Sunday, August 05, 2012

The 3 - August 5, 2012

This week, as I write this week-in-review feature, I am saddened by the reports out of Wisconsin concerning the incident at a Sikh temple, where at least 7 are dead, including a man who reportedly entered the house of worship and opened fire.  It is concerning that in a nation where we are free to worship and very rarely think about security in our sanctuaries, that you have someone that brings fear and death into a church building.   My top 3 stories form the previous week include the severing of a years-long financial relationship between a group supporting, even promoting, contraception outside of marriage and a group claiming to represent evangelical Christians.  Also, a Congressional vote this week indicated where a number of lawmakers stand regarding abortion and protecting life.   And, the top story - the record-setting turnout at Chick-Fil-A restaurants across America to show appreciation for their Biblical values and their president's support of traditional marriage.

3 - NAE announces no more plans to receive dollars from organization promoting contraception

The National Association of Evangelicals has been in spotlight recently as the result of a $1 million dollar grant that it received from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.    Marvin Olasky, Editor-in-Chief of WORLD Magazine, has been involved in asking some pointed questions about why the organization, which represents some 40 Christian denominations, has received money from an organization that supports contraception for unmarried people.

The NAE, in its response to some of the questions asked by Olasky, appeared to be conflicted, saying that it opposes abortion, but must address some of the realities of sex outside of marriage, and therefore must consider advising unmarried people who insist on engaging in this type of behavior to use contraception.
In a response to WORLD's reporting, the NAE issued a statement, which includes these sentences:

Evangelicals are conflicted about contraceptives outside of marriage because we never want to promote or condone sexual immorality. But we are told that contraceptives can reduce abortions and we want to stop abortions.

But, as Olasky heard from various WORLD readers, there are better ways to address the issue of pregnancy outside of marriage than promoting contraception, which, in the eyes of many, promises what seems to be, but really is not, consequence-free sexual behavior.   Abstinence outside of marriage and fidelity inside marriage are components of God's best way regarding sexuality, and to deviate from that path is to invite a host of emotional, spiritual, and even physical consequences.   And, there is research that shows that contraception is not a completely reliable method of preventing pregnancy. 

So, the point is well-taken - should a Christian organization that claims to represent a number of Christian denominations receive funding from a group that holds to an agenda that encourages behavior that is incompatible with Christian teaching?    Well, the NAE has backed off, apparently, and decided not to apply for a similar grant in the future from the NCPTUP.     Here is a conversation from The Meeting House with Marvin Olasky of WORLD:

So, what does the NAE believe?   Sometimes it is really unclear, because the Association has taken positions that are questionable in light of Biblical teaching.   And, a study released this week seems to cloud the issue about members' perspective about whether or not America is a "Christian" nation.  The study, released as part of the 2012 Evangelical Leaders Survey, shows that about 68 percent of those surveyed agreed America is not Christian while 32 said it is.  Those on both sides agreed that America is a missions field.

Of the 32 percent who said the United States is a Christian nation, most indicated that they did so because America was founded with Christian principles or because there are more Christians here than other religions.

Here are some comments from the President of the Institute on Religion and Democracy Mark Tooley:
"Presumably the NAE poll made no effort to define what a 'Christian' nation is. Is it defined theocratically by law? Is it simply demographic? Or does it describe the sum total of culture, habits, history and attitude of a people?
"Evangelical and other church leaders of 50 or 100 years ago probably would have said America was both Christian and a missions field. But for many today, one seems to preclude the other.
"There is also some confusion over what a 'Christian' nation is, with some evangelical leaders seemingly persuaded by secularists that it can only mean a coercive theocracy.
"There is a persistent disposition of many cultural elites to ignore the large majorities of Americans who consistently profess to be religious and Christian.
"With about 75 - 80 percent of Americans saying they're Christian, America is about as demographically Christian as India is Hindu or Israel is Jewish. Even today only about 4 percent of Americans specifically identify with non-Christian religions."
While we agree that America was founded on Judeo-Christian principles, many believe that to describe the U.S. as a "Christian" nation implies that we would support some sort of theocracy which excludes people of other faiths.   There is certainly some confusion, as Tooley insists, and surveys such as this can cloud the issue of what evangelical Christians really believe.   I think it's important that we are educated on the roots of our nation and recognize that religious freedom is a key, foundational component - embracing principles consistent with Scripture, which make for an orderly, well-functioning society and a citizenry possessing good moral character, and rejecting hostility toward any religion. 

