Sunday, August 30, 2015

The 3 - August 30, 2015

This week on The 3, my week-in-review feature, with three stories of relevance to the Christian community, I spotlight a faith-based film that was competitive in the race for first place in the movie box office race over the weekend.  Also, freshmen students at Duke are voice complaints about a gay-themed, pornographic novel that was on their summer reading list.  And, in Syria, two churches suffered damage and death last weekend.

3  - "War Room" close to top of movie box office

The opening lines of the report on the website spoke loudly:

The box office underwent a religious conversion this weekend as Christian crowds flocked to “War Room,” lifting the low-budget salute to prayer above the Zac Efron drama “We Are You’re Friends” and the Owen Wilson thriller “No Escape.”

Filmed for a mere $3 million and distributed by Sony’s Affirm division, “War Room” more than tripled its production budget in a single weekend, picking up $11 million from 1,135 locations. That also easily topped projections that had it debuting in the $4 million to $5 million range, although in retrospect those estimates were overly conservative given that advance ticket sales were unusually strong.

Friday night, according to Box Office Mojo, the ticket sales for War Room actually edged out the current box-office champ, Straight Outta Compton, which won the weekend, with War Room in second place.  The website reports that War Room had a $9692 per-screen average in the weekend estimates, while Compton had $4201 per screen.

And, consider these quotes from industry insiders in the Variety piece:

“These are the kind of outlier events that happen and wake everyone up to the fact that faith-based audiences are passionate and looking for content,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak.

“There is so much love for this film,” said Rory Bruer, Sony’s distribution chief. “It starts with the Kendricks. They’re visionaries in this genre.”

Another Variety story - a great read, by the way - reported this:

Credit for “War Room’s” ticket sales surge goes to its cast of African-Americans. That allowed the film to draw from pools of black and white moviegoers, an essential ingredient in its success given that polling shows that African-Americans are more religious than the U.S. population as a whole. Nearly 90% of African-Americans describe themselves as belonging to a religious group, with six out of ten coming from historically black protestant churches and 15% hailing from evangelical churches, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center. For “War Room,” that translated to a racially diverse opening weekend crowd that was 36% African-American and 42% Caucasian, according to exit data.

The article goes on to quote from director Alex Kendrick:

Dramatic necessity, not commercial considerations, was at the root of the decision, Kendrick claims.

“When we were working on the plot it just seemed more powerful and passionate when told through the perspective of African-Americans,” said Kendrick. “I’m not sure it would have been as heart-grabbing if we hadn’t done that.”

Based on stats from the Mojo website, the opening weekend for War Room exceeded that of God's Not Dead (780 screens) and Courageous (1,161).   It looks to be a little less than half of the opening weekend for Heaven is For Real at about double the number of theaters.   A movie that covers similar ground to that one, 90 Minutes in Heaven, based on the book by Don Piper, opens on September 11.

2 - Duke students speaking out against LGBT novel

Here is some encouragement for students and their parents who are offended by agenda-driven and morally objectionable material being passed off as literature.  A group of freshman students at Duke University are speaking out publicly about their refusal to read a novel that was selected as the freshman summer reading book because the book's pornographic content violates their Christian beliefs and moral principles, according to The Christian Post, which reports that in April, Duke announced that the book, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, an autobiographical novel written by Alison Bechdel about her relationship with her father, was the one book selected from a list of six titles to be the class of 2019's "Common Experience" summer reading book.

The autobiographical book was written by a lesbian and carries LGBT undertones, and some Duke freshman were stunned to learn that they were being asked to read such a book. The offended students took to the university's Class of 2019 Facebook page to voice their disapproval. One student, Brian Grasso, one of the students who posted to the Facebook page and wrote that reading the book would compromise his Christian beliefs, wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post explaining why he and his fellow classmates refused to read the book.   Grasso wrote, " the Bible, Jesus forbids his followers from exposing themselves to anything pornographic." Freshman Jeffrey Wubbenhorst told the Duke Chronicle that he also refrained from reading the book because of the novel's graphic nature.

In a statement, Duke's Vice President for Public Affairs Michael Schoenfeld said, "The summer reading is entirely voluntary — it is not a requirement, nor is there a grade or record of any student's participation. With a class of 1,750 new students from around the world, it would be impossible to find a single book that that did not challenge someone's way of thinking."

