Friday, September 30, 2011

The 3 - October 1, 2011

This week's edition of "The 3" reminds us of the persecution that Christians are facing in various nations of the world, including a number of Middle Eastern nations, one of which is the home of a pastor who faces death because of an apostasy charge. Also, military chaplains continue to face pressure in light of the reversal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, and new guidelines allow for chaplains to perhaps perform same-sex marriage ceremonies. And, the top story involves a new film from a church in Georgia that is making its entry on over 1100 screens across America.

3 - Iranian pastor faces death sentence

Another high-profile religious persecution instance is attracting national attention, as an Iranian pastor faces the death sentences on charges of apostasy.

According to
The Christian Post, pastor Youcef
was arrested on Oct. 13, 2009, after protesting the government's decision to force all children, including his own Christian children, to read the Quran.

He was initially charged for protesting but the charges were later changed to apostasy and evangelism to Muslims. In 2010, he was sentenced to death and the ruling was upheld by the Supreme Court of Iran this year.

The Iranian government's official news agency is disputing reports about the pastor facing the death sentence, basically charging Western journalists with distorting the facts. The agency, Fars, is now saying the pastor was involved in extortion and even rape. However, Youcef's attorney says that he has been defending the pastor against the apostasy charge only, and is unaware of any other charges. This week, the pastor reportedly had refused to recant his faith in order to avoid the death sentence.

Christian leaders are speaking out against the threat to the pastor, which is being whitewashed by the state-controlled media in Iran. For instance, Franklin Graham is quoted as saying:
It is unfathomable to most thinking people that a person in the 21st Century can be put to death simply for espousing a faith that differs from that of his nation's ruling powers.
Iran is listed as the 2nd worst persecutor of Christians, according to Open Doors USA's World Watch List. And, as news about this case continues to disseminate, it reminds us that the reckless actions of the Iranian government, from placing pressure on Christians and other non-Muslims to developing weapons of mass destruction, call for stern international response.

2 - Military makes allowances for same-sex marriage ceremonies

The consequences of the lifting of the military's ban on openly gay behavior are continuing to unfold. We may have had a glimpse into things to come when it was announced earlier this year that the U.S. Navy had offered guidelines for hosting on-base same-sex marriage ceremonies. Opponents of this action cited that it would be a violation of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and the military relented...then.

Now, the Pentagon has announced new guidelines, similar to what the Navy announced and then withdrew a few months ago, which would allow same-sex marriage ceremonies to be performed on military bases and allow military chaplains to perform such ceremonies on- or off-base. According to the Family Research Council, this not only contradicts DOMA but so-called "military DOMA" language found in the Defense Authorization Bill recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.
According to the Wall Street Journal:
The ceremonies must not be official Defense Department events and can't be held in violation of local laws.
So, what the Department of Defense is apparently saying is that in states where gay marriage is allowed, these ceremonies could be performed. And, DOD officials are saying the guidelines don't mention "marriage" specifically. I have to ask, if a military base is considered to be Federal property, wouldn't the Federal Defense of Marriage act would be in effect, trumping the state law for these matters?

The agenda is clear, and it was underscored by none other than President Obama in his speech to leading gay activist group, the Human Rights Campaign, on Saturday night, calling for a "big America", as he continued his month-long effort to mobilize and energize constituencies that have been loyal to him in the past. Here is the Politico report.

In the name of tolerance, the full-court press to legitimize the gay lifestyle is being carried out in the political and economic arenas, where there is an attempt to marginalize those that hold to the view of traditional marriage that is consistent with the truth of the Bible - one man for one woman.