2 - Congress holds vote on pro-life bill, but fails to get the necessary 2/3 of the House

One of the encouraging trends on the legislative front regarding the protection of pre-born human life is the passage of bills in various states that would outlaw abortion after the 20th week of gestation, which research shows is the point of development at which an unborn child feels pain.  Based on science, lawmakers across the country have drafted and passed legislation in a number of states.   One of those is Arizona, where a lawsuit had been filed to challenge the constitutionality of its law.   Late last week, a Federal judge had refused to strike down the law, but as the new week arrive, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had indeed intervened and ruled the law unconstitutional.

On the Congressional front, the U.S. House of Representatives took up the issue this week.    A vote was taken on the D.C. Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban abortions in the nation's capital after the 20th week of pregnancy.    And, Representatives voted 220-154 in favor of the bill.  However, because the bill was brought up under a special calendar requiring a two-thirds vote for passage, the measure failed. 

The Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life advocacy organization, supports the legislation, and cited a
recent poll commissioned by the National Right to Life Committee, which found that 63 percent of Americans, and 70 percent of women, support legislation to ban abortions past the point at which unborn children feel pain.  The NRLC poll also found that American women, by an overwhelming majority of 62-27 percent, would be more likely to vote for lawmakers who support this bill.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, President of the SBA List, reminded people that "154 members of Congress endorsed an absolutist policy of abortion on-demand, for any reason, up to the moment of birth..."   With the heavy influence of the abortion industry on lawmakers, common-sense legislation that bans certain types or categories of abortion, or proposed bills that provide greater information for women, including the ultrasound access or even requirements, are facing sizable hurdles on the state, as well as the national, level.   But, a number of state legislatures are continuing to pass these incremental measures that save the lives of pre-born children.

Here is a conversation from "The Meeting House" radio program with SBA List Vice-President of Governmental Affairs Marilyn Musgrave, with information on instances involving the life issue from the previous week:

1 - "Chick-Fil-A" Appreciation Day sets world record

The company is saying that it was the biggest sales day ever in the history of Chick-Fil-A - not a surprise, considering over 600,000 had indicated on Facebook that they would respond on Wednesday, August 1st to former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee's call for people to go to their local restaurant and show support for the company president's views on traditional marriage, as well as his right to freely state his views, without the fear of reprisals.   CitizenLink had this report on the day's activities.

This was an event that was not a protest, rather a show of affirmation for a company that embraces Christian values.   And, there's a telling aspect of this entire saga - up until a few weeks ago, the President of the United States said he believed in that definition of marriage, too, but he received a pass from the gay activist community.  You also have to consider: If Dan Cathy had been a member of another faith or no faith at all, would there have been such an outcry?   It does seem, and analysts have pointed out, that Cathy and the company have been singled out because their beliefs on marriage are consistent with the Bible and the Christian faith.   So, while many showed up to support Cathy's views on marriage, as well as his rights to free speech, the company received overwhelming appreciation, I believe, from Christians - from people of faith who may have reached a tipping point regarding the intrusion into religious liberties that they have experienced and have said collectively, "enough".

And, the media played its part, I believe in fanning the flames of mischaracterization of the Wednesday event, as well as the scheduled "Same Sex Kiss-In" at Chick-Fil-A's, where handfuls of protestors showed up at some locations, and a few even got in front of a camera.    At one Chick-Fil-A, the police had to be called out because the number of media representatives gathered (presumably looking for a story that wasn't there) were inhibiting the flow of traffic.    And, there were a couple of instances of vandalism associated with those opposed to Cathy's stance.

As Christians, we will be misunderstood as we stand for truth.  Our challenge is to communicate the message of truth in a loving manner, not to appear militant, and to even reach out to those who embrace points of view other than ours on the topic of homosexuality - and other areas - so that they will see our "good works" and glorify our Father in heaven.

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