Christian leaders call for repentance, overhaul following Ravi Zacharias sexual abuse report

By Brandon Showalter, Christian Post Reporter

Christian leaders and a former associate of Ravi Zacharias’ ministry are calling for repentance and an overhaul of organizational practices after a report released Thursday detailed the late apologist’s pattern of sexual abuse.

In an email to The Christian Post on Friday, Carson Weitnauer, who previously led RZIM’s U.S. speaking team, said he now believes that Zacharias was not only a fraud, as he articulated in an earlier op-ed published by CP, but that the organization bearing his name is as well. He further asserted that the ministry’s apology is unacceptable in light of the revelations released in the report. 

“The organization’s apologetic-sounding statement was released by an anonymous board, is incomplete in its scope, avoids calling on the Zacharias Estate to release the Thompson’s from the NDA, and announces no resignations or removals of those most responsible for this tragedy. 1 John 3:18 instructs us, ‘Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth,'” said Weitnauer to CP. 

“I pray that many churches and nonprofits will decide to learn from this catastrophe and take immediate action to mitigate the risk of personally repeating it,” he added. 

RZIM issued an apology Thursday with the announcement of the results of an extensive independent investigation in which victims claimed that Zacharias had engaged in “sexting, unwanted touching, spiritual abuse, and rape” over the course of many years. 

The ministry hired the Atlanta law firm Miller & Martin to conduct the independent investigation. In the apology statement published as the report was released, RZIM said it was “shocked and grieved” by the actions of the late apologist and that “corporate repentance” was needed. 

Weitnauer said it’s crucial that churches and ministry organizations appoint senior leaders who bear responsibility and that they establish or strengthen policies against abuse of every kind — provide training on toxic cultural dynamics, and ensure board members and community leaders are informed and watchful advocates for survivors and other vulnerable members of their communities. 

“The continued prevalence of sexual abuse within the church, and the weak response to it by church leaders, is a great discredit to our witness,” Weitnauer said. “For the sake of the Gospel and the honor of God, and our commitment to the wellbeing of victims, may we instead courageously resolve to build communities that are full of truth and goodness.” 

Other Christian voices and thought leaders have expressed a variety of emotions. Many said they are disgusted and shaken, but noted that news of respected evangelical leaders falling has become common. 

“I’ve thought about this a lot since it all came out and I guess it sucks to say that I’m not surprised when this happens anymore. Because it just keeps happening. God, have mercy,” said author Jackie Hill Perry, tweeted Thursday.  

She added in a subsequent tweet-thread Friday that she had attended the funeral for the late apologist last year and that the news of his misconduct left her feeling “thrown.” 

“Not because I’m surprised per se’ but because it’s disorienting. I’m reminded that giftedness will never translate to godliness. Neither is orthodox teaching the proof of righteous living…Ravi’s ministry was a gift to most of us but his fall is a warning to all of us. Take heed lest we fall too.”

Teacher and popular speaker Beth Moore said in response to the report that, at base, “in every situation where a Christian leader has lived in gross hypocrisy, carrying on a double life, for years on end: They are out of fellowship with Jesus. Period. YOU CANNOT SUSTAIN THAT IN FELLOWSHIP.”

“The Holy Spirit convicts of sin. Every believer has and will fall into strongholds of various kinds of sin but, in fellowship with Christ, we cannot bear to remain in it. We will repent. We can implement all the accountability systems & MUST. But what we’ve got on our hands are people using piety and outward appearances of righteousness to hide the fact that they have little to no intimacy with the Father and Son through the Holy Spirit,” she added. 

The board of the Zacharias Trust, the U.K. branch of the ministry, also put out a statement announcing that they had made the unanimous decision to separate from RZIM. Although the organization has always been a separate entity in terms of governance with its own trustees, the Trust said that current circumstances have led them to conclude they must operate without any link to the organization. 

“The UK entity will also choose a new name. This process will take time to complete but the UK Board is convinced that this is the best and only way to ensure that the ministry can continue to serve the UK church with integrity. This will also give us the opportunity to review the lessons to be learned from these awful events,” the Trust added. 

COMMENT:

Part of our mission is to “… help the abused, the abuser and those affected by abuse to heal…just not all in the same setting.” Please contact us if you need assistance. If it is an emergency dial 911.

https://www.christianpost.com/news/christian-leaders-call-for-overhaul-after-ravi-zacharias-report.html

Supreme Court Rules California Churches May Open

By Quinn Weimer | February 8, 2021

(CNSNews.com) – In a 6-3 decision last week, the Supreme Court granted an injunction in favor of South Bay Pentecostal Church and Harvest Rock Church by striking down California’s total ban on indoor church services in the state thus allowing churches to open at 25 percent capacity. 

Concurring justices remained split on the issue of Newsom’s singing and chanting ban, allowing that restriction to stand. 

In a statement written by Justice Neil Gorsuch and joined by Justices Samuel Alito and John Roberts, they highlighted the difference in treatment that California gave religious institutions and secular establishments. 