1 - "Courageous" scores on over 1,000 screens

The initial box-office estimates have been posted for the latest film from Sherwood Pictures, "Courageous", and Box Office Mojo puts it like this:
Sherwood Pictures' Courageous scored $8.8 million from just 1,161 theaters for a strong per-theater average of $7,580. That's up from the studio's last movie Fireproof ($6.8 million), though the average was off just a bit. The opening ranks fifth all-time for a Christian movie, and only trails The Passion of the Christ and the three Narnia movies. Courageous scored a rare "A+" CinemaScore, and the audience was 53 percent female and 77 percent over the age of 25.
Made outside of Hollywood without any major stars, Courageous managed to fly under most radars (including my own) until very recently. It's unfair to ignore the vast majority of church-going Americans for whom typical Hollywood fare isn't of great interest, though, and Sherwood Pictures has impressively found a way to mobilize this subset of the population. It will be interesting to see if Courageous can hold as well as Fireproof did when it went on to earn $33.46 million, or nearly five times its opening weekend, in 2008.
I actually went back and looked at Fireproof's opening weekend and did a little comparison of competition - Fireproof was the lone family-friendly offering that placed in the Top 10 that weekend in 2008. And, that is not to diminish the feat of finishing fourth on its opening weekend. The #1 movie that weekend was Eagle Eye, and other releases that weekend included Nights in Rodanthe and Igor.

With respect to Courageous, who would have thought that The Lion King would continue to shine at the box office, especially with the Blu-Ray release coming up on Tuesday? The family-friendly Dolphin Tale vaulted into first place this weekend - a film that has actually seen some marketing to the Christian audience. It's quite incredible that 3 out of the top 5 this weekend were family-oriented films (yes, I would definitely put Courageous in that category, even though the violence involved in the police melodrama yielded a PG-13 rating).

Locally, several churches bought out entire theaters (including my home church, with whom I saw the film for the third time today). There were reports of showings being sold out at the local theater, and the local action squad partnered with a local Chick-Fil-A restaurant to have a tent and display area outside the theater where moviegoers could place their comments on a display board and find out about resources available in order to follow up on the film. A local church also had a tent where first responders could receive a free voucher for 2 people, along with popcorn and a drink. All in all, Courageous has become a unique opportunity to communicate Biblical truth, to share some sobering facts about the importance of a godly father, and to challenge those who would see it to evaluate their lives and relationships with their family members.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The 3 - September 24, 2011

This week's edition of "The 3", my week-in-review feature pointing out 3 stories of relevance to the Christian community, begins with the departure of a high-profile, yet controversial pastor from the church he founded, in order to devote more time to travel and to pursue new opportunities. Also, this week, a Christian charitable agency announced that it will no longer operate, leaving thousands who have depended on the low-cost food that it had provided searching for new sources of assistance. And, a group of Christian leaders took their message to churches and computers over the weekend, encouraging Christians to demonstrate Christ's character by making sound and "right" moral choices.

3 - Rob Bell steps down from Michigan pastorate

He's been an "out of the box" pastor for some time now, having founded a church in Michigan some 12 years ago, delighting readers and viewers with challenging and creative works. But, many thought that he may have pushed the envelope too far with his latest book, called, "Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived", which explored heaven and hell, who goes there, and how to get there. Even though the book was a best-seller, it still proposed some questions and advanced some principles that made a number of evangelical leaders uncomfortable.

Mark Galli, Senior Managing Editor of Christianity Today, shared this analysis of Bell's book on The Meeting House on August 25th:

Galli is the author of "God Wins: Heaven, Hell, and Why the Good News is Better than 'Love Wins'".

Bell has now announced that he will be stepping down from his position as Senior Pastor of Mars Hill Church in Grandville, Michigan. The CT website had this release about Bell's decision. While it is unclear if the dubious success of "Love Wins" contributed to the decision, the church's release was complimentary and seemed to be supportive of Bell's new endeavors, which will apparently include speaking and development of resources. He'll be speaking in a nationwide tour starting in November.

