Tag Archives: Minister

Coeur d’Alene city officials to pastors: perform gay marriages or face jail, fines

From the Alliance Defending Freedom web site.

Excerpt:

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a federal lawsuit and a motion for a temporary restraining order Friday to stop officials in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, from forcing two ordained Christian ministers to perform wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples.

City officials told Donald Knapp that he and his wife Evelyn, both ordained ministers who run Hitching Post Wedding Chapel, are required to perform such ceremonies or face months in jail and/or thousands of dollars in fines. The city claims its “non-discrimination” ordinance requires the Knapps to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies now that the courts have overridden Idaho’s voter-approved constitutional amendment that affirmed marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

“The government should not force ordained ministers to act contrary to their faith under threat of jail time and criminal fines,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “Many have denied that pastors would ever be forced to perform ceremonies that are completely at odds with their faith, but that’s what is happening here – and it’s happened this quickly. The city is on seriously flawed legal ground, and our lawsuit intends to ensure that this couple’s freedom to adhere to their own faith as pastors is protected just as the First Amendment intended.”

The Hitching Post Wedding Chapel is across the street from the Kootenai County Clerk’s office, which issues marriage licenses. The Knapps, both in their 60s and who themselves have been married for 47 years, began operating the wedding chapel in 1989 as a ministry. They perform religious wedding ceremonies, which include references to God, the invocation of God’s blessing on the union, brief remarks drawn from the Bible designed to encourage the couple and help them to have a successful marriage, and more. They also provide each couple they marry with a CD that includes two sermons about marriage, and they recommend numerous Christian books on the subject. The Knapps charge a small fee for their services.

Coeur d’Alene officials told the Knapps privately and also publicly stated that the couple would violate the city’s public accommodations statute once same-sex marriage became legal in Idaho if they declined to perform a same-sex ceremony at their chapel. On Friday, the Knapps respectfully declined such a ceremony and now face up to 180 days in jail and up to $1,000 in fines for each day they decline to perform that ceremony.

This is freaking IDAHO for God’s sake. Thankfully the ADF is there to fight the case.

I guess part of me is surprised that in a country where so many people identify as Christians and attend church that such a thing would be possible.

First off, I credit Bible-centric pastors for failing to explain the issues of homosexuality and gay marriage in a way that their parishioners could make sense of it logically and evidentially. We never did that, so that’s why Christians had nothing to say to non-Christians when the issue came up OUTSIDE the church. We never learned from church leaders or our parents how to explain the problems with gay rights (Grindr app promiscuity, domestic violence, relationship instability, HIV spread, loss of free speech, loss of religious liberty, harm to children who are separated from their biological parents, etc.). All we learned to say at home and at church was “the Bible says”. That’s what 20 years of church prepares you to do. That’s what being raised in a Christian home prepares you to do.

“The Bible says” works great when you are a child in the Christian subculture, then you hit the university and it just dies. And pastors and parents know this, they just don’t care, because Christianity was like Santa Claus to them – it was about getting you to behave nicely as a child. It was never to make you kick ass like a William Lane Craig. It was never to make you into Stephen C. Meyer or an ADF attorney. It was just to make your parents’ life easier, as much as they try to cover it up with pious talk excusing them from their failed parenting effort.

Secondly, I think that the type of Christianity taught by parents and pastors is also to blame. They keep telling us that Christianity is about God helping you to feel good, and be nice to other people, so they like you. Everything is about feeling good here and now. Feelings. Compassion. Non-judgmentalism. Irrationality. Nothing is about truth, nothing is about facts, nothing is about conflict. We have witnessed the feminization of the church, and as a result, nobody has any response to the rhetoric of the gay rights people. If Christianity is about being nice, being liked and feeling good, then we have no resistance to the gay rights movement’s rhetoric which urges us to “be nice” so we can be liked, and feel good.

Declaring that morally wrong practices are actually morally good is only a virtue to those who want to be liked above all.

October 5th is Pulpit Freedom Sunday: is your church getting involved?

I listened to this podcast from the Alliance Defending Freedom  and this podcast from the Family Research Council on the weekend.  Both of them mentioned that something called Pulpit Freedom Sunday was happening this Sunday.

