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-Trump HHS: New Conscience and Religious Freedom Division

by Dr. D ~ January 18th, 2018

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The HHS under President Obama tried to override and destroy religious freedom and conscience which was clearly demonstrated in that administration’s HHS Contraceptive Mandate.  Now the Department of Health and Human Services under President Trump is going an entirely different direction and in the process has established a new division to actually support and encourage religious liberty and conscience. From Townhall:

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is announcing a new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division in the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at an event Thursday morning.

According to HHS, the new division “has been established to restore federal enforcement of our nation’s laws that protect the fundamental and unalienable rights of conscience and religious freedom.”

They add that “the creation of the new division will provide HHS with the focus it needs to more vigorously and effectively enforce existing laws protecting the rights of conscience and religious freedom, the first freedom protected in the Bill of Rights.”

<Read the whole article>

Response: Say whatever you want about Pres. Trump but he is doing what he said he would when it comes to religious freedom. This is night and day different than the assault we experienced under the last president. The intent in establishing this division is to take an active part in protecting religious freedom rather than just talking about it. We obviously will be following this in the future.              *Top

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-China: Now Churches Are Being Destroyed!

by Dr. D ~ January 12th, 2018

This week the Chinese Communist leaders have taken the persecution of Christians to the highest level in a generation and in the process have even gone to the point of destroying several large churches. See in the video above the $2.6 million Golden Lampstand Church blown up. It was the home of 50,000 worshippers. Also last month a Catholic church in a nearby province was similarly destroyed.  From the Christian Post:

An evangelical megachurch was destroyed by Chinese Communist authorities Tuesday in the country’s northern Shanxi province, sparking fears among Christians that the persecution they suffer will soon get worse.

China Aid said in an update Wednesday that Chinese military police detonated explosives inside Golden Lampstand Church in Linfen…

The order to demolish the church reportedly came from China’s top officials, who control the military police.

"The repeated persecution of Golden Lampstand Church demonstrates that the Chinese government has no respect for religious freedom or human rights," said ChinaAid President and founder Bob Fu.

<Read the whole article>

Response: The Chinese Communists tried to eliminate Christianity in the past but the number of Chinese Christians grew exponentially under persecution from 900,000 or so in 1949 to over 100 million today. As the numbers grew, many Chinese congregations came out of the homes and secret meeting places and started building worship centers such as the one destroyed above.

The Chinese officials have responded by trying to get the churches to join the officially recognized government sponsored and controlled organizations like The Protestant Three-Self Church and China Christian Council, and the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Church. That effort substantially failed as the majority of Chinese protestant Christians continued to worship in unregistered churches like the mega church destroyed above and Chinese Catholics continued to attend the churches directed by the Vatican rather than the ‘Patriotic’ ones with leaders and Bishops chosen by the government.

A new round of government persecution began last year with the pulling down of thousands of crosses displayed in public and with the arrest of many major church pastors along with a demand that the pictures of Chinese Communist leaders be displayed prominently in homes rather than crosses and pictures of Jesus.

Now the Communist leaders have started to destroy churches which takes the persecution to a  level that is almost reminiscent of the ‘Cultural Revolution’ under Mao. This effort by the government will also fail. I have seen a number of demographic estimates that put China well on its way toward becoming a Christian majority nation in a generation or so. This possibility is probably what sparked the newest round of persecution by the Communist officials who fear that their ruling authority might eventually be challenged by an uncontrollable group of Chinese Christians with an entirely different world view.               *Top

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-Supreme Court: Mississippi Law Protecting Dissenters of Gay Marriage Stands

by Dr. D ~ January 9th, 2018

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The US Supreme Court has allowed a Mississippi law protecting bakers and other dissenters of same-sex marriage to stand.  Here’s the story from the Christian Post:

The United States Supreme Court declined to hear appeals on two lawsuits aimed at striking down a Mississippi law that allows businesses to refuse to service same-sex weddings.

In an order list released Monday, the highest court in the nation declined without comment to hear the cases of Campaign for Southern Equality et al. v. Bryant and Barber, Rims, et al. v. Bryant, respectively.

At issue was Mississippi’s House Bill 1523, also called the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act.  …

In April 2016, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed HB 1523 into law, which prohibits the state from compelling businesses and individuals from supporting or servicing gay weddings.