"Love Wins" was a book that questioned some truths that have been embraced by Christians since, well, the time of Jesus. Jesus taught extensively about hell during His earthly ministry, and I believe the Scriptures make it clear about the atonement of Christ and its sufficiency for our salvation. One of the leading criticisms of Bell's book was that it seemed to teach that you could go to heaven without accepting Christ and that ultimately everyone gets there. But reviewers struggled with what Bell was actually saying. One of the positive aspects of "Love Wins" is that perhaps it gave the opportunity for us to examine our own beliefs about these questions of heaven and hell, and to provide a Biblical perspective on these important eternal destinations in conversations with those who might be confused or doubting.

2 - Angel Food Ministries announces its closing

The economic conditions of the past 3 years, that have resulted in a greater scope of needs for families across our nations and have forced families to reevaluate their spending habits, have claimed a high-profile charitable victim. This occurrence could result in thousands of families in need looking to other sources for help.

Angel Food Ministries, which provided groceries to families in bulk at a significantly lower cost than they would pay at grocery stores, could no longer keep up the pace and has announced that it will no longer operate. There were some other issues, such as an FBI investigation, and increased legal fees, that contributed to the organization's demise, according to this extensive article from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Angel Food was founded 17 years ago by Monroe, Georgia pastor
Joe Wingo and his wife, Linda. The idea was to buy food at a discount and then sell and distribute the food through a network of churches and volunteers. He would also provide a small donation back to the churches for their participation. Reportedly, some 5000 churches in around 45 states across America have been outlets for Angel Food. Now, thousands who have come to count on this monthly food delivery will have to examine other sources and pay a greater amount for their groceries during strained economic times. We can pray that perhaps God will raise up another ministry that will do a similar work and intervene in the lives of needy families.

1 - Colson, Christian leaders call on Christians to "Do the Right Thing"

Chuck Colson, the White House insider who turned into one of America's leading evangelicals, has said that the country is in an "ethical mess", and has built a Christ-centered message about the mess into a movement. The Colson Center for Christian Worldview sponsored a webcast that was hosted by a number of churches across the U.S. on September 24th. The webcast was based on a curriculum developed by the Center called, "Do the Right Thing", and featured a number of high-profile Christian leaders, including Colson and Dr. Robert George from Princeton University, who co-authored the Manhattan Declaration with Colson and Dr. Timothy George from Beeson Divinity School. Del Tackett, who developed "The Truth Project", and "Bonhoeffer" author Eric Metaxas were also part of the special event.

The Christian Post had this report.

Colson is hoping for Christians to be involved in an "ethics revolution", stepping up to do what's right even in the face of powerful temptations and incentives to do wrong. The Center has released a 6-part DVD series, dealing with topics such as:
How did we get into this mess?
Is there truth or a moral law that we can all know?
If we know what is right, can we do it?
What does it mean to be human, and why does it matter?
Ethics in the Market Place, and
Ethics in Public Life.
Colson encourages Christians to be actively introducing and discussing ideas consistent with absolute truth in the midst of a morally relativistic society, not in a way that is confrontational, but propositional. I believe that Christians who are living their lives to the glory of God, in obedience to Him, believing the Bible's teaching that there are indeed right and wrong actions, can make a powerful statement to the world around us as we simply do the right things and take the right actions.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The 3 - September 17, 2011

This week on my week-in-review feature, "The 3", a look at a letter sent out by a Christian legal advocacy organizations to Tennessee schools who recently received some so-called "guidelines" on religious expression, or the lack thereof, Also, a report was released by the U.S. State Department on religious persecution worldwide. And, the top story: Christians all across America have been involved in a coordinated effort to invite people to come "back to church".

3 - ADF sends letters to TN schools to correct ACLU constitutional errors

Across the nation, we are seeing examples of schools and school districts that have restricted the rights of students and teachers to live out and speak out about their faith. From the hideous example in Santa Rosa County, Florida, where the school district and the ACLU made a pact that resulted in teachers and administrators living under the threat of jail time merely for praying, to the instance in Mount Dora, Florida, where a teacher was temporarily suspended because of posts on his personal Facebook page that underscored a Biblical worldview, the lines have become blurred regarding religious expression on school campuses.

