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-ACLU: Will Not Defend Religious Freedom of Christians

by Dr. D ~ June 30th, 2015

ACLU

The ACLU recently announced that they would no longer defend and support the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) specifically because they claim that the RFRA is now used as a tool of discrimination. What they are really saying is that they will not support the religious liberty of conservative Christians who oppose same-sex marriage. Here’s the story from the Washington Post:

The ACLU supported the RFRA’s passage at the time because it didn’t believe the Constitution, as newly interpreted by the Supreme Court, would protect people such as Iknoor Singh, whose religious expression does not harm anyone else. But we can no longer support the law in its current form. For more than 15 years, we have been concerned about how the RFRA could be used to discriminate against others. As the events of the past couple of years amply illustrate, our fears were well-founded. While the RFRA may serve as a shield to protect Singh, it is now often used as a sword to discriminate against women, gay and transgender people and others. Efforts of this nature will likely only increase should the Supreme Court rule — as is expected — that same-sex couples have the freedom to marry.

<Read the whole article>

Response: So the ACLU supports civil liberties and freedom for everyone except conservative Christians. Actually this is really nothing new. Rarely have ACLU lawyers taken on any cases defending Christians.

What about Muslims and Orthodox Jews who have similar beliefs that they could also label as ‘discriminatory’? If a Muslim business owner refuses to be involved in a same–sex ceremony is that also discrimination or does the concern over Islamophobia over rule it all in that case? Probably will never find out since gay activists will never have the guts to confront a Muslim business owner.

Christians might be called ‘bigots’ when it comes to same-sex marriage but in reality no one would ever be concerned about their health in confronting a Christian business owner since most are actually caring and loving to everyone regardless.                 *Top

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-Are Conservative Christians Now Cultural Exiles?

by Dr. D ~ June 29th, 2015

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I have literally read hundreds of different responses to the Supreme Court decision on marriage. One major theme coming across from both sides of the spectrum is that the tide has shifted in America against conservative Christians. Many saying that the future is now bleak for those who still believe in the teaching and authority of the Bible.

Are conservative Christians now cultural exiles in their own country? Are evangelicals headed for the underground? This is what some are saying the future holds for Biblical Christians in America. Does the Supreme Court decision for same-sex marriage mark the beginning of the end for the ‘culture wars’ in America? In some respect I believe that it does. Here is one author’s take, Rod Dreher, on this question from Time.com:

It is hard to overstate the significance of the Obergefell decision — and the seriousness of the challenges it presents to orthodox Christians and other social conservatives. …its radicalism requires of conservatives a realistic sense of how weak our position is in post-Christian America.

…when a Supreme Court majority is willing to invent rights out of nothing, it is impossible to have faith that the First Amendment will offer any but the barest protection to religious dissenters from gay rights orthodoxy.

For another, LGBT activists and their fellow travelers really will be coming after social conservatives. The Supreme Court has now, in constitutional doctrine, said that homosexuality is equivalent to race. The next goal of activists will be a long-term campaign to remove tax-exempt status from dissenting religious institutions. The more immediate goal will be the shunning and persecution of dissenters within civil society. …

But orthodox Christians must understand that things are going to get much more difficult for us. We are going to have to learn how to live as exiles in our own country. We are going to have to learn how to live with at least a mild form of persecution. …

It is time for what I call the Benedict Option. In his 1982 book After Virtue, the eminent philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre likened the current age to the fall of ancient Rome. …We await, he said “a new — and doubtless very different — St. Benedict.”

Throughout the early Middle Ages, Benedict’s communities formed monasteries, and kept the light of faith burning through the surrounding cultural darkness. Eventually, the Benedictine monks helped refound civilization.

<Read the whole article>

Response:  Does the Supreme Court decision for same-sex marriage mark the beginning of the end for the ‘culture wars’ in America? Yes it does.

Is freedom of religion going to be affected by this decision. Yes it will. At least 4 of the justices expect it will be an issue and the majority at least mentioned it.  It is just a matter of how much and how soon.

LGBT folks have now gained the same legal status as race in America. There will be legal and economic consequences for conservative churches and Christian organizations and institutions which maintain their traditional Biblical views and practices.

Are conservative Christians now cultural exiles in their own country? A lot depends upon where you live. On the ‘blue’ coasts for sure but in small town America not so much.

