Sunday, November 29, 2015

The 3 - November 29, 2015

In this week's edition of The 3, my week-in-review feature, there are developments at a VA hospital in Virginia that attempted to restrict expressions of Christmas.  Also, pro-life groups are responding in light of the shooting at a Planned Parenthood center in Colorado last Friday.  And, there were developments recently concerning the admitting privileges of abortionists at local hospitals.

3 - Compromise reached about Christmas expressions at Virginia VA hospital 

A controversy at a Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salem, Virginia originated with an e-mail sent by officials to employees banning Christmas trees in public areas, according to a report on the WORLD Magazine website, which said that the e-mail stated: “Trees (regardless of the types of ornaments used) have been deemed to promote the Christian religion and will not be permitted in any public areas this year." The e-mail also noted that religious decorations could be used in employees' “personal work areas,” but any music playing out loud had to be secular and non-religious. And, administrators warned visitors hoping to entertain with Christmas carols about the new rules. John Sines, is quoted in the WORLD piece. He is pastor of Rock Pick Baptist Church, and told Fox News an official informed him he could only sing “holiday songs.”

WORLD referenced a report from NBC that management held a private lunch meeting on Friday, November 20, with about 150 employees and administrators, and agreed to allow Christmas trees in public areas as long as the spaces included Kwanzaa and Hanukkah decorations, as well.  Decorations were not to be purchased with government funds.

The Center posted a “Happy Holidays” memo on its webpage last Tuesday. The opening statement read like an invitation to all religious groups: “May your organization or church group visit VA hospitals over the holiday season to sing Christmas carols for our veterans? Sure. What about the Jewish, Muslim, and other faiths? You are welcome. May you donate cards and gifts if they have a religious message? Of course.”

The memo said the Department of Veterans Affairs desires to protect the First Amendment freedoms of an “increasingly diverse” nation, including its citizens’ expanding religious affiliations and belief systems.

Also, on Tuesday, according to its website, the Alliance Defending Freedom sent a letter to the medical center, taking issue with the Christmas memo that said employees were only “permitted to engage in private religious expression in their personal work areas that are not regularly open to the public” in an effort to extend “a happy holiday season in a manner that is welcoming to all.” ADF contends that the wording of the memo leaves open the possibility that employees could be punished for Christmas decorations or “merry Christmas” greetings to veterans except in personal workstations that are out of public view.

The letter explains that, “It is a fundamental principle of constitutional law that government officials may not censor speech simply because the speech is religious or contains a religious perspective…In Tucker v. State of California Department of Education, for example, the federal court struck down as unconstitutional a policy that prohibited government employees from displaying any religious artifacts, tracts, or materials outside their offices or cubicles, and also prohibited any oral or written religious advocacy in the workplace.”  ADF also points out in its letter that the U.S. Supreme Court has noted that a Christmas tree is not a religious symbol.

2 - Pro-life groups respond after Planned Parenthood shooting, officer/pastor loses life

Pro-life groups are denouncing the violent incident at a Planned Parenthood office in Colorado Springs last Friday. reports that the suspect, 57-year-old Robert Lewis Dear appears to have no association with the pro-life movement and those who know him say he is an awkward man who never discussed religion or abortion. The profile they paint is far from a caricature of a pro-life activist who has an issue with the Planned Parenthood abortion business and more of a loner or renegade who may have a mental health issue or issues and, at a minimum, is a bit “off.”

Three people died in the rampage, including police officer Garrett Swasey. reports that he was a six-year veteran of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs police force and an elder at Hope Chapel, as well as an accomplished former U.S. figure skater.  The story quotes a statement from his family, which said that: "His greatest joys were his family, his church, and his profession," adding, "Helping others brought him deep satisfaction and being a police officer was a part of him."

The LifeNews story indicates that Dear has a previous arrest record with arrests for animal cruelty and as a “peeping Tom,” according to BuzzFeed. Also, the story states that The Blaze reports that Dear also has domestic violence charges and a DUI charge on his record.

LifeNews quoted from a variety of pro-life leaders, including David Daleiden, who produced the shocking videos showing Planned Parenthood abortion clinics selling aborted babies and their body parts. He is quoted as saying: “The Center for Medical Progress does not support vigilante violence against abortion providers. There are people at Planned Parenthood who I still consider friends and my thoughts and prayers are with them at this time for no one to be injured.”

National Right to Life, in condemning the shooting, said: "...The pro-life movement works to protect the right to life and increase respect for human life. The unlawful use of violence is directly contrary to that goal.”

Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life issued a statement saying: "As leaders in the pro-life movement, we call for calm and pray for a peaceful resolution of this situation." He added,"...nobody jump to conclusions regarding the connection between this violence and the controversy over abortion and Planned Parenthood, and we ask that people do not use this situation to inflame emotions on either side of the abortion issue."

A Brietbart report also said that a law enforcement official pointed to a comment made by Dear to the effect of “no more baby parts,” and made clear that Dear said other things as well. NBC News reported it this way: “Sources stressed that Dear said many things to law enforcement and the extent to which the ‘baby parts’ remark played into any decision to target the Planned Parenthood office was not yet clear.”

1 - Cases involving admitting privileges at hospitals in WI, MO

As the U.S. Supreme Court is preparing to consider whether or not a Texas law providing for regulations on abortion clinics, such as admitting privileges at a local hospital, is constitutional, a Columbia, Missouri Planned Parenthood clinic will no longer be offering abortions because a local hospital there has rescinded admitting privileges. reports that Planned Parenthood of Columbia ceased providing medical abortions last Monday because the University of Missouri Health Care has decided to discontinue the privileges. Effective this Tuesday, December 1, abortionist Colleen McNicholas cannot legally provide abortifacients at the location. The hospital had voted in September to no longer offer the “refer and follow” privileges, which allowed Planned Parenthood to obtain permission from the state health department to offer medical abortions. Without those privileges, the center loses any authority to offer abortifacients to mothers.

Meanwhile, a Wisconsin pro-life law, according to, has been struck down by a Federal appeals court.  The website had reported that Gov. Scott Walker approved SB206 in July 2013, which called for increased health standards at abortion facilities, including a requirement that abortionists have admitting privileges at a local hospital.  Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union immediately filed a lawsuit against the state, and in March of this year, a Federal district judge declared that a woman’s desire to obtain an abortion “is substantially outweighed by the burden this requirement will have on women’s health outcomes due to restricted access to abortions in Wisconsin.”

That opinion was appealed to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld the decision 2-1 on Tuesday, according to Judge Richard Posner, who was nominated to the bench by then-President Ronald Reagan, wrote for the majority, stating, “What makes no sense is to abridge the constitutional right to abortion on the basis of spurious contentions regarding women’s health — and the abridgment challenged in this case would actually endanger women’s health..."

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."

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The 3 - November 15, 2015

This week on The 3, my week-in-review feature, I devote some attention to religious content relative to the horrific attacks in Paris, where over a hundred perished and many more were injured.  Also, this past week, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would take up 2 provisions of a Texas pro-life bill.  And, a Tennessee school district has decided to keep the Gideons from making Bibles available in its schools.

3 - TN school district puts a halt to Bible distribution

In Bledsoe County, Tennessee, free Bibles have been made available to students in the schools there by the Sequatchie Valley Camp of Gideons, but will not be made available on school property in the county any longer, according to a report from WRCB Television that was published online this week.

This comes as the result of a complaint made to the school system.  The superintendent, Jennifer Terry, in a statement, said: "Bledsoe County Schools do not allow the distribution of religious materials from any religious groups. The distribution of religious materials in a public school is in violation of constitutional provisions and well established federal and state laws and precedence." 

Charlie Queen, the chaplain for the local Gideons group, told the television station: "We simply go in and we lay it on the table. We tell them what it is and who we are. If they want one, they freely take one," adding, "We do not hand it to them, they take it freely and voluntarily."

It was reported that community members plan to protest this decision at the next school board meeting. School leaders tell WRCB they do have a Bible History course that includes a textbook. Students are allowed to Bring their personal bible to school should they wish.

By the way, earlier this year, the Tennessee House of Representatives passed a bill recognizing the Bible as the official book of the state - that bill died in the Senate, according to The Tennessean. Also, a bill has been proposed to keep religious "doctrine" from being taught in classrooms other than 10th, 11th and 12th grades.   The Chattanooga Times-Free Press said that the bill from Rep. Sheila Butt comes on the heels of complaints from some parents in several communities as to what their children are learning in middle school about Islam.

2 - Supreme Court will review Texas abortion clinic regulations

The pro-life bill in Texas, House Bill 2, contains a provision that requires abortion facilities to meet the same health and safety standards as ambulatory surgical centers, and a provision that protects women against cut-and-run abortionists by requiring abortionists to have admitting privileges at a local hospital in the event a woman must seek hospital care due to post-abortion complications, according to a statement on the Alliance Defending Freedom website.  And, the bill is going to the U.S. Supreme Court.

