Christians, including Christian leaders, are pondering the tragedy of last week’s mass killings in a Connecticut grade school. WorldNetDaily notes that William J. Murray chairman of the Washington, D.C.-based Religious Freedom Coalition, son of atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair, who fought to remove prayer in public schools, and author of the book My Life Without God, remarked, “Probably not a single sermon will be preached in which the perpetrator is predicted to have begun his eternal punishment for his crime after judgment by a just and angry God. A splintered American church driven by a pew-hungry, feel-good message will offer assurances that eternal peace awaits all those who died, including the shooter. The words ‘hell’ and ‘sin’ will very likely not be used in any sermons associated with the massacre. . . . With a weak message from a weak church, there is no restraint or lessening of the violence. . . . In the vast majority of America’s public schools, the authority of God has been replaced with the authority of the iron fist of government. Morals? Without the authority of God, there are no morals, and none are taught in the public schools today. The ethics that are taught are situational, perhaps the same situational ethics that led to the logic that caused the tragic shootings in Newtown.” Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee had similar words, reports talkingpointsmemo.com, attributing the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in part to restrictions on school prayer and religious materials in the classroom. “We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools. . . . . [W]e’ve made it a place where we don’t want to talk about eternity, life, what responsibility means, accountability.”
- As examples of what believers are doing to comfort and help those who are hurting as a result of the Connecticut tragedy, The Masters Seminary reports that TMS graduates pastoring nearby Newtown Bible Church, Joey Newton (M.Div.’07) and Parker Reardon (M.Div.’07, D.Min.’12), minister continually to the families of the community. While they serve firsthand, offering comfort and hope through the Scriptures, current TMS student Joe Whiting provides web postings for the church website long-distance from Southern California. Joey was interviewed by Dr. Albert Mohler the day of the incident. His remarks reveal absolute reliance and dependence upon God and His Word. It’s a Word that Joey, Parker, and Joe have studied deeply and are now using effectively in times of crisis and times of calm. TMS graduate Jesse Johnson (MDiv ’04 , ThM ’10) has dispatched several people from his church in Springfield, Va., along with an abundant supply of John MacArthur’s book Safe in the Arms of God. With Joey, they will deliver these books of hope to the grieving families.
- As liberals seemingly have basically only one solution to the tragedy in Connecticut—more gun control—the incoming chairwoman of the House Republican Conference urged caution in passing new gun laws, reports cowboybyte.com. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), speaking in an interview with C-SPAN, was asked whether it was time to review current gun laws in light of a shooting rampage in Connecticut. “We need to find out what happened and what drove this individual to this place,” McMorris Rodgers said. “I think we have to be careful about new—suggesting new gun laws. We need to look at what drives a crazy person to do these kind of actions and make sure that we’re enforcing the laws that are currently on the books. And yes, definitely, we need to do everything possible to make sure that something like this never happens again.”
- Multiple media sources are cheerfully reporting that supporters of marriage-redefinition in Illinois may try to pass their same-sex marriage bill during the lame duck session of the General Assembly next month (Jan. 3–9). State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), the chief sponsor of the anti-family legislation, used the lame duck session in 2010 to ram through a same-sex civil unions bill. It passed by razor-thin margins in part because many proponents of civil unions dishonestly promised lawmakers that the legalization of civil unions was all they wanted. The ethically challenged ACLU lobbied heavily for civil unions in 2010, but then in filed a lawsuit in Cook County on behalf of homosexual activists, complaining that the very civil union law they lobbied to create is unconstitutional, reports the Illinois Family Institute.
- Scripture does not require governments to redistribute wealth to help the poor, presenters in a session at the Evangelical Theological Society’s recent annual meeting, reports Baptist Press. “Class warfare, wealth redistribution, and socialism can, at best, make people only equally miserable,” Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary professor Craig Mitchell wrote in a paper he presented during a session titled “Does God Require the State to Redistribute Wealth?” Mitchell asked, “Is it surprising that free markets, which respect property rights, maximize both producer and consumer welfare, and create wealth (rather than dividing it) are far more compatible with biblical Christianity?” More than 2,000 evangelical scholars attended the meeting in Milwaukee. Mitchell, chair of the ethics department and associate director of the Richard Land Center for Cultural Engagement at Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, said those who argue that the Bible requires governments to redistribute wealth often take Old Testament passages out of context. He told Baptist Press that the Land Center’s website includes audio, video and printed resources on economics from a Christian perspective. God required Israelites to leave a portion of their crops in the field after harvest for the poor to gather, Mitchell said, and He instituted the Year of Jubilee, when land was returned to its original owner every 50th year. But neither Old Testament requirement means that modern governments should redistribute wealth to the poor, Mitchell said. “The laws concerning the gleaning of fields in the Pentateuch (Leviticus 19:9–10 and also Deuteronomy 24:21) require the poor to work by picking up the leftovers at the edge of the fields,” Mitchell wrote. “Those who own the fields do not have their produce taken by the government and then given to the poor. Since the Old Testament extols the virtue of work and deplores the vice of laziness, the contemporary concept of wealth redistribution is alien to the Ancient Israelite conception of justice or righteousness.”
- More than 14 million people in England and Wales, equivalent to one in four of the population, say they did not have any religion at all, reports The Telegraph. It is an increase of six million on 2001 and follows a campaign by the British Humanist Association encouraging non-religious people to tick the “no religion” box on the census form. The number of Christians has fallen from 37 million to 33 million, while the number of Muslims has risen significantly from 1.5 million to 2.7 million. The only voluntary question in the census related to religion and allowed people to declare themselves to be Christian (all denominations), Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, of no religion, or to list themselves as belonging to any other faith.
