WEEKLY NEWS SUMMARY - NOVEMBER 18, 2020
In this week's Intersect, read about:
Massachusetts House Passes Democrat Amendment Legalizing Abortions Up to Birth
Massachusetts House lawmakers passed a radical pro-abortion measure Thursday to expand late-term abortions and allow young girls to abort their unborn babies without a parent’s knowledge or consent. WBZ News Radio reports House lawmakers voted 108 to 49 in favor of the pro-abortion amendment to the state budget. The state Senate is expected to consider it next week. Amendment 759 to House Bill 5150, sponsored by state Rep. Claire Cronin, D-Easton, is similar to the ROE Act, radical pro-abortion legislation that has languished in committee for more than a year. Cronin’s amendment is not quite as extreme as the bill, but it still would expand the killing of unborn babies in abortions in multiple ways. Currently, Massachusetts prohibits abortions after 24 weeks except if the mother’s life is at risk. The amendment would expand these exceptions, allowing viable, late-term unborn babies to be aborted if they are diagnosed with a fatal anomaly or “to preserve the patient’s physical or mental health” – a definition that can be widely interpreted. Unlike the ROE Act, Cronin’s amendment would not get rid of the state law that protects babies who survive abortions from infanticide. However, state pro-life leaders said it would amend and weaken that law. The amendment also would allow non-doctors to abort unborn babies and lower the parental consent requirement from age 18 to 16. Pro-life Democrat and Republican lawmakers spoke out strongly against the measure before it passed. read more at LifeNews
The fight for the protection of life is facing an intense battle in Massachusetts where Democratic lawmakers are attempting to expand abortion rights, and they’re trying to do it by slipping an abortion agenda into the state’s 2021 budget. The ACLU and other left-wing groups are lobbying for the proposed budget amendment 759 which mirrors the stalled ROE Act (which stands for Remove Obstacles and Expand Access to Abortion). In a letter, signed by more than 300 pastors from across the state, faith leaders expressed concern about the renewed push to expand the killing of unborn babies in abortions in Massachusetts. “In 2019 alone, there were 18,593 abortions performed in the Bay State. How much more ‘accessible’ does the murder of unborn children need to be?” they asked. “Abortion ends the life of a human child and puts the physical, mental and emotional health of women, most especially young women, at risk.” The Daily Hampshire Gazette reports the state’s pro-choice Republican Gov. Charlie Baker has said he opposes late-term abortions but supports current state abortion laws. Similar abortion legislation passed in New York, Illinois, Vermont, and Rhode Island last year, prompting massive outrage. Another pro-abortion bill narrowly failed in New Mexico because of strong public opposition.
Pray for MA lawmakers to put the value and sanctity of life over convenience and aggressive secular ideology. Pray for the hearts of those who want to see abortion expanded, that they will look upon human life as a great gift from God to be accepted and loved, not as an unwanted burden to be destroyed. Pray for continued courage and boldness for those who are standing for life in the halls of government as well as in the real-life situations where women are being supported to choose life.
If you live in Massachusetts, please take a moment to contact your Senator and Governor. Massachusetts Citizens for Life has created a petition to sign as well as provided phone contact information for the Governor here. While the amendment is included in the state budget bill, Bay State citizens can strongly encourage the Governor to use the line-item veto to strike down the extreme and radical amendment if it passes in the Senate.
