Meet Bethany Blankley

The most enjoyable part of my role at The Christian Post is discovering and recruiting talent to contribute to our new political opinion page, “The Wonk Room.”

Recently I ran across Bethany Blankley, a columnist and media personality who is making a name for herself by defending and advocating for Christian principles in an intelligent and articulate manner that often wins more people to Christ than beating them over the head with the skillet of righteousness.

After a brief conversation with Bethany on Wednesday, she penned this column for The Wonk Room about Rob Bell’s recent statement on marriage that I posted this morning. I would encourage you to read her column and also check out her website at www.bethanyblankley.com.

 

 

The Legal Arguments to Same-Sex Marriage

If you are tired of reading and hearing about the same-sex marriage debate and wish it would relegate itself to page 8 of the Metro section of your local paper, then join the crowd. I feel the same and I say this as a journalist whose biggest stories over the past 18 have centered on the issue.

But brace yourself because this issue is not going away any time soon. The pr0 same-sex marriage train is running down the track and on the surface their appears to be no one or group (including the evangelical church) willing to stop its momentum.

Still, I feel compelled to post an excellent op-ed penned titled by my new friend, Laura Hollis, who is an attorney and professor at Notre Dame. Laura researched and wrote the column with the high level of academic skill and diligence you would expect from someone at such a famed institution.

Laura’s column can be read here.

In addition, Dr. Richard Land of the Southern Baptists Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission has written a two-part exclusive for The Christian Post that looks at how the U.S. Supreme Court will view California’s Proposition 8 and issues surrounding the Defense of Marriage Act passed under the Clinton administration in 1996.

Part one and part two of Dr. Land’s series can be found here.

Interestingly, it is no “accident” that both President Clinton and Hillary Clinton have now joined President Obama in embracing same-sex marriage. Expect to hear more on the marriage front from Mrs. Clinton as 2016 nears.

Now, back to reading about the NCAA men’s basketball tournament and the upcoming MLB season.

 

Paul Stanley interviews Gov. Mike Huckabee at NRB Convention in Nashville

Below is the link to my taped interview with Gov. Mike Huckabee at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention in Nashville earlier this month. I’ve also included a link to story I wrote based on a transcript of the interview.

http://video.christianpost.com/former-gov-mike-huckabee-at-2013-nrb-convention-full-interview-4666/

http://www.christianpost.com/news/huckabee-talks-about-career-nation-in-exclusive-nrb-interview-91330/

The Story Behind the Story of How the Boy Scouts Announced Their Decision to Consider Gay Scout Leaders

On Wednesday the Boy Scouts of America board of directors deferred action on allowing professed homosexuals to serve as troop leaders until their annual meeting in May. The lack of a decision is seen by many as merely a strategy to buy the organization more time to drum up support and possibly neutralize the opposition of religious and pro-family groups. But there is much more to how this story unfolded.

On Friday, January 25, one of our senior editors at The Christian Post informed me someone close to the issue knew that BSA chief Wayne Brock had called on the major religious groups such as the Mormons, Catholics and Southern Baptist to “inform” them they were going to change their policy to allow homosexual scout leaders. I use the word “inform” intentionally, because according to the head of one Christian organization, the Boy Scouts had no intention of having a dialogue about the subject and had already decided on a course of action. Or a least that’s what they thought.

After confirming the meetings had taken place with the spokesperson of one of the groups, I sent an email to the BSA at 1:13 p.m. that afternoon with the hopes of obtaining a direct statement from them. Within half-an-hour I received a reply from Lindsey in their public relations department asking about by timeline, or when I planned to publish the story. After a brief email discussion she asked if they could have until Monday morning to put a statement together and I agreed.

I should say I was surprised with what occurred on Monday morning but I’m not.

At around 10:00 a.m. and just as I received a statement from the BSA confirming their intent to change their policy, Pete Williams of NBC published an “exclusive” story and broke the news to America. Apparently someone connected to the BSA must have decided they wanted a more “mainstream” news outlet to break the story and not CP. Oh well, live and learn.

