Sunday, July 31, 2011
3 - North Carolina lawmakers thump governor's veto of pro-life legislation...again
Since the 2010 election, there has been a heightened level of interest in bills in various statehouses that protect the unborn. North Carolina is one of those states where the Legislature has passed numerous pro-life bills - last month, it was a bill to defund Planned Parenthood; following passage in the Legislature, Governor Beverly Perdue vetoed the bill, and the Legislature overrode her veto.
To a certain extent, history repeated itself this week. The Legislature passed a bill that would provide for a 24-hour waiting period prior to an abortion, including a provision for the women to see an ultrasound of her unborn child, as well as other information about her baby. That bill was vetoed by Governor Perdue, but the House and Senate overrode the veto, so it now becomes law in the state.
Here is a report from LifeNews.com.
Some 34 other states have some form of waiting period legislation on the books, and one of the North Carolina lawmakers said that statistically, the "women's right-to-know" legislation could reduce abortions in the state by as much as 10 percent. This dedication to transparency, using the technology of an ultrasound, is helpful to women facing the pressure of an unexpected or perhaps even unwanted pregnancy, giving them the opportunity to thoughtfully consider the humanity of their child and the consider more thoroughly other options, including adoption, involving their child.
2 - Perry wins court challenge
Momentum is building for The Response, a prayer gathering scheduled for this coming Saturday, August 6th, at Reliant Stadium in Houston. Texas Governor Rick Perry has been instrumental in bringing this event to pass, but the Freedom from Religion Foundation had filed a lawsuit, essentially attempting to ban the governor from participating...keep in mind, this is the same bunch that tried to have the Congressional declaration of a National Day of Prayer eliminated, too - an effort that failed at the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, a decision cited by a Federal judge this week. That judge, Judge Grey Miller of the U.S. District Court, said that FFRF had no standing in the case, i.e., it had not been injured by Perry's proposed participation.
Here is CitizenLink's coverage of this latest judge's decision.
Governor Perry now moves forward to exercise his free speech rights and his religious freedom by being involved in The Response. He has not stated what his exact role will be in the 7-hour program that day, but he has been a public face and voice for not only this event, but generally the importance of prayer by public officials.
1 - World Trade Center cross source of debate, mayor's defense
Last Saturday, the cross-shaped steel beams that formed on the site of the World Trade Center were moved to the National September 11th Memorial and Museum. An atheist group, American Atheists, filed suit this past Monday, saying that the display violates that mythical concept of "separation of church and state". The 20-foot cross was found by a construction worker 2 days after the tragedy, and it has served as an inspirational reminder of the presence of God, even in the midst of such an unspeakable event.
Here is a report from the Christian Examiner.
The American Center for Law and Justice has pledged to vigorously defend the inclusion of the steel cross in the museum, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has actually defended the presence of the cross, as well. The Christian Post reported on the Mayor's comments. Bloomberg basically said that other religious symbols would be on display, and that people looked to religion for strength in the aftermath of the attack. He is named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
The documentary, "The Cross and the Towers", produced by the Erwin Brothers of Birmingham, tells the story of this symbol of hope...
More information can be found at www.thecrossandthetowers.com. With the 10th Anniversary of 9-11 coming soon, it gives us as Christians an opportunity to not only reflect on the devastation that day, but on the hope that was shared by so many Christians with people who were looking for some peace and comfort in those days of uncertainty and grief.
Saturday, July 23, 2011
3 - Pop culture gathering in San Diego contains faith thread
It might not be an event that is on the radar of a vast number of Americans, and it's newsworthiness might be overshadowed by the debt ceiling debate or the hot summer temperatures, but the wealth of messages being launched into the cultural discussion from Comic-Con International in San Diego is significant. The estimated attendance of some 125,000 people are enthusiasts of comic books, graphic novels, film, animation, and other forms of communication. Christians can be highly effective in using these forms of media to explore spiritual truth.
In fact, the Christian Comic Arts Society had representation on several panel discussions, and was involved in distributing copies of a book called, "Marvelous Myths: Marvel Superheroes and Everyday Faith", taking Marvel heroes and examining the faith aspects of their respective stories. According to The Christian Post, the producers of the cable TV hit, "Dexter", were discussing how their character, a serial killer, will be grappling with some issues of faith in the upcoming season.
Some of the ways Christian communicators used this gathering to explore ways to inject the Christian message into these popular forms of media are found in this report from Frontgate Media.
