World News, Week 26 2014

Written by WMCN Editor on . Posted in World

WORLD News Service – July 11 2014

Gay Marriage Passes First Appeals Court Test:  10th Circuit rules Utah's same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional but stays ruling ahead of Supreme Court hearing

China Beachhead:  Pro-life efforts are growing in the nation with the most abortions. But saving lives in the womb is an enormous challenge—even within the church

Democrats Unveil Legislation to Overturn Hobby Lobby Ruling:  The Protect Women’s Health From Corporate Interference Act would override the Religious Freedom Restoration Act

Nonprofits Win Contraceptive Mandate Reprieve:  The Supreme Court’s order blocking the contraceptive mandate for Wheaton College is rare and wide-reaching

Doug Phillips Leaves Church He Founded:  In an announcement, Boerne Christian Assembly says Phillips left without following the procedures he emphasized during his ministry

                                                                 

Colorado Traditional Marriage Law Latest to Fall

Episcopalians in South Carolina Take Their $500 Million Property Fight to Court

What’s Next for Baker Who Refused to Make Cake for Same-Sex Wedding?  An interview with Jack Phillips and his attorney Nicolle Martin

Saving Sons and Daughters from Radical Islam

NATIONAL BRIEFS

 

INTERNATIONAL BRIEFS

 

                                                                                                                                   

 

Gay Marriage Passes First Appeals Court Test

 

10th Circuit rules Utah's same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional but stays ruling ahead of Supreme Court hearing

(WNS)--A federal appeals court declared Utah’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional in the first appellate ruling on state marriage laws as the issue makes its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided the issue by a 2-1 vote, with Judge Paul J. Kelly Jr. dissenting. 

“We should resist the temptation to become philosopher-kings, imposing our views under the guise of the Fourteenth Amendment,” Kelly wrote in the dissenting opinion. The 14th Amendment guarantees all persons equal protection under the law.

The 10th Circuit includes Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wyoming. All of those states except New Mexico also have bans on same-sex marriage. Wednesday’s decision will not take effect immediately because the court stayed its ruling until the nation’s highest court can consider the case.

Utah was one of the first states in which a federal judge overturned a ban on same-sex marriage, citing the U.S. Constitution’s equal-protection clause. Judge Robert Shelby issued his ruling in late December. Six months later, judges in Oklahoma, Virginia, Texas, Kentucky, Michigan, Idaho, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin have issued nearly identical rulings. 

After Shelby’s ruling, the 10th Circuit denied Utah’s request to for a stay while it appealed the decision. Utah sent an emergency request to the Supreme Court, which unanimously issued a stay. Analysts say that decision indicates the court wants more discussion about states’ roles in defining marriage. The issue likely will be the highlight of the next Supreme Court term, which starts this fall.

Meanwhile, federal district courts continue to weigh in on same-sex marriage state-by-state. A federal judge in Indiana on Wednesday also struck down its ban on gay marriage. Indiana outlawed same-sex marriage by statute in 1997, but has never passed a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman. 

“These couples, when gender and sexual orientation are taken away, are in all respects like the family down the street,” U.S. District Judge Richard Young wrote in his opinion. “The Constitution demands that we treat them as such.” The clerk of Marion County, home to Indianapolis, said the office would immediately start issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. The Indiana attorney general’s office plans to appeal the ruling. 

China Beachhead

Pro-life efforts are growing in the nation with the most abortions. But saving lives in the womb is an enormous challenge—even within the church

By June Cheng

CHINA—The smell of steamed rice and stir-fried beef waft into the simple warehouse converted into a church in northern China. Fans mounted on the walls breathe air into the warm room, as gracious hosts hand visitors cups of boiling water, the drink of choice no matter the weather. As two pastors—one American, one Chinese—finished teaching on the sanctity of life, women and men of all ages stood up, sobbing and praying for repentance: “Lord, forgive me for aborting my child; I didn’t know it was murder. Lord, forgive me for shedding innocent blood.”

For most in the room, this was the first time they had seen photos of fetal development, learned about what abortion entails, and studied what the Bible says about the sanctity of life. A middle-aged Chinese woman with cropped hair approached me with a nervous smile afterward. “Where do the [aborted babies] go?” she asked, eyes watering. “I’ve had it done before and was wondering if I’d ever see them again.” I mumble in broken Chinese that the babies go to heaven, telling her the story of King David’s child. “Oh, that’s so good to hear,” she said.

