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?”

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.”

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.”

Friday, January 06, 2017

The 3 - January 8, 2017

In this week's edition of The 3, spotlighting three stories of relevance to the Christian community, there's news out of the entertainment world relative to the LGBT agenda and the practice of the Christian faith.  Also, the Alabama Supreme Court has issued a ruling stating that an unborn child is a human being.  Plus, an eleventh-hour ruling out of Texas preserved the freedom of conscience for health professionals who do not wish to perform gender transition surgery.

3 - LGBT agenda alert: Burrell booted for comments on Biblical view of homosexuality; Gaines speaks out on controversy

Gospel singer Kim Burrell was scheduled to make an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show this past Thursday to perform a duet with Pharrell Williams on a song from the movie, Hidden Figures. That appearance was cancelled.  Why?

Well, according to CBN News, a video surfaced of Burrell speaking at the Love & Liberty Fellowship Church.  She said in her message that, "The perverted homosexual spirit, and the spirit of delusion and confusion, it has deceived many men and women."

On Facebook Live after the video was released, Burrell "referred to unspecified "enemies" for spreading only a portion of her speech." She is quoted as saying that she has never discriminated against gays and lesbians. She said, "I love you and God loves you...But God hates the sin."

Meanwhile the views of the church attended by Fixer Upper television stars Chip and Joanna Gaines were trotted out in a BuzzFeed article over a month ago.  According to Faithwire, in a blog post, Chip was more direct about the controversy than he had been in some previous tweets.  The article states that:
Chip wrote that he and his wife wouldn’t be baited, encouraged people to extend love to their ideological opponents and implored readers to reject the “lie” that disagreement is “the same thing as hate.”
He wrote, "This past year has been tough. In my lifetime, I can’t recall humanity being more divided,” adding, "Plenty of folks are sad and scared and angry and there are sound bites being fed to us that seem fueled by judgement, fear and even hatred.”

  2 - In a ruling AL Supreme Court justices uphold humanity of unborn children 

In a case before the Alabama Supreme Court called, Stinnett v. Kennedy, the high court, in a unanimous decision, said that the case can proceed, stating that unborn children are human beings and are entitled to legal protection, according to a press release found on the Liberty Counsel website. The case is a wrongful death lawsuit, and the Supreme Court found that a lower court made an error by "dismissing Alabama resident Kimberly Stinett’s claim alleging the wrongful death of her unborn baby and granting summary judgement in favor of Karla Kennedy, M.D., on lack-of-proof-causation grounds."

The Liberty Counsel release said that the high court "largely based its decision on an amendment in Alabama’s Homicide Act, which “changed the definition of a ‘person’ who could be a victim of homicide to include ‘an unborn child in utero at any stage of development, regardless of viability.”

In a concurring opinion, Associate Justice Tom Parker wrote, "Unborn children, whether they have reached the ability to survive outside their mother’s womb or not, are human beings and thus persons entitled to the protections of the law—both civil and criminal. Members of the judicial branch of Alabama should do all within their power to dutifully ensure that the laws of Alabama are applied equally to protect the most vulnerable members of our society, both born and unborn."

1 - Court halts government mandate for health care professionals to perform transgender surgeries 

A new government mandate was scheduled to go into effect on January 1st, but the intervention of a Texas court prevented the 362-page regulation from beginning.  The Daily Signal reports that:
The court ruling came after eight states, an association of almost 18,000 doctors, and a Catholic hospital system challenged a new federal regulation that requires doctors to perform gender transition procedures on children, even if the doctor believes the treatment could harm the child.
A website has been set up about the court case,, and provides some research on the issue.  Some of that research indicates, according to the story that "up to 94 percent of children with gender dysphoria will grow out of their dysphoria naturally and live healthy lives without the need for surgery or lifelong hormone regimens."

The Daily Signal story also pointed out that:
The government itself does not require its own military doctors to perform these procedures. It also does not require coverage of gender transition procedures in Medicare or Medicaid—even for adults—because the government medical experts that oversee those programs did not believe medical research demonstrates that gender reassignment surgery improves health outcomes, with some studies demonstrating that these procedures were in fact harmful.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

The 3 - January 1, 2017

In this week's edition of The 3, some details on faith leaders who will be part of the Inauguration of Donald Trump as President.  Also, there is concern over the U.N. resolution condemning construction of housing in the West Bank region of Jerusalem.  Plus, there continues to be hope for Christians in the Nineveh Plains region of Iraq - troops in Mosul killed almost 100 ISIS fighters on Christmas Day.

3 - Faith leaders to speak, pray at inauguration announced

The lineup of faith leaders who will be part of the Inauguration Ceremony for President-elect Donald Trump has been set, and Christian Headlines listed the six people who will "pray and give readings during Trump’s inauguration," according to Relevant Magazine.  They are "Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Rabbi Marvin Hier, Bishop Wayne T. Jackson, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, Rev. Franklin Graham, and Pastor Paula White."  The story states that:
They each represent a different religious group. Dolan is a Catholic, Hier a Jewish rabbi, Jackson a spokesman for African-American Christians, Rodriguez the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Graham a well known Christian evangelist and head of humanitarian organization Samaritan’s Purse, and White a televangelist who has prayed over Trump a number of times during his campaign.
The article relates that Committee Chairman Tom Barrack said in a statement, according to “Since the first inaugural ceremony, our leaders have paid tribute to the blessings of liberty that have been bestowed upon our country and its people,” “I am pleased to announce that a diverse set of faith leaders will offer readings and prayers at the swearing-in of President-elect Trump and honor the vital role religious faith plays in our multicultural, vibrant nation.”

