3 - Presbyterian Church USA General Assembly votes to lift gay ordination ban
Several Protestant denominations have wrestled with the issue of the ordination of homosexuals. The Episcopal Church USA stirred up its entire denomination a number of years ago by ordaining an openly gay bishop. Last year, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America opened up ordination to gays and lesbians. There are factions within other denominations, as well, that would like to see their church bodies make that move, as well. The United Methodist denomination, for example, has some within it that would like to see gays ordained into the ministry, but such moves have been turned back in the past.
So, against this backdrop, the Presbyterian Church USA, in its General Assembly in Minneapolis, made the decision, by a 373-323 vote, to remove a ban on gay ordinations. The measure must now be approved by 173 of the presbyteries across the nation. The Christian Post has this report.
There are many who are watching these moves within various denominations with a critical eye, viewing the matter of ordination of gays and lesbians as giving approval to what the Bible calls a sinful lifestyle. One organization that has been outspoken on departures from Biblical truth within church bodies is the Institute on Religion and Democracy - here is Jeff Walton's report on the PCUSA convention, and how the assembly sent what could be interpreted as a mixed message: voting to ordain gays, but leaving the traditional definition of marriage as one man for one woman intact.
The response to these actions? You will probably see some who disagree with the new action on sexuality stay with the denomination, in an attempt to speak out and hopefully change the organization from within. Others will probably leave, with congregants finding other houses of worship.
2 - Faith and family groups filed briefs in National Day of Prayer case
Shortly before this year's National Day of Prayer, a Wisconsin Federal district judge ruled that the action of Congress to designate a National Day of Prayer was unconstitutional. CitizenLink (affiliate of Focus on the Family), Liberty Institute, and others teamed up to file a brief. Here is CitizenLink's report.
Another organization that filed a brief is the Foundation for Moral Law, headed by former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore. Judge Moore made this comment:
“How long will we sit quietly by while the President declares an entire month to ‘celebrate' homosexuality and a federal judge prohibits one day in the year to pray to God? From the Revolution in 1776 to the Civil War, from
Pearl Harborto 9/11 our Country has always turned to God in prayer during times of national crisis. It is absolutely absurd for a federal judge to think that she can arrogantly declare the National Day of Prayer established in 1952 unconstitutional. Such hypocrisy reflects the delusion of federal court judges across our land who place themselves above the Constitution they are sworn to uphold and above the God upon Whom they took their Oath of Office.”
Again, this is troubling development, where you have ONE Federal judge who is attempting to reverse a rich history of prayer in our nation, including a variety of Presidential proclamations throughout the year. Again, ONE unelected judge is attempting to limit the wishes of thousands and even millions of people who believe in and practice the power of prayer with respect to our national issues.
1 - Federal court finds Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional
The definition of marriage as one man for one woman, in the eyes of the Federal government, has been maintained in the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), approved overwhelmingly in 1996 by Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton. Now, the Obama administration, with a tepid defense by Solicitor General Elena Kagan, is allegedly attempting to undermine the defense of the act, and a Massachusetts Federal judge, Joseph Tauro, has ruled certain parts of DOMA to be unconstitutional. Of course, states can pass their own marriage definitions, and a number of them already have. Here is the report from Liberty Counsel, who has been quite successful in defending the traditional definition of marriage.
So, here again is ONE Federal judge attempting to undermine the definition of marriage, as affirmed by Congress, signed by the President, and supported by voters in some 30 states across America who have passed marriage amendments. This case is likely to be appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. It's interesting, the Administration is attempting to say that the Arizona immigration law is unconstitutional because immigration is a Federal issue, but at the same time, DOMA is unconstitutional because marriage is not a Federal issue. Maybe it's just me, but there does seem to be a contradiction here.
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