WEEKLY NEWS SUMMARY - JANUARY 27, 2021
In this week's Intersect, read about:
The 5th Largest School District in the US Announced a Plan to Phase Back into In-person Learning After a Rise in Student Suicides
“The fifth-largest school district in the US introduces a plan to phase students back to in-person learning after a rise in student suicides even as COVID-19 cases in the region rise, The New York Times reported. As of December, the Clark County school district in Las Vegas, Nevada had 18 student suicides compared to the nine suicides the district saw in the past year. The school district ranked the fifth largest in the country, according to data from the US Census Bureau. ‘When we started to see the uptick in children taking their lives, we knew it wasn't just the Covid numbers we need to look at anymore,’ Jesus Jara, the Clark County superintendent, told the Times. ‘We have to find a way to put our hands on our kids, to see them, to look at them.’ ‘They've got to start seeing some movement, some hope,’ Jara continued.’” read more at MSN News
According to the school district’s superintendent, the youngest student to take their life was just 9 years old. Another student left a note that said they had nothing to look forward to. An alert system within the school district also flagged more than 3,000 potential suicide risks based on student writing on school-issued iPads. We are in crisis.
The CDC found that the average proportion of emergency department visits by children for mental health-related reasons was 44% higher from mid-March into October compared with that time period in 2019. "Many mental disorders commence in childhood, and mental health concerns in these age groups might be exacerbated by stress related to the pandemic and abrupt disruptions to daily life associated with mitigation efforts, including anxiety about illness, social isolation, and interrupted connectedness to school," the CDC stated in November. Distance learning because of the COVID-19 lockdowns has also caused students' grades to plummet. "School districts from coast to coast have reported the number of students failing classes has risen by as many as two or three times — with English language learners and disabled and disadvantaged students suffering the most," the Associated Press reported in December. But other areas of the nation are sending mixed messages in regard to in-person learning. The Chicago teacher’s union voted to reject efforts to reopen the nation’s third-largest school system. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago Teachers Union announced Sunday that its members will work from home rather than resume teaching in person, citing health and safety issues. Similar pushback is happening in places like Montclair, New Jersey, and Bellevue, Washington, and Fairfax, Virginia. And a petition by two children’s advocacy groups to open Los Angeles County schools, the second-largest school district, was rejected on Thursday by the California Supreme Court. While President Biden has signaled his intent to push for the reopening of most K-8 schools within the first 100 days of his presidency and signed an executive order to that end, he sidestepped a question this week that was specific to the Chicago teachers union and if teachers should return. Jesus’ love for children was shown by the fact that He made time for them. Do not wait for schools to do the work we are called to do. Reach out to the children in your life today to connect with them and show them the love of Jesus.
Oh Lord, we weep with You over the children who have lost hope. We pray children today will develop an eternal perspective and purpose, not an earthly one, to see life–and every challenge–through Your eyes. Bring people around them to demonstrate Your saving grace. I pray that they will set their minds on things above, not just what is going on here, and that they will be rooted and grounded in Your love. I pray they will come to understand the extent of Your love and hope for them–that it surpasses all the head knowledge they will acquire in school.
There is an important ministry in Las Vegas called Club Christ that is meeting the educational and spiritual needs of high-risk youth. As they invest in youth through educational mentoring and equip them with a biblical worldview, their goal is that these students will in turn transform their communities with the hope of Christ. Learn more about their important work and if you live in the Las Vegas, NV area, consider volunteering.
