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November 13, 2012

 

Truth Wins Out
 
 
 
 

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Shocking Cult Murder Puts Spotlight On the International House of Prayer (IHOP)

  

By Wayne Besen    

 

Today, I feel a little bit like Dr. Sam Loomis. He was the psychiatristHalloween movie, Dr. Loomis in the classic horror movie Halloween who    ran through the streets of Haddonfield telling anyone who would listen that Michael Myers had just escaped from the insane asylum. As he frantically warned the residents, they looked at him as if he were a paranoid crank.

 

Similarly, I warned in May that something was seriously amiss at Mike Bickle's International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Grandview, MO, an exurb of Kansas City. Part of my job is monitoring extremist organizations, which brought me to the IHOP's worship center at midnight, a time I expected the cavernous hall to be practically empty. Instead, I found a far more disconcerting scene.

 

Here is what I wrote on May 4:

 

There was a gigantic 24/7 prayer room filled mostly with teenagers, many of whom appeared to be of high school or college age. A band played hypnotic Christian music while the audience of 100 or so youth engaged in a diverse set of worship rituals. Some were seated, as if they were in a traditional church setting. Others danced and skipped, like they were in some sort of fundie rave. One youth twirled a purple fan, as if he were at a gay circuit party. About a quarter of the participants walked in a trance-like state through the aisles muttering to themselves - a practice that I had not seen before. Some of these youths walked non-stop for over an hour, with no signs of stopping to rest.

 

Beware Grandview and Kansas City. You have an aggressive, militant, angry, fundie cult growing under your nose. It's time to wake up before you become the next Colorado Springs. Don't be caught flat footed wondering, "How did this happen?" Consider this your first warning.

 

My warning wasn't heeded, and residents of Grandview now appear mystified by the murder of a young woman who belonged to a religious sect with close ties to IHOP.

 

Tyler Deaton, IHOP cult leader The Kansas City Star reports that a charismatic youth leader, Tyler Deaton (pictured), had persuaded members of a church youth group he started at Southwestern University, in Georgetown, Texas to move with him to Kansas City, so they could be close to the IHOP.

 

His group allegedly began drugging and sexually assaulting Deaton's wife, Bethany, 27, for what they deemed spiritual reasons. Deaton, who identified as an "ex-gay" healed through Jesus Christ, also began having sex with male members of his cult.

 

Afraid that Bethany was going to reveal the group's crimes to her therapist, Deaton allegedly ordered one of his followers, Micha Moore, to murder her, and make it appear to be a suicide. The plan seemed to be working until Moore cracked and confessed to authorities.

 

It would be unfair to portray this episode as representative of what occurs at the IHOP. However, it cannot be denied that this church has become a magnet for extremists with a militant End Times view of the world. From my experience, it is an ideal incubator for young narcissists with Messiah-complexes, like Deaton, who fancy themselves prophets.

 

In my work with Truth Wins Out, I have seen many bizarre activities on the fringe. Nothing, however, has freaked me out as much as my evening at IHOP. The young people there were nothing short of zombies who looked disconnected from the world. Any ordinary person would walk away from the experience and instinctively know what he or she had witnessed was abnormal, teetering on dangerous.

 

If this weren't scary enough, it appears that IHOP is attempting to take over the city of Grandview and turn it into a hotbed of fundamentalism. It appears they are using Glad Heart Realty, which is located in the converted strip mall where the IHOP is based, to help move in IHOP entrancefollowers. In a town of 25,000, it wouldn't take too many  transplants to control the city's politics.

 

There may already be allies in government expediting the takeover. Here is what the city wrote about the IHOP coming to town a few years ago:

 

International House of Prayer leadership intentions are that the new campus ultimately will result in...new activities and excitement for Grandview. Grandview was extremely pleased in the IHOP decision to make the City the movement's new "home." Since the decision was made in 2008, the City has seen a rapid influx of IHOP-associated individuals and a "quickening" and positive upswing in hope and optimism for the future.

