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Texas Attorney General Releases Statement Supporting Justice of the Peace in Dispute with the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

 

March 23, 2017) Montgomery County, Texas includes many of the suburbs north of the City of Houston in the Southeast part of the state. A Justice of the Peace there, Wayne Mack has a guest chaplain program. These volunteers offer support and counsel at the scene of death investigations. These volunteers are also called upon to lead a brief prayer at the beginning of Judge Mack’s court proceedings.

Last year Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick asked the Attorney General for a legal opinion on Judge Mack’s practices. It is worth noting that Lt. Governor Patrick has always enjoyed a large amount of support from Texas’ Pro Family/Christian Conservative movement. So it is likely that he requested the opinion to grant Judge Mack a degree of legal cover, not to stop the practices. In August of last year AG Paxton released opinion KP-0109. In this six page opinion AG Paxton held that Judge Mack’s actions were in line with the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Town of Greece V. Galloway, and other precedents, and therefore were not in violation of the state of federal constitutions.

On this past  Tuesday March 21st.  The Freedom From Religion Foundation filed suit against Judge Mack seeking to end his use of chaplains. Paxton responded the following day with an official statement saying

“Judge Mack is fully complying with the Constitution by adhering to the model for opening prayers the Supreme Court endorsed just a few years ago,” Attorney General Paxton said. “The Freedom from Religion Foundation’s quest to expunge any vestige of religion from public life flies in the face of the Supreme Court’s holdings. I am confident our courts will follow years of precedents and not indulge a litigious group’s plea to rewrite the Constitution.”

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Shooting in San Bernardino: Billy Graham Rapid Response Team Chaplains Offer Hope and Comfort Following the Attack

CHARLOTTE, N.C., Dec. 3, 2015 /Christian Newswire/ — As details continue to emerge following the mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center in the southern California city of San Bernardino, Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains have been welcomed into the community by local authorities to provide emotional and spiritual care. The first chaplains arrived yesterday afternoon, hours after the tragedy.

At this time it is being reported that there are 14 fatalities, with 17 more injured. According to the  Los Angeles Times, this is the deadliest mass-shooting in the United States since the attack on Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., nearly three years ago.

“I’m in California today, not far from San Bernardino where the mass shooting took place,” said Franklin Graham, president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, on his Facebook page. “Please join me in praying right now for each one of the injured, the victims’ families, and the first responders in this ongoing crisis.”

Jack Munday, international director of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team, said, “Our hearts are broken for those who lost their lives, and particularly their families, following this shooting. We’re sending in a team to encourage the community, offering love, hope and support. A tragedy like this affects everybody.”

I have also learned that the California Fire Chaplains Association has at least two chaplains in the area-Pastor Crutchfield

The response to San Bernardino is the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team’s third shooting-related deployment since October. Chaplains were on-site at  Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., on Oct. 1, and just completed an internationally-coordinated effort to Paris following the terrorist attacks there on Nov. 13.

For more information on the ministry, including videos, photos, news articles and an interactive map of former and current deployments, visit www.billygraham.org/rrt. Updates can also be found at www.facebook.com/RRTChaplains.

About the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team:
The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team was developed by Franklin Graham and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. It has since grown into a nationwide network of chaplains in 48 states who are specifically trained to deal with crisis situations. They have deployed to more than 200 disaster sites, including shootings, floods, hurricanes, wildfires and tornadoes.

The Word Became Flesh: An Advent Meditation on John 1

By A Servant In Training

When it comes to the doctrine of the Incarnation, few texts in Holy Scripture compare to the inspired words of St. John.  Since John was the longest living of the Apostles, he lived to see the degenerate forces of the Gnostics trying to undermine fundamental doctrines of Jesus, as well as apostates and heretics denying either His deity or His humanity.  John witnessed what was being done to the Apostolic witness of his sainted brothers, and wrote his Gospel and his Epistles to reinforce the truth of Jesus.  At the very beginning of this effort, John pens the first chapter of his Gospel.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was
with God, and the Word was God. The same was in
the beginning with God. All things were made by
him; and without him was not any thing made that was
made. In him was life; and the life was the light of
men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the
darkness comprehended it not.
 
There was a man sent from God, whose name was
John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of
the Light, that all men through him might believe.
He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 
 
That was the true Light, which lighteth every
man that cometh into the world. He was in the
world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew
him not. He came unto his own, and his own
received him not. But as many as received him, to
them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to
them that believe on his name: Which were born, not
of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man,
but of God.
 
