Sunday, November 22, 2015

The 3 - November 22, 2015

In this week's edition of The 3, how to respond Biblically to the Syrian refugee crisis in light of the Paris attacks has been a focus for a number of Christian leaders and organizations.  Also, the National Bible Bee finals were held this week in San Antonio.  And, it was announced this week that the U.S. Senate could be taking up a House-passed bill that would prevent taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood.

3 - Christians debate Syrian refugees, number of Christian refugees from Syria is small

There has arisen a debate within the Christian community about how best to deal with refugees from the nation of Syria.  While there are no doubt some Syrians who are escaping persecution at the hands of ISIS, there is a reasonable concern that terrorists could be coming into America in the wave of refugees that could be allowed into the country.

Based on this type of concern, the U.S. House passed a bill on Thursday that, according to, requires new screening requirements on refugees from Syria and Iraq before they can enter the United States. The bill passed by a veto-proof 289-137 margin and now goes on to the Senate.

Over half of the nation's governors have indicated they would not take Syrian refugees in their states, and Christian leaders on both sides of the issue have been speaking out.

And, who would you say would be the most oppressed group of the Syrians leaving that war-torn nation?  How about Christians fleeing the tangible threat from ISIS?

Well, reports that roughly 18 percent of Syria’s estimated 4 million refugees are Christians. The publication asks the question, "So why have only less than 3 percent of the 2,184 Syrian refugees resettled in the United States from 2011 until now been Christians?"

Faith McDonnell of the Institute on Religion and Democracy is quoted - she wrote for The Stream that American Christians are “curious, and somewhat concerned, that there appear to be no Christian refugees in sight.” She faults the Obama Administration.  Also, according to the article, Nina Shea of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom says that Christian refugees need special treatment because the United Nations refugee processing system “disproportionately excludes them,” according to a piece she wrote at the National Review website.

Matthew Soerens, US director of church mobilization for World Relief, The humanitarian arm of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), said that Syrian Christians perhaps had waited longer to seek resettlement because they felt protected by the Assad regime.  He also pointed out Christian refugees tend to be wealthier, so they seek escaping through a tourist visa, then applying for asylum.

Two high-profile Southern Baptist leaders are among those speaking out on the issue.  Baptist Press quotes Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, who is quoted as saying, "there's a lot of confusion among Christians on the right response to Syrian refugees because many people do not understand that while we as Christians have one responsibility individually, government has another responsibility."

Individuals, Jeffress said, must "show compassion for these refugees," support relief organizations and call on government to combat the terrorist group ISIS. "But government has another responsibility, and that is to secure our borders."
Russell Moore, president of Southern Baptists' Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, called Christians "to remember human dignity" without neglecting appropriate border security. In written comments, he told Baptist Press that, "The screening of refugees is a crucial aspect of national security, and we should insist on it," adding, "At the same time, evangelicals should be the ones calling the rest of the world to remember human dignity and the image of God, especially for those fleeing murderous Islamic radical jihadis. We should remember the history of the 20th century, of Jewish refugees from the Holocaust and refuseniks from the Soviet Union who were largely ignored by the world community."

2 - National Bible Bee finals take place in San Antonio

The National Bible Bee competition took place this past week in San Antonio, as the 360 highest-scoring Bible Bee contestants from across the nation demonstrated Scripture knowledge and memorization, according to the National Bible Bee website. The top winners were to be awarded more than $270,000, every contestant was scheduled to be encouraged and recognized for their Biblical excellence.

This year's winners were:

In the Primary division (7-10 years old): 1st Place/Jediael Chintha of Hanover Park, IL; 2nd/Seth Ross of Mission Viejo, CA; 3rd/Emma Fernandez of Haslet, TX

In the Junior division (ages 11-14): 1st Place/Taylor Bontrager of Kalona, IA; 2nd/Grace Wanliss of Fountain Inn, SC; 3rd/Everett Chew of La Palma, CA

In the Senior category (15-18 years old): 1st/Delie Moss of Bells, TN; 2nd/Bethany Xiques of Miami Springs, FL; 3rd/Emily Hamilton of Tehachapi, CA.

The Bible Bee is sponsored by the Shelby Kennedy Foundation, a nonprofit ministry established to encourage children and youth to grow in Christ through study of the Bible and Scripture memorization. Shelby died of cancer in 2005 at the age of 23.

1 - Pro-life bill proposed in Senate

Senate Republican leaders this week announced their intention to bring a bill to the floor of the U.S. Senate that would prevent taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood, and it is structured in such a way that it only needs 51 votes to pass, not the 60-vote filibuster-proof majority that we have seen in past fights on that and other issues. reports that:

...the Senate will vote on a reconciliation bill the House passed at the end of October that will use the reconciliation process to de-fund the abortion company caught selling the body parts of aborted babies. There had been question about whether the Planned Parenthood de-funding provisions could be included in the bill, but the Senate parliamentarian has indicated they can remain.

This will be the third attempt since the summer in which Senate lawmakers have attempted to defund the nation's largest abortion provider. reports that in August, Republicans were unable to secure 60 votes on a bill that would accomplish a vote on that issue, only amassing 53 votes to shut off debate.  In September, another vote was taken, and the Senate voted 52-47 against cutting off debate.

Can the Republicans gather the now-51 votes needed to pass this bill and deliver it to the President? There are three Republican senators, who reports have balked at defunding Planned Parenthood, are Susan Collins of Maine, Mark Kirk of Illinois, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Take those 3 votes away, and you still have 52 potential Republican votes - enough for passage.

However, three pro-life Republicans have indicated they may vote against the bill cause they don't think it goes far enough in repealing Obamacare. Two of them are Presidential candidates: Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida. The other is Mike Lee of Utah. All three have said they want the reconciliation bill to repeal Obamacare in its entirety rather than repealing portions of it, so they may oppose the bill.

So, if these three hold to their positions, that brings the number to 49.  So, in order to pass the bill, 2 Democrats or 2 more Republicans would have to vote in favor of the bill, or one of lawmaker of each party would have to change the presumed position.

As a WORLD Magazine article points out:

The opposition aligns Cruz, Lee, and Rubio with Heritage Action, the lobbying partner of the Heritage Foundation, but at odds with the many other conservative groups that back the bill, including Americans for Tax Reform, Americans for Prosperity, and the Family Research Council. Supporters say it achieves their most important goals.

Susan B. Anthony List and National Right to Life are two pro-life groups who support the bill.

Tony Perkins of Family Research Council is quoted as saying: "The reconciliation bill strikes a serious blow to Obamacare," adding, "This alleviates federal coercion of Americans who are forced to purchase health insurance they may object to because it contains elective abortion coverage and removes the threat of punishing fines on employers who decline to violate their deeply held beliefs."

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