The Post points out the university's summer reading program "furthers the trend of pornographic material becoming more acceptable in today's society."

Grasso wrote: "I'm well aware that my ethics make me an anomaly on campus, in contemporary culture and even among many professing Christians," adding, "However, my principles come primarily from my understanding of the Bible, which I have read multiple times, studied weekly in community for the last seven years, and consider to be the Word of God."

1 - Two churches bombed in Syria - some dead, scores injured

The death and destruction that has marked the brutal civil war in Syria continues, and on Sunday, August 23, mortar fire hit two churches in Damascus.  Christian Today reported that the death toll was nine people have died, with at least 50 wounded.

The shells fell on a neighborhood on the edges of Damascus, hitting a Maronite church and nearby Catholic church.

After the attack, Maronite Archbishop, Samir Nassar Nassar told Fides News Agency: "Part of the war in Syria is to live under indiscriminate bombing, a kind of Russian roulette which is always unpredictable," adding, "The survivors bury the dead without having been able to treat the wounded since they lack means and competence."  He also said: "They sink into silent prayer before the relics of martyrs, the seeds of faith."

The Christian Today article reports that airstrikes by President al-Assad's government have killed 247 people to the east of Damascus in the last 10 days, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The story points out that, "Syrian Christians are frequently caught in the crossfire between the Assad government and the rebels in addition to suffering persecution at the hands of ISIS, who have captured significant areas of the country."  The death toll from the four-year conflict has reache almost a quarter of a million people and over 11 million have fled their homes.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The 3 - August 23, 2015

On this week's edition of The 3, a Kentucky clerk who would not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, still doesn't have to - for now.  Also, thousands turned out to protest the nation's largest abortion provider on Saturday.  And, chaplains for college football teams have drawn opposition from an atheist organization.

3 - Kentucky clerk will not have to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couple...for now

The story of Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis and her refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples continues, with a new development this week.  As WORLD reported, last week, U.S. District Judge David Bunning ordered Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis to issue the licenses or face fines and possible jail time. Davis maintains her sincerely held religious beliefs prevent her from issuing the licenses.

Judge Bunning stayed his order last Monday.  According to WORLD, he said that Davis didn’t deserve a reprieve from last week’s order but gave her one because “emotions are running high on both sides of the debate.”

In asking Bunning for a stay, Davis’ attorney, Jonathan Christman, said the order would force his client to violate her conscience.  He is quoted as saying, "It is comparable to forcing the religious objecting nurse to perform an abortion, the religious objecting company or non-profit to pay for abortions or abortion-related insurance coverage, the religious objecting non-combatant to fire on an enemy soldier, or the religious objecting state official to participate in or attend the execution of a convicted prisoner..."

The website for television station WKYT reported:

Monday afternoon, Judge David Bunning denied her stay but immediately issued a temporary stay to his ruling. Bunning says he understands emotions are running high on both sides.
Davis will not have to issue marriage licenses until the sixth circuit court of appeals reviews the case.

2 - Thousands protest Planned Parenthood in hundreds of U.S. cities

In response to the now-eight videos that have been released that provide evidence that the nation's largest abortion provider has been involved in the harvesting and sale of body parts from unborn children, (and, now it appears, the prospect of extracting organs from delivered children), tens of thousands of pro-life advocates across the country — perhaps as many as 50-75,000 people in all — protested at Planned Parenthood abortion clinics across the country on Saturday, according to a report on the website. 

The site reports that the protests took place in over 350 cities in 47 states and 5 countries — with hundreds of people in many cities and over 6,000 in the Twin Cities in Minnesota alone.

Eric Scheidler of Pro-Life Action League told LifeNews: “These videos are exposing the American people to the truth about Planned Parenthood and the truth about abortion. How can you deny the humanity of a tiny person whose body parts are being harvested for medical use? Worse yet, how can you make jokes about it, like the Planned Parenthood doctors do in these videos? It’s time to cease all taxpayer funding of this corrupt organization.”

Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, issued a statement following the rallies, according to the organization's website. He said, "I am grateful to all the pro-life people who have responded to my invitation and that of some 40 other national pro-life groups to gather today to protest Planned Parenthood."  He continued: "The protests arising on the streets of America today reflect the protests arising in our hearts over the reality of abortion..."

