Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Chaplain forced to resign for non religious officating at relatives gay marriage

Spectrum has an interesting article here:

"On November 26, the Chesapeake Conference issued a press release stating that Highland View Academy had placed Hadley on administrative leave for an unspecified length of time “because Chaplain Hadley participated in a same-sex ceremony, signed the marriage license as the officiant, and misrepresented his role when asked about it—calling into question his ability to serve as the spiritual leader of our school.”

In an email of clarification, a spokesperson for the conference stated that while Hadley admitted participating in a dinner, he denied attending a wedding ceremony or officiating one.
I think that second line was put in to make people think that the Chaplain lied to the conference. Though  it would seem to me if you did not do a religious ceremony, you are not really officiating. Signing the marriage license as  a government authorized signatory does not strike me as officiating. Certainly not when discussing with church officials. I would think if he was officiating as an SDA Pastor he would be expected to have counseled and put in some form of religion into the ceremony.

That is really the only thing that possibly bothers me and might give the conference some credibility for their action. But it seems too much of a gray area to support the conference actions. I can't imagine what kind of negative publicity this kind of action against a man's actions at his gay step-daughters wedding will be. Obviously I think it will be negative and I am helping to publicize the inappropriate actions of the conference.

There seems to be an extreme authoritarianism going on in the SDA church and it is not a very pretty picture for the church.

According to Washington State law here are the following requirements to solemize the marriage, notice officiating is not necessary per the law.

RCW 26.04.050

Who may solemnize.

The following named officers and persons, active or retired, are hereby authorized to solemnize marriages, to wit: Justices of the supreme court, judges of the court of appeals, judges of the superior courts, supreme court commissioners, court of appeals commissioners, superior court commissioners, any regularly licensed or ordained minister or any priest, imam, rabbi, or similar official of any religious organization, and judges of courts of limited jurisdiction as defined in RCW 3.02.010.

[2012 c 3 § 4 (Referendum Measure No. 74, approved November 6, 2012); 2007 c 29 § 1; 1987 c 291 § 1; 1984 c 258 § 95; 1983 c 186 § 1; 1971 c 81 § 69; 1913 c 35 § 1; 1890 p 98 § 1; 1883 p 43 § 1; Code 1881 § 2382; 1866 p 82 § 4; 1854 p 404 § 4; RRS § 8441.]


     Notice -- 2012 c 3: See note following RCW 26.04.010.     Court Improvement Act of 1984 -- Effective dates -- Severability -- Short title -- 1984 c 258: See notes following RCW 3.30.010.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

As through a mirror darkly

I never really thought of this before but a recent comment on one of my blog articles set me thinking. The reference is to this text:
  For now we see through a glass, darkly 1 Corinthians 13:12
 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, [even] as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18

Due to the invention later about 100 AD by the Romans we think of these verses as talking about glass some kind of clear glass but not of course cloudy in the case of 1 Cor 13:12. But we have been wrong all this time in that assumption...or at least I have been wrong and I can't imagine why if others knew the correct meaning I was never told in all those years, so I think it is a pretty wide misunderstanding.

First here is what the comment on my blog article said:

"...all "see darkly, as in a glass". The apostle Paul was referring to the volcanic glass mirrors of his time that rendered an image in some places perfectly but in others flawed and distorted due to the uneven cooling of the liquid volcanic rock..."

This is probably not what Paul was referring too. As one website writes of Obsidian:

Other Uses of Obsidian Freshly broken pieces of obsidian have a very high luster. Ancient people noticed that they could see a reflection in obsidian and used it as a mirror. Later, pieces of obsidian were ground flat and highly polished to improve their reflective abilities.

 From the pictures of Obsidian mirrors you can see the image is indeed quite dark. Paul was likely not referencing obsidian mirrors but it is pretty sure he was referencing mirrors. Obsidian is a pretty delicate glass and to achieve the kind of polish necessary to be a good mirror would be difficult and probably not very long lasting.Still obsidian is very likely the first man made mirror, and certainly more convenient then a pool of water.

Most sources I have recently looked at think that Paul is referring to the mirrors of his day. Which were bronze mirrors. As a good article on 1 Cor. 13 says:
A good example is the phrase through a glass darkly, which centuries of English speakers have interpreted as peering through a clouded windowpane. But when the King James translation was made, a glass was the standard word for a mirror, since the new mirrors of that time were like ours, with a silvered coating applied to the back of a sheet of glass. The original Greek text has dia spektrou, or by means of a mirror, but Greek mirrors were made of highly polished brass which have a weak and imperfect mirror-image, so the figure has an entirely different thrust. Now you see yourself as if you were looking in your brass mirror, but THEN you will have a perfect mirror-image of yourself, you will see yourself as you really are. Of course there is an error in this too, since mirrors reverse right and left, but in the mirror of Heaven you will come fact to face with your real self, see yourself truly as you really are. It is singularly difficult to translate this passage from the Greek, since modern mirrors do give the impression of perfect reflection, and the original meaning is lost.
The oldest such mirrors appear to be bronze, Some have noted that Corinth was famous for the production of brass mirrors which make it the most likely mirror that Paul is referring to. Silver would have been another good choice but probably too expensive for most people as well as copper. If you were well to do you probably had a mirror. As you can tell by the pictures of ancient mirrors they are going to tarnish.So they required polishing to be used and if they were tarnished and in need of polish which would probably be often then they could be said to see darkly the reflection.

As this site says:
...The mirrors of the ancients were of polished metal, in many cases they were of brass and they required constant polishing, so that a sponge with pounded pumice-stone was generally attached to it. And it was  the apostle Paul who wrote this famous passage from the Bible in a letter to a church in Corinth, which was famous for the manufacture of these kinds of mirrors. The images reflected in these brass mirrors were indistinct in comparison to our modern mirrors. They were seen Darkly Which, literally translated from the original Greek language in which he wrote, means, “in a riddle or enigma…that the revelation appears indistinctly, imperfectly.”

Be sure and read the rest of the article found here and referenced above for some other interesting things about what may have been different by Paul's meaning then we normally think of today.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Ted Wilson on the 3 Angels Messages

Normally I like to reference as close to possible the actual words of someone but since I can't find a copy of Ted Wilson's NAD Year-End Meeting sermon I will reference the report from Spectrum. For quite a while I have told people that when Adventists use the term Three angels messages or thrid angel's message they are using the phrases as code words for the primary beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist church (SDA). It is hard to find any Adventist leaders who will come right out and say that, but it does appear that Ted Wilson came pretty close in his sermon recently.

