In this week's edition of my week-in-review feature, "The 3", an official at a D.C. university has been suspended because she signed a petition to rescind the law passed by the Maryland Legislature legalizing same-sex marriage. Also, the blasphemy law in Pakistan is taking its toll on children and their families - a young man and his family are now in hiding as a result of charges brought under the law. And, the most impactful news story involves pastors across America, going into pulpits on October 7th to preach sermons about political issues and candidates.
3 - D.C. university official suspended for support of MD gay marriage repeal
The voters of Maryland will be going to the polls to attempt to undo what was done by the state legislature when they legalized same-sex marriage. There were some 160,000 signatures gathered on a petition to place a measure on the ballot to repeal that law, and one of the people who signed has been suspended by her employer as she exercised her free speech rights.
According to the Christian Examiner, the President of Gallaudet University, which caters to hearing-impaired students, has placed the school's Chief Diversity Officer, Dr. Angela McCaskill, on paid administrative leave.
Gallaudet President T. Alan Hurwitz wrote on the university's Facebook page that, "It recently came to my attention
that Dr. McCaskill has participated in a legislative initiative some
feel is inappropriate for an individual serving as Chief Diversity
Senior Counsel at the American Freedom Law Center Robert Muise said all Americans have the right to sign petitions.
“This is just a microcosm of a
really larger problem that I’m seeing across the country — Christians
who want to engage in their religious belief and express their views
are being punished,” Muise told CitizenLink.
Hurwitz stated he would use this time to determine the next his steps regarding McCaskill.
McCaskill is the first deaf African-American woman to earn a doctorate from Gallaudet University..
So, the message here - it's OK to be diverse as long as you hold to one specific position. Can't Dr. McCaskill still embrace "diversity" and express her own political views? Isn't it interesting that those who espouse diversity or tolerance seem to be intolerant of other points of view, and do not allow others to express their positions on issues? Sounds rather non-diverse to me.
2 - Children charged under Pakistan blasphemy law
A 16-year-old Pakistani boy is in hiding, accused of sending text messages denigrating the prophet Muhammed to friends and neighbors in the city of Karachi. The Christian Post reports that
Ryan Stanten has been charged under the nation's controversial blasphemy law. He and his family have been in hiding
since Tuesday night, when the cleric of the local mosque, Maulvi Ghulam
Qadir, spoke to them about the text messages, according to a report in The Express Tribune. His mother was suspended from work on Wednesday,
the day a complaint was lodged at the local police station. The same
day, protesters broke into their house, threw
the furniture and electric appliances on the road outside the colony,
and set fire to them. No arrests have been made.
1 - Record number of pastors participate in Pulpit Freedom Sunday
Last Sunday, some 1,600 pastors in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and
Puerto Rico registered to participate in what is known as "Pulpit Freedom Sunday", which has been promoted by the Alliance Defending Freedom. This number represents more than twice as many
as took part last year.
Participating pastors committed to preach sermons that
present biblical perspectives on the positions of electoral candidates. ADF states that by doing this, they will exercise their constitutionally protected
freedom to engage in religious expression from the pulpit despite an
Internal Revenue Service rule known as the Johnson Amendment that activist groups often use to silence churches by threatening their tax-exempt status. The Johnson Amendment was passed by Congress in 1954 as an amendment
to section 501(c)(3) of the federal tax code. The Amendment
states that entities who are exempt from federal income tax cannot "Participate
in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of
statements), any political campaign on behalf of – or in opposition to –
any candidate for public office."
Under the Amendment, churches or ministries that speak out Biblically on the positions of political candidates could risk the loss of their tax-exempt status.
ADF Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley is quoted as saying that, “Pastors should decide what they preach from the pulpit, not the IRS...It’s outrageous for pastors
and churches to be threatened or punished by the government for
applying biblical teachings to all areas of life, including candidates
and elections. The question is, ‘Who should decide the content of
sermons: pastors or the IRS?’”
Alliance Defending Freedom hopes to eventually go to court to have the
Johnson Amendment struck down as unconstitutional for its regulation of
sermons, which ADF believes are protected by the First Amendment.