Current Page: Opinion | Friday, August 31, 2018
Weekly Briefing: John McCain, Pastor Suicide, Trump Evangelical Dinner

Weekly Briefing: John McCain, Pastor Suicide, Trump Evangelical Dinner

Senator John McCain is honored at a memorial service on Aug. 30, 2018, in Phoenix, Arizona. | (Screenshot: NBC News)

We've compiled the top stories of the week. Here's what you need to know: 

John McCain honored

The late Sen. John McCain of Arizona will lie in state at the U.S. Capitol — reserved for the most distinguished citizens — on Friday. Since 1852, less than three dozen citizens have been honored in the rotunda. 

McCain died on Aug. 25 from brain cancer at age 81. He has been hailed a hero by many Americans, namely for his military service. He was a POW for more than five years during the Vietnam War.

"Sen. McCain was a man of character and faith, which he displayed in the many meetings during which he requested the prayers of faith leaders. He frequently would take the time to pray with those he encountered as he sought wisdom and courage to carry out his leadership duties faithfully. ... His leadership and role as a senior statesman will be missed deeply." — Evangelical Immigration Table 

Public viewing at the U.S. Capitol is scheduled for 1-8 p.m. 

California megachurch pastor commits suicide

Andrew Stoecklein, lead pastor at Inland Hills Church in Chino, California. | (Photo: Inland Hills Church)

The death of Pastor Andrew Stoecklein of Inland Hills Church in Chino, California, after he attempted to take his own life, left the church and the surrounding community in shock. His church announced on Aug. 26 that the 30-year-old and father of three went to Heaven the night before "after battling depression and anxiety."

In a heartbreaking open letter to Stoecklein on Tuesday, his wife, Kayla, said she was sorry that he felt scared, alone and misunderstood.

"You were right all along, I truly didn't understand the depths of your depression and anxiety. I didn't understand how real and how relentless the spiritual attacks were. The pain, the fear, and the turmoil you must have been dealing with every single day is unimaginable. The enemy knew what an amazing man you were. The enemy knew God had huge plans for your life."

His death is also forcing Christians to take a closer look at mental health and how it affects those even in the church.

President Trump's dinner with 100 evangelicals

President Donald Trump speaks with evangelical leaders during a dinner at the White House on Aug. 27, 2018. | (Photo: Twitter/@Scavino45)

A White House dinner was held Monday in "honor of evangelical leadership." 

Some 100 evangelical leaders, including James Dobson, Greg Laurie, Franklin Graham, and Samuel Rodriguez, attended. 

Trump listed all the promises he fulfilled, including pro-life victories and taking steps toward protecting religious liberty. He also warned that they're "one election away from losing everything."

What critics said:

  • It showed favoritism toward evangelicals 
  • It was a campaign event with a key part of Trump's base

Facebook's "intolerant" liberal culture

Conservative employees at Facebook have called out the company for its "political monoculture that's intolerant of different views" — namely, anything in opposition to left-leaning ideology. 

About 100 of them have started a "FB'ers for Political Diversity" group to push for more ideological diversity.

Facebook had announced earlier this year that an external group would be investigating whether the company has an anti-conservative bias. The move came as conservatives and many Christians revealed that their content was blocked by the social media giant.

Elizabeth Johnston, aka The Activist Mommy, revealed this week that for the third time, she has been blocked by Facebook. 

Nigerian Christian teen still alive

Leah Sharibu campaign by Christian Solidarity Worldwide in July 2018 calling for the Christian girl's freedom. | (Screenshot: Christian Solidarity Worldwide)

Leah Sharibu refused to denounce Christ when she was kidnapped by Islamic radical group Boko Haram in February. So she wasn't released with the over 100 schoolgirls who had also been captured from school in Dapchi. 

An audio recording was released this week and the family of Sharibu confirmed that it was her voice. In the recording, the 15-year-old pleads for help. 

Though her daughter is in captivity, Rebecca Sharibu said she is proud that Leah did not reject Christ. 

"And because of that, I know God will never forsake her."

Spike in STDs

For the fourth consecutive year, the U.S. saw a sharp increase in sexually transmitted diseases in 2017, a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed. 

Last year, nearly 2.3 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis were diagnosed, surpassing the 2016 record by more than 200,000 cases. 

How Christians are interpreting the report:

It's "a moral crisis and a spiritual crisis" — Evangelist Franklin Graham

"Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of abortions in America, and the largest provider of sex-education in American schools. That is your problem right there. Call it Tinder in the classroom. No one should be surprised that STDs continue to soar." — Scott Phelps of Abstinence & Marriage Education Partnership 

The religious and nonreligious get new names

Pew Research Center decided to come up with a new way to classify Americans by religion, or lack thereof. 

Typically, research firms have been using labels such as Protestant, Catholic, Muslim, Other Faith, Atheist and None, among others.

But Pew is now cutting across faiths to categorize people by beliefs and behaviors. That means people of different faiths may be part of the same category. 

Here are some of the new groupings:

  • God-and-Country Believers: Less active than "Sunday Stalwarts" but hold many traditional religious beliefs and tilt right on social and political issues 
  • Diversely Devout: They believe in God but also believe in psychics, reincarnation and spiritual energy located in physical things. 
  • Relaxed Religious: They believe in the God of the Bible and pray often but few attend religious services or read Scripture; they say it is not necessary to believe in God to be a moral person
  • Religion Resisters: They consider themselves spiritual but not religious; most think organized religion does more harm than good; they're politically liberal and Democratic

Pray for

Rapper Andy Mineo whose mother died after battling cancer

Christians and other minorities in Myanmar who have faced genocidal acts by military leaders and whose access to lifesaving humanitarian aid has been blocked.

New releases


Letters to the Church by Francis Chan (Sept. 1)

Gay Girl, Good God: The Story of Who I Was, and Who God Has Always Been by Jackie Hill Perry (Sept. 3)