WEEKLY NEWS SUMMARY - MAY 10, 2023
In this week's Intersect, read about:
Gunman Kills at Least 8, Including Children, at Texas Mall
“A lone gunman opened fire at a bustling mall north of Dallas, Texas, killing at least eight people, including children, and injuring seven others. The shooter was killed by an on-duty police officer who happened to be at the mall on an unrelated call.” read more at The Christian Post
- I happened to be scrolling through social media on Saturday when I noticed several friends “marking themselves as safe” on Facebook. After quickly checking the news, my heart sank, realizing the terror occurred at an outlet mall I used to frequent and, in a community, I used to call home. There is something about the proximity of tragedy that makes it feel more real.
- Cottonwood Creek Church in Allen, located about 2 miles from the Allen Premium Outlets, held a community prayer service on Sunday that drew mourners from the community and across the state, including law enforcement, Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Attorney General Ken Paxton, and more than two dozen other elected officials.
- California Governor Gavin Newsom immediately blamed Congress for not doing their job, but ironically made the statement, "We have become a nation that is more focused on the right to kill than the right to live."
- Tragic violence like we saw over the weekend once again relays the result of devaluing life. Stopping killings like these is something we all support, but many stop short of addressing the foundation of these senseless killings. Much of the focus will be on gun control, racism, and the role of certain ideas and social media in the radicalization of some people. While these can be significant aspects of the issue, what we often don’t see addressed is the real value of life - all life, and the tragic result of allowing life [and murder] to be relegated to a choice depending on age and viability. We are morally confused if we cannot condemn these murders without also condemning the abortion that is legal in our country. When we devalue life, the consequences ripple throughout society.
- The Bible is very clear about the reality of evil. It is equally clear about the force who is behind the evil in the world, whose temptations we often succumb to. The idea of a real devil is mocked by our culture. Yet as they downplay reality, they are at a loss to explain why people are unable to control sinful impulses. As Christians, we must recognize we are engaged in a real battle—a spiritual battle.
- One of the first people who arrived at the scene of the mass shooting found a child covered by his mother, who died protecting him. That now-orphaned boy will always know how sacrificially he was loved. Every time you see a cross, remember that the same is true for you.
Heavenly Father, we are grieving yet again for tragic murders. We know instinctively that such acts are wrong, so we pray for a renewed value of human life in this nation. We also pray for many to turn to You for forgiveness and salvation through Jesus, who gives us a new heart to love You and our neighbors. Comfort this hurting community and help us to “weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:14)
As I read some of the early news reports, I was struck by comments made by the shooter's neighbors. One of them was interviewed and stated, "We see our neighbors...but how much do we really know about our neighbors?” It made me stop and think about how well do I know my neighbors; let alone how often do I pray for my neighbors? Will you join me in walking around your community this week and commit to pray for your neighbors? This incredible tool by Bless Every Home helps you pray for your neighbors, by name! Let’s bring the light of Christ to a dark and hurting world, right where we live.
Biden Administration Threatens Veto on GOP Border Security Bill
“The White House announced President Joe Biden would veto a Republican-led border security package if it passed Congress, ahead of a planned House vote this week on the sprawling legislation to restart border wall construction and restrict asylum access. The House Republican majority has made border security a top priority, and debate on the bill will likely highlight political divides that have driven decades of congressional inaction on the issue. House Republicans are set to vote Thursday on the border security legislation, according to a leadership source, the same day that pandemic-era asylum restrictions known as Title 42 are set to terminate.” read more at Roll Call
- We are facing a humanitarian disaster. After Title 42 ends, the U.S. will be flooded with an estimated 700,000 migrants—a crowd roughly the size of the population of Boston—and an additional 400,000 estimated to attempt to cross each month.
- Why the sudden surge? Title 42 gave the U.S. authority to deny asylum and migration claims for public health reasons during the pandemic. This meant that illegal immigrants were expelled from the country rather than applying for asylum and waiting inside. H.R. 2, the Secure the Border Act of 2023, would empower agents at the border to expel illegal arrivals before they can enter our backlogged asylum process, and makes the qualifications for asylum (fleeing political, religious or racial persecution) more stringent to discourage people who likely won’t qualify from trying to apply. This is meant to reduce the strain on the current process, where some people are waiting in the country for ten years before they will see a judge to make their case for asylum.
