WEEKLY NEWS SUMMARY - JANUARY 26, 2022
In this week's Intersect, read about:
State Department Issues 'Do Not Travel' Warning for Ukraine as Embassy Staff is Told to Leave
“The U.S. State Department has ordered the evacuation of American citizens in Ukraine amid the threat of Russian military action. ‘U.S. citizens in Ukraine should be aware that Russian military action anywhere in Ukraine would severely impact the U.S. Embassy’s ability to provide consular services, including assistance to U.S. citizens in departing Ukraine,’ the State Department said in a travel advisory. The State Department said in the travel advisory that eligible family members are being ordered to leave the country, while U.S. citizens in Ukraine should ‘consider’ leaving the country.” read more at Fox News
Over the past few months, Russian President Vladimir Putin has deployed an estimated 100,000 troops to Ukraine’s border with Russia, and stationed more in Belarus, which also borders Ukraine. Why is Ukraine significant to Russia, and what might be some reasons for stationing troops in what appears to be preparation for an invasion? Ukraine desires to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), an alliance of democratic nations. However, as John Daniszewski, an Associated Press vice president and editor-at-large who covered the breakup of the Soviet Union, noted, Putin believes Ukraine should again be part of Russia. Former CIA agent Daniel Hoffman believes that “Ukraine is in Putin’s crosshairs because nothing threatens Putin’s regime more than a democratic, prosperous neighbor with a sizable Russian speaking population and commitment to membership in the European Union and NATO.” Therefore, by framing Ukraine and NATO as a threat to Russia, Putin justified the deployment of troops to Ukraine’s border. Hoffman continues, “Characterizing NATO and Ukraine as Russia’s enemies, Putin can by extension attack within his own borders what threatens him most -- liberty, freedom, and democracy.” If King Herod was prepared to kill the Messiah to protect his throne, we should not be surprised when world leaders today are willing to do whatever it takes to solidify their power. What might happen next? President Biden has indicated that any action taken against Russia in response to an invasion of Ukraine would consist of economic sanctions and similar measures, as opposed to a physical engagement with Russia. However, 8,500 U.S. troops have been put on notice for potential deployment to NATO territory. In addition, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued a warning that Russia may try a cyberattack on U.S. companies and government agencies. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that “invading Ukraine from a Russian perspective is going to be a painful, violent and bloody business…I’ve been to Ukraine several times, I know the people of that country a bit, and my judgment is that they will fight, and really that is not the way the world should be going.”
According to the Slavic Gospel Association, Ukraine allows “the most freedom for evangelical churches of all the former Soviet countries.” Pray for these Christians, and for all the world leaders involved in this uncertain conflict. Pray for continued freedom for Christians to continue sharing the gospel and ministering in their communities. (Psalm 2 and 1 Timothy 2:1-4)
Joshua House Life Centers is a charitable ministry, founded by missionaries Jim and Sandy McCann, providing children's homes, orphan rescues, Christian schools, churches, wellness centers, outreaches and missions in the Ukraine. If you are interested in supporting this ministry, visit their website here.
Time-lapse Video Shows Huge Crowds at 2022 March for Life
“A time-lapse video of the 2022 March for Life shows the massive crowds of pro-lifers who met in the U.S. capital to protest abortion on January 21, 2022. It has not yet been worked out how to get an exact figure of the numbers attending, but to get a good idea—and to combat any cynical miscounts downward—Students for Life of America has put together a 45-second time-lapse video of the March.” watch here at LifeSiteNews
"The cold couldn't dampen the spirits of the Pro-Life Generation who knew we were celebrating the last anniversary of Roe v. Wade," the group Students for Life of America, tweeted on Friday. They labeled the timelapse of 150,000 people marching saying, "The largest human rights march in the world IS against abortion." What happens if Roe is overturned by the Supreme Court this summer? Abby Johnson, former Planned Parenthood Director turned pro-life advocate, states, “If Roe is completely overturned, then we’re looking at about half the states in the United States where abortion will be completely illegal, but that doesn’t mean that it’s going to be illegal forever.” Johnson said progressives and organizations like Planned Parenthood would push to influence and fund gubernatorial races and other statewide offices to codify abortion at the state level. “They are going to start funding governor campaigns,” she said. “It’s about the states.” One state that is now working to protect the unborn is Virginia. New governor, Glenn Youngkin, added Angela Sailor as Chief Diversity, Opportunity & Inclusion Officer, a new cabinet level position which modified the office of Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion created by former Governor Ralph Northam. Sailor has the added responsibility of being an “ambassador for unborn children.” My Faith Votes CEO, Jason Yates, was at the march on Friday and caught up with our friend, actor Kirk Cameron, to briefly talk about what the March for Life means to both of them and why our vote for the protection of life matters. Watch here.
Lord, thank you for the visual reminder of all those who are making a statement that the sanctity and dignity of life matters. Help me to put my faith into action by protecting the unborn, loving and serving the women who find themselves in difficult situations and continuing to stand and fight for the protection of life from the local to the state and federal levels of government.
My Faith Votes’ own Jennifer McAlister wrote her inspiring story about choosing life, which was published in the Western Journal last week. Read it and be encouraged to take action here.
