Leaders at this past week’s National Religious Broadcasters conference warned that Christians may soon be forced to practice civil disobedience, reports cbn.com. Southern Baptist leader Richard Land and NRB board member Janet Parshall cited same-sex marriage and President Obama’s birth control mandate as reasons why. Land said those issues are non-negotiable, even at the cost of paying fines and going to jail. Parshall said today’s Christians may have to decide whether to “bow our knee” to government or to God. The U.S. Supreme Court will consider cases filed by supporters of same-sex marriage this month, and dozens of lawsuits have been filed against the contraceptive coverage mandate. Meanwhile, NRB President Frank Wright warned that Christian broadcasters’ religious freedom is at risk. Wright urged this year’s convention goers in Nashville to unite to defend their right to spread the gospel. He warned that Biblical teachings are being dubbed hate speech—and there’s growing potential for discrimination lawsuits against Christian organizations for refusing to hire non-believers. Wright told leaders, “Restrictions on religious freedom anywhere are threats to religious freedom everywhere.”
- The issue of gay marriage is hurtling toward a Supreme Court date this month, and activists on both sides are fearing—or hoping for—another Roe v. Wade-type decision, reports washingtontimes.com. The 1973 Roe decision, which the justices hoped would settle the legal question on abortion once and for all, instead spawned a political and cultural clash that is still raging. Many traditional-values advocates are predicting a similar divisive scenario if the high court overrides laws approved by legislatures and voters in dozens of states defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. If the Supreme Court “mandates genderless marriage, the resulting social divisions and political contentions will probably equal—and may surpass—those resulting from Roe v. Wade,” Nevada lawyer Monte Stewart and the Coalition for Marriage said in a friend-of-the-court brief in support of California’s voter-approved Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act, both of which take a stand against same-sex marriage. “It is not an exaggeration to call the [Proposition 8 case] Hollingsworth v. Perry the ‘Roe v. Wade for marriage,’” said Ron Prentice, chief executive of the California Family Council. The similarity seen between the 1973 abortion decision and the two marriage cases lies in how a broad decision declaring a fundamental right has potential impacts for state marriage laws and, in some cases, constitutional provisions. A court declaration of a general right to marry a person of one’s own sex, as it did in the case of abortion, also would freeze political debate. When Roe declared abortion a right, it struck down any state laws that conflicted with that ruling, said Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council. With same-sex marriage, that means nullifying or overriding overnight statutes in 41 states to limit marriage to the union of one man and one woman. If the Supreme Court rules that those kinds of man-woman marriage laws violate the U.S. Constitution, then the effect “would be to change the definition of marriage for all 50 states, and impose same-sex marriage on all 50 states,” said Sprigg.
- An unprecedented coalition of Hispanic evangelical and Catholic Christians, representing well over 30 million Hispanics of faith, is pressing President Obama to uncouple gay marriage issues from immigration reform, a move that some experts believe is a significant solidarity crack between Hispanics and the Democratic party. Nearly 75 percent of registered Catholic Hispanics and 50 percent of Hispanic evangelicals voted for Obama’s second term, but sources say that the LGBT issue is a wedge in that support. There are an estimated 30–50 million Hispanics of faith in the U.S. The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference that has more than 40,000 member churches, explained to The Christian Post that Hispanic evangelicals do not want the president or lawmakers to mix LGBT issues with immigration reform issues. The NHCLC position is backed by Catholic Hispanics and a diverse array of evangelical leaders representing more than 150 groups, including the Southern Baptist Convention and the National Association of Evangelicals. The coalitions came together privately for the first time over a week ago in Washington, D.C., where key Hispanic evangelical leaders and key Hispanic Catholic leaders discussed common-ground issues, or what Rodriguez likes to call issues of righteousness and justice—those pertaining to protecting life and advancing immigration reform. “We had as a guest Sen. Rick Santorum and it was a very open conversation, even on immigration where we have some slight differences,” according to Alfonso Aguilar, one of the most noted Catholic pro-life and pro-justice leaders in the U.S. Aguilar, whom Rodriguez describes as the James Dobson of the Catholic community, is the executive director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles in Washington, D.C., an advocacy group promoting conservative values in the Latino community. He was appointed in 2003 by then-President George W. Bush as the first chief of the U.S. Office of Citizenship. “We saw Sen. Santorum really wanting to understand the community and [he] ended up articulating a very good position on immigration. It was really a discussion and it was great to see someone like Sen. Santorum meeting with Latino leaders of faith,” Aguilar added. Aguilar cites the Obama administration’s “attack” on the culture of life and the family as the catalyst for the never-before-seen partnerships between Christian conservatives, Hispanic evangelicals, and Hispanic Catholics. “All of them are conservative, we’re not saying Republican or Democrat, but we’re conservative because we’re for life, we’re for marriage and we’re for religious freedom and immigration reform,” Aguilar said, noting that he believes the group’s first meeting “will bear many fruits.” The coalition include evangelicals and Catholics who refuse to violate their faith beliefs by supporting “any legislative piece or policy that threatens the family structure,” Rodriguez explained. Many of these member groups are participants of the Evangelical Immigration Table, founded in 2012 and responsible for a recent immigration prayer campaign. While partnership among Protestants and Catholics is not at all new when it comes to social justice issues, such as civil rights for African-Americans, never before have conservative evangelicals joined hands with Hispanic communities of faith while also partnering with the U.S. Catholic movement.
