WEEKLY NEWS SUMMARY - JUNE 9, 2021
In this week's Intersect, read about:
Vote on New Israeli Government to be Held on Sunday
“On Sunday, Israel’s parliament will vote on the formation of a government that would end Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12-year rule as prime minister. Netanyahu’s political opponents wanted the vote to happen this week but setting it at a later date gives the embattled prime minister more time to try to stop the government from forming. The so-called ‘change coalition’ consists of politicians from the right, left, and center who have many ideological differences but are united in their desire to oust Netanyahu from office. Netanyahu’s goal is to peel any right-wing defectors away from the coalition, forcing his opponents to lose their razor-thin parliamentary majority and destroying the coalition.” read more at CBN News
For Christians, our support for Israel is rooted in the teachings of the Bible, from God’s promise to bless all the families of the earth through Abraham (Genesis 12:3), to the final fulfillment of that promise when King Jesus will rule the earth from the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21, 22). As the Reverend Johnnie Moore, former commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, stated, “Even though most Evangelical leaders have enjoyed a tremendous friendship with Netanyahu which will continue, their friendship with Israel transcends the machinations of Israel’s politics and its political parties.” After the most recent elections, Netanyahu was unable to form a coalition of parties which would comprise at least sixty-one Knesset (Israeli parliament) seats and give him another term as prime minister. This opened the door for Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid, the leaders of two other influential parties, the opportunity to form a coalition with six other parties. How would this new government affect Israel? First, it’s important to understand that the terms “left” and “right” used to describe Israeli political parties are not completely comparable to “left” and “right” ideologies in America. As Nicole Jansezian explains in All Israel News, in broad terms, right-wing parties generally take a hardline stance on national security and will not give up land to the Palestinians, while left-wing parties are open to giving up land and promoting a two-state creation. These are consistent with American “right” and “left” positions. However, some right-wing parties in Israel hold positions that are more characteristic of the left here in America, and vice versa. In the proposed new government, centrist parties would hold twenty-five seats in the sixty-one-seat majority, right-wing parties would hold nineteen, and the left would hold thirteen. In a historic turn, the Islamist Ra’am party would hold four seats, making it the first Arab Israeli party to join a governing coalition. For the first two years, Bennett, who is aligned with a right party, would serve as Israel’s first Orthodox Jewish prime minister. Then, Lapid, a center-left leader, would serve as prime minister for the next two years. Our friend Dr. Jim Denison noted that Israel’s main purpose since 1948 has been clear: to provide a homeland for the Jewish people, and, by extension, to keep the nation secure from numerous attacks. How effectively this governing coalition will perform this task (if they indeed take office) remains to be seen.
Dr. Denison gives several prayer points for Israel: 1. Pray for the protection of Israel and for violence in the region to cease. 2. Pray for Israel’s prospective new leaders as they represent Jews, Arabs, and all Israeli citizens. 3. Pray for ways to build relationships and share the gospel with Jewish people you know.
We had the privilege of talking with US-Israeli citizen, best-selling author, Middle East expert, and devoted Christ-follower, Joel C. Rosenberg. As a former aide to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, don’t miss this robust hour-long conversation with insights on Israel and how we can be praying. Watch here.
Sen. Joe Manchin to Vote Against Key Voting Rights Bill
“Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin on Sunday said he would oppose his party’s sprawling voting rights bill — because he believes it would divide the country. In an op-ed in his home state’s Gazette-Mail, the moderate Manchin announced his rejection of the Democrat-pushed For the People Act — known as S1 — which is stalled in the Senate after the House green-lit it in March along party lines. “Today’s debate about how to best protect our right to vote and to hold elections … is not about finding common ground, but seeking partisan advantage,” the West Virginia senator wrote. “Whether it is state laws that seek to needlessly restrict voting or politicians who ignore the need to secure our elections, partisan policymaking won’t instill confidence in our democracy — it will destroy it.”” read more at the New York Post
My Faith Votes believes we can provide a reasonable opportunity for every eligible voter to vote while simultaneously guarding our elections from fraud. For this reason, we are grateful for Senator Manchin’s opposition to eliminating the filibuster and passing S1, which would strip many voter protections and give centralized authority over elections to the federal government. Manchin’s belief that the “For the People Act” would create further division appears well-grounded, as a Fox News poll shows 77% of Americans support voter ID requirements in order to prove U.S. citizenship. In addition, 90% believe only U.S. citizens should be allowed to vote. Several prominent politicians disagree, however. Andrew Yang, former presidential candidate who is running for mayor of New York City, held a recent press conference where he advocated for individual cities to allow some noncitizens to vote in local elections. This was also proposed in Vermont, where a bill allowing two municipalities to allow noncitizen voting was vetoed by Governor Phill Scott. Scott, however, was open to the idea, stating, “This is an important policy discussion that deserves further consideration and debate...I ask the Legislature to revisit the issue of non-citizen voting in a more comprehensive manner and develop a statewide policy...for those municipalities wishing to grant the right of voting in local elections to all legal residents.” A legal resident is not necessarily a citizen; the term simply means someone who lives in the country legally. In evaluating and discussing the topic of voting, some helpful questions to ask may be: Does showing Biblical love to foreigners in our land require us to allow them to vote? Does a citizen have a greater vested interest in the welfare of the country than someone who is not a citizen? Would allowing noncitizens to vote in municipal elections open the door to allowing noncitizen voting in all elections? While the push for additional voters continues, there appears to be a shortage of candidates. Last month, Ballot Ready produced a startling report: across the country this past November, 70% of all races on the ballots were unopposed or uncontested, leaving voters with no choice but to vote for the incumbent. For example, many detrimental school board policies have made the news recently, yet 62% of school board seats were uncontested. What might this say about our priorities and the way we view running for office, particularly local office? And if principled candidates do not fill empty seats or challenge bad incumbents, who will?
