On this week's edition of The 3, I focus on the following three stories of relevance to the Christian community: there was a bus that was vandalized, which was promoting free speech and a view of gender that squares with the Biblical view. Also, a New Hampshire military base has agreed to uphold chaplains' free speech rights. And, a seminary had decided to recognize a well-regarded pastor, only to pull the award due to the views of his denomination on the ordination of LGBT individuals, as well as women.
3 - "Free Speech Bus" vandalized
Last week, the #FreeSpeechBus tour kicked off in New York City at a press conference, according to the National Organization for Marriage website. NOM, CitizenGO and the International Organization for the Family are sponsoring the tour. There is also a petition to stand in solidarity with the purpose of the bus, which is designed to call attention to the truth, consistent with a Biblical perspective, concerning gender.
A USA Today article quoted Brian Brown of NOM:
"Boys are boys and girls are girls - it's very simple," Brown said of the bus tour's purpose and message. "We don't want men in girl's restrooms. We don't want schools and our law attempting to say that people are bigoted simply because they understand that there's a difference between male and female."Unfortunately, while those who had ridden the bus to New York were inside the United Nations, the bus was vandalized. According to USA Today, referring to a report from Brown, the bus "was parked near the UN for a scheduled event when two people approached, scratched it with a key, cracked windows with a hammer, and spray painted slogans such as 'Trans Liberation.'"
2 - Chaplains' right to pray upheld in NH case
The concept of faith expressions in the military and the religious freedom of chaplains have caused confusion and resulted in a number of challenges to the constitutional protection of free expression of religion. According to the website at First Liberty Institute, in early February, a special interest group sent a letter to Pease Air National Guard Base in New Hampshire, "demanding that the base commander forbid military chaplains from performing invocations at military events held on the base."
First Liberty and the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty responded swiftly, reminding a base official about the rights of chaplains to express their faith. In a letter to the commanding base office, First Liberty attorneys stated, “The Constitution, federal law, and Department of Defense regulations all support your practice of permitting uniformed chaplains to offer invocations at command functions,” adding, “Moreover, those legal authorities actually forbid military commanders from censoring or prohibiting such invocations."
Recently, First Liberty issued a press release saying that they will continue to allow military chaplains to say prayers during military ceremonies.
Chaplain (Colonel) Ron Crews, U.S. Army (Retired), Executive Director for the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, responded: “Chaplains and service members have the right to freely exercise their religious beliefs without fear of reprisal.”
1 - Keller rejected for seminary recognition
This year Princeton Theological Seminary was due to award its prize named for theologian Abraham Kuyper, called the Kuyper Prize for Excellence in Reformed Theology and Public Witness, to Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, according to a piece by Mark Tooley, President of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, who commented that because Keller belongs to a Presbyterian denomination that does not line up with Princeton's views on the ordination of women, as well as LGBT individuals, the award has been withdrawn.
Keller, a prolific author and popular speaker, is founder of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, which has in turn planted many other new churches in New York. The church network is notable for its success in attracting young urban professionals and for its racial diversity.Tooley adds: "His theology like his denomination’s is orthodox and Reformed, but Keller typically avoids culture war issues and hot button debates." The article also notes that Keller will speak at the seminary on April 6 for the annual Kuyper lecture. Tooley also writes:
Wow, historically Presbyterian Princeton won’t honor arguably the most prominent & accomplished Presbyterian pastor of our time.
“The decision to not give this honor to Keller is an example of hyper political correctness prevailing over distinction and merit..."