Sunday, January 15, 2017

The 3 - January 15, 2017

In this week's edition of The 3, highlighting three stories of relevance to the Christian community, I spotlight a new emergency hospital that has been built in the Nineveh Plains region of Iraq, a historical Christian homeland.  Also, another state is on the books as protecting pre-born life after 20 weeks gestation, but its attorney general has said he won't defend it.  And, a consortium of Christian leaders have signed on to an important religious freedom document that exposes the danger of so-called SOGI laws to freedom of religious expression.

3 - Ministry opens hospital in war-torn area of Iraq

This week, in the city of Mosul in Iraq, a new Samaritan's Purse emergency field hospital was dedicated.  The leader of that relief organization, Franklin Graham, was on hand, and the Samaritan's Purse website reports that "The 50-bed trauma unit is located on the Plains of Nineveh and is designed to treat those injured in the battle between Iraqi and coalition forces and ISIS militants in Mosul."  According to the story, an estimated three thousand people per day are fleeing the region, and some have life-threatening injuries.

Graham, in the dedication ceremony, said: “It’s a privilege to be here,” adding, “As a Christian, I want all people to know about God’s love for them." He also said, “We could not do this without the help of the Iraqi government and the international agencies, and we are so thankful for the cooperation we have received.”

The United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Lise Grande said, "We’ve reached out to a number of organizations, asking, begging them to step forward...Dr. Graham, Samaritan’s Purse answered that call. We can’t thank you enough." Grande added, “You built this hospital in record time. Most of all we want to thank you for saving people. Because Samaritan’s Purse is here, thousands—tens of thousands—of people will survive…”

The emergency field hospital was readied in less than a month, and is part of the effort the ministry has undertaken to help people in the region - it has also been involved in helping to provide food, blankets, and tarps.

2 - KY passes new abortion ban, AG says he won't defend it

It is encouraging to see states enact legislation that protects life in the womb.  And, while some states have taken the bold steps to pass laws that forbid abortion past the age at which an unborn child's heartbeat is detected, perhaps 6 or 7 weeks, a number of states have approved legislation that will ban abortion after the time at which the child in the womb can feel pain, thought to be at about 20 weeks.

Baptist Press reports that Kentucky is one of the latest states to pass such legislation.  Recently, the Legislature there met in a rare Saturday session to pass a series of what the article terms "high-priority bills, including two that would curb abortions."  Governor Matt Bevin signed the bills - one is the late-term abortion bill, which "bans the procedures after 20 weeks of pregnancy, except in cases in which the mother's life is in danger. Physicians who violate the measure could have their medical licenses revoked and could be sentenced to up to 5 years in prison."

Also, there was a new ultrasound bill passed and signed.  According to Baptist Press:
...physicians are required to display the images so women can see, though they have the option to avert their eyes if they don't want to see them. Physicians face a $100,000 fine for a first offense and a $250,000 fine for subsequent offenses.
However, the Attorney General of the state, Andy Beshear, says, according to another piece on the Baptist Press website, that he will not defend the law.  He is quoted from a statement: "This law is clearly unconstitutional based on our review of numerous federal appellate rulings..."

But, the Governor says he'll take matters into his own hands.  The article states:
Bevin chastised Beshear for "refusing to do his job" to defend a law that had the support of nearly 80 percent of the state's lawmakers, a portion of them Democrats, and that is widely favored by Kentucky voters.

"AG Beshear would rather pander to his liberal, pro-abortion base than defend the law of Kentucky," Bevin said. "I will, therefore, continue doing it for him by defending these pro-life bills. The citizens of Kentucky demand and deserve no less."
Beshear, by the way, is the son of Bevin's predecessor as governor.

And, there's news out of Virginia, where the Governor there has said that he will veto a proposed abortion ban.  According to National Review, Governor Terry McAuliffe said that a 20-week ban, proposed so far by a Republican member of the state's General Assembly would perhaps bring economic harm to the state, although, as the article says, it's "unclear" how a 20-week restriction would do that.  McAuliffe is quoted as saying: “I can’t sit back and have that sitting out the same time I am traveling the globe recruiting businesses to Virginia."

