Friday, May 22, 2015
May 21, 2015|12:50 pm| The Christian Post|
Leading evangelist Franklin Graham has spoken out against a Virginia school district that's weighing a curriculum change to its family life classes that focus on educating students on the "fluid spectrum" of sexuality, which would include teaching the concept that one's sexuality "evolves" throughout his or her lifetime.
The Fairfax County School Board will introduce on Thursday recommendations provided by its Family Life Education curriculum subcommittee suggesting that the school district teach middle and high schools students about transgenderism, gender identity and sexual identity.
According to a 28-page recommendation report by the subcommittee, starting in the eighth grade, students in the county would be taught that sexuality is a "broader spectrum."
"Students will identify that development of individual identity occurs over a lifetime and includes the component of sexual orientation and gender identity," the report states. "Individual identity will also be described as having four parts — biological gender, gender identity (includes transgender), gender role, and sexual orientation (includes heterosexual, bisexual, and homosexual). The concept that sexuality is a broader spectrum will be introduced."
In ninth and tenth grades, students would be taught that their sexual orientation could naturally shift throughout their lifetimes.
"Instruction will include that individuals are sexual beings from birth to death and that sexuality evolves from infancy to old age," the report added. "Instruction will include how sexuality develops throughout a lifetime and how sexuality encompasses attitudes, values, and behaviors. Emphasis will be placed on an understanding that there is a broader, boundless, and fluid spectrum of sexuality that is developed throughout a lifetime."
According to a statement provided to The Christian Post by Fairfax County Public Schools spokesperson, John Torre, a final vote on the subcommittee's recommendations will be held on June 25, after a 30-day public comment period.
After reading about the subcommittee's proposal in a Fox News article, Graham, who is the president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, took to Facebook to offer his opinion that the subcommittee's recommendations are nothing more than "poison" and an attempt to "brainwash" students.
"Can you believe these idiots? Gender fluidity? Here's an example of some of the wicked things misguided educators today want to expose our children to," Graham wrote. "It should make your blood boil that they want to brainwash our children! Teaching them that there is no difference between boys and girls is nothing more than a lie. We are different because God made us different. School districts should not allow this poison anywhere near the classroom!"
Graham further stated that Christians should see this is a reason to get more involved in local politics. He said policies and proposals such as the curriculum reccomendation are a result of school officials not upholding biblical principles.
"This is a great example of why Christians should be involved in politics at all levels in our communities, cities, and nation. Christians upholding biblical principles on school boards could help put a stop to outrageous initiatives like this," Graham added. "Let's fight back by getting the names of Christians on the ballots and working to make a difference for the future of our nation."
The school district voted earlier this month to add gender identity to its nondiscrimination policy, a move that Fox News reported had some parents upset. But now that the school district could be implementing lessons on sexual and gender identity that some Christian and conservative parents feel are not suitable for their children, some parents are outraged.
Torre told CP that parents would be able to remove their children from the family life classroom for lessons they disapprove of, just like the school district allows them to do currently.
"Parents have been able to opt their students out of Family Life Education designated lessons in the past and will continue to have that ability under the committee's recommendations - including the sexual orientation and gender identity lessons," Torre said.
Thursday, May 21, 2015
May 20, 2015|12:40 pm| The Christian Post|
A study that purported to show gay marriage opponents can easily be convinced to change their minds if they talk to gays was retracted after finding it used fake data.
The study, "When contact changes minds: An experiment on transmission of support for gay equality," was published in the December 2014, issue of the journal Science. It was widely reported in the media and cited as evidence that support for gay marriage is inevitable.
Donald P. Green, professor of political science at Columbia University, retracted the study after learning that his co-author, Michael LaCour, a UCLA graduate student, had used fake data.
Just one 20-minute conversation with a gay person will likely convince a same-sex marriage supporter to change their position, media reports declared last December in writing about the study.
Researchers first started to suspect problems with the study after three other researchers were unable to replicate the findings. Then on Tuesday, David Broockman, assistant professor at Stanford, Joshua Kalla, graduate student at Berkeley, and Peter Aronow, assistant professor at Yale, released a paper detailing several irregularities in the LaCour and Green study.
