3 - Christian leaders, ministries respond to Colorado Batman shooting
In the wee hours of the morning on Friday, as moviegoers across America went to midnight showings of the new Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises", dark and troubling images began to emerge from Aurora, Colorado, as a masked gunman opened fire in a packed theater, taking the lives of a dozen and wounding over 50 more. A suspect, James Holmes, has been taken into custody.
While the details were still being sorted out, ministry leaders began to speak out and to get involved in ministering to those affected by the massacre. The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team, which was already in Colorado to minister to the victims of the wildfires there, immediately travelled to Aurora to try to bring some peace and comfort to the community. Greg Steir of Dare 2 Share, a Colorado-based ministry that reached out in the aftermath of the Columbine shootings, offered his thoughts in The Christian Post.
The leader of another ministry in the state, Focus on the Family, spoke out. Focus President Jim Daly is quoted by The Christian Post as saying: "What happened up in Aurora ... was the product of pure evil. It was the result of a depraved individual taking his free will to the extreme..."
In another Post article, it was noted that author and apologist Lee Strobel adjusted his scheduled message for this weekend at Cherry Hills Community Church in Highlands Ranch: "The community has been terribly shaken by the tragic shooting in Aurora. Christians have been responding with prayer vigils and reaching out to hurting families with support and counseling...Our church swung open our chapel for prayer and scrapped plans for our Sunday services. I was supposed to speak on the topic of marriage, but we've postponed that so I can address the question on many minds: Why does God allow tragedy and suffering?"
Strobel went on to say that, "it's important for people to understand that God is not the creator of evil and suffering; that even though suffering isn't good, God can use it to accomplish good; that the day is coming when suffering will cease and God will judge evil; that our suffering will pale in comparison to what God has in store in eternity for His followers; and that we need to decide whether to turn bitter or turn to God for peace and courage."
Dr. Chris Hill, senior pastor of The Potter's House of Denver, opened the church for special prayer at 12 noon on Friday. Pastors and grief counselors were available to counsel with anyone in need.
2 - Chick-Fil-A president offers viewpoint on values, gay marriage
The fast-food restaurant chain that has been established on Christian values and is closed on Sunday has encountered some opposition for several years now. Chick-Fil-A appeared on some gay activist groups' radar when it gave free food to a FamilyLife "Art of Marriage" conference being sponsored by a Pennsylvania organization that has a history of standing strong for traditional marriage. This resulted in the chain being targeted on a few college campuses because of its activities regarding this conference, which promotes God's blueprint for a strong marriage - a one-man, one-woman marriage.
Another round of opposition to Chick-Fil-A's Christian values has come recently regarding comments made by Dan Cathy, President of the company and son of its founder, Truett Cathy, who celebrated his 91st birthday in March. Dan was interviewed by the Biblical Recorder, and here is an excerpt, reprinted by Baptist Press:
Some have opposed the company's support of the traditional family. "Well, guilty as charged," said Cathy when asked about the company's position.Mainstream media outlets took those comments, as well as comments made by Cathy on the Ken Coleman radio show back in June, and began to use words like "anti-gay" to describe the practices and philosophy of the restaurant chain. Baptist Press quoted Dan as saying on the radio show:
"We are very much supportive of the family -- the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that."
"As it relates to society in general, I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, 'We know better than You as to what constitutes a marriage,'..."I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we would have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is all about."
According to Baptist Press, the company issued a statement Thursday (July 19) telling its customers that "going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena" and that its tradition is "to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect -- regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender." It also noted that it has applied "biblically-based principles" to business management and will continue to do so.
The statement was posted to the company's page and has received (as of mid-Sunday afternoon) over 63,000 likes and over 20,000 comments. Family Research Council shared a positive Facebook post which has received over 4,500 likes and over 1,000 comments, as well.
The same article quoted Glenn Stanton of Focus on the Family, who said:
"...here we have the CEO of a clearly on-the-record traditional values company simply saying he supports the traditional family and how tampering with it is contrary to God's will. And the split-second reaction from these activists is to slander him and his company in the press and blogosphere. It just takes one company taking an alternative position to make the gay activists and liberal press hit the ceiling. But that's where we are today."Stanton said the message by some opponents of Chick-fil-A apparently is, "Speak up for the natural, traditional family and we will come after you."
Chick-Fil-A is being portrayed in a negative light simply for its leader reaffirming Biblical values. As these groups have a right to express their own opinion, so Mr. Cathy should have the same right to share his Biblically-informed views.
1 - Christian communicators and retailers converge on Central Florida for major convention
This past week in Orlando, CBA (formerly known as the Christian Booksellers Association) presented its annual International Christian Retail Show, bringing together Christian retailers, distributors, and publishers, as well as a variety of authors, filmmakers, musical artists, and others for the purpose of education, motivation, and fellowship. The event took place in Orlando at the massive Orange County Convention Center, and thousands attended.
Curtis Riskey, Executive Director of CBA, visited the Faith Radio/The Meeting House display outside the exhibit hall, where I was conducting interviews during the conference:
According to CBA, sales of Christian products by CBA member suppliers through all distribution channels are valued at more than $4.63 billion. CBA is the trade association for approximately 1,700 Christian stores, including independents, regional and national chains, church-owned stores, franchises, and marketing groups, plus more than 500 book publishers, record companies, gift companies and other product suppliers.
Riskey is quoted on the CBA website as saying that, “This Channel sells more Christian products than all the other channels combined...Christian retail’s unparalleled assortment means increased choice for the customer and greater exposure for the supplier. Suppliers understand that Christian retailers are joined with them in their mission, and are committed at a heart level. For us, ‘Christian’ is not a category; it’s a store-wide commitment.”
The event provided a great opportunity to interface with a number of high-profile Christian communicators. You can listen to or download audio through the Meeting House website at www.meetinghouseonline.info or go to www.faithradio.org/media. An album of pictures from the event (special thanks goes to my son, Eric) can be found here.