WEEKLY NEWS SUMMARY - MARCH 2, 2022
In this week's Intersect, read about:
Biden Picks Ketanji Brown Jackson as Supreme Court Nominee
“President Biden has selected Ketanji Brown Jackson as his nominee to the Supreme Court, according to a Friday morning White House announcement. If confirmed, she will be the first Black woman to serve on the nation’s highest court. Biden nominated Jackson, 51, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia last summer. Jackson had served as a district judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia since 2013, previously working as a public defender, the vice chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission and a clerk under retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. Jackson attended Harvard for both undergrad and law school and if confirmed would be the first federal public defender to serve on the court. Jackson was confirmed to her current post by the Senate in a 53-44 vote, with Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina voting in her favor.” Read more from Yahoo News
The president pledged to nominate a Black woman to the Court. But with so much focus on gender and race, are we forgetting the proper role of a judge? Justices are intended to hold the laws created by Congress and the actions of the president accountable to the Constitution as it was written and intended to be interpreted. The justices are not intended to make laws, but rather to evaluate them by constitutional standards. As a result, applying a filter to a nominee—whatever that filter might be—brings a representative dimension to the Court that the Founding Fathers did not intend. Judge Brown Jackson is considered to have been the most progressive of the three finalists that President Biden was considering for this seat. As a public defender, Jackson represented a Guantanamo Bay detainee seeking habeas corpus review to challenge his classification as an “enemy combatant.” According to World, “Jackson has never presided over a major First Amendment case. As a lawyer at a Boston firm in 2001, she filed a ‘friend of the court’ brief supporting a Massachusetts law that established 35-foot buffer zones around abortion centers. She represented pro-abortion organizations such as NARAL Pro-Choice America to argue that the state had to insulate the centers from pro-life protests. The Supreme Court unanimously struck down the law in 2014 for infringing on pro-lifers’ First Amendment rights.” She would be one of the youngest justices – second only to Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who recently celebrated her 50th birthday. Changes in Senate rules in 2013 and 2017 mean that her nomination can move forward and be confirmed with a simple majority. With the Senate split 50-50, Vice President Kamala Harris would be able to break a tie over any nominee, giving Democrats the upper hand as long as all 50 of the members who vote with them rally behind the president’s choice. Judge Brown Jackson was backed by GOP Sens. Collins, Murkowski and Graham in her confirmation to the appeals court in the last year, but the level of support for her high-court nomination remains to be seen. The Senate is aiming for an April 8th tentative deadline for confirmation. In 2016, 65% said appointments to the nation’s highest court was very important in their voting decision. It only went down one point in 2020. Elections have consequences and when you elect a President of the United States, you really are deciding the future of the United States Supreme Court.
As we are instructed to pray “for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions” (1 Timothy 2:1–2), we are to pray for Judge Brown Jackson and for the senators who will consider her nomination. Pray she would know Christ personally and make Him known publicly, that she and our senators would use her confirmation hearings to advance civility and unity in our nation and, if confirmed, she would consistently support “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” and advocate for life from conception to natural death and for religious liberty. Nine Americans serve on our nation’s highest court, but one King rules the universe. Ask God to help us utilize our positions of influence for His glory as well.
First Liberty has put together a one-page information sheet that breaks down the judge’s record on key issues like free speech, separation of powers, and freedom of religion as well as which organizations have endorsed her. Take a look here. For a more in-depth look at her opinions, writings and speeches throughout her career, look here.
