WEEKLY NEWS SUMMARY - June 26, 2019
In this week's Intersect, read about:
Supreme Court Rules that Bladensburg Cross Will Remain Standing
A large cross in Bladensburg, Maryland has been a source of controversy for years as we awaited the Supreme Court's decision on whether the symbol can continue to stand. A local post of The American Legion erected the Bladensburg Peace Cross in 1925. To most, the statue was dedicated to the memory of 49 local heroes who gave their lives serving in the U.S. Armed Forces in WWI. To the Humanist Association, it was an unconstitutional eyesore. They sued in 2014 arguing the cross violated the Establishment Clause and demanded its removal. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit agreed with the plaintiffs and declared the cross unconstitutional. First Liberty Institute, representing the American Legion, asked the Supreme Court to overturn that decision. And on Thursday, they did. It was a 7-2 decision, with Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissenting. Justice Samuel Alito offered the majority opinion. read more
The cross may be offensive to some, but it’s not illegal. Consider the words of Justice Alito, especially in light of the current statue controversy brewing across the US: “For some, that monument is a symbolic resting place for ancestors who never returned home. For others, it is a place for the community to gather and honor all veterans and their sacrifices for our Nation... For many of these people, destroying or defacing the Cross that has stood undisturbed for nearly a century would not be neutral and would not further the ideals of respect and tolerance embodied in the First Amendment.” While this is a victory for religious freedom, many believe the ruling was narrow. According to First Things, “The Bladensburg Cross and similar longstanding ‘monuments, symbols, and practices’ will survive. But whether state and local governments can sponsor new monuments, symbols, and practices with religious elements, and what test the Court will use to evaluate them, remain uncertain.” Justice Gorsuch and Justice Thomas did not join Alito’s majority opinion, but instead wrote their own arguing that the Court’s reasoning should also apply to new religious monuments and practices. As Paul iterated, the cross functions as a stumbling block to the Jew and foolishness to the Greek. Just like it was then, the cross causes some to pause and others to praise. It can still stand, but we must still speak. (1 Corinthians 1:18-25, Romans 10:9-15).
Pray this religious freedom victory would extend beyond just this decision. Pray Americans and courts across the nation would take notice and remember that our country still upholds the First Amendment.
As Christians, we need to know how to respond to the “Separation of Church and State” argument. We need to understand what the founding fathers believed, what the Constitution says, and how we can respond with truth and love to our fellow Americans. Read three simple points that will help you respond to the phrase “Separation of Church and State.”
Global Christian Persecution is Worsening While American Churches Slumber
On May 18, extremists in Nigeria interrupted a church choir practice and abducted 17 Christians. They are being ransomed and might never see their families again. Some of the Christian women may be sold into slavery or raped and forced to marry the jihadist. It’s the latest attack in the escalating violent war on Christians within Nigeria, where 3,731 Christians were killed last year. If such violence had occurred in Nashville rather than Nigeria, it would dominate nightly news broadcasts and saturate social media feeds. American churches would be launching fundraising campaigns for victims’ families and addressing it in their weekly gatherings. In this case, however, the American church has barely acknowledged it. Unfortunately, when violence occurs somewhere “over there” instead of in our backyard, it is often dismissed as just another story. American churches must do better. read more
David Curry, President of Open Doors USA, says “one of every nine Christians worldwide experience high levels of persecution and suffer for their faith, and it’s picking up pace. It’s not just in Nigeria.” In India, violence is up 400% since 2014 as extremist Hindu call for all Christians to be expelled. In Sri Lanka, the Islamic State’s violence and hatred against Christians is only increasing since more than 320 Christians were killed in church bombings on Easter Sunday. And in China, the government is using facial recognition, social scoring and imprisonment to bring the underground Christian Church under the communist government’s control. Every month 345 Christians are killed for faith-related reasons, according to Open Doors. And, on average, 105 Churches and Christian buildings are burned or attacked. This persecution should further confirm for us the integrity of the Scriptures. For the Christian, trouble awaits us, persecution will come for us, and the fiery ordeal looms just ahead of us, but as John 16:33 reminds us we should take heard because Christ has overcome the world. (2 Timothy 3:12, 1 Peter 4:12). As Mr. Curry reminds us, we are called to remember those who are experiencing persecution as if we were suffering, (Hebrews 13:3) and for far too long, the American church has been asleep. Curry says, “the leadership of the American church, with its super pastors and megachurches, is whistling through the graveyard. The beast that we have created, which relies on upbeat music and positivity to attract donors to sustain large budgets, leaves little room for pastors to talk about the suffering of global Christians.” He continues, “The American church is feeding itself to death while the worldwide church is being murdered.”
