Thursday, March 6, 2014
March 6, 2014|3:20 pm
WASHINGTON – Experts denounced the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child's recent report in which it suggested the Catholic Church alter its positions on fornication, contraception, homosexuality, and abortion. The report, they said, is an attack on the Catholic Church and an overreach of U.N. power.
While the committee's report emphasized the Catholic Church's clerical sexual abuse scandals, it also called on the Vatican state to alter its positions on other, unconnected moral issues. The Geneva report criticized the Vatican's opposition to contraception, homosexuality, and abortion in cases of child rape and incest.
Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), called the panel's report "a dagger to the heart of motherhood," and denounced it as an overreach of U.N. power. "A treaty-monitoring organization has told a religion to change its teaching on fundamental issues," Ruse declared at a Family Research Council panel on Wednesday.
Travis Weber, director of FRC's Center for Religious Liberty, argued that this decision weakens the credibility of the United Nations' system for adjudicating human rights. "When rights are read into a treaty without the consent of nations, the entire system loses credibility," Weber argued.
Pat Fagan, senior fellow and director of FRC's Marriage and Religion Research Institute, carefully compared the report to Kristallnacht, the "Night of Broken Glass," an attack against Jews throughout Nazi Germany. Fagan emphasized that this connection is loose. "This is not a Kristallnacht, but it is a breaking of windows," he explained, "because it makes very clear what the agenda is."
"This is a violation of religious freedom, and this targeting of the Catholic Church makes eminent sense for the radical Left," Fagan declared. He argued that an international movement for the causes of abortion and same-sex marriage, among others, targeted the Catholic Church due to its clear stance on morality. "The Catholic Church is known internationally as a source for being clear on what is right and wrong for men."
Fagan warned that "if the Catholic Church can suffer this indignity without any response, the radical Left has gained massive yardage" in the fight against religious freedom.
The MARRI director attacked the U.N. treaty on the Rights of the Child for violating the rights of parents. "It is a fundamental universal human right to transmit your religious and moral beliefs to your child while he is a minor," Fagan declared.
Ruse agreed, arguing that the document gives the child religious liberty and "free access to information from every source," two provisions which make it impossible for parents to protect their children from a host of dangers on the Internet. In addition to these violations, already in the original treaty which the Vatican signed, the commission also requested it change its positions on other issues.
A Non-Binding Resolution
The U.N. Commission on the Rights of the Child ordered the Vatican to reconsider its positions on numerous issues, from spanking to "the diversity of family settings" – a reference to homosexual adoption – and even fornication. "The church has to overcome taboos on adolescent sexuality," Ruse quoted from the report.
The report, however, is completely unbinding, the speakers agreed. The declarations of the commission are "not decisions in any way, shape, or form," Ruse explained. "They are comments and suggestions which governments are free to ignore." He also emphasized that the committee members do not represent the various countries which nominated them to serve. "Only individuals could do something so crazy."
"This report has no binding effect," Weber agreed. "It's almost as if it's just one step further than one voice telling the Catholic Church what to do."
Nevertheless, each panelist argued that it is important for the Catholic Church to respond, and for other groups to join in their attack on this report. "We have to build upon layers of response in order to prepare for attacks years from now," Weber argued.
"You have a very long-term battle going on about fundamental issues of humankind," Fagan declared. He argued that the activists for gay marriage and abortion "love a reasonable response because they have no interest in discourse but in popular messaging." They aim to elicit mocking and derision in order to defame their enemies, Fagan argued. To them, "this is an occasion by which they can humiliate the Catholic Church."
Even so, Fagan suggested a response through different groups. He argued that nations with a concern for the family – both those from Christian and Muslim traditions – should join together to oppose these attacks. "I would also call upon the United States Council on International Religious Freedom" to list the U.N. International Commission on Human Rights as a threat to religious freedom, he added.
"This is a gift from God because it highlights how crazy and radical these committees are," Fagan stressed. He argued that the Catholic Church and other organizations, including Congress, should take this opportunity to denounce U.N. overreach.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
March 3, 2014|11:41 am
Uwe and Hannelore Romeike (middle) and their six children, with Michael Farris (L) and the rest of the HSLDA legal team (back), at a hearing for Romeike vs. Holder at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Cincinnati, Ohio, April, 23, 2013.
