Prayer Targets: Liberty's Keystone; SCOTUS Prayer; Tax Reconciliation; Delaware DOE; Col. Bohannon
December 06, 2017
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1
Dear Praying Friends,
Christian historian Rod Gragg, a former journalist, is director of the Center for Military and Veterans Studies and adjunct professor at Coastal Carolina University. An award-winning author, he has written over 20 books highlighting Christianity's role in American history. These excerpts are from his By the Hand of Providence: How Faith Shaped the American Revolution:
In 1517... Martin Luther... sparked the Protestant Reformation by calling for the Church to return to key biblical doctrines... salvation by faith in Jesus Christ alone rather than by faith and works... the authority of Scripture over church tradition and church leadership... [T]he Reformation flooded Western Europe with a Bible-centered revival -- and a political transformation. With emphasis on the authority of Scripture as the Higher Law, the Reformation persuaded countless commoners that every person, prince or pauper, was of equal value to God. It spread the belief that God's law, as revealed by Scripture, superseded man's law -- including the authority of princes, queens, and kings.
In England... the Reformation and its biblical doctrines took root and flourished. The first published English translation of the Bible gave the common people personal access to the Scriptures -- and the country was transformed. "The whole moral effect ... was simply amazing," English historian John Richard Green would later conclude. "The whole nation became a church."
By the early 1600s, many people in England weighed everything according to a biblical worldview -- including government. They cherished individual rights and a representative form of government -- the legacy of the canon law of Christianity and the English Constitution it had inspired. The English Reformation inspired even greater commitment to Higher Law and God-given rights of the individual. Most committed of all were the Puritans..., [who] desire[d] to "purify" the Church of England -- the official government denomination -- were not popular with English monarchs. Neither was the Puritan belief that all people were equal before God. King James I vowed to "harry them out of the land, or else do worse." His son and successor, King Charles I, permitted Anglican officials to persecute them. Puritan preaching was restricted, their books and tracts banned, and many Puritans were whipped, tortured, branded, or imprisoned. [Some] Puritans prayerfully chose to follow the Pilgrims to America. Between 1630 and 1640 -- in the "Great Migration" -- more than twenty thousand Puritans immigrated to Massachusetts Bay Colony, bringing with them the seeds of Bible-based liberty.
Although far from perfect, the Puritans' Massachusetts Bay Colony was based on biblical principles and became an influential model for other colonies. Many of the fundamental rights championed by America's founding fathers, such as representative self-government, regular elections, and respect for private property, were inspired by the Puritans. The Judeo-Christian worldview became the foundation for American law and culture, as expressed, for example, in the 1643 Articles of Confederation of the United Colonies of New England: "Whereas we all came into these parts of America with one and the same end and aim, namely, to advance the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ and to enjoy the liberties of the Gospel in purity with peace. ..."At times, some Colonial Americans appeared to forget the persecution they and their ancestors had suffered in the Old World and repeated the same sins in the New World. But the New was not the Old, and religious intolerance would not last in the Bible-based culture of Colonial America -- too many colonists were unwilling to stand for it. Instead, gradually there arose an American tradition of religious tolerance, based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was advanced by such people of faith as Roger Williams in Rhode Island [Baptist], William Penn in Pennsylvania [Quaker], Cecilius Calvert [Catholic]in Maryland, and countless American colonists who rejected religious persecution. Colonial Americans eventually established laws that reflected biblical values and principles while allowing full freedom of faith and conscience for all. The foundation of American liberty was the Judeo-Christian worldview, and a keystone in that foundation was religious freedom. (Excerpted from By the Hand of Providence: How Faith Shaped the American Revolution by Rod Gragg.)
Psalm 11:3 asks: "If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?" Today, people, bound and blinded by sin, labor to destroy these foundations. Our job is to defend, protect, and repair these foundations, and preserve them for future generations.
Supremes Deliberating: Do Same-Sex Wedding Cakes Trump Religious Liberty, Free Speech? On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments over Masterpiece Cakeshop Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Because he could not, in good conscience, create a custom same-sex wedding cake, Jack Phillips felt forced to give up creating custom wedding cakes for any customer. Moreover, the State of Colorado required Jack and all his employees to undergo special sensitivity training, i.e., government indoctrination. In short, Masterpiece Cakeshop lost 40 percent of its business, six of its 10 employees, and has been subjected to a five-year long legal battle to defend Jack Phillips' constitutional rights to free speech and freedom of religion, which could have a profound effect on the First Amendment rights of every person of faith.