"Wilson argued that a correct theological understanding would drive a correct approach to mission. "Seventh-day Adventist theology and mission are inseparable," he said. He added his contention that the three angels' messages are the most important messages Adventists have to share. "They are our theology and our mission," he said, "and the reason for God's wonderful Remnant Church."
Most of us know that the three angels messages are found in the book of Revelation and have been messages given since the second century. So we now have a pretty good reference that Adventists see themselves as the embodiment of the three angels messages. 
"Wilson sprinkled the message with what have become familiar talking points during his tenure as president. The first came around seven minutes into his sermon when Wilson asserted that the first angel's message that the hour of God's judgment has come includes a call to recognize God as creator: "The one who created this earth recently, in six literal days," capped off by the seventh day Sabbath, Wilson intoned. "That literal seven-day cycle has never been broken since the creation of this world," he said."
Revelation does not say anything about 6 literal days, or the Sabbath, those are read into the text so that Adventist theology can be shown to be the three angels messages.
Revelation 14:6
And I saw another angel flying through the sky, carrying the eternal Good News to proclaim to the people who belong to this world—to every nation, tribe, language, and people. “Fear God,” he shouted. “Give glory to him. For the time has come when he will sit as judge. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all the springs of water.” NIV
There was once a time in the Adventist church where the judgment was the big issue with this text. Now it appears to be a pretext for a recent literal 6 day creation. I still prefer the good news about God as our judge, that we are not simply left here on our own, but that is just me.
"Next, Wilson focused on the Sabbath-Sunday divide that Wilson argued would separate God's people from the others. "During the time of trouble that is coming, and immediately preceding the Second Coming, the seventh-day Sabbath will be the central issue of the Great Controversy," Wilson said. He went on to add that in addition to keeping the Sabbath, worshiping God as creator also requires "willingness to reject false theories about the origin of life, such as evolution or theistic evolution." Here, Wilson pivoted to focus on another recurring theme that has marked his presidential agenda. "It is impossible to believe in evolution or theistic evolution and say that God is creator of heaven and earth and all the life they contain," he announced. "The two concepts simply do not mix." Wilson then stated his view that evolution is not a science, but "a false form of religion - not only a religion, but also a part of spiritualism, which will play a major, negative role in the final events."
When someone such as Wilson tells people it is impossible to believe in evolution or theistic evolution and yet believe in God as creator, it does not so much prove his contention as prove he knows little about other peoples beliefs. Which is not really something that you want in a religious leader in my opinion. If the two concepts do not mix then we have to pretend that there is no such thing as evolution. But scientifically we know that all kinds of organisms change and that evolution is an integral part of science. Things that have had huge successes in increased knowledge such as genetics use evolution as one of their key components.

As the TTC Guidebook on Understanding Genetics says:
 Three major ideas tie biological science together.
a. Mechanism. Many societies have believed, and many people continue to believe, that the rules thatgovern life are different from the inanimate universe. They propose a“vital force”to explain this.Examples of this are the chi of Chinese philosophy and traditional medicine. Biological science rejects this idea, proposing instead that the same rules of physics and chemistry that govern the lifeless world (e.g., rocks, the air) govern life. 
b.Cell theory. Since the microscope was first used to visualize living things, biologists have agreedthat cells are the building blocks of life (just as atoms are the building blocks of chemistry). All living things are made up of cells, and all cells come from other cells. 
c. Evolution. Organisms are related by common ancestry, and there has been and continues to be change through time, or descent with modification. In 1859, Charles Darwin proposed natural selection as a way to explain how organisms with different characteristics change through many generations
When a religious leader simply denies evolution he is denying the science of most of the biological sciences. History has shown us pretty well that when religion butts head with science the science will win. Usually by religion realizing that it's presuppositions were not based upon reality but upon tradition. Tradition though it may last for quite a while seems to also lose in areas of the world with significant educational systems.

"Discussing the second of the three angels' messages, Wilson stated that Babylon as described in Revelation refers to all those churches that did not heed the warning message first given in 1844, and that teach the theological errors passed down through the church of the Middle Ages. Intense anger and fierce opposition will result from exposing Babylon, Wilson predicted."
 Babylon in the book of Revelation had nothing to say about the churches after 1844. The idea that Babylon had no meaning until church rejected the incorrect end of the world prediction of William Miller is quite a leap in logic and interpretation. You can see why in his sermon he had to rely heavily on Ellen White to make it even seem like he had a case to make.

As Wilson continues to the third angel we see that again it is just to produce Adventist theology into the messages:
"The message of the third angel, Wilson said, is based on the prophecy of the preceding chapter, Revelation 13. The beast, Wilson said, represents the Apostate Church, which will negatively affect Adventists' religious liberty. He was referring to Adventists' ability to worship freely on Saturday, and predicted that, in accordance with Bible prophecy, that ability will be diminished. This will happen because religious entities will take control of governmental powers, and the Apostate Church will have free reign, he said. Wilson referenced several statements in The Great Controversy to bolster his assertions.

"The Mark of the Beast, which is the observance of any day other than the seventh-day Sabbath is an institution that clearly sets forth the authority of the Beast because the Sabbath is God's mark of his authority," Wilson said.

"One church boldly boasts that she has changed the seventh-day Sabbath, instituted at creation, from Saturday to Sunday," Wilson said, making a reference to the Catholic Church."
Does the Roman Catholic Church boldly declare they changed the Sabbath. There are some rare printed statements to that effect but that is not the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. So it can't really be boldly if they don't even do it. See the National Catholic Register:
You sometimes encounter the charge that the Catholic Church wrongly "changed the sabbath" from Saturday to Sunday. This claim is often made by Seventh-Day Adventists, for example. But even if one isn't accusing the Church of wrongdoing, the question can still arise: Why do Catholics worship on Sunday rather than Saturday? Here's the story . . .

