WEEKLY NEWS SUMMARY - OCTOBER 4, 2023
ACTION ALERT: We need your help! Send letters to Ohioans, encouraging them to vote “NO” on Issue 1 in the critical November 7th election on abortion. Anyone can join the Ohio Write Now letter campaign here. If you’re in Ohio, join us this Friday, October 6th at the Statehouse in Columbus for the OH March for Life. Events begin at 11AM ET. Watch for our My Faith Votes signs and rally with us!
In this week's Intersect, read about:
Laphonza Butler Sworn in to Succeed Sen. Dianne
“As the House devolved into chaos Tuesday over the future of the speakership, the mood in the Senate was decidedly more buoyant as California Democrat Laphonza Butler was sworn in to replace the late Dianne Feinstein, who died last week.” read more at Roll Call
- Last Thursday evening, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) passed away at the age of 90. She was the longest-serving female in the Senate, having first been elected in 1992. She also served as San Francisco's first female mayor. Her final years in office were marked by health concerns and questions about her fitness to serve, but she cast a vote the day of her death. Often called a pioneer for women in politics, Feinstein was sadly a strong advocate for abortion. Feinstein’s family was Jewish, but her mother was raised as a Russian Orthodox Christian and insisted her children be raised Christian too, having Feinstein educated at the Catholic Convent of the Sacred Heart High School. Despite her upbringing, Feinstein always identified as Jewish. In 2017, she questioned future Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett on her Catholic faith; a move My Faith Votes was against.
- Less than five days after Feinstein’s death, Gov. Newsom appointed and the Vice President in the new Senator. Senate Democrats need every vote in the closely divided chamber. When Newsom named Alex Padilla to succeed Kamala Harris in the Senate, he said that if another seat were to become vacant, he would name a Black woman. Laphonza Butler was appointed to complete the Senate term even though she has resided the last two years in Silver Spring, Maryland, where she moved after becoming president of EMILY’s List, a super PAC aimed at electing pro-abortion Democratic women. She was also registered to vote in Maryland.
- As the new Senator was being sworn in, Rep. Kevin Kiley (R-CA) introduced HR-57 on the House floor, an amendment to the Constitution to have US Senators elected, not appointed by state Governors. He stated, “California will now have two Senators who gained their position not through the will of voters but the whim of a single man – a man who happens to be concerned first and foremost with his own presidential ambitions. It is time to end the anachronism of appointed Senators.” Unlike vacancies in the House of Representatives, which are required by law to be filled by elections, the U.S. Constitution allows states to choose how to fill vacancies in the Senate: through a regularly scheduled election or a special election; or the governor can make an appointment to fill the vacancy during the period before the election occurs. In 37 states, the governor makes an appointment to fill a Senate vacancy and the appointee serves until the next regularly scheduled statewide general election. For this California Senate seat, that will be in November 2024.
It is a very serious moment when someone dies and should drive us to soberly consider our own lives in light of eternity. No one, no matter how high their office, is above God’s judgment. But no one, no matter how deceived by sin, is beyond God’s grace if they choose to accept it. Let us heed the words of Deitrich Bonhoffer who said, “The time is short. Eternity is long. It is the time of decision.” Is Christ your Lord and Savior today?
This story highlights how important your vote is in two respects. First, your vote controls if a congressman or congresswoman represents you beyond their appropriate capacity. Second, your governor (another elected official) has the authority to select replacements for legislators' seats, so it is all the more important to be mindful of who you vote for in gubernatorial races. Take two minutes to check your voter registration and sign up to receive election reminders so you don’t miss any applicable election.
Speaker Ousted After Deal to Avert Government Shutdown
“House Speaker Kevin McCarthy lost the fight for his political life after lawmakers decided to oust the California Republican from the speakership. The rebellion, led by conservative hardliner Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., has roiled the House in chaos. The move to oust McCarthy – known as a motion to vacate – had the support of a handful of hard-right lawmakers who have expressed anger at McCarthy for working with Democrats to avert a government shutdown.” read more at USA Today
- This is historic. The last time the House moved to try to remove a speaker was 1910, and the move has never succeeded until now. The vote in the House of Representatives was 216-210 with eight Republicans voting to remove Kevin McCarthy from the speakership. Representative Patrick McHenry is now the acting speaker (speaker pro tempore) and is imbued with all the powers of an elected speaker of the House. McCarthy hand-picked McHenry (R-NC) for this role when he was elected speaker in January. The pro tempore is kept as a secret, held by the clerk of the House, until a speaker is removed or incapacitated, a process designed after Sept. 11, 2001, to ensure continuity of government. The House is expected to vote next week on a new Speaker.
- On Saturday night, the House and Senate averted a government shutdown by passing a stopgap funding measure (known as a continuing resolution) to extend funding for the government for 45 days, as they disagree on what to include and leave out of the 12 appropriations bills that are supposed to fund the government from October 1 of this year through September 30 of 2024.
- Spending levels, aid to Ukraine, and border security are major points of disagreement between Republicans, Democrats, and conservative Republicans who are pushing their leadership for more fiscal restraint. House Republicans have passed four out of 12 appropriations bills with considerable spending cuts. The Senate hasn't passed any.
