Category Archives: Values issue

The Point: Leave the Little Sisters Alone

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Leave those poor nuns alone. For the Colson Center, I’m John Stonestreet with The Point.

It was a big win for religious liberty when the Trump administration rolled back the infamous HHS mandate, which would have required religious groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor to provide insurance covering contraceptives and abortifacients.

No doubt the Little Sisters rejoiced and felt they could start concentrating on their ministry instead of lawsuits. But that would only be in a sane world. The attorneys general of California and Pennsylvania are suing to strip the Little Sisters of that exemption. The hearing is, in fact, today.

The Becket Fund, which represents the Little Sisters, calls the move “political grandstanding.” I’d call it anti-Christian ideological tyranny.

Mother Lorraine Marie Maguire of the Little Sisters had this to say: “We just want to be able to continue our religious mission of caring for the elderly poor as we have for 175 years. We pray these state governments would leave us alone and let us do our work in peace.”

Let’s all pray the same thing for them today.

 

Resources

Little Sisters of the Poor Are Returning to Court

  • Rachel del Guidice | The Daily Signal | November 21, 2017
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Cal Thomas says EVANGELICALS are wrong to support Roy Moore ( he is spot-on )

SUPPORTERS OF MOORE SAY HE IS PRO-LIFE AND JONES IS NOT, AND THAT IS A LITMUS TEST FOR MANY. BUT A MOORE VICTORY WILL NOT AFFECT ABORTIONS IN AMERICA, WHICH ARE DECLINING THANKS IN PART TO THE EXCELLENT WORK PERFORMED BY PREGNANCY HELP CENTERS.

         THE LEFT PLANS TO COME AFTER PRESIDENT TRUMP, USING HIS SEXUAL HARRASSMENT ACCUSERS TO GAIN TRACTION IN NEXT YEAR’S CONGRESSIONAL ELECTIONS.

 

         ARE REPUBLICANS AND ESPECIALLY EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANS, WHO ARE SUPPOSED TO STAND FOR FAMILY VALUES, WILLING TO MAKE THIS KIND OF BARGAIN TO WIN A SENATE SEAT? JUST ASKING. I’M CAL THOMAS IN WASHINGTON.

( Read the whole commentary by Cal Thomas , or listen to the audio of it. )

BreakPoint: Jack Phillips Before the Supreme Court “Tolerance Is a Two-Way Street”

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I was honored yesterday to rally in support of Jack Phillips on the steps outside the Supreme Court. Now I’d like to tell you what went on inside.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Masterpiece Cake Shop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Eric Metaxas and I have given you the details before, of Colorado master cake designer Jack Phillips who declined to design a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

As David Brooks wrote in yesterday’s New York Times, “Phillips is not trying to restrict gay marriage or gay rights; he’s simply asking not to be forced to take part.”

Neither the couple or the state of Colorado saw it that way. Phillips was found to have violated the state’s anti-discrimination law, and forced to choose between his convictions and losing forty percent of his business. Phillips appealed to the Supreme Court.

While Phillips’s actions were grounded in his religious beliefs, the legal argument was primarily about whether Colorado had violated his right to free speech.  Unlike those commentators who disparaged the idea that creating custom cakes constitutes a form of speech, yesterday the Court took the question seriously.

Phillips’ lawyer, Kristen Waggoner of the Alliance Defending Freedom, argued that “the first amendment protects bakers such as Mr. Phillips against being forced to express any belief, and that as a custom-cake maker, he sketches, sculpts and hand-paints—in other words, he’s an artist.”

Waggoner had barely gotten started when the questions began.

Responding to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she reiterated that neither she nor her client were challenging his obligation to sell his ordinary wares to everyone. In fact, he offered to sell the couple any already-made cake in his store.

Custom cakes, Waggoner told the Court, were a different matter. The use of writing and symbols convey a message in a way that a cake off the shelf does not.

Inevitably the comparison to race came up. The best answer was given by U. S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco. Francisco, in response to several justices, argued that discrimination on the basis of race, such as refusing to serve an interracial couple, was different than refusing to participate in a ceremony.

He also argued that upholding Phillips’ free speech rights would not damage civil rights protection because it would only apply to “a small group of individuals” in “narrow circumstances.” However, Justice Breyer disagreed.

But the roughest treatment was reserved for Colorado’s Solicitor General Fred Yarger because of Colorado’s treatment of Phillips throughout the whole ordeal. Justice Kennedy—likely the swing vote in this case—told him that tolerance must go both ways, adding that, “It seems to me the state has been neither tolerant nor respectful” of Jack Phillips views.

