According to the Support Chick-fil-A Facebook page, more than 550,000 people committed to visit the fast-food restaurant Wednesday, reports The Christian Post. Led by former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day gained the support of influential Christian leaders, including evangelist Billy Graham. The public event was created in response to the backlash the restaurant was facing after its president, Dan Cathy, affirmed his belief in traditional marriage, or the “biblical definition of the family unit.” His comments were made to the Biblical Recorder, a Baptist publication, and they have been met by protests from the LGBT community, with some elected officials, including mayors of Boston and Chicago, threatening to block the company from opening a restaurant in their cities. Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary President Daniel Akin encouraged students to join the action and be patrons Wednesday. He expressed gratitude to Cathy and his family for “taking a stand that reflects their Biblical convictions” and doing so “with grace and kindness.” “This entire situation is a sad commentary on the moral slide of our nation and the ‘bully politics’ that too often rears its ugly head,” he said in a blog post. “It is one thing to be a hatemonger and seek the hurt of another. It is something altogether different to take a gracious stand, rooted in Biblical conviction, that only wants the best for another, and be labeled as intolerant and a bigot. The intolerance of those screaming for tolerance has become deafening. It is also, in many instances, dishonest.” Chick-fil-A issued a statement earlier this month saying its “culture and service tradition” is “to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect—regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender.” Dr. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, pointed out the irony in that people were calling for the exclusion of Chick-fil-A “in the name of inclusion.” “The threats made against Chick-fil-A betray the principle of religious liberty that is enshrined within the U.S. Constitution,” Mohler said. “Civic officials in some of the nation’s largest and most powerful cities have openly threatened to oppose Chick-fil-A for the singular reason that its president openly spoke of his Christian convictions concerning marriage. When [Chicago Mayor Rahm] Emanuel and [Chicago Alderman Proco] Moreno tell Chick-fil-A to stay out of Chicago, are they audacious enough to deliver that same message to the churches, mosques and synagogues of their city that also oppose same-sex marriage?” Huckabee has also criticized the “vitriolic assaults” on the restaurant, saying, “Only a puppet would have a problem with free speech.” Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day was not launched by the Chick Fil-A company, and no one from the company or family was involved in proposing or promoting it.

Other news:

  • The President of the Coalition of African-American Pastors says supporters of traditional marriage are facing the same discrimination that Blacks faced during the civil rights movement, reports cnsnews.com. The CAAP held the conference to announce it’s “Mandate for Marriage” campaign, a nationwide effort to urge Black voters to refrain from supporting President Barack Obama unless he retracts his support for gay marriage.
  • The Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Mich., announced that Congresswomen Michele Bachmann (R-MN) has agreed to serve on the Law Center’s Citizens Advisory Board, reports ChristianNewsWire. In accepting service on the Advisory Board, Bachmann stated, “I am pleased to join forces with the Thomas More Law Center. They are in the courts aggressively fighting the internal threat to America posed by radical Islam.” Bachmann is a member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. As a member of that committee, she has steadfastly advocated for peace through strength to ensure America’s national security. Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, commented, “We are honored to have the counsel of a tough, tested, true American patriot; a person who puts her country above politics, party and political correctness. She understands and shares our concerns about the internal threat to our nation posed by Stealth Jihad as well as maintaining the Judeo-Christian values that made this nation ‘the shining city on the hill.'” Michele Bachmann is the mother of five and the foster mother of 23. As a believer in the traditional values upon which this country was founded, she consistently defends traditional marriage, the importance of the family as the first unit of government, and the right to life for all Americans, including the unborn. Bachmann expressed her strong commitment to America’s Judeo-Christian heritage and values: “I am honored to stand with the Thomas More Law Center as they engage in the legal battles to uphold the Judeo-Christian values upon which our country was founded.”
  • A political scientist and historian says it’s too early to be concerned about a new poll that shows President Barack Obama leading Mitt Romney in three crucial battleground states—Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania—reports onenewsnow.com. No candidate has won the presidency since 1960 without winning at least two of those states. Obama won all three in 2008. But Dr. Charles W. Dunn of Regent University does not think conservatives should sweat it yet. “Obama has thrown the kitchen sink at [Romney] with negative advertising, and Romney has not yet countered,” he notes. “So, we have to await Romney’s counter punches before we can make a judgment about these things.” Dunn also believes the polls will dramatically change once voters are fully cognizant of the Democratic Party’s recent decision to embrace same-sex marriage in its official platform. “It’s just out now that Democrats are going to implement this plank in their platform. So, once the news gets out about that and you get more groups like these 3,700-plus black pastors speaking on it—that will take a toll,” the professor asserts. Dunn concludes that the Democratic Party has disrespected evangelical, Catholic, orthodox Jewish, and Latino voters in those three states who support traditional marriage.
  • Back from his overseas tour, Mitt Romney isn’t letting President Obama forget about his “you didn’t build that” remark. The Republican candidate’s campaign has put up 13 billboards across the Orlando area displaying the message, “I built my business,” MyFoxOrlando reports. The billboards are timed with the president’s arrival later Thursday for a pair of Florida campaign stops. “We did build our own business,” business owner Tanya Burns, featured in one of the billboards, told MyFoxOrlando. Burns said she was frustrated over Obama’s remarks earlier this month in Virginia. In that address, Obama suggested business owners owe their success in large part to government investment in infrastructure and other areas.