The End of Girls' and Women's Sports as We Know Them': Divisive Biden Exec. Order Pushes Trans Agenda
“In the first few hours following his inauguration on Wednesday, President Joe Biden kept several campaign promises by signing 15 executive orders and two agency actions. It was the most executive orders ever signed by a president on his first day in office. Even though Biden touted unity in his inaugural address, he signed his name to an order recognized by some conservatives as mandating the highly divisive transgender agenda at the expense of freedom and even women's rights. In a commentary for The Daily Signal, Ryan T. Anderson, the William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow in American Principles and Public Policy at The Heritage Foundation, explains what Biden's executive order means. "It doesn't take a crystal ball to know how Biden administration officials will interpret and apply these policies: men who identify as women must be allowed in women-only spaces, boys who identify as girls must be allowed to compete in the girls' athletic competitions, healthcare plans must pay for gender-transition procedures, doctors and hospitals must perform them, adoption agencies may not seek only married moms and dads to care for children in need," Anderson wrote.” read more at CBN News
When you read the executive order, it is apparent how this issue is being framed. It implies that any government policy that acknowledges biological differences between males and females is discriminatory. Ryan Anderson counters, "Yes, we've treated males and females differently—we have an NBA and a WNBA—but that is precisely in order to treat them equally. Equality—fairness—in athletic competition frequently requires taking the bodily differences between males and females seriously." Ryan Anderson’s full article on this executive order is extremely helpful at exposing the fallacious reasoning behind it. To put the sheer number of executive orders in perspective, according to the Western Journal, the last six presidents issued a combined total of twenty-two executive orders during their first month in office. The Biden administration has issued nineteen orders in his first week in office alone. Many of them specifically reversed previous orders by President Trump. The number of executive orders by this administration is concerning, but the content of most is even more alarming. The New York Times praised President Biden as “Perhaps the most religiously observant commander in chief in half a century” even though, as the Daily Wire pointed out, the NYT often criticized other presidents for their piety. Here is perhaps the most telling reason for their praise of him: “With Mr. Biden, a different, more liberal Christianity is ascendant: less focused on sexual politics and more on combating poverty, climate change, and racial inequality.” Popular culture always prefers a version of Christianity that fits with its own particular values. My friend, Patrick Mahoney, observed, "Brothers and sisters, we are now entering a season where the establishment press, rather than the Bible or church teaching, will define what it means to be a good Christian." As we face the enactment of anti-biblical laws by a ‘religiously observant’ president and a Congress that claims to be 88% Christian, our most basic task is to show our children, family, and neighbors what it looks like to be a faithful follower of Jesus. Christ said, in Matthew 15:8, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” No matter what our culture may determine, only Christ defines what a Christian is. Continue to read His Word and pray, along with David, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139:23-24)
Praying for those who oppose our faith can be hard. We encourage you to watch this short video produced by Voice of the Martyrs, called Solitary Prayer. It demonstrates the power of praying for our enemies. Then, we invite you to pray this prayer by our friend, Dr. James Dobson: “Heavenly Father, we speak collectively to You at this time of sorrow. We have done what we could to preserve righteousness in the culture, but we have encountered one setback after another. Be with those who are discouraged and demoralized. We know You are in control. Strengthen our faith and show each of us what You would have us do. We pray for a great spiritual awakening that will sweep across the land in the days ahead. May it engulf the younger generation whose faith has been weakened by false teachers and leaders. We ask for Your miraculous hand of protection on unborn children whose lives are in mortal danger. We also pray for families that are crumbling, even as I speak. These are difficult days, Lord. We turn to you for solace and wisdom. Amen.
As The Daily Citizen states, “While the federal government doesn’t fund or control public schools – states and local school boards have this authority – it does have a lot of power. That power can be used to coerce schools who are ‘discriminatory’ and don’t follow this policy.” The good news is, at least twelve states are considering legislation that would base sports on biological reality and keep boys’ and girls’ sports separate. Here is a list of seven of those states and how you can help support those bills.
South Carolina Passes Pro-Life Bill That Takes Aim at Roe V. Wade
“Just days before the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, South Carolina passed a pro-life bill aimed at taking down the controversial ruling. The South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which generally occurs between the sixth and eighth week of a woman’s pregnancy. The state Senate Medical Affairs Committee voted in favor of advancing the bill 9-8 with only two Republicans voting with Democrats against it. While the bill included an exception for when a woman’s doctor deems her life to be at stake, state Senator Tom Davis (D) proposed additional exceptions for rape and incest, which were voted down 7-4. The bill is likely to pass in the state Senate as well after South Carolina picked up three Republican seats this year and gained the majority. Ultimately, the goal of the bill is to tear down Roe v. Wade by taking any ensuing lawsuits all the way up to the Supreme Court – including new justice Amy Coney Barrett – to examine against precedent.
South Carolina Citizens for Life called on lawmakers to support the bill and challenge the current legal precedent in the state that permits abortion until a child can feel pain. “With changes to the U.S. Supreme Court, it is our sincere hope that the legislation will withstand constitutional challenge and be implemented in order to save innocent, unborn babies’ lives when a heartbeat is present,” the organization said.” read more at Faithwire
While the pro-life movement has suffered a major setback at the federal level, the outlook for individual states is much more hopeful. South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem recently introduced a bill in the state legislature banning abortion based on a pre-born baby’s Down Syndrome diagnosis. In a surprising turn of events, Kentucky’s Democrat governor, Andy Beshear, allowed a bill to become law protecting babies who are born alive after a failed abortion attempt. Governor Beshear had previously vetoed a similar bill last year and was expected to do the same for this. He did not take action, however, and according to Kentucky law, any bill that is not vetoed within 10 days automatically becomes law. As the pro-life movement faces a defensive battle at the federal level, the state-level momentum is on the offense, says Tom McClusky, Vice President of Government Affairs for the March for Life. Because of the numerous pro-life judges appointed by the Trump Administration, “A lot of the states are more emboldened now, having seen the shift to maybe introduce more pieces of pro-life legislation that can go forward. That helps us on the federal level because the states are the laboratories for the federal government,” he stated. Keep in mind that even if Roe v. Wade is overturned, state laws allowing abortion will still exist. A New Mexico Senate committee is considering a bill right now that would allow abortions up until the moment of birth for any reason, and repeal conscience protections for doctors and nurses who refuse to perform abortions. If you live in New Mexico, you can find out how to contact your senators and urge them to vote against this bill. For pro-lifers in any state, consider signing up to receive alerts from your local pro-life organizations regarding legislation you can contact your elected officials about.
