Sarah Beth Costello
May 7, 2009

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

“The constitutional freedom of religion [is] the most inalienable and sacred of all human rights,” said Thomas Jefferson to the Virginia Board of Visitors in 1819.

Since 1775, the Christian community has dedicated specific days for the nationalization of prayer. President Harry Truman in conjunction with Congress was responsible for signing in the National Day of Prayer in 1952.

President Ronald Reagan modified this law in 1988, officially setting the first Thursday in May as the National Day of Prayer. Since the enactment of this national day, every president has signed proclamations and encouraged Americans to pray and intercede for America. In 2008, all 50 governors signed similar proclamations.

May 7, 2009 marks the National Day of Prayer this year. The National Day of Prayer Task Force is a Christian organization that seeks to encourage the Christian community on this day, specifically intercession on behalf of “the seven centers of power: government, military, media, business, education, church and family.”


Shirley Dobson

The National Day of Prayer is an annual event that seeks to promote prayer for all religions. The National Day of Prayer Task Force is a Christian organization, led by Shirley Dobson, that exists to encourage the Christian community on this special day. The Task Force believes prayer is the core of America’s principles.

Prayer has played a vital role throughout history, according to the official National Day of Prayer Task Force Web site. From the founding of America, to the day of “humiliation, fasting and prayer” as proclaimed by President Lincoln, past presidents and officials have made it their duty to advocate prayer.

According to the Web site, “[The National Day of Prayer] enables us to recall and to teach the way in which our founding fathers sought the wisdom of God when faced with critical decisions. It stands as a call to us to humbly come before God, seeking His guidance for our leaders and His grace upon us as a people.“

This year’s theme is “Prayer…America’s Hope,” which is based on the Bible verse in Proverbs 33:22, “May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.” This year’s honorary chairman is Beth Moore, founder of the Living Proof Ministry.


Ceremonies were held annually in the East Room on the National Day of Prayer during the past eight years of President George Bush’s term in office. Bush usually invited Christian and Jewish leaders for a ceremony and prayer. President Barack Obama, however, decided against a ceremony in the East Room, but will still sign the proclamation as is the custom.

Dobson spoke out against the president’s minimal involvement in the national event. “At this time in our country’s history, we would hope our president would recognize more fully the importance of prayer,” said Dobson.


Sarah Beth Costello
April 19, 2009

Frank Turek during his presentation, "I Don't Have Enough Faith the be an Atheist."

Frank Turek during his presentation, "I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist." Photo by Sarah B. Costello

The room was packed. Attendees sat on the floor and stairs, sitting shoulder to shoulder in the hot and cramped room that easily exceeded fire safety regulations.

Hundreds gathered Thursday night in the LaRose Digital Theater in the Koury Business Center at Elon University to hear guest speaker, Frank Turek, present a case for the existence of morality, truth and God. Campus Outreach and Intervarsity sponsored the event.

The audience consisted of a diverse crowd. Most were members of Campus Outreach and Intervarsity. There were also many locals from the surrounding community and churches as well as Elon faculty and staff. In addition to the large gathering of Christians, there were also students that professed to be atheists. Regardless of religious affiliations, the presentation proved to be rather controversial.

“As a Christian I found it incredibly discouraging,” said Elon sophomore, Robert Wohner. “I hate when religion is used as a political tool. I hate that he used religion to promote conservative ideas. Religion and politics really don’t have to mix.”

Turek is the author and co-author of several books, including “Correct, Not Politically Correct,” “Legislating Morality” and “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist,” which was the premise of his presentation.

Turek received his masters from George Washington University and a doctorate in apologetics at Southern Evangelical Seminary. Turek is the founder and president of, and uses his skills in debate and knowledge of apologetics to present cases of Christianity, specifically to students on college campuses.

Roughly 75 percent of students walk away from their faith after graduating high school. According to, “intellectual skepticism” is one of the dominant reasons so many young people vacate Christianity for atheism or other religions.

