Sunday, March 10, 2013

The 3 - March 10, 2013

In a week that ended with the announcement that the conclave to choose the next Pope would begin meeting on Tuesday of the coming week and with Tim Tebow speaking before 10,000 at Liberty University, there were a number of significant news stories, such as the actions of the Arkansas Leislature, taking bold steps to defend the unborn.   Also, students on what is expected to be almost 600 campuses are standing together against human trafficking.   The top story is the actual premiere of "The Bible' miniseries, the ratings of which exceeded anything on broadcast television last Sunday night and is the most-watched cable entertainment telecast in 2013.

3 - Arkansas bill bans abortion after 12 weeks, legislature overrides gubernatorial veto

The flurry of pro-life bills in state houses over the past 2 years has served to protect the lives of unborn children nationwide.  And, while some states have passed laws banning abortion at 20 weeks, the time of gestation when it has been medically proven that an unborn baby can feel pain, lawmakers in Arkansas have taken it up another notch with the "Human Heartbeat Protection Act".

According to Liberty Counsel,  the bill states that when an abortion is performed at or after the 12th week, doctors must test for a fetal heartbeat before an abortion is performed.  If a heartbeat is detected, a woman cannot have an abortion, except in cases of rape, incest, and if a mother’s life is in danger.

State Senator Jason Rapert is the primary sponsor of the bill.  Liberty Counsel also provided counsel on the bill.  Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel says, "The Human Heartbeat Protection Act is a commonsense bill that comports with medical science about human development. It protects the life of the pre-born child and the mother."

The bill was initially vetoed by Governor Mike Beebe, but legislators in the Arkansas Senate and House voted to override the veto.  

Staver points out that, “...personal injury, criminal, and wills and estate law, the law has continued to recognize the unborn child as a human with legal protections, not merely a ‘potential’ human being...The U.S. Supreme Court’s abortion cases are an aberration to law and stand on an island by themselves, and that island will one day disappear. We need to protect human life at all stages of development."

So, Arkansas joins a host of states that has taken bold steps to protect life.   Now, the sponsor of the heartbeat bill wants to prevent taxpayer money from going to Planned Parenthood.   According to, Sen. Rapert is calling for the state to prohibit any state or federal funds from going toward any entity that performs abortions. It’s a measure that’s aimed at cutting off public funding to Planned Parenthood, which doesn’t perform surgical abortions in Arkansas but distributes the abortion pill at two facilities in the state. Arkansas’ only clinic that performs surgical abortions is in Little Rock.

2 - Students "Stand for Freedom", oppose modern-day slavery

There is a huge groundswell of support for ending human trafficking, expressed in a number of ways, including the "End It" movement in association with the January Passion conference in Atlanta.  International Justice Mission has launched its Stand for Freedom campaign, in which students are being asked to stand for a total of 27 hours in order to raise awareness and funding regarding ending modern-day slavery.  Over 500 campuses have events scheduled through March 15th - already, a number of campuses have held their events.   The number "27" is significant - it reminds us that 27 million people are enslaved around the world.   And, the IJM effort is attempting to raise some $270,000 to combat slavery.

The organization is also encouraging people to sign a petition, to be sent to President Obama.  The petition asks the president to provide leadership on a comprehensive plan to eradicate slavery at home and abroad.  Last year, more than 73,000 Americans joined IJM in calling on the President to make the fight against modern-day slavery a priority.  Last fall, President Obama called human trafficking “one of the greatest human rights causes of our time,” and recommitted the U.S. to leadership in the fight to end slavery for good.

I'm sure we'll be hearing some exact numbers in the coming days, but social media reports indicate a good bit of excitement and participation about this particular cause, a cause that is consistent with the heart of God, who sent His Son so that all may be free.

1 - "The Bible" number one cable TV event of the year

Last week, I covered the anticipation leading up to the premiere of "The Bible" miniseries.   The results are in for week 1, and the television event, produced by reality show creator Mark Burnett and his wife Roma Downey, was seen by 13.1 million viewers and scored a 3.3 rating among adults 18-49.  According to CNN, that's more viewers and a higher demo rating than any show on the major broadcast networks on Sunday night (including Burnett's own All-Star Celebrity Apprentice on NBC) and ranks as cable's most-watched entertainment telecast this year.  If you include the show's repeat, the viewership rises to 14.8 million for the night.

In a statement, Burnett and Downey stated: "We could not be more thrilled with this out of the gate success...The world is watching right now and we are incredibly humbled by the reaction to the series. This No. 1 series is a tribute to all those who have helped us to spread the Word. Ultimately 'The Bible' will be seen and felt by billions around the globe ...Today, more people are discussing God's chosen people — Moses and Abraham — in one day than ever before."

And, according to the Christian Post, Mark Burnett, when interviewed by Entertainment Weekly, said: "Weird things happened during filming."

He cited one such incident that happened when the crew was filming a night scene between Jesus and Nicodemus.  Reportedly, when Jesus referenced the Holy Spirit as being like the wind, a huge gust of air blew across the entire crew for 20 seconds, which was filming the scene on a very still night in the Sahara desert.

In another incident, the set's snake wrangler, who usually recovered one or two snakes per day on set to protect crew members, found 48 cobras and vipers hidden near the scene of the cross, where the crew was to film Jesus' crucifixion.

The third incident, according to Burnett, happened when the crew was filming a baptism scene in a giant Sahara reservoir and part of Jesus' detailed costume, which took months to create, floated away.   Burnett said that a young boy from miles away returned the costume days later.

Tonight is installment 2 of the miniseries.   There has been plenty of discussion about it, and people have registered all sorts of opinions; some good, some not-so-good.  Alleged historical inaccuracies, the choices of Biblical events portrayed, and production values have all come into question - but one thing is for sure:  for Christians and hopefully for non-believers, people are talking about "The Bible" - the miniseries, and most importantly, the book.

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