 

I'm not sure the rise of a youth sect that led to the murder of Bethany Deaton was the kind of excitement that Grandview had anticipated. With other radical cults now in the area, such as Lou Engle's The Call and Andy Comisky's Desert Stream, Grandview residents might want to take a fresh look at IHOP, before everyday seems like Halloween.

    

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June 20, 2012

New Legislation for States

In June of this year Illinois joined other States in accepting same sex Unions.  new York has now passed a law that looks like it will stand any Court battles, thus becoming one of the most populous States to now accept same sex marriage.

Be patient however as both States are still trying to get their new licenses re-written to not say man and woman or wife.  The actual State codes will be added to the laws section of the site soon so you can know the specific regulations.

As Pastor of the UM, an all faiths church, and knowing Yeshua did not deny same sex love, I shall remind folks that His closest comment was that there is no sex in the spirit.  To me Yeshua removed argument of who can or can not love.  some churches will deny same sex unions and we will not say you must perform weddings if you are not comfortable in faith about them.  Each person must follow the path of faith God placed before them and this is just another fork you must decide in the journey.

The world has changed again folks.  Until the late 1800's same sex relationships were not an issue.  it took peole to make them so to promote their own agendas.  marriage was not an option previously, but then again people didn't fly back then, or talk on cell phones while driving horseless carriages either.

His Holiness in Blue Jeans

I submit this article to the Board of the church, but expect it to not be allowed in the Newsletter.  I dare you to print it to the site even if our Holiness screams about it.

Recently I made the trip to Milford to meet our Archbishop, His holiness Douglas Hickman.  What I found was an old gas station with a middle aged man walking around in a clergy shirt, and jeans.  Now I was surprised to see that the interior, and even the exterior had some changes.  Though I can still see the gas station as the base, it is not what I expected in a church.  The interior was finished out in the siding from the original barn the UM started in. As i talked with our Holiness I felt the visions he shared.  I felt the reasons for using the old into the new, and also saw why he is trying to build a differnt church outside of town.

Frankly by the time I left I had lost all my concerns of joining a small church.  I saw the Rev's. vision of the greater church, not in the world, but in the spirit God called forth.  His is not a fancy place, or should I say ours as he made sure I knew it was not his building or church, but all of ours.  He did not ask for or even suggest I make a donation to the cause though hetold me there was always an extra hammer if I wanted to join in the work of building the new chapel.  At no time did he seem to care our church did not have the money to do what he wanted.  when I asked about it he simply smiled and said it wasn't his problem, he gave it to God.

So I was impressed by the time I left.  Here we have a man that kept saying he wasn't suppose to be the leader, just one of the guys in the back.  Here was a man that does not dress to impress, but dresses to fill God's work when called.  He didn't beat me with scripture, yet I knew more when I left than I knew before I got there. He had on a faded gray clergy sirt with a button missing, yet the collar ready if needed, jeans that were not worn, but definitely not new, and cowboy boots that needed a good polich.  He drives an beat up old chevy that almost has paint on it, but he swears is mechanically sound. I asked how it looked for our leader of a world church to drive such a car, and he smiled and said God didn't care as long as he got where he was suppose to be.  I said the church could buy him a better ride and he chuckled at me and asked why he would let the church waste limited funds for such a silly thing when we had so much more to do?

I spent about 2 hours talking with our Holiness.  during that time he apologized many times to answer the phone and help other members.  do people really live the dream this guy has for all of us?  As I started writing this I meant it as a humorous letter to the church, but as i remember how he acted, talked, and never pretended once to be special I am rethinking what I experienced that day.

Here was a guy that gave all his property to a church of internet misfits.  though he still lives in it and is rebuilding it, it is not his, but ours.  here is a man that picks up a hammer and builds for us, not just himself.  Here is this fossil that answers as many calls as he can, drops things to help that person, and then picks up like it was planned.  For me the real gut grabber was when I asked what kind of salary we paid our leader since I might want to apply for the job later?   He said he couldn't count all his wealth from doing this, but it was all in the spirit, given in God which is the only real income he cares about.  So I pushed about the cash. 

