WEEKLY NEWS SUMMARY - AUGUST 12, 2020
In this week's Intersect, read about:
Trump Takes Big Steps to Bypass Deadlocked Congress, Offering Relief to Struggling Americans
President Donald Trump bypasses Congress and signs executive orders to address the ongoing economic crisis affecting America due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The President offered several new executive orders that include many of the features of the first CARES Act plus payroll tax relief and assistance to renters and homeowners. Trump's plan would give people making less than $100,000 a year a payroll tax cut and freeze evictions. It would also extend extra unemployment aid to 10.2% of Americans who are out of work. Trump said that if he is re-elected in November, he would look at the possibility of making the payroll tax relief permanent. Opponents of the payroll tax cut say those taxes are needed to fund things like Social Security and Medicare. Extra aid for the unemployed will total $400 a week, a cut from the $600 that just expired in July. The president says he's also freezing student loan payments. Negotiations led by Trump's Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin fell apart recently with Congress taking a break without passing a bill – Democrats and Republicans weren't able to agree on the amounts and types of aid. read more
During a press conference, President Trump spoke of his executive order and three memoranda. The executive actions are intended to bypass Congress, which has been deadlocked in negotiations, but could face legal challenges. The Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal pointed out that with this move, President Trump is “commandeering the power of the purse that the Constitution reserves for Congress.” They acknowledge that “Mr. Obama did it first,” but “one constitutional abuse doesn’t justify another.” They conclude: “The good news is that President Trump on Saturday escaped the trillion-dollar terms of surrender demanded by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The bad news is that he followed the Barack Obama method with executive orders, one of which stretches the law in a way that a future progressive President will surely cite as a precedent.” There has been a flurry of action by the Trump administration in the last week. President Trump signed a landmark bill into law that permanently funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund and provides billions of dollars to restore national park infrastructure. The Great American Outdoors Act, supported by a bipartisan coalition in the House and Senate, allocates $9.5 billion over five years to restore facilities and infrastructure in national parks and public lands. It also provides $900 million a year in permanent funding to the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). “The legislation I’m signing today builds on my administration’s unwavering commitment to conserving…the grandeur and the splendor of God’s creation,” Trump said. “This is truly God’s creation.” Regarding veterans, President Trump signed legislation Saturday that will broaden options for troubled veterans in the legal system and expand a home renovations grant program for disabled and blind veterans. The Trump administration also announced that it would award more than $35 million to organizations fighting human trafficking. Daughter of President Trump and presidential adviser, Ivanka Trump, as well as Attorney General William Barr, explained at a White House event that the Justice Department grants will provide safe housing for survivors. Over 70 organizations in 33 states will receive funding that will allow victims 6 to 24 months of help for transitioning or short-term housing. Earlier this year, the President created a new position in the White House domestic policy office to focus solely on human trafficking.
As 1 Timothy 2 says, we are to pray for all of those in authority. Pray for President Trump and his administration, that they would seek God’s wisdom as they make decisions on behalf of our nation. Pray that as they face spiritual battles and opposition that they would seek God and find their salvation in Him. Leaders carry more responsibility and burdens than many people realize and God has asked us to cover them in prayer as they lead.
One particular organization working to serve victims of human trafficking is Refuge for Women. The faith-based ministry provided specialized long-term care for women who have escaped human trafficking or sexual exploitation. With multiple locations across the US, they provide up to twelve months of safe housing, at no charge to the resident, with around the clock care as the women progress through evidence-based, trauma-informed healing. Learn more and consider purchasing their “survivor-made” products that not only support the ministry but provide jobs to the women.
