Friday, August 28, 2009

The 3 - August 29, 2009

This week's edition of "The 3", a week-in-review feature consisting of 3 stories of relevance to the Christian community, includes a story on Christian groups coming together, a denomination possibly breaking apart, and an apparent case of judicial activism where the courts have dictated where a child must attend school.

3 - Freedom Federation vows to block health care reform

A host of some 30 or so Christian and pro-family groups have banded together, calling themselves the Freedom Federation, uniting their efforts around a "Declaration of American Values". The organization has established a website,, and held a press conference this week to primarily voice its opposition to health care reform, especially any reform that would force taxpayer funding of abortion. Some of those who spoke at the press conference shared some ways they saw that the system was working. USA Today had this report.

Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America referenced the philosophy of Obama health care advisor Dr. Ezekiel Emmanuel. In fact, the Wall Street Journal published an analysis of that philosophy this week. This driving philosophy that could lead to health care rationing is particularly troubling for the elderly, as well as children and adults with disabilities. Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life appeared on my radio program, The Meeting House, to discuss the abortion and the rationing elements of health care proposals, and you can download a copy through the Intersection Download Center at

2 - Lutheran gay ordination backlash

Since last week, when the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America voted to allow the ordination of non-celibate gay individuals into its clergy, there has been a groundswell of comments and action. The Christian Post had an article about a West Virginia church that went ahead and covered over the word, "Lutheran", on its church sign, and the minister took the opportunity to present a Biblical view of homosexuality.

Also, the leaders of the second- and third-largest Lutheran denominations spoke out against the ELCA's decision this week, according to The Christian Post. Plus, the United Methodist church, which had entered into full communion with the Lutheran denomination, said it would not accept gay clergy from the ELCA, again according to a report in The Christian Post.

This controversial vote by the ELCA does give churches an opportunity to examine the Biblical view on homosexuality, and can challenge us to view how we treat gay individuals - we are to reach out to them in love, but also remind them that Christ does provide a way out of this sinful behavior, as He promises freedom for all sinful activity.

1 - Bench bans homeschooling

It has provided some stunning aftershocks in the Christian community, and for good reason - imagine a judge dictating that someone can or cannot homeschool, declaring a particular form of education to essentially be too religious, or even too Christian. In the midst of a divorce case, a judge ruled that the mother, who has homeschooled her daughter, was too rigid in her faith, and that exposure to a diversity of views would be in the best interest of the child - in order to accomplish that, she ruled that the child must attend public school. CitizenLink has been following the story. Here is OneNewsNow's account. Alliance Defense Fund has asked the judge to reconsider her ruling.

This is not the first instance in recent years where we have seen a judicial decision that could be considered as antagonistic toward homeschooling. You may remember the case I followed earlier this year of a North Carolina mother who was ordered to place her children in public schools, ostensibly to challenge the Christian beliefs that were being taught at home. The website that tells the story is Click on the link, "New to the case? Get the basic facts".

And, you may remember the chilling effect that a California appeals court ruling had last year on parents throughout the state regarding the right of parents to homeschool there. Fortunately, just over a year ago, the court clarified its ruling and lifted the oppressive atmosphere upon confused parents. Home School Legal Defense Association had this report.

Clearly, there has been some opposition in the courts to this practice, and in the first 2 individual cases I cited, the free expression of religion, guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, is in play. For a judge to rule that Christian training of children is somehow detrimental to that child is quite troubling.

Honorable Mention:

Oakland pastor gets reprieve of sorts

Good news in Florida prayer case

Space shuttle astronaut takes Christian history with him

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The 3 - August 22, 2009

This week's edition of "The 3" includes another development in the seemingly never-ending series regarding health care, as the President met with certain faith leaders. Also, a major denomination gathered in the Twin Cities and dealt with some sexuality issues. Plus, a Catholic institution claimed its religious liberties were infringed upon in light of a new government ruling that violates its strongly-held teachings.

3 - Catholic Colleges, Contraception, and Collective Concern

When the government forces an institution, such as a religious university, to institute policies that violates the teachings of its sponsoring organization, such as a church, that causes concern. Claiming its religious liberties have been violated, Catholic universities are banding together in response to a case involving Belmont-Abbey College, which is located in Charlotte, North Carolina. In this case, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that the school must include contraception in its health care plan. The Catholic News Agency filed this report on the case.