Brother, I don't want his job.  He does not accept a pay check, because he says the church covers all his and his families needs, and he would feel wrong taking money needed elsewhere.  His family is his wife, and youngest son still at home.  We pay the mortgage on a house that is not his now, we buy food though nothing fancy, we buy his and his families clothes, but he doesn't replace them until they are worn out.  His shirt was so faded out and I wouldn't have given it to charity.

As I drove home I thought about all I saw, and learned from this so called Archbishop aka janitor of our church and realized I had actually just met one of God's servants for real.  Here was man that quit worrying about retirement and started looking to a future well beyond his life.  I have never met an Angel before, but as I drove home I wondered if maybe God had one hanging out in a little hick town in Illinois wearing jeans.

I think this Christmas I will at least send him a new shirt.

Ron Irwin, Minister of God's Universal Ministries.

 

Places to be when the World ends?

Isn't it interesting that different groups tell people  to move here or move there so they survive the end of the world?  Wait a minute!  The end of the world suggests that the planet will end, at least its ability to support life.  Do they plan to build bubbles over their special areas?  Will they launch them into space to avoid being caught in the great ending?  Or do they speak of Government/social demise?

I found it interesting years ago when watching some of the world ending History Channel shows, the maps they provide showing how the planet will look after great events.  A volcano erupting here and there.  A major Earthquake removes California, and lots of the West Coast.  Another one hits the midwest, and even NYC.  I had to look again at their maps as I noticed for some reason God apparently leaves old Milford, Il. all alone.  Chicago sinks into the lakes. St. Lous goes under the Mississippi. a great bay or inland sea forms from St. Lous south, but Milford stays on the map.

So I guess folks I have to say that when the old world re-sets its geography you can still count on the UM Headquarters Chapel being right here for you.  You may need a boat to get here, but we will leave the light on and the latch string out.

The World Ended, and I Missed it?

So the world was not actually suppose to end recently.  Most people apparently do not know the difference between the Rapture, and Armeggadon.  At Rapture God calls up all the truly Righteous, and saved in faith to Heaven, leaving the rest to fight the 500 year war against evil, not the 60 day or 6 month ones we keep hearing about.

If you did not fly up to Heaven recently you may not want to paste your future to the opinion of man as so many did.  Instead look to God, work to make your faith greater, and remember only God knows the day and hour of our endings.  Yeshua said that this generation would not pass until...ya, I want you to go read Matthew to remember the rest of that.  Most still do not understand His words, especially after man has edited them so often to the current book. 

There are three generations within ancient writings, and God visions.  The first came before the time of man when the Angels Cherubs, etc were created to share God's great work.  For some you have studied, or at least hear of the great war between God and Lucifer.  At the end of that first generation God sent some into the darkness and nether regions of the world and returned the faithful to Heaven.  From that point God has sent to the world His servants to help, save, provide, and salvage souls of the mortals of the second generation.  Yes us foolish people that forget God is the creator, and we are the created in God.  At the same time Angels come to aid mortals we see as well the damned in Hell coming to the world to tax, abuse, tear down, and create false directions in mankind.

Recently we saw a man attempt to place a time on God's great Work which makes some wonder who gave him this moment to proclaim?  Was it a misunderstanding in God, or the direct attempt of darkness to wreak havoc again in the world?  I will not judge the statements as I was not informed.  I will remind each person that reads this that God is the creator, and the only one that can give permission of an end to His generation of man.  Darkness and evil can destroy without a doubt, but it does not have the ability to remove God's Work except where God has decided some things will change.  Darkness and evil must work only when God needs His art to be adjusted.  Then God allows without malice for some items to change.

