Watchmen on the Wall: An Update from Washington, D.C.

Watchmen on the WallI was privileged to spend last week in Washington, D.C. with president’s of Family Policy Councils and pastors from around the country as part of the Family Research Council’s annual Watchmen on the Wall conference (Every pastor should be at this event.) This event is designed to show pastors the importance of being informed and involved on a local and state level with the critical issues of life, marriage, and religious freedom.

It was a blessing to spend time with the leaders of other Family Policy Council’s and hear about what they are doing within their state to defend life, strengthen marriage, and safeguard religious liberty. I would encourage you to pray for these leaders as they stand in defense of our liberties at their state capitals. Some are facing significant challenges and need our prayer support.

Part of the events for this conference is to take groups to the capitol for a tour inside the capitol building. Dr. Kenyn Cureton hosted our “Spiritual Heritage Tour” which is for the purpose of educating people about the lost episodes of America’s spiritual heritage. These are the things you won’t hear in the media, and oftentimes stories from history that revisionists are trying to rewrite in an effort to erase the Christian heritage of our country. I would commend this tour to you and ask that you consider taking part in order to gain an incredible understanding of just how solidly our country was founded on the rock of Jesus and the Scriptures. Our tour included viewing incredible paintings and statues within the capitol building and hearing the history of those works of art and how they reflect the foundation of faith and freedom our country is based upon. [Read more...]

About Nathan Cherry

Nathan Cherry is the chief editor and blogger for the Engage Family Minute blog, the official blog of the FPCWV. He serves also as the Regional Development Coordinator as a liaison to the pastor's of West Virginia. He is a pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, pro-religious freedom conservative. He is also a husband, father, pastor, author, musician, and follower of Jesus Christ.

Engaging the Issues: Is Religious Freedom Public or Private?

Dr. Susan Hanssen on Engaging the Issues

We call, “religious freedom” our first freedom because of its prominent place in our Bill of Rights.  However, when it comes to practice, just how much do we welcome the practice of religious freedom in public?  Dr. Susan Hanssen concludes that, for true religious freedom to exist, we need to understand the role of religion in public (not just in private).

Click here to listen now . . .

About Jeremy Dys

Jeremy Dys is the FPCWV's President and General Counsel. In addition to his duties of providing strategic vision and leadership to the FPCWV, Dys is the chief lobbyist and spokesman. Dys is regularly featured in local, state, and national print, radio, and television outlets. He lives close to Charleston with his wife and growing family.

Dr. Russell Moore Did the Right Thing

Well, it was more than just him, but he should get at least some credit.

You may have heard the news that the Pentagon’s intraweb was, for a period of time, blocking access to Southern Baptist Convention websites.  Now, for the life of me, I can’t figure out exactly how that became knowledge, nor why someone at the Pentagon would have been trying to access such a website.  But, it doesn’t matter.  Whether for reasons nefarious, routine, or just plain curious, someone discovered that the Pentagon’s web filter was blocking the Baptists and the press ran with it.

Some immediately denounced the Pentagon and suggested that there was an agenda afoot to silence a Christian denomination that has been, at times, critical of this administration whether that was the denomination speaking as a whole or some of its more prominent members.

Well, one of its more prominent members is Dr. Russell Moore.  In fact, he’s been the academic dean at the denomination’s largest seminary and is beginning the transition, now, to a new role as president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, the denomination’s public policy wing.  As an aside, he’s a great man for that job.  You can listen to my interview with Dr. Moore last December 18th as he discusses, “How Do We Honor the Emperor” to get a sense of this man’s mind and contending humility.  He’ll do well.

He’ll do well, in part, because he’s different.  That is to say, I think Dr. Moore is going to force the pro-life, pro-marriage, pro-religious freedom, pro-family (whatever our name is) movement to adjust how we act and react.  Default mode for many of us in situations like what happened at the Pentagon has been to immediately assume the worst and go public with what are ultimately vain, self-righteous accusations.  That’s not what he did.  Note, however, what he did do.