2 - Another Denominational Dispute on Gender Issues

Representatives of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) met in Minneapolis recently and passed two resolutions involving sexuality, which many regarded as representing greater tolerance for the homosexual lifestyle. The Christian Post reported on the ELCA's approval of a resolution to allow the ordination of celibate homosexuals. The ELCA is yet another denomination that has dealt with this issue, and there has been a polarization that has taken place in some denominations over the issue, as we have now see in this situation.

1 - Obama Faces Members of the Faith Community

President Obama reached out to leaders in the so-called faith community again this week, and engaged in a conference call with what would be termed faith leaders who would be considered to be sympathetic to his health care reform proposals. Conservative faith leaders and representatives of many Christian, pro-family organizations hold a vastly different view of the health care proposals championed by the President, who accused some of those who disagree with him of bearing false witness. CNSNews had this report. The President says that the plan he supports does not allow for government funding of abortion, a point that was disputed by the National Right to Life Committee.

While the President attempted to stress the moral obligation to provide health care, and I believe, Scripturally, it is important that we care for the least fortunate among us, it is not beneficial to do so with an unprecedented expansion of government, with morally objectionable elements, driven by a philosophy and structure that could result in the rationing of health care.

Pro-life leaders, some of whom have appeared on "The Meeting House" radio show, are featured on a new video that encourages governmental leaders to "Stop the Abortion Mandate".

Dr. Gene Rudd of the Christian Medical Association visited with me on The Meeting House recently, and you can download the audio of that conversation at Guests are listed in alphabetical order.

Honorable Mention:
Christians called to respond prayerfully during Ramadan
Teen who converted to Islam can stay with adoptive family in Florida, for now

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The 3 - August 15, 2009

This week, a number of Christian groups and leaders released statements and talking points regarding their opposition to the current health care reform proposals being considered by Congress and spotlighted at town hall meetings across the country. Also, a noted pro-life figure from a famous political family passed away. Plus, two developments have occurred involving an organization that helps homosexuals to change.

3 - Exodus' Effectiveness

Recently, the American Psychological Association met in Toronto and heard the results of a study involving homosexuals who have changed their behavior and lifestyle. The study involved an organization called Exodus International, which offers those who want to make lasting changes the tools necessary to do so, plus gives assistance to families of those in the homosexual lifestyle. The CitizenLink website offered some coverage of the Toronto gathering and the report that was given.

Exodus also gained some visibility, as it assumed control of Focus on the Family's "Love Won Out'' conference. Citing financial reasons, Focus was able to turn the conferences, which have helped many homosexuals discover the power to change, over to an organization with which it has already worked and whose goals are similar. CitizenLink also offered a report on this development.

On my radio show, The Meeting House, Stuart Shepard from Focus on the Family Action discussed these 2 occurrences. You can download the .mp3 audio of the full conversation from

2 - Shriver and the Sanctity of Life

This past week, attention was given to the legacy of Eunice Kennedy Shriver. In addition to being part of the famous Kennedy family and wife of a former Vice-Presidential candidate, she also demonstrated her respect for the sanctity of life in a number of notable ways. Her founding of the Special Olympics demonstrated her belief in the worth of the individual and the potential to accomplish that every human being possesses. She and her husband, Sargent, also publicly disagreed with their party's pro-abortion position. Plus, she was supportive of the pro-life group, the Susan B. Anthony list. In fact, at its website, that organization published a tribute to Eunice Shriver, an inspiring pro-life example.

1 - Helpful Information for Healthy Debate

This was a week when a number of Christian leaders and organizations released valuable information on health care reform proposals currently before Congress. While many chided Sarah Palin for her Facebook post on what she called "death panels", by week's end, a bi-partisan group of senators announced the removal of that provision, which was a point applauded by Palin late Thursday. Nevertheless, she posted that some problems remain.

Some similar concerns were addressed by Chuck Colson in a Monday "Breakpoint" commentary, as he succinctly highlighted several areas that he identified, using a Biblical worldview perspective as the standard. An analysis was also released by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. And, Concerned Women for America issued a strong statement, identifying a variety of areas with which it disagreed with the current proposals.

