Rollen Stewart became known as the John 3:16 guy. Remember him?
Stewart wore a rainbow colored wig and attended sporting events either wearing a T-shirt or holding up a sign that read “John 3:16.” At football games, he would often be sitting behind the goal posts, or a baseball game behind home plate, so the cameras would televise his message.
College football fans also recall Tim Tebow when he quarterbacked the Florida Gators, sporting “John 3:16″ on the black under his eyes.
Bible Believers, of course, would recognize the verse as Jesus’ statement to the Jewish ruler Nicodemus. Those unfamiliar with the verse would look it up, which is exactly what Stewart and Tebow wanted. While some folks grumbled at the exposure of the popular Bible verse, it was seemingly accepted or tolerated. However, things have changed in recent years.
According to multiple news outlets, an unnamed Virginia High School teacher has been instructed to remove “John 3:16″ from the signature of her work email messages. Apparently, she has been doing this for years, but has recently been asked to remove the verse by the district’s acting superintendent.
It is claimed that her emails “constitute school-sponsored speech bearing the ostensible endorsement of the School Division.”
Attorneys for the teacher from the legal group Liberty Counsel are challenging the directive, arguing that it’s a violation of her first Amendment rights.
Interestingly, the teacher proposed an alternative verse, Proverbs 22:6. “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” However, the lawyers said this was rejected by the Loudoun County School District because it was from the Bible.
“This issue is far larger than an email signature,” observed Jim Denison on his webpage The Denison Forum. “In fact, it goes to the heart of the cultural and spiritual crisis we face today.”
Furthermore, Denison offered this critique.
“The school district’s position is entirely consistent with the cultural narrative of our day in which religion, to the degree it is tolerated at all, is to be privatized. If you won’t give up your archaic superstitions, at least keep your myths to yourself, or so our secular society thinks.”
“The hostility of the secular left towards the Christian faith is chilling and clearly indicates where so-called ‘progressives’ want to take our nation,” said Ed Vitagliano, executive vice president of the American Family Association. “They want to drive our faith into the shadows and punish any and all public expression of it.”
Today, John 3:16 or any other Bible verse is objectionable, unwelcome, and unacceptable in the public square. This is ironic because the very world that expresses animosity towards God is the very world God loves. The culture that is critical of Christianity is the very one for whom Christ died. And the people banning the Bible are rejecting the very book that contains the soul saving message both for them and a world that has lost its way.
In the midst of an unbelieving, antagonistic, and corrupt culture, Christians are called upon to be “the light of the world (Matt. 5:14-16), to “walk in the light” (1Jn. 1:7), and to “hold fast the Word of life” (Phil 2:16). We must, both in word and in deed, let others see Jesus Christ as the life and light needed in a sin-darkened world (Jn. 1:1-5).
This is no time to be silent. Or to shrink back in fear. Or to succumb to Satan’s schemes. We must “speak the Truth in love” by whatever means and methods at our disposal. And whenever and however the opportunity is afforded us.
May our preaching, teaching, blogging, posting and podcasts not solely be an occasion to curse the darkness, but a greater opportunity to light a candle.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman
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