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Posts tagged ‘Peter Sprigg’

Ted Haggard: Brewer Right to Veto Bill.


Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer was right to veto a bill Wednesday that would have allowed business people to refuse service to gay couples, says an evangelical leader who was once caught up in a sex scandal with another man.

Ted Haggard told CNN after Brewer’s announcement that Christians, like everyone else, need to respect others.

“That was a broadly worded bill that had unintended consequences hidden in it that would have developed over the years,” Haggard told CNN’s Erin Burnett.

Haggard was a mega-church pastor and president of the National Association of Evangelicals in 2006 when it was revealed that he had had a long-term sexual relationship with a male escort. Haggard was preaching and working against gay marriage when the allegations came to light.

Haggard told Burnett on Wednesday that it is “bigotry” for Christians to refuse to serve others based on a moral code.

“We as Christians are here to wash the feet of others and make life better, not to make life worse,” he said.

Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council disagreed. Sprigg told Burnett that current Arizona law doesn’t list gays as a protected class, so the new law would have given them added protections.

Sprigg said the battle won’t be over until the U.S. Supreme Court rules. It will take “a Roe v. Wade of same-sex marriage” before the fight will be over, he said.

Haggard responded, “There will be a Supreme Court decision that will make equality the law of the land.”

Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, a socially conservative group that opposes abortion and gay marriage and pushed the legislation, said Brewer’s veto marked “a sad day for Arizonans who cherish and understand religious liberty.”

The bill, she said in a statement, “passed the legislature for one reason only: to guarantee that all Arizonans would be free to live and work according to their faith.”

“Opponents were desperate to distort this bill rather than debate the merits,” Herrod said. “Essentially, they succeeded in getting a veto of a bill that does not even exist.”

Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director Gregory T. Angelo, appearing on MSNBC,  said the veto of SB1062 showed the will of the majority of Republicans to grant equality to same-sex couples.

Angelo’s group fights for gay rights within the GOP, and he said that even though it was Republicans who passed the bill, he was encouraged that it was vetoed by a Republican and that many powerful members of the party opposed it.

“I appreciate the decision made by Gov. Brewer to veto this legislation,” Republican Sen. John McCain said. “I hope that we can now move on from this controversy and as sure the American people that everyone is welcome to live, work and enjoy our beautiful state of Arizona.”
McCain’s colleague, Sen. Jeff Flake, thanked Brewer for her veto on Twitter:

Flake said in a later tweet:

Both senators had urged Brewer to veto the legislation.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said the pressure on Brewer from big businesses and professional sports leagues is an example of how fundamental freedoms are being trampled.

“You create a stampede by spooking politicians and the public with misinformation,” Perkins said on Fox News Channel’s “The Kelly File.”

“This is going to continue to be a major problem, and it’s going to spread across the country,” Perkins said. “It’s now going to be incumbent upon Gov. Brewer to say how she’s going to protect the religious freedom of thousands of Arizonians.”

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By Greg Richter

Homosexual and Transgender Employment Bill Threatens Religious Liberty.


Peter Sprigg
Peter Sprigg

In November, the U.S. Senate passed a version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a bill that creates a special status for sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace.

ENDA unjustly interferes with the liberty of employers in the free market to determine their own standards for employment, based on characteristics that (unlike race or sex) primarily involve voluntary conduct (the choice to engage in homosexual conduct or the choice to present one’s self as the opposite of one’s biological sex).

In addition to this underlying threat to the free market for employment, however, ENDA poses a specific threat to religious liberty as well. The theologically orthodox teaching of both the Christian and Jewish faiths has always been that, in keeping with the teachings of Scripture, sexual relations between persons of the same sex are contrary to the will of God.

While the vast majority of employers would not consider an employee’s sexual orientation relevant, many religious organizations motivated by and proclaiming those faiths will logically seek employees whose conduct is consistent with the moral standards they teach. Such employers include not only churches and synagogues, but also schools, parachurch ministries, religious charities and nonprofits, and even profit-making corporations that sell religious products.

Laws protecting sexual orientation and gender identity at the local and state levels usually contain at least something that passes for a religious exemption, but the scope of those exemptions varies.

In some cases, the exemption has been applied only to clergy but not to other church employees. In other cases, church employees may be exempt, but those at religious nonprofit organizations are not. Or religious nonprofits that primarily proclaim the gospel may be exempted, but those that engage in “secular” activities (such as feeding the poor or educating children) are not.