The brief stated, “When a State so obviously targets religion for differential treatment, our job becomes that much clearer. As the Ninth Circuit recognized, regulations like these violate the First Amendment unless the State can show they are the least restrictive means of achieving a compelling government interest.”

Justices Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh drafted a short opinion in partial agreement with Alito, Gorsuch, and Roberts:


“JUSTICE BARRETT, with whom JUSTICE KAVANAUGH joins, concurring in the partial grant of application for in-junctive relief.

I agree with JUSTICE GORSUCH’s statement, save its contention that the Court should enjoin California’s prohibition on singing and chanting during indoor services. The applicants bore the burden of establishing their entitlement to relief from the singing ban. In my view, they did not carry that burden—at least not on this record. As the case comes to us, it remains unclear whether the singing ban applies across the board (and thus constitutes a neutral and generally applicable law) or else favors certain sectors (and thus triggers more searching review). Of course, if a chorister can sing in a Hollywood studio but not in her church, California’s regulations cannot be viewed as neutral. But the record is uncertain, and the decisions below unfortunately shed little light on the issue. As the order notes, however, the applicants remain free to show that the singing ban is not generally applicable and to advance their claim accordingly.”

The court’s only dissenters were Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer claiming, 

“Justices of this Court are not scientists. Nor do we know much about public health policy. Yet today the Court displaces the judgments of experts about how to respond to a raging pandemic. The Court orders California to weaken its restrictions on public gatherings by making a special exception for worship services. The majority does so even though the State’s policies treat worship just as favorably as secular activities (including political assemblies) that, according to medical evidence, pose the same risk of COVID transmission. Under the Court’s injunction, the State must instead treat worship services like secular activities that pose a much lesser danger. That mandate defies our case law, exceeds our judicial role, and risks worsening the pandemic.”

https://cnsnews.com/article/national/quinn-weimer/supreme-court-rules-california-churches-may-open

Biden would resume Obama’s war on Christianity: Dem memo declares white Christians country’s foremost “national security threat”

January 02, 2021 by: JD Heyes

Image: Biden plans to resume Obama’s war on Christianity: Dem memo declares white Christians country’s foremost “national security threat”

(Natural News) Democrat Joe Biden’s message of wanting to ‘unify our divided country’ suffered another credibility blow in the wake of a newly uncovered Democratic memo that warns two-thirds of our country is a bigger threat than China, Russia, Iran and North Korea combined.

A report prepared especially for the (potentially) incoming Biden administration from the Secular Democrats of America PAC provides guidance to “boldly restore a vision of constitutional secularism and respect in the land for religious and intellectual pluralism.”

And here we thought that after four years of President Donald Trump that his efforts to uphold the right of Christians — and Jews, and Muslims, and whomever else — to practice freely, as outlined in the First Amendment, was him restoring constitutionality. 

In any event, the PAC says it “represents secular Democratic individuals and organizations” while advocating for “secular governance” as well as the promotion of “respect and inclusion of nonreligious Americans,” while mobilizing “nonreligious voters.”

Again, that same First Amendment guaranteeing Americans the right to worship freely also lacks a provision that mandates a religious society or the practice of a certain religion. So — if there can be no forcing of religion on Americans, why does this group think it can force secularism on all of us?

We digress.

Just The News reports that the proposal was formally presented to the Biden team by Democratic Reps. Jamie Raskin and Jared Huffman, co-chairmen of the Congressional Freethought Caucus; it was also endorsed by Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney.

“We’ve offered the new administration a roadmap to restore our basic constitutional values and protect science, reason and public health in American government,” Raskin and Huffman said in a joint statement. (Related: Why rioters will eventually turn their rage on Christianity if not stopped.)

The outlet notes further: 

The proposal calls for Biden’s team to work with Congress and governors to “advance a secular agenda at all levels of government, taking into account the current makeup of the federal courts and new, unfavorable precedents that your administration will have to contend with.”

In the document, the group argues that Trump has “empowered the religious right in ways no other administration has before, making significant advances in enacting their Christian nationalist agenda.”

The proposal outlines recommendations for reversing certain policies and “proactively” implementing new rules that would “restore secularism to federal governance and disentangle entrenched religious interests from federal policy.”

Again, what is inherently wrong with Trump ‘empowering’ people of faith within his administration? Understand that this proposal would not have been given to Team Biden unless these three lawmakers had a problem with the empowerment of religious persons within the Trump White House — none of whom were pushing to mandate Christianity across the country. 

Only people who do not believe in any religion are ‘suitable’ for government, according to this PAC.

But it gets worse: These bozos liken Christians with a threat to America’s “national security.”

“The rise of white Christian nationalism is a national security threat,” read the document. “We recommend you: encourage the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice to dedicate resources to de-radicalization programs aimed at hate groups, including, but not limited to, white nationalists; increase monitoring of such groups, including the online environment, and take action to address increased hate crimes toward minority faith communities; and shift rhetoric to label violent white nationalist extremists as terrorists.”

That is outrageous. If there are any threats to America’s national security that emanate from within the country, they are coming from the insane left: Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and burgeoning anarchist organizations on both the left and right.