 What Day the Sabbath Is
First, let's clear away a potential source of confusion. While it's true that people sometimes speak of Sunday as "the Christian sabbath," this is a loose way of speaking. Strictly speaking, the sabbath is the day it always was--Saturday--though it should be noted that traditionally Jewish people have celebrated the sabbath from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. Sunday is a distinct day, which follows the sabbath. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains:
2175 Sunday is expressly distinguished from the sabbath which it follows chronologically every week; for Christians its ceremonial observance replaces that of the sabbath. In Christ's Passover, Sunday fulfills the spiritual truth of the Jewish sabbath and announces man's eternal rest in God. For worship under the Law prepared for the mystery of Christ, and what was done there prefigured some aspects of Christ.
In any case when one looks at the Early Church Fathers it becomes clear that their desire to celebrate the day of Jesus resurrection well predated the actual Roman Catholic church. The whole concept of the Sabbath representing God's authority could also be used for Sunday observance. Since that was the day that Jesus showed His power over death. It is a pity that people like Ted Wilson cannot let everyman be convinced in his own mind, but again the purpose in Ted Wilson's sermon is not to spend time on interpreting and reasoning from scriptures but to assert that Adventist theology is the fulfillment of the three angels messages.
If you want a sermon that puts Adventism into the Bible rather then reading what the Bible is trying to say to you, then this is the kind of sermon you will like. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Lessons in the art of survey manipulation

I am going to try a new tack on this blog I often read comments and articles that I would like to comment on but really practically no one reads the comments sections so I thought I would use them as short blog articles.

So here is the first one from Spectrum a comment writer says:
"conservative Christians are the only ones who read the bible seriously"
That's funny because the only data based study I've ever seen on the subject suggests that liberals are far more likely to read their bible. The thing is many regressive Christians are very good at memorizing a verse here and a verse their to support their pre-established suppositions, where as most progressives actually read and understand."
Here is a section from the likely source of the above thinking. An article from Christianity Today, Survey: Frequent Bible Reading Can Turn You LiberalWhat a surprising survey says about how reading the Bible frequently can turn you liberal (in some ways):  
 Frequent Bible reading has some predictable effects on the reader. It increases opposition to abortion     as    well as homosexual marriage and unions. It boosts a belief that science helps reveal God's glory. It diminishes hopes that science will eventually solve humanity's problems. But unlike some other religious practices, reading the Bible more often has some liberalizing effects—or at least makes the reader more prone to agree with liberals on certain issues. This is true even when accounting for factors such as political beliefs, education level, income level, gender, race, and religious measures (like which religious tradition one affiliates with, and one's views of biblical literalism).
In 2007, the Baylor Religion Survey asked Americans how often they read the Bible on their own. (It was a five-point scale in this study, ranging from "never" to "several times a week.") It also asked whether the federal government should expand its authority to fight terrorism—a reference to the Patriot Act. For each increased level of Bible-reading frequency, support for the Patriot Act decreased by about 13 percent.

Frequent Bible reading also influences views on criminal justice. As might be expected, respondents who were more politically liberal were prone to disagree with the statement, "The government should punish criminals more harshly." Unexpectedly (at least given the conservative stereotype), the more frequently people read the Bible, the more they too are prone to disagree with the statement. This is not an anomalous finding: Support for abolishing the death penalty increased by about 45 percent for each increase on the five-point scale measuring Bible-reading frequency.

Reading the Bible affects attitudes toward science as well. If you just ask people about biblical literalism, you don't find statistically significant differences in views of whether science and religion are compatible. But the more someone reads the Bible, the more likely he or she is to believe science and religion are compatible. (For each increase on the five-point scale, the odds that they see religion and science as incompatible decrease by 22 percent.)
Some of the most interesting findings relate to moral attitudes. "How important is it," the survey asked, "to actively seek social and economic justice in order to be a good person?" Again, as would be expected, those with more liberal political leanings were more likely to say it's very or somewhat important. And those who read the Bible more often were more likely to agree. Indeed, they were almost 35 percent more likely to agree at each point on Baylor's five-point scale. That may be bad news for Glenn Beck, who last year told believers to leave their churches if they hear "social justice" language being used. Likewise, contrary to liberal media stereotypes, those who are most engaged in their faith (by directly and frequently reading its source material) are those who are most supportive of social and economic justice. A reading, politically conservative literalist is only slightly less supportive than a non-reading, politically liberal non-literalist.

Now just so you don't get the idea that there is not a liberal agenda in Christianity Today consider the last part about Glenn Beck. Beck was specific about what "Social Justice" he was referring too. See: Glenn Beck: What is Social Justice?

"What is that? It seems like such an innocuous phrase. It paints a picture of fairness — many churches use the term as a substitute for "outreach to the poor." Who could possibly be against that? Well, if you’ve read the news lately: I am. In fact, I even learned from TIME magazine recently that I hate Jesus.

I’m just full of hate and I want to stop justice!

I’m glad to see Time suddenly cares about God… or am I? The other "news" from The New York Times was that I recommended leaving church if those churches help the poor. And I would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for those pesky, meddling "journalists"!

I’m not sure why I would expect the media to start searching for the truth now, when they’ve never let it get in the way before. The truth is this: The term "social justice" has been completely perverted and hijacked by progressives. It doesn’t mean simply "help the poor" to them. It does to some people, but not to radical progressives.

And now, just for The New York Times and everyone else who thinks I hate poor people — I know your attention span is about 20 or 30 seconds, but try and pay attention — we’ll set the record straight for you here on social justice. The kind I am talking about vs. the kind that they are talking about.


Here’s my definition of social justice: Forced redistribution of wealth with a hostility toward individual property rights, under the guise of charity and/or justice.

On my radio program, I said if your church is promoting Jeremiah Wright-type "social or economic justice," you should run from it or at least get educated on what progressives mean by this.

You might wonder if the summary from Christianity Today's writer is applicable. In particular since the summary of the poll does not mention the correlations that the writer does namely: In 2007, the Baylor Religion Survey asked Americans how often they read the Bible on their own. (It was a five-point scale in this study, ranging from "never" to "several times a week.") It also asked whether the federal government should expand its authority to fight terrorism—a reference to the Patriot Act. For each increased level of Bible-reading frequency, support for the Patriot Act decreased by about 13 percent.

The survey codebook is found here.

