Mere Links 08.27.14
Wednesday, August 27, 2014, 10:00 AM

How Tennessee incentivizes abortions
Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig, The Week

We need legislation that protects pregnancy and mothers, not just unborn infants.

Thomas More: Virtuous Statesman
John M. Vella, The Imaginative Conservative

In Thomas More on Statesmanship, Wegemer, who teaches English literature at the University of Dallas, portrays a man who successfully synthesized the Christian humanism of his time with a deep appreciation of the broader legal and political traditions of England.

Hemmed in by Glory
http://preachersinstitute.com/2014/08/24/hemmed-in-by-glory/, Preachers Institute

I wonder how many of us have considered what is implied by the juxtaposition of two biblical verses that are, I concede, juxtaposed but rarely.

Abortion Advocacy Gets Ugly
Susan E. Wills, Aleteia

As the appeal of “choice” wanes, abortion promoters seek new ways to keep abortion legal.



Mere Links 08.26.14
Tuesday, August 26, 2014, 10:00 AM

Heroic Sisters
Tom Hoopes, Aleteia

Some very gutsy religious who are, by the way, faithful to Church teaching.

Moses, Calvin, and the Puritans Would’ve Listened to NPR If They Were Around Today
Paul Seaton, Library of Law and Liberty

In literary terms, Marilynne Robinson is a national treasure. In political terms, not so much. “When she was good, she was very, very good, but when she was bad she was horrid,” as the nursery rhyme has it. Robinson might not even mind my saying that, by the way. As an essayist she deliberately tries to make countercultural moves, intellectually and spiritually.

What Makes A War Just?
Holly Scheer, The Federalist

With so many evils, persecutions, and abuses in the world, it’s hard to know which provide a moral pretext for declaring war.

Global religious hot spots get their own U.S. envoy
Lauren Markoe, Religion News Service

As the Islamic State tears across Iraq and Syria this summer, sending religious minorities fleeing for their lives, Congress created a new job at the State Department — one the president needs to fill immediately, say those who pushed for the position.



Mere Links 08.25.14
Monday, August 25, 2014, 10:00 AM

Making It A Fair Fight for the Devil
Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon, Preachers Institute

According to Athanasius of Alexandria, man’s repentance from sin would not have been sufficient to restore him to friendship with God. To imagine otherwise is to suppose an inadequate and unbiblical view of sin.

Why It’s Wrong for Christians to Mistreat Creation
Justin Holcomb, Chrisitanity.com

One reason Christians have been particularly weak in dealing with ecological issues and the deterioration of the natural environment is a misunderstanding of what it means to “have dominion” over creation.

Seeking Death: ‘Suicide Tourism’ to Switzerland Doubles
NBC News

More than 600 people traveled to Switzerland to die between 2008 and 2012, and the numbers doubled over those years, researchers reported Tuesday.

New HHS Rules Still Problematic for Religious Liberty
Barrett Duke and Andrew T. Walker, ERLC

When a law is revised eight times, it’s worth asking whether or not it should ever have been enacted in the first place.



We Are All The Giffords Now
Monday, August 25, 2014, 8:22 AM

Screen Shot 2014 08 25 at 8.20.19 AM 150x150 We Are All The Giffords NowCynthia and Robert Gifford own the Liberty Ridge Farm in Schaghticoke, New York.  Each year, the Giffords open their farm to the public for raspberry and blueberry picking, fall festivals, and yes, even pig racing.  On occasion, they rent out the main barn at their farm for weddings.  In 2012, Melisa Erwin McCarthy and Jennifer McCarthy contacted the Giffords to rent the farm for their lesbian “wedding” and reception.  Why did they wish to marry on a farm?  Jennie had proposed to Melisa while they were apple picking at an orchard, and so the lovebirds wanted a farm and rustic theme for their wedding to “honor the memory” of their “engagement.”  Mrs. Gifford declined their request.  The Giffords explained that as they live on the upper floors of the main barn, they open part of the second floor of the barn as a bridal suite, and could not in good conscience host a lesbian “wedding.”

As seriously aggrieved and traumatized victims of this purported hatred by the Giffords, they filed a complaint against the Giffords with the New York Human Rights Commission for illegal discrimination.  At their hearing, Melisa and Jennie were represented by Arthur Eisenberg, Esq., of the New York Civil Liberties Foundation.  Being fully coached by Mr. Eisenberg for their hearing, Melisa testified that she was “shell-shocked” and felt “horrible” at the rejection by the Giffords.  Jennie found the rejection to be “heart-breaking,” and testified that it was a “blow” to her lesbianate coming-out process.  (No, I am not making that up; that is what she testified.)  In fact, the couple testified that they were so upset and traumatized by the Giffords’ rejection that they stopped looking for a wedding venue for several months.  (Perhaps it was the vision of big dollar signs that led to the supposed delay?)

