Monday, July 22, 2024

The 3 - July 21, 2024

This week's edition of The 3, featuring three stories of relevance to the Christian community, includes information on a major fire at a large Dallas church, which destroyed the church's former main sanctuary. Also, another major manufacturer has decided to back off offensive, progressive policies. Plus, California's governor has signed a bill into law forcing school districts to keep information about students' gender and sexuality secret from parents. 

Historic sanctuary at Dallas church destroyed by fire

The evening rush hour in Dallas this Friday was marred by a massive fire that occurred in the "historic sanctuary" at First Baptist Church of Dallas, which is pastored by Faith Radio programmer Robert Jeffress, heard on Pathway to Victory weekdays at 12:30pm.

An article at The Christian Post website noted:

"We continue to praise God for His hand of protection on our church," First Baptist Dallas stated in a Facebook post Friday night.

"We are grateful that no one was injured today and are thankful for the first responders who helped contain the fire to our Historic Sanctuary. They continue working but the primary fire has been extinguished. One way or another, we intend to meet for church this Sunday."

Pastor Jeffress announced on X that the church would meet on Sunday at the Dallas Convention Center in one service.  Fox 4 television reported that Jeffress announced that the sanctuary would be rebuilt.  The station's website quoted that pastor as saying, "We're going to recreate it as a standing symbol of the truth. The unchangableness, the endurance of the word of God. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God shall stand forever..."

He went on to say, "We can not allow Satan to have the last word...If we allow that thing to remain in ruins, it will look to the whole world like we have been defeated by the evil one, so we are going to rebuild, we're going to recreate."

The Christian Post article stated, "According to Dallas Fire-Rescue, the church's secondary chapel was impacted by the fire and suffered a partial collapse...," adding, "The red brick building, known as the church's old sanctuary, was built in 1890. It was the church's home for a long time before it moved to its new worship center about 12 years ago."

The article also said:

In an interview with Fox 4, Jeffress said that the sanctuary was the site of many personal events, including his baptism when he was 6 and ordination for the ministry at 21. The church had just concluded vacation Bible school with over 2,000 kids at the sanctuary.

"It holds a lot of memories," Jeffress said. "We thank God nobody was hurt. … I'm grateful that the church is not brick and mortar, its [sic] people. The people of God will endure. First Baptist Dallas will endure. We thank so many of our friends around the country who are praying for us right now."

Oh, Deere!  Lawn manufacturing company backs off on "woke" support

Another major manufacturing company has announced its intent to reverse policies that are associated with identity politics and favoritism.  WORLD Magazine reports that:

John Deere will no longer support parades or other events focused on what it characterized as social or cultural awareness, a likely reference to gay pride parades. Instead, business resources will be focused exclusively on professional development, recruitment, and retention, the company said. Company training materials will also be audited to ensure they include no social messaging, the statement added. John Deere’s announcement came weeks after farming competitor Tractor Supply made a similar announcement.

The company had announced its commitment to DEI: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, in a report in 2022, according to the article.

As The Tennessee Star reported two weeks ago:

Robby Starbuck shared an update into his work exposing John Deere, the American manufacturing company of agricultural machinery and other heavy equipment, for its woke policies, saying how “hundreds” of upset employees have come forward about the drastic changes under the company’s new leadership.

In a radio interview with Michael Patrick Leahy cited in the article, Starbuck, a Christian commentator and filmmaker, said the company had become a "trojan horse for leftism." 

The article also notes, "Starbuck, who recently exposed Tractor Supply Company for its woke policies that forced that company to reverse course amid backlash from consumers, said he’s had corporate sources at John Deere tell him that the company allows transgender individuals to use opposite sex bathrooms."

New California law mandates that schools keep sexual information about students secret from parents

School district after school district in California had passed policies that would force school administrators and teachers to inform parents about information relative to matters of so-called "gender identity" that they had received about students.  Now, a new statewide law will void those local policies.

It's called AB1955, and according to the California Policy Center...
... AB 1955 was pushed through the legislature as a “gut and amend” bill — outside of the normal legislative calendar — to invalidate the popular parental notification policies enacted by local school boards across the state. The policies require school administrators to inform parents if their child changes their name or gender on official school records.
The Center's website goes on to say that the bill, recently signed by Governor Gavin Newsom, "...instructs school officials to lie to parents if their child changes their gender, name or pronouns at school. The governor’s action is a betrayal of the thousands of California parents and parent advocates who have spoken out against AB 1955 during the rushed committee hearings over the last several weeks." The article quotes from Vice President of Education Policy and Government Affairs at California Policy Center, Lance Christensen, who said “Public schools are meant to support – not subvert – parents in their efforts to educate their children.”  The Center's site also says:
Christensen warned that Newsom’s new “lie to parents” law violates federal law that guarantees parents’ right to access their children’s school records. He also advised districts against creating two sets of files for a student to keep parents in the dark.

Monday, July 15, 2024

The 3 - July 14, 2024

This week's edition of The 3, featuring three stories of relevance to the Christian community, highlights another court decision regarding the redefinition of Title IX language to include sexual orientation and gender identity.  Also, the library board in a key location regarding attempts to relocate objectionable books out of the children's section has established new policies. And, pro-lifers have been likened to terrorists in a military training presentation.

Title IX revisions continue to draw court action

Last Thursday, a federal district court ruled, according to the Alliance Defending Freedom's website "to immediately halt the Biden administration’s illegal rewrite of Title IX while the lawsuit, Carroll Independent School District v. United States Department of Education, moves forward."

The website notes: 
On April 19, the administration announced it would redefine “sex” in Title IX rules to include “gender identity,” requiring schools to ignore the biological distinction between male and female in favor of “an individual’s sense of their [sic] gender.”
The Carroll district approved a resolution against the change, and it filed a federal lawsuit. ADF Legal Counsel Mathew Hoffmann, stated: “The Biden administration’s radical redefinition of ‘sex’ in Title IX upends our education system and ignores biological reality, science, and common sense. This dangerous and unnecessary rule change will have devastating consequences for students, teachers, administrators, and families. This court has joined other courts around the country in questioning the legality of the Biden administration’s attempt to undo the privacy, safety, and equal opportunities Title IX provides.”

ADF, as it notes, has already successful acquired four injunctions against the new rule and has already filed five lawsuits.

Alabama library sets new policy on protecting children from inappropriate books

In locations across the state of Alabama, local libraries are attempting to respond to parents' concerns about inappropriate material that is being made available to young children, including material of sexual nature.

1819 News reports that after new members of the Prattville-Autauga Library Board of Trustees were in place, that governing body "passed a series of policy changes related to the procurement and display of books that contain 'obscenity, sexual conduct, sexual intercourse, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender discordance.' It also mandated age-specific library cards to ensure minors could not check out specific material."  This resulted in a federal lawsuit being filed against the board

The 1819 News article notes that recently...
...the board amended its rules, mostly conforming with the recently passed regulations from the Alabama Public Library System (APLS), which is required for libraries to continue receiving state funding. The APLS rules give specific guidelines of definitions for libraries to use when reviewing, relocating or removing books deemed "obscene" or "sexually explicit."
The code change requires libraries to develop policies to determine the materials appropriate for the collection or risk losing their public funding. They must have a policy in place for placing displays that highlight materials targeted at children. Libraries also must have guidelines to ensure that the children’s section does not have obscene or sexually explicit materials and that those materials cannot be purchased for patrons less than 18 years old.

Groups such as Read Freely Alabama and the Alabama Library Association have opposed the board’s resolution and the administrative code changes adopted by APLS, believing they violate free speech rights and discriminate against LGBTQ+ groups.
PEN America has been one of the leading national organizations that have been attempting to label parents who desire to protect the young hearts and minds of their children as "book-banners," even though the Prattville parents have stated their intent to relocate objectionable books, not remove them. The Freedom to Read program director for PEN America, Kasey Meehan, says, "The library is for everyone, but this policy appears to pave the way for a more narrow public sphere in which LGBTQ+ viewpoints are left out.”  Since LGBTQ+ is a label centered around sexuality - and from a Biblical viewpoint, deviant behavior, it is very easy to see why these so called "viewpoints" should not be included. 

