3 - New Jersey governor signs law against gay reparative therapy for children
There has been some debate about the validity of so-called "gay reparative therapy", which is designed to help those who are facing unwanted same-sex attractions to experience freedom from them. Obviously, those that embrace the gay rights agenda do not want to acknowledge that it is possible to break free from the pull and practice of homosexuality. But, there are those who recognize that it is possible to change, including those who embrace the Biblical teaching that homosexuality is a sin and that it is possible to overcome the power of sin through Jesus Christ.
The aim of gay reparative therapy is to help those who struggle. This week, Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey signed a bill that would make it illegal for therapists to help children struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions. New Jersey becomes only the second state in the country to have such a law, joining California.
Liberty Counsel announced that it would be filing suit against the law, just as it did against California's law that became effective last year. Liberty Chairman Mat Staver was quoted by CitizenLink as saying that, “The bill is so broad that parents would be prohibited from seeking help for their son who developed unwanted same-sex attractions after being molested...Counselors would only be allowed to affirm these unwanted feelings as good and normal. This is absurd and dangerous.”
Pacific Justice Institute also took legal action in California and said it would fight the New Jersey law.
PJI President Brad Dacus said that one of the bill’s major flaws is that it’s based on pressure from gay activists, and not on scientific outcomes. He said, "The question here isn’t if sexuality comes from birth or not; the question is ‘Should we allow the government to restrict religious and constitutional freedoms because a forceful LGBT lobby says we should?’...The answer to that question is a resounding ‘No.’”
2 - Harvest Crusade draws thousands in Southern California with high-profile speakers and musical guests
People CAN change...by the power of Jesus Christ! That is the message delivered on Saturday night at Angels Stadium in Anaheim, the site of the latest Harvest Crusade, featuring speaker Greg Laurie. Some 34,000 people showed up that night, according to The Christian Post, after some 28,000 attended the first. Over 3,000 made professions of faith the second night alone, after around 2,500 responded to the invitation on Friday.
In addition to Laurie, Max Lucado spoke on Friday night. The final night, Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson was interviewed by Pastor Laurie in front of some 43,000 people at the stadium. Musical artists during the crusade included TobyMac, Third Day, Phil Wickham, and for King and Country.
In his Saturday night sermon, Laurie warned, "You can't change yourself any more than a drowning person can save themselves." He stated, "The Bible says the problem is within. The heart of the problem is the problem of the heart… The human heart is deceitful."
But there is good news. "God can change you; He can make you a different person on the inside," Laurie said. He explained that the Bible says if you are in Christ, you are a different kind of a person and everything becomes fresh in you. He said, "That can happen to you tonight, just as it happened to 2,500 people last night."
The Harvest Crusades move east next month, to Philadelphia, where Greg Laurie will be joined by MercyMe, Kirk Franklin, Jeremy Camp, Lecrae, and others for Harvest America. It will be simulcast live to church locations across America Saturday and Sunday, September 28 and 29. To learn more, visit HarvestAmerica.com.
1 - New Mexico Supreme Court rules against photographer wishing to not photograph same-sex wedding ceremony
The New Mexico Supreme Court has issued a ruling in the case of a photographer who decided not to photograph a same-sex ceremony. Apparently, same-sex marriage is not legal in the state (even though a report is out that a circuit clerk is issuing same-sex license and the attorney general is not doing anything about it). Elane Photography objected to shooting such a "ceremony" based on their religious beliefs.
According to ChristianityToday.com, the high court in the state said, in a unanimous verdict, that, "When Elane Photography refused to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony, it violated the [New Mexico Human Rights Act, or NMHRA] in the same way as if it had refused to photograph a wedding between people of different races."
The court rejected each of photographer's Elaine Huguenin's arguments, particularly one in which Huguenin had argued that her refusal did not discriminate against same-sex customers. Huguenin had argued that she happily photograph gay customers, but not in a context that seemed to endorse same-sex marriage. Likewise, she said, she wouldn't shoot heterosexuals in a context that endorsed same-sex marriage.
The Christianity Today report points out that Justice Richard Bosson's concurring opinion, not the majority opinion, is already getting the most attention. The Huguenins, he wrote "now are compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives. Though the rule of law requires it, the result is sobering. It will no doubt leave a tangible mark on the Huguenins and others of similar views."
But the judge also said that, "...the Huguenins have to channel their conduct, not their beliefs, so as to leave space for other Americans who believe something different. That compromise is part of the glue that holds us together as a nation, the tolerance that lubricates the varied moving parts of us as a people. That sense of respect we owe others, whether or not we believe as they do, illuminates this country, setting it apart from the discord that afflicts much of the rest of the world. In short, I would say to the Huguenins, with the utmost respect: it is the price of citizenship."
The judge apparently expects the Huguenins, and other people of faith, to separate their beliefs from their practice - as he puts it, they have to "channel their conduct, not their beliefs". But, if this couple, like so many Bible-believing Christians, are to accurately and credibly follow their beliefs, then their conduct will follow suit.
It's similar to the difference between "freedom of worship", which some apparently would regard as being one's belief system or practice of worship inside a sanctuary or church building, and "freedom of religion", which affects the practice of one's faith applied to every area of life. The Huguenins are apparently of the opinion, which is consistent with Scripture, that if we believe, we act accordingly. Some in the culture are fine with religion, as long as we keep it to ourselves. That is, and never has been, a tenet of the Christian faith.
In a development concerning the rights of private business owners to select the customers they will serve, Religion Today reports that Jonathan Johnson, executive vice chairman of the online retailer Overstock.com, according to Deseret News, has started a movement to protect churches from lawsuits by people demanding their services. He has proposed an amendment to the Utah constitution that would prohibit requiring a religious organization to “solemnize, officiate in, or recognize any particular marriage or religious rite of marriage in violation of its beliefs.”