And the Word was made flesh, and
dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of
the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
 
St. John makes several things clear.  First, that Jesus is the same God through whom the universe was made—He is not a creature, but the Creator, one with the Father and the Spirit.  Secondly, that Jesus is fully human, born of the Virgin Mary, full of grace and truth, and like us in every way except for sin.  These two truths are the central confessions of the doctrine of the Incarnation, which John sums up perfectly as he says, “The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.”  In this very simple confession, the infinite mystery of Immanuel – God With Us—is brought forth in the person of Jesus Christ.
We might ask today, what the significance of such a confession is.  Plenty of nuts today claim to be gods, and plenty of other nuts claim there is no god at all.  The world keeps turning, day by day, century by century, while people either ignore or deny the Incarnation of Jesus.  Even to Christians, what difference does it make whether John’s confession is true, or that we share it?  Why does it matter that we affirm both the humanity and the deity of Christ, united in the one person of Jesus, who is Himself perfectly united to the other persons of the Holy Trinity?
The implications couldn’t be more serious, because they lay at the foundation of what the Church calls the Doctrine of Justification:  that we are saved by grace through faith in Christ alone, and specifically through Jesus’ Vicarious Atonement for the sins of the whole world.  If Jesus was not fully human, He couldn’t suffer and die for human beings.  If Jesus was not fully God, He could not pay an eternal debt on behalf of all mankind.  Only if Jesus was fully human, receiving His full human nature from His mother Mary, and fully divine, receiving His full divine nature from God the Father, could Jesus accomplish the salvation of the world upon the Cross.  Without His humanity, Jesus’ death is nothing but an irrelevant divine show; without His deity, Jesus’ death is just another human tragedy.  But with full humanity and deity united in His one person, Jesus’ death and resurrection accomplish what no one else could do:  salvation by grace to all who repent and believe.
We meditate upon the doctrine of the Incarnation this time of year, because it shows to us the loving heart of our saving God.  There in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our God comes down from eternity and bursts into time, so that He may seek and save the lost.  There, in the tabernacle of Mary’s body, the Lord of Glory comes to dwell among His people, so that He might take their sins upon Himself, and be the ransom for their redemption.  There, in the humble handmaiden of the Lord who becomes the Second Eve by her assent to the divine will, the Lord our God becomes for us the Second Adam—and where death came through our first parents, life and forgiveness come to us through Jesus Christ.  Here the Word becomes flesh and dwells among us, preaching to us the Gospel of salvation, of God and man reconciled, giving unto all who will believe in Him the power to become the children of God.  Here, God comes to save us all, so that we might be born not merely of flesh and blood, but by His Holy Spirit unto life everlasting.
Come, see, hear, and receive the Word made Flesh—He comes to save you.  Amen.

Pentagon backtracks on evangelization comments, investigation launched

Attorney sound bites:  Joseph La Rue #1  |  Joseph La Rue #2

WASHINGTON — Alliance Defending Freedom filed a Freedom of Information Act request Wednesday for records related to a Pentagon statement issued Tuesday that indicated members of the military could be subject to court martial for “religious proselytization.”

The Department of Defense spokesperson who made the comments backtracked in a new statement Thursday that explained, “Service members can share their faith (evangelize), but must not force unwanted, intrusive attempts to convert others of any faith or no faith to one’s beliefs (proselytization).”

“Members of our military should not be denied the very freedoms they fight to defend. Freedom of religion and speech are paramount among those freedoms,” said Legal Counsel Joseph La Rue. “We appreciate the Pentagon’s clarification, but little or no evidence exists of coercive proselytization in the military, so we are still troubled over what motivated the original comments.”

“We wish to ensure that the Pentagon does not deny members of the armed services the basic freedoms that the Constitution guarantees all Americans,” La Rue added. “For that reason, Alliance Defending Freedom is serious about investigating this gross error.”

On Tuesday, Fox News reported that LCDR Nate Christensen issued a statement on behalf of the Pentagon that said that “religious proselytization is not permitted within the Department of Defense” and that “court martials and non-judicial punishments are decided on a case-by-case basis.”

The Alliance Defending Freedom FOIA request asks for copies of all communications between Christensen and others on the matter.

“Because we provide legal representation to a number of individuals who stand to be negatively impacted if this policy is enforced, we seek to determine the authority under which LCDR Christensen made the above-referenced statements,” the request states.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.