Pro-lifers = terrorists according to U.S. Army presentation

According to The Federalist, a slide from a presentation at Fort Liberty (formerly Fort Bragg) refers to certain pro-life organizations as domestic terrorists, and dozens of members of Congress are wanting answers.

The article at the Federalist website notes that "the probe seeks to uncover information about an anti-terrorism briefing slide recently used by Fort Liberty (formerly known as Fort Bragg) that classified pro-life groups such as National Right to Life and Operation Rescue as threats to the American homeland."

A letter sent to Army Secretary Christine Wormuth reportedly stated, “The American public expects the Department of Defense and its personnel to defend the homeland from actual terrorists, not Americans who seek protections for children in the womb..."  The lawmakers who signed on to the letter...
...demanded Wormuth provide more details on the aforementioned slides and individuals responsible for vetting such materials. They additionally requested the Army secretary explain what specific actions the branch is taking “to investigate the distribution of training materials depicting Pro-Life Americans as terrorists” and what “statutes or Army regulations were potentially violated and what action is the Army taking with regard to any offending employee.”

The article also reports that...

Fort Liberty’s public affairs office confirmed the slide’s authenticity to The Federalist on Thursday, claiming they were “not vetted by the appropriate approval authorities” and “will no longer be used” in future trainings. The office did not, however, respond to The Federalist’s follow-up inquiry on whether the “local garrison employee” responsible for creating the slides has been or will be punished or fired for their conduct.

Sunday, July 07, 2024

The 3 - July 7, 2024

This week's edition of The 3, with three stories of relevance to the Christian community, includes news from the U.S. Supreme Court, which issued a ruling late in its term that overturned lower court action regarding government pressure on tech companies. Also, the Court has agreed to hear a case involving dangerous gender-altering surgeries and treatments for minors.  Plus, a religious charter school effort has been halted by the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

U.S. Supreme Court allows government pressure on tech companies

For years, it has been a concern among Christians that social media companies are censoring information because it is not consistent with the messages that the platforms want to promote. There have been allegations that government actor shave been pressuring platforms to censor certain types of content. 

The Washington Stand reported on a recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, which...

...ruled that two states and five social media users did not have legal standing to sue multiple federal government agencies for flagging messages and whole accounts for suppression or deletion for spreading alleged “misinformation” about the novel coronavirus or questioning recent elections. Chief Justice John Roberts and Amy Coney Barrett joined the court’s liberal bloc in the 6-3 opinion in Missouri v. Murthy, which remands the case to lower courts for further action.

The article goes on to say:

The federal government engaged in “a far-reaching and widespread censorship campaign,” according to the original U.S. District Court’s ruling, focused primarily on Twitter (now X) and Facebook (now known as Meta Platforms).

But, the high court did not deal with, as the Daily Signal put it, "the question of whether the government may pressure social media companies to suppress speech in a way that would be illegal for the government to do itself." That article continues:

“We begin—and end—with standing,” Justice Amy Coney Barrett wrote in the majority opinion for Murthy v. Missouri. “At this stage, neither the individual nor the state plaintiffs have established standing to seek an injunction against any defendant. We therefore lack jurisdiction to reach the merits of the dispute.”
But, the attorney general of Missouri, Andrew Bailey, stresses there is more to be done regarding this case; the Daily Signal article quotes him:
“My office filed suit against dozens of officials in the federal government to stop the biggest violation of the First Amendment in our nation’s history. The record is clear: the deep state pressured and coerced social media companies to take down truthful speech simply because it was conservative. Today’s ruling does not dispute that..."

High court to take up "gender-change" surgeries and treatments

Harmful procedures that are intended to help young people change their "gender" have been increasingly exposed, and there have been court cases involving the issue, and according to The Daily Citizen...

...the Supreme Court announced it will take up an important case next term. The court will decide whether it is constitutional for states to protect children from harmful and damaging transgender medical interventions – like puberty blockers, opposite-sex hormones and surgeries.

The article goes on to say:

The case stems from Tennessee’s Help Not Harm law (SB 1) which restricts physicians from providing puberty blockers, opposite-sex hormones and surgeries to minors. The law is entitled the Prohibition on Medical Procedures Performed on Minors Related to Sexual Identity Act.

The legislation became effective last July, and a lawsuit challenging the Tennessee law and a law in Kentucky was filed, with the U.S. Department of Justice joining the plaintiffs.  A federal district judge put the law on hold, but that judge was overruled by a three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit, which later issued a ruling that the law was, in fact, constitutional.

The DOJ asked the Supreme Court to consider the case. Zachary Mettler, who wrote the Daily Citizen article, writes:
It’s likely that part of the reason the Supreme Court agreed to take up the case is because three federal courts have ruled in various ways on the Equal Protection question, thus creating a “circuit split” among the nation’s federal appellate courts.

While the Sixth and Eleventh Circuits have ruled that “transgender status” is not a protected classification under the U.S. Constitution, the Eighth Circuit held that it is.

First-ever religious charter school in U.S. cannot be established, according to OK high court

A proposal by a religious group to begin a charter school in Oklahoma has been halted by a ruling of the state's Supreme Court. The Christian Post reported that:

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has ruled against publicly funding the first-ever religious charter school in the United States, concluding that the measure would be unconstitutional.

The state’s highest court ruled 7-1 Tuesday in the case of Drummond v. Oklahoma Statewide Virtual Charter School Board that it was unlawful to publicly fund St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual School.

“The framers' intent is clear: the state is prohibited from using public money for the ‘use, benefit or support of a sect or system of religion,’” stated the high court opinion. “The St. Isidore Contract violates the plain terms of Article 2, Section 5 of the Oklahoma Constitution.”
The article says that "Attorney General Gentner Drummond, who brought the case against the board over approving the creation of the religious charter school, called the state Supreme Court decision 'a tremendous victory for religious liberty.'” However, Governor Kevin Stitt was disappointed in the ruling, stating, “I’m concerned we’ve sent a troubling message that religious groups are second-class participants in our education system..." He said he was "hopeful the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the case and grant St. Isidore the right to establish their school."

The lone justice who voted against the decision, Dana Kuehn, warned "Excluding private entities from contracting for functions, based solely on religious affiliation, would violate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution."

Sunday, June 30, 2024

The 3 - June 30, 2024

This week's edition of The 3, featuring three stories of interest to the Christian community, features a dismissal from the U.S. Supreme Court regarding emergency room doctors' ability to perform abortions under federal law and the state's pro-life law.  Also, a federal judge has blocked a federal agency from forcing companies to grant time off to employees wishing to have abortions.  Plus, public school students in Oklahoma will have the ability to go off-campus for religious instruction.

U.S. Supreme Court rules in Idaho case involving emergency rooms and abortion

For the second consecutive time, the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to get involved in a case about abortion.  In this case, the Court sent a challenge related to federal law on emergency room procedures and Idaho's strong pro-life law down to a lower court.  The good news: the case is far from over.  The bad news: emergency room physicians will be able to perform abortions in the state - at least for now. 

Liberty Counsel, on its website, stated...

...the U.S. Supreme Court decided to dismiss two consolidated cases in Moyle v. United States and Idaho v. United States and send them back to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals which has not yet had a chance to hear arguments or decide on the merits of the dispute. In the absence of a Ninth Circuit decision, the High Court dismissed the cases as “improvidently granted,” or mistakenly granted. The decision, issued without a vote, leaves a preliminary injunction in place that allows emergency abortions in Idaho despite the state’s near-total abortion ban.