Even if all religious nonprofits could be exempted, such laws rarely, if ever, exempt profit-making corporations—even though a Christian bookstore or Bible publisher may see its mission as being just as religious as any nonprofit ministry. (Lawsuits over the HHS mandate in Obamacare have shown that profit-making corporations have legitimate concerns about federal mandates that would force them to compromise moral principles.)

Advocates of ENDA argue that its religious exemption is relatively broad. The 1964 Civil Rights Act law exempts religious organizations from the ban on employment discrimination based on religion. ENDA would exempt any organization that qualifies for that exemption from ENDA’s provisions as well.

The exemption in the 1964 act was based on the reasonable grounds that organizations motivated by their faith should be free to give preference in hiring to those who share that faith. There is largely a social consensus that such flexibility in hiring furthers the free exercise of religion already guaranteed by the Constitution.

However, advocates of ENDA are people who fundamentally believe it is never reasonable to make moral distinctions between homosexual relationships and heterosexual ones. This is not a point of consensus—it is precisely the point in dispute. Therefore, it is reasonable to doubt whether ENDA’s advocates—or enforcers—will be generous toward employers that decline to employ people who engage in homosexual conduct.

Even if the rights of all religious employers are fully protected, a threat to religious liberty would remain. This is because there is no exemption in the bill for religious employees. Under ENDA, anyone who expresses the personal moral conviction that homosexual conduct is wrong would be vulnerable (or make their employer vulnerable) to charges of creating a “hostile work environment” for homosexual co-workers. That person would be at risk of being disciplined or even dismissed.

This is no mere hypothetical—there have been numerous examples already. Allstate insurance fired attorney Matt Barber (now with Liberty University Law School) for online writings against the homosexual agenda done on his own time. Gallaudet University suspended administrator Angela McCaskill merely for signing a petition to allow a referendum in Maryland on the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples. Fox Sports Southwest recently fired Craig James as a college football commentator after only one appearance—for positions he took while running for the U.S. Senate a year and a half earlier. This is why I have contended that ENDA would drive Christians “into the closet” even as it brings homosexual and transgender individuals out.

Conservatives are sometimes accused of trying to legislate morality. In this case, however, it is ENDA that seeks to legislate morality at the federal level—but it is the morality (or immorality) of the sexual revolution, which directly contradicts the sexual ethics of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Any member of Congress seeking to protect religious liberty should reject ENDA.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

Peter Sprigg is senior fellow for policy studies at Family Research Council. This article appeared inThe Christian Post on Friday.

Jewish Press Slams Christie for ‘Assault on Religious Freedom’.


Image: Jewish Press Slams Christie for 'Assault on Religious Freedom'

By Jim Meyers

A prominent Jewish publication has slammed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for signing into law a bill banning so-called gay conversion therapy on minors, calling the move “highly disappointing.”

The bill prohibits the counseling of any individual under age 18 by any counselor, whether a licensed mental health professional or clergy member, that would attempt to change the minor’s sexual orientation.

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The Jewish Press notes that Christie followed in the footsteps of only one state, California, which had passed a similar bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The New Jersey law explicitly exempts therapy for “a person seeking to transition from one gender to another, or counseling that provides acceptance [or] support” for homosexuality.

The Jewish Press, in an opinion piece, states: “Thus anyone under 18 struggling with unwanted feelings of same-sex attraction is precluded from receiving the help he or she may want even with parental consent. At the same time, parents are allowed to use their discretion to seek professional help to affirm their child’s same-sex attraction.”

The article calls the bill “an assault on religious freedom as well as on the right of parents to utilize their discretion is raising their children. It also unfairly denies young people the opportunity to pursue help they may desperately want.

“For a governor who as recently as a year ago vetoed a same sex marriage bill in his state, this latest stance is ironic and highly disappointing.”

The Jewish Press asserts that conversion therapy has achieved “some degree of success,” and the legislation is therefore “especially saddening.”

The publication calls on readers to voice their concerns to their representatives in government, particularly because New York legislators have been discussing a similar bill.
Christie has also come under fire from elements in the Christian community, who have been outraged that Christie would back a law that would interfere in parental rights, and block their use of clergy for counseling to their children.

Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council, said the bill “tramples on the rights of minors, parents, and therapists alike.”

