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On Watch in Washington November 7, 2012

On Watch in Washington November 7, 2012 PDF Version

ELECTION DAY REACTION By David Kubal, President and CEO of Intercessors for America

Four more years – forward. Specifically, where will this lead our nation? This is the question that confronts us this morning after the election.

Here is what happened yesterday:

  • For the first time in our history we have two states that have legalized recreational use of marijuana – Washington and Colorado.  Both passed with 55% of the vote.
  • Maryland and Maine became the first two states to approve same sex marriage by popular vote.   Both passed with approximately 52% of the vote.
  • Minnesota failed to define marriage between one man and one woman with 51% of the vote.
  • Wisconsin elected the first openly gay U.S. Senator with 51% of the vote.
  • There was no change in the control of the White House, the Senate, or the House of Representatives.

For those with conservative moral values, we are left with grieving hearts, yet with a hope that is firmly placed in Christ.

Where was the Church yesterday?  Exit poll data tells us that 53% of those who voted described themselves as Protestant/Christian.  This is approximately the same as 2008.  The segment of Catholics was 25%, about the same as 2008.  The segment of “white evangelicals” was 26%, again approximately the same as 2008.  There was a slight percentage change concerning which parties received these votes:

Presidential Race Results Protestant/Evangelical (53% of Total) Catholic (25% of Total) White Born Again (26% of Total)
2008 Dem/Rep 45% / 54% 54% / 45% 25% / 74%
2012 Dem/Rep 42% / 57% 40% / 48% 21% / 78%

There is concern that fewer people voted in this election compared to the 2008 election (a difference of 11%).

Total Presidential Voters

Protestant/Evangelical Republican Voters

Catholic Republican Voters

White Evangelical Republican Voters

2008

131,142,144

39,618,042

14,753,491

25,231,749

2012

118,366,652

37,532,882

14,203,998

24,004,757

 Difference

-12,775,492

-2,085,160

-549,493

-1,226,991

These preliminary figures only represent the number of people who actually voted. They do not address the potential millions of Protestants/Evangelicals/Catholics who did not vote.  Regardless of how you slice the data, millions of Christians did not voice their opinion yesterday.

What can we conclude?

The Church is less engaged in political affairs than four years ago.  Even in the midst of the great recession, the Church has not increased its involvement in guiding the political processes of our country.  Why this is, must be a question to analyze at a later date.

The real question is, “What does God think of this?”  Is the Lord of nations pleased with a Church that is less engaged at a time when federal funding is increasing to exterminate the unborn, same sex marriage is affirmed by popular vote, recreational drugs are being legalized, and religious freedom is under attack?

Fellow Christian, we need to remind ourselves of a few simple truths on a day like today:

  1. It is prayer that turns a nation.  Please pray through and meditate on scriptures like Jeremiah 18:7-10, Hosea 14:2-6, and 2 Chronicles 7:14.
  2. Our hope is in the Lord, not a leader or president.  We know this, but we need to be reminded that we can place our hope in the God that created the universe. Let’s pray through Matthew 12:21.
  3. We need revival like never before in America.  There are plenty of biblical examples of nations going down the wrong path until God brought transformation. I encourage you to read the book of Jonah to build your faith.
  4. It is a desperate, holy Church that will lead this nation.  It has been said that “our proximity to revival is directly related to our desperation.” This applies to this day.  One positive outcome of the election may be the awakening of the Church through the reminder that we are desperate without God.  Pray through Psalm 142:6

This is a difficult day for many of us. Fellow intercessor, please stay engaged, seek the Lord, and ask Him what He has to say to the Church at this hour.

 

Pray for God’s mercy and righteous intervention in the affairs of this nation in the coming four years. Pray that we as a people will be delivered from evil and that the name of Jesus will be glorified above every name. Pray as God has instructed us in Matthew 6:9-13.

“Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.'”  (Matthew 6:9-13)

IRS GIVES PASS TO CHURCHES, MORE PASTORS SPEAK OUT

Since the enforcement of the Johnson Amendment in 1954, many pastors have relinquished their First Amendment Rights in fear of losing their tax exempt status. Recently, thousands of pastors challenged the constitutionality of the Amendment on Pulpit Freedom Sunday with great success!

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has officially reported what Liberty Counsel has been saying all along: The IRS is not auditing churches because it does not have the authority to take away churches’ tax-free status.

