WEEKLY NEWS SUMMARY - FEBRUARY 1, 2023
Next week, the My Faith Votes team (we all work remotely across the US) will be joining together for an in person “team advance” as we plan and strategize for impact in 2023 and the 2024 election cycle. To keep our time focused, we’re putting a pause on Intersect next week and will see you again February 15th. We would appreciate your prayers!
In this week's Intersect, read about:
'Queer theory is not Black history' – Gov. DeSantis addresses nixing AP African American studies course
“Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis continues making national headlines. His administration drew the ire of many last week after it pulled the plug on a proposed advanced placement African American studies course. Speaking at a Jacksonville charter school Monday, DeSantis answered questions for the first time about why the course was canceled.” read more at 10 Tampa Bay
- What is not emphasized in mainstream news is the fact that Florida already requires the teaching of black history. The AP course that was rejected by the state of Florida was a pilot program, still subject to revision by the College Board, its creators. The final version of the course is being released today to mark the start of Black History Month. The state Department of Education told the College Board that they are willing to consider a course with “lawful, historically accurate content”.
- Most news stories have painted Florida’s decision not to offer this particular course as an attempt to hide black history from students. Instead, it is the exact opposite! Florida is trying to protect black history from being used to push a political agenda. A closer look at the rejected curriculum reveals this.
- Florida Commissioner of Education, Manny Diaz Jr., told Fox News, “Three-quarters of that syllabus has good content, and that would serve our students well, but we’re not going to allow indoctrination to come into our schools under the guise of African American History or any other history.” He posted a graphic outlining the course’s concerning content, such as “Black Queer Studies” and Intersectionality, which is a component of Critical Race Theory.
- “When you try to use Black history to shoehorn in queer theory, you are clearly trying to use that for political purposes,” Governor DeSantis emphasized.
- Why make this stand? What impact will it have? Is it really that important? Since our knowledge of the past helps shape our present decisions, a distorted view of history can negatively impact us today. Our students will lead our nation one day, and we want them to be like the men of Issacher, “who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do.” (1 Chronicles 12:32)
Pray that truth will be promoted by those who make decisions regarding what our students learn: parents, teachers, school board members, State Board of Education members, state legislators, governors, and others. Pray that our students will be equipped to understand the times and know what they, and our nation, should do.
Did you know today is National Freedom Day? It honors the signing of a resolution on February 1, 1865, by President Abraham Lincoln that proposed the 13th Amendment ending slavery. Our National Spokesman, Lt. Col. Allen West, highlights that February 1st may be a proclamation of freedom from our government, but the real proclamation of freedom came for us all on a mount called Calvary. Watch his 2 ½ - minute video, and share it to remind others of our freedom in Christ.
Colorado Baker Loses Appeal Over Refusal to Make Gender Transition Cake
“A Colorado baker who had won a narrow U.S. Supreme Court victory over his refusal to make a wedding cake for a gay couple on Thursday lost his appeal of a ruling in a separate case that he violated a state anti-discrimination law by not making a cake to celebrate a gender transition. The Colorado Court of Appeals agreed with a trial judge that Masterpiece Cakeshop and the bakery's owner, Jack Phillips, violated Autumn Scardina's rights by denying her service because of her identity as a transgender woman.” read more at Reuters
- In case you’re confused, this is a different case than the one Jack won at the Supreme Court in 2018. The first lawsuit filed against him was in 2012. This current lawsuit against him was filed in 2019. He has been fighting for religious freedom for over a decade. I talked with him about his journey here.
- This case is centered around two aspects of the First Amendment: free speech and free exercise of religion. Regarding free speech, the court stated, “resolution of the issue rests upon whether the creation of a pink cake with blue frosting constitutes protected speech.” The lawyer defending Jack said it does, but the court disagreed. He will appeal the decision.
- Regarding religious freedom, the court agreed that Jack has a right to freely exercise his faith, but also said that when providing public accommodations, this right does not allow him to discriminate against a customer based on his or her protected status. That’s where worldview differences are apparent: the court interpreted Jack’s actions as a refusal of the client’s status, while Jack said his refusal was only based on the message (celebrating a gender transition) he was being asked to convey through creating this custom cake. “Phillips works with all people and always decides whether to take a project based on what message a cake will express, not who is requesting it.” Alliance Defending Freedom, who is representing him, stated.
- One of the main culprits in both of Jack’s cases is the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. It should be a protector of religious freedom, but anti-religious bias among some of the commissioners was revealed during this process. It is imperative that your state officials correctly understand what the First Amendment means. American history holds many examples of its correct interpretation, but also, its misinterpretation–with grave consequences. We are responsible to educate ourselves.
“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” (Luke 6:27) What is happening to Jack Phillips is unfair, but let’s ask God to give him and us patience, faith, and love. As we pray for a successful appeal that would protect the freedom to live out our faith, let’s not forget to also pray for those who are opposing the Lord.
An accurate understanding of the 1st Amendment in the Constitution–especially the free exercise clause–is crucial to knowing your rights: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Download our free eBook of the Constitution, and invite a friend to do so as well.