The Alliance Defending Freedom website related a quote from Idaho's Attorney General, Raul Labrador, who stated, in part:

“The Supreme Court sent the case back to the 9th Circuit today after my office won significant concessions from the United States that Justice Barrett described as ‘important’ and ‘critical.’ Today, the court said that Idaho will be able to enforce its law to save lives in the vast majority of circumstances while the case proceeds. The Biden administration’s concession that EMTALA will rarely override Idaho’s law caused the Supreme Court to ask the 9th Circuit for review in light of the federal government’s change in position..."
EMTALA is an acronym for a federal law called the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act. John Bursch, Senior Counsel and Vice President of Appellate Advocacy for ADF stated, "As Justice Barrett noted in her opinion, ‘even with the preliminary injunction in place, Idaho’s ability to enforce its law remains almost entirely intact.’ The Biden administration can’t manipulate federal law to wipe out state protections for unborn children and force emergency room doctors to perform abortions. Under Idaho’s law, doctors will continue to provide care to women experiencing ectopic pregnancies, miscarriages, and life-threatening conditions."

Positive ruling regarding forced insurance coverage of abortion

A new rule was scheduled to be implemented by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently that would have forced employers to provide "accommodations" for employees wishing to have abortions.

That's according to LifeNews.com, which stated in an article published on June 21:

The rule was scheduled to take effect on Tuesday and would have dictated that abortions be included under the definition of “pregnancy, childbirth or related medical considerations,” thereby requiring that employers with at least 15 employees provide time off to their workers for abortions and related recovery.

Federal Judge David Joseph, according to the article...

...found that the EEOC exceeded its statutory authority in its implementation of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, usurping congressional authority in the process, according to court filings. As a result of this finding, he ordered the agency to pause the implementation of its abortion rule in Louisiana and Mississippi while its legality is litigated in the courts.

As The Christian Post had reported, the case involving the two states was combined with a lawsuit involving several Catholic organizations.  

OK okays release time for public school students for off-site religious instruction

There is now another state that has a requirement for public school districts to offer students what is called "release time," which provides off-campus religious instruction opportunties for students. 

The Religion Unplugged website notes:

Oklahoma is the most recent state to allow school boards to implement “release time”: off-site classes with religious or moral instruction that K-12 students can attend for part of school days with parental consent. Gov. Kevin Stitt signed House Bill 1425 into law, which authorized the program...

The article notes:

Oklahoma’s law requires school boards to adopt policies permitting students to attend release-time classes for up to three class periods per week. Sessions must be taught at independent entities not on school property. Instructors need not be certificated educators but must keep attendance records, and students are responsible for making up classwork they miss.

The article reported that Oklahoma's new law brings the total to 12 states who require that "release time" be offered.  Religion Unplugged stated that...

...in Zorach v. Clauson, the Supreme Court reviewed the constitutionality of a different type of release time program from New York City. This program allowed officials to release students from their public schools to attend off-site religion classes.

This time, the justices affirmed that public school officials could accommodate the religious wishes of parents by releasing their children for off-site instruction.

Sunday, June 23, 2024

The 3 - June 23, 2024

This week's edition of The 3, featuring three stories of relevance to the Christian community, features a new law signed by the governor in Louisiana which mandates that the Ten Commandments be displayed in public schools in the state.  Also, Colorado cake baker Jack Phillips was back in court defending his rights to decline to provide a cake that would violate his religious beliefs.  And, California lawmakers are determined to force teachers to hide secrets about students' sexuality from their parents. 

New Louisiana law mandates display of the Ten Commandments in public schools

The state of Louisiana has become the first in the nation to pass a law that requires public schools in the state to post the Ten Commandments, according to The Christian Post, which reported, "House Bill 71...mandates that each public school classroom display a poster-sized copy of the Ten Commandments by next January." The article says that Governor Jeff Landry, "during a signing ceremony Wednesday," which was streamed on the X platform, said, "If you want to respect the rule of law you've got to start from the original law given, which was Moses..."

There are specific requirements for the displays, including a "four-paragraph 'context statement' telling readers that 'The Ten Commandments were a prominent part of American public education for almost three centuries.'"

The Christian Post article noted:

Supporters of the law maintain that its purpose is to highlight the document’s historical significance, as the legislation describes the Ten Commandments as one of the "foundational documents of our state and national government."

The bill also allows schools to display other historical documents, such as the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence and the Northwest Ordinance.
The article also referred to attorney Matt Krause of First Liberty, who "said the new law recognizes 'the history and tradition of the Ten Commandments in the state.'"

Colorado cake baker Phillips back in court

The owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado, Jack Phillips, who had received a positive ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court, was back in court recently.  This time, as CBN News reported, he was defending himself against an attorney named Autumn Scardina, who had "...called Phillips' suburban Denver cake shop requesting a birthday cake that had blue frosting on the outside and was pink inside to celebrate a gender transition."

The article said:

Since 2012, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop has been targeted nonstop and has continually found himself in court defending his religious beliefs.

In 2018, Phillips won a partial victory at the Supreme Court after refusing to make a cake for a gay wedding because of his religious beliefs.

But Scardina called his bakeshop asking for the gender transition cake and another custom cake, one depicting Satan smoking marijuana, to "correct the errors of [Phillips'] thinking."
The Colorado Court of Appeals had sided with Scardina, but Alliance Defending Freedom, representing Phillips, "...is asking the Colorado Supreme Court to reconsider the case after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Colorado graphic artist Lorie Smith last year when she declined to design wedding websites for same-sex couples because it violated her religious beliefs."

The CBN story goes on to report:
The ADF claims activists and Colorado officials have misused the same state law that was at issue in 303 Creative to punish Phillips for more than a decade.

"Free speech is for everyone. As the U.S. Supreme Court held in 303 Creative, the government cannot force artists to express messages they don't believe," said ADF Senior Counsel Jake Warner. "In this case, an attorney demanded that Jack create a custom cake that would celebrate and symbolize a transition from male to female. Because that cake admittedly expresses a message, and because Jack cannot express that message for anyone, the government cannot punish Jack for declining to express it."

California law that would force teachers to keep secrets from parents passed state Senate

Even though several school districts in California have implemented policies that would mandate that teachers notify parents with information about their students' sexuality, the state Legislature is intent on overriding these policies through a sweeping state law.  According to the website for the organization, Real Impact:

AB 1955 is a serious and direct attack on parental rights in California. AB 1955 will prohibit ALL school employees or contracted individuals from being required to notify parents of any information regarding their child’s gender identity or sexual orientation. The bill also declares any parental notification policy that a school board has passed to be invalid. The California legislature is trying to intimidate school boards like Chino Valley Unified, who passed a notification policy that strengthens parental rights.

The bill has passed the state Senate, and Capitol Resource Institute reports that the bill will be heard this week in the Education Committee in the other chamber of the Legislature, the State Assembly. 

California Family Council said on its website that "The passage of this secrecy bill...marks a significant shift in the relationship between parents, children, and schools, sparking outrage among many who believe it undermines parental rights and jeopardizes children’s well-being." At a press conference the Council held prior to the Senate vote, Assemblyman Jim Patterson "...argued that the bill would create a 'government-imposed wall' that shuts children off from the love and care their parents can provide, particularly when they need it most."

Sunday, June 16, 2024

The 3 - June 16, 2024

This week's edition of The 3, with three stories of relevance to the Christian community, features a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the FDA's expansion of availability of the so-called "abortion pill," ruling unanimously that the doctors bringing a lawsuit against the FDA did not possess "standing" to bring the case. Also, a federal appeals court has found fault with the administration's attempt to revise Title IX protections to include "sexual orientation" and "gender identity."  Plus, the Southern Baptist Convention gathered in Indiana to elect new leadership and to consider policies and resolutions, including a proposed amendment that would provide clarity on women serving in pastoral positions.