- In the latest attack on therapies aimed at helping gay patients who want to become heterosexual, a congresswoman from California said Wednesday that she was introducing a resolution calling on Congress to denounce the practice, reports The Washington Times. Rep. Jackie Speier, a Democrat, is proposing the resolution as two lawsuits move through federal court challenging a new California law to ban minors from receiving “sexual-orientation change efforts” under any circumstance. In a Capitol Hill news conference last Wednesday, Seier said she was introducing her Stop Harming Our Kids resolution to “bring us some reality checks” about sexuality. “Let’s get this straight,” she said. “Being gay, lesbian [or] transgender is not a disease to be cured or a mental health issue to be treated.” Therapies aimed at helping someone go from gay to straight are “discredited” and “ineffective,” and minors should not be subjected to them, she said. She added that she will investigate whether taxpayer funds in Medicaid or Tricare, the Pentagon’s health care system, have been used to reimburse therapists offering such counseling. Practitioners of so-called “sexual reparative therapies” defend the practice, as do some conservative religious organizations, saying efforts to curb their work violate their right to freedom of religion and speech. Many of the most invasive practices once employed have been stopped, they say, and they argue that a blanket ban will hurt young people who want to fight homosexual feelings on religious or moral grounds and will only lead to more unregulated efforts.
- Illinois State Attorney General Lisa Madigan has decided to drop a case and stop fighting to preserve an illegal executive order. Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blogojevich, who is currently serving a prison sentence for trying to sell the Senate seat vacated when Barack Obama was elected to the White House, ignored an Illinois law on its books that forbids the government from forcing people to provide health care that goes against the person’s religious beliefs and issued an executive order requiring all pharmacists to provide birth control and abortifacients, regardless if it violated their religious beliefs or not. His executive order has been challenged over the past seven years. Among those fighting Blogojevich’s order is he Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. By dropping the case, pharmacists are once again allowed to practice their religious faith in their business. If their faith believes it is wrong to sell birth control and abortifacients, then they will no longer have to sell them. Writer Dave Jolly remarked in lastresistance.com, “I see this as a serious blow to Obamacare in Obama’s home state. If pharmacies can’t be forced to sell items that are against their faith, then how can employers be forced to provide coverage for the same items when it goes against their faith? It will be interesting to see how this affects the contraception mandate in Illinois and other states as well.”
- Harry Belafonte, American singer-songwriter, this week ignited outrage—and plenty of eye rolls—after speaking with MSNBC’s Al Sharpton and saying President Obama should rule like a third-world dictator and toss his GOP opponents behind bars, reports Fox News. “That there should be this lingering infestation of really corrupt people who sit trying to dismantle the wishes of the people, the mandate that has been given to Barack Obama, and I don’t know what more they want,” he said. “The only thing left for Barack Obama to do is to work like a third world dictator and just put all these guys in jail.” Belafonte went on to claim that Republicans are “violating the American desire” by working to keep government limited, taxes low, and the country solvent. Sharpton was clearly amused by the suggestion and could be heard laughing in the background. But some critics are far from amused. “Harry Belafonte has a long career as singer, actor, civil rights crusader, and now, professional lefty. He no longer is content to just abuse conservatives, now he wants to envision Obama as a third-world dictator and have his opponents jailed,” Dan Gainor, vice president of business and culture at the Media Research Institute, told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column.
- Tom Minnery, senior vice president of government and public policy at Focus on the Family, is expressing concern over a possible gambling expansion bill. Noted Minnery, “Over the last few weeks, perhaps you’ve been wondering what liberal legislators may try to push through the lame-duck session of Congress, before the new members are seated in January. There are several answers to that question, but one which may concern you is a 73-page bill seeking to legalize online poker. Capitol Hill insiders say liberals are likely to try to attach this to the omnibus spending bill which Congress must pass before the end of the year. If they succeed, it would open the door to all forms of legalized online gambling in the future. This bill represents the largest and most invasive expansion of gambling ever attempted in our nation. If it passes, it could bring online gambling into every home, school, library and business with internet access. In addition to creating generations of new gambling addicts, there is sufficient evidence to prove that hackers can enable children to gamble, launder money and fund organized crime. Clearly, this is not safe for families or our national security. Research shows us that more than 40 percent of people who use the internet to gamble are addicted. Among people over the age of 21, gambling addiction is even more prevalent than alcoholism. We don’t need to expose children to this epidemic as well.”
- Republican Congressman Tim Scott, a pro-life advocate, will replace pro-life Sen. Jim DeMint in the U.S. Senate, after DeMint stepped down to take over as the head of the conservative Heritage Foundation, reports bighealthreport.com. Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina announced Monday that she chose Representative Tim Scott to replace Jim DeMint in the United States Senate, a move that makes him the first black senator from the South in decades. Scott will serve until a special election is held in 2014. Like DeMint, Scott is a staunch pro-life advocate who has a 100 percent pro-life voting record with the National Right to Life Committee. This year, Scott voted to stop abortion funding in Obamacare, de-fund the Planned Parenthood abortion business, and stop taxpayer funding of abortion in various instances. He voted for a ban on sex-selection abortions, for enforcing parental notification laws, to repeal Obamacare, and to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy in the District of Columbia. On 10 votes in the House, Scott voted pro-life each time. DeMint applauded the selection of the pro-life congressman.