For years, leftist groups, such as Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (AU), have used deception and fear tactics to censor the church and muzzle pastors. A recent letter to religious leaders by Executive Director Barry Lynn inaccurately said, “If the IRS determines that your house of worship has engaged in unlawful intervention, it can revoke the institution’s tax-exempt status.”

An IRS spokesman said last week that the agency has been inundated with complaints, but they are not going to do any audits because they do not have the authority to do so. Churches are tax-exempt inherently,” said Mat Staver. “They don’t need a letter from the IRS to be tax exempt, so their tax-exempt status cannot be taken away by the IRS.”

No church has ever lost its tax-exempt status for opposing or supporting a candidate for political office. Churches and pastors may speak on Biblical and moral issues. They can educate about the candidates’ viewpoints. They can encourage people to vote and can assist them in getting to the polls. This year Liberty Counsel has sent over 100,000 copies of its Take Back America: Silence is NOT an Option to pastors and church leaders around America, to encourage pastors and church leaders to speak truth to this generation.

More pastors have been involved this year than ever before, even pastors who have been silenced in the past. Rev. Billy Graham is running full-page advertisements in a number of newspapers across the country, urging voters to vote for candidates that support Biblical values of life, natural marriage, and religious liberty. “This is unprecedented for the world’s best-known evangelist,” said Staver. “Billy Graham has always steered clear of politics. In reality, Billy Graham has merely raised his prophetic voice like any preacher should when Biblical and moral values are placed in jeopardy by politicians,” said Staver.

John MacArthur, a well-known pastor and author, who was against Christian political activism, has had a dramatic change of heart. “I was amazed that one of the historic parties in the U.S. adopted the sins of Romans 1 as their platform,” said MacArthur in a recent Sunday morning sermon. “This is a new day in our country. Parties that used to differ on economics, now differ dramatically on issues that invade the realm of God’s law and morality.”

“I am beginning to see more and more pastors waking up and realizing that Biblical and moral issues are under attack and they have no choice but to speak,” Staver said. “This isn’t politics; it is Biblical and moral issues that have been politicized.” (Contributor: www.LC.org, Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation)

Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.

Pray that the truth regarding the freedoms that are guaranteed to this nation’s churches be understood by all. Pray that God’s Word will be honored above the word of man in any form, and especially if it is contrary to God’s will. Give thanks to the Lord that an honest report came forth on the issue of tax exemption threats not being a viable option against honest church governments desiring to exercise freedom of speech.

“Then Jesus said to them, ‘Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.’ And they were amazed at him.” (Mark 12:17)

 

ARIZONA’S 20-WEEK ABORTION BAN

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals cast a skeptical eye Monday on the country’s most restrictive abortion law, which prohibits the procedure after 20-weeks of pregnancy unless there’s a medical emergency. In other words, a child that makes it to his/her 20th week is lawfully safe in Arizona from murder in the womb at the moment unless there is a medical emergency.

Even Judge Andrew J. Kleinfeld, a conservative jurist appointed to the appeals court by former President George H.W. Bush, said Arizona’s law appears to wrongly prohibit abortions before “viability,” when the fetus can live outside the womb. That generally is considered to occur sometime after 23 weeks of pregnancy. The 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling says states cannot prohibit abortions outright before viability.

Maricopa County Attorney William Montgomery, defending the Arizona law in court, said the ban was enacted to protect women from undergoing a risky medical procedure.

“People decide to have dangerous, foolishly dangerous, medical procedures all the time,” Judge Kleinfeld countered. He said prostate removal and other risky procedures that may not be medically necessary occur often and are not prohibited but left to patients and doctors.

Mr. Montgomery and Arizona Solicitor General David Cole fared no better with the other two judges on the panel, Marsha S. Berzon and Mary M. Schroeder, especially when Mr. Montgomery mistakenly mixed up their names during his arguments. Both judges were appointed to the appeals court by Democrats.

Judge Berzon agreed with Judge Kleinfeld that patients make risky medical decisions daily and asked rhetorically, “Are there any statutes against cosmetic surgery?”

The court gave no indication when it would rule.

Arizona’s Legislature banned abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy as part of a broader abortion law last spring. Three Arizona obstetrician-gynecologists, supported by the Center for Reproductive Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union, filed a federal lawsuit seeking to strike down the law.

