Faithandthelaw's Blog

The law as it relates to Christians and their free exercise of religion

Thomas More Law Center Continues Fight Against Common Core; Files Brief to Uphold Missouri Ruling That Testing is Illegal

Posted by faithandthelaw on July 27, 2015

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Continuing its national battle against the federal government’s attempted takeover of public education, the Thomas More Law Center, last week, filed a friend of the court brief in the Missouri Court of Appeals supporting a lower court decision that held the State’s participation and membership in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (“SBAC”) is illegal and SBAC itself is an “unlawful interstate compact … whose existence and operation violate[s] the Compact Clause of the U.S. Constitution.”

The lower court ruling which stopped Missouri from paying over $4 million in membership fees to SBAC, is being appealed by Missouri state officials, including Governor Jay Nixon.

The original lawsuit was filed by D. John Sauer of the St. Louis, Missouri, firm Clark & Sauer, LLC in September 2014 on behalf of concerned Missouri residents and taxpayers.

The Thomas More Law Center (TMLC), a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, joined with Mr. Sauer in filing a similar lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of SBAC in North Dakota. A North Dakota District Judge will hear arguments next week on whether he should stop North Dakota from participating in SBAC.

The TMLC first became involved in the fight to stop Common Core in response to concerns of parents and teachers over the federal government’s control of curriculum nationwide and the standards themselves. As a result, the TMLC previously developed a Test Refusal and Student Privacy Protection Form and aCommon Core Resource Page as a general reference and guide for concerned parents and individuals.

Both SBAC and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (“PARCC”) were created in response to a federal Department of Education grant program designed to create academic assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards. The assessments leave local schools little choice but to align their curriculum to the standards and assessment, allowing the federal Department of Education to effectively control public education.

SBAC’s state membership agreements, executed by officials in Missouri, North Dakota, and several other states, have raised concerns that state officials are handing over local educational decisions to SBAC, and by extension the federal government which violates federal statutes prohibiting the federal government—and, in particular, the federal Department of Education—from controlling educational policy, including curriculum decisions and educational-assessment programs in elementary and secondary education.

The new wave of testing ushered in by SBAC and PARCC sparked a national opt-out movement as students, teachers and administrators grapple with the heavy burden created by these assessments. The looming threat from the Department of Education of the loss of federal funding helped drive the controversy between parents and school administrators over parental opt-outs and test refusal. As a result of these parental opt outs, students across the country were  formally disciplines and subjected to “sit-and-stare” policies; refused admittance to the classroom; lost honors, class trips, and athletic participation; and were even suspended.

 Click here to read the Law Center’s friend of the Court Brief

Courtesy of https://www.thomasmore.org/

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Planned Parenthood: How Much Longer?

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on July 18, 2015

full_planned-parenthood-how-much-longerIn one sense, there are really just two types of people when it comes to the topic of abortion: those who think it is okay to kill unborn babies, and those who think it’s wrong. If you don’t think you’re in one of these categories, you still are; you’re just confused.

Confusion, though, isn’t the most terrible thing. It means there is still hope, and in fact, this hopeful condition likely characterizes the general public of the United States. Most people don’t have a deep conviction about unborn babies. Most people don’t even think about unborn babies unless it’s an election year or the news runs a story. Even most who support abortion could only repeat the rhetoric they’ve heard from devotees.

And therefore, if confusion is what’s really popular, the question becomes:

What will it take for abortion activists to convince the general public that their position is a psychotic threat to humanity?

When will the rhetoric about women’s health and women’s rights be exposed for what it truly is (since, of course, by women’s “health” and women’s “rights” they must not mean the near 28 million girls aborted since 1973)? What will it take? Where is the tipping point when the truth of Planned Parenthood can no longer be ignored by the popular conscience?

Abortion’s Self-Destruction

Mind-changing momentum is beginning to build, and to our surprise, it’s not so much from the direct work of pro-life advocates, but from the unmasked mishaps of abortion activists themselves. Yes, that’s right. They’ve ironically stumbled into a suicide mission.

What if, counter-conventional as it might seem, the greatest felt gains for unborn humans will come by the abortion industry’s self-destruction?

Last year there was the Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains reportedly awarded for exceeding their abortion quota. That is to say, in addition to other reports of such quotas, there was a certain number of abortions that the clinic was prescribed to perform and when they surpassed that number they were honored, all of which backfires against the language of abortions as safe, legal, and rare.

But that is really nothing compared to the recent video that exposes Planned Parenthood for selling the body parts of infant corpses. If the thought of abortionists high-fiving each other over surpassing their abortion quotas doesn’t unsettle you, just watch the video of Deborah Nucatola chomp her food and sip her wine as she talks about selling aborted baby heads. You can watchthe full two hours and forty minutes of conversation.

Apparently, according to Nucatola, Planned Parenthood’s Senior Director of Medical Services, not only is abortion “safe, legal, and rare,” but it’s a pretty big money-maker if you can keep those heads and livers intact as you extract the baby feet first.

How Much Longer, America?

Once again, we’re not supposed to know about this industry. Planned Parenthood doesn’t want us to know, especially since it’s illegal. But we do know. And if we open our eyes, we’ll never think the same way again about their organization and their little tagline, “Care. No matter what.” Care? They receive millions of taxpayer dollars, and our president tells them to keep up “the good work” — to butcher babies and sell their body parts? Care?

Sooner or later, Planned Parenthood, the conviction-less masses are going to start scratching their heads. Please, just keep talking. Just keep doing what you do. The lights are coming on, and you’ve got nowhere to hide.

The question for the rest of us is how long it is before we feel the cumulative effect. How much time will we give the abortion industry before they self-destruct? How much longer, America? How long are we going to let this go on?How many more conversations need to leak? How much more blood must be spilt? How many more body parts must be dismembered, packaged, and sold before we realize this whole thing is a nightmare? God, may it end soon.

Jonathan Parnell

http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/planned-parenthood-how-much-longer

Posted in Faith Issues in Our Times, Tim's Blog | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

How Wide the Divide: Sexuality at the Forefront, Culture at the Crossroads

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on July 17, 2015

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A century ago these times were imagined and they are now here. How do we live as Christians in such times?

My mother-in-law is ninety-five years old. She has lived through several wars and numerous other cataclysmic events in her life. Nothing has her more perplexed, shocked, and almost emotionally stunned as the culture wars that have been waged and have changed our world. I see her sitting in church when I am visiting her, obviously wondering why all of her past memories have been lost in the present format of worship. She is not at home either in the world or in her church and eagerly awaits the day when she can be in the City of God, her eternal home. ‎ ‎

What has changed? How did we get here? As Nietzsche would say, “Is there any up or down left? Who gave us a sponge to wipe away the horizon? Will lanterns have to be lit in the morning hours? What sacred games will we need to invent?” Yes, a century ago these times were imagined and they are now here. While the secular world has invented its secular games, many churches have invented their own “sacred” games.

The most daunting question for us today is how do we live as Christians in such times? The decision of the Supreme Court of the United States sent tremors around the globe and I have received scores of messages asking whether we, at RZIM, are going to say anything in response. What more is there to say? The spectrum of views that were immediately expressed said all there was to say. When the law passed, the first thought that came to my mind was Chesterton’s prophetic comment more than half a century ago: “For under the smooth legal surface of our society there are already moving very lawless things. We are always near the breaking-point when we care only for what is legal and nothing for what is lawful. Unless we have a moral principle about such delicate matters as marriage and murder, the whole world will become a welter of exceptions with no rules. There will be so many hard cases that everything will go soft.”