Just this week, Fox News ran a story about a charter school in Idaho that was closed by the state school board because it dared to teach from "religious texts", including the Bible, in a history class. Its appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was turned back. And, a teacher in California who was ordered to remove banners in his classroom because they contained "religious" references and had received support from a Federal judge was told by the 9th Circuit to remove the banners - again.

Well, the ACLU wanted to "clarify" the rights of students and teachers in the state of Tennessee with regard to religious expression, and in a guide sent out to school districts basically stated that any public on-campus exercise of religion was illegal. The Alliance Defense Fund set out to counter the misinformation, and sent a letter to underscore the constitutionality of many forms of religious expression. The letter said that:
The truth is that students, teachers, and administrators enjoy robust First Amendment [protected] rights at school, and school districts have nothing to fear in permitting the free exercise of those rights...
Here is the information on the ADF's letter, including the types of religious freedom that the ACLU said were not legal in the state. Some of the forms of religious speech and action targeted by the so-called "guide" were:
1) student-led prayer at school, graduation, and sporting events;
2) participation of students, teachers, and administrators at baccalaureate services with religious content;
3) equal access to school facilities and literature distribution programs;
4) equal access and funding for religious student clubs and organizations;
5) students’ right to participate in events such as See You at the Pole and the National Day of Prayer;
6) the religious expression of teachers, coaches, and administrators; and
7) “objective” teaching about religious holidays.

These go above and beyond the court precedents that have been set and upheld throughout the years. Some school districts, fearing reprisals and the potential for court action, have moved to deny students and school officials their constitutional rights to religious freedom. Fortunately, you have organizations such as ADF, Liberty Counsel, and others who are well-versed in the Constitution and have made themselves available to defend students, teachers, and administrators who are concerned about their ability to speak and act in a religious manner being unfairly restricted. For more information on ADF, you can go to

2 - International Religious Freedom report released 9/13/11

This week, the U.S. State Department released its most recent International Religious Freedom Report, which outlined the nature of threats to religious freedom worldwide, as well as the countries where persecution of religious groups, including Christians in many cases, is the greatest.

Here is a report from periodic guest on The Meeting House, Emily Belz of WORLD Magazine.

There are 8 countries that have received the designation as Countries of Particular Concern (CPC): Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Uzbekistan. Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan had reportedly been given waivers in the past. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, an arm of the government that operates independently, had urged the State Department to add Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, and Vietnam.
The blog, Religion Clause, had this report. The blog quotes Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as saying:
In the Middle East and North Africa, the transitions to democracy have inspired the world, but they have also exposed ethnic and religious minorities to new dangers.... Now, the people of the region have taken exciting first steps toward democracy—but if they hope to consolidate their gains, they cannot trade one form of repression for another.
This report serves as a reminder of the many around the world who are facing persecution for the faith. The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church gives Christians an opportunity to pray for those who are facing threatening situations on a consistent basis. This year, it is scheduled for Sunday, November 13th. For more information, you can visit the website,

1 - National Back-to-Church Sunday this weekend

Today, thousands of Christians across America were encouraged to take an intentional step and invite someone to visit church with them. This year's third annual "National Back-to-Church Sunday" has been designed to build on the successful track record of this particular occasion, and has been embraced in a significant way.

According to a press release from the Back to Church Sunday website, a study by LifeWay Research and the North American Mission Board of over 15,000 Americans had found that 67 percent say a personal invitation from a family member would be effective in getting them to visit a church. Fifty-six percent say an invitation from a friend or neighbor would likely move them to respond.