So I looked it up and found this online:

Pulpit Freedom Sunday is an event associated with the Pulpit Initiative, a legal effort designed to secure the free speech rights of pastors in the pulpit. Pulpit Freedom Sunday encourages pastors to exercise their constitutionally protected freedom to speak truth into every area of life from the pulpit. Alliance Defending Freedom also hopes to eventually go to court to have the Johnson Amendment struck down as unconstitutional for its regulation of sermons, which are protected by the First Amendment.

The web site is here. They are up to 3520 pastors now who are participating. My pastor did not participate last year. He is not very intelligent when it comes to apologetics and policy, so he probably doesn’t know what to say. Or maybe he just afraid, which I can understand more than not knowing what to say.

Not everyone is happy with this. The IRS is investigating churches (not Democrat-favoring churches, of course) for speaking about specific issues.

Here’s an article on that.

Excerpt:

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has agreed to investigate the political activity of churches after reaching a settlement with an atheist legal group. But a court has yet to decide whether or not to close the case.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) and the IRS jointly asked a Wisconsin federal court last week to dismiss a 2012 lawsuit, FFRF v. Koskinen. The FFRF had alleged that the IRS failed to have a policy in place for investigating political activity at tax-exempt churches and religious organizations, nor did the agency enforce its 501(c)(3) codes against electioneering.

Meanwhile, more than 1,600 churches have deliberately broken the existing law since 2008, endorsing political candidates from their pulpits during Pulpit Freedom Sunday events organized by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). The next “showdown” will be October 5.

“This is a victory, and we’re pleased with this development in which the IRS has proved to our satisfaction that it now has in place a protocol to enforce its own anti-electioneering provisions,” said FFRF co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor in a press release.

However, the case has not yet been closed. Father Patrick Malone of Holy Cross Anglican Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, had been granted permission to interveneon the side of the IRS, and the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty (which represents Malone) has asked the court to dismiss the case but “with prejudice.” In other words, Becket argues the FFRF should not be able to sue the IRS again on this particular issue, while the FFRF argues that it should be able to do so.

Regardless of the court’s final decision, the IRS won’t be free to investigate churches until a moratorium related to the agency’s controversial scrutiny of tea party organizations is lifted after a congressional investigation closes.

CT has noted how the six-year run of Pulpit Freedom Sunday has tried to provoke the IRS into (ironically) punishing pastors as a means to reexamine the rights of pastors to promote politicians from the pulpit. The initiative even gained an unexpected allylast year in Sen. Charles Grassley and the Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations (CAPRO).

Meanwhile, LifeWay Research has found that only 10 percent of Protestant pastors believe pastors should endorse political candidates (while noting that is a different question from should the IRS ban the practice.)

The IRS has not released the language of the settlement, and ADF is concerned about how secretive the church investigations will be—if they indeed happen. ADF has issued a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in pursuit of the documents surrounding the settlement between the FFRF and the IRS.

“This is one of the major problems with the IRS,” said Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel with ADF. “They are secretive, which breeds mistrust and leads to problems in knowing just how they will enforce and interpret the law.”

Becket has also requested information on documents the FFRF and the IRS are not making available, including: “all documents relating to any investigation or determination by a high-ranking IRS official, in writing, of the acts and circumstances, including potential violations of the electioneering restrictions, that led to the high-ranking official to reasonably believe that a church or religious organization may have violated the requirements for tax exemption under 501(c)(3).”

Stanley says ADF’s strategy—helping churches realize how government is censoring what they say—will not change. If the IRS does monitor electioneering more closely, he hopes the issue will end in a lawsuit.

“The Johnson Amendment is unconstitutional,” said Stanley. “If the IRS begins enforcing it again against churches, Alliance Defending Freedom stands ready to defend a pastor’s right to speak freely from the pulpit.”

ADF has organized Pulpit Freedom Sunday for six years, with 1,621 church and religious leaders participating in 2012 (2013 dropped to nearly 1,100 participants). But until now, the IRS has all but ignored ADF’s attempts to bring the issue to a head. According to Stanley, the IRS does not want to challenge the Johnson Amendment—which bans tax-exempt organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates—in court.

I think it’s interesting that the FFRF is not so much interested in debating whether atheism is true as they in shutting down theists who seek to live consistently with their beliefs by using the power of big government. I think that’s pretty par for the course though, if you look through 20th century history. That’s what atheist regimes have done, so we should expect individual atheists to do that as well.

