Monday, December 26, 2016

The 3 - December 25, 2016

This week's edition of The 3, focusing in on three stories of relevance impacting the Christian community, includes the story of a Turkish pastor who is being held in prison and an effort to free him.  Also, two congressional committees have referred Planned Parenthood and some of those aligned with it for criminal prosecution.  And, an attempt to repeal North Carolina's so-called "bathroom law" failed in a special legislative session.

3 - Christian organization involved in appeal for release of missionary in Turkey

Andrew Brunson is an American pastor who had led a congregation in Turkey for 23 years prior to being detained in early October - he was sent to prison in early December, according to a story on the Christianity Today website, which states that Brunson was "jailed on erroneous allegations amid a crackdown on evangelicals in Turkey."  Also, the story says that "several fellow expatriate pastors have been deported."

Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which now represents Brunson’s family, is quoted as saying, “As we approach Christmas—a season of hope and promise—we know that people around the world will stand with Pastor Andrew—will be Pastor Andrew’s voice—supporting his fight for freedom, and will join us in urging Turkey to release him immediately."

Brunson was put in prison because of allegations of being tied to the G├╝len movement, whose followers are blamed by the Turkish government of a July 15 coup attempt.  After that failed coup, the government has attempted to prosecute those supporting the movement. According to the CT story, the Christian group Middle Eastern Concern reports that more than 40,000 people, "including opposition party politicians, military personnel, journalists, and teachers, have been arrested since July."   Multiple pastors have been accused of being "a threat to national security.”

2 - Congressional committees direct criminal charges to be filed against Planned Parenthood 

This month, two Congressional committees have recommended that criminal charges be filed against the nation's largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood.  According to LifeSiteNews.com, on Tuesday, December 13, the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, announced that "several Planned Parenthood affiliates, fetal tissue companies, and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America" were referred to the FBI and Department of Justice for investigation and possible prosecution. The recommendation was part of a "massive" report on its findings.

This follows an announcement on Thursday, December 1 that, according to LifeSiteNews, the House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, "announced that following their investigation into the abortion giant and its fetal body parts partners, the Panel made nine criminal and regulatory referrals. These were against Planned Parenthood, other abortion businesses, universities, and fetal tissue companies."

Lila Rose, President of Live Action, is quoted in the article as saying, "The evidence is overwhelming, from multiple findings of illegal profiting from the sale of body parts to violations of privacy laws so that certain vulnerable women could be targeted for their babies’ organs. Planned Parenthood must be prosecuted, and the over half a billion dollars in taxpayer subsidies that are propping up this absolutely corrupt and potentially criminal enterprise must be cut off immediately."

David Daleiden of the Center for Medical Progress wrote: "...The Committee’s report shows Planned Parenthood and their baby body parts business partners are totally unaccountable and must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, and Planned Parenthood’s barbaric abortion empire must no longer be subsidized by taxpayer funds."

1 - North Carolina lawmakers leave transgender bathroom bill, HB 2, in place

The battle continued this past week over the state of North Carolina's law that requires all individuals to use government restroom facilities corresponding to their biological gender.  Earlier in the week, after a second attempt, the city of Charlotte rescinded its transgender rights ordinance that had been passed, setting off the Legislature's response in the form of what is known as HB 2.

Outgoing Governor Pat McCrory called a special session, and it looked as if some sort of deal had been reached that if Charlotte were to withdraw its ordinance, the state would drop HB2.  But, things rapidly fell apart once the Legislature convened, according to the North Carolina Family Policy Council, which reported on its website:
The NC General Assembly adjourned its fifth special session of the year this evening without repealing House Bill 2. After four days of rumors that a deal had been reached between leaders on both sides of the aisle and that the City of Charlotte would roll back the provisions that started the entire HB2 roller coaster, no agreement was reached.
The stalemate followed an intense day of discussion, debates and deliberations from which state lawmakers could find no ultimate resolution, leaving HB2 intact.
NC Family President John L. Rustin said during meetings prior to today’s session, it appeared there was little to no hope that HB2 would not be struck down. “We are grateful to all the good people of North Carolina who spoke out on this issue this week and who prayed for their legislators throughout the day. We applaud the members of the NC General Assembly who continued to stand strong in defense of safety, privacy and dignity of all of our citizens.”
State Senate leader Phil Berger, according to the Charlotte Observer, had proposed a bill "which would have coupled HB2’s repeal with a months-long moratorium on city ordinances like the one Charlotte passed and repealed..." That bill was voted down by the Senate, and the special session was adjourned. Incoming governor Roy Cooper had encouraged Democrats to vote against the bill, saying that "Republican leaders 'broke the deal' to fully repeal HB2 in return for Charlotte’s action."  The Observer story implied that trust had been broken with legislative leaders:
Asked if he hadn’t agreed to repeal HB2 if Charlotte rescinded the ordinance, Berger cited the fact that Charlotte took two votes.
“We were expecting Charlotte to repeal it and when they failed to do so, the deal was gone,” he said. “The moratorium was not there until we saw what they had done.”
But, as the Observer pointed out:
Many Republican lawmakers still support HB2 as a stand for traditional values and protection of women and children from predators. Conservative groups prodded them to stand firm.
“No economic, political or ideological pressure can convince me that what is wrong is right,” Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest said in a statement before the session. “It will always be wrong for men to have access to women’s showers and bathrooms. If HB2 is repealed, there will be nothing on the books to prevent another city or county to take us down this path again.”

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