Since the inception of NBTCS, more than 3.5 million invitations from some 7400 churches have been issued, and churches that participated last year saw a 26 percent increase in the attendance that weekend. When you consider the huge disconnect between the number of professing Christians in America and the percentage of Americans that actually attend church on any given Sunday (83% claiming to be Christians vs. 20% attending church), this emphasis has the potential to be a significant step for churches as they seek to increase the number of people coming through their doors and becoming involved in their local bodies, so that they might grow spiritually.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The 3 - September 10, 2011

It's the 10th Anniversary weekend of the September 11th attacks, and it's no surprise that would be the top story on this edition of "The 3", my week-in-review feature at Also, this week had a couple of notable court cases, including 2 rulings from the same Federal court on the health care law, one of which was brought by a Christian university. The other notable court action was a hearing concerning the marriage amendment from California.

3 -
4th Circuit rules against Christian university's health care reform lawsuit

Following the passage of the massive new Federal health care law, a number of lawsuits were filed, including the action of 26 state attorneys general and other parties, protesting the requirement for individuals to purchase health insurance. Recently, a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in that case that the so-called "individual mandate" was unconstitutional. A panel of the 6th Circuit came to the opposite conclusion on the mandate. And, this week, a three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit basically came to a "no decision", ruling that the Attorney General of Virginia did not have the right to bring the case against the health care law and the mandate, because he had not been personally harmed by its enactment. The court, therefore, turned back the state's challenge.

And, that same court, in another ruling, determined that the mandate for employers to provide health insurance for its employees was a "tax", and since legal proceedings cannot be brought against a tax until it is in effect, the plaintiffs, Liberty University, would have to wait until the taxes were levied. When it comes down to it, in neither instance did the court rule on the constitutional merits of the respective cases, rather they were rejected because 1) the Virginia AG, they said, wasn't eligible to argue the case and 2) the tax couldn't be challenged until collected.

Here is a press release from the attorneys for Liberty University, legal advocacy group Liberty Counsel.

All indications are that one or more of these cases, and perhaps a combination thereof, will be eventually settled at the U.S. Supreme Court. The Administration is still intent on implementing this health care law that presents a number of concerns and is quite unpopular, according to survey data. Businesses and corporations are unsure on the economic effect, and Christian leaders have expressed concern about the provision to fund abortion using tax dollars and the structure, which would ration health care and perhaps deny the proper care to the most vulnerable in society.

2 - California Supreme Court holds hearing on marriage amendment

The long legal saga surrounding Proposition 8, the California amendment defining marriage as one man and one woman, continued this week in the California Supreme Court - a body that had temporarily conjured up a "right" to gay marriage in the months prior to the amendment's passage. This time, the Court held a hearing, including its newest member, Goodwin Liu, who had been thwarted in his bid to become a member of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, due to his legal philosophy being regarded as radical, including his support for legalizing gay marriage. The purpose of the hearing was to determine who would represent proponents of Proposition 8 before the 9th Circuit, which was considering a ruling made by a lower Federal court judge that the amendment was unconstitutional, thereby creating a "right" to gay marriage. Typically, the legal team of the state where an amendment is passed would defend a constitutional amendment, but the former Governor and former Attorney General (now Governor) of California refused to do that.

So, the question at hand is whether or not the Protect Marriage group in California has "standing", or eligibility, to defend Proposition 8, which it was instrumental in helping to pass. Once the state "standing" issue is settled, it's back to the 9th Circuit, who will determine if Protect Marriage can legally represent the proponents on a Federal level. The next step, assuming that the group could continue its defense of Prop. 8, would be a ruling by the appeals court on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage.

Here's a report from CitizenLink.

Bruce Hausknecht, Judicial Analyst for CitizenLink, an affiliate of Focus on the Family, came on Friday's edition of The Meeting House and discussed both the Proposition 8 hearing and the 4th Circuit rulings.

The battle over Proposition 8 is critical, since it represents potentially another step in the legitimization of gay marriage across America. The redefinition of traditional marriage has the potential to further erode our social fabric and bring greater instability for children, as this "faux" marriage cannot provide the structure that research shows is best for the raising of children.

