Sunday, July 29, 2012

The 3 - July 29, 2012

What a strangely active and even unnerving week it has been...welcome to my week-in-review feature, "The 3".  And, the top story that is on the minds of so many believers this week concerns the vocal group of gay activists and their supporters that is taking Chick-Fil-A to task because of the pro-traditional marriage viewpoint of its leader, as well as the hundreds of thousands who have committed to eat at the restaurant this Wednesday.  The Olympics are getting quite a lot of attention, too, and Christian athletes are testifying to the presence of Christ in their lives, and ministries are getting involved in sharing His message of love and hope.   Also, we continue to see tax dollars going to an organization that specializes in abortion - we'll take a look at the state of North Carolina.

3 - Planned Parenthood receives Federal funds in N.C. after state pulls funds

Planned Parenthood is the nation's largest abortion provider, and according to the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life advocacy organization, it ended the lives of over 329,000 pre-born children in the year 2010 alone.   Sure, Planned Parenthood provides other services to women, but so do a number of other facilities, without performing abortions. 

So, the North Carolina legislature was wise when earlier this month, it directed some $343,000 in family planning funding away from Planned Parenthood to county health departments that provide comprehensive care.  Well, enter the Obama Administration, which awarded $426,000 in Federal grants to Planned Parenthood affiliates across the Tar Heel state.  

Marjorie Dannenfelser, President of the SBA List, said: “President Obama’s decision to overrule the North Carolina legislature today marks the third time this month – and the fifth time in the last year – that he has stepped in to contract directly with the nation’s largest abortion provider."

Here's the story from an SBA List press release.

The narrative to which Marjorie was referring really begins over a year ago in Indiana, when the Administration threatened to pull $4.3 billion in Medicaid funding from the state after the legislature voted to defund Planned Parenthood. Then we have these instances from other states:
  • New Hampshire: The Obama Administration contracted directly with Planned Parenthood after the state’s elected Executive Council voted to defund Planned Parenthood. (September 2011)
  • Texas: The Obama Administration pulled $30 million in Medicaid waiver funds from Texas after the state legislature voted to defund Planned Parenthood from the waiver program. (March 2012)
  • Tennessee: The Obama Administration bypassed elected officials in Tennessee and contracted directly with Planned Parenthood after they were defunded by the state. (July 2012)
  • New Jersey: The Obama Administration awarded $3.1 million in federal funds to Planned Parenthood affiliates and other family planning groups in New Jersey, bypassing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s veto of state funding. (July 2012)

When you use the phrase "federal funds", you are referring to taxpayer dollars.   State legislatures are deciding that they do not want to put their citizen's tax dollars into the abortion industry, but the Federal government is not acting consistent with the wishes of these state lawmakers.   This action in North Carolina is just another instance of the pro-abortion agenda that is held by the current Administration.

Another example of this agenda is the mandate that religious employers provide free contraception and abortion-inducing drugs through their health plans, and this week, there was a small victory on that front, according to CitizenLink.   A federal court ordered an injunction Friday halting the implementation of a mandate that would require a Catholic-owned business in Denver to offer insurance coverage for contraception and potential abortion-inducing drugs as a federal court case proceeds.

2 - Olympics open in London, athletes seek to please God, ministries swing into action

In the wake of the spectacular opening ceremonies that were highly-viewed on NBC television, the business of winning medals and athletes representing their home countries well has commenced in earnest, and their are two major ways that the faith element is present within these Olympic games.

The first involves the athletes themselves.   Christian athletes have been identified and profiled in the days and months leading up to the games, and now that they are in the spotlight, they have the opportunity to testify to the God Whom they are trying to please, the One who has given them the gifts and abilities to compete on the highest level. 

The Christian Post has listed 10 Christian Athletes To Watch in the Olympic Games. who are representing Team USA.  They are:
1 - Kevin Durant, Basketball
2 - Charlie Houchin, Swimming
3 - Amy Rodriguez, Soccer
4 - Sanya Richards, Track & Field
5 - Jonathan Horton, Gymnastics
6 - Kendrick J. Farris, Weightlifting
7 - Arielle Martin, BMX Cyclist
8 - Jennifer Nichols, Archery
9 - Jared Frayer, Wrestling
10 - Brittany Viola, Diving