Supreme Court rules against doctors challenging FDA approval of increased availability of abortion pill

Following the approval of FDA of mifepristone, which is one of the pills in a two-pill regimen that is used for an abortion, the federal agency has broadened its availability. The U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in a challenge to the FDA's allowing the pill to be obtained on a more widespread basis. According to CBN News:

The Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, a group of pro-life medical doctors, represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, asked the high court to force the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to restore regulations that require in-person visits with medical providers to receive the drug.

The FDA had lifted the in-person requirement, making the pills available by mail.
The article notes that, "all nine justices denied the request because they said the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine lacked 'standing,' which is a legal term meaning the group didn't have the right to bring the case before the court as they were not directly impacted by the FDA's decision."

ADF attorney Erin Hawley was quoted in the CBN article:
"They did not address the merits," she said, adding the FDA's own documents show that roughly one in 25 women will end up in the emergency room because of relaxed regulations.

Hawley said while the outcome of this particular case is disappointing to pro-life advocates, it's more of a setback than a defeat.

She added that the ruling leaves the door open for future challenges, particularly from states like Missouri, Idaho, and Kansas.

Federal appeals court prevents males from competing in women's sports

The controversy over males participating in female sports, as well as the attempt by the federal government to use the Title IX civil rights law offering opportunities for female athletes to also include "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" went to a federal appeals court, which issued a ruling late last week.

The website for Alliance Defending Freedom noted:

In a victory for female athletes, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ruled Friday to uphold a lower court order that blocks, in 20 states, Biden administration guidance documents that illegitimately reinterpret federal law to allow, among other things, males to compete in women’s sports. Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys represent Arkansas female athlete Amelia Ford and the Association of Christian Schools International.
ADF Senior Counsel Matt Bowman, said, “Once again, the administration has overstepped on Title IX and tried to usurp congressional authority. This is a significant victory for Amelia and the Christian schools we represent. Biology, not gender identity, matters in athletics.”

The piece on the ADF website stated, "The 6th Circuit’s ruling only deals with the administration’s Title IX guidance documents, and not its recently released final rule. ADF attorneys are currently litigating several cases challenging the final rule and have already secured a federal court’s preliminary injunction halting the administration’s illegal attempt to rewrite Title IX."

A court ruling on Title IX was also issued by a federal district court judge in Texas recently.  An article appearing at Worthy News from The Center Square, stated:
Judge Reed O’Connor, presiding over the U.S. District Court Northern District of Texas Fort Worth Division, said the issue he was asked to rule on was “whether the federal government may lawfully impose conditions on a state’s educational institutions by purporting to interpret Title IX of the 1972 Educational Amendments as prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”

“The court concludes that Defendants cannot regulate state educational institutions in this way without violating federal law,” he wrote in his 112-page ruling. He also said the DOE and DOJ “engaged in unlawful agency action taken in excess of their authority, all while failing to adhere to the appropriate notice and comments requirements when doing so.”

Southern Baptists fail to reach threshold for amendment dealing with female pastors, elect new president

The annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention occurred last week in Indianapolis, and by the end of the convention, there was new leadership at the top of the convention hierarchy.  Not only is there a new President of the Executive Committee, which operates the convention when the annual meeting is not in session - his name is Jeff Iorg, formerly the President of Gateway Seminary in San Francisco.   But, there is also a new President of the Convention: Clint Pressley, Senior Pastor of Hickory Grove Baptist Church near Charlotte, who won on the third ballot over five other original candidates, according to The Baptist Paper.

In another article that appeared at The Baptist Paper, written by Todd Gray and originally appearing at the Kentucky Today website gave an explanation about the outcome of a much-watched vote on the qualifications of a pastor, according to the Baptist Faith and Message.  Gray writes:

The messengers did not reach the required two-thirds majority needed to pass the Law Amendment. The amendment would have added a statement to the SBC Constitution that defined a cooperating church as one that “affirms, appoints, or employs only men as any kind of pastor or elder as qualified by Scripture.” The amendment received 61% of the votes taken — a large majority, but a few points short of the two-thirds vote that what was needed. Denny Burk, a Kentucky Baptist pastor and professor at Southern Baptist Seminary stated in response to a social media post, “The SBC still retains the right to remove any church it deems necessary to remove.” The fact that the amendment failed should in no way be interpreted that Southern Baptists affirm women serving in the role of pastor.
He had pointed out that "...the messengers voted overwhelmingly that an historic Baptist church in Alexandria, Virginia that does affirm women pastors is no longer in friendly cooperation with the SBC as it is not closely aligned with our doctrinal statement, The Baptist Faith & Message."

Also at the convention, those gathered, sent by local churches and known as "messengers," voted on a resolution on in vitro fertilization. Under a misleading headline, a New York Times story noted:
The resolution proposed on Wednesday called on Southern Baptists “to reaffirm the unconditional value and right to life of every human being, including those in an embryonic stage, and to only utilize reproductive technologies consistent with that affirmation, especially in the number of embryos generated in the I.V.F. process.”

It also exhorted them to “advocate for the government to restrain” actions inconsistent with the dignity of “every human being, which necessarily includes frozen embryonic human beings.”

The message of the resolution seemed to be consistent with the Alabama Supreme Court's determination that an embryo produced in IVF is a living human being and voiced concern about embryos - human lives - that are discarded by IVF clinics. 

Sunday, June 09, 2024

The 3 - June 9, 2024

This week's edition of The 3, with three stories of relevance to the Christian community, includes a groundbreaking declaration from medical professionals encouraging colleagues to refrain from supporting gender-change treatments and surgeries.  Also, a California lifeguard is fighting back after being suspended from his job for not flying LGBT flags at work. Plus, a large United Methodist jurisdiction in Africa representing 1.2 million members has announced it is leaving the denomination.

Medical professionals call out those who support gender-change procedures and treatments

Almost 100 medical professionals have signed on to a declaration that challenges the participation of those in the profession in treatments and surgeries that are intended to help a person change his or her gender.

The Christian Post reported that "... the American College of Pediatricians unveiled the 'Doctors Protecting Children Declaration.'" It went on to say:

The statement was signed by nearly 100 medical professionals, including physicians, nurses, psychotherapists and behavioral health clinicians, as well as “other health professionals, scientists, researchers, and public health and policy professionals.”

The article noted that the Declaration...

...asked “the medical professional organizations of the United States” to “stop the promotion of social affirmation, puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and surgeries for children and adolescents who experience distress over their biological sex.”

“Instead, these organizations should recommend comprehensive evaluations and therapies aimed at identifying and addressing underlying psychological co-morbidities and neurodiversity that often presuppose to and accompany gender dysphoria,” the signatories added.
The Christian Post story said that:

ACP Executive Director Dr. Jill Simons elaborated on her concerns about the U.S. medical establishment's current protocols on how to care for trans-identified minors.

“This declaration was authored by the American College of Pediatricians, but really it was developed from the expertise of hundreds of doctors, researchers and other healthcare workers and leaders who for years have been sounding the alarm on the harmful protocols that continue to be promoted by the medical organizations in the United States,” she said.
Simons said that the "American Academy of Pediatrics, the Endocrine Society, the Pediatric Endocrine Society, the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry are involved in the support of these “harmful protocols.”

At a press conference to announce the declaration, "Dr. Andre Van Mol of The Christian Medical and Dental Associations cited statistics finding that 'the natural course of gender dysphoria is desisted by adulthood, conservatively, in 85% of the cases unless it is affirmed.'”

More information on the Declaration can be found at DoctorsProtectingChildren.org.

California lifeguard suspended from job for not displaying LGBT flag

A lifeguard in California, Jeffrey Little, requested a religious exemption from having to participate in displaying an LGBT Pride flag, but was ultimately denied and suspended from his job last year. According to an article at The Stream
In March 2023, the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors passed a resolution requiring all county-operated facilities to fly the Progress Pride Flag during the month of June, according to the complaint. June is “Pride Month.”

