“The Supreme Court agreed on Monday to hear an appeal from a Colorado baker with religious objections to same-sex marriage who had lost a discrimination case for refusing to create a cake to celebrate such a union. The case will be a major test of a clash between laws that ban businesses open to the public from discriminating based on sexual orientation and claims of religious freedom. Around the nation, businesses like bakeries, florists and photography studios have said, so far with little success, that forcing them to serve gay couples violates their constitutional rights.”
Nick Note: Would Jesus bake the cake? Should a Christian be able to “discriminate” in the name of religious liberty? Shouldn’t a Christian be able to exercise their religious beliefs in the public square? Are we losing our witness all for the sake of our rights? If I can be candid with you all, this situation pains me. A wedding is one of the most special moments in a person’s life. A wedding invitation serves as entrance into a sacred ceremony and joyous celebration, but also categorizes you as someone that the new couple finds special. And now, in this sacred and beautiful space, conflict enters.
The religious right claim that the baker is not discriminating against the gay couple, seeing that the bakers are willing to bake an ordinary cake for them just not willing to “lend their unique talents” to the wedding. In their understanding, by lending their talents they are endorsing the union. The religious left question when has any vendor thought they were endorsing a wedding by providing a service? They claim the religious right is discriminating, like someone saying they won’t bake a cake for an interracial marriage and then cloaking it in religious garb. They also claim the cake is a part of the reception not the ceremony, thereby absolving them of endorsing or supporting the union.
It seems to me that to be consistent and without blame in the community (1 Peter 2:12), bakers that take this stand should stop “lending their talents” to weddings where there was an unbiblical divorce (Matthew 5:31-32), a believer is marrying an unbeliever (2 Corinthians 6:14), or any other gathering where a Christian participates in activities congruent with a former manner of life(Ephesians 4:17-24). I am not insinuating this should be enforced by government regulation, but the church has a role to play (1 Peter 5:1-2). Homosexuality has split churches, but far more churches have split over adultery, divorce, and divisiveness. Homosexuality is an issue, but it is not the only issue.
“The Senate Republican health care bill would leave 22 million more Americans uninsured over a decade, according to a Congressional Budget Office projection that could complicate the party’s push to hold a vote on the plan this week.
“The estimated coverage losses are just slightly less than for the House-passed version of the Obamacare repeal bill, which concern Republican moderates who have pushed Senate leaders to craft a more generous bill.
“The Senate legislation also would cut the federal deficit by $321 billion over 10 years, driven by deep cuts to Medicaid and skimpier aid for people purchasing private coverage. Those savings far exceed the $119 billion target set by the House bill, meeting a key requirement for Republicans hoping to pass the Senate bill through a fast-track budget process needing just 51 votes.”
Nick Note: Here are five findings of the CBO on the Senate health care plan. Conservative firebrand Ben Shapiro, commenting on the CBO numbers, believes that Republicans lose no matter what with Trumpcare. He argues that Republicans have accepted the Democrats “baseline premise that the government’s role is to provide health insurance – Republicans lose no matter what happens next.” This is similar to what Yuval Levin argues – though in less of a firebrand manner. “After seven years of saying they want to repeal and replace Obamacare, congressional Republicans have been forced to confront the fact that many of them actually don’t quite want to do that. As more time passes since the beginning of implementation three and a half years ago, and more people’s lives become intertwined with the program for good and bad, the case for addressing Obamacare’s immense deficiencies by repeal weakens as a practical matter in favor of a case for taking them on by alteration.” And then there is David Brooks piece this morning: “Because Republicans have no governing vision, they can’t really replace the Obama vision with some alternative. They just accept the basic structure of Obamacare and cut it back some.” All argue to a certain degree that the only win would have been a repeal in order to allow the free markets to rectify perceived wrongs. They may consider this a loss but President Trump and Trinity Lutheran had big wins in the Supreme Court yesterday. According to the NY Times: “The Supreme Court cleared the way for President Trump to prohibit the entry of some people into the United States from countries he deems dangerous, but the justices imposed strict limits on Mr. Trump’s travel ban while they examine the scope of presidential power over the border. The court said the ban could not be imposed on anyone who had “a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” Examples of a bona fide relationship include: “a foreign national who wishes to live with or visit a family member, a student who has been admitted by a university, or a worker with an offer of employment from a U.S. business.” And finally, in a 7-2 vote, the Supreme Court ruled that the state of Missouri was wrong to exclude a Christian school from a program that granted non-profits with rubber surfacing for their playgrounds. Chief Justice John G. Roberts, writing for the majority, said unjustified government discrimination against churches and other religious institutions is “odious” and “unconstitutional.” Ironically, Justice Sotomayor, in the dissenting opinion, noted how this weakens the country’s longstanding commitment to separation of church and state. This wall of separation was originally coined by Roger Williams in 1644 and popularized by Thomas Jefferson in his letter to the Danbury Baptist in 1802. The wall was originally intended to keep the “wilderness of the state” out of the “garden of the church,” not the other way around. Just as Chief Justice Roberts called the discrimination odious, Christians have been admonished to be a fragrant aroma in the wilderness of the state (2 Corinthians 2:14-16). The state should be kept out of the church, but church members should permeate the state with the fragrant aroma of Christ as they work with excellence for the good of their city.
“China’s downgrade is to be announced Tuesday at the State Department when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson unveils the annual Trafficking in Persons Report to Congress, said the officials, who weren’t authorized to comment publicly ahead of the announcement and demanded anonymity. China will be listed under “Tier 3,” the ranking system’s lowest category, which applies to countries failing to meet minimum standards to prevent human trafficking or making significant improvement efforts. Other countries that have recently been on that list include Sudan, Iran and Haiti.
Nick Note: 3,388,400 people live in modern slavery in China. Nearly 46 million people worldwide are living in modern slavery. This is an increase of twenty-eight percent from the last survey back in 2014 (for more, read my article). As those who have been set free, we should seek to set others free – through our words and actions (Luke 4:18). The slavery problem is large and solutions can at times be complex and intricate. But there are people and organizations that are effectively working to end this pernicious problem such as Traffick 911. Consider supporting their great work.
“Three CNN journalists, including the executive editor in charge of a new investigative unit, have resigned after the publication of a Russia-related article that was retracted. “In the aftermath of the retraction of a story published on CNN.com, CNN has accepted the resignations of the employees involved in the story’s publication,” a spokesman said Monday evening. An internal investigation by CNN management found that some standard editorial processes were not followed when the article was published, people briefed on the results of the investigation said.”
Nick Note: Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth (1 Corinthians 13:6). When CNN discovered the truth, actions were taken, people lost their jobs, and they apologized. Is this evidence of fake news or character and integrity – taking responsibility for your actions? “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy (Proverbs 28:13).”