Sunday, January 09, 2011

The 3 - January 9, 2011

This week, in the week-in-review feature I call "The 3", because I highlight 3 stories of relevance to the Christian community, we turn our eyes toward the California Supreme Court in the latest development in the Proposition 8 case. Also, the same court hearing the Prop 8 appeal ruled that a large cross in San Diego could no longer be displayed on Mt. Soledad there. And, Christian persecution took center stage this week with the assassination of a Pakistani governor.

I would like to take a moment to remember those who lost their lives in the shooting outside a Tucson, Arizona, grocery store. U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords was critically wounded and feared dead in the attack. Federal Judge John Roll lost his life, along with 5 others.

Now, this week's edition of "The 3":

3 - Proposition 8 question goes back to the California Supreme Court

This week, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals referred the issue of standing in the Proposition 8 challenge back to the California Supreme Court. Basically, the question of standing involves who is eligible, in the court's eyes to defend in court the Constitutional Amendment defining marriage as one man for one woman. Under normal circumstances, this would be under the jurisdiction of the Governor and Attorney General of California, but since neither the current Governor (former AG Jerry Brown) or current AG support Prop. 8, the defense of the amendment rests with other proponents, such as the group, which was assisted by the National Organization for Marriage.

Confused? Here's some clarity from the NOM website.

Now, the California Supreme Court, which had ruled prior to the passage of Proposition 8 that the state's gay residents had a right to marry, will be left to decide who, if anyone, is recognized legally to defend this amendment and represent the over 7 million voters who approved Prop. 8. But, apparently, noted liberal judge Reinhardt has voiced some concern about allowing one Federal judge to decide this critical issue.

2 - U.S. appeals court rules large cross memorial in San Diego unconstitutional

More activity from California and the 9th Circuit - the 43-foot Veterans' memorial cross on a mountain in the San Diego area has been in place for over a half century. When a legal challenge was brought, citing concerns about the establishment of religion, the city of San Diego did not think it had the resources to carry out a court challenge, so the land the memorial stands on was signed over to the Federal government, and a Foundation was charged to provide maintenance and security for the cross. A lower court judge had upheld the constitutionality of the cross on Mt. Soledad, but this week the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided that this memorial did represent an establishment of religion.

Liberty Institute represents the American Legion, which is working to preserve these types of veterans memorials. Their perspective is included in this report from Baptist Press.

This deals a potentially chilling blow to such memorials nationwide, since many monuments and other structures honoring veterans incorporate religious imagery. In an effort to try to preserve an atmosphere of neutrality, there are organizations that are promoting unfortunate steps to eradicate symbols of our rich religious heritage from the American landscape. I believe this directly conflicts with the guarantees of free expression of religion in the First Amendment.

1 - Pakistani governor who supported Christian woman assassinated

I have been closely following the case of a 45-year-old Pakistani Christian women, Asia Bibi, who had been sentenced to death under Pakistan's blasphemy laws, because she allegedly made derogatory comments about the prophet Mohammed. After the sentence was handed down, a provincial governor, from the Punjab province, showed his support for her and declared that he thought that the president of the nation would overturn her sentence. That governor was assassinated this week. Here is the story from Christianity Today.

So Governor Salman Taseer was murdered by his bodyguard, who has been hailed as a hero in some segments of Pakistani life. This is yet another indication of the type of adversity that Christians, and those who support them, face, especially in the areas where radical Islam is prevalent.

This week, Open Doors USA released its World Watch List, which shows that numerous countries with Islamic fundamental governments are leading persecutors of Christians, even though North Korea is in the #1 position again. Here is the latest list.

It's important to continue to pray for Christians who are facing the threats of persecution, even to the point of death, for their faith in Christ. And, we can hope that our State Department and other national leaders will speak out in defense of those who are persecuted, addressing human rights abuses in their dealings with these nations.

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