That breaking point is here.   ‎

After hours of pondering and praying, I would like to say something to my fellow believers and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. Naturally, some who disagree with my views will probably be reading this as well so I have to expand the justification a bit. I am keenly aware that on this subject winning the approval of all is not only impossible but if done, would be at the risk of substance. I shall try to walk through this minefield.‎

As Christians, we often look outside of ourselves and wonder why the world is so different from us. We seldom pause and ask how the Church of today has become so different from what it was and so indifferent to the world around us. Liberalism is not just a political term. What has happened in our world was foreseen a few decades ago. Changes were underway then and we were taken by a storm from within. Culture at large moved unabashedly towards the mockery of the Christian worldview; Eastern religions were spared that, either because of the cowardice of the Western critic or simply to not be seen as attacking another ethnic group. But the Church is really where the titanic shifts in the culture started. As the liberal church swung to the extreme of religion without absolutes, the evangelical church flirted with emotionalism without intellect, while some of the mass distributors of spirituality peddled a cosmetic version of truth that was hollow and hairstyles became more important than what was going on in the head itself.

Of course, there are exceptions to these generalities. Some of the most thriving churches today are those that have a deep allegiance to the gospel message. I am honored to often be in their midst and I have hope because of them. But for now, let me just talk about how wide is the divide between secular society and the Church, and why it is. ‎ ‎

There are three starting points that separate the historic Christian view from those who called for the legalizing of gay marriage that is now the law of the land, albeit by one vote.

One, we come from two different definitions of what it means to be human. For the Christian, life is in the soul. The body is the temporal home. George MacDonald said it well: “You do not ‘have’ a soul; you ‘are’ a soul, and ‘have’ a body.” For the one living with a secular worldview there is no such thing as the soul. To be sure, that is not true of all in that disposition. I know many who would not deny the essential spirituality of human life and will admit to a deep struggle between their attractions and their cautions. Strangely, there has also arisen a strained view that seeks to justify the marital bond between any two consenting adults as biblically permissible. I shall not wander into an apologetic countering that. But there are those within their own ranks who seriously challenge such distortion. Fine theologians have argued and demonstrated the cracks in their foundations.‎ ‎

For the most part, in secular terms NOW is all we have and NOW is the moment to enjoy whatever one pleases. A soul-less existence makes the body the sole means of fulfillment. When one starts that way, sexuality is a thing to be restricted only by parameters that are materially referenced. As the songwriter said, “In the dark it is easy to pretend that the truth is what it ought to be.” Touch becomes defined by feel and taste, nothing more than that. “I feel I enjoy it so please stay out of my way.”

‎The contrast here between the Christian worldview and the secular is a big one. For the Christian, not only is life in the soul, but the body, in Jesus’s words, is the temple of God. That is the highest locus of communion between a human being and God. For the one who recognizes no such thing as the sacred, the body is the playing field of life and pleasure sets the rules. This is a significant difference as a starting point.

Two, the Christian believes in absolutes. For the secular person, moral relativism is the only absolute. No one ever really says what something is relative to, but the implication here is that there is no boundary for behavior. Even the economic destruction of those with whom they disagree can become the water-boarding and the slow kill of the secular armory. For the relativist, no decision is determined by a transcendent definition of life, and where there are no absolutes, there had dare not be any prohibition by anyone else. The banner of the atheistic society in England during Christmas two years ago said it all: “There probably is no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” Relativism is the open door to fun, absolutes the closed door that destroys fun. That is the way it is seen.

Three, the defender of sexual freedom sees a parallel between what is seen as anti-gay prejudice today and racial prejudice as it was practiced at its lowest point decades ago. Here, a word game has entered the vocabulary. Relativist convictions are supposedly prejudice-free, while absolute convictions are branded as phobias. Any stigma can lick a good dogma, it is said. With that verbal deconstruction of a worldview, all questioning of sexual freedom is castigated as a phobia. Quite amazing that atheists are not called “theophobes” or that those against Christians are not called “christophobes.” Pejoratively, the counter positions have been appended with phobias till we may have a whole new polyphobic dictionary.

But that is the lesser problem. I contend that equating race with sexuality is actually a false premise and an unfortunate analogy.‎ In the matter of race it simply doesn’t matter how I feel about it; my ethnicity transcends my preferences or inclinations. In the Hindi language there is a mildly mocking expression to describe one who acts different to his or her essence in race: “Desi murghi pardesi chal” … “this is a local bird with a foreign walk.” As was recently established, a person may feel like one race, associate primarily with that race and think like that race, but that doesn’t change who she really is. Why is this analogy unfortunate? Because it moves the debate from what is right to what are one’s rights. Ironically, the political party now most aligned with arguing for rights was once the same party that argued against the emancipation of slaves because of the slave-owners’ “rights.” In that case, those rights were overruled by what was right. Interesting that a new word wasn’t coined then to describe those who made moral arguments against the slave-owners’ rights as “slaveophobes.” Thankfully, essential human worth and moral reason trumped existential and pragmatic preferences and by God’s grace, what was right was deemed to be right and the slave was freed.

There are absolutes. To the Christian, every person is made in the image of God and is loved by God. He sent his Son for the whole world, not just for those of a particular race or sexual proclivity. Sex is a sacred trust with deliberate boundaries. It is at once one of the greatest gifts and one of the greatest struggles. The 5000-year-old struggle in the Middle East has its roots in polygamy when two half-brothers shared a father but not the same mother.

‎The violation of race is a violation of the sacred and for the Christian, the violation of sex is seen the same way. The secularist does not see the latter as a violation where there is consent, but this is simply not so for the Christian. Desacralization is an emptying of essential purpose and meaning and leads to the loss of essential purpose in life itself. This is why it is vacuous to say that if two people love each other they may express it in any way they choose. Love is not defined in a way that is self-referencing. It ultimately hangs on the peg of God’s love and how He defines love.‎ ‎

But here a caution is critical. All violation of the sacred, not just sex, is ultimately in need of God’s grace and forgiveness. That is the Christian view. That is why the good news is that God’s gift of salvation and redemption is offered to all. That is why what is right has to win the day over what we may see as rights. As hard as this may seem to some, it is the only hope to avoid the misuse of reason for other attractions. Can we not, on the same argument presently used—adult consent—someday justify a multitude of proclivities? Even more, what is to keep Sharia Law from being brought into the culture to respect the rights of a particular group only to have it one day used by extremists to overrule our present laws? After all, extremists have ways of dictating for all. Isn’t that what we witness time and again? This is not a slippery slope. This is an irrational, runaway train driven in the name of rights and tendentious reasoning. It can happen. I suspect it will happen. The cultural plausibility can shift. Not everything that is fatal is immediate.‎

With these three chasms, the heart sinks and exclaims, how wide is the divide‎!

This, then, brings me as a follower of Jesus Christ to the three most important bridges between all of us, regardless of our views on this issue. The gay community rightly cries out for identity and intimacy. These are, after all, the longings of the mind and heart of every human being, regardless of our position on this issue. This is where the gospel enters as the only way to bring us together.‎ Indeed, the first bridge of the gospel is that my identity is found in Jesus Christ because of whom I must tame my passions. My identity dictates my behavior. Before I committed my life to Jesus Christ, my identity within my culture was dictated by the status of my family: who my father was, how I did in school, what my grades were, how much money I had access to. All these were and are systemically woven into my culture. I had no choice. This is how I was viewed. Take a look at the matrimonial section in India’s newspaper today. Color, caste, education, wealth, beauty all are repeatedly mentioned as parents seek what they consider the best partners for their children. It’s so clearly discriminatory. When my sister married a Hindu convert to Jesus Christ, the challenge for his parents was huge. But amazingly, their understanding of what Jesus Christ had done for their son changed everything. This is the only bridge I know of that can change the human heart.

