WEEKLY NEWS SUMMARY - DECEMBER 30, 2020
In this week's Intersect, read about:
Mass. Legislature Overrides Veto, Expands Access to Abortion
The Massachusetts Senate on Tuesday voted to override the Republican governor's veto of legislation that expands access to abortion in the state, making the measure law. The Democratic-controlled Senate's 32-8 override came a day after the Democratic-controlled House similarly voted to override Gov. Charlie Baker's veto 107-46. The bill, known as the Roe Act, codifies abortion rights into state law, allows abortions after 24 weeks of pregnancy in cases where the child will not survive after birth, and lowers from 18 to 16 the age at which women can seek an abortion without consent from a parent or guardian. Baker, in vetoing the legislation last week, said while he strongly supports many provisions of the measure, he could not support expanding the availability of later-term abortions and permitting 16- and 17-year-olds to get an abortion without parental consent. read more at ABC News
To overturn a governor’s veto in Massachusetts, two-thirds of both chambers must vote in favor of overturning it. The fact that this happened sadly illustrates how committed the state legislature is to expand the practice of abortion. Many people forget just how influential their state legislative races are, but this case makes it clear. If Roe v. Wade is overturned at the Supreme Court, abortion will continue in Massachusetts and any state whose legislature codifies it into law. This is why we can’t ignore these local elections. Myrna Maloney Flynn, president of Massachusetts Citizens for Life, stated, “While we pause today to grieve for the many lives that will be severely damaged and lost as a result of the ROE Act, we anticipate, much as abolitionists did, the inevitability of a brighter tomorrow. Pro-lifers know setbacks. What we don't know how to do is give up, look the other way, and allow injustice to stand.” In New Jersey, a similar bill, the Reproductive Freedom Act, has been introduced that would codify Roe v. Wade into law. It has been referred to the state’s Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. If you live in New Jersey, consider contacting the members of that committee and urge them to vote no. In other news, the Charlotte Lozier Institute, the research arm of the pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List, has released their annual report detailing the extent that abortion will be funded through Obamacare in 2021. Twenty-six states do not allow elective abortion procedures to be covered with taxpayer money through Obamacare exchange plans in their state. However, residents of those states are still being made to fund abortion through their federal taxes, which fund abortion coverage in the rest of the states. In states which do allow elective abortion coverage in Obamacare exchange plans, 69% of those plans cover abortion. Chuck Donovan, the president of CLI, stated, “Due to the former Obama administration’s severe lack of transparency regarding abortion coverage, the American people are being forced, often unknowingly, to fund abortion through their federal taxes. This violates both the principles of the Hyde Amendment, and the deeply held moral beliefs of pro-life Americans everywhere.” The Hyde Amendment is an annual provision which bars federal funds from subsidizing abortion except in the cases of rape, incest, and life of the mother. Even in this instance, we can see the effect that state legislatures have, as some are respecting the consciences of their taxpayers while others are not. Several states will hold their legislative elections in 2021. Be sure you are prepared to vote.
Pray that, despite the legislature’s actions in Massachusetts, Christians will continue to strive to create a culture of life. We know that politics and laws created are downstream from culture. Pray for more Christians to be involved and act, to think biblically about the sanctity of life and to vote in every election.
Learn more about the work of And Then There Were None (ATTWN), a nonprofit ministry organization that exists to help abortion clinic workers leave the abortion industry. Read through some of the powerful testimonies of those who have left the abortion industry with the help of ATTWN here.
