On this edition of "The 3", my week-in-review feature, a health update on a major evangelical leader who became ill and had surgery this weekend, plus faith-based movies making an impact in theaters. And, the top story involves activity at the U.S. Supreme Court this week concerning the massive health care reform law.
3 - Colson taken ill at Wilberforce conference, has surgery
According to The Christian Post, Chuck Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship, was hospitalized during the Wilberforce Weekend Conference in Virginia, which was sponsored by the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. He had surgery Saturday morning and reports are that he is resting and should be released early in the coming week. The Conference is designed to "encourage Christians to break the spiral of silence when it comes to the sanctity of human life, traditional marriage, and religious freedom." Well-known advocate for people with disabilities Joni Eareckson Tada received the 2012 William Wilberforce Award at the conference this year.
2 - Faith-based movies make an impact at hundreds of theaters
The life-affirming film "October Baby" remained in the top 12 of movies over the previous weekend, which was led yet again by "The Hunger Games". Showing in less than 400 theaters, "October Baby" depicts a young girl who, after learning that she was adopted and an abortion survivor, goes on a protracted search for her birth mother. "October Baby", produced by the Birimingham-based brothers Jon and Andy Erwin, still held to a per-screen average of over $2000. The movie will likely roll over the $3 million mark in total box office this week. Check out the website at www.octoberbabymovie.net.
Meanwhile, last Tuesday, over 500 theaters hosted a special live event coinciding with the release of the film from Kirk Cameron, "Monumental: In Search of America's National Treasure". The event featured a message from Kirk, as well as a screening of the film, which debuted at a selected number of theaters this past weekend, including the Rave in Montgomery. The film is a documentary that traces the philosophy of some of the founders of our nation and is designed to illustrate some of the Christian principles upon which the nation was built. For more information, go to www.monumentalmovie.com.
These films, along with the anticipated release of "Blue Like Jazz", based on the Donald Miller book, which is coming up in a couple of weeks, continue to illustrate that there is an interest in films that are consistent with the Christian faith - now, it's important that these types of films are supported, in order to reinforce what the distributors are sensing.
1 - Supreme Court considers national health care law
It was a series of court sessions greatly anticipated ever since the passage of the massive national health care law two years ago. Christians and Christian organizations had expressed concern over the expansion of government control into health care decisions, as well as the use of taxpayer money to fund abortions. The structure of the law could lead to rationing of care, which is a threat to some of the most vulnerable Americans, including the elderly and those with disabilities. Two Christian legal advocacy organizations, Liberty Counsel and the Thomas More Law Center, had filed lawsuits against the law, as did 27 state attorneys general. Polling data shows that the law is unpopular with the American people.
So, against this backdrop, the U.S. Supreme Court held 3 days of oral arguments in appeals of lower court decisions. The first day's testimony concerned where the penalty for those who do not purchase health insurance could be considered a "tax" - if so, a challenge cannot be filed until it is collected. The second day concerned the constitutionality of the individual mandate - i.e., can an American citizen be forced to buy a particular product? And, on the final day, the court considered the so-called "severability" of that mandate - could the law go into effect, even without that mandate, which is intended to provide the funding for the law? And on the third day, the court considered how states' Medicaid funds would be affected by the law.
There are plenty of experts to go around on this case, and judging from reports of the questions and comments from the justices, there is compelling evidence that the individual mandate could be struck down. But, how that would affect the implementation of the health care law is unclear. The justices are presumably writing their opinions after voting on Friday on how they would rule, and it does seem that if they strike down the mandate, then the law will be sent back to Congress to rewrite the law so that it would work without that mandate.
It does seem to be a slippery slope - if Americans can be told one day that they have to buy health insurance, then what will the government tell them they have to purchase the next day? There certainly is an element of our basic freedom that is at stake here. I believe that, from a Christian perspective, if we are told we have to purchase something, even items, such as contraception or abortion-inducing drugs, that are against the dictates of our consciences, then it opens the door for a centralized power to force us to make other decisions that we may find objectionable. And, overall, this law can contribute to the whole mindset of a greater dependence on government, rather than a reinforcement of our own individual liberties, including our right to depend on God.