WEEKLY NEWS SUMMARY - November 6, 2019
In this week's Intersect, read about:
New York Passes Johnson Amendment Barring Churches from Political Speech
New York Passes Johnson Amendment Barring Churches from Political Speech
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed a bill into law that prohibits churches and other non-profits from campaigning for or against political candidates. Cuomo signed Senate Bill S4347 last week, creating a state-level equivalent to the current federal Johnson Amendment, which bans electioneering among non-profits. In a statement released last Wednesday, Cuomo said he felt the law was necessary in response to efforts by the Trump administration to weaken the Johnson Amendment. “For too long we have listened to the Trump administration threaten to remove common sense protections prohibiting tax-exempt organizations from engaging in inappropriate political activities,” Cuomo said. “New Yorkers have a right to free and fair elections, and this law will further protect our democracy from unjustified interferences once and for all.” Also known as Assembly Bill A623, the bill amended the state tax law to say that non-profit organizations, religious or secular, cannot participate in “any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office.” read more
Ryan Tucker with Alliance Defending Freedom responded to the news stating, “Cuomo’s comments are wrong. The government can’t condition your tax-exempt status with the surrender of your First Amendment rights or any other constitutionally protected freedom.” The Johnson Amendment was passed more than 50 years ago in 1954, and for decades, it was used to silence pastors from speaking on political issues from the pulpit. Many experts explain that it has done far more than just bar pastors from speaking out on political issues; instead it has, in many ways, silenced them from speaking out on biblical issues that only in recent years have become political issues in our society. In 2017, President Trump signed an executive order instructing the government to stop enforcing the Johnson Amendment, a promise Trump made on the campaign trail long before he ever became president. The Johnson Amendment conflicts with Americans (including pastors) freedom of speech rights found in the First Amendment of the Constitution.
Pray today for your pastor and church leadership to boldly address the important issues of our day from a biblical worldview. Pray against any fearfulness that would hinder them from sharing the principles and truths found in the Word of God.
Take a few minutes to watch this short video by Alliance Defending Freedom on the history of the Johnson Amendment, so that you understand why our churches have been silenced and you can better defend the First Amendment in the public square.
Trump Admin Proposes End to Obama Crackdown Against Faith-Based Adoption and Foster Care Agencies
A Senior White House Official tells CBN News that the Trump administration plans to announce a move that would allow faith-based adoption and foster care providers to receive federal money without compromising their beliefs on traditional marriage. Health and Human Services will introduce new federal rules detailing that faith-based groups only need to adhere to nondiscrimination provisions passed by Congress, not any previous agency regulations. Back in 2016, the Obama Administration added sexual orientation language to an HHS rule, forcing faith-based groups to choose between their biblical beliefs on marriage or receiving federal money to serve their communities. "This Administration is committed to doing rule-making right, and to removing regulatory barriers that prevent non-profits from doing what they do best—serving the needy and vulnerable in their communities," according to this Senior White House Official. "The Administration is also fully committed to preserving the religious freedom rights of faith-based organizations, and we are proud to announce this proposed rule today doing just that." Since the new rule would apply to only laws passed by Congress, that means faith-based groups would have to comply with the three main federal laws on equality: the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. All of them protect citizens against religious discrimination but none of them mention sexual orientation. read more
President Obama added language covering sexual orientation to the regulation before he left office. President Trump’s rule change would make that rule regulation null and void. This would allow faith-based adoption groups to apply for federal funds without a waiver. Secular groups have already announced they plan to challenge this proposed rule change in court. There is nothing more fundamental to our society than the institution of the family. It’s important to note that this rule change does not discriminate against LGBTQ groups, rather it allows faith-based adoption agencies to operate according to their religious beliefs. LGBTQ people can still adopt through secular adoption agencies. President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, Russell Moore, stated it this way, “This is not a narrowing rule that excludes gay people and others from serving children. Instead, the regulation merely ensures that no one is kept from serving, while ending an attempt to stop religious organizations from doing so consistent with their convictions.” This rule change will allow faith-based adoption agencies to continue helping thousands of children by placing them in loving faith-based homes. According to research by George Barna, Catholics are three times more likely than the general public to adopt, and evangelicals are five times more likely to adopt. This policy change does not discriminate against the LGBTQ community - it provides opportunities for some of the most vulnerable in our society - children in need of a home. Take a few minutes to read Dr. Jim Denison’s informative article on this issue, “Will new adoption rule ‘discriminate’ against LGBTQ people? The best way to prepare for the future.”
Pray that this proposed rule change will go into effect. Pray for President Trump and those in his administration to remain active defendants of the institution of the family and religious freedom. Pray for the faith-based adoption agencies to be able to operate freely according to their religious convictions.
November is National Adoption Awareness Month, a time to learn more about adoption and also recognize there are over 400,000 children in the foster care system, waiting for stability and a forever family. The likelihood that you know someone who is adopted or you have been touched by adoption in some way is very strong. Learn about practical ways to understand and support adoption and commit to one thing you can do here.
