WEEKLY NEWS SUMMARY - July 17, 2019
In this week's Intersect, read about:
VA Hospitals Can Distribute, Display Bibles Under Revised Policy
In the wake of a Supreme Court decision permitting a cross to remain on a public highway, the Department of Veterans Affairs has revised its policies on religious symbols in displays at VA facilities. VA Secretary Robert Wilkie announced last Wednesday that the new policies will reduce inconsistencies among VA facilities. “We want to make sure that all of our Veterans and their families feel welcome at VA, no matter their religious beliefs. Protecting religious liberty is a key part of how we accomplish that goal,” he said in a statement. “These important changes will bring simplicity and clarity to our policies governing religious and spiritual symbols, helping ensure we are consistently complying with the First Amendment to the US Constitution at thousands of facilities across the department.” read more
The VA’s decision is a direct result of the recent Supreme Court Case American Legion v. American Humanist Association. The Court ruled 7- 2 in favor of permitting the Bladensburg World War I Memorial Cross to remain standing in Maryland. This was a significant legal victory for religious freedom, but the battle continues across our nation. In Massachusetts, a lawsuit was recently filed against the city of Boston for allegedly banning the Christian flag from flying on Constitution Day at the request of a Christian Summer Camp. The city has previously flown the Turkish flag, which contains the Islamic star and crescent, 13 times over Boston. It has also flown transgender and LGBT flags. The double standard is obvious. Christians must continue to stand boldly for our faith in the public square (Romans 1:16-17). In the United States we fight legal battles to display our Christian symbols, but in Northern Burkina Faso Christians are executed for wearing crosses. Read the moving story of four believers who were killed but gained everlasting life (Philippians 1:21).
Pray for religious freedom to be preserved and protected in the United States, and remember to pray for the Christians around the world who endure extreme persecution for their Christian faith. Pray for God’s blessing on this week’s State Department Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, taking place in Washington, D.C.. Especially pray for Secretary Pompeo and Ambassador Brownback, as they lead over 1,000 civil society and religious community representatives, representing every corner of the world, to advance religious freedom.
There are many opportunities to serve and help our veterans. Soldiers' Angels is one such organization providing a variety of ways to help our military. Learn more about their work here and see if there is an opportunity to bless a veteran near you.
Abby Johnson: I went to Border to Help People. Members of Congress Were Shocked When I Asked Them to Help, Too
“Like most people who follow the news, I’ve seen the difficult stories of families crossing the southern border into the U.S. and how they are treated, no matter if they crossed legally seeking asylum or illegally. My heart breaks seeing little children with no shoes and threadbare clothes clinging to their parents. What could I do to help? Turns out, quite a lot. Here’s what I experienced on Saturday in Texas at a humanitarian respite center run by Catholic Charities. But first, a little background…I’m an outspoken pro-life woman. A movie, ‘Unplanned,’ was made about my conversion from Planned Parenthood clinic director to pro-life advocate. While being pro-life is certainly about helping women in crisis pregnancies and caring for their needs, it’s also about helping the most vulnerable, no matter where they are. The Bottles2TheBorder campaign was born from pro-life women who wanted to do more to help others. And we weren’t alone. We created a registry of items needed at the respite center run by Catholic Charities in McAllen, Texas. A man from a local church in Houston heard about our efforts and donated an 18-wheeler to haul the items to McAllen. Over $120,000 worth of items were donated, which was used to purchase water, pull-ups, powdered milk, and a host of other supplies to bring with us. When we got to the respite center on Saturday there was a press conference with several Democratic members of Congress at the same location.” read more
Abby Johnson goes on to share in her op-ed that she approached the members of Congress and asked if they could lend a hand in unloading the semi-truck. She explains, "They looked stunned that someone had the gall to ask them to actually do something, as in not just for the cameras. They told me they couldn’t help because they only had 10 more minutes, which they used to move to the other side of the room and continue their press conference -- for another 30 minutes. They told me they ‘would help,’ but they had another press opportunity to get to.” Our border crisis is indeed a crisis. We’ve heard a lot of stories from the border over the past few weeks, but perhaps the most disheartening, is hearing these Democratic lawmakers turn down Johnson's invitation to help while they continued with their photo ops for personal gain and media attention. Abby Johnson’s example this past weekend should be a reminder to all of us to put our pro-life principles into practice (Proverbs 3:27-28 and Proverbs 31:8-9). Each one of us can do something to roll up our sleeves and make a difference for all lives.
Pray for the children and families at the border. Pray for our leaders to uphold the law while also exercising care and compassion towards those seeking to get in to our country. More importantly, pray for Christians to step up and see the opportunity to meet the physical needs in order to be able to share the love of Christ so that the ultimate citizenship sought is in heaven.
