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Showing posts from April, 2020

Religious Freedom Attorneys Pick Their Battles Amid Pandemic

By Elana Schor - Posted at MinistryWatch: States are grappling with when and how to reopen establishments amid the pandemic. Religious liberty remains a legal flashpoint – particularly for the religious liberty law firms that have taken a leading role in representing churches and Christian non-profits. At least a dozen state or federal suits filed since the virus outbreak started have focused partly or fully on freedom to worship in person, according to an Associated Press analysis. Those lawsuits break primarily into two strategies. Both camps — which include legal nonprofits with significant experience in court battles over religious liberty — see an opportunity to advance their cause by taking on some state and local faith gathering limits ordered during the pandemic. Some suits are framed as full-throated defenses of the right of religious assembly, but others have employed narrower strategies. A few pastors have  grabbed headlines  by defying public health orders with large

Having an abortion so you can ‘do what you want with your life’

By Elizabeth Prata - Posted at The End Time: The Hulu/FX TV show “Mrs. America” is on now. The first 6 of 8 episodes have been released. The series examines the pitched battle in the 1970s between liberal feminists and conservative women, the former pushing for the Equal Rights Amendment to be ratified to the Constitution and the latter opposing it. The reasons for the pro and con are explored in the series, each episode of which is shown through one of the women’s perspective. At the top of the heap on the Stop ERA side is Phyllis Schlafly and on the pro-ERA side is Gloria Steinem. I’ll review the series when it concludes. By the time Schlafly got involved with opposing the ERA, the movement had made huge gains through 35 legislatures. Any amendment to the Constitution needs a Super-majority of states, or 38 state legislatures to vote yes in order to pass. Feminists had gotten comfortable with the near certainty that it was going to sail through. “Congress had originally set

10 States Ban In-Person Church Services, while 15 Have No Limits, Pew Finds

By Michael Foust - Posted at Christian Headlines: Although 10 states currently prohibit churches from gathering in worship, most states have some sort of religious exemption and 15 states allow religious gatherings to continue without any limits, according to a new Pew Research Center study of the regulations in all 50 states. Pew examined how social distancing requirements amid the COVID-19 pandemic have impacted religious gatherings in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Ten states prohibit in-person gatherings of any form: California, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Washington, Idaho, Alaska, Minnesota, Montana and Vermont. Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia specify in their orders that “religious gatherings can take place, but only if they are limited to 10 people or fewer,” Pew found. Two other states, Connecticut and Oregon, limit church gatherings to 50 and 25 people, respectively. Continue reading...

'New evidence of Illinois religious discrimination' By Pastor Mark Surburg - Posted at Surburg's Blog: Evidence shared by the Rev. Timothy Scharr, President of the Southern Illinois District of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod demonstrates that Gov. Pritzker’s decision not to include church services among “essential activities” was an intentional act of discrimination. President Scharr, along with the presidents of the Central Illinois District (the Rev. Mark Miller) and Northern Illinois District (the Rev. Dr. Allan Buss) of the LCMS sent the following letter to Gov. Pritzker in April arguing that churches should be included among “essential activities.” Their reasonable and well stated request was ignored. ____________________________ 17 April 2020 The Honorable J.B. Pritzker, Governor 207 State House Springfield, IL 62706 Dear Governor Pritzker, Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ, the crucified, risen and returning Lord! The nearly 500 congregations of

2 different ways of being an American; 2 different ways of being a human being

By Adam Ford - Posted at Disrn: Yesterday we published two seemingly unrelated news articles. Yet the story they tell when placed next to each other and viewed in the same gaze with clear eyes is one every American should hear and ponder. First, we reported on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez . The darling of the "just left of Marx" camp, in an interview with Vice, stated that once the economic lockdowns are lifted, Americans should simply refuse to go back to work. Here's what she said: "When we have this discussion about 'going back' or 'reopening,' I think a lot of people should just say, 'No. We're not going back to that. We're not going back to 70 hour weeks just so we could put food on the table and not even feel any semblance of security in our lives.'" Americans should refuse to go back to work, she says. "No. We're not going back to that," we should say. Back to what? To the greatest and most prosper

The Coming Attack On Homeschooling And Educational Freedom?