The U.S. Supreme Court declined on Monday to hear an appeal from the Romeikes, a German homeschooling family that had asylum in the United States. The U.S. Justice Department sought to deport them back to Germany where they could lose custody of their children due to their religious beliefs.
"Today, the United States Supreme Court declined to review Uwe and Hannelore Romeike's asylum case," Michael Farris, chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association, wrote in a letter to supporters. "We knew it was an uphill battle since the Court only accepts 80–100 out of nearly 10,000 requests each year. While we are disappointed, the court's decision in no way changes our commitment to fight for the Romeikes and homeschooling freedom."
The Romeikes chose to homeschool because they believed the public schools were teaching their children values inconsistent with their Christian views. HSLDA helped the Romeikes flee Germany after they were threatened with jail time and losing custody of their children. HSLDA has also represented the Romeikes in court.
The Romeikes were initially granted asylum by a federal judge in 2010 after they fled Germany in 2008. In 2012, though, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement appealed that decision.
The U.S. Justice Department sided with ICE, arguing that there is no fundamental right to determine the education of one's children and that Germany's law banning homeschooling makes sense because denying parents the right to homeschool teaches children tolerance of a diversity of opinions.
Farris says that all the court options to save the Romeikes from being deported have been exhausted, but HSLDA is working on a congressional solution.
"Even now," he wrote, "we have been working with supportive members of Congress to introduce legislation that could help the Romeikes and others who flee persecution."
In a post to its Facebook page, HSLDA argued that with approximately 12 million unauthorized immigrants living in the United States already, the country should be able to accommodate one homeschooling family.
"Although this is the end of the normal legal battles, we are not giving up. If 12 million people can live here illegally, then surely there is a way to find a place for this one family," the post stated.
Thursday, February 27, 2014
February 26, 2014|1:55 pm
A newly married couple pose for a photograph in the snow opposite the Houses of Parliament, in central London, in this Dec. 18, 2010 file photo.
Editor's Note: This is the second part in a series on gender roles in Christian marriages. Read Part 1 here.
A Christian author claims that husbands are "dropping the ball" when it comes to shepherding their families' prayer lives, but not all Christian leaders agree that the man should be the spiritual leader of the home.
"My wife shared her heart with me, and said, 'I feel like you have failed me.' The weight from spiritual and emotional battles were falling on her shoulders alone," Sam Ingrassia, Columbia strategy leader for ministry group e3 Partners, told The Christian Post in an interview on Friday.
Ingrassia believes that praying through Scripture can empower men to lead their wives rightly, which is something he talks about in his new book, Just Say the Word. The book, complete with a reading program on YouVersion's Bible App, gives men tools on how to pray through Scripture with their wives.
Mimi Haddad, president of Christians for Biblical Equality, told CP in a recent interview that husbands should not take an exclusive position of spiritual leadership in their marriage.
"We talk about Christians living mutually, sharing leadership and authority, which is a call to serve," Haddad explained.
Ridiculing a gender-stereotyped version of leadership, Haddad commented that, for some, "the church is pink and blue – service and leadership is driven by gender." She strongly believes that this is a consequence of sin, and something the Church should reject.
Reaching spiritual intimacy through the husband's shepherding
Ingrassia doesn't limit the lessons of his book to be exclusively for men, but he does assert that Christian men feel called to lead their wives. "Christian husbands want to shepherd their wife, and there's a place of spiritual intimacy they want to get to with their wife, and they're not getting there," he explained.
He also rejects the term "leader," and prefers to use "shepherd" as a better descriptor for a husband's spiritual position in the home. Ingrassia doesn't place an emphasis on the male/female dichotomy, but said he wrote the book in order to meet a specific need. "A lot of men feel that they're failing in providing that shepherding," Ingrassia told CP.
Sharing his conviction, he added, "my spiritual connectedness and leadership with my wife lacked intentionality and regularity." The solution, he said, was to pray through Scripture.
