WEEKLY NEWS SUMMARY - APRIL 12, 2023
In this week's Intersect, read about:
Tennessee Statehouse Expels Democrats for Gun Control Protest
“The Tennessee statehouse has expelled two Democratic politicians who led a gun control protest that halted legislative proceedings last week. In a rare move, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted 72-25 to expel Justin Jones and 69-26 to remove Justin Pearson. But an expulsion vote failed against a third Democratic lawmaker, Gloria Johnson, who also joined the protest. Republicans said the trio had brought ‘disorder and dishonor to the House’. Crowds of protesters have attended the State Capitol since a school shooting. The 27 March attack at Nashville's Covenant School killed six people, including three children.” read more at the BBC
- After expulsion leaves a vacancy in the legislature, a special election must occur. However, the Tennessee constitution allows the local governing body to appoint a temporary legislator until the special election. The Nashville Metro Council unanimously voted Monday to temporarily reinstate expelled Representative Justin Jones to his seat in the Tennessee House until the special election. The Shelby County Commission, meanwhile, is expected to vote today on whether to do the same for Mr. Pearson. House Republicans said the reason they did not expel Ms. Johnson was because she had less of a role in the protest and did not use a megaphone to lead chants.
- Most sensational headlines, and even a statement from the White House, invite the perception that these two lawmakers were expelled simply for protesting–when in fact they were expelled for breaking the rules of the legislature. According to the Speaker of the Tennessee House, legislators are bound to follow House rules, and under those rules, they cannot protest on the house floor.
- This news story is a good reminder for discerning readers to read beyond headlines and understand what is really happening in any news story. It’s a bit hard to wade through sensational statements on both sides. The three lawmakers’ actions were said to be equivalent, or possibly worse than, “an insurrection in the State Capitol.” Meanwhile, the vote of two-thirds of the chamber to expel two of the three members has been called “a clear and present danger to democracy all across this nation.”
- The fact that governing bodies have to have procedural rules seems to point to our fallen nature. We have to be governed by laws because we often don’t govern ourselves. And it’s important that our elected representatives who are responsible for crafting and passing laws that govern us follow the rules that are supposed to facilitate that.
- However, was the punishment too harsh? Would it have been enough to stop at removing them from all committee appointments? Could this set a bad precedent for the future? Conservatives don’t agree on these questions either. But that’s a beneficial conversation that can only happen when you get past the headlines and spin.
Proverbs 18:17 says, “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.”
Heavenly Father, give me wisdom and discernment as I read and interpret the news from a biblical perspective, and discern how to pray and act. I want to hear Your truth and increase in learning, and understand Your word and obtain guidance. (Proverbs 1:5) Thank You for generously giving wisdom when we ask You. (James 1:5)
This article by Joe Carter is a helpful reminder of how to read the daily news with biblical discernment. Here’s one thought that struck me: “The uncomfortable truth is that…we spend more time watching news programs than actively acquiring wisdom. How would your life differ if you changed your news consumption habits to develop wisdom and understanding?” Consider what that might look like for you.
Access to Abortion Pill in Limbo after Competing Rulings
“Access to the most commonly used method of abortion in the U.S. plunged into uncertainty Friday following conflicting court rulings over the legality of the abortion medication mifepristone that has been widely available for more than 20 years. U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a Trump appointee, ordered a hold on federal approval of mifepristone in a decision that overruled decades of scientific approval. But that decision came at nearly the same time that U.S. District Judge Thomas O. Rice, an Obama appointee, essentially ordered the opposite and directed U.S. authorities not to make any changes that would restrict access to the drug in at least 17 states where Democrats sued in an effort to protect availability.” read more at the Associated Press
- There are 94 federal district courts in the U.S., one step below the 13 U.S. Courts of Appeals. These two rulings are the result of separate lawsuits filed in two different districts. The pro-life lawsuit was filed in Texas and the pro-abortion lawsuit in Washington State. The ruling from Texas blocking the FDA’s approval theoretically applies to the entire country starting Friday. However, it may be blocked from going into effect in the 17 pro-abortion states where the Washington court ruled the FDA could not restrict access to the abortion pill. Legal experts say even the threat of a legal gray area is likely to cause providers to stop distributing the drug.
