Sunday, July 13, 2014

The 3 - July 13, 2014

This week, in my week-in-review feature, "The 3," more news on the same-sex marriage front, as rulings were issued in court cases involving people who issue same-sex marriage licenses.  Also, faith leaders have protested the President's reported plan to issue an executive order prohibiting Federal contractors from "discrimination" based on sexual orientation.  And, the crisis involving thousands of children on the border continues to build, and apparently the help of faith groups and individuals has been rejected, so far.

3 - Judges make decisions regarding clerks issuing same-sex marriage licenses

Another week, another judge stepping in to rule a marriage amendment unconstitutional...this time, it's for Colorado.  This time, according to a report on the CitizenLink website, it was a county judge in that state, Adams County Judge C. Scott Crabtree, who made that determination, putting the ruling on hold pending an appeal to avoid “instability and uncertainty.”

The following day, a judge ruled that a county clerk in Boulder could continue to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. CitizenLink reported that Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall took it upon herself to begin issuing licenses to same-sex couples on June 25, the same day a federal appeals court struck down Utah’s constitutional marriage amendment. Colorado Attorney General John Suthers filed a motion last week seeking to stop Hall from issuing the licenses.  In his ruling, Boulder District Judge Andrew Hartman said Hall must keep a record of the licenses.  He also said she must let couples know that the validity of the licenses depends upon higher court rulings.  Also, reportedly Colorado county clerks in Denver and Pueblo announced that they will also begin issuing licenses to same-sex couples.

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said Hartman’s order claims that even if the licenses are invalid, the “state suffers no irreparable harm from their issuance.” Suthers also issued a statement underscoring the need for rulings — on both of these cases — from the state Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, a Pennsylvania county clerk had appealed a Federal District judge's ruling overturning that state's law defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, according to another CitizenLink story. Theresa Santai-Gaffney, Schuylkill County clerk, had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene and halt same-sex marriage in the state while a court case moves forward.  That appeal was turned back by the high court.

2 - Faith leaders challenge "non-discrimination" policy 

President Obama has proposed an executive order that would ban so-called "discrimination" based on sexual orientation for contractors with the Federal government. A debate has moved forward among faith leaders about whether or not the order should contain a religious exemption.  This order would essentially be a mini-version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would prevent sexual orientation from being a factor in employment practices.  Charisma News provides a timeline.

On June 25, more than 150 mostly evangelical leaders signed a letter urging Obama to "protect the rights of faith-based organizations that simply desire to utilize staffing practices consistent with their deep religious convictions." They suggested specific language that was similar to the Senate version of ENDA.   That request followed an earlier letter from 90 organizations asking the Obama administration to end the Bush-era policy of permitting federally funded religious groups to hire and fire based on a person's faith.   A copy of the June 25 letter can be found at the International Religious Freedom Alliance website.  The letter includes signatories Franklin Graham, President and CEO of Samaritan's Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association; Stanley Carlson-Thies, President of the IRFA; Leith Anderson, President of the National Association of Evangelicals; Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Christian Hispanic Leadership Conference; and Dan Busby, President of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.

Also, Charisma News reported on a July 1 letter that was sent to the President, signed by three former advisory council members and his former chief liaison to evangelicals, asking the President to include an exemption for religious groups. They wrote, "A religious exemption would simply maintain that religious organizations will not be automatically disqualified or disadvantaged in obtaining contracts because of their religious beliefs." Among those signing that letter were Florida megachurch pastor Joel Hunter; the Rev. Larry Snyder, CEO of Catholic Charities USA; and the Rev. Noel Castellanos, CEO of the Christian Community Development Association; as well as former evangelical liaison Michael Wear

And, just this week, more than 100 religious leaders, including four former members of the President's Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, signed on to a letter saying there should be no religious exception.  They wrote, "An exception would set a terrible precedent by denying true equality for LGBT people, while simultaneously opening a Pandora's Box inviting other forms of discrimination." Signatories to that letter included more liberal theologians, such as, Harry Knox, president of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice; Fred Davie, executive vice president of Union Theological Seminary; Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; and Metropolitan Community Churches Moderator Nancy Wilson.

More ENDA news now from this week: The effort is facing a major setback after a coalition of gay rights groups and civil liberties groups pulled their support because of an exemption for religious groups, according to

The American Civil Liberties Union and four gay rights groups said they can no longer support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case over contraception coverage, which allowed some businesses to claim a religious exemption in following federal law.  Laura Murphy, the director of the ACLU's Washington legislative bureau is quoted as saying that, “Federal legislation to protect LGBT people from workplace discrimination is way beyond overdue, but Congress has no place giving religiously affiliated employers a license to discriminate against LGBT workers...We can no longer support a bill that treats LGBT discrimination as different and somehow more legitimate than other forms of discrimination.”

1 - Christians attempt to intervene in immigration crisis

Certainly, the buildup at the border of children seeking refuge in America is developing into a political and a humanitarian crisis, and there are indications that people of faith are being prevented from being involved.

That's the report of Todd Starnes of Fox News, who states that:
Pastors and churches have been banned from helping the thousands of illegal immigrant children housed in border detention facilities run by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, clergy in Texas and Arizona tell me.
Starnes quotes Kyle Coffin, a Tucson, Arizona pastor, who said, “Border Patrol told us pastors and churches are not allowed to visit...It’s pretty heartbreaking that they don’t let anybody in there -- even credentialed pastors.”

A public affairs officer for the Border Patrol confirmed that ministers and church groups have been banned from the Nogales Placement Center.

Starnes reported that people of faith in San Antonio had a similar experience. One professional counselor at a camp run by BCFS, an organization previously known as Baptist Child and Family Services, said there were no clergy at all.

Apparently, a question was raised to President Obama in a meeting in Dallas this week. reported that Chris Liebrum of the Baptist General Convention and Arne Nelson of Catholic Charities asked the President if the ban on Christians volunteering at overwhelmed detention camps would be lifted. Christian groups bringing toys, blankets and food to the gates of the camps were reportedly turned away.

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