"As Evangelicals, we pray the same things in the same way – it's almost a little boring now in our prayer," he commented. "But we started following the Word of God and let the Holy Spirit show us from the text ideas, key words, phrases, doctrines, promises and blessings – each became a prayer point."
Just Say The Word trains Christian men to discover those prayer points and use them to invigorate their prayer lives with their wives. Ingrassia cited 1 Peter 3:7, noting that Peter "links prayer with this perfect unity in marriage," which means "living with your wife in a considerate, understanding way."
Biblical counselor June Hunt, founder and CEO of Hope For The Heart ministries, outlined a role of tender leadership for husbands in an interview with CP on Friday.
"In a healthy marriage, there is joy in helping the rest of the body become all it was intended to be," Hunt declared. "It's not competition, it's not coercive, demanding or abuse."
Emphasizing that the husband's leadership must help the wife to grow, Hunt asserted, "If you're a healthy head, you provide, you protect, you enable your spouse to exercise the fullness of her gender." This other-focus, she said, embodies the leadership of Christ, as Scripture calls husbands to do.
"Wives feel much more secure with that kind of leadership, knowing that the highest purpose is not, 'I'm going to have my way,' but reflects the character of Christ," she added.
Hunt acknowledged that many people oppose the idea of one gender having spiritual leadership over the other because husbands have abused that power, as in her own parents' marriage. Nevertheless, she defended the idea of husbands leading, according to 1 Peter 3, where Scripture exhorts husbands to "be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect," since they are "heirs with you in life."
Is male leadership is a consequence of sin?
Haddad argues that "patriarchy is a consequence of The Fall," when Adam and Eve sinned against God. In her opinion, a culture of male-dominated leadership is "one of the most devastating things," and calls for mutual service and authority on the part of both husbands and wives.
"Headship is not about authority, but service and love," Haddad explained. She believes that when Scripture exhorts husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the Church, it means they ought to serve and sacrifice themselves, not insist on having their own way.
Haddad also claims that love and respect are "interchangeable qualities." Scripture's call for husbands to love their wives and wives to respect their husbands really means that both partners should love and respect each other, not that their roles are separate and prescripted for them.
Christians are "not doing the Gospel any service by calling men to leadership or authority," Haddad asserted, noting that every scriptural mandate for men to "lead" their wives truly means "laying yourself down for your wife," and believes "that's the kind of leadership all Christians should have, not just husbands."
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
February 26, 2014|8:30 am
GOP presidential nominee, Mitt Romney (inset) urged Republican Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona (pictured) to veto the states controversial religious freedom bill SB 1062 on Tuesday because it is the "right" thing to do.
Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, waded into the fray surrounding Arizona's controversial religious freedom bill which opponents say discriminates against gays when he urged the state's Republican Gov. Jan Brewer to veto it because it is the "right" thing to do.
In a tweet to Gov. Brewer shared with his 1.55 million followers Tuesday evening, Romney noted: "veto of #SB1062 is right." It has since been retweeted more than 2,500 times as of Wednesday morning and has more than 1,400 favorites.
Romney's tweet came as a surprise to many, particularly due to his staunch opposition to same-sex marriage.
"This coming from the guy who opposed same sex marriage. Massachusetts as governor? @MittRomney:@GovBrewer: veto of #SB1062 is right," tweeted Jason Evan Mihalko.
"Wow. I really did NOT see that one coming. #progress," tweeted Dan Richter.
In an interview with CNN on the issue Monday Brewer, who has until Saturday to sign or veto SB 1062, did not indicate which way she will decide. If she does nothing, the bill will automatically become law.
"I can assure you, as always, I will do the right thing for the state of Arizona," she told CNN.
"I'm going to go home, and when I receive the bill, I'm going to read it and I'm going to be briefed on it. We have been following it. And I will make my decision in the near future," she said.
According to the report, however, Arizona Republicans who know the governor well say it is very likely that she will veto the bill that many argue if it becomes law will be bad for Arizona's economy.
Popular conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh charged on his radio show Tuesday that Gov. Brewer is being bullied into vetoing the bill by gay advocates.
