WEEKLY NEWS SUMMARY - APRIL 1, 2020
In this week's Intersect, read about:
Trump Announces CDC's Social Distancing Guidelines Have Been Extended
At a coronavirus task force briefing on Sunday, President Trump announced the social distancing guidelines aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus will be extended to April 30th. "We will be extending our guidelines to April 30th to slow the spread," Trump said Sunday in the Rose Garden. The extension was announced after the president said the peak death rate in the United States for the coronavirus is expected to hit in two weeks, according to models of the virus. "Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before the victory is won," Trump said. "That would be the greatest loss of all. Therefore, the next two weeks and during this period, it's very important that everyone strongly follow the guidelines." President Trump encouraged Americans to "strongly follow the guidelines" on social distancing, adding, "The better you do, the faster this whole nightmare will end." Trump had previously stated a goal of opening the country up by Easter, April 12th. When asked about the Easter timeline by a reporter on Sunday, Trump said the goal was "just an aspiration," but one that had to be extended based on the incoming data. read more
More and more states and cities across the country are implementing stricter shelter-in-place and quarantine guidelines and policies every day. Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser shocked D.C. residents by declaring anyone who leaves their home for non-essential outings could face 90 days in jail and a $5,000 fine. And New York mayor Bill de Blasio threatened to shut down any places of worship still meeting and ignoring the stay-at-home order. He said he would “take additional action up to the point of fines and potentially closing the building permanently,” if worshippers do not comply. While all Americans are eager to stop the spread of the coronavirus, some are questioning if all of the new rules and policies are constitutional. Former Judge and current Fox News contributor, Andrew Napolitano, wrote a piece titled, "Coronavirus fear lets government assault our freedom in violation of Constitution." In which he writes, “If liberty can be taken away in times of crisis, then is it really liberty; or is it just a license, via a temporary government permission slip, subject to the whims of politicians in power?” However, the Heritage Foundation wrote an article in response making the case that the actions taken so far are, in fact, constitutional. It’s important to continue this discussion to ensure the federal, state, and local government stays within their constitutional powers, while also fulfilling their obligation to do all they can to keep communities and individuals safe. Congress passed the two trillion Coronavirus aid package, and now Americans are learning more about what the bill included. You can learn more about it here. Unemployment numbers are expected to grow with some estimating the number could soar to more than 30 percent unemployment due to the crisis. As Christians, it’s important for us to remember the truth of God’s Word during this time. We should be prepared, but not without hope (1 Peter 1:3, Titus 2:13, Hebrews 6:19). In the Scriptures, hope is living, described as blessed, and serves as an anchor for our soul. Hope doesn’t squelch fear, it coexists with it. We might find ourselves in the middle of a pandemic, but we don’t have to find ourselves without hope. And this hope will not put us to shame.
Pray daily for your elected leaders to have wisdom as they handle the pandemic and make decisions on behalf of you and your community. Pray also for your local first responders and healthcare workers who are doing everything they can to serve others during this challenging time.
We would love to know what people of faith think of the COVID-19 crisis and how our government leaders are responding. Please take our ten question survey here.
