WEEKLY NEWS SUMMARY – June 12, 2019
In this week's Intersect, read about:
Trump Admin Says NIH Will No Longer Conduct Research Using Aborted Baby Body Parts
The Trump administration announced that government scientists will no longer conduct research using aborted baby body parts. And taxpayer dollars will no longer be used to fund that research at one specific university. The Department of Health and Services (HHS) will not renew its contract with the University of California, San Francisco following an investigation into UCSF's research practices. The investigation was part of a broader audit to see if American taxpayer money is helping pay for research involving the body parts of aborted children. Government-funded research is being allowed to continue under certain circumstances. The decision solely affects research on labs sponsored by the National Institute of Health. So if UCSF wants to continue experiments using aborted fetal tissue it must turn to private funding. A Trump administration official also told Fox News that universities are free to explore using sources of fetal tissue other than aborted babies. "It fits inside the wider context of the president's pro-life agenda since he was sworn into office, so you've seen a consistent pattern of pro-life-focused decisions and policy decisions from the president over the last two and a half years," an official told the network. read more
For context purposes, the NIH has an annual budget of $37 billion. Of that, $100 million went to research projects involving fetal tissue. UC San Francisco Chancellor Sam Hawgood said in response to the budget cuts, “We believe this decision to be politically motivated, shortsighted and not based on sound science.” Those same points were leveled at President Bush when he issued a moratorium on the spending of federal funds for embryonic stem cell research. This move back in 2001 shifted attention and catalyzed innovation. In 2006, an alternative to embryonic stem cells was developed. Writing in the Washington Post, Dr. Charles Krauthammer, a disabled doctor and critic of Bush’s policy, proclaimed: “The verdict is clear: rarely has a president—so vilified for a moral stance—been so thoroughly vindicated.” A cursory look at the biblical narrative reveals that the right thing is rarely easy or quick. Instead of using Ishmael, Abraham had to wait on Isaac. Instead of going straight to the Promised Land, the Israelites wandered in the wilderness. Instead of quickly attacking Jericho, they marched around it for a week. The desired reward was in front of them, but patience was required of them. The right decision may be unpopular, but the reward will be unimaginable (Joshua 6, Numbers 32, Genesis 17).
Thank God for this pro-life victory and for President Trump’s willingness to uphold his promise to the American people and the faith community to protect and defend the sanctity of life. Pray for all use of fetal tissue to be ended and for scientists to find a moral and ethical way to meet the challenging health illnesses.
Take a few minutes to read a Christian perspective on fetal tissue research and understand the difficult questions this topic raises.
Christian Florist Who Refused to Work Gay Wedding Loses Again in Washington Court
The Washington Supreme Court has again ruled against Christian grandma and florist, Barronelle Stutzman, who faces the risk of crippling fines for refusing to create floral arrangements for a same-sex wedding. The state’s highest court unanimously upheld its 2017 decision, leaving Stutzman on the hook to pay thousands in legal fees for violating the state’s non-discrimination law that protects on the basis of sexual orientation. The U.S. Supreme Court vacated the Washington court’s 2017 decision last June and sent the case back to the court for further consideration in light of the court’s 7-2 ruling in favor ruling in favor of Colorado Christian baker Jack Phillips. Phillips was accused of violating Colorado’s discrimination law for refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding. The Supreme Court asked the Washington high court to consider whether or not there was any animus against the florist’s religious beliefs when the lower courts ruled against Stutzman previously. The court found in Phillips’ case that the Colorado government did display religious hostility to the baker’s Christians beliefs on marriage and sexuality. The Washington Supreme Court stated in its opinion Thursday that neither the state supreme court or the lower state court in Benton County acted with religious animus. The court again asserted that Stutzman’s refusal in 2013 to provide flower arrangements for the wedding of Rob Ingersoll and Curt Freed to be a violation of state law. read more
Vice President of Alliance Defending Freedom, John Bursch, said in a statement, “Barronelle serves all customers; she simply declines to celebrate or participate in sacred events that violate her deeply held beliefs. Despite that, the state of Washington has been openly hostile toward Barronelle’s religious beliefs about marriage, and now the Washington Supreme Court has given the state a pass. We look forward to taking Barronelle’s case back to the U.S. Supreme Court.” Barronelle took a stand for her faith. She told CBN in an interview, “You have to make a stand somewhere in your life on what you believe and what you don't believe. It was just a time I had to take a stand." Meanwhile, Jack Phillips is facing a third lawsuit. Transgender woman, Autumn Scardina, filed a lawsuit against Phillips last Wednesday in District Court for the city of Denver, Colorado. In the new lawsuit, Scardina claimed that Phillips violated Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act and Consumer Protection Act by refusing to bake what the plaintiff labeled a “birthday cake.” The examples of Stutzman and Phillips should inspire each of us to stand firmly on biblical principles. Philippians 1:27 says, "Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel."