After a hearing before the Human Rights Commission, on August 8, 2014, the Honorable Judge Migdalia Parés found that that “the nature and circumstances of the [Giffords’s] violation of the Human Rights Law warrants a penalty.”  Accordingly, Cynthia and Robert Gifford were fined $13,000 for acting on their belief that marriage is the union of a man and woman.  ($1,500 to each of the gals, and $10,000 to the State of New York.)  In one sense, the Giffords dodged a bullet in that Judge Parés could have fined them up to $50,000.  The judge further ordered that all employees of the Giffords undertake “anti-discrimination training.”  Of course, one can ask whether the government should be in the business of “re-educating” its citizens to change their moral beliefs.  That sounds more like North Korea or China to me.  And should the government, even a Democrat-controlled New York state government, be able to coerce a family farm into hosting a lesbian “wedding?”  The Giffords were given sixty days to pay the fine.  Whether they do remains to be seen.  But this case reminds me of what Henry David Thoreau wrote in his Civil Disobedience and Other Essays, “Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator?  Why has every man a conscience then?  I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward.”  It isn’t in the Holy Bible, but it so true that it could be.

In a free society, family farms should operate in accordance with the beliefs and values of their owners.  Frank Donatelli, writing recently in What Part of the Constitution Do Liberals Still Support?, available here, observed the following:

The last vestige of American liberty is certainly the First Amendment’s core guarantees of freedom of speech and religion. . . . If you doubt that, just check out how the bureaucrats are interpreting Obamacare and religious liberty.  Though not specifically required by Obamacare or any other law, Department of Health and Human Services bureaucrats working with legal abortion absolutists, have issued regulations mandating that every business provide coverage for “morning after”-type contraceptive devices and drugs in their medical plans.  The Obama Justice Department argued that such an edict promulgated by bureaucrats trumped the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act of 1993, as well as the First Amendment guarantee of religious freedom.  Fortunately, plaintiffs prevailed in the Supreme Court (Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores), but only by one vote, with four liberal justices siding with the bureaucrats.  In a related case, the Obama administration is attempting to force the Little Sisters of the Poor to adhere to the dictates of HHS regulators.  Apparently, even the core guarantees of the First Amendment must be sacrificed for the Greater Good.

Emphasis added.  Mr. Donatelli concludes his essay, “Be afraid.  Be very afraid.”  Indeed!  Please pray for the Giffords and their colleagues, but rejoice with them because they are blessed for being persecuted for standing for righteousness, for as our Lord Jesus taught us, theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  We must never forget that Satan is at work whenever anyone, including another Christian, approves, supports, enables, or encourages others in any sinful behavior.  If you wish to write a note of encouragement to the Giffords, you can reach them at 29 Bevis Road, Schaghticoke, New York 12154.  And if you wish to telephone the Honorable Helen Diane Foster, Esq., the Acting Commissioner of the New York State Division of Human Rights, to express your views, you can reach her at 718.741.8400.  I am sure she would enjoy hearing from regular folks.



Mere Links 08.22.14
Friday, August 22, 2014, 10:00 AM

Christ: The Trojan Horse of Redemption
Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon, Preachers Institute

The same monastic tradition that determined the psalms to be prayed at Thursday Matins also prescribed Psalms 75 and 91 (Hebrew 76 and 92) to be recited at Matins of Friday (Cf. The Rule of Saint Benedict, ch. 13).

The Korean Martyrs and the Power of Lay Witness
Marge Fenelon, Aleteia

The throngs who greeted Pope Francis in Korea are testimony to the power of the laity to spread the Faith.

Supreme Court Puts Gay Marriage on Hold in Virginia
Alan Rappeport, New York Times

The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a last-minute order putting a hold on same-sex marriages in Virginia less than a day before officials there were to begin providing marriage licenses to gay couples.

The Moral Divide Between Progressives and Traditionalists
James Kalb, Crisis Magazine

A recent account of moral sentiments, proposed by social psychologist Jonathan Haidt in his book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion (Pantheon, 2012), has attracted attention for its explanation of the difference between progressives and traditionalists.



