Saturday, August 28, 2010

The 3 - August 28, 2010

This edition of "The 3" looks back at a court decision involving the controversial use and destruction of the lives of embryos, a major event in Washington, D.C. that has attracted some evangelical leaders, and the issue of Christian organizations hiring, well, like-minded people.

3 - Judge temporarily halts Federally-funded embryonic stem cell research

This week, a Federal district court judge, using the language of Federal law, ruled that a case challenging taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research could move forward. The Christian Medical Association and other plaintiffs were involved in the suit, which is attempting to halt the Obama administration's advancement of Federally-funded embryonic stem cell research. CitizenLink has this report.

While the debate rages over the use of embryos in research, a process which destroys the life of an embryo, the use of adult stem cells has been proven to be effective in treating over 70 diseases. Instead of pursuing the morally challenged and unproven research involving embryos, scientists would do well to shift their focus to harvesting healthy stem cells from adults, a process that does not take the life of a person and has already been proven to save lives.

2 - Christian leaders evaluate participation in Beck festivities

It was billed as a non-political rally designed to call attention to those who have served our country faithfully and to call Americans to a renewed vision and hope for our nation and its founding principles - the "Restoring Honor" rally in the nation's capitol took place on Saturday, August 28th. Talk-show host Glenn Beck and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin were the two most high-profile speakers for the event, which could have drawn between 100,000 and 300,000 people to the National Mall. Complicating the event was the fact that it was being held on the same day as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech at almost the same spot. Civil rights leaders also had an event planned for the same day in the same city, involving a march from a local high school to the proposed MLK Memorial site, just a few blocks from the Lincoln Memorial. But Beck believes the causes embraced by the rally he sponsored, along with a military support organization, are compatible with Dr. King's "dream". The Washington Times had this report, complete with a nice crowd shot, presumably from the Washington Monument site. Issuing a clarion call to traditional values and embracing God, Glenn Beck and others spoke of a restoration of those values and a recognition of those who gave their lives to build that strong foundation.

From a Christian standpoint, it is interesting how there were some Christian leaders who embraced the event and some who did not. In fact, Skyline Wesleyan Church (San Diego) Pastor Jim Garlow wrote an eloquent piece on his Facebook page to highlight why he was involved in not only the rally, but a spiritually-oriented event the night before at the Kennedy Center. Other Christian leaders involved with Glenn Beck and his efforts include Dr. Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King, Jr., David Barton, John Hagee, and others. The Christian Post had this report on Christian involvement with Beck's events.

I am not a particularly strong Glenn Beck fan, but when you talk about a return to the values and principles that our country has been founded upon, Beck is actually doing a nice job of enunciating those. Here are just a few points to consider:

1 - Glenn Beck said that "Today", referring to August 28, was the day that America began to return to God. Is he proclaiming himself to be the leader of a spiritual awakening or merely someone who wishes to be a catalyst?

2 - What is Glenn Beck's theology? Most say he is a Mormon; the Washington Post said he was a "converted Mormon" (converted "from" or converted "to"?); Garlow says there are those that think that Beck believes that salvation is by grace alone through faith in Christ. Has Beck renounced Mormonism?

3 - Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life" - if we are to turn to God, then through whom do we turn - I believe that it is through salvation through Christ...and I am not sure that is the gospel that Beck is preaching.
Who is "God" to Glenn Beck? Is he perhaps citing the lowest common denominator?

4 - Beck talks about God a lot, but he also uses profanity in some of his comments - are those compatible? Is that an appropriate way for a representative of God to communicate?

But, on the positive side, here is someone who is giving glory to God and attempting to call people across America to take pride in our nation and reflect on its foundation. People I trust in the evangelical community are partnering with him, and I think we as people of faith should be involved in speaking out on behalf of the future of our nation, without neglecting the fact that ultimately, a gospel-based, Christ-based spiritual awakening is what will change hearts and reverse the moral decline we have been experiencing.

1 - Court affirms World Vision hiring practices while Christian organizations petition Congress

A ruling in a case that could have far-reaching implications on Christian and other faith-based and non-profit organizations was handed down earlier this week by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The panel affirmed that the Christian ministry World Vision could hire and fire employees based on their devotion to that organization's Christian principles, encased in its overall statement of faith. Christianity Today had this report.

Think about it - just as a representative of World Vision was quoted as saying - other organizations and entities hire on the basis of their organization's philosophy...members of Congress generally hire people on the basis of their political philosophies; Planned Parenthood likewise would recruit employees on the basis of their support of abortion and other driving principles of that organization. So, it stands to reason that faith-based groups should have that right under law, as well.

This ruling comes against the backdrop of legislation introduced into Congress which would force faith-based organizations that receive Federal money to alter their hiring practices and to hire employees who might disagree with their faith principles. The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability and some 100 other organizations have drafted a letter to members of Congress, asking them not to pass this legislation.

This proposed legislation seems to be yet another chapter in the growing trend of attempts by the Federal government to get inside the hiring practices of faith-based organizations. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which could result in churches having to hire homosexuals, and joins this legislation, which would amend the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, as examples of such attempted intrusion. Sure, we as Christians should be tolerant and respectful of those with whom we disagree, but to force a Christian ministry to hire people that don't adhere to our faith perspective threatens to limit our freedom of association and undermine our effectiveness in representing the cause of Christ.

Honorable Mention:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reverses course, releases abstinence study

Life issue influential in Alaska primary election

Virginia Attorney General says Christmas displays OK

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