In China abortion is “as common as drinking water,” one woman told me, with the official tally at 13 million babies aborted each year, by far the highest in the world. For many, abortion is viewed as the preferred method of birth control, with ubiquitous ads on buses and billboards touting quick, cheap, and pain-free abortions. Few people, including Christians, are knowledgeable about life inside the womb or understand the abortion procedure, a fact attributed to the government’s desire to continue its population control policies. Yet it’s not just the one-child policy causing women to abort; more and more single women are also aborting as the younger generation’s lax view of sex clashes against traditional stigmas against having children out of wedlock.

In the past few years, Chinese Christians are starting to take a stand for life, both by teaching about abortion from the pulpit, and working with women to find oftentimes unconventional ways to protect life. Some originally hear the pro-life message from U.S.-based ministries, some through the internet or overseas teachings, while others are convicted through reading the Bible. From there, the message has spread to tens of thousands of churches around the country, and resulted in mothers holding giggling babies that otherwise wouldn’t be born, women saved from forced abortions, and churches growing stronger as they repent and help their own.

Yet still only about 1 percent of all the churches in China have heard what the Bible has to say about life, according to the pro-life group China Life Alliance (CLA). And with cultural, governmental, and practical roadblocks hindering their message, the Chinese pro-life movement still has a long way to go.

 

IT’S MIDMORNING, yet inside the dingy illegal medical clinic in Southwest China, light seems impenetrable. Next to a room lined with thin, musty cots and IV stands, a stout female doctor sits behind her desk, bragging to me about her experience performing abortions. She’s done abortions for 40 years now both at a hospital and at the clinic (where she makes much more money) and promises that it’s a very typical operation–one girl had eight abortions done, and she’s doing fine.

While China’s law forbids late-term abortions, she said she would do the abortion regardless of the delivery date, “even if [the baby] comes out crying.” An abortion at three months would cost merely 1,000 yuan ($160), and the patient could be in and out of the clinic in two hours. She then showed me where the operation is performed, a locked back room that reeked of chemicals and death. In one corner stood a rusting operating chair with stirrups, which the doctor quickly walked toward to toss out blood-stained tissues from her last operation, an 18-year-old who was five months pregnant. Tucked between a cot and table was an illegal ultrasound machine covered with a piece of cloth, which the abortionist offered to use to help determine the sex of the baby. Sex-selective abortions are illegal in China, as the preference for sons has skewed the country’s sex ratio.

Yet about a block away from the clinic stands a police station, deliberately oblivious to the illegal activity down the street. Mark Li (not his real name), an American missionary who founded CLA, said the police secretly appreciate these clinics because they lower the official number of abortions in the country. While the government counts 13 million abortions a year, the actual number including unreported abortions could be as high as 30 million.

In China sex education is not taught in school, as teachers are embarrassed to discuss it. Parents also don’t talk to their children about sex, so children learn from media, including sexually explicit Western movies, music, and TV shows. As a result, more than 70 percent of Chinese engage in premarital sex, a 30 percent increase from 20 years ago.

For unmarried girls who get pregnant, abortion often seems like the only option. Unwed mothers bring shame to the families, so parents pressure their daughters to abort. If a single woman keeps her baby, she’s without a support system and could lose her job, get kicked out of school, and have difficulty getting married in the future. Also, the child would be unable to get hukou, or household registration that allows people to go to school, travel, or get a job. Placing the child for adoption is also difficult, as the government has restricted private adoptions, leaving only a complicated and arduous legal adoption process. So for many, the optimal solution to the problem is to slip over to the hospital or illegal clinic, spend two hours and 1,000 yuan and return back to normal life.

Married couples often see abortion as their only choice as well under the one-child policy. While the law has become less strictly enforced in some areas—with exemptions for ethnic minorities and parents where one is a single child—couples who have a second child are often forced to pay a fine between three and 10 times the average after-tax income in the city where they live. For those who work at government-run workplaces, having a second child leads to job loss, as it sets a bad example for the rest of society. While the government officially bans forced abortions, the practice continues in rural areas where local officials don’t understand the law.

EVEN THE CHINESE CHURCH, which has been growing exponentially since China opened up in 1979, has kept silent about abortion. Peter Wang (not his real name), a former house church pastor who now spends his time training churches like the one mentioned above in northern China, said he’s met pastors who have had abortions themselves or given money to parishioners to help pay for their abortions. Some pastors, especially those in rural areas, have never been taught that abortion is wrong or why it’s wrong. Others keep quiet because they feel that the topic is too sensitive and don’t want another excuse for the government to persecute their church. 

But lately the tide is turning, as more Christians see the need for a Chinese pro-life movement. Li started CLA in 2010 to create a decentralized network of churches and ministries all with the goal to share the pro-life message and help women keep their babies. By linking resources from the experienced American pro-life movement to the leaders of the Chinese church, CLA was able to equip local believers quickly to start their own ministries. The group has launched a network of safe houses for pregnant women, abortion rescue teams, a Christian legal aid ministry, a Chinese resource website, and a pregnancy help center. Li said that so far about 20,000 churches have heard of the pro-life message, and each church that hears the message goes on to save two to five babies a year. 