- It’s important to note the moral implications of these issues. Leaving massive debt to the next generation is a matter of morality, not just finances. Funding a war (and keeping track of where the money is actually going) should prompt questions regarding justice and responsibility. Border security is a matter of life and safety. Congress should debate these issues, and in the end, it is likely that compromise will result in gains and losses for both sides.
Pray for our leaders as the funding debates continue and the next speaker is chosen. Pray for an outcome that will be good for the country and glorify God. “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1-4)
The federal spending numbers demand action, and Congress needs to hear from the American people over these 45 days. If you didn’t get a chance, take 2 minutes now and send a message to your elected representatives in Congress, urging them to prioritize fiscal responsibility. Use this easy tool to send a message now.
Mandatory Minimums, Payday Lending, and Voting Rights in First Session of Supreme Court Term
“The Supreme Court kicked off its 2023-24 term on the traditional first Monday in October. The court’s October argument session will feature six arguments over five days, on topics ranging from federal sentencing laws to voting rights. And although the court did not make an official announcement, its website indicates that it plans to continue to provide live audio of oral arguments this term, allowing anyone interested in a case to listen from home.” read more at SCOTUSblog
- The Supreme Court begins a new term on the first Monday of every October and wraps up in July. A major deciding factor in how the judges will rule on the cases coming before the court is whether they view the judiciary as a place to interpret the law or a place to rewrite law. Another factor will be whether they will be influenced by public perception of their decisions.
- In the coming months, the court will hear a case that will test the majority’s commitment to an originalist, history-focused interpretation of the Second Amendment. It will hear two others regarding how much authority regulatory agencies have–applying the separation of powers. It will also decide First Amendment questions regarding speech on social media. The case challenging the FDA’s approval process for the abortion pill mifepristone will likely end up at the court as well. We will be covering many of these issues as the court deals with them this year and in 2024.
- As you evaluate candidates in next year’s elections, remember that Supreme Court Justices are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Also, when the media comments on court decisions, remember that the court’s job is to interpret the laws, and we are responsible for those laws through who we elect to represent us.
Pray for our justices. Pray that they would uphold the law without partiality and would not be swayed by persuasive arguments or public opinion but look to the laws of our country in dispensing justice. Pray that God would have His hand upon them as well, particularly those who profess His name. “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)
The Supreme Court is one of many courts that are meant to uphold justice in our country. Do you understand our justice system? We’ve provided a free resource on the American judicial system for you to download. You will be able to gain perspective on how you, as a Christian, can be salt and light in the federal and state judicial systems. Download A Christian Voter’s RESOURCE GUIDE to Understanding the American Justice Systems here.
Pastor Appreciation Month: How to Encourage and Advise Your Pastor
“If Christians desire to radically transform their communities, it is essential that they be connected to a vibrant, thriving church. And a church community will only thrive when there is a healthy relationship between the congregation and its pastor. This means that a congregation must be mindful to encourage, challenge, and advise its pastor with grace and humility. Such feedback and encouragement can both help pastors grow in their ministry and strengthen their relationship with church members.” read more at My Faith Votes
- In his book “Seedtime of the Republic,” historian Clinton Rossiter traced six individuals that he considers the most influential thought leaders of the American Revolution. Two were political leaders but four were pastors or ministers of the Gospel. Among the pastors, Rossiter lists Rev. John Wise, whose writings provided inspiration for the Declaration of Independence which became the very cornerstone of our Republic. Pastors have played critical roles in our nation’s history. Pastor John Witherspoon was the only clergyman to sign the Declaration of Independence. James Garfield was elected president in 1880, the only president to have also served as a pastor.
- Today, pastors have named political division as a main stressor over the past few years — even leading some pastors to consider quitting full-time ministry — but those in the pews are looking to their church leaders right now, not only to help them learn how to better think and talk about political issues, but also to advocate for those same issues with elected officials. Pastors, who are also feeling tremendous stress and isolation, need our prayers and encouragement.
- Pastor Allen Jackson reminds us of the sacrifices made by Jesus' disciples and underscores the importance of encouragement and support in ministry. His words are a powerful reminder to pastors that faithfulness to God's purpose is more important than success — encouraging them to impact their generation with the gospel despite the difficulties they may face. I invite you to watch Pastor Jackson’s video to appreciate the challenges your pastor faces and then forward the video to your pastor as encouragement.
Scottish pastor Robert Murray M’Cheyne once said, “The greatest need of my people is my personal holiness.” Pray that your pastor stands against the temptations of Satan. If Satan tried to tempt Jesus (Matthew 4), he’ll go after the men who proclaim the gospel of Jesus. Pray for godly influences in your pastor’s life, who will hold him accountable and continually direct him to God's Word.
October is Pastor Appreciation Month. Take a few minutes to write a note of encouragement and send it in the mail to your pastor. Let him know you are praying for him, affirm his godliness more than his giftedness and remind him of the incredible honor of his calling into church ministry. Share how a recent message has helped you grow in your relationship with Christ. Use your words to speak life and uplift.
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.