ADF reported that the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld those provisions after they were challenged.  This week, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would hear the appeal of that decision.  ADF Senior Counsel Steven Aden is quoted as saying: "Texans should have full freedom to prioritize women’s health and safety over the bottom line of abortionists. The 5th Circuit was on firm ground to uphold this law, and therefore, the Supreme Court should affirm that decision. The law’s requirements are common-sense protections that ensure the maximum amount of safety for women. Abortionists should not be exempt from medical requirements that everyone else is required to follow."

1 - Paris attacks: religious motivation, Islamic State takes credit

An unthinkable series of events transpired on Friday in Paris, with coordinated attacks in 3 different locations with around 130 people losing their lives.   WORLD reports over 300 people were injured. Eight attackers had lost their lives.

Most of the casualties were at the Bataclan concert hall, with nearly 90 people dying there.

In response, President Francois Hollande ordered security checks at the French border and raised the country’s security alert system to its highest level. He also declared three days of national mourning for the victims.

And, there are numerous religious connections here.  For one thing, militant Islamic group ISIS has claimed responsibility, which arouses concerns about the spread of radical Islam outside the Middle East.  Religious leaders have voiced their sympathy - and outrage.

On his Facebook page, Franklin Graham spoke forthrightly about the religious motivation of the attacks, writing:  

This attack was done in the name of Allah, the god of Islam. Eye witness reports say that the murderers yelled, “Allahu Akbar” before committing their atrocities. Now we know, in their own words, that the Islamic State has claimed the attack on Paris describing the city as “the carrier of the banner of the Cross in Europe.” In this case terrorism does have a religion – its name is Islam and its god is Allah.

He added, "Islam is at war with us–we’ve witnessed its evil face firsthand over and over. And today the world wakes up to their threats: 'This attack is the first of the storm and a warning.' Reports say they have also posted: 'The American blood is best - And we will take it soon.'"

In closing, Graham wrote: "As we continue to pray for the people of France we also need to pray for wisdom for the world’s leaders and that Islam will be stopped in its tracks."  The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has sent Rapid Response Team chaplains to Paris.

The Catholic News Agency reported on an interview of Pope Francis by TV2000.  The pontiff said that the acts of terrorism which took place in Paris Friday night are the latest part in what he has called a “piecemeal World War III,” describing the attacks as “inhuman.”

A post on the Facebook page of Igniting a Nation, headed by a recent guest on my radio program, Messianic Rabbi, Eric Walker, says:

As the world looks at the events of the Paris attacks we are reminded that France has reached the tipping point of 8% Muslim. With the wide open borders of the EU, we have now seen how a small band of terrorists can mobilize and strike. America's borders are compromised and what happened there has and will continue to happen here. The influx of Syrian refugees, added to the 100,000 Muslims entering America annually, will further compromise our ability to predict and respond. The dividing lines of the world are being drawn and persecution of those labeled as infidels is on the rise.

He closed by saying, "We must use this time to share the Gospel and prepare ourselves spiritually for the battle that is coming."

Sunday, November 08, 2015

The 3 - November 8, 2015

In this week's edition of my week-in-review feature, The 3, I report on an encouraging meeting in Mississippi on race relations featuring the heads of two large Baptist denominations.  Also, the U.S. Supreme Court has announced it will review the government's contraception mandate again, this time regarding non-profit organizations.  And, there were elections held this past Tuesday, with some notable pro-family victories that emerged.

3 - Baptist leaders from black and white backgrounds meet in Mississippi

This past Wednesday in Jackson, Mississippi, there was an important meeting concerning the topic of race relations.  A Religion News Service preview reported that leaders of the two largest Baptist denominations, one mostly white and the other predominantly black, were scheduled to meet with pastors from both groups for what was termed a "Conversation on Race in America."

The event was timed ahead of an annual luncheon of Mission Mississippi, a Christian organization that has worked for more than two decades to address racism, which its leaders believe hinders evangelism.

Jerry Young, president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, and Ronnie Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention addressed the gathering, and Baptist Press featured a report.

Floyd declared: "I believe that the issue of racism is from Satan and the demonic forces of hell," adding, "Racism is completely opposite from the message of Jesus Christ; it is completely opposite of the message of love, it is completely opposite of the message of dignity, value and the sanctity of human life. It is completely opposite of the message of reconciliation."  In his comments, Floyd presented the church as one body of Christ, descended from one man and comprising one race.

Young said that, "I believe that it is God's providence that has brought us here today...I am absolutely prayerful that when we leave this place, that those of us who are here will have decided that we're going to spearhead a movement in this country that is relative primarily to the church, that we will no longer be satisfied to be persons who will simply declare the Gospel with our lips, but we're going to demonstrate it with our lives."