Fortunately, those who were in the courtroom yesterday are upbeat about the questions and comments of the Justices. The consensus is that the decision will be a 4-4 split, with Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy in the middle with the deciding vote, as in Obergefell v. Hodges. But Kennedy expressed sympathy for both sides Tuesday. Tony Perkins wrote, "Although his same-sex allegiances led to a complete redefinition of marriage, most everyone knows the longtime justice is passionate about protecting free speech. And he proved it, pouncing on Colorado Solicitor General Frederick Yarger, who insisted that what Jack had done was 'despicable,' calling this 'hostility to religion.' 'Counselor,' Kennedy fired back, 'tolerance is essential in a free society. And tolerance is most meaningful when it's mutual. It seems to me that the state, in its position here, has been neither tolerant nor respectful of Mr. Phillips' religious beliefs... There are,' he went on, 'other shops.'"
Court-watchers consider this case to be the most important of the year. But alert Christians understand it far more than that. Like Roe v. Wade and Obergefell, it is epochal. This is not just an issue of civil tolerance and helping Christians and those who identify as LGBT to reasonably coexist in a commercial civil society, but whether the first liberty, religious liberty, is going to be supplanted by the new institution of same-sex marriage, created by Obergefell.
The question, in the case, is whether the government can force a believer in Jesus Christ (Jack Phillips), or any person of any faith, to deny his faith and employ his creative skills to serve, support, participate in, and promote an activity that he believes to be fundamentally wrong and prohibited by Almighty God? Can government force him to subjugate his conscience, faith, and religious beliefs to, in effect, affirm, approve and condone same-sex marriage by actively participating in a wedding ceremony using his skills, experience, artistic talents, and mental and physical energies? Will the Supreme Court, which minted its redefinition of marriage, like abortion, out of the "penumbras" of the Constitution, elevate this newly manufactured "right" as superior to the First Amendment right of business people to free expression and religious conscience and liberty -- thus diminishing forever religious freedom as the keystone in the foundation of American liberty? Will the growing panoply of sexual practices now being declared "rights" across our land be used by law to discriminate against and do violence to the religious and moral consciences of men and women, boys and girls across America for generations to come? Just as when King Charles I gave permission to the Anglicans to persecute the Puritans, will a wrong ruling in this case be tantamount to issuing permission to local, state, and federal governments to punish sincere, Bible-practicing Christians? (See Grappling; Masterpiece Theater; SCOTUS Arguments Take the Cake; WSJ Live; Transcript; Audio; C-Span, Post Hearing Speeches)
- God, we cry out to You! As the Justices now consider the arguments presented and deliberate their decision, may the Holy Spirit move the hearts and minds of each, especially Justice Kennedy. May the Court decide, craft and issue a decision that upholds religious liberty and provides guidelines for tolerance that will restrain governments from overstepping the First Amendment. May Jack Phillips be vindicated and his case become a learning experience for the entire nation regarding the sacredness of conscience and religious faith in America, and the Constitutional limits on government to prevent their violation of the faith or conscience of any person, whatever their occupation. (Ps 11:2-4; 17:2; 37:37-39; Pr 28:4; Is 54:17; Dan 9:16-18; Mt 28:19-20; Jn 15:5; Acts 5:29; Gal 5:1;Eph 6:10-20;1 Tim 1:5)
Finally, please keep these matters on your prayer list: 1) GOP tax cut bills passed, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) will lead the reconciliation process; Democrats continue to fight the bills and the process. 2) The Delaware DOE received 11,000 letter commenting on its plan to allow children of any age tochoose to identify with any race or gender without their parents knowledge or approval. The Department has announced its intention to further review the issue after calls from elected officials, including local school boards objected. 3) Today, Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin (U.S. Army ret.), FRC Executive VP, delivered over 77,000 signed petitions collected by FRC and coalition partners on behalf of distinguished Air Force Colonel Leland Bohannon, accused of "unlawful discrimination on the basis of his sexual orientation" after Bohannon sought a religious accommodation from his superiors to avoid having to sign a "certificate of spouse appreciation" for an airman in a same-sex marriage. Bohannon is a Christian and father of five. It is not too late tosign the petition in his support. 4) Keeping his campaign promise, President Trump has informed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other Arab leaders that he is moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. Plans are underway to do so over several years. Prayer is critical! As always, thank you for praying!