But you can see what this is really about.

There is no bigger impediment to authoritarian rule than a belief among the populace in something higher and more divine than ‘big government.’ And what better way to destroy the fundamental right to not only believe in a higher authority but to worship that higher authority than to declare those who do to be our most dangerous threat.

The Marxist Democratic left hates America as it was founded, period. This is just another modicum of proof.

See more reporting like this at BigGovernment.news.

Sources include:

JustTheNews.com

NaturalNews.com

https://www.naturalnews.com/2021-01-02-biden-will-resume-obamas-war-christianity.html

AUDIO Court’s message: Churches aren’t 2nd class citizens

Experts explain Supremes’ decision on New York’s lockdowns

Dec 44, 2020

By Mary Margaret Olohan
Daily Caller News Foundation

Last week’s Supreme Court ruling against New York’s restrictions on religious organizations sends a message that churches may not be treated as second class citizens, legal experts told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

The Supreme Court sided with religious organizations challenging Cuomo’s coronavirus restrictions the night before Thanksgiving, calling the New York Democrat’s measures “discriminatory” in its injunction for emergency relief.

Conservative justices, including Justice Amy Coney Barrett, sided with religious organizations in the 5-4 ruling, while Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the liberal justices. It was the first time Barrett was a deciding factor as the court’s newest justice after replacing the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg — and Judicial Crisis Network President Carrie Severino said it showed “the critical importance of Justice Barrett’s confirmation.”

Cuomo’s restrictions limited the number of people who can attend religious services to 10 in areas where the threat of coronavirus is highest, regardless of a church or synagogue’s capacity. In areas with slightly less risk, attendance is limited to 25 people.

“The Court’s majority made clear that the First Amendment’s Free Exercise clause is not to be carelessly trampled upon but rather vigorously protected,” Judicial Crisis Network’s Carrie Severino told the DCNF.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty represented the religious organizations in asking the Supreme Court to consider whether Cuomo’s executive order violated the Free Exercise Clause when it “disfavors worship” and “when the official who issued it made clear through unambiguous statements that the order was targeted at a religious minority’s practices and traditions.”

Becket counsel Joe Davis noted to the DCNF that the ruling was important not only in regards to coronavirus restrictions on religious freedom, but also for religious freedom more broadly.

“This is really the court laying down a marker that the First Amendment does not go away even in the circumstances of this pandemic,” Davis told the DCNF, noting that this is something that has been questioned in legal rulings since March.

“You can’t tell people they have to stay home from church but they can shop,” Davis said.

Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Ryan Tucker also emphasized the disparity between restrictions on houses of worship and restrictions on other businesses, calling it not only “nonsensical” but also “unconstitutional” that “individuals can gather in places that governors deem essential but those same people can’t gather in a religious gathering as well.”

The ruling sends a message to governors and other officials that “they can’t treat the church like a second class citizen,” Tucker added.

In deciding to grant the temporary injunction relieving the religious organizations from Cuomo’s restrictions, the justices looked at how Cuomo’s restrictions might cause irreparable harm to the religious organizations, Heritage Foundation’s Emilie Kao told the DCNF.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn had also filed an emergency application against Cuomo in November, writing that Cuomo’s order “expressly singles out ‘houses of worship’ by that name for adverse treatment relative to secular businesses.

Kao noted that one instance of irreparable harm that the justices noted was the impact of Cuomo’s restrictions on daily Catholic masses.

“Unlike Cuomo,” she said of the justices, “they looked at the restrictions, caps, the size of the buildings.”

Synagogues and cathedrals hold upwards of 1,000 people, Kao noted, and the “arbitrary” limits on the number of those who could gather to worship were “totally unrelated to the size of the buildings.”

Kao, who is the Heritage Foundation’s director of the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Religion & Civil Society, emphasized that the ruling will probably influence lower courts, setting the tone for future cases on COVID restrictions and religious freedom.

“There’s a lot of reasons for optimism from the court’s opinion,” Kao added, “but it is a temporary injunction, so it’s not a final decision as to the litigants, but a very encouraging development.”

On Thursday, the Supreme Court also ruled against Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s restrictions on worship services during the coronavirus pandemic.

Justices tossed out an order from a Central District of California court that had upheld Newsom’s restrictions on houses of worship, CBS News reported Thursday. In light of last week’s Supreme Court ruling, the justices sent the dispute back to a lower court for further review.

VIDEO Diocese of Brooklyn Takes ‘Religious Freedom’ Case to the U.S. Supreme Court

November 12, 2020 By Paula Katinas

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio said restricting Mass attendance to just 10 people is tantamount to closing churches. (Photo: CNS/Gregory A. Shemitz)

WINDSOR TERRACE — The Diocese of Brooklyn is taking its fight against Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s church attendance restrictions to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The diocese has filed an emergency application with the Supreme Court, asking that the highest court in the land agree to hear the case on First Amendment grounds. The diocese charged that imposing strict attendance — in some cases, as little as 10 people at the Mass — violates religious freedom.

The emergency petition was submitted on Nov. 9 by Randy Mastro, the attorney representing the diocese, to Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.

