Sunday, March 06, 2016

The 3 - March 6, 2016

In this week's edition of The 3, my week-in-review feature, there are several broad topic areas that have a number of developments.  For instance, there is much from the Presidential race: Super Tuesday results, another GOP debate, and the departure of a high-profile candidate who had appeal to people of faith.  Another story involves Christians who are facing opposition for their devotion to deeply-held business principles.  But, our top story comes from the U.S. Supreme Court, where a major Texas abortion clinic case is in the spotlight.

3 - Carson exits Presidential race, announces next chapter

This was a key week in the Presidential race, especially related to Christians.  First of all, it was Super Tuesday, which featured contests in a dozen states.  And, the headlines revealed that Hillary Clinton on the Democrat side and Donald Trump in the Republican primaries were apparently the big winners.

And, there was a faith component at play in the Republican primary that bears watching.  According to David Brody of CBN News:

Winning in the South has always been important to the fortunes of a GOP presidential candidate so Trump’s victories in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas and Virginia are significant. But it’s even more noteworthy because he did it by securing the evangelical vote yet again, just like he did in South Carolina. Exit polls show that he’s doing it by appealing to middle class, blue-collar evangelicals who love their country and love God. In essence, many of them are former Reagan Democrats. They’re conservative but aren’t necessarily folks who always toe the GOP line. The fact that a billionaire like Trump can appeal to the, “regular guy” is an intangible that every candidate would love to have. Trump has it in spades.

Trump won 7 states and Ted Cruz won 3.  Brody writes:

Winning your home state of Texas, neighboring Oklahoma and remote Alaska doesn’t constitute a big night, especially considering you’re the “evangelical candidate” competing in evangelical-rich states. The exit polls showed that Cruz won the evangelical vote in Texas and Oklahoma. When he does that, he wins states, plain and simple. It happened in Iowa too.

There was also a GOP debate this week.  While much of the reporting focused on the cage match between Trump and Rubio, with some assistance from Cruz, there were some moments regarding the issue of gay marriage.  Former TX Solicitor General Cruz minced no words in declaring his opposition to the U.S. Supreme Court's Obergefell ruling, responding to a question on gay adoption. According to The Christian Post, he said: "Well, listen, adoption is decided at the state level and I am a believer in the 10th Amendment in the Constitution, I would leave the question of marriage to the states, I would leave the question of adoption to the states...,"(quoted from the transcript on the Washington Post website.)  He continued, "That's the way it has been for two centuries of our nation's history until five unelected judges in an illegitimate and wrong decision decided to seize the authority over marriage and wrongfully tear down the marriage laws of all 50 states."

The Christian Post story said:

Cruz's position on gay adoption was part of the "social issues" segment of the two-hour long debate, which touched upon religious liberty and Second Amendment issues.

During that segment Kasich, who in a previous debate advocated for businesses being compelled to service gay weddings, appeared to sidestep from his position, arguing he would prefer for gay couples to simply not sue Christian busisness owners in the first place.

"If you go to a photographer to take pictures at your wedding, and he says, I'd rather not do it, find another photographer, don't sue them in court. You know what, the problem is in our country — in our country, we need to learn to respect each other and be a little bit more tolerant for one another," stated Kasich.

And, this past week, Dr. Ben Carson announced that he was putting his campaign on pause and pulled out of the Thursday night Detroit debate. On Friday, he was in Washington announcing his next endeavor.  The Stream reports that Carson announced he is the new national chairman of My Faith Votes, which is a nonpartisan organization focused on getting Christian voters to the polls. He also announced at CPAC (the Conservative Political Action Conference being held this week) that he is officially ending his bid for the White House.

In a statement, the renowned neurosurgeon, who is respected by a number of Christians, said, "Christians in this country can easily determine the next president of the United States and all other national and local leaders, should they simply show up at the polls,” adding, “When we do vote, We The People will once again solidify our commitment to the Judeo-Christian values upon which our nation was founded.”

2 - Businesses who choose not to provide products for gay weddings advance; Texas couple facing opposition 

The case of Aaron and Melissa Klein, who were fined $135,000 for declining to provide a cake for a same-sex wedding ceremony, continues to advance, and it was announced recently that First Liberty Institute will be taking up their case.  Now, First Liberty (formerly Liberty Institute) has published a story about a bakery in Texas that is facing hostile treatment for their stance of gay marriage.

The Gospel Herald reports that the Kleins are scheduled to have their day in court before the Oregon Court of Appeals. Legal briefs are expected to be filed throughout the year, and oral argument will take place in late 2016.

The First Liberty website tells about David and Edie Delorme, owners of Kern’s Bake Shop in Longview, Texas. They are Christians, and in the past they have consistently refused to bake alcohol, tobacco, gambling, or risqué-themed cakes. When two men requested a cake for their same-sex wedding, Edie politely informed them that Kern’s Bake Shop did not make same-sex wedding cakes, and offered to provide a list of other bakeries in Longview that could fulfill the couple’s request.

Unfortunately, the incident soon appeared in a local newspaper, igniting a firestorm of hostility and even death threats toward the Delormes, their family, and their business from places as far away as New York and California.

The case of Baronelle Stutzman, the florist in Washington state who would not provide flowers for a gay marriage ceremony, is also moving forward. The Washington Supreme Court has agreed to hear her case, according to a story on The Washington Times website.

The article quotes Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Kristen Waggoner, who said that Ms. Stutzman "and many others like her around the country have been willing to serve any and all customers, but they are understandably not willing to promote any and all messages."  She added, "We hope the Washington Supreme Court will affirm the broad protections that both the U.S. Constitution and the Washington Constitution afford to freedom of speech and conscience," Ms. Waggoner said.

1 - Supreme Court hears arguments on abortion clinic case

The U.S. Supreme Court held oral arguments on a key Texas law requiring stricter standards for abortion clinics operating in the state and admitting privileges for abortion doctors at local hospitals. This case was being argued in the aftermath of the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.  An article from Religion News Service on the website described some of the proceedings before the high court.

According to the story:

“Would it be a) proper and b) helpful for this court to remand for further findings on clinic capacity?” Justice Anthony Kennedy asked Stephanie Toti, the lawyer representing Whole Woman’s Health and other Texas clinics.

While such a move might be viewed by many as punting on a major issue that’s taken years to work its way through lower courts, justices often are dissatisfied with trial records. Kennedy and Justice Stephen Breyer, perhaps the two most frequent swing votes, are the main advocates of do-overs. Chief Justice John Roberts often seeks the path of least resistance.

The article pointed out that the court’s four liberal justices challenged the purpose of the law. Kennedy noted a potential “capacity problem.” He noted that fewer Texas women are using medications to induce abortions, while more are getting surgical procedures. “This may not be medically wise,” Kennedy said.
Justice Samuel Alito said states should be able to set extremely high standards for abortion care as long as they don’t pose an undue burden, but Kennedy said that test needed to be “weighed against what the state’s interest is.”

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