One last thought: the idea of the comic book or movie superhero gives us opportunities to examine and discuss matters of faith. We can ask ourselves about what makes up the character of a hero, or even use these classic encounters as illustrations of the triumph of good over evil, which in many cases can cause us to think about triumph of Christ, through the cross, over the power of Satan, who comes to steal, kill, and destroy. The world is looking for heroes, and ultimately, we serve the most glorious hero of all, the classic victor, whose sacrifice and courage made it possible for us to triumph over sin and death. The heroes we revere so often demonstrate the character qualities that can bring hope in a world that can be full of disappointment, qualities we can emulate in our own lives as we seek to radiate the character of Christ.
2 - New York gay marriage law takes effect
The law authorizing same-sex marriages to be performed in the state of New York took effect this weekend, and hundreds of such unions have apparently been performed in the state, or will be performed by the end of the day on Sunday.
Here is The Christian Post's report on the events in the Empire State.
The National Organization for Marriage scheduled events across the state, basically claiming that the politicians responsible for the new law ignored the will of the people. There is even talk of a possible referendum vote in the state on the issue. New York became the sixth state to legalize gay marriage, the fifth to do so by an act of the state legislature; the other was Iowa, where the courts recognized this so-called "right" to same-sex marriage. Some 31 states have a constitutional amendment against gay marriage, all decided by a statewide vote.
And, despite the religious exemptions granted by Governor Cuomo in order to seize votes for the measure, conscience protection for clerks who would be called on to issue the marriage licenses was apparently not part of the bargain. 2 clerks refusing to certify these unions have resigned, and a special fund, the Courage Fund, has been set up to aid clerks who exercise their consciences.
1 - Administration, military certify end of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"
The newest member of President Obama's Cabinet, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, joined with the President to declare that the repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy regarding homosexuals serving openly in the military is certified. The policy will become fully implemented in 60 days.
Here is the report from CitizenLink.
The repeal of the policy has been implemented, despite the cries of retired chaplains who feel that current military chaplains will have to provide counsel and affirm behavior that they believe violates Scripture, and the advice of members of Congress and some military leaders, including the 3 out of 4 service chiefs, who are not convinced that the repeal will not affect the moral and effectiveness of our troops. There was a survey taken of some 400,000 military members last year, the Pentagon issued a conclusion that “the risk of repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell to overall military effectiveness is low.” However, among those who responded, 70 percent of personnel deployed and in combat since Sept. 11, 2001, said having an openly gay or lesbian unit member would have a negative, very negative or mixed impact on the unit’s effectiveness to complete its mission.
The whole repeal process has been rather dubious - some areas of concern that were documented in the survey were apparently ignored, and the bill itself was passed in a lame-duck session of Congress. No doubt, the current Congress, especially considering the makeup of the House, would not have voted for repeal. So now, with the implementation process in full operation, the consequences will become clearer, and some chaplains and military members will be making some critical career decisions, as the use of the U.S. military for the purpose of social experimentation and the advancement of a political agenda passes a critical milestone.
Saturday, July 16, 2011
3 - Federal judge upholds free speech rights of pregnancy centers
In March of this year, the New York City Council approved an ordinance requiring pregnancy resource centers to post signs that tell clients what services they do not provide - specifically abortion and contraception. The American Center for Law and Justice and the Alliance Defense Fund had filed suit against the law, claiming that it restricted the free speech rights of the centers.
Even though New York City is regarded as the abortion capital of the nation, where some 41% of all pregnancies end in abortion, Federal Judge William Pauley injected some sanity in response to this restrictive law that punishes pro-life advocates. Noting the ordinance's "over-expansiveness", the judge issued a temporary injunction, releasing the centers, albeit temporarily, from having to comply.
Here is CitizenLink's report on the latest developments.
Pro-abortion advocates have long attempted to use the force of law to direct pregnancy resource centers to point ladies to places where they can have an abortion. The centers' mission, in attempting to prevent abortion, is to invite clients to their location to receive counseling, information about their unborn child, and even ultrasound images of their baby. Pregnancy resource centers are highly effective in presenting truth, based on God's Word, not only about the children in the ladies' womb, but also about their heart - and many abortion-minded women, experiencing the power of this truth and the love of the staff and volunteers, have dedicated their lives to Jesus Christ. And, as children are moved from the lists of casualties through abortion to the lists of lives to be lived, it takes "business" away from the big-money abortion industry - no wonder these pregnancy resource centers are being challenged!
2 - Gov. Perry continues to face flak over prayer event
Texas Governor Rick Perry has been outspoken with regard to his Christian faith, and as a governmental official, there is nothing in the Constitution that would prevent him from expressing his faith. In fact, in times past, Presidents and Governors have participated in religious events and even called for days of prayer and/or thanksgiving.
The governor has called for a prayer rally, "The Response", to take place at Reliant Stadium in Houston on August 6th, and attorneys for the governor have underscored the fact that it is a private event, with private sponsors such as the American Family Association. But, not unexpectedly, it's drawn fire from the notorious Freedom from Religion Foundation, which has used hyperbole-filled language to describe what they see as a violation of the mythical "separation of church and state". The FFRF, which had filed a lawsuit against the observance of the National Day of Prayer, now has sued the Governor in Federal court for initiating the event.
