WEEKLY NEWS SUMMARY - APRIL 8, 2020
In this week's Intersect, read about:
David Benham Arrested for Pro-Life Counseling Outside Abortion Clinic: 'We Maintained Our Social Distance'
Conservative Christian David Benham says North Carolina police selectively enforced the state’s COVID-19-related stay-at-home order to arrest him during the weekend while he was peacefully standing with pro-life counselors outside an abortion clinic. Sen. Ted Cruz called the arrest “unconstitutional.” Benham, one of the twin brothers who were famously dropped from an HGTV home-flipping show after LGBT activists pressured the network over their traditional beliefs on marriage and sexuality, posted a video on Twitter and Instagram of police officers arresting him for participating in a “non-essential” activity — sidewalk counseling — outside of the abortion clinic. “My boys and I went to support the awesome sidewalk counselors who work with our non-profit, Cities for Life,” he tweeted. “We offer life-affirming services for at-risk mothers. It’s been an absolute privilege serving over 5,000 vulnerable mothers who felt abortion was their only choice!” He added, “We support taking every precaution during COVID-19. This is why we maintained our social distance and stayed under 10 in number. We were not belligerent… We simply stood our ground. MLK once said, ‘A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right.’” read more
According to Benham, his organization, Cities for Life, is a federally-recognized public charity and is therefore considered an essential service. They have helped over 5,000 women in crisis pregnancies find support and loving care. As he explained to the police officers, their sidewalk counselors were following the social distancing guidelines and had every legal right to be there. Senator Ted Cruz, an experienced constitutional attorney, called the arrest “unconstitutional”. He wrote on Twitter, “If NC deems abortion ‘essential,’ then pregnancy care services are as well. This is WRONG; Governor Cooper should be ashamed.” Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood is suing the states of Texas, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Alabama after the governors ordered all non-essential medical procedures to cease, including abortions. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Planned Parenthood in Texas, but the other cases are still ongoing. An investigation by Live Action even exposed one abortion facility in Louisiana that continued to schedule abortions in direct violation of the Department of Heath’s order. For Christians, loving our neighbor includes helping women and their unborn babies, especially when they think they have no other option than abortion. This should not cease during a pandemic when these women are undoubtedly experiencing even greater anxiety and stress. Option Line, a pro-life contact center, has reported a 40% increase in calls over the past few weeks. David Benham and his sidewalk counselors have shown us how to continue reaching out in love, respect, and consideration for others, even if it means we will suffer unjust consequences.
Read Acts 4:23-31, and pray for God to give pro-life ministries and all of us wisdom and boldness as we serve others. Pray that the courts will rule in favor of the states who have banned abortions, and pray that God will soften the hearts of elected officials who have not correctly applied the law.
Most states are still allowing abortions to continue. And even if you live in one of the states where your governor has taken action, they still need to be challenged to follow through and enforce their order. We have partnered with Faces of Choice to launch a powerful campaign, #NotADisease. Please send a message to your governor using our easy tool right now.
Coronavirus Outbreak Spurs Record Bible Purchases: ‘People are Looking for Hope’
With uncertainty amid the coronavirus pandemic and many people holed up in their homes, people are ordering books online, especially the Good Book, according to sales from top Christian publishers. While the vast majority of Americans own Bibles, a large percentage say they never read it. But that could be changing. Alabaster Co., a small business in California that sells books of the Bible for the Instagram generation, saw an increase of 143 percent compared to last year. "In this life-altering and unprecedented pandemic, people are looking for hope and restoration," Brian Chung, co-founder and business director of Alabaster Co., told Fox News. "Even amidst suffering and financial hardship we've continued to see people engage with Alabaster by utilizing our free resources and purchasing Bibles as encouraging gifts for loved ones," he added. "We believe people are buying Bibles because there’s a longing to connect with God, find meaning, and experience peace." LifeWay Christian Resources also saw an increase of 62 percent last week compared to the previous year. "We believe this is no accident, as people often go to the Bible as a source of hope in times of crisis and uncertainty," said Ben Mandrell, LifeWay CEO. "People draw hope from Scripture because in it they see a God who is with us during our suffering." read more
While many people attempt to use the problem of evil and suffering to argue against the existence of God, the truth is that the Christian worldview is the only one that best explains this reality. The effects of evil and suffering are often anesthetized by the business of daily life and the comforts and pleasures of living in an advanced country. Now, with the normal routines of life stripped away by a global pandemic, people are suddenly confronted with their own fragility and they have more time to think deeply about it. It is encouraging to see how many people are turning to the Bible for truth. They will read about a God who entered into our suffering, who voluntarily gave His life for our salvation, and who will one day make everything new, so that “death shall be no more” (Philippians 2:5-11: Revelation 21:4). Consider who, among your friends or acquaintances, might benefit from the gift of a Bible. In other encouraging news, the members of two Facebook groups in Georgia are erecting crosses in several counties to spread the message of “Faith not Fear”. They have been making and giving out the crosses to people in their community to display in their yards, neighborhoods, and street corners as an encouragement to pray and have faith in God. Also, in a recent issue of the Intersect, we encouraged people to donate to Operation Blessing, which has been providing much-needed masks and sanitizing kits to first responders nationwide. They have given out nearly 30,000 N-95 masks and more than 670 sanitizing kits. One police chief choked back tears as he received the masks for his officers, explaining that their supply had been getting low and he was losing sleep trying to figure out how to provide for them.
Pray for opportunities to share the hope found in God’s Word with anyone you know who is not saved. Pray for our first responders who already risk their lives daily for us, and are now exposed to even more danger. Pray for protection and peace for them and their families.
Take action today to help someone struggling because of the Coronavirus. ShowUpNow is a great new website connecting individuals to pray, share stories, and help others. It is a grassroots movement of people just like you rolling up their sleeves and getting involved. Please take a few minutes to check out the site to pray for and help others or find help right now.
Trump Says he Opposes Mail-In Voting for November
President Trump on Friday said he's confident the general election in November won't be delayed by the coronavirus, but he rejected the idea of having every state prepare to conduct mail-in voting. The president, speaking at the daily White House briefing on the pandemic, made clear he does not support using vote-by-mail as a backstop in the event the outbreak keeps people from going to the polls. “No, because I think a lot of people cheat with mail-in voting," said Trump, who has levied baseless accusations about voter fraud that he claims kept him from winning the popular vote in 2016. "I think people should vote with ID, voter ID. I think voter ID is very important, and the reason they don’t want voter ID is because they intend to cheat." “It shouldn’t be mail-in voting," he added. "It should be you go to a booth and you proudly display yourself. You don’t send it in the mail where people can pick up — all sorts of bad things can happen … by the time it gets in and is tabulated." Democrats have pushed for additional funding to bolster mail-in and absentee voting availability. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and others argue that voting by mail could be necessary in the event the virus is still prevalent and keeps poll workers and voters from casting their ballots in November. The coronavirus relief package signed into law last week by Trump included $400 million for states to beef up preparations for primaries and the general election during the coronavirus crisis. Democrats had initially pushed for $4 billion. read more
Wisconsin held its primary election yesterday in person, despite Coronavirus fears and the Wisconsin Supreme Court and US Supreme Court weighing in during the last moments before polls opened. But the results are not expected to be reported until next week. Our My Faith Votes team is closely monitoring the changes resulting from the pandemic at local and state levels, and we are committed to keeping Christians informed about important resources and developments. It is critical that the integrity of our elections be maintained. This November will determine whether we will continue enjoying the protection of religious liberty and the advance of pro-life laws, or whether we will elect an administration that reverses those victories and infringes on our ability to be salt and light. So far, fifteen states have had to move their primary elections due to the virus. The states include: Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Amid all of the COVID-19 news, there are still significant developments in the Presidential race. You can read the latest on the My Faith Votes Election Watch. The Democratic Convention has been delayed a month to August; however, Joe Biden has suggested the convention may need to be held virtually. President Trump, on the other hand, has said there is no contingency plan for the Republican National Convention stating, “We’re having the convention at the end of August and we think by the end of August we’ll be in good shape.”
Please continue to pray for the primary elections. Pray specifically for Christians to turn out to the polls and to have the wisdom to vote for Godly leaders who will protect biblical values.
Have you visited the My Faith Votes Voting Assistance Center? Take just a few minutes to click on your state to check your election information. Share the resource with friends and family to make sure they are informed as well.
Most U.S. Churches Planning a Digital Easter, 93% Gathering Online Amid COVID-19
As 93 percent of churches in the United States are holding online-only services due to the new coronavirus outbreak, the majority of the congregations will celebrate Easter digitally, according to two studies. While 99 percent of churches held services on their campuses on the first weekend of March, only 7 percent did so on March 29, according to Nashville-based LifeWay Research. “Gathering for worship as a local church is a fundamental expression of the body of Christ, but so are valuing life and loving others,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. “As mitigation guidance first impacted large churches, the majority of churches with 200 or more attendees were not meeting by March 15, and only 1% of them met March 22 as guidance continued to shift.” read more
This week, instead of focusing on the current pandemic, it’s a poignant time to focus on Jesus and his triumph at the Cross. There is nothing that can throw off the plans and purposes of God (Job 42:2). Nothing can separate you from his love (Romans 8:31-39). Not even COVID-19. The devil would love for us to be distracted and focused on this current situation, and yes, it's important, but we encourage everyone to focus on God's victory this week. Find rest for your souls in this truth. And let's encourage one another with the truth that Jesus promised us, "I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!"(John 16:33) What if this could be the week of radical change and major turn around as we seek God's face? What if this could be the week God moves mightily on our land? What if millions of souls are saved this week because they are wondering if there is such a thing as eternity? We encourage you to invite your friends, neighbors, or family to virtually attend an online Easter Service with you this Sunday. Take a moment to call, text or email and invite them today. It is only through our trust in Jesus Christ that we can find peace in the midst of tribulation.
Pray for the people in your life who do not know Christ. Pray for God to move on their hearts and give them a desire to know Him (John 6:44, Hebrews 4:16).
Have you watched The Chosen TV series on the life of Jesus? Our friends at The Chosen have been live-streaming the first eight episodes. We encourage you this week to take some time to watch it to remind yourself of the power of the Gospel story. It’s free to watch and stream on the Chosen App here.
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.