Those irregularities "jointly suggest the dataset (LaCour 2014) was not collected as described," the report stated.
The retraction was posted to retractionwatch.com. At the time of this publication, the website was down, perhaps due to too much traffic, but excerpts can be found in BuzzFeed science editor Virginia Hughes' article.
"I am deeply embarrassed by this turn of events and apologize to the editors, reviewers, and readers of Science," Green wrote
According to Hughes, after Green was alerted to the irregularities, he contacted LaCour's dissertation advisor, Professor Lynn Vavreck. After Vavreck confronted LaCour, he was unable to provide the study's raw data and claimed he accidentally deleted the file. A representative from Qualtrics, the company that provided the survey program LaCour used, told UCLA there was no evidence that the data had been deleted.
The New York Times' report on the study was written by Vavreck, a regular NYT contributor.
Andrew Gelman, professor of statistics and political science and Green's colleague at Columbia, originally wrote about the study for The Monkey Cage, a political science blog hosted by The Washington Post. On Tuesday he wrote about the retraction.
"It would be easy to criticize Green for not looking at the data more carefully, but ... that's easy to say after the fact. In all my collaborations, I've never even considered the possibility that I might be working with a Diederik Stapel. And, indeed, in my previous post on the topic, I expressedsurprise at the published claim but no skepticism," he wrote. (Emphasis and ellipsis in original. Diederik Stapel was a Dutch social psychologist who had 55 published works using fake data before his ruse was discovered in 2011.)
Harvard political scientist Gary King noted on Twitter that the retraction is the first for a political scientist. He also commented that it was "great for the discipline."
After University of Florida political scientist Michael McDonald asked why it would be great for political science, given that it would raise doubts about the discipline, King answered that political science "now has some standards, that there is such a thing as fraud, truth, etc., rather than another argument."
On Wednesday, LaCour reacted to the news on his Twitter account.
"I'm gathering evidence," he wrote, "and relevant information so I can provide a single comprehensive response. I will do so at my earliest opportunity."
According to McDonald, LaCour was going to be an assistant professor at Princeton beginning in the Fall, but that is apparently no longer the case.
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
By: Dustin Siggins |Wed Apr 22, 2015 - 5:27 pm EST| Life Site News|
WASHINGTON, D.C., April 22, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – D.C.-based religious organizations saw some of their First Amendment rights protected by a House committee last night -- even as a committee spokesperson told LifeSiteNews that another bill described as "unconstitutional" would not be given the same legislative scrutiny.
On Tuesday evening, the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform (COGR) marked up a resolution to disapprove of the "Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act" (RHNDA). Signed by the mayor of the District of Columbia, Muriel Bowser, in January, the Act makes it illegal for any employer, including religious and pro-life organizations, to use a person's belief or actions about abortion in employment considerations. Abortion coverage by employers is also required.
The Committee will not, however, consider a resolution of disapproval against a D.C. bill that forces religious groups to sponsor gay rights events. A spokesperson for the Committee told LifeSiteNews that the gay rights bill was unconstitutional, and therefore did not need to be considered for disapproval.
Under existing federal law, both D.C. measures have 30 legislative days to be disapproved by Congress and President Obama. If this does not happen, they become law -- which is expected to happen by the end of next week. An HRAA disapproval resolution was introduced last week by Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-MO, and the pro-life disapproval resolution was introduced by Rep. Dianne Black, R-TN.
Republican Senators James Lankford of Oklahoma and Ted Cruz of Texas have introduced similar pieces of legislation in the Senate.
RHNDA has drawn support from those who say it prevents discrimination against women, but opposition from the Cardinal Newman Society. The Catholic-based group says the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision in 2014 should pre-empt the law.
It also drew opposition from former D.C. mayor Vincent Gray, who last year wrote of his office's concerns that the Act would violate both federal law and the First Amendment related to religious liberty. While Gray "applaud[s] the goals of this legislation," his assessment noted that the Act's language could be considered a violation of the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal treatment, as its supporters are only aiming to protect alleged rights of one gender.
While any measure of disapproval is likely to pass the GOP-dominated committee and the full House, passage into law is uncertain given the pro-abortion preferences of President Obama. Additionally, a bill that passes the House first, and then the Senate, would need to pass a 60-vote threshold in Congress' upper chamber -- though if the GOP-dominated Senate were to pass its own bill first, only a 50-vote threshold would be required.