Pavone also noted that, "Today also marks the start of a week of prayer and fasting, coordinated by 30 national pro-life groups, with prayers found at"  He spoke at a protest outside the Margaret Sanger Center in Manhattan, named after Planned Parenthood's founder.  He announced that the pro-life movement would increased efforts to pressure the government to stop supporting Planned Parenthood, but also to pressure businesses to stop donating to it.

1 - Chaplains under fire at colleges nationwide

The so-called Freedom from Religion Foundation, which, mainly through the use of threatening letters, apparently wants to clamp down on freedom OF religion in America, has released a new report, in which it takes issue with the concept of football chaplains, stating that “Christian coaches and chaplains are converting football fields into mission fields," according to a report at  The article quotes the FFRF report as saying, "Coaches, players, and even chaplains can worship as they want. They can go to church, read the Bible, and pray as often as they like. Nothing prevents them from doing so...But they cannot use a publicly subsidized position at a university to promote their personal religion. Nor can they use the coercive nature and structure of a public football program to mandate, order, or even suggest that players under their control should worship as the coaches wish."

FFRF says that it has now sent letters to approximately 20 university officials to explain why it believes that the use of chaplains is unconstitutional.  And it apparently doesn't just go after so-called "publicly subsidized" positions.  The letter apparently says, "It makes no difference if the chaplain is unofficial, not school-sponsored or a volunteer, because chaplains are given access to the team as a means for coaches to impose religion, usually Christianity, on their players."

Auburn University received a letter.  Acccording to, FFRF wrote AU President Jay Gogue, and the letter reportedly includes concerns related to the presence of Rev. Chette Williams within the football program, which the organization believes leads to the failure to "properly protect your student athletes' rights of conscience and pose(s) a high degree risk of discrimination" for those falling outside of certain religious groups.  Auburn released a short statement Thursday saying:

"Chaplains are common in many public institutions, including the US Congress. The football team chaplain isn't an Auburn employee, and participation in activities he leads are voluntary."

As the article points out, FFRF gets it wrong when it claims Williams works inside an office at Auburn's Jordan-Hare Stadium.  Williams operates in an office within the athletics department's student development center, which is connected to the adjacent athletics complex housing the football program. Chette is the Auburn campus director for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. also reports that the University of Alabama received one of those confrontational letters.  So did Georgia, Georgia Tech, South Carolina, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, LSU, Missouri, Florida State, and Clemson.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The 3 - August 16, 2015

On this week's edition of my week-in-review feature, The 3, there continue to be ramifications from the information shared about Planned Parenthood and its alleged sale of body parts from aborted babies.  Also, in two cases involving religious freedom, a Colorado cake baker was found guilty by an appeals court of discriminating against a gay couple, and a Federal judge has ruled against a Kentucky clerk who will not issue marriage licenses to gay couples.  And, the top story involves some good news regarding the release of some Assyrian Christians that had been held hostage by ISIS; however, two Sudanese men who were set free by a judge are having some issues in leaving the country.

3 - AR cuts state funding to Planned Parenthood, Federal Government says that states who cut Medicaid funds for Planned Parenthood may be violating law

The fallout from the videos that have announced and affirmed that Planned Parenthood is involved in the sale of body parts from pre-born children continues to build, and this week, another state has announced it will no longer send tax dollars to Planned Parenthood through its Medicaid program.

The Christian Post reports that Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has asked the state's Department of Human Services to end its Medicaid contract with Planned Parenthood. The governor is quoted as saying that, "It is apparent that after the recent revelations on the actions of Planned Parenthood, that this organization does not represent the values of the people of our state and Arkansas is better served by terminating any and all existing contracts with them."

Earlier, the Obama administration had warned Louisiana and Alabama that their similar action may violate federal law.

A Breitbart story, citing a report in The Wall Street Journal, says that The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has stepped in to warn these states that they may be in violation of federal law because it says that the blocking of Planned Parenthood receiving these Medicaid funds could result in women losing access to essential preventive care, such as cancer prevention screenings.

The Brietbart piece says that spokesmen for both Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley said their states are not in violation of federal law since their Medicaid contracts with Planned Parenthood give either party the right to cancel it at will with a notice period: 30 days for Louisiana and 15 days for Alabama.