U.S. District Judge James Teilborg, a Clinton appointee, upheld the law in July, and it was to take effect on Aug. 2. But the appeals court blocked implementation until it issues its ruling.

Arizona is among 10 states to have enacted versions of 20-week bans. Others are Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Carolina and Oklahoma. North Carolina’s ban has been in effect for decades, while Nebraska was the first of the other states to enact its law, in 2010.

A challenge to Idaho’s ban was scuttled early on, so Arizona’s ban is the first to be tested in court. Arizona’s ban is considered to be the most stringent because the starting point it uses to calculate a fetus’s “probable gestational age” is about two weeks earlier than under the others states’ versions. (Contributor: Excerpts from the Washington Times by Paul Elias)

Pray that Americans would embrace the full truth that God is the Creator and that He is the giver of life. Pray that God’s people will be influential in restoring our national laws to one of reflecting God’s will. Pray that Americans will proclaim life at conception and not just at 20-weeks.

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”  (Genesis 1:26-27)

 

NEW YORK CITY LONG GAS LINES

Many of them have power, they have subways, but city dwellers are mad as hell because they still haven’t got gas.

Gasoline supply — hampered by flooded or blacked-out terminals — was still only at a trickle Monday, despite officials’ efforts, with relief not likely for a few more days.

Long lines formed outside stations whenever fuel made it to the pumps. And nerves were frayed.

“This is like crack. Liquid crack,” said Randy Rosen, 40, of Coney Island, an elevator company driver who had been waiting at the BP station on 10th Ave. and W. 36th St. for two hours Monday. “They’re saying two more hours for the truck to arrive.”

Gov. Cuomo said Monday that much of the damage to the fuel delivery system has been corrected and that the governors of Massachusetts, Delaware and Connecticut agreed to waive restrictions and allow their fuel to come into the state.

But experts emphasized there is no gas shortage — the problem is getting the fuel to the pump. Refineries are sending gas to terminals, where tankers pick it up and deliver it to stations.

But some of those terminals were badly damaged in the storm, and some of those stations lack power.

“There is plenty of gas,” said Tom Kloza, chief analyst at the Oil Price Information Service. “It is just a logistical challenge.”

He predicted the crisis will ease, if not cease, by the end of this week.

Not all the motorists lining up to purchase gas were buying elected officials’ reassurances.

“They’re lying,” said Francisco Urena, 50, as he closed in on a three-hour wait to fill up. “They don’t know what’s going on.”

Dried-up drivers have taken to social media and the Internet to find stations where tankers delivered gas. And they’re not always getting good news: An online tracker at gasbuddy.com, which follows gas prices, listed only five stations with fuel in Manhattan and about 10 in Brooklyn on Monday afternoon.

While the shortages seem to have abated over the weekend in south and central New Jersey, a functioning gas station remained a rare sight in the city.

And drivers are buying when they get a chance — whether they need to fuel up or not.

“There is all this demand right now because people are panicking,” said Patrick DeHaan of gasbuddy.com.

“Hoarding is only going to compound the situation and make it worse,” Cuomo warned.

At least people lucky enough to find gas weren’t paying more. Prices in New York inched up only 3 cents since Sandy struck and were expected to drop. But the state attorney general’s office announced it’s investigating “hundreds of complaints” regarding price gouging, most connected to gas prices.

Experts said this is not a full-blown crisis. “If people were to relax a little bit they’ll find that things will be back to normal,” Kloza advised. “This is not 1973.”

“There’s light at the end of the tunnel,” said Peter Crescenti, a spokesman for AAA. “The question on most people’s minds is how long is the tunnel.” (Contributor; New York Daily News with Michael Feeney and Jennifer H. Cunningham)

Pray that the lives of those suffering in New York and surrounding areas be restored quickly. Pray for the safety of the lives of those directly affected by the loss of power and life essentials. Pray for those families that lost loved ones in this powerful storm Sandy. Pray that those affected by this storm will seek the Lord for their peace and restoration.

“And without Faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that He exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Hebrews 11: 6)

 

IMMIGRATION COURTS “FLAWED,” BEHIND IN CASELOADS

The federal court that hears immigration cases and administers the nation’s immigration laws is “flawed” and has failed to keep up with pending cases despite an increase in the number of judges, a report said Thursday.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz, in a 74-page report, said the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), which decides whether illegal immigrants should be removed from the country and adjudicates cases involving undocumented workers, has failed to keep up with its caseload despite a $302.3 million budget and more than 1,500 personnel, including 238 judges.