By Dr. R. Scott Clark - Posted at The Heidelblog: One of the unexpected outcomes of the Covid-19 shutdown/quarantine has been the widespread turn to homeschooling. Parents are being asked en masse to become intimately involved (again) with the education their children. For some parents, it means making sure that their children have access to an online platform. For many parents, however, the quarantine has thrown them into homeschooling. Thousands of American households are suddenly little schools, laboratories, and gymnasiums (or gymnasia ). For thousands of other families, however, the shift to homeschool happened intentionally. Ours was one of those families. We did not set out to become homeschoolers. Our eldest began her education in a church-related school while we were in the UK. When we returned to the USA, we found that she had begun in what was, more or less, first grade and the local school wanted her to go start over in kindergarten. We tried that but it was cl

When the Leaf Rattles

By Barry York - Posted at Gentle Reformation: The swirling winds of the COVID-19 pandemic have caused people to tremble in fear these days... On a Saturday afternoon recently, I joined my wife to help her finish picking up our yard. A cold front had blown through earlier in the week, chasing away momentarily the warming spring weather. The strong winds caused by the weather system had dropped numerous branches and twigs from the tall oak trees around our home. By the time I joined her, she had already picked up and disposed of enough wheelbarrows of fallen debris to constitute a small tree. After we finished cleaning up the yard, I fired up the leaf blower in order to remove the piles of leaves that had congregated around the stone wall and bushes that line our driveway. Clearing leaves is usually a fall time pursuit, but those with oak trees know they hang on to many of their leaves throughout the winter. The gusty winds in the springtime are the Lord's way of cleaning an

You Can’t Baptize On Zoom

By Alejandra Molina - Posted at Ministry Watch: The faithful stood in line for about two hours to receive Communion at Godspeak Calvary Chapel in Thousand Oaks. Some were in tears as they approached the Communion table. The church, which typically dispenses about 400 Communion cups on a regular Sunday, served over 700 that day. Pastors from other churches attended. Protesters and police were there. This was the scene pastor Rob McCoy witnessed April 5 when he decided to open his sanctuary for Communion on Palm Sunday, despite a  statewide stay-at-home order  that bans group gatherings and shut down businesses except for those deemed essential. “People needed this,” McCoy told Religion News Service. “What they did was not an affront. They wanted the community to know that Christ is critical and essential and they wanted to testify that no matter what it would cost them, even if they were going to be berated and maligned.” To McCoy, receiving Communion is just as essential as peo


Posted at Reformation Scotland: Does God intend us to learn from events? Some people react strongly against this as bizarrely mystical or arrogant. There is no doubt that people can be confidently wrong in their interpretation of certain events. But they can be self-assured in mistaken interpretations of the Bible too and that doesn’t make us give up on trying to understand Scripture. The very same passage that speaks about God revealing Himself in creation, also shows how He reveals His wrath in events (Romans 1:18, 20, 27-28). Christ warns against simplistic and arbitrary interpretations of events, but He affirms that we are to learn from them (Luke 13:1-5). God’s ways are often truly mysterious. It’s certainly sometimes challenging to try to learn the right lessons from providence and it requires much humility, but does this mean we are to give up? The Bible tells us that if we are wise, we will seek to understand events and connect them with the character and purpose of God

DOJ Takes Action In Mississippi Drive-In Church Discrimination Case

By Chrissy Clark - Posted at The Federalist: The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it will take action in a religious liberty case involving churches in Greenville, Mississippi, where police officers issued $500 tickets to church members who refused to leave the parking lot for a drive-in Easter church service. The DOJ told Fox News they believe the court filing “strongly suggests that the city’s actions target religious conduct.” The DOJ said the United States files in cases that have “important issues of religious liberty in courts at every level, from trial courts to the Supreme Court of the United States.” Attorney General William Barr issued a statement giving guidance on how the DOJ should work with religious-liberty cases. “Religious liberty is a fundamental principle of enduring importance in America, enshrined in our Constitution and other sources of federal law,” Barr said. Read more... 

Ministries And Churches Scramble To Adapt to On-Line Life

By Aysha Kahn - Posted at Ministry Watch : As in-person worship services and religious gatherings have been shut down around much of the country, faith leaders have been left scrambling to shift all their worship services, fundraising, administrative work and community announcements to digital platforms. More than a few have been calling interfaith activist and digital media consultant Amanda Quraishi.  “I feel really validated by this, because for years I’ve been preaching about how to use these spaces productively to build communities,” said Quraishi. “So I’ve been happy to see these different ‘real world’ communities looking for ways  to make the same kinds of engagements happen online.” But because so few organizations had these digital platforms established already, the past few weeks have been “a frantic, wild ad hoc experience” for religious leaders experimenting with tools and techniques, Quraishi said. That’s certainly helped boost business for companies offering videoco

Indiana Governor To Churches: Worship As I Say Or Be Shut Down

By Joy Pullmann - Posted at The Federalist: It is a fundamental aspect of constitutional law and historic American practice that no government may tell citizens how to worship. How one worships is a sacred duty that our laws and traditions have reserved entirely to the individual’s conscience, completely outside of the bounds of government interference. Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, however, has decided that this natural right secured in both the Indiana and national constitutions is something he is allowed to waive by executive order. Yesterday afternoon, he demanded that churches perform services according to his edicts or be subject to government punishment. His requirements are not only unconstitutional because they trespass on the constitutionally secured individual right to worship, but they are discriminatory because they place restrictions on churches that do not apply to other organizations, groups of people, and establishments. The governor is telling Christians how

