Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Indiana blocks anti-Christian bullying
In a victory for religious freedom, earlier today Gov. Mike Pence, R-Ind., signed into law the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. This is good policy that protects the fundamental freedom of Indiana citizens from unnecessary and unreasonable government coercion.
The Indiana law is based on the 1993 federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act—a law that has served the American people well for more than 20 years. Passed with 97 votes in the Senate and by unanimous voice vote in the House, the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act was signed into law by then-President Bill Clinton. This federal law prohibits substantial government burdens on religious exercise unless the government can show a compelling interest in burdening religious liberty and does so through the least restrictive means.
No one has the right to have the government force a particular minister to marry them, or a certain photographer to capture the first kiss or a baker to bake the wedding cake.
These protections for religious freedom, like the one passed in Indiana, provide a commonsense way to balance the fundamental right to religious liberty with compelling government interests. The federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act protects against federal government violations of religious liberty, and state Religious Freedom Restoration Acts protect against state violations.
By passing its Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Indiana joins the 19 other states that have implemented such laws. Eleven additional states have religious liberty protections that state courts have interpreted to provide a similar level of protection. These commonsense laws place the onus on the government to justify its actions in burdening the free exercise of religion.
Responding to critics of the bill, who wrongly characterized the religious freedom protections, Pence stated in a press release following the signing:
"For more than twenty years, the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act has never undermined our nation’s anti-discrimination laws, and it will not in Indiana".
"Faith and religion are important values to millions of Hoosiers and with the passage of this legislation, we ensure that Indiana will continue to be a place where we respect freedom of religion and make certain that government action will always be subject to the highest level of scrutiny that respects the religious beliefs of every Hoosier of every faith."
The Indiana law, like all state Religious Freedom Restoration Acts, prevents government discrimination against religious free exercise. Religious Freedom Restoration Acts simply provide a way to balance religious liberty with compelling government interests.
There are now numerous cases of photographers, florists, cake makers and farmers being forced to participate in celebrating same-sex weddings in violation of their belief that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. These are citizens who have no problem serving gays and lesbians but do object to celebrating same-sex weddings.
Religious liberty isn’t an absolute right. Religious liberty doesn’t always trump. Religious liberty is balanced with concerns for a compelling state interest that’s being pursued in the least-restrictive means possible.
But it isn’t clear that forcing every photographer and every baker and every florist to help celebrate same-sex weddings is advancing a compelling state interest in the least-restrictive way possible. Protecting religious liberty and the rights of conscience doesn’t infringe on anyone’s sexual freedoms.
No one has the right to have the government force a particular minister to marry them, or a certain photographer to capture the first kiss or a baker to bake the wedding cake. Declining to perform these services doesn’t violate anyone’s sexual freedoms. Some citizens may conclude that they cannot in good conscience participate in a same-sex ceremony, from priests and pastors to bakers and florists. The government should not force them to choose between their religious beliefs and their livelihood.
Of course, religious liberty isn’t just about the marriage debate. Just last year, the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act protected the Green family and the Hahn family—owners of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood—from government coercion at the federal level. Protecting this fundamental freedom has benefited many Americans during the last two decades, including those of minority faiths.
As Jasjit Singh, executive director of the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, explained:
"RFRA [Religious Freedom Restoration Act] means myself, my brothers, my sisters, my mom, my dad, we can all participate in American life in the way we had dreamed and really the way it is promised as written out in the Constitution. We have an opportunity to get jobs and to fully integrate within American society without having to sacrifice or compromise any part of our religious identity".
And earlier this year, in a 9-0 ruling the U.S. Supreme Court held that a similar federal religious liberty law protected a Muslim inmate’s right to grow a short beard.
34K Black and Latino Churches Cut Ties With Presbyterian USA After Same-Sex Marriage Approval
A coalition of 34,000 black churches has cut its ties with Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) in the wake of its recent vote to approve same-sex marriage.
In a statement at Charisma News, Rev. Anthony Evans, president of the National Black Church Initiative (NBCI), wrote that PCUSA’s “arbitrary change of Holy Scripture is a flagrantly pretentious and illegitimate maneuver by a body that has no authority whatsoever to alter holy text.”
