Monday, October 26, 2015

The 3 - October 25, 2015

On this week's edition of The 3, there is violence against churches taking place in at least two areas of the world - in the St. Louis area, where a series of church fires have been set.  Also, in Indonesia, local authorities have begun to destroy churches in the wake of violence brought about by Muslim extremists in that region.  And, there are several states where there has been activity to defund Planned Parenthood.

3 - Church fires occurring in St. Louis area

A pre-dawn fire in the St. Louis area early Thursday has become the seventh fire at a church within the last few weeks.  According to CNN, St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson told religious and civic leaders on Wednesday, referring to six previous fires: "Whoever this person is, they've picked a fight they can't win."

The latest was at the Shrine of St. Joseph. The previous six were at predominately African-American church buildings, this latest was at a mostly white church in a majority African-American neighborhood.

At the Wednesday meeting, Rev. David Triggs, whose New Life Missionary Baptist Church was among those targeted, said: "We are sending a message ... that you can burn down the building, but you cannot break our body," adding, "And we will not lose our voice."

The police chief told reporters early Thursday that whoever set the St. Joseph fire, "did some research, scouted the area out and knew that they could get in and get out without possibly being seen."  He did point to the absence of surveillance cameras.

The motive is unclear, although some have suggested a racial motivation.  All of the fires were close to the city of Ferguson.  Dotson said at the Wednesday church service that, whatever the true motivation, "it's impossible to ignore that this kind of crime aggravates old wounds, old wounds that were never properly or fully healed."

He added, "When someone attacks places of worship in our community, they attack the whole concept of civil society, aiming violence precisely at the places where people are at their most decent and their most peaceful." 

Franklin Graham wrote on his Facebook page, in part, to, "Pray for the churches in this area, pray that God would bring healing in these communities, and pray that law enforcement will be able to track down and put a stop to whoever is responsible for this."  Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains had ministered in the Ferguson area during a previous time of unrest.

2 - Texas ends Planned Parenthood funding, Louisiana loses court battle

On Monday, October 19, the state of Texas announced that it would no longer fund Planned Parenthood affiliates through its Medicaid program.  According to the Texas Governor's website, referenced by the Alliance Defending Freedom:

Governor Greg Abbott announced his LIFE Initiative to provide greater protections for children in the womb and prevent the sale of baby body parts. Today, the Office of Inspector General at Texas Health and Human Services Commission issued a letter ending Medicaid participation for Planned Parenthood affiliates in the State of Texas based on evidence of Medicaid program violations. The cancellation, consistent with Governor Abbott’s LIFE initiative, calls for funding to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers out of taxpayer money to be eliminated completely, both at the State and local levels.

Kellie Fiedorek of ADF is quoted as saying:

“Texas is right to recognize that taxpayer money should go to fund local community health centers, not to subsidize a scandal-ridden, billion-dollar abortion business. Texans shouldn’t be forced to give their money to Planned Parenthood, which was caught in authenticated undercover videos trafficking aborted babies’ body parts and has a long track record of abusive and potentially fraudulent billing practices and repeated failures to report the sexual abuse of girls. That tax money should be redirected to trusted health care providers, not given to the abortion industry.”

Also, according to ADF, on Wednesday, the Ohio Senate passed a bill that requires the state Department of Health to ensure certain state and federal funds are not used to perform or promote abortions.

And, WORLD reports that a U.S. District Judge ruled last Monday morning that Louisiana must provide Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood for another 14 days while the lawsuit over the order works its way through the courts. Last Monday was the day that Governor Jindal's executive order blocking Medicaid funding going to Planned Parenthood was set to go into effect.  

The WORLD piece states that "Four states are facing lawsuits following decisions to block the distribution of federal Medicaid funds to local Planned Parenthood affiliates. So far, courts have required Louisiana, Arkansas, and Utah to continue funding the abortion provider to some degree." WORLD also reported on Governor Abbott's decision in Texas.  Alabama is one of the states facing a lawsuit over taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood.

1 - Churches torn down in Indonesia

According to a report on the website, authorities in the Aceh region of Indonesia have started to tear down churches following recent religious violence that left at least one person dead and forced thousands of Christians to flee.  Clashes had broken out after Islamic hardliners burned down a church in Aceh Singkil on October 13.  Local church leader Erde Berutu said that “around 8,000” fled into the bordering province of Northern Sumatra.

Muslim residents had demanded that unlicensed churches in the area be demolished, citing a lack of building permits, but religious and political figures, including Christians, had agreed at a meeting on the 12th. to close the houses of worship. 

The article states that the agreement to demolish unregistered churches was partly driven by a ministerial decree in 2006 instructing worship houses to obtain a religious building license. Such a license is known to contain stringent requirements. It quotes a source who told World Watch Monitor that, "But even after all requirements are met, many churches are still prevented from getting the permit."

The Jakarta Post reported that last Monday, the Acehnese government started the demolition of 10 churches in Aceh Singkil regency, Aceh. Regent Safriadi claimed that an earlier agreement had been struck between Christians and Muslims regarding the demolition of the 10 churches. 13 others would be assisted with their permits. reports that this province is the only one in Indonesia where a form of Sharia law is practiced.

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