 

Hurricane Sandy: Billy Graham Rapid Response Team Chaplains Deployed Into Multiple Disaster Areas

CHARLOTTE, N.C., Oct. 30, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ — Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains have been deployed to multiple disaster sites along the East Coast of the United States after the hybrid Hurricane Sandy “superstorm” caused unprecedented damage. According to the recent news reports, more than 30 people are believed to have been killed in seven states and some 8 million people are without power. It is estimated that damage from the storm could exceed $20 billion.

Chaplains trained in crisis-response deployed this morning from Charlotte with three mobile office units, and are tentatively headed for northern New Jersey, southern New Jersey, and Philadelphia. After an initial assessment, additional chaplains will arrive from across the United States later this week.

“We all watched this unique ‘superstorm’ coming from far off, and could see the potentially devastating course,” said Jack Munday, international director of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team. “Sadly, it seems that the worst fears were realized and millions of people are now hurting as a result of Hurricane Sandy. I’m not sure that there are words that can adequately describe the enormity of this massive disaster. We’ll do all we can in the face of this catastrophe to offer emotional and spiritual care and the hope and compassion of Jesus Christ.”

The

Billy Graham Homestead and Library

Billy Graham Homestead and Library (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

recently concluded its deployments to three areas in Louisiana following the impact of Hurricane Isaac in late August. Chaplain teams spent several weeks in LaPlace, LaCombe and Plaquemines Parish, La. Thus far in 2012, chaplains have deployed to 22 disaster areas in 14 states.

The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team is a nationwide network of Christian chaplains across 48 states that are specifically trained to deal with crisis situations. Since the ministry was launched in 2002, it has responded to more than 145 natural and man-made disasters, including hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, fires and shootings.

For more information on the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team, visit www.billygraham.org/rrt. For videos, photos and news articles from recent Billy Graham Rapid Response Team deployments, visit www.billygraham.org/response. Ministry updates and photo galleries are posted at www.facebook.com/BGRapidResponseTeam.

About the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association proclaims the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world by every effective means available through a wide range of domestic and international Christian evangelism ministries. Visit
www.billygraham.org. Get news updates on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/BGEAnews.

IRD: On Memorial Day Stand with U.S. Military Chaplains in Defense of Religious Liberty

“Our churches, as well as individual believers and all persons who believe in liberty of conscience, should stand with U.S. military chaplains who are resisting oppressive political correctness.” — Mark Tooley, IRD President

Contact: Jeff Walton, Institute on Religion and Democracy, 202-682-4131, 202-413-5639 cell, jwalton@TheIRD.org

WASHINGTON, May 25, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ — Repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy (DADT) and efforts to legalize same-sex marriage are increasingly threatening the religious liberty of U.S. military chaplains to uphold traditional marriage. Lawmakers on the U.S. House Armed Services Committee have reported that chaplains opposed to DADT repeal and same-sex marriage have been silenced, punished or even told to resign.

Religious liberty threats to chaplains are not limited to sexuality controversies. In January, the U.S. Army’s Office of the Chief of Chaplains told Catholic Army chaplains not to read from the pulpit a letter from Archbishop Timothy Broglio. Broglio, who leads the Archdiocese for the Military Services, wrote that an Obamacare regulation was “a blow” to a freedom that U.S. troops have fought to defend. U.S. Army Secretary McHugh later admitted that it had been wrong to try to silence the Catholic chaplains.

Active duty chaplains from conservative religious traditions vastly outnumber those from liberal denominations. As of 2010, there were 448 Southern Baptist and 252 Roman Catholic chaplains, compared to only 56 Episcopal, 17 United Church of Christ (UCC) and two Unitarian Universalist chaplains.

IRD President Mark Tooley commented:

      “Our churches, as well as individual believers and all persons who believe in liberty of conscience, should stand with U.S. military chaplains who are resisting oppressive political correctness, especially in defense of traditional marriage and expressions of traditional faith.
      “Will chaplains who serve our country have all the liberties that the U.S. armed forces have sacrificed their lives for across three centuries? Will chaplains be forced to choose between fidelity to their own faith and service to America?
    “On Memorial Day especially, we should recall that hundreds of thousands have died in defense of an America where liberty of conscience and religion are fully protected.”


The Institute on Religion & Democracy works to reaffirm the church’s biblical and historical teachings, strengthen and reform its role in public life, protect religious freedom, and renew democracy at home and abroad.

www.TheIRD.org