Planned Parenthood Sues Texas Gov. Abbott Over Order to Stop Elective Abortions During Coronavirus
Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), along with other pro-choice groups, filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Attorney General Ken Paxton and several other state officials over a temporary ban on elective abortion during the coronavirus pandemic. The ban was issued as part of an executive order by Abbott aimed at conserving medical equipment and the capacity of the health care system after warnings from health care professionals that patients sick with the coronavirus might overwhelm hospital capacity and deplete supplies, such as personal protective equipment for doctors and nurses. Pro-choice activists say the ban was issued in bad faith and limits access to an "essential" procedure. "Gov. Abbott and anti-abortion activists nationwide are forcing a legal and political fight in the middle of a public health crisis," PPFA acting president and CEO Alexis McGill-Johnson said. "Elected leaders are expending valuable time and resources exploiting a global pandemic to score political points instead of rallying to respond to this crisis." read more
Attorney General Paxton argued that the ban is an appropriate response to the crisis, tweeting, "It is unconscionable that abortion providers are fighting against the health of Texans and withholding desperately needed supplies and personal protective equipment in favor of a procedure that they refer to as a ‘choice.” He continues, "My office will tirelessly defend Governor Abbott’s Order to ensure that necessary supplies reach the medical professionals combating this national health crisis." If abortion was an “essential” medical procedure (like surgery to remove a tumor), every pregnant woman would get one. It is clearly not, and actually has the potential for complications that require the woman to be rushed to the emergency room, requiring even more medical personnel and equipment. Medical abortions are included in the Governor’s ban, since they also have the potential for dangerous complications. Despite that, a federal judge ruled on Monday that abortions will continue, stating that “patients will suffer serious and irreparable harm” if they aren’t able to get an abortion. This is simply not true, as neonatologist Dr. Kendra Kolb demonstrates in this video. Besides, the ban by Governor Abbott already makes an exception for cases in which the life or health of the mother is at risk. Attorney General Paxton immediately filed an appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which thankfully overruled the District Court’s decision and upheld the abortion ban. The services that really are essential are pro-life pregnancy resource centers that not only provide free ultrasounds and counseling for abortion-minded women but also provide support for young mothers struggling to provide for their babies in this extraordinarily difficult time. The Bible tells us to “look after orphans and widows in their distress” (James 1:27), and “as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone.” (Galatians 6:10).
Pray that the Fifth Circuit Court will rule quickly on this case and rule in favor of the Governor’s ban. In the meantime, pray that women who are currently facing unplanned pregnancies will seek help from pro-life pregnancy resource centers and place their trust in God during this time.
Our friend, Abby Johnson has a great ministry that is meeting the needs of pregnant mothers in crisis. They are facing an increased need for assistance. Learn more about their work and consider how you can help here.
Coronavirus Could Be the ‘Biggest Crisis’ Modern Jerusalem Has Ever Faced
Far from its position as the center of the world, Jerusalem is actually the poorest city in Israel. It’s also the largest and possibly the most complex, said Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum. That also means that it could be the hardest hit economically by the fallout from the coronavirus. “Jerusalem is always a city that’s been hit. We were hit by intifadahs (terrorism) and we were hit by snow,” Hassan-Nahoum said. “We know how to deal with difficult situations. I think that nobody could have really predicted this. And I think this is going to be the biggest crisis that the modern city of Jerusalem has ever faced.” That’s because of the economic fallout due to the fact that Jerusalem is the Israeli city most reliant on tourism, Hassan-Nahoum said during a phone briefing organized by Media Central. “I think what we need to learn from this really is what change has to be made in our local economy to make it more resilient. Those are the lessons that I want to be analyzing after this crisis and bringing forward,” she said. According to Hassan-Nahoum, at least 20-30 percent of Jerusalem’s economy is based on tourism and the service industry, which includes restaurants and cafes. read more
The city has also made efforts to try to help small businesses stay afloat, which included creating a virtual mall for businesses, asking university students to set up websites at no cost to these businesses, and offering free professional advisors. They have also organized an “army of volunteers” to care for the elderly and families with special needs children. Israel is no stranger to threats on its very existence, and no doubt most citizens recognize the need for everyone to work together to survive. Just this Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tested negative for the coronavirus after one of his aids contracted COVID-19, yet stated that he will remain in quarantine temporarily as a “personal example” to Israelis. A video taken in March showed residents in Tel Aviv cheering first responders from their balcony. The Messianic Jewish Alliance of America, an organization that provides relief in the name of Jesus to impoverished Jews, reports that over 21% of Israel lives below the poverty line, giving it one of the highest poverty rates in the developed world. Many of those are elderly, who are most at risk from COVID-19. This may be an unprecedented opportunity for us as Christians to reach out to the people of Israel with the love of Jesus. The Bible makes it clear that eventually Israel will return to God (Romans 11:25-27), and Joel chapter 3 describes the day when God will restore the fortunes of Jerusalem. Until then, we are compelled by the love of Christ to pray for and support the people of Israel.