United States Begins Process of Withdrawing from Paris Climate Deal
The United States submitted a formal notification that it will withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Monday, a move that has been widely expected since President Trump announced his intention to do so in 2017. The climate agreement, which went into force Nov. 4, 2016, committed countries that signed the measure to take certain voluntary steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The agreement was not legally enforceable and countries set their own emissions targets. The accord banned countries from announcing their intent to withdraw in its first three years, meaning Monday was the first day the U.S. was allowed to submit its intent to leave the agreement since it went into force in 2016. "President Trump made the decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement because of the unfair economic burden imposed on American workers, businesses, and taxpayers by U.S. pledges made under the Agreement," Pompeo said in a statement. "The United States has reduced all types of emissions, even as we grow our economy and ensure our citizens’ access to affordable energy." read more
In the U.S., two camps have dominated the climate change conversation. On the left, a NY Times op-ed from this weekend asserted that if you wear clothes, then you’re part of the problem. On the right, you have some who describe the Environmental Protection Agency as the Employment Prevention Agency. Instead of addressing the issue, they mock it. One side guilts you for buying clothes while another side mischaracterizes a government entity. You may question the problem but no Christian should question the command to care for creation. In the land of liberty, our country has freely made great strides in our market system. Though we pulled out of the Paris Agreement, we have reduced our carbon emissions by 0.5 percent – the most of all major countries. Some energy companies are responding to customer demands with innovative efforts that benefit the global community proving you don’t always have to force change to see change. In the biblical narrative, we read how God has created us in His likeness and instructs us to care for His creation (Genesis 2:15). We can care for as well as channel His creativity as we innovate in a way to steward His creation (Leviticus 23:22, Psalms 8:3-6).
Thank God today for the beautiful creation he has given us. Pray for Christians to be good stewards of this blessing, but also to understand the biblical mandate we have to rule over the earth and subdue it (Genesis 1:28). Pray for our churches to have a biblical perspective on this growing issue.
Take a few minutes to watch this PragerU video entitled, The Paris Climate Agreement Won’t Change Climate Change, to better understand this international issue.
Christian Trump Advisers to Democrats: ‘You’re Actually Impeaching Us’
Two Democrats joined every Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives to vote against launching official public impeachment hearings against President Trump on Thursday. But most House Democrats supported the resolution, formalizing the impeachment process as both sides dig in for a brawl. Under the rules approved by Democrats for public impeachment hearings, the intelligence committee will release transcripts of those interviews it's been conducting behind closed doors. Republicans can issue subpoenas but only if Democrats on the hearing panel approve them. The House vote comes days after the president met with a group of evangelical Christian leaders at the White House. "We basically told him, Mister President, you fight well alone, but you're not gonna have to fight well alone because we're going to be standing right there with you every step of the way because we don't actually believe this is about President Trump at all. This is about his agenda. And so I remember several of the leaders in the room distinctly saying, 'You're actually impeaching us. That's what you're doing Democratic leadership in the House'," Trump evangelical advisor Johnnie Moore told CBN's Faith Nation. read more
Faith leaders spent time at the White House last week to meet with President Trump and pray for him and the nation. They also thanked the president for the administration’s numerous accomplishments. My Faith Votes Media Spokesperson, Johnnie Moore, was among the faith leaders present at the meeting, tweeting, “Great discussion & CELEBRATION of many achievements like: criminal justice reform, defending religious freedom, reducing abortion, combatting the opioid crisis & trafficking, the end of ISIS & Baghdadi.” And while faith leaders overwhelmingly approve of President Trump’s administration and policies, Democrats are working overtime to push for impeachment. Thankfully, we have a governmental system in America of checks and balances to not only hold the office of a president accountable, but to protect against partisan political factions that seek to remove a president from office simply because they disagree over policies or leadership style. The House can continue in its impeachment inquiry, but a two-thirds majority vote is required in the Senate to remove a president from office. In Federalist No. 10, James Madison warned about factions and their capacity to organize in a way that is “adverse to the rights of other citizens” and in the “aggregate interests of the community.” His solution to protect against such factions was “contriving the interior structure of the government as that its several constituent parts may, by their mutual relations, be the means of keeping each other in their proper places.” In Federalist No. 65, Alexander Hamilton explained that impeachment “will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community.” It’s tempting to want to shove this issue aside and chalk it all up to partisan politics. However, Christians must be informed and committed to faithfully praying for our nation during this process (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
Pray for our Constitution to be upheld and for truth and justice to prevail throughout the impeachment inquiry process (Leviticus 19:15, Deuteronomy 16:19), Pray for President Trump. Pray for national unity despite the growing political divide in our nation. Pray against the spirit of division that seeks to take root in peoples’ hearts (Romans 12:16, 1 Peter 3:8).
Take a couple of minutes to download the free My Faith Votes guide on the impeachment process and four prayer points of how Christians can pray about this critical issue in our nation.
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.