OSHA Withdraws Biden Administration Vaccine Mandate for Large Companies
“The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced Tuesday that it will withdraw the Biden administration’s temporary COVID-19 vaccine-or-test requirement for companies with more than 100 employees. OSHA made the decision to withdraw the mandate following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that blocked the plan, according to the statement. ‘The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is withdrawing the vaccination and testing emergency temporary standard issued on Nov. 5, 2021, to protect unvaccinated employees of large employers with 100 or more employees from workplace exposure to coronavirus.’ The withdrawal is effective Wednesday.” read more at KIRO 7
While OSHA is withdrawing the vaccination/testing mandate as an “enforceable emergency temporary standard,” it is leaving it as a proposed rule. The Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for federal workers was also blocked by a federal district judge from going into effect. A lawsuit by a group called Feds for Medical Freedom will continue to work its way through the courts until a final decision is reached. On Sunday, thousands marched in D.C. to protest vaccine mandates. Speakers at the rally included doctors who are not opposed to vaccines but stressed the danger of mandating them. In related news, the New York State Supreme Court on Monday struck down Governor Kathy Hochul’s mask mandate for public establishments. However, the state attorney general requested a stay on Tuesday to keep the mask mandate in place while the case makes its way through the appeals process. A judge ruled in favor. But it could still get thrown out yet again. Now the dueling opinions are causing widespread confusion and they are playing out in the news between school district leaders and state officials, with some schools saying masks are now optional to others, like the New York City, saying its mandate would remain in place regardless of what happens with the state mandate. In Virginia, several school districts are suing newly elected governor Glenn Youngkin over his executive order regarding the rights of parents and school mask mandates. His executive order states that because parents have “a fundamental right to make decisions concerning the upbringing, education, and care of [their] child,” they do not have to follow their school’s mask mandate. However, students in Loudoun County School District who refused to wear masks were reportedly separated from other students or denied entry. What messages are we sending to our kids through all this and what damage is being done? It’s an important question to ask.
Everyone is weary of COVID and the ever-changing information, measures, and regulations. Pray for opportunities to introduce people to Jesus, our solid Rock and firm foundation. His love is steadfast, and His invitation is “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 18:28-30)
School boards have a tremendous impact on our students, and many seats are up for election this year. Because turnout is historically only about 10% for these elections, your vote has an even bigger impact. iVoterGuide has produced an eBook, Whose Side are They On? Finding Out What Your Local School Board Candidates Really Believe, to give you an overview of school board duties and how to evaluate candidates. Click here to view and download this resource.
Christian Flag Brings Free Speech Test to Supreme Court
“The U.S. Supreme Court justices on Tuesday zeroed in on the free speech issue at the center of a dispute between the city of Boston and a private nonprofit. The city had denied a request to briefly fly a Christian flag on a City Hall flagpole despite making the option available to secular groups. A ruling in the case has the potential to clarify when religious speech is allowed in public forums like city buses, libraries, schools, and public buildings. Liberty Counsel attorney Mathew Staver, who represented Harold Shurtleff and his nonprofit, Camp Constitution, told the court that for 12 years the city had approved 284 requests to fly other groups’ flags on one of the three flagpoles in front of City Hall. Shurtleff’s application to fly a Christian flag was the first it denied. The group appealed after lower courts dismissed Shurtleff’s claim that the exclusion was a denial of his free speech rights.” read more at World News
In the plaza outside Boston city hall stands three flag poles. One flies the American flag along with a banner that honors our military missing in action. Another flies the state flag of Massachusetts and the third flagpole is changeable; sometimes it flies the city flag of Boston, sometimes it flies a flag raised to commemorate a cause, a person, a group, or an event. Over the years, that’s included an LGBTQ Pride flag, a flag to honor Malcolm X, and various countries including China, Cuba, and Turkey. Why the concern now? Because the flag was “Christian.” Justice Brett Kavanaugh suggested that the city’s policy rested on “a mistaken view about the establishment clause.” Opening public space for use by all groups, both religious and secular, does not violate the establishment clause, he observed. “And it seems like we’ve had case after case after case that has tried to correct that misimpression of the establishment clause, and that seems to me what the root cause is here.” Mathew Staver, lead attorney from Liberty Council who argued the case on behalf of Camp Constitution said, “This is about much more than the Christian flag. This case will set national precedent and affect the free speech of every person. We must not give government the power to censor disfavored viewpoints in a public forum.” You can listen to or read the court transcript here. In South Dakota, a Republican-controlled House committee rejected Gov. Kristi Noem’s bill that would require public schools to set aside time for students to pray every morning if they so choose, reportedly due to pressure from education groups. In Ohio, The Freedom From Religion Foundation, which advocates for a strict separation of church and state, wrote a letter to the Ohio Senate last month criticizing Senate Bill 248 as an “unconstitutional promotion of religion.” The bill was introduced in October and would also mandate a daily moment of silence in schools. Last June, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law that would give students a daily opportunity to “reflect and be able to pray as they see fit.” DeSantis described the moment-of-silence bill as legislation that counters attempts to “push God out of every institution.” With so much opposition to Christianity and prayer, it makes me think of the quote by Billy Sunday which says, “If you are a stranger to prayer, you are a stranger to the greatest source of power known to human beings.”
Lord, it seems so many issues of our day hang in the balance of the Supreme Court right now. Give each of them Your wisdom, insight, and clarity, and the courage to rule what is just in Your eyes. And give us a fresh boldness and passion to be Christ followers in a world that wants to silence us for our faith. Thank you that, as Psalm 62 says, You are my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength and my refuge.
Flags are powerful symbols. They represent ideals, movements, and aspirations. Recently, pro-life groups came together to create a flag that would be a unifying symbol of the pro-life movement. Have you seen it? Check it out and be on the lookout for it flying around our nation.
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.