- Each federal judge is nominated by the president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Elections matter.
- Judge Kacsmaryk’s ruling is being painted as a political move contrary to science. His decision, however, agrees with doctors from the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine who argued the FDA’s approval of the abortion pill was itself tainted by politics. They pointed to evidence that the FDA ignored safety problems and failed to properly study the risks of mifepristone. The ruling also pointed to the 1873 Comstock Act, a federal law which prohibits mailing "every article or thing designed, adapted, or intended for producing abortion."
- In a statement, President Joe Biden vowed, “My Administration will fight this ruling. The Department of Justice has already filed an appeal and will seek an immediate stay of the decision. But let’s be clear – the only way to stop those who are committed to taking away women’s rights and freedoms in every state is to elect a Congress who will pass a law restoring Roe versus Wade.” And so the battle continues–in the courts, in Congress, and the states.
- In Colorado, the legislature just passed a bill that may intimidate medical professionals who provide progesterone to a woman who wants to reverse the effects of the first abortion pill and save her baby. The bill stipulates that unless the state medical, nursing and pharmacy boards agree, this abortion pill reversal procedure will be labeled “unprofessional conduct.” You can read information on abortion pill reversal, plus testimonies of women whose babies were saved, at Heartbeat International.
- Good news happened last week! Idaho Governor Brad Little signed a bill that would stop the trafficking of teenage girls for secret abortions without their parents’ knowledge or consent. It is only the second law of its kind in the nation. Missouri passed the first.
As these “dueling” cases are appealed to different Circuit Courts of Appeal and will likely end up at the Supreme Court, pray for all the judges involved. Continue to pray that in our culture as well as the courts and legislatures, the right to life would be valued and protected.
Did you know that many women have successfully reversed the effects of the abortion pill? If a woman has taken the first pill (mifepristone) but has second thoughts, she may still have time to save her pregnancy. But she must act quickly. Share this link from our friends at the Abortion Survivors Network with your circle of influence. It contains information about the abortion pill reversal process and a 24/7 hotline for women to call. This could save a life.
What Are Bodies For? Beyond Bathrooms and Women’s Sports
“Saving bathrooms and athletics won’t accomplish much in the long run if what it means to be embodied beings as male and female has already been forgotten. Unfortunately, gaining a hearing on these more fundamental questions of embodiment and purpose is nearly impossible in the contemporary political and media realms. That makes it even more important for individuals, families, and communities of faith to embrace, treasure, and live in the messy, yet wonderful, reality of being male and female. It’s also essential to know the why behind such beliefs and practices.” read more at Public Discourse
- There has been a flurry of news on gender-related legislation in the last week, including President Biden’s proposed addition to Title IX that would prohibit schools from outright disallowing transgender athletes but allow schools to restrict participation when the issue of an athlete’s gender identity “could undermine fairness or potentially lead to sports-related injuries.” The Biden administration is arguably the most gender-deconstructing presidency in U.S. history, making it impossible for Americans to avoid the issue.
- On Thursday, The Supreme Court refused to immediately block a West Virginia law that restricts school sports teams based on biological sex. The decision reflects the high court’s continual unwillingness to take on legal questions surrounding transgenderism. Conservative Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented.
- The Kansas Legislature passed a first-in-the-nation bill defining “man” and “woman” according to biological sex. The “Women’s Bill of Rights” states that “athletics, prisons or other detention facilities, domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centers, locker rooms, restrooms and other areas” must be restricted based on gender. Even if Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly vetoes the bill as expected, Republicans have a veto-proof majority in the state House and Senate.
- North Dakota passed eight transgender-related bills, including a bill that bans biological males who identify as female from competing in sports with biological women. The bills, which were passed by the state Senate this week after passing the House, are waiting for Gov. Doug Burgum's signature or veto, though his office has not indicated which direction the Republican governor is leaning.