Are evangelicals headed for the underground? No. I do not fully agree with the author in the article above. In fact I believe that most conservative churches will now stand up as never before and renew their efforts to bring Christ to a fallen country. The time may come for the church to go into separate communities and take the ‘Benedict Option’ but this not that time. Now is the time to be a beacon of light and love within our present cities and communities. That is the true ‘evangelical option.’

There is also another option- the ‘Prayer and Revival Option.’ Already prayer warriors are on their knees crying out for revival and a new awakening in America. In spite of everything else, prayer changes things and people. This is not a time to silently go into the night but to stand up and be counted in our neighborhoods and communities and on our knees in our homes and churches.               *Top

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-Iran Forces Gays to Have Sex Change Surgeries

by Dr. D ~ June 27th, 2015

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Several years ago when Iran’s president at the time, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, visited the United States a member of the press asked him about how living conditions were for homosexuals in his country. He responded that there were no gays ‘living’ in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The fact is that homosexuality is punishable by death in Iran. However, the latest news coming out of that radical country confirms that gays are now given the option to have sex change surgeries instead and many are choosing the alternative. Here’s the story from the Daily Caller:

Iran has a well-documented record of coercing gay and lesbian people into having the gender reassignment surgery, that is, disrupting rather than “confirming” the gender identity of hundreds per year. Since homosexuality can be punishable by death in Iran, known homosexual men tend to accept the government-subsidized surgery to become women, and vice versa.  …

The State Department’s new report covers the state of human rights … The chapter on Iran is some 16,000 words long, documenting restrictions such as lack of freedom …and includes a sub-section on the condition of LGBT people. That section states that Iranian law “defines transgender persons as mentally ill,” and that Iran therefore loans candidates for surgery up to $2,030 to undergo the operation.

By referring to the surgeries as “gender confirmation,” rather than the much more widespread and morally neutral “sex reassignment surgery,” the State Department seems to be siding with the Iranian government’s false “cure” for homosexuality.  …

The State Department’s human rights report also comes just days before the June 30 deadline for a finalized nuclear deal with Iran.

<Read the whole article>

Response: Ironically this report comes out while President Obama and his administration are celebrating the SCOTUS decision on same-sex marriage. Last week the administration downplayed the news that Iran’s Parliament took time out of their busy schedule to shout out -“Down with America.”  Now this barbaric report.

The Obama administration is going out of the way to sugar coat the report on Iran and give it the best possible face while they are in the midst of negotiations over their nuclear program. The State Department report calls it “gender confirmation” when in reality it is a choice between that or death by execution. 

A report by the BBC presents the real facts and the sad results for Iranian gay and lesbian folks who were forced into having hormone therapy and sex change surgeries. Not a pretty picture and certainly not “gender confirmation” in the majority of cases.               *Top

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-Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Same-Sex Marriage: Implications for Religious Liberty

by Dr. D ~ June 26th, 2015

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In a monumental decision by the slimmest of margins same-sex marriage is now the law of the land. The justices of Supreme Court of the United States ruled in a 5-4 decision that the 14th Amendment applies in this case and homosexual marriage can no longer be banned in any state of the union.

Justice Kennedy wrote for the majority and concluded that religious liberty should not be affected. Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas disagree and do expect some problems for religious freedom coming out of this decision. The following are their statements on this issue. From Christianity Today:

Justice Anthony Kennedy…Regarding religious freedom:

Finally, it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered. … In turn, those who believe allowing same-sex marriage is proper or indeed essential, whether as a matter of religious conviction or secular belief, may engage those who disagree with their view in an open and searching debate.

In dissent, Chief Justice John Roberts writes:

Federal courts are blunt instruments when it comes to creating rights. … Today’s decision, for example, creates serious questions about religious liberty. Many good and decent people oppose same-sex marriage as a tenet of faith, and their freedom to exercise religion is—unlike the right imagined by the majority—actually spelled out in the Constitution.

Respect for sincere religious conviction has led voters and legislators in every State that has adopted same-sex marriage democratically to include accommodations for dissenting religious practice. The majority’s decision imposing same-sex marriage cannot, of course, create any such accommodations. The majority graciously suggests that religious believers may continue to “advocate” and “teach” their views of marriage. The First Amendment guarantees, however, the freedom to “exercise” religion. Ominously, that is not a word the majority uses.

