Sunday, February 10, 2013

The 3 - February 10, 2013

This week's edition of "The 3", my week-in-review feature, includes a "he said, she said" scenario between a major northern university and a Christian club that claims that it was removed from campus.   Also, the ongoing saga of the Boy Scouts' reconsideration of their long-standing beliefs concerning gays in leadership and membership had another significant step this week.  The top story, from this year's National Prayer Breakfast, involves a well-known neurosurgeon that commented on health care, among other things, sharing a stage with President Obama.

3 - University of Michigan reinstates booted Christian club - well, maybe

The ongoing story regarding the standing of Christian clubs on a university campus yielded another chapter this week, as the University of Michigan had informed the Asian InterVarsity Chrisitan Fellowship that it had slightly revised a policy that would have forced the club to relocate off campus.

Here's the backstory: according to a Religion Today piece, members of AICF were summoned last December before university officials, who told them there was an issue with the section of their club constitution related to leadership.  In order for students to be InterVarsity leaders, they must sign a statement of faith, but the university said that requirement violated its nondiscrimination policy.  

InterVarsity member Sara Chang said the group was given the option of submitting a revised constitution, but she and the other students decided to stand firm in their faith.  As a result, the club says that the university de-recognized the group -- forcing them to relocate off campus.  But, the University is saying that the  chapter did not complete its annual re-registration process by the Sept. 30 deadline, a requirement of all student organizations.  Greg Jao, an InterVarsity national field director, called the university's claim "factually inaccurate," saying the group had not submitted its constitution because the university would not recognize it.

Jao told CitizenLink that the school e-mailed the group Monday with news of an “exception” to the policy for religious organizations.   He said that while the change is encouraging, it is not enough.  Jao related that,  “They have said that the exception affords us no protection if someone complains against the rule...”  Jao said, "This leaves tremendously big hole” in the policy.

AICF will meet with school officials next week to ask for more protection in the revised policy, Jao said.

This is not an unusual scenario - universities, both public and private, have attempted to force Christian organizations to comply with "non-discrimination" or "all-comers" policies.   Because state universities are governmental entities, the organizations have more of a recourse than at a private school, where the respective boards can set their own policies for Christian groups.   But, in attempting to force religious organizations to allow leaders and members that do not reflect their values, it places these groups in an unenviable position and shows the universities to be less-than-respectful of the religious liberties of the members of these various organizations.

2 - Scouts delay decision on gay leaders and members

It was last week's #2 story, and the consideration by the Boy Scouts of America about revising their membership and leadership policies to include gay scoutmasters and scouts continues to generate response and make news.   It was anticipated that the national board of the Scouts would make a decision this week, but instead it decided to "kick the can down the road" - opening the potential policy change up to its national council.

According to the Family Research Council, one of the leading voices encouraging people of faith to get involved in contacting the BSA board and expressing concern about this possible change, the Scout leadership has stated:  "In the past two weeks, Scouting has received an outpouring of feedback from the American public. After careful consideration and extensive dialogue within the Scouting family, along with comments from those outside the organization, the volunteer officers of the Boy Scouts of America's National Executive Board concluded that due to the complexity of this issue, the organization needs time for a more deliberate review of its membership policy."

FRC goes on to say that:
Fortunately for the millions of active Scouts, the BSA intends to involve a much larger group of true stakeholders in its decision. "The roughly 1,400 voting members of the national council will take action on the resolution at the national meeting in May 2013," the organization said. That's welcome news for parents and local councils, who were reluctant to leave the policy's fate in the hands of corporate executives with political ties that run counter to the time-honored values of the Scouts. Although the road to May will be a rocky one, the decision now rests where it belongs: with the people who best appreciate the risks--and the Scouts' longstanding principles.
Christian organizations will no doubt be diligent in encouraging individuals, families, and the numerous churches which host Scout troops, to share their opinion on this critical matter.   For over 100 years, the Scout organization has upheld Christian values, encouraging "duty to God" and moral behavior.    Under intense pressure, the organization is making what many feel is an ill-advised and unnecessary consideration.

1 - National Prayer Breakfast features renowned neurosurgeon

Each year, the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington is an event that brings together people of power connected to the nation's capital, and the President of the United States is one of the two speakers.  The other speaker, the keynote, is someone who has demonstrated an ability to communicate and apply faith to his or her endeavors.  The overall event is designed to place a spiritual emphasis related to activities in Washington.  Although the past speaker list has not been exclusively Christian, the last 3 speakers have been identified with evangelical Christianity - filmmaker Randall Wallace in 2011, Eric Metaxas last year, and this year, a return engagement with famed pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson of Johns Hopkins University.

This was Carson's second address to the gathering.  His first was in 1997, in the presence of then-President Bill Clinton.   If you're familiar with Carson, you expect him to be direct, compassionate, and outspoken.   And, in the presence of President Obama, whose key accomplishment in his 4+ years in office has been the burgeoning health care law, Dr. Carson made some choice comments care.

According to the Drudge Report, he said:
Here's my solution: When a person is born, give him a birth certificate, an electronic medical record, and a health savings account to which money can be contributed -- pretax -- from the time you're born 'til the time you die. When you die, you can pass it on to your family members, so that when you're 85 years old and you got six diseases, you're not trying to spend up everything. You're happy to pass it on and there's nobody talking about death panels.
On debt, according to the Heritage Foundation's blog, The Foundry, Carson said:
“One of our big problems right now is our deficit,” Dr. Carson states. “Our national debt, 16 and a half trillion dollars—you think that’s not a lot of money? Counting one number per second, you know how long it would take to count to one trillion—507,000 years.”
Dr. Carson continued:
I don’t like to bring up problems without coming up with solutions… What about our taxation system? It is so complex, there is no one who can possibly comply with every jot and tittle. That doesn’t make any sense. 

What we need to do is come up with something that’s simple. The inherently fair principle is proportionality: you make 10 billion dollars, you put in a billion. You make 10 dollars, you put in one. Of course, you have to get rid of the loopholes.

Some people say, ‘That’s not fair! It’s doesn’t hurt the guy who made 10 billion dollars.’ Where does it say you have to hurt that guy? He just put a billion dollars into the pot!
And, The Blaze cites this daring line:

“When I pick up my Bible, you know what I see? I see the fairest individual in the universe — God — and he’s given us a system. It’s called tithe.”
While Dr. Carson may not have the persuaded the President to see things from his perspective, what he has done is elevate the national discussion about debt, the deficit, health care, and more.  The coverage of this event has been extensive, and when you recognize Dr. Carson's deeply held Christian beliefs, you see that his approach and demeanor reflect the principles and character of Christ.

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