Consider using our tool to know your state representative and senator’s names so you can pray for them and encourage them to stand for life. Pray that those in the pro-life movement will not get discouraged, but will continue to stay in the fight, remembering that God does not require success from us, only faithfulness. Praise Him for past victories and petition Him for future victories that will save babies’ lives.
With the change in administration and upcoming changes to abortion policies, it may be easy to find yourself discouraged. We encourage you to watch this powerful perspective from Melissa Ohden, an abortion survivor, and the founder of Abortion Survivors Network.
California’s 2020 Unemployment Fraud Claims May Top $31 BILLION
“California Labor and Workforce Development Agency Secretary Julie Su announced Monday that, in 2020, fraudsters stole at least $11.4 billion in unemployment benefits from California. Su also noted that another $20 billion may have also been stolen by identity thieves and foreign criminals, possibly making as much as 27% of all EDD unemployment benefits being sent to fraudsters last year. The current confirmed number, $11.4 billion, or around 10% of all unemployment funds given out, dwarfs the previous released amount, which was at $2 billion in early January. While there were some concerns that it could go as high as $8 billion, no estimate had even come close to $11.4 billion until Su’s announcement Monday. ‘There is no sugarcoating the reality,’ explained Secretary Su said. ‘California did not have sufficient security measures in place to prevent this level of fraud, and criminals took advantage of the situation.’” Read more at California Globe
The extent of the fraud could be even more damaging, encompassing perhaps more than a quarter of the $114 billion paid out since government ordered business shutdowns began in March, sparking an avalanche of job losses. The state has already acknowledged that it has paid about $400 million in fraudulent benefits to prison inmates, and last month, federal prosecutors charged a former state labor agency worker, a prison inmate, and a parolee in a scheme to defraud California’s scandal-scarred unemployment insurance system. The EDD (Employment Development Department) currently has a mammoth backlog of unpaid claims that the state agency is reporting on its official dashboards. As of Jan. 20, the total backlog of unpaid unemployment claims was 941,020, a sharp increase of 130,270 from the week before. The level of fraud under the leadership of CA Labor Secretary Julie Su is stunning, yet President Joe Biden plans to nominate her for the No. 2 position at the U.S. Labor Department this week.
In a state hit hard by lockdowns, CA Gov. Gavin Newsom lifted stay-at-home orders across the state Monday in response to improving coronavirus conditions, a surprising move hailed by beleaguered businesses. The state is also lifting its 10pm to 5am curfew. Critics said Newsom was relaxing the rules in response to political pressure and the threat of a recall. Organizers have until mid-March to gather 1.5 million signatures to force a recall vote against Newsom, who is halfway through his first term. According to its website, Recall Gavin 2020, they have already collected over 1.2 million signatures. California's first-ever gubernatorial recall election was held on October 7, 2003, making Gray Davis the first governor recalled in the history of California, and just the second in U.S. history (the first was North Dakota's 1921 recall of Lynn Frazier). The CA recall led to the election of Arnold Schwarzenegger. California is one of 19 states that allow recall elections for state officials. One state that will be getting a new Governor in 2022 is Arkansas. Current Republican governor, Asa Hutchinson, cannot run again due to term limits which leaves the door open for Sarah Huckabee Sanders as a contender. Announcing her campaign in a video message on Monday, Sanders stated, “With the radical left now in control of Washington, your governor is your last line of defense. In fact, your governor must be on the front line. So today I announce my candidacy for governor of Arkansas.”
Ill-gotten gains will eventually lead to ruin. God blesses those that labor and produce real value and not to the scammers, the users, and slothful. Many verses in Proverbs warn us about ill-gotten gains. Pray to heed the words of scripture in your own life. Use the words of Luke 16 as motivation, which says, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
Need some hope, a clear perspective on our nation and encouragement for living as a faithful Christian in these crazy times? Our friend Kirk Cameron started “American Campfire Revival” where he’s sharing hope and truth every night from his backyard in California on his Facebook page for the next 100 days. It’s fantastic. Check out his first post.
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.