"Religious beliefs can't be used to stop anything the left wants to impose, unless they're Muslim religious beliefs and then we have to honor those. But any other religious beliefs are not permitted," said Limbaugh, according to a Politico report. "The left will not allow them. Now, the current thinking is that Gov. Brewer will probably veto the bill, which, you might think on the face of it will make her a hero with the news media and the rest of the left."
He explained that vetoing SB 1062 will make her a hero for a total of "five minutes." After that, she will continue to be a "near criminal conservative Republican," said Limbaugh. "Their reaction will be, what took her so long? Why did she even consider not vetoing this?"
"She's being bullied by the homosexual lobby in Arizona and elsewhere," he continued. "She's being bullied by the nationwide drive-by media, she's being bullied by certain elements of corporate America in order to advance the gay agenda. I guess in that circumstance bullying is admirable. In fact, this kind of bullying is honorable."
Monday, February 24, 2014
February 24, 2014|8:46 am
Russell D. Moore has responded to the accusation that he and other conservative Christians are hypocrites if they suggest that some persons' consciences won't allow them to use their creative gifts to help celebrate same-sex weddings.
In his Sunday article – "On Weddings and Conscience: Are Christians Hypocrites?" – Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, defended his view that Christian professionals may deny their services to help celebrate same-sex weddings due to their conscientious objections.
He was writing in response to an article by Kirsten Powers and Jonathan Merritt in The Daily Beast on Sunday.
"If you refuse to photograph one unbiblical wedding, you should refuse to photograph them all. If not, you'll be seen as a hypocrite and as a known Christian, heap shame on the Gospel," the authors charged. "As all Christians know, Jesus saved his harshest words for the hypocritical behavior of religious people. So, if Christian wedding vendors want to live by a law the Bible does not prescribe, they must at least be consistent.
"Before agreeing to provide a good or service for a wedding, Christian vendors must verify that both future spouses have had genuine conversion experiences and are 'equally yoked' (2 Corinthians 6:14) or they will be complicit with joining righteousness with unrighteousness. They must confirm that neither spouse has been unbiblically divorced (Matthew 19)."
Powers and Merritt were referring to Moore's earlier column for The Gospel Coalition, in which he gave advice to a conflicted photographer. Moore had advised that the self-identified evangelical Christian politely decline to film a same-sex wedding but for all other weddings, the photographer "need not investigate … whether the wedding you are photographing is Christ-honoring."
In his latest piece, Moore responded by pointing out that the two authors did not quote the next sentence, which read, "But when there is an obvious deviation from the biblical reality, sacrifice the business for the conscience, your own and those of the ones in your orbit who would be confused."
Moore explained that the photographer would generally have no ability or authority to find out the sorts of things a pastor or church elders would about a marrying couple. "Unless the photographer has a reason to think this (that the wedding is unbiblical), he needn't hire a private investigator or ask for birth certificates and court papers to make sure it's not."
The case of a same-sex marriage is "obviously wrong, in every case," Moore stressed. "There are no circumstances in which a man and a man or a woman and a woman can be morally involved in a sexual union (I have no reason to assume that Powers and Merritt disagree with apostolic Christianity on this point. If so, they should make that clear)."
Moore wrote that it's fine for the Daily Beast to ridicule the sexual ethic of the historic Christian church, represented confessionally across the divide of Catholicism, Protestantism, and Orthodoxy. But "it's quite another thing for the state to coerce persons through fines and penalties and licenses to use their creative gifts to support weddings they believe to be sinful."
"This article (in The Daily Beast) maintains that there are no circumstances in which the Bible 'calls Christians to deny services to people who are engaging in behavior they believe violates the teachings of Christianity regarding marriage.' Really? Does that apply only to the morality of marriage? Should a Christian (or Muslim or Orthodox Jewish or feminist New Age) web designer be compelled to develop a site platform for a legal pornography company?" Moore asked.
It's debatable how consciences can be protected by law and in the courts, he noted, "but acting as though those concerned about such things are the reincarnation of Jim Crow is unworthy of this discussion."
Friday, February 21, 2014
February 20, 2014|11:10 am
State senators in Arizona voted heavily along partisan lines Wednesday in passing a bill that allows business owners to refuse service to homosexuals based on their religious beliefs.