It is because of this relationship that we change our behavior from what attracts us to what we act upon. This connection is crucial. If I know what it is to be a man, I know how sexual attraction works. Over time you learn that giving in simply does not bring lasting happiness or purpose. It is only in the keeping of the body as the temple that the sacred is upheld and the grace of God brings conviction and restraint. The Bible says we are not to place our offerings on every altar. One psychologist describes indulgence as “short term fleeting relationships with long term bitter disappointments.” This is true of all behavior and of all sexual expression that runs afoul of God’s design. He has built this law into the human fabric. Deep inside we know this. Temporal allurements are ultimately unfulfilling without a spiritual bonding and binding. It is the eternal that must guide the temporal. ‎ ‎

The second bridge the gospel brings is intimacy. We all long for touch. This is true even in the most senior years of one’s life. I have talked to people working in homes for the aged and they have remarked on how much the elderly miss a physical touch and embrace. This is how we are made. Carrying that concept into sexuality, consummation is the all-embracing act of intimacy. Being as consummate as it is it demands exclusivity, otherwise it is rendered profane and common place. Experience tells us this repeatedly. Cultures that totally desacralize sexuality are non-existent. Even the polygamous guard the numbers. Even the unclad have boundaries. There are laws that govern against rapacious acts.

The biblical description of marriage is for one man and one woman in sacred commitment. So profound is this union that the relationship of God to the Church bears that comparison. He is the bridegroom; the Church is the bride.

Is this so abstract that it doesn’t come down to where we are in our individual yearning for intimacy? Not in the least. According to the gospel, God offers us his indwelling presence where spirit touches spirit and the deepest, truest intimacy results. I am fully aware that to one who has never tasted intimacy with God this seems absurd. But it is here that I think we as Christians need to awaken to the unpleasant reality that we have not taught and proclaimed God’s Word faithfully and demonstrated true holiness.

How can my mind be transformed so that intellectually I understand perspectives and counter-perspectives? How do I so embrace God’s truth that it transforms my heart and my inclinations, or at least gives me the ability to control my inclinations? I have a colleague who confessed to having same sex-attractions. He went on to say that on a given day he thought and thought about the Christian message and finally and wholeheartedly surrendered himself to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. In his words, he “sensed a presence of being overcome from the top of my head to the soles of my feet…I have tasted a glimpse of heaven; why would I stoop to what is below?” Are there days of struggle for him? Is there a certainty of his new affections in Christ? “Yes,” he says to both questions. I have a huge respect for him and his sacrifice.

For the Christian, the question is this: How do I so walk with God that ALL my affections are brought under Jesus’s Lordship, whether my inclinations be same-sex or opposite sex or any other struggle? How may I love those with whom I disagree on these serious matters? The bridges will always be the identity and intimacy offered in the heart commitment to the Savior, first lived out then lovingly taught. ‎ ‎

Also, for the Christian we must remember that we cannot make this realm the eternal order. Our earthly cities are not what eternity alone will bring. Augustine’s two most memorable masterpieces are his Confessions and his City of God. As he lay dying in his home city, barbarians were already scaling the walls of Rome. Even as many churches were being destroyed, the main ones he had planted withstood the carnage. Incredibly, even though his mortal frame was breaking down, people continued coming to him so that he could pray for them. That is a glorious picture. His body was meeting its end. But his soul was not. He had confessed his need for his Savior and he looked to a city whose builder and maker was God. All earthly cities will at some time crumble and fall, as will our mortal bodies. Our eternal place of abiding is in God’s presence, no longer merely in a counter culture but in a place prepared for us. Augustine’s life enfleshed all those truths.‎ ‎

The third and final bridge of the gospel is that of community: the love of God working through us as a Church where worship brings together all our inclinations, surrendered to God’s sacred call for all of us. That is worked out in love and grace. Our worship will have to have theological integrity, not just in form but in substance; worship that is not just moments of exhilaration but is co-extensive with life itself and sermons that are not merely heard but are also seen. The outreach of love will then be embodied and not be mere talk. The Church must not be a fortress guarded by a constabulary but a home where the Father ever awaits the return of each of us who is in the far country. ‎ ‎

For those who follow Jesus Christ, our message to the world must be clear. God transforms the heart and mind and we become his children and his ambassadors. Let us so live that we will never be accused of hate or indifference. But let us also know that compromising the truth is a serious blunder and ends up celebrating that which is not in the will of our Father. This is a painful tension for a believer. To be seen as rejecting a belief or a behavior is not the same as rejecting the person. But God helps us to carry that burden.

By contrast, when Truth is lived out in love and grace, it will always make the faith attractive and even the one who opposes us will recognize the fearful symmetry of a conviction for the sacred that will swim against the tide and a commitment to the person that will find a bridge of hope. We must so live the gospel that men and women will call upon God’s name and make this body his home until we reach our Eternal City bought with the precious sacrifice of Jesus Christ. His body was broken for us so that ours might be mended for Him. ‎ ‎

Ravi Zacharias‎

http://rzim.org/global-blog/how-wide-the-divide-sexuality-at-the-forefront-culture-at-the-crossroads‎

Posted in Faith Issues in Our Times, Religious Freedom, Tim's Blog | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The West, the Family, and the Big Picture: Which Side of History is the Us On?

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on July 16, 2015

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If you feel like believing in Christian morality makes you a weirdo these days, maybe it’s time to look at the bigger — even global — picture.

The world is leaving us and our values behind. If we don’t get with the times, we may soon find ourselves isolated and irrelevant. If you think I’m talking about Christians and the recent Supreme Court decision on same-sex “marriage,” think again.

Of course, if you don’t read international and Christian news sources, you probably didn’t know that last week the UN Human Rights Council passed The Protection of the Family resolution. Not surprisingly, the mainstream U. S. media ignored the story.

The resolution, approved by a vote of 27 to 14, urges member states to adopt laws and policies that support the family—yes, the family—definite article. It calls the family, “the natural environment for the growth and well-being of all its members and particularly children.”

It goes on to insist that while governments have a place in protecting the human rights of all, “the family has primary responsibility for the nurturing and protection of children.”

While our country was splashing rainbows on government buildings to celebrate our un-defining of marriage and family, the global community was reaffirming God’s created definition.  It’s an important moment that shows why, in the long run, federal judges cannot change the truth.

Speaking with LifeSite News, Sharon Slater of Family Watch International called the vote an “unprecedented,” “tremendous victory for the family.”  And not surprisingly, progressive and pro-LGBT organizations wasted no time in condemning it. One group known as the Sexual Rights Initiative bizarrely warned that recognizing the natural family would “perpetuate patriarchal oppression, traditions, and harmful practices…”

But sad to say it was the 14 dissenting nations—including most of Western Europe and the United States—that really pulled out the stops to defeat this resolution.

“[T]he United States lobbied [against it] with great energy,” says Slater, noting that pushing the LGBT agenda abroad has become a “primary objective of our nation’s foreign policy.” She even reports that our delegation threatened to withhold foreign aid to developing nations if they affirmed the natural family.

Writing at “Touchstone,” Allan Carlson notes how under the Obama Administration, “threats, bribes, and extortion” aimed at “vulnerable lands in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe” have become regular strategies in our quest to export the sexual revolution.

Were it not for the enthusiastic support of China and Russia—major powers that spent the latter half of the last century trying to eradicate the natural family—this resolution may have failed. China and Russia learned the hard way how destructive anti-family policies are. And maybe it’s just a coincidence, but both countries have seen a rapid growth of Christianity in recent years.

Folks, if there’s a wrong side of history, the United States of America is on it right now—at least when it comes to this issue. Thank God that despite bribery, bullying, and blackmail from the West, 27 nations voted to protect the family.

Even as I tremble for my country, it encourages me to realize that, as Allan Carlson writes, same-sex “marriage” is not only a recent problem—it’s a regional one. Debates over sexuality and gender, he explains, are “merely the current enthusiasm of a relatively small number of deracinated, secularized, mostly childless, and largely white elites.”