  • With guidance of the Home School Legal Defense Association, a Virginia family submitted a letter to the Franklin City school board asking that their children be exempted from public school attendance on the grounds that they had religious, conscientious objections to their children attending public school. The letter pointed out that public schools educate kids in a pervasively secular atmosphere, and they knew God did not want their children educated that way. The superintendent wrote back saying that the board had denied their exemption. The letter explained that the board “feels the responsibility to assure that your children receive an appropriate education.” The family asked for help. Home School Legal Defense Association Senior Counsel Scott Woodruff wrote to the board explaining that the religious exemption statute did not give them discretion to deny the family’s exemption since they had satisfied all lawful prerequisites. He explained that HSLDA was prepared to represent the family in a lawsuit against the school board if that was the only solution. Carrying with him lawsuit papers ready to be filed in Southampton Circuit Court, if necessary, Woodruff traveled to speak to the board at its next meeting. After Woodruff provided the board with a brief introduction to the statute and data showing that over 20 percent of families use this as their homeschool option, one member inquired about the religious convictions of the family’s 7-year-old. Woodruff showed the board a copy of the U.S. military conscientious objection statute, after which the Virginia statute is patterned. He noted that while the military statute requires one applying for conscientious objector status to have religious convictions based on both training and belief, the Virginia statute only requires training or belief. And the parents’ letter explained they were training their children in their parents’ beliefs. One board member said she would have voted in favor of the exemption if the family had provided assurance that they would homeschool the children. Woodruff explained that this is not a prerequisite under the statute. Another board member said that they like to look over the curriculum of homeschoolers. Woodruff explained that this, likewise, is not a prerequisite under the statute. He added that as of July 1, 2012, the only curriculum description a home instruction family must submit is a simple list of the child’s subjects. Another board member seemed anxious about whether exempt parents would really educate their kids. Woodruff provided a copy of Dr. Brian D. Ray’s 1994 study showing that Virginia religiously exempt students score 33 percentile points higher than others, on average. After all their questions had been answered, the board voted to grant the family’s exemption.
  • The U.S. House of Representatives has failed to approve a bill to restrict the District of Columbia’s unfettered abortion policy, reports Baptist Press. In a roll call Tuesday, July 31, the House voted 220–154 for the District of Columbia Pain-capable Unborn Child Protection Act, but fell short of the two-thirds majority required for passage. The bill came to the floor for a vote under “suspension of the rules,” which mandates a super-majority for approval. The legislation would prohibit abortions in the District of Columbia at 20 weeks or more after fertilization based on evidence a baby in the womb experiences pain by that point. If enacted, it would provide a restriction in a jurisdiction that has legalized abortion throughout pregnancy until birth. In its findings, the bill points out the D.C. council “repealed all limitations on abortion at any stage of pregnancy” in 2004. The House’s failure to approve the bill came a day after a federal judge upheld an even more stringent, pain-capable ban in Arizona. Judge James Teilborg said the state has demonstrated a “legitimate interest” in restricting abortions beyond 20 weeks of pregnancy, which is 18 weeks post-fertilization.
  • A federal appeals court panel has ruled that a Michigan county improperly censored a Nativity because of the religious content of the Christmas-season display, and ordered a lower court to resolve the situation in accordance with its ruling, reports WorldNetDaily. “Although the lawsuit is not yet over, we are tremendously pleased with the unanimous decision of the 6th Circuit Court panel,” said Richard Thompson, president of the Thomas More Law Center. “This is a great victory for private religious speech in a traditional public forum,” added Robert Muise, who was with the Thomas More Law Center when the case was begun, but now works with the American Freedom Law Center.
  • Dr. Richard Land, head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s ethics entity, has announced his plans to retire, effective Oct. 23, reports lifenews.com. Land, 65, has acted as an outspoken advocate among Southern Baptists for Biblical positions on such issues as the sanctity of human life, religious freedom, marriage, and race relations. His staunch efforts during his tenure also have made him a leading evangelical Christian voice among social conservatives in this country’s escalating cultural battles. Time Magazine named him in 2005 as one of America’s 25 most influential evangelicals. “Dr. Land has been a stalwart leader of conservative and Christian causes and has been at the forefront of protecting our liberty in America,” said Mat Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel and dean of the Liberty University Law School. “He will certainly be missed in the role that he has played for many years by those of us who have worked closely with him and those of us who have followed his work. I have a high respect for Dr. Land and believe his legacy will continue to be felt throughout the country.” Don Wildmon, founder of the American Family Association, told Baptist Press, “We’re all indebted to [Land]. I’d hate to see him go, but if he’s going to stay in the wars that’s good. We need him.” Land made it clear in his letter he is retiring only from the ERLC, “not from the ministry, or from what is popularly called the ‘culture war.’” “When God called me into the ministry a half century ago, the burden He placed on my heart was for America,” wrote Land, who recently began his 50th year in the gospel ministry. “That call and that burning burden are still there. I believe the ‘culture war’ is a titanic struggle for our nation’s soul and as a minister of Christ’s Gospel, I have no right to retire from that struggle.” Land chose to announce his retirement nearly 15 months before its effective date to provide “plenty of time for an orderly transition for both the Commission and myself to the next phase of our respective future ministries,” he said in his letter to Richard Piles, acting chairman of the ERLC trustees.