Hard questions arise when people of faith exercise religion in ways that may be seen to conflict with the new right to same-sex marriage—when, for example, a religious college provides married student housing only to opposite-sex married couples, or a religious adoption agency declines to place children with same-sex married couples. Indeed, the Solicitor General candidly acknowledged that the tax exemptions of some religious institutions would be in question if they opposed same-sex marriage. There is little doubt that these and similar questions will soon be before this Court. Unfortunately, people of faith can take no comfort in the treatment they receive from the majority today.

In his dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia argues that

"…the majority’s decision threatens the religious liberty our Nation has long sought to protect."

Justice Clarence Thomas agreed in his dissent:

Although our Constitution provides some protection against such governmental restrictions on religious practices, the People have long elected to afford broader protections than this Court’s constitutional precedents mandate. Had the majority allowed the definition of marriage to be left to the political process—as the Constitution requires—the People could have considered the religious liberty implications of deviating from the traditional definition as part of their deliberative process. Instead, the majority’s decision short-circuits that process, with potentially ruinous consequences for religious liberty.

<Read the whole article>

Response: This result has been expected for some time. Four of the justices have chosen to actually write about the possible effects of this decision on religious liberty. If it were not a real possible problem no one would have referred to it all.

Obviously, churches, mosques, and synagogues and their ministry will not be forced to conduct same-sex marriages. Official religious practice in places of worship will continue to be protected. However, if the worship facilities are sometimes ‘rented’ out or use fees are collected for marriage ceremonies, then it might be an issue.

The real problems arise with allied miniseries and religious institutions like hospitals, colleges, and other ministries like adoption agencies. Justice Roberts noted that the tax exemptions of some religious institutions might be affected. Also if federal money is going to a college or university in the form of student loans, student housing might be forced to recognize same-sex couples. These were all issues admitted as possible problems by Obama’s Solicitor General. In addition, since same-sex marriages are now legal all across the country and must be recognized everywhere, all employee benefits including health and life insurance must now reflect that new reality.

Those business owners who provide any kind of marriage related services are now on notice that they will need to provide for same-sex celebrations or incur legal problems in the future. Here’s another occupation or business that might be affected in the future- Lawyers. If a law practice offers representation in divorce cases will Christian attorneys be compelled to offer their services in same-sex divorces? Just a thought.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out in the future. Actually at this point we have no idea what the full ramifications of this decision might be when it comes to religious liberty. We can only speculate. Will the Obama administration or some future administration use this ruling to come against religious institutions in the future? That seems to be the concern of at least three justices today.                *Top

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-Cal State Universities: Christian Student Group Back on Campus

by Dr. D ~ June 24th, 2015

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A Christian Student group is now allowed back on the campuses of the large California Sate University system. Last year InterVarsity was kicked off the 23 campuses because the student ministry allowed only mature Christians as group leaders. However, the Cal-State University system requires all student groups to be open to all comers for members and for leaders also. From Christianity Today:

In a press release today announcing victory in its biggest campus access challenge to date, InterVarsity noted that its 23 chapters on 19 CSU campuses will "once again be recognized student groups."

“Following substantive and cordial ongoing conversations, CSU clarified the intent and reach of Executive Order 1068,” said InterVarsity president Jim Lundgren in the release. “We are confident we can choose leaders who are qualified to lead InterVarsity’s witnessing communities throughout the Cal State system.“ He continued:

InterVarsity’s Christian faith compels us to welcome all people. We support CSU in its commitment to serve the diversity of students on its campuses. In fact, InterVarsity communities are some of the most diverse groups on Cal State’s campuses. At the same time, we maintain our commitment to provide campus communities that are clearly Christian, where all students can experience and learn more about Christian community, theology, and practice. We’re grateful for this development and are looking forward to continued ministry on CSU campuses.

Despite the good news, InterVarsity—which has 985 chapters on 649 campuses—noted that it "continues to face challenges" to campus access at other schools in California, as well as New York, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Maine, Iowa, and Florida.

<Read the whole article>

Response: I really wonder how this will all play out. Hopefully this will pave the way for compromise resolutions all across the country and make it possible for Christian student groups to stay on campuses everywhere.