Democrats are using the disapproval debate to defend abortion. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, said in a statement today that “allowing employers to fire employees for using birth control, or in vitro fertilization, or any other reproductive health care service is an unconscionable intrusion into workers’ personal lives."
Pelosi's statement came one day after D.C.'s Democratic non-voting Representative to Congress, Eleanor Holmes Norton, held a press conference with Catholics for Choice, national gay rights groups, and a national atheist organization, among other groups opposed to the House's action.
Norton and those who joined her at the press conference said disapproving of RHNDA was an example of Congress meddling in local affairs. However, March for Life Action Vice President Tom McClusky told LifeSiteNews that the opposite was true.
"The list of those supporting this effort to take away the rights of D.C. residents are mostly national groups with little interest of the day to day concerns of those who live in the nation's capital," McClusky said. "Those who oppose the liberal attempts represent D.C. charities, schools, and relief services.”
“Eleanor Holmes Norton would like to portray this as the U.S. Congress vs. the D.C. people when in fact this is the D.C. government against the religious and moral freedoms of D.C. residents," he told LifeSiteNews.
The other bill signed by Bowser that is concerning to religious liberty advocates is the "Human Rights Amendment Act" (HRAA). According to the Committee Reportpublished on October 15, 2014, "educational institutions affiliated with religious organizations would not be allowed to prohibit gay and lesbian students groups from using the school facilities and services."
The report says the law does not require funding or official recognition for such groups, but Heritage Foundation policy experts Ryan Anderson and Sarah Torre disagree. Anderson and Torre wrote that the law "could force Christian schools to recognize an LGBT student group or host a 'gay pride' day on campus."
HRAA is not being considered for disapproval by the House Oversight Committee. Committee spokesperson Melissa Subbotin told LifeSiteNews that "the Committee does not need to take up HRAA."
"The Council of the District of Columbia’s legislation...is unconstitutional from a First Amendment perspective and it is in conflict with an existing act of Congress," Subbotin said in an email. "In either case, it will not stand, and does not require Committee action."
Subbotin explained that "the Constitution gives Congress the power to 'exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever' for the District of Columbia. In 1989, the Religious Liberty Act was signed into law. It exempts religious institutions from the DC Human Rights Act, appropriately respecting the constitutional separation between church and state."
"Once again...the Council of the District of Columbia is thumbing its nose at Congress," said Subbotin.
LifeSiteNews submitted a request for comment to the office of the D.C. Attorney General regarding Subbotin's comments, but no reply had been received as of press time.
Cardinal Newman Society President Patrick Reilly told LifeSiteNews that fighting HRAA "is a rather simple test of Republicans' claim to respect religious freedom."
"If they fail, it leaves Catholics in a very bad position," Reilly said. "They should be able to win a costly court battle, but if that fails, they can shut down their services, move out of the District, or violate the law and suffer a kind of martyrdom for doing so."
Earlier this year, a senior GOP Hill aide told LifeSiteNews that "the House will review these bills, especially in light of concerns about religious liberty and conscience rights violations, and respond accordingly." The aide also said that "Congress will continue to consider [the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act] and will consider ways to protect individuals, organizations, and providers’ religious beliefs and moral convictions.”
Other methods of protecting religious liberty in the District of Columbia are available to pro-life and pro-family advocates, should disapproval resolutions fail. One is new legislation that would override the D.C. Council's laws. Another is using the appropriations process to protect religious liberty.
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
May 19, 2015|9:28 am| The Christian Post|
A U.K. judge has rued that a Christian-run bakery discriminated against gay customers when it refused to make a cake featuring the "Sesame Street" characters Bert and Ernie with a pro same-sex marriage slogan.
District Judge Isobel Brownlie ruled at Belfast County Court on Tuesday that Ashers Bakery, the defendants, "have unlawfully discriminated against the plaintiff on grounds of sexual discrimination," The Belfast Telegraph reported.
"This is direct discrimination for which there is no justification."
The baking company was taken to court in 2014 for refusing the order of LGBT activist Gareth Lee, who said that the £500 (U.S. $775) in damages will be donated to charity.
