Sunday, January 22, 2012

The 3 - January 22, 2012

There are plenty of significant developments this week that are relevant to Christians, and I've selected some news about the leadership in Egypt. And, I have included pro-life activities surrounding the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, and against that backdrop, the President's latest decision regarding life that has inflamed a number of religious organizations. Presidential politics takes the top slot this week, including the effect of the evangelical vote in the South Carolina primary.

3 - Islamic fundamentalists win almost half of Egyptian parliament

With the fall of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, there was plenty of speculation regarding what the government replacing his regime would look like. Even though Islam was commonly practiced in the country, the goverment was not what you would consider an Islamic government, along the lines of an Iran, for instance. With Mubarak out of the way and parliamentary elections scheduled, there were a number of factions vying for power, including the fundamentalist Islamic organization known as the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood is devoted to instilling the principles of the Koran into the fabric of society.

Mubarak was in power for some three decades, a reputable ally of the United States, and a friend of Israel. But, the U.S. administration was adamant in calling for their friend's resignation - despite the uncertainty about what the next government would look like.

According to The Christian Post, now we have a clearer picture - around 70% of the seats went to pro-Islamist parties. It appears that 47% of the parliament will be representatives associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, who is reportedly toning down its pro-Islam rhetoric in an effort to prevent a backlash in an unstable political climate. Economic issues are foremost in this northern African country, and it will be a primary challenge for the new leadership to address them. In the transition period, there has been a concern over the treatment of the Coptic Christian element, against which there have been instances of violence - and it is unclear how these Christians will fare under the new parliament.
2 - Churches commemorate Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, Obama administration makes another pro-abortion decision

Churches across America observed Sanctity of Human Life Sunday on the 22nd, which this year fell on the 39th anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade decision, essentially legalizing abortion in America. Since that ruling, an estimated more than 54 million unborn children have lost their lives. Special events have been taking place throughout the weekend, including the Walk for Life West Coast, which drew tens of thousands of life advocates to San Francisco, and the Students for Life gathering in the nation's capital, attracting young people who desire to celebrate life and to be involved in speaking out against abortion. The annual March for Life in Washington is scheduled for Monday, an event in which hundreds of thousands traditionally converge on the National Mall in DC.

Sanctity of Human Life Sunday is designed to provide encouragement for Christians to get involved in speaking out on behalf of unborn children and their families, as well as promoting a culture of life in accordance with a Christian worldview perspective. Some ways you can get involved include:
- praying for God to direct you how you can be involved in promoting a culture of life and praying for those ministries that advocate life,
- volunteering at a local pregnancy resource center as a counselor, or in another type of volunteer role, such as providing needed items for mothers who have experienced an unexpected pregnancy, such as diapers or baby items,
- being an advocate for adoption, perhaps even considering if your family is being called to adopt a child,
- communicating the message with media, using tools such as theatrical releases (such as "October Baby") or DVD's that are available ("Bella" is a feature film that comes to mind, then there's "180" from Ray Comfort, as well as Mike Huckabee's new video, "The Gift of Life"),
- familiarize yourself with websites such as Be a Voice ( from Focus on the Family, that provide tools through which people can gain eye-opening and heart-changing insight, and
- share resources, quotes, and other information through social media.

And, while Christians across America were expressing their support of the unborn and their opposition to abortion, President Obama was affirming Roe vs. Wade. In a statement, he said:
I remain committed to protecting a woman’s right to choose and this fundamental constitutional right. While this is a sensitive and often divisive issue- no matter what our views, we must stay united in our determination to prevent unintended pregnancies, support pregnant woman and mothers, reduce the need for abortion, encourage healthy relationships, and promote adoption.
You know, pro-lifers are devoted to those things, but our tactics are quite different...we believe that if abortion was less available and if more information were being given to abortion-minded women, they would make the right choice, a choice for life. And, the Administration contributed to its record of being the most pro-abortion Presidency in history on Friday, when the Secretary of Health and Human Services delivered a blow to religious organizations regarding reproductive issues: According to WORLD magazine:
On Friday the Obama administration announced it would not change the new healthcare law’s requirement that most religious groups provide their employees with coverage for contraceptives, including abortifacients like Plan B and Ella. The only exemption from the requirement is for groups that have the “inculcation of religious values” as their primary mission and who serve and employ people of that faith—which essentially only covers churches.
This becomes an issue of concern to a variety of religious organizations, who will be forced to provide contraceptives that cause abortion. Under the guise of being sensitive to religious liberty issues, the Administration has taken another step to alienate religious organizations, forcing them to take actions that violate their deeply-held beliefs.

