Some potent subjects this week on this edition of "The 3" - my week-in-review feature. Included are: NBC's goof-up during its U.S. Open coverage, eliminating the words, "under God", during what was intended to be a heartwarming video vignette. Also, Franklin Graham has undertaken a major outreach to Hispanics in California. And, a closely-watched vote in New York state has legalized so-called "same-sex" marriage.
3 - NBC passes on full Pledge - twice...
So, NBC thought that they could pay tribute to American students, brave military members and the significance of a major golf tournament in the nation's capital during some emotional montages during their Sunday coverage of the U.S. Open...but, unfortunately, they left something out of their presentation, which was built around the Pledge of Allegiance: the words, "under God". After the feature aired Sunday afternoon, the Internet blew up with words of disdain for this omission. Anchor Dan Hicks shared an apology: "It was not done to upset anyone, and we’d like to apologize to those of you who were offended by it.” NBC issued another apology the next day, as Chris McCloskey, NBC Vice-President of Communications said, "a decision was made by a small group of people to edit portions of the Pledge of Allegiance. This was a bad decision." And he again apologized if the deliberate omission upset anyone.
WORLD Magazine had this report on the controversy.
A number of Christian leaders and groups spoke out. Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council called for the network to air a Public Service Announcement that includes the entire pledge. There have been calls for the person or persons responsible to be fired.
Here is that video, along with Hicks' apology:
It is no secret that there are many in America that would like to erase the role of Christian faith in the heritage of our nation. But, that aspect of our history cannot be severed. Perhaps during this week leading up to the 4th of July, we can reflect on our nation's history and the role of God's unmistakable hand in the founding of America. For starters, consider this speech before Congress by Rep. Randy Forbes:
Oh, and as I heard Rep. Forbes speak about the Declaration of Independence, which references our Creator, who has endowed us with inalienable rights, I thought back to the comments of our President this past week, who, once again, in a reference to the Declaration, made no mention of "our Creator". This time he was making a statement in response to a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) resolution from the United Nations, recognizing the "rights" of that community.
There are those who would want to rewrite American history, even rewrite the Constitution, if they could, or at least ignore its principles. But, the fact remains that this nation has a rich Judeo-Christian heritage, with a government founded on Biblical principles, and there is plenty of evidence available that can help to reinforce our contention that this nation was established by the hand of God.
2 - Graham conducts first Hispanic Festival
In 1949, Evangelist Billy Graham conducted an 8-week crusade in Los Angeles and spoke to an estimated 350,000 people. This was an incredible milestone in church history and in the ministry of Dr. Graham. This weekend, over 60 years later, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association marked another milestone, as Dr. Graham's son, Franklin, spoke at the Association's first-ever Hispanic crusade, Festival de Esperanza, held at a 27,000-seat indoor soccer stadium in Carson, California.
Hispanics make up some 47 percent of the population in Los Angeles County, and the Association worked through the Hispanic churches of the Los Angeles area. The services of the Festival were also made available via a webcast.
As the Association moves into the next era of its ministry, this shows that it is seeking out ways to broaden its reach for the cause of Christ. We recognize, with the enormous influx of Hispanic people who are coming to America, that there is an unprecedented opportunity for the gospel. Churches have been seizing these opportunities for years, ranging from offering English classes to perhaps even establishing full-fledged Hispanic ministries. God is not only sending Christians to the world, but the world is being brought to America, as well.
1 - Gay marriage legalized in state of New York
Throughout the day on Friday, I traced the progress (or as some reported, the lack thereof) through the New York State Senate of a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in the state. In fact, it had been stalled for over a week following its passage in the other chamber (the Assembly) of the state legislature. Over the previous week, there had been little change in the number of Senators who had pledge to support the bill, and the head-counters had said the bill was still one vote short of passage on Friday afternoon. After a lengthy meeting on Friday afternoon involving Republican lawmakers, the fate of the legislation was still seriously in doubt. Then came the word that Governor Cuomo, who had made same-sex marriage a top-drawer legislative priority, had negotiated language that would protect religious organizations who do not support gay marriage from facing any penalty or retaliation. This apparently produced the requisite number of votes needed for passage, and the bill cleared the Senate on Friday night.
New York becomes the sixth state to legalize gay marriage - but, interestingly enough, the sixth state to do so without a vote of the people. In fact, in some 30 states where the issue has been placed on the ballot, the traditional definition of marriage as one man for one woman has been upheld. This includes California, where 52% of the voters in a heated contest approved the definition, but there is a protracted court challenge regarding that amendment to the state's constitution.
One of the legal issues regarding the institution of marriage involves the government's interest to preserve marriage - does the government indeed have a compelling interest? Marriage, because it is ordained by God, is right, for one thing. For another thing, the principle of cause and effect is at play - because you follow God's principles, the outcome is positive. This was underscored in a recent study, by MARRI - the Marriage and Religion Research Insititute - which found that stable, traditional marriages yield healthy economic results.
A Family Research Council study released last month also found that marriage produces economic stability - stability produces security, and shouldn't the government be interested in protecting marriage, which is a huge contributing factor to that stability?