First, he let the right people make the right statement.  His first comment was not to comment, but to allow the SBC spokesman guy to make the comment without further elaboration:

Screen Shot 2013-04-26 at 10.23.49 AM

Of course, don’t miss the fact that this also means that Dr. Moore was both following the situation and thinking through it critically.  We have seen the military recently categorize denominations like him as, “religious extremists” on the level of the KKK.  There is some fact to the potential fiction that the Pentagon was working to censor the Baptists.

 

But, he didn’t stop there.  When it became clear that this was not an issue of censorship, Dr. Moore did the right thing and broadcast what actually happened.  It was a computer glitch!

Screen Shot 2013-04-26 at 10.24.03 AM

Now, imagine what the SBC’s witness, through Dr. Moore, would have been if, the moment he had heard about the situation, he had taken the bait and launched a social media missive (and his Twitter, Facebook, and blog following is substantial), leveling a charge of censorship.  With no inquiry, no room for grace, Dr. Moore would have slammed shut many doors that are open to him and his very important message and further alienated any feelings of ill-will the opponents of the SBC may have had for him.

And, here’s the thing: I don’t think he even thought about it.

That is, from my brief interaction with him and watching him from a distance, I would venture to guess this even-keeled, grace-filled, don’t-fire-before-you-see-the-whites-of-their-eyes approach is probably second-nature to Dr. Moore.  In fact, I’d wager he would be the first to say that it’s certainly not his first nature.  Rather, it is evidence of the work of Grace in his heart.

Those of us who mark ourselves according to the same Grace ought to pause and reflect.  This is a dangerous world and one that is violently opposed to the Truth of Christ that we stand for, but that does not mean there is a conspiracy behind every rock.  Cowards – not future kings and queens of the universe – walk with fear past pitfalls and shadowy alleys.  The upright walk with confidence in One far-greater than any conspiracy.

This article first appeared at jeremydys.com.

About Jeremy Dys

Jeremy Dys is the FPCWV's President and General Counsel. In addition to his duties of providing strategic vision and leadership to the FPCWV, Dys is the chief lobbyist and spokesman. Dys is regularly featured in local, state, and national print, radio, and television outlets. He lives close to Charleston with his wife and growing family.

Could This Lawsuit Kill ObamaCare?

Lawsuits continue to eat away at ObamaCare, most of them based on religious freedom infringement cases. But one lawsuit has the potential to kill the entire bill. A recent article explains: “A challenge filed by the Pacific Legal Foundation contends that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional because the bill originated in the Senate, not the House. Under the Origination Clause of the Constitution, all bills raising revenue must begin in the House. The Supreme Court upheld most provisions of the act in June, but Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. took pains in the majority opinion to define Obamacare as a federal tax, not a mandate. That was when the Sacramento, Calif.-based foundation’s attorneys had their ‘aha’ moment.”

Is this why Chief Justice John Roberts so carefully defined ObamaCare as a tax? Is this what he was hoping someone would catch onto and press? I don’t know. But I am hopeful that a case like this one has the ability to kill the entire bill and send it packing. From the beginning the bill has been awful and as we learn more of what is inside we are more concerned for the religious freedoms of Americans, as well as the tax burden that will come with ObamaCare. And there’s no denying that the bill in no way supports life, but there is plenty of support for abortion. For us all, I hope this case proceeds and is successful. Click here for original article.

About Nathan Cherry

Nathan Cherry is the chief editor and blogger for the Engage Family Minute blog, the official blog of the FPCWV. He serves also as the Regional Development Coordinator as a liaison to the pastor's of West Virginia. He is a pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, pro-religious freedom conservative. He is also a husband, father, pastor, author, musician, and follower of Jesus Christ.

Church Sues Huntington Commission Over Land Use

WVRecord.com: “Three church trustees of Apostolic Life Cathedral are suing the City of Huntington after they claim its municipal land use regulations will cause irreparable harm if they are forced to destroy a structure on their land instead of rehabilitating it. The Unsafe Buildings Commission for the City of Huntington was also named as a defendant in the suit. The plaintiffs claim due to municipal land use regulations, the destruction of the structure would preclude rebuilding on the site and it is imperative that the church be permitted to extensively renovate the existing structure on the lot.”

This is not normally something we would report on, but I thought it was important to point out that various state governing bodies are seeking to infringe on church rights, whether land use, public access, or otherwise. Some places in West Virginia are trying to force churches out of public school buildings, others are trying to prohibit faith-based organizations from taking part in public programs. All of these violate the religious freedoms and other Constitutional freedoms of churches and religious organizations. If you find yourself in a battle with the state or county over these or other issues, please call us. We stand ready to defend your freedoms. Click here for original article.

About Nathan Cherry

Nathan Cherry is the chief editor and blogger for the Engage Family Minute blog, the official blog of the FPCWV. He serves also as the Regional Development Coordinator as a liaison to the pastor's of West Virginia. He is a pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, pro-religious freedom conservative. He is also a husband, father, pastor, author, musician, and follower of Jesus Christ.

Who’s Really Tolerant? – FPCWV’s Capitol Update

Religious liberty survives a threat from H.B. 2856 this legislative session.  But, in their demand to require tolerance from the intolerant, it may be that it is our lawmakers who are the most intolerant of religious liberty in West Virginia.

(If no video appears above, click ‘refresh’, or watch on YouTube.)

About Nathan Cherry

Nathan Cherry is the chief editor and blogger for the Engage Family Minute blog, the official blog of the FPCWV. He serves also as the Regional Development Coordinator as a liaison to the pastor's of West Virginia. He is a pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, pro-religious freedom conservative. He is also a husband, father, pastor, author, musician, and follower of Jesus Christ.

Podcast: Is Manhood and Womanhood Important? – Dr. Owen Strachan

Owen Strachan

Debates over the question of marriage necessarily involves considering the issue of gender. Just as Scripture clearly defines marriage, it also has a lot to say about manhood and womanhood and the importance of each. In today’s edition of Engaging the Issues, we turn to the new executive director of the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, Dr. Owen Strachan, for answers.

Click here to listen now . . .

About Jeremy Dys

Jeremy Dys is the FPCWV's President and General Counsel. In addition to his duties of providing strategic vision and leadership to the FPCWV, Dys is the chief lobbyist and spokesman. Dys is regularly featured in local, state, and national print, radio, and television outlets. He lives close to Charleston with his wife and growing family.

BREAKING NEWS: HHS Offers ‘Compromise’ on Abortifacient Mandate


Today, the US Department of Health and Human Services issued an expected compromise compelled by a series of lawsuits by religious organizations.

Of course, we should stop and point out that maybe – just maybe – that should have been thought of in the first place, but let’s not get off track too soon.

The proposal comes after several religious organizations brought lawsuits and thousands more are likely to follow in the coming months when their grandfathered provisions come due around August.  The proposed compromise is to not alter the law, but to alter the regulations (adding to the 13,000+ pages of current regulations that implement the 2,500+ pages of the Affordable Care Act) that implement the new health insurance mandate.

HHS is seeking public comment on the proposed rule, of which they will no doubt get plenty.  Here’s how what’s proposed appears to work:

Religious Employers

If you are a religious employer, you can seek an exemption from having to provide contraceptive coverage, assuming that religious employer has a religious objection to so providing.  What is a “religious employer?”  Glad you asked.  According to the proposed rule, a religious employer must meet the following criteria:

  1. Have the inculcation of religious values as its purpose;
  2. Primarily employ persons who share its religious tenets; and
  3. Primarily serve persons who share its religious tenets.

This, the proposal goes on to say, “would primarily include churches, other houses of worship, and their affiliated organizations.”  That’s a pretty narrow subsection of the religious community, if you consider that most religious teachings – and especially traditional Christian teaching – suggests that one’s religion is taught organizationally, but expressed in day-to-day life.

In other words, HHS is giving a nod to offer First Amendment protections to your church, but not necessarily to you.

Non-Profit Religious Organizations

What about Christian Colleges and other non-profit organizations that are religious in nature?

[Read more...]

About Jeremy Dys

Jeremy Dys is the FPCWV's President and General Counsel. In addition to his duties of providing strategic vision and leadership to the FPCWV, Dys is the chief lobbyist and spokesman. Dys is regularly featured in local, state, and national print, radio, and television outlets. He lives close to Charleston with his wife and growing family.

Owen Strachan: ‘Dear Evangelicals, You Don’t Need to be Quiet, You Need to Speak Up

Over the past several years (decades? centuries?), there has been debate among Christians as to what is appropriate when it comes to Christians involving themselves in political matters.  More specifically, the debate has raged – with no sure winner – as to whether the pulpit ought to be involved.

Owen Strachan, newly minted executive director of the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood as well as author, blogger, professor, and occasional rapper (seriously), has penned an open letter to the evangelical community that you should read and consider. And, I’m not just talking about pastors, Dr. Strachan – who will be an upcoming guest of mine on Engaging the Issues – is writing to evangelical Christians writ large.

Here’s how it starts:

When it comes to evangelical public engagement, many of us are metaphorically in rocking chairs. The culture’s sure shifting, we say as gaze at the sunset. In twenty years, you might lose your pulpit. We whistle low and shake our head.

Crazy world.

When it comes to all that cultural rabble-rousing, we grimace. We don’t want to go all Moral Majority in our pastorates and our churches. We’re avoiding all those overheated controversies. We’re not going to lose our soul to politics. You see, we have found the third way, the option that allows you to hold biblical beliefs on politics, society, and culture but not make a major issue of them.

We believe accordingly that we can “sit out” the major moral challenges of our day. But our convictions are stronger than this: we actually think that these moral challenges may not even come to our doorstep. Sure, maybe in twenty years, pastors and churches will face serious threats to their pulpits. Not now, though. We can keep our heads down and they’ll pass us by.

The preaching of the gospel is the primary duty of the church and the central mission of all God’s people. It is our call to preach the gospel no matter what our society looks like and no matter where we are–in prison for hate speech, in closed countries evangelizing under threat of death, in huge suburban buildings where thousands of people come each weekend. Nothing will stop true believers from preaching the gospel. Nothing will shake our confidence that God will honor this preaching and build his church as we do so.

Yet I fear that some of my evangelical friends are not seeing reality even as it bears down on them. Do you realize that if you define marriage as the exclusive union of a man and a woman, you are already, even if you speak in the gentlest, softest, most nuanced, most hyper-qualified terms, considered a bigot by a vocal and highly influential contingent today?

Read the rest of it here.

About Jeremy Dys

Jeremy Dys is the FPCWV's President and General Counsel. In addition to his duties of providing strategic vision and leadership to the FPCWV, Dys is the chief lobbyist and spokesman. Dys is regularly featured in local, state, and national print, radio, and television outlets. He lives close to Charleston with his wife and growing family.

Podcast: Faithful Christian Citizenship – Tony Perkins on Engaging the Issues

With the election behind us for this cycle, those elected to office not begin the business of governing.  While legislative debates take place, what is the role of the American citizen?  More importantly, what is the role of the Christian citizen of this country?

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, joins us on this week’s edition of Engaging the Issues to explain what a faithful, Christian citizen looks like.

Click here to listen now.

Would you like to have Engaging the Issues delivered automatically to your computer, iPhone, iPad, or iPod?  Click here to learn how to subscribe to West Virginia’s only program dedicated to engaging conversations about the issues affecting our families.

About Jeremy Dys

Jeremy Dys is the FPCWV's President and General Counsel. In addition to his duties of providing strategic vision and leadership to the FPCWV, Dys is the chief lobbyist and spokesman. Dys is regularly featured in local, state, and national print, radio, and television outlets. He lives close to Charleston with his wife and growing family.