56) Q16. Outside of attending religious services, about how often do you read the Bible, Koran, Torah, or other sacred book? (SACREDBK)

0) Never44427.3
1) Less than once a year23214.3
2) Once or twice a year18011.1
3) Several times a year16410.1
4) Once a month493
5) 2-3 times a month986
6) About weekly925.7
7) Weekly1157.1
8) Several times a week or more often25415.6

172) Q37h. To what extent do you agree or disagree that the federal government should expand its authority to fight terrorism? (FIGHTTER)

1) Strongly disagree1418.8
2) Disagree38824.3
3) Agree55534.7
4) Strongly agree39524.7
8) Undecided1217.6

If you look at the analyze section of question 172 You actually see that there is no statistics related to Bible reading. It correlates Age, Education, Gender, Religion, Region and Church attendance.

It is interesting to see how one article with really questionable correlations can affect those that want to believe something.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Reza Aslan and the lack of critical media

For the past couple of years I have become fascinated how people are influenced by the media. It is such a powerful force and is so ever present in our society. It is a constant buzzing in our ears yet we seldom swat at the offensive nature of much of what it produces. I am going to relay an example that to me is very telling of the sheep like attitude the media produces in people.

In the Sept. 13 2013 issue of Entertainment Weekly in the winners and losers section we read this:
→ ZEALOT, BY REZA ASLAN When Fox News correspondent Lauren Green and scholar-writer Aslan jousted during a train wreck of an interview, Aslan clearly came out ahead. The televised scuffle pushed Zealot, a biagroaphy of Jesus Christ, to the top of the charts. Page 19
This view is how by a lot of media outlets. Just google Reza Aslan and Lauren Green. You can see the interview and see loads of liberal media sites bashing her and Fox News.

What you do see in this interview which the liberal media sites don't tell you is that Reza Aslan was lying about his credititials. He made a very big thing about his qualifications

In fact, it is Aslan who immediately turns the interview into a cage match by reacting very defensively to Green’s first question. And here is where the misrepresentations begin. For roughly the first half of the interview Aslan dominates the exchange with assertions about himself that seem intended to delay the substance of the discussion:
I am a scholar of religions with four degrees including one in the New Testament . . . I am an expert with a Ph.D. in the history of religions . . . I am a professor of religions, including the New Testament–that’s what I do for a living, actually . . . To be clear, I want to emphasize one more time, I am a historian, I am a Ph.D. in the history of religions.
Later he complains that they are “debating the right of the scholar to write” the book rather than discussing the book. But the conversation took that turn thanks to Aslan, not Green! By the final minute he is saying of himself (and who really talks this way!?) that “I’m actually quite a prominent Muslim thinker in the United States.”
Aslan does have four degrees, as Joe Carter has noted: a 1995 B.A. in religion from Santa Clara University, where he was Phi Beta Kappa and wrote his senior thesis on “The Messianic Secret in the Gospel of Mark”; a 1999 Master of Theological Studies from Harvard; a 2002 Master of Fine Arts in Fiction from the University of Iowa; and a 2009 Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

None of these degrees is in history, so Aslan’s repeated claims that he has “a Ph.D. in the history of religions” and that he is “a historian” are false.  Nor is “professor of religions” what he does “for a living.” He is an associate professor in the Creative Writing program at the University of California, Riverside, where his terminal MFA in fiction from Iowa is his relevant academic credential. It appears he has taught some courses on Islam in the past, and he may do so now, moonlighting from his creative writing duties at Riverside. Aslan has been a busy popular writer, and he is certainly a tireless self-promoter, but he is nowhere known in the academic world as a scholar of the history of religion. And a scholarly historian of early Christianity? Nope.

Any thinking media person should have become interested enough to question the Aslan's creditionals and after this interview came out and even after people like Glenn Beck (see Glenn Beck's expose here) pointed out Aslans' false creditionals you would think that that should have some relevance or at least mention...but not in the liberal has no relevance.
Aslan has a Wikipedia site as well and notice this example of how the Wikipedia can be gently nudged.

Aslan holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in religions from Santa Clara University, a Master of Theological Studies degree from Harvard Divinity School, and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Iowa's Writers' Workshop, where he was named the Truman Capote Fellow in Fiction. Aslan also received a Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology, focusing in the history of religion, from the University of California, Santa Barbara.[7][8][9] His dissertation was titled "Global Jihadism as a Transnational Social Movement: A Theoretical Framework".[10]

So it looks like Under the Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology there is a focus in history of religion. However you look at the UC at Santa Barbara Sociology Graduate degree program you see that there is no such focus. What they have are:

The department offers rigorous training in theory and a variety of sociological methodologies. Additionally, sociology graduate students specialize in one of the following research areas: Conversation Analysis; Culture; Global Studies; Feminist Studies; Justice, Law and Inequality; Race, Ethnicity, and Nation; and Social Movements, Revolutions & Social Change. UCSB’s sociology graduate students have gone on to top jobs at other universities as well as into numerous research, policy, and activist professions.

They do have a Department of Religious Studies however, but it is not the Sociology Department. What it does appear is that Aslan is in fact an activist, see the Glenn Beck video for more on that.

When you actually realize just how much of a free pass is given to certain kinds of thought in the media you can begin to see how their goals and their activism are being implemented into society. If you reject their goals and their view of reality there are abundant other forms of media out there to attack and criticize and distort the facts to make their opposition out to be something horrible. Racist, sexist, homophobes, Islamophobe or the ever popular fear monger. The facts seem to take an distant second place to the goals of the activist.

How nice it would be if the journalist asked the hard questions or actually took the time to investigate the credentials of the people they talk to. Lauren Green may not have known that Aslan did not have the credentials he claimed but because she questioned him we have him on record lying about them. And that should carry some weight

Aslan's book gets to the top of the book list even though it has nothing really new As the Christian Post writes:

"Aslan has offered nothing new under the sun when it comes to offering a critique of the historical Jesus," William Lane Craig, a philosopher of religion and a Christian apologist, has said. "In fact, he is attempting to revert scholarship back to the early 1900s by echoing Albert Schweitzer's book, The Quest for the Historical Jesus. Like Schweitzer, Aslan claims that Jesus is historically unknowable and we can never get back to the real Jesus."

American Conservative writer and Baylor University professor Alan Jacobs argues that Aslan's work follows closely along the lines of Biblical scholar John Dominic Cross's 1994 title Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography.

"Aslan makes no new discoveries, and makes no arguments that haven't already been made — in some cases very long ago," writes Jacobs, suggesting that this is partly the case because "Reza Aslan is not a New Testament scholar."