Is Ms. Turner the Victim of An Anti-Christian Government Teacher?
Friday, August 22, 2014, 9:12 AM

Dyer County High School is a government-run school located in Newbern, Tennessee, a small town of 3,300 souls in northwestern Tennessee.  Prior to a recent event, Newbern was best known as the site of a terrible tragedy that took the lives of sixteen people, who were killed by a tornado on April 2, 2006.  In recent days, Kendra Turner, a high school senior at the high school, was suspended for breaking an important class rule.  What was the serious infraction that merited her suspension?  After a classmate sneezed, Ms. Turned said, “Bless you!”  Please note that she did not say, “God bless you!” which might have earned the umbrage of strict separationists of church and state in the educational establishment.  However, because she said “bless you,” Ms. Turner implicitly invoked the benediction of a Supreme Deity on her classmate, so that was close enough to actually saying “God” in a government-run school.  Accordingly, such speech cannot be tolerated, even in small-town Tennessee.  As a result, the unnamed teacher told Ms. Turner that such language should be confined to church.  According to media reports, Ms. Turner said that the teacher then announced, “We’re not going to have godly speaking in her class!”  (Would anti-godly speaking be permitted in class then?)  When Ms. Turner affirmed her constitutional right to free speech, she was sent to a high school administrator.  School administrators later told Ms. Turner’s parents that the “bless you” was a classroom distraction.  However, the school administrator made no statement regarding whether the instigating sneezing student was a classroom distraction.

Media reports indicate that the high school teacher has demeaned other Christian students since the beginning of this academic year several weeks ago.  In fact, Rev. Becky Winegardner, Ms. Turner’s youth pastor, spoke with a number of other high school students who complained to her about the same teacher and her prior remarks.  Rev. Winegardner reminded the students of their constitutional rights.  In response to Ms. Turner’s suspension, a number of other students wore shirts to school emblazoned with hand-stitched “bless you.”  (Kudos to them!)  Attempts by this writer to obtain a statement from school administrators or Ms. Turner’s teacher regarding Ms. Turner’s suspension were unsuccessful.

Just as the alleged conduct by Ms. Turner’s teacher, anti-Christian opponents regularly attempt to privatize religious expression confining such statements solely to church.  Some extremists would not permit any religious sentiment or expression in the broader society, such in privately-owned places of business or even in political discourse.  I urge that the local school board and superintendent of the Dyer County School District undertake an independent investigation to determine whether Ms. Turner’s teacher violated her constitutional rights.  If they were, then disciplinary measures should be taken against Ms. Turner’s teacher.  If you wish to telephone the high school to express your views, you can reach them at 731.627.2229.  However, the high school was not answering the telephone yesterday.  But it seems to me that if the teacher’s conduct against Ms. Turner can occur in small-town Tennessee, it can happen anywhere in the United States.



Mere Links 08.21.14
Thursday, August 21, 2014, 12:01 AM

Who Will Stand Up for the Christians?
Ronald S. Lauder, New York Times

Why is the world silent while Christians are being slaughtered in the Middle East and Africa?

Four reasons why God forbids adultery
Rey De Armas, ERLC

The prohibition against adultery doesn’t make sense until we understand God’s original design for sexual expression within the confines of marriage. From the beginning, God established a blueprint for the family.

Victoria Beeching And Plato’s Third Form of Atheism
Robert P. George, First Things

The mortal threat to Christianity today—and, I would venture to say, to Judaism and (in the West at least) Islam as well—does not come from Plato’s first and second forms of atheism, but from the third.

Married parents vs cohabiting parents
Nicole M. King, Mercatornet

A new study by the National Center for Health Statistics reveals “a baby frenzy happening among unmarried couples who live together.” According to the report, 58% of all unmarried births now occur to cohabiting couples, compared to 41% in 2002.



Mere Links 08.20.14
Wednesday, August 20, 2014, 12:01 AM

A New Direction for Death
Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon, Preachers Institute

According to the structure of the Canonical Hours in Western monasticism, two specific psalms were traditionally appointed for Thursday Matins: Psalms 87 and 89 (Hebrew 88 and 90) (Cf. The Rule of Saint Benedict, Ch. 13).

Is Ugly the New Beautiful?
Sean Fitzpatrick, Crisis Magazine

Summer has become a season of strange and stark irony. While it brings forth the beauty of the world, it also brings forth the ugliness of the age.

What Does Social Justice Look Like in an Abortion Culture?
Jeffrey Walton, Juicy Ecumenism

Part of the role of government is to provide for the common defense – a protection of the population from those who would seek to do harm. With this understanding, I propose that protection of the unborn should be a priority of a just government. But what of social justice for the unborn?