Click here to read the Brooklyn Diocese’s emergency petition to the US Supreme Court.

“We remain committed to reopening our churches, safely, and to vindicate our First Amendment rights. That is why we have petitioned the Supreme Court,” the diocese said in a statement. 

“We are confident we will prevail for the good of our churches and those of faith who want to operate safely yet continue to suffer under the Governor’s express restrictions on ‘houses of worship,’ ” the statement continues.

The diocese petitioned the Supreme Court following a legal setback in its lawsuit against the governor over the restrictions he imposed on Oct. 6 on houses of worship in New York neighborhoods with higher than average COVID-19 positivity rates. 

The diocese filed suit against Cuomo, in his official capacity as governor, on Oct. 8. On Nov. 9, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit rejected the diocese’s appeal of earlier decisions by judges in Brooklyn Federal Court, who sided with Cuomo. The decision came a few days after the diocese presented its case at a hearing at the Court of Appeals on Nov. 3.

“The court fully understands the impact the executive order has had on houses of worship throughout the affected zones. Nevertheless, the Appellants cannot clear the high bar necessary to obtain an injunction pending appeal,” the decision read.

But the Court of Appeals’ decision rejecting the diocese was not unanimous. Two of the judges, Raymond J. Lohier and Jed S. Rakoff, on the three-judge panel, voted against the diocese. A third judge, Michael H. Park, dissented. The fact that the decision was not unanimous is giving officials a sense of hope in the case.

In the petition to Justice Breyer, Mastro and his co-counselors contend that the case deserves to be heard in the Supreme Court.

Click here to read the the ruling made by the US Court of Appeals.

“The governor’s latest restrictions cap church attendance at 10 and 25 people in so-called ‘red’ and ‘orange’ zones, respectively, regardless of the capacity of the ‘house of worship,’ and thereby effectively shutter all of the diocese’s churches in those zones. His Executive Order, moreover, expressly singles out ‘houses of worship’ by that name for adverse treatment relative to secular businesses, and does so in a way that is not narrowly tailored to any compelling government interest, in direct violation of the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause,” the petition reads in part.

In his Oct. 6 executive order, Cuomo created three zones — red, orange, and yellow. In red zones, churches and other religious institutions are limited to 25 percent capacity, with no more than 10 people. In orange zones, attendance at religious services is restricted to a maximum of 33 percent capacity with no more than 25 people. In yellow zones, 50 percent capacity is permitted.

Initially, there were more than two dozen churches in Brooklyn and Queens in the red and orange zones. As COVID-19 positivity rates decreased, Cuomo eased some of the restrictions.


Justice Alito criticizes COVID-19 restrictions and ‘rule by experts’

Associate Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito criticizes the left in speech given at the Federalist Society. Religious liberty and COVID-19 restrictions were some of the issues the Alito touched on.



Related

Churches Win over Colorado Governor’s Pandemic Orders

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 06: Democratic Colorado Governor-elect Jared Polis speaks at an election night rally on November 6, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. Polis defeated incumbent Republican Walker Stapleton to become the first openly gay man elected Governor in the country.(Photo by Rick T. Wilking/Getty Images)

Dr Susan Berry

A federal judge ruled late last week in favor of two Colorado churches that challenged Gov. Jared Polis’s (D) pandemic orders requiring indoor occupancy limitations and masks during worship.

U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Domenico, a Trump appointee, granted Denver Bible Church and its pastor, Robert Enyart, as well as Community Baptist Church and its pastor, Joey Rhoads, a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction.

The judge said Polis’s Public Health Order 20-35 violated the churches’ First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion.

Domenico wrote in his ruling:

[T]he Constitution does not allow the State to tell a congregation how large it can be when comparable secular gatherings are not so limited, or to tell a congregation that its reason for wishing to remove facial coverings is less important than a restaurant’s or spa’s.

The court found Polis’s order treats churches differently than secular establishments and events that pose an equal risk of spreading the Chinese virus.

“The lawsuit calls both the federal government and Colorado leaders into account for their violations of the right to free exercise of religion, among other abuses of power, primarily resulting from Governor Jared Polis’ COVID-19 related Executive Orders,” said Rebecca Messall, Thomas More Society special counsel, in a statement.

Domenico specifically found that limiting indoor church services to 175 people and requiring masks are not mandates that are equally applied between secular and religious gatherings.

The judge’s ruling noted the governor’s orders do not apply to schools, Amazon warehouses, Home Depot, Walmart, and marijuana shops.

“With each exception Colorado makes for secular institutions, the failure to make the same exemption for houses of worship becomes increasingly problematic,” Domenico wrote, noting as well:

The First Amendment does not allow government officials, whether in the executive or judicial branch, to treat religious worship as any less critical or essential than other human endeavors. Nor does it allow the government to determine what is a necessary part of a house of worship’s religious exercise.

The judge’s order prohibits Colorado officials from enforcing the state’s Executive Orders and Public Health Orders against the churches and pastors, in particular matters of occupancy limitations and face mask requirements during worship services.

