Sunday, February 09, 2014

The 3 - February 9, 2014

This week's edition of "The 3" has been quite a challenge to put together, because there is plenty of analysis and viewpoints available.  The National Prayer Breakfast always provides some interesting fodder, and this year, with the President dealing with the topic of religious persecution and freedom of religion, there was material about which people could be gratified, but it did raise questions as you analyze some of the domestic and foreign religious liberty issues relative to the Administration.   Another story deals with the Girl Scouts of the USA, Girl Scout cookies, and the connection of the Girl Scouts to abortion.  And, the top story, of course, is the debate that took place Tuesday night between Ken Ham and Bill Nye on the validity of the creation model to explain our origins.

3 - President calls attention to religious persecution in National Prayer Breakfast speech

The National Prayer Breakfast took place in Washington, DC this week, which features not only the President making a faith-based speech, but also generally a keynote speaker who addresses faith issues.   President Obama's speech centered on religious persecution around the world, and as reports, the President called for the release of an American pastor imprisoned in Iran and a U.S. missionary serving hard labor in North Korea. He is quoted as saying that, “History shows that nations that uphold the rights of their people, including the freedom of religion, are ultimately more just and more peaceful and more successful...Nations that do not uphold these rights sow the bitter seeds of instability and violence and extremism. So, freedom of religion matters to our national security.”

During the presentation, Obama spoke publicly for the first time about the plight of those two Americans who have been seeking intervention from the U.S. government after they were punished for their Christian faith. He said, “We pray for Pastor Saeed Abedini...He's been held in Iran for more than 18 months, sentenced to eight years in prison on charges related to his Christian beliefs.” He called on the Iranian government to release Abedini, an Iranian-American who was arrested on a trip back into the country. He also said, “Let us pray for Kenneth Bae...His family wants him home, and the United States will continue to do everything in our power to secure his release.”

Bae operates a tourist company in Washington state, and was arrested in North Korea not far from the city of Yanji in November 2012, where some Christian groups provide aid to North Korean refugees.  He was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.

It was announced this week that Bae has been transferred from a hospital back to a labor camp in North Korea.  His sister, Terri Chung, told CNN on Saturday that her family is "deeply concerned" after learning that the imprisoned American citizen has been moved from a North Korean hospital to a labor camp.  She said, "It's just devastating...We're really discouraged and concerned."  CNN had reported that on Friday, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki had said that Washington is "deeply concerned" about Bae's recent move to the labor camp.

The keynote speaker for the prayer breakfast was Rajiv Shah, administrator of the United States Agency for International Development.  The Christian Post reported that Shah's speech focused on dealing with "extreme poverty" in the world, noting both the progress being made and the challenges that still remain.  He is quoted as saying, "I want to share an overarching purpose worthy of this room that has come together to follow the teachings of Jesus: Let us work together to end extreme poverty in our lifetime."

In addition to remarks by Shah and President Obama, there was a scripture reading by Bethany Hamilton, subject of the biographical film "Soul Surfer." Musical pieces were performed as well by contemporary Christian singer Steve Green and Grammy Award winning singer Yolanda Adams.

But not all were encouraged by the President's call for religious freedom.   Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council was very direct in calling out the Administration for policies that inhibit freedom of religion:
..."Freedom of religion is under threat... around the world," President Obama warned, neglecting to mention that one of its greatest threats is coming directly from the Oval Office.
When President Obama highlights religious freedom, as he did yesterday, he is doing so as the leader of the most oppressive administration in American history. While he praises religious freedom as a "universal right," more than 90 plaintiffs are in court, fighting the White House over the loss of it under ObamaCare. While he insists that human dignity cannot survive without "the right of every person to practice their faith how they choose," millions of suffering Christians around the world beg the U.S. to intervene on their behalf. While he condemns the people who would use religion to hurt others because of "who they love," the government is forcing Christian businesses to close if they won't participate in same-sex "weddings." While he sends our troops into harm's way to defend this rich legacy, thousands of service members are too worried about the backlash to exercise it themselves.
It was certainly gratifying to hear the President call for the release of Pastor Saeed and Kenneth Bae. Perkins raises valid points concerning how the Administration is pursuing policies that are resulting in Christians being required to act in a manner contradictory to their faith.

2 - Pro-life organizations voice concern over Girl Scouts-Planned Parenthood ties

Let me state at the beginning of this segment that I don't talk a whole lot about boycotts - I seldom mention boycotts on the air, but there are some in the Christian community that believe that to encourage constituents not to buy a certain product or do business with a certain retailer because of a company's position on moral issues can be an effective way to send a message.  

There is an effort that is underway that is continuing to build momentum that I believe is beginning to make inroads within the Christian community, and it's worth talking about.   I devoted quite a bit of coverage last year to the Boy Scouts of America's move away from its traditional values and its leadership voted to allow openly gay members.  That has resulted in the formation of Trail Life USA, a faith- and character-based organization for boys.   Meanwhile, did you know that the Girl Scouts of the USA have developed a rather extensive track record of partnership with the nation's largest abortion provider?

