Sunday, November 17, 2013

The 3 - November 17, 2013

This week's edition of "The 3", my week-in-review feature, includes news out of China that some might find encouraging on first glance, but it is really just a small tweak to a policy that many pro-life individuals and groups find objectionable.   Also, the state of Hawaii is the latest to legalize gay marriage.  And, the top story involves Christian organizations responding to the devastation in the Philippines due to Typhoon Haiyan.

3 - China relaxes one-child policy

This week, the news agency Xinhua proclaimed, with this headline, “China to Ease One-Child Policy.” While this may sound encouraging upon first glance, if you look just a little deeper, the truth of the matter is that China will now lift the ban on a second child, if either parent is an only child.

Reggie Littlejohn of Women's Rights Without Frontiers, writing for, says,

All the reasons for this adjustment are economic or demographic: China’s dwindling labor force, the country’s growing elderly population, and the severe gender imbalance. Completely absent from the discussion is the issue of human rights violations. China has not promised to end forced abortion, forced sterilization or forced contraception. The coercive enforcement of China’s One Child Policy is its core.
She goes on to make the point that, while we are glad for the second children who will be allowed to be born, the problem with the One Child Policy is not the number of children “allowed.”   She writes that, "Rather, it is the fact that the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) is telling women how many children they can have and then enforcing that limit through forced abortion, forced sterilization and infanticide. Even if all couples were allowed two children, there is no guarantee that the CCP will cease their appalling methods of enforcement."

Pro-life individuals and groups continue to speak out against China's one-child policy, and this narrow exemption may save some lives, but the reality of the threat of forced abortion remains for a large number of families in that nation.

2 - Hawaii legalizes same-sex marriage

With the vote of the Hawaii Senate and the signature of Governor Neil Abercrombie this week, the state is now the 15th to legalize same-sex marriage.

CitizenLink quotes Jim Hochberg, president of Hawaii Family Advocates, said the law will do more than create same-sex marriage. It will also infringe on religious freedom.

He said Christian business owners — including wedding photographers, cake makers and florists — will lose the freedom to turn down same-sex ceremonies.  He stated that also, “...churches are only protected from being forced to participate in solemnization or celebration of marriages, but not other things related to marriage..."  For instance, marriage counseling would not be protected.

If a church opens its facilities to any outside group, it will be forced to allow its property to be used by anyone, even those who do not support what the church believes.

The legislation would also create special divorce rights for same-sex couples.

The report says that Hawaiians have not been silent regarding their support for marriage. On Oct. 28, the first day of the special legislative session, about 10,000 people rallied for marriage at the state capital.

In addition, an unprecedented 5,000 people signed up to testify. Eighty-seven percent were in opposition to redefining the institution, according to the House Minority Office, responsible for registering those who testify.

CitizenLink's Stuart Shepard discussed the Hawaii gay marriage law on a recent edition of The Meeting House.   Commentary on the law is found beginning at 23:11.

1 - Christian organizations respond to typhoon in Philippines

The death toll continues to increase in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, which roared through the island- based nation, leaving a death toll of over 3600 people confirmed as of Sunday afternoon and others feared to be dead.   And, as we see so often, Christian and ministry-based organizations are stepping in to help provide relief for the thousands who are in need, having lost homes and property and facing an uncertain future.

According to a report on The Christian Post website, over 1.8 million are estimated to have been displaced, with over 9 million having been affected in some way.  The Post quotes a statement from Indiana-based Church World Service (CWS), which says:  "Tragic stories of loss are emerging every day – mothers searching for their children, families torn apart...The people of the Philippines and other regions damaged by the storm desperately need our prayers and financial support."

CWS is working in the central Philippine city of Tacloban, the capital of Leyte province, where Haiyan destroyed about 80 percent of structures in its path.

There are estimates of sustained winds of up to 195 miles per hour and gusts of up to 235 in some parts of the nation.

Philippines' President Benigno Aquino is being criticized for lack of preparation on the part of his government for the storm, as well as the slowness of aid delivery.

The Post reports that about 18,000 people are involved in the rescue and relief effort, according to BBC, which also reports that the flow of aid to the affected area has increased dramatically over the last two days thanks to international aircraft, ships and personnel, including a U.S. aircraft carrier group.

Christian relief agencies World Vision, Convoy of Hope, and Samaritan's Purse are all on the ground.  Also, there is a consortium of agencies called the Integral Alliance, which, according to another recent Christian Post story, is an international network of 19 Christian relief organizations and an affiliate of the World Evangelical Alliance.  It has launched a joint disaster response with 18 of its members, working either directly on-ground in the Philippines or through fundraising efforts in other parts of the world. Fiona Boshoff, International Director of Integral Alliance, told The Christian Post that right now the most immediate needs of Typhoon Haiyan victims are "water, food, medicine and shelter."

She said, "Our members are responding to the needs they have found, and co-ordinating with the government and other agencies, as well as with local NGOs and church and ministry networks wherever possible to bring a holistic response to those in need..."   The road back will be long for these displaced victims and others adversely affected by the storm, but faith-based organizations provide not only needed supplies, but that incredible intangible element - hope.

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