The article stated that Mission Mississippi President Neddie Winters, joined Floyd and Young in calling the church to action.  He is quoted as saying: "It is time for the Christian community, for the church of Jesus Christ, to do what it professes to do," adding, "Stand, and live, and act like Christians, and be the salt and light for our society. Too long have we been silent on this issue as a church, and as a community."

2 - Supreme Court announces it will hear contraception mandate cases involving non-profits

The U.S. Supreme Court made the announcement Friday that it would hear seven lawsuits that have been filed by non-profit organizations challenging the mandate from the Department of Health and Human Services requiring employers to provide free contraception and abortion-inducing drugs in their health care plans.

WORLD reported on the announcement, saying that the seven cases before the high court would include the Little Sisters of the Poor, Catholic dioceses, Priests for Life, GuideStone Financial Resources, and religious colleges such as Houston Baptist University, Geneva College, and the Catholic University of America.

The case is scheduled to be heard in March.

The WORLD article highlighted that the federal government has a special regulation for nonprofits who object to the mandate on religious grounds.  What happens is that the nonprofit signs a form for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), stating its objection and naming its insurance provider. Then HHS arranges coverage of the objectionable drugs for the nonprofits’ employees through the insurer or a third party.  But, the organization still must sign on to the arrangement. Churches are fully exempt from the mandate.

1 - Pro-family victory in KY Governor's race, Houston gay rights ordinance defeat, pot turned back in OH

In some areas of our nation, the first Tuesday of November, which is the traditional day set nationally for elections, was actually that - Election Day.  Next November, Americans will select a President on that day.

But, this year, voters in Kentucky and Mississippi went to the polls to select governors, Houston residents voted on a mayor, as well as controversial ordinance, and Ohio residents voted on greater availability for pot sales.

In Kentucky, Republican Matt Bevin was the winner in the governor's race there.  As the Family Research Council's Washington Update stated:

Nowhere was the potency of social issues more evident than in the Kentucky governor’s race, where a trailing Matt Bevin (R) pulled off a surprise upset over Democrat Jack Conway, who paid mightily for refusing to defend the state’s marriage amendment as attorney general last year. Bevin, who was down in the polls as recently as last week, surged ahead on Tuesday’s ballots after making a point to highlight social issues. In Kentucky, home to the Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis controversy, the turning point for Bevin came when he made an intentional effort to defend the conscience rights of government officials.

FRC also reported on the Houston ordinance and the marijuana vote in Ohio.  Regarding Ohio, the Update said that "... to the surprise of most Buckeyes, a referendum to legalize recreational and medical marijuana failed miserably. By a 2-1 margin, Ohioans turned out to drub the pro-pot crowd, which spent upwards of $25 million on advertising. In the words of conservative Curt Steiner, 'Never underestimate the wisdom of Ohio voters' -- or any voters with the courage and the facts to make a difference."

Christianity Today reported that the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, or HERO, was defeated by a 3-2 margin. The ordinance would have extended protections for LGBT residents among other groups.

It said that the bill was "branded the 'bathroom bill' by opponents who feared accommodation of transgender individuals would give men, including sexual predators, the right to use women’s restrooms in public."  The report continued:

After Mayor Annise Parker's failed attempt to subpoena sermons by pastors who attempted a petition drive to dismiss HERO, the Texas Supreme Court ordered that the ordinance be repealed or put to a popular vote.

Conservative Christian congregations in America's fourth-largest city rallied and prayed against HERO as a violation of their beliefs on gender identity.

“Biology and the Bible show us that there’s a difference between men and women,"said Gregg Matte, pastor of Houston’s First Baptist Church. "In order to keep men out of women’s locker rooms, I want to encourage you to vote ‘no’ to Proposition 1 (HERO).”

And, according to the article, Ed Young, pastor of Second Baptist Church, reportedly told his congregation, “It has been reported that we discriminate,” adding, “If we open up our facilities so that someone can choose … those of us who believe that men should use men’s facilities and women’s facilities, we will be discriminated against.”

Back to the FRC website, which stated:

“Once again, big business wants its freedom to operate according to its values, but wants to deny that freedom to others,” Ryan Anderson pointed out. As part of Proposition 1, local businesses would have been punished for holding natural views on sexuality -- when in reality, they should have the same right to embrace those beliefs as corporate America does not to! Instead, companies are turning on their own and demanding conformity on an issue the people will decide with their own dollars. If consumers don’t like what a Houston employer stands for, they can shop elsewhere! That’s the beauty of the free market.

