Prayer Targets: Harry Truman's Christmas; Religious Liberty for our Servicemen AND All Americans
December 12, 2013
Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever. Heb 13:8
Dear Praying Friends,
On May 14th, 1948, President Harry Truman (1945-1953), against strong pressure from the State Department, signed a memo making the U.S. the first nation to recognize the newly constituted Jewish state of Israel. On April 17, 1952 he signed a bill creating an annual National Day of Prayer. On Christmas Eve 1945, Truman addressed the nation:
This is the Christmas that a war-weary world has prayed for through long and awful years. With peace come joy and gladness. The gloom of the war years fades as once more we light the National Community Christmas Tree. We meet in the spirit of the first Christmas, when the midnight choir sang..."Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men..."
It is... fitting for us to remember that the spirit of Christmas is the spirit of peace, of love, of charity to all men. From the manger of Bethlehem came a new appeal to the minds and hearts of men: "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another."
In love, which is the very essence of the message of the Prince of Peace, the world would find a solution for all its ills. I do not believe there is one problem in this country or in the world today which could not be settled if approached through the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount. The poets' dream, the lesson of priest and patriarch and the prophets' vision of a new heaven and a new earth, all are summed up in the message delivered in the Judean hills beside the Sea of Galilee. Would that the world would accept that message in this time of its greatest need!
This is a solemn hour. In the stillness of the Eve of the Nativity when the hopes of mankind hang on the peace that was offered to the world nineteen centuries ago, it is but natural, while we survey our destiny, that we give thought also to our past--to some of the things which have gone into the making of our Nation.
You will remember that Saint Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles, and his companions, suffering shipwreck, "cast four anchors out of the stern and wished for the day" [Acts 27:29]. Happily for us, whenever the American Ship of State has been storm-tossed we have always had an anchor to the windward... [he spoke of Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson and Jackson; their roles in history]
With our enemies vanquished we must gird ourselves for the work that lies ahead. Peace has its victories no less hard won than success at arms. We must not fail or falter. We must strive without ceasing to make real the prophecy of Isaiah: "They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning-hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."
In this day, whether it be far or near, the Kingdoms of this world shall become indeed the Kingdom of God and He will reign forever and ever, Lord of Lords and King of Kings. With that message I wish my countrymen a Merry Christmas and joyous days in the New Year (The American Presidency Project).
America's Christian heritage is fixed in history. Since prayer and Bible reading were essentially taken out of our public schools a generation ago, America has seen tragic spiritual decline. But America's Christian roots run deep. With proper care, the American vine can thrive again. We who believe must care for it with prayer and unflinchingly defend the faith once delivered to the saints and proclaimed by our Forefathers. We will overcome (Rev 12:11)!
The HHS Mandate - The annual skirmishes over Christmas continue (See Manger No Danger, and Display Restored) but looming large are other major religious liberty cases that the U.S. Supreme Court will decide in the New Year. After President Obama promised there would be no abortion in his healthcare law, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued regulations requiring employers to offer their employees policies that provide "free" contraceptives (including morning after pills which may cause abortions). It is well known that the Catholic Church opposes contraception. Bible-believing Christians, Catholic and Protestant, oppose the termination of unborn human life. The HHS Mandate egregiously violates the faith of Christians. If the Court upholds the Mandate, it will usher a new era in which government can freely violate deeply held religious beliefs.
In an Orwellian public relations move, liberals dubbed conservative reaction to this Mandate a "war on women," suggesting conservatives want to "prevent women from access to contraception and deny women control over their own bodies." At stake is the closure of Christian businesses, schools, and hospitals that will not bow to the regulation and violate the fundamental tenets of their faith.
While 89 lawsuits have been filed against the Mandate, the Supreme Court has chosen to take two cases: Hobby Lobby, a large national and evangelical Christian-owned business, and Conestoga Wood, a small Mennonite family-owned business. For Hobby Lobby the issue is not paying for contraceptives, but for induced abortions. An op-ed in LA Times explained, "Hobby Lobby... provides excellent health insurance, which includes coverage for most -- but not all -- contraceptives. However, because of the Greens' firm belief in the dignity of human life and about when and how it begins, Hobby Lobby cannot provide coverage for some of the required drugs because they could cause an abortion." Businesses that fail to comply face unthinkable daily fines that none can pay and hope to stay afloat. Many more businesses are liable now but await the resolution of this case before they must pay. Churches are exempt, but non-church religious organizations must submit to the Mandate by January 1, 2014 or similarly face fines (see Majority Oppose Mandate; LA Times: Business people shouldn't be required to check their faith at the door; Alliance Defending Freedom Report).
- May the Court put the current and future administrations on notice that the Constitution requires government to accommodate the deeply held religious beliefs of all citizens, including those who run businesses (2 Sam 23:3; Job 12:17-23; Ps 2:10-11; 94:20-22; 98:9; Pr 28:15-16; Lk 21:13; Gal 5:1; Heb 11:6; 1 Tim 2:8).
Greece v. Galloway Prayer Case - The second big religious liberty case is Greece v. Galloway. At question is the constitutional right of the Town of Greece, NY to open its town council meetings with prayers offered by representatives of diverse religious groups in their town, including Protestant and Catholic Christians, Jewish and Muslim clerics and even openly pagan religious leaders. The Court heard arguments early last month. Please read up on this case and pray until a decision is rendered sometime in July (see Game Changer, Good Day for Prayer, FRC's Klukowski & 85 Congressmen, Rep. Randy Forbes).
- May God cause the Supreme Court to make this case a "slam-dunk" for Religious Liberty as FRC's attorney and Director for the Center for Religious Liberty believes it could be! (Gen 18:14a; Ex 20:3; 23:13; Ps 16:1; 25:21; Cor 2:14; Eph 6:10-20; 1 Tim 1:5; 3:9)
Finally, it was announced today that FRC and 15 other organizations have submitted a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel requesting that the Department of Defense (DOD) act to ensure that military training materials "not rely on information from organizations such as the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) ... that engage in groundless and highly pejorative mischaracterizations of long-standing ministries and organizations for their own political purposes." Materials have been discovered that claim evangelical Christians are among the nation's greatest national security threats (see FRC Release, Letter). Please pray, too, for speedy passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), including language calling for religious liberty protections in the Armed Services. Over the Holidays, perhaps your family could consider and pray over all of the above-mentioned serious challenges to our First Freedom -- Religious Liberty. As always, thank you for praying!