It’s easy to feel outnumbered and outgunned right now. I get it. But if we want to see God at work, taking a global perspective makes a world of difference.

Eric Metaxas

Breakpoint

http://www.breakpoint.org/bpcommentaries/entry/13/27810

Posted in Attack on Christianity, Faith Issues in Our Times, Religious Freedom, Tim's Blog | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

40 Questions for Christians Now Waving Rainbow Flags

Posted by faithandthelaw on July 9, 2015

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Kevin DeYoung, Gospel Coalition

For evangelicals who lament last Friday’s Supreme Court decision, it’s been a hard few days. We aren’t asking for emotional pity, nor do I suspect many people are eager to give us any. Our pain is not sacred. Making legal and theological decisions based on what makes people feel better is part of what got us into this mess in the first place. Nevertheless, it still hurts.

There are many reasons for our lamentation, from fear that religious liberties will be taken away to worries about social ostracism and cultural marginalization. But of all the things that grieve us, perhaps what’s been most difficult is seeing some of our friends, some of our family members, and some of the folks we’ve sat next to in church giving their hearty “Amen” to a practice we still think is a sin and a decision we think is bad for our country. It’s one thing for the whole nation to throw a party we can’t in good conscience attend. It’s quite another to look around for friendly faces to remind us we’re not alone and then find that they are out there jamming on the dance floor. We thought the rainbow was God’s sign (Gen. 9:8-17).

If you consider yourself a Bible-believing Christian, a follower of Jesus whose chief aim is to glorify God and enjoy him forever, there are important questions I hope you will consider before picking up your flag and cheering on the sexual revolution. These questions aren’t meant to be snarky or merely rhetorical. They are sincere, if pointed, questions that I hope will cause my brothers and sisters with the new rainbow themed avatars to slow down and think about the flag you’re flying.

1. How long have you believed that gay marriage is something to be celebrated?

2. What Bible verses led you to change your mind?

3. How would you make a positive case from Scripture that sexual activity between two persons of the same sex is a blessing to be celebrated?

4. What verses would you use to show that a marriage between two persons of the same sex can adequately depict Christ and the church?

5. Do you think Jesus would have been okay with homosexual behavior between consenting adults in a committed relationship?

6. If so, why did he reassert the Genesis definition of marriage as being one man and one woman?

7. When Jesus spoke against porneia what sins do you think he was forbidding?

8. If some homosexual behavior is acceptable, how do you understand the sinful “exchange” Paul highlights in Romans 1?

9. Do you believe that passages like 1 Corinthians 6:9 and Revelation 21:8 teach that sexual immorality can keep you out of heaven?

10. What sexual sins do you think they were referring to?

11. As you think about the long history of the church and the near universal disapproval of same-sex sexual activity, what do you think you understand about the Bible that Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, and Luther failed to grasp?

12. What arguments would you use to explain to Christians in Africa, Asia, and South America  that their understanding of homosexuality is biblically incorrect and your new understanding of homosexuality is not culturally conditioned?

13. Do you think Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were motivated by personal animus and bigotry when they, for almost all of their lives, defined marriage as a covenant relationship between one man and one woman?

14. Do you think children do best with a mother and a father?

15. If not, what research would you point to in support of that conclusion?

16. If yes, does the church or the state have any role to play in promoting or privileging the arrangements that puts children with a mom and a dad?

17. Does the end and purpose of marriage point to something more than an adult’s emotional and sexual fulfillment?

18. How would you define marriage?

19. Do you think close family members should be allowed to get married?

20. Should marriage be limited to only two people?

21. On what basis, if any, would you prevent consenting adults of any relation and of any number from getting married?

22. Should there be an age requirement in this country for obtaining a marriage license?

23. Does equality entail that anyone wanting to be married should be able to have any meaningful relationship defined as marriage?

24. If not, why not?

25. Should your brothers and sisters in Christ who disagree with homosexual practice be allowed to exercise their religious beliefs without fear of punishment, retribution, or coercion?

26. Will you speak up for your fellow Christians when their jobs, their accreditation, their reputation, and their freedoms are threatened because of this issue?

27. Will you speak out against shaming and bullying of all kinds, whether against gays and lesbians or against Evangelicals and Catholics?

28. Since the evangelical church has often failed to take unbiblical divorces and other sexual sins seriously, what steps will you take to ensure that gay marriages are healthy and accord with Scriptural principles?

29. Should gay couples in open relationships be subject to church discipline?

30. Is it a sin for LGBT persons to engage in sexual activity outside of marriage?

31. What will open and affirming churches do to speak prophetically against divorce, fornication, pornography, and adultery wherever they are found?

32. If “love wins,” how would you define love?

33. What verses would you use to establish that definition?

34. How should obedience to God’s commands shape our understanding of love?

35. Do you believe it is possible to love someone and disagree with important decisions they make?

36. If supporting gay marriage is a change for you, has anything else changed in your understanding of faith?

37. As an evangelical, how has your support for gay marriage helped you become more passionate about traditional evangelical distinctives like a focus on being born again, the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ on the cross, the total trustworthiness of the Bible, and the urgent need to evangelize the lost?

38. What open and affirming churches would you point to where people are being converted to orthodox Christianity, sinners are being warned of judgment and called to repentance, and missionaries are being sent out to plant churches among unreached peoples?

39. Do you hope to be more committed to the church, more committed to Christ, and more committed to the Scriptures in the years ahead?

40. When Paul at the end of Romans 1 rebukes “those who practice such things” and those who “give approval to those who practice them,” what sins do you think he has in mind?

Food for thought, I hope. At the very least, something to chew on before swallowing everything the world and Facebook put on our plate.

http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2015/07/01/40-questions-for-christians-now-waving-rainbow-flags/

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Oregon Christian Bakers Ordered to Pay $135K After Refusing to Work Gay Wedding; Told to Stop Speaking About ‘Obeying God, Not Man’

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on July 4, 2015

sweet_cakes_top_img_by_g-f_017-764x460

The Oregon Christian bakery owners who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding on the grounds that it would violate their religious convictions have been ordered to pay $135,000 in emotional damages, and have also been prohibited from speaking about standing up for their Christian beliefs.

On Thursday, Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian issued his final order in the case against Aaron and Melissa Klein, the owners of the Sweet Cakes by Melissa bakery in Gresham, who were found guilty of discrimination in January for declining to bake a cake for a lesbian couple’s wedding in 2013. Avakian ordered the Kleins to pay complainant Rachel Bowman-Cryer $75,000 for damages and $60,000 to her partner Laurel Bowman-Cryer.

“Respondents’ claim they are not denying service because of complainants’ sexual orientation but rather because they do not wish to participate in their same-sex wedding ceremony. The forum has already found there to be no distinction between the two,” Avakian wrote in his order. “Further, to allow respondents, a for-profit business, to deny any services to people because of their protected class, would be tantamount to allowing legal separation of people based on their sexual orientation from at least some portion of the public marketplace.”
In defending the amount in which he ordered the Kleins to pay, Avakian, the head of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, claimed that the denial of service caused both women to go through emotional distress and added that Rachel Bowman-Cryer laid depressed in bed for days after she was told that Sweet Cakes does not service same-sex weddings.

“There is ample evidence in the record of specific, identifiable types of emotional suffering both complainants experienced because of this denial of service,” the commissioner wrote. “The proposal for LBC is less because she was not present at the denial and the ALJ found her testimony about the extent and severity of her emotional suffering to be exaggerated in some respects.”

The Kleins, who said last year that they were forced to close their shop in 2013 because harassment from LGBT advocates caused so much strain on their business, have also been told to “cease and desist” from speaking publicly about how they plan to continue to stand for their Christian faith and refuse to participate in same-sex weddings, as they now operate their business from their home.