Polis updated Order 20-35 on October 8:

Houses of worship and Life Rites may operate at 50% of the posted occupancy limit indoors not to exceed 175 people, whichever is less, per room. For outdoor worship services, a house of worship must maintain 6 feet distance between non-household members and work with the appropriate local authority to obtain approval for the maximum number of individuals who may attend in the designated outdoor space.

The governor recently extended his order requiring masks to November 10. He allowed the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and local public health departments to grant waivers for “certain indoor activities that take place for a limited time period if such activities cannot practically or safely be performed while wearing a mask.”

https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2020/10/21/churches-win-colorado-governors-pandemic-orders/

A Liberal Order That Seeks To Shut Down Christian Charities Doesn’t Deserve To Survive

Christian post-liberals on the right have seen how readily the liberal center-left and the Chamber-of-Commerce right surrender to the extreme and illiberal left. It makes them wonder: Why not us?

A Liberal Order That Seeks To Shut Down Christian Charities Doesn’t Deserve To Survive

Dec 26, 2019

It is a basic Christian teaching that good works are insufficient for spiritual salvation. We should also remember they are unlikely to suffice for cultural and political salvation either.

Chick-fil-A’s abandonment of The Salvation Army is yesterday’s news, but its lessons should be remembered, for they explain our cultural and political trajectory. That the chicken chain capitulated even though everyone was “eating mor chikin” is instructive regarding the power of the LBGT lobby and its allies. That they directed this power against a Christian organization dedicated to feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and sheltering the homeless — including those who identify as LGBT — is even more instructive.

It exemplifies how hard-liners are driving the cultural left. It is not clear that a majority even of those who identity as LGBT hate The Salvation Army. For example, Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg volunteered for the organization (albeit for a photo op) a couple of years back. Now he is facing criticism from LGBT activists, as those running the movement want total victory, not coexistence. And they are winning.

The campaign included government officials from Buffalo, New York, to San Antonio, Texas, retaliating against Chick-fil-A for its support of The Salvation Army. Even without full control over the government, the left has been aggressive in its use of government power against Christians who believe traditional teachings on human sexuality. The left seems to target particularly those engaged in charitable work, rather than protecting them on account of their good works.

The left’s legal wing is trying to compel Christian hospitals to perform abortions and sex-change surgeries, Christian schools to affirm same-sex relationships, and Christian charities such as women’s shelters to pretend men can be women. A purportedly serious Democratic presidential candidate wanted to tax dissenting Christian organizations, including churches, into oblivion.

The left won’t even spare elderly nuns. When the Trump administration ended Barack Obama’s legal campaign against the Little Sisters of the Poor, various Democratic attorneys general made a point of continuing that unholy effort.

The Rise of Post-Liberal Christianity

This should not surprise us. Jesus promised that the powers of this world would hate his followers, not that they would love us if we were virtuous. While we Christians should always strive to be more like Christ, we should not succumb to a quasi-Pelagianism that presumes our winsomeness determines how others receive the gospel. Christ himself was crucified, and the grace and charity many martyrs exemplified did not save them from persecution unto death.

But that we should expect trouble in this world does not mean we should be disinterested regarding politics, nor does it excuse governments that oppose the church and oppress its people. That our nation seems to be starting down this path has intensified Christian reconsiderations of liberal political theory. Although our government ostensibly protects the freedoms of religion, association, and speech, procedural liberalism increasingly appears insufficient to protect our rights or to ensure a culture of tolerance and pluralism that includes Christians who maintain the traditional teachings of our faith.

The supposedly neutral principles of the legal left consistently restrict the rights and opportunities of orthodox Christians, and the left always pushes the envelope. Christian litigators should, of course, do their best to defend our rights, and thank God for their efforts, but it should be no surprise that more and more Christians are intrigued by varieties of post-liberal thinking, including previously marginalized ideas such as Catholic integralism. It is understandable that Christians are turning against the system of liberal democratic capitalism as it turns against them.

Post-liberal Christians are unlikely to find their minority status daunting, for they see that minorities can win if they are determined and the institutions they face are weak and full of cowards. After all, a minority of hard-line leftists control cultural, economic, and political pressure points that grant them power far beyond their numbers.

For example, the 2020 Democratic field is so radically pro-abortion that even The New York Times has noticed. The Democratic Party stands for abortion today, abortion tomorrow, and abortion forever, as Sen. Elizabeth Warren illustrated in promising that at her inauguration — angels and ministers of grace defend us! — she will wear swag to rep the nation’s largest abortion chain.

Christian post-liberals on the right have seen how readily the liberal center-left and the Chamber-of-Commerce right surrender to the extreme and illiberal left and wonder: Why not us? A decadent and despairing culture with weak institutions and degraded elites is precisely the sort that a determined minority might govern.

Thus, they see an opportunity as our culture disintegrates despite its wealth and technological prowess. Liberal individualism seems to be devouring itself: Fertility is down, loneliness and depression have increased, and deaths of despair from suicide, drugs, and alcohol are way up.

Should Liberalism Be Preserved?