Biden Blasts Putin, Pivots to Familiar Democratic Wish List in First SOTU
“President Joe Biden blasted Russian President Vladimir Putin over his invasion of Ukraine before pivoting to a laundry list of familiar spending proposals in a sometimes uneven first State of the Union that garnered faithful applause from Democrats and predictable panning from Republicans. Biden's hour-long speech, the first to lead with foreign policy since former President George W. Bush, coincided with concerns Putin may escalate the intensity of his attacks on Ukraine to create a split-screen moment between himself and Biden.” read more from the Washington Examiner
President Biden’s approval rating hit a near-record low in a new poll as Americans become increasingly frustrated with the economy. Just 37 percent of adults in the U.S. strongly or somewhat approve of the way Biden is handling his job as president, compared to 55 percent who said they strongly or somewhat disapprove. While the President said at the end of his speech that “the State of the Union is strong because you, the American people, are strong. We are stronger today than we were a year ago,” Americans overwhelmingly believe the country is headed in the wrong direction. In an unusual move, Michigan Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib, an original member of "the Squad," delivered a “progressive” response to Biden's State of the Union on behalf of the Working Families Party. She blamed her centrist colleagues for blocking the president's sprawling social welfare and climate spending agenda. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds delivered the Republican Address to the Nation following President Biden’s address, highlighting those Republican governors across the nation have led the way to promote family values, such as keeping parents a part of their children’s education, standing up for the unborn, and keeping communities safe and staffed with police. She stated, “We’re now one year into his presidency, and instead of moving America forward, it feels like President Biden and his party have sent us back in time—to the late 70s and early 80s.” Across the news channels this morning, opinions vary on the State of the Union. But the command to pray for the leader of this union is not contingent upon the status of the state. We live in highly partisan times, but we follow a God who reigns on high. Politicians vie for your support, God wants your obedience, and your neighbor needs your good works. In other news from last night, the nation’s first primary for 2022 was held in Texas. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott won the nomination over state Sen. Don Huffines and former Texas GOP chair and former Rep. Allen West. Abbott will now face Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke in November's general election in the race for Texas governor. For results on other races in Texas, visit this link.
(Featured in a previous Intersect news summary, we found this prayer applicable for today)
Father, even as America tonight hears the address on the State of the Union, I wonder what we would hear if You were giving that address to us. We look around the globe today and we know that ancient cities are being broken apart; we look at children being raised up to despise; we think of millions dislodged from their homes looking for cities where they can somehow find a living, while others are looking for cities to tyrannize and hurt. How confusing all of this is, Lord, and we are unable with our cumulative wisdom to meet the daunting challenges of our time. Thankfully, we can call upon You. You have reminded us that when we ask for wisdom, You give it to us. You have asked us to pray for our leaders who need that wisdom and courage and conviction. Lord, may a new work begin in our country because of Your children crying out to You in prayer and being willing to be available for whatever You want of us. Do a great work in our time, Lord. Do a new work in our midst. Let us not lose heart. You are the Lord of the mountain and You are the Lord of the valley. Lord Jesus, You came at a time when the world was in turmoil. The shepherds found you. Wise men found you. And even though there were those who tried to stop You, You completed your mission and You commissioned those who would touch the globe. We need You, Father. We need You now more than ever.
In his State of the Union address, President Biden renewed his call to pass the most dangerous piece of legislation to America’s future – The Equality Act. This bill would fundamentally alter the legal definition of sex to include sexual orientation and gender identity and shake America’s commitment to religious freedom. The President does not have the power to pass this dangerous bill. The Senate does. Take action with our simple tool and contact your Senators TODAY. Let them know that you reject the President’s renewed commitment to this dangerous bill.
European Parliament Greenlights Ukraine Bid to Join EU
“The European Parliament voted on Tuesday to accept Ukraine’s application to join the European Union (EU) after Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky gave a passionate speech before the body. Zelensky formally signed an application to join the European Union on an expedited basis on Monday after making repeated calls to allow his country to join the bloc. Zelensky’s calls have received vocal support from some already in the bloc, including the countries of Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia. After nearly a week of fending off Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Zelensky gave an impassioned speech in front of the European Parliament that received a standing ovation and “near-unanimous” support from the body’s members to begin the process of joining Ukraine to the bloc. The parliament vote does not grant Ukraine status of an EU-candidate country.” read more from the DailyWire
While a young President Zelensky gives courage, Russians are expressing shame. In an interview with All Israel News, one Russian woman stated, “I expect there will be a revolt in Russia because I think the majority of people are absolutely not for this and not motivated to fight against the Ukrainians. Everyone thinks that Putin is crazy. I mean, it's obvious and clear for the Russian people that they are willing to die for saving the country against an attack from the Nazis or somebody else. But to die in a fight with their brothers, the Ukrainians? It's crazy.” She went on to say, “I feel a shame because of Putin which I didn't vote for, but probably didn't do enough to explain to others not to vote for. So, that’s a general sense in sensation and feeling guilt – no, not guilt, but shame. Shame on us because we didn't stop Putin. And shame on him. Shame on a government that just follows one sick mentally person.” Amid all this news from Russia and the Ukraine, a lingering theological conversation has been unfolding around the biblical end times and Russia’s theoretical involvement in it. Author Joel Rosenberg, who we interviewed last year, has been among those who have explored Old Testament prophecies about the biblical end of days, discussing Russia’s potential placement in the mix. He published a blog post a few years ago, in which he discussed world events as they pertain to the writings of Ezekiel, a biblical prophet. “The Hebrew prophet Ezekiel wrote 2,500 years ago that in the ‘last days of history, Russia and Iran will form a military alliance to attack Israel from the north,” Rosenberg wrote. Rosenberg has repeatedly affirmed that no one knows when the end of days will come but that biblical signs are worth exploring. In challenging times, people are more open to the gospel than ever and that is being witnessed in Ukraine. Robert L. Briggs, president and CEO of American Bible Society, wrote a commentary explaining how Christians in Ukraine are responding to the Russian crisis. “As people grapple with unknown, many are experiencing the Bible’s message for the first time ever,” Briggs wrote. “According to [Anatoliy Raychynets, deputy general secretary of the Ukrainian Bible Society], priests and pastors over the past weeks have been flocking to the Bible Society store in Kyiv to buy Bibles.” The situation has been so intense the store reportedly ran out of Bibles, with Raychynets telling Briggs their biggest challenge is getting enough copies of scripture to meet the demand. “We need more Bibles,” Raychynets said. Eleven eastern European seminaries, two of which are located in Russia and therefore are unnamed, condemned the Russian invasion and expressed solidarity with the people of Ukraine and urged the world to pray for the nation.