- One of the guest authors of DC Comics’ upcoming Adventures of Superman series, Orson Scott Card, will not be included in the anthology series to be release this year because of his support for traditional marriage. More than 16,000 signatures asking for DC Comics to remove Card from the project were collected on AllOut.org, an LGBT activist website, after it was announced that Card would be a writer. This led to the resignation of artist Chris Sprouse, who was the artist for Adventures of Superman, and Card’s story being subsequently pulled from the first collected issue. “We strongly support Card’s right to support marriage as the union of one man and one woman, because kids do best when they are raised by their mom and dad and marriage is society’s way of ensuring this happens for as many children as possible,” said Thomas Peters, communications director for the National Organization of Marriage, in a statement to The Christian Post on Thursday. Card is a board member of NOM, but is currently inactive, according to the organization. He does, however, continue to support NOM’s mission of protecting marriage and the faith communities that sustain healthy marriages. Card is a Mormon. NOM was founded in 2007 to serve as a national resource for marriage-related initiatives at the state and local level in response to the growing need for an organized opposition to same-sex marriage in state legislatures. The traditional marriage advocacy group is not in favor of DC Comics asking Card to resign from his job if asked, because of his position on same-sex marriage. The group said, “Absolutely not. Holding pro-marriage views should not preclude anyone from employment and we will stand with anyone who is fired or punished by a corporation simply for exercising their core civil rights in defense of marriage,” Peters said.
- The Obama administration’s notorious abortion pill mandate—which forces employers, regardless of their religious or moral convictions, to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception under threat of heavy penalties—is taking on water fast, as the reality sinks in with judges across the country that the measure is a massive legal assault on religious freedom, The Christian Post reports. A Missouri-based, family-owned plumbing products manufacturer near Kansas City is the latest company to win a court order against the mandate, bringing the total number of court rulings against the mandate to 12 compared to four in its favor. Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys and allied attorneys are representing Sioux Chief in a federal lawsuit filed last month. The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, Western Division, issued its injunction in the case, pending a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit with regard to one of two appeals in other lawsuits challenging the abortion pill mandate. The Obama administration did not oppose the injunction. “The Obama administration should understand that it cannot force Americans to abandon their beliefs at the door of the workplace,” says Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot. “The Constitution simply doesn’t allow the government to involve itself in religion by deciding what faith is, who the faithful are, and when and where their faith may be lived out. Confining our faith to our homes and our churches is not the job of Washington bureaucrats.” “Americans should be free to honor God and live according to their consciences whether they are at home, church, or work,” adds lead counsel Jonathan R. Whitehead, one of nearly 2,200 allied attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom. “The court was right to stop enforcement of this unconstitutional mandate against Sioux Chief and its owners. They, like all other family-run businesses, have the God-given freedom to live and lead their company according to the values of their faith. American entrepreneurs cannot be forced to surrender their First Amendment freedoms when they go to work.” In addition to the Sioux Chief case, Alliance Defending Freedom staff and allied attorneys are litigating eight other lawsuits with equally profound implications for “your future, that of your family, and that of a large cross-section of Evangelical, Protestant, and Catholic believers whose conscience and faith requires them to object to the mandate.”
