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.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The 3 - October 18, 2015

In my week-in-review feature, The 3, I identify three stories of relevance to the Christian community. This week, a high school football coach in Washington state made headlines when he announced his intention to defy a school district prohibition on a weekly practice of walking to the 50-yard-line to pray, and this past Friday night, he followed through.  Also, a Kentucky city is under fire because of a cross on the top of a water tower there.  And, the news emerged this week of the death of an evangelist in eastern Uganda, who was involved in sponsoring debates with Muslims in the region.

3 - Coach defies school district, prays at midfield after game

After the Bremerton High School football game in Washington state on Friday night, assistant coach Joe Kennedy continued the practice in which he has engaged for years, walking to the 50 yard line and saying a prayer.  The Daily Mail reported on the postgame event.

The report said that the coach defied the Bremerton School District, which demanded he stop leading post-football game prayers, and went to the 50-yard line to say a 'private, post-game prayer' on Friday.  To his surprise, he was joined by some members from his Bremerton High School football team, players from the opposing team and a group of supporters during the homecoming game as a sign of solidarity.

The report quoted from the Seattle Times, which quoted the coach's prayer: "Lord, I thank you for these kids and the blessing you’ve given me with them. We believe in the game, we believe in competition and we can come into it as rivals and leave as brothers." 

Check out this quote from the district's Superintendent on the district's website: "Like every public school district in the nation, our teaching and coaching staff is not allowed to include religious expression, including prayer, in talks with students while on duty for the District."  To me, that sounds like a denial of "free exercise" of religion, as guaranteed by the First Amendment.

The Daily Mail article reports that Hiram Sasser of the Liberty Institute said the coach's prayers were legal, according to KIRO-TV.   He said, "As long as the kids understand that he's doing that in his individual and private capacity, which is what he's doing, it's perfectly constitutional and not only that, it's a violation of the constitution to tell him he's not allowed to pray."

2 - Kentucky city resists effort to remove cross from water tower

In Wilmore, Kentucky, home of Asbury University, there is a water tower that has a cross situated at the top of it.  The Freedom From Religion Foundation is attempting to force city officials to remove the cross, even though there is a 40-year-old agreement that keeps the cross on the tower, which was built by Asbury University and transferred to the city in 1968, according a report on the WORLD website.

Mayor Harold Rainwater is quoted as saying (from CBN News): “There’s nothing that’s drawn our town together more than the possibility of losing this cross,” adding, “I one hundred percent support keeping it there. We won’t take it down unless we’re forced to take it down.”

Sheila Nighy, a Wilmore resident, is creating crosses for neighbors to post in their yards in protest. She was making nearly 400 crosses for a rally on Saturday to support the water tower cross. She's quoted as saying: “We saw the letter and I said, ‘Take down our cross? We’ll put up more!’”

1 - Ugandan evangelist's body found following Muslim-Christian debate

It was announced this week that the body of an evangelist in eastern Uganda was found following a heated Christian-Muslim debate. According to a Morning Star News report on the Baptist Press website, the body of 59-year-old Samson Nfunyeku was found close to his home in Kalampete village in Kibuku District early on September 23, after the latest in a series of organized debates with Islamic scholars at Tirinyi Trading Center ended prematurely due to flaring tempers the previous night.

That debate, as well as a previous one several months ago, were sponsored by Nfunyeku's Church of Uganda and other churches. Muslim leaders had threatened him and warned him to hold no more debates, a source said.

One of the participants, a former Islamic teacher, who had become a Christian, said, "Four months ago Samson and others had a very hot debate at Tirinyi Trading Center with the Muslim scholars that ended on a bad note, and they gave warning that such debates were not good for the Muslims." Nevertheless, on September 22, a sparsely-attended debate was conducted.

The report says that converts from Islam to Christianity in eastern Uganda have recently experienced regular instances of persecution.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The 3 - October 11, 2015

Welcome to another edition of my week-in-review feature, The 3, highlighting three news stories of relevance to Christians.  One of those stories involves another series of protests held across the nation and in other countries at Planned Parenthood facilities.  Also, this week, students were encouraged to bring their Bibles to school.  And, it appears that this year's edition of the "War on Christmas," has begun, with news of school districts under siege by a group devoted to removing religious expression from public life.

3 - Protests held at Planned Parenthood clinics nationwide

Another large-scale protest was expected this past Saturday at Planned Parenthood clinics across the nation and in other nations. reports that thousands were expected to "protest the selling of body parts from aborted babies, as revealed in recent videos, and to demand the elimination of taxpayer funding from the abortion business."

A coalition of national and state pro-life groups, #ProtestPP, had scheduled a second protest since the release of the videos by Center for Medical Progress (CMP), which is headed by David Daleiden, scheduled to speak at the #ProtestPP event in Orange, California.
Protests were planned in all 50 states and several international locations, including Canada, England, and Ireland.

In August, the first protest drew over 78,000 pro-life activists to demonstrate near Planned Parenthood facilities.
The website,, states:

The primary sponsors of #ProtestPP are Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, Created Equal and the Pro-Life Action League.

