Saturday, October 31, 2009

The 3 - October 31, 2009

This edition of my week-in-review feature, known as "The 3", spotlights the response of a Christian and pro-family groups to the latest release of health care reform bills, plus a new survey shows that charitable giving has held its own in churches, and a familiar radio voice makes his announcement about when he'll be leaving the airwaves.

3 - Christian, pro-family groups still sour on health care reform legislation

Despite new health care reform proposals released by the leaders of the House and Senate, a number of Christian, conservative, and pro-family groups continue to show concern about these plans, supposed crafted as amalgamations of the bills emerging from the variety of committees in both chambers. One of the matters of debate among the majority party is the size and scope of the so-called "public option" - whether it should be robust or a more moderate approach, giving the states the ability to "opt out" of a government option.

Some of the other areas of disagreement include: the amount of Federal taxpayer funds that would fuel this increased role of government, the funding of abortion using tax dollars, and the possibility of rationing of health care, which could especially adversely affect the elderly, as well as people with special needs and disabilities.

The Christian Post has a synopsis of the sticking points that continue to crop up with respect to health care reform.

There has been criticism of opponents of the current prevailing view of health care reform, saying they are not proposing any sound alternatives. No doubt there is an abundance of ideas to improve the system, and it is unfortunate that a truly comprehensive, effective form of altering the health care system is not really being discussed. I was struck by a recent op-ed piece by the head of Whole Foods, embracing some of the no-nonsense ideas that opponents of the current prevailing view have recommended. From the Wall Street Journal, here is the Whole Foods approach to health care.

I believe that we certainly need to be praying for wisdom for our leaders as they craft a truly effective means of reforming our health care system. I remain unconvinced that the current proposals will offer a true solution to the ills of the system, plus there are no guarantees that the sanctity of life will be upheld. We need to pray, and speak out as God leads.

2 - Giving to churches still strong amidst recession

On my Meeting House radio program, I have examined some of the effects of the decline in our economy and how we as Christians can respond. One fear that I have expressed is that when economic times are tough, that people will pull back on their charitable giving. One study, released this week by the Lake Institute on Faith & Giving at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and the Alban Institute, shows that fewer than one-third of churches surveyed indicated a decline in giving during the first half of 2009. You can read the press release on the survey here.

1- Focus on the Family founder announces withdrawal from radio program

For some years now, the leadership of the ministry Focus on the Family has been mindful of a transition plan, responding to the age and ability of Dr. James Dobson, the founder of the ministry. Certainly, the Board of Directors recognized the need to raise up new leadership and new voices within the huge ministry. Earlier this year, Dr. Dobson, and his wife, Shirley, stepped down from their position of the Focus board, and this Friday, it was announced that Dr. Dobson would no longer perform the duties of speaker for the Focus on the Family radio program. CitizenLink offers this report.

Dr. Dobson and the ministry leadership has clearly seen the importance of knowing when it is time to step aside from particular duties, and has handled this transition in a close-to-flawless manner. You can hear Stuart Shepard (of Focus on the Family Action), on my Meeting House radio program, by downloading the .mp3 from the download center at

Honorable Mention:

Palau crusade draws multiple thousands in Arkansas

Home Depot employee claims firing for religious discrimination

Rifqa Bary back in Ohio, with foster family, under scrutiny

University of Minnesota comes under fire for mock prayer at football game

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The 3 - October 24, 2009

This week's edition of "The 3" continues to shine the spotlight on proposed health care reform legislation and the continuing debate over abortion. Plus, a new protected class was created by a piece of legislation approved by the Senate this week. And, even though there may not, on the surface, be religious implications of a recent FCC decision, the freedom of speech on the Internet could be challenged.

3 - FCC opens door for "net neutrality"

This past Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission decided to further pursue the concept of "net neutrality", even though 2 of the commissioners thought that the move was unwarranted. "Net neutrality" is said to provide equal access for the Internet, preventing large Internet providers from levying extra charges on telecommunications companies, which could affect consumer access. However, this does provide an area of concern, when you view this as government's attempt to control another sector of free enterprise, along the lines of the car companies, banks, and other sectors of the economy. Once the government is in, and when you see that in the current climate, controlling the message is paramount, one could then assume that regulating the Internet would include regulating the content, which could force messages that are not deemed appropriate, by the ruling party, to the sidelines. You can hear the take of Phil Kerpen of Americans for Prosperity and the Internet Freedom Coalition on my show on Monday, October 26th. You can check out some information by going to

A further note: It is thought that "Net neutrality" could also protect pornographers who wish to have greater latitude to flood the Internet with objectionable content. In fact, this report from U.S. News & World Report offered the basis for opposition from some pro-family groups.