God allows.  God also allows us a certain amount of direction within our own lives within His great Art.  Often these directions cause us as individuals to harm, yes even destroy ourselves through our own poor choices.  Some would say this is free will.  Some would argue that free will is a fantasy of those that would justify their own authority in God's plans.  Some would tell you that as spirits we agreed with God before entering the flesh to lead the path that is called life.  Again I will not judge the right or wrong of any belief as it is not given to me to do so.

YOU NEED TO FIND YOUR DIRECTION! God has granted you life in this world.  You are the only one that can walk the journey set for you either directly in His plan, or in your free will following God's plan.  Or you may ignore it all, decide God does not exist and wait until you learn the hard way that God does.  A good friend of mine out west often talks about how the UM does not demand a pedigree to join or share God's work.  Even if we wanted to the UM nor I could deny another as we built this church with God's permission to be open to all.  Yes I said with God's permission though Order may be a better word for it.  The UM allows all faiths as they all were created where?  In God or they could not be!

So if you were worried recently or about the future threats of demise of the world, pay attention.  The world was created in God, exists in God, will continue in God until God permits it to end, and only God knows that day and hour.  When God decides to allow the world or just you to end, God will allow the form of ending to happen for a reason.  You do not need to know it as it will have a purpose in God's path for you.  Do not tempt your fate with foolish acts as God may adjust your time to fit the direction you took.  Do not allow others to scare you into foolish acts through their statements as only God's Word is the one that matters.

Live your life to the best of your ability.  Live it so it praises God through your actions.  Live it as a person created in God, following God's directions and not those of man or mans' organizations that while trying to serve God often serve evil instead.  Yeshua said to go directly to our Father in private pray.  Talk to God as you would your Father without pompous words.  Listen to God, and know God's understanding.  Ask that you may receive.  Allow God's gifts to be instead of your demands of what you want.  See beyond this mortal moment in God's creation that you may share in the greater existence of what men call Heaven.

Doomsdays will come and go in mans' words and the silly will listen.  Conversion to the third generation will only come in God's time and I believe that just like the last generation, those faithful in God will continue into the next great work.  What about those not faithful?  How about we leave that to God to be merciful, but we pray daily for the lost that the prayers of the righteous save them as directed in Peter's words as God shared them with him?

The New Chapel

Many of you know that the UM began preparing the building of a new Chapel this spring.  Yes we have the old one so building the new one may seem a bit silly.  The truth is the current Chapel may be fine for a warehouse, a service station, or some other form of use, but it is just not the building we feel will best serve the church in the years to come.  As always when a new project is started the cost seem to always over run the estimates.  So what's new there?

We do not propose a big guady cathederal in our endeavors.  We will be building a Chapel that serve the needs of both our local congregation as well as our online outreach.  This does not demand an enormous building, but it does seem to call for one efficient in serve and low cost maintenance.

The UM started as a ministry in a barn that was lost in a storm years ago.  We purchased an old Service Station in town and converted it from servicing cars to servicing souls.  Now it needs more than we feel we wish to put into it to maintain, or meet future needs of the church.  We have most of the materials for the new Chapel.  We have the place to build it.  We have help waiting for the weather to start the actual build.

You can goggle the present building and see it is what it is.  We are land locked and can not grow as we wish.  The new Chapel will start small, but will be sitting on land that allows us outside activities limited in town.  We will offer weddings in a country setting.  Meeting area for young groups to have room to share activities, and finally have the Chapel and the office back close to each other for better interaction.

All churches grow or they begin to fade away.  The UM is growing and the new Chapel is intended to make this easier in both usage, and in cost.  With the solar panels and wind generators we will be adding we should basically wipe out one of our biggest cost factors monthly.  since I am not an atrist we will not show you scetches of what will be, but soon we will include picturs of what is being built.  Right now that consist of piles of wood, and steel for the roof.

We will need member help in purchasing concrete, carpeting, insulation, and drywall as we build.  We we also enjoy folks stopping by to frive a nail, or raise a board when possible.  The new Chapel will start out as an 800 sq. ft. building.  About the same area as we now have for services and toilet.  We will not have a water or sewer bill as we own our systems.  We will not have much of a power bill as we will make most of our own power.  We will have a greater need of folks sharing faith through the new Chapel so join us as you can.