Alito Sounds Alarm: 'Religious Liberty is in Danger of Becoming a Second-Class Right'
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito is sounding an alarm about ongoing actions that undermine religious liberties and individual freedoms in America, whether from COVID or from pro-LGBT hardliners. Alito told The Federalist Society that America has never faced such extreme limitations on freedom as it has this year due to the coronavirus restrictions. “The pandemic has resulted in previously unimaginable restrictions on individual liberty,” Alito said in a virtual address to the conservative Federalist Society. "We have never before seen restrictions as severe, extensive, and prolonged as those experienced for most of 2020.” He warned that laws giving government officials so much discretion to impose such regulations can be abused, and that religious freedom was particularly at risk. "It pains me to say this, but in certain quarters, religious liberty is fast becoming a disfavored right," he said, citing COVID restrictions that “blatantly discriminated against houses of worship.” read more at CBN News
Justice Samuel Alito told the Federalist Society that two constitutional protections – the First Amendment right to free exercise of religion, and the Second Amendment right to bear arms – are rapidly becoming “second-class” liberties. To Justice Alito, religious freedom is the most vulnerable of all. “Religious liberty,” Alito lamented, “is fast becoming a disfavored right.” The foremost example of this disfavor in the justice’s mind was the court’s 1990 decision in Employment Division v. Smith, written by Justice Antonin Scalia, which “cut back sharply” on free exercise by establishing that religious groups are usually not entitled to faith-based exemptions from neutral, generally applicable laws. Alito lauded Congress for passing, with near-unanimous support, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 to push back against this very decision. The Supreme Court is considering whether to overrule Smith this term in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia. And the afternoon of Alito’s speech, the Catholic diocese in Brooklyn asked the court for emergency relief from New York’s coronavirus regulations similar to that previously sought by Calvary Chapel in Nevada. “Whether our society will be inclusive enough to tolerate those with unpopular religious beliefs,” Alito said, is the question we now face. He listed a number of recent examples that have come before the Supreme Court, from the “protracted campaign against the Little Sisters of the Poor,” to the backlash against a Colorado baker who declined to provide a same-sex couple with a wedding cake, to a federal judge’s order blocking a federal regulation during the pandemic that required patients to make an in-person visit to a medical office to receive a pill used to induce abortion. Alito claimed the situation is so dire that students, professors, and employees today “can’t say marriage is a union between one man and one woman.” The culture of censorship, he believes, “should not have come as a surprise” after the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges striking down state bans on same-sex marriage. You can watch Justice Alito’s important speech here. Religious freedom guaranteed under the United States Constitution is an ideal that believers greatly value. People of all faiths can meet and share their beliefs without repercussions. At least, that’s what the Constitution is meant to provide. However, as modern culture clashes with a biblical worldview, religious freedom is being oppressed in the name of anti-discrimination. As laws come down against Christian expression, believers are feeling the squeeze of persecution. But we should not be surprised. Jesus warned his disciples, “If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name because they do not know Him who sent Me” (John 15:20-21). Jesus teaches how his followers should view persecution. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who came before you” (Matthew 5:11-12).
Pray that religious freedom and freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights will be properly interpreted and carried out. Be watchful and pray for the nation’s leaders as they pass laws and resolutions which may affect our religious freedom or freedom of speech. Pray for personal boldness to proclaim the Good News, no matter what level of persecution may come.
According to data from the Pew Research Center, over 80 percent of the world’s population lives in countries where religious liberty is threatened, restricted, or banned. One of the ministry organizations working with persecuted Christians all over the world is Open Doors, founded by Brother Andrew. Many people best know Brother Andrew from his most well-known book, God’s Smuggler, which tells stories of his secret missions to smuggle Bibles into hostile regions. During his life, Brother Andrew took great risks to “sneak” the Gospel into communist countries during the height of the Cold War. He did so with a sense of adventure, believing that his faith in Jesus was worth every danger he faced. Read more about Brother Andrew’s fascinating testimony and use his example as a catalyst for standing firm and faithfully for Christ, no matter the cost.
Moderna's Candidate COVID-19 Vaccine Looks to Protect 94.5% of Those Who Get it, Trial Shows
A second COVID-19 candidate vaccine looks to be even more effective than the first: Both protect more than 90% of those who get the shots. Moderna, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotechnology company, announced early Monday that its candidate vaccine, mRNA-1273, developed in collaboration with the U.S. government, appears to be 94.5% effective against the disease. This month, Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech also announced early effectiveness data that showed their vaccine, called BNT162b2, had protected more than 90% of those who received it. Both results are preliminary. Final results expected in as soon as a few weeks. "This is better than Christmas," said Dr. Monica Gandhi, professor of medicine at the University of California-San Francisco. "The interim results of these two exciting mRNA vaccine candidates over the past week are encouraging, hopeful and move us massively forward to getting out of this pandemic." read more at USA Today
In response to Moderna’s announcement, HHS Secretary Alex Azar said the FDA would move on approving the vaccine as quickly as possible. “We hope those applications from both Pfizer and Moderna will get in as quickly as possible. We will independently call those balls and strikes on the data and evidence, but we’re going to do so as quickly as possible, consistent with just making sure the science, the evidence and the law support authorization,” said Azar. Azar added that he anticipates nearly 40 million doses of vaccines to be produced by the end of 2020, which could immunize nearly 20 million people since the vaccines involve a series of two shots. Moderna is one of the pharmaceutical companies involved in Operation Warp Speed, the Trump Administration’s initiative to develop and deliver a COVID-19 vaccine, which is supported by the CARES Act, the COVID-19 relief bill passed in March 2020. Further, when the vaccines are ready, the Trump Administration has said they will come at no cost to the American people. Right now, governors and mayors across the country are implementing new restrictions as the coronavirus resurgence is surpassing spring and summer records, with some even calling for Thanksgiving and Christmas plans to be limited or canceled. While we can do our best to stay healthy, we do not have ultimate control. When fear and worry come, what do we do? We can choose to submit to our fear and live in a constant state of stress. Or, we can choose to conquer fear by submitting to the One who is in control and can act on the situation. Jesus gave us good advice in Matthew 6:25–34 saying, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?… Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” The words “do not fear” throughout the bible are not a suggestion. They are a command. Why do we worry over things we have no control over and cannot do anything about? That irrational worry is fear. The choice then is ours. How shall we live our lives in this time of uncertainty? We can choose to submit to fear or to submit to Him who has overcome fear.