10 Million 2022 California Ballots Unaccounted For, Report Finds
“California may have disenfranchised millions of voters in the 2022 primary and general elections, according to a new report from the Public Interest Legal Foundation, an election integrity watchdog group. The report found that 226,250 mail ballots were rejected for various reasons, while election officials failed to account for millions more. The 2022 midterms marked the first election held since the California Legislature passed and Gov. Gavin Newsom signed AB 37, which required automatically mailing ballots to all active registered voters in the nation’s most populous state.” read more at The Daily Signal
- Unaccounted for or just apathetic? The state of California now automatically sends ballots to all registered voters, who are then permitted either to vote by mail or in person. During the 2022 midterm elections, 21.9 million ballots were sent out but only 11.1 million people voted, leaving around 10.8 million ballots sent to voters who did not cast them. Election officials do not know what happened to them, the report says. J. Christian Adams, president of the Public Interest Legal Foundation said, “It is fair to assume that the bulk of these were ignored or ultimately thrown out by the intended recipients. But, under mass mail elections, we can only assume what happened.”
- California’s "Statement of Vote" said that 1,391,422 Californians voted in person, which remains an option, even for voters who received a mail ballot. Voters do not need to bring their unused mail ballots to vote in person, but some election officials may ask these voters to fill out provisional ballots that will be counted after confirmation that their mail ballots weren’t used. For context, Governor Newsom won his election by 2,007,190 votes.
- Election officials rejected 226,250 mail-in ballots for nine reasons. A whopping 47.7% of those ballots arrived too late to count. California law requires mail ballots to be postmarked no later than Election Day and to arrive for counting no later than seven days after Election Day. Could that suggest confusion in the mail-in voting process?
- Despite record spending on elections (an estimated $16.7 billion), the 2022 midterms marked an overall decrease in the percentage of eligible voters that voted. This contrasts with the 2018 midterms, which saw a record turnout of 115 million voters.
- My Faith Votes was established because our founder learned that in the 2012 presidential election 25 million Christians who were registered to vote DID NOT vote. It’s the equivalent of registered voters in 22 states sitting on the sidelines and not voting. That’s just too much impact, too much opportunity to be ignored. We are called to live out our faith in every area of our lives, including our vote.
Pray against apathy and indifference, and instead, pray for Christians to put their faith into action, including through their vote. When you vote, seek God’s will for your vote. Here’s a helpful prayer guide that includes seven ways you can pray for election integrity.
Oklahoma, you have an important election on March 7. A special statewide election will determine if recreational marijuana will be legalized. Five states voted on similar measures last November and it’s important to understand that legalizing marijuana is a trojan horse. We’ve created a helpful letter (Google Docs / MS Word) we encourage you to give to your pastor to help them address their congregation on the dangers of such legislation and why your vote is needed. If you live in Oklahoma, your voter registration deadline is February 10. As we see from the story above, don’t ignore your opportunity to vote.
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz Signs Bill Legalizing Abortions Up to Birth
“Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed legislation Tuesday guaranteeing abortion access in state law, which puts Minnesota among the first states to implement new abortion protections since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year. The law creating a ‘fundamental right’ to abortion takes effect Wednesday, making it harder for a court to roll back Minnesota's existing abortion protections.” read more at Fox 9 News
- The Protect Reproductive Options (PRO) Act passed the Minnesota Senate 34-33 on Saturday after Republicans unsuccessfully tried to amend the bill 35 times. 13 Catholics voted for it. Just introduced on January 4, the legislation was fast-tracked and prioritized by state Democrats who now hold one of 17 Democratic state trifectas in the US. Minnesota will become a “safe haven” for anyone seeking an abortion, even a late-term abortion, for any reason.
- The bill’s lead author, Rep. Jennifer McEwen, said of the legislation, “These are our values, this is the practice in Minnesota. This is what we believe.” I emphatically disagree and so do many other Minnesotans like me.
- “Minnesota Nice” has turned to “Minnesota Barbaric.” Abortion is already legal in Minnesota as a result of a 1995 state Supreme Court decision but this egregious legislation repeals basic protections and expands legal immunity for abortions up until the moment of birth, including partial birth abortions. It ends protections for babies born alive, lifts prohibitions for taxpayer funded abortions, nullifies parental notification, cancels protection for viable preborn babies, reverses ban on abortions for unconscious women, stops abortion reporting even if a mother dies from an abortion, expands who can perform an abortion, and allows minors to access “reproductive health care” services including contraception and even sterilization.
- I’m thankful my own Representative stood against this legislation. Now that abortion is being fought at the state level, Minnesota is an example of what happens when a state is not vigilant and when citizens don’t think voting in their state level elections will make much impact. This legislation passed by one vote.
- In positive news, Mark Houck, a pro-life dad of 7 who was arrested in a terrifying FBI home raid, has been acquitted in federal court. Houck was charged with violating what is known as the FACE Act which refers to the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. That law is being used against pro-lifers by restricting the activities of those who are trying to counsel women seeking abortions outside abortion clinics. Houck says he'll return to sidewalk counseling saying, "Sign me up, I'm ready to go back out. Pray, put me down for 10 o'clock, pray, I'll be wherever you need me. Just happy to continue the mission, the mission goes on."
Lord, I grieve for my home state today. We have turned our back on You and openly celebrate and reward evil. I pray for courage to keep standing for life, to be a positive example in my community and to continue to be faithful to Your call even when it seems impossible, and the odds are stacked against us. As the song “Confidence” states: I feel unqualified for what you’re calling me to, but Lord with your strength I’ve got no excuse…so give me faith like Daniel in the lion’s den, give me hope like Moses in the wilderness, give me a heart like David, Lord be my defense, so I can face [these] giants with confidence.
“I cannot do everything; but still I can do something.” Let that be your battle cry in this fight for life. Learn about what you can do right where you live. In Minnesota, New Life Family Services is meeting needs and protecting life in targeted areas with high abortion rates. Learn about their work and consider supporting their pregnancy resource centers financially or in person. I can attest that Tammy Kocher, Executive Director, and her team are doing amazing work!
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.