3 - Countries reject views of homosexuality as promoted by U.S
As the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act and issued no decision regarding California's Proposition 8, defining marriage as one-man and one-woman, it is generally thought that those decisions, combined with Justice Anthony Kennedy's refusal to intervene to stop California from issuing gay marriage licenses, will lead to a greater level of acceptance for same-sex marriage. Even though there are still over 3 dozen states that bar same-sex marriage, we as Christians have to be prepared for the reality of gay marriage and how we can respond Biblically to it.
In some foreign countries, officials are responding in a less-than-approving manner toward same-sex marriage. Even though, according to Reuters, same-sex marriage is legal in 15 countries, including seven in Western Europe, there are countries who are attempting to turn back an international tide turning toward gay marriage.
Just over 2 weeks ago, the Russian Duma voted unanimously, 444-0, to support legislation that bars same-sex foreign couples from adopting Russian children. Reuters reports that the same-sex adoption ban was rushed through parliament after Putin said in late April that a new French law allowing same-sex marriage went against traditional Russian values. It also bars adoptions by unmarried foreigners from countries where same-sex marriage is legal.
The same-sex adoption ban, according to Reuters, fits into a Kremlin campaign to restrict foreign adoptions. In December, President Vladimir Putin signed a law banning all adoptions by Americans, a move motivated by disputes with Washington over human rights and what Russia says is the insufficient prosecution of adoptive U.S. parents suspected of abuse.
And, African leaders are responding negatively toward comments by President Obama about gay marriage. Visiting a number of nations last week, the President drew comments by the President of Senegal and the Deputy President of Kenya. According to the Christian Post, the President, while speaking in Senegal, commended the U.S. Supreme Court's rulings on the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8, and encouraged African governments to reconsider their policies toward homosexuality.
Senegalese President Macky Sall responded to Obama by contending that Senegal is not "homophobic," and added that the country is "not ready to decriminalize homosexuality."
Last Sunday, while speaking at a Catholic church, Kenya Deputy President William Ruto urged Obama to "respect Kenyans" and their belief that homosexuality is a sin. He is quoted as saying that, "No one should have any worry about Kenya's stand as a God-fearing nation. President Obama is a powerful man but we trust in God as it is written in the Bible that cursed is the man who puts trust in another man." Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta also dismissed Obama's comments on same-sex marriage at a separate religious event on Sunday. Homosexuality is against the law in those countries.
For years, we have had to be concerned about American officials who have attempted to export abortion and homosexuality by promoting them in other countries. And, we have lawmakers, including judges that want to import international law in order to render their decisions. Certainly, there has been a concerning philosophical reversal, as there are those representing America who are interested in influencing foreign nations, but not according to the values to which we have held for hundreds of years.
2 - Abortion restrictions across America: TX legislature reconvenes, Wisconsin approves ultrasound bill, OH budget contains pro-life provisions, NC Senate passes new regulations
While the eyes of many across America were on the state of Texas, a number of states within the past week have moved to enact restrictions on abortion. In Texas, after a confusing close to the regular session of the Legislature resulted in the passage of a bill that would put an abortion ban into effect after 20 weeks, but the clock had run out due to the delaying tactics of pro-abortion proponents in the Senate chamber. Governor Perry vowed to call a special session to get the bill passed, and this week, the Legislature returned to Austin and enabled the Governor to make good on that promise. The bill also requires abortion clinics to meet basic health and safety standards.
The contentious atmosphere remained in and around the state capitol, and a disturbing scene ensued on Tuesday, as pro-abortion activists chanted "Hail Satan" as pro-life residents began singing the hymn Amazing Grace outside the state capitol building.
ChristianNews.net reports that blogger Adam Cahm captured the chanting on video, and a number of pro-life residents present posted about the matter on Twitter and Facebook.
“It’s been a very interesting day at the Texas State Capitol,” Cahm wrote. “LetTexasSpeak has been doing a live broadcast from the rotunda where women have been sharing their abortion related testimonies. The pro-abortion crowd has responded with repeated chants of ‘Hail Satan.’”
“Crowd of anti-abortion activists giving speeches while a group of people chant ‘Hail Satan’ in the background,” also Tweeted Josh Rubin of CNN.
The Texas bill is likely to pass, as it is working its way through the Legislature. Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker signed Sonya's Law this week. The new law requires that women seeking abortions in Wisconsin be given the opportunity to see their unborn children through ultrasound. It also provides that abortion doctors have hospital admitting privileges. LifeNews.com has this coverage.
In Ohio, Governor John Kasich has signed a budget that contains several pro-life provisions, according to LifeNews.com. The budget includes 5 provisions endorsed by Ohio Right to Life: 1) Reprioritization of family planning funds away from Planned Parenthood, 2) A heartbeat informed consent requirement, 3) Establishment of new funding for pregnancy centers, 4) A ban on public hospitals from entering into transfer agreements with abortion clinics, and 5) Strengthening of abortion clinic regulation. The Senate in North Carolina this week, despite the presence of protesters, passed a bill that would require a set of basic standards for abortion clinics, forcing them to meet the same criteria required of ambulatory care centers.
These are just a few states that are enacting common-sense legislation that is designed to protect the lives of unborn children and provide for the safety of women. Even though it is a long and unlikely road to pass Federal legislation placing restrictions on abortion, states are recognizing the importance of such legislation and stepping up to pass these bills.
1 - Change in leadership in Egypt; Coptic Christians in the mix
It was a remarkable week in Egypt, as the Egyptian military deposed former President Mohammed Morsi and named new leadership in the wake of large protests in the heart of Cairo and the signatures of some 22 million people demanding his removal from office. This occurred 48 hours after the Egyptian military issued an ultimatum to Morsi to broker a new agreement with his political opponents or be removed from power. The military suspended the Constitution and installed an interim government. New elections are expected later this year.
The Pope of the Coptic Christian Church was apparently an active player in the most recent turn of events in Egypt. According to ChristianityToday.com, he tweeted out on Tuesday:
"It's wonderful to see the Egyptian people—through the idea of Tamarod and its youth—taking back their stolen revolution in a peaceful way."
Tamarod is the name of the grassroots rebel movement that organized the petition.
Pope Tawadros II of Egypt was on hand on Wednesday at a press conference announcing the formation of the new interim government. A Christian Post report highlights how Egyptian Christians were instrumental in what took place.
Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, author of A Battle for the Soul of Islam: An American Muslim Patriot's Fight to Save His Faith and president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy said that Coptic Christians and "the other Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox communities, they'll tell you their status was more beleaguered and more fearful than it ever had been." He said that, "They played a significant role in raising the masses." He also predicted that Egypt's historic Coptic community and "some of the women's groups" will "play a huge role" in the political movements going forward.
Unfortunately, there are already reports of Coptic Christians being targeted by radical elements aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood. The Christian Post reports that masked men shot and killed a Coptic priest on Saturday, and other attacks on the minority group were reported in Egypt. On Friday, unidentified gunmen also attacked security personnel at checkpoints in North Sinai, killing five police officers and a soldier, according to Reuters. Also on Friday, a Coptic Christian was injured and houses and shops belonging to Christians were burned in southern Luxor Governorate.
The road has not been easy for Christians in Egypt, and their condition apparently worsened during the Morsi regime. Even though Coptic Christians, at some 9 million strong, have been influential in the movement to remove Morsi from power, in light of these signs of retaliation that are already being seen, they will need strength and protection in a difficult struggle.