Sunday, June 04, 2017

The 3 - June 4, 2017

In this week's edition of The 3, featuring three stories of relevance to the Christian community, there's a story out of Kentucky, where the governor has introduced a spiritual response to a rising crime rate in one of the cities it the state.  Also, a Michigan farmer's views on marriage has resulted in his being banned from participating in a local farmers' market.  And, there are Christian leaders who have expressed disappointment at the White House delay in moving the U.S. Embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but some have remained hopeful that it will occur.

3 - Kentucky governor calls for prayer to combat crime

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin apparently understands the spiritual underpinnings of crime, and so, in addressing the rising crime rate in Louisville, he brought forth a rather unique plan: pray.  In a crowded meeting Thursday, according to the Courier-Journal:
Bevin urged faith leaders, public officials and residents to take a 10-block span, walk corner to corner, and pray with the community two to three times a week during the next year.
He said later Thursday that the walks are meant to be organic and won't necessarily be led by his office. He didn't specify a start date but suggested that local churches should get involved with the effort.
The article went on to say that at a press conference after the event, "he said there isn’t going to be a particular group or government agency tasked with organizing these block walks and signing up volunteers." Bevin is quoted as saying, "I’m not going to have a commissioner of prayer walks,” adding, "We’re not going to have 1-800 numbers and websites."

Now, the announcement was not without his critics.  Some community leaders were quoted in the article and seemed to find his solution insufficient.  Mayor Greg Fischer wasn't at the meeting, but reportedly said that, according to the story, "solutions to violence 'are many, but a lot of them require resources obviously' from housing to education and health care."  He is quoted as saying, "This is not going to be solved overnight, so if anybody wants to help, we welcome you."  He stated that people are encouraged to get involved with community programs.

2 - Farmer removed from market because of marriage views

The Tennes family owns Country Mill Farm, which is located 22 miles outside of the city limits of East Lansing, Michigan.  According to, the devout Catholic family has sold produce at a farmers' market inside the city...but not any more.

Seems someone had posted a request on Facebook for the farm to host a same-sex wedding.  Starnes wrote:
Tennes told the individual they did not permit same-sex marriages on the farm because of the family’s Catholic belief that marriage is a sacramental union between one man and one woman.
City officials later discovered the Facebook posting and began immediate action to remove Country Mill from the Farmer’s Market – alleging the family had violated the city’s discrimination ordinance.
Oh, and again, the farm is 22 miles outside the limits of the city. Tennes told Starnes, "Whether you are a Jew, Muslim or Christian – people of faith should not be eradicated from the marketplace simply because they don’t share the same thoughts and ideas that the government is choosing to promote..."

The Alliance Defending Freedom has filed a federal lawsuit, as Starnes put it, "alleging East Lansing violated the constitutional rights of the Tennes family." ADF Legal Counsel Kate Anderson said, "All Steve wants to do is sell his food to anyone who wants to buy it, but the city isn’t letting him,” adding, “People of faith, like the Tennes family, should be free to live and work according to their deeply held beliefs without fear of losing their livelihood. If the government can shut down a family farmer just because of the religious views he expresses on Facebook—by denying him a license to do business and serve fresh produce to all people—then no American is free.”

1 - Jerusalem embassy move delay concerns some Christians

Throughout his Presidential campaign, Donald Trump emphasized his solidarity with the nation of Israel.  And, one visible expression of that would be the moving of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which is an act affirming that the city is the capital of the Jewish state.

This week, according to a report on the Religion News Service website, the Trump Administration announced it would delay the move.  The article stated:
The White House said the decision — which includes a six-month waiver on action related to the embassy — should not be considered “in any way a retreat from the President’s strong support for Israel” or his commitment to its alliance with the U.S.
The White House stated, according to the piece, “President Trump made this decision to maximize the chances of successfully negotiating a deal between Israel and the Palestinians, fulfilling his solemn obligation to defend America’s national security interests,” adding, “But, as he has repeatedly stated his intention to move the embassy, the question is not if that move happens, but only when.”

A number of evangelical leaders expressed disappointment, including Jerry Johnson, President of National Religious Broadcasters. He is quoted as saying, "America’s recognition of the capital city of our foremost and only democratic ally in the Middle East should not be a bargaining chip,” adding, “I am disappointed, but I take the President at his word that this is only a delay in delivering on his promise.”

There were other quotes included in the story, such as this, from a statement from Christians United for Israel: "We are disappointed the President chose at this time to sign the Jerusalem Embassy Act waiver but remain hopeful that he will fulfill his campaign pledge and move the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem,” adding, “The President knows that Jerusalem is the eternal and undivided capital of Israel and we strongly believe that the location of our embassy should reflect that reality.”

In a statement, Robert Jeffress, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, said: “I trust the Trump Administration to eventually fulfill their commitment to move our embassy to Jerusalem at the most opportune time. ‘Not now’ does not mean ‘never.'”

A press release from Liberty Counsel posed the question: "when will the President fulfill his promise to move the Embassy?" Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of the organization stated: “Jerusalem has been unified for 50 years and the Embassy has remained in Tel Aviv. Fifty years of keeping the Embassy outside the capital of Jerusalem has not brought peace. Not moving the Embassy to Jerusalem when President Trump promised he would move it will be seen as a sign of weakness among the enemies of Israel. It is time to move the Embassy to Jerusalem. Fulfill your promise to move the Embassy to Jerusalem during the 50th anniversary of a united Jerusalem..."

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