The article states:

Little, who was the captain of the lifeguard unit at Will Rogers State Beach in Pacific Palisades, requested a religious exemption on June 18, and was told a day later that another employee of the fire department could raise the flag at the beach stations in order to accommodate his faith. Meanwhile, Little was moved to Dockweiler Beach in nearby Playa del Rey, which did not have working flag poles at that time. However, just before his shift was set to begin on June 21, a fire department section chief visited Little’s new location, modified the flagpoles, and ordered all the lifeguards to raise the Progress Pride Flag at their stations.

When Little discovered this, he consulted with colleagues and removed the flags. The article says that he was ordered to restore the display.  The Stream story says: "On June 22, Little was suspended from his job and denied paid time off that he had already earned. The fire department also told people who were not authorized to have personnel information that Little had requested a religious accommodation."

So, in late May of this year, Little filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles County Fire Department. The article notes that "Little’s lawsuit seeks damages, a temporary restraining order, and a permanent injunction protecting his religious freedom." FoxNews.com reported recently that, "The fire department granted him a partial accomodation..., assuring him that he will not be held personally responsible for raising or lowering the LGBTQ flag for the remainder of the month, according to the Thomas More Society."  But his attorneys, according to the story, do not believe that is enough.

Over 1 million United Methodists in Africa leave denomination as large jurisdiction departs

Throughout the years, a major group comprising the United Methodist denomination as it has struggled around the issue of Biblical sexuality is the membership of the denomination on the continent in Africa. At numerous General Conferences, representatives of what has been called the "Global South" would show up and support American Methodists in their fidelity to Biblical teaching regarding homosexuality. 

Mark Tooley, President of the Institute on Religion and Democracy wrote on the Juicy Ecumenism website: 

United Methodism’s largest overseas jurisdiction has voted to quit the denomination in response to the church’s divorcing sex from marriage at its governing General Conference earlier this month.

The United Methodist Church in the Ivory Coast voted on May 28 to exit the denomination. In 2022, this conference reportedly had over 1.2 million members. So, its departure means over one tenth of United Methodism has in one day left the denomination.

Tooley attributes a United Methodist News Service's e-mailed news digest.  He cited a video that had been posted on Facebook, and he wrote:

...the decision-making process for the Ivorian Methodists transpired over only a couple weeks after the United Methodist General Conference concluded May 3 in Charlotte, North Carolina. At that General Conference, delegates removed the church’s longtime stance that sex is only for marriage between husband and wife. Adultery and extramarital sex were removed as chargeable offenses for clergy, along with homosexual behavior.

The quickness of the Ivorian exit may inspire other United Methodist regions in Africa to act likewise. United Methodism in Africa is overwhelmingly conservative and displeased with United Methodism’s new direction set by the recent General Conference. African delegates at the General Conference were widely ignored and already underrepresented, thanks to an unfair representation formula. Plus, over 70-90 delegates, at least one quarter, and perhaps one third, failed to get U.S. visas.

Furthermore, as Tooley notes, African churches did not have an agreement providing for a way to leave the denomination, as American churches had for a while.  However, he said that it's not apparent about whether or not the UMC exercises clear ownership of African church buildings. 

Sunday, June 02, 2024

The 3 - June 2, 2024

The latest iteration of The 3, with three stories of relevance to the Christian community, features another flap over a graduation speech, in which a student, after numerous attempts to censor his message, made a bold declaration of faith in Christ and was delayed in receiving his diploma.  Also, a Memorial Day service at a Virginia cemetery was allowed to proceed as planned after being disallowed by a governing body.  And, the World Health Assembly is now history, and while a proposed pandemic agreement was not passed, other harmful directives for member nations were approved.

KY student temporarily prevented from receiving diploma due to Christian content

Micah Price is a recent graduate of Campbell County High School in Alexandria, KY.  He was selected to give a speech in the graduation ceremony, but he had to jump through some hoops before being allowed to give the speech.

CBN News reported on its website:

The grad told a local Fox News affiliate he had submitted a total of eight drafts of his speech before a final one was approved. During his commencement speech, he used parts of his final draft, but when the opportunity presented itself, he decided to speak from the heart.

"Class, before another word leaves my mouth, I must give the honor, the praise, and the glory to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ," Price said to the graduates during the ceremony on May 24 held at Truist Arena at Northern Kentucky University.
He continued by saying: "Who in his very words tells us He is the Light, He is the Way, the Truth, and Life. Class, anyone in the audience today, I'm here to tell you that if you don't have any of those things in your life and can't seem to find the answer, then my Lord and Savior is your answer..." CBN stated that, "Price said he was green-lighted to give praise to God during the speech but was advised to only read from the pre-approved script."

Keep in mind it took eight drafts in order to clear the censors.  The invitation had been included in earlier versions, but had been nixed. 

CBN related:
Superintendent Shelli Wilson told WKRC that all speakers were warned that ad-libbing would have consequences.

"All speakers were told that going off their submitted speech, or any unplanned choices at graduation, may have repercussions as they would at any school function," she explained.

The story said that Price met with school administrators and was "forced to apologize." He did receive his diploma after a delay.

Memorial Day service allowed to proceed after initial refusal

You would think a traditional Memorial Day service at a cemetery would not contain any religious freedom concerns, but the Knights of Columbus in Petersburg, VA had been denied by the National Park Service the ability to hold the service this year and last year. 

First Liberty represented the organization and even filed a federal lawsuit.  Its website states:

Until last year, the Knights had always held a Memorial Day mass within the Poplar Grove National Cemetery, and the mass (or a prayer service when a priest was not available) had been celebrated there every year without incident since at least the 1960s. But last year, for the first time, the NPS denied the Knights a permit to hold the service in the cemetery, citing a new policy that designates “religious services” as prohibited “demonstrations.”
The Thursday before Memorial Day, it was announced that the service would proceed as requested. The lawsuit was dismissed. Roger Byron, Senior Counsel at First Liberty, said: “The Knights are thrilled that they will be able to exercise their religious beliefs and keep this honorable tradition alive. We appreciate the tremendous support of Governor Youngkin and Attorney General Miyares in this case.”

WHO are you?  World leaders consider reducing national sovereignty in unprecedented health power grab

The convocation of unelected, yet influential influencers in the arena of public health has wrapped up in Geneva, Switzerland.  A primary focus of the World Health Assembly was to craft an agreement in which member nations, including the United States, would cede national sovereignty in order to implement measures to respond to a "pandemic."

The World Health Organization's website contains this statement:

...the World Health Assembly, the annual meeting of its 194 member countries, today agreed a package of critical amendments to the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR), and made concrete commitments to completing negotiations on a global pandemic agreement within a year, at the latest.

That gives the growing opposition to such an agreement the necessary time to educate people about the dangers of such an agreement.  So, that is a bit of a positive sign.  Yet, there were a host of other disturbing developments that demonstrate the globalist ambitions of those gathered under the banner of the WHO.  But, the passage of the IHR regulations represents a way to implement global cooperation and governance without having to exceed a high bar necessary for the Pandemic Agreement to pass.

Concerning those IHR regulations, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General is quoted as saying: “The amendments to the International Health Regulations will bolster countries' ability to detect and respond to future outbreaks and pandemics by strengthening their own national capacities, and coordination between fellow States, on disease surveillance, information sharing and response. This is built on commitment to equity, an understanding that health threats do not recognize national borders, and that preparedness is a collective endeavor."

Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, on its website, late last week, noted:

The WHO’s International Negotiating Body is continuing to pressure countries to sign on to the WHO Pandemic Treaty. The treaty requires 2/3 of WHO members to approve it before it becomes international law.

But a revision of the WHO’s IHR only requires a simple majority approval of the member states. So, facing too much opposition on the Pandemic Treaty, the globalists are simply writing the treaty provisions into the revised IHR, which they hope to pass.