These three national activist organizations are joined by over sixty state and national pro-life groups committed to exposing the truth about Planned Parenthood and mobilizing the response of pro-life Americans to the baby parts scandal.

2 - Students encouraged to bring Bibles to school

The Facebook page for Bring Your Bible to School Day stated:

Still praising God for 140,000+ students who had the courage to celebrate religious freedom and share God's love with friends!

The Blaze featured a story about the effort, organized by Focus on the Family. It reports that President Jim Daly said that the annual effort was launched in 2014 to help young people unashamedly share their faith. He is quoted as saying: “I think that there’s been so much intimidation in the culture toward people of faith — and particularly Christians,” adding that Focus thought “this would be a good level-headed way to exercise a right that’s there.”

In the article, Daly answered critics of the effort, saying that he was somewhat perplexed by those individuals who were specifically infuriated over the effort to encourage children to bring their Bibles to school.  He said, "Why do we need to fear students expressing their faith or expressing their interest in the Bible? The Bible’s been with us,” adding, “Originally, the education system used the Bible as a book to teach children to read and write and for moral guidance.”

He said the effort was voluntary and student-led. He said, "Why would that be harmful? This is what America’s about...In the end, when we have shootings and all the others things occurring in schools today, wouldn’t it be nice to provide moral insights about life?” He continued, “We’re not thinking clearly as adults in this culture.”

1 - "War on Christmas" has early volleys

Just for the record, I'm not a fan of the phrase, "War on Christmas," but in the absence of some other descriptor, I will use it, and you can know of what I speak and write.  The WOC describes the attempt by some to eliminate or limit the mention of Christmas in our society, in either a state-sponsored setting or in a private-business setting.

It's even become a campaign issue, as Republican candidate Donald Trump said at the Values Voter Summit, according to Christian Today: "The word 'Christmas.' I love Christmas. I love Christmas. You go to stores, you don't see the word 'Christmas.' It says 'Happy Holidays' all over. I say, 'Where's Christmas?'." He said, "I want to see 'Merry Christmas.' Remember the expression 'Merry Christmas'? You don't see it anymore. You're going to see it if I get elected, I can tell you right now."

I'm not sure what the Trump plan is for increasing the visibility of "Merry Christmas" in the corporate sector.

In Indiana, though, it seems that the Freedom from Religion Foundation wants to remove Baby Jesus from a Christmas play.  As Todd Starnes of Fox News reports, this past Wednesday, the FFRF filed a federal lawsuit against Concord Community Schools in Elkhart, IN on behalf of an unnamed student who happens to be a performer in the district’s Christmas Spectacular.

The FFRF is demanding an injunction that would forbid the school from “presenting the portion of the Christmas Spectacular with the live Nativity Scene and the telling of the story of the birth of Jesus.”

The Concord School Board is apparently standing its ground. According to Starnes, Superintendent John Trout told the Elkhart Truth: “For more than 30 years, the Spectacular has been an important part of the Concord High School holiday experience,” adding, “It will continue to be so.”

Unfortunately, in Portland, OR, the outcome is not as merry for students there.  The Blaze reports that the FFRF had sent a letter complaining over the long-standing tradition of choir groups at Lane Middle School and Grant, Wilson, Lincoln and Cleveland High Schools performing at the Grotto’s Christmas Festival of Lights, according to the Oregonian.

The annual event dubs itself “the largest Christmas choral festival in the world,” and is run by a Catholic shrine called the Grotto.   As a result of the complaints to the Portland Public Schools, officials banned the performances, which had reportedly gone on for decades.

The Blaze article said that the FFRF said two unnamed Portland families complained.  A district spokesperson said there had not been complaints before. She told KOIN-TV that it wouldn’t have been fiscally responsible for the district on its “very limited budget” to go to court over a case that officials could very well end up losing.

Monday, October 05, 2015

The 3 - October 4, 2015

On this week's edition of The 3, my week-in-review feature, there is the story of a Louisiana school board that has stood up to charges from a civil liberties organization that wants to curtail religious expression at a high school in its district.   Also, Planned Parenthood was back in the news, with its president testifying before a Congressional committee and another vote taken in the U.S. House to keep from sending taxpayer money to the organization.  And, it appears that Christians were being targeted by the Oregon college shooter last Thursday.

3 - LA School Board stands up to ACLU

A Louisiana school board has rejected a claim by the American Civil Liberties Union that Airline High School in Bossier City engaged in what it calls “a pattern of religious proselytization” by allowing the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a student-led club, to post “prayer boxes” throughout the school, according to an article on the WORLD Magazine website.   In addition, a letter to the district targeted the school’s principal, Jason Rowland, for using the phrase “God bless you all” in a school newsletter.

The letter demanded that the school remove the prayer boxes, erase any references to prayer from its website, reeducate its employees concerning religious indoctrination, and inform all students and parents of the changes.  The report says that the school board had initially issued a statement saying it would investigate the claims and respond to the ACLU after the Oct. 1 board meeting, the Shreveport Times reported.