I don’t recommend to the atheists at FFRF that they intimidate Christians, though, as Jesus seems to think that limiting the practice and free expression of Christian convictions is a bad idea.

Read Matthew 18:1-7:

1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

2 And He called a child to Himself and set him before them,

3 and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

4 Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

5 And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me;

6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

7 “Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!

I think that we Christians need to take positions that are in accord with what God’s Word says, and we need to be ready to defend our positions in public using public arguments and public evidence – especially scientific research – that will be persuasive to non-Christians who do not accept the Bible. That’s the only way to stop the cultural decline caused by the secular left.

The best introductory book on the interface between Christianity and politics is “Indivisible: Restoring Faith, Family, and Freedom Before It’s Too Late“, co-authored by Jay Wesley Richards. The Kindle edition is $9.99. Richards’ Ph.D is from Princeton University.

The best comprehensive book is “Politics – According to the Bible: A Comprehensive Resource for Understanding Modern Political Issues in Light of Scripture” by Wayne Grudem. The Kindle edition of that one is $4.99. Grudem’s is from Cambridge University. First-rate Christian scholarship on practical Christianity.

And you can listen to Grudem delivering Sunday school training at his church on every single chapter of that book right here. All free, and no ads. Be sure and scroll through all the previous years to get all the topics! Ethics, social policy, fiscal policy, foreign policy and more!

For more information on Pulpit Freedom Sunday, check out this web site.

If you want to hear about things like this, then subscribe to the FRC podcasts and the ADF podcast.

When pastors get it right: Pulpit Freedom Sunday 2012

My favorite pastor Wayne Grudem, the best pastor on the face of the planet, explains why he participated in Pulpit Freedom Sunday 2012. (H/T Jeremy)

Excerpt:

This Sunday I have agreed to join nearly 1,500 pastors nationwide and participate in Pulpit Freedom Sunday, sponsored by Alliance Defending Freedom. In my sermon, I plan to recommend that people vote for one presidential candidate and one political party that I will name. We will then all send our sermons to the IRS.

This action is in violation of the 1954 “Johnson Amendment” to the Internal Revenue Code, which prohibits tax-exempt organizations like churches from endorsing any candidate by name. But in our nation, a higher law than the IRS code is the Constitution, which forbids laws “abridging freedom of speech” or “prohibiting the free exercise” of religion (First Amendment).

I fully understand that many pastors might never want to endorse a candidate from the pulpit (I have never done so before and I might never do so again). But that should be the decision of the pastors and their churches, just as it was in 1860 when many pastors (rightly) decided they had to tell citizens to vote for Abraham Lincoln in order to end the horrible evil of slavery. When the government censors what pastors can preach, I think it is an unconstitutional violation of freedom of religion and freedom of speech.

[…]I have compiled a list of 24 differences between the two parties on issues with a moral component. Here are some of them where the parties differ:

The rule of law (vs. judges who change the original meaning of the Constitution), freedom of religion in public expression (vs. freedom of worship in private), protection of life (vs. glorying in unrestricted abortion rights), the preservation of marriage (vs. promoting same-sex relationships as “marriage”), the limitation of federal power (vs. an unconstrained federal government), parental choice in education for children of all income levels and all races (vs. protecting a government-regulated monopoly on schools), turning back government overspending and avoiding debt that we cannot repay (vs. reckless spending that threatens to bankrupt our children and our nation), caring for the poor by reducing taxes to leave more money in the job-creating private sector (vs. ever-increasing taxes that drain money from job-creating businesses), a strong military to protect us and the many small democracies that look to us for protection (vs. damaging defense cutbacks that leave smaller nations, the world’s sea lanes, and our own nation increasingly vulnerable), and a commitment to stand by Israel (vs. snubbing its leaders and demanding that it make ever-greater concessions).

You can read 5 reasons why pastors ought to have participated in Pulpit Freedom Sunday 2012 here.

Here’s one of their reasons:

1.  The issues the country is facing are biblical issues. Pastors, more than many others, are uniquely suited to speak to the issues confronting the country in this election season.  Issues such as life, marriage, the family, the economy, the poor, and many others are addressed specifically in scripture.  The effect of the Johnson Amendment has been to make these biblical issues “political,” as if slapping a “political” label on an issue somehow removes it from the purview of scripture.  For example, a pastor preaching a sermon thirty years ago that abortion is wrong was just being biblical. But that same sermon today is labeled as political and, as a result, the pastor is sidelined into silence.  It’s not that the church is somehow becoming “political.”  It’s that politics is invading the realm of the church.

