Sunday, January 29, 2017

The 3 - January 29, 2017

On this week's edition of The 3, my weekly release highlighting three recent news stories of relevance to the Christian community, I discuss the response to President Trump's order on refugees, which highlights an issues that generates a variety of positions from Christians; an issue that forces people to deal with matters of compassion and security.  Also, the U.S. House passed a bill that prevents taxpayer funds from being used for abortions.  And, the March for Life took place in Washington, generating awareness and enthusiasm for the sanctity of life, and perhaps generating more media attention because of the Vice-President's appearance and the chiding of the President.

3 - Trump rethinks refugee programs, announces he will prioritize Christian refugees

There are several spiritual elements related to the action taken by President Trump on Friday. The summary, from USA Today, says:
President Trump suspended the U.S. refugee program for 120 days, banned all immigrants from seven Muslim countries for 90 days and ordered his administration to develop "extreme vetting" measures for immigrants from those countries to keep "radical Islamic terrorists" out of the United States.
The order, signed Friday, also bars all Syrians from entering the U.S., and gives preference in admission to Christians, whom he said are persecuted in majority Muslim countries.
David French of National Review provided some analysis of the tenets of Trump's action:

1) The order "temporarily halts refugee admissions for 120 days to improve the vetting process, then caps refugee admissions at 50,000 per year." French says that, "Before 2016, when Obama dramatically ramped up refugee admissions, Trump’s 50,000 stands roughly in between a typical year of refugee admissions in George W. Bush’s two terms and a typical year in Obama’s two terms."

2) It also "imposes a temporary, 90-day ban on people entering the U.S. from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen." As French points out, these countries are "either torn apart by jihadist violence or under the control of hostile, jihadist governments."

3) The order "puts an indefinite hold on admission of Syrian refugees to the United States" until the President determines that the "admission of Syrian refugees is consistent with the national interest.;" French says, "This is perhaps the least consequential aspect of his order — and is largely a return to the Obama administration’s practices from 2011 to 2014."

But, Ed Stetzer of Wheaton College and co-host of Breakpoint This Week, is concerned about some aspects of the new policy.  He writes in Christianity Today:
It is not wrong to be wise and cautious. And part of President Trump’s plan is, I think, wise. For example, his call for safe zones in affected areas is good policy. Yet I’m grieved by other parts of the policy.
You see, too much of the policy is driven by unfounded fear of refugees.
Stetzer says, "There is a 1 in 3.64 billion per year chance that you will be killed by a refugee in a given year. If those odds concern you, please do not get in a bathtub, car, or even go outside. And, for contrast, there were 762 tragic murders in Chicago alone last year comparted to 0 people who were killed last year (or ever since the mid-70s) by a refugee-perpetrated terrorist attack."

He says that, for Christians, to be pro-life is to be pro-refugee.  Stetzer writes:
There is no more critical time than now for God’s people to instead turn towards the helpless, the homeless, the broken, with open arms and hearts, ready to pour out every ounce of love we can muster.
So, there is the delicate balance here, that Christians are having to deal with, between compassion and security.  There is an analysis of the pros and cons of the new policy at the Clarion Project website. That site summarizes the order:
Far from a being a racist ban on Muslims, the temporary plan is being implemented “in order to protect Americans.” The executive order states, “We must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward our country and its founding principles.”
Regarding the prioritizing of Christians who want to come into the United States as refugees, the President told David Brody of CBN News:
“We are going to help them,” President Trump tells CBN News. “They’ve been horribly treated. Do you know if you were a Christian in Syria it was impossible, at least very tough to get into the United States? If you were a Muslim you could come in, but if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible and the reason that was so unfair, everybody was persecuted in all fairness, but they were chopping off the heads of everybody but more so the Christians. And I thought it was very, very unfair.”
David French at National Review quoted from a CNS News report:
The Obama administration has resettled 13,210 Syrian refugees into the United States since the beginning of 2016 — an increase of 675 percent over the same 10-month period in 2015.
Of those, 13,100 (99.1 percent) are Muslims — 12,966 Sunnis, 24 Shi’a, and 110 other Muslims — and 77 (0.5 percent) are Christians. Another 24 (0.18 percent) are Yazidis.
David Curry, President of Open Doors USA, is concerned.  He is quoted in a press release as saying:
...Expediting refugee entry for those intentionally targeted by ISIS, like the Yazidis and Christians and some Muslim groups, seems appropriate. However, cherry-picking one religion over another only exacerbates the already severe worldwide trend of religious persecution. We encourage a need-based approach that treats all faiths equally and works toward the comprehensive strengthening of religious freedom around the world."
As USA Today reported, a Federal Judge in Brooklyn on Saturday "granted an emergency stay sought by immigrants’ rights lawyers. The judge’s ruling applies to those who have already arrived in the U.S. and those who are in transit who hold valid visas. Judges in Massachusetts and Virginia also ordered halts." The Department of Homeland Security stated, "...prohibited travel will remain prohibited, and the U.S. government retains its right to revoke visas at any time if required for national security or public safety. It added, "No foreign national in a foreign land, without ties to the United States, has any unfettered right to demand entry into the United States."

