Sunday, April 06, 2014

The 3 - April 6, 2014

This week's edition of "The 3," my week-in-review feature, includes a major conference on the West Coast which was designed to inspire and inform leaders.   Also, this week, there has been discussion about the resignation of a high-profile, high-tech CEO who was forced to step down due to his support of traditional marriage.  And, the top story involves a court ruling regarding the right of churches to rent public school buildings in New York City.

3 - High-profile Christian speakers challenge leaders at Catalyst West

According to its website, Catalyst was conceived as a Next Generation Leaders Conference in 1999 by Andy Stanley, Reggie Joiner, John Maxwell, Lanny Donoho and several young leaders. Catalyst was created to meet the felt need that existed within the church leader space for a leadership event that was focused on a new generation of church leaders. Everything within this space seemed built around a forty to sixty year old mindset and medium. This team was convinced that this needed to change.

Since its beginnings with a gathering at North Point Community Church in Atlanta, over 100,000 leaders have made the annual trek to Atlanta to participate in the Catalyst Conference experience, and this October, once again over 12,000 young leaders are expected to gather to experience Catalyst up close. This past week, the Catalyst West conference was held at Mariners' Church in Orange County, California, and another conference will convene in Dallas later this month.

Speakers at the latest event, which drew over 4,000 people, according to a report on the Christian Post website, included Frances Chan, Matt Chandler, Andy Stanley, Louie Giglio, Jim Collins, and Jud Wilhite.  

Catalyst President Brad Lomenick is quoted as saying that, "We were praying that for every leader here this would be a bench mark for them or a marker on the road of leadership for them."  He said that he hopes leaders would be able to look back at the conference and say that it was a significant turning point in their lives.

Lomenick also said, "There's so much hope we can still have in the present regardless of circumstances...We love this idea that we should be hopeful leaders, encouraging and more excited about tomorrow, but equally present in today. Part of the reason that we created an environment at Catalyst that is fun and is hopeful is to give people permission to enjoy and find joy in the present."

2 - Christians stand with CEO forced to resign over traditional marriage support

I've been searching the Internet for something that could clue me in to why the recently-appointed CEO of the Mozilla, which is known for the Firefox web browser, gave $1000 in support of Proposition 8, the marriage amendment in California.  That donation raised the ire of a vocal group of people who called for his resignation, which he tendered earlier this week.  Even though I see no identification with a Christian church or organization, the set of circumstances has resonated with some in the Christian community, who are crying foul in this case, where an apparent litmus test was instituted for Brendan Eich, who was appointed to run the company of which he has been a leading participant for many years.

Terry Mattingly over at the Get Religion blog said he was waiting for the "religion shoe to drop."   He says that:
Right now, the framing for this story is that his actions were anti-gay, not pro-something, something doctrinally and legally different.
Over at the normally gay-news-driven New York Times, this story is not receiving major attention. A “Bits” feature in the business pages does provide an interesting summary of the raging debates surrounding this case, including the fact that some liberals — including some in the gay community — are quite upset with the illiberal campaign by many “liberals” to punish Mozilla, while making Eich an untouchable in the highly influential tech world.
He mentions that the article also noted that Eich has consistently stressed, and so far no one has contradicted this, that he was committed to inclusiveness in the Mozilla workplace and had never discriminated.  However, Mattingly points out that Eich has also asked not to be judged for his “private beliefs.”  He says that, "In a way, that is also interesting in that fierce defenders of the First Amendment have long argued for free expression, even in public (with others, yes, having the right to freely protest in return)."

The Get Religion blogger says that over on the other side of the Atlantic, The Telegraph dug a bit deeper and published a few additional facts that have also appeared — with interpretation — in the comments pages on many of the gay-press coverage of Eich’s fall. Here is the crucial passage:
The father of five responded to allegations of homophobia levelled at him over the donation in a blog post refusing to discuss his involvement with the campaign, which was initially passed but later overturned by the US Supreme Court. …
In an interview this week with the Guardian Eich refused to be drawn on his stance on gay rights. “I don’t want to talk about my personal beliefs because I kept them out of Mozilla all these 15 years we’ve been going,” he said. “I don’t believe they’re relevant.” He said his donation to the campaign was “personal” and said Mozilla’s code of conduct formalised the principle of “keeping anything that’s not central to our mission out of our office”.
Prior to his short spell as CEO, the Pittsburgh-born programmer studied maths and computer science at Santa Clara University before working on network and operating system code at Silicon Graphics.
Mattingly points out that Santa Clara is a campus in Silicon Valley. It is a Jesuit university, too. Both pieces of that equation many turn out to be relevant in this ongoing story.

Dr. Robert George from Princeton, a co-author of the Manhattan Declaration, wrote this on the First Things website
Now that the bullies have Eich’s head as a trophy on their wall, they will put the heat on every other corporation and major employer. They will pressure them to refuse employment to those who decline to conform their views to the new orthodoxy. And you can also bet that it won’t end with same-sex marriage. Next, it will be support for the pro-life cause that will be treated as moral turpitude in the same way that support for marriage is treated. Do you believe in protecting unborn babies from being slain in the womb? Why, then: “You are a misogynist. You are a hater of women. You are a bigot. We can’t have a person like you working for our company.” And there will be other political and moral issues, too, that will be treated as litmus tests for eligibility for employment. The defenestration of Eich by people at Mozilla for dissenting from the new orthodoxy on marriage is just the beginning.
Isn't it odd that a company that espouses so-called "equality" and "tolerance" did not support its new CEO's rights to express his opinion?

1 - Court ruling allows NYC schools to refuse to lease space to churches

Another chapter in the 20-year struggle for local churches to have the right to lease space in public school buildings in New York City concluded this past week, as a 2-1 decision in the 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals said that a policy of prohibiting churches from gathering in schools “was consistent with its constitutional duties.” So the court has spoken that schools in the city can now legally ban churches from holding services in buildings outside of school hours, according to a report on the website.

The piece quotes New York Times, which reported that the new policy will allow religious and community organizations to use buildings for programs after hours, but not as a “house of worship.”

In 2012, U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska had ruled against the ban, under the argument that holding a worship service in a school did not associate that establishment with a particular religion; Thursday’s decision overturned Preska’s ruling.

The church involved in the dispute, the Bronx Household of Faith, believes that the policy is in violation of its right to worship freely without government interference, according to a report on the Charisma News site.

Jordan Lorence, attorney to Bronx Household of Faith, was disappointed in the outcome of the decision, but said that the church will now consider appealing to the circuit bench or taking the case to the Supreme Court.

But, just because the court has ruled that schools can refuse to rent to churches, that doesn't mean that they will, and a leading voice against the ban, Councilman Fernando Cabrera is quoted on the Capital website as saying that, "The Mayor with a single swipe of his pen can offer immediate relief to thousands of his fellow New Yorkers who now face the prospect of not knowing if they will have a place to celebrate the Easter or Passover holiday."

This week, according to that website, Mayor Bill de Blasio reiterated his belief that church groups should be able to use school facilities, in the wake of that decision.

After saying his administration's corporation counsel, Zachary Carter, would review the ruling and "assess from there," the mayor sided with religious organizations who have sued for the right to hold services in public schools on weekends.

He said, "I stand by my belief that a faith organization playing by the same rules as any community nonprofit deserves access...They have to go through the same application process, wait their turn for space, pay the same rent, but I think they deserve access."

He said the non-secular groups "play a very, very important role in terms of providing social services and other important community services and I think they deserve that right."

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