Biden Taps Kamala Harris as Running Mate, Setting Aside Tensions from Primary
Kamala Harris, the politically shrewd California senator with a law enforcement background that has caused some tensions with the progressive left, was announced Tuesday as Joe Biden’s running mate. "I’ve decided that Kamala Harris is the best person to help me take this fight to Donald Trump and Mike Pence and then to lead this nation starting in January 2021," Biden said in an email to supporters. She makes history as the first woman of color to serve as a major political party’s VP pick. "I'm honored to join him as our party's nominee for Vice President and do what it takes to make him our Commander-in-Chief," Harris tweeted. The decision, following months of secret meetings and closely-held deliberations, would indicate the former vice president is setting aside their friction from the primary campaign. Harris memorably drew sharp contrasts with Biden when she challenged him on the debate stage over his past resistance to federally mandated desegregation busing. read more
Harris, who is 55 years old, was elected to the Senate in 2016 after serving as California's attorney general. She grew up in Oakland and Berkeley, California attending predominantly black churches and considers herself a black Baptist, according to Religion News. A supporter of abortion rights, Harris voted against a bill that would limit abortions to the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. As California state attorney general, she launched an investigation of anti-abortion activist David Daleiden, whose undercover videos about Planned Parenthood selling baby body parts later sparked charges of breaking privacy laws. His supporters said Harris' ties to Planned Parenthood were a conflict of interest. Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, said in a statement, "Even with Sen. Harris on the ticket, Americans will have the same choices.” He continued, "In this election, voters will choose between a free market or socialism; prosperity or a ruined economy; a secure nation or open borders; the Constitution or judicial tyranny. The selection of a Biden running mate changes nothing," he concluded. Dr. James Dobson, in a recent note of warning, said, “The choices we make on November 3rd will send this nation down one of two dramatically different paths. The wrong decision will be catastrophic.” At My Faith Votes, we are always pressing our motto of “Pray. Think. Vote.” The key element of “think” is to understand the issues and view the candidates we choose at the ballot box from a biblical worldview. Phil Robertson, in his new book Jesus Politics, states, “…though we were once a country who did their best to follow the King, we’ve traded God’s laws for laws fashioned in the shape of our own desires. “We the People” have cast our votes for the politics of self-indulgence, self-interest, and self-gratification. We’ve voted for the very things that steal our freedoms, kill our society, and destroy our country. And we did all these things without checking in with King Jesus first.” We must think biblically, we must vote consistently, and we must pray unceasingly as we are just 83 days from November 3rd. Franklin Graham is calling on Christians to join him for “Prayer March 2020” in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 26. “Our nation is in trouble … we need God’s help,” he says. Join the march from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol building or join virtually by praying with Christians across the nation during the time of the march. Learn more about the march here.
O God, we acknowledge you today as Lord, not only of individuals but of nations and governments. We thank you for the privilege of being able to organize ourselves politically and of knowing that political loyalty does not have to mean disloyalty to you. We thank you for your law, which our Founding Fathers acknowledged and recognized as higher than any human law. We thank you for the opportunity that this election year puts before us, to exercise our solemn duty, not only to vote, but to influence countless others to vote, and to vote according to biblical principles.
What do the parties stand for? Which policies and worldviews do they align themselves with? We have party platform resources and guides that are downloadable, printable, and shareable. Find them here. (party platforms will be updated upon the adoption of the platforms at the upcoming national party conventions)
Seattle Police Chief Resigns as Violence-Riddled Cities Slash Police Funds: 'Evil Will Take Over'
Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best has just announced she's stepping down. She made her decision public on the same day the city council approved cutting the police department by nearly $4 million and 100 officers. Best was the city's first black police chief. Her announcement comes as law enforcement organizations across the country are experiencing serious budget cuts amid the push to defund the police. That's happening despite an increase in crime in many major cities. You might not hear it from media outlets, but in Portland more than 270 federal officers have been injured protecting buildings since May. And here in Seattle, one day of recent rioting led to 59 officers getting wounded by rocks, bottles and improvised explosives. Still, even though nightly violence and skyrocketing crime rock American cities, some politicians are echoing the call to defund or even abolish the police. Here, business owners board up stores for protection from groups like Antifa while their city council members demand cuts in police budgets. read more
By a 7-1 margin, the Seattle City Council voted late on Monday to advance a highly controversial plan to defund the Seattle Police Department as violent crime and far-left riots have rocked the city in recent months. In Portland, protesters lit a fire inside the police union building on Saturday night, causing police to declare a riot and advance on the group. The group then built a barricade in the Kenton neighborhood and lit parts of it on fire. Police declared there was another riot on Sunday night as 200 protesters marched to the police union building before officers dispersed the crowd. In Chicago, false information about an officer-involved shooting resulted in widespread looting, property destruction, and officers' injuries on Monday. News of the incident spread on social media, including false information that the police shot a child. As a result, hundreds of people participated in looting, smashing windows, and some getting into physical altercations with law enforcement. Identifying one source of misinformation on Twitter, the Chicago Police Department tweeted, "This is an example of blatant misinformation being shared. The shooting offender is a 20-year-old man who is currently being treated at a local hospital." As a result of the widespread crime, Chicago Police made over a hundred arrests and thirteen officers were injured in the riots. Drawbridges leading into the city were raised as downtown was locked down at night. July 2020 was especially violent for Chicago, as the city recorded 105 homicides and 584 shootings. A host of other cities - Houston, Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, Portland, and Seattle - also saw spikes in shootings and murders. While the "defund the police" movement is gaining support with the hard Left, a new poll shows 86% of Americans oppose the idea. Instead, the public more broadly supports other types of changes and shows very strong support for strengthening relationships between officers and the communities they police. Despite the violence across the nation, God is still moving. In an effort called “Riots to Revival,” thousands have been gathering nightly to worship and pray, with many getting baptized, in major cities in Washington, Oregon and California. As one participant said, “The media is so quick to show us the bad, the scary, and the sinful. Tonight, this is what OUR eyes saw at Waterfront Park in Portland, OR. Hope. Redemption. Repentance. Renewal. Freedom. Unity.”