The persecuted Christian Church needs our prayers. Pray for their safety and for the Gospel to spread because of their boldness and faithfulness to Jesus Christ. You can sign-up on Open Doors to receive the latest prayer requests from persecuted Christians around the world.
Pray and consider how God might be calling you to take action to stand with the persecuted church. You can commit to volunteer, advocate as a voice for the persecuted, or donate to help those around the world. Check out all the ways that you can get involved.
Female Student Athletes File Federal Complaint After Transgender Runner Dominates Girls’ Track Meets
Three female high school athletes filed a federal discrimination complaint against Connecticut’s policy regarding transgender athletes. The girls claim they were racing at a disadvantage against their transgender opponent, a male who identifies as a female, impacting the final results of the race. In the complaint, the female track athletes claim that the policy cost them top finishes in their races, as well as potential college scholarships because of their placement. The complaint, filed with the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, was submitted by Alliance Defending Freedom on behalf of the student athletes. They are requesting an investigation be launched to look further into the fairness of the rule. Christina Holcomb, legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, argued that federal Title IX rules were supposed to keep the playing field equal for female athletes, not obstruct it. read more
Emilie Kao, director of the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation wrote, “By ignoring the reality of sex differences, gender identity policies threaten progress and create unfairness and danger for female athletes.” Scripture is clear on this issue in Genesis 1:27, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Yet, in our sinful culture, we are walking further and further away from God’s truth and trying to change the person God created and formed in the womb. The Williams Institute estimates that there are 1.4 million transgender Americans and 37 percent of Americans know a transgender person. As transgenderism continues to become more popular, Christians will have increased opportunities to show Christ’s love and share biblical truth to those living as a transgender. We must be bold to stand apart from the culture and firmly on the Word of God. 1 Corinthians 15:58 says, "Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord." On the national level, the Equality Act has passed the House of Representatives, and it poses as the most significant national threat to our religious freedom in the name of “gender equality”. Read My Faith Votes article on what you must know about this dangerous piece of legislation.
Pray for Selina Soule, the track competitor in Connecticut, who is courageously fighting her case so that other women don’t experience the same gender discrimination. Pray that God would bless her for publicly standing for what is right.
Christians must be prepared to participate in the transgender discussion in our nation and culture. Take a few minutes today to read Selina Soule’s story to be ready to talk about this issue winsomely.
Israeli Soldiers Unearth Watchtower from King Hezekiah’s Reign
Israeli paratroopers and archaeologists announced that they unearthed the remains of a 2,700-year-old watchtower at an undisclosed location in southern Israel. Archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority say they cannot reveal the exact location for security purposes but did say that it sits on an elevated location. The tower was likely used as a watchtower for the protection of Israel. A watchman stationed in the tower would be able to see approaching enemies. The towers were also useful for communication between the national border and Jerusalem. The watchmen used smoke to communicate during the day and fire at night. Sa’ar Ganor, co-director of the Israeli Antiquities Authority, explained the significance of the tower and its discovery. About the usefulness of the tower, he said, “King Hezekiah was sitting in Jerusalem. How could he control his boundary? By placing watchtowers with beacons in the hills, that would monitor the area and report back.” He also explained how the towers were used, saying, “In the days of the First Temple, the Kingdom of Judah built a range of towers and fortresses as points of communication, warning and signaling, to transmit messages and field intelligence. This tower is likely one of these observation towers.” Archaeologists believe the tower was used until the Assyrians took over most of Judah in the late 700’s B.C. read more
Archaeological discoveries continue to prove and align with the Word of God. 2 Chronicles 31:20 tells us about King Hezekiah, “Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah, and he did what was good and right and faithful before the Lord his God.” He was King over Judah and during his reign, both Isaiah and Micah prophesied in Judah. You can read more about Hezekiah in 2 Kings 16:20-20:21, 2 Chronicles 28:27-32:33, and Isaiah 36:1-39:8. A New TV series is underway that is bringing the story of Jesus to life in a fresh and powerful way. Filmmaker Dallas Jenkins has broken records and boundaries with his new multi-season TV series, “The Chosen”. The series is the biggest crowdfunding media project in world history, with more than 16,000 investors giving over $10 million. It's currently being filmed in Texas. You can watch the first four episodes of the show here.
Pray for this archaeological discovery to point people towards the Word of God and bring people to know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.
Take some time this week to learn about the countless number of archaeological discoveries that prove the Bible. This will strengthen your faith and be a great resource as you share the Gospel with others. Listen to Dr. James Dobson’s interview with Lisette Bassett-Brody, author of Etched in Stone: Archaeological Discoveries that Prove the Bible.
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.