It is interesting to note in regard to lying about credentials just how another member of the media was treated when it was discovered that she lied about her PhD. See the article here,

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Acer Aspire One model ZG5 Bios fix

I am going to post this because after searching and searching the web for information on the problem with the Acer Aspire One not restarting from sleep/hibernation my Acer would not restart even if you held the power button down. There was all kinds of advice on computer forums most of it worthless. Then one guy gave me the right information and sent me to the following Acer page where you can update the bios even though you computer won't even start. Here is there instructions and the link to the page. I hope this helps people.

How do I update the BIOS on my Acer Aspire One AOA110 or AOA150 netbook?
Note: These instructions are only for the Acer Aspire One AOA110 and the AOA150 netbook series and should not be performed on any other model Acer Aspire One.
Updating the BIOS will require a USB flash drive to store the BIOS information on during the update. To perform the update to the BIOS:
  1. From the drivers home page, click Netbook and select your series and product.
  2. Click on the BIOS tab and download and extract the latest BIOS for the netbook.
  3. The files required will be in the Dos_Flash subdirectory.
  4. Rename the BIOS file from 3310.fd to zg5ia32.fd.
  5. Copy zg5ia32.fd and Flashit.exe to the USB flash drive
  6. Ensure that the AC adapter is plugged in.
  7. Insert the USB flash drive into a USB port.
  8. Press and hold down the Fn and the Esc keys together and press the power button.
  9. When the netbook's power light comes on, wait a few seconds and release the Fn and Esc keys.
  10. After the keys have been released the power light will start to blink.
  11. During the BIOS update process the display will be blank.
  12. Let the unit run and after approximately 1 to 7 minutes, the unit should reboot and the BIOS will be updated.
If the unit fails to reboot, or the BIOS was not updated successfully, try the steps again. If the problem persists, contact Acer support.

For the AOA150 here is the download bios web page,%20CHROMEBOOK&Step2=ASPIRE%20ONE&Step3=AOA150&OS=ALL&LC=en&BC=ACER&SC=PA_6

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The problem of 19th century prophets

The August 2013 issue of Adventist World includes an article by Ellen White which they entitle Infidelity in Disguise. It appears to be some kind of edited work with most sentences ending in ellipses and reported to have
“The secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever.” Men professing to be ministers of God raise their voices against the investigation of prophecy, and tell the people that the prophecies, especially of Daniel and John, are obscure, and that we cannot understand them. Yet some of these very men eagerly receive the suppositions of geologists, which dispute the Mosaic record. But if God’s revealed will is so difficult to be understood, certainly men should not rest their faith upon mere suppositions in regard to that which He has not revealed. . . . In [God’s] providence men, beasts, and trees, many times larger than those now upon the earth, were buried at the time of the flood, and thus preserved to prove to man that the inhabitants of the old world perished by a flood. God designed that the discovery of these things in the earth should establish faith in inspired history. But men, with their vain reasoning, make a wrong use of these things which God designed should lead them to exalt Him. They fall into the same error as did the people before the flood—those things which God gave them as a benefit, they turned into a curse, by making a wrong use of them."
 She begins by quoting Deut 29:29 which is Moses recitation of the covenant with Israel, about being brought out of Egypt etc. It is most certainly not a statement about scientific understanding. As we learned about germs and viruses we were not learning of the secret things of God. It would be foolish to think that when we learn about geology we are again trying to learn the secret things of God. I don't know of any scientific discipline that God revealed to his children, this is simply a statement of absurdity put in to make the whole thing seem somehow more deep and religious.

Then she moves on to those of us...most everyone really who find the prophecies of Daniel and John the Revelator to be obscure. About the only people that don't think the apocalyptic books are obscure are those who have their own version of interpretation. And so far of those not one has predicted anything to occur based upon the writings of Daniel and the book of Revelation. Those predictions that have been made have all be disproved, which caused some like the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Seventh-day Adventists to make some of their incorrect predictions appear to be fulfilled in spiritual or heavenly realms where we have no access.

The Mosaic record which she finds to be disputed by geologists is but a tiny part of what is by tradition attributed to be the writing of Moses but that tradition is not based upon any facts. But still it is only a tiny fragment of the Genesis story concerning Genesis 1 and 2 and the account of the flood. None of which is written in anything close to a record of geology. In fact the practice of testing theories and ideas is far less supposition then the supposition that Moses even wrote the book of Genesis.

But what really made me want to write this article is this part:
In [God’s] providence men, beasts, and trees, many times larger than those now upon the earth, were buried at the time of the flood, and thus preserved to prove to man that the inhabitants of the old world perished by a flood. 
Really!? Why would finding them indicate the reality of a world wide flood? She earlier referred to "Bones of men and animals are found . . . showing that much larger men and beasts once existed. . . ." Actually there have never been bones of men that have been found to be larger then men today. And the larger animals besides the dinosaurs are usually of the era of the ice age. In fact if you look we have evidence of Wooly Mammoths who appear to have been quickly frozen in place and covered with ice. If that was to show that they died in a flood of water they would be far different in the contents of their stomachs then what we have.These ice age giants are much more recent in the geological column then dinosaurs so there is little reason to think that they are the evidence of some world wide flood.

It really is time to realize that our 19th century prophet was a person of her time. With a limited understanding and limited knowledge. She may well have believed in the hoaxes of the late 1800's such as Cardiff Giant. It is likely that she did believe it as she did come out of the Methodist movement as Wikipedia says:
 The giant was the creation of a New York tobacconist named George Hull. Hull, an atheist, decided to create the giant after an argument at a Methodist revival meeting about the passage in Genesis 6:4 stating that there were giants who once lived on Earth.[1]
She likely incorporated that into her thinking about Adam and Eve as she wrote: "Adam's height was much greater than that of men who now inhabit the earth. Eve was somewhat less in stature; Patriarchs and Prophets, pg. 45 "He was more than twice as tall as men now living upon the earth... Eve was not quite as tall as Adam. Her head reached a little above his shoulders." -- Spiritual Gifts, Vol. 3, pg. 34
We can do better and we must do better. Not only must we be more critical in understanding the Bible but we must be more critical in our assumptions about people who claim to speak for God. Once we understand that even sincere people can be confused about the facts we can see that such confusion is not limited to modern times. That we must use more then just accepted traditions as our evidence and reason for believing.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Adventist Media Must Change

I just got my annual fund-raising letter from Adventist Today. Most of the letter is about Adventist Publishing houses. The fire at Battle Creek in the early 1900's when the church had one publishing house and then the move to have a couple publishing houses and now some proposal to consolidate publishing houses again.