Pray for law enforcement on the front lines maintaining order. Pray for a disruption to every scheme of the enemy to cause lawlessness and rebellion in our cities. Pray that Christians would stand today as the Church, as gatekeepers and watchmen, as intercessors who have been assigned by God to stand in the gap where there is a breach in the walls of our cities.
There are over 100,000 elections taking place throughout 2020. While this is a presidential election year, an enormous amount of impact will be made in the local and state level elections. 11 governorships, 748 state executive seats, 5,000+ state legislature seats in 44 states, and 50,000+ local municipal and school board seats are up for election. These elected officials will make decisions in how our cities and communities function in the face of lawlessness and evil. But we the people choose who will make those decisions when we go to the ballot box. Make your pledge to vote today!
Lebanese Government Resigns as Fury Over Deadly Explosion Deepens Political Crisis
Lebanon's government resigned Monday as the fallout from last week's deadly explosion deepened a political crisis in the country’s blast-ravaged capital. Prime Minister Hassan Diab said he would resign along with all of his ministers. "We will back down and stand with the people. We need to open the door for the people," he said in a televised address to the nation before presenting his resignation to President Michel Aoun. The move comes after enraged protesters and world leaders alike demanded political reform following the Aug. 4 blast that killed almost 160 people and injured thousands more. read more
Parliament will now have to decide on a new prime minister - a process involving the same sectarian politics at the root of protesters' discontent. It is unlikely to be a smooth or quick process due to the country's complex political system. Power in Lebanon is shared between leaders representing the country's different religious groups. Additionally, following the end of the 1975-1990 civil war a number of warlords entered politics and still control large parts of the country's political, economic, and social sectors. Many protesters blame this entrenched system for the country's corruption. The massive explosion that rocked Beirut on Monday evening has left hundreds dead, thousands injured, and more than 300,000 displaced from their homes. The world watched in horror as the detonation of 2,750 tons of confiscated ammonium nitrate laid waste to the Mediterranean port and surrounding neighborhoods. The equivalent of a 3.3-magnitude earthquake was felt deep into the coastal mountains of Lebanon and as far away as Cyprus. The areas nearest the port in East Beirut are primarily Christian neighborhoods, and generally poorer than others. Back in October, leaders admitted the country was almost bankrupt; but since then, the situation has only gotten worse. Inflation has risen 85 percent and the government is running out of hard currency in the central bank. And ordinary citizens are denied access to the dollars they have in their personal accounts. With so much happening in our own country, it’s still important to keep perspective on what’s happening across the world, particularly in the Middle East. On Monday, Greece was placed on high alert after Turkey sent its Oruc Reis survey ship into an area within the Greek continental shelf, a move which Athens described as a threat to peace and stability in the region. Foreign Minister of Cyprus, Nikos Christodoulides, was asked about the Turkish activities inside the Greek continental shelf and also in part of Cyprus' Exclusive Economic Zone in the last days. He stated, "Turkey's illegal seismic researches in a sea region engaged by an illegal NAVTEX which extends to the Greek continental shelf and in part of Cyprus' EEZ constitute serious violation of Greece and Cyprus' sovereign rights. These actions in combination with the intense militarization of the region that Ankara is promoting set at risk the stability and the security in the Eastern Mediterranean". And a new report from the office of the Director of National Intelligence concluded that Iran plans to spread disinformation to prevent President Trump’s reelection. "Driven by a perception that President Trump’s reelection would result in a continuation of U.S. pressure on Iran in an effort to foment regime change," Iran will continue spreading anti-U.S. information online, the report says.
Pray for the people of Lebanon who have been not only deeply impacted by the Beirut explosion but also by the country’s political unrest and economic uncertainty. As one of the most turbulent regions in the world, continue to pray for peace throughout the Middle East. Pray for Christians, as well as missionaries on the ground, to have strength and wisdom to know how to witness powerfully and effectively in this very challenging season. Pray for believers to stand firm and courageously in the face of persecution and to share their faith boldly.
A number of ministries are sharing their on-the-ground stories and bringing much needed help, hope, and healing to the people of Beirut. Learn about the various work being done and how you can be praying and helping our brothers and sisters in Christ in a country that has lost hope in so much around them.
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.