The New Nonconformist Conscience
Helen Andrews, First Things

Mozilla’s Brendan Eich, the Miami Dolphins’ Don Jones, HGTV’s Benham brothers: 2014 has been a good year for those seeking to enforce the new moral orthodoxy by depriving others of their livelihood.



Men as Spiritual Leaders. Whether You Like It or Not.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014, 2:20 PM

From the Touchstone Archives. This has been one of the more popular articles on the Touchstone website as of late. Obviously, the theme is a concern for many. I’ve pasted some excerpts below, but you really should read the entire article.

The Truth About Men & Church

Robbie Low on the Importance of Fathers to Churchgoing

. . .

“In 1994 the Swiss carried out an extra survey that the researchers for our masters in Europe (I write from England) were happy to record. The question was asked to determine whether a person’s religion carried through to the next generation, and if so, why, or if not, why not. The result is dynamite. There is one critical factor. It is overwhelming, and it is this: It is the religious practice of the father of the family that, above all, determines the future attendance at or absence from church of the children.”

. . .

“In short, if a father does not go to church, no matter how faithful his wife’s devotions, only one child in 50 will become a regular worshipper. If a father does go regularly, regardless of the practice of the mother, between two-thirds and three-quarters of their children will become churchgoers (regular and irregular). If a father goes but irregularly to church, regardless of his wife’s devotion, between a half and two-thirds of their offspring will find themselves coming to church regularly or occasionally.”

. . .

“The results are shocking, but they should not be surprising. They are about as politically incorrect as it is possible to be; but they simply confirm what psychologists, criminologists, educationalists, and traditional Christians know. You cannot buck the biology of the created order. Father’s influence, from the determination of a child’s sex by the implantation of his seed to the funerary rites surrounding his passing, is out of all proportion to his allotted, and severely diminished role, in Western liberal society.”

. . .

“Nor are these conclusions a matter of simple disagreement between warring parties in a divided church. The figures are in and will continue to come in. The churches are losing men and, if the Swiss figures are correct, are therefore losing children. You cannot feminize the church and keep the men, and you cannot keep the children if you do not keep the men.”



Threats Made Against Pastor Steven Khoury
Tuesday, August 19, 2014, 11:09 AM

On these pages, I recently told the story about my friend, Rev. Steven Khoury, who pastors several evangelical churches in Israel.  Pastor Khoury is an Arab Christian, and he recently traveled to the Israeli-Gaza border to pray for peace.  In addition to visiting Messianic Jews and Arab Christians in southern Israel, he also visited Jewish families.  Each of these families bear the brunt of the rocket and tunnel attacks from operatives of Hamas.  Many of the families in this area are poor, and Pastor Khoury brought tangible aid for those families.  However, showing the love of the Lord Jesus Christ to Jewish families has incited supporters of anti-Christ Hamas to threaten Pastor Khoury.  As a sample of a few of the comments left on his Arabic-language Facebook page, we read the following:

“You are a failure and a disgrace to the Arab Palestinian world.”
“We know your efforts to evangelize the Moslems in our land Palestine.  You will pay the price.”
“This pastor Steven, we know his location, and we should all rise up against him and protest outside his church.  He needs to be taught a lesson.”
“Why are you telling the Jews about your Jesus and helping them?  You are a traitor for comparing us [Arabs] to the enemy, the Jews.”

However, despite the threats, he is unafraid.  His father, also an evangelical pastor, was shot by Islamists, and his uncle, a devout Christian believer, was martyred for his faith.

It is a truism that Pastor Khoury, in showing love and kindness to the Jews, the enemy of Hamas, is a grave threat to Hamas and other radical Islamists.  It is the default position of Hamas that all Arabs, including Christians, must hate Israel and desire its complete destruction, and Moslems must work to kill all Jews, wherever located.  As many of my readers have heard, the Charter of Hamas, which is part of the Moslem Brotherhood, has declared that “Israel will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it.”  Further, Article Fifteen of the Hamas Charter declares, “The day that enemies usurp part of Moslem land, Jihad becomes the individual duty of every Moslem.  In face of the Jews’ usurpation of Palestine, it is compulsory that the banner of jihad be raised.”  You can read the entire Hamas Charter here.

Please pray for Pastor Khoury and his family, and for the peace of Jerusalem as we are instructed in Psalm 122:6.  Pastor Khoury, in seeking to be a Good Samaritan to people in his nation, has become a target of threats by radical Islamists of Hamas.  If you want to learn more about the ministry of Pastor Khoury, you can learn much more at www.holylandmissions.org. I also encourage you to watch the introductory 15-minute video.


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