According to, a website has taken GSUSA to task for recommending pro-abortion role models, connecting girls to “inappropriate sexual content via official Girl Scout social media accounts,” and for sending millions of dollars to the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), which the website says “aggressively promotes youth reproductive/abortion and sexual rights, specifically on behalf of its 10 million members.”   WAGGGS and International Planned Parenthood have a long history of working together, according to a piece on the website,  That website also states that the GSUSA official curriculum for girls, used and promoted by every Girl Scout council in the United States, refers girls to abortion advocacy groups as well as resources that contain explicit sexual content.  And, it states that former GSUSA CEO Kathy Cloninger proudly admitted on national television that Girl Scouts "partners with Planned Parenthood," and pro-life Girl Scout concerns were a focus at the 2012 and 2013 National Right To Life Convention. 

One recent event that sparked the pro-life backlash was when GSUSA sent out a tweet last year on its Twitter account that seemed to support honoring pro-abortion politicians Wendy Davis and Secretary Kathleen Sebelius as “Women of the Year” in 2013.

So, all in all, pro-life leaders such as Jill Stanek, Lila Rose, Day Gardner, and Judie Brown have said "enough is enough", and they are joining an effort that I understand was started by an organization out of Waco, Texas called Pro-Life Waco, led by John Pisciotta.  To coincide with the current sale of Girl Scout cookies, these leaders and a variety of organizations are supporting "Cookie Cott 2014", and there is a website called  There was a Tweetfest that was held this past Thursday, using that hashtag.   There is some important information on that website, as well as a downloadable flier.  It can be informative to current Girl Scouts and their leaders to know that a portion of the proceeds is going to the national organization, which has a documented relationship with the abortion industry.

1 - Ken Ham and Bill Nye debate origins, millions engage with the event

The great debate on the topic of origins took place this past Tuesday night outside Cincinnati at the Creation Museum, which is operated by the ministry Answers in Genesis, headed by Ken Ham, who debated Bill Nye "The Science Guy".   As Dr. Georgia Purdom of AIG indicated on my radio program, there could have been in excess of 5 million people who engaged with the debate either live or in accessing a recording of the debate online.  Not only did Christian media cover the event extensively, but secular media did not ignore this contrast of worldviews and approaches to science.

I want to concentrate on one of the reports that I have seen on the event. Julie Borg provided some analysis of the debate on the WORLD website.   She says that:
Ham was unwavering in his declarations of the Bible’s authority and his arguments for a literal interpretation of Genesis. Though he referred to the Bible frequently, he used direct quotes from biblical texts only a handful of times. He continually focused on science’s weak spot: Science can deal only with what is observable and therefore can’t explain origins because the past can’t be observed.
Nye spent most of the evening offering up what he deems as scientific evidence that the earth is billions of years old: rings in tree trunks, carbon dating, layers in snow ice, layers of fossils and sediments. He asserted that if Noah’s ark came to rest on Mount Ararat in the Middle East, and animal life on the earth was repopulated exclusively from animals on the ark, then there should be some fossil evidence of kangaroos hopping their way from Mount Ararat to Australia.
She pointed out that Nye was trying to cast himself as a “reasonable man,” using the term numerous times. When a member of the audience asked him if science had room for God, Nye replied that God and science are not connected.  He peppered his statements with condescending remarks, such as repeatedly referring to six-day creationism as “Ken Ham’s creation model” or “Ken Ham’s interpretation,” or to the account of the flood as “Mr. Ham’s flood.”  She documented these three instances from the debate where Ham referred to the capability of Scripture to answer questions that "The Science Guy" could not answer:
...When a member of the audience asked Nye how consciousness came from matter, Nye said the nature of consciousness is a mystery—we don’t know. Ham replied, “There is a book out there that does tell us where consciousness comes from. God created us in His image.”
When Nye admitted that science can offer no guess as to what existed before the Big Bang, Ham responded there is a book out there that says God was in the beginning. When Nye admitted he doesn’t know where the laws of logic come from, Ham said there is a book out there that tells us.
Now, there has been criticism of Ham's approach.  He is a young earth creationist, consistent with a view that Gallup says is held by 46% of Americans, according to a 2012 survey.  That is the percentage that agreed with the statement, "God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so."  In that same survey, 32% of respondents held to a view that evolution took place, but that God guided the process.  Only 15% believed in evolution without God's involvement.   So, Ham is not a member of some fringe group here.   A significant number see human origins in much the same way that he does.

But, there are those in the intelligent design camp who would rather not get into discussions about age of the earth, rather, they would agree with Ham that secularists have hijacked the scientific community, but their concentration would be more on the fallacies of evolutionary theory and the evidences of design.   Witness a response reported by The Christian Post by a representative of the Discovery Institute, Casey Luskin. He
said since Ham is not a scientist, the great majority of his arguments amounted over and over again to "Because the Bible says so."
Nye's main argument was, "Because the evidence says so," Luskin writes. "While Ham did make a few effective points that you don't have to accept evolution to do good science, the compelling scientific evidence for design in nature got skipped over."
The debate centered on the age of the earth, and therefore "the point was never made that a mainstream scientific view about the age of the earth is totally compatible with an intelligent design view that totally refutes Nye's intolerant, materialist beliefs about the history of life.
With millions watching the debate and hopefully engaged in these questions about our origins, this hopefully can get people thinking more deeply about these matters.  And, as Ham appealed to the authority of Scripture, I believe you can rely on the verse that tells us that God's Word will not return void.   Hopefully, as the result of the seeds planted and subsequent discussions of these matters, hearts can be changed.

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