Logically this should not have been a problem in the first place. It makes absolutely no sense that a Christian student group should be required to make leadership positions open for all comers, even possibly for atheists and maybe even people who might like to embarrass Christians on campus and elsewhere. InterVarsity leaders seem confident that they will be able to choose good leaders and still abide by the University system rules. The University authorities also seem to accept the procedure that InterVarsity will now use for choosing their leaders.

I am not as nearly as confident as Intervarsity is that this will ultimately work. I still maintain that there is a bias against Christianity and conservatives in general on college campuses and among academic administrators all across America. I have noticed that not one Muslim student group has ever been kicked off any campus. And I doubt under the current American academic environment that it would ever happen regardless of their membership and leadership practices.            *Top

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-Fake John Hagee Story Gets on TV

by Dr. D ~ June 23rd, 2015

A fake story about pastor John Hagee calling for the prosecution of women who used the name of “God” during intercourse has incredibly made its way onto TV. Whoopi Goldberg and the women on “The View” took it serious and teed off on the famous pastor. This actually confirms my opinion about the credibility of that talk show.

The truth is, the respected pastor never said anything even close to this and if you actually go on the spoof news Newslo website it become very clear if you click on “Show Facts” button.

I receive fake news from friends all of the time especially on Facebook. I saw this story the other day and my son-in-law exposed it as a fake. Obviously he is more intelligent than Whoopi and her staff. I knew it was fake without even checking since I have read several of Hagee’s books.

The story received far more play than one would expect and probably exposes an increasing cultural bias against conservative pastors. Politicians, both right and left including President Obama, are another group of favorite victims on fake spoof news sites.

If a story sounds outrageous then it probably is fake and before you pass it on it is always a good idea to go to the source and search out the truth. In this case, The View has a whole staff to check out stories. How embarrassing is that?              *Top

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-Texas: Christian in Trouble for Feeding the Homeless

by Dr. D ~ June 22nd, 2015

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A Christian woman in San Antonio, Texas who has been feeding the homeless for over 10 years, may be fined up to $2,000 for not having a proper city permit. Actually she does have a license for her food truck where the cooking and preparation takes place but uses a pickup truck to distribute the food in the park and hard to get to locations. Here’s the story from NPR:

Every Tuesday night, Joan Cheever hits the streets of San Antonio to feed the homeless. In a decade, she’s rarely missed a night. But on a recent, windy Tuesday, something new happens.

The police show up.  …Officer Mike Marrota asks to see her permit.

Documents are produced, but there’s a problem: The permit is for the food truck, not her pickup. Cheever argues that the food truck, where she cooks the meals, is too big to drive down the alleyways she often navigates in search of the homeless.

"I tell you guys and the mayor, that we have a legal right to do this," Cheever says to Marrota.

Marrota asks, "Legal right based on what?"

The Freedom of Religion Restoration Act, Cheever tells him, or RFRA, a federal law which protects free exercise of religion.

The officer isn’t buying it. He writes her a ticket, with a fine of up to $2,000, making clear that San Antonio tickets even good Samaritans if they don’t comply with the letter of the law.

<Read the whole article>

Response: Cities all across America are making it difficult for Christian ministries to help the poor and homeless. Over 30 cities now require permits to feed the poor.  Many others demand all food distributed to be produced and prepared in licensed and inspected kitchens. Which I really have no problem with. In this case, Joan Cheever has complied with all of the health precautions and yet has run into trouble over a technicality.

Joan Cleaver asserted the federal ‘Freedom of Religion Restoration Act’ (RFRA) as the controlling legal authority to continue her ministry. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the courts.

Fact is, many cities don’t want the homeless to congregate in any given location to receive help unless it is at a government sponsored location far away from any city business or tourist centers. So many local jurisdictions lately have been clamping down on ministries that help the poor.

The church I was part of for years in South Orange County CA  use to give out free lunches to day laborers near a city park until the city and the police tried to stop it all. We continued anyway with ‘lookouts’ on cell phones to keep us from getting ticketed or arrested. The worse case I have read about was in the city of Phoenix, Arizona. The police stopped Christian folks from giving out free bottled water in Jesus name a couple of years ago.

Point is, Christians and churches are called to minister to the poor and should be free to continue. Governments, whether local, state, or federal, really should have compelling safety and health reasons for any restrictions. Otherwise it is really a violation of religious liberty.            *Top

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