This week's edition of "The 3", my week-in-review feature, includes a Christian perspective on the recent developments from Egypt, a major emphasis on marriage from a large Christian ministry, and a conference in the nation's capital that included some pro-family groups, but that did not include other pro-family organizations.
3 - Egyptian President resigns, future unclear for Christians in the nation
After indicating that he would stay in power and preside over a transition to a new government, Egyptian President Hosni Muburak reversed course and resigned from the position he had held for some 30 years. There are plenty of religious implications in this overall situation, as we covered last week: there is the possibility of the Muslim Brotherhood becoming a player in the governing of Egypt, possibly resulting in a more Islamic fundamentalist-oriented structure. Also, the future of Christians there is somewhat in doubt.
Even though Mubarak was regarded as an ally to the U.S. and Israel, Egypt still had a negative record regarding persecution of Christians, according to Open Doors' World Watch List, on which it was listed at #19. Recently, in Alexandria, 21 Coptic Christians lost their lives in a New Year's Eve bombing at a church. And the situation could worsen for Christians if there were a greater Islamic fundamentalist influence. Dr. Carl Moeller, President/CEO of Open Doors USA, is quoted by Mission Network News as saying: "Given recent polling data, if an election were to be held tomorrow, it's quite likely that Islamic extremists would have a significant--if not dominant--role to play in the new government." That quote is contained in this story from the Open Doors website.
The military is in control in Egypt now, and recently granted the demands of the protesters involved in street demonstrations for the last 3 weeks by dissolving Parliament. There will likely be a new government in Egypt by this fall, and if the well-organized Brotherhood seizes seats in the new Parliament, then it could have a dramatic effect on the future of the nation and the entire region.
2 - "Art of Marriage" works to strengthen marriages
The reports are still coming in, but the indications are that FamilyLife's The Art of Marriage event was an overwhelming success, as hundreds of sites across America have signed up to host the video-based event...many held their events this weekend to correlate with Valentine's Day; still others have scheduled their events for weekends later this spring.
The Art of Marriage is a new one-and-a-half day video event built on the same content as the Weekend to Remember marriage getaway. It's designed to be used by churches, small groups or as a community wide event. The Art of Marriage features well-respected pastors and experts on marriage and family in the video presentations. For more information, you can visit http://www.theartofmarriage.com.
1 - Christians evaluate CPAC commitment
The Conservative Political Action Conference has concluded in Washington, DC, and was marked by some 11,000 conservatives from a variety of stripes gathering to hear speakers, collect information, and network with philosophically similar people and groups. The assortment of people included defense conservatives, economic conservatives, and social conservatives, encompassing 2nd Amendment advocates and Tea Party sympathizers. Ronald Reagan spoke of the "three-legged stool" of defense, the economy, and social issues - recognizing that to govern from a conservative perspective, these three threads must work together.
The conference even included, as a sponsor, the gay Republican group, GOProud, who embrace economic conservatism, but have a far different view on the sanctity of marriage than many so-called social conservatives, which includes a number of evangelical Christians.
And, while speakers like Rick Santorum attempted to underscore the importance of social conservatism, which includes (but is not limited to) life, marriage, and religious liberty, and panel members like Bishop Harry Jackson made a strong case for supporting the institution of traditional marriage, there were some in the pro-life and pro-family movement who stayed away from CPAC this year. Family Research Council is one example of a high-profile organization that decided not to sponsor CPAC because of its acceptance of GOProud as a sponsor. CitizenLink, an affiliate of Focus on the Family, decided to sponsor the event and be very visible there, devoting itself to being a voice for life and marriage. Both approaches have merit - FRC and others want to enact change from outside the event, making a statement by their conspicuous absence. CitizenLink and similar organizations, also concerned about what they see as an broadening of the basic principles of CPAC by admitting groups like GOProud, remain on the inside, attempting to change hearts and minds through engaging conversations.
CPAC is quite influential in the conservative movement, and it's vital that Christian groups are engaged in the so-called "social" issues, while also seeking to influence in the areas, such as the economy. I definitely think there is a moral component at work when a government exceeds the authority outlined in the Bible, and when it spends beyond its means. CPAC represents a segment of American society that includes Christian conservatives, and they have a distinct and critical voice in that stream of political consciousness.