Pro-life solutions offered to mothers need to be altered to deal with Chinese culture. So in CLA, the on-the-ground work is being done and funded by locals, like Sarah Huang*, a cheerful house church pastor in her 30s with quirky expressions like “It’s so hot I could spit blood.” After almost aborting her son in 2012, she saw the importance of protecting life and started working for CLA. Since then she’s started her own one-woman ministry that has saved 50 to 60 babies.

In the afternoon we spent together, Huang’s two cell phones kept ringing as mothers needed her help: “What do I do about my second baby?” “I’m pregnant and I don’t have money to take care of this child.” “The officials are forcing me to have an abortion, can you help?” Most calls deal with one-child policy problems, and Huang assertively douses the fires by challenging churches to help families pay the fine, find safe houses to keep the pregnant woman away from the pressures of relatives, or threaten to report family-planning officials who continue to practice forced abortion. For those who still can’t pay the exorbitant fines, families can have the baby and then buy hukou for their child in the black market for a fraction of the price.

THROUGHOUT THE SPRAWLING sprawling house church networks, leaders are rising up independent of any overseas ministries. In Chengdu, Jonny Fan, a 27-year-old at the 500-member Early Rain Reformed Church, saw images of abortion on a blog in 2012 and felt convicted about the high abortion rates in the country. So for the past three years, he and his fellow church members have passed out brochures urging mothers not to abort on June 1, which is Children’s Day. Using his background in marketing, Fan created polished pamphlets explaining the scope of abortion in China, the hope found in the gospel, and contact information for his church. Last year, he expanded his campaign to include bus ads, and authorities arrested him and a few others for printing unapproved material. This year, Fan printed 50,000 fliers for his church to pass out, and police officers beat one church member for passing out the fliers.

At Early Rain, the focus on protecting life is noticeable in the number of families sitting in the service with two kids. Fan said that most of the second children don’t have hukou, and they aren’t sure yet what they will do in the future. Besides buying hukou, families can also wait until the national census, when officials will sometimes register children for free to make their own job easier. One upside is that Early Rain has its own private Christian school and seminary, so the lack of hukou wouldn’t stop them from getting an education.

During the rest of the year, Fan leads a pro-life small group that focuses on educating church members about abortion and has expanded into adoption care. Last year, one church member passing out fliers outside a hospital convinced a young women to keep her baby. Fan connected her with a family who was willing to adopt the child privately, and realized this would be the next big need in his ministry.

His June 1 campaign has inspired others to use the day to talk about abortion: This year Peters and Wang started a month-long campaign ending June 1 to train church leaders to spread the word about abortion within their church networks. About 8,200 pastors ended up preaching about abortion in their churches, according to Wang. Fan said that while others have approached him asking about pro-life work, he’s not an expert, he’s just a Christian acting on his convictions.

“I do this because I see China’s rate of abortion is growing too fast; it’s frightening,” Fan said. “This is what I believe: We cannot murder. But Chinese people have sinned in this way. I don’t want to let the next generation live in an environment like this.”

 

June Cheng is a writer reporting from China.

 

WORLD used pseudonyms to protect the lives of these sources.

Democrats Unveil Legislation to Overturn Hobby Lobby Ruling

The Protect Women’s Health From Corporate Interference Act would override the Religious Freedom Restoration Act

By J.C. Derrick

(WNS)--Barely a week after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the federal government cannot force closely held corporations to pay for employees’ abortifacient drugs in violation of their religious beliefs, Senate Democrats on Wednesday announced legislation to reverse the Hobby Lobby decision.

“After five justices decided last week that an employer’s personal views can interfere with women’s access to essential health services, we in Congress need to act quickly to right this wrong,” said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who crafted the legislation with Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo.

The Protect Women’s Health From Corporate Interference Act would override the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)—legislation that passed the House unanimously, passed the Senate 97-3, and was signed into law by Democratic President Bill Clinton in 1993. The new bill would require most for-profit businesses to provide health insurance covering all forms of contraception mandated in the Affordable Care Act, regardless of religious objections. It would exempt houses of worship and some religious nonprofit organizations.

“This bill would help close the door for denying contraception before more corporations can walk through it,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., called the Hobby Lobby ruling “outrageous” and promised to fast track the legislation. It could come up for a vote as early as next week, but even with a Democratic majority, several members running for reelection in conservative states this fall may be reluctant to vote for it. Some of Murray’s embattled Democratic colleagues, including Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, were noticeably absent from her list of supporters.

Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, called the Democratic effort sad and lamentable. “RFRA was passed with huge bipartisan majorities in both houses,” Moore told me in an email. “Now, some would jeopardize religious freedom in order to fight their culture war. Religious liberty is too important to everyone in this country to see it end up a dead trophy on the wall of the sexual revolutionaries.”

The Hobby Lobby decision has also drawn criticism from gay rights groups, who say it will be used to discriminate against homosexual employees.

House Democrats are preparing companion legislation that is virtually assured of going nowhere in the Republican-controlled chamber. GOP House leaders praised the high court’s decision for preserving religious liberty, saying people of faith should be able to practice their beliefs in all areas of their lives.

“Hobby Lobby never argued against the ability for women to access contraceptives—they simply do not believe in being forced by the federal government to cover abortifacients,” said Rep. James Lankford, R-Okla., the fifth-ranking House Republican.  

He pointed out that RFRA was designed to combat a Supreme Court decision limiting religious freedom. Lankford told WORLD he would oppose efforts to roll back those advances: “All members of Congress are free to introduce legislation as they wish, but I will continue to stand with conservatives in the House to oppose legislation like this that seeks to limit First Amendment rights to religious freedom for Americans and their family-owned businesses.”

Nonprofits Win Contraceptive Mandate Reprieve

 

The Supreme Court’s order blocking the contraceptive mandate for Wheaton College is rare and wide-reaching

By Emily Belz

(WNS)--Right before the July 4 holiday weekend, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a significant order that escaped much notice: It granted Wheaton College, the best known evangelical Christian university, an emergency injunction against the contraceptive mandate. Injunctions from the Supreme Court are quite rare, and this injunction established a pattern for all other nonprofits seeking injunctions while their cases are pending. Justice Sonia Sotomayor in a dissent called the order “as rare as it is extreme.”

The order answered some questions that hung in the air about the fate of nonprofits after the court’s June 30 ruling in favor of for-profits, like Hobby Lobby, that object to the mandate. The reasoning in the Hobby Lobby v. Burwell ruling made lawyers for nonprofits nervous because the ruling relied on the current accommodation offered to objecting nonprofits to show the government had a workable alternative it could offer objecting for-profits. But the opinion emphasized that even though the court saw the nonprofit accommodation as a better alternative than nothing, the court was not giving the nonprofit accommodation its stamp of approval. With its recent injunction for Wheaton, the court underlined that the constitutionality of the nonprofit accommodation is an open question.

Currently the federal government offers religious nonprofits who object to the contraceptive mandate a complex accommodation, different from the full exemption from the mandate that churches receive. A nonprofit must sign a form certifying to its insurance company that it objects to the mandate, a form that authorizes its insurance company or a third party administrator to provide the contraceptives and abortifacients to employees ostensibly without using the nonprofit’s money. The certification is more complicated when an organization is self-insured, as many are. Nonprofit plaintiffs object to the accommodation, saying they are culpable by signing the form authorizing contraceptive coverage. Wheaton’s insurance covers all contraceptives except Plan B and Ella, which it believes can act as abortifacients. A federal district court and the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals both denied an injunction to Wheaton, pending a ruling on the merits of the case.

Then on July 3, the Supreme Court stepped in with its startling order, saying that Wheaton qualified for an injunction simply by filing its lawsuit, which served as a notification to the federal government that it objected to the mandate.

“The applicant has already notified the government—without using EBSA Form 700 [the certification form]—that it meets the requirements for exemption from the contraceptive requirement on religious grounds,” the court wrote. “Nothing in this order precludes the government from relying on this notice to the extent it considers it necessary, to facilitate the provision of full contraceptive coverage under the act.”

In other words, the court created a middle ground accommodation: Wheaton does not have to sign the objectionable form and can have an exemption from the mandate, but the government has the freedom to try to provide Plan B and Ella to Wheaton employees on its own. The court said the order should not be read as a ruling on the merits of Wheaton’s case, but the order indicated a potential solution for all the other nonprofit cases.

It’s not clear how most plaintiffs will react to this middle ground accommodation. It isn’t a full exemption, but it also puts the burden of arranging contraceptive coverage on the government instead of the nonprofit. Wheaton, for its part, celebrated the injunction. But several of the major law firms representing nonprofits did not return requests for more detailed comments on the Wheaton order. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty declined my interview request with an attorney, pointing me instead to its press release. The injunction is good news for our clients,” said Greg Scott, spokesman for Alliance Defending Freedom, which represents a number of nonprofits challenging the mandate. Jones Day, the firm handling most of the Catholic nonprofit cases, could not be reached. Normally, the firms are eager for interviews. One explanation is many staff and lawyers are on vacation. Another is that the firms aren’t sure what posture to take toward the court’s new proposal.