Adventist Today as an alternative publication sees itself as an important source of needed information and analysis.

At the same day that I received the letter from Adventist Today I heard of the report on media usage in the United States. To sum up the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism’s “State of the News Media” report writes:
Overall, digital news channels are growing (vs. traditional media). Digital has surpassed radio and print in terms of audience size and engagement frequency. Digital will soon overtake TV as the primary news platform.
If anyone pays attention to the magazine and book publishing business they would likely question whether doing anything aside from trying to save money with your publishing costs would be the thing to do while you retool to prepare to transition to a digital format.

I have no idea what the Adventist church will do, they are in most ways far behind the curve so I imagine they will end up falling farther behind as well. But I would like to make some recommendations for Adventist Today.

That would be to spend their money on updating their digital presence to actually use the internet to their advantage. Certainly they already have a digital version of their print magazine which is a good idea but it really keeps them from the most advantages methods of the new digital age which is social networking.

The Pew report says:
Hearing about things in the news from friends and family, whether via social media or actual word of mouth, leads to deeper news consumption. A majority of Americans seek out a full news story after hearing about an event or issue from friends and family, a new Pew Research survey released here finds. For nearly three-quarters of adults (72%), the most common way to get news from friends and family is by having someone talk to them—either in person or over the phone. And among that group, close to two-thirds (63%) somewhat or very often seek out a news story about that event or issue. Social networking is now a part of this process as well: 15% of U.S. adults get most of their news from friends and family this way, and the vast majority of them (77%) follow links to full news stories. Among 18-to-29 year-olds, the percentage that primarily relies on social media for this kind of news already reaches nearly one-quarter. And the growing practice of dual-screening major news events adds more opportunity to share news electronically. Friends and family are still just one part of most consumers’ news diets –and a smaller part than going directly to news outlet themselves, as an earlier Pew Research study revealed.
But if you look over at you can read their blogs and their articles posted and rarely will you see them link to anyone or anything even when they directly mention a story. As an example here is a recent news article headline: Forbes Magazine Includes Andrews University in list of Top Schools

Now it would have been easy to link to the Forbes article. I found it at this address from which you can see the entire list etc. In the digital world it is easy to link to an article so that people can verify the information or use it to forward on a social media site. The case is similar for their opinion pieces rarely linking to anything they talk about. Take for example this from Stephen Foster's The Mini Great Controversy:
It makes about as much sense (to me) for a Seventh-day Adventist Christian to challenge the inspiration and authority of Ellen White as it does for a Calvinist to challenge the theological authority/bona fides of John Calvin, or a Lutheran of Luther. Yet some members of the voluntary Christian sect or denomination which was co-founded by White—whose commentary on the Bible and whose exegeses and interpretation of the Bible are the result of a prophetic gifting of God—routinely reject her messages (and/or reject the reality of her gifting).

Contradictorily and ironically,
some of these individuals believe that they have been given the same or similar gifting; and that, since they live in the present, their gifting is representative of present truth—even though their “truth” may deny or contradict some of what White wrote in great detail.
Some of who? Would not it be nice to link to such people so we know what the author is even talking about? Or at least know who in contemporary Adventism feel they have the gifting of present truth?

One of the most popular news sites visited according to the Pew report is the Huffington Post Second only to Yahoo news which gets more hits most likely because it is a common browser opening page and they write headlines to gather hits but give little information. For example today they have the headline “Oprah Winfrey Finally Comments on Paula Deen's N-Word Controversy, which amounted to
When asked to comment about Deen during an interview with Extra, Winfrey laughed but declined to say anything more about the disgraced TV personality. "Oh my god! I don't have anything to do with Paula Deen," she insisted. "She is not the first white lady to use the N-word! Good lord!"
When you read the Huffington Post you see numerous links inside practically all of their articles. That is the same with all of the top sites as well. They send you to someone who wrote something more specific to a particular part of their own article. In doing that you can quickly get far more information then footnotes and you don't have to try and figure out what the person was trying to reference who did not even include a footnote or even a reference as in Stephen Foster's article.

When you realize how this simple communication technique opens up information and expand the resources for researching a fact or idea you see why print media will be dead in the near future. It simply cannot compete. It also makes certain that the writer of an article actually knows more about the subject. Something that when I read some of the opinion pieces on AToday I often wonder do they even know what they are talking about.

In the world people are becoming far more critical of the media they receive. They are skeptical of the news they hear and they should be. That has reflected itself in the decline of the traditional news media and the rise in the new media. It would be hard to assume that such will not be the case with religious media as well. Particularly with the alternative denomination media. It is time that Adventist Today begins to catch up with the times.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

A really bad article on AToday by Monte Sahlin

Sometimes over at I read the most stupid arguments...and that includes the article writers. I think, how can anyone publish this stuff and not realize that one stupid paragraph actually destroys the credibility of their entire article. Because if someone is so biased why would anyone believe the rest of their analysis has any reliability. It seems it must come from a thought process that is so encased by only talking to people of their own political beliefs that they don't even see their statement as complete prejudice masquerading as fact.

Here is what Monte Sahlin writes in his article The Problem with a Fundamentalist World View:
The true believers in the pro-life movement—who I largely agree with on moral grounds, despite their widespread hypocrisy on capital punishment and feeding babies once they are born—believe that if Roe v Wade is rescinded or restrictive laws such as recently voted in Texas are adopted that it will impose moral order on a society where traditional ideas about sexuality have been discarded by most Americans. They simply don’t get the fact that it will change nothing about the sexual behavior of most people and it will create unanticipated outcomes, possibly more terrible than the present situation.   
The pro-life movement is involved in wide spread hypocrisy because it allows and accepts capital punishment of criminals. Really that is somehow connected to the right of a baby to be born? Innocent unborn life should have a right to exist therefore to not be a hypocrite guilty adults should not be executed after due process. By that reasoning the pro-choice movement must be hypocritical when anyone is sent to jail being then their choices are taken away. 

