Sunday, May 26, 2013

The 3 - May 26, 2013

This week's edition of "The 3" features 2 famous Christian speakers, who have shown up this week in parts of the world where you would not expect such a speaker to have a broad audience - but they drew sizable in-person crowds and more via television or Internet.   Also, the body of Christ was responsive - again - in the midst of a major tragedy, and Christian organizations were quick and effective.  And, the top story involves the Boy Scouts of America, whose national council voted to remove the prohibition on openly gay members, which provides quite a quandary for the tens of thousands of churches that host Scout troops.

3 - Major international crusades in unlikely places - Michael Youssef, Nick Vujicic

Two high-profile Christian speakers have been leading special meetings in two improbable nations of the world, with significant results.   Michael Youssef, Pastor of Atlanta's Church of the Apostles and speaker on the "Leading the Way" broadcast, recently concluded a 3-day meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, a nation that has the largest Muslim population in the world, but where thousands of people gathered each night to hear a message of hope and truth through Jesus Christ.  According to the Leading the Way website, the meetings were held in a 15,000-seat arena and broadcast to millions via broadcast and online media—impacting untold numbers with the hope of the Gospel.

The first night's message was on the value of a soul, and after the message, hundreds came forward to accept Christ.  The second day, Dr. Youssef and his son Jonathan ministered at a local church for Iranian refugees.  Each of them has come to Indonesia as a half-way point on their journey to free countries like Australia or the United States. They wait as the government of Indonesia and the United Nations process their paperwork. Most have been in Indonesia for up to two years, and they have at least another year to wait. In the meantime, it is illegal for them to work in Indonesia, so they wait in very difficult circumstances.

On the second night, Dr. Youssef brought a message on God's passionate, pursuing, and sacrificial love - again, hundreds responded to the invitation.   On night #3, he preached about Jesus Christ, the Pearl of great price, and how salvation in Christ surpasses the value of any earthly treasure.

The meetings drew crowds into the Istora stadium arena, and the event was broadcast to Indonesia on IndoVision's LIFE channel and around the world on THE KINGDOM SAT.

In addition, Dr. Youssef had been working with local pastors and ministry leaders to train them to take this message to all of Indonesia because he believes a three-day evangelistic campaign is not enough in the face of mounting challenges to the Christian faith in Indonesia.  

Meanwhile, another well-known Christian speaker has ministered recently in Vietnam, a country that is governed by a communist regime that is considered to be quite restrictive on religion - Nick Vujicic, according to the Christian Post, spoke to a significant crowd in a soccer stadium this past Thursday.  

Nguyen Dat An, who helped organize Vujicic's visit, said he was surprised the state broadcaster didn't cut off the speech altogether after Vujicic's comments about his faith.

"This was a miracle in Vietnam," An told the Associated Press. "God is the general director of this event."

Approximately 25,000 people, including the nation's vice president, flooded My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi to hear Vujicic speak, and millions watched the event at home. His speech was primarily motivational, addressing topics like respect for family, the need for forgiveness, and his stance against drinking and bullying.

However, the Australian-born speaker who was born without arms or legs did talk about his relationship with God.

"Do you know why I love God?" Vujicic asked a girl on stage who was also born without arms and legs, according to AP. "Because heaven is real. And one day, when we get to heaven, we are going to have arms and legs. And we are going to run, and we are going play, and we are going to race."

Nick is quoted as saying, "We are a unique ministry. We can go on national TV where other Christians cannot...Of course, in Vietnam there are limitations in how you can and can't talk about your faith, but with wisdom we come in. Some places we go we have to be wise as serpents and gentle as doves."
2 - Ministry organizations respond quickly to devastating storm in Oklahoma

On Monday afternoon, a massive, powerful, EF-5 tornado rumbled through Moore, Oklahoma and surrounding areas, killing two dozen and leaving a path of destruction in it wake.   7 of the victims were at the Plaza Towers Elementary School, which was essentially leveled by the storm.

