Sunday, April 08, 2012

The 3 - April 8, 2012

On this Easter weekend edition of "The 3", consisting of 3 stories of relevance to the Christian community, I wanted to highlight the story of a sidewalk counselor in Florida who has been released from an overbearing lawsuit, students in Oklahoma who are now free to promote their events in the same manner as other organizations, and the ultimate freedom in Christ, proclaimed in pulpits and by the lives of parishioners on Easter weekend and beyond.

3 - Lawsuit against sidewalk counselor dropped

According to Liberty Counsel, after 18 months in court, the Justice Department has dropped its appeal in a lawsuit against a sidewalk counselor in Florida, Mary "Susan" Pine. The U.S. Justice Department had sought thousands of dollars in fines against Susan, as well as a permanent injunction banning her from counseling women on the public sidewalk outside the Presidential Women’s Center abortion clinic.

Federal Judge Kenneth L. Ryskamp had stated that Attorney General Eric Holder had failed to present any evidence of wrongdoing, and identified what was described by Liberty Counsel as a "cozy" relationship between the DOJ and the clinic. He also mentioned the joint failure to preserve video surveillance footage of the alleged “obstruction". Judge Ryskamp wrote, “The Court is at a loss as to why the Government chose to prosecute this particular case in the first place...The Court can only wonder whether this action was the product of a concerted effort between the Government and PWC, which began well before the date of the incident at issue, to quell Ms. Pine’s activities rather than to vindicate the rights of those allegedly aggrieved by Ms. Pine’s conduct.”

Mathew Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, commented, “It is irresponsible for the U.S. Department of Justice to place politics above principle when deciding to prosecute, and thus attempt to silence, a pro-life sidewalk counselor without any evidence of wrongdoing. When the nation’s highest law enforcement officer files suit against any citizen, the suit must be based on the law coupled with compelling evidence. Anything less is an abuse of the high office. Susan Pine will not be silenced or detoured from her mission to save the lives of innocent children.”

The DOJ also agreed to pay $120,000 in legal fees, taxpayer-funded of course (not that Liberty Counsel shouldn't be compensated, but Susan Pine should not have been in court in the first place). Pro-life sidewalk counselors go to clinics all across America, and some face rather adverse circumstances. 2 Montgomery, AL counselors will be in court soon to defend themselves in a lawsuit filed against them because they dared to step on a clinic's property in order to avoid sprinklers that had been used against them.

The work of sidewalk counselors is being used of the Lord to bring a saving knowledge of Christ to abortion-minded women. In fact, in the midst of her court case, Susan Pine counseled a woman outside of the clinic and convinced her not to have an abortion, thus saving the life of the child and possibly the mother as well. Her email to Liberty Counsel read, “We saved a life today.”

And, in another abortion clinic note, Birmingham's New Woman All Women clinic will be closing next month, due to its continued failure to meet the standards of the state department of public health.

2 - Settlement reached in case involving students' ability to promote Christian events

On Monday, the Alliance Defense Fund announced it had settled a lawsuit involving the Kids for Christ club in Owasso, Oklahoma, which had filed suit against the school district because it had in place a policy that stated, “No literature will be distributed that contains primarily religious, objectionable, or political overtones which may be beneficial to any particular group or business at the expense of others.” Based on this policy, the Owasso Kids for Christ club was not allowed to promote its activities to the community, even though other groups such as the Boy Scouts, YMCA, and local businesses were able to promote their activities to students. Here is the story from the Alliance Defense Fund website,

The district has revised the policy that the plaintiffs had claimed to be unconstitutional. According to ADF, the settlement stated that the club could post fliers on a community bulletin board and place them on a literature table in each school. Also, the club can participate in an information night held each semester for community groups to promote their activities and have announcements made over the public address system regarding cancellation of club meetings, just as other groups are allowed to do.

So, here is a case where a school district did not allow a Christian club the equal opportunity to promote its events that other clubs and organizations had. Thinking that they had to protect themselves from some sort of Establishment Clause violation, the district put in place a policy that denied the Kids for Christ club their constitutional rights - all across America, school administrators erroneously think they have to keep religion out of their schools...but this denies students their First Amendment free expression rights.

1 - Christians around the world mark the resurrection of Jesus

Across the nation and around the world, Christians celebrated Easter Sunday, or as it has come to be called in some churches, Resurrection Sunday. And on this occasion, we can think about how we can demonstrate the power of the resurrection - we can do that by living a life that shows that we love and know Him, allowing Christ to live His life through us. And, we live out the resurrected life not only in our personal holiness, but also in the way that we serve others.

According to a new Rasmussen poll, 77% of those surveyed believe that Jesus rose from the dead. 86% of American adults believe the person known to history as Jesus Christ walked the Earth 2,000 years ago. Just seven percent (7%) don’t share this belief. So, the question becomes: if over 3/4 of the population says they believe that Jesus rose from the dead, then why do we sense that the Christian faith is losing ground here in America? If 77% truly believed in the resurrection and demonstrated the power of it in a transformed life - well, imagine the possibilities!!

Palmcroft Church in Phoenix believes in the power of resurrection...they have organized a campaign to raise thousands of dollars to bring clean water to the poorest of the poor in Haiti and Ethiopia. On Thursday of this week, college students gathered for a 12-mile walk to raise funds and bring awareness. During its Easter services on Saturday and Sunday, Palmcroft brought the campaign to thousands - participants were given the opportunity to walk a 100-yard course carrying 47 pounds of water in a five gallon jerry can, in order to experience the average daily four-hour walk that most these kids have each way to get dirty water.

On Easter Sunday morning attendees were given a bottle of "Dirty Water" and encouraged to drink nothing but water for three weeks. On April 29th, people will bring back the money they saved on coffee, soda and other drinks and give it towards the clean water projects. This is one of many examples of churches that live out the power of Christ's love and His resurrection.

2 professional athletes lived out the power of the resurrection on Easter Sunday - NFL quarterback Tim Tebow spoke to some 15,000 people at an outdoor Easter service in Georgetown, Texas (near Austin). And, a professional golfer named Bubba Watson celebrated His Savior's birth by winning the Masters. Here is a profile from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

Christians celebrated their Savior's birth in Jerusalem, including a number of Coptic Christians who are, for the first time since Pope Shenouda's death, visiting Jerusalem.

There are many churches who utilize a host of creative elements in order to illustrate the story of Jesus and His death and resurrection. As attendance at churches swelled this past weekend, it gave an opportunity for pastors to not only proclaim truth from the pulpit, but for the people in the pews to be challenged to live out the power of the resurrection.

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