Yet after thousands of news stories and columns, combined with what seem to be hundreds of thousands of comments from engaged readers on both sides of the issue, the BSA adopted the strategy used by the White House and Congressional leaders and simply kicked the can down the road until May, hoping for a better day to make a tough decision.

Whether of not the BSA changes their policy (and I believe they ultimately will), the organization will never be the same. Even before the announcement, participation has dropped by over one-third in the last decade and now some religious groups such as the Southern Baptist will more than likely encourage their young men to join programs such as the Royal Ambassadors, leading to a more rapid decline.

The question I have is this; short of being “politically correct,” what advantage will the BSA see in adopting this new policy?

Will they reverse a ten-year trend and see an increase in participation? I don’t think so. Will they improve the quality of their instruction by allowing professed homosexuals to instruct young men on moral development? Not in my opinion.

While there are many factors involved in the BSA’s decision, I feel a, if not the driving force was pressure from board members such as AT&T’s Randall Stephenson and Ernst & Young’s James Turley to implement the change.

What these gentlemen neglected to take into consideration is changing the policy of a non-profit dedicated to serving boys and young men is much different from their corporations choosing to provide benefits to same-sex partners or signing up as a corporate sponsor for the local rainbow parade.

How would people react to heterosexual men leading Girl Scout troops? Hopefully the same way given that is equally a terrible idea.

Over the next three months activist on both sides will continue to weigh in on the issue. But in the end, the Boy Scouts need to take a hard look at what they want their mission to be for the next 103 years.

The Story Behind the Story on Louie Giglio and President Obama

Many articles have been written on why Pastor Louie Giglio withdrew from giving the benediction at President Obama’s second inauguration on Monday. Now the story on why Giglio may have pulled out and what might have happened between the Presidential Inaugural Committee and the White House is discussed.

My colleague at The Christian Post, Michelle Vu, has written an excellent article entitled Obama May Have Disagreed With Inaugural Committee’s Handling of Giglio Controversy, describing how the decision to scrub Giglio may not have sat well with the White House, but nevertheless, President Obama seemed reluctant to use his political capital to keep Giglio on the program.

The Atlanta based founder of the Passion Conference gave a sermon to his congregation in the mid-1990’s exclaiming what the Bible says about homosexuality. Like tens of thousands of other pastors who have done the same, he has since been labeled “vehemently anti-gay.”

Vu writes: “In Giglio’s mid-90s sermon, he also warned that gay activists were likely to seek to exclude Christians from the public forum for holding traditional biblical views of homosexuality. He said: “Underneath this issue is a very powerful and aggressive movement. That movement is not a benevolent movement, it is a movement to seize by any means necessary the feeling and the mood of the day, to the point where the homosexual lifestyle becomes accepted as a norm in our society and is given full standing as any other lifestyle, as it relates to family,” Vu wrote in the CP article.

Christians are now having to ask if they are now being relegated to the closet by those with a liberal agenda simply because they subscribe to God’s written word. My prayer is that Christians for all walks of life stand up in a loving, but forceful manner, on the basic truths of the Bible.

 

Chuck Hagel’s First Three Hurdles for Sec of Defense: Gays, GOP and Gaza

Former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) was nominated by President Barack Obama on Monday as his new Secretary of Defense. Yet the three groups that appear likely to stand in the way of his nomination, not typically known for working together, include gay rights activists, Republicans and pro-Israeli organizations.

Hagel is not the first Republican lawmaker nominated by an incumbent Democratic president. In 1997, former President Bill Clinton nominated retired Sen. William Cohen of Maine to head up the Pentagon and he sailed through an easy nomination process.

However, it seems Hagel will not be afforded the same luxury and here are some of the more obvious reasons.

