Sunday, December 09, 2012

The 3 - December 9, 2012

This week's edition of "The 3" includes another flashpoint regarding the observance of Christmas, this time involving a school and church in Arkansas.  Also, there is a great report from a leading Bible translating ministry this week.  And, the top story involves the nation's top court and one of our leading institutions - traditional marriage.

3 - Charlie Brown Christmas play cancelled after controversy

It seemed like a harmless holiday season field trip - a group of elementary school students in Little Rock, Arkansas, going to see a play called, "Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown".   Even though it was not mandatory, a parent reportedly was upset with the school for taking students to a local church, Agape Church.  The mother than contacted the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers (ASF), and the organization complained to the Little Rock School District on her behalf.

According to the Christian Post, the principal of Terry Elementary School, Sandra Register decided not to cancel the field trip, and school board attorneys had determined that the trip was acceptable.  However, the church announced this week that the special presentation for school students has been cancelled.

Happy Caldwell, pastor of Agape Church, issued a statement on the church's website on Wednesday, stating that while he believes the school was within its constitutional rights to bring students to the production, the church has nevertheless decided to cancel it special showing for students.

"It is not our desire to put hard working, sacrificial teachers and cast members in harm's way," wrote Caldwell. "What we want said is that we love our city, our schools, parents and families. People are at the heart of the matter to us."   Pastor Caldwell invited the students to performances at the church later this month, but not part of a field trip.

Liberty Counsel has stepped forward to offer free legal counsel and, if needed, legal defense to the Little Rock Superintendent of Schools and Agape Church to defend the right of students to attend the “Merry Christmas Charlie Brown” play at the church. 

As Liberty states on its website, "The advent of the Christmas season predictably sees atheists making outrageous assertions regarding the proper role of schools and the recognition of Christmas. The United States Supreme Court has held that the Constitution requires accommodation, not merely tolerance, of all religions and forbids hostility toward any religion. In the Christmas context, the Court upheld the constitutionality of a publicly sponsored Christmas display."

This is yet another instance in which a celebration consistent with the nature and background of the Christmas holiday, a Federally-recognized holiday has been challenged by those who want to prohibit the free exercise of religion embraced by a large majority of Americans.

2 - Number of Bible translations increasing around the world, according to Wycliffe

Wycliffe Bible Translators has set an ambitious goal of translating the Bible into every language by the year 2025, and this week, the organization released a progress report indicating that they are on track to reach that goal, as the number of Bible translations continues to be on the rise.

A report on The Christian Post website indicates that Wycliffe, along with affiliated organizations like The Seed Company and SIL International, has managed to translate the Bible into 2,075 different languages around the world.  That still leaves another 1,967 others to be translated, but the vast majority of the human population now has access to the Scriptures in their own languages.

"These statistics are very important in showing progress toward our goal of seeing a Bible translation in progress in every language community needing it by 2025," said Bob Creson, president of Wycliffe USA, in a statement shared with The Christian Post. "They demonstrate...that what we are doing is making a difference in the pursuit of our God-given mission."

For the first time ever, the number of languages with a Bible translation outnumber those without. This accounts for an estimated 5.4 billion around the world, while the remaining 1,967 languages, many of them dialects with minor variations from larger groups, are spoken by an estimated 209 million people.

New technologies and strategies have been critical in bringing God's Word to various communities.  Wycliffe and its partners are major players in reaching out to help facilitate the gospel being shared in every nation in every language.

1 - U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear cases on the definition of marriage

Currently, there are Federal appeals court decisions that have invalidated a state Constitutional amendment approved by the people of California and a Congressional act that affirmed traditional marriage - defined as one man for one woman.   And, the U.S. Supreme Court has stepped in and agreed to hear the appeals of lower court decisions.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had sided with those who had filed suit to overturn Proposition 8, approved by the voters of California, defining marriage as one-man, one-woman in the state's constitution.  There have also been a number of challenges to the Federal Defense of Marriage Act, and the high court will be evaluating one particular case - Windsor v. United States, involving a New York woman who was obligated to pay more than $363,000 in taxes on the property her late partner left her in 2007 because their Canadian marriage, while recognized by the State of New York where they lived, is not recognized under DOMA.  CitizenLink has the story on Friday's high court, high-stakes activity.

The two cases accepted by the U.S. Supreme Court will be argued sometime in March or April, with a decision expected by late June.

John Eastman, Chairman of the National Organization for Marriage, stated:  "We believe that it is significant that the Supreme Court has taken the Prop 8 case...We believe it is a strong signal that the Court will reverse the lower courts and uphold Proposition 8. That is the right outcome based on the law and based on the principle that voters hold the ultimate power over basic policy judgments and their decisions are entitled to respect."  

The defense of DOMA has fallen to the U.S. House of Representatives after the Obama Administration said that it did not support the Defense of Marriage Act.

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