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-City Ordered Church to Remove Pro-Life Signs

by Dr. D ~ May 7th, 2015

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(Image: Valley Church of Christ, Harrisburg VA)

Officials of the City of Harrisonburg, VA ordered the Valley Church of Christ to take down two pro-life signs displayed on church property within 10 days or receive ‘criminal charges’ and a fine. The charges could have resulted in as mush as a year in jail and a fine of $2,500.

The city demands were supposedly initiated in response to a complaint about the signs which carried the following messages and included photos of a fetus and a baby:

“It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.”   -Mother Teresa

and

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew[a] you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” –Jeremiah 1:5

Fortunately the church was represented by the Rutherford Institute which persuaded the city to drop their charges and demands. Here’s a quote about the case from John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute:

“Under the First Amendment, the government has no authority to pick and choose what type of speech it approves. While we are pleased that Harrisonburg city officials were quick to set things right in this matter, this is merely one example out of a hundreds of incidents taking place across the country in which speech and expressive activities that the government perceives as controversial, politically incorrect or unpopular are criminalized, caged, censored or silenced.”

Response: Lately Churches all around the country are being bullied by local governments for a number of different reasons. Increasingly churches are considered to be a burden because of their non-profit status. It use to be that they were thought to be community assets because of all the people they helped in their ministry but no more.

The number of secular folks in government service with little personal experience with churches and religion has probably contributed to an adversarial atmosphere in this generation. This has resulted in Churches all around the country running into trouble with local governments like never before. A week does not go by without a new case rising up against a church somewhere in America.

Some cases are overt like this one but most are more subtle with churches having difficulty getting permission to improve or build on their own property or in receiving approval of building plans. Whatever the difficulty, churches should seek help from legal organizations like the Rutherford Institute, Liberty Institute, Alliance Defending Freedom, or Pacific Justice Institute.

Here’s a sample of a few previous cases against churches just in the last year:

-Florida: City Trying to Force Churches to Get a Business License

-California Mandated Abortion Coverage Includes Churches?

-City of Houston Subpoenas Pastor’s Sermons on Homosexuality

-Ventura CA: Judge Argues with Church Over Ministry

-Sacramento: “Too Many Churches Already”

-IRS Makes a Pact with Atheists to Monitor Speech In Churches

-The Coming Attack on Church Tax Exemption

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-National Day of Prayer 2015

by Dr. D ~ May 7th, 2015

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Today (May 7, 2015) is the official U.S. National Day of prayer. Please remember to pray for our nation. Here’s a link to the official website with prayer suggestions.

National Prayer 2015 :

Heavenly Father,

We come to You in the Name that is above every name—Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Our hearts cry out to You.

Knowing that You are a prayer-answering, faithful God—the One we trust in times like these—we ask that You renew our spirits, revive our churches, and heal our land.

We repent of our sins and ask for Your grace and power to save us. Hear our cry, oh God, and pour out Your Spirit upon us that we may walk in obedience to Your Word.

We are desperate for Your tender mercies. We are broken and humbled before You.

Forgive us, and in the power of Your great love, lift us up to live in Your righteousness.

We pray for our beloved nation. May we repent and return to You and be a light to the nations. And we pray for our leaders and ask that You give them wisdom and faith to follow You.

Preserve and protect us, for You are our refuge and only hope.

Deliver us from all fears except to fear You, and may we courageously stand in the Truth that sets us free.

We pray with expectant faith and grateful hearts.

In Jesus’ name, our Savior.

Amen.

– 2015 National Prayer by Dr. Jack Graham  (Audio –  download)

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-Should Free Speech Be Limited Because of Muslim Sensibilities?

by Dr. D ~ May 6th, 2015

See the video above where Megyn Kelly continues to support free speech in America in spite of the recent onslaught of folks that would like to restrict any kind of media, speech, or action which is offensive to Muslims. In a recent interview Kelly even asked whether we “Should We Get Rid of All Jews?” in deference to Muslims sensibilities.

In this country we are supposed to have free speech which is guaranteed by our Constitution. However in the aftermath of the shooting in Texas over a display of Muhammad cartoons and likenesses, some are actually proposing that our free speech needs to be limited in order to avoid confrontations and violence.

I really do not personally support those who go out of their way to incite and hurt other people of faith like some have done in the past to Muslims by burning Qurans or by displaying Muhammad cartoons. Nevertheless, I do support their right to do so just as I continue to support the right of atheists and others who continue to be critical of and even ridicule my own Christian faith.