Turek said that many college campuses today discount the Bible and regard students as intellectually lacking for acknowledging the Bible as truth. He argued that the believability of the Bible begins with the existence of truth. Either the Bible is true or false, said Turek, “but it cannot be true for you and not true for me.”

Due to limited time, Turek was not able to discuss the 12 points he tackles in his book. He plans to return in the fall to present the second half of the series. Turek discussed two specific questions Thursday night: “Does truth exist?” and “Does God exist?”

Turek said that it is important for Christians to be able to defend their beliefs, especially in today’s post-modern society that regards truth as relative.

“The greatest commandment,” said Turek, “is ‘love the Lord your God with all your heart, strength and mind’ – Christians don’t get brownie points for being stupid. We’re supposed to know what we believe and why we believe it.”


Turek was welcomed by many, viewed with skepticism by some, regarded as harsh, brash, defensive and weak by others.

“I hated his brash style because it was very confrontational,” said Wohner. ”People will ‘caricature’ Christians as being brash, angry white guys who sound like Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh when Christians should speak with a loving tone. What he was saying in his argument would completely turn off non-Christians. I think he’s hurting the Christian message by doing what he does.”

Not all Christians in attendence agreed with Wohner’s statement. Some said Turek’s argument was sound and effective.

“I think Frank Turek was very effective, both in his presentation, and in communicating his points to those in ‘opposition,'” said Micah Fox, a seminary student at Southern Evangelical Seminary.

Turek was indeed a unique and different guest compared to previous Elon guests. But Campus Outreach and Intervarsity extended the invitation to Turek because of his ministry to college students, and his potential impact on the Elon audience.

“We were really excited about [Turek’s presentation] because we feel that on a college campus there’s probably lots of ideas going back and forth, and we wanted to present a stance on the existence of God,” said Campus Outreach adjunct chaplain, Michael Lopes.

Chaplain Michael Lopes (Video by Megan Wanner):


Turek began his segment on the existence of truth by providing a definition, which he said is “telling it like it is.”

“Truth is what corresponds to reality,” said Turek. “In today’s culture our first duty is to state the obvious. People are denying the obvious, they’re denying there’s truth out there.”

Turek explained the law of non-contradiction, which states that two contradictory ideas cannot both be true. He compared two brilliant Oxford professors, Richard Dawkins and John Lennox, who possess opposing opinions in regard to a higher power.

Dawkins says there is no God, while Lennox says there is a God. Turek argued that either God exists or he doesn’t, but both men cannot be right, therefore, one must be wrong.

Turek argued that all truth is absolute truth and “applies to all persons, at all times, in all places.” He gave six examples of statements people use to discount truth: “There is no truth, you can’t know truth, truth is relative, it’s true for you but not for me, no one has the truth and you ought not judge.” If any of these statements are true then the Bible cannot be true, argued Turek.

“If you apply the claims to themselves,” said Turek, “you can see why they’re self-defeating, and when it’s logically self-defeating it can’t be true.”

Turek Explains the Law of Non-Contradictions (Video by Megan Wanner):


“Does God exist? Whenever you talk about this question you have to define what you mean by god. And the god I’m talking about is a theistic god; a god who’s beyond the world, created the world and sustains the world,” said Turek.

Though many regard the term “religious” as being a follower or practitioner of a religion, Turek argues “if you define religion as someone’s explanation for ultimate reality – how we got here and where we’re going – everybody is religious to some extent.”

Photo by Sarah B. Costello

Photo by Sarah B. Costello

Turek said that there are only three major religious worldviews: theism, pantheism and atheism. Theism includes Judaism, Christianity and Islam, which teach “God made all.” Pantheistic religions include Zen Buddhism, Hinduism and New Age, which teach that “God is all.” And atheists say there is “no God at all.”

Turek spent the second half of his presentation arguing for the existence of God by providing scientific and logical evidence. He introduced the acronym “SURGE”, which stands for the Second law of thermodynamics, Universe is expanding, Radiation afterglow, Great galaxy seeds and Einstein’s general relativity.