<Read the whole article>

Response: A great way to start the new year. This is a good portend for the future of religious liberty from the current court. There are lot’s of cases ahead and unfortunately the justices did not actually comment while in effect they let the Mississippi law to stand. However it is a hopeful sign that this court might protect the 1st Amendment even in head-to-head battles between religious freedom and LGBT rights.

Even better, this might encourage other states to pass similar laws protecting the religious liberty of business owners and individuals. Many LGBT activists have been pushing the idea that the 1st Amendment and freedom of religion no longer apply and are superseded by LGBT rights in cases involving same-sex marriage since it has become the ‘law of the land.’ Some are even suggesting that those who do not support same-sex marriage should no longer be allowed in public service positions. This ‘non’ decision does not specifically bring direct clarification on this but at least it lends support to religious liberty by letting the Mississippi law to continue.

There are more cases coming down the pike towards SCOTUS this year or next on this issue or similar ones involving freedom of religion. So at some time or another one would expect a more definitive decision from the court. Nevertheless those of us who support religious liberty can celebrate in the mean time with the results in this case and the real hope it gives us that this court will lean towards supporting a traditional understanding of the 1st Amendment and freedom of religion in the future.               *Top

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-Happy New Year 2018

by Dr. D ~ December 31st, 2017

May God Bless you and yours during the new year.

With the new year, many want to improve their lives in 2018. One of the best ways to do that is to read the Bible daily in the new year.

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Several polls taken during the last few years have unfortunately demonstrated that American Christians are somewhat illiterate when it comes to the Bible and particularly Biblical teachings. One good way to reverse the trend is to set aside time to read the good book everyday. An excellent idea is to read through the whole Bible or at least the New Testament during 2016. There are a number of good programs to help you in the process.

One of the easiest ways to get it done is to get a ‘One Year Bible’ where the whole year is divided up into daily readings usually with a selection from the New Testament, the Old Testament, and from Psalms. You can even get it in your favorite version at the book store or download an ebook version on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

If you find that reading all of it in one year is maybe too much, then you could read just the New Testament and Psalm offerings for each day and then maybe save the Old Testament or the following year (or visa versa).

There are also a number of good plans available that allow you to use your regular Bible for the reading. Here’s a few online: The One year Bible Online, Bible Gateway

You could also get the Bible on CD or tape and listen to it on the way to work this year or download it into your iPod, iPhone or MP3: iTunes, Apps me now

There are lots more Bible helps available just search online.

May God Bless us all in 2018.               *Top

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-Must Public Officials Give Up Their Religious Liberty?

by Dr. D ~ December 30th, 2017

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Must public officials give up their religious liberty? In past generations this question would have seemed to be ridiculous in the face of the First Amendment but over and over again those serving in public office are now being challenged to conform to secular and atheist notions of ‘Church and State’ rules of conduct that never came up or existed before.

A few months ago, an atheist group demanded that Sen. Marco Rubio stop tweeting Bible verses claiming that it was against the Constitution. Then there was the ‘religious test’ attempted to be applied by Sen. Sanders against the appointment of a Christian over his very normal Christian views on eternal destiny and salvation. Another case in point is the doctor who lost his job as a state public health official because of some things he said in a sermon given in a church.

Then there is the case of Atlanta’s former fire chief, Kelvin Cochran, who was fired for publishing a Christian devotional. Both sides claimed victory last week in the court case over that dismissal. From Christianity Today:

In Cochran v. City of Atlanta, the US District Court for the Northern District of Georgia said that the city’s restrictions on non-work speech, which were used to terminate Cochran, “do not set out objective standards for the supervisor to employ” and do not “pass constitutional muster.”

Judge Leigh Martin May backed Cochran’s claims related to the policy’s prior restraint and unbridled discretion being in violation of the First Amendment. However, she sided with the city and against Cochran over claims of religious discrimination.

“The government can’t force its employees to get its permission before engaging in free speech,” said Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Kevin Theriot, who represented the former Atlanta official.

A spokesperson for the Atlanta mayor’s office told local news that the judge ruled “in the city’s favor on all major constitutional issues, and specifically rejected Mr. Cochran’s claim that the city violated his due process and other First Amendment rights of freedom of association, free speech, and free exercise of religion.”

<Read the whole article>

That case will probably continue to the next level. At stake is whether Christians with a traditional view of marriage can continue to serve in public office if they publically or even privately enunciate those Christian views in print or in speech intended for friends or in a church or religious context and venue?