As NBC's Brian Williams is quoted as saying, the "faith-based FEMA" moved in almost immediately - you see, in times of crisis, Christians ask the right questions about how they can help, and ministry organizations move rapidly into adversely affected areas.   As WORLD Magazine's website reports,  the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma immediately deployed more than 100 volunteers to the disaster site to assess damage and begin setting up relief centers. The relief efforts include mobile kitchens and teams to help with debris removal and clean up work.  The group began to work with the Red Cross and the Salvation Army to distribute supplies and direct homeless victims to emergency shelters.  Locations for emergency housing included a number of local churches and Oklahoma Baptist University. 

Samaritan’s Purse was already in the region, responding to tornado damage recently in Texas. The group deployed two more teams to Oklahoma on Tuesday morning, and said it would accept applications for volunteers to help with debris clean-up, chainsaw work, and roof tarping.   They worked in tandem with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team in order to offer physical and spiritual support in the aftermath.

A variety of local churches became involved, and a national ministry based in Oklahoma City, Feed the Children, was actively working to provide relief.   The ministry of Convoy of Hope also had a strong presence in the region.   Numerous ministries were able to provide an outlet for people to get involved financially in helping the victims of the storms. 

1 - Boy Scouts national council votes to allow openly gay members, mass exodus predicted

As the result of a vote by the national council of the Boy Scouts of America, the youth organization will be changing its policy and begin allowing openly gay members as of January 1, 2014.  It will continue to maintain its policy prohibiting openly gay adult leaders.

More than 60 percent of BSA national council members passed a resolution that states: No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.” The 1,400-member council voted in Grapevine, Texas.

According to a report on the CitizenLink website, John Stemberger, founder of OnMyHonor,Net, said, “It is with great sadness and deep disappointment that we recognize on this day that the most influential youth program in America has turned a tragic corner...(Allowing) open and avowed homosexuality into Scouting will completely transform it into an unprincipled and risky proposition for parents. It is truly a sad day for Scouting.”

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) created a petition in March asking people to urge the BSA to “uphold the values that have defined the organization for over 100 years.”.   ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman is quoted as saying, “Sadly, the Boy Scouts Executive National Council’s decision disregards not only the nearly 19,000 Americans who signed the petition…but also the millions of Americans who have supported the program...Those promoting the agenda to change what the Boy Scouts have always been won’t rest until there is complete acceptance of any sexual preference for both leaders and members.”

Faith-based organizations host more than 70,000 of the 116,000 local units.  According to WORLD's Warren Smith, before the vote, the Boy Scouts estimated that as many as 400,000 Scouts and Scouters would leave the organization if the resolution passed.  The BSA membership is now made up of more than 2.6 million, with more than 1 million adult leaders and volunteers.

And the groundwork could be laid for what is anticipated to be a mass exodus at a meeting next month.  Stemberger said, “I am pleased to announce that OnMyHonor.Net along with other likeminded organizations, parents and BSA members, are announcing a coalition meeting that will take place next month in Louisville, Kentucky...There we will discuss the creation of a new character development organization for boys.”

Though the meeting will be private, Stemberger is encouraging people to email him with ideas or comments at Contact@OnMyHonor.Net.

“Your voice is very important to us and will be represented there,” he explained. “We will host and facilitate a national coalition meeting of former BSA parents and other youth leaders who wish to return to truly timeless values that once made the BSA great.”

Could it be that a new alternative organization will arise that will mirror the timeless values of the Boy Scouts?   Or could existing youth programs, such as Royal Ambassdors, Awana, or other programs oriented toward youth or children add to their ranks and fulfill the role that Scouting has assumed for over 100 years?

This new direction of Scouting can only serve to encourage behavior that many find objectionable.  Boys and their parents who are uncomfortable with this direction will be looking for a character- and friendship-based organization that is consistent with their values.  