The WHO is violating its own charter and rules while trying to force the IHR vote. Article 55 of the current IHR (2005) says any amendments to the IHR must be submitted four months in advance of the World Health Assembly at which they are asked to vote. The deadline to submit those changes to members was January 27, 2024. But never one to worry too much about breaking laws, Director-General Tedros has chosen to violate the WHO’s own Article 55 to get his globalist agenda passed.

Family Research Council tweeted out:

Good: @WHO failed to agree on text for its Pandemic Preparedness Accord during last week's World Health Assembly. 

Bad: 
-Work on the pandemic agreement will continue with a goal of completion by the 2025 World Health Assembly.

-International Health Regulations (IHR) amendments illegally passed at the last minute of the World Health Assembly create more interlocking requirements, integrate a focus on COVID (or pandemics more broadly), require greater sharing of resources and technologies between countries, try to integrate national governments on their pandemic responses, and push for more funding.

Sunday, May 26, 2024

The 3 - May 26, 2024

This week's edition of The 3, highlighting three stories of relevance to the Christian community, includes a new law in Louisiana that places restrictions on the distribution of the abortion pill. Also, a missionary couple in Haiti, along with a missions leader there, were slain recently. Plus, the responses continue to swirl around Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker, who received some affirmation from people with the organization recently, based on his character, but not necessarily his views, which are consistent with a Biblical perspective. 

Louisiana governor signs bill preventing fraud regarding abortion pill, reclassifies abortion pill as controlled substance

While the Food and Drug Administration on the federal level has expanded the availability of the abortion pill, an issue that has been heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, a key piece of state legislation seeks to restrict the pill's distribution.

The state is Louisiana, where, according to LifeNews.com, Governor Jeff Landry just signed into law the "Abortion by Fraud Criminalization Act (SB 276) after it received final passage through the Louisiana Legislature."

The article goes on to say:

The legislation is important because it will stop predators from forcing women to take the abortion pill for children they don’t want. The bill’s text states that it seeks “to create the crime of coerced criminal abortion by means of fraud.”

Life News also reported:

The new law would classify the dangerous abortion-inducing drugs mifepristone and misoprostol as Schedule IV controlled substances. It would cement Louisiana’s status as the first state in the nation to classify abortion pills as Schedule IV drugs.

Under the measure, “[a] person in Louisiana caught with mifepristone or misoprostol without a prescription could face up to 10 years in prison.”

Missionary couple victims of violence in Haiti

Davy and Natalie Lloyd are young people in their twenties who have been doing missions work in the nation of Haiti, working with the ministry founded by Davy's parents, Missions in Haiti, according to an article in The Christian Post

The Lloyds were married in 2022 and moved to Haiti soon thereafter. Last week, they lost their lives, along with the Haitian director Jude Montis. The article says that they were "ambushed by armed men at the mission's compound Thursday night." And, it goes on to note that "A video reviewed by The Wall Street Journal shows three victims sprawled on the floor, with two of the bodies appearing to have been set on fire."

The ministry has an orphanage is in the city of Lizon, north of the capital of Port-au-Prince. The Christian Post said that, "Natalie Lloyd was the daughter of Missouri state Rep. Ben Baker, who expressed his grief on Facebook, stating, 'My heart is broken in a thousand pieces. I've never felt this kind of pain.'"

The article also says:
According to Missions in Haiti, the couple was attacked by three truckloads of armed men. The incident escalated into a chaotic scene as Davy Lloyd was tied up and beaten by gang members who stole trucks and other belongings from the mission. Subsequently, another armed group arrived, leading to a gun battle in which the Lloyds and Montis were killed.
It also quoted from Franklin Graham, who wrote on Facebook: "As a father, I cannot imagine the pain that this family is feeling right now," adding, "Pray for God to comfort and strengthen them in the difficult days ahead. 'God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.' (Psalm 46:1)"

Chiefs' kicker has friends in high places

The kicker for the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs, Harrison Butker, delivered the commencement address at Benedictine College, and the pro-life and pro-Biblical sexuality speech, which challenged men and women to explore their God-given roles, has continued to reverberate.  Not all approved, to say the least, but he is continuing to garner support for sharing his convictions.  FoxNews.com piece related some of the affirmation the kicker has received.

Even after an NFL official had attempted to distance the league from the comments, as People Magazine had reported, Commissioner Roger Goodell, took a different approach.  The Fox article stated:

"We have over 3,000 players. ... They have a diversity of opinions & thoughts just like America does. I think that's something that we treasure & that's part of ultimately what makes us as a society better," Goodell said on Wednesday, via Yahoo Sports.

Goodell's comments echoed the sentiments of Butker's quarterback and coach, Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid.
Mahomes shared with reporters last week, "Even though there’s vast differences as far as those speeches happening at the same time, you get to talk to guys and get knowledge, and you make your own decisions at the end of the day."  Even though the article did not get into specifics, it did report that Mahomes didn't agree with everything his teammate said in the speech.  

Coach Reid said, "Everybody’s got their own opinion, and that’s what’s so great about this country. You can share those things, and you can work through it. That’s what guys do."

Even Travis Kelce was complimentary, according to the Daily Wire.  On the podcast he co-hosts with his brother, he said that “I cherish him as a teammate," and said that Mahomes "said it best," when the QB said that Butker is "is every bit of a great person and a great teammate. He’s treated friends and family that I’ve introduced to him with nothing but respect and kindness.”

He said regarding the views in the speech, "those are his. I can’t say I agree with the majority of it or just about any of it outside of just him loving his family and his kids. And I don’t think that I should judge him by his views, especially his religious views, of how to go about life, that’s just not who I am.” Kelce then went on to comment on his "beautiful upbringing," saying his parents were "homemakers and providers.”

Sunday, May 19, 2024

The 3 - May 19, 2024

This week's edition of The 3, with three stories of relevance to the Christian community, features an agreement reached between a Christian organization supporting Israel and the hotel that agreed to host a conference sponsored by the ministry, then backed out on the contract.  Also, a California school district has reached a court settlement with a teacher that it fired because her Christian beliefs would not allow her to comply with policies involving gender pronouns and keeping secrets from parents.  Plus, an Ohio church was back in court last week in its ongoing conflict with the city where it is located, with the church's opening its doors to the homeless being the central issue. 

Christian ministry, Nashville hotel reach agreement

A Christian ministry supporting Israel had been planning a conference for a certain hotel in Nashville this coming week.  But, the hotel announced it would no longer be the host site because of security concerns.

First Liberty became involved in representing the ministry, called, HaYovel; attorney Hiram Sasser stating, according to Nashville television station Fox 17: "What’s happening here is that because these protestors are protesting the event because it is supporting the Jewish people. For the hotel to cancel that, they’re adopting essentially the discriminatory intent of those agitators and those protestors..."

The hotel, the Sonesta Nashville Airport Hotel, according to the article at the television station's website, said that police had "told them they should cancel the event."  In fact, the police department issued a statement, in which it said: "The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department did not advocate, in any shape or form, for the cancellation of the conference at the Sonesta Hotel. Any inference to the contrary is false. Equally false is the assertion in an on-line article that this police department voiced concerns about persons being in physical danger. In fact, members of the police department did, indeed, meet with hotel management at its request to talk about the conference. We let it be known that we were absolutely prepared to help the hotel create a safety and security plan, as we would with any of our city’s hotels, and offer additional support if needed..."

Last Friday, it was announced that a settlement between the ministry and the hotel had been reached.  A joint statement, published by First Liberty, said, in part: 

The safety and wellbeing of Sonesta’s team and guests is its top priority. While Sonesta determined it was unable to host the HaYovel event due to security concerns, Sonesta sincerely apologizes for the difficulty that this decision has caused HaYovel and its Nashville event attendees. Sonesta respects all humanitarian aid and advocacy groups in their efforts on behalf of people of all faiths, beliefs and backgrounds.

HaYovel appreciates Sonesta’s willingness to resolve this situation swiftly and to the organization’s full satisfaction. As previously announced, the Nashville event has been rescheduled to take place at Ramsey Solutions on May 20-22, 2024.

