This week's edition of "The 3", my week-in-review feature, spotlights a judge's ruling on the military's policy on homosexual behavior, the response to the proposed burning of the Koran at a church in Florida, and Christian involvement in commemorating the September 11 tragedies.
3 - Judge rules "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" unconstitutional
The military has been following a Clinton administration-era policy on homosexuals in the military that is known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell". Actually, the official position of the military is that homosexual behavior is prohibited, but when President Clinton attempted to change that position, it was met with solid opposition, so, in a compromised stance, military officials were directed to not ask if a military member was gay.
President Obama, in an attempt to satisfy one significant part of his base, the powerful gay lobby, has made the repeal of this policy a major priority. In fact, since laying down the gauntlet at this year's State of the Union address, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has called for a "study" of the matter, but since he and the President support rescinding the policy, one would anticipate that the study will be done in order to place homosexuality in the military in a positive light. Legislation is also under consideration in Congress, as the House has already voted for a repeal.
Against this backdrop, the judicial branch has jumped into the action, with one Federal Judge declaring the policy to be unconstitutional. This was a ruling in a case where the Obama Justice Department was actually "defending" the policy, which the Administration opposes and wants to rescind. So, this is no surprise, and will no doubt go on to a U.S. Circuit Court for an appeal. A comprehensive report is found in The Christian Post.
The controversy over gays serving in the military continues, with a number of Christian leaders expressing concern over affirming this type of behavior in our armed forces, as well as over the effect that rescinding "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" will have on the cohesion and effectiveness of our troops.
2 - Proposed Koran burning brings violence, dialogue
As of press time on September 11, the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida will not be holding a ceremony where the Muslim holy book, the Koran, will be burned. Pastor Terry Jones had announced this event, which drew a major media emphasis, turned toward this small congregation of roughly 50 people. Muslims overseas demonstrated against the event, and leaders of government and faith urged Jones not to conduct the ceremony.
At the end of the day, Pastor Jones made the right choice. If we regard fundamentalist Islam and those who practice it as our "enemy", the Bible still does not permit us, I believe, to take provocative action against all Muslims by desecrating what they see as a sacred book. We are called to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. That doesn't mean to acquiesce to persecution (and it's important that we speak up against the persecution of Christians around the world), but to respond in kind or take inflammatory action is not the correct response, either.
The dialogue has been quite revealing in light of the controversy. There was an attempt by the pastor to link his Koran burning to the mosque at ground zero, which many view as a provocative action - a symbol of Islamic "victory" at the site where thousands lost their lives. In fact, Jones had said that he had cancelled the burning ceremony because the planners of the Ground Zero mosque had abandoned their plans...when it was revealed that no such deal was made, Jones still attempted to arrange a meeting with the imam of the planned New York City Islamic center.
The excellent point was also made that Christian symbols and the Bible are desecrated all over the world, including the Muslim world - perhaps the over-the-top attention given to this controversy will help to expose the rude types of Christian hostility that are perpetrated in some nations of the world. Dr. Bryant Wright, Pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church outside Atlanta and newly elected President of the Southern Baptist Convention, wrote an excellent piece that puts these controversies in perspective. Here's a report from the Associated Press posted on CBN, along with links to related stories.
1 - Christians remember 9/11 tragedies
While we remember the thousands who lost their lives on this day in 2001, we also attempt to identify and sympathize with the families of the victims, for they, too, were victimized as they were personally affected by faith-based terror. The members of the Awakening America Alliance were using this day as a foundation for deeper and more concerted prayer for our nation through its "Cry Out America" emphasis. Not only was there a gathering of Christian leaders at the Pentagon in Washington, DC, but there were events planned for county courthouses across America.
This press release illustrates the heart of this prayer movement and shows the cross-denominational leadership of the Alliance.
Some Christian and conservative leaders also gathered at the site of the proposed Islamic Center/mosque at Ground Zero in New York City to honor the fallen victims of 9-11 and to register their concern about such a center being constructed at the site. Among the scheduled speakers was Jordan Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice, which has filed suit to stop the construction, saying that the building on the site currently is historically significant and that the Muslim group is receiving preferential treatment in the process.
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