(By the way, as FRC points out and as has been reported by other news outlets, supporters outspent opponents 3-1, contrary to what the CT story said.)

Sunday, November 01, 2015

The 3 - November 1, 2015

In this week's edition of my week-in-review feature, The 3, I shine the spotlight on an incident in a Texas school district, which has apologized for an assignment in which the affirmation of God's existence was counted as incorrect.  Also, the religious expression of a football coach in Washington state continues to be restricted.  And, some news out of China, where all families will be allowed to have two children, in an improvement over the one-child policy that has been in effect there.

3 - Texas school district apologizes for assignment asking students to deny God

In Katy, Texas, a seventh-grader was placed in a rather odd position recently.  According to a piece on the Religion News Service website, Jordan Wooley said she answered a question on an assignment, saying that the phrase, “there is a God," was either fact or opinion. She contended that her reading teacher said both her answers were wrong and that she had to admit God wasn’t real.

Jordan is quoted as saying, “It was really confusing to me at first because I didn’t really know what to do, so the first thing I did was tell my mom.” Her mother, Chantel Wooley, said, “That a kid was literally graded against her faith in God in a classroom."

According to the RNS piece, the school district apologized, and it issued a statement on Tuesday, saying, in part, that the assignment was intended to encourage critical thinking and dialogue and not question any student’s religious beliefs. But the statement also said, "Still this does not excuse the fact that this ungraded activity was ill-conceived and because of that, its intent had been misconstrued."  The school district said the teacher who came up with the assignment is distraught and that it’s crucial not to vilify the teacher without knowing her and her Christian faith.

2 - Football coach in Washington state placed on leave after postgame prayers

The unfortunate series of events concerning Bremerton, Washington, assistant varsity football coach Joe Kennedy continued this week.  On Wednesday, the school district issued a four-page letter, according to, that announced that the coach, who had a practice of praying on the 50-yard ilne following games, had been placed on paid leave. The letter stated, in part, that, “Kennedy’s conduct poses a genuine risk that the district will be liable for violating the federal and state constitutional rights of students or others,” and, “For this reason, Kennedy will not be allowed to further violate the district’s directives.”

The story reported that Superintendent Aaron Leavell acknowledged that “[e]ach activity has been voluntary” and that Kennedy has not “actively encouraged or required participation,” but he asserted that the practices were still unconstitutional. He laid out rules so that the district would decrease its chances of a lawsuit, stating that while Kennedy may engage in religious activity, “students may not be allowed to join such activity.”

Kennedy agreed to discontinue locker room prayer, but his attorneys with the Texas-based Liberty Institute stated that he has done nothing wrong in seeking to pray by himself at the conclusion of each game. The attorneys said there is neither any constitutional violation in permitting students to join.

And, this week, as reported by, the directors of the film, Woodlawn, Jon and Andy Erwin, released a video showing Kennedy talking about his experiences, as well as his thoughts about the movie, which depicts the story of future Miami Dolphin Tony Nathan.

Kennedy is shown praying with fans in the stands after his team's Thursday night game, and said, "You put four years of your life into the kids and you miss it because of having to stand up for your faith." He continued: "Has it been worth it? Absolutely. I tell my kids you never quit. You stand up for what you believe in," adding, "It's about the rights of every single person, no matter what their faith is."

The film depicts a Christian revival that took place at a high school in the midst of racial turmoil in Birmingham in the 1970's.  The film shows the coach of the team being baptized and facing opposition because of his desire to express his faith publicly. Box Office Mojo shows that the film has now exceeded $10 million dollars.  This past weekend was its third in release.

The series of events has even attracted attention of Presidential candidates, according to the Seattle Times, which reported that Dr. Ben Carson and Donald Trump had both tweeted out support for the coach.

1 - China changes its "one-child" policy

There is apparently some news out of China that represents an improvement in the area of life. The nation's policy of allowing urban families to have only one child and for rural families to have two children is coming to a close, according to a report on the website, which quotes from, which cites a report from China’s official news service. The new policy allows two children per family.

Rep. Chris Smith, a pro-life member of Congress, is quoted as saying: “In 1980 the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party sent an open letter to party members setting forth its plan to embark on a national one-child policy." The Congressman added, “What came out of that letter? A cruel and inhumane policy, a human rights violation that is, in scope and seriousness, the worst human rights abuse in the world today. No other government policy anywhere else in the world systematically punishes, abuses, and violates women so grossly as this.”  Smith also said, "The policy required women to obtain a birth permit before becoming pregnant and all women are monitored by “crudely invasive physical check-ups.”

Life News reports that China aborts more than 13 million babies each year.