Fla. ‘Stand Your Ground’ Law Under Microscope in Wake of Trayvon Martin Shooting

The shooting death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin has created an outcry over the state’s self-defense statute, commonly known as “Stand Your Ground.” What is being debated is whether the law could be used as a viable defense in Martin’s death.

Gov. Jeb Bush signed Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law after the State Legislature passed it in 2005. The part of the statute that may apply in cases such as Martin’s reads:

“Title XLVI, Chapter 776.012 Use of force in defense of person. – A person is justified in using force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force. However, a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if:

(1) He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony; or

“And 776.013 Home protection; use of deadly force; presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm –

(3) A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”

It is not entirely clear since details of the shooting death remain sketchy, however, Bush is backing away from the law, saying that it should not be used as a defense in Martin’s shooting death and calling the shooting a “tragedy.”

Click here to read the rest of the article.

‘Stand Up for Religious Freedom’ Rallies Draw Attention to Obama’s Contraceptive Mandate

Tens of thousands of people are estimated to gather Friday in 131 cities across the nation to rally around the mantra of religious liberty brought on by President Obama’s mandate on birth control.

“We are honored to be hosting a ‘Stand Up for Religious Freedom’ rally here in Washington, D.C. at the HHS building,” the Rev. Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Fund, told The Christian Post. “When the president issued the HHS mandate, what he failed to understand is this is not an issue about health care – it is one of religious freedom.”

The rallies will take place at noon on Friday and will feature prominent religious leaders and elected officials at each location. What began as an effort to plan rallies in 40 to 50 cities has now grown to over 130.

More than any other policy issue that has come before the American public, President Obama’s directive to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that religious institutions must cover contraception, abortifacients and sterilization in their employees’ health insurance even if it violates their conscience has brought the debate to the point of personal attacks from both sides.

Even before the mandate was issued by President Obama in late January, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, led now by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, encouraged the White House not to overreach and put religious institutions in the position of having to publicly oppose the White House.

However, the mandate extended far beyond the Catholic community, touching other Christian groups and denominations who felt the government had over-stepped its boundaries by forcing Christians to compromise on their beliefs.

Click here to read the entire article.

Book: The Four Laws of Forgiveness

I haven’t written much lately about my manuscript, but I am close to completing the final chapter on forgiveness.

Writing this chapter was more difficult than I imagined – not because I haven’t forgiven those I needed to – but I want to convey the process of forgiveness in the proper prospective. It’s been a challenge.

In the meantime, I’ve had some phenomenal conversations with people who have gone through similar experiences as mine, some of whose names you would recognize if I listed them here (but I never will).

Others are not famous or well-known, but had to deal with the same issues. There stories are no less important that someone who is well known.

Recently, one of my colleagues at The Christian Post, Alex Murashko, wrote a piece on Brad Johnson, a Southern California pastor whose affair was exposed how he had to learn forgiveness all over again. You can click here to read the story.

The book is titled, The Four Laws of Forgiveness: How to Forgive Yourself and Others, and is available on Amazon. You can find it here.

My experience in writing has taught me that it’s not the specifics of my story that is the most compelling, but the need to forgive others in order to receive God’s complete blessings for my life.

I would love to hear your stories of how forgiveness (or the lack thereof) has impacted your life.

Student Bias Against Chick-fil-A Focuses on ‘Equality’ Agenda

When Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy unveiled his fried, boneless breast of chicken sandwich in 1946, he had no idea that 66 years later college students like Taylor Cotter would protest his restaurants inclusion on their campuses.

Last week the Student Senate at Northeastern University in Boston voted to halt discussions with the privately held Atlanta, Ga. based restaurant chain, citing the company’s affiliation with Christian organizations they say have an “anti-gay” agenda.

Taylor Cotter, a senior journalism major who has been a member of the school’s student senate for three years, led the protest to oust Chick-fil-A, but was “shocked” when the university gave in so quickly to the student’s demands.

“I first found out that the school was interested in Chick-fil-A in January of 2011,” Cotter told The Christian Post in a phone interview. “Only about 15 of us knew of the schools plan for several months and that’s when I grew concerned about a company who supports causes that I feet are divisive.”

Cotter stated there were two primary issues that led her to lead the protest.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Ann Romney Doesn’t Consider Herself ‘Wealthy;’ Cites Compassion From Her Disease

Ann Romney, the wife of GOP front-runner Mitt Romney, said Monday that she didn’t consider herself wealthy, and as someone suffering from multiple sclerosis, she now has more compassion for others who are suffering.