The HHS guidance says that states can exclude providers from Medicaid funding if their engagement in certain criminal acts is proven, a provision that many believe is the case with the videos of Planned Parenthood’s top medical personnel discussing the sale of aborted baby organs and body parts.

And, the Christian Post story related that StemExpress, which works with Planned Parenthood, said it is cutting its ties with the country's largest abortion provider.

Also, The Christian Post reported that the undercover videos can continue after biomedical company StemExpress failed, through legal action, to stop their release.

"It is apparent that after the recent revelations on the actions of Planned Parenthood, that this organization does not represent the values of the people of our state and Arkansas is better served by terminating any and all existing contracts with them," Hutchinson said in a statement Friday.
The Republican governor added that this includes "their affiliated organization, Planned Parenthood of Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma."
Hutchinson has not heeded the Obama administration's warning issued earlier to Louisiana and Alabama that their similar action may violate federal law.
However, DHS spokesperson Amy Webb said in a statement: "Based on the legal guidance from our counsel and a review of the contract, which allows either party to terminate for any reason with 30 days notice, we believe that we can terminate the provider agreement."

2 - CO baker loses in court over his refusal to provide cake for same-sex wedding ceremony, court tells KY clerk to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples

Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado, in 2012, declined to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, based on his Christian faith.  A Todd Starnes report at tells the story.  According to court documents, Phillips offered to make them any other baked goods – including cakes, but they demanded that he make a wedding cake.

This week, the Colorado Court of Appeals affirmed an order from the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s order that Phillips violated the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act when he refused to make a wedding cake for Charlie Craig and David Mullins.  

The Alliance Defending Freedom has been representing Jack Phillips. Attorney Jeremy Tedesco said, “Jack simply exercised the long-cherished American freedom to decline to use his artistic talents to promote a message with which he disagrees,” adding, “Government has a duty to protect people’s freedom to follow their beliefs personally and professionally rather than force them to adopt the government’s views.”

Phillips told Starnes that, "The court’s ruling is not fair...It shows that some people have more equal rights than others. When you’re not in line with the same-sex agenda, you don’t have as much equal rights.”   Starnes points out:

As it stands – Jack will be required by the government to make wedding cakes for same-sex couples. If he denies anyone service, he will be required to explain why. He is also expected to retrain his staff in the state’s anti-discrimination policies – including his 88-year-old mother.
It sounds like the government wants to round up Phillips and his staff and haul them to a reeducation camp – where they can be purged of the religious beliefs that offend the LGBT community.
“My mom is on my staff and she said she will not be retrained,” he defiantly said. “And I’m not going to make same-sex wedding cakes.”

Also, this week, a U.S. District Judge issued an opinion ordering Rowan County, Kentucky, Clerk Kim Davis to issue same-sex marriage licenses.  According to Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, which is representing the clerk: "Kim Davis did not sign up as a clerk to issue same-sex marriage licenses. Her job duty was changed by five lawyers without any constitutional authority. At a minimum, her religious convictions should be accommodated.”

The judge wrote: "...her religious convictions cannot excuse her from performing the duties that she took an oath to perform as Rowan County Clerk.”

Staver said, "Judge Bunning’s decision equated Kim’s free exercise of religion to going to church. This is absurd! Christianity is not a robe you take off when you leave a sanctuary." He continued, "he First Amendment guarantees Kim and every American the free exercise of religion, even when they are working for the government."  Liberty Counsel filed a request for a stay, as well as an appeal of the decision.

1 - Christians being held by ISIS released, Sudanese pastors await clearance to leave the country

There's been some good news this week on the international religious freedom front. According to The Christian Post, there were 22 Assyrian Christians released by ISIS.  They were part of the 200 Christians abducted in February in the Khabur region in northeastern Syria.

The Assyrian Observatory for Human Rights has said the Christians were released due to "the tireless efforts and negotiations by the Assyrian Church of the East in the city of Hasakeh," and noted that there were 14 women among the hostages.

At least 187 other Assyrians from the Khabur region remain imprisoned and ANHR Director Osama Edward is vowing that negotiations will continue to free them all. He is quoted as saying, "There is a positive atmosphere around the negotiation."