1 - Christians honor the fallen on 9-11

I believe it is impossible to separate God's presence from the tragic events of September 11, 2001. I mean that in the sense that He did not cause 9-11, but He made Himself very real to people in the aftermath. In the moments and days following the terrorist attacks, so many turned to faith and looked to God to provide comfort for their troubled hearts. For example, members of Congress gathered on the Capitol steps in Washington to sing "God Bless America" and dignitaries assembled in the National Cathedral for a service where President Bush and Billy Graham invoked the need for spiritual strength in these times.

And, so now, as people across the country commemorate the events of that infamous day in history, it is no surprise that the name of God and His presence are invoked once more. Even though some 62,000 signatures were collected by the Family Research Council and others requesting that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg allow clergy in the dedication service for the new 9-11 Memorial at Ground Zero, the mayor did not reconsider his decision. Nevertheless, President Obama, former President Bush, and former Mayor Giuliani invoked the name of God in their comments - the President reading from Psalm 46, the former President reading a prayer from Abraham Lincoln, and the former mayor reciting from the book of Ecclesiastes.

Here is the report on the New York City events, from The Christian Post.

And, Christians, churches, and Christian organizations marked the occasion in a variety of ways. A special ceremony on September 10th in New York City was scheduled to begin at St. Paul's Chapel, followed by a walk to Ground Zero. On the evening of September 11th, Anne Graham Lotz, whose father had so eloquently shared from his heart and provided perspective and comfort in that National Cathedral service almost 10 years ago (click here to read text), had organized a special event called, "A Wake-Up Call for God's People", emphasizing repentance and revival. The event was heard on radio nationwide, and was simulcast into various locations, including a host of churches, as well as into homes via the Internet.

Times of crisis give us the opportunity as Christians to minister the love and hope that can only come from Jesus Christ. 9-11 not only was an occasion through which we could point people to the saving grace of God, but it served as a reminder that we live in desperate times for our nations, and it's vital that we turn to God, who I believe established our nation, and will sustain it, if His people turn to Him.

Here is a conversation aired last week on The Meeting House with Dr. Joe Savage, Director of the University of Mobile's Center for Leadership and the Twelve23 Movement. Dr. Savage has written a book called, "We Forgot! The 7 Unlearned Lessons of 9-11".

Saturday, September 03, 2011

The 3 - September 3, 2011

Labor Day weekend is here, and I've selected 3 stories from the past week impacting the Christian community. What has become an ongoing trend is the sentiment in some segments of corporate America that will punish groups and individuals for their support of traditional marriage, and we have another instance announced this week. Also, a new pro-life law went into effect in one state this week, while a similar one in another state was challenged in court. And, as we prepare for the commemoration of the 10th Anniversary of the September 11th attacks, the Mayor of New York is keeping clergy members and first responders off the program of the Ground Zero event.

3 - Corporations continue to act against those who support traditional marriage

The list continues to lengthen of corporations that have taken action against groups or individuals because of their support of traditional marriage and opposition to so-called "same-sex" marriage. From Apple's removal of the apps for the Manhattan Declaration and Exodus International to companies that withdrew their participation in the Charity Give Back Group because some of the beneficiaries oppose gay marriage, there are pockets of corporate America where it is definitely not the correct position to buck the gay agenda.

Now, according to a Christian Post article, consultant Frank Turek announced this week that he had been dismissed from his position with Bank of America just days before he was scheduled to present a motivational seminar. Allegedly, the sticking point was that he had written a book called, "Correct, Not Politically Correct: How Same-Sex Marriage Hurts Everyone". He was also dismissed from his position from Cisco Systems earlier this year as a result of the same book.

Turek will be meeting with a Bank of America official soon, but in the meantime, he says that
he wants all corporations to "stop trying to indoctrinate employees into accepting certain sexual behaviors, particularly homosexuality." Unfortunately, because of the current corporate climate and the pressures being brought to bear by gay activists, companies are choosing to side with these activists, in the name of inclusion and sensitivity.

