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

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The 3 - August 22, 2010

This week's edition of "The 3", my week-in-review feature, spotlights the complexity of relief efforts in Pakistan, the speculation on the President's religious faith, and the latest in the Proposition 8 saga in California.

3 - Christian aid groups provide help to Pakistan flood victims

Some 20 million people have been adversely affected by severe flooding in the nation of Pakistan. The fact that this is taking place halfway around the world, as well as other factors, have made it difficult for aid organizations to motivate people to get involve in assisting the victims. That's the word from WorldVision, which is attempting to get badly needed supplies to those who have been directly affected, including numerous people who have been left homeless. Here's a report on that organization's efforts.

Southern Baptists have become involved through Baptist Global Response, and the reports are that relief workers are literally risking their lives in aiding the victims. Baptist Press published this report. Prayers are being solicited for the effectiveness of the relief effort, made more complicated by tensions at relief sites, as victims are contending for the limited supplies.

2 - White House attempts to quell confusion over President's faith

On the heels of the President's declaration of support for the proposed mosque/Islamic cultural center near the site of the former World Trade Center in New York City, a new Pew research poll has revealed that a growing number of Americans believe that President Obama is a Muslim, and a declining number believe that he is a Christian, as he states. 18% of those surveyed indicate they believe Mr. Obama is a Muslim, while just over one-third, 34%, of respondents, said they believe he is a Christian. 43% said they do not know. The White House, meanwhile, has stated that the President is indeed a Christian. I have posted this CBN report on my Meeting House Facebook page.

What the results of this survey mean is unclear, although Obama's intentional outreach to the Muslim world, from his speech in Cairo last year to his hosting a Ramadan gathering at the White House last week, is causing people to perhaps believe that he has embraced the faith which apparently influenced his early upbringing. Franklin Graham entered the debate by telling CNN's John King that he does not believe Obama is a Muslim and takes the President at his word when he says he is a Christian...
here's a link to the CNN story.

While the debate continues over Obama's personal faith, one can look at his policies and pronouncements and come to the conclusion that he is reticent to deal with Islamic fundamentalism from a spiritual perspective. Terrorists are taking the lives of innocent victims in the name of Islam, and there does seem to be a hesitance on the part of the Administration to proclaim that and deal with it accordingly.

1 - No same-sex marriages in Cali...yet!

The controversy over Proposition 8 in California entered another chapter this week. Federal district judge Vaughn Walker had struck down the constitutional amendment in California that defined marriage as one man and one woman, and his ruling was due to go into effect this past Wednesday. Well, on Tuesday, a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals placed the order on hold, granting a stay pending a December hearing on the matter. It looks as if the next issue will be the eligibility of proponents of Proposition 8 to defend the amendment, since the Governor and Attorney General of the state, who would be the likely parties to defend it, support same-sex marriage and will not go to court against it. Here's a report on this week's activities from The Christian Post.

So, here we had this week a moment of sanity in what has become a circus of activity surrounding this one California judge, who used questionable evidence to try to justify two gay men or two women raising children, and who was slapped on the hand when he attempted to try to put the "trial" on TV - a trial which has been referred to as being unnecessary.

Honorable Mention:

Appeals court rules roadside crosses unconstitutional, Alliance Defense Fund to appeal

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The 3 - August 15, 2010

This week in "The 3", another chapter in the Proposition 8 battle in California, plus the aftermath of a tragedy involving Christians in Afghanistan. Our top story involves the controversy surrounding the proposed Islamic center near the former site of the World Trade Center in New York City.

3 -
Proposition 8 battle continues, judge refuses to stay order, taunts proponents

This week, as anticipated - another move from the judge-advocate Vaughn Walker, the Federal district judge responsible for a ruling against the constitutional amendment approved by some 7 million people in California called Proposition 8...a no-nonsense measure defining marriage in the state as one man and one woman. However, when a same-sex couple filed a Federal lawsuit against the amendment, Walker took it upon himself to make the issue into a spectacle, and he continues to do so.

Proponents of the measure had already announced that they would appeal the ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and Walker refused to stay his ruling pending a decision from the appeals court, basically putting his ruling "on hold" until the day it would presumably take effect anyway. He questioned whether there would be anyone eligible to appeal his ruling, since the governor and attorney general did not do their duty to uphold an amendment to the state's Constitution. Here is the report from The Christian Post.

Mario Diaz has an excellent analysis at the Concerned Women for America website.

