Friday, May 27, 2011

The 3 - May 28, 2011

The most current edition of "The 3", delayed a bit by the Memorial Day weekend and the travels thereof, includes a moving demonstation of faith in the realm of pop culture, concern over new policies regarding gay behavior in the military, and a court case that could have serious implications for elementary school students who wish to speak openly about their faith.

3 - Scotty wins!

A teenage singer who appears to be on his way to country music superstardom was named Season 10's "American Idol" on Wednesday night. His first words following the announcement of his victory were consistent with the way that he has conducted himself this season, declaring, "I've got to thank the Lord first; he got me here..."

Scotty has worn a cross on a leather neckpiece throughout the season, as well as a black "I Am Second" wristband, showing support for the Christian movement that champions personal stories of faith. His remarkable resilience in the face of pop sensation Lady Gaga as she attempted to take their "mentoring" session into the gutter is one testimonial to his faith in Christ.

The Christian Post had this story on Scotty's triumph.

Scotty, as well as his friend and finale competitor Lauren Aliana, have a track record of displaying their Christian faith. In the midst of an "Idol" season that had its share of lewd moments, thanks to the likes of judge Steven Tyler and performers such as Gaga, these two teens exuded some profound displays of light. As they now move into the spotlight of pop and country music, they need our prayers. Scotty made a bold declaration at his homecoming concert that his faith had grown stronger during his time on the show, and we can hope that he and Lauren will continue to allow the Lord to express Himself through their lives.

2 - Groups, lawmakers call for clarity in repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

In the "lame-duck" session of Congress last year, lawmakers voted to repeal the military's ban on homosexuality in its ranks, which was diluted by the Clinton administration's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) policy. Now, in light of the Navy's authorization (since rescinded) for chaplains to perform same-sex marriages, in violation of Federal law (the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as one man and one woman), as well as concerns about the implementation of the new regulations dealing with the gay lifestyle, a number of groups who provide chaplains for the military, as well as concerned lawmakers, are speaking out.

Recently, 21 groups supplying chaplains to the U.S. military crafted a letter calling for strengthening of religious liberty protections in the process of implementing the repeal of DADT. The letter addresses the possibility that chaplains could face working in a hostile environment as they attempt to uphold the teachings of their denominations or organizations who believe that homosexual behavior is immoral. A letter from retired chaplains last year, sent before the vote on repealing DADT, warned about the negative impact on current chaplains.

And, legislation has been introduced to slow down the implementation of these new policies to replace DADT. Representatives Todd Akin and Valerie Hartzler introduced amendments to the latest Defense Authorization Bill that would reinforce the application of the Defense of Marriage Act in the armed forces - Akin's bill would outright ban "same-sex" marriages, Hartzler's legislation would make sure that DOMA is explicitly applied to the military. Those amendments passed their committee votes, as did an amendment by Representative Duncan Hunter, who called for the military chiefs to certify that repealing DADT will not negatively impact combat readiness.

This repeal would undoubtedly not pass Congress if it were to be introduced now. That is why there was such a rush to get the repeal passed before the adjournment in December. Now, as the potential effects are weighed, it's important that the effects on our troops, as well as those who counsel them, are given extreme consideration.

1 - Free speech under scrutiny in "Candy Cane Case", a major appeals case

The name of the case is rather innocuous - the "Candy Cane Case" - but its potential to impact the free speech rights of students is huge. The case is an amalgamation of several instances in the Plano (TX) Independent School District where students' religious expression was limited by school officials (according to Liberty Institute):
- An eight-year-old boy was banned from handing out candy canes at the school "winter" party because they contained a religious message;
- A girl was threatened for handing out tickets after school to a religious play;
- An entire class of students was forbidden from writing "Merry Christmas" on holiday cards to American troops serving overseas.

Oral arguments in the case were heard by the entire 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday. A three-judge panel of the Court had already ruled in favor of the students. However, due to an infrequent legal maneuver, the entire Court - 17-members - agreed to hear this case.

Liberty Institute, under the direction of Kelly Shackelford, is defending the students. Former U.S. Solicitors General Paul Clement and Kenneth Starr assisted in the case on behalf of the students, as well.

Some of the disturbing arguments involve the contention made by attorneys for the school district attorneys that elementary school students are too young to have constitutional rights, and declarations in court that school officials are not responsible for knowing which types of speech or activities that they can prohibit.

Liberty Institute estimates that millions of public school elementary school students could be adversely affected by this ruling. That is why prayer - that students' rights to express themselves are not curtailed - is necessary.

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