The article goes on to say:
The Virginia governor is traveling for one such recruiting trip this coming weekend, and thus believed it necessary to condemn the pro-life bill before his meetings. “If there’s something that would be damaging toward business, and to our image around the country and the globe, I’ll veto it, you bet I will.”
Some great statistics from this article:
...the most recent polls reveal that almost two-thirds of Americans favor a 20-week abortion ban, including nearly 80 percent of Millennials. And a poll from last summer showed that 78 percent of people favor limiting abortion in some capacity, in many cases to the first trimester only. If anything, the tide of public opinion is surely turning in favor of abortion limitations.
Those are from surveys from the polling company, inc./Woman Trend and the Knights of Columbus, respectively.   And, an interesting note: the polling company, inc./Woman Trend has been operated by former Trump campaign manager who was recently appointed as Counselor to the President, Kellyanne Conway, who is scheduled to speak at next Friday's March for Life.

1- Christian leaders agree, sign statement: SOGI laws contradict religious freedom

There has been direct conflict between these "sexual orientation, gender identity" laws that have been proposed and/or enacted by states and municipalities across America and the religious freedom rights of individuals who do not believe that the LGBT agenda should have a preferred place in American society.  This was affirmed by a new document initiated by the Colson Center for Christian Worldview.

According to its website:
More than 75 prominent religious and thought leaders have come together as charter signatories of "Preserve Freedom, Reject Coercion," a statement that affirms every American’s freedom to peacefully live their lives according to their beliefs and opposes government coercion or censorship of fellow citizens who have different views. These leaders are united by the idea that all laws must respect freedom and promote justice for every citizen, no matter who they are.
The document says that:
SOGI laws empower the government to use the force of law to silence or punish Americans who seek to exercise their God-given liberty to peacefully live and work consistent with their convictions. They also create special preference in law for categories based on morally significant choices that profoundly affect human relations and treat reasonable religious and philosophical beliefs as discriminatory. We therefore believe that proposed SOGI laws, including those narrowly crafted, threaten fundamental freedoms, and any ostensible protections for religious liberty appended to such laws are inherently inadequate and unstable.
Religion News Service reported that a meeting was slated for this past weekend.  The article stated: "Major players in the ongoing battle over religious freedom and LGBT rights will meet at Yale University this weekend to discuss conscience rights, LGBT protections and legislation needed to balance those competing interests."

The article mentions the Colson Center document, but also talks about the so-called "Fairness for All" movement. Robin Fretwell Wilson, director of the family law and policy program at the University of Illinois College of Law and one of the meeting’s organizers said, “We all think … the view that nondiscrimination protections must crowd out every other value is wrong, but we have different visions of the right."  And, there are some in the Christian community who are open to embracing some sort of middle ground.  According to the article:
The National Association of Evangelicals and the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities saw the value of exploring efforts to balance LGBT nondiscrimination measures and religious liberty.
Over the last 16 months, they’ve met with 200 Christians whose jobs potentially intersect with SOGI policies.
“The goal was to solicit input from and the wisdom of these leaders. We wanted to hear their thoughts and concerns and offer support,” said Shapri LoMaglio, CCCU’s vice president for government and external relations.
Ryan Anderson of the Heritage Foundation has met with leaders who embrace the "Fairness for All" perspective, and is calling for civil debate.  But, as the Religion News Service story says:
He disagrees with the logic of Fairness for All legislation, arguing that now is not the time to turn sexual orientation and gender identity into protected categories under the law.

Instead, policymakers should prioritize passing laws that ensure the rights of traditional marriage supporters, Anderson said.
“In the aftermath of the (same-sex marriage) decision, we don’t need additional laws protecting gay and lesbian Americans. We need laws that protect those who lost,” he said.
This is an approach that is consistent with what Dr. Ben Carson said in his confirmation hearing this past week to become the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, according to a recent story:
"Of course, I would enforce all the laws of the land,” Carson said. “Of course, I think all Americans should be protected by the law.”
He then added, “What I have said before is I don’t think anyone should get ‘extra rights.’”
Carson made the same point in a 2014 speech at CPAC, a major conservative conference, earning the ire of LGBT and gay “marriage” advocates the year before the June 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court ruling legalizing homosexual “marriage.”
“Of course gay people should have the same rights as everyone else,” he said at the time. “But they don't get extra rights. They don't get to redefine marriage.”

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