As we sat down and enjoyed our traditional Thanksgiving meals, many of us remembered the Pilgrims' quest for religious liberty. We considered how they came to this new country at great sacrifice, seeking the freedom to practice their religion.
But this noble quest is not just part of our history. The freedom to live according to faith is still being pursued today.
This quest is reflected in recent legal challenges to the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive mandate, which forces Christian employers to supply insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs or face enormous and business-killing fines and penalties. Last Tuesday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear and resolve this vitally important issue. more >>
Last month, the United States Senate passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), legislation that codifies federal anti-discrimination laws for workers to include sexual orientation and gender identity. Some opponents of the bill declared the bill's passage would be a slap in the face to religious liberty-Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council even went so far as to prognosticate that ENDA's passage would lead to an America in which "the homosexuals are brought out of the closet and Christians are driven into the closet." Nothing could be further from the truth. And regardless of one's beliefs about homosexuality (however removed from scientific truth that they may be), the message of Christ and His Golden Rule should compel all Americans to support employment protections for LGBT individuals.
Most Americans already do: a survey released in May by the Public Religion Research Institute revealed 73 percent of Americans favor laws that would protect gay and lesbian workers from employment discrimination. Running cross-tabs on the same poll shows 60 percent of Republicans support such protections, as well as majorities of every major religious group including white evangelical Protestants (59 percent), minority Protestants (61 percent), white mainline Protestants (75 percent), and Catholics (76 percent).
There's a reason 10 Republicans in the U.S. Senate stood up to support ENDA with their votes-and it wasn't because religious protections were absent. The religious protections as they exist in the bill are clear, clean, and strong, covering any faith-based non-profit institution exempted under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. And just to be sure liberals or those who disdain religion could not use ENDA as a litigious cudgel, GOP Senator Rob Portman introduced an amendment to ENDA preventing the federal government from taking punitive action against any faith-based institution exempted under the law. Chicken Little agitators prophesying churches stripped of tax-exempt status under ENDA are nothing more than fear-mongers. more >>
Pastor Eric Mason of Epiphany Fellowship in Philadelphia, Pa., addressed Liberty University students Monday at Convocation and shared a message he said has been "burning in me to talk to this generation about," which he described as the need to "break free from strongholds."
Mason, author of Manhood Restored: How the Gospel Makes Men Whole, defined a "stronghold" as not only "a fortified place" or "bastion," but also "anything that is in opposition to what God wants."
"God wants our lives to be about bringing down and challenging anything that exalts itself over who Jesus Christ is," said Mason. The Philadelphia pastor referenced 2 Corinthians 10:3-6, explaining that "Paul is talking about the issue of the people of God having their thinking being governed by the Scriptures." more >>
Should a clergy's prayers be subject to censorship if given to solemnize a public meeting? A powerful atheist group, Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU), thinks so, and has convinced a federal appellate court to enforce this sort of oversight. But the question is now squarely before the U.S. Supreme Court, having heard oral arguments earlier this month.
For years, the Council for the small town of Greece in upstate New York has started meetings with public prayer, just like many other towns, most of the state legislatures, the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court. These prayers were not uttered by council members, but by local clergy, and anyone from any faith was invited to participate.
Being open to all, no religion is favored in the process, but because most of the houses of worship in Greece happen to be Christian, most of the public prayers happen to be Christian. more >>
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins led seven members of Congress known for their strong ties to evangelical Christians on a nine-day swing through Israel's Holy Land earlier this month, touring the country's most important religious sites and meeting with top-level Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The trip, sponsored by the U.S. Israel Education Association with grants from several Christian and Jewish organizations, included Congressmen Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.), Ted Poe (R-Texas) and Steve Scalise (R-La.).
The delegation spent the majority of their time behind what is known as the "green line," or the areas near Samaria that mark the line between Israel territories captured during the Six-Day War in 1967. While experiencing the Holy Sites helped the Congressmen gain an appreciation for Israel, Perkins noted the most important aspect of the trip was time spent with Netanyahu and other government officials and their concern for the recent agreement the Obama administration reached with Iran over the country's nuclear arsenal. more >>
Monday a video called "What About Holy Hip-Hop?" was posted online at Ncfic.org, the website for the National Center for Family Integrated Churches. I know little about this group and do not want to insinuate that the families and churches involved with it believe as these panelists do on this subject. That the question was raised at one of their conferences, however, indicates it is on the minds of the attendees. The moderator even states they have received the question in various forms. From the introduction:
One of the questions we received was: "Any thoughts on reformed rap artists? … Their musical styles would be considered offensive to some, but the doctrine within the songs is sound."
I'm not a particular fan of the hip-hop or rap styles, though I did watch with interest when a slew of bearded gospel men got their bells rung by Propaganda's "Precious Puritans" a while back. While not a fan of rap and hip-hop, neither am I an opponent. I do know there is a difference between rap and hip-hop. This puts me a step or three ahead of the six panelists. more >>