Typically Supreme Court orders are issued without comment, but this one was important enough to elicit a 15-page dissent from Sotomayor, which Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan joined. Sotomayor recognized the importance of what the majority of the court had done.

“[B]ecause Wheaton is materially indistinguishable from other nonprofits that object to the government’s accommodation, the issuance of an injunction in this case will presumably entitle hundreds or thousands of other objectors to the same remedy,” she wrote in a footnote.

The dissenters argued that the current nonprofit accommodation should be sufficient religious freedom protection. Sotomayor called the form authorizing contraceptive coverage “minimally burdensome.”

Sotomayor herself handled a Supreme Court injunction back in January on behalf of Little Sisters of the Poor, another nonprofit objecting to the mandate. She submitted the Little Sisters appeal to the court and the court issued an order granting an injunction without any dissents. Seven months later in her dissent from Wheaton’s order, Sotomayor said Wheaton’s case was “crucially unlike” Little Sisters for technical reasons, because the two nonprofits have different types of insurers. But the Little Sisters order, though shorter and less detailed, was almost a carbon copy of the Wheaton order. Little Sisters was required only to inform the government of its objection, and it received an injunction. With two rare orders establishing this route for nonprofits, we have what journalists call a trend.

Lower courts will move forward to decide the merits of these cases, but now Wheaton and Little Sisters have the protection of an injunction. 

Doug Phillips Leaves Church He Founded

 

In an announcement, Boerne Christian Assembly says Phillips left without following the procedures he emphasized during his ministry

By Jamie Dean

(WNS)--In a rare public statement regarding former Vision Forum Ministries president Doug Phillips, the leaders of Boerne Christian Assembly (BCA) announced Phillips had joined another church without receiving a letter of transfer from BCA. Millions of Americans change churches without such a letter, but Phillips previously had emphasized the importance of following church procedures. The July 6 church statement called the development “a matter of great concern” to the BCA.

Phillips resigned as president of the Christian organization Vision Forum Ministries (VFM) in October, admitting to a lengthy, inappropriate relationship with an unmarried woman. (Phillips is married and has eight children.) Two weeks later, the board of VFM announced the ministry would close immediately.

Phillips is also a founder and former elder of BCA—an independent, Baptist congregation north of San Antonio. (Phillips resigned as an elder in January 2013.) During his ministry, he emphasized the importance of accountability and submission to church leaders. He remained a member of BCA after he publicly confessed his sin and acknowledged he “behaved without proper accountability.” On Monday, the church announced Phillips’ departure:

“As previously noted, Boerne Christian Assembly has sought to exercise oversight and accountability with our former elder, Doug Phillips, who last year publicly confessed to an inappropriate, long-term relationship with a woman other than his wife and verbally expressed his repentance for his behavior. Recently, contrary to the position established many years ago at Boerne Christian Assembly under his eldership and which he reaffirmed on multiple occasions, Doug Phillips has left Boerne Christian Assembly and advised that he has become a member of another church without a letter of transfer from Boerne Christian Assembly. This is a matter of great concern to the body at Boerne Christian Assembly and we are attempting to work through this entire situation in a manner that would be honoring to our Lord. We continue to pray for restoration, wisdom, and grace as we determine how we should proceed.”

WORLD has reached out to Phillips for comment and will offer an update with any response.

The church news comes as Phillips faces a lawsuit related to his extra-marital relationship.

In April, the woman with whom Phillips had the relationship filed suit in a Texas court against Phillips, VFM, and Vision Forum Inc., the for-profit company Phillips owns. The complaint identified the woman as Lourdes Torres-Manteufel, a former member of BCA while Phillips was an elder. The Bexar County Court website lists the case’s status as pending.

Colorado Traditional Marriage Law Latest to Fall

(WNS)--A state judge in Denver overturned Colorado’s traditional marriage law in early July, but he put same-sex marriages on hold pending an appeal.

Judge C. Scott Crabtree said the state’s voter-approved ban “bears no rational relationship to any conceivable government interest.”

Attorney General John Suthers plans to appeal, but a three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals already staked its position on the issue when it ruled last month on Utah’s marriage case. Utah officials announced yesterday they plan to take their appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, rather than asking the full 10th Circuit to rehear its arguments.

The Utah case could be the one to settle the marriage issue nationally. It also set the precedent for putting same-sex marriages on hold after the U.S. Supreme Court issued an emergency stay at the beginning of the year. Lower court judges who have overturned traditional marriage laws since then, including Crabtree in Colorado, followed suit.

“The final chapter of this debate will undoubtedly have to be written either in Denver, Colorado, or Washington, D.C.,” he wrote in his opinion. “While the striking down of laws banning same-sex marriages has been progressing at a rapid rate, it will take time for this issue to be finally resolved.”