California teacher settles with school district that fired her

Jessica Tapia is a teacher on a mission.  She had lost her job because she refused to keep secrets from parents about their children's sexuality and to lie to students by referencing them based on their so-called "gender pronouns," instead of biological reality.  That is based on a press release from Advocates for Faith and Freedom, published on the Christian Newswire website, which stated: "...the Jurupa Unified School District Board approved a settlement agreement between Jessica Tapia and the Jurupa Unified School District to settle her lawsuit for $360,000. Last year, Advocates for Faith and Freedom filed a lawsuit challenging Jurupa Unified School District in the Central District of California after the wrongful termination of public school teacher Jessica Tapia for her religious beliefs."

Tapia is quoted as saying: "What happened to me can happen to anybody, and I want the next teacher to know that it is worth it to take a stand for what is right," said Jessica Tapia. "Across the country, we are seeing teachers' freedom of speech and religious liberty violated through policies that require them to forsake their morals. I want teachers to be confident in the fact that the best thing we can do for students is educate in truth, not deception. This is why I'm joining forces with Advocates for Faith and Freedom to launch Teachers Don't Lie, a resource that will be committed to giving a voice of truth to teachers. I am confident that we are making progress to ensure that no teacher has their faith violated within schoolhouse gates again."

Ohio church, facing new charges resulting from attempts to help the homeless, back in court

I have been following and reporting to you about developments in the case of a church in Bryan, Ohio, called Dad's Place, pastored by Chris Avell.  There was a hearing before Judge Jack Zouhary last Monday involving the city and Pastor Avell, who had been facing criminal charges for opening his church 24/7 in order to help homeless individuals in the city, according to First Liberty, which is representing the church. 

Dad’s Place Pastor Chris Avell began receiving pushback in November from city officials about his ministry, which allowed people — many of them unhoused — to enter the church at all hours. Dad’s Place filed a federal lawsuit against the city on Jan. 22.

On Jan. 24, Judge Zouhary entered an order barring the city from enforcing any alleged violations of zoning or fire codes without the approval of the court or without the church’s agreement. He also ordered the city to schedule a conference if the city felt there was an urgent safety issue that needed to be addressed.

The city in February agreed to drop 18 charges centered around zoning and fire code violations, while Dad’s Place agreed to “cease residential operations” and to seek proper building permits.

The article notes that on April 25, an early morning visit from the Bryan city fire chief resulted in further citations regarding a deficient sprinkler system; First Liberty attorney Jeremy Dys said that the ministry had not been notified that was a problem. 

Bottom line, according to the newspaper article: "A federal lawsuit filed by a church in downtown Bryan to prevent the city from fining it $1,000 a day for operating a 24-hour-a-day ministry has been continued until June 18." The report noted: "Judge Zouhary directed the lawyers for both sides to meet with their respective clients and identify what they felt needed to be tackled, plus getting their answers to specific questions posed by the judge, including if overnight stays is at the root of the dispute."

Sunday, May 12, 2024

The 3 - May 12, 2024

This week's edition of The 3, highlighting three stories of interest to the Christian community, includes news from the Alabama Legislature, where the state Senate rejected legislation that would allow a vote on gambling expansion in the state.  Also, the venerable Boy Scouts of America have announced a name change in the light of an erosion of its founding principles.  And, Christian leaders are continuing to stand with the nation of Israel in its attempt to defeat the Hamas terror group.

Alabama Legislature rejects gambling expansion

As in previous years, most recently in 2021, the Alabama Legislature came down to the last day of the regular session with a gambling proposal needing to pass one chamber.  In this case, a massive gambling package that would provide for a statewide vote on expanded gambling in the areas of casinos, sports betting, and a state lottery passed the Alabama House very quickly, went to the Senate, where the House package was whittled down somewhat in order to satisfy some Senators.  

Having passed the Senate, the legislation went to a conference committee to craft one bill for both chambers to vote on.  The House passed the conference committee version, but the Senate fell one vote short of the 21 votes needed for passage.  On the final day, the House slowed down the consideration of the state education budget in order to allow time for the Senate to try to find a way to 21 votes.  But, it never did.  And, so yet again, the possibility of gambling expansion, complete with its unbiblical baggage and the threat of significant social costs, has failed.

On Friday, the Alabama Citizens Action Program, or ALCAP, sent out an update, which appears at its website. It noted that due to "filibustering and the final push for gambling, several bills that ALCAP supported were on the Senate calendar for a vote but never received debate. These bills include HB111 (Defining Man and Woman in Alabama Law), HB167 (Porn Filter Bill), HB385 (Obscenity Bill), and HB195 (Sex Ed)."

So, due to the thirst by some lawmakers to pass gambling legislation, there were good bills that did not pass the legislature. Some did, but the net effect was that the Legislature spent too much time and attention on gambling, and was hoodwinked into passing insufficient legislation on in vitro fertilization that essentially ignored an Alabama Supreme Court ruling that embryos produced out of IVF are indeed living human beings. Pro-life leaders all across America have called for the legislature to protect these lives.  

Boy Scouts announce name change

The organization that was founded 114 years ago, the Boy Scouts of America, has announced it will be changing its name to Scouting America next February, according to a Newsmax article, which quoted from Franklin Graham, who said, in a tweet:

"Talk about losing your way — that's the @BoyScouts," Graham posted on X. "They want to be more 'inclusive,' so they're changing their name. Being woke isn't the need — staying focused & true to what God calls you to do is what's important."

He added, "They should've just stuck with what they were founded to be 114 years ago...The Boy Scouts Oath says, 'I will do my best to do my duty to God.'" He also stated, "It's no surprise that thousands of parents are choosing other options like @TrailLifeUSA, which is a great Christ-centered alternative."

Trail Life USA was born in response to the Boy Scouts' embracing of unbiblical views of masculinity.  A Daily Citizen article from last summer stated:
As we’ve previously written, “The group had about five million members in the 1970s, with 2.1 million reported in 2019.

“Now renamed Scouts BSA, the organization faced more than 95,000 separate claims of sexual abuse, ranging from 8-year-old boys to men in their nineties. The organization settled for $850 million with one group of victims in July 2021, and for $1.9 million with another group in September of that year.

“In 2013, Scouts BSA went from boys only and reverent toward God to allowing gay-identified boys (2013), then openly gay adult leaders (2015), then girls who identify as transgendered boys (2017), to ultimately allowing girls to join (2017).”
Trail Life CEO Mark Hancock was quoted in the article, saying: “We know that boys and girls are different, and we’re not afraid to say that.” He added, “We are unapologetically Christian...We’re not an outdoor organization that’s having a Christian experience. We are at our core a Christian ministry that uses the outdoors to turn boys into godly men.”

Christian leaders continue to stand with Israel

Because of the Biblical origins of the people of Israel and God's covenant with this special group of people, throughout the years, evangelical Christians have stood with the modern-day nation of Israel, established in 1948 in what has been regarded as a event consistent with Bible prophecy.

Since the October 7 attack by Hamas, Christian leaders have continued to stand with the nation of Israel.  American Christian Leaders for Israel, a sister organization to International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, sent out a press release about a letter signed by a number of high-profile Christian leaders, stating:
One hundred fifty-seven Christian leaders, including Gary Bauer, Troy Miller, Juan Rivera and Star Parker, united under the banner of American Christian Leaders for Israel (ACLI) to write a letter expressing their disappointment with recent actions taken by the Biden administration regarding Israel and warning him that these actions will embolden both nations’ mutual enemies and encourage a course correction. The signatories represent many diverse streams of Christianity and over 60 million Christians across the country.
That press release and the letter, from last month, were attached to an e-mail sent a few days ago referencing the threat by the U.S. administration to withhold assistance for Israel in the battle for the Hamas stronghold of Rafah is the latest in a string of betrayals by the President of this historic ally for the U.S.