Psalm 122:6 says, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!” Pray that the hearts of the Jewish people would be softened towards the Lord, and that many would turn to God in the midst of this pandemic. Pray also for the Christian ministries giving aid to the poor in Israel.
The Joseph Project is a ministry of the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America that works with the Israeli government to provide aid to the most vulnerable in Israel. We encourage you to visit their website to learn more details of their important work, and prayerfully consider supporting them.
MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell Encourages People Turn To God During Trump Press Conference
During the Monday White House press conference centered on the COVID-19 pandemic, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell went off-script when he called upon Americans to read their Holy Bibles and find God during this unprecedented time of crisis. Referring to the day Donald Trump won the presidency against Hillary Clinton, Lindell said, “God gave us grace on Nov. 8, 2016 to change the course we were on. God had been taken out of our schools and lives, a nation had turned its back on God.” After encouraging Americans to read their Bibles, Lindell then touted the low unemployment and healthy economy that President Trump enjoyed prior to the pandemic, promising that the country will roar back to life again when the crisis subsides. “I encourage you to use this time at home to get back in the word, read our Bibles, and spend time with our families,” he continued. “Our president gave us so much hope where, just a few short months ago, we had the best economy, the lowest unemployment, and wages going up. It was amazing. With our great president, vice president, and this administration, the other great people in this country, and praying daily, we will get through this and get back to a place that is stronger and safer than ever.” As Lindell exited the Rose Garden stage, Trump said, “I did not know he was going to do that. He’s a friend of mine and I appreciate that.” Lindell was invited to speak at the press conference to talk about the work his company has been doing to combat the crisis by shifting production to manufacture up to 50,000 N95 medical masks a day starting this Friday. read more
Mr. Lindell’s encouragement for people to turn to God and spend time in prayer is exactly what we need more of during this time. Churches may not be able to meet in person, but it certainly has not stopped Christians from being the Church and continuing to preach the Gospel and serve and care for others. You can read more from Watermark Pastor Todd Wager on how the Church isn’t just a building, and worship isn’t just a one hour a week activity here. In the midst of so much discouraging news, we want to share with you some neat ways believers are stepping up to help others. Churches have been finding new and innovative ways to serve their communities. A church in Green Bay, WI has been giving out hundreds of boxes of cereal to families as they drive through local schools to pick up meals for their children. Churches are also serving the elderly. In Dallas, TX, one church called everyone in their church over the age of 70 and wrote down their grocery list and had groceries delivered to their homes. And some churches are still holding services, but just in a new way by offering drive-in Sunday Service. Hundreds of thousands of Christians are praying faithfully for our country and healthcare workers. One community in Georgia gathered at the Cartersville Medical Center in their cars, rolled the windows down, and prayed, sang worship music, and came to show support for the hospital staff.
Pray for your local church today. Your pastor and church leaders are having to find new ways to serve their congregants and point others towards Christ. Pray for them to have wisdom and creativity, and pray for unity among believers despite social distancing and shelter-in-place orders.
Continue to pray and ask the Lord how you might personally be able to help amid the pandemic. Perhaps for you, assisting looks like checking on an elderly neighbor, or supporting a ministry working in some of the hardest-hit areas. Samaritan’s Purse has set up an Emergency Field Hospital in New York City. If you are compelled to give, prayerfully consider making a donation to support their efforts.
My Faith Votes—is a nonpartisan movement that motivates, equips and activates Christians in America to vote in every election, transforming our communities and influencing our nation with biblical truth. By partnering with national faith leaders, My Faith Votes provides resources to help Christians Pray, Think, and Act to create an America where God is honored in the public square.