“[O]ne thing this disease has been for me has been a wonderful teacher,” Mrs. Romney said during an interview on Fox News. “And with that comes an ability for compassion for others that are suffering from M.S. or cancer or any disease I feel like I want to throw my arms open and say, welcome to my family and welcome to the place where I’ve been and, so you know, we can be poor in spirit and I don’t look – I don’t even consider myself wealthy which is an interesting thing. It can be here today and gone tomorrow…”

Moments after the candidate’s wife made the comments, media sites including Twitter and blog posts began circulating her comment about not being wealthy. Think Progress, an ultra-liberal website, first reported the story.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Was Obama Biblically, Politically Correct to Apologize for the Quran Burning?

A new debate is stirring on whether President Obama’s formal apology to Afghan President Hamid Karzai for the burning of Qurans by U.S. troops stationed in the country was “biblically” correct, “politically” correct or neither.

The incident in question began on Feb. 21 when Afghan workers noticed four Quran texts, along with other Islamic books, in a trash pile that coalition workers collected. The books were retrieved from a library at the Parwan Detention Facility because they contained messages used by prisoners to communicate. Obama apologized for the “inadvertent” burning of the Islamic holy book.

In light of the protests that followed, more than 30 people, including four U.S. soldiers, were killed. But politics aside, what does the Bible say about Christians apologizing for burning another religion’s text? The issue is challenging, even for expert theologians.

To read the remainder of the article click here.

NAACP Criticizes Franklin Graham Over Comments About Obama’s Faith; Graham Responds

[UPDATE] 2/28 4:17 p.m.

Earlier to the NAACP sent an open letter to Rev. Franklin Graham regarding comments he made on MSNBC when questioned about President Obama’s faith. Graham initially he said he would take Obama at his word if he said he was a Christian. The repeated questioning by the host of the program are a prime example of how liberal journalist try to start fights with conservatives.

Franklin Graham responded on Tuesday to criticism from faith leaders in the NAACP who accused the evangelist of questioning President Obama’s Christianity.

“I regret any comments I have ever made which may have cast any doubt on the personal faith of our president, Mr. Obama,” he stated. “The president has said he is a Christian and I accept that (and have said so publicly on many occasions). I apologize to him and to any I have offended for not better articulating my reason for not supporting him in this election – for his faith has nothing to do with my consideration of him as a candidate.”

Graham went further to say he cannot and will not vote for Obama because of his positions on abortion and traditional marriage, which he found to be in “direct conflict with God’s standards as set forth in Scripture.” He also added that he would vote for any candidate, whether a Democrat or a Mormon, who supports traditional marriage.

[This is a breaking news update. Check CP’s earlier story below.]

A coalition of black ministers and the NAACP have blasted evangelist Franklin Graham for his comments that they felt called into question President Obama’s Christian faith. The NAACP issued an open letter on Tuesday denouncing Graham’s comments.

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“As Christian denominational leaders, pastors, and, most importantly, followers of Jesus Christ; we are greatly troubled by recent attempts by some religious leaders to use faith as a political weapon,” the letter reads. “We were disturbed and disappointed by statements made by Rev. Franklin Graham during an interview on MSNBC that questioned whether President Obama is a Christian.”

To read the rest of the article click here.

Romney, Santorum Not Backing Down on Religious Freedom Debate

GOP frontrunners Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are continuing to pressure President Obama on issues of religious freedom, and they apparently have the support of conservative political pundits.

Grove City College political science professor, Dr. Paul Kengor, in an email interview with The Christian Post said the reason Santorum and the other GOP leaders were standing firm in defending religious freedom, it was because Democrats were forcing the issue.

“He’s being led by President Obama into this issue,” wrote Kengor. “Rick Santorum, like tens of millions of committed Roman Catholics and evangelicals, has been pushed into this arena by President Obama, compliments of the HHS mandate.”

“Like the Catholic Church generally, from the bishops to the laity, he didn’t ask for this fight. The fight came to him. He and other Catholics simply want the freedom of conscience they’ve always had in this nation — until President Obama assaulted them with this executive decree. Obama’s fiat was handed down from the mountaintop in Washington, a commandment to Catholics with no room for compromise.”