Even more startling this past week or so was the report of an atheist group demanding that a public official cease serving as a ‘bell ringer’ for the Salvation Army. Here’s the story from the CT Post:

Deep in the heart of Trump country, the Salvation Army’s ubiquitous red kettle is turning into a cauldron of controversy for Sen. George Logan.

An Ansonia Republican, Logan’s volunteer work as a bell-ringer outside a Walmart in Naugatuck for the Salvation Army, which is a Christian charity, has drawn opposition from a secularist group.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation called on Logan to keep up the separation between church and state. The group wrote to him Tuesday to voice its objections to him ringing the bell outside the big box store twice this week, including an appearance scheduled for Saturday at noon. …

     “We urge you to consider supporting only secular charities in the future,”

the Madison, Wisc., group wrote Logan.

This will ensure that representatives do not give the appearance of promoting an overtly Christian mission and will prevent citizens from feeling ostracized by their elected representatives because of their religious beliefs or sexual preference.”

<Read the whole article>

Response: The implications of the FFRF letter are rather far reaching. It really is saying that public officials must give up all of their affiliations and service in Christian organizations or churches which have ‘an overtly Christian mission,’ which would include basically all churches and specifically conservative ones who maintain a Biblical view of marriage and sexuality.

To most of us in the conservative Christian community this would seem to be a violation of the First Amendment and hopefully there are still some conservative judges who would continue to rule according to the original understanding of the Bill of Rights. However, in today’s America there are also an increasing number in legal circles who really do believe that public officials need to serve in an entirely secular context and give up their religious convictions and service in the process.

Occasionally I make a practice of reading editorials and views on the Internet from ‘the other side’ in order to get an understanding of where we may be heading in the future.

There is a prevailing understanding among atheists and secularists that public officials must be forced to give up their religious liberty in the assumption and service of their offices. Particularly, there is the notion being kicked around that conservative Christian should be barred from office and public positions if they continue to hold to traditional Christian views on marriage and sexuality. We would contend that this position is directly against the Constitution and First Amendment.

However, many atheists and secularists now contend that since the Supreme Court ruling has established same-sex marriage as the law of the land, those who maintain a traditional view of marriage now hold an ‘illegal’ view which should no longer be tolerated when it come to those serving in public office. So there is a growing support for the notion among progressives that public officials must indeed be forced to comply and give up their religious liberty when it comes to Biblical views on marriage and sexuality. It is their view that this should no longer be considered a ‘religious test’ but should be viewed as a demand and expectation that public officials rightfully support the ‘law of the land.’

Look for the battle to continue and actually intensify over this issue in 2018.

A major battleground will be over President Trump’s appointments to the federal bench. The Senate in 2018 is turning towards the left and it will be much harder for conservatives to be approved next year. Having said that, the ‘war’ over religious liberty would have already been over if Hillary had won.

Also follow the Supreme Court. A number of interesting cases on the freedom of religion front are coming before them and their ruling (or non-ruling) could be crucial in determining the future direction of religious liberty in America. In addition, any possible changes in the make-up of the court itself would result in a major battle and religious liberty would probably be one of the major issues considered in that selection and approval process.                *Top

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-Merry Christmas 2017

by Dr. D ~ December 24th, 2017

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                                                              (Image via Wikipedia)

Merry Christmas to you and yours and may God truly bless you this Day.

The Real Christmas Story

When our children were growing up it was a family tradition to read about the ‘real’ Christmas story in the Bible on Christmas Eve.

You’ve probably seen a dozen or so ‘Christmas stories’ on TV in the last couple of weeks but the real Christmas story is found in Matthew (Matt. 1:18-2:18) and in Luke (Luke 1:26-56, 2:1-40). However, Isaiah should never be ignored:

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

Matthew gives us the story largely from the perspective of Joseph, including the dreams that he had and his family genealogy. In this gospel the ‘Kingship’ of Jesus is the major topic. Starting with the Davidic Kingly genealogy through Joseph and the coming of the Magi (Wisemen) who are looking for the new king. Also King Herod’s reaction is in Matthew.

The events in Luke are given to us from Mary’s view. The angel Gabriel appears to Mary and announces the coming of the child. Mary’s genealogy is also given in Luke (Luke 3:23-38), she was also a descendant of David, but not in the ‘Kingly’ line. Chapter 2 begins with the Christmas story that everyone is familiar with:

1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

However, nothing explains the real reason for the season better than John 3:16-17:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  -KJV

*Top

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