Sunday, September 11, 2016

The 3 - September 11, 2016

This week's edition of The 3, highlighting three stories of relevance to the Christian community, focuses on a football coach who has been called out for facilitating a prayer after a victory in the team's first game.  Also, a new gender identity law in Massachusetts could have some troubling implications for churches.  And, funding to combat the Zika virus is being held up by lawmakers who want money for Planned Parenthood to be part of the package.

3 - Religious freedom watch: West Point coach under fire for post-game prayer

Football season is upon us, and one of the regular rites of the fall season is how expression of faith are handled relative to the gridiron.  The Christian Examiner reports on the action and counteraction involving the coach of the football team at the U.S. Military Academy.

Following the team's win over Temple the first week of the season, in Philadelphia, Coach Jeff Monken asked the players to take a knee.  He then asked another member of the staff to pray for the team.  After the video of the event was posted, it got the attention of the so-called Military Religious Freedom Foundation and its head, Mikey Weinstein, who says the prayer is unconstitutional.

Weinstein said that he expected the coach to apologize and said that the matter will likely be handled without litigation, if the coach admits wrongdoing.  The Academy is reportedly investigating the incident.  It is also reportedly setting procedures in place that will prevent coaches from praying with athletes in the future.

2 - Massachusetts transgender law could apply to churches

A document released by the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) on September 1 that explained how a ban on so-called "gender identity discrimination" in public accommodations that adopted in July will be enforced when it takes effect October 1 indicates some negative consequences for churches.

Baptist Press quotes from the document: "Even a church could be seen as a place of public accommodation if it holds a secular event, such as a spaghetti supper, that is open to the general public. All persons, regardless of gender identity, shall have the right to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges of any place of public accommodation."

The President of the Massachusetts Family Institute (MFI), Andrew Beckwith, told Baptist Press that the document "demonstrates the religious tone deafness of the people drafting these regulations and guidelines."  He is quoted as saying, "Any person of faith knows that we want all of our church functions to be open and welcoming to the general public to bring them in to hear the Good News, the Gospel, to be ministered to," adding, "To say that churches have to sacrifice their religious liberty when they hold an event that's open to the public means the church has to sacrifice all of its religious freedom anytime it operates."
Beckwith says that there is "no provision in the law exempting religious organizations."

1 - Planned Parenthood funding becomes an issue in Zika funding debate

Congress is back in session, and one of the agenda items was to provide funding to fight the Zika virus.  In fact, a bill went to the Senate that would provide $1.1 billion dollars to that end.  According to an article on The Stream website from The Daily Caller News Foundation, the legislation failed to get the votes necessary to progress for the third time because it did not contain a provision to fund Planned Parenthood.  So the needed funds are being held back because you have numerous lawmakers who are intent on using taxpayer funds to go to Planned Parenthood.

There is a definite Planned Parenthood-Zika connection.  The Zika virus has been connected to a birth defect in infants, and Planned Parenthood has stepped in to further its agenda, which includes offering contraception, but not eliminating the possibility of abortion, in its operation in the state of Florida, according to another article on The Stream website.  The article quotes Dr. Donna Harrison, Executive Director of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, who says that, “The biggest problem is that an accurate estimate of” how Zika will affect unborn children is "not available."

The article reports that according to the Centers for Disease Control, “Zika virus infection during pregnancy is a cause of microcephaly and other serious brain anomalies; however, the clinical spectrum of the effects of Zika virus infection during pregnancy is not yet known.  Harrison cautions that “the best studies show that of all women infected during the first trimester, 98-99 percent of those infants will not have microcephaly." She says, “We have a lot of fear...and very little information at the moment. And fear breeds abortion.”

Jor-El Godsey, president of Heartbeat International, a network of pregnancy care centers, says, “Women deserve to know the whole truth. A pregnant mother needs to know that Zika and microcephaly are not death sentences for themselves or their precious children.” Godsey adds, “Every life has value and is worth living, regardless of circumstance or the challenges we are called to overcome."

According to, House speaker Paul Ryan has said that his chamber will not put in an earmark for Planned Parenthood.  That article says:

Abortion has become a major issue related to the Zika virus because of a possible link to birth defects. New research suggests the virus may not be to blame for the uptick in birth defects in some areas affected by the virus. Still, abortion advocates have been using the virus as an excuse to push for more abortions of babies with disabilities. Some pro-abortion groups even have been scaring women into aborting their unborn babies without knowing if they have Zika or if their unborn baby has a disability.

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