Police Raid Church’s Drive-In Service, Issue $500 Tickets to Entire Congregation

By Todd Starnes   Police in Greenville, Mississippi raided the parking lot of Temple Baptist Church during a drive-in prayer service and issued $500 fines to everyone in attendance – including many elderly congregants. Pastor Arthur Scott told the Todd Starnes Radio Show that he was astonished by the actions of the police department and the mayor’s office. “One of the police officers said the mayor wanted to make an example of our church,” the pastor said. “I told them to get some more tickets ready because we will be preaching Sunday morning and Sunday night.” Read more here...  Watch video: See also: WATCH: Entire Police Force Storms Second Church in Greenville, Mississippi   (Todd Starnes) Louisville Mayor Forbids Churches From Holding Easter Sunday Drive-In Services  (Todd Starnes) Mississippi church to sue city government for crackdown on 'drive-in' church service  (Washington Times)

Covid-19 and Isaiah 26

Break the chain scares! DON’T FORWARD THEM TO ANYONE! - Salty Scrivener By Bob McEvoy - Posted at The Salty Scrivener: Covid-19 and the Evangelical Proof-Texters Well, it didn’t take long before the ‘proof-texters,’ sensation-mongers and the chain-letter writers got their teeth into the present Covid-19 crisis. The misinterpretation of psalm 91 was sure to happen sooner or later, – without any reference to Psalm 90, of course. But a recent ‘don’t break this chain‘ scam on social media has been based on a proof-texting use of Isaiah 26:20. The text reads, Come, my people, enter your chambers, And shut your doors behind you; Hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, Until the indignation is past. So, of course, the proof-texters want to find in the words of that verse a prediction of our present state of lockdown and self-isolation. Some have even claimed that there is more than a coincidence between between the text reference (26) and the date of the Lockdown announ

Lawsuit Filed Challenging Michigan Governor's Executive Order's Restriction on Free Speech

AFLC Faith and Freedom Alert: (Lansing, MI) – Late last night [April 1, 2020], the American Freedom Law Center, a national, public interest law firm, filed a civil rights lawsuit against Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the City of Detroit, challenging the constitutionality of the Governor’s Executive Order 2020-21 (“Shelter in Place” Order) as applied to criminalize the free speech activity of peaceful, pro-life protestors. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of three pro-lifers, Andrew Belanger, Justin Phillips, and Cal Zastrow. The lawsuit also names the City of Detroit as a defendant. On March 24, 2020, Governor Whitmer issued the Executive Order in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. While most businesses were forced to shutdown as a result, the Governor has refused to order abortion centers in Michigan to close even though abortion is an elective procedure, it is never necessary to protect the life of a mother, and it results in the death of an unborn child, which

Franklin Graham On Samaritan’s Purse Central Park Hospital: We Don’t Discriminate. Period.

By Yonat Shimron - Posted at MinistryWatch: It was a culture clash waiting to happen. Almost as soon as Samaritan’s Purse assembled a 68-bed field hospital in Central Park’s famed East Meadow,  New Yorkers sounded the alarm about the evangelical humanitarian relief organization headed by Franklin Graham. Pointing to the conservative Christian organization’s statement of faith, which all its health care specialists are expected to sign, they wondered if LGBTQ patients would be treated equally.  The 11-point  statement of faith  declares, “we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one genetic male and one genetic female.” Many New Yorkers were outraged. City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said he found it “extremely troubling” that Graham’s organization was involved in the city’s relief effort, and Mayor Bill De Blasio, a champion of LGBTQ rights, was immediately pressed to ensure the relief organization was “truly consistent with the values and the laws in New York City.

John Donne – Poet of Grace and Comfort

John Donne (1572 - 1631) - Wikipedia By Simonetta Carr - Posted at Place for Truth: In 1623, when a sudden illness brought the poet and preacher John Donne close to death, he expressed his lament with words that may sound relevant during our coronavirus pandemic: “Variable and therefore miserable condition of man! This minute I was well, and am ill this minute. I am surprised with a sudden change and alteration to worse, and can impute it to no cause, nor call it by any name. We study health, and we deliberate upon our meats and drink and air and exercises, and we hew and we polish every stone that goes to that building—and so our health is a long and a regular work, but in a minute a cannon batters all, overthrows all, demolishes all. A sickness unprevented for all our diligence, unsuspected for all our curiosity—nay, undeserved, if we consider only disorder—summons us, seizes us, possesses us, destroys us in an instant. O miserable condition of man!” [1] Donne has often bee