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The 3 - May 19, 2013

This week's edition of "The 3", my week-in-review feature, includes the latest development in the saga of a family who fled Germany because of government restrictions they encountered resulting from their homeschooling their children.   Also, the abortion industry continues to be in the spotlight, with the verdict in the Kermit Gosnell trial being rendered and employees of another clinic, this time in Houston, going public about what they saw.  And, the top story, perhaps the top story of the week in general, involves the allegations that the Internal Revenue Service targeted certain groups for increased scrutiny, including some Christian ministries.

3 - German homeschool family loses in appeals court, attorneys vow to continue the process for asylum

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision this week in the case of a family from Germany who had desired to homeschool their children there, but faced increased pressure from officials of the German government, who had even reportedly threatened to force the parents to give up custody of their children.

The Romeikes left Germany in 2008 and were granted asylum in 2010 by Immigration Judge Lawrence O. Burman.  That grant was overturned by the Board of Immigration Appeals in 2012.  A three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit heard the Romeikes’ appeal on April 23 in Cincinnati, and issued a unanimous decision on Tuesday against the family.

Michael Farris, Founder and Chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association is quoted on the HSLDA website as saying, “We believe the Sixth Circuit is wrong, and we will appeal their decision...America has room for this family, and we will do everything we can to help them.”  HSLDA has announced it will appeal the ruling.

The court said that the Romeikes had not made a sufficient case, and that the United States has not opened its doors to every victim of unfair treatment.   The court did acknowledge that the U.S. Constitution recognizes the rights of parents to direct the education and upbringing of their children, it refused to concede that the harsh treatment of religiously and philosophically motivated homeschoolers in Germany amounts to persecution within our laws on asylum.

Mike Donnelly, HSLDA director of international affairs claimed that, “The court ignored mountains of evidence that homeschoolers are harshly fined and that custody of their children is gravely threatened—something most people would call persecution. This is what the Romeikes will suffer if they are sent back to Germany.” 

Already over 124,000 people have signed an online petition in support of this family.

2 - Philadelphia abortionist found guilty, new reports surface on similar actions in Houston

The Gosnell trial is over, but the conversation about the issue of abortion is hopefully far from over, as this trial has opened up new questions about the nature of the abortion industry.   Pro-life advocates are attempting to make the case that Gosnell's Philadelphia clinic, nicknamed the "House of Horrors" is more of the rule rather than the exception.   Abortion supporters are attempting to make the opposite case.

Gosnell was sentenced to two consecutive life terms on Tuesday for killing babies born alive and received another life sentence on Wednesday.   WORLD continued its comprehensive coverage throughout the week.
Gosnell avoided the death penalty by agreeing to give up his right to appeal if he could spend the rest of his life in prison for his first-degree murder convictions.   But jurors on Monday also convicted the abortionist of hundreds of other counts, for which he was sentenced Wednesday. 
The WORLD piece states that the five-week trial hinged on testimony from former Gosnell employees, four of whom pleaded guilty to murder for their roles in the babies’ deaths. The workers testified to seeing babies move, takes breaths, and cry after being born following late-term abortion procedures. Gosnell also was convicted of aborting babies well past Pennsylvania’s 24-week limit. Prosecutors allege one baby was at least 30 weeks when Gosnell sliced through the baby's neck.
And, reports are continuing to surface of horrific late-term abortions and the termination of the lives of babies who survive an abortion attempt.  The Christian Post has a report on an investigation into allegations that Houston-based abortionist Douglas Karpen, who operates three abortion clinics in the state, has performed illegal late-term abortions and killed babies born alive, a violation of the federal Born Alive Infant Protection Act.   The Harris County District Attorney's office, spurred on by pro-life groups and Texas Republican Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, is proceeding with its investigation.
In a video released Wednesday by Life Dynamics, a Denton, Texas-based pro-life organization, three former employees of Karpen's clinic discuss the details of routine late-term abortions there in which babies were allegedly born alive and then subsequently killed by the abortion doctor.