With Republicans in the majority, the bill, SB 1062, passed with a 17-13 vote. It defeated attempts to expand existing employment laws which protect against racial and religious discrimination to include sexual orientation, according to theArizona Daily Star. A companion bill is also expected to pass in the House shortly.
Republican Sen. Steve Yarbrough explained that the decision to support the measure is more about protecting people of faith from discrimination rather that discriminating against homosexuals.
"This bill is not about discrimination," said Yarbrough who is a sponsor of the bill. "It's about preventing discrimination against people who are clearly living out their faith."
The Arizona Senate Democratic Caucus responded in a statement that the group opposes the bill because it "conflates discrimination with religious freedom."
"SB 1062 permits discrimination under the guise of religious freedom," said Senate Democratic Leader Anna Tovar in the statement. "With the express consent of Republicans in this Legislature, many Arizonans will find themselves members of a separate and unequal class under this law because of their sexual orientation. This bill may also open the door to discriminate based on race, familial status, religion, sex, national origin, age or disability."
Democratic Sen. Steve Gallardo who represents Phoenix said while everyone has the right to their religious beliefs he doesn't agree with the premise of SB 1062.
"I do not agree that we have the right to discriminate because of our religious beliefs," said Gallardo. "I do not believe we have to throw our religious beliefs to others that don't share our same beliefs."
Arizona currently has laws protecting individuals and businesses from any state action which substantially interferes with their right to exercise their religion. SB 1062 bolsters that protection by extending coverage to private transactions as well.
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
February 14, 2014|6:17 pm
A San Diego council member has become the first openly gay Republican to include his same-sex partner in a campaign advertisement.
Carl DeMaio, who is currently attempting to win the Republican primary, and challenge Democrat Rep. Scott Peters, has featured footage of his partner, Johnathan Hale, and himself at a pride parade in 2012 in a campaign spot that was released on Thursday.
(PHOTO: CARL DEMAIO CAMPAIGN SCREENSHOT VIA THE WALL STREET JOURNAL)
Former San Diego Council Member Carl DeMaio is one of the Republicans hoping to run against Democrat Rep. Scott Peters.
GOP campaign officials and Elizabeth Wilner, who tracks campaign ads for the nonpartisan firm Kantar Media, told TheWall Street Journal that to their knowledge this was the first political advertisement from either party which included a politician's gay partner.
DeMaio, who is running against two other Republicans, has received the support of several high profile House leaders, including Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who have given the campaign $10,000 and $5,000 respectively.
DeMaio said that Hale did not have a problem appearing in the video because he supported his partner's political ambitions.
"You know, I think he's very supportive because he knows that I am very passionate about reforming our nation's finances and getting people back to work and holding government accountable just like I did in San Diego to save the city from bankruptcy," DeMaio told The Wall Street Journal. "In order to do this, I think we need to fix our political party, getting it off the divisive social issues and refocusing their attention on fiscal and economic reforms that are able to unite Americans, rather than divide them."
DeMaio also said he didn't think including Hale was a "big deal."
"You see straight candidates feature their spouses, their children, and sometimes their household pets," he added.
The Wall Street Journal's Patrick O'Connor predicted that there could be a "backlash from some conservative activists who have made this a big issue," citing Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage as an example.
Brown sent an email to supporters in September that said that DeMaio was a "pro-gay 'marriage,' pro-abortion candidate" and that the council member was "fine with abandoning the most important foundational institution of society."
He also called DeMaio a "trophy candidate [Republicans] can point to and say to the media, 'see, we're progressive, too. We've evolved' … In DeMaio, they hope to have a colleague who can steer their way to some of the millions that go into gay political causes."
DeMaio is one of three openly gay Republicans running for Congress this year, including Dan Innis in New Hampshire and Richard Tisei in Massachusetts.
"I think if you are a party that believes in financial freedom and economic freedom and you're against the government taking money or government mandating or regulating businesses, then I think that your commitment to personal freedom should extend to people's private lives," said DeMaio. "Let's get government out of what happens in people's personal lives and in their people's bedrooms and refocus the attention of government to economic reform because those issues are pressing and have not been really addressed by either party in recent years."