The religious freedom issue became front and center when President Obama announced a mandate by saying that employers were required to provide free birth control to all women – even employers whose religious beliefs prohibit the use of contraception.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

‘Guardrails’ Needed to Maintain Proper Boundaries in Relationships

After giving some suggestions in an earlier post as to what those close to a Nashville Metro Council member may say to him and his spouse after his sins were publically exposed, I recalled some guidelines given in a sermon by Pastor Eddie Cupples that would benefit both married couples and single people. Here they are.

Five “Guardrails” Married Couples Should Establish:

1) Don’t travel alone with members of the opposite sex

2) Don’t eat alone with members of the opposite sex

3) Don’t hire “cute” members of the opposite sex because you want to help them

4) Don’t confide in or counsel members of the opposite sex

5) When you feel your heart or your desire drifting toward someone who is not your spouse, confide in a Christian friend or pastor

Pastor Cupples explained that it’s also important to know where your spouse wants you to set guardrails for your life. “When my wife advices me I need to avoid certain people in my life, I listen closely to what she is saying. Her instincts in this area are always on target.”

“Guardrails” for Single’s:

1) Apply the Married guardrails in your relationships with other married people

2) No sleepovers with members of the opposite sex. As my mom used to say when I was in high school, “Nothing good ever happens after midnight.” She was right.

3) Take a relationship break after a divorce or breakup so you can get right with God. You’ll know the time is right when the Holy Spirit speaks to you, not when the Devil lies to you.

Remember, both physical and emotion affairs are dangerous to marriages. You can protect your and your spouse from both by implementing the above “guardrails” in your life. And if you think what you are doing may be wrong, stop and ask God. Chances are He’s already given you the answer.


Not Just Another Political Sex Scandal

Last week a Nashville, TN Metro Councilman was arrested in an undercover prostitution sting at a Nashville area hotel. Brady Banks, who is serving his first term in his elected position also held a state government job in addition to his public service duties. He announced earlier this week he has resigned from his full-time duties working for the state.

Unfortunately, Banks arrest unleashed a fury of media attention unlike anything he has experienced thus far in his short political career.

His situation is not the first time an elected official or someone who holds a position of high moral authority – such as a pastor – has found themselves encumbered by sexual sin. History tells us it probably won’t be the last.

Banks, who has a Master of Divinity degree and whose wife is an associate minister at an area church, has to face the reality of a series of poor choices that will impact his life for the near term. But what I hope Banks and his wife understand is that it doesn’t have to permanently alter the course of their marriage or their future.

No two situations are exactly the same. But after having to endure a similar experience and knowing others – both male and female who have also fallen to sexual sin – I am going to pray that Banks and his wife are able to use this time to allow God to repair and restore their lives and more importantly, their marriage.

I don’t know personally know Banks, but I hope someone close to him is offering the following suggestions.

1)   First and foremost, sit down with his wife and tell her everything – and in a single conversation. Having multiple discussions and dishing out his sins a little at a time is not something I would recommend. Repairing and rebuilding trust in their marriage should be his first priority and this is a first step.

2)   Next, he and his immediate family need to stop reading news reports of his exposed sins. He knows what happened – what really happened and he doesn’t need to read factual or non-factual accounts of the situation. Plus, the overwhelming percentage of people who comment on these types of articles are not praying for his marriage, offering him forgiveness (even though he may not have done anything to warrant their forgiveness) or hoping that he can get back on his feet as quickly as possible. If they are hateful and mean in their comments, then chances are they are the same when they turn their computer off. It is them who deserve our prayers.

3)   Find a Christian marriage counselor with a reputation of restoring marriages.  He and his wife have a young child and preserving their marriage will be the best gift they can ever give their children. Believe me, children suffer much more from a divorce than the parents ever will.

4)   Be repentant, not just remorseful. When you have repented of your sins, you can ask God for his forgiveness and you will be restored to His amazing grace. It is the most wonderful gift you will ever receive.

5)   Don’t make rash decisions. Now is not the time to resign from office or make other major, life-altering decisions. People are forgiving and if they see you are genuinely sorry for your indiscretions and have turned away from your past sins, most will open their arms to you. But a word of warning; some of those who are giving you advice are doing so because it will benefit them, not you or your family. It is not your responsibility to make life easier on others during this time. Banks should focus on himself and his family.

I am praying that Banks and his wife stay together. I know dozens of couples that have endured similar experiences, and many have incredible stories of reconciliation and forgiveness. Plus, they have stronger marriages and deeper relationships with Jesus.

There can be better days ahead. And it’s not just another political sex scandal. It’s someone’s life.

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