A fourth former employee remains anonymous at this time, but is filing an affidavit about her experiences at one of Karpen's abortion clinics.
This latest video release follows on the heels of undercover videos released by the Live Action organization that expose the type of activities taking place inside various clinics and the viewpoints of the abortionists themselves. 

1 - Christian groups join Tea Party, conservative organizations facing increased scrutiny from IRS

First of all, there was an admission by an Internal Revenue Service employee that certain conservative organizations had faced a heightened level of scrutiny for their activities.  Then, the attention turned to Christian ministries, including pro-life organizations, who claimed some negative treatment by certain IRS employees.

Franklin Graham released a copy of a letter he had sent to President Obama citing that the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse, two organizations that he heads, were notified last September that the IRS would review their records for the 2010 tax year.

The IRS inquiry, he noted, occurred months after the BGEA ran ads in April 2012 supporting a North Carolina amendment that banned same-sex marriage, which passed in May.   Graham wrote in his letter, "I believe that someone in the Administration was targeting and attempting to intimidate us...This is morally wrong and unethical — indeed some would call it ‘un-American.”

Pro-life groups who allegedly faced enhanced scrutiny include Christian Voices for Life, a Texas-based group which encountered delays in its application for tax-exempt status in 2011, and Coalition for Life of Iowa, which delays before getting its tax-exempt status in 2009.    The Thomas More Law Center, representing the Iowa group, had outlined in 2011 what it regarded inappropriate IRS behavior - in its demand letters, the IRS has sought to know whether the group does “education on both sides of the issues,” whether members of the group “try to block people to [sic] enter a … medical clinic” during “40 Days for Life” and “Life Chain” events, whether members of the group “attempt to talk to someone trying to enter a medical clinic,” and to “please explain what you are [doing] during” 40 Days for Life and Life Chain vigils.   Apparently, even the content of prayers was questioned.

Dr. James Dobson, in trying to acquire tax-exempt status for his Family Talk organization was told by an IRS representative:
Family Talk Action is ‘not educational’ because it does not present all views. She continued, saying that Family Talk Action sounded like a ‘partisan right-wing group’ because, according to Ms. Medley, it only presents conservative viewpoints. She then
 added, ‘you're political’ because you ‘criticized President Obama, who was a candidate.’

This is according to a National Religious Broadcasters report.  NRB President and CEO Dr. Frank Wright said, “I am alarmed by reports that suggest a federal official at the IRS instituting a de facto Fairness Doctrine...The FCC was right to purge that pernicious policy from the Code of Federal Regulations.  After driving a wooden stake in its heart, this vampire seems alive and well at the IRS."

Now a report from WORLD indicates that National Organization for Marriage intends to sue the IRS next week amid allegations that the agency leaked confidential donor information to a key political rival.  In March of 2013, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), which advocates for the legalization of gay marriage, released confidential NOM donor lists and addresses on its website.  HRC attempted to conceal the source of the information, but NOM Chairman Dr. John Eastman said computer technicians were able to see redacted portions of the PDF document, proving it had originated from the IRS.

Eastman said HRC had been trying to secure the donor lists in order intimidate and harass groups and companies that supported the cause for traditional marriage. He said that is exactly what happened.   Eastman told WORLD that donors often gave to NOM under the condition that the donations were kept anonymous, and the disclosure led to some donors refusing further gifts out of fear of retribution.

Who knows what the coming week will hold...the reports do appear to establish or at least allege a pattern that has developed with some conservative and Christian organizations who received a level of scrutiny in their dealings with some people in the IRS that perhaps comparable liberal-leaning organizations did not experience.   As tough questions are asked, one would hope that the truth would prevail.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The 3 - May 12, 2013

On this week's edition of "The 3", my week-in-review feature, some gratifying news out of Iran concerning a pastor whose plight has resulted in online action by over half-a-million people.  Also, a court ruling out of Texas affirms students' rights to post Bible verses on the run-through signs prior to football games.  And, the top story involves more light being shown into a brutal industry that is committed to taking the lives of pre-born babies.