After endorsing same-sex marriage last June, PCUSA voted earlier this month to revise its constitutional language defining marriage to include a “commitment between two people.” The church became the largest Protestant group to formally recognize same-sex marriage as a Christian institution and to permit same-sex weddings in its congregations.
Writing on behalf of NBCI, which is comprised of 15 denominations and 15.7 million African-Americans and Latinos, Evans continued:
"NBCI and its membership base are simply standing on the Word of God within the mind of Christ. We urge our brothers and sisters of the PCUSA to repent and be restored to fellowship.
PCUSA’s manipulation represents a universal sin against the entire church and its members. With this action, PCUSA can no longer base its teachings on 2,000 years of Christian scripture and tradition, and call itself a Christian entity in the body of Christ. It has forsaken its right by this single wrong act.
Apostle Paul warns us about this when he declared in Galatians 1:8 that there are those who will preach another gospel.
For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. … For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
No church has the right to change the Word of God. By voting to redefine marriage PCUSA automatically forfeits Christ’s saving grace. There is always redemption in the body of Christ through confession of faith and adhering to Holy Scripture.
In this case, PCUSA deliberately voted to change the Word of God and the interpretation of holy marriage between one man and one woman. This is why we must break fellowship with them and urge the entire Christendom to do so as well".
In a statement to Breitbart News, Bishop Janice Hollis, Senior Pastor of Progressive Believers Ministries and Presiding Prelate of the Covenant International Fellowship, said:
"As I read Rev. Evan’s position statement on the Presbyterian Church USA regarding Same-Sex Marriage, his strength to speak his convictions according to Scriptures is well noted. I highly respect anyone with courage to espouse what he or she believes, especially in leadership. Unfortunately, we live in a period where many pastors, bishops and Christians in general are too preoccupied with their public image before the world, and its secular values, and have become ineffective to reach the lost because very little know what they stand for.
Simply being too afraid to take a public stand on any social issues as a representative of the Church, which within itself is a travesty and has created a vacuum. The ambiguity has led and is leading many astray as humanity is seeking to do the right thing and make the right decision amidst varying opinions and positions. However, as “Believers” the FINAL authority is always, and will always be the word of GOD. That didn’t change.
The gray area for many Christians is how they will be perceived – it is our privilege and endowment given by God to adhere to his word without apology. And yes, we still love our brethren who believe otherwise but we are not ashamed of the Gospel that teaches us how to fulfill the word in the earth.
It is easy to see the spin the media will craft regarding Rev. Evan’s position; however, there is no plot to divide the faithful – Christians too, must freely exercise our God-given right to “choose” God’s plan for the family, without legislative or decisive schemes from the religious community. I commend Rev. Evans, regardless who disagrees. God has the final say, but we all have to say something about what we believe and not live in hiding. We must share our faith and when we don’t, we lose ground to our spiritual enemy that comes to devour and destroy. Our responsibility is to the share the good news and the life changing power of the gospel to uplift and empower.
WE, as Believers of marriage between “one man and one woman,” are not hostile or antiquated; we don’t hold grudges against those who have flip-flopped in their doctrine; we have simply made a conscious decision to adhere as best of our ability to the faith delivered unto us to uphold what GOD said about marriage. “Every man shall have his own wife and every wife shall have her own husband.” There isn’t any hidden code in this… why the conundrum exists surrounding this issue is a waste. “GOD cannot retract his principles,” otherwise they weren’t principles from the genesis if humanity can change the value or strength of what they represent. Principles are solid; God is unwavering just as much as he loves and is inclusive".
In 2012, the Philadelphia-based Hollis joined Rev. Bill Owens, president of the Coalition of African-American Pastors (CAAP), at a press conference to condemn President Obama’s support of same-sex marriage.
“I just think this is a travesty in terms of the position that our Commander-in-Chief has taken on a global scale and I’m really proud that Dr. Owens has started this particular mandate to call order to where we have disorder in the highest office in the land,” Hollis said.