Friday, February 14, 2014
February 14, 2014|8:16 am
Ruth and Billy Graham stand together at a crusade in New York City.
A biographer and friend of Ruth and Billy Graham said the couple formed a perfect partnership and that their love remained strong even into old age.
"She was his life partner in everything, an integral part of his ministry," Hanspeter Nuesch, 30-year director of Campus Crusade for Christ in Switzerland, told The Christian Post in an interview on Wednesday. Nuesch's new book, Ruth and Bill Graham: The Legacy of a Couple, was released last month.
Nuesch told CP that he wrote his book because he saw several hundred books on the life and ministry of Billy Graham, 95, but none covering the story of the couple. "Ruth has played such an important role in this ministry. We have to write a book on the couple," the author explained.
As he researched the wife, who died in 2007, of renowned evangelist Billy Graham, Nuesch "realized she was a really exceptional person – as exceptional as Billy." The story of the couple's romance plays a central role in his book.
A Long, Persisting Romance
Ruth and Billy Graham pose for a picture in their later years.
"In your thinking, we have grown apart due to the wide separation of our various interests, but I feel closer to you than ever," Ruth wrote her husband while he was on a long evangelistic crusade in England, Nuesch quoted. "Wherever you are, I go with you in mind and heart, praying for you continually." Despite their long separation – two months – Ruth wrote, "Your problems, real heartaches, and glorious victories are much more my very own."
Nuesch explained that the romance lasted through the Grahams' entire marriage, even growing stronger in old age. "If you speak with Billy about Ruth his eyes always light up and he speaks so highly of her," the biographer explained.
The couple "felt that within God's guidelines sexuality was a gift of God, given for the marriage partners' enjoyment and not only for procreation," Nuesch wrote. Graham publicly disagreed with the pope on this matter, arguing that "young people are getting the wrong idea about sex – within marriage it's the most wonderful of relationships." The Grahams would often kiss in public.
Ruth and Billy Graham grin at each other in this romantic shot.
Nuesch told a story that revealed the Grahams' attitude toward divorce. When Ruth was asked on camera if she ever thought about divorce, she responded with a joking glimmer in her eye. "Divorcing never, but killing several times." This was her feisty personality, "a very normal person, very authentic, full of fun," the biographer explained.
Ruth and Billy Graham smile in front of their mountain home in Montreat, holding their son Franklin.
The biographer argued that the defining characteristic of the Grahams' marriage was its partnership. "They saw their ministry as a teamwork," Nuesch said. "God has called Ruth, just as clearly as He has called Billy. He called her as clearly to evangelism, but she expressed this call by staying at home, taking care of the family and freeing Billy up to be the evangelist."
Ruth would often joke that "God has delivered me, He has liberated me for staying at home and praying, not having to run after Billy all the day." She sacrificed her lifelong dream of preaching the Gospel in Tibet in order to raise a family and strengthen her husband's ministry. Nuesch explained that their separate roles helped them to run the family well while Billy spread the Gospel across the world.
Ruth was not just an evangelist by backing up Billy, however. The daughter of former President Richard Nixon, "Julie Nixon Eisenhower, said she was led to the Lord through Ruth Graham," Nuesch recalled. "If Billy has been given the gift of evangelism, Ruth has been given the gift of faith," Eisenhower said.
Nuesch even described Ruth as the person of faith in the Graham household. "In sermons, Billy led, but at home, she was supporting him, encouraging him. She embodied faith much more than Billy," the biographer explained. "Billy often said my world mission would have been impossible without her encouragement and support."
A Common Mission
Ruth and Billy Graham sit at their cabin in Montreat, North Carolina
The Grahams pursued a closer relationship with God together, as a family. "They both saw that it was their common mission to help share the Gospel to the world, to make Jesus known," Nuesch explained. When Billy Graham went away on evangelistic crusades, he would call Ruth at 5 o'clock in the afternoon, and they would pray together.
Both Ruth and Billy looked beyond worldly fame and never boasted of meeting important people, instead focusing on serving the Lord in their interactions with others, Nuesch said. He recalled an instance where the president was calling, and Billy Graham "would say 'I don't have time – I just have to talk to our housemaid at the moment. I'll call you back.'"