One News Now had this report.
Learn more at www.theresponseusa.com.
Here's the invitation from the Governor:
In his invitation, Governor Perry says:
Right now, America is in crisis: we have been besieged by financial debt, terrorism, and a multitude of natural disasters. As a nation, we must come together and call upon Jesus to guide us through unprecedented struggles, and thank Him for the blessings of freedom we so richly enjoy.
Some problems are beyond our power to solve, and according to the Book of Joel, Chapter 2, this historic hour demands a historic response. Therefore, on August 6, thousands will gather to pray for a historic breakthrough for our country and a renewed sense of moral purpose.We need Godly wisdom in these turbulent and challenging times - as God's people pray and humble ourselves before Him, we can acknowledge our dependence on Him and express our trust in the One who has the power to change hearts.
1 - Christian organizations part of coalition to cut and cap spending, balance budget
This week, against the backdrop of the ongoing debt ceiling debate in the nation's capital, members of the House of Representatives will be voting on the "Cut, Cap, and Balance Act", which would provide for spending cuts for the Federal government, caps on Federal spending, and a Balanced Budget Amendment. The President, as well as Democrats and Republicans in Congress, are locked in talks that would allow for an increase in the debt ceiling, in exchange for actions that would address the burgeoning Federal deficit - Mr. Obama wants to raise revenue by increasing taxes on the wealthiest Americans, while Republicans want the government to tighten its belt and enact dramatic spending cuts, including perhaps restructuring entitlement programs.
Just a few weeks ago, a coalition of conservative, Tea Party, and Christian organizations introduced a "Cut, Cap, and Balance Pledge", and invited lawmakers and citizens to sign on. There are now over 150 organizations involved, including FRC (Family Research Council) Action, Concerned Women for America, Liberty Counsel, and other familiar names. The website address is www.cutcapbalancepledge.com. The full text of the bill can be found here.
I have commented frequently on the Biblical model for the size and scope of government, as well as the Biblical principle of any entity - an individual, a family, or a government - living within its means. When a government continues to take debt upon itself without any plan to pay the money back, then it is living outside of its Biblical role. Our leaders need to exhibit wisdom and determination, and it's important that we pray and are engaged with them as they seek to solve these enormous issues.
Friday, July 08, 2011
3 - California lawmakers pass new law to teach "gay history"
A bill that would mandate the teaching of homosexuality in a positive light, as well as of the contributions of gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals, has passed both chambers of the California Legislature. This has enormous implications on the curriculum in the state and those that are charged with teaching it. Plus, because California has such a large population, textbooks that are written to conform to the new standards could be made available and passed on to other states.
CitizenLink had this report.
We keep our eyes on events in California because of the implications that activity there has on the rest of the nation. This bill is a prime example of how an agenda that stands contrary to our deeply-held Christian principles makes its way through the channels of government, and reminds us how that agenda could be propagated throughout the nation.
Randy Thomasson, President of SaveCalifornia.com said, "This sexual brainwashing bill would mandate that children as young as 6 years old be told falsehoods -- that homosexuality is biological, when it isn't, or healthy, when it's not...There's already a raft of school sexual indoctrination laws on the books. Impressionable children are already being sexual indoctrinated, but SB 48 would be the most in-your-face brainwashing yet."
This is yet another instance of the attempted normalization of the gay lifestyle, and an example of educators being mandated to go out of their way to teach historical events, not because of their overall significance to our nation, but because of sexual orientation.
2 - World's newest nation begins on Saturday, Christian ministry actively involved
For years, Franklin Graham and the ministry of Samaritan's Purse have been working diligently to bring not only relief, but peace, to the nation of Sudan. Now, the ministry joins with the residents of southern Sudan to celebrate a new nation, which will actually come into existence this weekend. South Sudan has emerged out of a tragic legacy of religious persecution, which has resulted in a huge refugee crisis. Samaritan's Purse has been in the process of bringing relief, including reconstructing churches, in the southern region of Sudan, as well as providing hundreds of thousands of Bible and training Bible study leaders.
Graham will be meeting this weekend with President Mayardit, the new President of South Sudan, as well as President al-Bashir of Sudan, with whom the Christian leader has met on previous occasions.
Samaritan's Purse had this press release.
It's gratifying to see when a Christian organization has been given a key and unique place in inter-governmental relations. Franklin Graham has gone above and beyond just addressing the humanitarian situation in Sudan, which of course has been dire, to actually work to bring peace between opposing factions. As Christians, we can be challenged to look for opportunities to be peacemakers, in the spirit of the Prince of Peace.