McConnell Blocks Quick Vote on $2,000 Stimulus Checks, Says Senate to Bring Trump Requests 'Into Focus'
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday that the Senate will address President Trump's request to increase stimulus checks sent to Americans to $2,000 but did not commit to pushing the issue -- as Sen. Bernie Sanders and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer each urged the body to put the House bill on $2,000 stimulus checks up for quick consideration. McConnell, R-Ky., speaking on the Senate floor acknowledged that Trump "would like further direct financial support for American households." McConnell at the same time mentioned that Trump wants Congress wants to address Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which provides protections for companies that host third-party content on their platforms -- like Facebook and Twitter -- and that Trump wants Congress to look into election security. "Those are the three important subjects the president has linked together," McConnell said. "This week the Senate will begin a process to bring these three priorities into focus." Notably, McConnell did not promise action on the $2,000 stimulus checks. He also objected to attempts by Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sanders, I-Vt., to quickly bring action on the stimulus checks in the Senate. Schumer's request would have passed the stimulus checks Tuesday afternoon. Sanders' request would have set a vote on the bill for stimulus checks up for Wednesday afternoon. Sanders then objected to McConnell's attempt to quickly move to a vote to override Trump's veto of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). "There are only a few days left in this session," Schumer said, urging the Senate to prioritize relief checks. "We should not adjourn until the Senate holds a vote on both measures: the NDAA veto override and the House bill to provide $2,000 checks for the American people." read more at Fox News
President Trump signed the second COVID relief package last week yet told Congress he wants to see an edited version that increases the $600 stimulus payments to $2,000 and gets rid of unnecessary spending. In response, the House voted to increase the stimulus by a vote of 275-134 on Monday. The increase faces a tough path in the Republican-led Senate, with many Republicans asserting it would cost hundreds of billions of extra dollars. However, as of Tuesday afternoon, Sens. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga.; David Perdue, R-Ga.; Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; Josh Hawley, R-Mo.; and Marco Rubio, R-FL. have backed the House legislation for $2,000 stimulus checks. Seven more Senate Republicans would need to come out in support of the checks in order to break a filibuster and set the issue for an up-or-down vote. That will also depend on if McConnell brings the stimulus check bill back to the floor. The two GOP senators from Georgia, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, announced they support Trump’s plan for bigger checks as they face Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in runoff elections next week which will determine which party controls the upper chamber. Democrats need to win both seats to split the chamber 50-50 and gain the advantage should Vice President-elect Kamala Harris be sworn in and become the tie-breaking vote. Also, on Monday, The House of Representatives voted to override President Donald Trump's veto of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a $741 billion national security package. It is the first time during the Trump administration that the House has successfully overrode a veto. The vote passed 322 to 87. The president had said he would veto the NDAA if Congress failed to repeal Section 230, which provides Big Tech companies with protections. When he vetoed the NDAA, Trump explained why repealing Section 230 was important in his eyes. "No one has worked harder, or approved more money for the military, than I have -- over $2 trillion. During my 4 years, with the support of many others, we have almost entirely rebuilt the United States military, which was totally depleted when I took office. Your failure to terminate the very dangerous national security risk of Section 230 will make our intelligence virtually impossible to conduct without everyone knowing what we are doing at every step," Trump said in a memo to Congress. "The Act fails even to make any meaningful changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, despite bipartisan calls for repealing that provision. Section 230 facilitates the spread of foreign disinformation online, which is a serious threat to our national security and election integrity. It must be repealed." The president also took issue with the provision in the bill that renames military bases named after Confederate generals. Senate Majority Leader McConnell is signaling that lawmakers have the votes to override President Trump's veto of the defense policy bill as soon as Wednesday.
Pray for our elected officials as they vote on crucial legislation in the next few days. Pray for our nation and the millions who have been adversely affected by this devastating pandemic, whether it be physically, emotionally, or financially. Pray for the runoff elections taking place on January 5th in Georgia. Pray for every valid vote to be counted truthfully, for the integrity and protection of every vote and that any plan that would threaten the transparency and truthfulness of the election process or that undermines the voters’ voices would be thwarted.
For those of you in Georgia, please remember to vote on January 5th. Voter guides, polling locations and all the information you need to make an informed vote can be found here. For those of you outside of Georgia, commit to spending time in prayer for these critical runoff elections that will determine the direction of our nation. Join with others across our nation and pray for Georgia voters, by name, here.
Israel Heads into 4th Election in 2 Years after Government Collapses
Israel is headed to its fourth election in two years, once again threatening Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s top post. The election will most likely be on March 23. Netanyahu will again face Blue and White leader Benny Gantz. After the Israeli government collapsed Tuesday at midnight when the country’s parliament could not approve the 2020 and 2021 budgets, Netanyahu said he was “not afraid” of an election, Fox News reports. "Blue and White withdrew from the agreements [to modify the original coalition agreement] and dragged us to unnecessary elections during the corona crisis," Netanyahu said. "We do not want an election and we voted against it ... but we are not afraid of elections – because we will win!" Gantz, meanwhile, pointed to Netanyahu’s charges of corruption. "I regret that the Prime Minister is preoccupied with his trial and not the public interest and is prepared to drag the entire country into a period of uncertainty, instead of ensuring economic stability and a rehabilitation of the economy,” he said. Previously, Gantz had agreed to join with Netanyahu after three elections failed to declare a winner. Under the agreement with Netanyahu, Gantz and Netanyahu would share the prime minister role with Netanyahu serving for 18 months and then Gantz taking on the position. The deal stipulated that lawmakers would have to approve a budget before Tuesday’s deadline. That approval did not happen. Netanyahu faces charges of fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes. He is accused of offering favors to the media in exchange for positive coverage. read more at Christian Headlines
What might the election results mean for Israel’s future? All of the current front-runners against Netanyahu come from parties that generally share his ideology and oppose concessions to the Palestinians. Gantz, whose party is center-left, has greatly declined in popularity and does not appear likely to win. This means that the next prime minister, whether Netanyahu or someone else, will likely not be a major shift ideologically. Meanwhile, the country just entered its third lockdown, which will last at least two weeks. Israel became one of the first countries to begin vaccinating its citizens, with over 1 in 20 Israelis having already received the shot. Still, coronavirus czar Nachman Ash stated, “We are in a race between the rising morbidity and the vaccines.” Once Israel is open for tourism again, Christians will likely want to visit a new artifact on display in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. A dime-sized token depicting a nativity scene was recently discovered in a donated collection. It is estimated to have belonged to a pilgrim who visited the holy land in the 6th or 7th century. Dr. Michael Brown, a Jewish Christian apologist and author, described the Christmas account as “a very Jewish story with good news for the nations.” In an article for the Christian Post, he states, “This is the wonderful news that this very Jewish story tells us for every nation on the planet. The Messiah of Israel is the Savior of the world. The one predicted in the Hebrew Bible, born to a Jewish virgin and raised in a Jewish society, will one day die for the sins of Jew and Gentile alike.” One day, Jesus the Messiah will come again to reign in truth, righteousness, and justice. This is good news considering the current political struggles, and regardless of who ends up as the Israeli prime minister.