- In contrast, the Biden administration has adopted policy shifts beginning this week that open a growing avenue for migrants to apply for asylum, as long as they come legally, have a sponsor and pass background checks. Simon Hankinson noted, “The Department of Homeland Security’s latest plan to cope after Title 42 is all about quantity (processing more people into the U.S.) and not quality (separating genuine asylum claims from the mass of economic migrants).” This will place the already backlogged asylum system under more strain.
- The Biden administration also announced they are adding another 1,500 active-duty troops to the southern border to fill “critical capability gaps,” to deal with the influx of illegal immigrants. However, the purpose of these troops is mostly to aid in administrative work.
- In the Senate, Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) are working on legislation that would grant a temporary two-year authority to expel migrants from the United States similar to what is currently allowed under Title 42. This legislation also likely faces an uphill battle.
- In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott announced the deployment of National Guard members to border hot spots to “intercept, repel and to turn back" illegal immigrants.
- We can address this crisis by starting by strictly enforcing our existing immigration law. By discouraging illegal immigration, we will also discourage what comes with it: women and children trafficked and raped, a wave of illegal fentanyl and overdose deaths, citizens killed, immigrants dying from the dangerous journey, child labor, and more tragedy.
As you pray for the crisis at the border, here’s a note from Deborah, one of our Action Partners in Brownsville, Texas: “We have had an incomprehensible increase in illegal immigrants this past week…Videos do not do it justice…We need lots of prayer.” Please join us in praying for a good resolution to this crisis, and for wisdom for our elected officials at all levels of government who need to take action.
Congress needs to act–and they need to hear from you. The American public has been waiting almost 40 years for immigration reform. Use our easy tool to contact your members of Congress and tell them it is time to put aside political differences and address the overwhelming burden of illegal immigration.
All 9 Supreme Court Justices Push Back on Oversight
“There's no conservative-liberal divide on the U.S. Supreme Court when it comes to calls for a new, enforceable ethics code. All nine justices, in a rare step, released a joint statement reaffirming their voluntary adherence to a general code of conduct but rebutting proposals for independent oversight, mandatory compliance with ethics rules and greater transparency in cases of recusal. The implication, though not expressly stated, is that the court unanimously rejects legislation proposed by Democrats seeking to impose on the justices the same ethics obligations applied to all other federal judges.” read more at ABC News
- Senate Democrats are attempting to implement new ethics oversight measures over the nation’s highest court which comes after the political Left’s attempts to generate controversy surrounding Justices Roberts, Clarence Thomas, and Neil Gorsuch in recent weeks, while remaining quiet about the conflict of interest brought forth about Justice Sotomayor.
- Justice Roberts declined an invitation to testify at a Senate hearing, instead responding with a letter that included the statement from the nine justices to “provide new clarity to the bar and to the public on how the Justices address certain recurring issues, and also seeks to dispel some common misconceptions.” The letter then laid out how justices deal with a variety of issues that they face and also addressed recent threats against them.
- Last week, Justice Samuel Alito expressed how dangerous their jobs had become since someone leaked the Dobbs decision, making the conservative justices “targets of assassination.” While there are still continual protests at certain justices' homes, the Biden administration has remained quiet, even though these protests violate federal law.
- The Supreme Court has come under intense scrutiny in recent weeks following a series of reports on ethical lapses among some justices related to transparency around their financial disclosures. Watchdog groups, such as Fix the Court, have been especially focused on the court’s recusal practices, an area they say is ripe for reform given that no mechanism exists for ensuring a justice won’t participate in a case in which they might have a conflict.
- Why all the scrutiny now? With critical SCOTUS rulings being issued now through June, the media is feeding into a narrative to try to sway public opinion to undermine the respect of the high court.