- Baptist Press reports that the Boy Scouts will lose members and the support of faith-based organizations if it changes its policy on homosexuality, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee told two top Boy Scouts leaders in a meeting Thursday, March 7. EC President Frank S. Page met in Nashville with Boy Scouts Chief Executive Wayne Brock and Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, who serves on the Boy Scouts executive board and is a past president. Brock and Tillerson urged Page to continue supporting the Boy Scouts if the organization overturns its policy preventing homosexual leaders and members. The Boy Scouts board is expected to put the issue before its 1,400 voting members at Scouting’s national convention in May. The proposal would remove the national rule and replace it with a local option, whereby each sponsoring organization would decide the policy. Page told Brock and Tillerson that no matter how well-intentioned they are, a national policy allowing homosexual leaders and members would trump the local councils who decide otherwise, embroiling local groups in legal issues. Many local groups, Page said, will withdraw if the policy changes. Tillerson asked Page to support the Boy Scouts no matter what decision is reached in May. Page said he could not do that. God’s truth is abiding, Page said, and principles should not be subject to the changing tide of human opinion. Scripture, not opinion polls, should provide the basis for leadership, Page said. The Boy Scouts are facing pressure from sponsoring corporations to change their policy but also pressure from their base to keep it. About 70 percent of all Scouting units are operated by faith-based organizations. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints leads all faith-based organizations with 38,000 units (and 420,000 participating youth), followed by the United Methodists (11,000 units; 371,000 youth) and the Catholic Church (8,570; 283,000). Baptists are sixth (4,100; 109,000).
- When Vice President Joe Biden performed the swearing in ceremony of John Brennan in the White House’s Roosevelt Room on Friday, the new CIA director chose to put his hand on a copy of the Constitution—before it included the Bill of Rights—and not a Bible, The Christian Post reports. Brennan not only departed from the traditional practice, but used a copy of the Constitution that did not include the Bill of Rights. In April 2012, Brennan was the first official in the Obama administration to publicly acknowledge CIA drone attacks against terrorists in countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan. Last week, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) filibustered Brennan’s nomination for nearly 13 hours to rail against the administration’s drone program and to challenge the president’s authority to kill Americans with drones.
- A leading creationist, Dr. Duane Gish, went to be with the Lord on March 5, reports youroriginsmatter.com. Dr. Gish was a champion of creation at the Institute for Creation Research for decades. Born in Kansas and educated at University of California, Los Angeles, he later received his PhD at UC Berkeley. He joined the ICR faculty in 1970, after a fruitful career in biochemistry at the Upjohn Company in Michigan. Soon after the publication of The Genesis Flood in 1961, he joined with other creation-minded scientists to found the Creation Research Society in 1963 and served on their governing board until 1997. As his opportunities for creation ministry grew, he joined Dr. Henry Morris at the newly formed Institute for Creation Research. This was a true step of faith as he left a secure, well-paying position for a very uncertain future. But God blessed both his faith and his efforts. At the time, there were no such ministries and no clear path to follow. Dr. Gish shouldered the daunting burden of speaking to any audience about the evidence for creation. He especially found his own ministry niche on the college campus, where evolution was thoroughly entrenched. His expertise equipped him to speak on origin of life subjects, enriched with his personal laboratory experiences. He had worked and published with recognized experts in the field, and his voluminous knowledge of the subject served him well. In those early days, evolutionists were caught somewhat by surprise when a qualified speaker challenged their worldview, complete with a working knowledge of the relevant literature and research. Soon the lectures turned into debate opportunities, and Dr. Gish rose to the occasion. Over the years, he participated in over 300 formal debates, and by all accounts he won them all. Soon spokespersons for evolution were publicly recommending that evolutionists not debate Duane Gish, because they would surely lose. He never enjoyed the confrontations, but he relished the chance to present creation’s evidences. The debates and campus lectures were always billed as a scientific—not religious—comparison of the evidence for and against evolution. His opponents many times tried to discredit him as a scientist by branding him as a Bible-believer. He never denied his Christianity, but scrupulously stuck to the scientific evidence, never bringing up the Bible. No doubt, audiences knew where he was coming from, and in the process of presenting truth unapologetically, he gave a good testimony. Josh McDowell claimed ICR’s work was “the cutting edge of evangelism.” Christian campus groups reported a great harvest of souls following the debates. The subject of fossils proved the most valuable anti-evolution subject, and before long his debate lecture developed into a book, Evolution? The Fossils Say NO! Years later, after many printings and updates, the book was reissued as Evolution? The Fossils Still Say NO! This was a strong foundation on which the rest of creation thinking was built. He also authored other books, including A Creation Scientist Answers His Critics, Evidence Against Evolution, Dinosaurs: Those Terrible Lizards, and Dinosaurs by Design. Even though evolutionists frequently mocked him openly, censured him, and tried to silence him, Dr. Gish always comported himself as a Christian gentleman. Sprinkling in good humor, he had a habit of winning the hearts of those in the audience. His arguments were logical, his documentation relevant, and his case more believable than that of his opponents, but it was perhaps his personal presentation that carried the day. In short, the audiences liked him. Through it all, creationism grew into a movement that has impact to this day. Gish leaves a wife, Lolly; four children by his deceased first wife (also named Lolly); nine grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and hundreds of thousands of intellectual “children” who are advocates of Biblical and scientific creation.