What about the second line, are pro-life people against feeding babies once they are born? Is there some kind of protests going on that I have not heard about where the pro-lifers are marching against giving babies food? Well probably to a political liberal mind welfare reform is taking food out of a babies mouth even though that is generally not what happens since the reform is found in making sure that the monies go to people who really need it and not fraud and waste. 

As for Roe v. Wade it should be rescinded and sent to the states. Surely by now we all should know that Roe was never a rape victim as the case was presented. So a case law was made based upon a trial where one of the prime principals in the case lied. see Do You Know the Fascinating and Troubling Story About the Woman Behind the Roe v. Wade Case? 

Is the Texas Law limiting abortions so that late term abortions are not allowed really that bad, as the Daily Caller writes:
Every modern poll on the issue shows the same thing: Large majorities say babies should not be aborted in the later stages of pregnancy. Looking at Gallup over the years, opposition to abortion after six months has never dropped below 80 percent. Even at three months, the numbers are still impressive: Over 60 percent of Americans consistently oppose abortions after the first trimester, and in 2011 they rose to 71 percent.

If these were election results, you’d call it a landslide.
But to Monte Sahlin such widespread agreement on limiting late term abortions is a method to change people sexual behavior! Or even worse if  states like Texas limit late term abortions it may make things  "possibly more terrible than the present situation."  It is really troubling to me that people can be so thoughtless and yet pretend to be thought leaders. 

Ultimately his fictional paragraph leads to his conclusion:
 Fundamentalists believe that they can control society’s sinfulness. Jesus knows otherwise. He says, Peter put away your sword. "He who is without sin, cast the first stone." Love your enemies. Turn the other cheek. Go the second mile."
Actually every religious and social organization likes to think they can limit society's sinfulness and fundamentalists at least Christian Fundamentalist are not trying to limit society's sinfulness with a sword. That might be true of Muslim Fundamentalists but it really has no application to Christian Fundamentalism. But as with the other facts Monte Sahlin conflates Fundamentalism as well pretending there is some major similarity between the Christian Fundamentalism and what is been much less accurately called as Muslim Fundamentalism ( remember the Muslim's in question don't even call themselves fundamentalist, it is quite different from the beginnings of Christiain fundamentalism where they wrote and expressed what their fundamentals were. See: Christian Fundamentalism on Wikipedia

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Upsetting the Apple Cart

A couple of things I have been reading have led me to wonder just how much the Adventist church cares about meeting people's spiritual needs vs. how much they want to dictate people's beliefs. Most of us by now have heard that about half of the Adventists in North America will leave the Adventist church, some come back most do not. Some estimates I have heard have former Adventists as numbering 3 million and current Adventists in North America at 1 million. Let's be more optimistic and only say the number of former to current Adventists is 2:1. Would not such numbers indicate that we are doing something wrong?

I have never been a big fan of sermons so the church service portion of the Adventist church never really appealed to me. I was usually able to find an interesting and challenging Sabbath School class however. At least until recently when my friend ceased his once a month facilitation of a class at the church I was attending. Though to be fair we were weaned off his class as the more traditional folks began leading more of the sessions until it was just down to once a month. Which is a good cautionary tale that the divided philosophy of a Sabbath School class is not likely to work. Theoretically it might still work if there were two leaders in attendance who agreed to disagree on things and lead together. But that is likely a hard thing to happen.

I think the reason for the demise of the more progressive or open Adventist Sabbath School classes has to do with the Adventist church desire to dictate beliefs vs. providing a place to meet spiritual needs. If you toe the more traditional Adventist line you rise in responsibilities and respect in the local church. If you don't you will become marginalized, and if you want to survive in the church as a progressive Adventist you often learn to sit down and shut up. You can only do that for a while usually and according to the statistics you then leave.

The Adventist Today blog has an article entitled: One Step ahead of Personal and Spiritual Annihilation.
By Harry Banks. In the article he writes of someone who started a Saturday, 11 O’clock bible study at the local telephone company education center. He writes:

What? Saturday church? At the phone company? With an IT geek for a leader? Oh, and who also happened to have previously been an atheist, and we are not done yet... The group is purposefully nondenominational to attract persons who feel alienated from religion or formalized religion for whatever reason.

The fist week, Larry, the programmer leader, opened by saying that he felt a need to reach out to the people around him and make a place to engage with them where they are. No pressure to come to a certain position or place of belief, but an exchange of personal spiritual journeys whether in a context of doubt or faith. With Larry's atheist background, the agnostic, Julian Barnes' line, "I don't believe in God, but I miss him," seems to point to a possible point of contact for us all. There is that empty spot in all of us that only God can fill. Regardless of our state of belief or unbelief there is still a place in us only God can fill.

What a concept. Could such a thing happen in an Adventist church? Or would those who were so sure they had the answers...that they were the remnant, end up looking down their noses at such spiritually questioning people. Would they be viewed as wolves in sheep's clothing out to infiltrate and bring uncertainty to the certain? Perhaps they would even think that evolution of life was possible and maybe even a method that God used to create...could that be allowed in the sacred walls of an Adventist church.

I don't know, I suspect the way to find out would be to actually try such an experiment with your local church. I am pretty sure it is not the kind of Revival and Reformation that Ted Wilson (Seventh-day Adventist General Conference President) has envisioned for the Adventist church but maybe it is the kind of Reformation that could lead to a Revival. A Reformation is really about change and perhaps we need a far more radical change then a return to what did not work a hundred years ago. Maybe Ted Wilson's plan to Go Forward by going backwards is not really the answer. The question is it worth upsetting the "frozen chosen". They feel they are spiritually well off...on the right track with the right answers. They don't really want to engage with the questions so that they can maintain their answers but even so that is going to be a comfort to them and they, like the spiritual questing, need comfort in their journey. So the question is can we add more fruit to the apple cart without tipping it over and spilling all the apples. Perhaps the status quo of losing 2 apples for every 1 apple in the cart is the best we can do. It probably is unless one decides to rebuild the cart, and if you do that then you have to transfer the apples from one cart to another.

It does sound like a lot of work!

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Philosophy use and abuse

I just received the new issue of Adventist Today for Summer 2013. I began by reading the editorial by J. David Newman. The issue invited 10  people total  (Alden Thompson is added in reference to his column) to write on the meaning of life, how do we know the meaning of life and what does it mean to be human. Newman writes the following:

There are five basic ways by which we know, and each one has its pluses and minuses. Most of us know because we were taught by someone, and so we appeal to authority. We know because of the testimony of others such as parents, teachers, and friends. Even
after graduation, we rely on the media and on books for much of our knowledge. It is impossible for us to verify everything we are told, so we accept by faith what we are told unless we begin to suspect that not everything is the truth.