Pray that those involved in the electoral process would not be drawn into evil or take part in evil deeds. Pray that integrity and uprightness would guide those overseeing the elections, that they would follow election laws, and that any officials who are unfaithful would be exposed for their duplicity. Scripture says, “The integrity of the upright will guide them, But the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them” (Proverbs 11:3).
Join us for a LIVE conversation, tomorrow, Thursday, June 10 at 11 AM ET / 10 AM CT / 9 AM MT / 8 AM PT, with two of the best experts in the country on election integrity. There is nothing more fundamental to preserving our Constitutional Republic than to advocate for both secure elections and high voter turnout. We will talk with Hans von Spakovsky, Senior Fellow and Manager of the Election Law Reform Initiative at the Heritage Foundation, and Ken Blackwell, Senior Fellow for Human Rights and Constitutional Governance at the Family Research Council.
Supreme Court Rules Against Immigrants with Temporary Protected Status
“The Supreme Court on Monday ruled unanimously against an illegal, but temporarily protected, immigrant seeking permanent residency in the country. Justice Elena Kagan wrote that the court agreed with a circuit court decision that illegal immigrants with temporary protected status are not eligible for green cards, which allow them to remain in the country indefinitely. The decision means that immigrants with TPS may remain in the country but cannot establish residency. TPS is a designation the federal government extends to countries wracked by war or natural disaster. There are currently about 400,000 people in the United States from 12 countries with TPS status. The case at hand came from two El Salvadoran immigrants, Jose Sanchez and Sonia Gonzalez, who entered the country illegally in the 1990s. They have been living under TPS for more than 20 years following a 2001 earthquake in El Salvador and attempted to use that status as leverage in a residency fight. Kagan wrote that TPS does not change the fact the two entered the country unlawfully.” read more at the Washington Examiner
With six 9-0 rulings in two weeks, this is an extraordinary litany of unanimous decisions and could in part reflect an implied message from the justices that this is a court that is not nearly as rigid and divided as some believe. One thing that does appear divided is the current administration's handling of immigration policy. The Biden administration has taken a tepid rhetorical stance on border enforcement and has rolled back Trump-era policies, prompting a massive influx of unauthorized migrants, including unaccompanied minors, to seek entry at the southern border. President Biden recently announced the U.S. plans to expand the refugee admissions ceiling to 62,500 for this fiscal year. Yet Vice President Harris on her first foreign trip, during a joint press conference with Guatemala President Alejandro Giammattei this week, had a message for Central Americans considering illegally migrating to the United States: “Do not come.” “We will discourage illegal migration,” she commented. “The United States will continue to enforce our laws and secure our border.” A number of Border Patrol agents are reportedly deliberating retiring early due to frustration with the administration’s relaxed border policies. In April, U.S. Customs and Border Protection encountered an average of under 6,000 people daily at the border. But voters are paying attention. The city of McAllen, Texas—a border town that went for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump by 40 points in 2016—just elected a Republican mayor in a tight runoff race. Javier Villalobos' win is part of a growing trend of incremental conservative success in south Texas, a usual Democratic stronghold and majority-Hispanic area. McAllen is home to roughly 150,000 residents, of whom 85 percent are Latino. Few issues in our society are as sharply polarizing as immigration. Many Americans have strong, emotional reactions at even the mention of the topic. Many Christians, who would rather avoid sparking a divisive argument, avoid discussing immigration altogether. But the topic of immigration is much more than a political issue: it is a biblical issue with significant missional ramifications for the Church. If Christ-followers do not engage in respectful, informed dialogue on this topic – especially with those with whom we disagree – the discourse will simply mirror the divided state of our society, devoid of biblical wisdom.