Gay activists on both sides of the political fence had taken shots at Hagel, mainly for his comments in 1998 when he called Clinton’s choice for U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg, James Hormel, “openly, aggressively gay.” Hagel has recently apologized, saying his remarks were “insensitive.”

Immediately after Obama made it official he was nominating Hagel, the Log Cabin Republicans, a GOP leaning gay-rights organization, took out a full-page ad in The Washington Post opposing the nomination.

The ad also blasts the former Nebraska senator on his support for the Defense of Marriage Act and for his opposition to the military’s 1999 “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Planned Parenthood Received $1,622 in Gov’t Funds for Each Abortion

The nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, reports it received $542 million from government sources in 2011-2012 while performing 995,687 abortions from 2009-2011. In 2011 alone, its clinics performed 333,964 abortions.

When broken down on an approximate annual basis, that means Planned Parenthood receives around $1,622 in government funds per abortion. From a time perspective, it translates to one abortion every 94 seconds.

Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, along with Board Chair Cecilia Boone addressed some of the challenges faced by the abortion giant in the past year, including the drama surrounding the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s temporary withdrawal of support.

“The past year will also be remembered as one when Planned Parenthood faced some of its most daunting challenges in our history – and once again emerged stronger than ever,” Richards and Boone wrote in their joint statement.

However, several pro-life organizations that consistently battle with Planned Parenthood were less enthusiastic about the group’s perceived success, saying abortions are not a viable form of health care for women.

“While government subsidies to Planned Parenthood have reached an all-time high, so too has the number of lives ended by this profit-driven abortion business,” said Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “Destroying nearly one million children in three years is not health care and does not reflect a concern for vulnerable women and girls. As Planned Parenthood’s funding goes up, abortions increase and real health services for women go down.”

Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.), a second term Congresswoman and former Tennessee State legislator who has battled the abortion provider for years, says the group’s annual report is further proof that Congress needs to defund Planned Parenthood.

“As Planned Parenthood’s federal funds reached an all-time high, so too did the number of abortions it provided, while its real health services for women continues to decline,” Black said in a statement. “This report underscores the pressing need to cut off all federal funding for Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in America. Abortions make up 92 percent of Planned Parenthood’s pregnancy services, while prenatal care and adoption referrals account for less than 8 percent.”

Since 2009, contraceptive services have dropped by 12 percent and cancer screening and prevention services have dropped by 29 percent.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

 

Support for School Prayer Declines Among Catholics, Jews; Remains High Among Evangelicals

A new study shows that support for school prayer has steadily decreased among most Americans since the 1970s with the exception of two groups: evangelicals and older Americans.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln sociologist Philip Schwadel concludes from examining studies over the past 30-plus years that overall support for school prayer has declined – even among Catholics and mainline Protestants – but the support among evangelicals across all generations has remained steady at around 71 percent.

“Social and cultural changes have led to greater opposition to state-sanctioned prayer and reading religious materials in public schools among some segments of the population,” Schwadel reported in his findings. “Specifically, there’s growing opposition among non-evangelicals but not evangelicals, and these changes manifest across generations.”

In an interview with The Christian Post on Monday, Schwadel pointed out that surprisingly, the rise of the “Christian right” in the 1980s and 1990s may have been a contributing factor as to why some Americans are less likely to support prayer in school.

“I can’t definitely conclude that to be the case, there is a large amount of evidence that leads some to conclude that the growth of the religious right may have turned some Catholics and mainline Protestants against school prayer,” said Schwadel. “Nonetheless, over 70 percent of evangelicals of all age groups, even those in their twenties and thirties, support prayer in schools.”

Although the study is highly academic in its reporting style, Schwadel pointed out that one graph in particular highlighted his findings.

While support for prayer in schools among evangelicals of all age groups has remained steady, it has declined among Catholics and mainline Protestants since 1974. The one exception is among older Catholics.

For example, among those around 80 years of age, both Catholics and evangelicals support school prayer at the same level (73 percent) while 67 percent of mainline Protestants around 80 feel the same.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Religion on Capitol Hill: What Are the Faith Backgrounds of the 113th Congress?