There are many challenges in accepting what authority tells us. First, why should we accept any authority? And if we appeal to a second authority for verification, then where do we stop? What do we do when authorities disagree? How do we then decide what is correct?

This is really a poor piece of information or more properly misinformation. "Most of us know because we were taught by someone, and so we appeal to authority." Being taught is not an appeal to authority. For example I was taught how to read. It is not an appeal to authority because I read it is based upon the conventions and standardized interpretation of symbols that create meaning. An appeal to authority is defined as: 

Argument from authority (also known as appeal to authority) is a fallacy of defective induction, where it is argued that a statement is correct because the statement is made by a person or source that is commonly regarded as authoritative. The most general structure of this argument is:
This is a fallacy because the truth or falsity of a claim is not related to the authority of the claimant, and because the premises can be true, and the conclusion false (an authoritative claim can turn out to be false). It is also known as argumentum ad verecundiam (Latin: argument to respect) or ipse dixit (Latin: he himself said it).
On the other hand, arguments from authority are an important part of informal logic. Since we cannot have expert knowledge of many subjects, we often rely on the judgments of those who do. There is no fallacy involved in simply arguing that the assertion made by an authority is true. The fallacy only arises when it is claimed or implied that the authority is infallible in principle and can hence be exempted from 

Just being taught information is not an appeal to authority. In fact it is highly unlikely that your teachers, parents, friends, media and books ever agreed on more then a few points of information. The clear sky appears blue, water feels wet. Those kind of things.

Newman's article begins by falsely asserting that ones education in life is an appeal to authority.

I have no great love for philosophy I find it to be mainly filled with obscuring attacks and redefinitions of what other philosophers have said. In fact Spectrum has a series of articles on philosophy that are very demonstrative of this. Much of the confusion is because they have words which they only use...much like theology but a whole lot more. Consider this section from Newman's editorial:

A third way of knowing is rationalism. We have minds to think and reason, and we have the ability to use logic so that we can search for ultimate truth. This seems, at first glance, the best way to arrive at how we know. But it too has its share of problems. “Several criticisms have been leveled at rationalism. It has been argued by a large body of philosophers that an apodictic starting point can never be the basis for a comprehensive theory of knowledge since it must either be (a) a tautology or (b) incapable of elaboration by deductive techniques. The class of tautological statements would contain propositions such as ‘1+1=2,’ ‘A is A,’ and ‘Bachelors are unmarried males.’ It has been argued that such statements, while true and absolutely certain, are not informative about the world. If this be so, then such propositions can never be the basis of empirical knowledge.”2

Apodictic? When was the last time you used that word. In fact the word just means "necessarily or demonstrably true; incontrovertible." The whole sentence he uses is pretty meaningless. consider that reasoning is actually based upon inductive and deductive reasoning. Both forms are necessary for meaningful reasoning. So to state that one form of reasoning can't be used does not have much meaning as it could be true for either inductive or deductive forms of reasoning. A quick and easy explanation of inductive versus deductive reasoning is found here:

Deductive reasoning is a basic form of valid reasoning. Deductive reasoning, or deduction, starts out with a general statement, or hypothesis, and examines the possibilities to reach a specific, logical conclusion. The scientific method uses deduction to test hypotheses and theories.

In deductive reasoning, if something is true of a class of things in general, it is also true for all members of that class. For example, "All men are mortal. Harold is a man. Therefore, Harold is mortal." For deductive reasoning to be sound, the hypothesis must be correct. It is assumed that the premises, "All men are mortal" and "Harold is a man" are true. Therefore, the conclusion is logical and true.

It's possible to come to a logical conclusion even if the generalization is not true. If the generalization is wrong, the conclusion may be logical, but it may also be untrue. For example, the argument, "All bald men are grandfathers. Harold is bald. Therefore, Harold is a grandfather," is valid logically but it is untrue because the original statement is false.

Inductive reasoning
Inductive reasoning is the opposite of deductive reasoning. Inductive reasoning makes broad generalizations from specific observations. Even if all of the premises are true in a statement, inductive reasoning allows for the conclusion to be false. Here’s an example: "Harold is a grandfather. Harold is bald. Therefore, all grandfathers are bald." The conclusion does not follow logically from the statements.

Inductive reasoning has its place in the scientific method. Scientists use it to form hypotheses and theories. Deductive reasoning allows them to apply the theories to specific situations.

So now I will get to the other articles. But clearly we are not off to a good start by the editorial.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Transcripts of the conversation that led to dismissal at La Sierra University

I have just found out the location of the posting of the Transcripts of the conversation which seems to have led to the dismissal of several people at La Sierra University. I had previously listened to the transcripts and they were pretty hard to listen to due to the quality so the transcripts will help those who are looking to find out what was said in the unintentional recorded conversation. The conversation transcripts are found here.

From Spectrum Online article A Primer on the LSU-3 Lawsuit

Plaintiffs’ Arguments:
The plaintiffs allege, in part, that Kaatz, Beach and Bradley were lifelong employees of La Sierra University who were wrongfully discharged from their employment when they were coerced and forced to resign under threat of public firing by defendant Ricardo Graham. Graham’s action was improper because he made use of secretly-recorded conversations in forcing the resignations, and he lacked authority to seek their resignations or threaten them with termination. They allege that Graham violated numerous due process rights provided by La Sierra University. Jackson, Blackmer and others were complicit due to their listening to, transcribing, distributing and/or discussing the recording, and by their conferring about the dismissal of the plaintiffs.

Defendants’ Arguments:
The defendants argue, in part, that the plaintiffs’ behavior violated Seventh-day Adventist Church policy and La Sierra University policy governing the comportment of faculty and administrative staff. Further, they argue that the court has no jurisdiction in this matter and that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects nonprofit religious institutions like La Sierra University from interference by the government in matters of governance and employment. Civil statutes such as the Unruh Civil Rights Act do not apply to religious nonprofit institutions like La Sierra University, they argue. Counsel for Ricardo Graham argues that Graham cannot be held personally liable for his actions as volunteer executive officer for a nonprofit organization according to state statutes.