- Indiana became the 12th state to ban child sex changes. Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) signed a bill that will ban cross-sex hormones and gender surgeries for those under 18 starting July 1. Unlike bills in other states, the legislation blocks the procedures even for children who have already begun receiving them.
- As the lead story notes, “Transgenderism is an outworking of the mind/body dualism that pervades modern thinking. By treating ‘the body as extrinsic to the person’ the autonomous self can impose its own interpretations on the physical body. When gendered embodiment is treasured, maleness and femaleness are understood not as acts we perform, but as our very bodily essence. Being a man or a woman is not simply what one does, it is who one is.” And that’s the beauty of God’s perfect design.
Lord, so often when we stand for Your truth in this area we are seen as hateful, bigots, transphobic, and that we are attacking the rights of those who want affirmation for their choices. Give us the courage to stand firm on Your word and to model that our identity is rooted in You, not in the fleeting feelings of this world. We pray for the church to confidently proclaim the truth of Your intentional design for gender and sexuality in a culture that loudly works to change it and legislate otherwise.
If you’re like me, you’ve seen it become increasingly customary for a person to display their preferred gender pronouns in both social and professional settings. Is using gender pronouns wrong? Is it “hospitable”? Is it sinful? Christian author Rosaria Butterfield shares a personal story through this powerful article, addressing how to navigate this issue from a biblical worldview.
Religion in Movies: Why ‘Hollywood is Taking Notice’ of Faith-Based Films
"’I think Hollywood is taking notice because, at the end of the day, they see, OK, well, if there is revenue to be made through this type of entertainment, they might then now put more resources behind it. And because of that, we will start to see more and more of this content come out for a season,’ Director David Helling said. Though there have been films telling Biblical stories since the beginning of Hollywood, the attention on Christian films and movies focused on faith has steadily risen over the past two decades.” read more at Fox News
- As the article highlights, Angel Studios’ His Only Son, which follows the biblical story of Abraham and Isaac is making waves at the box office. The faith-based movie with a $250,000 budget passed the $11 million mark in total gross over the weekend and could be blazing a new trail for the way inspirational movies are produced and distributed.
- Angel Studio’s record breaking The Chosen, which we’ve featured here before, started production on season 4 this month. The Chosen is the largest crowd-funded media project in history and is a global phenomenon. The series about the life of Jesus and his disciples took has been streamed more than 500 million times and has now been seen by more than 108 million people since Season 1 was launched. The show’s producers have a goal of translating it into 600 languages this year.
- The recent movie Jesus Revolution, which tells the story of a 1970s California revival, has doubled what its critics predicted, grossing over $51 million in domestic ticket sales. In fact, the movie has already grossed more in sales than most of the 2023 Oscar nominees—combined. It’s now available online. As John Stonestreet pointed out, “The question in any era of human history is not whether we worship, but rather what we worship. The success of Jesus Revolution is a reminder that art can still capture the imagination and affirm the fundamental human desire for God we all share.”
Lord, Ecclesiastes 3:11 refers to Your placing of "eternity in man’s heart." As St. Augustine aptly said, “for Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee.” Forgive us when we fill the longing we have for You with other things like people, hobbies, work, sports, etc. May our longings and our desires be filled by You and You alone.
This Friday, April 14, a new movie releasing nationwide called Nefarious will help launch spiritual discussions – likely within your church or small group. Nefarious is based on the book A Nefarious Plot by Christian talk show host Steve Deace, which brings to light the devil’s dark work in destroying lives, written in a style like C.S. Lewis’ tale, The Screwtape Letters. The Nefarious movie, however, wasn’t written for Christian audiences. It is a contemporary thriller, an R-rated film with a marketing campaign targeting fans of horror movies. My Faith Votes previewed the film, and it is disturbing…but in a way that is a wakeup call to the reality of evil and the spiritual battle we are up against. The movie can be a tool to discuss the merciless reality of evil, our need for a savior, and Jesus’ victory on the cross.
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.