WORLD cites a report from NBC affiliate KTAL, which reported that the next day, at a Friday night football game, hundreds of parents and students showed their support for the principal, with some folks wearing homemade T-shirts stamped with “We support Mr. Rowland” or “#IStandWithAHS,” 

Last Thursday, the school board met behind closed doors to discuss the ACLU’s demand letter and issued a unanimously passed resolution: Its investigation found the accusations of high school staff engaging in religious proselytization to be “without a factual or legal basis.”

“The board wishes to publicly reaffirm its intent to operate a successful school district in which equal access is recognized and the legal rights of all students are respected, including those of its students who wish to engage in student-lead, student-initiated religious expression,” the statement said.

Freedom Guard, a legal organization headed by state Rep. Mike Johnson, had offered to represent Rowland pro bono, should the ACLU sue the school. He wrote in a letter to the school board that, "[The ACLU’s] alarm is as misplaced as it is ridiculous,” adding, “The Supreme Court has always acknowledged that simple references to God, even by officials of the state, are an essential part of our culture and deep religious heritage in this country and are in no way a violation of the Constitution.”

2 - House votes against funding Planned Parenthood, organization's leader testifies before Congress

Planned Parenthood was back in the news this past week, as its President was testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington, and the U.S. House took another vote to keep from using taxpayer money to fund the abortion giant.

CitizenLink has a story on the week's activities.  It reports that:

The U.S. House of Representatives voted to defund Planned Parenthood for a second time after a day of testimony by the group’s president. Hearings in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee highlighted what videos from the Center for Medical Progress has shown – that Planned Parenthood takes money in exchange for aborted baby parts. And it’s not the full-service “women’s health care provider” that supporters often claim.

CitizenLink also reported that the hearing documented that many of the top executives in the organization make six-figure incomes, including President Cecile Richards who takes home more almost $600,000 each year in salary alone.

And, despite the fact that Richards has stated that the Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015 would, “block access for folks who deserve high-quality, compassionate care,” Rep. Dianne Black, the bill's author, is quoted as saying, "It does not reduce public health funding by a single dime,” adding, "and it would, in fact, increase that funding for community health centers by $235 million dollars.”

During debate on the bill, Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas said that Planned Parenthood has never done mammograms...“because they are not certified to do mammograms. They bring people in and refer them out to get their mammograms. Look, I want good women’s healthcare. So, let’s fund it, but, let’s give it directly to the facilities that will do the mammograms and not Planned Parenthood – for them to take their cut.”

1 - Christians apparently targeted in Oregon mass shooting

Across the nation, there are many who are still reeling for what unfolded at Umpqua Community College in Oregon last Thursday, where a lone gunman took the lives of 9 people, and he died on the site, as well.

One of the particularly disturbing elements of the shooting rampage has to do with the gunman's apparent targeting of Christians. reports that Stacy Boylan, the father of Anastasia Boylan, who was wounded, said she told him the gunman singled out Christians.

She said the gunman entered her classroom firing, told the professor teaching the class, "I've been waiting to do this for years," and shot him point blank, Stacy Boylan said.  His daughter told her family that while reloading his handgun, the man ordered the students to stand up and asked whether they were Christians.  The gunman reportedly said to the Christians: "Good, because you're a Christian, you're going to see God in just about one second." Stacy Boylan reports that he then shot and killed them.

Anastasia Boylan was hit in the back by a bullet that traveled down her spine. While she lay bleeding on the floor, the gunman called out to her, "Hey you, blond woman," her mother said. She played dead -- and survived.

The shooter was identified as 26-year-old Chris Harper-Mercer, who was enrolled in two classes at the school, according to CNN.

This is certainly concerning for Christian believers.  Dr. Michael Brown on wrote this:

Yet the secular media, for the most part, is focusing more on gun laws than on the shooter’s alleged anti-Christian motivation. Why?'

Can you imagine what would have happened if the shooter went into a creative arts class, asked the students to declare their sexual orientation, and if they said “gay,” shot them in the head?

There would be a massive media frenzy with instant accusations of national homophobia and pulling of quotes from Christian leaders whose failure to support same-sex “marriage” would somehow make them complicit in the deaths.

The same thing would have happened if the killer had targeted Muslims with immediate charges of “Islamophobia” shouted from coast to coast.

Not so though when it’s Christians who are killed for their faith.

Is it any surprise then that hours after the eyewitness accounts had been released and well after conservative news outlets were reporting the alleged targeting of Christians, liberal news outlets had not said a word about the alleged anti-Christian connection?

And, Christians stood up for their faith, led by Presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson.  According to, it only took four hours on Friday for an image of the Republican candidate holding up an “I am a Christian” sign to be shared close to 80,000 times and receive over 625,000 “likes” on Facebook.

The post was so successful that retired neurosurgeon shared an #IamAChristian hashtag. Supporters could make the image their Facebook profile picture.

And, I don't know who Armando Hall is, but he is being quoted regarding the Oregon massacre, that the bravest person in America is the second to admit being a Christian, after the UCC gunman murdered the first.