But another judge in Boulder County ruled today a clerk who's so far issued about 100 marriage licenses to same-sex couples can continue authorizing the unions, in violation of federal rulings. Judge Andrew Hartman said County Clerk Hillary Hall isn't harming anyone by issuing the licenses, although he warned couples who get them run the risk of having them invalidated. After the U.S. Supreme Court ordered a halt to gay marriages in Utah, state officials said they would not recognize the nearly 1,000 marriages that took place there following a federal judge's ruling to strike down the state's traditional marriage law. But the Obama administration said it would recognize the unions, giving same-sex couples a tax incentive to get a marriage license if they can.

 

Episcopalians in South Carolina Take Their $500 Million Property Fight to Court

By Rachel Lynn Aldrich

(WNS)--About 50 churches from the Diocese of South Carolina are going to court this week in an attempt to keep their name, seal, and $500 million in property following their split with The Episcopal Church (TEC).

“At no point in our history has the national church contributed financially to the building or maintenance of any of our church buildings, facilities, or ministries,” said the Rev. Ken Weldon, rector of St. John’s Church in Florence.

South Carolina’s withdrawal is the most recent in an exodus of members and congregations from TEC in recent years. The denomination has spent millions of dollars fighting individual congregations to keep buildings and property.

In a letter read aloud in South Carolina congregations on Sunday, Bishop Mark Lawrence emphasized that while the split was made to protect their members and legacy, “it is of fundamental importance to keep in mind that ours is more than a clinging to heritage for the sake of the past. It is also for the sake of our future mission.” 

Prior to the split, the diocese included about 30,000 parishioners, with congregations dating back to before the Revolutionary War. The Diocese of South Carolina was one of the original groups that came together to form TEC.

The congregations’ theological concerns are not limited to TEC’s ordination of gay bishops and approval of gay marriages. The rift with the national denomination is driven by several decisions, including an attempt to remove Lawrence, South Carolina’s elected bishop, according to an article on the diocese website. That last move prompted the Diocese of South Carolina to disassociate with TEC in October 2012, after which 80 percent of the diocese’s members voted to remain with their diocese rather than the national denomination. 

Only about 20 churches chose to stay with TEC. On Tuesday, those congregations announced they had granted priests permission to bless same-sex couples in committed relationships, although they are not required to do so.

State court decisions in property fight disputes have been varied as to whether the denomination or congregations own their buildings. A conservative congregation in northern Virginia lost its historic building in March after the U.S. Supreme Court left in place a lower court ruling for the national church, ending a seven-year fight. 

But the Episcopalian Diocese of Olympia in Seattle reached a settlement on Monday with two Anglican churches that left in 2004, making it possible for all parties to continue their ministries. And in Texas, the state Supreme Court sided with about a dozen congregations in the Fort Worth area last month. TEC is appealing that ruling.

What’s Next for Baker Who Refused to Make Cake for Same-Sex Wedding?

An interview with Jack Phillips and his attorney Nicolle Martin

By Warren Cole Smith

(WNS)--Jack Phillips’ bakeshop in Lakewood, Colo., has become a frontline in the battle for religious liberty. Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, recently refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding. The couple filed a complaint against the bakery, which has been in business for more than two decades. I spoke with Phillips and his attorney, Nicolle Martin of the Alliance Defending Freedom, in the dining area of Masterpiece Cakeshop in the Denver suburbs.

 

A couple of years ago in 2012, a situation happened here in your bakeshop. Would you describe what has happened since then? I had two guys come in that wanted me to make them a wedding cake. I declined to make a cake for a same-sex wedding. I informed them that I'd make all their other products, birthday cakes, shower cakes, cookies, and brownies, but that was a product that I didn't do. They left and sent out a message to all their Facebook friends or whatever, and soon phone calls started coming and emails and a lot of hate mail. Pretty vile phone calls … and then it just got pretty crazy after.

 

Talk to me about that very first interaction. I had two girls working for me, and it would have been their job to do that first. But they were both tied up, so I'm third in line. They indicated that they were both busy, and could I take care of that. I went over to the desk. The two guys introduced themselves. I introduced myself. They said what they were here for. I declined to make that, and they said, “What?” and I said, “I’ll make your other stuff,” and then they stomped out.

 

Was this something that you had predicted might be a decision you would have to make in your future, or had you actually had other couples come in, in the past? Yes, we’ve run across this in the past, but I don’t make any judgment because two girls could come in, and they're just good friends and one of them is the bride, you know, and the other one is a friend. So I don’t determine that. But first thing they said was, “We’re here to get a wedding cake. It’s for our wedding.” They let me know it right off.

