3 - The War Between the States vs. the Federal Government heats up
History tells us that the War Between the States was fought in the 1860's, but we are currently in the midst of what could be termed a War Between the States and the Federal Government, and more flashpoints emerged this week.
In Texas, the state Attorney General, Greg Abbott, is standing strong against threats of Federal money being pulled from the Texas Women's Health Program, all because the Texas Legislature had voted to keep money from the program from going to health providers that provide abortion services, including Planned Parenthood. This week, the AG's office made it official, and while states have the flexibility under the Medicaid program to set their own criteria, the Federal government is attempting to force Texas to comply with its pro-abortion agenda. This is the third state, in addition to Indiana and New Hampshire, that has faced the termination of Medicaid funds for women's health programs just because they will not allocate funds to abortion providers.
Meanwhile, the Attorneys General of 7 states have filed suit against the Obama Administration, saying that the mandate for religious institutions to provide free contraception in their health care plans is unconstitutional because it infringes on the religious liberties of the entities involved. Eric Baxter of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty was quoted in CitizenLink:
The concern is that if the government can come and say you have to do something despite protections in the First Amendment, it raises a lot of questions about liberty in general and religious liberty in particular.In addition to these 7 AG's filing suit against the contraception mandate, there are 27 states whose Attorneys General have challenged the overall health care plan, saying that the individual mandate to provide health care coverage is unconstitutional, because the Federal government does not have the right to tell private citizens to buy a product.
And, more Christian colleges announced this week they would be going to court against the contraception mandate.
In a related note, from Washington state, some good news for conscience protection - a Federal court ruled this week that pharmacists there have a right to refuse to dispense “emergency contraception” drugs, which could result in an abortion. This reverses a 2007 law that says that Washington pharmacists who do not dispense these drugs would lose their job. Pharmacists who object for religious or moral reasons now have the right to refer customers to other pharmacies.
2 - Students worldwide engage in "30 Hour Famine" for World Vision
Each year, the Christian relief agency World Vision conducts its "30 Hour Famine", which encourages students to fast for 30 hours over a weekend to experience hunger, learn about the hungry, and take practical steps to give of their resources to feed the hungry. This weekend's event was one of two planned for 2012.
World Vision offers these facts about hunger:
A child dies from hunger-related causes every 8 to 12 seconds. That’s as many as 11,000 children younger than 5 — killed every day. According to UN estimates, hunger is a direct or contributing cause in one-third to one-half of preventable child deaths.
Globally, 925 million people are hungry. That’s roughly 3 times the population of the U.S. going to bed hungry every night.
The poor spend most of their money trying not to starve. Around 2.6 billion people live on less than two dollars a day. The poor are often forced to make difficult decisions.
Again this year, members of the team at Faith Radio traveled to Nashville to the Gaylord Opryland Hotel for the annual National Religious Broadcasters convention. For us, there is a great opportunity to meet and fellowship with others in Christian broadcasting, including programmers who are heard on the stations of Faith Radio. From the Faith Radio/Meeting House booth in the exhibit hall, I had the opportunity to interview a number of Christian leaders, ministry representatives, and authors. You can check out my NRB coverage at www.meetinghouseonline.info and click on the Media Center.
Speakers throughout the convention included Jim Daly of Focus on the Family (which received NRB's "Radio Program of the Year" award), as well as Chip Ingram, Jack Graham, Miles McPherson, Michael Youssef, Max Lucado, and Greg Laurie.
In the opening session, Dr. Frank Wright, President & CEO of NRB, echoed some of the ongoing concerns of broadcasters in the expansive hall, and restated NRB's commitment to protect their freedom of speech despite some of the challenges to religious liberties that have emerged.
One of the enlightening aspects of the NRB Convention is to hear how God is working in and through his people around the world - even though the "N" in NRB stands for National, there is truly an international flavor of the gathering, and the work of Christian broadcasters in radio, TV, and the Internet, is playing a critical role in fulfilling the Great Commission. I am thankful for a vantage point from which I am able to talk with people and find out about how they are being used by God in this way.