So, as we begin the new week, we look to the 9th Circuit to stay Judge Walker's ruling pending its decision on the case. If it refuses to do so, proponents of Prop. 8 may seek relief at the U.S. Supreme Court, where Justice Anthony Kennedy would be the justice who would be hearing the case.

2 - Slain aid workers in Afghanistan identified

It was announced this week that 10 aid workers, affiliated with the Christian organization IAM, which stands for International Assistance Mission, were slain in the nation of Afghanistan, reportedly at the hands of Taliban fighters, who claimed the workers were attempting to "proselytize", which is against Afghan law. In a press release and press conference on Monday, IAM President Dirk Frans affirmed that indeed the 10 workers who were found dead were with IAM, and 6 of the dead were Americans. The workers were part of an Eye Camp team who were providing eye care to poor individuals.

Frans answered concerns about the authorization of the Team, and stated that they did have the proper authorization. Furthermore, he claimed they were not attempting to proselytize, but that they were attempting to abide by the laws of Afghanistan, although it is understood that they were a Christian organization. Frans emphatically said that IAM's work in the nation would continue. Here is a transcript of Frans' comments.

On The Meeting House radio program, on a couple of occasions, I have had the opportunity to interview Mindy Belz, Editor of WORLD Magazine. In fact, a couple of months ago, she described what she had observed regarding efforts to inhibit Christian expression in the nation of Afghanistan. She recently returned to the nation in the wake of these deaths, and filed this report for WORLD. Here is an earlier web-only post she wrote earlier this week.

It is important to note that the Taliban does not reflect the views or authority of the Afghan government, although there is concern about a resurgence of their forces. If this is an attempt by the Taliban to somehow "enforce" Afghan law, it is certainly misguided. The Taliban represents a renewed threat to peace and stability in this turmoil-filled area of the world, and in the face of a government perceived as weak, it it formidable in its position.

1 - Leaders, citizens debate Ground Zero mosque

The proposed mosque, or Islamic cultural center, that is being planned for the area near the former site of the World Trade Center in New York City, has been a hot topic of discussion for the past few weeks, as Christian, Jewish, and conservative leaders have expressed concern, not necessarily because of the facility itself, or of the rights of the leaders to build it, but because of its location: because 9-11 was perpetrated by followers of radical Islam, the proximity of the mosque to this location could be perceived as some sort of commemoration of the deeds of that day.

Also, this week, CNN reported that the Imam of this center, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, is being sent to the Middle East by the State Department, at taxpayer expense, to promote religious tolerance. However, according to reports, he has stated that he regards America as being behind the 9-11 attacks, and is dedicated to the imposition of Shariah law in the U.S. Here is Frank Gaffney's piece in the Washington Times. Abdul Rauf's ties to organizations that are regarded as radical are troubling, and his ability to share his ideas in a high-profile location, in a site that represents the threat that fundamentalist Islam poses to America, has brought quite a bit of opposition.

In fact, this week, Governor David Paterson of New York, recognizing the rationale of the opposition, has offered to work with the group to perhaps find an alternative location. And, President Obama stepped into the fray during a Ramadan dinner at the White House Friday night, saying that America supports religious freedom, and the proponents of the Cordoba House center should be free to express themselves by constructing this mosque. He said, "I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable." During the weekend, he seemingly wavered on his statements, according to this piece in the Los Angeles Times.

So, while the Cordoba center has the right and the freedom to construct this mosque, its appropriateness can be called into question. Christian leaders have spoken out, according to this piece in the Christian Post. Michael Youssef, pastor of Atlanta's Church of the Apostles, who will be a guest on the 8/16 edition of The Meeting House, wrote this insightful piece.

Muslims certainly do have the freedom to practice their religion, but the choosing of this location represents much more than just practicing religion - experts believe this is a proposed action in order to make a statement. And, if you want to talk about religious freedom, please note that Shariah law, that is practiced in a number of Islamic countries, does not allow for religious freedom - you must choose the religion dictated to you by government or face a penalty, or even death. Followers of Islam certainly do have the right to practice their religion, but their political philosophy stands in direct contrast to our Constitutional system and the rights for all that are enshrined there.

