On Monday Liberty Counsel filed a Reply Brief at the Florida Supreme Court, in which it argued that The Florida Bar should remain neutral in the homosexual adoption controversy. In addition to Liberty Counsel, the Petitioners include Anita Staver, President of Liberty Counsel, and Scott Dixon, affiliate attorney for Liberty Counsel. Liberty Counsel represents the interests of its staff and affiliate attorneys who are licensed by the Bar.
Liberty Counsel filed a Petition at the Florida Supreme Court on February 27; the Bar filed its Response and on March 23 Liberty Counsel filed its Reply. In its Response, the Bar admits that it is prohibited from taking sides on this or any other issue that has the potential of causing deep philosophical or emotional division among a substantial segment of the Bar. The Bar argues that the Family Law Section, membership in which is voluntary, is filing the brief, not the Bar itself, and that having only one law firm and two attorneys object does not make an issue divisive among a substantial segment of the Bar.
Note from Steve: As many evangelicals are saying the Republican Party is ignoring their socially conservative agenda for a more fiscally conservative focus, U.S. News & World Report recently reported that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has launched an organization centered on mobilizing religious conservatives. I thought you'd be interested in this. You can read more about ithere.
On March 20 the Rev. Walter Hoye of Berkeley, Cali., was ordered to serve 30 days in county jail by Judge Stuart Hing of the Alameda Superior Court. The Rev. Hoye had been found guilty on Jan. 15, of unlawfully approaching two persons entering an abortion clinic in Oakland. Judge Hing had also ordered him to stay one hundred yards away from the abortion clinic for three years. However, Hoye refused this term of probation and would not agree to a stay-away order. Therefore, the judge denied the defense motion to stay the sentence pending appeal. Hoye was taken into custody from the courtroom.
We must use the right building materials if we want our ministries to stand in the day of His visitation.
Every state in this country has strict building codes. You can't just buy a piece of land and throw up a structure any way you choose. Local governments have standards for foundations, floors, drywall, roofs, exhaust systems, water heaters, wiring, lighting and sanitary drainage. In my neighborhood you can't even erect a shed in your backyard without a permit, and an inspector will always drop by unannounced to make sure you followed the rules.
These codes are important in Florida where I live. You don't want to discover during a hurricane that your contractor used shoddy plywood or defective concrete when he built your house or condo. Bad construction just might send your roof into a neighbor's yard!
To the woman at the well, Jesus asked, "Will you give me a drink?" I can't imagine being asked by the living water Himself to fetch Him some refreshment. Yet Jesus asks us to quench His thirst—to bring Him something that will refresh Him. That makes me wonder, Is Jesus thirsty in my relationship with Him? Do I bring Him a cup of cold water in my worship, in my praise? Does my life water and refresh His heart?
One way we can refresh the heart of Jesus is by watering others. Jesus talked about water more than once. He tells us that when we give a drink to others we have done it unto Him.
Last week as I was discussing the difficulty of communicating issues of faith on secular media, a Catholic friend of mine asked why the Pope had spoken out so boldly on the AIDS problem. It seemed to this liberal Catholic that the Pope had once again stuck his nose where it did not belong. Pope Benedict XVI made the following statement in Yaounde, Cameroon, "You can't resolve it with the distribution of condoms ...On the contrary, it increases the problem."
As far as I can tell, contrary to my friend's opinion, the Pope was right this time. In fact, his statement was not just a doctrinal position on sexuality; it was also a practical observation about a dreaded disease that the Roman Catholic Church has invested billions of dollars to fight around the world. I agree with the Pope that a responsible and moral attitude toward sex would help fight the disease.
It was appropriate that his statement was made in sub-Saharan Africa, where some 22 million people are infected with HIV (accounting for two-thirds of the world's infections in 2007, according to UNAIDS). Adding insult to injury, this region also accounted for three-quarters of all AIDS deaths in 2007. In four southern African countries, national adult HIV prevalence has exceeded 30 percent: Botswana (38.8 percent), Lesotho (31 percent), Swaziland (33.4 percent) and Zimbabwe (33.7 percent). Food crises faced in the latter three countries are also linked to the HIV/AIDS epidemic by some experts. In just the past year, the AIDS epidemic in Africa has claimed the lives of an estimated 1.5 million people in this region. Perhaps most concerning of all is the fact that more than eleven million children have been orphaned by AIDS, according to the UNAIDS 2008 report.
The Pope's observation about the use of condoms also applies to the spread of HIV in the developed world as well. There needs to be a world- wide initiative aimed at two things: 1. stopping the spread of the disease and, 2. finding a medical cure for HIV/AIDS.