1 - Evangelical voters help propel Gingrich to victory in S.C.

A dramatic week in the Republican Presidential race concluded with the victory of former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich in the South Carolina GOP primary. At the beginning of the week, Mitt Romney seemed to be destined to be the inevitable winner of the contest on the path to the nomination, but by week's end, questions about his tax returns and personal wealth, 2 strong debate performances by Gingrich, including the dramatic on-stage moment when he rebuked the moderator for bringing up his ex-wife's TV interview. And, furthermore, Rick Santorum was emboldened by the declaration that he was the victor in Iowa, and made aggressive statements against both Romney and Gingrich. Two candidates pulled out of the race - Jon Huntsman, who threw his support to Romney, and Rick Perry, who announced his endorsement of Gingrich.

In the end, in South Carolina, it was Gingrich, with 40% of the vote, claiming the prize and traveling on to Florida, where polling data shows Romney well ahead. Romney finished second in South Carolina, with 28%, with Santorum at 17% and Paul at 13. And, evangelicals in South Carolina were a significant force - according to the CNN Belief Blog, 2/3 of the electorate were self-identified evangelicals, and Gingrich took 44% of them. Romney and Santorum had about 21% each.

So why did a thrice-married Catholic do so well with evangelicals? David Brody of CBN had some excellent insight:

For years, Gingrich has been heavily engaged and involved in important topics that evangelicals care deeply about including (in no particular order) the fight against radical Islam and Sharia law; his stand and articulation of the Judeo-Christian principles that this country was founded on; his promises of pro-life Executive Orders once he reaches The White House; his boldness and lack of political correctness which evangelicals LOVE and his denouncing of liberal judges in America.

Let me also point out that Gingrich speaks about all of these issues in such a unique, historical, artful and compelling way so even though other candidates may share these overall views, Gingrich wraps it up so neatly that evangelicals are treated to a history lesson and leave energized.

It’s crucial to understand that Gingrich is NOT just feeding evangelicals a phony line about all these topics just to get their votes. He truly believes all of this as evident by his years of writing and talking about these topics. He has “street cred” with evangelicals on these issues.
And, Gingrich has some strong evangelical leaders in his corner, including George Barna and Don Wildmon, who are chairing the former speaker's faith coalition. Jim Garlow has worked with Gingrich for years, and Mat Staver has also come out strong for Gingrich. Other evangelicals lined up for Newt include: Tim LaHaye, J.C. Watts, and Richard Lee.

What is interesting is that Santorum did not do better than Romney, a Mormon, with the evangelical vote. The South Carolina primary was the first after a group of some 150 faith leaders met in Texas last weekend - 75% of those went for the former Pennsylvania Senator, including James Dobson, Tony Perkins, and Gary Bauer. That percentage came on the third vote, and some of those in attendance had left before it was taken. The first vote was much closer, when all the candidates were being considered, and one of the goals of the gathering was to have a two-thirds majority for one candidate - that didn't happen on the second vote, but did take place on the third. Here is the breakdown, with analysis from Kerry Picket of The Washington Times.

Romney isn't without his supporters in the evangelical community - witness Jay Sekulow and his son, Jordan, as well as high-profile Christian PR guy Mark DeMoss.
In fact, there is an "Evangelicals for Mitt" website, founded by David French (associated with the Alliance Defense Fund), and his wife Nancy. And, Ron Paul has his supporters in the faith community, including Texas pastor Voddie Baucham, who wrote a piece this week about Paul's perspective.

I think that endorsements from Christian leaders show that people of faith are intent on bringing new leadership to the Oval Office, and while they may disagree on which candidate is best to do this, they are performing a great service to the Christian community by calling attention to the candidates, their positions on issues, and their capability to lead our nation in a way that will be consistent with our values.

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