Ashers' general manager Daniel McArthur explained that the bakery seeks to accommodate everyone, but cannot operate against its religious beliefs, which define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
"We happily serve everyone but we cannot promote a cause that goes against what the Bible says about marriage," McArthur said, according to BBC News.
"We have tried to be guided in our actions by our Christian beliefs."
Brownlie apparently acknowledged that the McArthur family held "genuine deeply held religious beliefs," but argued that since they run a for-profit organization, the law dictates that they must serve everyone.
"The defendants are not a religious organization. They conduct a business for profit. I believe the defendants did have the knowledge that the plaintiff was gay," the judge said.
"As much as I acknowledge their religious beliefs this is a business to provide service to all. The law says they must do that."
The cake in question that Ashers refused to make was supposed to feature portraits of the two "Sesame Street" puppets side by side alongside the logo of LGBT activist group QueerSpace.
In past cases, Sesame Workshop has denied that the characters can be linked to any kind of sexual orientation.
"Bert and Ernie are best friends," a 2011 statement read. "They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves. Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics (as most Sesame Street Muppets™ do), they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation."
Northern Ireland politicians reacted to the ruling with some praising Brownlie's decision while others said that gay activists are now being allowed to trump religious freedom rights.
Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness tweeted in support: "Ashers bakery judgment a good result for equality, gay people have for far too long been discriminated against. We and the law on their side."
Unionist Politician Paul Givan, member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, said, however, that many Christians may view the decision as "an attack" on their convictions.
"What we cannot have is a hierarchy of rights, and today there's a clear hierarchy being established that gay rights are more important than the rights of people to hold religious beliefs," Givan said.
Monday, May 18, 2015
By: Pete Baklinski| LIVE SITE NEWS| Mon May 11, 2015 - 7:10 pm EST
TORONTO, May 11, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Canada’s largest union of elementary teachers is hosting an event next week aimed at training teachers on how to push homosexuality in kindergarten through grade 8 by creating Gay-Straight-Alliance (GSAs) clubs in schools.
“Attend this symposium to find out what others are doing and how you might begin or continue your own school’s GSA journey,” states the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) in its brochure about the May 22-23 event.
Teachers attending the event will learn about “LGBTQ community resources and how to use them” in the classroom as well as how to “raise awareness” among children from the earliest ages about LGBTQ issues.
Jack Fonseca of Campaign Life Coalition criticized the event as “despicable,” telling LifeSiteNews that what is really happening here is a case of “activist teachers using innocent children as pawns to advance their adult sexual revolution.”
“Is nothing sacred to these militants? Do they really have to sexualize elementary school classrooms? Can’t we let kids be kids anywhere in our public education system? Isn’t there the slightest concern about producing sexual confusion or insecurity in the minds of young kids?” he said.
A Subway to Damascus blogger put it this way: “Why students aged 6-12 need to be learning about homosexuality is beyond me.”
“Activist teachers [are] using innocent children as pawns to advance their adult sexual revolution.”
Life-and-family leaders have criticized the push for GSAs in schools as having more to do with providing homosexual activists with an occasion to influence young minds into accepting the same-sex inclination and homosexual practices as normal and healthy than having to do with ending bullying. For evidence they cite studies, like a 2006 study commissioned by the Toronto District School Board, showing that the top causes of bullying in schools have to do with body image, grades, and language respectively, not students’ sexual orientation.
Fonseca said that when Bill 13 was rammed through in 2012 allowing for the creation of GSAs in schools, the Wynne/McGuinty Liberal government told the public at that time that the GSAs would be for high school students.
“Now, they’re reaching down to indoctrinate kids in Kindergarten through Grade 8. The pro-family movement warned this would happen, and now we’re proven right,” he said.
While Bill 13 stipulates that pupils are to “establish and lead” the clubs, one teacher told participants at a pro-gay teachers’ conference in Toronto last month that in practice this is not the case.
Speaking about starting a GSA last year in K-8 James Strath Public School, the teacher from Peterborough’s Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board said that while the "kids were very acceptive, very excited about it," the biggest challenge he faced was making the GSA look like it arose from the kids' own initiative.