FDA approves new contraceptive, regarded as abortion drug

Rifqa Bary turns 18, court battle ends

Christian groups respond to flooding in Pakistan

Saturday, August 07, 2010

The 3 - August 7, 2010

In this landmark week where judicial activism became a front-and-center issue, the nature of the judiciary was involved in 2 out of the 3 stories in this edition of "The 3". But, in the other instance, hope in Christ is and was the dominant theme, as the life-changing, culture-impacting gospel of Jesus Christ was proclaimed in Southern California.

3 - Kagan confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court

It was really no surprise to see Elena Kagan confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court this week. It may have been a bit surprising to see how close the final vote was - with a 63-37 margin, Kagan was opposed by all but 5 Republicans and even 1 Democrat. The Republicans were: Collins, Graham, Gregg, Lugar, and Snowe; the Democrat was Ben Nelson of Nebraska.

Christian and pro-family groups had opposed Kagan for not only her thin judicial resume, but also for her apparent activism in the past - writing policy on partial-birth abortion for the Clinton administration and opposing military recruiters on the Harvard campus, based on the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, when she was a Dean there.

So as the 112th Justice, the third woman currently serving on the court, and someone who we would regard as ideologically in line with the Justice she is replacing, John Paul Stevens, we can count on Kagan to be a solid judicial activist who will be on the court for decades. CitizenLink has this report and further information.

2 - Harvest Crusades Open 3rd Decade

I wanted to rate this event higher than the Kagan confirmation because I believe this annual event in Anaheim, California, will have a tremendous eternal significance. Kagan's confirmation has elevated the political discussion about the role of judges, but Harvest's transformation has enhanced spiritual dynamics, as people examine the role of Christ in their lives. Each year, lives are changed by Jesus, through the strong preaching of Harvest Christian Fellowship Pastor Greg Laurie and the musical testimony of bands such as the David Crowder Band and Sanctus Real.

Here's the scoop from The Christian Post.

So, as the Harvest Crusade at Angels Stadium in Anaheim enters its third decade, having celebrated its 20th anniversary last year, we can look forward to the power of God being released and for thousands to come into a saving knowledge of Christ.

1 - California Judge Strikes Down Proposition 8, Opens Door to Same-Sex Marriage in the State...Again

This past Wednesday, Federal District Judge Vaughn Walker, based in the San Francisco area, not unexpectedly, found Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment approved by almost 53% of California voters affirming marriage as one man for one women and effectively banning same-sex marriage in the state, unconstitutional. In taking this action, Walker essentially created a new constitutional right to gay marriage. The result will be appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and could ultimately end up at the U.S. Supreme Court.

The outcry was swift and stern. Brian Brown, President of the National Organization for Marriage and a guest on my show (download from, declared:

"With a stroke of his pen, Judge Walker has overruled the votes and values of 7 million Californians who voted for marriage as one man and one woman. This ruling, if allowed to stand, threatens not only Prop 8 in California but the laws in 45 other states that define marriage as one man and one woman."

Brown went on to say that, "Never in the history of America has a federal judge ruled that there is a federal constitutional right to same sex marriage. The reason for this is simple – there isn’t!”

Bishop Harry Jackson of the High Impact Leadership Coalition said:
“This is a travesty of justice. The majority of Californians — and two-thirds of black voters in California -- have just had their core civil right to vote for marriage stripped from them by an openly gay federal judge who has misread history and the Constitution to impose his San Francisco views on the American people. The implicit comparison Judge Walker made between racism and marriage is particularly offensive to me and to all of us who remember the reality of Jim Crow. It is not bigotry, it is biology that discriminates between same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples."
(from NOM website)

Be sure to visit the website of NOM at

And, San Diego Pastor Jim Garlow, one of the leading supporters of Prop. 8, was quoted in Charisma magazine as saying, "We did anticipate that this would happen, but our resolve is greater...We have no intention of backing up on this issue because far too much is at stake."
You can read more in this article from Charisma.

There was plenty of reaction within the Christian community at the unprecedented action taken by this one judge who stepped forward to try to overturn the votes over over 7 million Californians. In an era where marriage is being threatened on a number of fronts, this attempt to redefine and even weaken the institution of marriage is one of the most concerning.
Honorable Mention:

Kenya Constitution passes amidst controversy over abortion and funding of supporters by U.S. taxpayers

Way paved for Ground Zero mosque, Christian legal organization sues

Sunday, August 01, 2010

The 3 - August 1, 2010

This week's edition of "The 3" highlights the way that freedom of speech AND religion are being limited on certain college campuses in America. Also, new light was shed this week on taxpayer funding of abortion under the new health care reform law. Plus, our #1 story deals with disclosure - how much to disclose during the course of a political campaign - and a bill that had some Christian and pro-family groups concerned.