He cited a comment by a member of the Civil Rights Commission, who called Phillips’ religious beliefs “one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric.” He then asked Yarger to disavow the comment. After Yarger lamely replied that he wouldn’t counsel a client to say a such a thing, Kennedy pressed him, and Yarger disavowed.

It’s never a good thing when a judge asks you to disavow your client’s statement.

So where are we? Justice Kennedy definitely seems troubled by the way Phillips was treated, and it’s encouraging that he insisted tolerance is a “two-way street.”

Heartening as well was Justice Breyer’s asking Yarger if some kind of compromise might be possible. Whatever else Breyer is thinking, he seems to be concerned that Colorado didn’t make sufficient allowance for people with dissenting views.

I can’t tell you whether Phillips will prevail, but there’s reason to be encouraged. It’s also possible that Kennedy could side with Phillips, but in a narrow opinion that would open the floodgate for future cases. Even then, that better, far better than a Phillips loss.

So let’s continue to pray earnestly that Phillips, and freedom, prevails.

 

Jack Phillips Before the Supreme Court: “Tolerance Is a Two-Way Street”

As both John and Eric have stated, this free speech case is extremely important. So continue to pray for the justices of our Supreme Court, that God would guide them in their deliberations and decision in this free speech and religious freedom case.

Resources

Kate Shellnutt | Christianity Today | December 5, 2017 

The Truth About The American Bar Association

The American Bar Association has recently tipped its hand, showing how very partisan it has become.
Joe Palazzolo, writing at the Wall Street Journal, reports that “tensions between Senate Republicans and the bar association, the largest organization of lawyers in the nation, have escalated in recent weeks after the ABA pronounced a Nebraska lawyer unfit to serve on the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.”

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Christmas film favorites

 

Nov. 27-Dec. 1
Christmas Film Favorites
by Todd Kappelman, read by Dr. Ray Bohlin
Nov. 27 A Christmas Carol Listen Online
Nov. 28 Miracle on 34th Street Listen Online
Nov. 29 How the Grinch Stole Christmas Listen Online
Nov. 30 It’s a Wonderful Life Listen Online
Dec. 1 A Charlie Brown Christmas Listen Online
Right-click to download the whole week as a single mp3 Podcast

BreakPoint: Advent Jesus Is Coming, and This Time It’s Different

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TV commercials, radio stations, and shopping malls are all proclaiming that it’s the Christmas season! But actually, it isn’t.

Last Sunday, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, in churches all around the world, the Gospel reading was Matthew 25: 31-46.

The passage opens with words that should make our hearts soar, or, perhaps, shiver with dread: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.”

As the passage makes clear, Christ’s second coming will be very different from his first. He will return in glory, not obscurity. He will return as the King of the Universe, not as a nobody in an obscure corner of the Roman Empire. And this time, He will do the judging.

This, and not shopping, or who saw whom kissing Santa Claus underneath the mistletoe, is what we’re supposed to be thinking about these next four weeks, the season known as Advent.

Now if you’re wondering, “Wait, isn’t this the Christmas season?” the answer is, well, “no.” Of course, we wouldn’t know that from watching television, where some networks have been running “Christmas” movies—none of which ever mention Jesus—since late October.

Beginning this Sunday, December 3rd through Christmas Eve, we’re in the season of Advent, according to the Church calendar. The word “Advent” comes from the Latin word adventus meaning “come to.” Thus, Advent is the season Christians anticipate the celebration of God’s coming to live and die as one of us. And to better appreciate the immensity of that gift, we are to put ourselves in the place of ancient Israel which yearned for the promised Messiah who would set things right.

One of the ways to do this is through hymns. The ancient Advent carol “Creator of the Stars of Night,” which dates from the 7th century, expresses this Old Testament yearning in a way that has literally stood the test of time.

“Thou, grieving that the ancient curse/ Should doom to death a universe/ Hast found the medicine, full of grace/ To save and heal a ruined race,” the hymn reads.

The “medicine” required to “save and heal a ruined race” was Jesus, as Paul told the Philippians, emptying himself and becoming obedient to death.

But that’s not the entire story. We also sing “At Whose dread Name, majestic now/ All knees must bend, all hearts must bow/ And things celestial Thee shall own/ And things terrestrial, Lord alone.”

That’s because Advent is not only a time of anticipating Christ’s first coming but also anticipating the next and final time Jesus comes to Earth. And, I repeat, this coming will be very different from the first: The same Jesus who was born in Bethlehem during the reign of Caesar Augustus will return as the “judge of the living and the dead,” and “his kingdom will have no end.”

This makes Advent not only a time of reflection, but also a time of repentance. This season is a time to examine our lives and ask ourselves whether we are sheep or goats. Are we living, as Paul wrote to the Corinthians, for ourselves or for Him who died for us and rose again?