2 - U.S. House votes to prevent taxpayer dollars from going to abortion

This past week was a dramatic one for the sanctity of life, and the U.S. House made another strong statement that basically American taxpayers should not have to pay for abortion. reports that the a bill to make the Hyde Amendment permanent passed 238-183. The article points out that "The Hyde Amendment prohibits taxpayer dollars from being used to fund abortions through Medicaid."

According to the piece, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, in a statement, said: "This legislation protects the conscience of American taxpayers by ensuring that not a single dollar of their hard-earned money goes to fund abortions. As hundreds of thousands of Americans flock to Washington for the March for Life, we must never forget that defending all of our people – especially the defenseless – must be our top priority if we want to be a good and moral nation.”

Rep. Diane Black of Tennessee is quoted in the article.  She noted that in the Women's March the preceding weekend,  "...there were millions of pro-life women who were explicitly told that they were unwelcome at this event. So today, the people’s House is giving them, and the more than 60% of Americans from all political persuasions who oppose taxpayer funding of abortion, a voice."  Rep. Martha Roby of Alabama is quoted as saying: “It is our enduring responsibility to protect the unborn, and it is imperative we get this right" and that "the one voice not heard today is that of the baby.”

The bill now goes on to the Senate - if it passes there, then it will go to the President for his signature. In light of his support for March for Life and the pro-life executive order preventing tax dollars from paying for abortions internationally, that he would sign this bill.

1 - March for Life attracts multiple thousands and (finally!) media attention

This past Friday, the 44th annual March for Life attracted people from throughout America who marched through the streets of the nation's capital to advocate for the protection of the lives of the unborn.  And as WORLD Magazine pointed out, Vice-President Mike Pence was the highest ranking elected official ever to address the event, and he declared: “Life is winning again in America,” adding, "Compassion is overcoming convenience, and hope is defeating despair."

Presidential advisor Kellyanne Conway was also there, and President Trump tweeted out his support, according to WORLD:
“The #MarchForLife is so important. To all of you marching—you have my full support!” Trump tweeted.
Trump did more than that - earlier in the week, he took ABC News to task for not covering the March.  The Washington Examiner ran a story on Friday, which opened up:
ABC's "Good Morning America" didn't cover the big "March for Life" anti-abortion protest in Washington last year, but it decided to this year, after a very public push from President Trump.

In an interview with ABC News anchor David Muir that aired Wednesday, Trump said that the annual march is ignored by the news media. "They say the press doesn't cover them," he said.
The article noted that the Media Research Center reported that "the march was not covered by ABC at all in 2016, but Friday on 'Good Morning America,' the show gave about 2 minutes of coverage to the event."

And, Breakpoint co-host Eric Metaxas was quoted in a article on what he said from the stage at the March for Life:
Eric Metaxas blasted the mainstream media at today’s March for Life for its bias against the pro-life movement, punctuating his brief address with the question: “ABC News, are you covering this?”
“Jesus is Lord. ABC News are you covering that? ABC News, are you covering this? You want to see the women of America? Here they are..."
The author and commentator referred to Roe v. Wade as "fake law" and said that the ruling was “anti-science,” adding, “If the DNA of the baby in the womb is different than the DNA of the mother how can it be the mother’s body we’re talking about?”

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