“The president needs to know that he has demonstrated such a dereliction of duty simply because he touted himself as a great, broad thinker, a person who could have a conversation with anyone, but yet… selectively he has chosen to overlook this intellectual body of black leaders, and we take grave offense to that,” she continued. “And he needs to know that he does not have a pass, as Dr. Owens has earlier stated, and we will hold him to the fire because at some point you’ve got to make it known what you stand for… and we know that this particular position is a political one, and we are offended.”
Owens and his group have called for the impeachment of Attorney General Eric Holder on the basis that he violated his oath of office by “attempting to impose same-sex ‘marriage’ throughout the nation.”
CAAP was also highly critical of Obama’s comparison of the same-sex marriage movement to that for civil rights during the president’s remarks at the 50th anniversary of the “Bloody Sunday” march in Selma, Alabama.
“President Obama is a disgrace to the black community,” Owens said. “He is rewriting history. We didn’t suffer and die for gay marriage. We marched for opportunity, equality, justice, freedom from oppression. We are the true heirs of the civil rights movement. We have a new movement to reclaim the ‘real’ civil rights movement.”
“The LGBT community hijacked our movement, a movement they know nothing about,” Owens asserted. “President Obama is delusional to compare our struggle with the struggle for marriage equality. Gays have not had fire hoses or dogs unleashed at them. They have not been hung from trees or denied basic human rights.”
“President Obama didn’t march,” Owens continued. “He has benefited from those of us who did march, but for President Obama to say we marched so that gays would have the right to marry today, is a disgrace and a lie.”
Last week, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, who recently instructed Alabama’s state probate judges not to issue same-sex marriage licenses according to a federal court’s ruling, joined CAAP and other conservative leaders to defend the Texas constitutional ban against same-sex marriage. Moore and CAAP have also called for U.S. Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan to recuse themselves from the same-sex marriage case that is currently before the high court, since both justices have officiated at same-sex weddings and, according to Owens, have demonstrated “lack of impartiality.”
Archbishops' anger as British supermarkets snub Easter eggs featuring Jesus in favour of Darth Vader
Supermarkets have been accused of pursuing an ‘anti- Christian agenda’ after refusing to sell Easter eggs with a religious message.
Some of Britain’s biggest stores are celebrating the most profound event in the Church calendar by offering treats featuring everything from Darth Vader to Postman Pat – but turned down products that mention Jesus.
One chain even asked ‘what has Easter got to do with the Church?’, according to the makers of The Real Easter Egg, which features Christian crosses on the box and contain a leaflet telling the story of the Resurrection.
Now Archbishop of York John Sentamu has stepped in – urging Sainsbury’s, Asda and the Co-op to stock the charity eggs – while former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey said he was ‘saddened’ by the three supermarket giants’ decision.
Lord Carey said: ‘The rest are rubbish. These Easter eggs that have nothing to do with Easter, all they are trying to do is get more money out of people. They have no meaning. I think it shows ignorance on the part of these supermarkets.
‘By not offering an alternative to secular Easter eggs they are really undermining the real message of Easter. It saddens me because we are living in a land that is completely losing contact with its religious roots and is out of touch with the Christian message.’
David Marshall, the head of the Meaningful Chocolate Company, said the supermarkets appeared biased against its ‘proven seller’. He said: ‘We do wonder at times if there is an anti-Christian agenda from some of our supermarkets who just keep turning it down. It is as if some feel Christianity is politically incorrect or the Easter story, which mentions Jesus, might put people off.
‘One buyer asked us what Easter had got to do with the Church, while another simply said, “I don’t think this is a credible product” and asked us to leave.’
The Warrington-based firm has spent five years trying to persuade stores to sell its £4 Christian-themed eggs, which were launched in 2010 with the backing of Archbishop Sentamu.
At first the supermarkets refused, but two years ago, Tesco, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and the Co-Op bowed to pressure and agreed.
But this year Sainsbury’s and the Co-op have dropped the eggs, blaming poor sales, while Asda has never stocked them. However, the Meaningful Chocolate Company say a million eggs have been sold over the past five years.