Unfortunately, very little in contemporary culture, including both inside as well outside our churches, inclines us towards a proper observance of Advent. Thus, we have to be intentionally counter-cultural about it, and we must teach our children what the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas are supposed to be about.

A good place to start is “The Advent Project” from Biola University. I also love Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “God is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas,” which is available at the Colson Center online bookstore. And if you click on this commentary at BreakPoint.org, I’ll link you to other resources for Advent that will help keep focus where it needs to be this time of year: on Jesus’ two different, yet equally glorious, comings.

 

Advent: Jesus Is Coming, and This Time It’s Different

Be joyful, reverent—and intentional–as you and your family prepare to commemorate the incarnation of the  Son of God and His return in glory during this season of Advent.

 

 

Resources

The Advent Project 2017

  • Online Devotional Series | Biola University
God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas

  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer | Westminster John Knox Press
Too Much Christmas, too Little Advent?: The Joy of Anticipation

  • Eric Metaxas | BreakPoint.org | December 7, 2016
The Dawning of Indestructible Joy: Daily Readings for Advent

  • John Piper | Crossway Publishers | August 2014

It’s getting cold up north for us Godly souls

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It’s getting cold up north. For the Colson Center, I’m John Stonestreet with The Point.

Yes, climate change is real—at least in Canada. But I’m not talking about the weather. I mean the increasingly hostile climate for Canadian Christians.

This week the Canadian Supreme Court will hear a case involving Trinity Western University, a Christian school in British Columbia. Trinity wants to open a law school, but two Canadian law societies will refuse to accredit it. Trinity Western obliges students to uphold marriage between a man and a woman and to refrain from sex outside marriage.

The law associations say that’s anti-LGBT discrimination. Obviously, the Court’s ruling will have huge implications for Christians up north.

Then there’s this. A couple in Alberta have been turned down as prospective adoptive parents. Why? They’re Christians who believe in Christian sexual morality. Not only did Alberta’s Child and Family Services turn them away, but Catholic Social Services withdrew their recommendation of the couple. Insane. Pray for our brothers and sisters in Canada. And beware… these Canadian cold fronts could be moving south.

Resources

  • Wendy Griffith | CBN News | November 20, 2017

Sexual Harassment And The Need For Good Reporting

We all have to be aware that victims of sexual abuse, assault and harassment are legion, and that each story about a new victim or victimizer potentially impacts all survivors. We know that stories on spouses who flee domestic abuse, for example, routinely inspire other victims to seek help and shelter. That’s why careful media coverage of the recent spate of stories matters so much.

 

We also have to recall, however, that false allegations do happen. The late Cardinal Bernadin of Chicago’s Catholic Archdiocese was wrongly accused of molestation by a young man who later recanted his terrible charge. The Duke Lacrosse Team was unjustly prosecuted. Rolling Stone infamously defamed a University of Virginia fraternity over an alleged gang rape that did not happen.

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Those who honor me, I will honor


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Mike is a follower of Jesus Christ, and he’s an executive with a large printing company founded on Christian principles. They had worked for two years to land this contract with a major publisher, and they got it. Mike told me about the day when their new client brought in their first job. It was exciting until he saw what it was about. It was all about horoscopes. Mike looked at his Sales Manager who had worked with him so hard to sign up this big company. Then he slid the manuscript back across the desk and said to his client, “I’m very sorry, but we can’t print this. See, we try to run our business by the Bible, and this would go against what the Bible says.”

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  • faith
  • temptation
  • righteous living

The Point: A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

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Charlie Brown didn’t get much right, but Charles Schulz did. For the Colson Center, I’m John Stonestreet with The Point.

We’ve all seen “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” in which Charlie Brown messes up the Christmas play and Linus reminds everyone what Christmas is all about.

Another of my favorites is “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.” Poor Chuck’s friends show up expecting a feast, but he and Snoopy serve them jelly beans and popcorn.

Thankfully, Linus is there again to tell the true story of Thanksgiving.

But it’s Marcie who reminds Charlie Brown that the Pilgrims at Plymouth didn’t come to dinner expecting to receive something. They were there to commemorate what they’d already received—life, provision, and friendship with the Wampanoags.

We’re better off today than they were, yet many of us will sit around the Thanksgiving table grumbling and fighting about politics. If Linus and Marcie were thankful for Charlie Brown’s leftover Halloween candy, can’t we take one day to thank God for our blessings?

Hopefully you won’t have jelly beans and popcorn for dinner, but I do hope you enjoy some Peanuts this Thanksgiving.