Father, where can hope be found in such dark days? As was from the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, only in Christ. We pray the words of Matthew 6, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.”
A video went viral over the weekend of a Ukrainian family singing the hymn “He Will Hold Me Fast” in their home. Watch it here. The enemy may be approaching quickly, but God will hold these courageous faithful closely (Jude 24, Phil 1:6). To learn more about sending Bibles to Ukrainians, visit this site.
7 Encouraging Trends of Global Christianity in 2022
“As you serve in your local church, it can be easy to forget the global nature of Christianity. Even connections to missionaries or trips to other countries don’t fully display the magnitude of the modern-day church. And if your church has plateaued or is even shrinking, you can be tempted to see the global church in a similar light. But the latest statistics from the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary can give a better perspective on Christianity in 2022.” read more from Lifeway Research
One of the most interesting trends is the difference in the number of Christians in northern versus southern nations. The continent with the most Christians now is Africa. And the fact that Asia is seeing a 1.5% growth rate in the number of Christians is encouraging given the likelihood of an insecure future for Taiwan should China decide to invade. Many people will need eternal hope to endure the days ahead. This trend seems to coincide with the Southern Baptist Convention’s international missions report showing an increase in baptisms and 18,380 churches planted around the world in 2020. Eighty-nine percent of the baptisms and ninety-seven percent of new church plants took place in South Asia. In European and North American countries, however, the picture is different. A Pew Research Center survey in December of 2021 showed that the “secularizing shifts evident in American society so far in the 21st century show no signs of slowing.” While self-identified Christians still make up a majority of the population at sixty-three percent, that number is twelve points less than a decade ago. However, it is worse than that. A May 2021 survey of specific beliefs directed by Dr. George Barna revealed that only six percent of American adults possess a Christian worldview. A recent Gallup survey showed that a mere thirty-nine percent of millennials belong to a church. James Emery White notes, “Early data on Generation Z suggests the percentage of involvement is at least as low (if not lower) as Millennials, which means the future of the American church is one generation away from being devastated. So, while Christianity remains the world’s largest faith and is even on the rise in the global South, it is no longer the dominant cultural force in the West.” Living in a world with competing worldviews, Christians are increasingly succumbing to secularism, postmodernism, new spirituality, and even Marxism to embrace that which is antithetical to the ways of God. But our situation is not unprecedented. Jesus’ message to the churches in Revelation 2-3 reflects how they faced various oppositions, triumphs, and temptations. Some are more relatable to us than others, but we are under the same command, “Abide in me…for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4,5)
Lord Jesus, we see how Your kingdom is advancing around the world, and we praise You for this! Strengthen and encourage our brothers and sisters in hostile countries; deliver them from the evil one. Remind us to pray for them constantly, and remind them to pray for us, like Epaphras prayed for the church in Colossae. (Colossians 4:12) We are grieved for the decline of faith here in America. Have mercy on us, Lord. Purify us. Help us build each other up in Your holy name. Amen.
As opposition to basic Christian teachings is increasing, so are societal pressures. In her newest book, Faithfully Different, author and apologist Natasha Crain makes sense of the hostile worldviews that can appear very attractive and helps us remain faithful to Jesus in a society where our beliefs are now the minority. We encourage you to read it. You can also listen to a recent interview Natasha gave on this subject on this podcast.
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