Among the previous actions by the U.S. that have produced concern are the following:
  • Holding Israel responsible for civilian casualties and drawing moral equivalency between Hamas and Israel noting that Israel warned civilians of the impending attack and advised them of where they could go for safety. Hamas ordered them not to go, making them human shields.
  • Accusing Israel of intentionally blocking humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza while ignoring the reality that for years, Hamas had redirected international aid to build rockets and military infrastructure and is currently commandeering aid for their own survival at the expense of the people.
  • • Abandoning Israel in the U.N. Security Council, demanding a cease-fire, and initially condemning the planned incursion into Rafah. The administration has stated that it agrees with Israel’s goal of eliminating Hamas. However, this cannot be done without destroying its remaining infrastructure in southern Gaza.

The letter said:

If Israel is abandoned and Hamas’s attack rewarded, it will endanger the safety of the United States. We urgently ask you to:
• Demand that Hamas surrender and immediately release all the hostages.
• Unequivocally support Israel’s effort to completely defeat and eliminate Hamas.
• Reinstate all sanctions against Iran.
By taking these simple steps, the United States can show its support for our longstanding ally, Israel, and signal strength to America’s enemies.

Sunday, May 05, 2024

The 3 - May 5, 2024

This week's edition of The 3, featuring three relevant news stories regarding the Christian community, includes an update on the United Methodist General Conference, which concluded days ago in Charlotte, NC.  Also, there's an update on federal attempts to expand elements of the LGBT agenda, including redefining the meaning of the word, "sex."  Plus, amidst unrest on college campuses where anti-Israel, pro-Hamas protests have been occurring, a different sort of spirit has shown up on other campus - a spirit that is influenced by the Spirit of God.

United Methodist Church changes policies on homosexuality, LGBT affirmation

The affirming of LGBT behavior has been taking hold in a variety of churches across America, and for years, you have had members of the United Methodist denomination stand strong on behalf of Biblical sexuality, resisting those within the church body who have supported a more permissive approach to LGBT issues.  

That issue became a contributing factor to thousands of United Methodist churches disaffiliating from the denomination over the last several years.  With representatives of these churches absent from the latest United Methodist General Conference held in Charlotte over the past two weeks, the denomination took multiple moves to be more LGBT-affirming. 

The Christian Post reported on votes that were taken, stating:

In a vote of 523 to 161 following around 90 minutes of debate on Thursday, the churchwide legislative gathering opted to remove a clause from the Book of Discipline, ¶ 304.3 under "Qualifications for Ordination."

"The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching," read the clause, which had been originally added to the Book of Discipline in 1972.

That vote also included a statement, which said...

"...marriage [is] a sacred, lifelong covenant that brings two people of faith (adult man and adult woman of consenting age or two adult persons of consenting age) into a union of one another and into deeper relationship with God and the religious community."

The Post article noted:

The vote was among a series of votes taken at the gathering this week in Charlotte, North Carolina, which removed the UMC's bans on clergy officiating same-sex marriages, the ordination of noncelibate homosexuals and the funding of LGBT advocacy groups.

Advance of gender ideology seen in federal agencies

Even though the recently announced Title IX revisions have been the most talked-about move by the federal government to enact its agenda via executive action rather than legislation, there have certainly been other instances recently in which the LGBT agenda has advanced.

The U.S. Department of Education, in its Title IX rewrite, as it's been pointed out, has changed the meaning of "sex" in the law to include gender identity and sexual orientation.  And, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall and other AG's from across the country are determined to not allow the federal government to get away with it, according to 1819 News, which reports:

Opponents say it would abolish the distinction between male and female sports and do away with female-only spaces like locker rooms and bathrooms.

That's why Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall is leading a lawsuit to stop the Biden administration's plans. Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, the Independent Women's Forum (IWF), and Parents Defending Education and Speech First have also joined the suit.
Marshall is quoted as saying that "our schoolchildren are the target" of an attempt "to use federal funding to force radical gender ideology.  He said, "The threat is that if Alabama's public schools and universities do not conform, then the federal government will take away our funding."

The article states:
The suit claims the new rule is "unlawful" and "arbitrary and capricious," exceeding the Education Department's statutory authority.
Meanwhile, The Daily Signal reports that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has instituted new rules in the area of privacy.  An article states:
Under new federal guidelines, an employer would be guilty of harassment for requiring someone to use a restroom that comports with his or her biological sex, or for referring to someone by a pronoun the person doesn’t want used.
The new EEOC proposal was opposed by 20 state attorneys general; the article notes:
In November, the attorneys general contended what was then the proposed “Enforcement Guidance on Harassment in the Workplace” updates would threaten the First Amendment rights of employers, employees, and possibly customers.
In a letter, they said:
“Here, the proposed guidance would require employers to affirm or convey to employees and customers—often against religious conviction or deeply held personal belief—messages that a person can be a gender different from his or her biological sex, that gender has no correlation to biology, or that they endorse the use of pronouns like ‘they/them,’ ‘xe/xym/xyrs,’ or ‘bun/bunself..."

And according to Alliance Defending Freedom, the Department of Health and Human Services has issued guidance regarding health care; the ADF website notes that a new rule "redefines 'sex' in federal healthcare nondiscrimination law to add gender identity..."

ADF Senior Counsel Julie Marie Blake stated:

“The Biden administration’s new healthcare mandate is a vast overreach that turns medicine upside-down. Congress never voted to redefine sex in the Affordable Care Act to add gender identity. The rule harms families and children by promoting dangerous, life-altering ‘gender-transition’ procedures that remove healthy body parts or block puberty. The Biden administration’s egregious rule would alter the United States’ medical system for the worst.”

While protests turn violent at some college campuses, God is at work on others

Pastor Greg Laurie, according to Crosswalk.com, wrote concerning protests, which have turned unruly and even violent at various college campuses across America.  The article includes material from the blog from his website, in which he wrote: “While many of these students have no idea what they are even supporting when they hold signs that say, ‘We are Hamas,’ ‘Gas the Jews,’ and ‘Final Solution,’ many of them do. Even more alarming, professors, who certainly know what they are doing, are joining these protests.”

Crosswalk went on to say:

The modern state of Israel, Laurie wrote, “was formed on the heels of the holocaust where 6 million Jewish men, women, and children were murdered by the Nazis.”

“They realized that they needed a homeland where they could live in peace and prosperity and raise their families,” he wrote. “But also the Jewish community has had a continual presence in their land since the first kingdom of Israel, since King David. How could they be colonizers? They are indigenous people.

CBN.com contrasted the behavior on numerous campuses with the outcome of the most recent Unite.us event, the movement among college students that started at Auburn, and has held event at Florida State, Alabama, Georgia, and now at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. A recent article said: "Against the backdrop of anti-Israel protests, violence, and death chants among colleges and universities recently, some GenZers are choosing instead to uplift Jesus Christ...," adding that last week, "8,000 students gathered on the campus of the University of Tennessee to praise His Name alone."

Franklin Graham wrote on Facebook

I’m sick of these protestors on college campuses who hate our flag and our country—so I was thrilled to see what happened at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville this week! 8,000 students came out on campus to worship and hear a message from God’s Word. 150 were baptized right there on the spot! Praise God for each one. We should all be encouraged by this and pray for God to move mightily in this generation.

The CBN article also noted that recently...

...as students in other campuses were engaged in antisemitic rioting, Liberty students chose to close the semester with the "ultimate wrap-up" giving glory to God well into the night.

Chancellor Jonathan Falwell told the students, "How amazing it is that Liberty students come to our lawn, and what we do rather than attacking one another is lift up the name of the only One who is worthy of our praise, and that is Jesus Christ, King of kings, and Lord of lords."
The article said that what is occurring among college students "...is a movement that is a stark contrast to the violence taking place at universities across the U.S. But the 'light' of what God is doing shines like a beacon on a hill and it is gaining momentum."