Franklin Graham and Samaritan’s Purse is also taking action to help those on the border. If you want to get involved, you can learn more about their work, volunteer or make a donation to assist their efforts. They have teams on the border working with churches and evangelical Christian partners to offer assistance to suffering migrants.
California Becomes First State to Provide Health Care Coverage to Some Undocumented Young Adults
Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation making California the first state to provide health care coverage to young undocumented adults, a $98 million measure targeting almost 100,000 people. The immigrants, ages 19 to 25, are eligible for Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program. The law signed Tuesday was a win for Newsom, who rejected as too expensive, a state Senate plan to include adults 65 and older living in the state illegally. President Donald Trump has called the plan "crazy." Newsom shrugs off the criticism, calling California "the most un-Trump" state in the nation. Newsom signed the measure the same day the state forecast an average premium increase of less than 1 percent for 2020 in the state’s individual insurance marketplace, the lowest such rate change in the state program's history. The coverage expansion and the low average premium increase are mostly being funded through restoration of the individual mandate that requires California residents to purchase health insurance for themselves and their dependents. Californians who fail to buy insurance would face a state tax penalty. The plan is similar to a part of President Barack Obama’s health care law that Republicans in Congress eliminated as part of the 2017 overhaul to the tax code. read more
While elected government officials continue to try to reform the healthcare system and increase government programs and regulations, the churches have stepped up in a big way to meet the problem. Churches all over the country are helping their congregations eliminate medical debt. They are partnering with the company RIP Medical Debt, which identifies people earning less than two times the poverty levels and helps them eliminate their medical debt. To date, Stetson Baptist Church in Florida has helped members eliminate medical debt as well as The Vineyard Church in Michigan, Life Church of the Nazarene in Oregon, Pathway Church in Kansas, and City Church in Indiana. If the body of Christ can meet the needs of families in our communities, then the need for government programs lessens (Galatians 6:2).
Pray today for the healthcare challenges we face in our nation. Pray for life to be protected and solutions developed that preserve freedom while also lifting people's burdens.
All of us like hearing that something is “free,” and giving it to the less fortunate is well-intended. However, there are consequences to government-run or single-payer healthcare systems. As Christians, we need to understand the severe drawbacks so that we can articulate how to best care for the less fortunate in our communities and vote for candidates who understand the government’s proper role in healthcare. Read this informative article, Why Single-Payer Would Make Health Care Worse for Americans.
American Psychological Association Launches Task Force Encouraging Non-Monogamous Relationships
The American Psychological Association has launched a task force that will encourage “awareness and inclusivity” for any kind of sexual impulse, according to CBN News. The APA has said the task force is dedicated to “Consensual Non-Monogamy” and is advocating for “people who practice polyamory, open relationships, swinging, relationship anarchy and other types of ethical, non-monogamous relationships.” “Finding love and/or sexual intimacy is a central part of most people’s life experience,” the APA said on its site. “However, the ability to engage in desired intimacy without social and medical stigmatization is not a liberty for all. This task force seeks to address the needs of people who practice consensual non-monogamy, including their intersecting marginalized identities.” However, Andre Van Mol, a California doctor and co-chairman of the committee on adolescent sexuality for the American College of Pediatricians, told the Christian Post that there is a “cult of affirmation” of people hoping to understand what he called “marginal sexual behavior.” In 1973, the APA removed homosexuality from its definition of mental disorders. In 2009, it officially rejected conversion therapy for those with same-sex attractions. read more
This story is another reminder to us that our culture is sinful, fallen and continually rejects God’s design for marriage (Ephesians 5:21-33). While secular marriages and relationships may leave people feeling unfulfilled, research indicates if God is brought into marriage, the relationship flourishes. In the book The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages, S. Feldhahn found 53 percent of “very happy couples” agree with the statement, “God is at the center of our marriage.” Concerning struggling couples, that number was seven percent. Seventy-eight percent of couples who regularly go to church together report that they are “very happy” or “extremely happy.” Men and women who report praying together frequently (once a week or more) are more likely to say they are “very happy together.” In the book The Meaning of Marriage, Tim and Kathy Keller observed: “The deep happiness that marriage can bring lies on the far side of sacrificial service…you only discover your own happiness after each of you has put the happiness of your spouse ahead of your own, in a sustained way, in response to what Jesus has done for you.”
Pray for the truth of God’s Word to be revealed in our culture when it comes to marriage and relationships. Pray for the individuals who have bought into the lie that monogamous relationships are boring or outdated and the lie that there is something better than what God intended.
Americans spend an average of 17 minutes a day reading for leisure or recreation. What would happen if you spent that time reading books and articles that strengthen your marriage or your relationship with the Lord? Check out Watermark Church’s list of helpful marriage resources. Better yet, if you really want to learn more about marriage and how to strengthen your relationship, invite a respected couple over for dinner. Interview someone with a great marriage and learn from their example.
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.