I interviewed Dr. Gene Rudd, Senior Vice-President of the Christian Medical Association, who identified a host of talking points on health care reform. That interview can be downloaded from CMA's membership consists of doctors and health care professionals, who could be affected adversely if health care reform is passed in or close to its current state. CMA's website also offers analysis.

It is encouraging to see that people of faith are addressing some of the moral and ethical concerns in this legislation. I encourage you to make a note of some of these issues, pray for your lawmakers, and act as God leads in contacting them to express your views in a civil and reasoned manner.

Honorable mention:
Harvest Crusades continue a long evangelistic legacy
Florida teachers face criminal charges for prayer
(Download my interview with Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel at
Also, Mat appears on "Huckabee" on Fox News to discuss the case 8/15-16
Critical court decision on the horizon for girl who converted from Islam to Christianity

Saturday, August 08, 2009

The 3 - August 8, 2009

While the attention on health care shifted to U.S. House members' home districts, remaining Senators voted to approve President Obama's first Supreme Court nominee by a sizable margin. Outside of our country, Christians were on the receiving end of violence in Pakistan. Plus, a major denomination held a convention and made history. No summer slump on stories affecting the faith community - welcome to another edition of "The 3"...

3 - Pakistani protests turn violent

The word spread that the Koran was being desecrated at a Christian wedding. This led to some 7 people being killed and 20 injured, followed by some 200 arrests in the wake of the incident. The original impetus for the violence - the action against the Koran - was proven to be false. CNN published a story on the actions against Christians in Gojra City, This wave of persecution was reported on the Time website. (click here)

This story, and so many similar to it, remind us that Christians are facing intense persecution for their faith. Even as North Korea released two prisoners this week, nevertheless thousands of Christians languish in prisons around that isolated nation. It is important that we pray for the persecuted church around the world, recognizing that God is using this persecution to strengthen believers and to build his church.

2 - Assemblies of God accept new female leader

The Assemblies of God held their 53rd General Council in Orlando, and George O. Wood was re-elected as general superintendent of the denomination. Also, a missionary to India, Rev. Beth Grant, was selected as the first female member of the Executive Presbytery. While many Christian denominations are suffering membership declines, the Assemblies continue to grow. In fact, for the 19th consecutive year, the Assemblies of God reported an increase in the number of members and now claims more than 2.8 million followers, according to the Annual Church Ministries Report. The Christian Post reported on this week's festivities in Orlando, which was expected to draw some 30,000 attendees.

1 - Pro-life groups propelled against Sotomayor, health care

The life issue continues to occupy a prominent position in Congressional debate. A number of pro-life groups had expressed concern about the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor as a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, and voice disappointment over her confirmation this week by a 68-31 vote. reported on some of the reaction.

Meanwhile, in the health care debate, the National Association of Evangelicals called on Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to work toward building in abortion prohibitions in any health care plan. Here is the text of a letter sent by NAE's President Leith Anderson.

Also, the White House sent out an e-mail urging people to basically turn in so-called "fishy" information about health care reform. This prompted a response from the Family Research Council, which released a video and this blog entry. Focus on the Family action was quick to respond, as well, with this post, and another excellent Stoplight video with Stuart Shepard.

So, as the health care debate reflects the concern of many Americans, who, at least according to polling data, are opposed to this type of government-centric plan to reform our health care system, we must remember to be in prayer, to be in civil and reasoned communication with our elected officials, and to inform our friends and neighbors about our concerns.

Honorable mention:
65,000 meet Franklin Graham and friends in St. Louis for 2nd "Rock the River" event

Leadership Summit brings Christians together to hear encouragement, principles

"Most religious college students" list released

Employment Non-Discrimination Act introduced into Senate

Saturday, August 01, 2009

The 3 - August 1, 2009

This week, there's plenty to talk about as "The 3" continues to keep its watchful eye on health care legislation and efforts by pro-life lawmakers to remove abortion funding from a proposed plan, as well as the return of Promise Keepers to Boulder, Colorado, plus a flashpoint in the battle to pray in Jesus' name.