Lord, we pray for elected officials, that You would grant them wisdom to know the right approach to reform U.S. immigration laws, the humility to work together across partisan lines to forge a consensus that could be passed into law, and the courage to support positive legislation, whether or not they are convinced it would be politically expedient. We pray for immigrants whose lives are directly affected by these decisions made in Washington, D.C. Lord, would You remind each of them that, as important as these policy decisions are, their worth is defined not by a vote or decree by any politician but by the biblical truth that they have been made in Your image and are loved by You.
One organization speaking into the issue of immigration from a biblical perspective is the Evangelical Immigration Table. They have a number of helpful resources for individuals and churches to access here.
Facebook Bans Trump for at Least 2 Years
“Facebook's Oversight Board has announced that former President Donald Trump has been banned from its platform for at least two years. In a blog post on Friday, Nick Clegg, Facebook's vice president of global affairs, stated that the company will reassess its ban against Trump in two years. ‘At the end of this period, we will look to experts to assess whether the risk to public safety has receded,’ Chegg wrote. ‘We will evaluate external factors, including instances of violence, restrictions on peaceful assembly, and other markers of civil unrest.’ On the same day, following the announcement of the suspension, Trump released a statement accusing Facebook of censoring his voice. ‘Facebook's ruling is an insult to the record-setting 75M people, plus many others, who voted for us in the 2020 rigged Presidential Election,’ he argued. ‘They shouldn't be allowed to get away with this censoring and silencing, and ultimately, we will win. Our country can't take this abuse anymore!’ The social media giant had previously suspended Trump's account after alleging that he called for the breach of the U.S Capitol on January 6 ahead of the certification of the 2020 election.” read more at Christian Headlines
Ironically, the last post ever made by President Trump on Facebook clearly rejected the violence that was taking place at the Capitol: “I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!” Trump posted at 3:14 pm on January 6, 2021. The extended Facebook ban will prevent Trump from having as much influence in the 2022 midterm elections. Conservative Christian commentator and bestselling author Eric Metaxas is also facing censorship. His radio show was terminated from YouTube after receiving multiple strikes for violating the video platform’s guidelines due to videos on vaccine passports and the 2020 election. “In regards to YouTube terminating my radio show channel, it’s been clear to us for some time that they wanted to wipe us out,” Metaxas said in a Facebook post. A YouTube spokesperson told The Christian Post the show's channel was terminated under the “longstanding three strikes system.” “Specifically, we removed content that violated our policies on COVID-19 medical misinformation and presidential election integrity.” In a bit of irony, social media giant Twitter has been banned in the country of Nigeria after the company deleted a tweet by the country’s president. As of 2019, the governments of China, Iran, North Korea, and Turkmenistan have blocked access to Twitter in those countries. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal reports that religious groups and figures have been silenced by tech companies at the rate of about one a week. The writer states: “It seems likely that religious groups and individuals will face mounting threats from tech companies. Their views on marriage, sexuality, life, and other moral issues are unpopular among the Silicon Valley set.” However, he concludes: “Religious groups should refuse to silence themselves, change their views, or otherwise back down. Censorship is a symptom of a national collapse in civic culture. Curing the deeper disease will take all the courage and conviction we can muster.” Jesus was opposed and in the face of such vociferous opposition, he could have retreated. Instead, he spoke directly to the questions at hand, refusing to keep the salt of God’s word in the saltshaker or his light under a basket (Matthew 5:13–16). Like him, we are called to respond to those who reject our Lord, knowing that the greater their opposition to the truth, the more they need the truth.
Almighty God, strengthen and direct, we pray, the will of all of us who utilize social media. May we be bold to confront evil and injustice: understanding and compassion for human weakness; rejecting alike the half-truth which deceives, and the slanted word which corrupts. May the power of our social media accounts be used with honesty and courage, with respect and integrity, so that when all here has been written, said, and done, we may, unashamed, meet Thee face to face. Amen.
More than 2.85 billion people actively use Facebook each month. Worldwide, the average person spends close to 7 hours per day on the internet, with 50% of that time being spent on social media and communication apps. With COVID, social media usage has increased exponentially. But is this a good thing? Ask yourself this simple question today: how much time am I spending online compared to how much time I am spending in God’s Word?
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.