2 - Pro-life petitions delivered to Washington, DC

The thought that health care reform legislation, as currently structured, could result in public (taxpayer) funds being used to pay for abortions is continuing to galvenize Christian and pro-lif groups, as well as lawmakers of both parties. This past week in the nation's capitol, Focus on the Family Action, Concerned Women for America, and other groups, delivered petitions to Capitol Hill, urging lawmakers to keep taxpayer funding of abortion out of health care legislation.
You can see coverage from CitizenLink here. As Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America pointed out, health care plans could easily opt to pay for abortions rather than provide pre-natal or post-natal care, or provide care for special needs children.

1 - Hate crimes legislation passes Senate

There have been numerous attempts over the past few years to enact "hate crimes" legislation, creating essentially a new class of crime, a hate crime, committed based on one's motive to harm someone based on his or her sexual orientation. It is thought that this type of legislation could be used against Christians who speak out in a manner consistent with the Biblical view of homosexuality - if it is determined somehow that a person committed a crime because of what is determined to be his or her view against homosexuality, the person would be persecuted more harshly, and the person or persons that have had influence over the criminal could also be determined to be culpable. The Christian Post offered this summary.

This has not exactly been the most politically popular piece of legislation, and it had to be buried inside a defense authorization bill to receive passage. A person voting against the overall bill, even if it had objectionable language, such as this hate crime provision, could be criticized for voting against the troops, even though that would certainly not be the case.

Honorable Mention:

Robber finds redemption?

St. Louis allows religious speech at "pride" event

Astronaut uses platform to share faith...This week on The Meeting House, I spoke with Patrick Forrester, who discussed his latest mission and a piece of missionary memorabilia that he took on his space flight - go to

Rifqa Bary update...I spoke with Robert Knight about the case, in an interview recorded early Friday and aired on Friday afternoon's edition of The Meeting House. Robert is with the American Civil Rights Union and Coral Ridge Ministries. The interview can be downloaded at

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The 3 - October 17, 2009

This week's edition of "The 3" revisits the health care issue in light of an important Senate committee vote, provides an update on a Christian teen who fled her Muslim family, and shines the spotlight on a noted evangelist making yet another historic visit to an isolated, Communist country.

3 - Baucus bill approved, fails to pass faith-based, pro-family group muster

The Senate Finance Committee approved the most recent health care proposal by a 14-9 margin, setting up a showdown with various factions of the entire Senate, who must reconcile 2 health care bills, and the House, where 3 proposals have exited committees. Pro-life groups that have attempted over and over again to pass amendments plainly stating that abortion would not be funded by health care reform legislation continue to voice their opposition, and the overwhelming size of the undertaking, government control, and the prospect of rationing continue to be well-founded areas of concern. Liberty Counsel is one of many pro-family, faith-based groups that is part of a coalition attempting to support reform, but point out troublesome areas. Here is their latest press release on the matter.

2 - Teen Muslim convert sent back to Ohio

Rifqa Bary is a 17-year Sri Lankan girl who was raised Muslim, but converted to Christianity. Fearing that she would be the victim of an "honor killing", she fled to the state of Florida. Up until this week, she had lived with a foster family, but now the focus shifts to the state where her parents live, in Ohio. The Christian Post has a good synopsis of this very confusing case.

The website has a chronological account of the developments in the case.

1 - Franklin Graham returns to North Korea

Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham and head of Samaritan's Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, recently concluded another visit to the isolated, Communist, and vitriolic nation of North Korea. In a time where this nation is stirring up international tensions, it has to be beneficial for diplomacy for Franklin to visit North Korea and meet with key leaders. Dan Wooding's ASSIST News Service has a summary.

Franklin Graham also visited China, and for more insight into his Asian tour, you can visit

Honorable Mention:
No. Georgia school board supports super's decision to ban Scripture banners from football games

Scrutiny of Camp David chaplain in light of Obama's attendance

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The 3 - October 10, 2009

This week's edition of "The 3" features a critical religious expression case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, a potentially limiting piece of legisltation tucked into a broader bill in the U.S. House, and a major Christian conference designed to equip and motivat Christian leaders.