Pray for Barronelle Stutzman and Jack Phillips, as they continue to defend First Amendment rights to practice sincerely held religious beliefs. Pray for God to meet every one of their needs as they fights these cases not only for their own benefit but on behalf of every American who believes in religious freedom.
More Than 1 Million Protest in Hong Kong, Organizers say, Over Chinese Extradition Law
The mass of protesters would be the largest demonstration since the city was handed back to China in 1997. Civil Human Rights Front, the group that organized the protests, said 1.03 million people marched -- a figure that accounts for almost one in seven of the city's 7.48 million-strong population. Hong Kong Police estimated the number of protesters closer to 240,000. Critics say the bill will leave anyone on Hong Kong soil vulnerable to being grabbed by the Chinese authorities for political reasons or inadvertent business offenses and undermine the city's semi-autonomous legal system. The bill has caused political gridlock, outcry among the city's usually pro-conservative business community, and even physical scuffles in the city's legislature, as well as criticism of the Hong Kong government by the United States and European Union. The government says the bill is designed to plug loopholes in current law by allowing Hong Kong to decide on a case-by-case basis whether or not to send fugitives to territories where it doesn't have formal extradition deals -- such as Taiwan, Macau and mainland China. Lawmakers have said the guarantee of a fair trial will not be written into the bill. read more ￼
Does this bill close loopholes or open the door to an unwelcome neighbor? Some believe the former, arguing this bill keeps Hong Kong from turning into a haven for criminals. It creates a system for case-by-case fugitive transfers. However, others disagree with the bill, arguing that it further erodes Hong Kong’s autonomy. As one protestor put it: “If we lose this one, Hong Kong is not Hong Kong anymore, it’s just another Chinese city.” Since the end of British rule in 1997, Hong Kong has operated under the “one country, two systems” principle. Under the doctrine, China allows Hong Kong to largely govern itself. But critics point out that the proposed law would subject political opponents to China’s less than desirable judicial system. Human rights groups have repeatedly highlighted China’s alleged use of torture and arbitrary detentions. Foreign governments have also expressed hesitation, warning this could negatively impact Hong Kong’s reputation as an international financial hub. In the Scriptures, we read about God’s heart for justice. The Hebrew word for justice is mishpat, meaning to treat people equitably. This includes both punishing wrong and giving people their rights. The presence of injustice reveals the absence of God’s kingdom. As those who make His kingdom come, we support justice and seek to squelch injustice – both in Asia and the U.S. (Proverbs 21:15, Micah 6:8, Isaiah 61:8).
Pray today for the people in China as they stand up for their human rights of free speech and freedom of religion, and pray as they fight to ensure that their justice system protects those fundamental rights.
Christians in China are imprisoned for their Christian faith, and yet their obedience to the Gospel is unwavering. Read about Christians in China who memorize scripture so that even when Bibles are taken away from them, the Chinese Communist government will not be able to take what is hidden in their hearts. Their example should encourage all of us to read the word of God and hide it in our hearts. Consider memorizing a verse this week. We cannot take the freedom we have in America for granted.
Supreme Court Rejects Atheists' Attempt to Scrub 'In God We Trust' off US Currency
The Supreme Court rejected an atheist case Monday to remove “In God We Trust,” the national motto, from all coins and currency from the Department of Treasury. Michael Newdow, the same activist attorney who tried to remove “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance, lost his case, arguing Congress' mandate to inscribe "In God We Trust" on currency was a government endorsement of religion and a violation of the First Amendment. Newdow argued in his petition to the Supreme Court that because his clients are all atheist individuals or atheist groups, the government violated their "sincere religious belief" that there is no God and turned them into "political outsiders" by placing the phrase "In God We Trust" on their money. The justices rejected his petition without comment. read more
In related news, House Democrats have stopped using the phrase “So Help Me God” in House Committee Oaths. Representative Steve Cohen said, "I think God belongs in religious institutions: in temple, in church, in cathedral, in mosque — but not in Congress," said Cohen. "And God doesn’t want to be used." This statement is in direct conflict with the Word of God. Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). It is God who establishes government (Romans 13). Some Representatives are pushing back against this change in the House Committee. Representative Mike Johnson said, "The intention behind [‘so help me God’] was to express the idea that the truth of what was being said was important not just in the moment, but would go into eternity, and someone was watching and would ultimately be our judge," said Johnson. "Some would call that mere symbolism, but to many of our founders, it was deeper than that." There is a spiritual battle ensuing to remove God from our government and the public square and the best and first line of defense must be people of faith. Christians must be willing to authentically and fully live out their faith not only within the four walls of the church, but also in their communities and the culture.
Pray today for God to give you and those in your church boldness to bring your faith into every area of life - including government. Pray for Him to provide you with wisdom on how to apply His Word to the difficult issues our society is facing today. And pray for guidance on how to get involved to bring biblical principles to light in our nation.
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