We hope to see you this spring, and in the future.

The BBB consumer advocates or Blackmail experts?

About once a month the UM is informed by a member that the BBB has given the church an "F" rating.  They base it on 18 complaints over a 10 year period.  As the UM does not wish to pay them $500.00 every year to get the same accreditation as several hundred Porn sites, Quasi-Dating services, and internet scammers we proudly maintain our "F" rating with that so called advocate Corporation.

Now understand the BBB is not a Government agency, just another Corporation that pays its officers well, while claiming to be a nonprofit.  The BBB does not care that the UM has over a million affiliated congregants, or over 350,000 ordained ministers, they only care that 18 people that were kicked out of the church for fraud, complained.  They do not care that the UM has a 99.999% request satisfaction rate from our honest members, just that 18 people out of one million made complaints.  Bottom line is we did not pay them their extortion dues so we do not get to properly reply to questionable, or fraudulent claims.

Members of the UM, and everyone that reads this should be aware that the BBB does not care about you as the consumer, only their bottom line.  The UM will not pay them their blackmail demands so we instead proudly wave our "F" rating for all to see.  For us with our completion rate it stands for Fantastic, however the "F-" we give them is more suitable for the gutter in which Corporations like theirs belongs.

Now for those members that are concerned about 18 complaints over 10 years I have to ask where you shop at?  I have yet to find another organization that can honestly admit to their complaints, and that have the success rate the UM holds in serving our members.  The UM does not bow down to Corporate America, and its pretentious garbage.  359,000 ordained ministers, 18 complaints, do the math, and then decide if you want to continue wasting your time checking Porn /Dating site accreditors!

I placed a team of members to reviewing BBB accredited sites carrying their logos a year ago.  As a minister, and servant in faith, I do try to find the goodness in all things.  In this case I have to admit that of Logos carrying, accredited BBB sites I did appreciate some of the photos our team sent me.  They provide that the BBB does indeed accredit sites with some of the loveliest prostitutes across the Country.  they acredit AIG with all of their wonderful executive bonuses, and they do accedit sites offering some of the cheapest merchandise yet to come out of China.

I just feel the BBB does not want us to discuss what those initials should mean, but I wonder, who rates these kind of organizations?  So what do you our members think?  Is 18 complaints out of 359,000 horrible when you have to realize almost all of these people were removed, and some charged by their states for bad checks, and Interstate fraud in other actions?  The UM did not file against anyone, just removes them, but various States have picked up the ball on internet fraud without us.

Now I do not claim we have never screwed up.  We have had 7 honest complaints that were not resolved in a timely manner, and for those we have apologized to the people.  The BBB does not seek thruth, just gossip, and dirt.  We say let them.

Rev. Hickman

PROMOTE YOUR MINISTRY IN THE NEWSLETTER ADS.

Notice the various ads on the sides of this page?  why isn't your here so folks can find you in your area?  Promote your ministry with placement here so others can find you quickly.

The Ministry God called you to serve

One of the most commonly asked questions by members is now that I am ordained, what do I do?  Does that reallt need an answer from the office?  you go forward in faith sharing God's Love as it has been shared with you.

Next I hear what courses do I need?  Well I recommend that you request the church books, study them, and know the basics to serving others as a minister. Frankly there is not one study course I have reviewed yet that was written by people and churches that truly teach you God's Will for your ministry.  That's right! Every book, course, and class I have reviewed is strictly the direction, or preceition of some person wanting to press their opinion.  We have a variety of religious books to guide us from the Bible, the Quoran, and in every faith of generational existence.  In none of them do I find that believers of each faith are suppose to follow man, but God.