The greatest danger to free speech presently comes in the form of ‘Blasphemy Laws’ being proposed before the UN and supported by Muslim nations. Apparently even the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton support the proposed legislation which could end up being problematic for Americans traveling abroad.                    *Top

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-Re: USCIRF 2015 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom

by Dr. D ~ May 5th, 2015

2015 Annual Report

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released its 2015 Annual Report on April 30. The report documents religious freedom violations around the world noting those countries in the last 12 months which were the most problematic when it comes to abusing religious liberty. A statement from USCIRF Chair Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett:

“Not a day goes by without at least one country from these lists appearing on the front page of a major newspaper.  Humanitarian crises fueled by waves of terror, intimidation and violence have engulfed an alarming number of countries over the past year.”

“With serious religious freedom violations occurring all around the world, these horrors speak volumes about how and why religious freedom and the protection of the rights of vulnerable religious communities matter.  All nations should care about abuses beyond their borders not only for humanitarian reasons but because what goes on in other nations rarely remains there.  In the long run, there is only one permanent guarantor of the safety, security and survival of the persecuted and vulnerable.  It is the full recognition of religious freedom.”

Here’s the 2015 list of the greatest offenders and countries of concern according to the USCIRF:

USCIRF, in its role as an independent U.S. federal government advisory body, recommends that the State Department add eight more nations to its list of “countries of particular concern,” or CPCs, where  particularly severe violations of religious freedom are perpetrated or tolerated.  These countries are:

USCIRF also recommends that the State Department redesignate as CPCs the following nine countries and take additional actions to promote religious freedom:

Along with recommending CPC designations, USCIRF also places 10 countries on its 2015 “Tier 2” list, a Commission designation for governments that engage in or tolerate violations that are serious but not CPC-level.   USCIRF urges increased U.S. government attention to the following countries:

The USCIRF Report also highlights religious freedom concerns in countries that do not meet Tier 1 (CPC) or Tier 2 thresholds, but should also be the focus of concern.  These countries are:

Response: We have seen nearly all of these same countries on previous lists. Note that Muslim dominated countries seem to always be among the greatest offenders along with countries which are either Communist or have been in the past.

Also note that the Obama administration does very little to promote religious liberty around the world and to date has paid very little attention to any of the recommendation made by this commission.             *Top

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-Obama State Dept. Denies Visa to Iraqi Nun Coming to Talk About Christian Persecution

by Dr. D ~ May 1st, 2015

Not only has the Obama administration done very little if nothing to stem the tide of the persecution of Christians in the Middle East but apparently doesn’t want anyone to call attention to their failure. The Obama State Department has denied a visa to a nun who was coming to the US to talk before Congress and relief organizations to gain support for the thousands of displaced Christians particularly in Iraq and Syria. Here’s the story from the Blaze (also see the video above):

…Sister Diana Momeka, an Iraqi nun, was denied a visa by the U.S. consulate in Erbil, Iraq to enter the United States. …

Momeka had planned to speak with the Senate and House foreign relations committees, the State Department, USAID, and various NGOs about the persecution of Christians in Iraq by the Islamic State, …

She wanted to come to the US in order to call attention to the plight of fellow Christians:

“The message that I always carry in my heart and tell the people who really care [is] that you have brothers and sisters in Iraq who have been many times refused,” she said. “They need to feel they are loved, they are cared for in so many ways, especially now that we don’t know if we have any future anymore because our children are without proper schooling. … What I would like to say to people who care about us is please, please, please, please, keep us in your prayers. We are facing a very, very difficult time.”

<Read the whole article>

Response: The excuse given by the administration was that she might try and stay in America. This coming from the same Obama administration which has opened the southern border and given support to all who can make it in, even underage children. Rather a hypocritical reason at best and obviously a substitute for the real truth.

Her testimony before Congress could have brought negative publicity to the efforts of the Obama administration in containing ISIS along with the resulting horror stories of 1000’s of Christian families being killed, displaced, and persecuted under their watch. Ironically she felt further persecution, this time by the negative response of our own US Consulate:

“I have all the support letters, I didn’t expect that answer. … I questioned myself, ‘Is an IDP (internally displaced person) not a human anymore? … Does that mean I’m not allowed to travel anymore?’”

Momeka lived in the United States for six years, and she even has letters of support from members of Congress for her visit.

“I am so honored to be an Iraqi Christian who has been persecuted. But I just felt I was so persecuted by this answer [from the consulate] to tell you the truth,” she admitted.

Protests of the treatment of this Christian sister should be addressed to the White House, the State Department, and representatives in Congress.             *Top

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-Kentucky: Court Rules in Favor of Christian T-Shirt Printer

by Dr. D ~ April 30th, 2015

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Finally a victory for a Christian owned business. A county commission had originally ruled against the business for refusing to print a message on a t-shirt that was contrary to the business owner’s closely held Christian beliefs. Here’s the story from Citizen Link:

A Kentucky court says a t-shirt seller does not have to print messages that conflict with his religious beliefs.

Blaine Adamson, owner of Hands On Originals, declined to take a job printing shirts for the Lexington Gay Pride Festival. The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission determined last year that Adamson must print the shirts, even if the message violates his deeply held beliefs.

But this week a circuit court judge overturned that.

<Read the whole article>

Response: Good news for a change. This should not be news but lately so many state and federal court decisions have gone against Christian businesses that it is. Which is why so many believe that state ‘religious freedom restoration acts (RFRA)’ are now necessary to protect religious liberty in America.

So many activist judges are ruling lately against religious liberties and the freedom of religion. This is probably the case because so many law schools like the one President Obama graduated from (Harvard) are teaching and floating the idea and theory that the Constitutional right to freedom of religion needs to be limited to ‘freedom to worship’ within ones home or an official place of worship.

This theoretical idea was  clearly reflected in the decision by the New Mexico State Supreme Court in 2013 against two Christian photographers who did not want to participate in a same-sex ceremony. The ruling by the court made it plain that one could have closely held religious beliefs but could be compelled to act against them in the public square. Still probably the worst activist judicial decision against religious liberty to date.            *Top

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-Supreme Court Arguments on Same-Sex Marriage: Religious Liberty- “It is Going to Be an Issue”

by Dr. D ~ April 29th, 2015

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The US Solicitor General Donald Verrili admitted that religious liberty was “going to be an issue” in response to questioning by justices of the Supreme Court. This observation followed the arguments he gave on behalf of the Obama administration favoring same-sex marriage.

The answers given by the Solicitor General are particularly troubling because of the insight they may give to possible future government actions by the Obama administration against religious organizations, schools, and churches who continue to oppose SSM and homosexuality if same-sex marriage becomes the law of the land.

When asked by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.- “Would a religious school that has married housing be required to afford such housing to same-sex couples?” The Solicitor General responded that presently it would depend upon the laws of the various states. Meanwhile, President Obama has already requested federal legislation covering this very issue. Here’s how Albert Mohler (President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) analyzed that exchange:

“Make no mistake. The Solicitor General of the United States just announced that the rights of a religious school to operate on the basis of its own religious faith will survive only as an “accommodation” on a state by state basis, and only until the federal government passes its own legislation, …

Verrilli’s answer puts the nation’s religious institutions, including Christian colleges, schools, and seminaries, on notice. The Chief Justice asked the unavoidable question when he asked specifically about campus housing. If a school cannot define its housing policies on the basis of its religious beliefs, then it is denied the ability to operate on the basis of those beliefs.”

<Read all of Dr. Mohler’s article>

Even more telling was the Solicitor General’s response to Justice Samuel Alito’s question concerning the future tax-exempt status for churches and religious institutions that continue to oppose SSM:

“You know, I — I don’t think I can answer that question without knowing more specifics, but it’s certainly going to be an issue. I — I don’t deny that. I don’t deny that, Justice Alito. It is — it is going to be an issue.”

For those who continue to say that the legalization of same-sex marriage would not affect religious liberty, the Solicitor General admits that “it is going to be an issue.” One of our contributors who is an attorney recently commented on the legal basis of a possible future challenge to the tax exempt status of churches and religious organizations::

The “theory” will be that the government is not encumbering your freedom of religion – you are free to believe whatever you want – but if you have the wrong beliefs, the government will not “subsidize” you by granting tax exempt status.

The fact that a representative of the Obama administration is freely admitting that “It is going to be an issue” is chilling. Since the Solicitor General is part of President Obama’s legal team, is it possible that the administration may already be discussing future IRS action against religious organizations in the last two years of Obama’s term?

In the last six years, the IRS under the Obama administration has already denied tax exempt status to hundreds of conservative and religious non-profit organizations. Given the fact that Obama’s IRS has already promised atheist groups that they are going to monitor and control pastors and churches from crossing the line into politics, is it so far fetched that SSM, homosexuality, transgender issues might be declared as ‘political issues’ that are ‘off-limits’ for non-profits?

So if SSM is declared as the law of the land by the Supreme Court this summer, will  future religious liberties be compromised? -“It is going to be an issue”!            *Top

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