2 - Fetal pain law goes into effect in Alabama, challenged in court elsewhere
It was a cause for rejoicing this week in Alabama, as a law took effect that would prevent the abortion of unborn babies 20 weeks and up, the time of gestation at which they have been found to be capable of feeling pain, according to scientific research. But in a stark reminder of how the abortion issue is being addressed by some in our society - by filing litigation - a similar law in Idaho has been taken to court. A 33-year-old woman (who terminated a pregnancy last year) has filed suit, claiming that the new law lacks a provision to protect the mother's "health". Remember that is language that has been used with regard to past abortion legislation (such as the ban on partial-birth abortion), as a means of trying to provide loopholes in a law and allow abortion, even in circumstances in which a law was trying to ban it.

Here is coverage from CitizenLink.

According to the article,
Dr. Sean Patrick Kenney, an assistant clinical professor at the Creighton University School of Medicine, said only one or two women in every 5,000 would need an abortion to preserve her own health after the twentieth week of pregnancy — and the bill’s language adequately provided for those.

So, here we have common-sense legislation that is intended to incrementally reduce the number of abortions in 6 states across America, and one person in one of those states is attempting to have a judge overturn the acts of the state Legislatures. Just this week, a Federal judge ruled that the state of Kansas had to fund Planned Parenthood, in spite of a new law that prevented tax dollars from going to that organization, the nation's largest abortion provider. And, this week, a Federal judge has put on hold a Texas law requiring abortion providers to perform an ultrasound and share or describe the image with the woman seeking an abortion. These instances illustrate why it's important that new laws are written to withstand the charges of unconstitutionality, as lawsuits trying to block pro-life legislation are quite commonplace.

1 - Exclusion of clergy from 9-11 ceremony ignites Christian leaders

Plans are being made for commemorative events across the country for the 10th Anniversary of the 9-11 attacks on America.

One of the most high profile gatherings will be in New York City, but controversy has arisen because Mayor Bloomberg's office has planned the program, without one of the key elements of the aftermath of the tragedy - the clergy. The planned program will apparently not have a representative of the faith community.

According to an update in The Christian Post:

A spokesperson for New York's City Hall told The Wall Street Journal that previous 9/11 anniversary memorials did not include religious leaders and they wanted to strike a similar tone with the 10th anniversary. “There are hundreds of important people that have offered to participate over the last nine years, but the focus remains on the families of the thousands who died on Sept. 11,” the spokesperson said.

City Council Member Fernando Cabrera, a pastor at New Life Outreach International, told The Wall Street Journal that religious leaders were “one of the pillars that carried us through. They were the spiritual and emotional backbone, and when you have a situation where people are trying to find meaning, where something is bigger than them, when you have a crisis of this level, they often look to the clergy.” Apparently, first responders are being left out, as well.

Click here to read the piece from
The Christian Post.

The Family Research Council is leading an effort established to collect 50,000 signatures to present to Mayor Bloomberg on September 9th. So far, some 55,000 have been gathered. The FRC said this in a press release:
Pastors are not invited to the event, as Mayor Bloomberg apparently thinks that the invited politicians will be able to offer enough comfort to the families. But Mayor Bloomberg's glaring omissions from the event do not end with clergy. The very people who hallowed the ground, the living embodiment of selfless courage we vowed "never to forget" -- New York's first responders -- won't even be invited.

This past weekend, as large areas of New York City were evacuated in preparation for Hurricane Irene, first responders were on vigilant alert, prepared at a moment's notice to place their lives in harm's way for others. If anything, this should have served as a reminder for Mayor Bloomberg of the sacrifices these men and women are prepared to continually make and the recognition they deserve.
For additional information, you can go to FRC's website at

Dr. Richard Land, President of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, shared his perspective on a recent edition of The Meeting House.

The ERLC website can be found at