Also, the American Center for Law and Justice is reporting that there have been some delays in the release of 2 Sudanese pastors.   The ACLJ website has said that pastors Yat Michael Ruot and Peter Yein Reith were released by a Sudanese judge.  The pastors were originally from South Sudan and were facing possible death sentences.  The Center said that the pastors were released after a major international outcry.

However, they encountered some delays in leaving the country. After they were released from prison, the two men travelled to the airport to leave the country, but they were told they could not due to a travel ban.   It turns out that the judge may not have had jurisdiction to lift the ban, if it was put in placed by the National Intelligence Security Service (NISS), which originally levied the fabricated charges against the pastors. A hearing was set for Sunday, the 9th, and following that hearing, the travel ban remains in place.

The ACLJ website states:

We continue working with our contacts on the ground and aggressively advocating across the globe, urging Sudan to let the pastors leave the country. They and their families remain at risk. They will not be truly free until they are safely out of Sudan.

There is a petition on the organization's website or through also reports on two men who were released from Vietnam earlier this month. Authorities released Catholic blogger Paulus Le Van Son and Protestant activist Nguyen Van Oai, who had both served four-year prison terms for “trying to overthrow the legitimate government.” The articles states that they were arrested during a 2011 crackdown against bloggers and others with ties to human and religious rights groups, according to a report on the Asia News website.

And, the Christian Headlines website mentioned that Iranian Christians rejoiced when authorities released Church of Iran member Alireza Seyyedian on Aug. 1, according to Middle East Concern. Seyyedian served three and a half years in prison after authorities re-arrested him in March 2012 for trying to enter Turkey.  

The ACLJ reports on another prisoner in Iran, Pastor Saeed Abedini. The organization's website says that Human Right Activists News Agency Iran published a story this week that Pastor Saeed was again the victim of an aggressive inspection at the prison. The report said that Saeed’s condition in Rajai Shahr prison was very worrisome and that on August 6th, prison guards raided Pastor Saeed’s prison cell again. The news agency reports that Saeed was the sole target of the raid and that the guards’ actions toward Pastor Saeed were dishonorable and harsh.  A petition for Pastor Saeed's release can be found at

Sunday, August 09, 2015

The 3 - August 9, 2015

This week's edition of my week-in-review feature, The 3, includes more tragic news from the Middle East involving ISIS and Christians - this time in Syria.  Also, the issue of taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider, came before the U.S. Senate this week. And, Republican Presidential candidates squared off in Cleveland this past Thursday night, and faith and family issues were a part of the discussion.

3 - Over 200 Syrian Christians kidnapped by ISIS

The capture of Christians by Islamic State, or ISIS, continues, and this week, it has been reported that over 200 Christians in Syria have been captured by the terrorist organization.

Christian Today reports that around 250 Christians have been abducted in a key strategic town in the province of Homs, Syria. The founder of campaign group A Demand for Action (ADFA), Nuri Kino, confirmed that those missing are all from the Syriac Orthodox or Syriac Catholic churches, and the number known to have been taken is steadily increasing.

The article states that the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said that the kidnapping took place during heavy clashes between ISIS militants and government forces in the town of Al Quaryatayn this week, which ISIS has now taken. It is the group's biggest capture since taking Palmyra in May.  Sources told the monitor that they were chosen according to name lists held by ISIS, and some were taken from the Mar Elian monastery, from which two Syriac Catholic monks were kidnapped by masked militants in May.  Their whereabouts are still unknown.

Kino said it is difficult to say what exactly has happened, but relatives have been unable to reach those held by phone. Around 1,500 people were able to flee, however, many of them to the headquarters of the Archdiocese of Homs, Hama and Environs.

The bishop, in a letter to churches and human rights organizations, stated: "We received those displaced...and gave them the basic and essential needs because they went out of their houses without taking anything with them neither clothes nor properties; so we are working on providing them with clothing, housing, and medication."

2 - Attempt to stop taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood fails in Senate

As the result of the growing number of videos released by the Center for Medical Progress pointing to activity by Planned Parenthood involving the sale of body parts from aborted children, the U.S. Senate scheduled a vote on whether or not to continue to allow taxpayer funds to go to the nation's largest abortion provider.