1 - Pilots refuse to fly "God-Less America" banners
As Christians united within and outside of their houses of worship over the Fourth of July weekend, a group called American Atheists planned to purchase ads that would be flown behind planes in some 27 high-profile areas across the U.S., with messages such as, "God-LESS America" and "Atheism is Patriotic". The display of these banners, of course, depends on the pilots actually flying the planes - and, according to the Christian Post, some 80 percent of pilots said they would NOT fly the inflammatory ads.
Red Calvert, a pilot and president of Pro-Air Enterprises in Indianapolis, told Belief Blog in
USA Today: "I respect our country and I respect our churches and we've got enough problems in our country without stirring up some more. If those people want to do something they believe in, fine, just don't include me."
I challenged my radio listeners to reflect on the Godly heritage of our nation during the week leading up to Independence Day. While there are those that would want to deny our rich religious heritage, which provides a foundation for our laws and principles of governing, the evidence speaks overwhelmingly that this is a nation that was established to glorify God. Sure, atheists have the right to practice their "faith", or more accurately, lack of religion, but it's important that they do not do so at the expense of people of faith and attempt to deny us our freedom of religious expression. And, it's important that Christians are well-versed and well-spoken as we discuss the Judeo-Christian heritage of America.
Sunday, July 03, 2011
3 - Religious freedoms restored to FL school district
For 2 years now, administrators and teachers in the Santa Rosa County, Florida, school district have been walking on eggshells regarding their ability to express their religious faith. You see, the school district had entered into a consent decree with the ACLU, which resulted in the ban of numerous forms of religious expression in the system, causing some school employees to be placed in a position of perhaps being thrown into prison as a result of what many would regard as harmless activities related to their faith.
On Friday morning, a settlement was announced between Liberty Counsel, which had been defending 24 school district employees, and the ACLU. It still has to be approved by a Federal court, which had authorized the consent decree, as well as the school board. Here is Liberty Counsel's press release announcing the settlement.
According to Liberty Counsel, teachers "will now be able to pray at school during their break times, pray during school events in a nonofficial capacity, attend and fully participate in baccalaureate services, have a Bible on their desk, wear religious jewelry, and assign readings from the Bible to students when relevant to nonreligious academic assignments. Students will be allowed to voluntarily pray, submit religious answers in homework, and freely participate in private, after-school religious programs."
This situation apparently is symptomatic of the prevailing sense of indirect or direct intimidation that school officials face because of their misunderstanding of such terms as "separation of church and state" or "the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment". Thinking that students and employees are not allowed to show various forms of religious expression, districts l clamp down on them in an apparent overreaction to the efforts that would unconstitutionally limit or eliminate the vestiges of religion in the school setting.
2 - The plight of Planned Parenthood continues
It was not a good week for Planned Parenthood, but that does seem to be a pretty consistent occurrence, doesn't it? It started out promising enough for them, as an Federal judge said that Indiana's new law prohibiting taxpayer funding of organizations that provide abortion (of which Planned Parenthood is the largest) could not go into effect - just yet. But, it went downhill throughout the week, as Texas became the latest state to ban taxpayer funding of providers of abortion. And, by week's end, Governor Christie of New Jersey had also vetoed an effort in his state that would have restored public funding of Planned Parenthood.
And, pro-life advocacy organization Live Action released more undercover footage this week - one contention that Planned Parenthood has made in this instance of its loss of funding in Indiana is that the "women's services" (exclusive of abortion) that PP offers cannot be found elsewhere. In a number of audio clips, Planned Parenthood employees actually state other locations where these services can be obtained. PP has been exposed to be aiding and abetting human trafficking and attempting to arrange abortions for underage girls without parental consent. Now, its national leaders have been found to be misrepresenting its claims of exclusivity of women's services in the state of Indiana.
1 - "Call 2 Fall" participants number over 1 million
When we realize the hand of God in the foundation and the sustenance of America, it can reinforce our desire to see the presence of God and practice of His principles to continue to be evident in our land. Therefore, it is critical that we as Christians are praying for our nation, in accordance with 2nd Chronicles 7:14:
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
An annual event, "Call 2 Fall", has emerged over the past few years. The Family Research Council has partnered with scores of churches in an effort to call God's people to pray for America on the Sunday prior to the Fourth of July. And, the participation is impressive - this year, a number of over 1.06 million people had indicated their plans to be part of "Call 2 Fall". Believers were encouraged to take 3-5 minutes today to pray for America.
Even though we have seen a departure from the Judeo-Christian principles on which America was founded, believers who are dedicated to prayer can be hopeful that God will hear our prayers and move upon our nation...but, it starts with Christians falling our our knees with repentant hearts with a spirit of revival.