chain of craft stores, standing against the attempt by the Federal government to force them to provide free contraception and abortion-inducing drugs through their health care plans. And, it's on to the Middle East, where violence is erupting and Christians in various nations are in greater danger.
3 - "Values Voters" join together in D.C.
This past weekend, the annual Values Voter Summit took place in Washington, D.C. Sponsored by Christian, pro-family organizations such as the Family Research Council's affiliate FRC Action, as well as Liberty Counsel and others, the Summit routinely brings together thousands of conservatives who come to be educated and inspired regarding the issues of the day.
High-profile speakers such as Republican Vice-Presidential nominee Paul Ryan, former candidate Rick Santorum, current Senator Rand Paul, Rep. Michele Bachmann, and actor Kirk Cameron were just a few of the host of people who addressed the gathering. Even Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney participated by video. Here are some of the elements of the content from FRCAction.org:
Ryan was forthright in his support for life, saying, "And in this good-hearted country, we believe in showing compassion for mother and child alike. We don't write anyone off in America, especially those without a voice. Every child has a place and purpose in this world. Everyone counts, and in a just society, the law should stand on the side of life."
Bachmann discussed the crisis in the Middle East. Representatives James Lankford (R-Okla.), Jeff Fortenberry (R-Nebr.) and Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas), spoke on a panel on protecting the family and religious liberties. Sen. Jim DeMint spoke on the importance of voters not listening to Washington and making a difference and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Virginia), in a speech he reportedly rewrote on the way over from Capitol Hill, brought the house down as he spoke passionately on why the values we all share are the reason real change needs to come to Washington.
The Values Voter Summit, which posted record attendance last year, has developed into an event where strong ideas consistent with a Christian worldview perspective are explored, and can be an opportunity for attendees to be encouraged and energized.
2 - Large evangelical-led company files lawsuit against HHS contraception mandate
So far, there have been almost 30 lawsuits filed by a variety of religious institutions and businesses against the mandate from the Administration that they provide free contraception and abortion-inducing drugs through their health care plans. Prior to this week, the only lawsuit filed by a private business, Hercules Industries, resulted in a temporary exemption for the company from participating in the mandate, pending further court action.
Now, the second private company has filed suit, and it's a large one. Hobby Lobby, a chain of hundreds of craft stores across America, is requesting an emergency injunction to prohibit what it calls the "unconstitutional" Health and Human Services policy from being enforced, according to a report on the Christianity Today website.
Hobby Lobby reportedly faces "crippling fines up to 1.3 million dollars per day" if it refuses to comply with the mandate.
Hobby Lobby CEO and founder David Green said in a statement that his company would not "abandon our religious beliefs to comply with this mandate.”
“By being required to make a choice between sacrificing our faith or paying millions of dollars in fines, we essentially must choose which poison pill to swallow,” he said.
In an op-ed piece for USA Today, Green writes:
I know people will say we ought to follow the rules, that it's the same for everybody. But that's not true. The government has exempted thousands of companies from this mandate, for reasons of convenience or cost. But it won't exempt them for reasons of religious belief. So, Hobby Lobby — and my family — are forced to make a choice. With great reluctance, we filed a lawsuit today, represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, asking a federal court to stop this mandate before it hurts our business. We don't like to go running into court, but we no longer have a choice. We believe people are more important than the bottom line and that honoring God is more important than turning a profit.
My family has lived the American dream. We want to continue growing our company and providing great jobs for thousands of employees, but the government is going to make that much more difficult. The government is forcing us to choose between following our faith and following the law. I say that's a choice no American — and no American business — should have to make.Well said! Christians who want to live their lives according to God's principles are collectively saying that they should not have to face opposition from the government in order to live out those beliefs. We are certainly in an unprecedented time - as the Family Research Council and Liberty Institute remind us in their new study of religious hostility in America (www.religioushostility.org), freedom of religion is facing multiple threats. It's important that Christians continue to be vigilant, prayerful, and firm in our faith, without resorting to demonstrating hostility ourselves.
1 - Middle East violence presents challenges for Christians in the region
The Tuesday attacks in Libya and Egypt by Muslim extremists on American embassies in those countries have spread to other nations throughout the Middle East. Much of the attention has been focused on a little-known film that allegedly insults the prophet Mohammed, the founder of Islam. But, as information continues to emerge, there is speculation that the attacks were premeditated and represented the results of planning and coordination.
The film may have been one of the catalysts, or merely the scapegoat or a straw man, but there is a significant challenge for the current Administration to mitigate the violence, and they are enlisting help from leaders in the affected nations, as well as sending in U.S. personnel to help. Pray for a reduction and the eventual elimination of this sweeping set of violent attacks.
Republicans are saying that the attacks represent a failure in U.S. policy in the Middle East, while those supporting the Obama Administration state that the policy is not at fault; rather the violence was perhaps instigated by this film - therefore, they have decried that type of expression, as well as the violent reaction.
Unfortunately, the filmmaker is described as a Coptic Christian, who is reportedly living in America. These Egyptian Christians, while not warmly embraced by the Mubarak regime, are certainly not feeling secure under the Muslim Brotherhood leadership.
Open Doors USA spokesperson Michael Wood is quoted in a report on its website:
“But it is the unpredictable momentum that suddenly creates a wave of protests and anger. Many of the Muslim fanatics link the U.S. with Christianity. So that puts believers in these hot spots such as Libya and Egypt directly in the line of fire.”This is a wave of violence that has strong religious roots and implications. Whatever the catalyst might be, it demonstrates that there is a significant, and growing, number of radical Islamists who desire to strike back at Americans. I believe the U.S. represents to them a set of values rooted in Judeo-Christian ideals, which stand at odds with the views of these fundamentalists, who view Jews and Christians as infidels, and the U.S. and Israel as their principal enemies because these countries symbolize these values.
Wood adds that Christians in Egypt, who compose 10 percent of the population, and the small community of believers in Libya need our prayers now more than ever before. “Pray that the violence over this film does not spread to other countries…that is the No. 1 prayer request,” he says.