"One of the biggest challenges is — with K-8 — I think it’s unrealistic to expect the kids to have a political wherewithal to realize that they can have this group,” he told fellow teachers in a workshop led by MPP Cheri DiNovo.
The teacher went on to say that while Bill 13 states that the clubs are to be established by students, in his experience it is the teacher who actually directs everything.
"Of course, it’s my agenda. Of course, I’m being the leader of my school, and I’m going to suggest this to the kids," he said.
Fonseca said the reality is that little kids don’t start GSAs on their own, unless they are prodded by “activist teachers manipulating children to start them up so they can be puppeteers for their own agenda.”
“The reality is that GSAs are not at all about supporting same-sex attracted students from ‘bullying, discrimination and harassment.’ That’s a clever ruse to win over public sympathy of everyone from teachers to trustees to parents.”
"Of course, it’s my agenda. Of course, I’m being the leader of my school, and I’m going to suggest this to the kids.”
“But in practice, that’s not what the typical GSA event focuses on. The true objective of these gay pride clubs is to turn children against the religious and moral beliefs of their parents. That has always been the agenda. In practice, these clubs will produce the ‘bullying, discrimination and harassment’ of Christian students and teachers, under the guise of anti-bullying,” he said.
Fonseca’s comment is backed by LGBTQ activist Sason Bear Bergman — a woman who identifies as a transgender man — who wrote in a March 2015 piece titled ‘I Have Come to Indoctrinate Your Children Into My LGBTQ Agenda (And I'm Not a Bit Sorry)’ that her goal as an activist is to make people “like us, […] even if that goes against the way you have interpreted the teachings of your religion.”
Friday, May 15, 2015
May 9, 2015|9:42 am | The Christian Post|
MIAMI BEACH — Christians who have so far avoided controversial "culture war" issues will likely be pulled into those battles as their religious freedom becomes threatened due to gay marriage, Dr. John Inazu warned Monday.
Theologically conservative Christian non-profit organizations, including churches, could face losing their tax exempt status or being shut down, and Christian doctors, lawyers, counselors and other professionals could be forced out of their professions, he explained.
Inazu, associate professor of law and political science at Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, was delivering a presentation, "Religious Liberty and the American Culture Wars," at the Ethics and Public Policy Center's "Faith Angle Forum."
Even though his personal beliefs often align with conservative Christianity, Inazu explained that he often thought of himself as a "civilian" in the culture wars and he thinks a lot of other Christians feel the same way. These Christians serve their communities and work through ministries that "do a lot of good for society — in education, social services, hospitals, mercy ministries, and many other areas."
To illustrate, he spoke about Focus on the Family and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. Focus, he pointed out, used to be considered part of the Christian Right while it was led by James Dobson, but that is no longer the case under its new leader, Jim Daly. Recently, for instance, it partnered with the Gill Foundation, a gay rights group, to help pass an anti-human trafficking bill in Colorado.
As a member of its board, Inazu is even more familiar with the work of InterVarsity. Since its founding in 1946, Inazu explained, InterVarsity has sent tens of thousands of students all over the world to help build infrastructure and serve the poor, sick and dying. The student group has never "really been fighting the culture wars," he noted, and is one of the most racially and ethnically diverse groups around. But InterVarsity has recently found itself on the culture war front lines as some colleges and universities have forced it off campus. Last year, for instance, all the state universities in California required the group to allow non-Christians to be leaders to remain a campus group.
If the Supreme Court rules in June that the U.S. Constitution requires all 50 states to recognize same-sex marriage, Inazu believes that the resulting religious freedom issues will depend much on how the opinion is written. He pointed to an amicus brief in the case submitted by Douglas Laycock, a religious freedom expert and law professor at the University of Virginia law school.
Laycock argued in favor of same-sex marriage, but warned the Court about the religious freedom issues that would inevitably follow.
He wrote, for instance, "Must pastors, priests, and rabbis provide religious marriage counseling to same-sex couples? Must religious colleges provide married student housing to same-sex couples? Must churches and synagogues employ spouses in same-sex marriages, even though such employees would be persistently and publicly flouting the religious teachings they would be hired to promote? Must religious organizations provide spousal fringe benefits to the same-sex spouses of any such employees they do hire? Must religious social-service agencies place children for adoption with same-sex couples? Already, Catholic Charities in Illinois, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia has closed its adoption units because of this issue.