Ruth never put her husband on a pedestal.
"People who knew them best said they are even better at home than they are on the podium, and that is a very strong testimony for a person," Nuesch recounted. He counted authenticity and integrity among the Grahams' key traits.
The biographer argued that the strongest part of the Grahams' marriage was their prayer life. "There is no better recipe for a good marriage than to pray together frequently, because in this way you sense your spouse's heart," he explained. Both Ruth and Billy prayed and read Scripture constantly, very often with each other.
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
February 11, 2014|8:03 am
Congressman Raul Labrador (R – Idaho) presented his new bill to defend the religious freedom of those who believe in marriage, at The Heritage Foundation on Monday
WASHINGTON – Congressman Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) presented his new bill to defend the religious freedom of those who believe in marriage, and experts discussed the threats religious liberty faces in the public square.
The Health and Human Services contraception mandate and cases where homosexuals sue religious florists and bakers for refusing to do business with them "are creating a climate of intolerance and intimidation for citizens who believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman," Labrador declared at The Heritage Foundation on Monday. He discussed his bill, H.R. 3133, The Marriage and Religious Freedom Act, "to prevent adverse treatment of any person on the basis of views held with respect to marriage."
"We have a fundamental misunderstanding of religious freedom going on," said Sarah Torre, policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation's DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society. Torre argued that the Obama administration is "watering down religious freedom to just freedom of worship" by insisting that faith "is not something that you bring into your workplace." Instead, the current policies presume that "faith is something that you keep in your home and place of worship."
Austin Nimocks, senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, agreed. He explained that many recent legal cases "portray same-sex couples as victims and that just hasn't been the case in the way all these things have happened." In cases where homosexuals sue companies for discrimination, they get the service originally denied them, and they force believers to undertake difficult legal battles.
The Marriage and Religious Freedom Act
Congressman Raul Labrador (R – Idaho) presented his new bill to defend the religious freedom of those who believe in marriage, and experts discussed the threats religious liberty faces in the public square. Sarah Torre, policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation’s DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society, and Austin Nimocks, senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, watch Labrador speak at The Heritage Foundation on Monday.
Labrador explained his bill, H.R. 3133, in terms of current events. He referred to the HHS mandate as an example of "the administration forcing religious and other faith-based organizations to spend money on things like abortion pills that violate their most basic beliefs." Labrador argued that, in light of the Internal Revenue Service targeting Tea Party and other conservative groups, the federal government needs to be restrained from discriminating against those who uphold traditional marriage.
"We should not assume that the IRS will be any friendlier to organizations that support and want to continue practicing traditional marriage," the congressman warned. "My bill is narrowly tailored to prohibit the federal government from inappropriately targeting organizations or individuals who hold a religious belief that marriage is a union of one man and one woman."
The bill prohibits the federal government from "making tax exempt status contingent on the group's beliefs about marriage." Labrador articulated the basic premise of the bill, saying "all Americans should be free to believe and act in the public square based on their belief about marriage without fear of any government penalty."
"Am I understanding that because I believe that God creates life in His image, male and female, at conception, somehow I could lose a tax benefit?" this local DC-Area pastor asked at The Heritage Foundation on Monday.
Can It Pass?
Labrador insisted that the bill "doesn't take away anything from anyone," but instead protects the religious freedom of those who uphold traditional marriage. "This is something both social conservatives and libertarians can rally around, and it can generate support in both parties and actually pass both houses of Congress and become law," he said.
The bill already has 100 cosponsors, with five of the six House Ways and Means Subcommittee chairmen declaring their support, Labrador reported. "We actually have a couple of Democrats who are already cosponsors of the legislation," he added.
The Persecution Problem
Nimocks laid out the "massive distinction between acting because of a deeply-held belief about marriage and acting because you don't like somebody who defines themselves as gay or lesbian." Many of the defendants ADF supports have no problem with homosexuals, but choose not to involve themselves in marriage ceremonies because of their religious convictions.
The lawyer brought up "the florist in the state of Washington who was asked to provide flowers for two men" as an example. Nimocks explained that they were friends and would frequently hug each other. "But when it came to 'we want you to participate in and celebrate our ceremony,' that's where she respectfully drew the line."