Just days before the Pope issued his statement in a far away national capital in the impoverished land of Cameroon, leaders in the world's most powerful city also threw up their hands in exasperation. Washington, DC health officials discovered that at least 3 percent of residents are living with HIV or AIDS. The report points to increases of incidence in every race and sex; in fact the disease has impacted every population and neighborhood within the District.
This is particularly disturbing compared to the 2006 report. The DC report does not conclusively show that condoms do not work. It suggests to me, that many people are not even trying to use condoms. The increase in the HIV/AIDS infection rate is not the only surprise in this work. Let's look a little deeper into the study.
Cases of HIV and AIDS in DC jumped 22 percent in the last two years. What has caused such an abrupt increase? The report states that men having sex with men accounts for most of the cases. Heterosexual transmission and injection drug use follow. The raw data states that of those living with AIDS, 37.5 percent were due to homosexual contact, 25.6 percent were due to heterosexual contact and 23.5 percent were due to drug use.
I was personally shocked by how many older people in the nation's most powerful city assumed that all "the noise" about safe sex was for someone else. Those in the 40-49 year age bracket had a startling 1 in 10 rate of occurrence among residents. Further, the black community in DC seems to need a very intense HIV/AIDS education program since black men reached the highest infection rate. In the 2008 DC update, the black female infection rate is equal to that of white males.
The overarching lesson the DC numbers show me is that the AIDS pandemic has similar dynamics here in the states as it does overseas. Dr. Shannon Hader, Director of the HIV/AIDS Administration at the DC Department of Health, stated (somewhat defensively) that Washington does not have the highest rate of the disease among the world's capital cities - but it does have the highest rate among US cities.
Thankfully, Dr. Hader stated that the District is still looking to initiate a comprehensive response, including early detection and prevention of ongoing transmission. Even the Washington HIV/AIDS Administration agrees that responsibility toward sexual encounters is a primary factor in preventing the virus from transmitting. In fact, Dr. Hader stated that along with other preventions, "...serious decisions about relationships can make a large prevention difference."
In conclusion, let me applaud the Pope's boldness to state the primary way HIV/AIDS can be stopped. I felt sorry for him that his brave statements have been interpreted as petty, bigoted, and out of touch with modern sexuality. I also applaud the Roman Catholic Church for having the wisdom to minister to people around the world suffering with AIDS. Many of us non-Catholics are guilty of criticizing the way problems are being addressed without investing anything in a solution. For this reason, I have made a commitment to stamping out AIDS in our lifetime. I have raised thousands of dollars to fund research for a world famous, D.C.-based organization. My vehicle for raising the money was running several marathons. The fund raising has been my contribution. What's yours?
We should all do what the hymn writer said, "If everyone lit just one little candle, what a bright world this would be!" Let's take every opportunity to combat the spread of this dreaded disease.
In light of the recent economic crises and major political, social and moral changes in our nation, people everywhere are asking, "What can I still count on in these turbulent times?"
I have an answer that is firmly grounded in the Scriptures: "You can count on God's unfailing faithfulness." Here are three ways God is faithful, no matter what the circumstances are that are swirling around you:
Note from Steve: Here's an item that ran in "The Washington Times" on March 18, by former Governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas who I supported when he ran for the Republican party's nomination for President. It is so clear thinking I wanted to give you a link to read it by clicking here.
Undercover videos produced by Live Action Films were used to help strip Planned Parenthood of the $292,000 in taxpayer funds it received from Orange County, CA. The videos, part of the ongoing Mona Lisa Project, clearly show Planned Parenthood employees ignoring the sexual abuse of minors, which mandatory reporting laws require clinicians to report.
Mark Bucher, a local resident and board member of the Family Action PAC, saw the videos and decided to find out if Orange County gave taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood. Bucher proceeded to uncover an intricate money trail unknown even to the Orange County Board of Supervisors, and found that Planned Parenthood received funds through the Orange County Health Care Agency but was never identified as the recipient.
Since I started the Strang Report a year ago what I write on a weekly basis is a commentary that is more or less in the same style, tone and length of my monthly column in Charisma. I'm wanting to shift to give you important information and articles that come into my computer inbox on a daily basis about many of the important issues that are facing our nation from a spiritual, cultural, and political point of view. Comment on this article to let me if you like this new format.
The Alabama Supreme Court accepted review of a case involving a child caught between two same-sex partners split between California and Alabama. The Alabama Court of Appeals ruled that the state must recognize and enforce a California decision, declaring that a former same-sex partner with no biological or adoptive relationship has parental rights. Liberty Counsel now represents N.B. in the case of N.B. v. A.K. at the Alabama Supreme Court.