"Religious colleges, summer camps, day care centers, retreat houses, counseling centers, meeting halls, and adoption agencies may be sued under public accommodations laws for refusing to offer their facilities or services to same-sex couples. Or they may be penalized by loss of licensing, accreditation, government contracts, access to public facilities, or tax exemption." (For brevity, all footnotes have been removed.)
During the Court's recent oral arguments on gay marriage, Inazu recalled, President Barack Obama's solicitor general acknowledged that some of these challenges are "going to be an issue" if the Court favors gay marriage. How much of an issue it will be depends on what Inazu calls the "Bob Jones question."
In Bob Jones University vs. United States (1983), the Supreme Court ruled that the Internal Revenue Service was correct to revoke the Christian school's tax exempt status over its interracial dating prohibition. The analogy is important because gay marriage supporters often claim that opposition to gay marriage is bigotry motivated by hatred. If the Supreme Court suggests the same in its ruling, lower courts will be less likely to uphold the religious freedom of traditional marriage supporters.
"Now is a good time to be thinking about the implications of the Bob Jones question: whether we really think Gordon College in 2015 is like Bob Jones in 1983, that InterVarsity is like a neo-Nazi group, and that Tim Keller is like the Grand Wizard of the Klan. If we think there are meaningful differences, then now is a good time to think harder about the rhetoric fueling some of these debates," Inazu said.
Inazu has a book that will be published later this year, Confident Pluralism: Surviving and Thriving Through Deep Difference. Audio of his Faith Angle Forum presentation is available on the Ethics and Public Policy Center website. A transcript will be posted later.
Thursday, May 14, 2015
May 13, 2015|4:13 pm| The Christian Post|
Legislators in Texas are considering bills that would seek to enforce a ban on gay marriage even if the U.S. Supreme Court decides to declare such bans unconstitutional.
Last month, the highest court in the land heard oral arguments in an appeal to determine whether or not state-level bans on gay marriage were constitutional.
Texas representatives have introduced measures, including House Bill 4105, which would bar government funds from being used to support gay marriage.
"State or local funds may not be used for an activity that includes the licensing or support of a same-sex marriage," reads the bill.
"A state or local governmental employee may not recognize, grant, or enforce a same-sex marriage license … State or local funds may not be used to enforce an order requiring the issuance or recognition of a same-sex marriage license."
HB 4105 was introduced by Republican State Representative Cecil Bell and on Tuesday was put on the Texas House's "General State Calendar."
"The leap to assume that Texas moves with (a Supreme Court ruling) is just that — a leap," said Rep. Bell in a statement, as reported by Charisma News.
"History is replete with cases where Supreme Court precedent isn't immediately embraced and in some cases isn't ever embraced."
In 2005, voters in Texas approved Proposition 2, which added an amendment to the state constitution legally defining marriage as being between one man and one woman.
The measure had over 1.7 million votes in favor, totaling 76.25 percent of the ballots cast. Kansas voters passed a similar measure in the same year.
In February 2014, U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled the Lone Star State's ban unconstitutional. An appealed was made to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and a stay on the decision granted.
On April 28, the Supreme Court heard arguments on an appeal from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals regarding four state-level gay marriage bans.
Most experts believe that the highest court in the nation will narrowly rule that all states must allow same-sex couples to obtain a state marriage license.
Nevertheless, many Republican legislators, elected officials, and presidential hopefuls have proposed ideas to counter a potential Supreme Court ruling against the gay marriage bans. In addition to Texas' proposed legislation, another idea has been to enact an amendment overturning the Court's possible ruling.
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
May 11, 2015|12:17 pm| The Christian Post|
The Rev. Franklin Graham has said that the U.S. Supreme Court's upcoming decision on whether to legalize same-sex marriage across America or allow states to continue to make their own decisions will "rank as the most historic and far-reaching judgment of the 21st century." He argued that it could pave the way for "persecution of believers," and said he would be praying for the nine Supreme Court justices.