Perhaps it is time to be bold and reorder society toward the highest good, rather than accepting liberalism’s dishonest promises of “live and let live” neutrality. As some post-liberal thinkers note, we increasingly live in a non-Christian integralist society that mandates belief in sectarian dogmas, such as the mystical belief that a man may become — indeed, may already be — a woman. Therefore, they see the alternative to post-liberal Christian politics not as liberalism, but as some sort of post-Christian illiberal politics.

I am sympathetic to some of the post-liberal thought developing on the right. I see the appeal, especially as liberalism’s promise of legal neutrality is exposed as so much fiction. I share many of the critiques of liberal political theory and find its discourse far more interesting than the stale talking points of neoliberals and neoconservatives.

But I am neither Catholic nor Calvinist enough to be much of an integralist, and I remain more skeptical of the likelihood of governmental efficacy and rectitude than many post-liberals seem to be. I also remain attached to many liberal practices, such as the right to trial by jury.

I am, in short, still thinking over these matters and am not entirely in either camp. From this in-between, I would recommend post-liberal thinkers reflect on the frailty and fallibility of human institutions. I also suggest that the defenders of liberal democratic capitalism take the critiques of post-liberals seriously. A liberal order that seeks to shut down Christian charities for nonconformist views on human sexuality does not deserve to survive.

Nathanael Blake is a Senior Contributor at The Federalist. He has a PhD in political theory. He lives in Missouri.

https://thefederalist.com/2019/12/26/a-liberal-order-that-seeks-to-shut-down-christian-charities-doesnt-deserve-to-survive/

Hiding Behind The Supreme Court Won’t Stop Beto O’Rourke’s Crusade To Punish Orthodox Religion

In addition to showing the left’s trajectory on religious freedom, O’Rourke’s comments also reveal why conservatives are faring so poorly on the LGBT front of the culture war.

Hiding Behind The Supreme Court Won’t Stop Beto O’Rourke’s Crusade To Punish Orthodox Religion

Oct 17, 2019

In 2003, the Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia made a rather prophetic statement in his dissenting opinion in Lawrence v. Texas (2003), a Supreme Court ruling that struck down anti-sodomy laws across the country. After excoriating the majority for simply waving away the long-held notion that sodomy was a form of sexual immorality that the state had a legitimate interest in prohibiting, Scalia wrote:

One of the benefits of leaving regulation of this matter to the people rather than to the courts is that the people, unlike judges, need not carry things to their logical conclusion. The people may feel that their disapprobation of homosexual conduct is strong enough to disallow homosexual marriage, but not strong enough to criminalize private homosexual acts — and may legislate accordingly. The Court today pretends that it possesses a similar freedom of action, so that that we need not fear judicial imposition of homosexual marriage. … Do not believe it.

In other words, Scalia was declaring, “It’s not within the nature of courts to remain neutral on moral issues. By declaring that the government can’t prohibit homosexual acts today, the court is guaranteeing that the government will be celebrating homosexual acts tomorrow.”

A mere 12 years later, the Supreme Court, via Obergefell v. Hodges, declared every state prohibition against same-sex marriage unconstitutional, with Justice Anthony Kennedy justifying the majority’s opinion by lauding the beauty of homosexual relationships. While Scalia’s words did indeed prove prophetic, they were not perfectly so.

Legalizing gay marriage may have been taking the court’s logic to the next logical step, but it wasn’t the logical conclusion of declaring that the state can’t punish those who engage in homosexuality. Rather, the logical conclusion of the court’s judgment in Lawrence is saying the state must punish those still clinging to the former orthodoxy.

O’Rourke Shows Left’s Trajectory on LGBT Issues

This is something presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke demonstrated in a recent CNN forum on LGBT issues. When Don Lemon asked him if churches and religious organizations that oppose same-sex marriage should lose their tax-exempt status, O’Rourke replied with a firm “Yes.”

Then O’Rourke explained his position by stating, “There can be no reward, no benefit, no tax break for anyone or any institution, any organization in America, that denies the full human rights and the full civil rights of every single one of us. So as president, we’re going to make that a priority, and we are going to stop those who are infringing upon the human rights of our fellow Americans.”

While one might dismiss O’Rourke as an outlier, it’s worth noting that his response met cheers from the audience and tepid disavowals from a few of his fellow would-be Democrat nominees who couldn’t sufficiently explain why they disagreed, indicating the former congressman’s position is more mainstream among leftists than we might think, even if many on the left recognize it’s not wise to state that view publicly.

Quite simply, O’Rourke’s plan to tax religious groups opposed to same-sex marriage is not merely the hard-left pandering of an unserious candidate trying desperately to bring his poll numbers above negative-400 percent. It’s the logical conclusion of the illiberal philosophy embraced in Lawrence.

Yesterday the state said homosexuality is neutral. Today the state says homosexuality is good. Tomorrow the state will say opposing homosexuality is bad and must therefore be punished. While O’Rourke’s position may be too hot for the eventual nominee to embrace right now, don’t be surprised if it becomes the official platform of the Democratic National Committee the moment it becomes clear they can win the presidency while giving churches, synagogues, and mosques the sin tax treatment.

