Monday, February 24, 2014

The 3 - February 23, 2014

This week's edition of "The 3", my week-in-review feature, includes an annual event sponsored by international relief organization World Vision, where young people go without food in order to identify with those who are hungry around the world.   Also, the Winter Olympic Games have provided excellent venues through which the good news of the gospel of Christ is being shared.  And, the top story involves Christian communicators from around the world coming together to learn, grow, be inspired, and gain a greater connection with others who share in that unique call.

3 - Thousands of young people stand with World Vision in "30 Hour Famine"

More than 60,000 teenagers from some 3,000 churches were expected to rally this past weekend to fight hunger and trafficking through World Vision's 30 Hour Famine and new "Childhood Lost" events, according to a World Vision press release.

The 30 Hour Famine, now in its 23rd year, brings together teens who will devote a weekend to fasting, prayer and service to fight hunger.  The teens forgo food for 30 hours and spend a weekend, usually at a church, learning about the impact of hunger on children around the world and volunteering in their own communities.   They prepare for the Famine by raising money for World Vision food and nutrition programs. Participating teens raised more than $8 million last year to fight hunger through World Vision. Since its start in 1992, teens have raised nearly $170 million through participation in the 30 Hour Famine event.

Leah Swindon, World Vision's national director for youth mobilization, says that, "Youth are an incredibly powerful community...These issues are new to many of them, but they so often respond with passion -- and with action. Every year we see them make the world a bit better because of their commitment to bringing change."

This year, World Vision also launched a new experience event to raise awareness and resources to fight child trafficking around the world. The experience, called "Childhood Lost," will revolve around a series of vigils during which students learn about trafficking around the world and solutions that World Vision is implementing to prevent trafficking before children are forced to become soldiers, laborers and sex workers.

For more information, visit

2 - Sochi Olympics bring opportunities to share Christ

With athletes and spectators from all over the world converging on Sochi, Russia, the Winter Olympics provides an opportunity for the love of Christ and the good news of the gospel to be spread.  Not only do Christian Olympians have a tremendous platform through which they can share God's work in their lives, but there were a number of different avenues for ministry in and around the city.

Assist News provided an excellent profile of some of the spiritual activity surrounding the games.
It spotlights the International Christian Information Center, which is presenting daily news and other coverage of Christian and secular events at the Games. The center is run by several evangelical organizations and its team of volunteers is in Sochi for the express purpose of serving the Lord and the visitors to the games.

After church leaders Ivan Chehunov, Richard Page and Vladimir Samoilov, the primary organizers of the Christian Hospitality Center in Sochi, solemnly cut the ribbon at the entrance to the tent on February 7, the Center was open for business.

The ASSIST story mentions that an important aspect of the Olympics is unity, which is especially noticeable not only among athletes and fans but also among Christian churches. The openness of the church to society was spoken about by the senior pastor of the union of churches, Sergey Malinkin who visited the Hospitality Center in Sochi.   There was a special program organized at the Center by SOAR International Ministries and “Wave of Hope” movement.

One of the key ministry outreach tools is the Fun Zone, which is offered on the grounds of one of the local churches.   Wally Kulakoff of Russian Ministries shared with me about this gathering place, where people can come and watch the various Olympic events on large screen televisions.    Their ministry offered various types of literature, as Wally told Mission Network News: “Russian Ministries together with the Gideons International of Canada have provided literature: a magazine called ‘Hope,’ the New Testament in Russian and English, and the Gospel of John in Gospel in Russian and English.”   The Salvation Army also played a part in serving hot drinks.

Terry Veazey, working with International Sports Chaplains, also joined me on my radio show and shared with me about the personal evangelism that was taking place as the chaplains interacted with people on the streets of Sochi.  

So, as the eyes of the world have turned to Sochi, Russia, for the Winter Games, peoples' eyes have been turned toward the Lord Jesus Christ as various ministries reach out in numerous ways.

1 - Religious broadcasters journey to annual convention in Nashville

Beginning this past weekend, thousands gathered in Nashville for the National Religious Broadcasters International Christiian Media Convention. It is billed by NRB as "the world’s largest annual gathering of Christian communicators."

A NRB press release says that, "Convention participants will be exposed to new media insights, connections, resources, and opportunities that will help them and their organizations to advance."  It states that participants will "attend a broad range of educational sessions, network with like-minded individuals and organizations; and be inspired by nationally and internationally known speakers and artists."

Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, who was installed as the new President of the organization on Saturday night explains: "The NRB Convention is a 'must attend' on the calendar of many Christian media and ministry professionals...In the course of just a few days, you can make more strategic connections and gain more knowledge and resources than you might in the course of a year. It's a one-stop venue for what many need to more effectively reach people for Christ.”

The event draws a wide range of participants, including radio and TV station owners and operators, pastors, church media professionals, radio and TV program producers, college educators, students, film producers, web and mobile developers, social media managers, marketing representatives, and ministry staff members.

The Convention offers approximately 40 educational sessions led by professionals addressing topics such as fundraising, marketing, video production, social media, technology, and leadership.  On Friday, the NRB Digital Media Summit covered best practices for an effective social media presence using today's digital media tools.  Dozens of speakers are featured during the course of the Convention, and this year speakers include Ben Carson, Jack Hayford, Bryan Loritts, Eric Metaxas, Albert Mohler, Russell Moore, Barbara Rainey, and Todd Starnes.  Musical guests this year include Ginny Owens, GLAD, Michael W. Smith, and Tommy Walker.

Again, this year, Faith Radio has a presence at the Convention.  Members of our ministry team are attending, and we again have a booth on the exhibit hall floor, where I am conducting interviews for The Meeting House program with some of the key speakers as well as others who are attending.   Tune in weekdays between 4 and 6 this week for our special NRB coverage.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The 3 - February 16, 2014

This week here in my week-in-review feature, I want to take a look at a key event that was being promoted to churches in association with Valentine's Day in an effort to celebrate and strengthen marriages.   Also, there was news about same-sex marriage ceremonies being performed by members of a large Christian denomination.  And, there was more news regarding the attempt to redefine marriage as something other than one-man, one-woman.

3 - Art of Marriage events scheduled at churches across America

Since 2011, some 400,000 people have discovered The Art of Marriage, a video resource from the ministry of FamilyLife.  And, this weekend, churches were being encouraged to sponsor events surrounding The Art of Marriage.  The resource has six video sessions, addressing topics such as the purpose of marriage, the drift to isolation, roles, communication, romance and sex, and legacy.  In addition to Dennis Rainey of FamilyLife and his wife, Barbara, noted experts who are featured include Paul David Tripp, who spoke to hundreds recently in a conference in Montgomery, Voddie Baucham, Mary Kassian, Crawford Loritts, his son, Bryan Loritts, and more.   Find out more about how your church can be involved by going to

Valentine's Day also marked the end of National Marriage Week, which is actually an international event that is designed to highlight the benefits of  marriage. It was begun in the the U.K. by Richard and Maria Kane. It has been a collaborative project and has the backing of a number of Christian organizations, according to a report on the Christian Today website. A huge emphasis is given to local events, which is where churches really come into their own running and hosting these and offering support and advice where necessary.

The week also provides churches with opportunities to engage and celebrate with their communities, and to launch other marriage resources and events off the back of it.

The report says that last year one and a half million people attended a Marriage Week event worldwide. Last Saturday, the organizers launched what is called the Big was National Marriage Week's World Record attempt to get the most couples renewing their vows simultaneously.

You can learn more about the U.S. effort at the website

2 - United Methodist clergy violate denomination's ban on same-sex marriage ceremonies

Two United Methodist Church clergy of Washington state were recently suspended for a day for officiating same-sex marriage ceremonies, considered a violation of the denomination's rules, according to a report on The Christian Post website.

It was announced this week that the Rev. Cheryl A. Fear of Bellingham and Rev. Gordon Hutchins of Tacoma were suspended for 24 hours without pay for performing gay marriages in 2012.   The one-day suspensions come instead of a church trial, which would have led to the possibility of being given a heftier punishment by UMC officials.

United Methodist Church's Book of Discipline states that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching and that, "Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches."

John Lomperis, the Institute on Religion & Democracy's United Methodist Action Director, told the Post that, "Such flaunting of our denomination's biblical standards is not new for this region, which has operated with a sort of ecclesial anarchy for quite a number of years."  He said, "Thanks to its liberal leadership, the Pacific-Northwest Conference has long been one of the fastest-dying UMC conference, losing a whopping 5.3 percent of its members just within the last reported year."

There's more news concerning gay marriage from the United Methodist Church.  A church trial for retired seminary dean Rev. Thomas Ogletree, set to begin March 10, has been indefinitely postponed.   Ogletree performed a same-sex weeding for his son in New York state.

Last December, Frank Schaefer of Pennsylvania was defrocked for officiating his son's gay marriage back in 2007.

And, in October, reported on a same-sex ceremony performed by retired Bishop Melvin Talbert in Birmingham, in a state where gay marriage is illegal, despite being requested not to do so by the presiding bishop of the conference.   The couple were legally wed in Washington, D.C. in September.

Despite the talk about the UMC being increasingly divided over the issue, Lomperis told CP that the biblically conservative viewpoint was winning due to changing demographics.  He said, "United Methodists on both sides now admit that given the demographics of our global denomination, no General Conference in the foreseeable future is expected to change our denomination's 'on paper' affirmation of biblical teaching on marriage and sex."

1 - Same-sex marriage rulings prove discouraging for advocates of traditional marriage

Just days after the announcement by Attorney General Eric Holder that the federal government must recognize same-sex marriages and give such unions “full and equal protection, to the greatest extent under the law," two Federal judges issued rulings concerning the marriage amendments in two southern states

This week, a Federal judge struck down a part of the state of Kentucky's marriage amendment, approved by 75% of the voters there.  CitizenLink reports that the ruling by U.S. District Court Judge John Heyburn means Kentucky would have to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states or countries. He cited the U.S. Supreme Court decision last summer that struck down part of the federal marriage law. The court will set a hearing soon to discuss when the order will take effect.

And, reports that U.S. District Court Judge Arenda Wright Allen in Norfolk, Virginia struck down the marriage amendment in that state, approved by 57% of the voters. She stated in her opinion that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage violated the right to due process and equal protection afforded under the U.S. Constitution.  However, Allen stayed the execution of her order pending appeal.

She asserted, “Government interests in perpetuating traditions, shielding state matters from federal interference, and favoring one model of parenting over others must yield to this country’s cherished protections that ensure the exercise of the private choices of the individual citizen regarding love and family.

There have been 4 court rulings within the past few months concerning states that are generally thought to be socially conservative - Utah, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Virginia.   These have all been handed down by singular Federal judges who are using this opportunity to attempt to redefine an institution that has been a key building block of our society.

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.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

The 3 - February 2, 2014

This week's edition of "The 3", my week-in-review feature, includes some faith elements incorporated into the week preceding the Super Bowl in New York.  Also, a surprise Oscar nomination for a song from a little-known Christian film has been rescinded.  And, a flurry of briefs were filed supporting two companies in their quest to have the contraception mandate from the Federal government declared unconstitutional.

3 - Faith component visible in week leading up to Super Bowl

In addition to the examination and coverage of the faith of various players in the Big Game, including quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson, at least 2 significant events related to the game took place in the week preceding the event.

Because Super Bowl is a trademarked name by the NFL, very few events that occur during the week prior to the game actually carry the "Super Bowl" name, according to the website,  One of them is the Super Bowl Gospel Celebration, which took place at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night. reported on the event, which was headlined by Patti Labelle, but it said that the star of the night was Donnie McClurkin. Any time his name was even mentioned, the crowd would reportedly roar in anticipation of his arrival.

Melanie Few-Harrison, founder & Executive Producer of the event, said, "“The NFL players refer to him as Uncle Donnie. They’ve adopted him in their heart...Donnie’s here every year and has always been a big support. We all just love him.”

McClurkin takes pride in the endearment bestowed upon him by the athletes. “We have the God connection between us,” he said backstage. “Ninety-nine percent of these players are from church background like me.”

The event featured a 40-man strong NFL Players Choir.  One member, Jason Avant of the Philadelphia Eagles and Second Tenor in the choir, said, "I sing gospel songs and scriptures going up to the line of scrimmage. I need that constant reminder because we are playing a dangerous game...If I can keep God’s word on my mind, it makes me full of faith in times of fear when the game is on the line.”

“American Idol” season 12 winner Candice Glover performed two duets with LaBelle, “If Only You Knew” and “Somebody Loves You Baby (You Know Who It Is).” LaBelle then spoke about the importance of passing on God’s blessings, closing her set with “When You’ve Been Blessed.”

Other featured artists included Mary Mary, Natalie Grant and Tamela Mann.  Award-winning artist Tasha Cobbs was part of a special pre-show, according to, which quoted some of the players at a pre-event press conference:

Victor Aiyewa, linebacker with the Green Bay Packers, said that thanks to his spirituality, he has kept his head above water in the NFL.

"I was able to press through some of the hardest times with football," he said. The league's locker rooms, said players, are far from godless.

"His presence is felt through the NFL," said Josh Cribbs, wide receiver for the Jets.  Keith Hamilton, a former for the Giants, is also in the players' choir. He said the locker room shows often act as a prayer closet for spiritual players.

"I like to listen to gospel driving down the highway, and not just on a Sunday," said Terrence Stephens, a rookie defensive tackle with the Cincinnati Bengals. "I encourage everybody to get a gospel playlist."

Friday morning, the Bart Starr Award was presented by Athletes in Action.  The award is given annually to a player, selected by his peers, who represents exemplary character and leadership on and off the field. The award was given to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who received the award from former Packers great Bart Starr at the annual Athletes in Action Super Bowl Breakfast.

Rodgers said, "“Bart is one of the most decorated players in the NFL, but the first thing you hear of him is about the kind of person he is...It is with extreme humility, admiration, respect and love for you, Bart, that I accept this award."

Previous award winners include Jason Witten, London Fletcher, Drew Brees, Kurt Warner, LaDainian Tomlinson, Reggie White and Mike Singletary.

In his nine years in the NFL, Rodgers has advocated for numerous charitable efforts including Raise Hope for Congo and the Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer (MACC) fund. He created a website, to build awareness for organizations and people who are making a difference in their communities. The quarterback has also been involved with Young Life and Make-A-Wish.

Those who attended the event heard narratives of faith and football from NFL players past and present including Drew Brees, George Martin, Justin Tuck, David Tyree, and Brent Jones. The program also included former NFL coach and NASCAR team owner Joe Gibbs, critically acclaimed actor Jim Caviezel, and speaker on the Breakpoint radio commentary, Eric Metaxas.

2 - Oscar nomination for song from faith-based film rescinded

It was just a couple of weeks ago when the Oscar nominations were announced and a song included in the soundtrack of a little-known Christian film called, "Alone Yet Not Alone", was nominated for Best Original Song, alongside of songs from films such as "Despicable Me 2", "Frozen", and the Mandela biopic, which won a Golden Globe for U2.   The song was composed by Bruce Broughton and Dennis Spiegel, and featured the vocals of Joni Eareckson Tada.

This week, it was announced that the nomination had been rescinded.  The Christian Post reports that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science had dismissed his song from eligibility because he sent 70 personal e-mails to members of the Academy asking them to "boldly direct your attention to entry #57...This is merely a request for your consideration."

Broughton served two nine-year terms as a Governor in the Academy and is currently a member of the executive committee of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, said in the e-mails that, "I'm sending this note only because it is extremely unlikely that this small, independent, faith-based film will be seen by any music branch member; it's the only way I can think of to have anyone be aware of the song."

When she broke the news on Wednesday, Academy President Cheryl Isaacs quoted from the organization's policy, which reads, "It is the Academy's goal to ensure that the Awards competition is conducted in a fair and ethical manner. If any campaign activity is determined by the Board of Governors to work in opposition to that goal, whether or not anticipated by these regulations, the Board of Governors may take any corrective actions or assess any penalties that in its discretion it deems necessary to protect the reputation and integrity of the awards process."

The Christian Post interviewed Broughton, who said, "My take on it is that it's a personal attack in order to discredit a nomination that disappointed the people who had spent a lot of money for something else. He added, "In that way they have been very successful. I have been discredited. My character has been besmirched and sullied," he added.

Responding to allegations that Hollywood's actions were motivated by a larger, culture war angle, Broughton said he would not "discount that there are other issues at work." Although the film was produced by a Christian group and Tada is an evangelical Christian, neither he nor Spiegel identify as such. (Broughton, who was raised in a family that was significantly involved in the Salvation Army said he "wouldn't put a name" on his faith. Spiegel is Jewish.)

Broughton pointed to an industry where thousands of dollars are spent on special screenings of the film and lavish parties in the hopes that studios can persuade Academy members to nominate their film. As the composer sees it, most attached with a particular film would not have to resort to sending out personal emails to jockey for votes.

He said, "My campaign, which I guess was the production company's campaign, was limited to writing some emails….just asking them to listen to the song. I didn't ask to vote for the song. I didn't call anyone up, I didn't promote the movie. I didn't do anything. I just pointed out the song on a list of 75 songs on the DVD that the Academy is sending."

Joni Eareckson Tada was gracious in her response.   She is quoted in a press release:  
“I was grateful for the attention the nomination brought to this worthy song and the
inspirational film behind it, as well as to the ongoing work of Joni and Friends to people
affected by disabilities. The decision by the Academy to rescind the nomination may
well bring even further attention, and I only hope it helps to further extend the message
and impact of the song.
“Regarding the reasons for the nomination being rescinded, it is not my place to
speculate as I have no insights into the workings of the entertainment industry. I was
honored to be invited to sing the song and it will always be a treasured experience.”
1 - Dozens of Christian organizations stand with plaintiffs in contraception mandate case before the Supreme Court

This week, with eyes on Washington fixed on the circumstances surrounding the President's State of the Union address, there was pro-life activity taking place in the U.S. House of Representatives, where a bill to prohibit taxpayer funding of abortion passed that chamber, as well as at the U.S. Supreme Court, where a stream of friend-of-the-court, or amicus briefs were received, concerning a case involving the Administration's mandate that employers provide drugs that could cause abortion, as well as to provide contraception and sterilization, in their health insurance plans.  Oral arguments will be heard on March 25 in a combined hearing involving two plaintiffs:  Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties, for-profit companies who desire to operate by Christian principles and who find this mandate objectionable in light of their Christian beliefs.

According to the Alliance Defending Freedom, which represents the Hahn family, owners of Conestoga, 59 briefs were filed with the U.S. Supreme Court this week to encourage the high court to declare the Obama administration’s abortion pill mandate illegal in those two major legal challenges. The briefs outnumber the ones filed in favor of the mandate by nearly three to one.  The briefs include the attorneys general from 20 states, a diversity of organizations ranging from pro-life Democrats to libertarians, and a broad spectrum of both Catholic and Protestant religious groups.

ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman is quoted as saying, “Unjust laws are not valid laws. Americans must be free to exercise their constitutionally protected liberties without punishment from the government...As the numerous briefs filed with the Supreme Court affirm, the administration has no business forcing citizens to choose between making a living and living free.”