“… Aaron has been charged with advertising. (Basically talking about not wanting to participate in a same-sex weddings). This effectively strips us of all our First Amendment rights,” the Kleins posted on the Sweet Cakes By Melissa Facebook page. “According to the state of Oregon we neither have freedom of religion or freedom of speech. We will NOT give up this fight, and we will NOT be silenced.

“We stand for God’s truth, God’s Word and freedom for ALL americans,” the post continued. “We are here to obey God, not man, and we will not conform to this world. If we were to lose everything it would be totally worth it for our Lord who gave his one and only son, Jesus, for us! God will win this fight!”

According to The Daily Signal, the “cease and desist” order is a result of an interview the Kleins did with the Family Research Council, in which Aaron Klein reportedly said “This fight is not over. We will continue to stand strong.”

The Bowman-Cryers’ lawyer argued that the Kleins violated a state law that bans people from speaking or acting on behalf of a place of public accommodation to promote discriminating against any of the state’s protected social classes.

Although the lawyer’s cease and desist argument was thrown out by administrative law Judge Alan McCullough in a proposed order in April, Avakian reversed McCullough’s decision.

Aaron Klein told Fox News that they plan to appeal the decision and that they will not comply.

“This man has no power over me. He seems to think he can tell me to be quiet. That doesn’t sit well with me and I refuse to comply,” Klein said. “When my constitutional freedoms have been violated by the state, I’m going to speak out. That’s the way it is.”

The Kleins’ lawyer, Anna Harmon, told The Daily Signal that Avakian’s cease and desist order is further proof that the state is trying to force businesses that they don’t politically agree with to conform.

“Brad Avakian has been outspoken throughout this case about his intent to ‘rehabilitate’ those whose beliefs do not conform to the state’s ideas,” Harmon said. “Now he has ruled that the Kleins’ simple statement of personal resolve to be true to their faith is unlawful. This is a brazen attack on every American’s right to freely speak and imposes government orthodoxy on those who do not agree with government sanctioned ideas.”

Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, said Avakian’s decision is a “fundamental violation” of freedom of speech and went as far as to label Avakian as no better than a bureaucrat in communist China.

“It is exactly this kind of oppressive persecution by government officials that led the pilgrims to America. And Commissioner Avakian’s order that the Kleins stop speaking about this case is even more outrageous — and also a fundamental violation of their right to free speech under the First Amendment,” Spakovsky said. “Avakian would have fit right in as a bureaucrat in the Soviet Union or Red China. Oregon should be ashamed that such an unprincipled, scurrilous individual is a government official in the state.”
Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/oregon-christian-bakers-ordered-to-pay-135k-after-refusing-to-work-gay-wedding-told-to-stop-speaking-about-obeying-god-not-man-141137/#dePfLTicTUvdWkRC.99

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Here We Stand: An Evangelical Declaration on Marriage

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on July 3, 2015

marriageAs evangelical Christians, we dissent from the court’s ruling that redefines marriage. The state did not create the family, and should not try to recreate the family in its own image. We will not capitulate on marriage because biblical authority requires that we cannot. The outcome of the Supreme Court’s ruling to redefine marriage represents what seems like the result of a half-century of witnessing marriage’s decline through divorce, cohabitation, and a worldview of almost limitless sexual freedom. The Supreme Court’s actions pose incalculable risks to an already volatile social fabric by alienating those whose beliefs about marriage are motivated by deep biblical convictions and concern for the common good.

The Bible clearly teaches the enduring truth that marriage consists of one man and one woman. From Genesis to Revelation, the authority of Scripture witnesses to the nature of biblical marriage as uniquely bound to the complementarity of man and woman. This truth is not negotiable. The Lord Jesus himself said that marriage is from the beginning (Matt. 19:4-6), so no human institution has the authority to redefine marriage any more than a human institution has the authority to redefine the gospel, which marriage mysteriously reflects (Eph. 5:32). The Supreme Court’s ruling to redefine marriage demonstrates mistaken judgment by disregarding what history and countless civilizations have passed on to us, but it also represents an aftermath that evangelicals themselves, sadly, are not guiltless in contributing to. Too often, professing evangelicals have failed to model the ideals we so dearly cherish and believe are central to gospel proclamation.

Evangelical churches must be faithful to the biblical witness on marriage regardless of the cultural shift. Evangelical churches in America now find themselves in a new moral landscape that calls us to minister in a context growing more hostile to a biblical sexual ethic. This is not new in the history of the church. From its earliest beginnings, whether on the margins of society or in a place of influence, the church is defined by the gospel. We insist that the gospel brings good news to all people, regardless of whether the culture considers the news good or not.

The gospel must inform our approach to public witness. As evangelicals animated by the good news that God offers reconciliation through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus, we commit to:

  • Respect and pray for our governing authorities even as we work through the democratic process to rebuild a culture of marriage (Rom. 13:1-7);
  • the truth about biblical marriage in a way that brings healing to a sexually broken culture;
  • affirm the biblical mandate that all persons, including LGBT persons, are created in the image of God and deserve dignity and respect;
  • love our neighbors regardless of whatever disagreements arise as a result of conflicting beliefs about marriage;
  • live respectfully and civilly alongside those who may disagree with us for the sake of the common good;
  • cultivate a common culture of religious liberty that allows the freedom to live and believe differently to prosper.

The redefinition of marriage should not entail the erosion of religious liberty. In the coming years, evangelical institutions could be pressed to sacrifice their sacred beliefs about marriage and sexuality in order to accommodate whatever demands the culture and law require. We do not have the option to meet those demands without violating our consciences and surrendering the gospel. We will not allow the government to coerce or infringe upon the rights of institutions to live by the sacred belief that only men and women can enter into marriage.

The gospel of Jesus Christ determines the shape and tone of our ministry. Christian theology considers its teachings about marriage both timeless and unchanging, and therefore we must stand firm in this belief. Outrage and panic are not the responses of those confident in the promises of a reigning Christ Jesus. While we believe the Supreme Court has erred in its ruling, we pledge to stand steadfastly, faithfully witnessing to the biblical teaching that marriage is the chief cornerstone of society, designed to unite men, women, and children. We promise to proclaim and live this truth at all costs, with convictions that are communicated with kindness and love.

Signatories:

