Monday, October 29, 2012

The 3 - October 28, 2012

This week's edition of "The 3", my week-in-review feature highlighting 3 stories of relevance to the Christian community, includes court decisions on tax dollars being used to fund abortion, a controversy surrounding a Senate candidate's views on life, and a major online conference strengthening thousands of church leaders.

3 - Circuit courts issue decisions on Planned Parenthood funding

There were a couple of decisions on the Federal circuit court level this past week regarding then funding of the nation's largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood.  One of the decisions, out of the 7th Circuit, ruled that an Indiana law that prevented the state from funding Planned Parenthood was unconstitutional.   Meanwhile, in the 5th Circuit, that court refused to strike down a Texas law that restricted the state from funding the abortion seller.

Here are the stories, from
In the Indiana case, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago upheld a lower court judge’s ruling that the state of Indiana cannot defund Planned Parenthood via the state Medicaid program.

The ruling, from a three-judge panel, indicated that Indiana can’t enforce a state law signed by Governor Mitch Daniels disqualifying Planned Parenthood from participating in family planing program because it does abortions.

In May of 2011, Indiana became the first state of several to remove the abortion business out of its program in May 2011. A provision of the law would prevent Medicaid patients from obtaining services at Planned Parenthood and other facilities that provide abortions, with the exception of hospitals and ambulatory care centers. The law prohibits state agencies from providing state or federal funds to “any entity that performs abortions or maintains or operates a facility where abortions are performed.”

In response to the law, the appeals court wrote, "Although Indiana has broad authority to exclude unqualified providers from its Medicaid program, the State does not have plenary authority to exclude a class of providers for any reason—more particularly, for a reason unrelated to provider qualifications.”

Indiana had argued that Planned Parenthood makes no effort to separate the services funded by Medicaid from the other streams of its business, including abortions.

And, unfortunately, there is this false notion that Planned Parenthood provides unique forms of women's medical care that cannot be obtained elsewhere.   There is also the erroneous information circulating that the abortion seller provides mammograms, which has been repeatedly disproven.

Conversely, the 5th Circuit came to a different sort of conclusion regarding the Texas state law that prevents taxpayer funds from being sent by the state to Planned Parenthood.   The court refused to grant an additional hearing to the abortion provider regarding the state's legislation to end taxpayer funding of abortion companies.  The decision apparently effectively ends the legal controversy surrounding the law and affirms Texas’ right to stop taxpayer dollars from flowing to abortion providers.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry applauded the decision, saying, “Today’s ruling affirms yet again that in Texas the Women’s Health Program has no obligation to fund Planned Parenthood and other organizations that perform or promote abortion. In Texas we choose life, and we will immediately begin defunding all abortion affiliates to honor and uphold that choice.”

The bottom line is that the majority of Americans, in poll after poll, identify themselves as pro-life.   But, pro-abortion lawmakers who receive thousands from Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers and supporters are obligated to these high-powered donors, so they ignore the will of the majority in order to protect their friends who promote abortion.   But, the aggressive manner in which Planned Parenthood sells abortions has received a greater amount of attention, and I expect no shortage of bills that will continue to attempt to guarantee that taxpayer funds do not go toward the termination of human life.

2 - Indiana Senate candidate affirms that all life is a gift of God

There has been much debate about the significance of the so-called "social issues" on the campaign trail.  It is interesting to me that the issue of abortion, under the guise of "women's rights", continues to be a major factor.   And, the nuances among candidates in the Republican party have been highlighted by Democratic opponents.

Take, for instance, the issue of abortion in cases of rape.  Even politicians who do not support legalized abortion have typically supported exceptions in those instances, as well as incest and danger to the mother's life.   And, the small number of children conceived in the brutal circumstance of a rape have been placed in the spotlight, as opponents of Mitt Romney have attempted to highlight the legislative differences between the candidate and his running mate on that issue.  And, indeed, people of the same political stripe can disagree on a variety of issues while still remaining akin politically.

Abortion and birth control have been exploited so much in the current campaign season, as if to say that the only things that women care about are reproductive in nature.   Which leads us to an issue that became big news, temporarily, in the campaign this past week...

Indiana state treasurer Richard Mourdock, after defeating veteran Senator Richard Lugar in the Indiana Republican primary, is facing Joe Donnelly, an avowed "pro-life Democrat", who joined Bart Stupak in voting for the health care law after opposing it because of its inclusion of taxpayer funding of abortion.  In a debate the other night, Mourdock used these now-famous words, in response to a debate question on whether abortion should be allowed in cases of rape or incest:

"I struggled with in myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God.  And, I think, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen."
Politicians and pundits jumped on those words, attempting to tie Mourdock to Romney and to paint the Senate candidate as insensitive to women.   Mourdock reiterated afterward that he was saying that all life is a gift from God.

And, ultimately, Mourdock gained defenders from left and right.   The Christian Post quotes Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America:
"I think the entire issue has been blown out of proportion...The bottom line is that life begins at conception and babies in the womb are completely innocent."
And, Dr. Al Mohler quotes liberal columnists who may have disagreed with Mourdock, but thought that the reaction against him was overblown.

Amy Sullivan of The New Republic:
Take a look again at Mourdock’s words: “I came to realize that life is that gift from God. And…even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.” The key word here is “it.” I think it’s pretty clear that Mourdock is referring to a life that is conceived by a rape. He is not arguing that rape is the something that God intended to happen.”
According to Mohler, Amy Sullivan also acknowledged that Mourdock’s position is “a fairly common theological belief.”   Mohler illustrates that is also a point made by Kevin Drum, writing in Mother Jones, who registered his disagreement with Mourdock’s argument, be he was bold to ask the obvious — “can’t we all acknowledge that this is just conventional Christian theology?” He added, “What I find occasionally odd is that so many conventional bits of theology like this are so controversial if someone actually mentions them in public.”

Using the horrific incident of rape in order to score political points is offensive.   And, in a tight Presidential race, as well as the battle for the U.S. Senate, anything and everything can be used to influence a voter.   Those who are pro-choice believe that the support of abortion, as well as birth control, are winning issues, even to the extent of excoriating those who have deeply held religious convictions on those topics.

1 - "The Nines" instructs, inspires Christian leaders

This past Thursday and Friday, Leadership Network presented another installment of "The Nines" conference, which was an online event expected to attract some 40,000 church leaders.   There were more than 99 speakers who were scheduled to present 5-minute segments on a variety of what were called, "hot-button" topics. 

Speakers for this year's event included Pastor Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill Church in Seattle; Pastor Craig Groeschel from; author and speaker Francis Chan; and Pastor Rick Warren from Saddleback Church in California.

"Leadership Network is excited to support the local church and assist churches with implementing their ideas to have a greater impact in their community," said Todd Rhoades, producer of The Nines. "The Nines allows church leaders all over the world to gain new insight that can help them greatly enhance their ministries and outreach programs."

The talks by the various speakers were streamed online and there were study materials that were available, as well, to coincide with the various speakers.  

At one point, the hashtag #thenines was one of the trending topics on Twitter.  

Speaking of Francis Chan, he and David Platt, of Birmingham's Church at Brook Hills, have teamed up for a simulcast event, called, "Multiply" - available November 9th and 10th for 3 hours either evening.  It's intended to help believers in Christ be involved in making disciples, and for more information, you can go to

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