Although they hugged before the man requesting flowers left, the florist ended up served with a lawsuit.
"In each instance the same-sex couple or gay/lesbian at issue got what they wanted," Nimocks explained. Occasionally, they received the desired service at a discount, or even for free, as in the case of t-shirts for a gay pride parade. After receiving what they originally wanted, "they then turn around and go after people with religious beliefs."
Energizing the Young
Torre proposed a strategy to alert Millennials to the religious freedom issue. "I think you tell them stories," she explained, about "these salt of the earth people who are doing the good work of restoring lives, of educating the next generation, providing health care for Americans." These public servants "are not able to do that under this rule, in accordance with the beliefs that motivated them to do that in the first place."
"You want to talk about social justice, you want to talk about empowering the poor, about taking care of those in need, you have to let people do that in accordance with their values and not penalize them through a government penalty," Torre declared.
Monday, February 10, 2014
February 9, 2014|10:54 am
Speaking at an event by a gay lobby group in New York on Saturday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department will treat same-sex marriage on par with traditional marriage in all federal legal matters, even in states where gay marriage is not legal.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder speaks at the annual convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Orlando July 16, 2013. Holder told the major civil rights convention that controversial "Stand Your Ground" self-defense laws that have been adopted in 30 states should be reconsidered.
On Monday, the Justice Department will send "formal instruction" to all its employees "to give lawful same-sex marriages full and equal recognition, to the greatest extent possible under the law," according to excerpts of Holder's speech.
"In every courthouse, in every proceeding, and in every place where a member of the Department of Justice stands on behalf of the United States, they will strive to ensure that same-sex marriages receive the same privileges, protections, and rights as opposite-sex marriages under federal law," Holder said at the Human Rights Campaign's New York City gala, according to Reuters.
Federal benefits, including bankruptcies, prison visits and survivor benefits, will also be extended to 34 states that do now allow same-sex marriage, but those benefits will apply only where the federal government has jurisdiction, Holder added, according to CNN.
The government will not contest rights of gay married couples in states where previously prosecutors could argue that the marriage is not recognized in the state where the couple lives, Holder added.
"Just like during the civil rights movement of the 1960s, the stakes involved in this generation's struggle for LGBT equality could not be higher," Holder said. "As attorney general, I will not let this Department be simply a bystander during this important moment in history."
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, praised the action.
"This landmark announcement will change the lives of countless committed gay and lesbian couples for the better," Griffin said in a statement. "While the immediate effect of these policy decisions is that all married gay couples will be treated equally under the law, the long-term effects are more profound. Today, our nation moves closer toward its ideals of equality and fairness for all."
However, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins strongly condemned the move.
"The news that the Justice Department will extend sweeping recognition to 'marriages' of same-sex couples, even in states that do not recognize such unions, is yet another illustration of the lawlessness of this administration," Perkins said in a statement.
"While the Supreme Court's ruling in the Windsor case last summer required the federal government to recognize such unions in states which also recognize them, the Court was conspicuously silent on the status of such couples when they reside in a state which considers them unmarried," Perkins pointed out. "The Obama administrations haste to nevertheless recognize such unions in every state actually runs counter to the Windsor decisions emphasis on the federal government's obligation to defer to state definitions of marriage."
Holder's announcement "illustrates the importance of Congressional action to pass the State Marriage Defense Act (H.R. 3829), introduced by Rep. Randy Weber (R-Texas)," Perkins added. "It would require the federal government to defer to state definitions of marriage -- as required by Windsor -- by not treating persons as 'married' when they are unmarried according to the law of their state of legal residence."
Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, also criticized Holder's announcement.
"The American public needs to realize how egregious and how dangerous these usurpations are and how far-reaching the implications can be," Brown said in a statement. "The changes being proposed here to a process as universally relevant as the criminal justice system serve as a potent reminder of why it is simply a lie to say that redefining marriage doesn't affect everyone in society."
Three years ago, the Obama administration had announced it would stop defending cases in court involving the Defense of Marriage Act. Two years later, the Supreme Court ruled that the DOMA was unconstitutional.