The Christian Headlines story notes that, "A few of these individuals, particularly White and Graham, were instrumental in carrying Trump to victory on Election Day."  Graham noted on Facebook this past week:
It is a privilege to be asked to take part in the inauguration of the next President of the United States. I am very thankful that prayer and reading from God's Holy Word will be a part of this important ceremony as the world watches. We need God's blessing and favor on this nation and our new president, Donald J. Trump. I'm praying for that--will you?
2 - Christian leaders voice concern over U.N. Israel resolution

Recently, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution that condemned Israel for constructing housing for its people in the region known as the West Bank.   Even though the resolution passed overwhelmingly, the United States abstained in the vote, rather than vote against the resolution.

According to
The resolution says Israel’s settlements (Jewish communities in biblical Judea and Samaria, including eastern Jerusalem) aka the West Bank, which they consider Palestinian territory, have “no legal validity” and demands a halt to “all Israeli settlement activity.”
The resolution says Israel's settlements on Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, have "no legal validity." It demands a halt to "all Israeli settlement activities," saying this "is essential for salvaging the two-state solution."
“The Obama administration not only failed to protect Israel against this gang-up at the UN, it colluded with it behind the scenes,” Netanyahu said.
Not unexpectedly, you have Christian leaders, who believe that standing with Israel is important, who have weighed in on the vote.  Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines tweeted out: "I strongly disagree with President Obama & John Kerry in the way they've come against America's ally - Israel."  And, former SBC President Bryant Wright sent out a tweet, which said: "Obama-Kerry to Israel,"Don't worry-Be happy-we know what's best for you" The naivette of elite progressives to evil & anti-semitism is sick."  Wright also tweeted out a link to a Washington Post op-ed piece by Charles Krauthammer, with the headline, Obama's final, most shameful, legacy moment.

Gary Bauer of American Values, wrote on Facebook:
In an administration that has moved from one low to the next when it comes to foreign policy and our role in the world, Obama set a new low last weekend as Jews and Christians were preparing to celebrate their most holy days. If you are confused about how damaging last week's U.N. Security Council vote is, all you need to know is that decent people on the left and right are condemning it, while Hamas and Islamic Jihad are dancing in the streets.
In condemning the action, recent guest on The Meeting House on Faith Radio, Laurie Cardoza-Moore, President of Proclaiming Justice to the Nations and United Nations Special Envoy for the World Council of Independent Christian Churches, said, in part, in a press release:
But once again, the member states of the UN Security Council have proven their blind hatred of Jews and Israel and the double standard applied to Israel is unquestionable. To deny the Jews legal, archeological, historical and biblical rights to their entire ancient homeland is despicable.
CNN reports that:
Republicans are looking to bring up a non-binding House resolution condemning a recent United Nations security council vote that has caused intense blowback from Israel. That resolution pronounced Israeli settlements in the West Bank "had no legal validity, constituting a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the vision of two States living side-by-side in peace and security."
Congressional Republicans denounced the vote and the US move to abstain and are threatening additional action targeting the UN, such as suspending funding.
Some top Democrats on Capitol Hill have also criticized the Obama administration's handling of the matter and the resolution is likely to pass with significant bipartisan support.
1 - Battle for Mosul continues: almost 100 ISIS fighters killed on Christmas

For some months now, a group of forces, including an estimated "90,000 Iraqi, Kurdish Peshmerga, tribal militia and coalition forces have banded together in the battle to retake Mosul," according to a report on The Blaze, which said that 97 Islamic State militants were killed on Christmas Day by coalition troops, as reported by Iraq's Joint Military Command.

WORLD Magazine had reported back in October:
Ground operations to retake the city and Nineveh Plains commenced Oct. 16. As darkness spread over the vast plains—a 1,600-square-mile expanse that forms the historic Christian heartland of Iraq—coalition airstrikes combined with heavy shelling to soften ISIS (or Islamic State) targets. By daybreak Kurdish forces had advanced more than 6 miles along the 600-mile front line they had staked against ISIS since August 2014.
That WORLD story added, "For the approximately 200,000 Iraqi Christians driven from this area that summer, the prospect of returning home is real again."

A story on the British website, The Telegraph, opened by saying "Mosul’s Christians are celebrating their third Christmas in exile, but this year there is new hope that the beleaguered community will soon be able to return home for the first time in two and a half years." The article reported that on Christmas Eve, "displaced Christians" were scheduled to "hold a torch-lit procession through Erbil, the capital of the nearby Kurdistan Region," and Christmas morning, a mass was scheduled at the Mar Youhanna church in Qaraqosh, a city that had been liberated toward the beginning of the offensive to retake Mosul.