N.B. is the biological mother of a nine-year-old girl. At the time of her daughter’s birth, she was in a same-sex relationship in California. Well after the relationship ended, the former partner sued, and a California court declared her a “de facto” parent, granting A.K. visitation rights.
Traditional Values Coalition's executive director takes on an Islamist school in Fairfax County, Va.
The Islamic Saudi Academy (ISA) in Fairfax, Va. went before the local planning commission Wednesday night to seek an expansion of their controversial and secretive school funded and controlled by the Saudi government.
A large group of residents near the school asked the Traditional Values Coalition (TVC) for help in organizing and strategizing against the expansion, which has seen raids by local police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation and used anti-Christian, anti-Semitic and anti-American textbooks. The school is operated by the government of Saudi Arabia and there has been some confusion over whether federal or local officials should take jurisdiction over the extremist Wahhabi teaching and clandestine activities which have marked the ISA’s history.
In this day of compromise, we must restate the obvious: God requires leaders to play by the rules.
Almost two years ago a dynamic preacher from a growing church in the Southeast was caught in adultery. His distraught wife talked with the "other woman," an exotic dancer from another country, and shared Christ with her. Meanwhile a small group of pastors "covered" the situation and hurriedly sent the embarrassed pastor to a few weeks of counseling. In the end, the pastor and his wife divorced and members of the congregation who didn't have all the facts blamed her for the breakup.
Today this pastor is still in the pulpit—although his preaching has a hollow tone. Some members of the church left when they learned of the pastor's unfaithfulness. Yet many others stayed because they felt they shouldn't judge the pastor for his sin.
I believe that one of the characteristics that will mark a fresh outpouring of God's Spirit is a revival of the fear of the Lord. Having a genuine fear of the Lord is vital if you desire to live a successful and vibrant Christian life. It doesn't rob you of your joy. In fact, it causes you to live your life to its fullest potential in God and releases supernatural joy, peace and prosperity! Living a life filled with a healthy and holy fear of God has many benefits.
Last Tuesday, I stood in front of the steps of Maryland State House as one of the speakers at an annual pro-life rally. Nearly 1,000 demonstrators chanted, sang and vowed to return to their homes that night to strategize organizing their houses of worship, schools, and communities to fight the continuing devaluation of human life by the American public. When it came time for my remarks, I reminded the crowd that the battle for life was not over - we simply have new battle lines.
The day before our rally, President Obama made a powerful but concerning speech, justifying his decision to remove the restraints against government funding of embryonic stem research. The president warned twice that overstating the promise of stem cell research is wrong. This was wise, as embryonic stem cell zealots are promising handicapped men and women breakthroughs during their lifetime for the most debilitating diseases. Although it was refreshing to hear a cry for tempered expectation from the president, future research could lead to major ethical transgressions, such as human cloning.
Most pro-life conservatives believe that Congress should have banned federal involvement in human embryonic stem cell research based on the fact that it destroys a human being. We believe that the nation should never approve the destruction of living human beings to preserve or promote the health of other living human beings in the name of science. Based on this moral posture, the religious community especially encourages the use of alternative sources of stem cells, such as adult stem cells, those from umbilical cords or placentas, or other new sources such as reprogrammed skin cells by increasing federal funding for this type of research.
The embryonic stem cell research debate became personal for me this past September when my wife needed a stem cell transplant. All other treatment for her blood cancer - multiple myeloma - had failed. Let me take a moment to describe her treatment protocol. Weeks before the transplant, she went into the hospital where her own stem cells were frozen and stored. Later on, high-dose chemotherapy was administered to her in a sterile hospital unit on a 24-hour basis for a week. Finally, her stem cells were given back.
What I have just clumsily described is an autologous stem cell transplant. This by far is the most common type of transplant performed on myeloma patients today. The term "autologous" refers to stem cells that are collected from an individual and given back to that same individual. Autologous transplants are also referred to as auto grafts. The doctors believe that this treatment has given my wife back her life and her future. Ironically, this encounter with modern science reminded me why I am pro-adult stem cell research (which has yielded 72 treatments or cures like my wife's) and anti-embryonic stem cell research (which has yielded no treatments or cures).
Congress should obviously not have opened the flood gates of embryonic stem cell research because it's ineffective!
In the 10 years that embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) has been conducted, there have yet to be any successful treatments of any medical condition. In fact, ESCR is problematic in that the cells divide and multiply so rapidly that they create tumors. There are also problems of host rejection. There is, however, a successful and ethical alternative: adult stem cell research.