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Fuller Seminary Allows First LGBT Campus Group.


Fuller Theological Seminary

Fuller Theological Seminary in California has approved an official student organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students.

The decision sparked debate in the larger world of Christian colleges. Although other Christian schools have approved similar organizations, Fuller is the first evangelical seminary to do so.

The group, called OneTable, formed last fall and has attracted about three dozen students.

“Fuller is not acting in the students’ best interest by sanctioning the group and should instead be teaching reorientation as the students’ best option,” Peter Sprigg, a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, said.

Sprigg is also an ordained Baptist minister.

But the group’s founder, Nick Palacios, said he’s hoping that “people will see Fuller and OneTable as a model of what the body of the church is supposed to do in this situation.”

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

CBN NEWS

Theological Reflections on Homosexuality as We Await the Supreme Court’s Decisions.


gay pride
A protester raises a flag outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, March 26, 2013. (Reuters/Joshua Roberts)

Some fine legal analyses exist concerning the Supreme Court’s rulings on the Proposition 8 and Defense of Marriage Act cases next week. Other very thorough, and quite sobering, projections regarding the implications of each decision, however decided, are also both excellent and readily accessible.

Although Family Research Council has filed amicus curiae briefs regarding both cases, this piece is neither legal analysis nor prognostication. Instead, what follows is a compilation of comments from Christian thinkers whose thinking about homosexuality is wise, theologically sound and compassionate.

“One ordinary day, I came to Jesus, openhanded and naked. … Jesus triumphed,” writes Rosaria Champagne Butterfield, Ph.D., former tenured professor of English at Syracuse University and former lesbian and LGBT movement activist. “And I was a broken mess. Conversion was a train wreck. I did not want to lose everything that I loved. But the voice of God sang a sanguine love song in the rubble of my world. I weakly believed that if Jesus could conquer death, He could make right my world. I drank, tentatively at first, then passionately, of the solace of the Holy Spirit. I rested in private peace, then community and today in the shelter of a covenant family, where one calls me ‘wife’ and many call me ‘mother.’ I have not forgotten the blood Jesus surrendered for this life. And my former life lurks in the edges of my heart, shiny and still like a knife.”

Anglican theologian and Christian statesman John R.W. Stott, Ph.D., says, “God created humankind male and female; God instituted marriage as a heterosexual union; and what God has thus united, we have no liberty to separate. This threefold action of God established that the only context which He intended for the ‘one flesh’ experience is heterosexual monogamy and that a homosexual partnership (however loving and committed it may claim to be) is ‘against nature’ and can never be considered as a legitimate alternative to marriage.”

Al Mohler, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president, writes, “We sin if we call homosexuality something other than sin. We also sin if we act as if this sin cannot be forgiven. We cannot settle for truth without love nor love without truth. The gospel settles the issue once and for all.”

“Pro-homosexual activists have begun to demand that no debate on the issue of homosexuality be permitted,” explains Peter Sprigg, senior fellow at Family Research Council. “Yet there are legitimate grounds for debate on the origin, nature and consequences of homosexuality. That debate should continue, with a respect for honest research and for freedom of thought, speech and religion.”

Trevin Wax, managing editor of The Gospel Project, says, “Some people have mistreated homosexuals in the past. It’s a shame that anyone anywhere would mock, taunt or bully another human being made in God’s image. That said, I think we need to make one thing clear in regard to civil discourse: To differ is not to hate. I hope we can still have a real conversation in this country about different points of view without casting one another in the worst possible light. The idea that disagreeing with homosexual behavior necessarily results in harm to gay people is designed to shut down conversation and immediately rule one point of view (in this case, the Christian one) out of bounds.”

“To affirm sin is to diminish humanity,” explains Owen Strachan, Ph.D., assistant professor of Christian theology and church history at Boyce College. “To affirm righteousness and advocate for it in a spirit of winsome courage is to restore humanity. Believers cannot support homosexuality as a God-glorifying way to live. We recognize humanity most in other people when we see how sin has trapped them, feel empathy for them and call them to the obedience of faith. This, and no other, is love; this, and nothing else, is compassionate.”

Elodie Ballantine Emig, instructor of Greek at Denver Seminary and an advisory board member of Where Grace Abounds, adds, “If we have placed our trust in the God who does not change, we need not fear shifts in culture or law. In the beginning, God ordained marriage to be a lifelong, loving covenant between one man and one woman. We need to tell this truth with conviction, regardless of politics. If we are secure in God’s love, people who reject what we believe pose no real threat to us. We are set free to love those who oppose us and to listen to their stories. It should be Christian business as usual.”

Christ is real. He changes the lives of sinners, whether homosexual or heterosexual. He offers hope and substantial restoration, as well as full transformation in eternity.

If those assertions and those made by the writers quoted above are true, Christians can await the Supreme Court’s decision not without concern but without apprehension. We know Him who both created human sexuality and also overcomes the world.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

ROB SCHWARZWALDER


Rob Schwarzwalder is senior vice president at Family Research Council. This article appeared in Religion Today Wednesday.

Obama’s Acrobatics on Homosexual ‘Marriage’.


President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama

The number of flip-flops President Obama has now performed on the issue of marriage would be impressive for an Olympic gymnast.

He was for homosexual marriage (in a 1996 Illinois state Senate campaign), then against it (in his 2008 presidential run), then for it again (in a widely publicized interview last May). His administration said the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was constitutional, then decided in 2011 it was unconstitutional. Now the president, who said last May that the issue should be decided at the state level, is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn California’s law on the issue.

The high court will hear arguments in late March on two marriage cases—one challenging the federal act, and the other challenging California’s marriage amendment, Proposition 8. Both DOMA (for purposes of federal law) and Prop. 8 (for California law) define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Although Obama has always favored repeal of DOMA—part of which prevents the federal government from recognizing homosexual marriages even in states where they are legal—his Justice Department originally said the law could be defended as constitutional. Justice reversed that position in 2011 and has intervened in the DOMA case to call for it to be overturned.

On Feb. 28, however—the last possible day—the president’s solicitor general filed a brief in the California case as well, urging that Proposition 8 be overturned.

In the interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts where Obama announced his new position on marriage last year, he repeatedly said it would be a mistake to “nationalize” the marriage issue. In fact, he said, that was a key part of why he opposed DOMA.

On May 9, Obama said, “[W]hat you’re seeing is, I think, states working through this issue. And I think that’s a healthy process and a healthy debate. And I continue to believe that this is an issue that is gonna be worked out at the local level, because historically, this has not been a federal issue, what’s recognized as a marriage.”

Roberts even pressed him on the possibility of the Justice Department pushing more strongly toredefine marriage, but Obama resisted, saying, “I’ve got an opponent on—on the other side in the upcoming presidential election, who wants to refederalize the issue [with] a constitutional amendment. And, you know, I think it is a mistake to try to make what has traditionally been a state issue into a national issue.”

Obama’s decision last week to challenge Proposition 8—”federalizing” what is a settled matter under California state law—is a brazen act of hypocrisy.

The Justice Department’s brief in the Proposition 8 case is premised entirely on the argument that classifications based on “sexual orientation” should be subjected to “heightened scrutiny” under the Constitution’s “equal protection” clause—the same skeptical standard as a classification based on race.

In law, defining marriage as the union of a woman and a man does not create a classification based on the sexual orientation of any individual at all, but bases it on the gender complementarity of the couple. Yet even conceding the disparate impact of such laws upon homosexuals, they do not qualify for what is termed “strict legal scrutiny,” which generally involves an immutable characteristic (which sexual orientation is not) and political powerlessness (which is belied by the apparent stranglehold that homosexual activists now have on the Democratic Party).

The other typical requirements are a “history of discrimination,” but what history actually shows is long-standing disapproval of homosexual conduct, which is not the same as discrimination based on group identity. The characteristic also must be one that “bears no relation to the ability to perform or contribute.”

In this case, however, the question is not whether homosexual individuals contribute to society (they can and do, in various nonsexual ways), but whether same-sex couples, as a class, are capable of performing the core public purpose of marriage, which is procreation. They cannot.

The Justice Department brief fails to note that nearly all federal appeals courts have evaluated “sexual orientation” under the more lenient “rational basis” test. The role of marriage in promoting responsible procreation, and in keeping a man and woman together to raise the children produced by their union, is more than sufficient “rational basis” for laws classifying opposite-sex couples and same-sex couples differently.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

Peter Sprigg is senior fellow for Policy Studies at Family Research Council. This article appeared in The Washington Times on March 6.

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