In addition to showing the left’s trajectory on religious freedom, O’Rourke’s comments also reveal why conservatives are faring so poorly on the LGBT front of the culture war.

While most Americans would probably describe their general approach to human sexuality as “live and let live,” most Americans also intuitively understand that the “live and let live” doctrine gets complicated when people’s sexual practices and identities follow them into public places. When that messiness arises, both conservatives and progressives have the chance to convince people that their respective solutions will get things tidied up. Why, then, are conservatives losing so many of these battles for the hearts and minds of the general public?

The Folly of ‘Live and Let Live’

To answer that question, consider transgenderism. “Live and let live” flies out the window the moment a man identifying as a woman shows up in the ladies’ bathroom and makes the women in the room uncomfortable. Likewise, how do you solve the problem when public schools demand that teachers use students’ preferred pronouns and some teachers object?

Progressives promise to clean up this mess by carrying their beliefs to their logical conclusion. Transgenderism, they argue, is a perfectly valid identity the state should celebrate and defend. And because it harms people to have their identity rejected, the state must therefore compel others to acknowledge it — thus, force institutions to have transgender bathroom policies. Force taxpayers to subsidize transgender surgery. Fire teachers for refusing to use students’ preferred pronouns. Follow Canada’s example and remove children from their parents if they refuse to embrace their kid’s trans identity.

Conservatives, however, have shown little willingness to follow their own principles likewise to their logical actions. By and large, we assert that transgenderism is, at best, a phase and, at worst, a form of mental illness, so it should follow that the way to clean up the mess is to use the state’s power to hinder those who would do physical and psychological harm to those struggling with a false sense of identity. Yet we are largely unwilling to urge the state to do this.

We aren’t willing to say that mothers who shove their supposedly gender-nonconforming children in front of TV cameras should have their children removed from their homes. We aren’t using the power we have in red states to pass laws promising revoked medical licenses and perhaps even jail time for doctors who prescribe puberty-blocking drugs to minors and chop off perfectly functional sex organs. When trans students show up at schools and demand that teachers use their preferred pronouns, we aren’t willing to say, “The solution to this problem is to forbid males from coming to school dressed as females and vice versa while they get the help they need.”

In all of this, we refuse to clean up the “live and let live” mess by carrying our beliefs to their logical conclusion, which frequently convinces the undecided public that they should probably side with the people who will. That’s why Sen. Elizabeth Warren didn’t consider it political suicide to cheer the bravery of a 9-year-old girl living as a boy. That’s why we’re losing.

Conservatives Need More Than a Supreme Court Ruling

It is, of course, important for conservatives to keep defending those dragged into court for refusing to accept the new LGBT orthodoxy. And God bless those florists, bakers, and educators who have refused to acquiesce to the state’s demands, but not everyone has the mettle or the ability to wait five years for a favorable Supreme Court ruling.

For their sake, it would behoove conservatives to remember that you don’t win culture wars by refusing to fight until you get to the courthouse steps. Likewise, it’s also worth remembering that those who lose culture wars will eventually lose the constitutional protections in which they’ve sought sanctuary.

Sure, O’Rourke’s vindictive tax policy would likely be ruled unconstitutional by today’s Supreme Court. But the more comfortable our culture becomes with the idea of destroying dissenting churches via the power of taxation, the less confident we should be that future justices will maintain today’s understanding of the First Amendment. After all, if the Supreme Court, high on elitist zeitgeist, can stick its hands into the void and invent a constitutional right to abortion or to marry anyone, it can also invent a constitutional right to a clean conscience, which can only be preserved by silencing those repentance-preaching pastors and priests.

Quite simply, conservatives need to win converts to prevent progressives from devouring us. And that won’t happen if we refuse to carry our beliefs to their logical conclusions. So at the risk of rekindling the Ahmari-French debate, when conservatives express discomfort with the concept of obscenity laws, see drag queen story hour as a “blessing of liberty,” and won’t scream in defense of gender-confused children who are being abused by the people who are supposed to protect them, we aren’t clinging to our first principles. Rather, we’re forgetting the very first principle — namely that earthly governments are instituted by God to punish the wicked and reward the good in order to give us a peaceful and quiet life.

Because of this, we shouldn’t hesitate to use the state’s power to defend ourselves and our children from the kind of metastasizing libertinism that rots every brick of the public square it touches. If we don’t, as the journey from Lawrence v. Texas to Beto v. Traditional Christians, Jews, and Muslims shows, those who have gotten comfortable using the state to impose their perverse morality on us won’t tire of doing so any time soon.

Hans Fiene is a Lutheran pastor in Illinois and the creator of Lutheran Satire, a series of comical videos intended to teach the Lutheran faith. Follow him on Twitter, @HansFiene.
Photo LifeSiteNews

 

https://thefederalist.com/2019/10/16/hiding-behind-the-supreme-court-wont-stop-beto-orourkes-crusade-to-punish-orthodox-religion/

The Truth About the Separation of Church and State

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Overview

The words “separation of Church and State” are not found anywhere in the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, or the Declaration of Independence. Yet, every day, you hear that you can or cannot do something in a public place because of the “separation of Church and State.”

