Monday, January 23, 2017

The 3 - January 22, 2017

In this week's edition of The 3, highlighting three stories of relevance to the Christian community, a former student in a Missouri graduate school who would not counsel same-sex couples and was dismissed because of it has reached a settlement with the school.  Also, there is some pro-life news, including the speculation that American taxpayer funding of international abortion would be curbed by the new Administration.  And, there were a number of Christian-related events and speakers surrounding this past week's inauguration activities.

3 - MO school settles with student dismissed for views on homosexuality

Andrew Cash is a former graduate student at Missouri State University, who had alleged that the school dismissed him from its Masters program for counseling because he had objected, on religious grounds, to counseling same-sex couples.  That's according to a Christian Headlines report from WORLD News Service, relating that the lawsuit Cash had filed against the school had been settled.

The settlement was finalized last month but became public recently because the Springfield News-Leader reported on the agreement after an open records request. According to the terms of the settlement, the MSU Board of Governors will pay $25,000 from the state of Missouri legal defense fund; the Board stated that the amount is “the estimated tuition cost for Cash to obtain a master’s degree in counseling from Evangel University or another similar institution.” The university did not admit liability.

Cash had reportedly told the school after starting an internship with a local Christian counseling agency that he, according to the story, "would have to refer gay couples to another counselor due to his religious convictions about homosexuality. He said he would be happy to counsel gay individuals on any other matter—depression or anxiety, for example—but he could not counsel regarding same-sex relationships." After that, he was booted from the program.

2 - Pro-life headlines: amidst speculation that President will renounce U.S. taxpayer funding for international abortions, pro-life groups get cool reception at Women's March

This past Sunday was the 43rd anniversary of the Supreme Court decision, Roe vs. Wade, and supporters of the right of unborn children to live are gearing up for a big week, culminating in the March for Life in Washington, DC this Friday, which has historically drawn multiple thousands to the National Mall in the nation's capital.  And, local and regional events take place around the time of the Roe anniversary.

And, published an article that included a report from a pro-abortion publication called, Foreign Policy, that stated:
As one of his first acts in the Oval Office, the Republican president-elect plans to restore the “Mexico City policy” as soon as Sunday, a congressional staffer told Foreign Policy. The timing of the executive order on Sunday would coincide with the anniversary of the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States.
The story gave some history on the Mexico City Policy:
The Mexico City Policy covered over $400 million in federal funds, part of which flowed to the abortion businesses International Planned Parenthood and Marie Stopes International for their foreign efforts.
As reported, the pro-life policy had been in place during the entirety of the Bush administration and Obama rescinded it on his first week in office. Named for a 1984 population conference where President Reagan initially announced it, the Mexico City Policy made it so family planning funds could only go to groups that would agree to not do abortions or lobby foreign nations to overturn their pro-life laws.
Well, on Monday morning, the President did indeed sign the executive order reinstating the Mexico City Policy. stated:
Today, Trump restored the Mexico City Policy by executive order.
The Executive Memorandum to reinstate the Mexico City Policy stops taxpayer funding of groups that perform and promote abortions overseas but does not stop non-abortion international assistance. The order ensures U.S. foreign aid will continue to go to health care and humanitarian relief in the millions of dollars. It just will not subsidize abortion overseas.
In an e-mail to the website, Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said: "President Trump’s immediate action to promote respect for all human life, including vulnerable unborn children abroad, as well as conscience rights, sends a strong signal about his Administration’s pro-life priorities.”
And, there were women that took to the streets of DC this past Saturday to bring a pro-life perspective to the Women's March on Washington, even though it became clear that the agenda of the march was devoted to so-called "reproductive rights," i.e, the ability of a woman to terminate her pregnancy.  Students For Life of America had a contingent there, which made its way to the front of the gathering.

According to The Blaze, Tina Whittington, the executive vice president of Students for Life, told the publication that their effort was about “making sure the pro-life voice was heard today.” She is quoted as saying, "Abortion is one of the most violent things that can happen to a woman, and one of the main messages of the march was anti-violence, especially violence towards women, and so we wanted to speak for those unborn women who can’t speak for themselves, so being out there in front was important to us."

The Blaze story said: "The pro-life group eventually moved to the side, where some agitated protesters continued to object to their presence. Others said they supported the pro-lifers’ right to protest."

On its Twitter feed, Students for Life quoted a Trump Administration official:
It's a shame that the March for Life, which estimates the same number of marchers in DC (650,000 in 2013) and will be happening next Friday, will not get anywhere near the same amount of coverage that this march got - and those pro-life members were NOT welcome at the Women's March.   The organizers noted that their platform is pro-choice and they revoked partnership status' from pro-life groups.
1 - Faith events surround inauguration

In the midst of overtly Christian events, as well as traditional events containing an evangelical Christian presence, Donald Trump took the oath of office on Friday as the 45th President of the United States.  Here is some material from my Meeting House Front Room blog on Friday:
God will not give America the leader it wants necessarily, but will give us the leader we need - and He speaks and operates through the electoral process.  Throughout the Bible, we see that God chose leaders who are imperfect, some of them downright wicked.  Even David, who was described as a man after God's own heart, had some very apparent flaws.  Nebuchadnezzar enslaved the Jewish people, but God worked in his life.  Some have likened Donald Trump to Cyrus, a secular king who was sympathetic with the cause of God's chosen people.
We don't know what God might do through Donald Trump in the next four years, but I'm thankful that there are Christian leaders who apparently have his ear.  The evangelical advisory board that was active in the campaign will continue to operate during the Administration, as member Dr. Richard Land announced on The Meeting House yesterday.  There were a number of Christian leaders who spoke at the traditional worship service at St. John's Episcopal Church in D.C. this morning. Christian prayers and comments were offered at the Inauguration.   And tomorrow, the customary service at the National Cathedral will feature some voices that have been heard on Faith Radio.
As Christianity Today reports:
The National Prayer Service, hosted at the Episcopal cathedral Saturday morning, will feature two former presidents of the Southern Baptist Convention, the granddaughter of Billy Graham, and Greg Laurie, the evangelist behind the popular Harvest America crusades, among a total of 26 faith leaders.
Representatives from Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Mormon, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, and Bahá’í traditions are also participating in the event...
Those two former SBC presidents are Jack Graham and Ronnie Floyd, who are both members of that advisory board, as is pastor David Jeremiah.  Alveda King, Harry Jackson, and Cissie Graham Lynch, daughter of Franklin and granddaughter of Billy Graham, are all on the list of participants.
A piece on the Religion News Service website proclaimed:
Donald J. Trump placed his hand on two Bibles and took the oath of office in a swearing-in ceremony that featured prayers and pronouncements of God’s favor by the largest assortment of clergy in inaugural history.
As the article points out, the President quoted from Scripture, from Psalm 133: “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”  He also said in the speech," When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.”

According to the President's Facebook page, the speech included these words:
We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity. When America is united, America is totally unstoppable. There should be no fear – we are protected, and we will always be protected.
We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement and, most importantly, we are protected by God.
Among the six clergy who spoke at the Inauguration, four made their comments "in Jesus' name." The article says that: "Graham, who has said God allowed Trump to win the presidential election, made brief remarks before reading from 1 Timothy 2. He pointed out that a rain shower fell just as the new president began his inaugural address." He is quoted as saying, "In the Bible, rain is a sign of God’s blessing.”

That passage he read in 1 Timothy 2 includes instruction to pray for leaders, and as Stuart Shepard of Family Policy Alliance pointed out on Friday's edition of The Meeting House, it also includes a reference to the message of the gospel - there is one mediator between God and man: Christ Jesus.

Prior to the President's address, Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference read from Matthew chapter 5.  The RNS story said:
Rodriguez read from Chapter 5 in the Gospel of Matthew, including the Beatitudes and the “city on a hill” passage so central to America’s founding ideal and so popular in U.S. politics.
And instead of the more traditional translation of the opening of the Beatitudes, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” Rodriguez used a different take from the New Living Translation of the Bible: “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him.”

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