He spent several minutes discussing each letter in surge, explaining why this was evidence in favor of a beginning of the universe and the existence of God.


After Turek’s nearly two-hour presentation, he opened the floor for a question-and-answer session that lasted for another hour. Eight individuals took turns at the mic. Most welcomed the opportunity for a chance to talk, rather than ask questions.

Turek comprised his argument for the purpose of presenting what he believes to be the best logical answer for the earth’s existence. He uses science, logic and contextual examples to support his arguments. While his case is well researched, some have problems with Turek’s lack of Biblical references.

“By trying to make his argument purely scientific, he really undermined Christian ideals. He argued that God created the big bang which is not consistent with the Bible,” said Wohner.

The question-and answer-session was a very heated battle of wits as some individuals attempted to engage Turek in a debate. Ironically, the “answer” part of the question-and-answer session was overlooked by most at the microphone.

“How is it appropriate to have a question-and-answer session where the questioner is a lot less educated than you?” asked one student. “I really appreciate the fact that you said ‘I am a fallible human being,’ but the way that you present arguments, you do present as facts, and you don’t make the point that you also could be wrong throughout your presentation.”

Sarah Beth Costello
April 17, 2009


Graphic by Sarah B. Costello

In 1970, environmental awareness was not a high priority for most Americans. Factories were releasing toxins, sludge and hazardous materials into the air and water sources.

Many were unaware of the dangers that would potentially be unleashed by continued pollution and the negligent dumping of waste and non-biodegradable materials into the atmosphere and environment.

But this widespread unawareness of the current state of the environment changed when Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. senator from Wisconsin, proposed the enactment of a nation-wide day to evoke environmental awareness among the public.

April 22 was set aside as a day to commemorate the earth. Each year, millions of Americans participate in protests, demonstrations and events to raise environmental awareness.


Elon University is a proponent of the green movement and has taken many steps in the past couple of years in becoming a greener campus. There are several organizations on campus that work to encourage greener lifestyles among students, faculty, staff and the local community.

The Green Team and the Sierra Club are two organizations that work to promote environmental awareness on campus and encourage recycling among campus organizations, schools and individuals.

Elon also offers competitions designed to incite communal awareness and to encourage recycling and conservation. RecycleMania is a ten-week competition among universities and colleges nation-wide where students compete to collect the most recyclables per capita.

POWERless is another competition designed to increase awareness and decrease wasteful energy uses. The competition incorporates residence halls, and students strive to decrease energy consumption.

The Elon Community Garden was initiated by students in an environmental ethics class as a means to encourage the growth and consumption of organic foods. While the community garden provides produce for the Good Shepherd’s Kitchen in Burlington, it also provides plots for faculty, staff and students to grow their own foods, rather than buying produce from a store.


“Going-green” requires some sacrifices. Adapting to a green lifestyle is expensive and some are not up for the challenge of vacating their old life for a new and different one. While many students consider themselves to be environmentally aware and are concerned about global warming, others are not as worried.

“I don’t know that I’m that concerned about global warming, but I take action to better the environment” said sophomore, Kelsey Hilton.

In a convenience sample of 131 students, 90 percent consider themselves to be environmentally aware. Sixty-four percent said that

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

their education at Elon has affected their environmental awareness. And while the issue of global warming remains a controversial and debated subject among scholars, those in academia, politicians and students, 67 percent said they were concerned about it.

Some students arrive on campus possessing little knowledge of the status of the environment, global warming and a green lifestyle. The Global Experience is a required course for freshman, and is an eye-opener for many students into the impact of humans on the environment, growing concerns, present dangers and global warming.

“Especially in my global class, I feel like we learned a lot through that,” said sophomore Helen Williams.

Elon provides plenty of opportunities for recycling and conserving energy. Some students find that it’s easier to go the extra mile in the environment Elon provides.

“I think I recycle more here actually,” said Hilton. “There’s always bins and in my dorm we made little signs [that say] ‘turn off the light when you leave the bathroom’ – just little things that I think help overall.”

Hilton is not the only student that possesses the initiative to conserve and reduce wasteful energy use. Other students have been bit by the go-green bug and are striving to make a difference.

“We try to turn off all our lights when we leave the room and recycle all our pop bottles, and walk and carpool,” said senior, Allison Dean.

Lisa Bodine, a junior at Elon, has become more environmentally aware through the Sierra club, friends and campus presentations.

“I’ve been involved in the POWERless competition on campus with my dormitory so lights are constantly off, and if they are on it’s just one. We don’t leave anything plugged in that has a charger on it it so every appliance is unplugged unless it’s automatically in use there…Recently I’ve considered dropping all red meats from my diet just because of the impact of eating meat and pork,” said Bodine.


This week there will be several events on campus in commemoration of Earth Day. Elon Hillel and Students for Peace and Justice are hosting a potluck dinner at the Elon Community Garden from 1 P.M. to 5 P.M. April 20.

Students, faculty, staff and local community members can participate in a “farmer and local arts market” in front of the Colonnades Dining Hall Tuesday evening. The event will not only provide organic and eco-friendly produce and products, but a fashion show will also take place at 4 P.M. to show off “sustainable” fashions.

Winners of this year’s POWERless competition will be announced at College Coffee Tuesday morning at University9781933392622 Commons. Information will also be provided concerning Elon’s Sustainability Pledge.

McEwen Dining Services is offering an “Earth Day Dinner” Wednesday to celebrate with locally grown meats and produce.

Stephen and Rebekah Hren, authors of “The Carbon Free Home,” will speak at 7 P.M. Wednesday evening at the McMichael Science Center in Room 115. The talk is titled, “Moving Towards Carbon Free Living: Practical Steps to Reduce Carbon Emissions and Increase Energy Dependence.” There will be a book signing and reception following the talk.

Lisa Bodine explains some of the things she does to be more environmentally friendly:

Allison Dean shares the actions she is taking as she attempts to be greener:


Graphic by Sarah B. Costello

Sarah Beth Costello
March 10, 2009

It was a night of elegance and perfect manners.

The room was full of Mr. Darcies, Mr. Binglies, Elizabeth & Jane Bennets and even a couple of Emmas. The fiddle, fife and flute ensemble coming from a nearby sound system kept the young ladies and gentlemen in constant dancing mode.

The young men escorted their lady partners onto the dance floor, and the room was filled with the sounds of laughter, the instructions from the step-caller, and the gentle swashing of yards of colorful fabric.

Adolescent members of Alamance County Christian Home Educators gathered Friday for an evening of old-fashioned fun at the fourth annual English Country Dance. This year’s theme was “The Rosings Park Promenade,” based on Jane Austen’s classic novel “Pride & Prejudice.”


This event is widely anticipated by participants. Many girls make their own dresses and some even create their own patterns. The English Country Dance is similar to a prom, except girls don’t spend hundreds of dollars on dresses, hair and makeup, most boys don’t rent tuxes and no one comes with a date.

But the evening is a time for dancing and merriment, dressing up, curling hair, powdering cheeks, slipping on dainty, white gloves, donning a top hat and tying a bow tie.

“I like it because it’s the older style of dancing,” said eighth grader, Will Van Deventer, “I like the music too because it’s more elegant and graceful. I really appreciate that it’s a fun atmosphere.”


The dancers go all out when it comes to this evening, determined to make it as authentic as possible. Authenticating the dance means abiding by the original rules that would have been followed in Jane Austen’s day. Young men must be noble gentlemen and ask the ladies to dance.


Dozens of young women in homemade 19th century gowns and young men deck out in ties, tuxes and long-tailed jackets participate in annual historic dances. Photo by Sarah B. Costello.

“I like that the guys have to ask different girls to dance,” said Brittany Wooten, a homeschooled high school student.

There were, however, a couple of Sadie Hawkins dances that allowed the ladies to seek out partners. To ensure that every attendee has equal opportunity on the dance floor, couples can only dance once with the same partner.