Mr. Horowitz’s office found that EOIR’s performance reporting for both the immigration courts, where alien removal cases are heard, and the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), which handles appeals from those decisions, was so flawed that Justice Department officials were unable to determine how well immigration cases and appeals were being processed or identifying needed improvements.

Investigators also said some immigration cases and appeals took long to complete; performance reports were incomplete and overstated actual accomplishments; and EOIR did not accurately report the time it took to complete cases.

The report concluded that the total number of cases resolved by the immigration courts each year and the total time those cases remained in the court system overall were not readily apparent in EOIR’s performance reports.

In addition, the report said, investigators found that EOIR reported administrative events, such as changes of venue and transfers, as case completions even though no decision had been reached yet on whether to remove aliens from the United States. As a result, it said, a case could be “completed” multiple times.

“Reporting these administrative actions as completions overstates the accomplishments of the immigration courts,” the report said.

Mr. Horowitz said that while the investigation found no evidence to suggest EOIR intended for its reporting to be misleading, “substantially complete and accurate data reporting is essential for EOIR to better administer the volume of immigration cases, and without an accurate and comprehensive picture of how the immigration courts are performing, EOIR will be limited in its ability to identify areas that need improvement.”

According to the report, from fiscal 2006 through fiscal 2010, the overall efficiency of the courts did not improve even though there was an increase in the number of judges. It said cases for non-detained illegal immigrants took on average 17½ months to adjudicate, with some cases taking more than five years.

The report also said that in addition to new-case volume, a major contributor to processing times, especially in cases with non-detained aliens, was the number and length of continuances immigration judges granted. In 1,785 closed cases examined by the Inspector General’s Office, 953 cases — 53 percent — had one or more continuances. Each of the cases averaged four continuances and the average amount of time granted for each continuance was 92 days.

From fiscal 2006 to fiscal 2010, the report said, the number of new immigration cases rose from 308,652 to 325,326. At the same time, the number of proceedings the immigration courts completed declined about 11 percent, from 324,040 in 2006 to 287,207 in 2010.

According to the report, appeals of immigration judge decisions for non-detained aliens averaged over 16 months — almost five times longer than the 3½ month average for appeals involving those who had been detained.

The report also said the BIA is underreporting the time it takes to process an appeal because it does not always start counting the period from when a notice of appeal is filed. Instead, it said, in some cases EOIR begins tracking the time period from when a staff member is assigned to work on the appeal. The Inspector General’s Office said that as a result, cases were pending up to 636 days longer than reported by EOIR in its sample.

Mr. Horowitz’s office made nine recommendations to help EOIR improve its processing and management of immigration cases and appeals. EOIR concurred with six recommendations and partially concurred with three others. (Contributor: Jerry Seper for the Washington Times)

Pray for righteous and competent adjudication of immigrant cases before our courts. Pray that God’s heart and compassion along with His law be brought into a right balance.

“Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” (John 7:24)

 

MASSIVE CHRISTIAN RALLY IN EGYPT BRINGS 25,000 TO CHRIST

Revival is spreading throughout Egypt…a revival of faith in Jesus Christ.

During the first weekend in October, 10,000 young people gathered in the desert 60 miles north of Cairo to sing, pray and worship the Lord.

The youth gathering was followed up with an even larger event at the same location — an October 25-28 “Count It Right” Christian rally which drew 45,000 people. Hundreds of buses brought in people of all ages to the conference grounds, which also hosted artistic and sports activities.

But the focus of the event was to present the message of salvation and call people to give their lives to Jesus at a time in Egypt when Christians are being persecuted even more since the June election of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi.

Included in the numbers reported by a Christian leader are:

45,000 – the number of attendees
25,000 – estimated number of people who gave their lives to Jesus
8,000 – cards filled out by people who requested follow-up visits by churches
2-3 million – estimated number of people who followed the rally on two Christian satellite channels       1,000 – children participating in a special program prepared for them
5,000 – people attending a one-day parallel festival on Oct. 25 in the Coptic Orthodox Cave
6,000 – people attending another similar gathering from different churches on Oct. 28 in Assiut

The Christian leader blogs: “Big numbers, but most important of all, great harvest! The view of thousands of people, standing up each of the four nights, proclaiming their desire to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior is hard to describe in words. This is when I could not hold my tears.