But there are quite a few other believers who are competing, as well.   Another Christian Post piece shared the faith statements of athletes such as:
  • Track and field star Lolo Jones, who has attracted attention because of her decision to remain abstinent until marriage, said in a Tweet:  "As I arrive in London for the Olympics, I'm overwhelmed with emotions. Thank you Lord for another chance and for holding me as I waited."  She has also corrected fans who think her motivation in competing is simply to win a medal.  "Sadly ppl think they prayed 4me to win Olympics & getting tons of rude tweets. Same prayer as last Olympics: to be an inspiration & honor God," Jones has shared, adding: "I never have prayed to win a gold medal at Olympics and never will. The Lord is my Shepard and I shall not want. May His will be done."
Other spotlighted athletes include:
  • Allyson Felix, also a track and field competitor, who said on Twitter, "It's official...I'm going to London!! All glory to God! I'm so thankful for the love, support & encouragement."
  • Archer Brady Ellison, who has consistently given God the glory for helping him in his journey to the Olympics.  He tweeted Friday ahead of the opening ceremony: "Here we go four years of sweat and blood and hard work to prepare for today. Thank you Lord for lettin me [be] here this week. Lets do it."
  • Marathon runner Ryan Hall caught the public's attention when he told the New York Times that he has long considered God as his coach. He shared with curious fans ahead of the Olympics how he starts out his days. "I like to start off every morning by asking God how He sees me," he tweeted.
  • Another track and field star, Bryan Clay, has also let fans know where his priorities lie, although he failed to qualify this year for the decathlon competition during the 2012 Summer Games, tweeting in May: "God first. Family second. Track third."  Clay received the 2012 Eric Liddell Award for outstanding "character at home, in the community and on and off the field of competition."
  • Soccer champ Lauren Cheney revealed the perspective she holds as she prepares to compete in London, tweeting this week: "We weren't given these talents to be mediocre. Our God is great – He deserves greatness." Her bio on Twitter refers to 2 Chronicles 16:9, which includes the passage: "For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him."
Another faith aspect of the Olympics is the number of ministry organizations who are involved in efforts to share the gospel in London.   While Athletes in Action has a significant outreach to those who are competing, there are numerous outreaches that have been organized in order to reach out to those attending.
1 - Chick-Fil-A chief affirms marriage, gay rights advocates protest

It's been quite a week for the Chick-Fil-A corporation.   The week began amid emerging reports of company President and CEO Dan Cathy's comments affirming the traditional, Biblical view of marriage.   He had made the comments to a Christian publication, The Biblical Recorder, and then the media went back and found Dan's comments on a radio show that airs once a week on a radio station in Gainesville, GA that is broadcast on the Internet.   On the Ken Coleman Show, Cathy said 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."
And, that is Dan Cathy's Biblically-informed opinion.   He has a right to it.  And, it is not unexpected from the Cathy family - their business, and their lives, have been heavily influenced by the Bible.

I believe that one reason that Chick-Fil-A has been enormously successful is that it has been founded on Christian principles.  Their being closed on Sunday reflects their commitment to Christ.  The way they treat their customers reflects an unusual devotion to going the extra mile, which is a principle taught by Jesus Himself.  And, as they stated on their Facebook page, the company has said, "going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena".  They desire to "treat every person with honor, dignity and respect -- regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender."

Isn't that the way we as Christians are to conduct our lives?  I like what the owner of a new Chick-Fil-A franchise that had its grand opening this week said, according to the Los Angeles TimesHe plans on "treating everybody with honor, dignity and respect. ... We just want to serve everybody in Laguna Hills."

There were some protestors that showed up at the grand opening, and the restaurant had to change up its tradition of offering free food to customers who generally come and camp out prior to the opening of a new location.

By the end of the week, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee's call for positive reinforcement for Chick-Fil-A, scheduled for this Wednesday, had resulted in now over 400,000 people pledging on Facebook to attend.   The mayors of Boston and Chicago have apparently walked back their threats to keep Chick-Fil-A out of the city and the mayor of New York had warned his fellow mayors not to try to restrict business because of the views of their corporate leadership, a position shared by the ACLU.    Unfortunately, in the midst of it all, long-time company spokesman Don Perry died of a heart attack on Friday - whether or not it is related to the media firestorm will perhaps never be clear, but Chick-Fil-A has had the gargantuan task of communicating a clear, consistent corporate message, and I believe it has responded to the protests in a positive, appropriate manner.  

We see corporate leaders express opinions all the time, and while people will have honest disagreements about a variety of issues, it is quite offensive to be subjected to name-calling and threats just because you express an opinion that differs from that of someone else.   Now, we do have to be careful as believers not to respond in kind to those who would attempt to villify us.  We must speak up, I believe, on relevant issues of the day, but we do so by affirming Scripture and not denigrating fellow human beings.

Chick-Fil-A is going to keep on doing what it has been doing - serving up delicious food and treating customers with friendliness and "second-mile service".  And for those who charge Chick-Fil-A with discrimination - you will definitely not find its restaurants refusing to serve someone because he or she has a different opinion on marriage or homosexuality or anything else than the Cathy family.  

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