For three hours, teenaged homeschoolers sashayed up and down the floor to old fashioned dances such as “Yellow Stocking,” “Do-Si-Do” and “Strip the Willow.” The dances are similar to western square dances, except couples dance in one long line, with girls on one side and boys on the other.

The couples dance within squares of four, gradually making their way towards the end of the line. Once a couple reaches the end of the line, they must sit out for one turn. Nancy Bryant, step-caller and homeschool science teacher, has dubbed this short waiting period as “crystalizing.”

Nancy Bryant is a past homeschool mother who has been calling the dance steps for the past four years. “What happened was [my son] was invited to Pennsylvania for a dance like this and I had to take him,” said Bryant in explanation of the origins of the annual dance for ACCHE members. Bryant enjoyed the English style dancing so much she decided to introduce it to the homeschool group.

Click Here for more photos from the dance

Sarah Beth Costello
February 17, 2009

The storefront of Barnes & Noble

Photo by Sarah B. Costello

The mingled aromas of freshly ground coffee, a hint of mocha and a whiff of pastries infiltrated Barnes & Noble Tuesday evening at the Western Alamance High School Book Fair.

“We’re just trying to raise money for the high school’s media center,” said media specialist, Tim Johnson. “Barnes & Noble offers the space here where we can have dancers and the high school band come in, or the jazz club.”

A dozen girls decked out in cheerleading attire and glitter marched onto the “stage” and performed a couple of jazz numbers for the small, yet captivated audience.

The upbeat hip-hop could be heard throughout the entire store, but customers did not seem to mind the noise – most had come to support the school.

“Our library kind of has a shortage on books,” said one jazz ensemble member, “and anything that people buy during this time goes to our library.”

Western Alamance received 20 percent of the profit collected in the time frame from both Barnes & Noble and Starbucks. A wish list for the high

Western Alamance Jazz Ensemble Dance Team performs in front of Starbucks counter

Western Alamance Jazz Ensemble Dance Team performs in front of Starbucks counter. Photo by Sarah B. Costello

school was exhibited on a table near the front door. Customers had the option of purchasing personal items, with a percentage of their purchases going towards the library, or actually buying wish-list books at the store and donating them.

Johnson decided a book fair was an ideal way to raise some money. “Some of the other media specialists at Alamance Burlington School System have done [a book fair] before and they recommended it to me,” said Johnson.

Johnson said the book fairs have been pretty successful for the other schools that had done them.

Johnson has high hopes the book fair will yield plenty of funds to update the media center’s book collection.

The Jazz Ensemble performs one of several dances:

Sarah Beth Costello
February 11, 2009

The themes of the evening were comedy and parody as English Professor, Kevin Boyle, shared original and creative poems at an open poetry reading Tuesday evening.

Dozens gathered in the Isabella Cannon Room on Elon University’s campus to hear Boyle’s dramatic reading of “The Mushrooms of Alamance County,” “Five” (an ode to a favorite number) and “Chicken s–t for the soul.”

Boyle’s creative inspiration spawns from different events, circumstances and influences.

“When Malena Morling was here (our visiting poet for the fall),” said Boyle, “She had some poems that had to do with numbers or colors…I found it annoying that she could write a poem about a number…And so I decided I’d write one.”

Boyle’s poems are a combination of humor, science, religion, bodily functions and references to daily living.

Another Kevin Boyle original, “The Mushrooms of Alamance County,” is based on the well-known novel, “The Bridges of Madison County.”

This poem is a humorous piece about the annoyance of prevalent mushrooms, but also discusses racial prejudice and economic differences. The poem parodies the Biblical Gospel of Luke 12:27 at one point:

“Consider how [the mushrooms] neither spin nor reap, nor sow, and yet they just rip up through the ground like little Hiroshimas – American as apple pie…”

Boyle has published several poems and achieved the Mary Belle Campbell Poetry Book Publication Award. Boyle is a Philadelphia native who now lives in North Carolina and teaches at Elon University in Elon, N.C.

Boyle reads “The Mushrooms of Alamance County”