 

You and Nicolle Martin, with Alliance Defending Freedom, spoke, and things didn't go away. No, it did not. They proceeded and set a hearing date, determined that there was cause for a trial, and so then we had a trial.

 

You still have an opportunity to appeal, but there has been, more or less, a final adjudication, right? Yes, the judge’s ruling. He determined that I violated the public accommodations statute, and I guess that was sent back to the Civil Rights Commission for them to make a ruling. They finalized their ruling a couple weeks ago.

 

The consequences to you are that you have to file quarterly reports. Quarterly reports. I have to cease and desist my practices, change my policies, retrain my employees.

 

Are you going to do any of that? You know, I have to talk with my attorneys and see how that plays out.

 

I’ve heard from media reports that, since this situation has gone public, it has actually helped your business. Is that accurate? It is. A number of things have happened since then that have increased our business because of people hearing about it. A whole lot of local people didn’t know we were here, so they come by and order cakes. More than that, it is people from all over the place that will just come in and want to show their support and buy some cookies or brownies and say they’ve been here.  Yesterday, I had a family … on vacation from Michigan, and they didn’t want to go to the coast of Florida or something like that, but this year they wanted to go to Colorado. They went to the zoo, … Glenwood Springs, and Masterpiece Cakeshop. That was a destination.

 

Down in New Mexico, where aphotographerfaced a similar trial, there have been nasty threats, letters, and voicemails. You said you got some of those in the beginning. In the case of the photographer down in New Mexico, it actually put them out of business. Clearly that’s not happening here, but is it a concern of yours that, maybe after the publicity has gone away and all of the well-wishers forget you, that things could change?  I’ve given that up to the Lord. If that’s what he wants to do here, it’s his business, and he already knows if I can win it or not, so just take it as it comes.

Nicolle, legally, you don’t really know what's going to happen next. Is that correct? Yes.  In order for the Commission to enforce this order, it has to go to the District Court, a court of record, because … even though the Colorado Civil Rights Commission sits as prosecutor, judge, and jury to order Jack to do all this stuff, they have no authority to make him do it. They would have to go and have that order enforced in the District Court. At that point, if and when that were to happen, district courts, courts of record, have broad contempt powers.

You mean that if Jack doesn’t comply, they could find him in contempt of court? That’s correct.

So what’s next? Right now we are considering all of our legal options, which would include an appeal, and weighing that decision. Jack is considering his next steps.

From where you sit, as an affiliated attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom, where is Jack’s case relative to other cases of this kind? Could we end up with law, with precedent, that could dictate how companies all across the country are going to be forced to behave? Sure, that’s the precipice that we’re on. In New Mexico, there’s certainly a bad precedent with Elane Photography. If I was an artist living in New Mexico, I would be greatly concerned about my First Amendment rights. What we’re about to do is force gay print shop owners to make the signs for the Westboro Baptist Church. I think most of your listeners are probably astute enough to know what those signs say. … Or the gay printer might be compelled to print the literature and marketing collateral for the National Organization for Marriage. Are we now to force a pro-life photographer to film Planned Parenthood’s annual gala? That’s where we’re at. What I call the captains of diversity, that’s what they don't seem to understand is that this tolerance agenda goes both ways. Unfortunately, right now, we’re seeing it used against mainly Christians, but all people of faith are at risk.           

Saving Sons and Daughters from Radical Islam

By Ryan Hill

(WNS)--Chris Boudreau, a grieving mother from Canada, traveled to Europe this last week to learn about ways to spare other families whose children risk the same fate as her son. Damian Clairmont died in January at age 22 while fighting for the jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria. Clairmont, Boudreau said, converted to Islam to help him recover from depression after he attempted suicide when he was 17. He eventually told his mother he was leaving for Egypt to learn Arabic and study as an imam.

Two recent German initiatives could be helpful in keeping disaffected young men like Clairmont from entering Islamic terrorist groups. Clairmont’s story is not that rare. According to the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR) at King’s College London, jihadis in Syria have enticed as many as 11,000 recruits since 2011.

Wegweiser, German for “signpost,” and Hayat, Arabic for “life,” both run hotlines for the friends and family of radical Islamic converts. Boudreau met with counselors from the first group, which opened centers this April in three German cities with large Muslim populations. Social workers operating from these centers intervene when they spot radical recruiters talking to teenagers at playgrounds, football fields, or market squares.

The German state government in North Rhine-Westphalia launched Wegweiser in response to the local growth of Salafi Islam, a Sunni sect often prone to violence. Nearly one third of Germany’s 6,000 Salafi Muslims live in the state. As many as 240 Germans have linked up with terrorist cells in Syria, according to ICSR.