- The judiciary is an independent branch by design. If Congress were to declare an ethics code, that is something that might be constitutionally problematic, at least if it were directed to put pressure on the justices and influence an outcome. And that pressure is absolutely unconstitutional. The Constitution designates the Article III branch, the judiciary, to be independent in order to protect our own liberties. The federal judges do have a code of conduct, and the Supreme Court justices voluntarily comply with their own ethical guidelines.
Lord, You established the standards for justice. We pray that our Supreme Court justices will be wise (Ps 2:10), righteous (Ps 19:9), and fair (Deut 1:16). We pray that the justices understand that one day, they will stand before You, the Eternal Judge. Like King David, may they be able to say - “Judge me, O LORD, For I have walked in my integrity. I have also trusted in the LORD; therefore, I shall not slide” (Ps 26:1). We pray for their protection, and the protection of their families. And we pray for the integrity and separation of powers with the Supreme Court.
The application of ethics in our everyday lives requires us to primarily answer two questions: “What should we do?” and “What should we be?” For the Christian, the answer to those questions should ultimately be: “What God has commanded me to do—to obey him” and “What Jesus wants me to be—to be more like him.” But how can we obey what we do not know? Start with the 10 commandments. Commit to know and memorize these important commandments God has given to us in His Word. We’ve created a printable tool to help you get started.
Biden Rolls Out 2024 Budget Amid Debt Ceiling Showdown
“President Joe Biden on Thursday rolled out his proposed budget for fiscal year 2024, casting it as a reflection of his values ahead of an anticipated reelection run and aiming to put Republicans on the defensive. The White House said the budget would reduce the deficit in the long-term by $3 trillion, largely due to tax increases on wealthy Americans and corporations. It would also provide a record amount for defense spending, and include funds for Biden's pledges on paid family leave, universal preschool and more.” read more at ABC News
The president's budget serves as a starting point for negotiations with lawmakers, who are ultimately responsible for crafting and passing spending bills that keep the government running, according to Article I of the U.S. Constitution. House Republicans have not yet proposed a budget.
- What does this administration prioritize? The 182-page proposal projects federal government spending of $6.9 trillion in fiscal year 2024. The White House said their plan would reduce the deficit by nearly $3 trillion over the next decade by raising trillions of dollars in taxes on the wealthy and corporations, including by instituting a 25% minimum tax on the top 0.01% wealthiest Americans, while boosting investments in child care, education, housing and health care.
- "He proposes trillions in new taxes that you and your family will pay directly or through higher costs," House Speaker Kevin McCarthy tweeted. "Mr. President: Washington has a spending problem, NOT a revenue problem."
- McCarthy’s statement encapsulates the debate that has also been raging over the debt ceiling. House Republicans recently passed the Limit, Save, Grow Act to avoid defaulting on our debts . In addition to raising the debt ceiling by $1.5 trillion or through March 2024 – whichever benchmark is hit first – it would also return federal discretionary spending levels to those seen in 2022. Democrats, including President Biden, are pushing for a debt ceiling raise without any spending cuts tied to it whatsoever. A meeting between the president and congressional leaders on Tuesday yielded no progress in negotiations, and another meeting is expected to take place on Friday.
- How reckless have we been with our national finances? Compare the level of debt relative to the size of the U.S. economy. Our national debt as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is 123.6%. Now, imagine the balance on your credit card was 123.6% of your annual salary. The median annual income in the US is $69,717. That person would owe $87,843 on their credit card if their debt to income ratio was the same as the U.S. A responsible and essential action for that person would be to majorly cut spending in order to pay off their debt. Wouldn’t that also apply to our government?
Lord, you admonished us, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5-6) Show me where my love for money or anything other than You is holding me captive to fear. Help me to trust in You and be a responsible steward of all You have given me for Your kingdom.
A new study shows that credit card debt is at an all-time high, with a staggering $930.6 billion of credit card debt owed by Americans. Could it be that our government’s fiscal irresponsibility is partly a symptom of our culture? Even if our government doesn’t change its ways, consider how you can take responsibility for the financial choices the Lord has entrusted to you. Do you need to get out of debt? Should you change the ways you give, save, or spend?
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.