Sunday, May 04, 2014

The 3 - May 4, 2014

This week's edition of "The 3", my week-in-review blog feature, includes a push for immigration reform by evangelical leaders in the nation's capital.  Also, some concern arose this week about a claim by a pro-abortion group that it had successfully lobbied Google to remove ads for many pregnancy resource centers. And, the top story involves the annual observance of the National Day of Prayer, which is set aside for the first Thursday in May.

3 - Evangelical pastors continue push for immigration reform

For some time now, evangelicals have been involved in trying to help reform the Federal immigration system. One example is a resolution passed by the Southern Baptist Convention in 2011 that called for a pathway to citizenship but not amnesty, according to a recent piece on the website, which quotes former convention president Bryant Wright, Pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in the Atlanta area, as saying, “There’s just a greater sense of urgency that the time is now for the Congress to act."  He said that he was frustrated with the lack of progress on the issue.

The article reports that this past week, some 250 evangelical pastors gathered on Capitol Hill to press for immigration reform. It stated that in the past couple of months, religious leaders have met with President Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, as well as House Speaker John Boehner’s staff. Faith leaders also recently met with members of Congress in their home districts.

John Perkins, a civil rights activist and co-founder of the Christian Community Development Association, noted that many evangelicals were silent during the civil rights movement but have now spoken up for immigration reform.

“We haven’t always been there,” he said. “We have a possibility to redeem ourselves for the cause of the gospel.”

Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Texas and another former SBC president, said he’s hopeful that the meetings will move Congress as they hear from more people who want to see reform achieved.

“I believe that in the end you’re going to have the overwhelming support of most of the Republicans in the Congress,” he said.

Eugene Cho, Pastor of Quest Church in Seattle, who is of Korean descent, was among the new faces demonstrating support for immigration reform across racial and ethnic groups and denominations. He pointed out that one out of five Korean-Americans are undocumented.

The Evangelical Immigration Table hosted the conference and worship service before the Hill visits. Among those participating were plenty of returning pastors, too.

2 - Pro-abortion group claims Google has removed scores of pro-life ads

The National Abortion Rights Action League, or NARAL, made a stunning claim this week, as it said that it had persuaded Google to remove the majority of the ads for crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs), claiming their content is deceptive.  According to a Christianity Today article, NARAL claimed this week that nearly 8 in 10 ads displayed on Google searches for "abortion clinic" are funded by pro-life groups misrepresenting the actual services they offer.

NARAL President Ilyse Hogue is quoted as saying, "We will continue to work with Google to ensure that their commitment results in women being directed to the resources and services they are seeking when they search online, ending this manipulation of women making vital health decisions."

This is a concerning development - if it were completely or even partially true.  But some pro-life groups claim their ads have not been affected, reports LifeSiteNews.  Online for Life was not aware of any removed ads, and says it has a "long and positive relationship with Google."  Heartbeat International told America's largest pro-life group, the National Right to Life Committee, that  it is "well-versed in using Google AdWords effectively" and its guidelines prohibited misleading ads.

The Christianity Today piece points out that:
The true fate of CPC search ads is hard to measure. What isn't is the recent number of court cases favoring how crisis pregnancy centers present themselves.
CT has reported how disclosing information to pregnant women—a long-established pro-life legal strategy—has been cutting both ways as a number of cities have passed laws requiring CPCs to disclose that they don't provide abortions or have medical staff. But courts continue to overturn many such requirements.

1 - National Day of Prayer offers united prayer opportunities across America

In 1952, Congress has authorized a national observance of the National Day of Prayer, according to the website of the National Day of Prayer Task Force.   The law was signed by then-President Truman.  In 1988, the law was amended and the first Thursday of May was established as the annual date.   Then-President Reagan signed that into law.  The Task Force's Facebook page said that there were more than 40,000 gatherings set to take place this past Thursday, May 1.

The Honorary Chairman of the event is Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of evangelist Billy Graham. reported that at one rally in Washington, D.C., attendees prayed for the government, including the president and members of Congress.  It said that Mrs. Lotz told the crowd that natural disasters and social and economic problems are warnings that God's "judgment is coming."  She said, "The answer will not be political or military or economic or education. The answer is to fall on our face before God and cry out to Him in humble repentance of sin."

She admonished, "Just because the National Day of Prayer is ending doesn't mean we stop praying...This is the beginning. Now it's up to you. It's up to you to cry out to God."

Other prayer leaders echoed that sentiment, urging Americans to repent and pray for spiritual revival.

This year's theme was "One Voice United in Prayer." 

Throughout the nation and in the Faith Radio broadcast area, special events were scheduled at a variety of locales.   For example, prayer breakfasts kicked off the day in Montgomery and Prattville, a number of locations were open during stretches of the day in cities such as Dothan, Deatsville, and Prattville, and the lawns of county courthouses were transformed into prayer sites in Andalusia and Opelika.  In Ozark and Troy, Bible reading marathons had begun on the preceding Sunday.   Alabama Governor Robert Bentley was a featured prayer leader at the state NDP meeting on the State Capitol steps in Montgomery.   Other cities were the sites of special events throughout the day and even into the evening hours.

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