3 - Pastor Saaed released from solitary confinement

This past Tuesday was Pastor Saeed Abedini's 33rd birthday.  Some 52,000 letters were gathered from those standing together with the Iranian-American pastor, who has been in Iran's notorious Evin Prison since last fall, serving part of an 8-year sentence resulting from his alleged participation in Christian evangelistic efforts.  Over 586,000 signatures in support of the pastor have been collected at the website,

Some good news came late in the week, as reported by sources such as and  Saeed had been in solitary confinement for over a week, without communication with his family, and the announcement came that he had been released from the so-called "small dark hole".

The CBN report quoted Jordan Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, as saying, "This is a critical development and does raise hope after a very discouraging week."

Saeed's wife, Nagmeh Abedini, called his release the "direct result of the multitudes praying."
"I am relieved my husband is out of solitary, but still am deeply concerned about Saeed's health," she said. "While this is a small victory, I am still demanding justice be done and that Saeed be released.
She would like for President Obama to speak out on behalf of her husband.  She says the president has been quick to offer support to others, such as gay basketball player Jason Collins, but is ignoring her family's plight.   Secretary of State Kerry and Press Secretary Jay Carney have called on Iran to release Saeed, but there were reports that Abedini's name was missing from a State Department list of political prisoners in Iran.

2 - Texas cheerleaders receive favorable court ruling on Scripture banners

A major court victory for the religious expression rights of students came out of Texas this week, as a Federal District judge ruled in favor of the Kountze High School cheerleaders, who had been banned from holding up run-through banners for the football team that included Scriptures on them.

The Kountze superintendent had made the decision to halt the banners after the district received a threatening demand letter from Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation.   A temporary injunction allowed the cheerleaders to continue the practice through the end of the previous football season.

According to Christian legal advocacy organization, Liberty Institute, the Court’s Summary Judgment Order declares:
  • “The Kountze cheerleaders’ banners that included religious messages and were displayed during the 2012 football season were constitutionally permissible," and
  • “Neither the Establishment Clause nor any other law prohibits the cheerleaders from using religious-themed banners at school sporting events.  Neither the Establishment Clause nor any other law requires Kountze I.S.D. to prohibit the inclusion of religious-themed banners at school sporting events.”
“The Court’s order vindicates our clients’ rights and brings this case to a successful end,” said Liberty Institute Attorney Roger Byron. “We are pleased that the judge ruled to protect the cheerleaders’ display of banners with religious messages at sporting events. This is a great victory, not only for these cheerleaders, but for religious liberty of student leaders across the country.”

This victory was also made possible by the help of the Texas Attorney General.

“We especially appreciate the efforts of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who intervened into the case in support of the cheerleaders,” said Hiram Sasser, Liberty Institute’s Director of Litigation. “The extra efforts of Deputy Solicitor General Adam Aston were instrumental in the successful resolution of this case.”

1 - Live Action releases new video in its "Inhuman" series, Congressional action on abortion regulations moves ahead

A verdict is still pending in the murder trial of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell at the time of this post, but there are decisions being rendered all across America about the brutality of the abortion industry - every abortion is the taking of a human life, but now even pro-abortion forces are having to deal with the late-term abortion industry and those that would even take the lives of children who survive a botched abortion.

A new set of undercover videos produced by the Live Action organization featuring footage from inside abortion clinics exposes the beliefs of at least 4 abortionists about their lack of appreciation of the value of human life.   The latest in the "Inhuman" series features a Midwestern abortionist named Leroy Carhart, who made some graphic and inappropriate comments to the Live Action representative, posing as a woman desiring a late-term abortion.   These videos are serving to put faces on players in the abortion industry, and paint a less-than-flattering pictures of an industry that has operated in the shadows for far too long.

The website says that, "Gosnell is not alone. Videos document the blatantly inhuman and barbaric acts of abortionists leaving crying babies to die, or even killing the newborns themselves."