“Most of the attendees were from the Coptic Orthodox Church, and one of the nights a Coptic Orthodox priest was the main speaker for the meeting. Have I seen an Orthodox priest preaching from an evangelical pulpit to such a big crowd of people before? Never.

“In the evening services, attendees were challenged to put their cigarettes, drugs, magic charms and any other material objects that represented sin in their lives, or write on pieces of paper specific sins they were repenting of, and put everything into large baskets that were passed around throughout the entire stadium.

“On the first night alone, 12 large wicker baskets were filled with these items. I think Jesus was present in a similar multitude scene before. This was a powerful symbol of a sincere decision they have all made to follow Christ.”

The Christian leader explains: “We do not have an accurate count or a clear indication of how many people accepted Christ. Most of the days, more than half of the people in the stadium stood up to pray and repent in response to the altar call. It was impossible for the ushers and evangelism team to pray with all the people and fill out cards with each one. With this in mind, the estimated number was 25,000 people who prayed to receive Christ during the festival. The Holy Spirit is the only One Who has the exact count, though.”

The Christian blogger adds that Egyptian Christians “want to thank all our Christian brothers and sisters worldwide who have faithfully been praying with us and for us as we stood back and watched what mighty things God has done in the lives of many people. We are grateful to Him for His great work among us and for you as our partners in the Kingdom of God.

“We are so thankful to God for His protection over this large event and the large number of people who attended. Grateful for the smooth administration of so many logistics and for the spirit and attitude between all the believers who worked together to make it possible. We are overwhelmed by His goodness and His heart of mercy towards Egypt, and are expecting more and more signs of revival in the coming days.”

A link of the gathering from You Tube can be found at www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEbgN1XDfVI. Pictures of the rally are available from Open Doors USA.

An estimated 100 million Christians worldwide suffer interrogation, arrest and even death for their faith in Christ, with millions more facing discrimination and alienation. Open Doors supports and strengthens believers in the world’s most difficult areas through Bible and Christian literature distribution, leadership training and assistance, Christian community development, prayer and presence ministry and advocacy on behalf of suffering believers. To partner with Open Doors USA, call toll free at 888-5-BIBLE-5 (888-524-2535) or go to www.OpenDoorsUSA.org(Contributor: Christian Newswire)

Give thanks to the Lord that in spite of the rise of cult government increases in Egypt with the Moslem Brotherhood, people are being saved and entered into God’s book of life! Pray for the increase in the harvest and pray for their safety as the realization that this will bring opposition to cultic Moslem beliefs.

“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.” (2 Peter 2:1)

 

COMMENTARY: CHINA’S RED FLAG OVER THE ATLANTIC

On June 27, a plane carrying Wen Jiabao made a “technical” stop on the island of Terceira, in the Azores. Following an official greeting by Alamo Meneses, the regional secretary of environment of the sea, the Chinese premier spent four hours touring the remote Portuguese outpost in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

Wen’s Terceira walkabout, which followed a four-nation visit to South America, largely escaped notice at the time, but alarm bells should have immediately gone off in Washington and in European capitals. For one thing, Wen’s last official stop on the trip was Santiago, the capital of Chile. Flights from Chile to China normally cross the Pacific, not the Atlantic, so there was no reason for his plane to be near the Azores. Moreover, those who visit the Azores generally favor other islands in the out-of-the-way chain.

Terceira, however, has one big attraction for Beijing: Air Base No. 4. Better known as Lajes Field, the facility where Premier Wen’s 747 landed in June is jointly operated by the U.S. Air Force and its Portuguese counterpart. If China controlled the base, the Atlantic would no longer be secure. From the 10,865-foot runway on the northeast edge of the island, Chinese planes could patrol the northern and central portions of the Atlantic and thereby cut air and sea traffic between the U.S. and Europe. Beijing would also be able to deny access to the nearby Mediterranean Sea.

And China could target the American homeland. Lajes is less than 2,300 miles from New York, shorter than the distance between Pearl Harbor and Los Angeles.

Lajes is certainly the reason Wen went out of his way to win friends in Terceira. For years his country has been trying to make inroads into the Azores and waiting for opportunities to pounce. There is nothing the Chinese can do if the U.S. stays, but Pentagon budget cutters, according to some observers, are planning to make Lajes a “ghost base.”