3 - Supreme Court hears Mojave Desert cross case

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments this week regarding a cross posted in a remote area of the Mojave Desert. The monument was erected as a memorial to World War I veterans, then the land on which it stood became federalized by the Clinton Administration, the cross was presumably returned to private property through a land swap between the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the National Park Service, but nevertheless, the ACLU still wanted it taken down. Currently, the cross stands with a sheet over it, surrounded by plywood, so it cannot be seen.
LifeSiteNews has further background on the case.
Liberty Counsel has a concise press release on the case.

2 - Hate Crimes bill slipped into Defense Authorization act

For years now, the U.S. Congress has been attempting to classify certain types of crime as "hate crimes". According to analysts of this type of legislation, if it can be determined that a crime was committed against someone based on, among other factors, sexual orientation, then there would be stiffer punishment for that perpetrator, as well as perhaps those who helped to influence the perpetrator's point of view. The bill has become politically unpopular, to the extent that the Senate attached its version to another, more popular bill, and the House has followed suit, this week approving a Defense Authorization bill with the unrelated "hate crimes" rider attached. A number of Christian and pro-family organizations have expressed concern about this type of legislation, fearing it could cause pastors or others who speak against homosexuality to be charged with contributing to a "hate crime". CitizenLink, a web site of Focus on the Family Action, had a report.

1 - Thousands gather to discuss being a "Catalyst" in the culture
The annual Catalyst conference took place this week in Atlanta, with thousands flooding the Arena at Gwinnett Center to hear from the keynote speakers, as well as attend motivational lab sessions. Andy Stanley, Rob Bell, Chuck Swindoll, Tony Dungy, and others addressed the gathering.

Catalyst was conceived by Andy Stanley, Reggie Joiner, John Maxwell, Lanny Donoho and a number of young leaders, designed to, according to, "meet the felt need that existed within the church leader space for a leadership event that was focused on a new generation of church leaders." To read blogs from this year's conference, you can go to

Honorable Mention:
Franklin Graham cuts retirement contributions
New film reflects athiest worldview

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Top 3 - October 4, 2009

This week's edition of "The 3" includes a developing story out of the Chattanooga area involving students' rights to freedom of religious expression, a silent witness to an ongoing tragedy, and how pro-life issues were treated in the recent markup of the health care reform bill in the U.S. Senate.

3 - Thousands stand together for life

This year marks the 22nd anniversary of the National Life Chain event, where people stand along roadways in cities across America to testify to the tragedy that is abortion. Some of the participants hold signs, others stand or kneel in prayer, still others show their support in a hushed reverence for passers-by to see. Some 1450 cities were expected to have Life Chain events in their communities. I have interviewed people along the Life Chain in Montgomery in years past, and I am struck by the power of this simple witness and the opportunity it presents for people to perhaps use this as an entry point for pro-life activity. The concept of the Life Chain event can be seen on its website at

2 - Students display strength and solidarity

For years now, student supporters at the Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School outside Chattanooga have made banners for the football team to run through that feature inspirational verses from the Bible. This practice has now been abruptly brought to a halt, thanks to one disgruntled parent bringing a complaint to the school system. The school superintendent, fearing a possible lawsuit, has banned the practice, which has resulted in an outpouring of support for these students' rights to free expression of religion. The Christian Post has provided some solid coverage of this developing religious liberties story.

1 - Health care markup brings setbacks, surprise

The version of the health care reform proposal before the Senate Finance Committee has been greeted with hundreds of amendments. A notable one, submitted by Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, would prevent taxpayer funds from being used to finance abortion. Despite the claims of health care reform supporters that the bills do not fund abortion, pro-life lawmakers have been unable to get an amendment passed in either the House or Senate that would actually state this claim. Expert analysis has shown that indeed, based on the structure of the bill, abortion would be funded under current health care reform proposals. However, the committee did vote to fund abstinence education programs. Here is a press release from Concerned Women for America.

Also, in a development that could have dire implications, especially for the elderly, senators turned back an amendment that could have prevented the funding structure being used to deny life-saving treatment to certain individuals. Calling this structure a "death spiral", National Right to Life has been following this story.

So, there is plenty to watch in the health care debate, and this week, developments on the life issue have yielded mixed results.

Honorable Mention:

Christmas references OK on Capitol "Christmas" Tree

Hundreds leave Coral Ridge to form new congregation