And, there are other efforts to expose the abortion industry.   The continued calls for the media to cover the Gosnell trial have resulted in even some media members criticizing the lack of coverage.   A U.S. Senator attempted to pass a resolution this week to condemn the practices of Gosnell and his ilk - because it was the type of vote that could be stopped by just one opposing vote, it failed.   And, WORLD reports that two U.S. House committees have launched nationwide campaigns earlier this week to investigate the prevalence of poorly regulated abortion facilities similar to the kind Kermit Gosnell ran in Philadelphia for 17 years.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia and Constitution and Civil Justice Subcommittee Chairman Trent Franks of Arizona sent a letter to all fifty state attorney generals, asking them to report on efforts to protect the rights of babies and mothers in their states. They also asked for reports on the prosecution process against a person who kills a baby born alive during an abortion and on measures designed to prevent late-term abortions.
But, Gallup indicates that the majority of Americans are still not paying attention - that's why some of these other efforts are important in building a body of evidence about the brutality of the abortion industry.  One-quarter of Americans say they have followed news of the case either very closely (7%) or somewhat closely (18%), but that is well below the 61% average level of attention Americans have paid to the more than 200 news stories Gallup has measured since 1991.  An additional 20% of Americans say they are following it "not too closely" while 54% say "not at all."  This makes the Gosnell case one of the least followed news stories Gallup has measured.
The poll summary linked to an earlier survey that showed 80% of Americans were opposed to abortion in the third trimester.   The summary says that, "One of the clearest messages from Gallup trends is that Americans oppose late-term abortion. As a result, the publicity surrounding Congress' attempt in 1997 to ban a particular late-term abortion procedure known as partial-birth abortion likely caused more Americans to identify as pro-life."  
In the latest poll, Gallup reports that 26% of Americans favor legalized abortion under any circumstances, with 13% favoring legality under most circumstances, 38% favoring it in only in a few circumstances, and 20% saying it should be illegal in all circumstances.   Add those last 2 categories together, and you find, as the Susan B. Anthony list put it, 58% of Americans believe abortion should be illegal in all or most cases.
The light of truth is certainly being shone on the abortion industry, and combined with the knowledge of the development of an unborn child in the womb through ultrasound technology, hearts and minds perhaps will be changed about the sanctity of life.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

The 3 - May 5, 2013

This edition of my week-in-review feature, "The 3", includes the response to an NBA player admitting his homosexuality and how people of faith have united behind an ESPN commentator that doesn't exactly think this revelation should be celebrated.   Also, the subject of religious liberty in the armed forces reached a whole new level this week as scrutiny was given to the military's policy on sharing your faith and who might be shaping that policy.  The top story:  the observance of the National Day of Prayer at thousands of locales across America, reminding us of the power and significance of united prayer.

3 - NBA player "comes out", ESPN commentator shares Biblical perspective, gains support from Christian leaders

The news travelled swiftly - the first professional player in a men's major sport to admit that he was gay, according to a piece in Sports Illustrated.   And, while there are those that lauded Jason Collins for his admission, calling him courageous and assorted other positive accolades, there were also those that were either indifferent to the admission (you could make the case that a player's sexuality shouldn't be a matter of discussion), or expressed concern that Collins should not have received the attention or the affirmation.

One of those that was none too happy about Collins' revelation was an ESPN commentator named Chris Broussard.  In a discussion aired on the "worldwide leader", he said:
Personally, I don't believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle or an openly premarital sex between heterosexuals, if you're openly living that type of lifestyle, then the Bible says you know them by their fruits, it says that's a sin. If you're openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality, adultery, fornication, premarital sex between heterosexuals, whatever it may be, I believe that's walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ..."
And, he made a very strong statement about the fruit of someone claiming to be a believer in Christ:
"I would not characterize that person as a Christian because I do not think the Bible would characterize them as a Christian."
Well, Broussard definitely drew his share of opposition, he was called homophobic and there were calls for his ouster.  ESPN did apologize for Chris' comments, but did not require Broussard to issue an apology.   CitizenLink and the Manhattan Declaration stood with him, encouraging people to send comments of support to ESPN.