3 - Pennsylvania Senate allows prayer in Jesus' name

There does seem to be a building conflict about whether or not to allow prayers in Jesus name in the public square, which I believe is perfectly constitutional and does not represent an establishment of fact, when government does attempt to dictate how a member of the clergy who is invited to say a prayer in a public gathering, then it is guilty of violating the "free expression" clause of the First Amendment.

This tug-of-war has been seen in such a variety of locales as the Indiana State House of Representatives, where the practice of allowing clergy members in Jesus' name was rejected by a Federal judge, who happens to be one of President Obama's appointees to a circuit panel. Chaplain Gordon J. Klingenschmitt was dismissed as a Navy chaplain because he prayed in uniform - in Jesus' name - outside the White House, and is leading a charge to preserve the right to pray according to the dictates of one's conscience in Lodi, California, where a rally is scheduled this week.

Well, in Pennsylvania this week, a ministry named Rev. Gerry Stoltzfoos WAS allowed to pray in Jesus' name in the state Senate there. This comes after he was asked to submit a prayer to the PA House, a prayer that was rejected because the name of Jesus was contained there...rather than omit the name, he turned down the invitation. Read The Christian Post's account here. This instance is a mixed bag, for sure, but highlights the philosophy of those who would either want to limit the expression of Christian faith in public life or not allow it because of intimidation. The question posed by Rep. Randy Forbes on the floor of the U.S. House is quite pertinent - basically, he asked when we ceased to be a Christian nation; what was that moment in time when that took place? You can view the video below.

2 - Promise Keepers returns to Boulder

It was 1993 when over 50,000 men gathered at Folsom Field in Boulder, Colorado, on the campus of Colorado University to unite and be inspired by sound and challenging teaching about walking as men of God. CU Coach Bill McCartney was the co-founder of Promise Keepers, which had built over several years to that pivotal point, and from there expanded to stadiums across America. The PK movement peaked in 1997 with the massive "Stand in the Gap" rally on the Mall in Washington, DC, and since then has inhabited smaller arenas and even some less populous cities. According to this account in the Boulder, CO newspaper, the crowd has declined since that gathering in 1993, and this year, for the first time, women have been invited to attend.

Remarkable staying power is a characteristic of Promise Keepers, and while the novelty has worn off quite a bit, the call to Christian men is still fiercely relevant today. Coach Mac, after leaving the organization for a few years, has come back on board, and brought a passion especially for those of the Messianic Jewish persuasion, which is reflected in the musician choices for the Boulder event. At is peak, a PK event was a not-to-be missed phenomenon, and it was exhilarating for me to be part of some 60-70 thousand men in Atlanta in the Georgia Dome for 2 consecutive years. I trust the spirit of Promise Keepers will continue to live on in the hearts of men who want to make a solid impact for Christ in their homes, churches, and communities. To learn more about PK, go to

1 - Pro-life lawmakers seek to ban abortion from health care legislation

The march toward health care reform marches on, and one of the key areas that has attracted opposition from people of faith is the possibility of abortion being allowed under the new government-centric health care plans that are being proposed. An attempt to remove abortion funding from a proposal being considered by one House Committee appeared to have won approval, only to be rejected on a second vote. CitizenLink's website has the story.

I contend that even if abortion is removed from health care reform, there are still areas of concern for Christian believers. Some of my concerns include the possible denial of life-saving treatments to the elderly and maybe even others who are deemed to not be worthy to receive it. Required counseling for seniors on end-of-life issues seems to be another step in the progression toward government-sanctioned euthanasia.

In addition to abortion and end-of-life issues, I have also expressed concern about the increase in the size of government as it extends its reach to 1/6 of the American economy. This exceeds what I view as the Biblical prescription for the role of government in Romans 13, which is to basically do 2 things: keep order and punish evil. I believe controlling health care, as well as attempting to over-manipulate economic concerns, falls outside this purview. Factor in the projected deficits for the plan, and you see the potential negative ramifications for American families, who could be bearing a greater tax burden.

Gary Bauer and his organization American Values have put together a series of talking point and even questions for Congress members as they visit our districts during the August recess. You can find it here.

Honorable mention:
"God Has a Better Way" effort in Charlotte attempts to reach out to homosexuals with the truth in love
(my blog post on this issue)
Texas school board looks into including religious historical references in curriculum
And, from last week, Florida QB Tim Tebow lets his light shine at SEC Media Days