Unlike ESCR, seventy-two breakthroughs have been made in adult and cord blood research. These breakthroughs are addressing major health concerns, such as ovarian and breast cancer, diabetes, and heart disease among others. With the success of adult stem cell research, logical people conclude that we should put money where the breakthroughs are occurring and stop cloning embryonic cells.
We should be investing our resources in this kind of medical and scientific research that is not only effective but is also ethical in that it does not require the destruction of a human embryo. In this debate over human life, regardless of whether it is over abortion, embryonic stem cell research, or end of life issues, we must have a fixed reference point from which we do not deviate. That point is simply this: all innocent human life is deserving of our collective protection.
Research that involves the destruction or manipulation of embryonic human beings should be eliminated from universities. Higher institutions affiliated with religious institutions must understand the indictment they bring on our beliefs if they participate in research involving human embryonic cells. College alumni must take the time to find out if their alma maters are participating in morally suspect research. If an institution is using human embryos, its alumni should petition to halt such research. The academic community should set standards that define the precious and unique nature of each human life.
In a legal brief filed by Mother Teresa in a court case in New Jersey a number of years ago she wrote:
I have no new teaching for America. I seek only to recall you to faithfulness to what you once taught the world. Your nation was founded on the proposition-very old as a moral precept, but startling and innovative as a political insight-that human life is a gift of immeasurable worth, and that it deserves, always and everywhere, to be treated with the utmost dignity and respect.
The goal of life should not be to enrich and prolong our own lives at all costs, especially when that cost is the next generation. If we aggressively follow the path of cloning and embryonic stem cell research, we will become the first generation of Americans to fail to make sacrifices so that our posterity might prosper. We will also wrongly commit to sacrificing our posterity in the pursuit of the elusive fountain of youth. We are better than that. Let's commit to the protection all human life.
Harry R. Jackson Jr. is senior pastor of 3,000-member Hope Christian Church in the nation's capital. Jackson, who earned an MBA from Harvard, is a best-selling author and popular conference speaker. He leads the High-Impact Leadership Coalition.
We live in Colorado where the skies seemed to change every two minutes. Recently my husband, Terry, and I were out doing our errands for the day. Terry was driving with his eyes intently focused on heavy traffic, and I was riding with my eyes drawn to the expansive sky. A cloud above us was forming into a most unusual shape. "Whoa!" I exclaimed.
Terry heard my cry and reacted, suddenly applying the brakes. Through my side-view mirror, I saw a line of cars reacting to our car, screeching to a sudden halt.
I've had a lot of interesting guests this week. I've visited with Dr. Mark Rutland, the incoming president of Oral Roberts University, along with Mart Green, the chairman of the board. Later, I received a visit from Bill Anderson, the president of CBA, our industry's trade association, and we had a great meeting. And I had a wonderful time with my friend and mentor Dr. Jack Hayford, who was in town attending a meeting of the National Association of Evangelicals.
But by far the highlight of the week was an opportunity to participate in The Forum at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida. This is an annual event that brings in top leaders. This year the speakers included Jack Welch of GE, Dave Ramsey, Craig Groeschel, Megyn Kelly of Fox News, as well as author and consultant Patrick Lencioni, and my longtime friend Bishop T.D. Jakes.
This week's announcement about evangelist Todd Bentley's hasty remarriage and restoration is sending a confusing message to the church.
I groaned when I learned early this week that Canadian preacher Todd Bentley, leader of the controversial Lakeland Revival, had decided to divorce his wife, Shonnah, and marry his former ministry intern, Jessa Hasbrook. The news surfaced after almost nine months of silence and speculation, during which time the board of Bentley's Fresh Fire Ministries in British Columbia publicly scolded him for committing adultery.
In a statement released March 10 by Rick Joyner, the popular author and minister who is overseeing Bentley's restoration process, we were told that (1) Bentley married his new wife several weeks ago and moved to Joyner's base in Fort Mill, S.C.; (2) Todd and Jessa agree that their relationship was "wrong and premature" and that it "should not have happened the way it did"; (3) Bentley will remain out of public ministry while he seeks healing; and (4) Joyner will oversee the healing process with input from Dallas pastor Jack Deere and California pastor Bill Johnson. (Read Rick Joyner's response to this column.)
I want to hit the panic button. I really do, although I suppose my concern is the fruit of spending too much time online with CNN and MSNBC. Like everyone else right now, I must fight off the tsunami wave of fear every day. God intended prophetic ministry for times like these. So here's my own prophetic scorecard, together with a word of exhortation for believers who feel themselves drowning in a sea of bad news.
Over the last year or more I believe I heard the Lord say five clear things, each of which has developed in just the way the Lord told me it would.