We need more pastors to connect what the Bible says to policy and events in the real world. We need to take positions that are in accord with what God’s Word says, and we need to be ready to defend our positions in public using public arguments and public evidence – especially scientific research – that will be persuasive to non-Christians who do not accept the Bible. That’s the only way to stop the cultural decline caused by the secular left.

The best introductory book on the interface between Christianity and politics is “Indivisible: Restoring Faith, Family, and Freedom Before It’s Too Late“, co-authored by Jay Wesley Richards. The Kindle edition is $9.99. Richards’ Ph.D is from Princeton University.

The best comprehensive book is “Politics – According to the Bible: A Comprehensive Resource for Understanding Modern Political Issues in Light of Scripture” by Wayne Grudem. The Kindle edition of that one is $4.99. Grudem’s is from Cambridge University. First-rate Christian scholarship on practical Christianity.

And you can listen to Grudem delivering Sunday school training at his church on every single chapter of that book right here. All free, and no ads. Be sure and scroll through all the previous years to get all the topics! Ethics, social policy, fiscal policy, foreign policy and more!

Pakistan Muslims murder Christian politician for opposing blasphemy laws

Middle East Map
Middle East Map

Story from leftist CNN. (H/T Mysterious M)

Excerpt:

A Pakistani government minister who had said he was getting death threats because of his opposition to a controversial blasphemy law was shot to death Wednesday.

Shahbaz Bhatti was the only Christian member of the Cabinet in Pakistan, where 95 percent of people are Muslim. He served as the government’s minister of minority affairs.

He was shot and killed in Islamabad on Wednesday morning, Pakistani police said. The Taliban claimed responsibility.

“(The) assassination of Bhatti is a message to all of those who are against Pakistan’s blasphemy laws,” said Ihsanullah Ihsan, a Taliban spokesman.

Bhatti had been critical of the law, saying at one point, “I am ready to sacrifice my life for the principled stand I have taken because the people of Pakistan are being victimized under the pretense of blasphemy law.”

Other officials have also been targeted for opposing the blasphemy law, which makes it a crime punishable by death to insult Islam, the Quran or the Prophet Mohammed.

In January, the governor of Punjab province, Salman Taseer, was assassinated by his security guard because he spoke out against the law.

After Taseer’s death, Bhatti pledged to continue pushing for amendments in the law.

“I will campaign for this … these fanatics cannot stop me from moving any further steps against the misuse of (the) blasphemy law,” he said at the time.

Bhatti said he was facing threats on his life, but was not afraid.

“I was told by the religious extremists that if you will make any amendments in this law, you will be killed,” he said.

Here is my previous post about the Governor of Punjab province, who was also murdered by Muslims for defending free speech.

What does it say about a religion when they are unwilling to debate you, but instead resort to murdering you? To me, when you have to resort to violence instead of arguments and evidence, it’s a clear signal that you have no evidence, and cannot win an argument. There is no debater like William Lane Craig in the Islamic world. And Muslims wouldn’t listen to arguments and evidence on both sides, anyway. But Christians flock to William Lane Craig debates, and clap politely after opponents of Christianity express their views.We don’t find them convincing, but we don’t kill them. We are confident in what we believe, because we know why we believe.

Christianity is a religion of truth, and Islam is a religion of murder.

You can find more stories like this one at Blazing Cat Fur.

India rejects global warming alarmism

Story from FT.com. (H/T Babalu Blog via ECM)

Excerpt:

A split between rich and poor nations in the run-up to climate-change talks widened on Thursday.

India rejected key scientific findings on global warming, while the European Union called for more action by developing states on greenhouse gas emissions.

Jairam Ramesh, the Indian environment minister, accused the developed world of needlessly raising alarm over melting Himalayan glaciers.

He dismissed scientists’ predictions that Himalayan glaciers might disappear within 40 years as a result of global warming.

“We have to get out of the preconceived notion, which is based on western media, and invest our scientific research and other capacities to study Himalayan atmosphere,” he said.

“Science has its limitation. You cannot substitute the knowledge that has been gained by the people living in cold deserts through everyday experience.”

Methinks it’s time to review my investment portfolio.