The religious and faith backgrounds of the 113th Congress are more diverse now than at any time in the nation’s history, with the addition of America’s first Buddhist senator and the first Hindu in the House of Representatives.

Since the birth of the nation in 1776, Congress has typically reflected the religious beliefs of the districts from which they were elected. But gone are days where the overwhelming majority of Congress was Protestant.

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, with the assistance of Congressional Quarterly’s Roll Call, compiled data comparing the faith breakdown of Congress to the American population and released their report on Wednesday. Here is what they found.

There are 299 Protestants in Congress, making up 56.1 percent of the Senate and the House. In comparison, 48 percent of Americans are Protestant.

Of those, 13.7 percent are Baptist, 10.9 percent are Unspecified/Other, 8.6 percent are Methodist, 8.1 percent are Presbyterian, 7.3 percent are Anglican/Episcopal and 4.3 percent are Lutheran.

The remaining 3.4 percent belong to nondenominational churches, or are Congregationalist and Christian Scientist.

One hundred sixty-three, or 30.6 percent of the body, are Catholic, 6.2 percent are Jewish and 2.8 percent are Mormon. All of these percentages are near or just slightly higher than the national average.

Interestingly, when the 87th Congress took office in 1961, 74.8 percent of the members were Protestant, 18.8 percent were Catholic, 2.3 percent were Jewish and 1.3 percent were Mormon. There were no Buddhist, Hindu or Muslim member of Congress.

When compared to the 112th Congress that ended on Jan. 2, the 113th Congress has slightly fewer Protestants and slightly more Catholics. The number of Jewish members decreased slightly from 39 to 33 while the number of Mormons in both chambers remains the same at just under 2 percent.

One of the most notable changes in the new Congress is the addition of the first Hindu member in the House. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), an Iraq War veteran who served on the Honolulu City and in the Hawaii state legislature, took her oath of office on the Bhagavad Gita instead of the Bible, Torah or the Quran.

“I chose to take the oath of office with my personal copy of the Bhagavad-Gita because its teachings have inspired me to strive to be a servant-leader, dedicating my life in the service of others and to my country,” said Gabbard, after the swearing-in. “My Gita has been a tremendous source of inner peace and strength through many tough challenges in life, including being in the midst of death and turmoil while serving our country in the Middle East.”

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Sandy Hook Elementary Opens Under NRA Recommendation of Armed Security

Sandy Hook Elementary students returned to another facility today under the protection of armed security guards which the National Rifle Association recommended after the Dec. 14 massacre that killed 26 people, including 20 children.

Although the children returned to classrooms with their old desks and furniture, they were relocated to an unused school facility nearby. But the most noticeable difference may be the presence of armed police officers.

Monroe, Conn., Police Lt. Keith White confirmed that officers would be in and around the school but that their presence would hopefully not be a distraction to students.

“We want this to be a normal school where they can go and enjoy themselves and learn throughout the day,” White told reporters. “I think right now, we have to make this the safest school in America.”

Within moments of the school shooting, gun control advocates including Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and others began calling for a ban on assault weapons. The conversation grew intense in the days following with proponents of gun rights arguing that the debate should instead focus on mental health issues and how to identify those who have the ability and desire to commit such heinous crimes.

But a week and a day later, the NRA held a press conference that focused on the need to place more armed personnel – whether they are police officers or school officials with access to weapons – on school grounds.

“I call on Congress today to act immediately to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every single school in this nation, and to do it now,” NRA’s Wayne LaPierre said.

LaPierre’s comments pointed to the fact that armed security are routinely seen at airports, banks and athletic events and that providing the same or similar protection for school children only makes sense.

“If we truly cherish our kids more than our money or our celebrities, we must give them the greatest level of protection possible and the security that is only available with a properly trained – armed – good guy,” commented LaPierre.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

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