At one time, the facility was critically important. During World War II, the airfield was instrumental in hunting U-boats, and in the Cold War the base helped the West track the Soviets. Lajes was a busy transit point in the Gulf War. It was one of the spots where the Space Shuttle could have landed in an emergency.

Now Lajes is home to the USAF’s 65th Air Base Wing, which supports American and NATO aircraft transiting the Atlantic, and it hosts various other American military units. Its role, nonetheless, is greatly diminished. Peace in the North Atlantic and advances in air-to-air refueling have decreased the importance of the strategic runway, which is now rarely used by the U.S.

So from a purely military point of view, the decision to cease operations at Lajes makes sense. The effective closure of the field, however, would send Terceira into a tailspin. While agriculture forms the basis of the island’s economy, the base directly accounts for about one in 20 jobs there. Unemployment is already high, about 10 percent. If Terceira is to have any future, the Portuguese government will have to find a new major tenant for Air Base No. 4.

In recent years, Beijing has identified Portugal as its entry point into Europe, and Chinese officials now know their way to Lisbon. It is in this context that the Portuguese are already thinking about the planned closure of Lajes Field. They don’t want to invite the Chinese in, but they have quietly indicated they will have no choice if the U.S. Air Force decides to leave the base.

“We have a close relationship with Portugal,” the Defense Department told NRO when asked about the planned closure of Lajes and Beijing’s apparent interest in taking it over. “They are an important NATO ally and bilateral partner, and we continue to discuss our strong defense cooperation, in Portugal and around the world.”

We will, as a longtime ally, need to work closely with Lisbon over an especially thorny issue, but in the interim, there are things that can be done. For instance, it’s not entirely clear why the U.S. Africa Command should be based at Kelley Barracks, outside Stuttgart. A transfer of the approximately 1,500 staff there to Lajes, which is much closer to Africa, would solve the problem overnight, and the move might actually improve Africom’s effectiveness.

There are undoubtedly other stopgap solutions that the Pentagon could implement. None of them will be perfect, but all of them would be better than having Beijing’s red flag flying over the Atlantic — and permitting Chinese aircraft to patrol the waters connecting America to Europe. (Contributor: Gordon G. Chang, Watch.org, National Review Online)

Pray that our military and governmental leaders recognize the movement in Chinese diplomacy regarding strategic footholds in the west which this island intrusion may represent. Pray that U.S. and European nations understand what may be at stake with further intrusive policies regarding military footings and staging areas in the American/European theatre of the Atlantic.

“And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their commandment.”  (1 Chronicles 12:32)

 

CONGRESSIONAL PRAYER CAUCUS – CURRENT ISSUES FOR PRAYER

Opposing hostility towards faith in the Air Force – Congressman Randy Forbes joined Congressman Diane Black and Congressman Todd Akin in sending a letter signed by 66 Members of Congress urging Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to investigate a pattern of hostility towards faith in the United States Air Force.  Over the last year, the Air Force has repeatedly capitulated to pressure from outside groups to remove religious symbols and references to faith from the service.  The letter calls on Secretary Panetta to issue clear Department of Defense policy guidance, consistent with our Constitution, to preserve the place of religious expression in the military at large.

Urging the President to preserve religious hiring rights – Congressman Randy Forbes and Congressman Mike McIntyre sent a letter to President Obama, urging him to maintain current policies that allow faith-based organizations that consider religious criteria in their employment decisions to perform contract work for the federal government.

Supporting legislative prayer at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit – Thirteen Members of the House of Representatives have joined the Family Research Council (FRC) in submitting an amicus curiae brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in support of legislative prayer.  The Lakeland City Commission in Florida had a policy of inviting clergy to offer invocations at the beginning of its meetings.  The Atheists of Florida sued, arguing that because most of the prayers were offered by Christian clergy, the prayers were “too sectarian” and thus violated the Establishment Clause.  The brief submitted by the Members argues that courts do not have the jurisdiction to delve into the inner workings of a deliberative body’s meetings because of the constitutional separation of powers between the branches of government.

Supporting the freedom of school boards to open meeting with prayer – Members of the Prayer Caucus are supporting a resolution introduced by Congressman Tim Walberg that supports the freedom of school boards to open meetings with prayer.  H.Res.662 expresses the sense of the House of Representatives that school boards are deliberative bodies similar to city and county councils and state legislatures, and should be treated as such for purposes of analyzing the constitutionality of their prayer policies.