Pray for the virus to subside and pray for the continued advancement of medicine that will help. Pray against a spirit of fear that so many are facing. Ultimately, pray that Americans would put their trust in God. Heavenly Father, we pray for Americans to turn their hearts to You. May they find true hope and freedom by accepting the gift of eternal life that You have given them through Your Son, Jesus Christ. May they serve and follow You. We pray for an awakening and revival to sweep across our nation and for Your name to be exalted.
This holiday season, The Salvation Army expects to see a greater need for services – more than any in recent history. Based on the increased service already provided this year due to COVID-19, they need resources to serve up to 155% more people with Christmas assistance. They anticipate a significant decrease in the number of traditional red kettles we’re used to seeing on street corners and at store entrances each Christmas season. Consider helping their “Rescue Christmas” campaign here.
Stage Set for Decisive Senate Races in Georgia
Georgia voters will cast their ballots in two special U.S. Senate elections on Jan. 5 that will decide which political party controls the 50-member Congressional body. Incumbent Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue are facing challenges from Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff; none of the four candidates gained 50% of the vote in the initial election, so state law requires that a "runoff" election — essentially a rematch — be held. With all other Senate races effectively decided, Republicans currently hold 50 seats to Democrats' 48. Wins for Warnock and Ossoff would create a straight 50-50 tie in the Senate, which would make the Vice President the tie-breaking vote. read more at AllSides News
With Georgia still in play for the presidential race, Gabriel Sterling, the state's voting systems implementation manager, said Tuesday there are approximately 300,000 ballots left to be hand-counted in Georgia out of the nearly 5 million cast in the presidential election. He stated the audit is on track to finish Wednesday and affirm a Biden win by Friday. As the election results are still up in the air, the President’s legal team says it has evidence that foreign software was used to steal the election and that the evidence is strong enough to overturn results in multiple states. They say evidence shows that foreign software from companies called Dominion and Smartmatic was used to steal the election. Trump attorney Sidney Powell promises the evidence exists to overturn the election results in "multiple states." "First of all, I never say anything I can't prove... and President Trump won by not just hundreds of thousands of votes, but by millions of votes that were shifted by this software that was designed expressly for that purpose. We have sworn witness testimony of why the software was designed. It was designed to rig elections," Powell told Fox News. The company in question, Dominion Voting Systems, a Canadian company headquartered in Denver, was reportedly rejected by the state of Texas and has been criticized by both Republicans and Democrats for failing to meet minimum IT security standards. Dominion says it "categorically denies false assertions about vote switching issues with our voting systems." But the chairman of Smartmatic, Peter Neffenger, is on Joe Biden's transition team. And Smartmatic has been tied to allegations of election rigging overseas.
Heavenly Father, thank You for being Almighty God, beyond our understanding. You care to hear our prayers. We thank You that nothing has caught You unaware. You’ve got this election and our future quite entirely under control. Despite the intense spiritual battle, we are Your soldiers and we’re on Your winning team. We praise You and ask that You will keep us alert to You and Your ways and use us to Your glory. We pray Your will be done in the election results and in our nation.
As the eyes of the political world have shifted to Georgia. The stakes could not be higher as these elections will determine who controls the U.S. Senate in 2021 and beyond. We’re partnering with a number of organizations to equip and motivate Christians in GA to vote. Make phone calls from your home or join hundreds of volunteers on the ground in the state of Georgia. Every little bit helps! Learn more and sign up to help here.
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.