Archbishop Sentamu, who has lamented ignorance about Easter after learning that a third of children thought it marked the birthday of the Easter bunny, said yesterday: ‘With a million Real Easter Eggs sold I am delighted that Morrisons, Tesco and Waitrose have met the challenge. I call on Sainsbury’s, Asda, and the Co-operative to give their customers the same choice.’
Sainsbury’s said their decision was based on ‘the popularity of ranges in previous years’, with the Co-op also citing ‘poor sales of the Real Easter Egg in previous years’. Asda said it had not been approached this year, a claim disputed by the Meaningful Chocolate Company.
Rev. Graham: ‘Don’t Shut Up!’ – ‘Homosexuality is Wrong’ & Abortion is ‘A Sin Against God, It’s Murder’
While many Christian pastors are afraid to preach against homosexuality and abortion because some people in the pews complain, claiming their child is gay or abortion is a choice, the pastors must not shut up, said Rev. Franklin Graham, emphasizing that the sole guide is the Bible, which teaches that homosexual behavior “is wrong” and that abortion is “murder.”
Rev. Graham, 62, also stressed that pastors and the church must not shrink from teaching young people moral truth because most of the schools and colleges teach that immorality, such as homosexuality and abortion, is “okay.”
“Don’t you shut up!” Rev. Graham told attendees at The Awakening 2015: Rebuilding the Wall in Orlando, Fla. “It [abortion] is a sin against God, it’s murder,” he said. “And today, young people in the church don’t know that homosexuality is wrong. Because pastors aren’t speaking about it.”
“And they [young people] go to school and the teachers in the school tell them that it’s okay,” he said. “That it’s all right. That God made them that way. That’s the way they are. And it’s a choice. That’s what they’re teaching. So young people today, in the church, don’t get it in the church – they believe this is okay. ‘What’s wrong with you guys being against this stuff? It’s all right.’”
“And they believe it because they hear it at school,” said Rev. Graham. “But they don’t really hear it in the church. I’m just saying, in the church we have a voice. And people want to know, how do we navigate? See this right here? (He holds up a Bible.) This is the way we navigate. It’s the Word of God, and we preach the Word of God cover to cover.”
Commenting further on homosexuality, Rev. Graham said, “A lot of pastors have quit preaching against homosexuality. You know why? Because they are afraid that there may be some man or some woman in the congregation whose son or daughter is gay.”
“And so you speak against homosexuality and all of a sudden that person in the church is saying, ‘Wait a second, my son or my daughter, and listen, God made him that way and God loves him and for you to preach against them,’” said the reverend.
“Then, all of a sudden, that couple or that individual they begin to go to other people and all of a sudden you’ve got this yack, yack, yack going,” he said. “Then all of a sudden there’s a whole group of people coming to the pastor going yack, yack, yack, yack.”
He continued, “Then the pastor is saying to himself, ‘You know what, I’m just up here by myself swinging and now I’ve got the church turning against me, I’ll just shut up.’ Don’t shut up! You don’t shut up!”
“And if the people are coming up to you going yack, yack, yack and they want to run you out of the church, let them run you out of the church,” said Rev. Graham. “Go to another church – let them have that [first] church. God will bless you and He’ll honor you, if you speak up and tell the truth.”
“Abortion. The same thing,” said Rev. Graham. “Pastors are, ‘I don’t want to talk about that because there might be some lady out there and, you know, if I talk about abortion she’s going to get upset.’ Next thing you know, here she comes yack, yack, yack. Then also here comes another person and another person. Now I’ve got a little committee of these yack, yack, yacks coming. And life is just short and I just don’t need this headache, so I’m just going to shut up.”
“Don’t you shut up!” he said. “It [abortion] is a sin against God, it’s murder.”
Franklin Graham is the son of world-renowned evangelist Billy Graham, who is now 96 and retired at his family home in Montreat, N.C. Over the last 55 years, it is estimated that Billy Graham’s preaching reached 2.2 billion people worldwide through radio, television, and public rallies.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.