I know, this sounds a bit strange coming from the Founder of a church, yet it shouldn't.  Nowhere in biblical texts do we find God, the prophets, or Yeshua saying to follow twisted scriptures, or denominational directives.  The UM does not push classes on members as we are actually in scripture admonished not to do so.  We are to share God, God's Love, God's Will, God's direct involvement in each person's life.  We are to witness to God, not the opinions of man.

There is so much garbage written by people pretending to be God's Will, God's stories of faith, yet are so often the fictions of man.  I call on each member of this and all chruches to start sharing the ministry god placed in you to share.  Does God tell you to go to this church, or that church to know His Word?  No.  god tells you to seek God, not man.  God tells you that He chose you, and ordained you to do His ministry, not the ministry of man.  So often folks call wanting to know if they can come worship with us.  Of course they can as all are welcome, but is joining our congreagtion god's Will placed in you, or starting God's ministry as God called you?

Let's consider the world today folks. The world is in a real mess thanks to Governments letting Corporations do as they wish.  It is a mess because poiticians spend monies they don't have, and expect the citizens to foot their flights of fantacy.  the churches pull in great wealth, yet instead of helping all they could in God they build big buildings to impress, and bank accounts.  They bury the gifts given in god to serve that they may have a bigger bottom line.  The UM doe not care to be such a church so we do not abuse you for donations, tithes, and guilt offerings.  We might remind you we need help with the bills, but never tell you that you must give to be saved, or avoid damnation.

God called you to serve in faith, not be self important because of a title, or to raise yourself above others as you build churches.  God called you to serve.  The UM has a purpose in God's service. It is to help you to quit being a follower of a church, and become the minister serving God.  Whether you come to our church or not is not really of great importance, but your service to God is.  We formed to share faith, and provide the legal authorities man demands eaily that you may serve.  I love to share faith, and god's Love with all that stop by, or call.  That is part of my ministry in this church.  What is yours?  Is it to sit at a computer, and write pious sounding things in groups and blogs?  Is it waiting for someone else to direct you?  Sorry, God didn't call you for that.  God called you because God knew you and expects you to get moving in God's service.

Let's face it folks.  church are the organizations of man, the buildings of may, and the direction of man telling you how you must follow them unto God.  God told you to start following God, not man.  the more organized a church becomes the less it truly follows the directives of God, or the teachings of Yeshua.  god did not tell the Catholics, the Presbys, the Baptist to collect great wealth, and use it to affect the economies of smaller Nations, yet they all do.  God did not call any church created by man to do more than share God's Love, yet they all seek to tie you into their dogmas, and doctrines.

The UM started to share God, created in the world by man, yet regulated to limit mans' ability to make you a slave to a church, or a dogma.  The UM set articles to allow you the utmost freedoms of faith, with the least amount of control a church can hold, and still maintain it organized establishment.  Why?  Simple.  We wish to serve as fully as possible in God's Word, not ours.  We want you to do the same.  follow through the faith God placed in you, and share it forward to all you can.

So when you feel the need to ask a person what to do, please ask God first, and then only seek advice of man.  Do not let man convert your direction to theirs or you will be lost in the faith less God's than man's.

As I share daily with folks I try to always remember I am only a servant of God before any other duties.  So I will guide you to Seek god's direction for you, and directio you only as mush as needed that you may become greater in the Kingdom than I ever shall be.  God had called you.  Follow God folks.  Get your ministries moving now while you can as tomorrow may be too late.  If you wait for things to always be just right you will not start what you were called in spirit to do, and you will have failed the greatest calling, and gift you will ever receive.

I do not wish to sound as if I am pushing you away as my intent here is not to do that, but to get you moving forward.  God has called you, I am here to aid you as is the church, but You must be the direction this new ministry in God will move through.  Please be greater than I could ever wish to be that God may bless you in His Love.  Stand tall, and go forward now as you are God's chosen to serve as only you can.

Go in faith

Rev. Hickman

Special Headline News for Ocala, Marion County, Florida

June 5, 2012

Washington group calls County Commission's invocations too Christian

Published: Tuesday, June 5, 2012 at 5:32 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, June 5, 2012 at 5:32 p.m.