“Salafism is a lifestyle package for young people because it offers them social warmth, a simple black-and-white view of the world, recognition by their peer group–basically everything they lack in real life,” said Burkhard Freier, chief of North Rhine-Westphalia’s intelligence service.

Three staff members keep the phone lines open 24/7 at Hayat, which grew from founder Bernd Wagner’s work to rehabilitate neo-Nazis. “We saw a parallel between Islamism and the far right,” he said this week, noting the 528 right-wing extremists and dozens of violent Muslims his organizations have managed to help de-radicalize to date.

Wagner makes no mention of the God who is faithful and just to forgive confessed sins, but he seems at least to understand the power of confession. He told the Goethe Institute in 2012 about a crucial step for recovering neo-Nazis. “We take anyone, though it is important for people to be honest,” Wagner said. “They must also tell us about any criminal or shameful acts they have committed—that’s an absolute prerequisite.”

Anne Speckhard, author of Talking to Terrorists, spoke to the psychology of radical Islam in an interview with WORLD News Group. “It gives a course of action, it gives a rationale for revenge, and it gives an out,” she said, adding that jihadis tend to feel extreme calm and endorphin-driven euphoria after swearing to kill infidels or even themselves. “I call it short-term psychological first aid,” Speckhard said. She interviewed more than 400 detained terrorists in Iraq between 2005 and 2007.

Groups like Wegweiser and Hayat ought to be ready to criticize jihadi doctrine, said Speckhard, but understanding radical Islam as an emotional crutch for aimless men or depressed youth like Clairmont is equally important: “No one just adopts a militant ideology out of the blue.”

Angel Rabasa said it boils down to a sense of adventure for some extremist recruits. An expert on radical Islam at the RAND Corporation, he told WORLD about his friend who left Malaysia as a young man to fight with Afghan jihadis against the Soviets. The friend repented of his violence years later and told Rabasa why he embraced it in the first place, saying, “Well, I was a very young man, I was bored in this small village, and it was a chance to see the world.”

NATIONAL BRIEFS

Historic Leave-Taking

 

(WNS)--The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)–in a move long expected but nonetheless momentous for the 1.8-million-member denomination, the nation’s sixth largest—approved full endorsement of same-sex marriage with passage of two overtures on June 19.   First, the commissioners voted to approve an Authoritative Interpretation of the constitution, giving PCUSA pastors discretion to conduct same-sex ceremonies in states where the practice is legal. The results were not close: 371 (61 percent) to 238 (39 percent). This action goes into effect immediately.  Next, the assembly approved an amendment to the Book of Order, changing the definition of marriage from “a woman and a man” to “two people.” This vote was even more lopsided: 429 (71 percent) to 175 (29 percent). The amendment now goes out to the denomination’s 172 presbyteries for ratification, a process that normally takes a year.

Pro-lifers Win Supreme Court Buffer Zone Case

 

(WNS)--The U.S. Supreme Court spoke plainly and unanimously in striking down a Massachusetts law placing a 35-foot buffer zone around abortion centers: The law “violates the First Amendment.” The zone excluded anyone but abortion center employees and clients. Chief Justice John Roberts, writing the decision for the court, refused to describe buffer zones in general as unconstitutional, leaving an earlier Supreme Court decision upholding buffer zones in place for now. Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito wrote concurring opinions arguing that buffer zones should be declared unconstitutional altogether.

 

Conservatives Lobby for Religious Exemptions in LGBT Anti-Bias Policy

 

(WNS)--Rather than fight President Barack Obama’s planned executive order against LGBT bias in the workplace, religious conservatives are rallying to persuade him to include an exemption for religious employers. “We want it to be on record,” said Stanley Carlson-Thies, president of the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance, which is circulating a petition that now has 140 co-signers. “We want to give him the opportunity to do the right thing.”  Obama

Author Information
WMCN Editor
Author: WMCN EditorWebsite: http://MannaMedia.org
About:
The West Michigan Christian News desires to glorify God while providing global, national, and local news to the West Michigan community. The West Michigan Christian News is a non-denominational, Christ-centered, advertiser-supported monthly newspaper published in Grand Rapids, Michigan by Manna Media Inc. It is unabashedly biased in its Christian presentation of news and views. It is also dedicated to the promotion of Christian unity by focusing on the 95 percent of the Christian faith on which all Christians agree while refusing to get drawn into controversies about the 5 percent on which we might differ.

Related Articles

No Related Articles Found


calendar
Events
home app07 envelope
Contact
YouTube-icon
Channel
     
rokpad-thumb-2
Submit News
 RSS
RSS Feed
home app09 playVideos
faith-buttonPlease consider helping us by contributing to our publication. 

Donate directly or advertize your business on this site or in our newsletter.  It reaches thousands across West Michigan.