Russell Moore, President, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
Jim Daly, President, Focus on the Family
R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Jeff Iorg, President, Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary
David Platt, President, International Mission Board
Ronnie Floyd, President, Southern Baptist Convention | Senior Pastor, Cross Church
Frank Page, President and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee
Danny Akin, President, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Paige Patterson, President, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
David S. Dockery, President, Trinity International University/Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Jack Graham, Pastor, Prestonwood Baptist Church
Tony Evans, Senior Pastor, Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship
Thom Rainer, President, LifeWay Christian Resources
O. S. Hawkins, President, Guidestone Financial Resources
Robert Sloan, President, Houston Baptist University
Mark Bailey, President, Dallas Theological Seminary
Barrett Duke, Vice President for Public Policy and Research, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
Matt Chandler, Lead Teaching Pastor, The Village Church
John Huffman, Board Chair Christianity Today and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
Jose Abella, Pastor, Providence Road Church, Miami
Raudel Hernandez, Pastor, Summit Español Raleigh, N.C.
Felix Cabrera, Pastor, Iglesia Bautista Central, Oklahoma City
Edgar Aponte, Director of Hispanic Leadership Development, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference
Jason Duesing, Provost, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Jeffrey K. Jue, Provost, Westminster Theological Seminary
Roland C. Warren, President & CEO, Care Net
Kevin Smith, Teaching Pastor, Highview Baptist Church
Paul David Tripp, Pastor, Author, and International Conference Speaker
Dean Inserra, Lead Pastor, City Church, Tallahassee
John Stonestreet, Speaker and Fellow, The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Ramon Osorio, Hispanic National Church Mobilizer, North American Mission Board
Jimmy Scroggins, Lead Pastor, Family Church, West Palm Beach
Jackie Hill Perry, Writer, Speaker, Artist
Greg Laurie, Senior Pastor, Harvest Christian Fellowship
Trip Lee, Rapper, singer, poet and author
Denny Burk, Professor of Biblical Studies, Boyce College
Paul Chitwood, Executive Director, Kentucky Baptist Convention
J. Ligon Duncan III, Chancellor & CEO, John E. Richards Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary
H.B. Charles Jr., Pastor-Teacher, Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church
D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
David E. Prince, Assistant Professor of Christian Preaching, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
A.B Vines, Senior Pastor, New Seasons Church
John Woodbridge, Research Professor of Church History and Christian Thought, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Mike Cosper, Pastor of Worship and Arts, Sojourn Community Church
Nathan Lino, Lead Pastor, Northeast Houston Baptist Church
Heath Lambert, Executive Director, Association of Certified Biblical Counselors
Tony Merida, Pastor for Preaching, Imago Dei Church
Clint Pressley, Pastor, Hickory Grove Baptist Church
Vance Pitman, Senior Pastor, Hope Church, Las Vegas
Bruce Riley Ashford, Provost, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Phillip Bethancourt, Executive Vice President, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
Jonathan Leeman, Editorial Director, 9Marks
Thomas White, President, Cedarville University
Karen Swallow Prior, Professor of English, Liberty University
Jason Allen, President, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Rosaria Butterfield, Author and Speaker
J.D. Greear, Pastor, The Summit Church
Collin Hansen, Editorial Director, The Gospel Coalition
Eric M. Mason, Lead Pastor, Epiphany Fellowship Church
Eric Teetsel, Executive Director, Manhattan Declaration
Andrew T. Walker, Director of Policy Studies, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
Daniel Patterson, Chief of Staff, The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
Daniel Darling, Vice-President of Communications, The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
Trillia Newbell, Director of Community Outreach, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
David French, National Review
Paul Nyquist, President and CEO, Moody Bible Institute
Kevin Ezell, President, North American Mission Board
Roger Spradlin, Senior Pastor, Valley Baptist Church, Bakersfield, Calif.
Carmen Fowler LaBerge, President, Presbyterian Lay Committee
Tommy Nelson, Senior Pastor, Denton Bible Church
J. P. Moreland, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Biola University
Bryant Wright, Senior Pastor, Johnson Ferry Baptist Church
Matthew Lee Anderson, Lead Writer, Mere Orthodoxy
Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition
Bruce Frank, Senior Pastor, Biltmore Baptist Church
Afshin Ziafat, Lead Pastor, Providence Church, Frisco, Texas
David Jeremiah, Senior Pastor, Shadow Mountain Community Church
Christine Hoover, Author
Jim Baucom, Senior Pastor, Columbia Baptist Church
Samuel W. “Dub” Oliver, President, Union University
James MacDonald, Senior Pastor, Harvest Bible Chapel
Juan R. Sanchez, Jr., Senior Pastor, High Pointe Baptist Church, Austin, Texas
David Uth, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Orlando
Timothy George, Dean and Professor of Divinity, Beeson Divinity School
Alistair Begg, Senior Pastor, Parkside Church
Naghmeh Abedini
Steve Gaines, Pastor, Bellevue Baptist Church
Richard Mouw, Professor of Faith and Public Life, Fuller Seminary
Ron Sider, Senior Distinguished Professor of Theology, Holistic Ministry and Public Policy, Palmer Seminary at Eastern University
Randy Alcorn, Director, Eternal Perspectives Ministries
Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor, University Reformed Church
Justin Taylor, Author and Blogger
Dennis Rainey, President, FamilyLife Today
Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Revive our Hearts
Ray Ortlund, Lead Pastor, Immanuel Nashville, Tenn.
John Bradosky, Presiding Bishop, North American Lutheran Church
Matt Carter, Pastor of Preaching and Vision, The Austin Stone Community Church
Andy Naselli, Assistant Professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology, Bethlehem College & Seminary
Owen Strachan, President, The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Richard D. Land, President, Southern Evangelical Seminary
Sam Storms, Lead Pastor for Preaching and Vision, Bridgeway Church
Bart Barber, Pastor, First Baptist Church of Farmersville
Hunter Baker, Associate Professor of Political Science and Dean of Instruction, Union University
Bryan Chapell, Senior Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church
J.I. Packer, Board of Governors’ Professor, Theology Regent College
Erwin W. Lutzer, Senior Pastor, The Moody Church
D.A. Horton, Director of ReachLife Ministries, National Coordinator for Urban Student Missions
Mark Dever, Senior Pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church
Fred Luter, Pastor, Franklin Avenue Baptist Church
Bryan Loritts, Pastor of Preaching and Mission, Trinity Grace Church, Kainos Movement
Mike Glenn, Senior Pastor, Brentwood Baptist Church
Johnny Hunt, Pastor, First Baptist Church of Woodstock
Ken Whitten, Senior Pastor, Idlewild Baptist Church
Marvin Olasky, Editor-in-chief, WORLD Magazine
Todd Wagner, Senior Pastor, Watermark Church
Christopher Yuan, Speaker, Author, Bible teacher
Tory Baucum, Rector, Truro Anglican Church
Bryan Carter, Pastor, Concord Church
Ron Johnson, Senior Pastor, Village Bible Church
Mac Brunson, Pastor, First Baptist Church Jacksonville
Trey Brunson, First Baptist Church Jacksonville
Ray Pritchard, President, Keep Believing Ministries
Erik Reed, Pastor, Journey Church
Michael Youssef, Pastor, The Church of The Apostles Atlanta, Ga.
Rob Peters, Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church Winston-Salem, N.C.
Gregg Matte, Pastor, Houston’s First Baptist Church
Collin Garbarino, Assistant Professor of History, Houston Baptist University
Christian George, Assistant Professor of Historical Theology, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Daniel LaBry, CEO, ABBA Fund
Evan Lenow, Assistant Professor of Ethics, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Lydia Brownback, Author and Speaker
Dannah Gresh, Author and Speaker, Secret Keeper Girl
John Huffman, Board Chair, Christianity Today & Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
Edwin Schneider, Campus Crusade for Christ Global Prayer Chief of Staff, Campus Crusade for Christ
Jon Bloom, Chair & Co-Founder, Desiring God
Jared Wilson, Content Director, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Graham Cole, Dean, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Nathan Finn, Dean of the School of Theology and Missions, Union University
Michael Duduit, Dean, Anderson University, Clamp Divinity School and College of Christian Studies
Bob Kauflin, Director, Sovereign Grace Music
Trevin Wax, Director of Author and Editorial Development, LifeWay Christian Resources
Briana Stensrud, Director, Sanctity of Life & Community Care, Focus on the Family
Tim Lubinus, Executive Director, Baptist Convention of Iowa
Timothy C. Patterson, Executive Director, Baptist State Convention of Michigan
Anne Paulk, Executive Director, Restored Hope Network
Brian Autry, Executive Director, SBC of Virginia
Jim Richards, Executive Director, Southern Baptists of Texas Convention
Cecil Seagle, Executive Director, State Convention of Baptists in Indiana
Grant Castleberry, Executive Director, The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Ben Peays, Executive Director, The Gospel Coalition
Rob Lee, Executive Director, Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention
Paige Comstock Cunningham, Executive Director, The Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity
John L. Yeats, Executive Director, Missouri Baptist Convention
Anthony Jordan, Executive Director and Treasurer, Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma
Christopher Martin, Executive Director and Treasurer, Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention
Craig Blaising, Executive Vice President and Provost, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Ryan Hutchinson, Executive VP, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Derrick Lynch, Lead Pastor, Blue Valley Baptist Church – Overland Park, Kan.
James Merritt, Lead Pastor, Cross Pointe Church
Leonce B. Crump Jr., Lead Pastor, Renovation Church
Kevin Peck, Lead Pastor, The Austin Stone Community Church
Bill Kynes, Pastor,Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church
Buddy Gray, Pastor, Hunter Street Baptist Church
Ron Edmondson, Pastor, Immanuel Baptist Church
Al Jackson, Pastor, Lakeview Baptist Church
Greg Belser, Pastor, Morrison Heights Baptist Church
Chip Henderson, Pastor, Pinelake Church
Hance Dilbeck, Pastor,Quail Springs Baptist Church Oklahoma City
Ryan Kelly, Pastor for Preaching, Desert Springs Church
Sam Allberry, Pastor, Author, LivingOut.org; St Mary’s Church, Maidenhead, UK
Donna Gaines, Pastor’s wife, Bible Teacher, Bellevue Baptist Church
Kathy Ferguson Litton, Pastor’s Wife, Consultant for Ministry for Pastors’ Wives, NAMB
Cathi Herrod, President, Center for Arizona Policy
Barry Creamer, President, Criswell College
Anthony Allen, President, Hannibal-LaGrange University
Mark Tooley, President, Institute on Religion and Democracy
Herbie Newell, President, Lifeline Children’s Services, Inc.
Rick Brewer, President, Louisiana College
K Marshall Williams Sr., President, National African American Fellowship, SBC
Dan Cruver, President, Together for Adoptiont
Matthew Pinson, President, Welch College
Jerry A. Johnson, President & CEO, National Religious Broadcasters
Randy Davis, President-Executive Director, Tennessee Baptist Convention Executive Board
Bruce A. Ware, Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Thomas Schreiner, Professor of New Testament, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Randy Stinson, Provost, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Gene Fant, Provost and Chief Academic Officer, Palm Beach Atlantic University
C. Ben Mitchell, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Union University
Stan Norman, Provost, Executive VP for Campus Life, Oklahoma Baptist University
John Woodbridge, Research Professor of Church History and Christian Thought, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Jordan Lorence, Senior Counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom
Casey Mattox, Senior Counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom
Richard Phillips, Senior Minister, Second Presbyterian Church, Greenville, S.C.
Sandy Willson, Senior Minister, Second Presbyterian Church, Memphis, Tenn.
Charles Fowler, Senior Pastor, Germantown Baptist Church
Bob Roberts, Senior Pastor, NorthWood Church
Daniel Dumas, Senior Vice President of Institutional Administration, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Derek W H Thomas, The Robert Strong Professor of Systematic and Pastoral Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary
Eric Geiger, Vice President, LifeWay Christian Resources
Roger Oldham, VP Convention Communications and Relations, SBC Executive Committee
Charles Smith, VP for Institutional Relations, Midwestern Seminary

