This week's edition of "The 3" includes a national discourse on a phrase that many think is in the constitution, confusion over the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, and a major conference on evangelism wrapping up in South Africa.
3 - "Separation of church and state" debated as after-effect of DEbate
The concept of "separation of church and state" has no doubt been a contentious one over the years, as those who are seemingly intent on removing religious references from our society and limiting the free expression of religious ideas in the public square have hidden behind that phrase. It's not in the Constitution, as Christine O'Donnell, Delaware Senate candidate, pointed out in a recent debate with her opponent Chris Coons. When Coons attempted to explain his position, which he used in a discussion over the teaching of creation in public schools, he clarified by essentially saying that, according to the First Amendment, Congress is not to "establish" a religion. Here is the account from USA Today's Faith & Reason Blog.
That is correct, but only half the story - and that half of the story is the dominant principle these days in the debate over what is Constitutionally-permitted religious speech. The other half of the story is that Congress is also not to deny the "free exercise" of religion. It seems to me that people who wish to express a religious viewpoint are expected to comply solely with the "establishment clause", without regard to their free speech or free expression rights. In attempting to prevent a so-called "establishment" of religion, plaintiffs, supported by civil liberties organizations, are attempting to get courts to rule that legitimate expressions of religion in a public setting are somehow unconstitutional.
The phrase "separation of church and state" is not in the Constitution, but the words are those of Thomas Jefferson, who wrote to a group of Baptists, emphasizing there should be a wall of separation, in other words, that the church should be protected from governmental intrusion. In the proper context, the idea is not for religious people to keep silent, but the expressed intent was to keep the church from establishing a state church or religious practice.
2 - Confusion reigns over gays in the military
Early in the week, the U.S. military instructed recruiters to allow openly gay individuals to enroll in its ranks, as the result of a ruling by ONE Federal Judge, Virginia Phillips in California, who disregarded the potentially chaotic effect such a ruling would have. After some anticipation, the Obama Administration did appeal the ruling to the 9th Circuit, which stayed Judge Phillips' ruling - at least until this Monday. The judges are evaluating whether or not to stay Phillips' ruling while the case is being heard. Meanwhile, those recruiters are not pulling back on allowing gays to join the military. Here is the report from CitizenLink.
So, confusion reigns, as the military continues to study what potential effect that allowing open homosexuals in our armed forces will have. Pro-family experts caution about the effect on morale, readiness, and the cohesion of forces, as well as the placing of military chaplains in an uncomfortable position of having to support a policy that may conflict with the position of their respective faiths regarding sexuality.
1 - Lausanne conference spotlights stories of God at work
Despite the absence of an entire delegation from China, in the midst of a computer hacker's blow that prevented many from joining in the conference online, the Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization proceeded in Cape Town, South Africa. Some 4000 delegates from almost 200 nations attended, hearing moving testimonies of how God is at work around the world, plotting strategies for reaching more people with the gospel, and being inspired to take part in some of the justice issues that can be addressed Biblically. CBN News had this summary.
One of the stories from Lausanne that attracted my attention was the report from a minister focused on Iran, who reported that thousands of Muslims are coming to Christ. This was documented in this article from The Christian Post.
Now these thousands who attended the conference in Africa are returning to their respective spheres of influence, and it is hoped that they bring a fresh perspective on how God desires to use them in doing His work, and can help to motivate churches and communities to be involved in the work of winning people to Christ.
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