Sunday, May 25, 2014

The 3 - May 25, 2014

This week's edition of The 3, my week-in-review feature, includes a development in a Florida school district, which has stated that students are allowed to read the Bible in class during non-instructional time.  Also, Federal judges struck down voter-approved amendments concerning traditional marriage in 2 states.  And, there's news on the pro-life front, as another state, Louisiana, has passed a bill requiring admitting privileges for those performing abortion, while a milestone was reached in Texas - the 20th abortion clinic closed since a pro-life bill passed last year.

3 - Florida school district says that students can read Bible 

There was some promising news out of Broward County, Florida earlier this week, as a report was released that the public school district there issued a statement saying that it was OK for the Bible to be read during free reading time because its content is found on the Accelerated Reader list.

This came in response to the story of Giovanni Rubeo, a fifth-grader from Ft. Lauderdale, FL, who, according to the Liberty Institute website, was reading his Bible in April during “free reading time” when he was told by his teacher to “put it on my desk.”  The teacher then informed Giovanni’s father in a phone message that the Bible and “those books” - meaning religious books - were not allowed in “my classroom.”

Giovanni’s father engaged the help of Liberty Institute.  According to Senior Counsel Jeremiah Dys, in response to the school district's statement:  "Now the Broward County Public Schools says it will allow the Bible as part of the Accelerated Reader Program and recanted what Tracy Clark, its spokesperson, said to the Miami Herald and Sun Sentinel on May 6, 2014. We are pleased they are now complying with the law and will allow students to read their Bible during free reading time and within the Accelerated Reader program.”

Dys added, “We do not know if the teacher is in trouble with the school district, but we will continue to monitor this school system carefully to ensure that their actions toward student religious liberty continue match their words."

As Liberty Institute points out, "The Rubeos are not alone in their battle to freely live out their faith. Other students are also experiencing infringement of their religious rights, though the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to carry out our faith in our daily lives free from government interference and prohibits government hostility to religion."
2 - 2 Federal judges rule against traditional definition of marriages, states won't appeal

This week, 2 more Federal judges declared state constitutional amendments affirming traditional marriage to be unconstitutional.  In Oregon, according to the WORLD website, U.S. District Judge Michael McShane made one of the declarations.  At least one county office immediately started issuing marriage licenses to gay couples who were waiting to wed.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum in February joined the list of state attorneys general who refused to defend their states’ marriage amendments in court. The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) petitioned the court to take up the defense on behalf of Oregonians, but was denied.  The organization appealed that decision, also asking Federal appeals judges for a stay of the ruling, which NOM anticipated would go in favor of gay marriage. The appeals court rejected NOM’s plea.

Another state Attorney General, Kathleen Kane of Pennsylvania, refused to defend that state's marriage amendment, and as WORLD reported, Pennsylvania’s Republican governor announced he will not appeal a ruling that struck down the state’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage.   Gov. Tom Corbett’s office had mounted a defense to the legal challenge against the law after the state’s Democratic attorney general, Kathleen Kane, refused to do so.   According to WORLD, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones wrote in his opinion, “We now join the 12 federal district courts across the country which, when confronted with these inequities in their own states, have concluded that all couples deserve equal dignity in the realm of civil."

Corbett said he did not think an appeal would be successful, but he did say that, “As a Roman Catholic, the traditional teaching of my faith has not wavered...I continue to maintain the belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.”

WORLD offered an analysis of "The State of Marriage," pointing out that until 2003, same-sex marriage was banned in all 50 states. It said that now, seventeen states now allow same-sex marriage, either through legislative action or voter referendum. After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the federal Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, judges in six states have struck down statues upholding traditional marriage. More judges likely will follow suit, and the question of whether states can determine what constitutes marriage within their borders will eventually be decided by the nation’s highest court.

1 - TX pro-life bill having effect on clinics, LA passes new requirements on abortion sellers, AL in court


Last year, it took a special session of the Legislature due to some blocking measures taken by abortion proponents, but lawmakers in Texas passed a landmark pro-life law requiring abortionists to have admitting privileges at a local hospital and to ban abortion after the point at which an unborn child can feel pain - around 20 weeks.  Now, the 20th abortion seller in Texas has shut its doors, according to a report on the CitizenLink website.

Northpark Medical Group (NMG) in Dallas has reportedly decided to close because it did not meet state standards. NMG is affiliated with Douglas Karpen, who faced a lawsuit last year alleging, according to the complaint, he killed babies after they were born.  A grand jury cleared him of the charges.

Texas Values President Jonathan Saenz is quoted as saying that, “These abortion clinics are choosing to shut down themselves because they’re refusing to follow common sense laws that protect women and show respect toward innocent human life...If it’s going to cost them more money or they’re going to have to do it in a safer way, they decide not to do it at all. It really is not about what’s best for women, it’s what’s best for their business.”

And, this week in Louisiana, the state Legislature there this week overwhelming passed a bill that requires doctors performing abortions to have practicing privileges at hospitals. According to a report on the ChristianHeadlines.com website, referencing The New York Times, this policy change may force three of the five abortion clinics in the state to shut down.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America president Cecile Richards said, “With similar restrictions passed in neighboring states over the objection of leading medical experts, we are deeply concerned that women in a vast stretch of this country are in read danger of losing the ability to access legal abortion safely."

Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas have passed similar laws. The admitting privileges requirement is being challenged in a Federal courtroom in Montgomery, and hearings continued this week.  The Montgomery Advertiser has been following the trial.

I would be concerned if a Federal court looks at becoming so involved in the regulation of abortion that it begins to determine how far is too far for a woman to travel to terminate the life of her pre-born baby and to perhaps select locations where abortions must be performed.  That would seem to be an outcome of the line of thinking presented by a judge in a hearing on Mississippi's law, according to the New York Times report.

The Times made this statement in its piece:
Legal experts say the legislation is raising a fundamental question: At what point is access to abortion so limited that it violates the right to the procedure granted by the United States Supreme Court in 1973 in Roe v. Wade?

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The 3 - May 18, 2014

In this week's edition of "The 3," my week-in-review feature, I offer a follow-up to a story that broke last week, involving 2 Christian brothers whose plans for a cable television reality show were suspended, presumably because of their faith perspective.   And, a Sudanese lady faces death for marrying a Christian and refusing to convert to Islam.  The top story involves the continuing story of the hundreds of Nigeria girls who have been kidnapped and some of the efforts to bring their freedom - a story that can bring a greater awareness of Christians in peril around the world.

3 - Benham brothers remain in the news, bank rejection reversed

It appeared a few days ago that the strong faith stands of David and Jason Benham had cost them not only a television program on HGTV, but a relationship with their bank.  On Friday, The Daily Caller reported that SunTrust Banks had pulled all of its listed properties with the Benham brothers’ bank-owned property.

At the time, Jason Benham responded by saying, “If our faith costs us our HGTV show and our business, then so be it." Brother David said that, “Keeping us off television wasn’t enough, now this agenda to silence wants us out of the marketplace.”

Later on Friday, TheDC reported that after an uproar from conservative customers, SunTrust Banks had announced that afternoon that the decision to end its relationship with the Benhams had been reversed.

The bank didn’t go into detail about why they originally cut ties with the Benham brothers, though SunTrust said the decision was made by a third party vendor.  TheDC had reported earlier Friday that the vendor had told a Benham Brothers franchisee that the bank itself made the decision.

SunTrust spokeswoman Beth McKenna said, “We clarified our policies with our vendor and they have reinstated the listings with Benham Real Estate."  She added, “Mid-2013, we consolidated the management of certain residential assets with a third party vendor, which has the relationship with Benham Real Estate...While we do not publicly comment on specific vendor relationships, we don’t make choices on suppliers nor base business decisions on political factors, nor do we direct our third party vendors to do so.”

She added: “SunTrust supports the rights of all Americans to fully exercise their freedoms granted under the Constitution, including those with respect to free speech and freedom of religion.”

After publication of TheDC’s story earlier Friday, the publication stated that conservatives expressed outrage at the bank.

Chris Stone, founder of Faith Driven Consumer, had been quoted by The Daily Caller as saying, “SunTrust Banks appears to have punished David and Jason Benham by taking action against their business purely based on their Christian beliefs...This sends a loud and clear message to people of faith in America, you’re not welcome at SunTrust, take your business somewhere else.”

2 - Sudanese woman faces death penalty for marriage to Christian

Meriam Yahia Ibrahim is a women from Sudan, who was arrested in February and charged and sentenced to 100 lashes for adultery and death for apostasy, after Sudanese authorities were made aware of her marriage to a Christian man, according to a report on the Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) website. CSW reports that the court had given the Christian mother, who is pregnant with her second child, until this past Thursday to convert to Islam, implying that her sentence could be annulled or reduced if she did so.   She is currently detained in Omdurman Federal Women's Prison along with her 20-month-old son, Martin Wani.

In March, Meriam had testified that she is a life-long Christian, producing her marriage certificate where she is classified as Christian as proof of her religion.  Reportedly, three potential witnesses from western Sudan who went to the hearing to testify of Mrs Ibrahim’s lifelong adherence to Christianity were prevented from giving evidence.

After the court confirmed the death sentence, her lawyers asserted their intention to launch an appeal, a process which could take several months.  Her husband, Daniel Wani, has complained that throughout her incarceration his wife has been prevented from receiving visitors and, more seriously, from accessing vital medical treatment. A family member said: "we are concerned for her wellbeing; it is not very safe for her to be in the prison with dangerous criminals."

If the sentence is carried out Mrs Ibrahim will become the first person to be executed for apostasy under the 1991 penal code, prompting concerns that the charge may increasingly be used against anyone who converts from Islam.

CSW’s Chief Operating Officer Andy Dipper said, “CSW continues to call for the annulment the inhumane and unwarranted sentence and for the immediate of Mrs Ibrahim and her son, who is being held in violation of article 37 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  As a Sudanese citizen Mrs Ibrahim is entitled to freedom of religion of belief under the constitution; consequently, this sentence amounts to a violation of the Sudanese Constitution and of international conventions to which Sudan is party, including the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.”
Christianity Today reports that the sentence is to be carried out two years after her second child's birth later this month.

1 - Nigerian kidnapping crisis continues, persecution of Christians moves front and center

Prayers, diplomacy, and even military assistance are elements bring a solution to the tragic situation involving almost 300 Nigerian girls, most of whom are from a Christian background, who are being held by the terrorist group Boko Haram.   Now, CBN.com is reporting that the Nigerian government could be ready to open a dialog with the terrorist organization in hopes of securing the release of the girls.

Since their kidnapping one month ago, it has been reported that some of the girls have been forced to convert to Islam and some have reportedly been forced to marry.

One Nigerian cabinet official says engaging in talks with the terrorist group could be key in bringing the girls home.

Nigeria's Minister of Special Duties Tanimu Turaki is quoted as saying, "A lot of promises have been made; we are still pursuing those promises."

That news comes one day after Mike Omeri, the director of the government's information agency, said the government will "use whatever kind of action" it takes to free the young women.  He said, "At the moment because all options are open, we are interacting with experts, military, and intelligence experts from other parts of the world...So these are part of the options that are available to us and many more."

Meanwhile, the United States, Israel, and Britain are assisting Nigeria in its rescue efforts. U.S. surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft have already begun flying over the West African nation.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said that, "...this is no small task. But we are certainly bringing resources to bear in our effort to assist the government."

A prayer vigil was held in the nation's capital on Wednesday, according to a report at the ChristianHeadlines.com website.  The vigil was set to feature 276 flowers, one for each of the kidnapped girls. An online stream was scheduled to be offered to the families of the young women.

Vigil organizer Reverend Patrick Mahoney is quoted as saying, “We stand in solidarity with all the kidnapped girls of Nigeria, their families and loved ones. We agree with Dr. Martin Luther King when he says, ‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter,’”

The New York Times reports that the heads of state of five West African countries, including Nigeria, met Saturday with Western officials and agreed to share intelligence and strengthen military cooperation to combat the regional threat from Boko Haram.

At the request of Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan, President Fran├žois Hollande of France organized the meeting, which was also attended by the heads of state of Cameroon, Niger, Chad and Benin, countries that border Nigeria and that have long been suspicious of one another. The borders among the countries are notoriously porous, and Boko Haram’s adherents have easily slipped across them.

This incident is just another example of persecution of Christians at the hands of radical Isalmists.   The subject of Christian persecution has been elevated in the news recently; representatives of a variety of religious organizations held a press conference almost 2 weeks ago calling for assistance to persecuted Christians.  A WORLD News Service piece on the Christian Headlines website states that Reps. Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA), co-chairs of the Religious Minorities in the Middle East Caucus, hosted the event and urged American believers to pray, give, and advocate on behalf of suffering Christians. They also called on the U.S. Senate to pass legislation to create a State Department special envoy for religious minorities in the Middle East and South Central Asia, which the House has twice passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.  In this instance, the nations of Syria, Iraq, and Egypt were highlighted.

And, a rally yesterday in Dallas called attention to the persecution of Christians in countries with predominantly Muslim governments, calling for the U.S. to cease funding these nations.   Pastor Stephen Broden organized the rally, and he spoke with me for Friday's edition of The Meeting House.    

These are all reminders of the dangerous world in which we live, and how important it is for believers in Christ to stand with those who are facing persecution for their faith.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The 3 - May 11, 2014

This week's edition of "The 3," my week-in-review feature, includes an apparent U-turn by a cable network regarding a planned series featuring 2 evangelical Christians.  Also, tragedy in the nation of Nigeria, where a militant group has apparently kidnapped hundreds of schoolgirls, many of them Christian.  And, the top story includes a Supreme Court decision involving the right of people to pray before governmental meetings according to the dictates of their conscience.

3 - House flippers flipped out of new cable series

This fall, HGTV - Home and Garden Television - had planned for a show called "Flip It Forward," starring twin brothers David and Jason Benham.    According to a report on the Baptist Press website, each episode was to feature the brothers finding a "fixer-upper" house and remodeling it for a family with limited financial resources.

On Wednesday, May 7, the cable network tweeted out that, "HGTV has decided not to move forward with the Benham Brothers' series."  There is speculation that the cancellation of the series came after a report on the website, RightWingWatch.org quoting one of the Benhams as opposing gay marriage and abortion and allegedly saying that Christianity is superior to Islam.

The brothers reportedly told CNN they believe HGTV was pressured into its decision.

David Benham was quoted as saying that he felt HGTV was bullied.  He said, "There's an agenda that's out in America right now that demands silence, especially from men and women who profess Jesus Christ and hold to His standards."

The Benhams wrote in a statement on their website that they would choose their faith over a television show if those were the alternatives.

They wrote, "We were saddened to hear HGTV's decision...With all of the grotesque things that can be seen and heard on television today you would think there would be room for two twin brothers who are faithful to our families, committed to biblical principles, and dedicated professionals. If our faith costs us a television show then so be it."

The Christian advocacy group Faith Driven Consumer launched a petition drive asking HGTV to reinstate "Flip It Forward" to its fall lineup. The petition, available at FlipThisDecison.com, garnered more than 8,500 signatures by May 9.

David Benham said on CNN May 8 that he and his brother have never practiced discrimination.   He is quoted as saying, "We love all people. I love homosexuals. I love Islam, Muslims, and my brother and I would never discriminate. Never have we -- never would we."  He added, "Never have I ever spoken against homosexuals, as individuals, and gone against them...I speak about an agenda. And that's really what the point of this is -- that there is an agenda that is seeking to silence the voices of men and women of faith."

Jason Benham told Baptist Press that HGTV vetted the brothers a year and a half ago, saw some of the material unearthed recently by Right Wing Watch and spoke with the twins about it.

"They got to know us a little better and then they made a judgment call, recognizing that David and I have no hate in our heart for anyone," Jason Benham told CNN. "We've been running a successful real estate company for the last 11 years and we help all people. There is no discrimination."

2 - Hundreds of Nigerian girls, including multiple Christians, kidnapped by militant group

There is great concern over the kidnapping of hundreds of girls from Nigeria, most of them Christians, by the Boko Haram militant group.   According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a disturbing video was released last Monday, in which Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said the kidnapped girls were “slaves” and that he would sell them “in the market”, claiming: “it is Allah that says I should sell human beings” and “instructed us [to] soak the ground of Nigeria with Christian blood and so-called Muslims contradicting Islam.”

The total number of children kidnapped on April 15 from the Government Girls Secondary School (GGSS) in Chibok remains unclear. Some sources state that over 300 were abducted and around 276 are still missing. Last weekend, the Borno State Police Commissioner said 276 girls were captured by the group and 53 had managed to escape.

Christianity Today reports that the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) recently released the names of 165 Christian girls and 15 Muslim girls it says were kidnapped from Chibok. Many are affiliated with the Church of the Brethren. 

Also, CSW reports that this past Monday, Boko Haram gunmen abducted eight more girls aged between 12 and 15 during an attack that included house to house searches of Warabe Village in Borno State, which is located close to Sambisa Forest where the group has a stronghold.   On the same day Boko Haram militants are reported to have destroyed most of Gamboru Town in Borno State, killing at least 250 people.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon is quoted as saying that, “the targeting of children and schools is against international law and cannot be justified under any circumstances.” The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights warned there is no statute of limitations for grave international crimes such as slavery and sexual slavery, pointing out the sale of the girls could constitute a crime against humanity. France, the United States and the United Kingdom are providing specialist assistance, while the Twitter hashtag #BringBackOurGirls went viral, drawing support from a host of celebrities and resulting in protests on behalf of the missing girls in cities throughout Nigeria and across the world. 

And, the leading mosque in Sunni Islam, Al-Azhar Mosque, said: “this action does not relate to the noble teachings of Islam in any way.”  CSW points out that given that it is one of the oldest Sunni institutions and is highly respected throughout the Islamic world and particularly in Africa, Al-Azhar’s intervention constitutes an authoritative and significant riposte to Boko Haram’s claims of divine sanction.

1 - U.S. Supreme Court upholds right to prayers before governmental meetings, including explicitly Christian prayers

A long-time tradition in the city of Greece, New York, had been challenged in court - the practice of inviting volunteers from a variety of churches in the area to pray before the town council's meetings.  CitizenLink reports that after more than five years of legal battles, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday in favor of public prayers — including those “in Jesus’ name” — before government meetings.

Thomas Hungar, an allied attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which represented the town, is quoted as saying, “The Supreme Court has reaffirmed that the practice of prayer before legislative bodies is firmly embedded in the history and traditions of this nation...Americans should be free to speak and act consistently with their own beliefs.”

The court affirmed that as long as the prayers are respectful, those praying may say essentially what they like. It also affirmed that if one prayer should wander outside what’s proper, that alone is not a reason to stop public prayers. And because most of the congregations in Greece are generally Christian, it’s acceptable for most of the people who pray to be Christians—no need to go outside the community to bring some unattainable sense of “balance” to what’s said in the prayers.
In the majority opinion in the 5-4 decision, Justice Anthony Kennedy underscored the rights of Americans:
From the earliest days of the Nation, these invocations have been addressed to assemblies comprising many different creeds. These ceremonial prayers strive for the idea that people of many faiths may be united in a community of tolerance and devotion. Even those who disagree as to religious doctrine may find common ground in the desire to show respect for the divine in all aspects of their lives and being. Our tradition assumes that adult citizens, firm in their own beliefs can tolerate and perhaps appreciate a ceremonial prayer delivered by a person of a different faith.
CitizenLink points out that the Supreme Court’s ruling will likely affect similar cases still in progress in lower courts, according to ADF. Attorneys with the group plan to resolve those cases in light of the decision.

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 ReligionNews.com 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.
CBNNews.com 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.