Broussard did make a non-apologetic follow-up statement, though.   He said,
...I offered my personal opinion as it relates to Christianity, a point of view that I have expressed publicly before. I realize that some people disagree with my opinion and I accept and respect that. As has been the case in the past, my beliefs have not and will not impact my ability to report on the NBA. I believe Jason Collins displayed bravery with his announcement today and I have no objection to him or anyone else playing in the NBA.
PGA golfer Bubba Watson had tweeted out support for the commentator, who had claimed that there are those in the NBA who share his views, but who do not express that perspective because they do not want to be labeled. 

The Christian Post reported that in a teleconference on Thursday sponsored by the K.I.N.G. men's organization, of which Brossard is president, he said, "Even though I'm getting a lot of hate God is being glorified."  He stated, "I'm getting such an outpouring of support from Christians throughout the country and even throughout the world. I've had several big name pastors call me or tweet in support of me. I've had NBA players and coaches and management call me in support."
John Piper is one of those pastors.  In a tweet directing his fans to the link on Broussard's commentary, Piper, former pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minnesota, wrote: "Chris Broussard. This is solid steel in a world of cattails."

Yes, this is yet another example of someone who has dared to express a contrary, and Biblical, opinion toward accepting homosexual practice in our society.   And, it shows the intolerance by those promoting the gay agenda for opposing viewpoints that we see all too often on these matters.   It is clear that there are many who are not pushing for equality or a level playing field, but forced subservience to their view concerning the normalization and legitimization of homosexual behavior.  This viewpoint should not prevent Christians from speaking firmly, yet gracefully about God's view of sexuality.

2 - Role of religion in military becomes prevalent topic after news emerges about possible new guidelines

Over the course of the past week, concern has escalated regarding religious freedom in the military.  Recent reports of an Army training presentation citing evangelicals and Catholics as extremists and an e-mail from an Army officer decrying certain Christian organizations for their extremism pale by comparison to a scathing editorial that was published in the Huffington Post on April 16 by a certain Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.   A quote from the piece led a recent column by Ken Klukowski of the Family Research Council on
“Today, we face incredibly well-funded gangs of fundamentalist Christian monsters who terrorize their fellow Americans by forcing their weaponized and twisted version of Christianity upon their helpless subordinates in our nation’s armed forces.” 
Klukowski goes on to write about a Washington Post piece by Sally Quinn that references an April 23 meeting that included Weinstein, former Ambassador Joe Wilson, some military officials, and oh, yes, a military chaplain, that presumably dealt with the implementation of new policy in the military concerning religious expression.

The column also, according to Klukowski, approvingly quotes MRFF Advisory Board member Larry Wilkerson as saying, “Sexual assault and proselytizing, according to Wilkerson, ‘are absolutely destructive of the bonds that keep soldiers together.’”  Ken goes on to say:
Did you get that? They say having someone share the Christian gospel with you is akin to being raped. Weinstein makes sure there are no doubts, being quoted by the Post as adding, “This is a national security threat. What is happening [aside from sexual assault] is spiritual rape. And what the Pentagon needs is to understand is that it is sedition and treason. It should be punished.”
Another MRFF Advisory Board member, Ambassador Joe Wilson (the far-left husband of CIA employee Valerie Plame from the Iraq War’s yellow-cake uranium scandal a decade ago), said a military chaplain “is to minister to spiritual needs. You don’t proselytize. It’s a workplace violation.” 
In other words, it should be the official policy of the United States to decree what a human being’s spiritual needs are, and punish for violations a military officer who is an ordained clergyman who attempts to share his own personal faith with another service member when discussing religious matters
Some very troubling material, indeed.   The Family Research Council got out front of the story, put a petition to the Secretary of Defense online, and very quickly gathered thousands of signatures.  The Alliance Defending Freedom launched another offensive by filing a Freedom of Information Act request for e-mails relative to MRFF involvement in shaping and enforcing this policy.

By Friday, the same military spokesman who had previously said, "Religious proselytization is not permitted within the Department of Defense..." and, "Court martials and non-judicial punishments are decided on a case-by-case basis...”, was saying this concerning religious freedom in the military: “Service members can share their faith (evangelize), but not force unwanted, intrusive attempts to convert others of any faith or no faith to one’s beliefs (proselytization).”

According to a CitizenLink report, the ADF is not particularly convinced by the new comments.   ADF Legal Counsel Joseph La Rue said, “We appreciate the Pentagon’s clarification, but little or no evidence exists of coercive proselytization in the military, so we are troubled over what motivated the original comments."

The Defense Department has attempted to clarify, and according to The Tennessean, the same military spokesman said, "... all service members are free to exercise their constitutional right to practice their religion in a manner that is respectful of other individuals’ rights to follow their own belief systems; and in ways that are conducive to good order and discipline; and that do not detract from accomplishing the military mission."

This seems reassuring, but some lingering questions for people of faith need to be answered:

- what is the difference between evangelizing and proselytization?   Apparently, coercion and lack of consent would come into play, but what constitutes coercion?   Could someone merely sharing about the hope within them to someone who is less than willing to hear be interpreted as coercion, even though that was not the intent?

- is there some sort of new policy on religious expression that is being considered for the military?

- why did military leadership include Weinstein in its meetings on implementing policy on religious expression, especially since his definitions of the words stated above would probably be glaringly different than the views of a plurality religious people within the military, including chaplains?

While I and most mainstream Christians would not endorse coercion within the ranks of the armed forces, it is important for our military members to know exactly what the lines are and to be assured that their constitutional rights of freedom of religion are being upheld.

1 - National Day of Prayer unites believers to call on God for our nation

At city halls and county courthouses, in churches and civic centers across America, people joined together on Thursday to offer prayers to God, calling out to Him with one voice.  According to the NDP Task Force, 50 Governors and the President of the United States proclaimed the 62nd annual National Day of Prayer as millions of Americans gathered from coast to coast in solemn assembly.  The Task Force says it was the single, largest mobilized effort to prayer in the history of our nation with more than 42,000 events held nationally.

The Cannon House Office Building was the setting for the National Observance on Thursday morning, which featured keynote speaker, Honorary Chairman, Greg Laurie, who said, according to the NDP Task Force website, “With God nothing is impossible and God can turn America around.” After his powerful words of affirmation, hope and inspiration, he closed with the reading of the national prayer.

Finally, according to the site, it was Rear Admiral William D. Lee who ended the 3-hour event with five, yes 5, standing ovations. He gave a desperate appeal for prayer asking all to lift up the armed forces at such a critical time in our nation’s history. “Pray that we will be able to weather the storm that I am almost certain will come – that we will not be required to put aside our Constitutional rights,” he said.   The message was spoken from the heart, no doubt in response to the concerns emerging during the previous week about religious freedom in the military.

Shirley Dobson, Task Force Chairperson, her husband, Dr. James Dobson, Alabama Congressman Robert Aderholt and Congressional colleague Frank Wolf, Pat Boone, U.S. Senate Chaplain Barry Black, and Vonette Bright, Campus Crusade for Christ co-founder were also included in the national celebration.

And, that night, the OneCry Prayer Summit was broadcast to some 500 radio stations across the nation, including a variety of speakers and musical artists.  An initiative of Life Action Ministries, the OneCry is a movement of believers who are urgently crying out to God to revive the church and transform the culture. 

The National Day of Prayer is an important day, but it should transcend mere symbolism to motivate God's people to significant prayer and action.   In desperate times, we must bow our hearts before God and demonstrate a passionate dependence on Him, believing that He will make Himself known as we honor Him and humble ourselves before the hand of Almighty God.