Working to protect the symbols and traditions of Christmas – Members of the Prayer Caucus are supporting H.Res.489, introduced by Congressman Doug Lamborn, which expresses the sense of the House of Representatives that the symbols and traditions of Christmas should be protected for use by those that celebrate Christmas.  Each year during the Christmas season, there are increasing efforts to remove religious symbols and references from the holiday.  H.Res.489 emphasizes that the First Amendment does not require bans on religious references to Christmas, and supports the use of these symbols by those who celebrate Christmas.

Urging Vanderbilt University to protect religious student groups – In October of 2011, Congressman Randy Forbes led 22 Members of Congress in sending a letter to Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos of Vanderbilt University, urging him to ensure that the school’s nondiscrimination policy was not being interpreted in a manner that discriminated against religious student groups.  Several religious student organizations at Vanderbilt, including the Christian Legal Society and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, were placed on “provisional status” for requiring their student leaders to share the groups’ religious beliefs.  Thirty-five Members then sent another letter in May of 2012, expressing continuing concern that the school’s nondiscrimination policy requires all student groups to open leadership positions to all students, yet exempts fraternities and sororities from the requirement while refusing to exempt religious student groups.

Fighting attempts to remove “Under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance –
Members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus lead in sending a letter to NBC, expressing concern over the network’s omissions of “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance twice in a video montage aired during coverage of the U.S. Open.  In response to the letter sent by 108 Members of Congress, the network reprimanded the employees responsible for the omissions and implemented safeguards to prevent similar instances in the future.

Opposing efforts to remove a memorial cross honoring military veterans – In January of 2011, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that a cross displayed at the Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial in San Diego, California was unconstitutional.  Members of the Prayer Caucus signed on to an amicus curiae brief submitted to the Ninth Circuit asking the full court to reconsider the case, and asserting that the cross’s presence at the memorial is constitutional.  After the Ninth Circuit declined to reconsider the case, Members joined the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) in submitting an amicus curiae brief to the Supreme Court of the United States, asking the Court to take up the case and reverse the Ninth Circuit’s decision.  In June of 2012, the Supreme Court announced that it would not review the case; however, Justice Alito issued a statement saying the appeal may have been premature and the Court may reconsider the case after the district court issues a final order on the fate of the memorial.

Urging religious freedom protections for service members –
The repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in the military raised concerns that service members whose consciences or religious beliefs conflicted with homosexual behavior would face discrimination and disapproval.  Members of the Prayer Caucus sent a letter to President Obama, urging that specific religious freedom and conscience protections be adopted during implementation of the repeal to formally assure all Americans that our citizens need not leave their faith at home when they volunteer to serve.

Affirming America’s rich spiritual heritage – Co-chairmen of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, Congressman Forbes and Congressman McIntyre, reintroduced legislation to recognize our nation’s religious history.  H.Res.253, America’s Spiritual Heritage Resolution, affirms the rich spiritual and diverse religious history of our nation’s founding and subsequent history, and designates the first week in May as America’s Spiritual Heritage Week.

Working to decrease frivolous lawsuits challenging public expressions of religion – Members of the Prayer Caucus are supporting H.R.2023, introduced by Congressman Dan Burton, which would ensure that the legal system is not used to extort money from state and local governments through frivolous lawsuits against public expressions of religion.  H.R. 2023 would not prevent parties from filing lawsuits alleging Establishment Clause violations, but it would require each side to pay its own attorneys’ fees.  The bill would limit the remedies available to the suing party, so the only relief available would be that the state or local government would be required to stop its public expression of religion, if the court deems it unconstitutional.  The result would be a decrease in frivolous lawsuits and the assurance that state and local governments are not intimidated into halting constitutional public expressions of religion.

Recognizing the significant impact of the Ten Commandments on America’s development – Members of the Prayer Caucus are supporting H.Res.211, introduced by Congressman Louie Gohmert, which recognizes the significant contribution that the Ten Commandments have made in shaping America’s principles, institutions, and national character.  The bill supports designating the first weekend in May as “Ten Commandments Weekend.” (Contributor: Congressional Prayer Caucus)

On Watch in Washington November 7, 2012 PDF Version

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