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Christians Must Stand Their Ground, ‘Disobey’ Unjust Laws Limiting Religious Freedom, Says Matt Staver in Kick-Off to 4-Day Future Conference

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on June 15, 2015

Supreme Court

As the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision looms this month, Liberty Counsel Chairman Matt Staver and subpoenaed Houston pastor Steven Riggle asserted Sunday that Christians and churches across the country need to unite, stand their ground and defy “unjust” laws that restrict religious freedoms.

While speaking on the opening night of the four-day Future Conference hosted at the Skyline Church in San Diego, which is headed by pastor Jim Garlow, Staver told the audience in a video speech that the pending Supreme Court ruling could lead to the constitutionalization of same-sex marriage and would also be an “unprecedented threat” to American history and religious freedoms.

Staver, whose Liberty Institute advocates for numerous Christians persecuted by the government for upholding their faith, further explained that if same-sex marriage is ruled constitutional, it will not be something that Christians will simply be able to ignore.

Staver argued that civil authorities will force people and businesses to choose between “compromising” their biblical convictions of marriage being between one man and one woman or having to face the prosecutorial wrath of civil authorities.

The Supreme Court has historically made a few bad rulings that time and justice have been able to realize and overcome, and a ruling in favor of same-sex marriage would be yet another biasly-flawed Supreme Court ruling, Staver contended.

Despite the fact that multiple cases across the nation have arisen where Christian business owners have been prosecuted, threatened and fined for refusing to service same-sex weddings, Staver said Christians should not be coerced into folding their biblical beliefs in order to comply with the rule of law, especially when such a law contradicts God’s natural rule of a “higher law.”

“Martin Luther King Jr., in his letter from the Birmingham Jail, said there are two different kinds of laws. There is a just law and an unjust law,” Staver explained. “An unjust law is an earthly law that is in direct collision and conflict with the higher law. [MLK] said that we must disobey them. We can not give them the respect of the rule of law because our highest respect for the rule of law requires that we not give respect to a lawless decision.”

Staver stressed that people must take a stand for their religious freedoms because judges and lawmakers are trying to stomp on them.

“We have policies at Liberty Counsel as a baseline for churches to adopt. But understand that these are not full proof. There are ideologues, whether on the bench or in legislative bodies, that really don’t care about your religious freedom, the First Amendment and these inalienable rights of conscience and they will override those liberties with this radical agenda,” Staver said.

“What should a pastor, what should people do?” Starver asked. “I believe we shouldn’t be intimidated. I believe that we should not change a single thing that we do. I believe we need to stand the ground on which God has given us. Stand your ground is my message to you. Don’t be intimidated by what’s coming.”

Staver also advised that Christians across the country need to unite on the same cause and speak out any time one of their brothers and sisters is persecuted by the government simply because they acted in accordance with their faith. Staver detailed his point by adapting a famous quote by anti-Nazi theologen Martin Niemӧller to modern-day society.

“First they came for the adoption ministry but I did not speak out because I did not do adoptions. Then, they came for the wedding photographer but I did not speak up because I did not do photographic weddings. Then, they came for the baker and I did not speak up because I was not a baker. Then, they came for the florist but I said nothing because I was not a florist. Then, they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me,” Staver said.

“This is not a call for lone believers to fall on their swords,” staver continued. “It is a call for us to speak for each other and stand together and even to suffer together. Like Esther facing the unjust laws of the Persian Empire, we must pray, then we must stiffen our spines. May God help us remain faithful, whatever the cost.”

iggle, who was one of five Houston-area pastors whose sermons were subpoenaed by Houston’s lesbian mayor, Annise Parker, last fall because of his opposition to the city’s transgender bathroom ordinance, told the conference that it’s imperative for each individual evangelical movement across the country to unite as one super movement against the attack on religious freedom.

“It seems to me that we better find a way to take all of the voices and merge them together instead of a shout coming from here and here and over there,” Riggle, who pastors Houston’s Grace Community Church, stated. “I have been asked to sign three letters in one week all with them going here and going there. What would happen if 100 million people signed one letter. When are we going to figure this out?”

Although there has been no shortage of petitions and joint letters signed by evangelical leaders against same-sex marriage, Riggle compared those individual letters and petitions to the equivalent of a group of people trying to take down one bear by using nothing but small sticks and switches, instead of one giant stick to knock the bear out.

“I think we need to walk softly and carry a big stick,” Riggle asserted. “What I mean by that is until we unite our forces, we will continue to lose because it seems to me like we have whole lot of people walking around carrying switches.”

“Can you imagine 30 people surrounding the bear and everyone of them having a switch and all of them switching the bear and he may eat you if you do that,” Riggle continued. “If you figure that if all of you put your forces together and you get a big stick … and you put everybody together and you go out after the bear with [the big stick] and on your stick is ‘the lord is my strength.’ Walk softly and carry a big stick.”

Riggle also advised Christians not to back down in the face of government coercion. He insists that Christians need to be prepared to “run to the battle,” just as David did in his battle against Goliath.

“When you hear the threats and intimidation, don’t hide. Like David, run to the battle, don’t disappear. … When the giant shouts, shout back. … How do you shout back, shout back in the voting booth … shout back by running for office.”

Staver concluded by saying that a pro-gay Supreme Court ruling will create “impossible odds” for Christians that will force God to intervene, just as He did when he protected Daniel from the lions’ den.

“This could be the best, most magnificent time for the church because moments like this when there is an unprecedented clash, there is impossible odds that God will intervene for his people,” Staver said.
Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/christians-must-stand-their-ground-disobey-unjust-laws-limiting-religious-freedom-says-matt-staver-in-kick-off-to-3-day-future-conference-140381/#kDfSPVUV2iI8RkA6.99

Posted in Attack on Christianity, Faith Issues in Our Times, Religious Freedom, Tim's Blog | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Pro-life, Religious Groups Resist Illegal DC bills; ADF Ready to Defend Those affected

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on May 4, 2015

Baby-with-TearWASHINGTON – Alliance Defending Freedom and other pro-life organizations released a joint statement Monday as a District of Columbia law is set to go into effect that could force such groups to operate contrary to their missions and beliefs.

Partly due to the agreement of many people, including the former D.C. mayor, that the law raises serious concerns under the First Amendment and federal law, the D.C. Council retreated from its original purpose for the law and passed a temporary measure stating that it will not require any employer in the District to provide insurance coverage for abortion, contraceptives, or any other “reproductive health decision.” The temporary measure will expire in 225 days, however, and therefore leaves pro-life employers open to unconstitutional treatment by the government.

“Pro-life organizations in our nation’s capital should not be forced to pay for abortions or hire those who oppose their pro-life beliefs,” said ADF Senior Counsel Casey Mattox. “While the D.C. Council has retreated from this law’s original goal, which was to force pro-life organizations to pay for abortions in violation of their conscience, RHNDA remains an unnecessary and illegal attack on pro-life conscience that Congress must stop and that we will fight, if necessary, in the courts.”

In addition to ADF, the signers of the joint statement include representatives from the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Americans United for Life, Americans United for Life Action, March for Life, Concerned Women for America, Susan B. Anthony List, Family Research Council, and the Association of Christian Schools International.

The Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2014 still prohibits even pro-life and religious organizations from “discriminating” against employees and potential employees for any “reproductive health” decision, including elective abortions. If the District does not make its temporary amendment to the law permanent, it could also force employers to provide health insurance for elective abortions regardless of the organization’s religious beliefs or pro-life mission.

“That the House of Representatives took the extraordinary step of formally disapproving this bill demonstrates just how unprecedented and illegal RHNDA is. We will continue to resist, and encourage Congress to address, the District’s egregious violation of the First Amendment and federal law…,” the joint statement says. “We are nonsectarian pro-life organizations and religious ministries that make the nation’s capital our home. Despite the enactment of this unjust law, we will continue to hire employees who share our commitment to the dignity of every member of the human family. We will not abandon the purpose of our organizations in order to comply with this illegal and unjust law. We will vigorously resist any effort under RHNDA to violate our constitutionally protected fundamental rights.”

The District’s Human Rights Amendment Act of 2014 is also set to go into effect. HRAA overturns decades-old law and requires faith-based educational institutions to endorse and to provide school resources to individuals and groups who oppose the schools’ religious teachings on human sexuality. ADF attorneys say that both laws violate constitutionally protected freedoms and federal law, including the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and that ADF will be available to legally represent organizations that are negatively impacted by either law.

“ADF stands ready to protect the freedom that schools have not to support student groups whose objectives clearly contradict the schools’ religious values,” said ADF Senior Counsel Gregory S. Baylor. “The government should not be in the business of forcing people to act contrary to their beliefs when it has no compelling reason for doing so. Federal law and numerous court decisions support that point.”

As a federal district, D.C. laws are subject to review by Congress before they go into effect. Some members of Congress introduced resolutions to disapprove the bills, but they failed to pass. President Obama threatened to veto the resolutions if Congress passed them.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.

Posted in Faith Issues in Our Times, Hot Legal News | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Canada Supreme Court Rules Against Christian Prayers at City Council Meetings, Says It ‘Stigmatizes’ Atheists

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on April 19, 2015

canada-supreme-court

Nearly a year after the United States Supreme Court ruled that government meetings could include Christian prayers, Canada’s highest legal authority has concluded the opposite.

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled unanimously on Wednesday that prayers at town hall meetings are a violation of law, since they show preference for one religion over another.

In Mouvement laïque québécois v. Saguenay (City), Canada’s highest court upheld a lower court decision concluding that the mayor of Saguenay had violated an atheist’s freedom of conscience by opening public meetings with a prayer

“The prayer recited by the municipal council in breach of the state’s duty of neutrality resulted in a distinction, exclusion and preference based on religion …. which, in combination with the circumstances in which the prayer was recited, turned the meetings into a preferential space for people with theistic beliefs,” wrote the court.

“Although non‑believers could also participate, the price for doing so was isolation, exclusion and stigmatization. This impaired [plaintiff’s] right to exercise his freedom of conscience and religion.”

Canadian Secular Alliance, an organization that was an official intervener in the case, called the decision a “victory” for Canada.

“The decision is a victory for pluralism, equality and neutrality, rather than a promotion of atheism,” stated CSA President Greg Oliver.

“The CSA congratulates Alain Simoneau and Mouvement laïque québécois for their successful effort to make Canada a more inclusive country and calls on municipal councils still reciting government prayers to respect the decision and end this discriminatory practice.”

For years, city leaders in Saguenay, Quebec, would open meetings with a brief Catholic prayer, reasoning that the prayer reflected Quebec’s historic Catholic heritage.

In 2007, atheist Sagenuay resident Alain Simoneau filed a complaint against the practice in the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal, which ordered Sagenuay Mayor Jean Tremblay to cease the prayers.

Mayor Tremblay appealed the decision to the Quebec Court of Appeal, which in 2011 ruled in favor of the city over the atheist.

The case was then appealed to the nation’s highest court, which heard arguments last October and involved input from various religious and civil libertarian groups.

A nationally binding decision, Matt Kwong of CBC News noted that other local governments with prayer practices are being effected.

“City of Halifax legal staff began reviewing its morning ‘invocation,’ which begins with the words ‘God our creator’ and ends with ‘amen,'” reported Kwong.

“Ottawa’s city council also dropped its morning prayer on Wednesday, as did the community of Dieppe, N.B. Both municipalities stated they would review the practice — something constitutional law expert Errol Mendes suspects many town and city councils will be doing in the days to come.”

The Canadian Supreme Court’s decision comes nearly a year after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Town of Greece v. Galloway that local governments could hold sectarian prayers at public meetings.

In a 5-4 decision, the United States’ highest court concluded that a New York town could begin their monthly town hall meetings with Christian prayers.

“The court must decide whether the town of Greece, New York, imposes an impermissible establishment of religion by opening its monthly board meetings with a prayer. It must be concluded … that no violation of the Constitution has been shown,” read the majority opinion, authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Bruce Clemenger, president of The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, whose organization served as an intervener, released a statement arguing that the decision was more nuanced than perceived.

“The Supreme Court did not ban offering prayers at government events, but they did offer guidance about when a prayer may cross a line,” said Clemenger.

“It was the circumstances and context of the prayer that the court found violated the neutrality of the state and contravened the religious freedom of an atheist who challenged the prayer.”

Kwong of CBC reported that the decision “did not deal with religious icons in provincial legislatures or the prayers that open parliamentary sessions in Ottawa.”

“And there are some legal observers who feel that some forms of public prayer and reflection would be fine as long as they are not overtly exclusive,” added Kwong.

Posted in Attack on Christianity, Faith Issues in Our Times, Hot Legal News, Religious Freedom | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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