Revelation 1:7 says “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him.” Pray that the people of Israel will realize that Jesus is their Messiah and place their hope in Him. There are several ministries in Israel led by Christians and Jews who believe in Jesus. Pray that they will be faithful and effective and that the Lord will open doors for the gospel.
Travel to Israel may be limited right now, but CBN has put together over 100 short videos of key locations throughout the country to watch from the comfort of your home. Enjoy an inside tour of our biblical heritage and this beautiful and historic country here.
Sudan arrests 9 Muslim extremists tied to church burnings, threats against churchgoers
Police in Sudan have arrested nine men in connection with a series of arson attacks on church property and for threatening churchgoers in the Dar El-Salam area of Omdurman in the capital, Khartoum, according to a report. The arrests of nine, out of 14 accused, were made in a case of the burning of property of Sudanese Church of Christ in Omdurman on five separate occasions, said Shanbago Awad Mugadam, a lawyer assisting Christians with legal aid, according to the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern. The church’s temporary meeting structure was destroyed most recently on Aug. 7. Prior to that, it was burned on Jan. 28, on Jan. 19, on Jan. 4. Last year, it was set afire on Jan. 19. After the first four attacks, the church chose not to register a complaint as the churchgoers had been threatened against it. “However, after the fifth time, they decided that they wanted the persecution to end. They attempted to report to the police, but were told that no report would be filed for them,” ICC said. The Christians then hired Mugadam as their attorney, who was able to bring the matter to the courts. The police opened a case in December and have arrested nine since then. Urging Christians to pray that the case would be justly fulfilled and that attacks against Christians in Sudan would end, ICC called it a “good sign for growing freedom and democracy in the country that the court system forced this issue.” read more at the Christian Post
This is an encouraging development for a country in which Christian churches, schools, and hospitals endured regular bombings by their own government just a few years ago. What did Christmas look like for some of our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world this year? In an all-too common scene in Nigeria, terrorists attacked a predominantly Christian village on Christmas Eve, killing at least eleven people and kidnapping a priest. They also set fire to a church. Boko Haram, the terrorist group that abducted 276 Chibok schoolgirls in 2014, has been blamed for the attack. In that same country in the week leading up to Christmas, a pastor’s wife and two pastors were kidnapped, and eighteen more Christians were killed by gunmen in several communities. Mervyn Thomas, the president of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, stated, “The authorities must develop a comprehensive security plan that considers the different dimensions to this security crisis, amid signs that the violence is not only continuing but has also spread to other areas.” In China, authorities cracked down on Christmas celebrations. In one mall, police showed up and interrupted a Christmas performance by a group of local Christians. Father Francis Liu from Chinese Christian Fellowship of Righteousness shared a photo of riot police blocking the entrance to a cathedral in Beijing, while a sign reads, “Due to the pandemic, all church activities have been halted.” Reportedly, tens of thousands of church leaders in China have gone into hiding during the government crackdown, having disconnected from their phones and computers that can be used to track their movements. Despite the government’s attempts to erase Christianity, Jesus said that the very gates of hell will not prevail against his church. (Matthew 16:18) One Christian organization predicts that persecution will increase in the countries of China and India in 2021. Let’s remember to keep our brothers and sisters in prayer and continue to stand with them for the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Pray for the Lord’s comfort to sustain our fellow Christians who lost loved ones in the attacks in Nigeria last week. Continue to pray that the Nigerian government would take action to bring justice in their country and pray that more people will be drawn to Christ through the loving witness of His children. In China, pray for wisdom for the churches and Christian leaders as they continue to advance the gospel despite the Communist Party’s efforts.
Hearing news of the suffering that our fellow Christians are enduring is painful and can feel hopeless. But prayer is the best thing to do. Voice of the Martyrs, an international organization dedicated to helping persecuted Christians, produces a global prayer guide that you can use to guide your prayers for Christians in specific countries. You can download the prayer guide at persecution.com. Ephesians 6:18 urges us: “Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord's people.” Consider making that a goal in this new year.
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