3 - Students' free speech rights on campus challenged

Last week, one of the "Honorable Mention" stories dealt with a graduate student in Augusta, GA at Augusta State University that claims to have been told she would have to alter her Christian beliefs in order to obtain her degree. The student, Jennifer Keeton, is being represented now by the Alliance Defense Fund, who placed this post on one of their websites.

Freedom of speech and freedom of religion, especially on university campuses, is becoming an increasing area of concern for students, as well as instructors. Recently, you may remember a professor at the University of Illinois was dismissed from teaching a class which involved Catholic theology, because when he expressed what the church teaches on matters such as homosexuality, there was at least one student who was allegedly offended. The good news is that Dr. Kenneth Howell was reinstated this week. Here's the story, again from ADF.

There is troubling news, though, from a Federal court regarding free speech and religious freedom on the campus of Eastern Michigan University. A Federal district court has sided with the university in the case of a student who claims that she was dismissed from its graduate program because she did not affirm homosexual behavior as being morally acceptable. ADF, who provided this information, will work with the student, Julea Ward, as she appeals this decision to a higher court.

University campuses so often become breeding grounds for political correctness. That is why it is important to have students in these institutions that possess a Christian worldview and are allowed to express their views in accordance with Biblical truth. Julea, Jennifer, and Dr. Howell have been limited in the expression of their rights, and they are to be commended for the strong stand they have taken.

2 - Federal organization confirms taxpayer funding of abortion in health care

Pro-life, pro-family organizations have been claiming ever since the health care reform debate in Congress that the structure of the proposals being considered allowed abortion to be funded by taxpayers. The Stupak-Pitts Amendment of the House version of the bill provided an exception, but such an amendment was not attached to the final version of the bill. Rep. Stupak voted for final passage of the bill due to an 11th-hour executive order issued by the President, which Christian, pro-family groups at the time said did not have the force of law and claimed that abortion would be paid for by public funds under the new health care bill.

Now, information is continuing to surface that these groups were in fact, accurate in their assessments. I related several weeks ago that 3 states - Pennsylvania, New Mexico, and Maryland - were either inserting or considering abortion funding in some of their plans. And, just this week, an organization called the Congressional Research Service, a division of the Library of Congress, has issued a report confirming the concern about taxpayer abortion funding, according to

You mix a pro-abortion Administration with promises made to organizations such as Planned Parenthood, along with members of Congress with special ties to pro-abortion organizations, and you're bound to get that agenda driving reproductive policy. Now, Rep. Chris Smith is attempting to get a bill passed that would prevent abortion from being included in the implementation of health care reform. When you factor polling data that is showing a definite shift to the pro-life point of view, members of Congress are finding their institution is unpopular, and they themselves may be facing stiff re-election bids, and this sort of proposal makes a lot of sense. But too many lawmakers have a pro-abortion point of view, and have had their election campaigns funded by pro-abortion special interests.

One example: California's Barbara Boxer, facing a tough re-election campaign from former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina. She is reportedly poised to receive some $1 million dollars from Planned Parenthood, according to And that leads into our top story...

1 -
Closing the door on DISCLOSE

One way that organizations help the candidates that embrace their positions is through direct campaign funding - and as long as it's reported properly, that's perfectly legal, and can be a helpful barometer of the positions of a candidate. Another way that candidates get their message out is by way of organizations running advocacy ads.

And, the method by which that has been done was on the verge of changing this week, with the prospect of the so-called DISCLOSE (Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections) Act in the Senate, which had narrowly passed the House. This is a bill that would require certain information about the various organizations paying for these advocacy ads to be included in the ad itself. The bill failed to move forward in the Senate, and here is CitizenLink's take on the bill and the vote.

Opponents characterized the bill as an attempt to curtail free speech leading up to the election and a way for the majority party, the Democrats, to limit opponents from effectively getting their message out. While accountability and transparency are important principles in our system of government, to reveal donor information can cause those donors to think twice about their investment when their privacy is threatened. Christian and pro-family groups were concerned that it could place a damper on already limited resources to get their message out in the public square.

Honorable Mention:

Dove Awards moving to Nashville

Keith Green webcast commemorates 28th anniversary of his death

Top pastors on Twitter announced

Conference Spotlight: Gridiron Men's Conference Tuscaloosa, AL