Issue Analysis

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution reads:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

So where did the phrase “separation of Church and State” come from?

This phrase came from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson in 1802 to a group of Christians from the Baptist denomination. These Christians were concerned that accepting the Constitution could ultimately allow the federal government to restrict religious freedom. Jefferson reassured them in this letter that the Constitution “build[s] a wall of separation between Church and State,” which would protect them from the government interfering with their religious beliefs. (You can read the whole letter for yourself on the Library of Congress’s website: www.loc.gov/loc/lcib/9806/danpre.html.)

Thus the phrase was designed to explain that the government could not cross over to interfere in the Church’s affairs. But, in 1947, the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Everson v. Board of Education took that phrase and turned it backwards to mean that religion must not be allowed to influence the State’s affairs.

Talking Points

  • The phrase of “separation of Church and State” is not in the Constitution. When Thomas Jefferson first wrote that phrase in a letter to a Baptist church, he was explaining that the government could not cross over to interfere in the Church’s affairs.
  • The Constitution doesn’t only guarantee our “freedom to worship” but also our freedom to practice and promote our faith. Americans don’t have to leave their faith and convictions at their church door; we have the right to carry them with us in all aspects of our lives.

Conclusion

Since 1947, anti-religious groups have used the term “separation of Church and State” to silence people of faith from speaking about their religious beliefs in the public square. But, in many cases, this is just an intimidation tactic and is not legally accurate.

This is particularly true for students in public schools and colleges. You have the right to speak about your faith, pray, lead a Bible study, and more!

Contact Center for Arizona Policy (CAP) at legal@azpolicy.org for more information regarding your rights to freely exercise your religious beliefs in the public square.

© January 2014 Center for Arizona Policy, Inc. All rights reserved.
This publication includes summaries of many complex areas of law and is not specific legal advice to any person. Consult an attorney if you have questions about your specific situation or believe your legal rights have been infringed. This publication is educational in nature and should not be construed as an effort to aid or hinder any legislation.

Churches and Pastors

“Hollywood’s god is not the God of the Bible”

Alyssa Milano recently used Scripture to justify her support of abortion. On April 1st, she tweeted “I love God. I believe in God. But I don’t believe my personal beliefs of which we can’t confirm should override scientific facts and what we can confirm.” She included a quote from the book of John:

“If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? (John 3:12).”

Unfortunately, misrepresentation of the Bible is common among the media and other groups who want to conform scripture to support opinions, when, in fact, moral values are designed to conform to scriptural truths. Personal opinions vary—truth does not. Watch these two short clips from Fox News this week when I discussed this topic: Abortion, God, and Hollywood and Were we Ever Really a Christian Nation?

Our culture’s false perception of God as a cosmic ball of love, or a doting grandfather desperately needs to be challenged. Unfortunately, difficult truths are often compromised, watered-down, or avoided altogether in the hope of “not offending.” As a result, the church is a mile wide but only an inch deep; judgment is never mentioned, repentance is never sought, sin is often excused, and lives are not radically changed. This leaves people confused and deceived because they believe in a crossless Christianity that bears no resemblance to Jesus’ sobering call to repentance. When we fail to proclaim God’s word faithfully, we run the risk of “encouraging sin” and “perverting the words of the living God” (cf. Jeremiah 23).

 

“To convince the world of the truth of Christianity, it must first be convinced of sin. It is only sin that renders Christ intelligible” (Andrew Murray; 1828-1917).

In other words, Christ’s shed blood on the cross only makes sense in light of the consequences of sin.

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (I Timothy 1:15).

Yet, many do not want to mention sin, repentance, or judgment because it’s not popular or marketable. They fail to realize that the good news about Christ can only understood with the bad news as the backdrop.

Romans 6:23 says:

“For the wages of sin is death…”.

This verse is not popular in many churches, nor is it preached from many pulpits. Telling others that the punishment for sin is eternal death (separation from God) is not pleasant, marketable, or palatable, but it is powerful:

“It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes…” (Romans 1:16).

But be encouraged! Romans 6:23 doesn’t end there. It adds:

“…but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

This is how people are truly saved, delivered, and set free from the bondage of sin and death.

We hear a great deal about God’s judgment and what can keep us from heaven, and rightly so, because “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7). But we also need to reflect on God’s goodness, love, mercy, and grace. The important question to ask is what is the condition of your heart . . . has true repentance and a belief in Christ as Lord and Savior taken place?

Jesus healed my brokenness and restored my life, and He can do the same for you. If you take only one thing from this article I hope that it is this: There is a deep longing inside all of us that cannot be satisfied until we recognize our need for a Savior, repent of our sin, and turn to Him. Though the road ahead may be uncertain at times, the solid ground beneath will never shift. It’s not about religion but a relationship – it’s all about Who you know.

https://barbwire.com/pastor-tells-fox-news-hollywoods-god-is-not-the-god-of-the-bible/