on its 1.7% private equity holdings and its interest hedge on credit, combined management costs would have dropped by 0.07% percentage points to 43 basis points last year, the pension fund said. The €4bn pension fund of retailer Ahold returned 24.1% over the course of 2014 but saw its funding increase by less than 1%.Despite a 0.7% increase in funding to 116.7%, the scheme said it still planned to grant all participants full indexation.In its annual report, the pension fund cited a steep increase in liabilities due to falling interest rates.However, because it hedged 55% of its interest risk through swaps, it achieved a positive return of 14.5%.last_img read more

West Badin Golf Course

first_imgLast week on a mini-trip to West Badin/French Lick we drove up to see the Pete Dye PGA golf course in West Badin.  After driving straight up what seemed like a mile hill (probably only a half mile), we saw the most unbelievable golf layout.  Cut into what was once a mini-mountain is an 18-hole golf course that seems to defy gravity.  Pete Dye removed trees, leveled the hilltops, and laid out fairways and greens that are simply breathtaking.Unfortunately for those who play this course, if you stray from the fairway, your ball might land 60 feet straight down.  For the average golfer, a dozen balls may not be enough.  From our view in front of the Club House you could see two small lakes incorporated into the layout.  There may have been more.Some of you might have watched the Legends play this course in June.  Their female counterparts will be playing it this weekend.   Even if you are not a golfer, you might want to turn to the golf channel just to see this course.last_img read more

Indiana is requesting a USDA disaster designation for 88 counties

first_imgStatewide— Governor Eric J. Holcomb last week that the state of Indiana is requesting a U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretarial disaster designation for 88 counties due to losses caused by flooding and excessive rain this planting season.The request was made in a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue and signed by Gov. Holcomb, Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch and Indiana Farm Service Agency Executive Director Steven Brown.National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data show that the past 12 months have been the wettest on record in the United States. A USDA disaster designation can be requested when at least 30 percent of one crop is damaged or lost in a county. Of the state’s 92 counties, 88 counties have reported data meeting that threshold.The designation would allow emergency low-interest loans to be made available to farmers. The low-interest financing can also be made to counties contiguous to counties in the disaster zone.Counties in our listening area for the requested designation include:BartholomewDearbornDecaturFayetteFranklinJacksonJenningsOhioRipleySwitzerlandlast_img read more

Joe Aribo stars in Rangers win

first_imgRelatedPosts Joe Aribo vows to bounce back from injury Laudrup: Aribo needs back ups at Rangers West Ham rival Rangers for Josh Maja Nigerian sensation, Joseph Aribo, was in action on Sunday as Rangers moved level on points with Celtic at the top of the table after coming behind to beat Motherwell at Ibrox.Aribo was on for 71 minutes before leaving the pitch for Alfredo Morelos.Steven Gerrard’s side saw their Old Firm rivals thrash Aberdeen earlier in the day but knew that a five goal win would have taken them back into pole position in the title race.The only thing that mattered for boss Gerrard was ensuring that his side picked up three points, though, and goals from Jermain Defoe and Filip Helander won it.Cole did well to turn at the edge of the area and his powerful low strike was outwith Allan McGregor’s reach as the Steelmen took a shock lead.Gillespie saved a well struck strike from Steven Davis and Defoe scored with a lovely finish on the angle to pull Rangers level.The Gers were on the front foot from the off after the break and looked more dangerous. Joe Aribo fired just wide, Helander saw a diving header rise narrowly over and Tavernier came close with a snap shot from inside the area.Motherwell were still very much in the game and Long tried his luck with a strike that hit the near post after combining with Cole.But it was Rangers that found the third goal of the game. Helander glanced a terrific header beyond Gillespie from a Tavernier corner to win it and secure a huge three points. Tags: Allan McGregorRangerslast_img read more