There is supposed to be a separation of church and state in America.

But one group thinks the distance between the two in Marion County isn't far enough.

Last week, the County Commission received a letter from Americans United for the Separation of Church and State notifying the board that its opening invocation for regular meetings violated the First Amendment.

Acting on a complaint from an unidentified source, the Washington, D.C.-based group said it had reviewed video from eight regular commission sessions since the beginning of the year and on five occasions the name of Jesus Christ was specifically mentioned during the opening prayer.

That ran afoul of the U.S. Constitution's Establishment Clause, wrote Ian Smith, a lawyer for the organization.

Smith asked the board to bring its "prayer practice" into compliance with the nation's founding charter by using a "nonsectarian" invocation or by abandoning the practice altogether.

Smith, in the letter, allowed that federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have recognized in rulings dating back to the 1980s that opening prayers for legislative sessions are permissible under certain circumstances.

He cited decisions wherein the courts have determined that such practices must not proselytize on behalf of any particular religion, disparage any other faith, or affiliate the government with a specific faith.

Smith noted that the federal appellate court with jurisdiction over Florida held in a 2008 case involving Cobb County, Georgia, that invocations could be sectarian provided they met certain criteria.

Cobb County was in the clear because it had permitted Jewish and Muslim as well as Christian clergy to give the prayer and the invocation was directed at the elected officials.

Marion County differed from that standard because its prayers were solely Christian and offered by the elected officials.

"None of the above decisions ... offers any shelter for the County Commission's prayer practice," Smith wrote. Instead of nonsectarian prayers, as the courts have allowed, "the County Commission's are overwhelmingly Christian."

"The Commission's prayer practice unconstitutionally affiliates the County with Christianity," Smith added.

The County Commission does not have a formal prayer policy.

Yet it happened again Tuesday, when Commissioner Kathy Bryant concluded the opening invocation with the phrase "in the Lord Jesus' name we pray, amen."

Smith suggested that the board switch to a more inclusive moment of silence, make the prayers nonsectarian, or invite members of the community and "prayer-givers" from varying faiths to present the invocations.

"An injection of diversity into the prayers would demonstrate that the County Commission's prayer practice is not meant to endorse Christianity, and would bring it into line with the practice that was approved" by the courts, Smith wrote.

Americans United asked for a response within 30 days.

In an email to the Star-Banner after the meeting, Smith said the group's policy is to not divulge the identity of complainants without their specific permission, and that had not been granted as yet in Marion County's case.

He added that the group is not formally representing anyone right now.

"The point of these letters is to try and resolve problems without the need for litigation. If the Commission declines to make the necessary changes then we will examine our options, including the possibility of litigation," Smith said.

"It is our hope that it does not come to that."

Commissioners did not comment on the letter during the meeting.

They agreed to hold a closed-door session with County Attorney Guy Minter on June 12 to discuss their legal options.

One constituent urged the board to not buckle.

"Right now, I think we need to pray to God more than ever," said Dunnellon resident Roger Knechtel, a regular at the board's meetings.

Knechtel asked the board to delay its response to "our interesting folks on the other side of the world."

"I pray that they see it different, but I doubt it. But if you could just hold it back until Nov. 6, there may be a change ... I just pray to God it's a positive change."

Nov. 6 is Election Day.

Contact Bill Thompson at 867-4117 or bill.thompson@starbanner.com.

The Bible and Homosexuality

Subject:  The Bible and Homosexuality
I think this (long) video is a "must watch!!"   I urge you to find the time to view all of it.

Published on Mar 10, 2012 by VinesMatthew
Matthew Vines speaks on the theological debate regarding the Bible and the role of gay Christians in the church. Delivered at College Hill United Methodist Church in Wichita, Kansas on March 8, 2012. Transcript: http://matthewvines.tumblr.com.

Check out this video on YouTube: