Sunday, May 03, 2015

The 3 - May 3, 2015

This week in The 3, my week-in-review feature, there is good news about a Christian businessman who won a court victory after standing on his faith principles.  Also, there was unrest in Baltimore, but church leaders stepped in to try to bring peace.  And, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments from those who wish to allow same-sex couples to enter into a marriage relationship and those who presented the case for adhering to the traditional definition of the institution.

3 - KY T-shirt printer wins court victory after refusal to print gay pride shirts

Blaine Adamson is a t-shirt printer in Lexington, Kentucky.  His company is called Hands On Originals.  According to the Alliance Defending Freedom, he had been approached by the Lexington Pride Festival, hosted by the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization to print shirts promoting the event.  Adamson turned down the business because he did not want to convey the message that would be printed on them, he nevertheless offered to put the festival organizers in touch with another printer that would produce the shirts for the same price.  But, that did not satisfy the GLSO, which filed a complaint with the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission, which ruled last year that Adamson ruled last year that must print messages that conflict with his faith on shirts that customers order from him.  By the way, festival organizers eventually received the shirts for free from another printer, so they had no problem obtaining their desired goods and services.

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing Adamson appealed the ruling to the Fayette Circuit Court, which reversed the commission’s decision.

ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jim Campbell, who argued before the court in Hands On Originals v. Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission, is quoted as saying: "The government can’t force citizens to surrender free-speech rights or religious freedom in order to run a small business, and this decision affirms that,” adding, “The court rightly recognized that the law protects Blaine’s decision not to print shirts with messages that conflict with his beliefs, and that no sufficient reason exists for the government to coerce Blaine to act against his conscience in this way.”
As ADF pointed out, the commission’s ruling had the potential to override the conscience rights of all Lexington-area printers regardless of their views, as a GLSO representative admitted at a hearing last year."

Jamie Dean, News Editor for WORLD Magazine, was on The Meeting House recently and in that conversation, she discussed the case involving Blaine Adamson.  You can listen to that conversation by clicking here.   Her original article can be found here.

2 - Baltimore church leaders respond with prayer, action

When there is a situation involving desperation, turmoil, and hopelessness, the church has a unique opportunity to step in and bring hope, healing, and peace.  Such has been the case in American cities in the midst of violence concerning the deaths of young African-American males in conflicts with police officers.

In the most recent incident, the one in Baltimore involving Freddie Gray, who died in police custody, church leaders stepped in to help to provide assistance during the riots and protests that occurred, according to a piece on The Christian Post website, which referred to Michael Crawford, the pastor of Baltimore's Freedom Church who also serves as a church growth strategist for the Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network. He was set to board an airplane headed for Florida but said he knew that God was calling him to remain in Baltimore and pray for the well-being of his city.

The articles states that after leaving the airport, Crawford told the Baptist Press that he sent a video message through his phone to other area pastors inviting them to his church to pray in solidarity. He said, "Satan wants our city, and he can't have it," adding, "We were born for this hour and we will fight this right away — on our knees."

On the Monday night after the riots began, Crawford's church hosted three hours of prayer and another meeting the following day.  Crawford is quoted as saying: "Things started calming down in the city. The National Guard was called in to assist. And gang members were meeting with other clergy in the city," adding, "I believe God heard and answered our prayers."

Another Christian Post article described a meeting in Orlando this week leading up to the latest gathering sponsored by The Reconciled Church.  Bishop Harry Jackson, chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Washington, D.C., spoke to a group that night, which also viewed a WBAL TV 11 report showing clergy marching against the violence in Baltimore and praying in the street, creating a barrier between police and angry agitators.

And, according to the website, by late Tuesday, 11 Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains were already on the streets in Baltimore with more to be added in the coming days.

Franklin Graham said: “Hurt compounding hurt won’t bring healing...What happened to Freddie Gray was tragic, unacceptable, and needs immediate correction. But what is happening now on the streets of Baltimore isn’t the answer." He added, “Join me in praying for the people of this great city.”

1 - U.S. Supreme Court considers definition of marriage, Christian leaders pledge to stand

This past Tuesday, significant oral arguments took place regarding the definition of marriage, which has been in place for, as Justice Anthony Kennedy said in the hearing, "millennia."  Actually, you can go all the way back to the second chapter of the book of Genesis, when God's expressed definition for marriage was instituted.

There has been much analysis of the questions and answers in the hearing.  On The Gospel Coalition website, Russell Moore and Andrew Walker of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention highlighted the top 10 questions they heard during the hearing.  Some of these include:
  • Chief Justice Roberts asked whether expanding marriage to include gay couples would lead to marriage’s redefinition.
  • Justice Kennedy's questioning of whether it was prudent for the Court to step in and change the definition of the institution that has been established for "millennia."
  • Justice Alito observed that while ancient cultures like Greece embraced homosexuality, they still held marriage as distinct. He asked, “So their limiting marriage to couples of the opposite sex was not based on prejudice against gay people, was it?”
  • Justice Breyer hinted at perhaps the most important aspect of this particular case: Letting the states decide. He suggested that this debate is working itself out in the states, asking why not “wait and see whether in fact doing so in other states is or is not harmful to marriage?”
  • Referencing Bob Jones University’s wrong and sinful banning of interracial dating, Alito asked whether redefining marriage would eventually pose risks (such as the loss of tax-exempt status) to the religious liberty of religious institutions.
Regarding that question, in their commentary in response to those questions, Moore and Walker wrote:
This was the most shocking moment in the arguments, one that should give people on all sides cause for concern. The Solicitor General said the question of tax exemption might well be an “issue” to be considered later. This demonstrates just how perilous the American principle of recognizing the natural right of religious liberty has become.
Ryan Anderson of The Heritage Foundation, on The Daily Signal website, said:
Tuesday’s oral arguments at the Supreme Court were excellent. There were so many good points made about what marriage is and why redefining marriage would cause harms.
This litany of harms stands in stark contrast to the outrageous lower court rulings that had declared no rational basis to state marriage laws defining marriage as it always had been in America: a union of husband and wife.
Most importantly, it was clear that the nine Supreme Court justices do not have any greater insight on ideal marriage policy than do ordinary American citizens. And the Constitution itself is silent about it.
So the justices should uphold the authority of citizens and their elected representatives to make marriage policy in the states.
In advance of the oral arguments, a number of Christian leaders signed on to a Defend Marriage Pledge.  Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel was one of the co-drafters.  At the Liberty Counsel website, you can read that at the recent March for Marriage in Washington, DC, sponsored by the National Organization for Marriage...
Mat Staver, Founder & Chairman of Liberty Counsel, and a diverse group of religious leaders spoke about the importance of natural marriage .“This is a line we cannot, and will not cross,” Staver told the enthusiastic crowd.
The Liberty Counsel website states:
The Defend Marriage Pledge reads in part, “Our highest respect for the rule of law requires that we not respect an unjust law that directly conflicts with higher law. A decision purporting to redefine marriage flies in the face of the Constitution and is contrary to the natural created order. As people of faith we pledge obedience to our Creator when the State directly conflicts with higher law. We respectfully warn the Supreme Court not to cross this line.” 
Find out more at  The Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision sometime around late June.

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