Monday, November 28, 2016

The 3 - November 27, 2016

In the latest edition of The 3, spotlighting three recent stories of relevance to the Christian community, there is a story about a Christian governor who has faced opposition due to allegations concerning comments relative to Islam.  Also, a Federal labor law concerning overtime pay that would have affected non-profit organizations has been placed on hold by a judge.  And, I place some attention on election results that have a direct connection to people involved in religious freedom issues.

3 - Unrest in Indonesia in light of accusations against Christian governor

The first Christian to serve as governor of the capital of Indonesia, Jakarta, has come under fire because of comments about Islam that have been interpreted as being provocative, according to a report on the Christianity Today website.

The governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who is popularly known as “Ahok,” was appointed in 2014 after the election of Joko Widodo as president of the nation. The article points out that Ahok is a key ally of the president.

Ahok presumably used a verse from the Koran when speaking to a group of fishermen in September. He reportedly said, "Do not believe everything that people say," adding, “because often you are deceived by using 51st of Surah Al Maidah."  That is the fifth chapter of the Qur‘an. According to the article, "The verse warns Muslims not to take Jews and Christians as allies; some read it to mean that Muslims are not to vote for those of other faiths."

Ahok apparently apologized after his words were posted on Facebook, leaving out a key word. Nevertheless, thousands of protesters marched against him and police reportedly accused Ahok of blasphemy.  And, The Christian Post reports that over 10,000 people took to the streets of Jakarta Saturday, the 19th in support of Ahok.  The story says that at least 100,000 Muslims had protested the governor earlier this month.

2 - Federal judge puts overtime rule on hold

The Obama Administration issued a regulation doubling the income threshold determining which employees would be eligible to receive overtime pay.  According to Baptist Press, 4.2 million more workers would qualify to receive extra pay beyond 40 hours weekly.   The story says that employers would have the option to either pay the overtime, increase salaries to reach the new threshold, or restrict employees to 40 hours a week.

On Tuesday, a Federal judge in Texas, Amos Mazzant, issued a nationwide temporary injunction preventing enforcement of that regulation, which was scheduled to take effect on Thursday, December 1.

The regulation had been challenged by 21 states, the Chamber of Commerce, and other business organizations,  The article points out that nonprofit organizations are not exempt from overtime rules, so they also would have been affected by the new policy.

Samuel W. (Dub) Oliver, president of Union University in Jackson, TN, is quoted as saying: "While Union University was fully prepared to adhere to the new regulations beginning Dec. 1, they certainly would have been burdensome to us as an institution and to our employees." He expressed hope that Congress would take action on "such important issues," instead of "sweeping changes being mandated by executive order."
Michael Whitehead, who is an attorney and nonprofit organization advocate, said: "Time will tell if the injunction will be made permanent, but for now, the overtime rule has been overruled. This is great news for many ministry organizations, including Baptist institutions, that might have suffered severe financial impact because of this onerous rule." Whitehead's son, Jonathan, "suggested ministries might not want to reverse the plans they had scheduled for Dec. 1. Instead, they may want to seek legal counsel on what adjustments are reasonable in the new legal situation..."

1 - Religious freedom and the election: OR labor commissioner loses bid for higher office; NC governor in midst of hotly contested campaign

The election has had some interesting tie-ins involving religious freedom issues.  Here's a good news-bad news scenario from Oregon, where, according to WORLD Magazine, the state's labor commissioner, Brad Avakian, who took action against cake bakers Aaron and Melissa Klein for their choice not to provide a product for a gay couple "wedding" ceremony, was defeated in his bid to become secretary of state.  The Kleins had been fined $135,000 as the result of their refusal.

That might seem like good news, but on the flipside, Avakian will now continue in his position as labor commissioner.  The WORLD story refers to a Forbes report, which says that "Avakian 'acts as if rules are only for other people.' He used his job as commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industry (BOLI) to promote his secretary of state campaign, gave bonuses to employees from his campaign fund, and redacted hundreds of events from his official calendar, breaking state law. He also gave himself and other BOLI employees significant raises."

And, another matter relative to religious freedom was impacted by the election - this time from North Carolina, where the State Legislature had passed a commonsense law to override the extreme position of the Charlotte City Council.  This law would have required people to use restrooms in state facilities corresponding to their biological gender, rather than "gender identity."   Governor Pat McCrory had supported and signed the legislation, and really became the face of this new law.

The governor trails in his very close re-election bid, and according to a piece on the Family Policy Alliance website, a candidate in one of North Carolina's counties has filed a protest, that alleges that fraudulent absentee ballots were cast for McCrory's opponent, Ray Cooper. Now, similar protests "are being filed in 10 other counties," according to the Alliance's website, which reports that McCrory's campaign says that "the protest alleges a 'massive scheme to run an absentee ballot mill involving hundreds of ballots, perpetrated by and through the Bladen County Improvement Association PAC.'"

John Rustin of the North Carolina Family Policy Council, is quoted as saying, "The right to vote in our country is fundamental,” adding, “and the confidence of the voters in the electoral process is essential to the proper working of our American form of government. Every legitimate vote must be counted, and any and all efforts to defraud the system must be eliminated, no matter how long it takes.”

On Wednesday (November 23), The Washington Times reported that McCrory "formally requested a recount Tuesday after filing more than 50 challenges alleging voter fraud as the latest tally showed him trailing his Democratic rival, Attorney General Roy Cooper, by anywhere from 7,000 to 9,000 votes." The article points out that, "A recount would go into effect if the candidates are separated by fewer than 10,000 votes after all ballots are tabulated in a race with nearly 4.7 million votes cast."

No comments: