By Paul Louis Metzger Multnomah University Professor New Wine Skins Ministry
By Paul Louis Metzger and John W. Morehead*
Over the course of recent weeks three high profile events have taken place with serious ramifications for freedoms of speech and religion. They provide Evangelicals and other Christian groups with opportunities for reflection on citizenship and discipleship in a multi-faith world. We will summarize each of the events and then proceed to reflect on what Evangelicals can take away from them.
America’s foremost grassroots pro-life activist organization is applauding U.S. Supreme Court ruling in McCullen v. Coakley. The nation’s high court struck down the restrictive Massachusetts abortion clinic buffer zone law, allowing pro-life sidewalk counselors to resume sharing life-saving alternatives with abortion bound women.
“Today’s ruling is a great vindication of sidewalk counseling,” declared Eric Scheidler, Executive Director of the Pro-Life Action League. “The justices in the majority recognize that our compassionate pro-life outreach to mothers outside abortion clinics deserves the protection of the First Amendment.” The Pro-Life Action League is an internationally recognized leader in training pro-life advocates for sidewalk counseling. This peaceful ministry consists of gently reaching out to women outside of abortion clinics, presenting them with life-saving alternatives.
The court struck down a Massachusetts-imposed 35-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics. Within this zone, pro-life speech was completely — and unconstitutionally — banned. Similar restrictions enacted elsewhere in the country are expected to be overturned as a result of today’s ruling.
Transgender student alleges George Fox bias on housing
A “transgender” student — who has medically, socially and legally sought to transition from female to male — has filed a federal complaint against George Fox University because the school won’t let the student live next school year with males on campus.
As reported by a wide range of both local and national media, sophomore Jaycen Montgomery, who goes by “Jayce,” alleges in the complaint filed April 4 with the U.S. Department of Education that George Fox discriminated on the basis of sex and gender in violation of federal Title IX rules.
A West Linn 17-year old girl, Maddi Higgins, recently died in a car accident, with the year prior she had signed up as an organ donor. This allowed doctors to donate her kidney, heart & lungs to those in need. It is a beautiful Oregon act of love. Watch the story below.
Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon laments the tragedy of violence resulting in death, wounding and terror at Reynolds High School near Portland. Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon calls upon all houses of worship to pray for the victims’ families and loved ones, for the students and staff along with their families who experienced this horrific event, and for the perpetrator’s family who are suffering now.
Mega Churches Rate Higher with First-time Guests and Micro Churches are Friendliest
By Melanie Smollen
Faith Perceptions has once again released their findings in their annual Church Index. This 2014 index incorporates data collected over six years and 4,288 worship services to shed light on how churches of different sizes are faring across the United States with first-time guests. This index shows that mega churches, those averaging over 1,000 in weekly attendance, performed better than churches of other sizes in nine out of the sixteen categories evaluated including community awareness, resources, music, and children’s ministries. Micro churches, those averaging less than 80 in weekly attendance, fared better than their larger counterparts in welcoming new visitors and in overall friendliness. Visits to mega churches comprised 5.2% of the total worship services measured, and micro churches comprised 6.8%.
The Oregon school shooting revels the complexity of faith in our culture as many sides invoked God in the ordeal. This month, a student at Reynolds High School fired upon fellow students and killed one student and wounded a teacher. Police search of the shooters home revealed that he had a journal where he spoke about his plan to kill “sinners”. The shooter was a member of a local church. The shooter’s father defended the values of his family and faith with a public statement that read,”We are finding it very difficult to put into words our state of mind and emotions. We are at a loss as to how and why this tragedy unfolded. Our family does not condone and has never promoted violence or hatred toward anyone. The values that we have taught our children are love in Jesus Christ, compassion, forgiveness, and patience.”
Fellow students who knew the shooter spoke about his erratic and distant behavior.
In response to the shooting, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, said during a vigil, “This is not God’s will. This is not a natural disaster. This is the consequence of laws that are out of balance.”
Portland parents are speaking out on the school fight video between two female students at David Douglas School recently. The parents say that the School District is avoiding the problem. Watch the KATU-TV video below.
As 600,000 football fans across the world pour into Brazil this week to join the three million local fans attending the FIFA World Cup, the Bible Society of Brazil and its partners will begin a massive program of outreach and Scripture distribution.
“Brazilians are football-mad and their obsession with football will reach fever pitch over the next few weeks, when we host the World Cup,” notes Dr. Rudi Zimmer of the Bible Society of Brazil. “We want the Bible to have a prominent presence amidst all the excitement. It’s an unprecedented opportunity for churches and Christians here to share God’s Word with local and foreign fans, and we want to equip and encourage them to do that.”
The Bible Society has provided four million Scripture booklets and 20,000 copies of the Gospel of John in Portuguese and eight other world languages for free distribution. It has also published special World Cup editions of the Portuguese Bible and New Testament, available at subsidised prices to Christians and ministries wishing to use them for evangelism.
Budget deficits force Planned Parenthood to cut back
By Faith News Note:
Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette has announced that they will close three health centers, cut some services, and lay off 17 employees because of a budget deficit of nearly $2 million. One major reason for the shortfall is that they have experienced a 27 percent drop in the number of patients. They are exploring ways to expand some services to reach a broader range of people needing healthcare.