According to a piece on the WORLD Magazine website, a procedural vote Monday evening fell short of the 60 votes need to move the bill forward. The final tally was 53-46.  But the report says that some GOP lawmakers in the House and Senate have indicated they might attempt to block any spending bill that includes money for Planned Parenthood this fall.  Republican Representative Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina has said he expects several dozen GOP lawmakers to object to spending bills with funding for the group.

Mallory Quigley of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List (SBA) saw some good news in the vote, according to the report. She noted that when the Senate voted on a measure to defund Planned Parenthood in 2011, 42 senators favored the bill. This time, 53 supported the measure, an increase Quigley finds encouraging.

According to WORLD, "Planned Parenthood’s massive destruction of life includes 330,000 abortions a year. The organization’s $1 billion operating budget includes some $500 million of federal funding each year."  And, as the article points out, though Democrats claimed defunding Planned Parenthood would keep women from healthcare services like cancer screenings and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, Republicans said the bill would have diverted funding from Planned Parenthood to other healthcare centers offering services to low-income patients.

WORLD quotes the Charlotte Lozier Institute, the research arm of SBA, which reports a large number of options around the country for low-income patients at clinics that provide a wide array of healthcare services. The group says there are 13 times more federally qualified health centers - at 9,170 - that do not provide abortions than the 700 Planned Parenthood centers.

1 - Faith, family issues highlighted in Republican Presidential debate

The first Republican debate of the 2016 election is now in the history books, and while a number of story lines have emerged from the encounter involving the top 10 candidates, one of the gratifying aspects for evangelical Christians, I would think, has to be the number of questions about faith and family issues.  Baptist Press documented what candidates had to say in these important areas.

The story said that:

Among the reactions of Southern Baptist commentators was approval of at least two explicit mentions of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, prompting Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson to tweet, "Heard more Gospel content in Republican debate than one often hears in some churches."

These included the reference by Ted Cruz to his father's giving his heart to Jesus and Scott Walker's saying that he had been redeemed by the blood of Jesus.  Cruz also said that he received a "word from God" every day through the Scriptures.

There were several references to the abortion issue during the debate.  As Baptist Press lays out, these include:  Walker's claim to have defunded Planned Parenthood of state funds in Wisconsin "more than four years ago, long before any of these videos came out," and Mike Huckabee's statement that the next president should "invoke the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution" to protect unborn life, citing the rights to "due process and equal protection under the law."

Other instances pointed out by Baptist Press include: Jeb Bush saying he did not know that a charity on whose board he served until late 2014 gave tens of millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood, but said he is "completely pro-life" and advocated the protection of unborn life and of people nearing the end of life.  Also, Marco Rubio denied moderator Megyn Kelly's assertion that he had supported abortion in cases of rape and incest in the past. He is quoted as saying, "Future generations...will look back at this history of our country and call us barbarians for murdering millions of babies who we never gave ... a chance to live." And, Donald Trump claimed to be pro-life, saying he "evolved" on the issue - one factor, he said, was witnessing the life of a child who was nearly aborted and later became "a total superstar."

Two candidates expressed views relative to same-sex marriage: Rand Paul said, "I don't want my marriage or my guns registered in Washington. And if people have an opinion that is heartly [sic] felt, obviously they should be allowed to practice that and no government should interfere with them." John Kasich said that while he believes in traditional marriage, he said he accepts the Supreme Court's ruling on same-sex marriage and related that he had attended a gay wedding. He said that issue is one that is "planted to divide us."

Other faith-related moments in the debate, based on the transcript printed on the website, included:  Kasich, regarding gay marriage, said that "God gives me unconditional love," and Megyn Kelly said that he invoked God when expanding Medicaid in the state of Ohio - he said that everyone had a right to their "God-given purpose."

Other instances included: Ben Carson referring to his philosophy on taxes as being akin to the Biblical view on tithing, Rubio citing God's blessings on the Republican party in fielding good candidates and on the country,  Huckabee declaring that America could again be "one nation under God," and Walker discussing the importance of following God's will.

So, there was plenty to listen to and learn from in the Republican debate Thursday night.  This event has given Christian voters who will participate in that primary a chance to be more informed.  We can all continue to formulate our prayerful choices in the March 1st primary.