"This is a pivotal moment in the history of America. As nine U.S. Supreme Court justices consider arguments brought before the court on April 28 about whether to make same-sex marriage a constitutional right, we need to pray fervently for the wisdom and counsel of God to work its way into the hearts and minds of those making this momentous decision," Graham said in a message on Facebook Saturday.
"The impending decision will rank as the most historic and far-reaching judgment of the 21st century. If our nation's highest court decrees same-sex marriage as the law of the land, the consequences will be great. It sets the stage for persecution of believers committed to living by the truth of God's Holy Word. "
While 36 states, as well as the District of Colombia have legalized same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court will have to decide whether the Constitution requires that all 50 states make the practice legal, or require a state (where gay marriage isn't legal) to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?
Conservative religious leaders have said that preserving marriage as a union between one man and one woman is central to protecting children and offering them both a father and a mother. Advocates for gay marriage, on the other hand, have said that the issue is a matter of all Americans receiving the same rights.
Graham has said that those who speak out against gay marriage are not anti-gay, and last week defended Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council after CBS host Bob Schieffer suggested he had taken his stance against gay marriage "too far."
"I know Tony. He's a great American and a strong Christian. Just because Christians take a stand aligned with what the Word of God says is true, that doesn't mean we are anti-gay," Graham said of Perkins.
The Supreme Court is expected to announce its ruling on same-sex marriage sometime this summe
Monday, May 11, 2015
Thu May 7, 2015 - 6:51 pm |By Fr. Mark Hodges| LifeSiteNews|
WASHINGTON, D.C., May 7, 2015, (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Religious leaders from such diverse faiths as Islam, Mormonism, and most major Christian communions affirmed "a shared witness" that marriage is exclusively "the union of one man and one woman."
"An Open Letter from Religious Leaders to All in Positions of Public Service" is signed by Islamic, Mormon, Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox Christian clergy jointly. The timing of the public letter is intended to impact the deliberations of the U.S. Supreme Court, whose justices are now considering imposing same-sex marriage on all 50 states.
"At this significant time in our nation’s history with the institution of marriage before the United States Supreme Court, we reaffirm our commitment to promote and defend marriage," the letter states.
Signers "from diverse faith communities" agree that marriage is "the union of one man and one woman." Furthermore, they agree that "marriage is the foundation of the family where children are raised by a mother and a father together."
Significantly, these religious leaders connect the defense of traditional marriage to equality and civil rights. "Our commitment to marriage...is inseparable from affirming the equal dignity of all people and the necessity of protecting their basic rights," they state.
Leaders say that traditional marriage "as it has been understood across faiths and cultures for millennia" is rightly affirmed by government, because the State "has a compelling interest in the well-being of children."
"It is in the best interests of the State to encourage and uphold the family founded on marriage and to afford the union of husband and wife unique legal protection and reinforcement," the clergy say. "Every child has a mother and a father, and every child deserves the opportunity, whenever possible, to be raised by his or her own married mother and father in a stable, loving home."
Although the clergy admit that the ideal of both parents raising their children "cannot always be realized and sustained," they call single parents "heroic." But nevertheless they conclude, "Marriage as the union of a man and a woman is the only institution that encourages and safeguards the connection between children and their mother and father."
The clerics state that marriage concerns people of all faiths because of the likely steps that will follow any change to that traditional, faith-informed definition. "The redefinition of legal marriage to include any other type of relationship has serious consequences, especially for religious freedom," they warn.
The religious leaders who signed the open letter recognize that they have been charged by God to serve and witness to the truth about marriage and the family.
Instead of forcing citizens to betray their faith, the open letter says that "government should protect the rights of those with differing views of marriage to express their beliefs and convictions without fear of intimidation, marginalization or unwarranted charges [of] hostility, animosity, or hatred of others."
Rather, the leaders say their motivation is love, including love for those who disagree.
The open letter ends with a call for lawmakers to preserve the traditional understanding of marriage. "The well-being of men and women, and the children they conceive, compels us to stand for marriage as the union of one man and one woman. We call for the preservation of the unique meaning of marriage in the law, and for renewed respect for religious freedom and for the conscience rights of all in accord with the common good."
Roman Catholic Archbishop Joseph Edward Kurtz of Louisville commented on the letter, “Marriage as the union of one man and one woman provides the best context for the birth and rearing of children and should be specially protected by law. The law, when it upholds the unique meaning of marriage, is simply recognizing an objective reality, not constructing one: children always have a mother and a father and deserve to be loved and raised by both of them. Society should work to strengthen the unique bond between husband and wife, knowing that strong marriages build stronger communities.”
The letter is signed by Islamic Imams, and Mormon bishops. National Christian organizational leaders endorsing the letter include the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops officials, the presidents of the National Association of Evangelicals, the Fellowship of Evangelical Christians, the Hispanic Evangelical Association, and clergy officials from the Seymour Institute for Black Church and Policy Studies.
Christian clergy signing included national Roman Catholic, Orthodox Christian, Anglican, Pentecostal Holiness, North American Lutheran, General Baptist, Conservative Congregation, Missouri Synod Lutheran, Evangelical Congregational, Great Commission, Missionary, Wesleyan, Southern Baptist, United Brethren, Bruderhof Communities, Assemblies of God, Nazarene, Free Methodist, American Presbyterian, and Grace Communion clergy.
You may read the entire letter here.
Friday, May 8, 2015
By Fr. Mark Hodges| LifeSiteNews| Thu May 7, 2015 - 4:53 pm EST
RICHLAND, WA, May 7, 2015, (LifeSiteNews.com) -- GoFundMe has again shut down the support page of a beseiged business whose owner believes in Christian morality.
A campaign to help Barronelle Stutzman, a Christian florist being sued because she declined to take part in a homosexual “marriage” ceremony, has been canceled by the fund raising website.
Stutzman, who owns Arlene’s Flowers, referred a longstanding homosexual customer to nearby florists, because she could not in good conscience create custom arrangements in support of his same-sex “wedding.” The homosexuals sued her, and to help pay mounting costs, Stutzman set up a GoFundMe page.
Now GoFundMe has shut down the page and banned her pro-marriage cause, just as it did Melissa and Aaron Klein, Christian bakers being fined for refusing to participate in a separate same-sex “marriage” ceremony.
GoFundMe announced the ban in a blog post titled, “Protecting Our Community.”
Not only did Stutzman employ homosexuals at Arlene’s Flowers, but for nine years she served the very couple now suing her.
n order to justify its banning Stutzman, GoFundMe changed its public policies to include banning GoFundMe from funding anyone guilty of "discriminatory acts."
To make matters worse, the Washington state Attorney General's office interpreted a state statute to single out and punish a private citizen. Not only did they sue her business, but they sued Stutzman personally. This ruling prevents her case from going to trial and makes her personally responsible for paying damages and attorney's fees incurred by either the homosexuals suing her or the State of Washington, or both. This means Stutzman's home, her family business, and her life savings are at risk.
Before Stutzman, GoFundMe shut down the fundraising campaign of Sweet Cakes By Melissa, after the Kleins were fined $135,000 for refusing to cater a homosexual “wedding.”
GoFundMe defended that ban by saying, “The subjects of the 'Support Sweet Cakes By Melissa' campaign have been formally charged by local authorities and found to be in violation of Oregon state law concerning discriminatory acts. Accordingly, the campaign has been disabled.”
Greg Scott of Alliance Defending Freedom commented, "GoFundMe has facilitated fundraising for inane things like sending a man to a stranger’s bachelor party, but have now cut off families who face financial ruin and who’ve had their fundamental freedoms obliterated by unjust government action. If there is a better example of a company and culture with its priorities and loyalties completely upside down, I can’t think of it."
Franklin Graham's Samaritan's Purse picked up Sweet Cakes By Melissa's cause, and created a campaign to help persecuted Christians who face financial distress and are punished for living their faith.
"They have taken a stand for the Word of God, and they should not have to stand alone," Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham said. "Please pray for our nation. When our judges are punishing Christians for practicing what they believe, that's persecution, plain and simple."
“We’ve already seen many laws that have been passed that restrict our freedom as Christians. I believe it’s going to get worse," Franklin Graham said. “We are losing our religious freedom in this country, and we’re losing it a little bit day by day.”
Readers may support Christians who are facing persecution for standing up for their beliefs by donating to Samaritan's Purse here.